Chapter 1: you got a grip on my mind
This is a bad idea.
Adora sighs and rereads the form in front of her.
I, ___________________, give my consent to use my image in the class project for the Documentary: Intimacy and its Narratives (FILM 311) course. The Bright Moon University Film Department agrees to compensate me with $300/week, for a maximum of four (4) weeks. I hereby agree to return all compensation received if I stop participating in the project at any time during those four weeks, unless for an unforeseen medical emergency.
Date: __ /__ /____
Adora stops fidgeting with her pen and starts filling the blanks. This is a bad idea, she thinks again. She hesitates on the signature, sighs, and slowly fills it in, repeating in her mind, $300 per week. She then slides the paper forward to the film student in front of her, Mel, if she heard correctly, forcing a smile.
Adora looks to her right. Catra sits with one elbow hanging over her chair and one pen spinning on her hand. Adora turns forward again.
“Thank you, girls!” Mel says. “Just so I can have it in my notes, I’ll ask you some questions now.” She puts the forms in a folder and opens a notebook on the desk.
“Sure!” Adora says.
“How long do you know each other?”
They’ve known each other since elementary school, but what was the year again?
“About 12 years.” Catra promptly replies. “I moved to your school in third grade, remember?”
“Right.” Adora nods.
“Woah, that’s a really long time. Which is perfect for my project.” The filmmaker writes on her notebook. “And how long have you been dating?”
“Um, since like, sophomore year?” Adora says and avoids eye contact with the student, turning to Catra.
“Yeah, like a bit over one year ago.” Catra says.
“Cool, so I’ll email you two later with more details.”
“Sounds good.” Adora says. “What’s the documentary about, again?”
“Right, so in this class we’re exploring relationships, their differences and similarities.” She closes her notebook. “My project is about two women in a long term lesbian relationship. Each student will be exploring a different type of relationship and at the end we’ll mash up everything together into one movie, or something like that.”
“That’s cool.” Adora says.
“And about the payment?” Catra asks. She finally stops playing with her pen and sits up.
“Ah, yes.” The filmmaker reaches inside her bag then hands them each a check. “The department said to give your checks at the end of every week, but I’m fine with giving the first ones right now.”
“Sweet!” Catra exclaims, examining the check.
“Thank you.” Adora quickly folds hers and puts it in her jacket’s pocket.
“I look forward to working with you two.” The student says as she gets up from her seat, putting the rest of her stuff inside her bag. “Thank you again for volunteering!” She smiles.
Catra roughly puts one arm around Adora’s neck, a bit too tight.
“No, we thank you!” She says.
Adora tenses up but tries to keep a happy expression.
The student smiles at them and waves, walking away towards the library’s exit. Adora smiles back, and as soon as the student disappears from view she yanks Catra’s arm off her.
“Hey! Chill!” Catra says, holding onto the table to not lose her balance.
“Chill!?” Adora scowls. “I can’t believe you convinced me to do this! It’s never gonna work out!” Adora rubs her temples, thoughts racing in her head. “She’s gonna find out, then we’re gonna ruin her project, lose the money, and probably be disciplined! We’re terrible people!” Adora lies her head down on the table, forehead first, a little too hard.
“She’s only gonna find out if you freak out like this in front of her. Or if you look like you’d rather be dead than be standing next to me.”
Adora sits up and glares at her.
“I’m still pissed at you. You just had to fuck up at the smoothie bar.”
“I had everything under control!” Catra snaps. “You tried to fuck with my way of doing stuff!”
“Yes, because it was the wrong way!” Adora throws her hands in the air.
“If you didn’t distract me with your little speech as if you were my fucking boss nothing of that would’ve happened!” Catra points at her, eyebrows furrowed and mismatched eyes looking like they could shoot laser blasts through Adora’s face.
Adora groans, clenches her hands, and takes a deep breath. It isn’t worth to have that argument again.
“It doesn’t matter anymore, we both got fired anyway. And now we’re here.”
Catra relaxes, her apparent fury now gone.
“Yeah, we’re here, three hundred dollars richer.” Catra grabs her check and waves it in front of Adora. “That’d take us like three weeks at the smoothie place. So you’re welcome.” She smirks.
Adora rolls her eyes.
“Seriously, Adora. All that money for, like, holding hands in front of a camera? It can’t get easier than that.” Catra folds her check and sticks it in one of her front pockets. “You endured me for what, ten years? I’m sure you can power through these four weeks.” She gets up and leans on the back of her chair, getting closer to Adora’s face. “Just don’t fuck it up and we’ll be fine.”
Adora scowls at her and forces herself to not start another argument. Catra ignores it and turns away.
“See ya later, girlfriend.” She says over her shoulder.
Girlfriend. Adora shudders at that word.
Only after Catra is gone Adora remembers they didn’t even plan anything out. She closes her eyes and rubs her temples again, taking another deep breath. Four weeks of pretending to be Catra’s girlfriend. Those are about to be the longest weeks of her life.
“That sounds like a terrible idea.” Glimmer says as she reaches for a napkin at the center of the table.
Adora pokes at her food with her fork, not feeling particularly hungry as she usually does at that time of the day. She is having lunch with her best friend before their afternoon class and telling her about her new job for the next month or so.
“Because it is. I’m a terrible person and I’m going to hell.” She picks a cherry tomato and puts it in her mouth.
“You can still call it off.” Glimmer gives her a worried look.
“No, I–” Adora sighs. “The money is good. Do you know how hard would it be to find another nice campus job at this time of the semester? All the good ones are taken.” Adora shakes her head. “The smoothie bar hours were perfect.”
“I still don’t get how you were fired after two weeks?” Glimmer takes a sip of her glass of water. “You are good at everything.”
“I told you, it was Catra’s fault.” She places her fork down, giving up on finishing her food.
“If the problem is the money I could help you while you look for something good again?”
Adora shakes her head. “No way, Glimmerー”
“You can pay me later, whenever you can!” Glimmer reaches for her hands.
“You’re too sweet.” Adora smiles. “But it’s not just the money…”
“What is it?”
“It’s justー” Adora sighs. “When Catra showed up at the smoothie bar she was like… civil? Until the accident, of course. But I don’t know,” Adora lets go of Glimmer’s hands and hugs her own arms. “I just thought we’d be able to reconnect again, somehow...”
“Don’t you two hate each other?”
“Yes? I mean, no?” Adora pauses. “Sort of? She definitely hates me, but I don’t know why.”
“You could just talk to her, you know?” Glimmer gestures one hand in the air. “You don’t have to pretend to date her.”
Adora shrugs. “She’s never been much of the talking type.”
Glimmer nods and her expression changes to an annoyed one. “Yeah, she is more of the punching type.”
“Well, if she tries to fight you let me know because I’d love to help you kick her ass.”
“Glimmer.” Adora chuckles. “Good to know you got my back.”
“Always.” Glimmer smiles and checks the time on her phone. “We should get going.”
On her way to class Adora grabs her phone and clicks on Catra’s name. The last messages they exchanged were from yesterday.
Catra texted since we’re both unemployed now would you wanna do it? With an image attached of a poster on a bulletin board. Its title in bold letters was CALL FOR COUPLES! and if Catra didn’t mention the unemployed part Adora would be sure she had texted the wrong number.
Adora’s immediate and obvious reply was we’re not a couple?? which was followed by Catra’s duh they don’t have to know that. let me know by the end of the day or ill find someone else. Before Adora replied again she took the time to zoom in the picture and actually read what was there. She was ready to reject Catra’s super polite request until she read another sentence with small bold letters at the end of the page: $300/week per individual!!!
Maybe it wasn’t too difficult for Adora to be convinced to join in this madness.
Adora scrolls up. The previous message before this conversation is from more than a year ago. Around the time Adora gave up on trying to reach out to Catra. She was ignoring her texts anyway.
She finally texts Catra saying they should meet up that afternoon to come up with their backstory.
Catra should’ve suspected something would eventually happen. Her life has been going way too well lately for things to not just fall apart sooner or later. Finding a chill campus job with just three shifts a week that pays relatively well sounds too good to be true. But Catra finds it, and her first shift isn’t even unbearably boring. Her second shift, though, is eventful, to say the least.
It is a little shocking seeing Adora for the first time in, what? They haven’t actually talked in like two years, even though they had some brief unfortunate encounters here and there. But Catra can’t remember even seeing her from a distance in at least a whole year. Even though her mind tricks her, and makes her think of Adora every time she spots a blond ponytail in a crowd. Every single time. Which, really, is completely annoying and unnecessary, especially when she isn’t even on campus. It’s just like a mind reflex.
So it’s a little disconcerting this time when Catra realizes it’s not just a reflex, and the girl that turns around is, in fact, Adora. It’s even more disconcerting to see she’s wearing the same uniform Catra has on. Catra’s first thought is ‘fuck’ followed by noticing how Adora looks taller, which is really not fair because Catra is pretty sure she stopped growing after she graduated high school, and how her face looks more adult-like? Maybe it’s the sharp cheekbones that weren’t that sharp in Catra’s memory.
Adora also seems to freeze. Her eyes widen and she almost drops the huge amount of bananas she’s carrying with both arms. She looks at Catra up and down. Probably having the same internal reactions Catra is having, that it’s indeed Catra and yes, they are wearing the same outfit.
The silence is starting to become awkward when their manager pops by their side.
“Adora, this is Catra. You two will be sharing Tuesday’s afternoon shifts.”
Adora blinks and opens her mouth. She holds the bananas a bit higher, then finally breaks eye contact with Catra.
“Oh.” Adora says, looking at him. “Yeah, I know. No, I mean, I know her. We, uh, we know each other.”
“Cool.” He says. “This is both of yours second shifts so I’ll leave you two to it. I’ll be in the back if there are any questions.”
“Thanks.” Catra says and the manager leaves.
Adora stares again until Catra breaks the silence.
“I need to, uh,” Catra points behind Adora, where the sink is. Adora turns to it, then turns back.
“Ah, right.” She makes space and Catra walks to wash her hands. “I, um, should put these over there.” Adora says and walks away.
The shift goes well. There isn’t too much movement and the weirdest order is a request to use half almond milk, half soy milk. Catra doesn’t talk to Adora if she doesn’t have to, and neither does Adora. Even though Catra can feel her staring at times, like she has something to ask but thankfully can’t open her mouth.
She manages to open her mouth once their shift is over, though.
“So we, um, have the same Tuesday shifts.” Adora says as they are removing their ugly yellow aprons.
“Seems like it.” Catra replies. “Maybe I can change my hours. I’ll check.”
“Oh.” Adora says in a low voice. “Uh, you don’t have to. I mean, we canー”
“It’s not because of you.” Catra rolls her eyes. “It may be better for my schedule.”
“Ah.” Adora nods.
Adora looks like she is trying to think of something else to say, but Catra’s all finished up, so she just leaves.
It was a little awkward, true, but manageable? And Catra feels… nothing. Nothing, really. Which is ironically a nice thing to feel.
Catra’s next shifts go well too. The different people she has to work with are all tolerable, and she’s getting the hang of it. Until the next Tuesday shift comes.
Adora is there when she arrives, and she seems to freeze a bit again, like she forgot they shared the shift.
“You didn’t change your hours.” She says, and smiles a little, her tone almost like a question.
Oh. Catra forgot. She briefly looked into another shift but one of the reasons she took this job was because the hours worked perfectly with her schedule.
“Wasn’t able to.” Catra shrugs, then goes to get her apron.
For some reason the place is especially busy today. Catra decides to use one of the tricks she started doing on her other shifts. Two blenders at the same time, both at the maximum speed, but making sure to firmly hold the lid of the funky one that has a note ‘do not put on max speed’ on it.
Adora notices she is doing that, because of course Adora would notice it. And of course she makes a comment about it. The first two times she just says that blender is a little funky and can’t handle max speed, like Catra can’t fucking read the note on it. Then Adora says she shouldn’t do that, and points at the note. Catra starts to get annoyed but only tells her to not worry about it. The last time Adora sounds annoyed and Catra turns to talk to her, turning her back to the blenders, which is her first mistake.
Adora starts lecturing her about rules, blenders and smoothie-making etiquette. And because Catra would rather smash the fruits with her own hands than be told what to do by someone who is not her boss, they start to argue. Catra forgets about the blenders, which is her second mistake, even though they are very loud. The noise just seems to fuel their argument, with their voices raising higher and higher. The poor person first in line tries to talk to them, but Catra ignores him, and that is her third mistake.
One moment Catra and Adora are screaming at each other, the next there is an explosion noise, followed by smoke and a pink liquid rain that hits the counter, the walls, the floor, both of them and even that first guy in line. The manager appears with a fire extinguisher, shouting for them to get out of the way.
Unsurprisingly, they get fired on the spot. Adora tries to explain she didn’t do anything wrong, because of course she would try to save herself, but he says he doesn’t care because he heard both of them shouting. After they clean everything up and Catra is about to leave, Adora corners her and they start arguing again, but soon the manager shows up to kick them out before anything else can explode.
Catra is angry, obviously, but mostly annoyed. Looking for a new job is gonna fucking suck, but the whole situation was kinda funny. The dude in line covered in smoothie running away instead of staying and probably receiving free smoothies? Hilarious. That manager guy looking as red as the fire extinguisher? Amusing. A confused and angry Adora covered in pink smoothie? If Catra also wasn’t angry she’d have burst out laughing. But now a distressed and agitated Adora still covered in pink smoothie? Not that funny, actually. Catra feels bad, which also annoys her, even if she’s sure it wasn’t completely her fault.
“You’ll find something else soon.” Catra says and Adora scowls. Catra bites her tongue, then continues, “If I find something with two spots I’ll let you know.”
Adora looks surprised for a split second before she goes back to frowning. “Okay?” She pauses then takes a deep breath. “I, uh, will try talking to him again.”
Catra rolls her eyes. That’s pointless, she thinks, but says instead, “Good luck.” Then leaves.
Adora sits at the wall table on the main library’s first floor cafe. She faces the window where she can see people walking by and has a notebook open in front of her with a pen in hand. The film student emailed them asking to meet on the following day for the first interview when she’ll explain more of the project then.
Adora is writing a list of things couples should technically know about each other when she starts thinking of all the things that can go wrong. Catra and her giving different answers to questions, Catra doing something stupid and Adora arguing with her, Adora doing something less stupid but Catra arguing with her nonetheless, Adora blurting out that everything was a lie... The possibilities are endless.
Adora checks her phone, 3:32PM. Catra should be here soon. She tries to ignore her fast beating heart. Adora hates lying, she’s never been very good at it. And now she is supposed to live in a lie for a whole month?
She probably should’ve thought it through before actually agreeing with Catra. But whatever, now it’s too late. Maybe if she thinks of this as just a class project she will manage to keep her nerves down. She may be doing something bad but technically she is also helping that student with her actual project, so, clearly, everyone wins. That is, if she can manage to cooperate with her project partner...
Adora hears a noise next to her and startles. It is Catra pulling the chair next to her and sitting down.
She places her phone down in front of her. “Just read the email.” She glances around then looks at Adora with her usual bored expression. “The library cafe is a little lame for a first date, don’t you think?”
“This is not a date.” Adora rolls her eyes and Catra starts to check her phone. “So.” Adora starts, “Tomorrow she’s gonna interview us so we need to get ready.”
“I’m sure we could just wing it, but sure.” Catra keeps her eyes glued on her phone.
“No, Catra, this is important. It’ll be suspicious if we look like we’re coming up with the answers on the fly!” Adora fidgets with her pen. “We also need to have the same answers. Will she ask things about us individually or as a couple? There are so many possible questions, where do we even begin?”
Catra places her phone down and looks at her.
“Can you, like, chill for a second?”
Adora clenches her jaw and glares at her.
“You won’t stop shaking your leg, it’s distracting me.”
“Oh.” Adora didn’t realize her right leg was bouncing nonstop. She stops moving it, but becomes aware of both legs and how they are suddenly heavy and feel like will start hurting if they don’t move. She feels her heartbeat accelerating and focuses harder on not moving.
“Adora.” Catra says.
Adora blinks, realizing she is staring into space, and focuses back on Catra.
“Please go back to moving your leg you look like you’re gonna explode.”
“Sorry.” Adora exhales and now both of her legs are bouncing. “I’m a little anxious, I guess.”
“Yeah, no shit.” Catra’s tone changes to a familiar, almost worried tone that Adora can’t remember when she last heard it. “Relax your shoulders.” Adora exhales and relaxes them. “Now take a deep a breath.” She inflates her chest as to make Adora mimic her, then exhales with her. “Better?”
Adora smiles a bit shy, her legs stop bouncing.
Old memories of Catra calming her down when they were kids pop in her head. One day Catra had read somewhere about breathing exercises and taught them to Adora. They would do them together when she got one of those 'weird staring into space' moments, as Catra called them.
“Has it gotten worse? The anxiety, I mean.” Catra stares and Adora can’t really read her expression. At least she doesn’t look bored anymore. As they grew older Catra would always say the same thing once Adora had calmed down, “Dude, you should really startー”
“It’s gotten better. Like, so much.” Adora smiles. “I started therapy a while back.”
“Yeah.” Adora shrugs. “I figured I shouldn’t avoid it anymore after the accident.”
“Accident?” Catra frowns.
“Oh, um, yeah.” Adora averts her eyes from Catra's and looks out the window. She goes back to fidgeting with her pen. “Last year I had a panic attack episode. Ended up at the hospital.”
“Oh.” Catra says quietly. Adora looks back at her but she’s also turned to the window.
Silence falls around them and the air feels a bit heavy all of a sudden.
Adora clears her throat. “Anyway, as I was saying we should prepare for possible questions.”
“Sounds good.” Catra gets up from her seat. “I’ll just get something to drink first.”
“She’ll probably ask us how we started dating, so we can start with that question.” Catra says before walking away.
Adora turns to a blank page on her notebook to brainstorm ideas, she thinks better when she writes things down. She glances behind her and finds Catra waiting in line. Adora tries to remember the last time they saw each other, not counting the smoothie fiasco.
The first memory that hits her is not a pleasant one.
It’s Saturday night and Adora is hanging out with her friends at another sophomore dorm, where a party is going on. Adora’s never been there before, but apparently Sea Hawk has friends who live there. He has friends everywhere.
She is walking to get another beer when she spots her across the room. Catra looks in her direction but quickly turns her face. Adora knows she saw her.
Adora sighs and starts to make her way towards her.
They haven't even had a proper interaction this semester. The last time Adora tried to approach her she just turned around and walked away before Adora got to her. There was also a time someone shoved past Adora at one party and only after regaining her balance she realized it was Catra. She is also pretty sure Catra flipped her off the other day when she briefly saw her in a crowd.
Catra hasn’t replied to any texts, not even during the whole Summer break. Last semester they already barely hanged out and now Adora feels they are going to completely lose touch. Honestly, she is really tired of reaching out and being ignored. But now it seems like a good opportunity to ask Catra what is going on.
“Catra, hi!” Adora smiles.
Catra looks up at her and rolls her eyes. “What are you doing here?”
“This is not a private party, you know.” Adora crosses her arms. “How are you?”
“Was doing just fine until now.” Catra gives her a mean smile, then her face drops to a bored expression. “What do you want?”
“To talk?” Adora sighs. “We haven’t seen each other in forever, I don’t even know what you did this summer!”
Catra doesn’t take the cue. She can’t really read her expression so she reaches for Catra’s forearm with one hand.
“You also don’t answer my texts anymore. Is everything okay?” Adora insists.
Catra flinches and Adora drops her hand.
“You really can’t take a hint, can you?” Catra scoffs.
Adora exhales heavily and shakes her head.
“I just don’t understand why you have been such a bitch.”
“I’m a bitch?!” Catra raises an eyebrow. “I’m not the one bothering people in parties. Just go back to your annoying little friends and leave me alone.”
“Don’t talk about my friends like that.” Adora raises her voice and narrows her eyes.
“Woah, girls, maybe let’s take it down a notch or two?” Bow’s friendly voice appears next to them as he puts his hands on their shoulders. Adora didn’t realize he approached them.
Catra pushes him. “Don’t fucking touch me.”
Bow almost loses his balance with her unexpected reaction.
Adora scowls. “Don’t fucking touch Bow.”
She pushes Catra, who seems ready for Adora’s reaction and just moves a few steps backwards. Catra steps forward and grabs Adora by her jacket.
“Or what?” Catra asks. The smell of alcohol from her breath burns through Adora’s nose.
Adora is about to react when she hears Glimmer’s voice loud next to them.
“Don’t you fucking dare lay a finger on Adoー”
Glimmer can’t finish her sentence because Catra lets go of her and pushes Glimmer instead. The force is such that Glimmer stumbles backwards and falls over a table.
The thing about plastic party tables is that they aren’t very sturdy. It collapses and a bunch of red cups and rests of pizza fall over Glimmer.
Adora and Bow both scream and crouch next to her in an instant.
“Oh my God, Glimmer are you okay?!” Bow asks as he removes a piece of pizza from her shoulder.
“What the FUー My hair!!!”
“Oh man, this party just got so much better.” Adora hears Catra snickering behind them. “But I better get going now.”
Adora turns to see Catra walking away. She looks back at Glimmer, who is now struggling to take cheese off her hair while Bow removes pepperoni from her shirt, then back at Catra, who is quickly getting farther.
Adora tenses up, clenching her fists.
“This is not ending like this.”
“Adora, no!” Bow reaches for her arm as she gets up, but she pulls it from his hold and walks away.
Adora doesn’t like to cause a scene.
She gets frustrated easily but she is usually good at hiding it on the outside. But she is tired. Tired of Catra being rude or mean for no reason every time they see each other. Which is actually so rare nowadays. And tired of being nice.
Being rude to Adora is one thing but now Catra wants to mess with her friends?
Adora stomps. She feels her blood boiling, and she doesn’t bother to avoid shoving past people who are in her way. She doesn’t remember the last time she felt this angry.
She sees Catra almost reaching the door and starts to move faster, basically running now.
“Catra!” She shouts. “You’re not getting away with this!”
Catra pauses, then turns.
Adora blames the alcohol in her veins for her next move. She jumps and tackles Catra.
Thankfully the door is open and no one is in front of it as they roll on the ground to the grass outside. They stop with Catra on top of Adora, holding her by the collar of her shirt, nails craving down on her skin, but the adrenaline is too high for Adora to notice the pain they are causing.
“What the fuck is wrong with you!?” Catra shouts at her face.
Adora knees the side of Catra causing her to groan and loosen her grip, then turns them around. Adora pins her to the ground, straddling Catra and holding her wrists over her chest so she can’t move.
“Don’t you ever fuck with my friends again, you hear me?”
Adora pushes Catra harder against the floor causing her face to contort.
“You’re fucking hurting me!” Catra’s voice gets higher in pitch.
Adora shifts her weight from Catra’s wrists to her knees and lightens her grip.
She remembers the world around her. From the corner of her eyes she sees a bunch of people standing around them, staring and saying things Adora can’t really hear. She notices she is panting and her hands are shaky. Catra has a mix of confusion, disgust and fear on her face.
“Adora!” Adora hears Bow and feels hands pulling her by the shoulders. “That’s enough, Adora. Let’s go.”
Adora lets go of Catra and Bow helps her get up.
Catra sits up. She pants and rubs one of her wrists. “You fucking crazy bitch.”
Bow doesn’t let go of Adora and starts leading her back inside.
“Don’t answer. Let’s go back and help Glimmer clean herself up, c’mon.”
Adora turns, hands still shaky, then enters and doesn’t look back.
After that night Adora decides to ‘take the hint’ and to stop reaching out to Catra.
People grow apart, she thinks. Sometimes that’s just how it goes.
Catra comes back and places a cup down next to Adora’s notebook.
“I got you some tea.” She sits down with another cup in hand.
“Oh, you didn’t have to!” Adora looks from the cup to her.
“It’s chamomile. I don’t know if you still like it.”
“Thank you. Yes, it’s still my favorite.” It has always calmed her down. “How much was it?”
“Don’t worry about it, it’s just tea.” Catra takes a sip of her drink. “Now let’s come up with our lame love life.”
“It doesn’t have to be lame." She looks at her notes. "So I was thinking we could say we confessed our feelings at the same time at a party or something."
Adora reaches for her cup. “What's your brilliant idea then?"
Catra hums. "Maybe we can say you had a big crush on me for the longest time, and one day I was like, ok guess she's kinda cute, so I sent you flowers but you just thought they were friendship flowers because, you know, you’re you, thenー"
Adora almost spits out the tea. "What!?"
Adora expects her to start laughing but she just blinks.
"You can't be serious.” Adora says, also blinking. She had so many questions. “Why would I think friendship flowers are even a thing in that context!?"
"Duh, because oblivious is like, your middle name."
“I, wha–” Adora scoffs and rolls her eyes. "Like if you’re even romantic to send flowers to someone."
“Excuse me?” Catra crosses her arms. “I’m like the most romantic person I know.”
“You?” Adora scoffs again.
"It's true.” Catra shrugs, then rolls her eyes. “But fine, let's go with the mutual confessing thing then."
Adora is sure Catra is trying to mess with her. She takes another sip of her tea and starts elaborating on her more plausible idea.
Catra doesn’t make fun of her for trying to think of lots of details, even if they sound stupid or like no one would even care for that, and she also helps coming up with ideas. Adora thinks it is weird how Catra seems to be just like, in a normal mood?
Sure, she yawns a little too often, and only speaks what is needed of her, barely making any eye contact and focusing on her phone instead, but she isn’t rude or childish as Adora was expecting she’d be. Maybe Catra matured?
Adora herself had matured. Today she thinks more before acting on her impulses. She wouldn’t run and jump for Catra’s neck in a party. Probably. Not like that really matters now. But maybe they could actually reconnect? And talk about things like adults?
“Ok, I think we’ve done enough.” Catra says bringing Adora out of her thoughts.
“Hm, yeah, I feel like we’re more prepared now.” Adora looks at Catra who is already getting up from her seat. “You leaving?”
“Uh, we just said we’re done, so yeah.”
“Oh, um, I thought since we haven’t really talked in so long, maybe we couldー”
“We literally saw each other this morning.” Catra raises an eyebrow.
“You know what I mean.” Adora rolls her eyes.
“Pretty sure we don’t have anything to talk about, Adora.” Catra grabs her empty cup and walks away.
Adora sighs. “See you tomorrow.” She says, but Catra is already too far to hear.
On the next day Adora gets to the library a little earlier than the time they agreed to meet. She’s always accidentally early to places, so she walks around a bit, pretending to be interested in some books on the shelves.
When she gets tired of killing time she heads to a private study group room where the interview is going to take place. She finds Mel there setting up her gear.
“Hey!” Adora says.
“Oh, hey! You’re early.”
“A little bit. I can wait outside?”
“Oh, no worries, I’m almost done.” She smiles. “Where’s Catra?”
“She should be here soon!” Adora answers and takes a seat. Hopefully Catra won’t be late.
The film student set up the room so her camera is on one side and two chairs are placed on the other side, facing it. Adora sees some markers and some big sheets of paper on the desk by another wall.
“So what are we doing today?” Adora asks, trying to break the awkward silence.
“We’ll film just like a little introduction and a short game of questions. It won’t take too long.”
“Cool.” Adora nods, then grabs her phone and starts to flip through her social media.
Catra is right on time. Mel explains they’ll film an introduction with simple questions about them first, then they will play a ‘who knows more of each other’ game. As long as they don’t get every question wrong Adora thinks they will be fine. She grew up with Catra, she still knows her, or things about her past, at least. Hopefully Catra still remembers things about her too. It wouldn’t be too bad.
Adora is a little nervous to talk in front of the camera. She keeps fixing her ponytail even though she doesn’t need to, but the things they have to say are all very basic. Their names, age, majors, how long they’ve known each other and been dating, and how they started dating. They were prepared for those questions so it all goes smoothly.
Adora sits straight up, keeping her hands on her legs. She looks at Catra when she speaks, trying to look very interested and girlfriendy enough. Catra looks relaxed and confident. She’s playing her girlfriend role well enough too.
Adora learns Catra is a double major in Business and Music, with possibly a minor in Studio Art if she can finish the requirements in time. She completely forgot to ask that yesterday. The Business major is not surprising but Music is a little unexpected, even if Adora hasn’t forgotten how much Catra loved playing guitar. She just didn’t know she was serious about music.
When they are done Mel stops recording and hands them the sheets of paper and markers. She tells them to write questions they think they should know about each other, along with the answers on the other side of the paper. They put their chairs a little farther from each other so they can’t see what they both write and Mel leaves to go to the bathroom.
“What questions are you putting?” Adora asks as soon as they are alone.
“She said no cheating.” Catra replies.
“Catra.” Adora says and Catra glances at her. “If we get everything wrong it’ll be suspicious.”
“Already forgot everything about me?” Catra says with a funny voice, pouting. “I’m hurt.”
Adora rolls her eyes. “I’m serious.”
“Ugh, fine. I’m putting favorite food, favorite animal, favー”
“And the answers.”
“Really? Mexican, cats, you know that. Then favorite hobby–” She pauses. “Wait tell me yours too.”
“I put favorite mythical creature and also favorite hobbyー”
“Unicorn and reading.” Catra interrupts her.
“Well, yeah.” Adora then continues, “Um, childhood dream job, current dream jobー”
“Veterinarian, or, I guess, horse doctor.” Catra says while doing air quotes, then sits up raising one fist in the air, and in a dramatic voice says, “And founder of an NGO that will save the world.” She drops her hand and slumps back on her seat. “But you’re majoring in Biochem and English so my guess is you’re still going on the medicine route, right?”
“Uh, yes. I forgot to mention pre-med in our introductions.” She pauses. “Is your favorite hobby still drawing?”
“Can’t really decide between drawing and music, so I just put art.” She gets another sheet of paper and begins writing again. “Dream job is a good question but I’ll write dream career so she doesn’t think we’ve been talking.”
“Which is?” That question Adora isn’t exactly sure. What do you even do with a Business major? Consulting? Finances? But she is also into artー
Adora frowns. “Really?” Catra keeps her focus on the paper. Well, she said ‘dream’ career.
They hear the click of the doorknob followed by Mel entering. They still needed one more question each, but getting four out of five right wouldn’t look bad. Adora tries to think of a trickier question since Catra seems to know everything so easily.
“Ready?” The student asks and they both nod. She adjusts the microphone on top of the camera and presses a button. “And we’re rolling. Let’s start with Adora.”
“Whoever loses pay for the next dinner date.” Catra winks at Adora.
“Alright.” Adora raises an eyebrow, then shows her first question.
“First dream job?” Mel reads out loud.
“Horse doctor.” Catra answers, like it’s an actual profession, but it is really what Adora used to want when she was little. “My favorite horse girl.” Catra smiles at her.
“How many horse girls do you know?” Adora asks and Mel chuckles.
Catra raises one of her questions. “Let’s start with an easy one.”
“Favorite animal?” Mel asks.
“Cats.” Adora answers and Catra flips the paper.
“If you got that one wrong I’d break up with you on the spot.” Catra says and they all laugh.
“Nice doodle.” Mel adds. “Your turn, Adora.”
“A similar question.”
“Favorite mythical creature?”
“Easy. Unicorns.” Catra promptly answers and Adora shows her answer. “She likes horny creatures.”
“CAtra!” Adora exclaims, almost choking on her own saliva. She glares at Catra and feels herself flushing.
“I’m technically making fun of myself.” Catra smirks at her. “Mel will cut it in post, don’t worry, babe.”
“I will definitely not cut that.” Mel laughs.
“Aw, at least everyone will see how cute she looks when she’s red like that.” Catra winks.
Adora swallows, her cheeks still burning. Catra calling her babe and being flirty like that feels very weird and very wrong. She’s better at this pretending thing than Adora thought.
Adora forces a smile and clears her throat.
“Your flirting won’t distract me from winning.”
“We’ll see about that.”
Both of their next questions are their favorite hobbies, which they both know the answers for. Then it’s Catra’s turn again.
“Favorite dish?” Mel reads out loud.
“That’s not a specific dish.” Catra says with an eyebrow raised. She bites her lip trying to suppress a smirk.
Adora narrows her eyes at her. That was not the question she had said.
Adora searches through her memories. Catra liked to mix foods together, sometimes it was really gross, like dipping fries in a milkshake then adding ketchup on top. Or really weird, likeー
“Sushi with guacamole!?”
Catra raises her eyebrows and grins, then reveals the answer. “I thought I got you on that one.”
“That’s… an interesting food choice.” Mel nods her head.
Adora’s turn is next. The question is about her current dream job, which Catra obviously answers right. Catra then shows her fourth question.
“Rockstar.” Adora says absently.
“Babe!” Catra gasps and puts one hand over her chest, pretending to be offended. “That was my childhood dream career.” Her expression shifts to a cocky grin, biting the tip of her tongue, just like she did when she used to beat Adora on something (usually on a GameCube game like Mario Kart, rarely Super Smash Bros though).
She reveals her answer.
Adora squints to read it. “President and CEO of a music production company?”
Catra smirks and Adora has to bite her tongue to prevent her from saying anything out loud. That sneaky littleー
“Very specific.” Mel says. “Looks like Catra is winning.”
Ok, no way she will guess this, Adora thinks as she shows her last question .
“Third favorite animated movie?” Mel reads out loud.
“Third? Weirdo.” Catra frowns. “Let me see… your favorite is obviously Mulan.”
And that’s why Adora picked ‘third’.
“The second must be…” Catra hums and rubs her forehead. “Hercules? Gotta be Hercules, yeah. So third…” She looks up at the ceiling squinting, then after a pause, “Duh! Spirit: Stallion of something, something.”
Adora raises her eyebrows and blinks at Catra.
“What’s that?” Mel asks.
“That horse movie!” Catra exclaims, then points at Adora with her thumb. “Horse girl, remember?”
“Is that right?” The film student looks at Adora.
Adora blinks again and notices her mouth is slightly open.
“Uh, yeah. She guessed all of the movies right.” She flips her piece of paper. “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.”
“Looks like next dinner is on Adora” Mel laughs. “Catra, let’s see your last question anyway.”
Catra sticks her tongue out at Adora, who rolls her eyes, then shows her last question.
“Favorite place to hide?”
Adora was ready for another tricky question, but the answer comes unsurprisingly easy.
“Rooftops.” Adora smiles.
Their old school rooftop was basically Catra’s second home. Or third, actually. Adora’s house was probably her second home. She wonders if Catra found any rooftops to hide here in Bright Moon. Obviously she must have, it’s Catra.
Adora’s chest then feels a bit heavy, like it’s filling up with something she can’t quite put her finger on. She sighs and bites the inside of her mouth.
“Four out of five, not bad.” Catra flips the paper. “I still won, though.” She says with a shrug.
“Could I get some b-roll of you two around campus before we’re done for today?” The film student asks. “Still not sure how the editing is gonna go but it’s nice to have footage just in case.”
They are standing on the stairs of the library’s entrance.
“Sure. Where were you thinking?” Adora asks.
“Maybe you two can walk ahead to the student center quad which is close by? And I’ll try to film a bit on the way.”
“Sounds good!” Adora responds and starts walking. Catra follows her, walking by her side.
A cool breeze touches Adora’s face and she zips up her jacket as they walk in silence.
“You think you’re really sneaky, don’t you?” Adora asks after a moment.
“I have noooo idea what you’re talking about.” Catra replies.
Adora scoffs and shakes her head.
They walk a bit more in silence when Adora remembers they are supposed to act like girlfriends.
“Should we be, uh, holding hands?” Adora asks.
"Ugh." Catra complains then grabs her hand lightly by the fingers.
Adora knows she is probably dreading having to hold her hand right now, but she could at least hold it right.
“Is this how you hold the hands of your girlfriends?”
“No.” Catra lets go of her fingers then grabs her hand with a bit too much force, pulling Adora's arm and making them bump into each other. “This is how I do it.”
Adora snorts. Catra’s hand is softer and warmer than hers.
“I was about to be sorry for all the girls you dated.”
“You should be. Since, you know,” She gestures towards the air with her free hand, “They aren’t dating me anymore.”
Adora holds a hand to her chest.
“Such a heartbreaker.”
“Says you.” Catra snorts.
“Me!?” Adora turns her head to Catra, who keeps looking straight ahead.
“Remember all those poor little boys in high school? You broke lots of hearts back then, princess.”
Princess. Adora almost forgot about that nickname.
“Shut up.” Adora rolls her eyes. “I only actually dated, like, one dude in high school.”
“And broke up with him like two months later.”
“Well, Iー how do you even remember that?”
“You’d never shut up about him it was sooo annoying.” Catra drags a hand down her face.
“Yeah, well, he was a douche. Still no idea how he pulled off that promposal.”
Catra chuckles. “It was quite epic, can’t deny that.”
“Yeah, so I thought he really liked me, but he was just trying to get in my pants.” Adora huffs. “I can't believe I still didn't realize I was gay then.”
Catra hums and they keep walking in silence.
They let go of each other’s hands as they sit under a tree on an empty part of the quad.
Catra glances around. “I think we lost her. Or she’s hiding somewhere cripplingly filming us.”
Adora leans back on the tree and feels the grass with her hands. She hasn’t been there in a while.
“She’ll probably be here soon.”
Catra crosses her arms and leans back on the tree as well. Shoulders almost touching Adora’s.
The sun is getting low and the sky is a mix of pretty shades of blue and lilac. Adora sees some students reading under trees around them, others sitting on the lounge chairs spreaded around the grass and one group of guys practicing slacklining at the far end of the quad. Typical college scene.
Silence lingers between them, but it isn’t too uncomfortable. It feels a little familiar, actually. They haven’t sat together in that quad since freshman year.
That feeling on Adora’s chest comes back.
“I’m bored.” Catra says in a yawn.
“I’m surprised you remembered all of that.” Adora says.
Catra holds up one knee to her chest.
“Why? You also remembered things.”
“I guess. But, I don’t know.” Adora shrugs. “Some stuff was pretty old.”
“You can’t just delete a decade of your memories from your brain.” Catra scoffs, then mumbles, “Believed me, I tried.”
“Whyー” Her voice fails. She licks her lips and swallows, then continues, carefully, “Why did you try?” She bites the inside of her lip and faces forward, curling and uncurling her fingers through the soft grass blades.
Catra doesn’t answer and Adora wonders if she heard her question at all.
After a while Catra lets out a long breath and Adora turns to her. The warm sunset light gives her a glowing yellow outline that bleeds through her hair. She stares straight ahead, jaw clenched, looking tired and a bit lost in thought.
It was always hard to make Catra talk, but it was always easy to know when something was on her mind.
Adora looks down and jumps when she sees a tiny spider walking on her jeans. She violently pats down her legs, hitting Catra with an elbow and making her jump too with the sudden commotion.
“SPIder!” Adora squeaks.
Catra bursts out laughing and, after making sure the evil spider is gone, Adora turns to her.
It’s the first time in forever she sees Catra genuinely laughing like that, head thrown back, hands over stomach and tears almost escaping her eyes. Adora can’t help but start laughing too.
“Adora,” Catra can barely speak. She sighs, catching her breath, “You’re so dumb.”
Her voice is soft and harmless, and when Adora nudges her and tells her to shut up, still laughing, it feels all too familiar again.
Mel then pops by their side. She thanks them and says she was able to film a bit. She proceeds to explain more of the project.
They will receive a camera on Monday that they are supposed to use to film little moments of them together throughout the weeks, like a video diary. There aren’t really rules, they can choose what activities they feel will fit best. The film student suggests they just follow their usual routine and film when they are doing something together. She mentions in past offerings of this class couples have done things they would not normally do. Something like trying a new extracurricular together, or going on a fancy date, or even recreating how they first met or their first date.
They will also have other structured filmings like today’s interview, but she isn’t sure about the details yet. She says their introduction interview was supposed to be done by the first week, so they’d probably only have something all together on the second week.
After Mel leaves, Catra drags both of her hands down her face and groans.
“I can’t believe it.”
“Video diary!? Filming things ourselves? We have to do her job now?”
Adora snorts. “I guess it makes sense. If there’s always a stranger with a camera following the couples the recordings won’t be too genuine.”
“As if anything we film will be genuine.” Catra rolls her eyes.
“Well, yeah, but she doesn’t know that.” Adora points out.
“Whatever.” Catra groans again. “We can probably film a bunch of stuff in one day. Changing outfits and all that so it looks like it’s a different day.”
“Wow, you really wanna stay away from me as much as you can, don’t you?” Adora says, angrier than she wanted to.
Catra narrows her eyes at her and opens her mouth, but after a beat relaxes and shrugs. “I’m a busy college student. I don’t have time to suddenly become a lesbian youtuber.” She raises an eyebrow. “And I suspect you’re busy too.”
Adora snorts again. “Ok, let’s think of something.” She hums. “Maybe we could compromise? You pick a few things you do that I can follow along and I do the same.”
“Follow you along?” Catra scoffs.
Adora takes a deep breath and looks forward.
“Yeah, maybe that’s a bad idea. You wouldn’t be able to keep up.” Adora shrugs and keeps an indifferent voice, hoping Catra takes the bait.
Catra laughs sharply. “You’re joking right? You couldn’t keep up with me.”
Adora crosses her arms and raises an eyebrow at her. “Yeah, sure.”
Catra narrows her eyes, then rolls them.
“Guess we’re doing it then.” She gets up and leaves.
Adora smirks to herself. It was as easy as it used to be.
The sun is almost gone now and the quad is getting empty. They survived the first interview and no punches were thrown, so maybe this whole thing wouldn’t be a total disaster. But things weren’t exactly easy. Adora tries to replay the day in her head, but all that rings in her mind are Catra’s words, believe me, I tried. She sighs and finally gets up to leave, noticing her chest still feels a little weird.
Next chapter: things get gay and we'll see more of their past and more Catra's pov! I'm thinking this will be 7 chapters but who rly knows. I'll add more tags as I go if needed.
Let me know if you like it!! Comments and questions about my fics always make my day
(yes, the guy in the smoothie line was kyle)
Chapter 2: will anyone ever know you like me?
thank you for the nice comments on the first chapter, they mean a lot!! this has been a lot of fun to write, i hope y'all enjoy this chapter
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The realization comes when Catra is 11, almost 12.
She is doodling in her sketchbook, zoning out a little from what the teacher is saying. He is answering someone’s question, which has an obvious answer she already knows, so she doesn’t really need to pay attention.
Adora got her the sketchbook about two weeks ago. Catra got in trouble for doodling on her desk, again, so Adora surprised her with a small dark gray notebook. The first page has written in big letters in the center CATRA’S SKETCHBOOK and on the bottom of the page, (from her best friend, Adora <3). There are also some crooked doodles around the edges of the page that Adora drew. She said she wished she could make a prettier first page, but Catra is the artistic one. Catra beamed with the gift and promised Adora to draw another unicorn for her that she would even color in that time.
Catra is brought back to reality when she hears Adora’s voice. She raises her head to see her friend with an arm up, a couple seats from her, talking about geometry. Apparently the teacher asked something to the class and Adora is answering, as she always does. Catra catches herself smiling when she sees Adora’s happy and proud expression once the teacher compliments her. Adora looks at her, her smile growing bigger, and Catra feels butterflies dancing in her stomach. That’s been happening more often than she’d like to admit.
She looks back at her doodles. Most of them seem to be of Adora’s face, although they don’t look very good. It’s hard to capture Adora’s beauty, she thinks. But she’s practicing, and one day she will make a portrait of her friend that will look nice.
She looks back at Adora. Her hair is in her usual ponytail, with some loose locks falling over her face, which makes Catra imagine herself running her hand through her hair to fix it. She’s been daydreaming about Adora a lot lately. And writing poems about her. Not that she’d ever tell anyone, not even Adora, that she kinda liked writing poems.
She thinks about the way Adora talked about a boy the other day, how he gives her butterflies so she calls him her ‘crush’. She wonders if she should call Adora her crush too, but she already calls her ‘best friend’. Plus, Adora’s not a boy, and she can’t have a crush on a girl… Right?
Catra sighs and tries to focus on the teacher’s voice again.
“I’m sorry, Catra!” Adora exclaims.
It’s Catra’s 13th birthday and she’s in Adora’s house after school with three other friends. Razz made a birthday cake for her, which both Adora and Catra helped decorate on the day before. The two of them also made brigadeiros, or Catra made it and Adora mostly watched or tried to eat them before they were ready. Razz left work early that day so she could host a little celebration for Catra.
Catra pretends that her aunt, who she lives with, not being the one hosting a birthday celebration doesn’t bother her. She’s technically a distant relative, or something like that, but she’s used to referring to her as aunt. She’s never cared much for Catra, but since they moved to their current town, Catra has had Adora and Razz, who both care a lot for her, and that’s enough.
They are all hanging out in Adora’s living room, stomachs full of candy and pastries that Razz bought for them, on their fourth round of Uno. It’s Adora’s turn and she has only two cards left, she just pulled a +4 and is about to put it on the table.
“You’d betray me like that? On my birthday!?”
Adora hesitates. “I have to!”
“My own best friend.” She shakes her head and clutches her chest. “You think you know someone, then you play Uno with them, on your own birthDAY!”
They all start laughing.
“Ugh, fine!” Adora puts the card back and grabs one from the draw pile. She’s lucky so the first one already matches the top one on the table, so she puts it down.
Catra cheers and puts down a red matching card, exclaiming ‘Uno’. She now only has one card left.
They go around and soon it’s Adora’s turn again.
“Catra… I have to, now.”
“Yes, way! I gave you a birthday pass on the last round.” She puts the +4 down. “I’m sorry! Also, Uno!” She squeaks.
Catra gasps, then grins. “Well, that’s actually no problem.” Catra puts her last card down, also a +4.
“What!?” All the girls exclaim.
“Pretty sure that’s against the rules.” One says.
“Nah, pretty sure it’s fine.” Catra says.
“Yeah, if she didn’t just win you’d have to draw 8 cards.” Adora says then shakes her head. “You tricked me!” She punches Catra’s arm lightly.
“Can we sing happy birthday now?” One of their friends asks. “I want cake and my mom is gonna come pick me up soon.”
“Yeah, yeah, let’s do it.” Catra says.
They were waiting for her aunt to arrive, but she probably got busy at work again. They sing happy birthday and eat cake and brigadeiros, then everyone but Catra leaves.
“I’m gonna be in a sugar high for like two weeks.” Catra says, finishing her second piece of cake.
“Same.” Adora mumbles with her mouth still full.
Razz sits across from them. She’s finished eating a while ago.
“Thank you, Razz.” Catra smiles. “For the cake, and,” She nods, feeling shy. “Everything.”
“Of course, my dearie.” Her smile is soft and warms up Catra. “Anything you need, we’re here.”
“Mhm.” Adora agrees.
“Do you want me to call your aunt to check what time she’s coming?”
“Sure.” Catra says. “Thanks.”
“Let’s go to my room!” Adora exclaims as she wipes her mouth with a napkin.
They get up and run to Adora’s room. Adora gets there first and won’t stop bouncing around as she reaches for something in a drawer of her study desk. Catra smiles because she already knows what she’s looking for.
“God, you really can’t have that much sugar.”
“Too late.” Adora stops bouncing as she hands Catra a familiar envelope.
“No cat sticker this time?”
Adora gasps and snatches the envelope back. Catra laughs as she reaches for the drawer again and finds a sticker of a cute kitten to seal the envelope with.
“Ok, here you go.”
“Are you gonna make me read it in front of you?”
Catra opens the envelope, making sure the sticker remains intact, then takes the letter from inside of it. It smells like Adora’s favorite glitter pens.
“I can’t read it with you staring at me so like, turn around.”
Adora rolls her eyes and turns around.
Catra unfolds it.
Adora’s annual birthday letters always make her a little emotional. She’s been doing it since they met, every single year. Some years it’s been the only gift Catra’s received on that day. Which she doesn’t really mind, because it’s also always been her favorite.
It’s clear from Adora’s kind and excited words that Catra means a lot to her. She knows, though, she likes Adora in a different way than how Adora likes her, although she tries not to think too much about it. But seeing all the little colorful hearts spread around the page and the final words ‘I love you always, Adora’ makes Catra’s heartbeat speed up a bit. And that feeling fuels a little tiny bit of hope she buries somewhere inside of her that, maybe, one day, Adora might like her like that too, whatever ‘that’ is.
“Did I make you cry?” Adora asks.
Catra feels her eyes a bit wet so she looks up and blinks. “No. Better luck next year.”
Adora turns back around. “Your eyes are red!”
She puts the letter on the drawer and tackles Adora, making her laugh and scream at the same time.
Catra ends up sleeping over. Razz says her aunt is too caught up in work and will be getting home late. Catra doesn’t mind. She likes Adora’s house better than hers anyway.
It’s Friday evening and Catra sits on top of a small mountain of pillows on Adora’s bedroom floor. There are two empty cups and an empty jar of chamomile tea on the small table at the center of the room. Adora is sprawled over her own small mountain of pillows across from Catra. She has her hair in a messy bun and is wearing an oversized hoodie that makes her look super cozy and more huggable than usual. She’s reading Catching Fire and looking fully lost and immersed in it, widening her eyes at times or lowly gasping without even noticing. Catra notices it, though, and thinks it’s super cute.
Catra holds the second book of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, but she’s been staring at the same page for the last ten minutes. She’s been meaning to tell Adora something the whole week. She’s rehearsed a million ways of saying it, but hasn’t been able to open her mouth yet. She clearly has the opportunity now. It’s something she already knew for a while but only now she has decided to embrace it.
She feels she can’t fully embrace it, though, if she can’t tell the person she trusts most in the world. But what if things change between them? What if Adora starts treating her differently?
She takes a deep breath, then another.
“I went to a party last weekend.” Catra blurts out and her heart starts racing. She holds her book firmly, keeping her eyes on it.
“Without me? Woah, high school barely started and you’re already too cool for me?” Adora says in a playful tone.
Catra chuckles nervously. Her heart pounds so hard against her chest she’s sure Adora can hear it. She tries to form words in her head but it all goes blank.
She takes in a shaky breath.
“You okay? You've been kinda off this week.” Adora asks.
Catra looks up and finds Adora with her book down, looking at her with her worried blue eyes. Catra bites her lip then closes her book. She realizes her hands are trembling.
She swallows, then says in a rush, “I kissed a girl. At the party.”
Adora’s eyes widen slightly and she blinks. Catra can’t read her face so she starts to panic, but her expression softens into a warm smile.
“Yeah? How was it?”
Catra feels lighter, suddenly. She exhales.
“Good,” She nods and smiles, “Fun.” She also wants to say: I wish it’d been with you, though, but she swallows the thought. She bites the inside of her mouth, then says, “I’m–” She shut her eyes. “I’m gay.”
Catra hears shuffling then feels Adora’s hands on hers. She opens her eyes and sees Adora smiling and pulling her up and into a hug. Catra freezes for a moment before melting into the hug.
“I love you, you know that, right?” Adora squeezes her. “Thank you for trusting me.”
Catra hums and feels her eyes wet. They stay like that for a while until Catra’s breathing feels steady again.
“Now tell me everything.”
“What?” Catra pulls from the hug.
“What’s her name? Do I know her? Is she cute? Who started the kiss?” Adora sounds like an excited little kid.
Catra laughs, feeling light and happy for the first time this week. “Shut up, Adora. I’m not telling you anything.”
“What!? I always tell you everything about these things!”
Catra swallows, then sits back down ignoring the sting in her stomach. “Well, yeah, but like, unpromptedly.”
“Wow, alright, alright, I see how it is.” Adora raises an eyebrow then goes back to her little mountain of pillows. “No, but seriously, do I know her?”
Catra rolls her eyes but can’t contain a smile. “Adora, I have a book to finish, please.”
Adora huffs and mumbles something but goes back to reading her book.
When Catra sleeps over at Adora’s, which has been basically at least every Friday since they were little, Razz always prepares a mattress on Adora’s room for Catra. Usually she doesn’t use it though, because she sleeps in Adora’s bed with her instead. But that night she is afraid that could be weird. She doesn’t want to make Adora uncomfortable or anything like that. So she turns off the lights in the room and lies down on the mattress.
“What are you doing?” Adora asks from her bed.
“Going to sleep?”
“But why– you don’t wanna sleep in my bed?” Adora asks, voice small and worried.
“Would it be ok?” Catra’s voice is almost a whisper.
“What? Catra, of course.” She replies softly.
Catra gets up and lies down next to Adora, with her back to her. Soon she feels an arm wrapping around her waist and a nose on her shoulder. Catra inhales and feels her heartbeat speeding up, as it always does, then she relaxes.
“You know you can talk to me about everything, right?” Adora whispers after a moment, sounding sleepy.
Catra hums. Not everything, she thinks.
She finally closes her eyes and dozes off to the sound of Adora’s steady breathes.
Catra startles with the annoying sound of her alarm. She feels like she went to sleep five minutes ago, but somehow it’s time to wake up. She opens her eyes and is confused that it’s still dark. Groaning and struggling to reach her phone, she almost gets blinded by the screen’s light before seeing Tuesday, 5:45AM .
Oh, right. She forgot.
Catra hits the snooze button and turns around on her bed to contemplate the ceiling, and to regret all of her life choices that led her to have to wake up at that hour.
What kind of crazy person wakes up at 6am to exercise? Adora was doing that just to piss her off, there was no other possible explanation. Catra should never have agreed with her.
Catra also should never have asked Adora to be her fake girlfriend. But she couldn’t ask Entrapta, who can’t keep a secret to save her life. And she couldn’t ask Scorpia either, she could see this whole fake dating thing making Scorpia confused, even if they are cool now.
She could probably have found someone else but, strategically speaking, Adora was the smartest choice since they grew up together. It was also almost a spur of the moment. She saw the ad in the Art building and how close the deadline was so she just texted Adora. She honestly didn’t expect her to actually accept it.
And it’s fine. Not having to actually work to get all that money is amazing, especially since she will have a lot of free time now. She just has to endure a few weeks of Adora and not think about her too much, or preferably at all. She’s good at that.
The phone rings again. Catra reaches for it and turns off the alarm. She considers just going back to sleep and coming up with an excuse later, but her phone buzzes in her hand.
Adora (5:50AM): Wakey wakey sleepy head
Adora might’ve been the safest choice but apparently she is also the most annoying.
Adora (5:51AM): I’m almost ready!!! You better be there soon
She stares at the ceiling for a couple more minutes and almost dozes off when her phone buzzes again.
Adora (5:56AM): Unless morning exercise is too much for you to handle :)
Catra (5:57AM): fukc u im omw
Adora said for them to meet by the student center so they could jog to the gym. Who goes to the gym at 6am? Who jogs to the gym at 6am?
Catra put on yoga pants and a windbreaker over a tank top, but given how cold this early morning air is she should probably have gotten a heavier jacket. Unsurprisingly, she doesn’t see anyone as she walks.
The clouds are of a pretty pastel pink and the horizon a mix of dark blue and yellow now that the sun is rising. It’s actually peaceful. No groups of students running left and right, no cars passing by the empty streets. The only noises she hears are birds chirping, two squirrels running around and the sound of her footsteps. Her hair is in a ponytail and her ears and hands start to feel cold, so she zips the jacket up all the way to her chin and flexes her fingers inside her pockets.
Adora is already there when she arrives. She looks wide awake and unbothered wearing an oversized hoodie. Catra can see the hem of her shorts peeking from underneath it.
“Thought you weren’t coming.” Adora says and reaches for the drawstring she has over one shoulder.
Catra is too sleepy to think of something clever to say. “It’s cold.”
“Yeah, that’s why we’re gonna jog to warm up.” She says and pulls the camera off her bag. “I guess we should film something now and then at the gym?”
Yesterday they went to get the camera during lunch time then went for an awkward lunch at a cafeteria with some awkward filming. Catra imagines Adora will want to film more today.
“What should we say?” Adora asks.
Catra reaches for the camera, clicks on the record button and points it at herself.
She clears her throat and tries to use her best vlogger voice. “Hello everyone, in today’s episode of ‘Is My Girlfriend Trying To Kill Me Or Just Secretly Hoping I’ll Break Up With Her?’ we have: workout at six in the morning.” She turns the camera around. “What do you have to say in your defense?”
Adora blinks then shifts her weight to rest on one leg while crossing her arms. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, you love working out with me.” She smiles, then shrugs. “And it’s past 6:30 already.”
Catra turns the camera back to her.
“I do. But in more reasonable hours.” She forces a smile. “Anyway, let’s do it.” She turns off the camera and rolls her eyes. “This sucks.”
She gives the camera back to Adora who puts it away.
“You’re so grumpy in the morning.”
“The sun is barely out, it might as well still be night.” Catra crosses her arms. “Do you actually workout at this hour?” Or did you just want to mess with me?
“Yeah. Not on the weekends though.”
Catra shakes her head. “Ok, can we run now? I’m freezing.” She starts doing little hops in place.
“Yeah, so I usually jog around this building, then around the quad taking the longer path all the way to the gym.”
“Cool.” Catra says and sprints off.
“Wait for me!” Adora says and soon is by Catra’s side.
The cold air feels harsher against Catra’s face now that’s she’s moving faster. She hasn’t run in a while. The sound of their breathing and their feet against the ground echoes in the early morning stillness. Adora jogs one, maybe two, steps ahead of her.
After a couple of minutes, once Catra is more comfortable and a little more awake, she speeds up a tiny bit, to stay in sync with Adora’s pace.
After a moment, Adora is ahead again. Catra tries again, but this time she stays one step ahead. Soon enough they are in sync again, and after another moment Adora is ahead, definitely two steps ahead.
Catra inhales hard, the cold air suddenly feeling energizing. She speeds up, two, three, five steps ahead of Adora. She hears her hard steps loud close to her.
“Catra.” Adora says behind her. Catra speeds up a little more, taking larger steps when she feels Adora getting closer. Adora repeats, louder, “Catra!”
“This isn’tー” Adora breathes, “Jogging!”
Catra grins. She feels Adora approaching again and sprints off. She can see the building where the gym is in the distance. Her calves are burning and the right side of her ribcage starts to ache but she breathes hard and maintains her pace. She hears Adora’s heavy pants right behind her.
The path is now inclined and her lungs start burning. She doesn’t really know why she’s running for her life, but Adora can’t seem to reach her, and Catra knows she’s trying really hard to do it, so she keeps running.
Hoping her legs won’t quit on her, Catra forces herself to speed up and finally reaches the door, bursting it open. She jumps over the turnstile where they’re technically supposed to use their student ID card, and zooms through the corridor. She hears a beep sound as she’s making a right, along with the annoying squeaky sounds her shoes make on the ground, followed by more annoying squeaky sounds behind her. She finally reaches the gym doors and burts them open, then collapses into the ground. She breathes hard, now both of her sides aching, and relaxes her legs which are still on fire.
Adora enters ten seconds later. She stops abruptly and bends over, hands on knees. From the ground Catra sees an upside down panting Adora glaring at her.
“What took youー” Catra pants. “So long?”
“What the fuck – Catra?”
“What?” Catra sits up slowly. “Too fast for you?”
Adora rolls her eyes and straightens up. “Do you have to make everything a competition?”
She gets a water bottle from inside her bag and chugs on it. The gym is empty with the exception of an old lady walking on a treadmill who didn’t seem to notice them. At least at that time of the day it doesn’t stink of sweat.
“I wasn’t the one who started it.”
“Sure.” She walks over to Catra and offers a hand for her to get up.
Catra gets up without her help. Adora drops her hand.
“So what are we doing?”
“Today is leg day.” Adora says and walks to the other side of the gym, past all the cardio equipment.
Catra groans and follows her.
“C’mon, don’t you work out?”
“When Scorpia drags me to the gym I stick to cardio while she does all the boring weight lifting stuff.” Catra sits on a bench, unzips her jacket and throws it to the side. “But I prefer other activities.”
Adora puts her drawstring on the ground and starts removing her hoodie. She’s wearing a sports bra that matches her shorts. She's always been fit, but Catra doesn’t remember her having abs like that. Catra starts picking on her nails.
“Scorpia?” She throws her hoodie to the side and walks over to a pullup bar close to them. “I never see her here.”
“Guess she works out in reasonable hours.” Catra says. Adora jumps and starts doing pull ups like it’s a normal thing people do during conversations. Catra watches a tendon on her left arm appearing and disappearing as she goes up and down, and asks, “I thought it was leg day?”
Adora jumps down. “Just warming up.”
“Because the running wasn’t enough?”
Adora shrugs and walks to an area clear of equipment. “Let’s do some dynamic stretching.”
“Sure.” Catra gets up and stays a bit behind her.
“Let’s do some walk out to world’s greatest.” She bends at the waist and reaches for her toes, then walks with her hands until she’s in plank position and continues with the stretch. Catra gets a little distracted with all of her swift movements and twists. Yeah, she definitely wasn't that fit before.
Adora goes back to the starting position.
“Are you gonna join me or...?”
Catra looks up and sees Adora looking at her through the mirrー Oh. The giant wall mirror they are facing. Catra clears her throat, which still feels dry from all the running.
“Yeah.” She bends at the waist and reaches for her toes. “I was like, sleeping with my eyes open.”
They do a couple more stretches when Catra remembers the camera.
“I guess we should film something?”
“Ah, yes. We could just put the camera on a bench and leave it on?”
Great, now they are supposed to be those annoying instagram fitness people that film their workouts.
“Eh, maybe we can film a bit now and after when we’re done?”
Catra grabs the camera and starts recording. “Still alive! We made it to the gym after I won our little race.” She smirks. She turns the camera around and zooms at Adora.
“It was not aー”
“What’s today’s plan, babe?”
“Uh... Deadlifts, squats, lunges, yeah.” She shrugs.
Catra turns the camera back around. “Prayer circle that I can walk after this.” She turns it off. “Do I actually have to do it?”
“I mean, I won’t force you, but then you can’t expect me to do whatever it is you’ll want me to do later.” She walks to the wall where there is a kettlebell rack, grabs two from the ground and brings them over to where she was standing. “Which, by the way, you haven’t told me yet.”
“Fine.” Catra shrugs and walks over to the same rack.
“Have you done deadlifts before?”
“Then get only one. Maybe the pink one.”
The pink one is the lightest, 8kg. Adora grabbed two orange ones, 32kg each. Catra tries to lift a green one from the middle row with one hand, a little heavy. She grabs the last one from the top with both hands, a yellow kettlebell that marks 16kg, and drags it with a little bit of difficulty where Adora stands.
“Ok, so the form is really important so you don’t hurt your back. The kettlebell will be between your feet, but for me my feet are in between the kettlebells. You’ll bend your knees a bit, but what does the movement is your hip.” She pushes her hip back, reaching for the kettlebells by her side. “See the hip hinge?”
“Yep.” Catra thinks about commenting on how her thighs could probably feed a small country. She stays quiet.
Adora raises the weights. “Your arms stay straight down, it’s all in the hamstrings and glutes.” She puts them back down. “Ok, now you try it.”
Catra puts her feet around the kettlebell, pushes her hips back and reaches for it.
“You should feel a stretch on the back of your legs.”
She does the movement but the kettlebell feels very heavy. “Ugh.” She puts it back on the ground but still keeps her hands on it.
“You also need to keep your back flat.” Adora puts a hand on her lower back. Catra flinches and Adora removes her hand.
Catra tries again, focusing on keeping her back flat, and the movement feels a bit easier.
“Nice.” Adora says.
“I usually do a set of ten before switching to a different exercise. Try to do like six?”
Adora finishes first but Catra does the ten repetitions. The skin of her palms sting. Is that why Adora’s hands are so calloused?
After that they do sets of squats and lunges. Catra will definitely not be able to walk after this. When she thinks they are done she finds out they gotta repeat everything all over again. By the end of the third round Catra’s breathes are long and heavy and she won’t stop sweating.
“You good?” Adora asks. She looks sweaty too. Some loose wet blond strands stick to her forehead.
Catra follows a drop of sweat down her neck to her collarbone before looking away.
“Haven’t been better.” She answers and walks over to the water fountain. The gym has a few people spread around now.
They do other sets of different exercises. One which is step lunges. Adora says to use lighter dumbbells because this exercise really picks up your heart rate. But they look very easy, you just step up on the bench then go back down while holding weights, so Catra takes heavy dumbbells.
The first round goes relatively fine, but Catra is definitely starting to feel it. She’s slower and not finishing all the reps. Her palms sting even more and her legs hurt in parts she didn’t know legs could hurt.
She’s doing the step lunges again when she feels a little light headed. She ignores it and continues. Her heart is pounding in her chest and her vision maybe goes a little dark on the edges for a split second, but that’s probably normal. She pushes up again but now her vision definitely goes dark for more than a split second and she loses her balance when she tries to go down.
Catra feels herself falling and was ready to crash into the ground but the pain doesn’t come. She tries to sit up when she realizes Adora is holding her.
“Don’t get up.” Adora removes her arms from around her and gets up. She brings the bench closer and puts Catra’s feet over it, with her legs bent at the knees.
“What are you doing?” Catra breathes. Little white spots dance in her vision.
Adora kneels besides her.
“Your pressure dropped. Just lie down for a bit, and take deep slow breaths.” Her hand hovers over Catra’s face for a moment and she thinks she’s gonna touch her, but Adora removes it.
“Okay.” Catra keeps breathing and starts feeling a little better. Adora still looks at her with big worried eyes. “You can stop staring now. I didn’t die. Yet.”
Adora snorts and sits down. “Just wanna make sure you’re ok.” She starts stretching her legs. “I told you to go easy. And to drink more water. Did you even eat before coming?”
Catra rolls her eyes. “It’s not like there are any cafeterias open at six in the morning.”
“I had a cereal bar, don’t worry.” Catra removes her feet from the bench and sits up slowly. Her heart is slowing down now. “Please tell me we’re done.” She rubs sweat off her forehead.
“Yeah, we’re good. Let’s do some stretching and maybe some foam rolling so you’re not so sore tomorrow.”
“Ugh, how do you do this every day?”
Adora grabs the camera once they are almost done with the stretching. She points it at Catra.
“So how was it? Not too bad, right?” She smirks.
Catra’s tank top is wet and sticking to her body, she’s probably stinking. She removes her hair from her ponytail and lets it fall. She can feel how frizzy it must be looking.
“As you can see by how amazing I look, it was a breeze.” She pauses, then smirks. “Adora just really enjoys making me sore and looking like a mess.”
“Iー” Adora looks disconcerted for a second. She turns the camera to herself and shakes her head. “She’s impossible. But I’m proud of her for surviving!”
She puts the camera down. Her face was already red from the workout but now she looks redder. It’s just too easy to mess with her.
“So, what are you up to now?”
“Shower, obviously. Then, I don’t know, breakfast? A nap? Regret my life choices? The usual.”
“Not until after lunch.”
“Can I join you for you for lunch then?” She removes her hair from her ponytail, shakes it, then starts putting it up again. She looks all pink and shiny but somehow not tired.
Catra rolls her eyes. “Haven’t we filmed enough today?”
“Not really, just two clips, and yesterday just one. I’m busy all day until late. And tomorrow I’m busy basically all day too.”
“I told you we are meeting tomorrow evening for something.”
“Yeah, so wouldn’t you want to spend time with your girlfriend in the only free period of her day?” She raises an eyebrow.
Catra gets up and almost falls back in the process because her legs apparently forgot how to function. She grabs her jacket.
"No." She says, then leaves.
She hears Adora huffing and mumbling something as she walks away.
Catra sits on the floor of Adora’s bedroom, with a big textbook open in front of her, a mess of sheets of paper around it, and a still too hot to drink cup of tea by her side. She’s doing her Math homework while Adora sits on her own bed, reading a Shakespeare book for one of her AP classes.
Adora has gotten a lot more popular than when they started high school two years ago. Catra used to go to her house after school every day. Now she goes maybe once or twice a week. But they still talk every day.
They’re both taking advanced classes, some together, and are very busy. High school isn’t easy. Adora also has a lot of extracurriculars. And friends. She has lots of different friend groups. Catra has her group of friends too. It’s small but they are nice people, even if most of the other kids avoid them. Adora sits with them at lunch sometimes. Not often, though.
That... thing — crush, feelings, whatever — Catra has for Adora is still there. It actually feels stronger. Which is weird since Catra spends less time with her nowadays. Catra blames her hormones, or puberty, or whatever. She tries not to think too much about it. Tries not to daydream of Adora, during class at least. Tries to pretend she doesn’t feel something heavy in her chest when she sees her in town with one of her groups of friends, being way too friendly with the boys around her. Catra should get over her. But how do you get over someone you didn’t even date? And someone that’s your best friend? Catra tries not to think about it.
She chews on the tip of her pencil, trying to do some calculations in her mind, when Adora says, casually, like it doesn’t cause Catra’s brain to short circuit, “I kissed a girl last weekend.”
Catra’s teeth sink into the pencil so hard she almost bites its tip off.
“What?” Catra asks, trying to keep her voice calm and ignoring the drop of her stomach. She cleans the little wooden pieces off her tongue with the back of her hand and looks up at Adora. She still has her eyes on her book.
“At a party. Josh and his friends dared us.” Adora shrugs and chuckles.
“Oh.” A different sensation rises on Catra’s stomach. She swallows it. “ This Josh guy again?”
“Yeah, he’s just so…” Adora sighs. "All the girls like him."
Catra expects, hopes, Adora will say something else. The situation is so familiar, but so different from a couple years ago. She doesn’t say anything else though, and goes back to reading her book.
Catra reaches for her cup and holds it tight for a while, enjoying the warmth on her hands. She takes a sip, then asks carefully, keeping her eyes on Adora’s face, “How was it?”
Adora turns a page. “Just a normal party, nothing crazy.”
“No, I mean,” Catra breathes in the soothing smell of chamomile, “The kiss.”
“Oh, um...” Adora frowns just slightly, “It was nice.” Her eyebrows then raise a little bit. “Girls’ lips are very soft.”
Catra takes another sip, holding the cup close to her chin, and focuses on Adora’s lips. They are a pale pink, the top one a bit thinner than the other, and Catra just really wishes she couldー
She looks back at her textbook and places the cup down. She sighs, then says, softly, “Yeah.” She goes back to focusing on Math.
Adora somehow convinced Catra to go to a house party. High school parties aren’t really Catra’s thing, at least not the ones Adora likes to frequent. But she was missing Adora, and she got so excited when she agreed that she couldn’t back down. It goes like she expected it. She feels very out of place, and like people are staring, wondering who the fuck is she and why is she there, even if Adora sticks by her side. She thinks Adora’s friends hate her or something, and of course that Josh guy is there.
She holds a beer so she has something to do with her hands, and tries to pretend she’s interested in whatever they are talking about. Adora drinks a little too much, she thinks. It seems like all of them do, and Adora just follows along, which annoys Catra, but she doesn’t say anything. And Adora starts to get… touchy. She keeps an arm around Catra’s shoulders, or on her side, or sometimes she just clings to her arm and rests her head on her shoulder. Catra shouldn’t let her be so close. She’s been trying to be less touchy with Adora in general, to see if she can get over her already. But it feels nice, especially because she’s only being touchy with her, and in front of her friends, so she just lets her.
At some point Adora asks if she wanna go dance. Catra is happy to get away from those people so she says yes. It’s fun, and Adora is giggly and a bit floppy, and slurring random nonsense sometimes, and still very touchy.
At some point some of Adora’s friends join them, which really sucks, because now Catra is dancing in a circle with mostly strangers, and dudes who think jumping is the same as dancing. Josh is there too, next to Adora, and he says something in her ear, which gives Catra a bitter taste in her mouth. But then Adora turns to Catra and holds her by the shoulders.
“Catra, kiss me!” She giggles close to Catra’s ear.
“What!?” Catra freezes. “Adora, you’re drunk.”
“Whos cares.” She giggles again and puts one hand on Catra’s neck. “Just a little kiss! I always wondered how it felt to kiss you.”
“Youー What!?” Catra’s heart is about to jump out of her chest.
Adora’s just drunk. Five minutes ago she wanted to go make snow angels outside. It isn’t even winte r. B ut she’s so close, and Catra could just – kiss her!?
She realizes people are watching. Josh is watching.
“Is this for Josh again?”
“What? Nooo.” Adora grins and Catra almost believes her. “But I guess he’d think I’m cool, right?”
The bitter taste in her mouth comes back. Catra pushes Adora’s hands off her, making her almost lose her balance.
“I’m leaving.” She says and walks away. She feels her eyes starting to sting but she’s not about to cry in that place.
She doesn’t make too far when she feels her arm being pulled back. “Catra, wait!”
Catra turns and yanks her arm from Adora’s hand. “I’m not your fucking toy, Adora.”
Catra doesn’t hear whatever Adora is trying to say. She turns and runs off so Adora can’t reach her again.
Adora doesn’t mention anything when they see each other again. She only asks what time did Catra leave because she didn’t remember much. Catra doesn’t know if she actually remembers, or if it’d be better if she did or not.
She used to still sleep over at Adora’s house from time to time, but she stops doing that. She also asks for Adora to stop hugging and touching her when they are together. Adora seems confused but respects her. It kills Catra to keep that type of distance from her, but she figures it’s the only way to get over Adora.
She needs to get over her.
Adora (12:23PM): Where/when are we meeting later today?
Adora (3:00PM): ?
Catra (5:46PM): 7pm, recreation center 2nd floor
Adora (5:47PM): And what are we doing? What should I wear?
Adora (6:00PM): Catra
Catra (6:05PM): comfy clothes and don’t forget to wear socks
Adora (6:07PM): ??
Adora knows Catra likes to be difficult on purpose. But not even telling her what they’re gonna do is a little too much.
She puts on a t-shirt and yoga pants and double checks her socks don’t have holes on them before leaving. She wanders around the second floor of the recreation center for a while, until she finds a closed double door with a sign on it saying Tango Club, Lesson @ 7PM . She checks the rest of the floor but that seems to be the only occupied room there. Adora wonders if it’s a prank before she finally opens the doors.
She sees people spread around a big dance studio. Most of them stretching or talking to each other. Adora scans the crowd and finds Catra sitting on the ground near a wall. Scorpia sits next to her.
Adora walks to her, feeling a little out of place. At least her clothes are appropriate. Catra wears the same yoga pants from yesterday with a loose black t-shirt and dance slippers.
“Hey.” Adora says, stopping next to them.
Catra turns her head up to her. “Oh, hey.”
“Hi, Adora!” Scorpia smiles.
“Hi!” Adora smiles too. “Is this actually a tango dance class?”
“Why the surprise?” Catra asks.
“I didn’t know you liked tango.”
“Catra is a natural!” Scorpia exclaims. She gets up and gives a hand to Catra, who takes it to get up.
“Oh man, my legs are still so sore.” Catra says and Adora contains a laugh. “Gonna go tell them to start.”
Scorpia nods excitedly.
“Wait, we need to, like, film something.” Adora says as Catra starts to walk away.
“We can film later.” Catra says and walks to an older guy who doesn’t look like a college student.
“Uh, what’s she gonna do?”
“Tell the instructor to begin the lesson. She’s in the club board so she kinda has to run things.”
Scorpia nods. “I come here for moral support sometimes, but dancing is hard! Especially when I’m so tall and other people try to lead me, sometimes I step on their feet and, man, I feel so bad.” Scorpia rubs the back of her neck. “But Catra is a great leader, even with our height difference. I’m getting better!”
Adora blinks. “Okay?”
Adora sees everyone getting up and forming a big circle.
“Oh, oh, it’s starting! You can leave your stuff here. And take off your shoes!”
Adora puts her bag on the ground and leaves her shoes there. She sees the instructor and an older woman who’s with him, probably another instructor, in the middle of the circle. She walks to where Scorpia is.
The man says they’ll be practicing position and connection, whatever that means, then they all do what looks like warm-up quickstep movements. Adora is not sure what they’re doing, but they are kinda jumping around, so she just tries to mimic it.
The instructors then show the movement they’ll be talking about. He holds one of the woman's hands and has the other on her back. She’s leaned back on his arm as he stands up straight, while their heads face sideways, opposite directions, but their waists are connected.
They start to quickly move around, turning and spinning. Adora isn’t sure how they can move so fast without the woman falling backwards. Their legs move in sync, looking like they might stumble into each other at any second, but they glide flawlessly across the wooden floor.
Once they are done the students clap and they proceed to talk in more detail about the pose. Shoulders and hands positions, harmony and coordination, and a lot of other things that make Adora zone out.
She zones back in when the instructor asks for volunteers and Catra and a girl she doesn’t know raise their hands.
“Oh, they are so good together!” Scorpia exclaims by her side.
They walk to the center of the circle and position themselves like the instructors did before. Catra seems to be the one to lead. He goes around them, saying to fix some small things here and there, then they start the movement. They flow around, not as quick as the instructors, but just as elegant.
Catra had always been shy and introverted growing up. She would never volunteer to dance in the middle of a circle of staring people. But now, she looks happy and comfortable, and with that classic smug look on her face. It’s a little mesmerizing, really, seeing her doing elegant tango movements like it’s nothing. Adora wonders when did she learn how to do that, or when she became interested in tango, enough to join the club board? Adora has a lot of questions. She also feels almost — annoyed, maybe, for not knowing any of the answers.
When they are done everyone claps again and Adora startles with Scorpia’s loud cheers by her ear.
She thinks they are gonna all pair up now to practice, but Catra says something to the guy and points at Adora with a smirk, then starts walking towards her.
Catra stops in front of her. “Perfect time to film, don’t you think?”
“What are you doing?” Adora takes a small step back.
“Toni loves when we have new people. I offered to teach you the movement.” She turns to Scorpia. “Would you mind recording us?”
“The camera’s in my backpack.” Adora says. Wait why am I agreeing with this? “No, wait, Catra I don’t know what I’m doing, I can’t dance in front of everybody!”
“Didn’t you pay attention?”
Adora blinks. “Uh…”
“Really? Well, this is gonna be fun, then.” She smirks.
Catra grabs Adora’s arm and starts taking her to the center of the circle.
“Catra...” Adora considers pretending to faint. But that’d probably be weird.
"Everyone's nice here, don't worry. And I’m a great leader.”
Adora reluctantly follows her and feels her heartbeat getting faster. “Is this revenge for the gym?”
“Please. Me? Revengeful?” Catra stops in front of the instructor. “Toni! This is Adora, the newbie I was talking about. She’s very nervous but a quick learner.”
“Hi!” Adora says sheepishly.
“Hello, Adora. There is no reason to be nervous. We’re all learners here!” He smiles. “Shall we?”
Adora swallows then turns to Catra. She has her arms open. She twitches an eyebrow and Adora realizes she should also open her arms.
Catra grabs her right hand with her left. “Now when I step forward you bend your knees a little and lean back.”
She steps closer putting the other arm around Adora’s back. Adora leans back, trying to remember what she saw, and the instructor puts her other hand over Catra’s arm and on her shoulder blade.
“You can lean your weight on her arm.” He says. He adjusts Adora’s position a bit, telling her to relax the shoulders and lean her head back more and to the side, so she’s looking sideways, which makes her hard to balance. Then he tells them to get closer and Catra steps a bit closer, pressing their waists together.
“Great! Now remember what I said about connection.”
“You remember it, Adora?”
Adora can’t see Catra’s face because of their position but she’s sure she’s making fun of her with that smug look. Adora hopes it won’t be a total disaster.
“Yeah, totally! Connection, harmony, tango, yeah, let’s do it.”
“Cool, I’ll start slowly, okay? Just follow my lead.”
Adora feels Catra lowering a bit and she thinks she’s about to step backwards. So she bends her knee a bit more and follows her, sliding forward. They move a step and stop. Catra lowers again but this time Adora feels her pressing closer, so she follows her cue, sliding backwards. They stop again.
“Good job.” The instructor says.
“Told you she was a quick learner.”
Adora smiles and exhales, relaxing a little.
“Ok, now without stopping.” Catra says. They move two long steps backwards, slowly. “Now we turn.”
They spin around and move two steps backwards again, going back to the original spot.
“Good, very good!” Toni says. “Now faster, I’ll count.”
“God.” Adora says under her breath.
“You’re doing great.” Catra says.
They repeat the movements, a bit faster, as Toni counts one, two, three, four, and start doing it all over again once they reach the original position. Adora is sure she’s gonna fall backwards, or step on Catra’s feet, but Catra is holding her firmly and their feet seem to keep in sync.
“Prepare for the dip.” Catra says.
“Pretty sure there was no dip.” Adora says through her teeth. She turns her head to Catra, who is smirking.
As they are about to stop Catra spins and dips her. Adora clutches on her shirt to not fall as she sees everyone upside down. People start clapping and Adora feels her face getting hot as she becomes suddenly aware of Catra’s leg in between hers. Catra turns her back and up.
The instructor congratulates them, mentions something about the unexpected dip, and Catra lets go of her. He says they will all pair up and dance together now.
“See? It wasn’t so bad.” She pats on Adora’s sides to fix her shirt and Adora startles. She signs to Scorpia, who was holding the camera and pointing at them until now. Right, they were filming everything.
Scorpia approaches them. “Do you want me to film more?”
“No, that was good, thanks!”
“Thank you, Scorpia.” Adora reaches for the camera.
“No problem. You did really well for your first time!”
“Thanks.” Adora says, still feeling her face warm.
People start pairing up around them.
“Let’s go?” Catra offers a hand to Scorpia.
“You’re not partnering up with that friend of yours?” Scorpia asks.
“Not when you’re here!”
“What about, uh, Adora?”
“Oh, uh,” Adora glances between them, “I think I’m gonna head out. We already filmed.”
“Sure, but you’re free to stay if you want.” Catra shrugs.
Adora walks back to put her shoes on and grab her stuff. Tango was actually kind of fun, but she didn’t know anyone else in the class, and everyone was probably way more advanced than her.
She looks back at Catra and Scorpia doing the recent learned movements, with Catra leading. Scorpia is a little clumsy but they’re doing well. They look good together.
It’s spring of junior year and Catra… is still not over her.
It’s gotten better, she thinks, but Adora’s still Adora. They still talk and see each other every day, and hang out from time to time, but Catra’s been keeping a certain distance, even if she misses Adora a lot. But she figures it’s best this way.
Catra is putting stuff away in her locker after class one day when the person she least expected to talk to her approaches her.
“Hi, Catra, right?”
Catra closes her locker and looks up to see Josh standing in front of her. She can’t believe Adora could be attracted to this piece of generic white bread.
“Yes?” She raises an eyebrow and clenches her jaw.
“Uh, so you and Adora are close right?”
Close? They used to be closer, she thinks. Hanging out after school everyday, playing video games until their eyes started to burn and Razz had to turn the TV off, constant sleepovers and cuddlesー
“Yeah, we’re super close.” She crosses her arms.
“Cool, cool, so do you think you could help me with something?”
Catra cannot actually believe what this dude asks her. She almost jump kicks him in the throat. But she can’t stand hearing Adora talking about him anymore, how she isn’t sure if he likes her, how even though they kissed (ugh) he still won’t ask her out. And she always looks so upset thinking he doesn’t care about her that it also makes Catra a bit upset. How could this dude be so lucky to have Adora liking him and not do a fucking thing about it!?
So when he asks Catra to help him with a promposal for Adora, all Catra can think is how happy she will be. So she does the unthinkable.
She voluntarily helps him.
Honestly? It’s the best promposal this school has ever seen. Almost everything is perfect (the dumbasss got the wrong color for the roses – Adora’s favorite is peach not fucking pink, very different colors).
And another thing that is wrong is... Catra wanted to be the one in his place. The one standing in front of the stupid cheesy poster and balloons, in the middle of a crowd of curious students (she would’ve picked a more private place, though). The one playing the stupid song on the guitar (God, he was so off-key). The one giving Adora the flowers, and hugging her, and staring at her dumb smiley face and shiny blue eyes.
Catra was keeping it cool, she even helps lead Adora to where it happens. But her chest tightens as soon as she sees her beaming face, and suddenly it’s all too much. She really thought she was getting over her, at least the feelings felt less intense. But seeing all of that, seeing how much she was loving all of it, which was all Catra’s doings, wondering if she’d love it all too if it was Catra the one asking… It is all too much.
Her eyes start to burn so she runs off to the rooftop she always goes to. She used to go there more often when she was younger, to run away from bullies, or when she was upset for some reason. Adora always found her there eventually. She knows Adora won’t be showing up there any time soon, though. So she lets herself cry.
Adora (10:23AM): Are we only meeting in the evening again?
Adora (3:35PM): Can you actually say what we’ll be doing...... Please.
Catra (3:50PM): have you seen the posters around for the Halfmoon events?
Adora (3:54PM): I think so
Adora (3:54PM): That place looks a little… Alternative?
Catra (3:58PM): lol
Catra (3:58PM): tonight’s one is pretty cool. it starts around 8
Catra (4:01PM): maybe try to dress like in a cool way
Adora (4:02PM): What’s that supposed to mean?
Adora always sees Halfmoon posters around, but she never paid too much attention to them. From what she knows they have events almost every night, but they always looked too artsy or too hipster from the ads. She’s never been there, and from what she knows her friends don’t go either. She puts on her maroon bomber jacket and leaves her hair down and hopes that’s ‘cool’ enough. Not that she cares if it is or not.
The place is off campus so around 8:15pm she finds a building with a sign written HALFMOON on top of it. Some people are entering it so she follows them. She sees a sign saying TONIGHT: 80s Throwbacks Live Performances and ends up going to the basement of the place.
It is a long rectangular space, with small tables spread around, what looks like a bar on a wall, and a stage on the far end. The air is hot and it smells like beer, and maybe weed, but it’s not too bad. There is a band on stage probably playing some 80s song Adora doesn’t recognize, and in front of it there is a crowd of people, standing and sitting at the tables. There are too many people there to see if Catra’s in the crowd so Adora texts her to let her know she’s there already.
The tables at the back, close to where she entered, are more empty. Adora is surprised to see Mermista seating at one, looking at her phone with a drink in hand. She approaches her. At least there the music isn’t too loud to prevent conversation.
She places her camera bag on the table and sits.
“Oh, hey!” Mermista looks up from her phone.
“What are you doing here?”
“Ugh, can you believe Sea Hawk dragged me here?” Mermista groans.
“He comes here?”
“Yeah, apparently.” She groans again.
“How did he convince you to come?” This doesn’t look like a place Mermista would voluntarily choose to go to.
“For that stupid documentary project you talked about.” She says. “I shouldn't have mentioned it to him because I guess we’re dating now, or whatever.” She says while doing air quotes with her fingers. “Why are you here?”
Adora matches her bored expression and points at her camera bag. “Same reason.”
Everyone starts clapping and Adora looks up at the stage. The band that was there leaves and two different people enter. One sits on the drums and the other goes to the mic with a guitar. They say the name of the song they’re about to play, which Adora doesn’t recognize. People cheer and they start playing.
Mermista and Sea Hawk have been dating on and off before Adora even met them. Apparently they went to high school together.
“You two were dating again, no?”
“Eh.” Mermista shrugs. “We definitely weren’t in a serious long term relationship as we told the film guy.” She chuckles, then falls into her bored expression again. “But I’m not sure Sea Hawk gets that.” She reaches for her pocket and shows Adora a delicate silver ring. “He got me a promise ring and all.”
“Aw, that’s cute!”
“More like, annoying. I have to remember to wear it every time we film stuff.” She puts it back on her pocket.
Adora chuckles. She could just tell him for both of them to not wear it. "You two are cute together." Adora says and gets a look in response. "Just saying." She shrugs. “Where is he anyway?”
And where is Catra? She checks her phone but Catra hasn’t replied.
“He’s gonna perform.”
“Really!?” Adora laughs. Now Adora is a little more excited to be there.
Sea Hawk loves ‘performing’ his shanties and random love poems dedicated to Mermista when they are in public. He can actually sing, and it’s pretty amusing. If you’re not Mermista, that is. She always ends up pretending she doesn’t know him, but now she can’t really escape.
"He actually dressed up like Freddie Mercury and is looking absolutely ridiculous." Mermista says in her monotone voice, but there is a small smile on her face.
“Oh my God.”
“At least I’ll film him so we all have something to laugh at later.”
Adora chuckles and shakes her head.
The room claps again and the two guys who were just performing leave the stage. People start cheering as another band walks in but Adora stops paying attention and turns to talk to Mermista again. She’s about to say something when she hears a familiar voice.
"What’s up, losers? Just kidding, there are no losers in Halfmoon. Just Adora, if you're there already."
The crowd cheers and laughs.
“Did she just say your name?” Mermista asks.
Adora’s eyes shoot up at the stage.
“Who’s ready for some fucking 80s rock!?” The singer, Catra, exclaims from the stage as she strums down on her guitar.
Comments are always appreciated and mean a lot!
This chapter was supposed to have more stuff but it was getting too long so I'm dividing it into two chapters. More flashbacks to come on the next chapter!
Chapter 3: I wanna walk but I run back to you
i had to study the blade to write this chapter. and break my scorptra's heart :(
i hope y'all enjoy it!!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It’s October of their senior year. Adora is by her locker, closing the envelope she has in hands with a cat sticker. She doesn’t know if Catra still likes her birthday letters, she probably thinks it’s too corny, but Adora likes writing them, so she keeps doing it.
She feels a bit nervous. It’s been about a year since Catra started becoming distant, and this semester it feels she’s even more. She wants to think that’s normal. They’ve grown up since they were inseparable little kids, they have different interests and friends, and it’s senior year after all. She, herself, is ultra focused on school and college applications. But she really misses Catra, and she doesn’t even want to think about they possibly ending up in different colleges. If she is so distant now what will happen once they graduate?
It’s silly but Adora misses their sleepovers. One day she opened her closet to find a school letterman jacket identical to the one she was wearing, except it had a little rainbow patch on the shoulder. Catra forgot it there and Razz probably thought it was Adora’s and put it away. She still keeps it in there, and wears it over her pajamas on the days her room feels a bit too cold, or just when she misses the old days with Catra. She should’ve given it back, but– it’s comfier than hers for some reason. Now it would be weird to return it.
Adora closes her locker and goes to Catra’s. She finds her with her locker open and sneaks by her side.
“How did you see me!?”
Catra closes her locker and turns to her with a smirk. “You suck at being sneaky.”
Adora rolls her eyes with a smile, then says, “Happy birthday!” She gives Catra the letter. “Yes, you have to read it now.”
Catra smiles and starts opening the envelope. “Fine, I will.”
Adora got a little emotional writing this letter. She wrote the usual things, like how an incredible person Catra is, and how lucky she is to have her in her life. But she also wrote about her fears for next year, how much their friendship means to her, and how she promises to always be by Catra’s side, even if not physically, depending on their futures next year, but how much she hopes they will continue together.
“This is like, the cheesiest letter you’ve ever written.” Catra smiles, big and warm, after she’s done.
“Can I hug you?” Adora asks, feeling her vision a bit blurry.
Catra opens her arms and Adora almost jumps on her. She misses being able to hug Catra as much as she wanted. Graduation is still so far away but she’s already getting all emotional.
After a moment, Catra says, voice soft and low, “I promise to always be by your side too, nerd.” She pauses. “Are you crying?” She pulls from the hug.
“No.” Adora sniffs. “Ok, maybe a little.”
“Save the tears for May, ok?” She teases.
Adora laughs and gives her a light punch on the shoulder. “Are you gonna celebrate your birthday?”
“Didn’t plan anything.” She shrugs. “I technically should study for my exam tomorrow.”
“How about we do something on the weekend? Razz misses you.” And so do I, Adora completes in her mind.
“I miss Razz’ pancakes. And her, too, of course.”
“How about a brunch on Saturday?” Adora asks.
“Yeah, sounds good.”
Honestly Catra wasn’t sure Adora was gonna give her a birthday letter. They still talk, but it feels a bit weird sometimes. She feels better regarding the whole feelings stuff, though. She even had a girlfriend during the summer. Now her mind is fully occupied with college applications and making sure her grades are the best yet. Adora seems to be less boy-crazy, and is also focused on her studies. They both really want to get into Bright Moon.
It is one of the best universities in the country. The business program is incredible, and the music and art departments look pretty awesome too. But it’s so competitive. Catra knows Adora can easily make it in, even if she’s freaking out about it. She hopes she can make it too.
It’s weird to think about possibly living somewhere far away from Adora. Even if she’s more or less ok now with the fact she won’t ever date her, she still loves her with all her heart. She doesn’t want to lose their friendship. By Adora’s letter, she thinks she doesn’t want that either. So Catra tries to be less distant, reach out to her more often, to keep their friendship going. At least she has that with her.
Months later, when they both get their BMU acceptance emails, they have a little celebration in Adora’s house with Razz. They are the only ones in the whole school to get accepted, and with amazing scholarships too. Catra feels like a new beginning is near. None of Adora’s annoying friends will be in Bright Moon, it’ll be only the two of them figuring out college together.
The drummer starts playing as the crowd cheers.
Catra, in a leather jacket, fingerless gloves, ripped jeans and combat boots, with a shiny black electric guitar slung low, exclaims on the mic, “This is I Hate Myself For Loving You by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts!” She and a girl on the bass start playing their instruments, and after a guitar riff Catra starts singing.
It sounds super familiar but Adora can’t remember where she’s heard it before. Her guitar looks like a Les Paul, maybe. She remembers that name because Catra always said it was her favorite type. She used to have a crappy acoustic one that somehow survived until at least the end of high school. She’s always been good at playing it, and looks like she still is, no surprises there, but singing? Catra never sang. Ok, sometimes they would shout song lyrics together, but that’s far from the same thing.
Far from all of that.
“Damn, who is she?” Mermista asks.
“My girlfrー” Adora coughs, almost choking on her own saliva. “I mean, fake, my fake girlfriend, Catra. For the documentary?”
“Ah, that’s Catra.”
“You’ve met her before! Briefly, at least, I’m pretty sure.”
“Doesn’t ring a bell.” Mermista shrugs.
Adora goes back to looking at the stage.
As the chorus begins she remembers where the song is from. Some Guitar Hero game Catra loved playing. She couldn’t play past the medium difficulty, while Catra loved playing on expert until her hands were cramping.
She realizes she should probably be filming things, so she turns to her camera bag and finds it open. Mermista is apparently filming her for some reason.
“Oh, what are you doing?”
“Figured you’d want to register this moment. Your girlfriend’s pretty cool, uh?” She smirks.
Adora blinks. “Yeah, very.” Adora glances at Catra. “She’s– the band, they’re very entertaining!”
“Is that how she won your heart? With her voice?”
“Uh,” Adora reaches for the camera but Mermista leans back with it. “No. I mean, she always played guitar but she didn’t use to actually sing, at least not that I knew of, butー”
“Alright, no need to get all flustered and start a full speech. Let’s watch the show.” She turns the camera to the stage.
As if on cue, Catra jumps on top of one of the stage speakers and starts playing the song’s solo with the crowd cheering on. When she’s done she jumps back down and goes back to the mic. She swings her guitar with one move so it hangs upside down on her back, as only the drummer stays playing, and as she sings and claps, making the crowd clap and sing along.
Adora is shocked, really. Catra was always so shy, always avoiding unnecessary attention. Now she’s making an audience go crazy, with a raspy and angry voice that matches the angry lyrics and a rockstar stage presence. She even growls at times.
She swings the guitar back around and all the instruments go back to playing. They repeat the chorus and soon Catra ends the song with a synchronized jump with the drums and a final strum down on the guitar. Everyone starts clapping and so does Adora.
“She knows how to give a show.” Mermista says and puts the camera back on the bag. “Ok, I’m bored of filming.”
Catra and the two other people get off the stage while some others enter.
“Damn, Catra wasn’t playing around today, uh? It’s always hard to go after her but we’ll try our best!” The girl at the microphone says then announces they’ll be playing Jessie’s Girl.
Adora spots Catra on the side of the crowd, with some people, mostly girls it seems, and Scorpia is definitely there too, it’s easy to spot her.
“Looks like your girlfriend’s popular around here.” Mermista says.
“Yeah.” Adora pauses. “She’s not my girlfriend. Can I see what you and Sea Hawk have been filming?”
Mermista raises an eyebrow at her and shrugs. “Sure.” She gives Adora her camera.
She opens the camera’s gallery. It shows page 1 of 6, each page fits nine clips. Catra and herself must not have even 10 clips recorded. People would probably think that’s suspicious. She flips through it, most thumbnails have Mermista’s unimpressed face on them.
“Wow, you guys film a lot.”
“It’s mostly Sea Hawk filming everything we do, which is like, super annoying.” She drawls. “I have to remove the battery sometimes so he can give me a break.”
“Ugh, Catra barely wants to film anything ever.”
“Speaking of her.” Mermista says. Adora follows her gaze to find Catra walking towards them.
Her guitar hangs upside down on her back again, its neck swaying as she walks, close to hitting people’s legs if they don’t pay attention.
Catra stops and glances at Mermista, raising an eyebrow slightly, then leans on an empty chair. “Hi.”
“Cool performance.” Mermista says.
“Thanks.” Catra answers, monotone voice, narrowing her eyes slightly.
“Oh, this is Mermista! Pretty sure you two have met before?”
“Doesn’t ring a bell.”
“That’s what I said.” Mermista tilts her head towards Adora.
Catra raises an eyebrow again.
The crowd starts clapping as the current band leaves and Sea Hawk gets up on stage with a guitar. He’s all in white except for a bright yellow open jacket.
“Good evening, everyone! I am Sea Hawk, yes, I am!” He raises his arms up in the air. “I’m here tonight to dedicate a song to my beloved Mermista.” At that, Mermista groans. “It’s easy to spot her as she’s the most beautiful girl in this room.”
The crowd laughs and cheers.
“I’m definitely gonna need another drink.” Mermista says and finishes what is left on her glass. Her cheeks look suddenly darker.
“This is A Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queens!” He says and starts playing.
“Guess I need to go film it up close, or whatever.” Mermista leaves with her camera to get closer to the stage.
Catra turns the chair around and straddles it, arms crossed around it resting on the table.
“Did he lose a bet or something?” She asks.
“He’s just like that.” Adora looks back at him and smiles. He’s pointing his guitar to the crowd as he sings, probably where Mermista is.
She looks back at Catra. She notices she has black smokey eyeshadow on, which makes her mismatched eyes pop up even in the dimly lit room. She never liked makeup much besides maybe a simple eyeliner. Her hair looks more voluminous than usual, all thrown to one side with one ear visible. Did she already have two ear piercings? Her nails are black and shiny. She used to religiously keep her left hand’s nail short because of the guitar, but now both hands’ nails look equally short.
Overall, she looks… Cool.
“What?” Catra asks.
“I’m notー” Adora blinks. “You just look different.”
“You mean cool?” Catra quirks an eyebrow.
Adora rolls her eyes.
“Since when can you sing?”
“Oh, that? All playback.” Adora gives her a look in response. “Always been a shower singer.” She shrugs. “And I’ve been taking lessons. Why is it so surprising a Music major can sing?”
“It’s surprising that shy high schooler who’d never play guitar in front of anyone can sing and perform like that.”
Catra rolls her eyes. “I played in front of you.”
“Yeah, but if you had done half of that on a talent show you’d have been, like, queen of the school or something.”
“Ew, why would I want that?” Catra asks, now looking annoyed. “Those talent shows were just stupid excuses for the popular kids to show off.”
“Hey! I participated in some of them.”
“Yep, I remember that.”
“Okay, rude.” Adora says, suddenly annoyed too, and crosses her arms. She feels like she just did something wrong, somehow, though. She relaxes and puts her arms back down on the table. “It’s just, you look happy and comfortable, and like, in your element, I don’t know.” She shrugs. ”It’s different from high school you, but a good different. I’m justー glad to witness it, that’s all.”
“Whatever." Catra scoffs. "Are we gonna film something or what? I wanna go back to my friends.” She reaches for the camera.
Adora sighs. “I filmed a bit of you on stage.”
Catra turns the camera on and points it at Adora. “So how does it feel to date someone sooo much cooler than you?”
Adora forces a smile and shrugs. “Guess you’re kind of cool sometimes.”
“Sometimes?” Catra laughs. “That’s not what you say when I give you a private show.”
Adora gives her an unimpressed look.
“What? You don’t love it when I sing to you?” Catra asks.
“Okay, okay, maybe I do love that. Still waiting for you to teach me guitar, though.”
Catra turns the camera around to herself.
“Poor thing can’t play to save her life.” She shakes her head.
“Hey! Barre chords hurt! But I have a ukulele, you know.” Catra turns the camera back to her. “It was mostly an impulse buy for the aesthetics but, still, I can play like one and a half songs on it.”
“You’re not helping yourself.” Catra chuckles, then turns off the camera. “Cool.”
“You really need to stop with the innuendos.” Adora says. She’s glad she didn’t blush this time.
“Do you know how many fingering jokes I could’ve just made?” By the look on Catra’s face, way too many. Adora jinxed it because now she’s totally blushing. “Now, if you excuse me.” Catra gets up.
“Wait, are you free tomorrow afternoon?”
“Yes.” Catra’s eyes stop mid roll to widen slightly. “I mean, no. Fridays are so busy for me, you have no idea.”
Adora crosses her arms. “You just said you were free.”
“C’mon, Adora, at least let me have Friday off.” Catra sighs, then adds quickly, “And the whole weekend.”
“The whー” Adora sits up. “Catra, we’re barely recording and now you just wanna go three full days without filming anything!?”
“Yep, that was the plan.”
“Mel is gonna complain. Mermista and Sea Hawk have already like fifty clips and we don’t even have ten.”
Catra closes her eyes and pinches the bridge of her nose.
“Fine. What’s your brilliant plan for tomorrow?”
“It’s a surprise.” Adora smirks.
“If you don’t tell me I’ll ditch it.”
“Ah, because you can hide things from me but I can’t from you?”
“You could’ve asked.”
“I did! Multiple times!” Adora takes a deep breath. “Fine. HEMA practices are on Fridays. I can’t go every week but tomorrow we could go.”
“The fuck is that?”
“Historical European Martial Arts club. We train German longsword fighting.”
Catra blinks at her. “You’re joking, right?”
“That’s what Bright Moon uses our tuition for? So nerds can play with swords?”
Adora scoffs. “Excuse me, it’s a legitimate martial art, okay? And how are swords nerdy? They are lethal weapons!” She raises her voice unintentionally.
“Geez, okay, I see the swords subject is touchy.” Catra crosses her arms. “Fine, it might be fun to hit you with a sword.”
“It’ll be fun to see you try. Just try to not pass out again, deal?” Adora raises an eyebrow.
“I was on an empty stomach, ok? And I won our run.”
“Again, it wasn't a fucking comp—”
Catra groans and leaves. She almost bumps into Mermista who is coming back to the table.
“Someone looks moody.” She points with her thumb to Catra.
Adora relaxes her shoulders. “Yeah, she’s… Difficult.”
She sees Catra going back to the group she was with. The crowd starts clapping as Sea Hawk is now leaving the stage. Soon he finds and sits with them.
“Hello, Adora!” He says as he puts his guitar down leaning on the table. “Mermista! Did you enjoy my performance?” He props up his chin with an elbow on the table.
“Guess it was okay.” Mermista answers.
“I loved it!” Adora adds even though she missed 95% of it. Sea Hawk beams at that. “The outfit choice is very… bold.”
“I wanted to get in character.” He shrugs.
“I’m gonna get another drink.” Mermista gets up and Sea Hawk follows her to the bar.
Adora looks back to where Catra was but she already disappeared in the crowd again. She doesn’t feel like third wheeling, and she still has homework to finish for tomorrow, so she goes to say bye to Mermista and Sea Hawk, and leaves to her dorm.
College is infinitely better than high school.
There are so many new things going on and to get used to that Catra is getting overwhelmed, though, and she’s not even doing that much. Differently from Adora, who seems to want to do every single possible and impossible thing that is offered. At the club fair she got a flyer from every single booth. Then she put all the first meeting dates from each club in a spreadsheet so she could maximize the number she can attend.
Catra is cool with trying new things, she got a few flyers herself, but Adora’s going a little crazy with that. Classes barely started and she’s already the busiest student on campus.
“Isn’t it weird how we like don’t know anybody here? And nobody knows us?” Adora asks one day. “I know there are so many more people than in our high school but I see so many new faces everyday. I was so used to knowing everyone.”
They are sitting at the quad by the student center. Apparently Adora had an open spot in her busy agenda to see Catra that day.
“I don’t think it’s weird. It’s actually good.” Catra shrugs.
“Even the professors don’t care about knowing our names.”
Catra snorts. “Feel weird not being miss popular anymore?”
“I was not—” Catra raises an eyebrow. “Fine, maybe a little.” Adora rolls her eyes. “But we’ll spend four years here, what if no one remembers us once we’re gone?”
“It’s college. You can do whatever you want and nobody cares or remembers a week later. That’s pretty amazing in my opinion.”
“Maybe.” She shrugs, then checks her phone. “Oh, I have a new club meeting in fifteen minutes. I forgot for which one but who knows, maybe it’ll be fun!”
“When will you be free again?”
“Maybe the weekend? Although I have some bonding activities planned with the people in my dorm, you know to make sure we can all live together in peace. I’ll text you!”
Adora waves and leaves.
It feels like high school again. Adora being busy and worrying about what other people will think of her. Catra used to be like that too, but she feels like she’s grown out of it a long time ago. Hopefully Adora will grow out of it too.
Catra’s phone buzzes. It’s Scorpia’s fifth consecutive message in the last half an hour. She’s in her Painting 111 class and is also her neighbor. Scorpia and her roommate, Entrapta, are a little too much at times, in different ways, but they seem to care a lot about her. Which is weird because they just met, but at least they are really nice, so they’ve been spending a lot of time together. Catra’s roommate is nice too and into music like her, and the rest of the people in her floor seem chill.
College is good so far. Catra just wishes Adora was less busy.
Catra’s birthday comes around and Adora is not on campus that week.
Apparently she is in some other state in a health and science conference with one of her classes. Catra hasn’t known Scorpia and Entrapta for long but they shower her with love nonetheless. They make matching silver friendship bracelets, that Scorpia designed and Entrapta built, and give one to her. Scorpia also gives her a set of guitar picks that she DIYed. They all go out for dinner at a fancy restaurant in town and they even pay for her food. She teaches them how to make brigadeiros and Entrapta specially absolutely loves them.
It would’ve been Catra’s best birthday yet if she had seen Adora too.
She gets a text from her, long and full of love, and she also calls her in the evening. She mentions the conference’s been crazy and she hasn’t stopped running around for days. Catra is grateful she remembered it, really, but it doesn’t feel the same as a traditional birthday letter. She didn’t expect to receive it on that day, exactly, since she was away and all, but next week comes and there is no letter either. Catra doesn’t ask about it. Adora also doesn’t mention it. Maybe she forgot, or maybe that was just a silly kids tradition. Catra couldn’t expect she’d keep receiving a birthday letter forever, honestly. It’s just a piece of paper, anyway.
Still, the letters always felt like, maybe, a commitment. Like, hey, I still want to be your friend. Which Catra knows, really, it’s so stupid to think of it like that, especially because she called and her text was basically a letter, butー
Having expectations is just, really annoying.
Their first semester is almost over now.
Adora invites Catra to her dorm. It’s her roommate’s birthday and they’re all having a small celebration in the evening. Adora says Catra hasn’t properly met her close friends yet, and apparently they are all super cool or whatever. They haven’t seen each other in a while so Catra decides to go.
She goes up to the common room on the third floor, as instructed, where there is a group of people at the far corner of the room. At a table close to where she enters she sees Adora, with a pizza box open about to get a slice, it seems. So far, nothing new. But there is a blue haired girl talking to her, who casually turns Adora’s head with a hand and kisses her before walking to the group.
Catra freezes. Adora is smiling, cheeks pink, head turned down back to the pizza. Catra wonders if it’s too late to turn around when Adora looks up and lights up when she sees her.
“Catra! You made it!”
“Yeah, uh, hey, Adora.” Catra walks to Adora. She glances back at the group of people, the blue haired girl sits with them. She swallows. “Who was she?”
“Oh, Mermista?” Adora gets pinker. “My friend!”
“Didn’t know you kissed your girl friends like that.” There is a bitter taste in her mouth that transfers to her tone.
“She’s not myー I mean, we’re not dating, I don’t think.” Adora blinks, pauses. “Oh, you meant girl space friends?”
“You date girls now?” Catra crosses her arms.
“Uh, I guess I forgot to tell you...” Adora’s voice wavers a bit. “But yeah?” She hugs her chest with one arm, her hand rubbing on the other.
“Were you planning to tell me?” She blurts out and regrets it. That’s not what you say when a friend (best friend?) comes out to you, Catra thinks. She should smile, say something supportive and hug her.
Adora frowns and looks at her like she’s searching for something, she crosses her other arm over her chest. Catra looks away and tries to relax her expression.
“Uh, I’m sorry? I just haven’t gotten the chance.” Her voice drops. “I’m still figuring things out, I– I thought you’d be happy for me.”
“I am. Of course, I am.” She swallows. “I guess you’re less lame than I thought you were.” She teases, forcing a smirk.
Adora seems to buy it, her arms drop by her side. “I always told you I was cool.” She laughs and relaxes. “Grab some pizza and come join us!”
“Uh, actually, I was just passing nearby and wanted to say a quick hi. I already made plans with Scorpia and Entrapta.” Catra lies.
“Oh.” Her smile drops. “Okay, if you need to go. It was nice to see you.”
They both linger in place. Catra kind of hopes Adora will insist for her to stay.
“Adora, leave some pizza for us!” A purple head appears behind Adora. It’s her roommate, she puts one hand on Adora’s shoulder and glances between them. “Everything ok?”
“Uh, see ya, Adora.” Catra finally says and leaves.
Catra feels like the world is closing in on her. She needs a place to hide.
She goes to the main library, the tallest building on campus. She tried to access its rooftop the other day but couldn’t do it because of a locked door with an ‘Authorized Personnel Only’ sign at the top floor. She’s been carrying bobby pins with her since but haven’t had the chance to go back there to try to open it. Now she does, and successfully picks the lock, thanks to a convenient online tutorial, finding stairs that lead to the roof.
It’s dark and cloudy but the cold wind makes her feel like she can breathe better now. Catra doesn’t want to think, but she does nonetheless. She starts to think of all the times she thought about confessing to Adora, all the times she convinced herself that’d be stupid because nothing could ever happen between them, how that’d probably just ruin their friendship. She starts to think of all the hours of sleep she lost overthinking about some lingering touch or stare from Adora, or something she said. She convinced herself it was all her mind being dumb and imagining things. But now she starts to wonder and overthink everything again.
Catra stops her thoughts and leans on the tall ledge, curling her hands into fists, feeling her nails against her palms. She wants to punch it, but she knows that’d only hurt herself and she’s tired of getting hurt. Why is she even spiraling like that? What’s in the past doesn’t matter anymore, she can’t go back and change things. She doesn’t even know if she still likes Adora like that. She’s got to be over her by now.
Still, she’s angry, she realizes. She’s not even sure at what, maybe at everything, maybe at nothing at all, but she feels it growing inside of her. It’s a better feeling than the hurt, she also realizes.
Her phone buzzes in her pocket.
Scorpia to 😼🦂🤖(9:03PM): CATRA!!! entrapta and i wanna watch a movie YOU IN???
Scorpia (9:03PM): we’re gonna use her projector to watch it on the wall again!!!! LIKE A REAL CINEMA!!!
Scorpia (9:04PM): i was thinking maybe a romcom???
Catra (9:04PM): ew no
Scorpia (9:04PM): DDD:
Scorpia (9:04PM): ok :(
Scorpia (9:04PM): youre not gonna be emo alone in ur room again will u?
Catra (9:05PM): im not emo shut up and i meant no for a romcom
Scorpia (9:05PM): OH!!! WHAT DO YOU WANNA WATCH?? WE CAN WATCH ANYTHING YOU WANT
Catra (9:05PM): idk some shitty horror b movie with lots of blood?
Entrapta (9:06PM): Those are so unrealistic though
Catra (9:06PM): yeah thats why theyre funny
Entrapta (9:07PM): Oh so even though they’re not meant to be comedy we can see them as such? Interesting! I’m in!
Scorpia (9:07PM): YAY I’LL MAKE POPCORN!!!!!!
Scorpia changed the name of the group to ‘SUPER PAL TRIO MOVIE NIGHT’
Catra (9:08PM): scorpia stop fucking changing the name of the group everytime we do something together
Catra (9:08PM): and we r not calling ourselves that
Scorpia (9:08PM): sorry :(
Scorpia changed the name of the group to ‘😸🦂🤖’
Catra changed the name of the group to ‘😼🦂🤖’
Entrapta changed the name of the group to ‘💣⚙️🚀’
Catra (9:10PM): ?? entrapta what even are those emojis
Entrapta (9:10PM): I don’t know I just thought it was my turn
Scorpia changed the name of the group to ‘Super Pal Trio 😼🦂🤖’
Catra (9:12PM): ffs
Catra puts her phone away and smiles. She’s on her way to her dorm when her phone buzzes again.
Adora (9:27PM): Forgot to ask, but we should grab lunch together sometime soon? Maybe tomorrow if you’re free?
Catra doesn’t reply.
Catra can’t believe she is actually about to go play with swords.
She is with Adora on their way to one of the indoor sports court in the gym building. Adora told her to wear clothes she can move in so they’re both wearing a basic t-shirt and yoga pants combo. Adora’s shirt has Fight Like A Girl on the front in big letters. Catra asked what exactly they’re about to do but that prompted Adora to basically give her the whole history of the club.
“So we do like the actual techniques from the medieval times. We read translations of historical manuals to learn the techniques that were used, isn’t that awesome?” Adora says. She’s been talking for the past ten minutes.
“We have different definitions of awesome.” Catra answers, but Adora is so excited she doesn’t listen.
“Bow got from his dads some original German manuscripts from the 1400s and I almost died when he gave them to me. I've been teaching myself some German to read them.”
“You’d love the illustrations!” She continues excitedly. “His dads are History professors here and they have basically a secret library in their offices’ building. It’s mostly full of books about ancient civilizations, but there are some medieval books too that I sneak out to read!”
“Fascinating.” Catra drawls.
“Now that I think about it, maybe I should minor in History? I only ever took one class though.”
“Let me guess, aboutー”
“The Flowering of the Middle Ages. But we didn’t talk enough about swords, sadly.”
Catra hums. They aren’t even there yet and she already heard enough of swords for a lifetime.
“But anyway, I’m rambling.” Adora breathes. “I’ll teach you the basics with wooden swords.”
“You guys use actual swords?”
“We fight with steel forged facsimeeles .” She pinches her fingers together as if that’s a fancy thing to say.
“You mean facsimiles?”
“That’s what I said. They are heavy and feel legit. But they are obviously dulled so like, no one dies.” She chuckles.
“No deaths? Where’s the fun in that?”
“Don’t worry, it's a lot of fun. I don’t know why my friends never come with me. Bow dragged me to archery so many times he should at least try sword fighting once, you know?”
“I really do not, Adora.”
They finally get to where the practice is happening. There are two big circles on the ground, one with two people with wooden swords practicing and a few people around them. They are wearing weird gear, like knees and arms protectors and what looks like a type of fencing mask. There are more people around the room, warming up or talking, and what looks like equipment by a wall.
It’s weirder than Catra imagined.
“Great, Greg’s here.” Adora says under her breath, looking suddenly annoyed.
“Adora!” A guy, probably Greg, says and approaches them. He opens his arms to hug Adora and she stiffens. “It’s so nice to see you!” He gives her an awkward quick hug while she keeps her arms by her side.
“Heeey.” Adora says with a poker face.
“So, I was reading that manuscript you emailed us and it looks like it has some cool stuff. I can teach you some of the moves if you wanted?” He still has his hands on her arms.
“I already know those techniques, that’s why I emailed you guys.” She says, looking more uncomfortable.
“I’m sure you don’t know everything.” He says and finally drops his hands. “But anyway, I’m still waiting on that rain check for coffee, uh?”
Catra clears her throat loudly. She has only known him for ten seconds but already understands Adora’s annoyance.
He looks at her. “Oh, who’s your friend?”
“Girlfriend.” Catra smiles, putting one arm around Adora’s shoulders. The drop of his face is priceless. “Catra. Nice to meet you.” She extends her free hand.
“Oh, uh, hi! I’m Greg!” He takes it half-heartedly but Catra makes sure to squeeze his fingers tightly, her thumb’s nail digging into his skin. Catra lets it go and he drops his hand quickly, flexing his fingers. “Uh, I’ll go warm up now.” He says and leaves.
Catra drops her arm from Adora.
“Holy shit, that’s the shortest conversation I’ve ever had with him.” Adora says.
“Really? That felt like ten years.”
“Yeah, so, thank you.” Adora laughs.
“Having a fake girlfriend has its advantages. Are you gonna stab him?”
“I wish. He’s too scared to fight with me after I almost broke his nose.”
“You what?” Catra blinks.
“He thought he was too good to wear the mask.” Adora chuckles. “It wasn’t on purpose though.”
Catra laughs. “Wouldn’t blame you if it was.”
Adora tells her to walk to an empty area of the court while she grabs the equipment.
Catra grabs the camera and starts filming herself. “Turns out Adora is still trying to kill me. First at the gym, now with, believe me or not, swords.” She turns the camera and zooms on Adora, who is grabbing two wooden swords and walking back. “Even after I was so nice to dance with her.” Catra scoffs. “Not sure how long this relationship is gonna last.”
Adora approaches her. “You’re not saying something about me trying to kill you again, are you?”
“So you admit it on tape?”
Adora rolls her eyes with a smile. “C’mon, I’m teaching you how to not get killed today.”
“By trying to stab me with a sword.”
“Exactly.” She nods.
Catra stops recording and puts the camera away. “Guess I’m really doing it.”
“Yep.” She gives her a sword and thick gloves. “Ok, let’s start with some flourishing to warm up.” She takes some steps away from Catra and puts on her gloves. Then she starts quickly swinging the sword over her head and in front of her.
“Uh, okay.” Catra tries to copy her, but does so in a more slow motion manner.
After that, Adora teaches her how to hold the sword properly and the right stance to stand on, legs separated into a semi squat.
Great, more leg workout.
Then she teaches her some defensive blocks and basic cuts. She explains each time a sword touches a part of the opponent’s body it counts as a point. They spend some time with Adora attacking slowly and Catra defending, then some more time with Catra practicing the cuts.
Catra is actually trying. It’s only fair after she made Adora dance tango in front of everyone. And honestly, it’s not so bad, although her arms are already starting to get tired.
“You’re doing great! Now let me show you a counter attack.” She cuts and Catra blocks it, then she quickly swings her sword one way and pokes her in the chest. “See?”
They practice that for a while but it’s harder than just blocking or just cutting.
“Ok, can we actually fight now?” Catra asks.
“You sure? I thought we’d just keep practicing the moves for today.”
“That’s boring. I want some action.”
“Fine, let me go get the rest of the protection gear.”
Catra looks at the people with the full gear again. They look dumb and she isn’t sure how they can actually move in it. “Uh, no way I’m wearing all of that.”
“It probably smells.”
Adora rolls her eyes. “I guess we’re only using the wooden swords so it’s fine if we don’t go too hard.”
They get into fighting stances and Catra immediately regrets it. Adora is probably about to knock her out in the next ten seconds.
Adora takes a few steps forward and moves her sword up then down at Catra. She blocks it and Adora steps backwards. She tries a thrust but Adora easily blocks it, getting a clear opening to hit her that Adora doesn’t take for some reason. Catra swings her sword and does the counter attack she learned after Adora blocks it, hitting her on the shoulder.
“Nice one.” Adora says.
If she wants to go easy on her Catra better enjoy this opportunity.
They go back to their initial positions and start again. This time Catra tries to be riskier and attacks faster, swinging again right after Adora blocks her cuts. Catra manages a hit on her forearm.
“Having fun?” Adora asks, looking smug.
They start again. Catra keeps the quick pace, even though she doesn’t really know what she’s doing. Adora’s ponytail sways in sync with her quick steps, while she keeps a focused expression with a small smile curling at the corner of her mouth. She looks like an excited little kid who finally found someone to play with.
“Slow down.” She says as she keeps blocking. It doesn’t look like she’s getting tired any time soon but Catra is already starting to sweat. While she’s distracted talking Catra manages to land another hit.
“I thought swords were supposed to be your thing.” Catra says with a raised brow.
Adora swings her sword from one side to the other then cracks her neck. “We’re just practicing.” She twitches an eyebrow.
Catra gets the feeling she should’ve stayed quiet.
They start again, but Adora is in a different stance, with her sword low pointing away from Catra.
She sees this as an opportunity to immediately swing down on her, but Adora raises her sword and blocks her strike. At the same time, she jumps closer and wraps her free arm around Catra’s arm, twisting and bending it back, and making Catra drop her sword and lean backwards to not break her arm. Catra widens her eyes and shrieks, then realizes she’s locked in place.
“Swords are my thing.” Adora says with a smirk. Stray hair strands fall over her narrowed eyes and her face is way too close for Catra’s liking. “Wanna learn this move?” She asks, tightening her arm lock slightly. Catra hisses and notices Adora’s free arm is extended out with the sword pointing down almost touching her neck. She gulps.
“I want,” Catra exhales, “You to let me go.” She groans. Adora unlocks their arms and Catra almost loses her balance. She takes a deep breath and stretches her arm. “I think I’ve had enough for today.” She throws her gloves down on the ground.
“Don’t be a sore loser.”
“I thought we were just practicing.” Catra says, raising her pitch to mock Adora’s voice.
Adora rolls her eyes.
“Adora!” A guy in full equipment holding his mask under an arm approaches them. “I’m tired of beating those losers. Wanna fight?”
“Sure!” Adora smiles.
“I’m finally free?” Catra asks.
“I guess so. Unless you wanna fight with the steel swords now.”
“I’ll pass, thank you very much.”
“Wish me luck!” Adora says and walks towards one of the circles where more people are gathering around.
Catra goes to sit on the benches. She sees Adora putting the full gear on, including a large padded black jacket. She grabs the camera and points it at herself.
“Hi again, everyone.” She thinks she must be looking very stupid talking to a camera alone. “Ugh, I really can’t deal with this vlogger thing.” She clears her throat. “So, my girlfriend is into swords as you’ve seen. Which, okay, swords are cool sometimes, I guess. And maybe girls with swords are hot, but don’t tell her that, it’ll get to her head. Anyway, it turns out the reality of the thing is a little different, though.”
She turns the camera around and zooms on Adora, who is now adjusting her mask. “There she is, my knight in shining armor. But as you can see that armor is not shiny at all. She looks more like a beekeeper in black with a sword, ready to save the bees. A noble cause we can all respect.”
Adora grabs a steel sword, then turns and waves when she sees Catra filming.
“What a dork.” She starts spinning and twirling her sword, like she did before but more intensely. At some point she lets it go mid-spin and catches it in the air, continuing to spin it around. “Okay, show off.”
Catra zooms out to frame the entire circle. The guy she is going against is taller and larger than her. They position themselves facing each other and get into fighting stances. A third person holding a long stick, probably the judge, stays inside the circle and signal for them to begin.
At first they move around but don’t attack, studying each other. The guy then steps forward throwing a cut, which Adora blocks. They start moving super fast, the sound of steel on steel ringing out with each blow as the people around watch and cheer.
Okay, that’s a little more intense than Catra expected.
At some point the judge yelps and they stop. A hit. Catra doesn’t know who got hit though. They start again and that sequence of events repeat a few more times. It’s almost like a dance that keeps getting cut.
“Gotta be honest with you guys, I have no idea what’s going on.” She says. It’s hard to know who is hitting who.
At some point Adora steps forward but before her sword hits the guy he swings his and strikes the side of her head. She stumbles to the side as the judge yelps.
Catra hisses. “Ouch. That must’ve hurt.” It’s hard to not cheer for Adora in a situation like that, so she shouts, “C’mon Adora, fuck him up!”
Some people turn around to her with confused faces. She snickers.
They go back to fighting. He swings from above but Adora lowers herself and blocks it, then she pushes his sword up making him step backwards with his arms up. She uses this opening to strike his ribs.
Adora seems to start to focus on trying to hit his legs, which he has trouble countering. Once he moves to a lower defensive position she switches to attacking his torso. It looks like he’s getting tired while she keeps the same pace from the beginning. At some point she strikes his head.
It’s interesting to see Adora not being clumsy, Catra thinks. She was surprised Adora didn’t fall during tango, since she used to trip over her own feet at least once a day, but Catra attributed that to her own amazing leading skills. Now, looking at her channeling her inner Mulan, it seems that all this time all she needed was a sword and ugly protection gear. Catra expects the fight to end in some epic clash of attacks and counter attacks but eventually the judge just makes them stop and they both lower their swords and shake hands.
“My guess is she won?” The judge points at Adora and everyone claps. “Yep, that’s my girl.”
Adora removes her gloves and mask and wipes at her pink forehead. She turns to Catra with a big smile and a thumbs up. Catra snorts. “Cute.” She turns off the camera.
After Adora removes the rest of her gear and puts away everything she walks to Catra. Her hair looks messier now, clinging to her sweaty forehead.
“So what did you think?”
“Not too bad.” Catra shrugs a shoulder.
“C’mon, wasn’t it super cool? He almost got me in the first half but he got tired quickly.” She chuckles. “Do you still think sword fighting are for nerds?”
She rolls her eyes and grabs the camera, pointing at Catra. She then asks in a smug voice, “So, how does it feel to date a badass?”
Winning still gets to her head, it seems.
“Badass?” Catra raises an eyebrow.
“You filmed the whole fight. How’d you describe it?”
“Alright, maybe you watching Mulan a hundred times counted for something.”
“Mulan? We use European longswords not Chinese daos, come on, where’s your historical accuracy?”
Catra blinks. Of course she knows all the different names and types of existing swords. “I’m trying to give you a compliment here, princess.” Catra forces a smile. “Or should I start calling you knight now?”
“What about lord? Lord Adora, I like the sound of that.”
Catra shakes her head. “I think I’ll stick with princess.”
She stops recording. “Wanna go grab dinner? I’m starving.”
At the mention of dinner, Catra’s stomach rumbles. She gets up. “Sure.”
Catra spent Christmas away from Adora for the first time in probably a decade. Scorpia invited her to her family’s Christmas and New Years celebrations and she agreed to go. Her entire family is like her. She’s received so many hugs she’s pretty sure she has at least one cracked rib. They all treated her like they had known her their whole lives and insisted for her to stay for the entire break. That’d be too much, so Catra goes back to stay on campus. She didn’t feel like going back to her aunt’s, or spending time with Adora. She’s been trying to not think of Adora.
Now it’s early in the new semester and Catra is at some party with Scorpia.
She sees Adora, holding a girl’s hand. That same blue haired girl, Mermista, or whatever. They are being touchy, and laughing, and looking like they forgot there are other people around them. Catra can’t help but compare herself to her – she’s taller, has better hair, more curves. She’s beautiful, really, Catra can’t deny that. And she seems to be making Adora laugh the way Catra used to make, with her nose getting all scrunched up. Except she also rests her forehead on the girl’s face, which she didn’t use to do with Catra.
It shouldn’t hurt, because Catra is over her, she’s pretty sure. Except it does hurt. A lot.
It’s like all the pain from high school comes back all at once. She should be over her. God, it has been how many years? She is over her. She doesn’t feel butterflies around her anymore (not that’s she’s around much). And when she receives a text from Adora she doesn’t feel the need to instantly open and reply to it anymore. In fact, she’s been ignoring her a lot, and there haven’t been that many texts lately anyway.
Still, she can’t help that something in her head screams when she sees her with someone – with a girl. ‘It should be me’, or, ‘it should’ve been me’, Catra thinks, if she had known, if she had maybe said something. Or, ‘maybe it would never and won’t ever be me, no matter the circumstances’, she concludes.
Catra stops staring and chugs down the beer she is holding. She can blame the alcohol for the bad sensation in her stomach. It doesn’t matter, it shouldn’t matter. She’s over her, she has to be. Being jealous now is stupid and makes no sense.
Still, it hurts.
Scorpia approaches her, and she’s happy and loving as always. She’s been by her side since day one of college, no matter how rude Catra may have been, accidentally or not, Scorpia has always been there.
Catra is not blind. She sees the way Scorpia acts around her, how much she blushes and how she stutters sometimes. How some of her family teased her when Catra was around. How she has ‘subtly’ asked her out, or to hang out, just the two of them, a few times. That’s Catra’s territory, in a more discreet way, maybe, but she knows. And Scorpia is so incredibly nice to her, she has so much love to give, Catra can’t really even comprehend it. She could see it working, really, if she gave her a chance, if her mind wasn’t so haunted byー
Her eyes unconsciously find their way to Adora again. She sees them dancing and then they areー kissing. Catra sighs and stops looking.
She asks if Scorpia wants to dance and she squeals in excitement.
It’s fun. Scorpia is fun.
Tonight Catra decides to be flirty with her. It’s amusing, really. Scorpia won’t stop blushing, and honestly it’s really cute. So maybe it’s the alcohol, or the fact that Catra eventually spots them again – and Adora’s arms hang over the girl’s neck, and the girl pulls her by the waist for another kiss –, but Catra takes Scorpia a bit closer to where Adora is, for no reason. She sees Adora’s face all flushed and smiley, and then Catra has to stand on the tips of her toes, but Scorpia’s still too tall, so she brings her down and closer by her collar, when she finally catches up with what Catra is trying to do and meets her halfway for a kiss.
It is nice. Scorpia is soft and she holds Catra close like she always does, but this time it’s different. She’s more gentle and isn’t crushing Catra’s ribs for once, and Catra hasn’t kissed someone she genuinely cared about in so long, but, still, Scorpia isn’tー
A wave of guilt hits her. She shouldn’t be doing this, it isn’t fair. She pulls away.
Scorpia looks like a flustered mess. She’s giggling and her face is bright red, and Catra can’t help but smile at that. She glances to where Adora was and she’s still there. In fact, she was looking at Catra, apparently, because their eyes meet for a split second before Catra turns her head back to Scorpia.
She knows she shouldn't, but she asks anyway, “Do you wanna go on a date with me?”
Catra hasn’t hung out with Adora since she asked Scorpia out, a little less than two months ago. She has seen her a bit though, sometimes by accident, sometimes because she dragged Scorpia somewhere where she thought maybe Adora would show up. But she never has the reaction Catra wants her to have. Well, she doesn’t really know what reaction she wants her to have, but she hasn’t even asked if they are dating, always the polite type. She always shows up everywhere with her friends, including that blue haired girl. Catra wonders if they’re still ‘not dating’.
She tries to not think about it too much, but she knows the pain is still in there somewhere, even if being with Scorpia has made it better. So it’s easy to be angry at Adora. To be snappy, or rude, or to ‘accidentally’ shove past one of her friends. If Catra focuses on the anger she can ignore the pain.
So they haven’t been talking much. Sometimes Adora texts her asking if she wants to grab lunch or hang out with her friends, but Catra says she’s busy, which she usually is.
Today, though, Catra is at the cafeteria alone before class when Adora shows up and asks to sit with her.
She says she’s happy to finally have some time with her so they can catch up. She goes on and on about the million different things she’s been doing, and how hard her classes are at that point in the semester, and how she knows they’re both very busy but they should hang out more often, because her friends are such cool people and Catra’s friends must be too, and so on, and on.
Catra realizes how much of Adora’s life she’s been missing, because they always knew everything about each other. She also remembers how she didn’t get a birthday letter last semester, and how she kept checking her mailbox every day for almost a month, just in case. And she sees how happy Adora is, talking about all the things in her life, how happy she is, without Catra. So it all hurts again.
She decides to skip class that day and go where she usually can feel some peace, the library’s rooftop. Catra’s trying so, so hard to make herself like Scorpia the way she likes her. She hates herself for still not being able to do so. It’s not that their relationship isn’t good. It’s actually the best one Catra has had in her life, so good it doesn’t even feel real, honestly, and it definitely doesn’t feel like she deserves it. Because she really doesn’t. She loves Scorpia, as a friend, a hundred percent, but romantically? As much as she wants and is trying to, she’s not so sure. So each day that goes by she feels the guilt inside of her growing and slowly corroding her insides a little bit more.
As on cue, Scorpia texts her.
Scorpia (1:17PM): hey girlfriend 😍😍❤️💜❤️
Scorpia (1:17PM): by this time u usually text me complaining about the annoying rich dudes in ur class
Scorpia (1:17PM): everything alright? ❤️❤️
Catra (1:18PM): not feeling like going to class today, u in ur room?
Scorpia (1:18PM): yes!!!!!! feel free to come over entrapta’s out
Now Catra is in Scorpia’s room.
Catra may struggle with opening up, but she never had much trouble with physical intimacy. So she thinks it’s weird that every time they are making out and things start to get a little intense, she backs off. But she just can’t do it. She knows it would mean a lot to Scorpia, so she can’t do it while she isn’t sure if it would mean something for her too. Scorpia never presses or asks questions besides if Catra’s doing ok, because that’s just how she is, always loving, supportive and amazing. So much better than Catra will ever be. None of it is is fair to Scorpia, she thinks.
Today it feels like her guilt finally consumed her whole body. Today everything’s all too much.
She pulls away from Scorpia and sits up on the bed, swallowing a lump on her throat.
“Catra? What’s wrong?” Scorpia sits up and reaches for her, but she moves away from her hands.
“I— It’s nothing.”
Scorpia sighs. “I need you to talk to me.”
Catra breathes in slowly, then out, pressing her hands down on the bed. She can’t do this anymore.
“It’s Adora, isn’t it?” Scorpia asks.
“I may be naive sometimes but I’m not blind, Catra.”
“It’s notー” Catra shakes her head and looks up at her, vision blurring. “I can’t keep doing this to you, Scorpia,” Her voice breaks. “It’s not fair, youー you deserve so much. You deserve someone who will give you the entire world.”
Scorpia’s mouth twists and her eyes start to well up.
She continues. “You deserve someone so much better than me, someone who can reciprocate your feelings, I–I’m sorry. I can’t be who you want me to be.” She presses her hands against her eyes, trying to stop her own tears from falling. “I understand if you don’t want to talk to me anymore.”
Catra thinks Scorpia is gonna scream at her, or kick her out of her room, or punch her, because she deserves all of that. She doesn’t expect Scorpia to reach for her hands.
“Wildcat…” She says, softly, rubbing small circles with her thumb on Catra’s hands. “When I said I’d always be by your side I meant it, okay? Even—” She sniffs. “Even if it’s just as friends.”
“Scorpia—” Catra is at a loss of words. “You don’t wanna punch me and throw me in the trash?”
Scorpia snorts and more tears fall from her eyes. “Never. I’m gonna need some time, but—”
“Of course, anything you need.”
“But I can’t imagine my life without you.” Scorpia reaches for her and hugs her. It’s nothing of what Catra expected. She feels lighter. “And we can talk about Ado—”
“No.” Catra hugs her tighter. “I don’t deserve you.”
“Of course you do.” Scorpia pulls away. She sniffs and rubs on her nose. “I think I need some time alone now.”
“Yes, of course.” Catra’s never seen Scorpia looking so small. She also never felt her heart so tight. She gets up and walks towards the door, but stops before leaving. “Hey, Scorpia?”
“You’re my best friend, ok? Nothing would ever change that.”
Scorpia smiles. “You’re my best friend too, wildcat.”
She leaves, feeling like the worst person in the world. How could she do that? Hurt Scorpia, out of all people, like that? What if she just ruined their friendship? And all because of—
Catra is angry again.
Dinner is less awkward than their previous lunch early this week. Now that they did some things together they at least have something to talk about.
Adora asks too many questions though. She always has been the one to talk and talk, and it seems that hasn’t changed. She asks how long has Catra been taking singing lessons, how often she performs at Halfmoon, why and when she started dancing tango, and so on. Catra feels a little smug, honestly, seeing Adora apparently all impressed with the things she does.
Catra doesn’t think too much of her hobbies. She likes dancing and tango looked fun, so she started doing it and stuck with it. Likewise, she always loved music and started taking classes. Then she learned she could take singing lessons for free if you’re a major. Her freshman year roommate was the one who told her about Halfmoon, and they started going there together. Some days they have casual jam sessions and Catra started getting more confident in performing. It was fun and everything felt like it happened naturally. Adora just wasn’t there to see it.
She also talks about the things she’s been doing, even if Catra didn’t really ask about it. Apparently she doesn’t do a million things at the same time anymore. Her classes and all the school work she has take most of her time, so she had to leave her favorite club, the equestrian one, which she’s still pretty upset about. But besides the sword thing she’s still part of the volunteering club she joined freshman year, now as co-president.
When they are almost done one of Adora’s friends pops up by their table. He is wearing a pink hoodie cropped at his stomach.
“Adora! Do you mind if I join you?”
“Go ahead!” She says smiling.
He puts his plate of pasta down and sits.
“Hi! Catra, right? I believe we’ve met in the past, but why not start over? I’m Bow!” He smiles brightly and offers his hand.
Catra shakes it. “Hey.”
“Adora mentioned you are a Music major, I’m minoring in it.”
“I think I’ve seen you around the Music building.” Catra recalls.
“He plays the violin in the orchestra!” Adora exclaims.
“Really? Last semester’s performance of Wagner was sick. What are you guys up to now?”
“It was so much fun!” He nods. “This semester we’ll be doing some good ol’ Beethoven. Rehearsals are going strong.”
“He also sings in an acapella group with Sea Hawk.” Adora turns to her. “Are you also on any?”
“You sing?” Bow asks.
“Her voice is amazing!”
Catra gives Adora a look, but she looks genuine.
“I try.” Catra shrugs. “Acapella isn't really my thing, though.”
“Fair.” Bow says. He starts twirling his spaghetti with his fork. “So how is this whole dating and filming thing going?”
“Fake dating.” Catra corrects him.
“It’s been…” Adora looks at her with one eyebrow raised before looking back at Bow, “Going well? We have another interview thing next week and I guess we’ll keep recording more stuff ourselves.”
“Ooh, what cool things have you recorded yet? If you need a cameraman let me now.”
“Thanks! Nothing too crazy, just like our routine out of class. We may have to repeat some stuff next week though.”
“Not the gym.” Catra points her fork at Adora.
“C’mon, you should do fun things. Like go on dates and stuff.” They both must be glaring at him now because he quickly corrects himself. “Friend dates. Or fake dates, whatever.” He waves a hand dismissively.
“I guess couples do go on dates.” Adora nods slightly.
“Always so brilliant.” Catra says.
She rolls her eyes. “I don’t think we could go on dates, though. I’d have to plan everything myself. Otherwise her date ideas would be something like dinner at McDonald’s.”
“Sometimes junk food is all you need.” Bow shrugs.
“Please. What would your idea be?” Catra asks. “A candlelit dinner followed by handholding in the park?”
Adora scoffs. “That’s a classic! And romantic.”
“More, like, cliche and boring.”
“What would your romantic idea be, Catra?” Bow asks.
“I don’t know.” She shrugs. “Something original.”
“Pfft.” Adora shakes her head.
“And like way more romantic than any of her ideas, I bet.” Catra rolls her eyes.
“You wanna actually bet?” Adora snickers. “Because that’d be an easy win.”
“What’s in it?” Bow asks. He seems to completely forget his food. “Don’t say money because that’s boring.”
Catra rolls her eyes. “I don’t know, this is dumb.”
“Scared of losing?” Adora asks, then hums. “How about the winner takes the other in the worst date of their lives?” Adora suggests with a mischievous face.
Catra can already imagine the horrors and embarrassing things she could make Adora go through. “Ok, deal.”
“So just like Brooklyn 99?” Bow asks.
“Ah, so that’s where my brain got this idea from?”
“You know Jake and Amy end up together, right?” He says.
They both scowl at him.
“Catra is not Jake, she’s clearly Rosa.” Adora says.
Catra raises an eyebrow at her.
“So you think she’s cool? And you finally admit you’re an Amy?”
Adora splutters, then says, ignoring Bow’s first question, “I’m not an Amy!”
“Are there any doubts about that?” Catra asks. “Remember when you used to include the exact hour and amount of time for brushing your teeth in your daily planners?”
“She what?” Bow laughs. “Oh my God, I forgot you two grew up together,” He puts both of his elbows on the table, resting his chin on his hands. “Tell me more about her past, Catra.”
“Bow!” Adora protests.
“Maybe another day.” Catra smirks. “So how do we decide who goes first?”
“Rock, paper, scissors?” Adora asks.
“Ah, yes, the ancient, adult way of decision-making.” Bow nods.
Catra gets ready. “Best of three.”
She wins the first round, then Adora the second.
“The suspense is killing me.” Bow says.
On the third round Adora throws paper and Catra scissors. Adora hits the table with a groan.
“You plan the first date.” Catra grins.
“Wait, that’s not fair. If I go first you can just outdo my idea later.” Adora says.
“Good point.” Bow agrees. “What about you both write down your ideas before the first date then you can’t change it after.”
“Ugh, fine.” Catra says. “You only complained because you have to go first, but whatever, I’ll win anyway.”
Adora scoffs. “Always so confident.”
“This is so entertaining.” Bow glances between them.
“How will we decide the winner?”
“I can help!” He says.
“No way, you’re clearly biased.” Catra says.
“I think he’d be completely unbiased, right, Bow?” Adora nudges him while fluttering her lashes.
“I am actually great at being impartial, you know that Adora.” He says. “And, I mean, you’ll be filming everything so it’ll be easy to objectively judge the levels of romanticism.” He points at himself with his thumbs. “I’m a very romantic guy.”
“It’s true.” Adora agrees. Catra rolls her eyes.
“Then if you two don’t agree with my judgment we can ask other people’s opinions, I don’t know.”
This is all so dumb. “Fine, whatever.” Catra says.
“Yay!” Bow exclaims. “Now, let me get back to my pasta, it’s getting cold.”
Adora gets up to get a second round of food. Catra thinks about leaving but Bow starts talking with her again. She learns he knows Entrapta because they are both Electrical Engineering majors and part of the electronics club. He seems like a cool guy so she ends up staying until they are all done.
Catra thought being in a pretend relationship with Adora was the dumbest thing she had done until now. Betting on who can plan the most romantic date probably takes that spot. At least they will have different stuff to film.
adora during catra's performance / catra during the sword training: this better not awaken anything in me
if you enjoyed the chapter consider leaving a comment, they always make my day!!
Chapter 4: wanna let go, wanna hold tight
hi is anyone still here....? sorry for the big wait :( writer's block and life and stuff,
but i hope y'all enjoy this chapter!!
also, little disclaimer(?), i never explicitly said what adora's sexuality was and some people have wondered if i was portraying her as bi here, but the intent was to show her as being confused/figuring stuff out. And since she was basically confirmed as being canonically lesbian i would never want to erase that! so, she's a big lesbian!! and so is catra! ok, go read it now :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Catra breaths in then out slowly, focusing on the row of bottles closest to her. She flicks her wrist and releases the ring in her hand. It flies, bounces on a bottle, on another, then, somehow, miraculously goes over the neck of a third bottle.
“Fuck yeah!” Catra raises one arm and turns to see Adora scoffing.
They are at the annual Spring Carnival happening in town. Mel thought it would be a fun place to film and suggested that could be their structured filming for the week. They did a quick interview first where they talked about the filming experience so far and how they were approaching it. After, Mel told them to go enjoy the carnival while she would keep filming for a bit. So now here is Catra, stuck in this lame carnival, with Adora and a camera following them, playing games that don’t even have any good prizes, and having to pretend to be having the time of her life.
They are at the last game booth, after going through all of the others in sequence, and unsurprisingly having gotten a bit too competitive. Competition always gives Catra a rush, though, even if it’s at a lame place like that, so maybe she is actually having a little bit of fun.
They are even on wins and since Catra absolutely sucks at ring toss ― well, everyone does, it’s definitely a rigged game ― it’s a miracle she got that last one. She only has one disc left and she knows she won’t be able to repeat the feat, while Adora also got one toss right (because of course she would) and now she’s about to throw her last one.
Catra doesn’t doubt Adora could get another one right, especially with the focused look on her face right now, like she’s about to get into a sword fight again. As soon as Adora throws her disc Catra throws hers too, making them bounce on each other and fall to the ground.
Adora gasps. “You cheated!” She shoves lightly at Catra.
“What?” Catra smirks. “How could I cheat at ring toss? I just threw my discs.”
“Where is Melー” She turns around. “Mel! Come here!”
“Yeah?” Mel approaches them, laughing and still filming with her camera.
“Please tell me you filmed her cheating.” Adora crosses her arms.
Catra throws her arms around Adora, putting all her weight on her. “Mel said to pretend she doesn’t exist. It’s ok to lose sometimes, babe.”
Oh yeah, there’s also that to add to this lame carnival day ― having to be extra touchy with Adora while they are filming, which is different from just sitting in an interview room and saying flirty things at the right times. They have to keep holding hands, or sometimes hold each other with one arm, or just generally stand way too close to the other. At least they’re managing to not be awkward, or so Catra hopes.
“Get off me.” Adora laughs and starts to push Catra’s side, way too softly to actually do anything. “I didn’t lose, okay? It was a tie.”
Catra grins and tightens her arms around Adora’s neck, making her squeak.
The thing is, it’s ― weird. Weirdly familiar how being playful like that with Adora feels. Growing up they’ve been to their share of carnivals and fairs back in their old town. They’d devour cotton candy like it was a rare culinary delicacy, wander around hand in hand, team up on the game booths to try to get the best prizes, then quickly forget about the common end goal and compete against each other to see who would win faster. This afternoon got Catra feeling like she’s a kid again.
“You two are too cute.” Mel grins.
Catra feels her face heating up, must be because of all the activity. She lets go of Adora and clears her throat. “Should we get something to eat? I’m starving.”
“Good idea, I’m also hungry.” Mel says and turns her camera off, leaving it hanging off her neck.
Adora holds her hand as they walk. Catra thinks about pointing out that Mel is ahead of them and not even filming but they’ve been doing that so much today that it surprisingly stopped annoying her.
“You knew I was going to win so you had to sabotage me.” Adora says.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Look! There is a photobooth.” Mel stops and turns to them. “Do you two wanna go take pictures so I could film them being printed on the outside?”
“Sure, I love photobooths!” Adora turns to where the cabin is, dragging Catra with her.
There is a group just coming off it while a couple is entering it. Mel waits to the side, getting ready to frame the small area where the row of pictures comes out of. After a moment, lights flash from inside and soon the pictures start printing. They have the couple being silly and kissing. Gross.
Once the couple leaves they enter and sit in the booth.
“Ok, so it’s five pictures, a few seconds between each.” Adora reads on the screen, then turns to Catra. “I guess we should be, like… affectionate?” She says the last word carefully, with a slight grimace.
Catra screws up her face. “What are you thinking?”
“Just looking cuddly like the other couple, I guess, and at least a kiss on the cheek, probably?”
“Fine,” Catra sighs, “let’s get it over with. Weren’t we only filming for an hour today?”
“I guess we got a little carried away with the games.” Adora snorts then taps the start button. They can see themselves on the little screen along with a timer.
Adora puts her arm over Catra’s shoulders and they both smile for the first picture.
“Now let’s do a dumb face.” She says.
“Got it, your normal face.” Catra shows her the tongue and Adora rolls her eyes as the next picture happens.
Catra laughs because Adora wasn’t ready. She tightens her arm around Catra’s neck forcing her down and twists the knuckles of her other hand hard against her head.
“Heyーouch! My hair!” Catra tries to push Adora away but she’s too strong. Another flash goes off.
Laughing, Adora finally lets her go. Catra wants to be mad but she sees her crinkly eyes and scrunched up nose and suddenly her laugh is too contagious. She won’t forgive her so easily, though. She reaches for her ponytail and pulls it up in a quick movement, making Adora squeak in pain while Catra laughs harder and the fourth flash goes off.
Adora slaps her hand away and is about to attack in retaliation when she stops.
“Wait! We still need the kiss one!”
She grabs Catra’s face with both hands and quickly pulls her closer. Catra’s heart stops as Adora tilts her head and presses her lips to the corner of her mouth. Another flash. Adora pulls back even faster and lets go of her.
Catra feels blood rushing to her face.
“Sorry, Iー” Adora stutters, “I panicked with the timer!” With bright red cheeks, she turns to the screen where the five pictures are showing with a printing… message below them. “But, uh, at least it looks like we’re kissing?” She laughs anxiously.
“Uh, yeah, I guess.” She looks at the thumbnails and notices how they look happy and like actual friends, in the first four pictures at least. In the last one Adora’s hand is partially covering their faces so it looks like an actual kiss. She swallows something. “They look good.”
Adora quickly leaves the booth and Catra follows her.
“I got the shot!” Mel says. “You two look adorable.”
Catra chuckles uneasily while Adora mutters a thanks and takes the pictures strip. So much for managing to not be awkward.
“So, uh, food now, please?” Catra asks, already turning to where the food stands are.
Mel leaves once they are done eating.
“Ok, that wasn’t so bad.” Adora sighs. “Except when Mel asked me to explain where we were and I froze up and messed up everything.”
Catra laughs. “That was hilarious.”
“Anyway, ” Adora rolls her eyes, “Bow and Glimmer texted me asking to go take pictures with them.” She gets up from her seat. “We can plan more stuff to film throughout the week? Also, the date will probably be on Friday, if that’s ok?”
“Date, right.” Catra raises a brow. “Sure, that’s fine.”
“Cool, see you!” Adora takes their paper plates to the nearest trash can and leaves.
For a split second Catra really thought Adora was going to kiss her in the photobooth. Even though they are pretending to date, she’s been avoiding thinking about having to do things like kissing. Maybe because she spent years of her life hopelessly wishing for that? Maybe. But it’s been a very long time since she has even wanted that, anyway. So if they eventually have to kiss for the doc (which Catra really hopes they won’t), it’s fine, it won’t mean anything.
Catra sighs and gets up. She’s tired but she promised Scorpia she would meet up with her and Entrapta once she was done with filming, so she goes to look for them.
This week is very busy for the two of them with exams, projects, homework, all that college life stuff. Since they will already have the date on Friday, they decide to just get together to do work and record some of that.
Catra at first plans to just film and leave, but since they meet at the library, she ends up staying and doing some of her work there. It’s not like they have to talk much as they are focused on their own stuff, and the silence isn’t uncomfortable either. All the years they spent studying together made they get used to each other’s silence, and apparently they haven’t forgotten that yet.
Adora follows her when she has to practice piano one day and is surprised Catra can play it (even though every music major needs to at least know the basics). Adora makes her teach her Twinkle Twinkle Little Star for the video and she almost gets it right. Music just isn’t really her thing. Another day Adora has some lab work to do, whatever that means, and makes Catra film them there. She has no idea what Adora is doing even though she tries to explain everything with her usual enthusiasm.
Catra feels like they’ve been slowly catching up on each other’s lives, and feels that weird familiarity again. She thinks maybe that’s how it should’ve been. The two of them, friends, hanging out together every day. She catches herself wondering if they can be friends like they once were, if any of them even actually wants that.
Eventually, Friday arrives.
Adora (5:14PM): I’M OUTSIDE SORRY I’M LATE
Catra (5:15PM): not very romantic of you to leave a lady waiting
Catra checks herself on the mirror. Adora said to dress casually, but her usual college outfit (a hoodie and her favorite old pair of jeans) would probably not look nice enough on camera for a “date”. She is wearing her nice pair of ripped jeans, a band t-shirt, her beloved leather jacket, and a bit of eyeliner just because.
Adora is standing next to a car outside of her dorm.
“Hi!” She says, opening the passenger door and gesturing for Catra to enter it.
She looks nice and casual too. High-waisted jeans, a baggy white shirt tucked in, denim jacket and hair down.
“Didn’t know you were into fancy cars.” Catra says with a raised eyebrow.
“It’s borrowed.” She rubs her neck.
Catra enters and Adora closes the door for her. The inside has a too-sweet smell and a sparkly crystal charm thing hanging from the rear view mirror.
“Is it Glitter’s?” Catra asks once Adora enters and starts the car.
“Glimmer.” She gives her a look. “And yes, she was kind enough to let me have it for the evening. Now buckle up.”
Catra does so and Adora starts driving. She crosses her arms and turns to the window. It’s cloudy but still nice outside.
“So where are you taking me in this romantic evening of ours?”
“Do you remember that Spring music festival you used to say was one of Bright Moon’s highlights?”
“Uh, yeah? I actually haven’t been because it’s always impossible to get tickets and expensiveー wait,” she turns to Adora, “you got tickets?”
She has a smug grin on her face. “Yep.”
“But it sold out, like, two months ago?”
“Well, it wasn’t easy, especially in such little time.” She shrugs. “But Glimmer knew someone that maybe could help, so I talked to them and they led me to another person ー I actually had to talk to like, three different people, it was a mess ー but it doesn’t matter because I got it!” She smiles.
Catra frowns. Adora hates asking strangers for favors and she probably had to pay a lot.
“You didn’t have to go through all this trouble just for the bet.”
“It’s not only because of it.” She glances at Catra before looking ahead again. “I thought the date should be something you’d genuinely enjoy,” she frowns, “that’s technically romantic, right?” Catra snorts. She continues, voice a bit lower. “And I always thought we’d go to this festival together one day…” She shrugs.
Catra bites the inside of her lip. Adora has both hands gripping tightly on the wheel and shoulders tense. Driving always made her anxious, but having music on usually relaxed her a bit.
“That’s nice of you.” Catra says, turning on the radio then looking back out the window.
Once they find parking Adora gets her backpack that looks very full in the trunk and they head to the entry.
“By the way, today is rock day!” Adora says. “It seemed like the day you’d like the most.”
“Sweet.” Catra smiles. Now she’s starting to get excited. This festival was usually full of small underground or new bands and hopefully she would recognize some of them. Maybe this dumb date bet hadn’t been the worst of ideas.
The festival started a few hours ago so the entrance is not super crowded. Once they’re in, Catra starts to follow the people going towards the stage but Adora holds her by the forearm and starts leading her in a different direction.
“Shouldn’t we be going that way?” Catra asks.
“I actually got us a cool private spot.” Adora answers. “Since, you know, this is supposed to be a romantic date and all. It’d be weird to just be standing in the middle of a crowd.”
That makes sense. Catra likes the idea of the festival but she was thinking it is very not Adora to pick being crushed in a mosh pit as a romantic date.
“Oh, we should film!” Adora stops and gets the camera, then points it at Catra. “Do you wanna tell them where we are?”
“Well, if you notice the crowd of people in weird clothes,” Catra gestures with a hand then points towards the stage, “and the banner that says Bright Moon Musical Festival on top of that huge stage, you can probably guess.”
Adora lets out a short laugh. “Are you excited?”
“Duh!” Catra grins. “I always wanted to go.”
“You’re welcome.” Adora says playfully.
“I already thanked you like a hundred times.” Catra says, even though she hasn’t said it even once yet. “Get you a girlfriend that miraculously gets you last minute festival tickets.”
“I told you I’d take you here one day, remember?” Adora turns the camera around and holds Catra’s hand before she starts leading her again.
Catra thinks back to their old days. She doesn’t really remember talking much about this festival with her, but they probably mentioned it when Adora started compiling a list of pros and cons for each college they were applying to. Back then she could imagine them both doing everything together in college, and fantasize about becoming something more than friends too. Maybe it’d be in a concert like this, with them holding hands like how they are right now. Catra internally shakes her head and resists the urge to flinch and drop her hand.
She tries to pay attention to whatever Adora is still saying to the camera. She sees the display turned to them and a smiley Adora and tries to smile too.
“And that’s how I found this spot!” Adora says. She lets go of Catra’s hand and puts the camera away. “No witty comments today?” She asks.
Catra hums. “Maybe later.”
They end up at the top of a hill that faces the stage. It’s quiet compared to being down where everyone is but the music still reaches them well. Adora puts her backpack on the grass and they both sit down.
“Pretty cool, right?” Adora asks. “The performers look tiny but we can still hear them. And we won’t be hit by any stray elbows.”
Catra nods. “Yeah, it’s awesome.”
Adora turns to her and narrows her eyes. “Are you feeling sick?”
“Uh?” Catra cocks her head.
“You’re so positive today.” She chuckles and turns to her backpack. Catra rolls her eyes. “Let’s film a bit more now, then we can shoot again before we leave.”
Adora hands her the camera for Catra to film her.
“Okay, so it obviously wouldn’t be a date without food.” Adora says. She gets a small picnic towel from inside her backpack and lays it down, then gets a wrinkled brown bag and opens it. “I hope it survived the drive.” She puts down some napkins, chopsticks and containers that have sushi rolls and what looks like guacamole inside.
Catra laughs. “No way.”
“Your favorite weird combination.” She grins. “That’s why I was late, I had to stop at two different places.”
“You didn’t have to.”
“Of course I did!” She reaches for a small package but puts it by her side. “And a surprise dessert.”
“What is it?”
“A surprise! You can have it once we’re done eating.”
“Ok, then.” Catra snorts. “Did you get avocado rolls?” She puts the camera down and grabs a pair of chopsticks.
Adora starts opening the containers.
“You think I’d not get your favorite? I guess avocado rolls with guacamole is the least weird, but fish and guac?” She twists her mouth.
“I know you secretly like it too.” Catra picks up a piece of the avocado roll, dips it in the guacamole and puts it in her mouth with a satisfied noise.
Adora shakes her head. “Remember that day I put a bunch of wasabi in your sushi and you thought it was avocado?” She stabs a piece with one chopstick, then shoves it in her mouth without any guac.
Catra swallows and points her chopsticks at her. “I thought that because you told me it was avocado.”
“It was so funny.” Adora says with a laugh. “You put it in your mouth all at once.”
“I literally almost died!”
“Then you shoved pure wasabi in my mouth while I was still laughing and I almost died.”
“Oh yeah, that was funny.” Catra grins.
A guitar solo grabs Catra’s attention and she turns to the stage.
They keep eating and watching the performances while talking about the music and the bands. Catra thought Adora’s date would be something boring that would check out all the cliche romantic boxes, but she is actually having a good time.
“Oh, I almost forgot the dessert.” Adora says at one point. She hands Catra the small paper package she had by her.
“Why the mystery?” Catra raises an eyebrow and opens it. Inside there is a familiar packaging from a local handmade chocolate store from their old town. “Wait, how!?”
“I asked my grandma to mail it to me.” She grins.
“You asked Razzー?” Catra blinks. “Adora, you didn’t have to!”
“This one was your favorite, right?”
Catra looks down at the chocolate in her hands. “Yeah, I haven’t had it since we moved here.” She’s surprised Adora took so much care into everything ー picking the day when there would be rock music, finding a nice spot away from the crowd, bringing food she was sure to enjoy, and somehow even getting her favorite childhood candy. “Thank you.” Catra says quietly.
She looks up at Adora who is looking back at her with a soft-eyed smile. Catra used to spend hours daydreaming about that smile.
“Of course.” She says. “You don’t even have to share it, I asked her to send me something too.”
“I guess you can have a piece.” Catra smiles. She opens it and breaks a very tiny piece, then gives it to Adora just to mess with her.
“How generous.” She takes it anyway.
Catra takes a bite. “Godー” she says with her mouth full, “this is like heaven in chocolate form.”
“We would spend all of our little money in that store.”
Catra takes another bite and this time it fills her with nostalgia. “Totally worth it.” She hums.
Adora hugs her knees and sighs, like maybe nostalgia also hit her.
Catra wipes her mouth with the back of her hand. “I’m gonna save the rest for later so I don’t eat it all at once.” She folds the packaging and puts it in the zippered pocket of her jacket.
“Oh, no.” Adora says, her gaze fixed up.
“What?” Catra looks up too.
“The clouds are not looking pretty. I checked this morning but it said it was only a 15% chance of rain.”
When they left campus, the sky was a light gray but now it’s way darker and gloomier. “It looks like more than 15%.”
Adora groans. “Maybe let’s film again now just in case? We could try a cinematic shot.”
“We always just film our faces.” She shrugs, then gestures around. “This is a cool scenario. It would be prettier with a blue sky or a sunset but I guess it’s what we got.”
“I mean, whatever.”
“Cool, let me see.” She picks up the camera and gets up. “I guess if I stack the containers on top of each other it could work like a tripod, then we could film ourselves watching the stage.”
She grabs the empty containers and puts them a few feet behind them with the camera on top.
“Ok, the stage is not fully on frame but I think it’s fine.”
“And what do we do?” Catra asks. “Pretend we don’t know we’re being filmed even though anyone watching knows that’s a lie?”
“Exactly.” Adora chuckles. “That’s how the vloggers do these days, isn’t it? I’ll start recording then we can, like, look cuddly or something.”
Adora starts filming and walk back over. She sits down besides Catra, and because that probably doesn’t really look cuddly, Catra puts one arm over her shoulders. Adora leans on her, resting her head on her shoulder, and puts an arm around her back.
Adora is warm and half-hugging her like that is weirdly comforting and her hair still smells like that vanilla scented conditioner she always used. It’s probably the nostalgia again that makes Catra feel a need to pull Adora closer when she should be thinking about pulling away instead, but they are filming so she just needs to not move for a little more timeー
“That solo sounds really cool, do you think you could play it?”
Catra exhales. She wasn’t paying attention to the music.
“Of course.” She says anyway, and focus back on the stage.
They stay in silence for a bit.
“It’s not so bad hanging out with me, is it?” Adora whispers so the camera’s mic can’t catch it.
“No…” Catra breathes. “It isn’t.”
“Do youー” Adora starts to say but stops when a thunder echoes in the distance.
“Definitely more than 15%.” Catra snorts.
“Crap.” Adora says and gets up. Catra crosses her arms, feeling cold all of a sudden, probably because of the imminent rain. “Is this camera even waterproof?” Adora walks to it to turn it off. She then starts putting all the stuff back in her backpack.
She sits back down, but not so close to Catra this time. The band on stage finishes another song when it starts drizzling.
“Stupid weather apps and their lies.” Adora says, pursing her lips. “We can leave if you want.”
Catra doesn’t like rain very much but it’s not that bad right now.
“Maybe after this band? They’re really cool.”
Adora removes her jacket and gets closer to Catra. She starts to put it over them like an umbrella but Catra stops her.
“What are you doing? It’s just drizzling.” Catra says.
Adora puts her arms down.
“But your hair…” She knits her brow. “You hate it when it gets wet, you’d always run away from rain.”
“Well, yeah, before learning about real curly hair products.” Catra shrugs. “It’ll frizz up but it’s fine.”
“Ok, then.” Adora slouches, holding the jacket on her lap. “Your hair looks amazing by the way.” She says after a beat.
Catra smiles softly. Soon the drizzle gets stronger and turns into proper rain. Adora scoots closer again and puts the jacket over their heads.
“I said don’t worry.” Catra says, but doesn’t stop her this time.
“C’mon, it’d be the romantic thing to do.”
Catra laughs. “Is that in your date proposal?” She tucks her legs in so they’re less rained on.
“Rain is definitely not on what I wrote.” Adora says with a small laugh. “Remember when you straightened your hair in middle school? You’d avoid the rain like it was the plague.”
“God, let’s not remember that. I burned all evidence.”
“I probably still have pictures in my old computer. I should look for them for blackmail.”
“Don’t you dare.” Catra bumps her shoulder on her. “You’d help me blow out and straighten it every time even in the summer when we were literally melting.”
“Of course I would, you had so much hair!”
“I was so stupid.” Catra shakes her head. “I wanted my hair to look like yours, always perfect and behaved.”
“Ugh, my hair is so boring.” Adora runs one hand through her hair. “I tried to curl it once in hopes to get cute curls like yours, but in like ten minutes it was straight again.”
“Wait, I lied, your hair wasn’t always perfect. Remember when you gave yourself bangs?”
“Oh, please, no.” Adora shakes her head quickly. “I repressed those memories.”
“It looked so bad.” Catra cackles. “But of course you started a trend and suddenly all the girls showed up with ugly bangs.”
“I don’t remember that.” Adora laughs and sighs.
Catra turns to her and ー God, nostalgia is really hitting today ー she can vividly picture little Adora crying in front of the mirror while Catra tried to pin the bangs back into a little poof, reassuring her the poof was actually cute and her forehead wasn't that big.
A flash of light illuminates the sky followed by a cracking sound so loud it makes Catra jump and cling to Adora’s arm. Adora holds her back with the other arm as if by instinct. For a split second their faces are only a couple of inches apart, both wide eyed and frozen, as if they’re not sure if the lightning just struck them or not, then it starts to pour.
Catra blinks and lets go of Adora. “Fuck.” She quickly gets up, realizing she’s blushing.
Adora follows. “Ok, we should really go now.”
They run back to the car but struggle to be fast while navigating through the crowd that also decided to leave. Unsurprisingly, they get completely soaked.
Catra takes her jacket off and slouches on the passenger seat while Adora throws her backpack on the back seat then groans into her hands. The sudden rainstorm is loud against the car windows.
“Ugh, there is so much water in my shoes.” Catra twists her face, feeling her shoes squishy when she moves her feet. She puts her hair together in a semi ponytail to the side and tries to wipe the water out of her face with her hands.
“This is not how this day was supposed to go.” Adora turns to her. “Sorry.” Her hair sticks to her neck, dripping water to her already soaked shirt that clings semi transparent to her chest.
Catra swallows. “For what? It’s not like you can control the weather.” She pulls out the chocolate from her jacket's pocket. “This survived, so it’s all chill.”
Adora smiles and relaxes. She pulls out her phone, wipes it and starts to look for something. “After the festival I was gonna take you to a film drive-in but my guess is,” she pauses, reading something, “yep, cancelled because of the weather.” She groans again and puts her phone away. “Guess that’s it for the date.”
“Do you want me to drive?” Catra asks, nodding at the windshield. “Because of the rain.”
“No, it’s fine, I’ll go slowly. Plus, Glimmer strictly prohibited me of letting you touch the wheel.”
Catra sits up and pokes the wheel. “Oops.”
Adora laughs, rolling her eyes and starting the car.
It’s raining a bit less on campus. Adora still looks upset, she hates when things don’t go as planned, but there is nothing they can really do.
“Do you already know when your date is happening?” She asks once they stop.
“Probably in the middle of next week? But you know,” Catra teases, “I will use reliable sources to check the weather to be sure.”
Adora whines. “I checked two different apps!”
“Sure.” Catra snickers.
“Oh, before you go, I almost forgot…” Adora turns to her backpack and starts searching for something in it. “I was gonna give it to you at the end of the dateー found it.” She fishes out a little gift box from the front pocket. “But I guess this is the end of the date, so… I don’t know if you’ll remember it, but one summer my grandma took us to the beach inー”
“Of course I remember, it was my first time on the beach.” Catra smiles.
“Everyday we would spend hours picking up seashells, trying to find the best one.” Adora continues.
“You won because you found one that was like the size of your palm.”
“Yeah!” Adora smiles. “Back then I wanted to give it to you because it was so pretty and I wanted you to have something to remind you of your first time on the beach,” she looks down at the box, “and it was also around the time you were starting your guitar lessons, so I had this idea that I ended up procrastinating too much and never really doing, until, well... Now.” She gives the box to Catra.
Inside there is a necklace with a cream colored guitar pick as the pendant, except the pick is made out of the seashell Adora mentioned.
“Oh,” She thumbs the pick carefully, warmth filling up her chest. “You kept it for all these years? It’s beautiful.”
“Yeah?” Adora grins. “Isn’t it too cheesy?”
“A little.” Catra laughs. “But it’s a good grand finale for the date, I guess.” She closes the box and puts it in the free pocket of her jacket. It’s a tight fit but it’ll be safe there. “We had so much fun that summer, I don’t know how we didn’t drive Razz crazy.”
“We definitely did a little.” Adora chuckles, turning back to the wheel.
They sigh in sync.
“Uh,” Adora looks out of the window, “we stopped by your dorm.”
“Oh, right.” Catra unbuckles her seatbelt. “Can’t wait to take a freaking shower.”
“Do you want to stay with the camera? I thought it’d be interesting to film a bit of myself preparing for the date these past few days. You could do something similar if you feel like it?”
“Uh, sure.” Catra says.
Adora grabs the camera and hands it to her. “Just don’t forget to bring it with you when we meet up.”
“Duh.” Catra says, rolling her eyes. She wraps her jacket around it so it won’t get wet. “See ya, Adora.” She leaves the car and sprints to her dorm.
Later, after Catra has taken a shower and is warm and not feeling disgusting anymore, she decides to watch what Adora filmed by herself, just out of curiosity.
She picks up the camera and selects a clip from the gallery.
Adora is walking but the camera only frames the ground and her feet. She’s wearing pink socks with horses on them. The camera turns as she stops and places it somewhere ahead of her, framing her torso.
“Okay.” She says and reaches a hand towards it.
The clip ends.
Catra facepalms. She clicks on the next clip.
Adora has her eyes narrowed, face close to the camera, looking somewhere just outside of it.
“Ugh, okay, stupid camera,” she mutters, “I think it’s recording now.”
She walks back and sits on a chair. “I just talked to no one for ten fucking minutes but whatever.” She sighs, then smiles. “Hi! So I’m planning a surprise date for Catra, you know, my girlfriend, you know her.” She chuckles awkwardly. “So, yeah, I’m waiting to see if I can get tickets for the music festival happening this week. Fingers crossed I can get them for rock day, I know she’d love that, thenー”
Catra changes to the next one. It’s a different day, but what looks like her dorm room again.
“I just had this idea of getting something I know Catra would love, but I’m gonna need a little help.” She says, holding her phone in one hand. “Gonna call my grandma now.”
She taps on the phone and puts it close to the camera. It rings for a few times.
“Hello, dearie.” Razz’s voice comes out of the phone’s speaker.
Catra can’t help the smile that curls up on her lips once she hears that familiar voice.
“Hi, nana! Is this a good time to talk?”
“Yes, yes, everything ok, darling?”
“Yes! I wanted to ask you something… Do you think you could go to that chocolate store we love and maybe mail something from there to me?”
“Of course, my Adora. Feeling homesick? I can also send you some baked goods if you want me to make me something.”
“Oh, I don’t want to bother you, I know you’re busy! I’ll also need something from my room, I’ll explain, but it’s kind of urgent… Do you think you could like express mail it?”
Razz laughs. “Sure, dearie, but why the rush?”
“Ah, it’s a gift, for my, uh,” Adora’s voice lowers, “for Catra.”
“Oh! Catra?" Razz lights up. "Have you twoー” Adora taps on the phone and puts it against her ear.
She reaches for the camera and the clip ends.
Catra clicks on the next one. It’s Adora talking to Razz again but now they are facetiming. Adora is trying to describe which chocolate it is she wanted her to pick up while Razz keeps showing different ones to her. Later Razz is trying to buy multiple different sweets but Adora keeps insisting she doesn’t want her to spend all that money and only one is fine. They settle for two. It ends with Razz asking Adora to tell Catra she misses her very much.
Catra bites the inside of her lip and exhales. She didn’t even ask how Razz was doing when Adora mentioned her earlier.
There is one last clip of Adora filming alone.
“Hey, guys.” Adora says.
The camera frames Bow and Glimmer in what looks like the common room of a suite, but they don’t notice her. Bow is playing very intensely on his violin what sounds like Toxic by Britney Spears while Glimmer dances by his side.
“Hey!” Adora says again.
Both of them start singing the lyrics.
“GUYS!” Adora shouts.
Bow looks at her and stops playing. Glimmer stops mid dance and turns to her.
“Adora, hi!” Bow grins at her.
“Are you filming us?” Glimmer asks.
“Yeah, uh, do any of you know how to turn a seashell into a guitar pick shaped necklace?”
They share confused looks.
Bow lowers his violin. “I can probably help?”
He gets a tool kit from his room and helps Adora, basically turning the rest of the clip into a necklace making tutorial.
Catra turns the camera off and places it back on her desk. She gets the chocolate and the gift box from her jacket that she left hanging on the back of her chair and lies down on her bed.
She takes the necklace from the box and examines it more carefully.
Memories flash in her head. Her hand tucked close to her chest so the seashells she’s carrying don’t fall. Seating on the warm, soft sand, comparing her findings with Adora’s. Adora showing the one that is the size of her hand and there being no doubt that was the coolest seashell they both had ever seen.
Warm salty water on her ankles, infinity water ahead of her. The bluest sky she’s seen with the sun shining relentlessly, marking her skin and darkening her freckles. Adora holding her hand because she was afraid to enter the ocean. Adora teaching her how to swim once they finally enter it. Running back to the sand as soon as she felt something weird touching her foot. Eating every existent flavor of ice cream. Building sandcastles with Adora and Razz.
Being away from home but feeling like somehow she’s home.
Catra places the necklace back in its box. She opens the chocolate and takes another bite of it. Her chest aches.
In her past anger, she pushed away Adora and everything that reminded her of Adora. It made the feelings and the pain go away but she also lost something so special in her life. Something that, although she didn’t want it to be the case, she missed and misses so much.
She rubs one eye with the heel of a hand, feeling the tiredness from the week finally catching up to her. She pulls out her phone from her pocket and searches for the film drive-in event Adora mentioned. It's happening tomorrow and Sunday too, if it doesn’t rain again.
Catra (10:47PM): hey adora
Catra (10:47PM): the film drive-in is still happening this weekend we could still go?
Catra (10:48PM): when you *inevitably* lose our bet i don’t want you saying it was just because your date was cut short
Adora (10:50PM): Sounds good let’s go!!
Adora (10:51PM): **When I win, I don’t want you saying it was just because you gave me an extra day :)
Catra (10:51PM): we’ll see about that
Maybe she could make it work, maybe they could be friends again.
this chapter was maybe a little bit on the slow side but i hope you liked it! next update shouldn't take as long as this one (finger's crossed)
validate me pls tell me your thoughts and feelings and whatever else, comments always make my day!!
Chapter 5: you must be my once in a lifetime
hiiii hope you like this chapter, it's very gay and i like it a lot :)
i changed razz to be adora's grandma bc of s4 lmao and little warning for death mention/grief re: mara
also thank you all for all the nice comments, they make me very happy!! sorry i cant always answer them but be assured i read everything <3
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“What is it supposed to look like, again?” Catra asks.
“A ladle!” Adora answers. “It’s right there.” She raises her hand up again, index finger extended right at the center of the big dipper constellation.
They are lying outside, side by side, in the backyard of Adora’s house. It’s summer and it’s hot and the air feels stuffy but there is a slight breeze that makes it bearable to stay on the grass at that time. It’s also a new moon with clear sky which means it’s easier to spot stars, so it’s a perfect night to finally show it to Catra.
It’s always been Adora’s special thing. Hers and her mom’s, then hers and her grandma’s. But she really wants to share it with her best friend, so it can be Catra’s too.
Catra huffs and gets her head closer to Adora’s, almost touching. She raises a hand where Adora’s is, squinting. “I see it!” She says. “Now what?”
Adora turns to her and giggles. She loves being close to Catra.
“What?” Catra asks, turning to her. Their noses almost touch.
“Nothing.” She says. Catra’s eyes are striking even at night. She thinks Catra is blushing, but it’s too dark to be sure. She turns her head to the sky again. “Ok, so you see how the two stars from the edge of the cup form a straight line?”
“So, if you follow the line that way,” Adora moves her hand, “you’ll find the little dipper.”
Catra moves her hand as well. “Another dipper?”
“Yeah,” Adora chuckles, “but smaller. And the line meets the little dipper right at its brightest star, Polaris," she says the word carefully, "the north star.”
“Polaris.” Catra repeats. “Cool!” They lower their hands and Catra turns to her. “How did you learn this?”
“My mom.” Adora says.
“Oh.” Catra says quietly. “She must’ve been really smart.”
She loves how Catra never makes this topic weird. She never shows pity or acts uncomfortable like all the other kids. She’s just Catra.
“She is up there somewhere.”
“Yeah.” Adora smiles. She snuggles closer to Catra, and even if it’s hot and they are both a little sticky, it feels nice. She thinks Catra will complain but she says nothing, so they stay like that, watching the stars.
“Do you know other constellations?” Catra asks after a while, voice soft.
“A few.” Adora says, and starts showing them to Catra.
“You are writing a song for Adora?” Scorpia asks, voice rising in pitch, “A love song?”
“It’s not a loveー ok, technically, it’s a love song, but it’s just for that bet I told you about, remember?”
She sits on the floor of her dorm room, with a pen in hand and her sketchbook open on her lap. Scorpia sits on the bed and was lost in her phone before she asked what Catra was doing.
“You have to write a song for the bet?”
“I don’t have to, it just will make it better.” Catra explains. She probably could pick an existing song, but now that she has already started writing it… “Plus, I haven’t written anything in so long I felt like it would be a good exercise.”
“Right.” Scorpia hums. “A good exercise. To write a love song. For Adora.”
Catra raises an eyebrow at her.
“What’s the matter?”
“Nothing!” Scorpia says. “It’s just… you two went to that festival, and then yesterday to the moviesー”
“And? It was her part of the bet.”
“Yeah, but, you two have been spending a lot of time together.”
“Yes, Scorpia,” Catra repeats, “because of theー”
“And you weren’t even angry that you got rained on, and, oh boy, you do get angry when that happens,”
“And all this preparation you’ve been doing for your date,”
“Bet, not date, sorry! I know,” Scorpia continues on, “I don’t want you to get hurt again, because this is still all for the documentary, right?”
“Get hurtー?” Catra splutters, “What? Scorpia, of course all of this is for the film, it’s not because I like her, geez.” Catra rolls her eyes. “And we already talked about this. I’m over her, remember? Have been for a long time.”
“I know, I’m just looking out for you.”
“I appreciate that.” Catra says. “Really.”
Scorpia smiles. “You think you two will be friends again?”
“I don’t know, maybe? I don’t even know if she wants that…”
“I know a lot of things happened, but she’ll always be an important part of your life, right? But in any case, friendship is hard work.”
“Yeah, I know.” Catra sighs. “Can you pass me my guitar?”
Adora is home alone after school. She left a bit earlier. These days were always hard for her to focus on anything, but being alone didn’t exactly help it. She tried distracting herself by doing chores and organizing her room, but now she’s tired and her grandma won’t be home until a few hours.
She picks up her phone and clicks on the little phone icon next to Catra’s name, but cancels the call before it actually rings. They haven’t really talked in a while. They’ve both been busy, Adora guesses, but even when they occasionally hang out it feels weird.
Adora sighs and walks to her closet to find an old letterman jacket with a rainbow patch on it. She puts it on and goes to lie on her bed. The jacket helps a little.
She knows she won’t be able to take a nap so she just stares at the ceiling. She can’t stay still like that for long, though, and the sadness and grief are slowly approaching. Before she can think too much about it she calls Catra again, not canceling it this time.
Catra picks up on the second ring.
“Hey, Adora.” Catra’s voice is low on the other end.
Adora instantly feels better.
“Hey, Catra. Are you busy right now?”
“No. Just chilling in my room.” Catra answers. “I tried finding you today after class.”
“You did?” Adora asks, a little surprised. “Did you wanna talk about anything?”
“Just wanted to check on you. Because of today…” She trails off.
“You remember.” Adora says, more like a question.
“Of course. Do you want me to come over?”
Yes, please, Adora thinks, but says, “I don’t wanna bother you… but maybe we could just talk for a bit?”
“Sure, whatever you prefer.”
Adora wishes she would insist on coming over. “So, uh, we haven’t really talked in a while…” I miss you, she thinks.
“Yeah,” there’s a pause, and Adora thinks Catra is not gonna say anything else. She probably shouldn’t have called, but then, “I finally learned that Metallica solo.”
Adora snorts. “That one from last year?”
“Yes,” Catra says with a small laugh, “I need an electric guitar, though. My acoustic one just doesn’t give it justice.”
Adora smiles and relaxes. “Do you wanna play it for me?”
“Yeah? Let me get my guitar.” A noise, like the phone was put on top of something, then Catra’s voice sounds a bit distant. “I’ll put you on speaker.”
Adora puts her phone on the other ear and turns to the side, snuggling in Catra’s jacket.
"Are you also gonna sing to me?" Adora asks.
"It's a solo, Adora," her voice grows closer to the phone again, "there are no lyrics. And I can't sing."
Adora laughs. "I bet you can."
"Shut up." Catra says, but Adora can hear the smile on her voice. "Ok, ready?"
Adora sits across from Catra in a private study room at the library. Catra looks relaxed as usual, in a slouched posture, while Adora sits up straight as Mel is finishing setting up her equipment for another interview. She hasn’t said anything about what type of questions they will be answering, which makes Adora a little nervous.
“Relax, bouncy leg.” Catra whispers. “It’s just a chill interview, we got this.”
Adora stops moving her leg and takes a deep breath, feeling sheepish.
“How did you know I was bouncing my leg?” They can’t see each other’s legs under the table.
The film drive-in went surprisingly fine. Actually, everything seems to be going surprisingly fine recently. Catra seemed to have enjoyed what Adora planned for her last Friday, even with the rain, and the movie was more fun than Adora anticipated ー it was almost like their old movie nights, what now feels like a lifetime ago. Adora still expects Catra will start acting grumpy again or be rude for no reason, but she’s just been… Catra. Maybe she realized she’s stuck with Adora until this documentary thing ends anyway so she might as well just play nice. Or maybe she wants to be friends again? Even though she’s made pretty clear in the past how much she didn’t want that?
Adora is a little confused to be honest. She isn’t even sure herself why some part of her wants to reconnect with Catra so much. Ok, they having been best friends for most of their lives is a good reason, but could things ever go back to how they once were? Maybe this whole thing can at least give her some closure by the end of it.
“Ok, ready?” Mel asks.
“Yep.” Catra answers.
“And rolling.” She presses a button on the camera. She holds a notebook, probably with the questions. “Today we’ll be talking about your relationship, but also relationships in general. First question: what’s the best part of dating each other?”
Adora blinks at Catra.
“Have you seen her arms?” Catra asks. “Since we started dating there isn’t a single jar that can’t be opened.”
They laugh. Catra always has a quick answer for everything.
“So you’re only with me for my muscles?” Adora shakes her head.
“Ok, maybe not only that.” Catra gestures one hand in the air. “It’s nice to date someone who you’ve known for so long and knows you well.”
“Yeah, definitely.” Adora agrees. “It’s like dating your best friend.”
Catra averts her gaze.
“How have things changed from going from friends to girlfriends?” Mel asks. “Has it all been smooth sailing?”
“I guess that’s a no.” Mel laughs.
“We’ve had some choppy waters in the past.” Adora chuckles nervously.
“You know, like most relationships…” Catra shrugs. “But we worked through it.”
Adora hums and nods. This interview is probably going to be their most awkward one yet. “But I’d say it hasn’t changed much?”
“Yeah, since, like we said, we’ve known each other forever.” Catra adds.
Mels nods. “What are your favorite traits about each other?”
That’s an easy one, Adora thinks. “Her determination. When she wants something she won’t stop until she gets it. She’s been like that since ever.” She smiles. “I remember when we were little she spent, like, a full month drawing a thousand horses just because she wanted to draw a nice one for me.” She chuckles. “She has this ambition in her that has always inspired me.”
“Horses are hard to draw.” Catra says with a small laugh. “I’ve always admired Adora’s altruism. She always goes out of her way even for strangers. Like once when we were only maybe fourteen, she ran a campaign to raise money for a low income student, and thanks to it their family managed to not lose their home.”
Adora smiles, she almost forgot about that.
“What about least favorite traits?” Mel asks. “Maybe I should’ve asked that first.”
“I guess sometimes Catra… closes herself off too much.”
Catra stares for a moment before saying, “Adora… worries too much.”
They turn to Mel, clearly not wanting to elaborate on their own points.
“What makes a relationship last?”
Catra hums. "I'd say sharing your life with the other person," she crosses her arms, “putting them first, not constantly obviously, but making time for them, paying attention to their needs. You know, things like that.”
“True, that’s very important.” Adora nods. “But two people can’t know what each other need if communication is an issue.” She focuses on her hands and wrings them before continuing. “No one can read minds, so if something happens that makes you upset, for example, you need to tell the other what exactly happened. Because a lot of times they don't even realize they did something wrong as it is certainly not their intention, you know?” She looks up to Mel.
Mel nods in response.
Adora thinks how they slowly started to get distant from each other, how she thought maybe Catra just needed some space for whatever reason, thinks of trying to talk to her but Catra ignoring her, thinks of Catra being rude to her and her friends and never talking to her about anything. She was angry then, and feels the anger coming back.
She continues, “And if you don’t say anything you may just start acting differently, distant or angry, while the other will just keep torturing themselves wondering what could've happened and how could they make up for it, which they don’t even know what they have to make up for, so they'll become angry too. And if things go on like that both people will just drift apart for good.” Adora pauses, catching her breath. “Sorry, I’m rambling. Communication is very important for any type of relationship, I’d say.”
Catra sighs. “Yeah, communication is hard.”
Adora turns back to her. She’s looking down at the table, arms still crossed. Adora thinks of her not talking about it either, feeling their friendship slipping by but hoping things would just magically resolve by themselves, thinks she could’ve reached out more, in different ways, thinks communication is, indeed, hard.
The anger quiets down.
“For sure!” Adora says. “I’m far from being an expert on it myself, I definitely struggle, but it’s something we should continuously work on improving, you know?”
“How do you two incorporate those things in your day to day?” Mel asks.
“Uh… I guess for communication, we know we can trust and be honest with each other, so we always talk it out when we realize we’re bottling up.” At least that’s how she wishes things went. “And for the other point, I guess it’s more about little things?”
“Yeah.” Catra shifts in her seat, unfolds her arms. “Like how she always brings my favorite food on dates.”
"Or how she always brings me tea for our study sessions." Adora says, smiling, and looks up to find Catra smiling back.
“What is something the other does you consider meaningful?” Mel asks.
Adora thinks back to before the interview started. “Catra seems to always know when I’m anxious, sometimes before I even realize it. She looks out for me.”
Their smiles grow wider.
“She looks out for me too, since day one. She never cared I was the weird kid and always stood up for me.”
Adora frowns. “You weren’t weird.”
“C’mon, two colored eyes, weird discolored hair,“ she gestures at herself, “what else? Messed up familyー I was always messed up.”
“You’re notー you’re beautiful, Catra.” Adora reaches for Catra’s hand. “And I don’t have a traditional family either, so I guess we were both weird then.”
“You are definitely a weirdo.” Catra teases.
Adora rolls her eyes.
“Alright girls, those were the questions I had for today.” Mel says, turning the camera off. “I also wanted to ask, are you two planning to go to the Junior Formal this weekend? We were hoping to film some stuff there with a bunch of the couples together.”
“Oh, yeah, we were already planning to go?” Adora turns to Catra.
“Yeah, yeah.” She nods.
“Cool! I’ll let you two be free now, I’ll text the details later this week.” Mel says.
“So, about the formal,” Adora says once they are outside, “I was already planning on going with Bow and Glimmer, butー”
“You can still hang with them there once we’re done filming.”
“I know, it’s just, they like planning for this kind of stuff early and we were going to match.”
Catra blinks at her.
Adora continues, “I got a pink dress but maybe we both should match?”
Catra’s face drops to a bored expression. “Adora, that’s dumb, we don’t have to match.”
“But couples alwaysー” Adora starts but pauses, “fine, you’re right, it’s dumb.”
“I need to head to class,” she says, “this week is busy for me again, but are you free tomorrow for the date?”
“Cool, see you then.” Catra says and leaves.
They should probably address the interview, and lots of other things, but… maybe another day.
Catra is walking back to her dorm when she notices how clear the night sky is. She immediately spots the big dipper, and then the north star. It’s like a reflex whenever she looks up at night.
It then hits her what day it is: Mara’s death anniversary.
Catra would always spend those days with Adora, either doing something to distract her if she wanted to or just being there for her. Once Razz came home from work Catra would leave so they could have their family moment in private.
She sighs and pulls out her phone. Of course Adora’s name is right at the top of her contacts, she should change her contact name to Z or something. Her thumb hovers over it. It’s already kinda late, but maybe she should text her? But what would she even say?
She hasn’t talked to her since… that embarrassing fight last semester. After that, Adora finally stopped trying to interact with Catra at all. It was what she wanted, after all, to push Adora away, and it worked.
She locks her phone and puts it back in her pocket.
She hopes Adora is doing ok.
“So where are we going?” Adora asks as they enter the main road outside of campus.
She sits on the passenger seat of Catra’s car, no, Scorpia’s, she mentioned, as Catra just picked her up for their “date”.
“You’ll see.” Catra says. “I don’t wanna ruin the surprise.”
Adora hums. “Can I turn on the radio?”
“Go for it.”
She puts on a random pop station. From the rear view mirror she sees a guitar case on the back. She turns around and also sees a picnic basket.
“You brought a guitar?”
“Geez, ok.” She turns back around.
“We’ll be there in no time, relax.”
Adora turns to the window. “I’m relaxed.”
After a while the surroundings start to get familiar. She used to drive that way every week for the equestrian club.
“Are we going to…” Adora turns to Catra, “the Bright Moon Farm!?”
“You ruined the surprise!” Catra says.
“Don’t get too excited though, we’re not riding any horses.”
Adora pouts. “Why not?”
“Because I can’t ride horses. Also we have a lot of stuff.” Catra gestures to the back seats. “But we can go say hi to them, I bet you miss them.”
“I do, so much!” Adora says, suddenly very excited. “Wait, but why are we going there?”
“To walk across.” Catra says vaguely. “You’ll see.”
Once they stop in front of the farm house, Adora leaves the car and almost sprints to the door.
“You’re like a little kid.” Catra laughs. She closes the driver’s door and opens the back one. She puts the guitar case on her back, the camera around her neck and grabs the picnic basket before locking the car.
“Isn’t it weird that we’re just popping up out of nowhere?” Adora rings the doorbell.
“Don’t worry I called them.”
After a moment, a woman appears at the door.
“Adora!” She hugs her. “It’s been so long, how have you been?”
“Netossa! I’m good!” They pull away. “I swear I’ve been meaning to visit but I’ve just been so busy. How is your wife? And the horses?”
“All is well, dear! You know, Swift Wind really misses you. I’m glad your girlfriend called.” She turns to Catra. “You must be Catra!”
They shake hands.
“Nice to meet you in person.” Catra says. “Thank you again for letting us in.”
“Of course! Adora and her friends are always welcome here.” She smiles.
She leads them to the stables. Adora is still very confused as to why they are there but right now she’s too excited to question it. She quickly spots the only white horse in his stall and sprints to it.
“Swifty!” Adora exclaims as she slides the door open enough so she can enter. He whickers in response and she hugs his neck. “Do you still remember me?”
“Of course he does! You two have a special bond.” Netossa says.
Adora finds his brush where it used to be and starts brushing him. Everything is still as she remembers.
“Well, I don’t wanna bother you two in your special date so I’ll go back inside. But, Adora, please come visit me and Spinnerella some other day.”
“I will, I promise!” They hug again before she leaves.
“And bring Catra too!” She gives Catra a quick hug before leaving.
Adora turns back to Swift Wind to brush him some more. She should really try to free some time in her schedule to go back to the equestrian club.
“Let me know when you’re done with your horse bonding so we can go.” Catra says.
“Oh, right.” Adora laughs and turns to her, who has the camera in a hand, filming her. She puts the brush away and pets Swift Wind’s neck. “Isn’t he beautiful?”
“He’s a horse.”
Adora snorts. “I promise I’ll bring you an apple next time, ok, Swifty?” He whickers again. She leaves the stall and slides the door back, locking it. “Ok, let’s go.” She smiles.
“Dork.” Catra says, stopping the recording.
They leave the stables and walk past where Adora used to have her lessons. Soon they reach a field of flowers in full bloom. Adora’s been there before after riding when it was this pretty.
“I love it here, it’s so beautiful.” Adora says. “Are we stopping here?”
“No, a bit further.”
Adora hasn’t been beyond there. After some more walking they go up a hill, and as they walk up, a beautiful landscape gets revealed. There is a single tree, full of pink flowers, at the top.
“Is that a cherry blossom tree!?” Adora’s eyes go wide open.
“Howー I didn’t even know there were cherry blossoms here!”
“Right? The only one anywhere near campus, apparently. Netossa has a whole story about it.” Catra says. How does she even know that? “Do you wanna film a bit now?”
“Sure.” Catra gives her the camera and she starts recording. “Surprise picnic date with the girlfriend! Apparently we have a cherry blossom near Bright Moon.” Adora films a bit of the scenery then frames on Catra.
She puts the guitar case and a picnic towel down under the tree and starts setting up the food that’s inside the basket.
“What’s on the menu?” Adora asks.
“I know it’s technically dinner time but since you’re obsessed with brunch… I got avocado toast, croissant sandwiches, orange juice, and,” she picks the last container form the basket, “freshly picked berries.”
“I got them from this morning’s farmers’ market.” She smiles at the camera.
“Oh.” Adora blinks. If she could she’d eat breakfast for every meal. She’s surprised Catra remembers that. “This all looks amazing!”
“Now let’s eat, I’m starving.”
Adora puts the camera away and sits down across from her.
“I don’t even know where to start.” She grabs one of the avocado toasts. After a bite she hums and says with her mouth full, “This is so good. Don’t you hate avocado toast?”
“I don’t hate them.” Catra also grabs one. ”They are just overrated.” She gestures at Adora. “You clearly love them, so… today’s all about you, princess.”
Adora snorts and is unable to contain a smile. “I’m honored.”
She reaches for the berries. It’s a pretty mix of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. She grabs a handful to eat.
“Oh my God, they are actually fresh.”
“Of course they are. I said so.” Catra says as she finishes her toast. “I was in town at 7am sharp to make sure to grab the best berries.”
“You’ll see I wrote down farmers’ market berries on my date proposal, so I had to.” She shrugs.
Adora laughs. “Of course.”
They keep eating and talking for some more time. Each day it feels easier to talk and be around Catra again. Even though there is a cold breeze, Adora feels warm and happy.
“Okay, before we devour everything—” Catra says, wiping at her mouth.
“You really nailed on the food.” Adora admits.
“Of course I did.” She smirks. She reaches for the guitar case behind her and opens it. Adora completely forgot about it. "I’m gonna sing you a song now so, like, get the camera.”
“You’re gonna sing to me?”
She hums and places an acoustic black guitar on her thigh. Adora gets the camera and points it at her.
She plucks some strings, adjusting the tuning, then throws her hair to the side away from the guitar’s neck. “Ready to be serenaded?” She winks and smirks, raising an eyebrow.
Adora giggles and feels her mouth dry. Must be because she barely had any of the orange juice.
Catra flexes her fingers, then starts strumming randomly and loudly.
“AdOoOora, you are so duUuumb.” Catra sings off-key and starts laughing.
“What!? Stop it!” Adora laughs too.
Catra sighs. “I can’t even pretend I’m serious.” She takes a deep breath then turns into a focused expression. She starts strumming something oddly familiar.
Is that…? No, that’d make no sense.
Catra starts singing in a funny nasal voice, “Oh baby, baby, how was I supposed to know—” She bursts out laughing.
“Your face—" she throws her head back, tiny tears forming in her eyes, "you actually thought—” she catches her breath but keeps laughing, “I’d serenade you with Britney Spears!? Oh my God.”
“Catra—” Adora tries to hold her laughter, but she can't. Seeing Catra laughing like that, looking like she's glowing, with a wide grin that makes Adora feel warm— her laugh is too contagious. “Are you gonna sing to me or not!?” She grabs a berry and throws it right at Catra's forehead.
“Hey! Okay, I was just warming up." She sighs and rubs at one eye with the back of her thumb. "That was too funny.”
She tries to keep a neutral expression, pressing her lips together to contain more laughter from escaping.
"C'mon!" Adora throws another berry but she dodges it.
"Ok, ok, I'm trying." She takes a deep breath and finally manages to keep a straight face. Adora shakes her head.
She starts riffing a nice sequence of notes and soon starts singing, “A summer rain is passing over and it feels like a dream. I could run and look for shelter but you hold onto me. I'm under your skies. I'm caught in your eyes.”
Her voice is soft and higher than her normal talking voice. Gentler and more melodic than that night Adora first saw her singing. She doesn't recognize the song but the lyrics and her voice sound beautiful.
The breeze that is still flowing gets stronger as small pink petals fall from the tree.The sun is beginning to set on the horizon and there isn’t a single cloud in the sky. It’s a really cinematic moment. Romantic, too, Adora must admit.
“There's so much that I have told you, but it's all in my head. Ask me anything you want to cause the answer is yes. I'll spend my whole life just being caught up in your eyes.”
She was staring at some point besides Adora until then, but now their eyes lock together. Adora swallows as her heartbeat suddenly speeds up. She forgot how Catra’s eyes can sometimes be hypnotizing.
“So before the storm has passed, I just want to ask, can we make this moment last?”
She looks emotional. Adora thinks back to the day she saw her performing and figures she must always really get into the songs she sings. Like everything she does, she always dives in head first. Catra turns her gaze to her guitar and plays the same riff from the beginning, without singing, but now it seems like it’s a longer version of it, like a solo.
Adora briefly thinks Catra is doing all of that for her, but she knows it’s for the bet, and for the video, of course. Both of them are so competitive, but she didn’t have to do all of that. There are plenty of pretty spots on campus she could’ve picked, but apparently this was the only place with a blooming cherry blossom tree. How much time did Catra lose finding this place and figuring out how to get here?
And the berries… Adora would pick berries with Razz all the time when she was younger. Catra could’ve bought some on the supermarket, but maybe she remembered how Adora always complained how supermarket berries aren’t the same as fresh ones. So Catra just decided to actually wake up super early to go to the local farmer’s market that morning to buy berries? She hates waking up early.
Catra goes back to singing and Adora sighs heavily. Like the tree besides them, something in her chest starts to bloom, although she can’t quite put a name on that feeling.
“Don't you know you stop the room? And all that I can see is you. I'm standing where the lightning strikes, I know this doesn't happen twice, you must be my once in a lifetime, in a lifetime.”
She realizes her hands dropped a bit and Catra is almost out of frame, she should be looking at the display screen while filming. She adjusts the camera and thinks how a poor job the recording must be doing. The scene on the tiny screen doesn’t look half as impressive as the scene in front of Adora, so she goes back to looking at it, hoping her hands will remain in place.
Adora notices a tendon on Catra's neck flexes at times when she sings a higher note and her jaw moves to one side a bit. She focuses on her moving lips for a second before thinking about how gorgeous Catra has become. She’s always been pretty, with her two colored eyes (that Adora has always been a little jealous of because they are literally the coolest), with her once messy and wild hair (that’s always been way more exciting than Adora’s boring, always-the-same, straight hair), with her slim, delicate form. But now she just looks stunning. Her hair is full of beautiful, flowy curls. She’s still slim but more curvy and, ok, maybe Adora would never say it out loud but that night when she was in a leather jacket and had an electric guitar she looked… really good.
And of course, her freckles, which Adora can’t really see right now from that distance, but it’s also something she’s always been a little jealous of. She used to scribble on Catra’s face with a pen, trying to connect the freckles to form constellations as if her face was the night sky. Catra would always complain how hard it was to wash it all off, but she’d always let Adora do it again. To make things even Catra would draw little dots on Adora's face to pretend they were freckles.
“You must be my once in a lifetime.”
Adora smiles at the memories.
Catra breathes and stops playing. “That’s it.” She relaxes her posture and puts the guitar flat on her lap. She has a small, shy smile on her face. The same smile she’d have when she would show Adora something she learned on the guitar a long time ago. Adora wishes Catra would’ve started singing back then too.
“Catra, that was amazing.” She smiles big and wide, feeling like she’s getting off a trance.
“It was nothing.” She shrugs.
“I’m serious.” Adora turns the camera around. “My girlfriend is, like, the most talented girl in the world.”
Adora stops filming and puts the camera down. She looks up at Catra, still smiling, and stares at her for a bit more. She suddenly wishes she would sing to her everyday.
Catra reaches for a berry. “What?”
“Uh? Oh, it’s beautiful,” Adora moves her gaze to the sky behind Catra. “The sunset.”
She puts the guitar to the side and turns around, hugging her knees. “Yeah.”
They stay in silence for a bit before Catra turns back and they finish eating.
"So is that it for the date?" Adora asks.
"Well, since we're in this pretty place,” she looks around, “if we were on a real date I'd walk with you a bit over there." She gets up and offers her a hand.
Adora takes it and gets up. Catra walks her so they are a few feet away from the tree, and Adora feels super aware of her touch. Her hand is softer than hers but her fingertips are very calloused, from all the instruments playing.
Catra lets go of her hand and turns around, a little closer than she expected.
"So here I'd say for us to look up at the stars for a bit." She looks up and Adora follows her gaze. There are maybe two or three stars as it's not completely dark yet. "But then I'd be like, well guess we need to wait until it's darker." She places one thumb on her chin and brings her head down so they are facing each other, maybe too close.
Adora’s heart speeds up.
"Then I’d stare deeply into your eyes,” Catra says, voice suddenly low like a whisper. Her eyes almost feel like they glow and burn through Adora. She continues, ”say something about how beautiful they are and thenー" Adora’s breath catches when Catra’s gaze drops down to her… lips?
Catra drops her hand and steps back. Adora closes her mouth, realizing it’s slightly parted, and swallows.
“We’d sit down and wait so we could do some actual stargazing.” Catra shrugs, then sits down on the grass. "And that'd be it I guess."
The ghost of Catra’s touch on her chin tingles.
“Uh, yeah, t–that’d be a nice ending for a real date.” Adora blinks, shaking off something, and sits besides Catra.
They stay in silence for a bit.
Adora looks up, there are more stars now; Polaris shines bright and constant as always. She sighs. The date managed to take her head off what day it was, but now looking at the stars it all comes back to her.
It’s been so long, and most of the time she’s fine. She thinks of Mara and remembers the good things; how warm her hugs were, cuddling up to her watching the stars and wishing they could stay outside forever, waking up in her bed with no memory of how she got to her room, making pie with her and Razz… But on this date, all she remembers is the pain. It never really goes away, she has long realized, she just learned how to live with it, and some days are just harder than others.
Catra places a hand on Adora’s shoulder. “Adora? What’s wrong?”
“Hm?” Adora sniffs and rubs at her eyes, realizing they are wet. “Nothing, it’s justー today, it’s my mom’s…“
“Fuck.” Catra says, and hides her face in her hands, “Adora, I’m so sorry, I completely forgot,” she looks back at her, eyes full of worry, “or I wouldn’t have picked todayー”
“No, it’s fine!” Adora stops her. “I was glad it was today! So I could distract myself for a bit, you know?”
“No, I should’veー”
“It’s fine, I mean it.” Adora reaches for her hand, rubbing her thumb over Catra’s wrist. “It’s just… looking at the stars now got me emotional. It’s the second year in a row I can’t go visit her grave.” She sighs and hugs her own legs. “I also miss my grandma so much. I called her earlier, but I wish I could be there, you know? She’s there all by herself.” She sniffs and hides her head in her arms as her eyes start welling up again.
Catra gently rubs small circles on her back.
Adora tries to blink her tears away then sits up again. “Sorry, I didn’t want toー”
“Hey, you literally have nothing to be sorry for, okay?”
She reaches for her face and carefully wipes tears away with her hand. Adora leans into the touch almost unconsciously.
“You know what?” Catra asks, dropping her hand. “Why don’t we just go there?”
“What? Right now?” Adora sniffs.
“Yeah, I mean, we got a car, what’s stopping us?”
“It’sー it’s a 6 hours drive.” Adora frowns.
“Maybe on a Friday afternoon, but right now, in the middle of the week? We’ll be there in no time.”
“Iー” Adora blinks at her, she can’t actually be serious.
“We wake up super early tomorrow and make it back for lunch.” Catra says, guessing Adora was going to ask about class. “I’m fine with missing my morning class for once.” She gets up and pats down on her pants. “We stop to get gas and snacks and just fucking hit the road!”
Adora is not really someone who does impromptu things without relentlessly planning all the details in advance, but Catra always seems to have everything figured out. So when she sees her with a hand extended out, asking if she’s in, with a warm smile and shiny eyes, she feels like she would follow Catra anywhere.
Adora grins and takes her hand to get up.
“Let’s do it.”
fellas is it gay to write a song for your not-gf and serenade her in your not-date? (btw the song is once in a lifetime by landon austin but in this fic it's an ~original~)
if you ever feel like talking abt this fic (or anything she-ra rly) with me pls reach out!! i love talking to people
Check out these amazing drawings that some very talented people did based on this chapter!
- the end of their date by my friend @piningpotato !!
- more date! by @snowflakes-and-firebombs
- catra singing! by @jujufire
Chapter 6: cross my fingers that you are here to stay
this one gets emotional (and soft!!) hope y'all like it!
(warning for grief again)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“I can’t believe we’re actually doing this.” Adora says as Catra turns the car opposite to the way back to campus. “Grandma is gonna freak out. Should I text her?”
“Probably?” Catra replies. “You don’t wanna scare her by knocking late at night. One time I accidentally spooked her and she smacked me with a broom.”
“Yeah, she still does that.” Adora laughs, pulling out her phone to text Razz.
They just left a gas station where they filled up the tank and got water and some snacks for the trip. Catra insisted on driving the whole way so she also got a medium sized coffee.
“You’re welcome to stay over with us, by the way.”
“Oh, no, I don’t wanna bother you two. I willー I’ll figure something out, don’t worry.”
“Your house?” Adora looks at her.
“I don’t think my aunt would like me showing up out of nowhere in the middle of the night.” Catra grimaces slightly. “I also don’t really wanna see her.”
“Then you’ll sleep at my house.” Adora says, and before she can protest, adds, “or we’ll turn around and go back right now.”
Catra clicks her tongue. “Too late to go back.”
“There is an exit right there.” Adora points to an exit sign they are about to drive by.
They drive past it.
“Oops, just missed it.”
“Catra.” Adora crosses her arms. “I’m serious.”
“Fine, fine,” Catra waves one hand, “it’ll be nice to see Razz.”
“How is your aunt? Or, how are you two?”
“She checks on me once a semester to make sure I’m still alive.” Catra shrugs. “I don’t really care. We have our own different lives, it’s whatever.”
Adora doesn’t really know what to say so she just nods.
“But I’m good.” Catra says, voice lighter, "I have my friends, my music advisor who is like a father to me… I don't need blood family, you know?"
She nods again. "You also haveー” she glances at her, “us. Razz and I, I mean. You’ll always have us."
Catra remains focused on the road ahead, but smiles.
“How is Razz doing?” She asks after a moment.
“She’s great! She always mentions you during Christmas breaks.”
“Christmas at Adora’s were a classic, weren’t they?”
They drive for some more time in silence when Adora remembers they have the camera with them.
“I guess we could film a bit?” Adora asks.
Adora finds the camera on the backseat and points it at herself, shifting in her seat, so that Catra also appears in the frame. “That moment when you decide to go on an impromptu road trip in the middle of the week.” She says, then smiles with clenched teeth, “but maybe don’t tell our professors?”
“Pfft, we’ll totally be back in time for all our classes tomorrow, there’s nothing to worry about.”
“Right, of course.” She frowns and nods. “We’re responsible adults.”
“Of course.” Catra drawls.
”Who would drive you to your little old town six hours away just because you’re sad?” Adora asks. “My girlfriend is really the best.” She turns to Catra.
“I’d do anything for you, Adora.” Catra shrugs.
Adora stares at her for a second too long, then turns back forward, with a soft smile curling up at her lips, and turns off the camera.
She puts it inside the glove compartment where it’ll probably be safer.
“Look, the big dipper.” Catra says, pointing out with her finger.
The dark sky is now splattered with stars, but it’s easy to spot it.
When you are feeling lost, my dearie, Razz would say, using Mara’s words, find Polaris and you’ll find the North, then you’re not so lost anymore. The rest you can figure out. Adora only remembers Razz saying that, not Mara. She was so little.
She wonders if she can figure this out ー stuck in a car together for who knows how many hours. It’s the perfect opportunity to talk. Really talk. But is this the right moment? She feels like Catra is finally letting her walls down, not quickly pushing her away anymore, so what if she ruins everything again?
"Say it." Catra breaks the silence, startling Adora.
"I can hear you thinking from here. You tell me what."
Is there even a right moment?
"It's not like I'm gonna jump out of a moving car to avoid talking to you." Catra adds.
Adora bites her lip and laughs. "You never know…"
She pauses, looking at her for a moment. At the gas station Catra put her hair up in a messy bun, so now she notices a silver necklace peeking through from underneath her shirt. It’s hard to see in this low light, and the rest of the necklace is hidden, but it looks like the one Adora gave her.
She turns to look to the outside again, trying to think on what to say, but she knows the more she waits the more she’ll overthink everything.
"It's justー at the interview yesterday," she blurts out.
Adora keeps her eyes on the road, but the darkness of the highway makes her a little nervous. She looks down and plays with the zipper of her jacket. "I meant it when I rambled about communication, and not knowing when you do something wrong, and…"
Adora swallows. She doesn't know why it feels so hard, she just wants to be honest. “I spent so long blaming myself, trying to figure out what I did wrong, what I did to make you stop talking to me out of nowhere, but,” she shakes her head, “I realized it wasn’t just my fault. It wasn’t I alone who made our friendship fall apart. I can think of things I’ve done that probably hurt you, yeah, butー I tried so fucking hard to talk to you, to understand you, but you never even gave me a chance, youー” she stops herself, noticing she was starting to raise her voice. She takes a deep breath. “I think I at least deserve to know what happened.”
Adora shuts her eyes and waits. She expects Catra to get defensive, or lash out, or just take the next exit and give up on this impromptu trip.
After a moment, instead, Catra lets out a long breath.
“I pushed you away… on purpose.” She says, voice small. “And Iー I regret it,”
Adora opens her eyes.
“I felt left out,” Catra continues, “I felt like you didn't care about me, because you just went and made new friends, went to all those different things and never really included me,” she pauses. “It felt like high school all over again.”
“God, high school," Adora sighs, “I was so confused back then, and scared I could be gay, and, well, I was! But I guess I didn’t want to be…” she frowns, “so I just repressed it and tried to be like the other kids, normal and boring and straight and so worried about being popular, or whatever.”
"You never… talked to me about that." Catra says.
“I know, I guess,” Adora feels a twinge of guilt, “deep down I knew I was a lesbian but I didn’t let myself try to figure it out, so that included not talking to you about it. But in college,” she finally looks at Catra, “I was falling into the same patterns, I admit that, but I met some amazing people and finally started to not be afraid of being myself, and Iー I tried so many times, I invited you to things, and to meet my friends, but you always had an excuse.”
“I thinkー” Catra’s brow is furrowed, shoulders probably as tense as hers. Adora is not the only one struggling to put words together. “I was stuck in this idea that we could somehow go back to how things were in, I don’t know, middle school?” She sighs. “I know that’s dumb and not at all how life should work, but I was just so tired of feelingー” she cuts herself, pursing her lips for a second before continuing, “hurt and like you didn’t need me in your life, so I got so angry and justー pushed you away… I know that doesn’t justify the things I did, and, God, I was so fucking shitty. It wasn’t fair to you.”
Catra doesn’t say she’s sorry, explicitly, but here she is, driving Adora to their old town, listening, actually trying to talk to her.
“If I knew I was hurting you I would’ve done things differently, I’m sorry.” Adora says, going back to fidgeting with the zipper of her jacket. Catra was always a constant in her life, almost like a piece of her. The fact that she thought she wasn’t needed breaks her heart. “You were my best friend, and this time last year…“ she trails off, but thinks, I really needed my best friend.
Adora bites her lip. “Well, I love my friends, but they don’t really get it, you know? Like, maybe Glimmer kind of understands it because she almost lost her parents growing up, but she didn’t, thankfully.” She thinks back to last year, trying to remember how things happened. “It was the first time I couldn’t go home, so I was extra sad and didn’t want to stay alone. My friends thought going to this party would cheer me up, but I was also in such a bad state mentally, and they kept asking me what was wrong, and what else could they do, and I just started feeling so suffocated…”
She sighs, "Fast forward to the end of the night I’m having a panic attack in the bathroom, some girl finds me like that and somehow I end up at the hospital. I didn’t even tell my friends because I was so embarrassed, so I just stayed the night there by myself.”
“Adora,” Catra says, voice tight, “why didn’t youー”
“I thought about calling you, but,”
“I felt weird.” Adora turns to her. Her hands are closed tight around the wheel, knuckles almost white. ”I also… didn’t know if you’d answer.”
“I would,” Catra looks at her, eyebrows drawn together, and before turning ahead again, repeats, “I would.”
Adora breathes in and out slowly, relaxing her shoulders. She reaches for the water bottle by her side and takes a sip of it, then slowly tightens the cap back on it.
“Listen,” she says, “we both messed up in different ways and we can't change what happened, but we can put it all behind us and hopefully do better now.” Her voice lowers, “If you're willing to try, that is. Which you don’t have to, of course, butー"
“Adora,” Catra stops her, “I think… that’d be great.”
“Yeah?” Adora asks, maybe more eager than she intended to sound like.
“Yeah.” Catra nods, smiling, and looking a bit more relaxed.
Adora herself feels lighter.
“I guess…” Catra says, “we have a lot to catch up on?”
“Yeah,” Adora laughs, “where do we start?”
Adora grows quieter the closer they get to arriving. There must be a lot going on in her head today, so Catra lets her be. At some point they turn the radio on and let the music fill up the silence. Catra has to hum along when she starts to feel sleepy, but Adora doesn’t seem to mind it. She hasn’t ever driven that much at once so she’s definitely feeling the exhaustion.
She doesn’t know if she said the right things, but she’s relieved Adora wants to be friends again. She didn’t lie, but she also didn’t tell her everything. She didn’t say her feelings were more complicated back then, that the main reason she pushed her away was because she was tired of having her heart broken. She didn’t say she tried everything, but the only way for her heart to heal was to completely distance herself. Didn’t say it took all in her to not reach out, and when she realized what she had actually done, that she had lost Adora, for good, her heart broke all over again. Adora doesn’t need to know any of that.
It’s a bit past midnight when they arrive at the cemetery, stopping near the main entrance gate. The moon, bright in the night sky, helps illuminate the dark, empty streets.
“We did it.” Catra yawns and stretches her arms over her head.
Adora hums. “I guess we forgot it would be closed?”
“As if a gate could stop us.”
Adora turns to her and smiles. “You’re right. I wish there was at least a flower shop open, though.”
“Oh, wait.” Catra says, turning to get something from her bag. “I was gonna give this to you at the end of the date. You know, a finishing touch, because I’m so romantic.” Adora snorts. She pulls out a flower. “But you can give it to her.”
Adora takes it with both hands. “A peach rose.” She says, almost a whisper, and smiles.
“Is it still your favorite?” Catra asks, voice also low, suddenly afraid she might have messed it up.
Adora nods then looks up at her, eyes shiny. “Did you know it’s my favorite because it was hers too?”
“Yes, thank you.” She looks at the rose again, then unbuckles her seatbelt. “Shall we?”
They leave the car and walk to the gate. Catra tries to open it, but as expected, it’s locked.
“Guess we gotta jump.” She says.
“Where do I put the flower?”
“Here,” Catra takes it and reaches for Adora’s hair with the other hand, tucking it behind one ear. She then sticks the flower in her hair, putting it behind the same ear. “There you go.”
Their eyes meet and she quickly drops her hand.
“Do you need a boost?” Adora asks, turning her head to the top of the gate.
Catra looks at it again. “Me? I can jump higher than you, princess.”
“No way, I’m taller.”
Catra rolls her eyes. “Like two inches.”
“At least four.”
Catra stares; a challenge. They take a few steps back, then run and jump at the same time, shaking the gate and probably making way too much noise with the hard metallic sound that it causes.
Catra ends up a little higher than Adora, though.
“See?” She says in a breath, pushing her herself up then putting one leg over, balancing at the top.
Adora huffs. “That was basicallyー” she mirrors Catra’s movement and faces her at the top of the gate, “the same height.”
“But I was higher.” Catra quirks one eyebrow. She puts her other leg over and jumps down with a soft thud. Adora promptly jumps next to her and starts walking.
“I thought it'd be spooky at night but it’s just… quiet.” Adora says.
Catra only hears their steps and crickets in the distance.
It doesn’t take long to get to Mara’s grave. It has two pots with flowers by its sides, put there by Razz today, Catra guesses. She glances at the epitaph, remembering how young Mara was, and feels the air heavy around them.
Adora always stands tall, perfect posture, radiating energy; now, though, she looks small and empty. Catra hates seeing her like that.
“Do you need a moment alone?”
“I’d prefer if you stayed.” Adora answers, almost a whisper.
She takes the flower from her hair and kneels down.
“Sorry I’m late, Mama.” She says, voice hoarse, and carefully places the flower in front of the grave. “I brought your favorite.” She shifts and sits down, crossing her legs.
Catra sits by her side, keeping her head low, wringing her hands on her lap. She feels wrong being there at such an intimate moment, but Adora asked her to stay, so she stays.
“I saw so many pretty flowers today, Mama,” Adora sniffs, “even cherry blossoms, can you believe it? You’d have loved them.”
Adora stays quiet for a moment, then, “I’m taking this poetry class where most of my assignments are about you. The professor said I should try expanding to other themes, but I’m– I’m terrified of forgetting you, and writing helps remembering.” She breathes in sharply. “But I started writing about Spring. She doesn’t know I’m still secretly writing about you, though,” Adora laughs, short, almost a sob.
She continues, “Spring is when I feel you around the most. On the blooming flowers, on the sunlight that gets warmer as the days go by, on the wind that’s still chilly but doesn’t make me feel too cold anymore… It’s always so beautiful, I justー I wish you could see it again, with meー” her voice breaks, “I miss you so much, Mama.” She covers her face, getting smaller.
Catra puts one arm around her, rubs gently on her shoulder, hoping to soothe her.
She’s been there with her once when they were little and decided to bike all the way to the cemetery to explore it. It was mostly because Adora was missing her mom, and Catra thought going there would make her feel better. She felt awkward then, unsure of what to do or say, but Adora said just having her company was enough. So that’s what she tried to do whenever she was sad, especially on that day, just be there for her.
Adora tries to stifle a sob. Catra moves a bit closer; she’s there. She's there and she's staying as long as she needs to.
She remembers their high school promise; a birthday letter, Adora’s big and round handwriting: I promise I’ll always be by your side, Catra promising the same out loud. She thinks of Adora in a hospital this time last year, scared and alone.
Her chest, tight, aches. She's there now, but she wasn't then.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t by your side.” Catra says, slowly and carefully, because she doesn’t want to start crying, “I should’ve called you.”
Adora sniffs, hard, then rubs on her eyes. She rests her head on the crook of Catra's neck.
“I’m glad you’re here now.” She says, placing a hand over Catra's.
“Me too.” Catra says, and brings her closer.
A sleepy Razz is at the door when they get there, greeting Adora with the softest Adora, my dearie that Catra has ever heard. Adora melts into her arms and Catra feels like she’s intruding again, until they pull apart and Razz beams when seeing her. Razz gives her a tight hug and rushes them both inside, guiding them to the kitchen where she has chamomile tea ready.
Nostalgia hits Catra like a truck. Adora’s house looks the same, smells the same, even, and Catra smiles at the sight of the little things she remembers; the same squeaky chairs, the same tea mugs, the same colorful vases, except there are definitely more now.
“Catra, dearie, I missed you so much.” Razz says once they are just done with the tea.
“I missed you too, Razz,” Catra replies, glancing at the both of them across the table, “thank you for the tea.”
“Of course.” She smiles. “I wish we had more time to talk but you two should get some sleep.”
“Yeah, you can have my room, Catra.” Adora says, getting up.
“What? No, I can just sleep on the couch.”
“It’s fine, really. I’ll sleep in grandma’s room.”
“If you’re sure…"
She follows Adora to her old room. It looks almost exactly the same, but it feels a bit smaller. The door frame still has their height markings, the walls have fewer posters, and there are more pictures taped above her bed.
“Feel free to get anything from my closet as pajamas.” Adora says. Her eyes are still red but she looks more at peace now that she’s home. “I really need to pee, so I’ll be right back.”
Catra walks closer to the pictures. There are photos of Adora and Razz, old and new, and little Adora with Mara. Although they are not related by blood, Adora’s bright and wide smile is just like Mara’s was. Some polaroids of Adora and her Bright Moon friends, even one of that white horse. Catra expects some ugly feelings to arise in her, like it used to, but it doesn't; Adora looks happy in those pictures, living her life, like she should. Then, ohー the old pictures of the two of them are still there. Them at the beach, one that looks like Adora's birthday, and one mirror selfie from middle school. Catra remembers all those days like it was yesterday and feels guilty now, wishing she hadn’t gotten rid of the old pictures she had of them.
She walks to the closet to look for maybe a tshirt and sweatpants, but the first thing she sees when she opens it is an oddly familiar letterman jacket. Actually, two, but one has a rainbow patch on it.
Adora walks in again. “I should get some pajamas too.”
“Uh, Adora,” Catra says, confused, and takes the jacket off the closet, “is this that jacket I had no idea how I lost and never saw again?”
Adora freezes. “Oh, um, yeah,” she blushes, “I found it here one day. I think grandma thought it was mine, and I was gonna give it back, I swear, but…” her face gets redder, “I kinda liked having it, especially when we weren’t really talking and Iー I missed you. You can have it back, of course.”
“Oh,” Catra says, frowning, and puts the jacket back inside, “you missed me back then?”
“Of course," Adora looks down, “then…” she rubs on her arm, “now…”
Catra blinks and looks inside the closet again. The inside of the door is full of the stickers they’d put all over it. The silly drawing of their faces Catra once carved with a sharp pencil is still there, too.
Adora missed her.
Catra feels winded, suddenly, her heartbeat loud in her ears.
“Hey, Adora?” She says, biting her lip.
“Can Iー” she turns to her, hesitating because she feels silly asking, “hug you?”
She steps closer, opening her arms with a soft smile curling up on her lips. She wraps her arms around her, warm and tight, and Catra does the same. Maybe it’s because it’s almost 2am, and Catra’s exhausted, and it’s been a heck of an emotional day, but being in Adora’s arms like that, head on her shoulder, breathing her in, it just feels likeー home.
And maybe they hug for a little too long, but it’s only because they haven’t genuinely hugged in what feels like forever, and also because,
“I missed you too.” Catra says, softly, tearing up, and Adora squeezes her tighter in response.
Catra wakes up with the smell of pancakes. It takes her a few moments to make sense of where she is, to remember why she’s wrapped in an old blue blanket in a bed that isn’t hers. She fights the urge to close her eyes again and gets up, changing into her clothes from yesterday before heading downstairs.
She finds Adora sitting at the table, a mug in hands, and Razz by the stove, a few pancakes on the plate besides her as she makes more. It feels too familiar.
“Catra,” Adora says, lighting up, “I was about to go wake you up.”
“Hey, Adora.” Catra smiles.
“Morning, dearie.” Razz says.
“Morning!” Catra says with a yawn, and sits across from Adora. She has a hint of dark circles under her eyes, Catra probably has too. “Got some sleep?”
“A little bit.” She shrugs. “Coffee?”
“Please. Lots of it.”
“I dreamed of her.” Adora says, pouring coffee on a mug then handing it to Catra. “That hadn’t happened in a while, it felt so real.”
“I did too.” Razz says. “Our Mara came to visit us.”
“Yeah.” Adora smiles and sighs. “It was one of my favorite memories, stargazing at the park,” she frowns, “but I think Catra was there too?”
“I was?” Catra tilts her head.
“A beautiful dream with your favorite people.” Razz says, turning around with a plate full of pancakes. She places it between them and sits down. “Here you go, dearies.”
“Thanks, Nana.” Adora says, cheeks pink.
Catra takes a sip of her coffee, still too hot to have too much at once, and feels her cheeks warm too.
Neither of them protests when Razz makes them take some of the pie she made yesterday. Triple berry pie, Mara’s favorite (and Adora’s too). Razz gives Catra a tight hug and a kiss on the cheek, repeating how happy she is to see her, and the smile they share makes Adora smile too. Adora gives Razz a long hug, thanks her for everything and promises to call later that day. Razz gives her multiple kisses on the cheek before finally letting her go, wishing a safe trip for her dearies. Catra insists on driving again, and Adora would’ve protested more if she wasn’t so tired. She spent most of the night talking to Razz instead of sleeping and Catra assured she’s awake enough to drive.
The day before was healing in a lot of ways. Now, in the early light of the day, things feel less intense, more sober. She doesn’t think she’d be able to open up like she did last night, but she’s glad she finally did. She also keeps thinking back to their hug last night, and how she didn’t realize how much she missed that.
“How are you feeling?” Catra asks.
“Good,” she nods, “yesterday was a lot.”
“Yeah.” Catra chuckles.
The ride back is quiet. Adora tries really hard to stay awake, but at some point it gets too difficult to keep her eyes open, especially with Catra humming to the songs on the radio, and she dozes off without realizing. She wakes up when they are less than an hour away, and manages to stay up for the rest of the trip.
“Sorry I passed out.” Adora says once they stop by her dorm. It’s still not past lunch time, just like Catra promised the evening before.
“Don’t worry, your snoring kept me awake.”
“I don’t snore.” She scoffs, making Catra laugh. “But seriously, thank you for driving, and being there with me yesterday, and, just,” she smiles, “everything, really. I don’t even know how I can repay you.”
“Repay me? I got to eat Razz’ pancakes and bring some of her famous pie.” Catra exclaims. “What more could I want?”
Adora chuckles. “I mean it,” she places a hand on Catra’s arm, “thank you.”
“It was nothing.” Catra smiles and leans in for a hug.
Adora squeezes her, maybe a bit too tight, her chest blooming with warmth. Catra squeezes her back and she thinks that, maybe, Catra missed hugging her too.
“Ugh,” Catra says once they let go of each other, “I guess you’re gonna win the bet.”
“It wasn’t very considerate of me to pick yesterday for the date. And ending a date on a cemetery? We’re not goths.”
Adora shakes her head with a short laugh. “We’ll see what Bow decides.”
On the next day, Catra sends Adora her date proposal. Adora’s was a full page detailing everything she thought the date would include, while Catra’s is just a small bullet point list:
- picnic at a cute place (brunch food and farmer’s market berries)
- hopefully nice sunset to watch
- stargazing if we’re lucky
- peach rose at the end
It doesn’t even include stopping by to see Swift Wind, and it obviously doesn’t include
- driving six hours to a graveyard just because Adora is sad, barely sleeping, then driving the fucking six hours back without complaining once,
which Adora doesn’t think is fair. If she’s being honest, what Catra did was probably the most romantic gesture anyone has ever done for her. She doesn’t need to ask Bow who is the winner here.
“Seriously? Bow picked mine!?” Catra cracks up, covering her mouth to not make too much noise at the library.
Adora smiles, but quickly bites her lip to hide it, trying to pretend she’s annoyed.
She flips a page of her textbook with a scoff. “Yeah, I still can’t believe it.”
“I knew I liked him for a reason.” Catra says, still laughing. “You didn’t try to argue with him?”
“I did!” Adora lies, “but he had good arguments. Anyway, just please, don’t torture me too much on whatever ‘worst date’ you end up planning, ok?”
“Oh man, I cannot promise you that.” Catra grins. “I already have some ideas floating around… do you think there are any of those haunted houses anywhere during spring? You get spooked so easily, it’d be hilarious. Oh, what if you wear that sword fighting gear for the whole date? Or maybeー”
“Ok, ok, God,” Adora interrupts, almost regretting what she's done, “I don’t wanna hear your ideas or I’ll start suffering early. Just please let there be alcohol involved?”
“Oh, princess, no alcohol for you,” she points a finger at her, “you’ll have to endure everything sober.”
“Great.” Adora rolls her eyes. “Changing subjects, tomorrow my friends and I are having a game night at our suite. Would you like to come? We could film there too.”
Catra purses her lips, looking back down at her notebook. “Uh, I don’t know.”
“Please? Bow will be there!”
“Can’t I just see them at the formal?”
“I mean, yes, but I wanted you to properly meet them all. But, of course, you don’t have to…” Adora doesn’t want to push her.
Catra sighs. “Fine. We’re trying to do better, right? It’s justー” she looks up. “Don’t they hate me?”
“What? Of course not.”
“Not even Glitter?”
“Ok, you know you can't call her that.”
Catra snorts. “Yeah, fair.”
“Adora, why are you vacuuming again?” Glimmer asks as she and Bow, sitting glued to each other and sharing a bag of chips, pull up their legs on the couch so Adora can vacuum there.
“You two are dropping crumbs all over the floor!” Adora answers.
She turns the vacuum off and puts it away.
“I’m just eating my chips!” Glimmer protests. “Why are you so anxious? We’re just having our friends over.”
“Yeah, Adora, what’s up?” Bow asks.
“I’m not anxious.” She says, returning to their little living room area of their suite. She sits on the smaller couch, fixing the pillows so they look tidy before turning to them. “I just don’t want our friends to think we live in a dump.”
“They are here all the time, Adora, they know we live in a dump.” Glimmer says, reaching for more chips.
“We do not live in a dump!” Bow exclaims. “It just gets messy sometimes,” he shrugs, then smiles, “but not today, thanks to Adora who cleaned up everything.” He nudges Glimmer. “Say thank you, Glimmer.”
She blinks at him then turns to Adora. “Thank you, Adora.”
“No worries.” She laughs. “Oh, I invited Catra too!”
“You did?” Glimmer raises her eyebrows.
“Awesome!” Bow says, also looking a little surprised. “And she agreed?”
“Yeah! I think we’re becoming friends again, you know?” Adora smiles. “I feel like she’s really changed.”
“That’s great.” He nods.
“Yeah, we may film a little bit too, if that’s ok?”
“Can I be on filming duties, please?” Bow asks, putting his hands together and giving her his classic puppy eyes.
Their friends arrive first, Sea Hawk, Mermista and Perfuma, bringing pizza. Adora starts to get worried Catra gave up on showing up, even though she didn't say anything, or maybe she just forgot? She considers texting her when there’s a knock on the door.
"I got it." Adora says, quickly walking to the door. She opens it to find Catra in a black jacket that is probably two times her size instead of her usual leather one, but, obviously, she can rock it. “Catra!”
“Hey, Adora." Catra says. "Why do you look surprised? Forgot you invited me?”
“Of course not.” She laughs. “C’mon in.”
Bow is the first to say hi to Catra, greeting her like they’re old friends, then going around introducing everyone to her. There is a tense moment between her and Glimmer at first, but Catra doesn’t call her Glitter, so Adora considers that a win.
After introductions are done, Catra gets a slice of pizza and sits next to Bow. Adora does the same, as she was waiting for her to start eating too, and sits next to her. She doesn’t know why she’s so nervous, afraid something might go wrong, but once she sees everyone talking and acting normally, she relaxes. Catra is maybe a little shier and quieter than usual, but as the evening goes by she seems to get more comfortable.
They play some board games and at some point Bow gets the camera and occasionally goes around filming everyone, or just vlogs himself for some reason. He looks like he’s having fun so Adora doesn’t mind. Seeing all of her friends having fun together makes her heart full and happy. When they get bored of board games they switch to playing video games so that they can have their usual Mario Kart game night competition.
Once that’s done, everyone starts leaving and Adora walks Catra to the door.
“All this time and you still suck at Mario Kart.” Catra teases her.
“Shut up.” Adora says, leaning on the door frame. “You also lost.“
“But I beat you.” She smirks.
Adora rolls her eyes. “Anyway, thanks for coming.” She smiles.
“Guess it wasn’t too bad.”
“C’mon, you had fun.” Adora nudges her at the shoulder.
“Maybe a little.” Catra puts her hands in her pockets and shrugs, smiling. She takes a few steps back. “See you for the formal, tomorrow?”
“Yeah! See you.”
“Bye, Adora.” She says, turning around.
Adora watches her disappear around the corner in the corridor before entering her suite and closing the door behind her. She finds Bow peeking at her from the couch.
“You okay there, Bow?”
“Yes!” He sits up. “Wanna sit here with us?”
Adora walks to the couch and sits on the other end of it. Glimmer is lying on the small sofa, looking half asleep with her phone in a hand, while Bow has one arm over the back of the couch, looking expectantly at her.
“So…” he starts, “this whole pretending to date thing is not really just pretend anymore, is it?”
“Whー” Adora chokes on her own saliva. She covers her mouth, coughing. “Sorryー” she clears her throat, “what?”
“I mean, the way you two were acting today,” he says, “it was very… coupley?”
“Did you forget you were filming?”
“Not all the time, you know that.” He says. “You two were basically wrestling each other during Mario Kart, and the nonstop banter, and, like, the way you kept looking at herー”
“What? Bow, ok,” she shakes her head, “you’re getting confused! Catra and I, we grew up together, this is how we are, wereー we used to be close. We’re just reconnecting.”
“And you were always just friends?”
“Of course! What do you mean?”
“You never had any feelings for her?” He raises an eyebrow.
“Feelings? No!” She feels her ears uncomfortably hot. “I still thought I was straight then.”
“That doesn’t mean you didn’t have crushes on girls, Adora.” Glimmer says, sitting up with a yawn and rubbing on her eye. “Didn’t you have any girls that you were maybe a little too obsessed with?”
“Well,” Adora hums, “I definitely was obsessed with Catra when we were little, but I just wanted to be her friend.” She pauses, thinking about her childhood. “Like, I followed her everywhere, and thought she was the coolest, so I just wanted her to like me, and to impress her sometimes, and be her best friend, like, very intensely, andー wait,” she frowns, “I had a crush on her, didn’t I?”
“Sounds like it.” Glimmer nods.
“Uh, wow, ok, I’ll have to unpack that later.” Adora blinks. “But that’s obviously in the past, I don’t like her like that now.”
“If you say so.” Glimmer says.
“I don’t wanna put you on the spot.” Bow says. “But these things can be confusing, reconnecting with someone important to you, then having to pretend to date them… I just wanted to ask.” He shrugs. “Which reminds me, how was the date she planned? I need to judge your dates, right? Can I watch what you filmed?”
Adora freezes, but recovers in time to jump for the camera that is on top of the small table in front of them before Bow can reach for it.
“Uh, no need to!” She says, trying to casually sit back down with it safely in hands. “We… reached a mutual decision, no need to worry about it anymore.” She chuckles nervously.
“What?” He frowns, then narrows his eyes. “Adora, you’re not lying to me, are you?”
She tries to maintain eye contact, but closes her eyes and drags a hand down her face instead. “God, it’s been such a long week.”
Adora sighs, then says, all in one breath, “We had the date, then we decided to go home because I wanted to see my grandma and my mom’s grave, then Catra drove all the way and back, which was very nice of her so I told her you decided she won.” She pants. “Ok, I’m gonna go to sleep now, goodnight!” She gets up.
Adora goes to her room, ignoring whatever else they were trying to say. She doesn’t know what got to them to ask her those questions, or why those questions apparently affected her so much she had to go hide. Pretending to date someone can make some things confusing, it’s true, but Adora just wants to finally have her old friend back in her life.
That is all.
At least… that's what she thinks so.
writing them hug was..healing
i wanted to include the formal on this chapter but it was already too big so i'll probably have to add another part to this fic lmao but i won't change the number yet
as always comments are super appreciated
EDIT: hi everyone thank you so much for all the comments!! i've been getting questions whether i'll continue this fic and YES i will! not sure yet when i'll update it but hopefully soon. so sorry about the delay :( since i last updated it i wrote a big post s4 fic and lately i wrote some post s5 one shots so make sure to check those out if you want! i love this fic and i want to finish it <3
Chapter 7: 'cause after all this time
*checks time* wow it's been a minute uh
thank you all for the support on this fic your comments are super motivating <3 sorry it's been so long but i think y'all will enjoy this chapter :-)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Adora looks at the mirror one more time. She’s wearing a light pink dress Glimmer made her get for the formal. It’s pretty and delicate, with a darker pink waistband that gives her a nice silhouette. She wouldn’t have picked it herself, mostly because her fashion sense is not the best, but she’s feeling comfortable in it.
“Are you gonna keep checking yourself out the entire night?” Glimmer asks as she gets back to Adora’s room. She offered to help her get ready.
“No. But, I mean, I do look good.”
“Thanks to me.” Glimmer says, motioning for her to lower her head. She obeys. “You’re welcome.” She pushes her bangs back, sticking some pins on her hair.
“What would I do without you?” Adora smiles, turning to look at the mirror again. Her hair is down and more brushed than it’s been all semester, with a little poof at the top of her head.
“I should be a stylist.” Glimmer beams at her.
“Are you and Bow still going with pink?”
“We switched to purple. You and Catra are matching, right?”
“I’m not sure what she’ll be wearing, she thinks matching is dumb…”
Glimmer rolls her eyes.
“Sorry about last night, by the way. I told Bow to stop being so nosy, but you know how he is.”
“It’s fine.” Adora looks back at her own reflection, averting Glimmer’s eyes through the mirror.
She watches Glimmer’s hand as she places it on her shoulder.
“You sure you’ve been ok with everything?”
“Yeah!” Adora replies a little too quickly.
“You two have to spend a lot of time together it’s normal if you both start developing feelings─”
“I told you, there’s nothing going on.”
“And also, like, she’s hot, so it wouldn’t be surprising, you know?”
Adora snorts. “You think Catra is hot?”
Adora's smile turns into a tight line. She sees her cheeks turning pink.
“We just want what’s best for you.”
“I know. Like, yeah, sometimes it’s a little weird, you know, having to pretend and do things, but it’s fine, we’re─ it’s fine.” She nods.
Glimmer sighs and squeezes her shoulder before letting her hand drop.
“I’m gonna go change now so we can head to the pregaming.” She says, walking to the door. “You can leave early if you want, Bow will wait for me.”
“Okay, I’ll wait.”
“Is Catra going?”
“Yeah, she’ll bring Scorpia too.”
Adora closes the door after she leaves.
Last night, she spent little time sleeping and a lot of time analyzing her childhood. She realized how much she liked Catra when they were both little, how she never recognized that until now, and how maybe it hadn’t been just a middle school crush. She thought about how much it hurt when they first started distancing themselves in high school, almost like it had been a breakup. Thought about how she kept Catra’s jacket for all that time, and how she had been so jealous when Catra got her first girlfriend. She didn’t let herself think whether those feelings extended beyond that time or when they ended up fading away.
She did think of the present, though, of how weird it is when Catra is being flirty with her in front of the camera, of how, recently, it’s been sort of natural having to shift into ‘girlfriend mode’, or at least not so awkward like before. It’s─ confusing, but it doesn’t matter, anyway. After the events of this past week, she is really happy to have Catra in her life again, but she knows it’s something fragile. They have work to do in order to revive and maintain their friendship, and if they had such a fallout before, imagine if Adora ruined everything again because she could, possibly, unlikely, have a small crush on her now? (It is not a crush though). They only have roughly a week left of this silly pretend relationship and then she is sure once they can start acting like actual, normal friends, any confusing feelings will go away.
Her phone buzzes.
Catra (4:27PM): did u know perfuma was going with scorpia?? they’re already at sea hawk’s
Adora (4:28PM): Omg I didn’t know they knew each other
Catra (4:28PM): i think they have a class together! this is all very interesting
Catra (4:29PM): but anyway r u ready?
Adora (4:29PM): Waiting for Glimmer and Bow!
Catra (4:30PM): k let me know when u leave
Adora (4:31PM): Actually I can leave now if you’re already ready?
Catra (4:31PM): i am! meet u there soon then?
Adora (4:31PM): Yeah :)
Adora doesn’t know why she’s so excited to see Catra again after less than 24 hours, but she doesn’t give that too much thought. She tells Glimmer she changed her mind and leaves early.
She gets to Sea Hawk’s dorm and decides to wait outside for Catra. She walks around the building for a bit, looking at the pretty flowers on some bushes. She’s been a little anxious since she woke up, mostly because she doesn’t know what the shoot later is going to be like, and partly because─
She startles, heartbeat speeding up, even though she knows that voice so well. She turns around to find Catra in a black suit, sleeves cuffed below the elbows, and a light pink buttoned shirt underneath. She also wears fingerless gloves, a dark pink untied bow tie around her neck, and a sharp eyeliner that makes the color of her eyes pop.
Adora blinks, realizing she’s totally staring.
“Your tie!” She exclaims, a little louder than she meant to. “It’s, uh, untied.”
“Yeah.” Catra holds the ends of it, looking down at them before letting them go. Her nails are shiny and black. “I tried looking for a tutorial online but got bored.”
“I saw Bow doing it a few times, I can probably do it.” Adora says. “I mean, if you want me to.”
“Sure.” She smiles.
Adora steps closer. She pushes Catra’s hair back so that it’s not in the way, her fingers inevitably brushing the soft, warm skin of her neck. Catra swallows as she adjusts the tie to be around the collar of her shirt.
She tries not to think about how close they are, or how she can feel Catra’s eyes on her, or why her fingers are suddenly trembling slightly, and keeps her eyes fixed on the tie. She thinks of the quick movements Bow does. She pulls one end of the tie down so it’s longer than the other, then crosses the longer end over the shorter one and through the hole, tightening the tie. That’s as fair as she remembers.
She bites her lip and hums.
“How’s it going?” Catra asks, her voice slightly hoarse.
“I got it.” Adora narrows her eyes. She crosses the long end over the shorter one again. It’s not looking right at all. “Bow makes it look so easy…”
Adora looks at her lips for a second too long then at her eyes, staring softly back at her. Her breath catches. “Okay,” she swallows, “maybe I don’t got it. I can ask Bow later?”
“It’s fine, leaving it untied looks cooler anyway.” Catra smiles.
“Yeah,” Adora exhales, “it suits you.”
“You can let go of the tie now.”
“Oh,” she drops her hands, taking a step backwards, “sorry.” Warmth crawls up her neck as she clears her throat. “It’s pink! Your tie. And shirt.” Adora raises an eyebrow at her, unable to stop the smug smile that curls up at her lips, and adds, “Like my dress.”
Catra rolls her eyes as she undoes whatever Adora attempted on her tie, leaving it loose again. “I thought it would look better for the video,” she crosses her arms, smiling and shrugging one shoulder, “if we matched.”
“It will.” Adora nods, swallowing something. “You look good.”
She expects Catra to say I know or something Catra-like, but she just says, softly, “You too.” Then, after a pause, “Shall we?”
Once they enter the building Adora sees their friends sitting at a corner of the common room area, around a small table that has a few beers on it. Sea Hawk and Mermista are wearing gorgeous matching blue outfits and Perfuma is in yellow while Scorpia is in black, but both wear matching flower bracelets.
They greet each other and sit together, conversing for some time until Bow and Glimmer arrive.
“Hello, everyone!” Bow greets them.
“Finally!” Sea Hawk exclaims, getting up and doing a dramatic pose. “It’s finally time…”
Glimmer sits next to Adora. “Guess matching isn’t that dumb, is it?” She asks, quiet enough so that only she hears it. Adora just shrugs.
“Time for what, Sea Hawk?” Bow asks.
“It’s time for our arm wrestling competition!” He flexes his arms.
"Uh, I'm not sure if we should, today." Adora says. "We have our filming soon, remember?"
"Ha! Are you perhaps scared of losing to me because we have more people in the audience?" He asks, smoothing one end of his moustache.
Adora crosses her arms, scoffing. "Scared of you? When was the last time you beat me?"
“Well, I do have a great feeling today. Let me go get the stuff in my room.”
“You say this every time.” Mermista says. “Adora still always wins.”
“Not today!” He points up as he walks away.
"I still don't know if we should─"
“She does?” Catra asks. “Bet she can’t beat Scorpia.”
“You do look very strong, Scorpia.” Perfuma says, subtly placing a hand on Scorpia’s right arm.
“Well, I─” Scorpia giggles, blushing, “I love working out.”
“You should see the weights she lifts, Perfuma.” Catra tells her, making Scorpia blush harder.
Adora clenches her jaw and raises an eyebrow at Catra, who sticks her tongue out at her.
“You know what?” Bow says. “I’m ready to beat Sea Hawk today.”
“It’s a challenge!” Sea Hawk appears with a big bottle of vodka and a few shot glasses in his arms. He sets everything on the small table and clears space for the arm wrestling.
Bow takes his suit jacket off and sits on a pillow across from where Sea Hawk is already waiting with his right elbow propped on the table.
“Go, Bow!” Glimmer cheers.
They clasp their hands together and in a count of three the arm wrestling begins. For a moment, none of their hands move to either side, although they start contorting their faces. Slowly, Sea Hawk starts to get an advantage.
“C’mon, Bow!” Catra exclaims.
Bow groans and quickly inverts their situation. Then, with a huff, he pins Sea Hawk’s arm down. Everyone cheers.
“Ouch, that hurt.” Bow says, rubbing his shoulder. “But I did it!”
“Congratulations, Bow.” Sea Hawk says, a little bitterly. “It’s not easy to beat me.” He pours a shot and drinks it in one gulp, grimacing.
Bow laughs, patting on Sea Hawk's shoulder.
“Can I go too?” Catra asks, handing the beer she has in hands to Scorpia.
Adora snorts. “You think you can beat Bow?”
“No, Sea Hawk.”
“That’s not how the rules work─”
“Challenge accepted!” Sea Hawk makes Bow move and Catra takes his place.
“You got this, Catra!” Scorpia exclaims.
"Wait." She removes her suit jacket and throws it across to Scorpia, who graciously catches it. Adora could've held it for her too, she thinks.
She must grip Sea Hawk's hand really hard because his eyes widen as they get ready and Glimmer counts down from three. Startling everyone, she shouts and pins his arm down.
“You crushed my fingers, that’s not fair!” He whines, shaking his hand.
“I what now?” She grins.
“And why did you scream!?”
She turns to Adora. “Is screaming against the rules?”
Adora shakes her head, laughing. “Nope. Seems like you won fair and square.”
Sea Hawk huffs and takes another shot, then goes to sit next to Mermista. She rolls her eyes but wraps her arms around him to comfort him. His mood suddenly improves.
“Can we go back to how the competition works?” Adora asks.
“Yeah, you need to go against the current winner, Catra.” Bow says, sitting across from her. He looks a little nervous given the previous result.
Catra acts like a normal person for this round, but Bow wins.
“You’re in a row, Bow!” Glimmer claps.
“Ugh.” Catra complains. Bow pours two shots for her. “Two?”
“A shot for every win I got, you and Sea Hawk.”
“This game is dumb.” She says before drinking one shot. She shakes her head hard and turns to Adora. “If I throw up it’s your fault.”
“I didn’t do anything!”
“It’s your turn, Adora.” Bow says.
Catra downs the second shot, wrinkling her nose and twisting her mouth, which is very cute, Adora thinks, and gets up. As they pass by each other she pokes at Adora’s chest.
“Good luck, princess.”
“Uh, thanks.” Adora says, feeling her cheeks heating up, unused to Catra using that nickname in front of other people. She sits down, ignoring the look Bow’s giving her, and props her elbow on the table. “Ready?” She smirks.
“Yeah.” He says with a voice crack, taking her hand.
Glimmer does the counting. Adora figures his arm must already be tired and goes full force, quickly pining it down.
“Classic Adora.” Sea Hawk says.
“Ouch… it was good while it lasted.”
Adora pours three shots for him.
“Three!?” Scorpia asks.
“Our arm wrestling competitions usually only have three participants.” Glimmer explains, gesturing at them. “So their made up rules are to make it more interesting.”
“Yep─” Bow says in between shots, wrinkling his nose, “we should probably update those rules.” He shakes his head after the last one, clutching at his stomach. “Your turn, Scorpia.”
She glances at Catra and Perfuma before getting up, both giving her a thumbs up.
Adora is used to winning these silly competitions and only drinking because she wants to, not for losing against someone. Only now it sinks in that if she loses now, she will have to take four shots. She also realizes, as Scorpia sits across from her, how tall she really is, and how big her arms are.
“Uh, any chance we could change the rules right now?” Adora asks, sheepishly.
“No.” Bow and Sea Hawk say in unison.
Scorpia takes her hand. “Oh man, this is so exciting!”
Glimmer counts from three. Adora uses all her strength, twisting Scorpia’s arm a bit to left, but Scorpia’s grip gets tighter and slowly she gets an advantage, then in a swift movement she pins Adora’s arm down.
“Fuck.” Adora groans.
Everyone cheers for Scorpia, who starts blushing again.
”Sorry.” She whispers.
“Don’t be.” Adora looks at Perfuma, who looks like she’s about to cry. “She’s indeed very strong.”
Perfuma nods, clapping then hugging Scorpia when she sits back next to her.
“We haven’t seen four-drinks Adora in a while.” Mermista says. “This will be interesting.”
“Can I drink after the filming…?”
Adora hears at least four simultaneous nos.
“You guys are the worst.” She whines. “Can I at least space them out? I’m not trying to die tonight.”
“I’ll get you some water.” Glimmer chuckles, getting up.
Adora’s annoyance disappears when she hears Catra’s squeaky laugh.
"We have to leave soon. Filming is gonna be fun." She says.
“Yeah, I’m not gonna think about that right now.”
“Try to not break any beer pong tables in half this time.” Mermista says.
“That was one time!”
“Or pass out inside a closet and make us look for you for two hours.” Bow adds.
“That was…” Adora frowns, “maybe more than one time.”
“Is drunk Adora that bad?” Catra asks.
Bow’s eyes sparkle and Adora just knows he’s about to tell some embarrassing story about them, so she pours the first shot and downs it, wincing with the horrible taste. She should probably wait to take the rest when they’re about to leave so she’ll be, at most, tipsy while they’re filming. She tries to not think about what can go wrong and tries to focus on the present. This night is supposed to be fun, she’s surrounded by her friends, including Catra, the way she wanted to for so long. It seems like a lot of things she’s wanted for a while includes Catra, as if she’s a missing piece of her life; a lost, precious piece, finally found again.
The group goes on talking about their own drunk memories, not only Adora’s, and Adora can’t help her eyes from lingering on Catra. She just looks so comfortable today, relaxed and involved in the conversation as if she’s been part of their group for years. She also just looks really good. It’s probably the suit, or maybe the makeup, or how pretty her hair looks, but also the way she squeaks when she laughs too hard, or the way she's sitting, or her little mannerisms that she's had since they were little, or─
Adora cuts off her thoughts. Time for another shot, she decides.
Eventually the conversation changes to be about the documentary. Sea Hawk talks about the amazing things he has recorded with Mermista, who interrupts him at times to correct some exaggerated lie. Apparently there was fire involved in more than one occasion. Adora can’t be sure if they’re officially dating again or not, but it sure looks like it. Perfuma then asks if Adora and Catra have also done anything fun recently, but before any of them can answer, Scorpia excitedly mentions Catra wrote a song for Adora. Perfuma asks more about it as Catra splutters and glances at Adora with a panicked face, then back at Perfuma and Scorpia, regaining her relaxed expression.
Adora frowns. Wrote a song for her?
“It was only so I would win the bet.” Catra says, shrugging. “And it worked. Thanks, Bow.”
“You wrote that!?” Adora asks.
Catra widens her eyes again. “Uh,”
“Thanks for what?” Bow asks. “Adora didn’t even let me─”
“I think we should go.” Adora blurts out, getting up. “Or we’re going to be late. Mermista, Sea Hawk, you guys ready? The rest of you can meet with us when the actual formal starts.”
“Aren’t you forgetting something?” Mermista asks, pointing down at the table where the vodka is.
Adora groans. “Fine.” She sits back down and begins to pour the remaining shots. "Last chance for someone to stop me…”
“Don’t be a coward, do it.” Catra says.
Adora laughs. She’s gonna regret this. She proceeds to drink, one after the other, as her friends cheer.
"This was such a bad idea.” She says, shuddering as her throat and stomach burn. “Ok, let's fucking go."
The ballroom where the party is gonna take place later is a close walk from Sea Hawk’s dorm, which is why they pregamed there. On the way, Adora almost reaches for Catra’s hand, but she stops herself. They’ve been doing it so much recently that it’s almost instinctual, but they aren’t even filming right now, they don’t have to hold hands. Sea Hawk and Mermista walk ahead, arms interlocked as he tells all of them some story that Adora is not really paying attention to. She stays close to Catra, their arms brushing together at times as they walk.
Once they enter the building, Catra takes her hand and interlaces their fingers. Adora feels instantly less anxious. She eyes the people setting up a long table by a wall with food, but Mel and the other film students are on the very end of the room, so they walk to them. There’s a white backdrop set up and a photographer behind a tripod and camera facing it. A couple Adora doesn’t know is there posing and taking pictures as another student with a camera records the process. Sea Hawk and Mermista go to find their film student while they look for Mel. She tells them each couple will be recording something there then they’ll film everyone together dancing, as if it was the formal.
Since it’s not their turn yet to film they start wandering around the place.
“Let’s checkout the food.” Catra says.
“Are we allowed to eat before the formal starts?”
“Is that gonna stop you if we aren’t?”
Adora grins. “Nope.”
The big table Adora saw when they entered still has some staff people around it. Catra keeps walking and stops by a column.
“Let’s wait until the table is free so we can attack it.” Catra says.
Adora giggles. Catra sounds so serious. She lets go of her hand and leans back on the pillar, looking at her instead of in the opposite direction where the table is. Adora is definitely starting to feel a buzz in her mind, so she’s glad they won’t have any interview style filming today.
“You can’t let me do anything embarrassing, ok?” Adora asks.
Catra turns to her with a smirk. “I think that’s on you.”
“Please.” Adora pouts. “At least while the cameras are on.”
Catra’s smile softens. “Don’t worry, I got you.”
Adora’s heart flutters at that.
“I guess today will really test our acting abilities.” Catra says.
“We’re surrounded by all the film students and couples, not just one person.”
Catra steps closer into her space and reaches for her face.
“But don’t worry,” she says, playing with the bit of Adora’s hair that frames the right side of her face, “we’ve been doing a good job so far.”
Adora's mouth dries. She swallows hard and nods. This close she can count the freckles over the bridge of Catra’s nose, she has a tiny one at the very tip of her nose. Adora wants to stroke them with her fingertips.
Catra glances to the side. “This is our chance!” She says and quickly makes her way to the table.
Adora sighs, feeling cold without Catra close to her. It takes her a moment to remember what they were there for. She walks to Catra, who is sneaking some appetizers inside a napkin, then putting it inside a pocket of her jacket. Adora reaches for one but a voice stops her.
“Excuse me ladies, the food is for the party only.”
Adora retracts her hand and turns to the person, smiling sheepishly. A short woman in white uniform is looking back at them with a raised eyebrow.
“We were, uh, just looking how─” Adora starts, but Catra takes her hand and starts dragging her away.
“Sorry, we didn’t mean to interrupt your job.” Catra says. “Can’t wait to eat it!"
Catra walks them to a different pillar this time, laughing once they’re far enough from the lady. She lightly punches Adora’s arm.
“Why are you literally the slowest person on the planet?” She reaches in her pocket then carefully opens the napkin with both hands, promptly grabbing one appetizer to eat. “Should I even share this with you?”
“Yes, because you’re such a thoughtful girlfriend.” Adora takes a tiny sandwich and eats it before Catra can protest.
“Oh, so now you’re quick?” Catra turns her body away from her, but almost stumbles in the process. Adora holds her by the shoulders. “Wow, thanks.”
Adora laughs. “Are you already drunk?”
“No…” Catra answers, and shoves something that looks cheesy in her mouth. “Things may or may not be a little dizzy, though.” She chuckles. “Hum, these things are good.”
“Oh my God, of course you’re a lightweight, you’re tiny.”
“Shut up!” Catra squeaks, and turns back to her. “Not everyone is made of like,” she eyes her up and down, “150 pounds of pure muscle, or whatever.”
Adora’s cheeks flush. “Shut up!”
She reaches for the last appetizer in Catra’s hand and shoves it in her mouth.
“Your reflexes used to be better.” Adora teases her. “These things are good.”
Catra raises her hand and flickers Adora’s forehead.
“Ouch!” Adora flinches. “What was that for?”
“C’mon,” Catra laughs, taking Adora’s hand, “let’s go back to where everyone is.”
There are more students gathered around now. Sea Hawk and Mermista look busy talking to other people so they go to where it is more empty and wait by the wall close to where the photos are happening. Adora leans her back against the wall while Catra leans her head on Adora’s shoulder, still holding her hand and with her free hand absently caressing Adora’s forearm. Adora wants to─ squeeze Catra’s hand. The edges of her mind are blurry, relaxed, and she finds herself thinking that if she had to stay the rest of the night like that, with Catra glued to her, her warmth pressing against her, she wouldn’t mind it at all.
They stay in a comfortable silence as they watch the current couple who is being photographed. Two guys do silly poses together, then end with a kiss for the last picture.
“Do you want to plan the poses ahead?” Catra asks.
“Uh? Oh, I think we can improvise.”
“You want to improvise? That’s new.”
“Maybe I’m learning some things from you.” Adora smiles.
Catra gasps. “Am I being a good influence?”
“You’ve always been a good influence on me.”
“That’s not what Mrs. Weaver used to say.” Catra snorts.
“Yeah, because she didn’t know I had to copy your answers to pass her class.” Adora laughs.
“And she’d say I distracted you.”
“Well, you kinda did, I guess, since I─” Adora stops herself, shaking her head. “I mean, nevermind.”
“Nothing. It’s stupid.”
“Okay, now you have to say it.”
“It’s just,” Adora breathes out, “back then I kind of had a crush on you? So maybe you did distract me.”
Catra tenses up. Her hold onto Adora’s forearm tightens.
“You know, middle school kid’s stuff.” Adora rubs the back of her neck with her free hand. “I said it was stupid.”
There’s a beat of silence, then Catra relaxes again.
“Woah, I can’t believe you had a crush on me. How embarrassing for you.”
Adora snorts. “Really?”
“Anyway, back to the poses. We should do a tango one.”
“C’mon! All these couples are so boring in their pictures.”
Before Adora can complain again, Mel approaches them.
“Hey! We’re after them.”
Adora looks back at the photography spot. Sea Hawk and Mermista are next. Sea Hawk does some exaggerated poses until Mermista says something to him and he calms down. Then Mermista holds his face and leans in for a kiss, but he spins and dips her as they kiss. When he brings her back up they are both laughing and looking like two lovebirds.
Adora laughs, feeling fond of her friends.
“Sea Hawk is just… so Sea Hawk.”
Mel laughs by her side. “We just suggested a quick kiss, but whatever everyone is more comfortable with, I guess.”
Adora tenses up. Catra straightens up and lets go of her.
“What do you mean?”
“Oh, right. For the pictures we were thinking, like, prom style couple pictures, which can be whatever you want, but one being a kiss.”
“Oh. Um,” Adora freezes, she stares at Catra as if asking for help.
“Uh, that is…” Catra starts, eyes widening.
“Fine.” Adora completes, but it sounds more like a question.
“Fine?” Catra blinks. “Fine.” She nods. “A quick kiss.”
Adora hums and nods as well. “Quick and easy.”
Mel glances between them. “Well, let’s go.”
They follow her. Adora feels like panicking, but it’s fine. It’s fine! She doesn’t need to freak out. It’ll just be a quick kiss, basically a platonic kiss. Yeah, that’s a thing. Plus, she will feel nothing and then she can shove aside the idea that she might like Catra. Yep. Cool. That line of thinking is enough to ease her anxiety.
She expects to feel shy for being in front of two cameras, but she doesn't mind them. She can thank the alcohol in her system for that.
The first picture is a basic, arms interlocked picture. The next Catra has her hands on one of Adora’s shoulders, and Adora has a hand on the small of her back, bodies close together but heads facing the camera.
“So what next?” Catra asks.
“Um, how about I'm casually fixing your tie.” Adora faces her, reaching for the ends of her tie.
“And failing at it.”
They laugh and the flash goes off.
“Tango pose?” Catra asks.
“A simple one.”
Catra steps behind Adora, then places her right hand on Adora’s stomach and takes her left hand, extending her arm out to the side. Adora tenses up, breath catching, suddenly overwhelmed with the warmth of Catra’s hands on her, her front pressing against her back.
“Cool, now we stare intensely at each other.”
Adora turns her head to her left and their noses almost touch. There’s a flash, then Catra lets her go, getting two inches shorter.
“Were you on your tiptoes?” Adora sneers.
Catra rolls her eyes, stepping back to be by her side.
“Ok, last one girls.” Mel says.
Adora swallows hard, feeling her face already flushing. She licks her lips and turns to Catra, who is already staring with that sly smile on her face that Adora cannot stand. If flirty on-camera-Catra is a lot, tipsy flirty on-camera-Catra is insufferable.
She quirks an eyebrow and with a raspy voice, says, “Hey, Adora.”
Adora would’ve rolled her eyes if it wasn’t for her sudden increased heart rate caused by those words, and if it wasn’t for her mind going blank when Catra places her hands on the sides of her neck, fingers tangling through her hair, eyes fixed on her lips.
For a brief moment, they stay like that, then Catra pulls her in.
Adora lets her, easily, eyes fluttering shut and hands finding Catra’s waist like they belong there. Catra presses her lips against Adora’s, lightly, and Adora’s plan was just─ to leave it at that, which she does, for that split second when time seems to stop, but then her fingers are digging into the fabric of Catra’s suit and she’s bringing her closer, mouth parting to properly fit their lips together, and─
The flash goes off and Catra pulls away. Adora opens her eyes, letting out a shaky breath, finding Catra’s smug face now gone, replaced with soft eyes and darker cheeks, but all Adora can focus on are her lips. Their hands linger on each other for a moment as Adora suppresses a wow from coming out of her mouth because… because that did not feel like nothing.
Her heart is still thundering in her chest when Mel gives the ok that they’re done and Catra walks away. Adora, dazed, follows her, her brain slowly starting to work again, finally realizing that─ or maybe, finally admitting that─
Fuck, she thinks, screams in her head, as it dawns on her.
they kith 😌 i feel like i should add the tag idiots to lovers what y'all think
this chapter is a bit shorter than previous ones, i didn't want to keep everyone waiting any longer. i may try to keep the next ones shorter too so hopefully i can update more quickly, sorry i'm so slow :( but i do want to finish this fic!!
check out this drawing by @ryuucaro of their first kiss :')
Chapter 8: i'm still into you
hi :D thank u for all the comments on the last chapter!! didn't expect a fic that took so long to update to still receive so much love it's really mind blowing <3
this is basically part 2 of last chapter, hope you enjoy it!!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Adora trips over her own feet and reaches for Catra’s arm to not fall. Catra stifles a laugh as they walk to the center of the room where all the other couples are gathering. Adora swears the floor is moving below her, so she makes sure to walk a little slower. She spent the last fifteen minutes standing awkwardly next to Catra, trying to not freak out, or to not think about the kiss or her realization, and failing at all of that. She hopes Catra didn’t notice she is suddenly acting weird.
They only have the group dance left to film. The lights are low now, with the exception of some bright colorful beams of light pointing at the dance floor. Once everyone is with their respective pair, a ballad starts playing. Adora cautiously follows Catra’s lead as they start swaying, hands on her shoulders, while Catra holds her waist. She tries to think of what her feet should be doing: two steps to one side, two steps to the other, and so on, but it seems like the room is even more spinny with Catra so close, her hands warm and gentle on her sides.
“Anxious?” Catra asks, tilting her head to the side.
“Uh, yeah.” Adora lies. “There are just so many cameras.”
“Forget them, focus on me. We’re supposed to look like we’re in love, anyway.”
Adora freezes up and almost steps on Catra’s feet before recovering.
“Yeah.” She’s not in─ no. That’s too much, too soon. "I don't think I can redo our tango dance though."
"Don't worry,” Catra laughs, “this is just a slow dance."
Adora keeps staring at her, like they’re supposed to do. She tries to focus on her eyes. In this light one is a dark blue and the other a deep brown, soft and a bit hazy, but always striking. Or on her freckles. She wishes she could map them out and memorize them, as if they were her own constellations. But Adora’s eyes keep flickering to her lips. They are softer than they look, she knows that now.
Adora moves her arms to around Catra’s back and rests her head on her shoulder. She can't bear to keep looking at her this close if she can't pull her in and kiss her again. At least like this she can hug her, breathe her in, melt in her warmth. Catra wraps her arms around her, holding her steadier. They stay like that for most of the dance, probably moving way less than any of the other couples, but Adora doesn’t really care. She thought this would be easier, but her chest aches. She scolds herself in her mind, for not realizing how much she wanted Catra all those years ago, for wanting her now, for being selfish and not content with what they are beginning to finally have again.
"You ok?" Catra asks with her cute worried voice.
"Mhm." Adora sniffs, realizing she's almost crying. She closes her eyes hard, this is not the time to cry.
"Four-drinks Adora is emo?"
Adora laughs. "Not usually."
"Scorpia prohibited me from ever having more than four drinks. Five-drinks Catra is a party ruiner."
Adora laughs again, warm and bubbly.
"What did you do?"
"Long story. It involves getting into a fight with an ice statue, running from Scorpia, then running from security with Scorpia… I'll tell you one day."
One day. Adora may not have her the way she wants, but Catra is here now after so long, and she wants to stay. It has to be enough.
"I'm so glad you're back in my life." Adora slurs.
Adora pulls herself back, gripping on Catra’s shoulders because it’s harder to keep her balance now. She grins because Catra’s face is right there and she’s so pretty and she realizes she could boop their noses together so she does that.
“What are you doing?” Catra startles, laughing.
“Nothing.” Adora giggles. “I said I'm so glad you're back in my life.”
Catra sighs and smiles.
“Me too.” She says, with that soft look in her eyes that makes Adora melt inside.
She cradles Catra’s face between her hands, brushes her thumbs over her cheekbones. What if just friendship isn’t enough?
“I just,” Adora swallows.
Catra doesn’t pull away. She just keeps staring, almost like she’s waiting for something. Adora leans her forehead on hers, heart quick in her chest, noses brushing together again. This time Catra doesn't startle. She can feel her breath over her mouth.
“I just wish that─”
The music stops. They stop swaying and Catra holds Adora’s wrists, taking a small step back.
“Guess we’re done.” She smiles and puts Adora’s arms down. “Wanna go see if everyone’s already here?”
Adora shuts her eyes for a moment and exhales. “Yeah.”
She needs to get her shit together, she decides. She clearly can’t think properly in her current state, so she will leave that for tomorrow. Tonight she will enjoy the party with her friends, won’t make things weird with Catra, and will not continuously think about how good she looks in a suit. Ok, she's allowed to fail the last one.
Catra leads them back to the buffet area, finding Mermista and Sea Hawk already there.
“So how did the kiss go?” Mermista asks, looking at Adora.
Adora widens her eyes. “Great! I mean, I think we did well─ because we are pretending, right? Not well in, like, the kissing. Not that it wasn’t great too, I mean, it was short, but Catra is a great kisser─”
Catra laughs. “You’re a great kisser too, Adora.”
“T-thanks.” Adora goes red. Catra guesses almost all the drinks must have hit her by now.
Mermista makes fun of how Adora is already wasted, but Adora tries to argue that she’s just tipsy and Sea Hawk is the drunk one. In the few times Catra has seen him he looks like he’s always drunk, so there isn’t much difference. It doesn’t take too long for the place to start getting packed and for music to start playing again. The rest of their friends arrive shortly after and they all mingle together while they’re the ones attacking the food.
This filming has not at all been like how Catra expected it. First because she didn’t expect to be tipsy for it, or drunk, she’s probably drunk by now. She hates being a lightweight. Second because, well, she had to kiss Adora. She didn’t even get to prepare herself psychologically for that, which was maybe for the best. It’s done, and thankfully it wasn’t awkward, and she’s not even thinking about it anymore. She’s also not thinking about how good it felt when Adora pulled her closer, even if it only lasted a second. There’s nothing to think about.
Catra zones back in the conversation as Scorpia is mentioning that Entrapta should be there soon after she texted her there’s tiny food. She’s now coming just for that. Catra notices Adora is not there with them anymore.
“Where is Adora?”
“She went to find a bathroom.” Glimmer tells her.
“Drunk Adora probably shouldn’t be left unsupervised.” Bow says.
“I’ll go find her.” Catra says.
She goes towards the bathroom she remembers seeing earlier, careful to avoid dancing people on the way. She finds Adora at the entrance of the bathroom, enthusiastically talking to two other girls. Maybe friends Catra hasn’t met yet?
“And that’s why you can do anything you set your heart to, girl, I believe in you.” Adora points at one of the girls. Both girls nod, looking emotional.
Adora turns to her, smiling broadly.
“Catra!” She hugs her. “I missed you.”
“We’ve been apart for like ten minutes?”
Adora lets her go, but holds one of her hands. “This is my girlfriend, Catra!”
The girls wave and say hi. Catra waves back. They thank Adora before leaving.
“Who were they?”
“I don’t know.” Adora laughs. “But they were so friendly. I think we should still pretend, right? Um, in case Mel is still around. That’s why I said you were my girlfriend.”
Catra considers. The film students could still be around. “Yeah, that makes sense. Did you go to the bathroom yet?”
Adora widens her eyes. “Oh, right! Will you dance with me after I’m done?”
“You wanna dance?”
Adora nods so fast she starts to lose her balance. Catra holds her still.
She concludes all the drinks have hit her by now.
“Yeah, we can dance.”
Adora beams and enters the bathroom. Drunk Adora is surprisingly adorable.
After some time she wonders if she should enter it too to see if Adora started another impromptu therapy session with a stranger, but she appears again, immediately attacking Catra with another hug.
“You waited for me!”
Catra has to step back to not fall with Adora hanging off her neck.
“Adora, your friends didn’t warn me you’d be so fucking touchy while drunk.”
“You know what I realized while I was peeing?” Adora asks, straightening up and letting go of her. She didn’t even hear Catra.
“I’m scared of asking what, but what?”
“I realized I’m, like, really drunk.” She giggles.
She nods, like she’s proud of it, then takes Catra’s hands.
Catra lets her, because, well, she’s drunk too, but also because how could she not? She’d probably follow Adora anywhere. That thought should scare her, maybe, but she gets distracted when Adora finally stops, turns to her, and starts dancing.
They dance like how you’d expect two drunk college students to dance together. At some point they find Bow and Glimmer in the crowd, at some other Catra gets lost and bumps into Scorpia and Perfuma, then eventually she finds Adora again. Catra is transported to old, simpler times. Afternoons after school spent in Adora’s living room, dancing or playing or just running around, having the most fun Catra would be having that day, just the two of them, always the two of them. Except this time Adora is way more touchy and they dance way closer together than they ever did. Catra barely remembers the last time she’s been to a party, let alone the last time she had this much fun.
All her recent fun memories involve Adora. Going on (fake) dates with her, messing with her in tango and when she was playing on stage while secretly hoping to impress her, spending time with her in the library, the list goes on. Catra never really stopped missing her. She mourned losing her friendship for so long that she was convinced they’d never even look at each other’s faces anymore. Maybe that’s why it still doesn’t feel real that they are friends again, or why she still misses her even now, with her wobbly dancing right in front of her. It pains her how she can’t revert their time apart, their hurt, and all the lost time.
What they have now is fragile, dangerous, because, well, what ruined everything before were Catra’s stupid feelings, feelings that cannot come back, but─ having to do all the things they’ve been doing for the documentary doesn’t really help it, kissing Adora definitely does not help it, dancing so closely to her probably doesn’t help it either. Catra is a bit entranced, high on the alcohol, on the music that reverberates in her body, on every touch. So when Adora holds her hands and spins her around without letting go of her, laughing in her ear, and Catra leans back on her also laughing, still dancing, or trying to, trapped in Adora’s arms, pressed against her, it’s suddenly all too much.
She stops moving abruptly.
Adora lets go of her, taking one hand to her shoulder.
Catra turns to her so she can hear her, “Yeah, I just need some air.”
She makes her way through the crowd, avoiding stray elbows, reaching the double doors and being enveloped in the cool air of the night. She sits down on the concrete steps and takes a deep, refreshing breath.
She’s alone for less than a minute before the doors open again and there’s a small yelp when Adora almost trips on her own feet. She doesn’t, luckily, and sits next to Catra, shoulders touching.
“Aw, there are no stars.” Adora pouts.
Catra looks up. The sky is all overcast.
They stay in silence for a moment.
Adora hugs her own arms, rubbing them and shivering. Catra takes off her jacket and drapes it over her shoulders.
“Thanks.” Adora smiles, with soft eyes and a hair poof so messy it’s almost all undone. Catra curls her fingers tight on the fabric of her pants to fight the urge to fix it. “Tired?”
“Yeah.” Catra returns the smile. “Guess I’m getting old. I can’t party like before.”
Adora snorts, loud and adorable. “And I’m getting HUNGRY.” Catra startles with the sudden shift in her voice. “Those tiny fancy foods cannot sustain me, let me tell you.”
“Wanna go grab pizza? We’re near town.”
Adora gasps and jumps up. “It’s Saturday night! Cheese slices one dollar each!!”
She grabs Catra's hand and drags her up.
“Wow, slow down!” Catra laughs.
They walk, arms interlocked and leaning on each other to try to keep going in a straight line.
It’s a tiny place but there are still a few seats available. They were not the only ones who had that idea, given the mix of students in fancy clothes and others in normal clothes. Catra guides them to the stools facing the window on the corner, near the entrance.
“Save us these seats, ok? How many slices do you want?” Catra asks.
“Hmm,” Adora leans on the table to help her sit on the stool, “seven?”
“You want seven slices.” Catra deadpans.
“Adora, these slices are huge.”
“But I’m hungry…” She pouts.
“I’ll get seven slices,” Adora beams at that, “for the two of us.” She pouts again. ”Do you think you can stay here without disappearing for ten minutes?”
Adora holds the edge of the table with both hands and scowls. “Watch how hard I can sit still.”
“Awesome.” Catra replies, trying to stifle a laugh. “I’ll be right back.”
Catra joins the line to order, hoping Adora will stay in place and not do something that drunk Adora would do. Once she’s ordered and paid, she waits for the slices by the side of the counter. She watches Adora, who looks entertained by the blinking neon sign on the outside of the window in front of her, casting a red light that outlines her features. It’s a miracle Catra’s jacket, still over her shoulders, hasn’t fallen to the ground yet. She looks good with a piece of her outfit on her, Catra thinks. She then wonders what she looks like with her old high school jacket that she kept with her for all this time (which is a dumb thought since she’s seen Adora in her own letterman jacket so many times).
Adora puts her hair up in a ponytail, but she doesn’t have a hair tie with her. She stays a good minute holding her hair with one hand, staring at some point on the table thinking of what to do next. She finally gives up and lets her hair fall. Catra giggles because drunk Adora is just so endearing. Adora turns to her and catches her staring just as she snaps around to face the counter, cheeks burning.
Not too long passes before a paper plate with all her greasy pizza slices piled up appears on the counter. She thanks the person and grabs way too many napkins with her free hand before making her way back.
“Here you go.” She places the plate and napkins down before taking a seat.
“Oh my god, they are beautiful.” Adora puts her phone down, no, Catra’s phone down, then takes a slice and starts shoving it in her mouth, humming and doing a little dance as she eats.
“What were you doing with my phone?” Catra takes it, it’s unlocked on her homescreen.
“Nothing.” Adora answers, mouth full. “It was in your jacket’s pocket.”
“So you took it.”
”I wanted to see if your password was still your favorite number.” Adora swallows. “Can we take a selfie?”
“We don’t have any recent pictures together.” Adora pauses. “That we took ourselves.” She snatches Catra’s phone from her hand.
“Hey! You’re gonna make it all oily.” Catra whines, but Adora is already with her arm extended with the front camera on. She pulls Catra’s stool closer with her free hand (even drunk she’s still a buff jock), then places her arm around Catra’s shoulder and brings their faces closer.
“Say cheeeese.” Adora says, all smiley.
Catra watches the jacket slipping from Adora’s shoulders through the phone and matches her smile.
“There.” Adora says after the photo is taken. She turns her head to Catra, nose brushing on her cheek.
Catra flinches. Adora straightens up and starts tapping something on the phone.
“Enough pizza fingers on my phone, please.” Catra says as she reaches down to grab the fallen jacket, holding onto the table just in time before she almost loses her balance. She places it crumpled in her lap.
“I’m just sending it to myself. I left my phone with Bow, I should’ve gotten a dress with pockets…” She gives it back to her. “Ok, pizza time!”
Catra’s stomach rumbles. She puts her phone in her pocket and takes a slice.
They eat in silence. Catra tries to watch the outside, but it’s so dark it’s hard to make out the street. She focuses instead on Adora’s reflection, who looks like she is having the time of her life. She can’t stop herself from staring at her defined arms, the thin straps of her dress over her collarbones and shoulders, her messy hair sticking on her neck and face, her lips. She thinks of their kiss earlier, so quick but long enough for Catra’s lips to memorize how Adora’s felt against them. She should’ve gotten a glass of water along with pizza.
It still amuses her that Adora kept her jacket, kept their old photos too, and who knows what else. She got rid of everything that reminded her of Adora, hoping that would give her space, that it would take the pain away with her, that it would make her stop caring for once. It didn't. The only thing she didn’t get rid of were the old birthday letters. She stuffed them in the bottom of a box of old things that she meant to also dispose of, except she still has the box. The truth is that she could never bring herself to get rid of those letters.
It’s stupid how she felt like she was breaking up with Adora when they never even dated. It’s stupid how she let her feelings get in the way of their friendship. It is even more stupid how she feels those feelings slowly creeping back in, has felt it since she saw Adora again in that cursed smoothie place, as much as she has avidly denied it until today. Now, tired and drunk, in this tiny pizza place that has too yellow lights shining down from the ceiling, she can quietly admit it to herself. She’s a better person now, she hopes. She can be an adult this time and not ruin things. Adora and her aren’t meant to be together like that, as much as she once wished on the contrary, as much as they’re pretending to be something now, and that’s ok. They can still be friends, and that has to be enough.
Adora glances at her through the reflection and Catra looks down. There’s one slice left.
“You can have the last one.” She says. She reaches for a clean napkin and wipes her mouth.
Adora makes an excited noise. “You’re the best girlfriend in the world.”
“We’re not─ dating, Adora.”
Catra folds the napkin in half, then in half again.
“Catra,” Adora says, suddenly carefully, “why did you want me to do this with you? You could’ve asked any of your other friends.”
Catra folds the napkin again.
She remembers how she thought the smoothie job was the universe’s way of giving her another chance of making things right with Adora, and how quickly she (quite literally) blew that up. The universe wouldn’t be so kind to her again unless she actually did something about it.
“I owed you one. It was my fault we got fired.”
“I shouldn’t have yelled at you.”
“Why did you join me, though?” Catra looks at her. “I didn’t think you’d accept it… I thought you still hated me.”
Adora frowns. She reaches for Catra’s hand on the table. “I never hated you.”
She stares at Catra with her big, shiny eyes, with some longing in there that Catra thinks she recognizes. A longing for something lost. She doesn’t know how much of tonight Adora will remember tomorrow.
She squeezes her hand and sighs.
The entrance door bell dings as a small group of people rush inside, clothes wet. Catra looks out and realizes it’s now pouring, rain hitting hard against the window in front of them. It must have just started but she has no idea how she didn’t notice it.
Adora gasps. “Let’s go outside!!” She exclaims, already getting up.
“It will be fun! Like swimming.”
“It’s nothing like swi─”
Adora sprints out of the door before Catra can finish her sentence. Catra waits for a moment, then two. She’s gonna have to go after her, won’t she?
There’s a loud thud as Adora appears in front of her, hands and face pressed against the window. Catra laughs. The window is foggy enough on her side that she can write something with her finger. She spells IDIOT, mirrored so that Adora can read it, then goes after her.
She covers her head with her jacket, but it doesn’t help much. As soon as she opens the door she feels like she’s entering a waterfall. The rain is worse than the day of the festival.
“I hate you!” Catra points at Adora as she holds the jacket with one hand, half shouting. The rain is so loud.
“No, you don’t!” Adora hugs her neck, almost making Catra fall down. “You’re in the rain with me. You liiiike me!”
“This is not because I like you!” Catra laughs and shoves at Adora’s side, breaking free from her hold. Now her side is all wet. “If you do something stupid and get hurt your roommates are gonna have my head.”
Adora steps closer. “Aw, you’re worried about me.”
Her cheeks are still pink from the alcohol and her hair poof is now completely undone, bangs falling messily and sticking to her face.
“C’mon, dumbass, let’s get back inside.”
A crooked smile curls up on Adora’s mouth. “No.”
She takes her hand and drags her across the (thankfully, completely empty) street. Catra almost drops her jacket, and now holds it against her chest, giving up trying to not get rained on anymore. She follows after Adora, laughing and trying to keep her pace, surprisingly not annoyed even as her hair and clothes start to feel heavy, clinging to her body.
They run through a block and cross another street before Adora stops under a lamp post, letting go of Catra to cross one arm over her stomach, catching her breath.
“Running is─ hard.”
Catra pants. She shoves at Adora’s arm.
“You’re such a weirdo.”
“You can’t tell me you aren’t having fun.” She says, straightening up, a wide smile on her face.
“I am clearly not!”
“Then why won’t you stop smiling?”
Catra tries to stop, but fails. “Idiot.”
The street is empty apart from them, all sane people are inside somewhere. The bright light falling over them makes Adora’s eyes shine just as bright as the rain that looks like confetti enfolding them. Adora’s dress clings tight to her body, she’s way more exposed to the cold than Catra.
As if on cue, she shudders, and before Catra realizes she’s already putting her jacket around Adora’s shoulders again. She makes her put her arms in this time. It’s soaked, but at least it’s some barrier of protection, even if it’s a bit tight around her stupid biceps.
“You care about me or something?” Adora asks, voice annoyingly smug.
“And what if I do?”
Catra is still holding the lower part of the jacket’s collar, eyes on her hands.
“Catra,” Adora says, and it’s that same careful voice that pulls right at her heartstrings.
Catra looks at her, her smile gone. Adora looks down and raises a hand to Catra’s chest. She touches her necklace gingerly, now visible through her wet shirt. She’s been wearing it every day since Adora gave it to her.
“Were you saying the truth?” Adora asks.
Her eyes flick back to hers. “When you said you wrote that song for me?”
Catra’s ears burn. She lets go of the jacket and takes a small step back. Her back hits the lamp post.
She’s written songs about Adora before. Mostly scrapped verses in her high school years when she started getting into songwriting. Lyrics full of longing and heartbreak, adolescent anger and angst. She never meant to show them to her, obviously. It was more of a way for her to work through her own feelings than anything else. When planning her date, she realized she had never written a happy song about her. As much as her unrequited feelings have hurt her, they have also helped in ways that only your first gay crush can, but Adora is so much more than that.
So Catra wrote a happy song. Maybe it had too much longing in it again, maybe it was a wish for them to stay like that, pretending, because she doesn’t know if she will ever like someone as much as she liked, likes, Adora.
“I─ Not you specifically.” Catra lies. “It was just something I’d do if we were, you know... girlfriends.”
“Oh.” Adora looks down again. She’s closer, somehow. Her hand moves to the collar of Catra’s shirt. She fidgets with it, thumb brushing on her neck. After a beat, she asks, voice lower, “What else would you do?”
Catra shivers, her heart thunders inside her chest.
She thought she was sobering up but this close to her she feels drunk all over again. Her mind is still too foggy to focus on anything that’s not Adora; the raindrops falling down her face, down the tip of her nose; her heavy lidded eyes down, intently fixed on something. She raises a hand to Adora’s face, tucks her messy hair strands behind her ear, and she leans into the touch. Her mind is still too foggy for her to not stop her fingers from tracing down Adora’s cheek, her neck, stopping over her quick pulse. She also can’t stop herself from glancing at Adora’s lips before tilting her head up, their lips a breath apart, and finally answering,
“What else do girlfriends do?”
Catra should pull Adora away. Instead, she tucks her hand behind Adora’s neck, and when Adora’s breath hitches, Catra leans in. Their lips meet and─ their kiss in front of the camera was a spark; small, sweet, gone way too quick. This is a wildfire. Adora’s hands find her waist, the small of her back, and she brings Catra closer, at the same time pushing her against the cold surface of the lamp post, parting her lips with her own. Catra lets out a small noise, her fingers curling through the back of Adora’s hair as her other hand cradles her face, and she melts into the kiss.
Her skin burns where Adora touches her, where she’s pressed against her, Catra insistently trying to make the tiny space between them smaller and smaller. It’s frightening, the size of her want. All she can vaguely think about is how much she wants this, has wanted it all her life, how much she wants to stop pretending because she just wants everything that happened to be real, to mean something.
When Adora pulls apart it's just to move her lips to Catra’s jaw, her neck, mouth hot against Catra’s cold skin. It’s only then that Catra can breathe, barely, as a gasp escapes her lips. A thunder low in the distance brings her back to reality, and realizing what she’s just done, she panics. Fighting every ounce of her body that wants to keep Adora close, she places her hands on her shoulder and draws them apart instead.
“Stop, I shouldn’t─ you’re drunk.” Catra says, breathlessly. She is dizzier than she’s been all night.
Adora’s face is flushed, lips swollen, hair messier than before. She frowns.
“I’m sorry─” She sounds winded too. Her hands drop as she takes a step back.
“We don’t wanna catch a cold,” Catra averts her eyes from her, “let’s go.”
She forces her legs to work and starts walking back towards campus, Adora soon falling into step with her. She clenches her hands and crosses her arms over her chest, shivering. The rain is colder now, without being in Adora’s arms. She walks as fast as her tired legs let her, pointedly avoiding glancing at Adora, cursing in her mind for doing just what she told herself she wouldn’t do, hoping she hasn’t just ruined their friendship for good this time.
Chapter 9: i picture it, soft, and i ache
hi :) this fic lives! wish i had a cool story of what i've been doing since the last update but it's 2020 so..... hope this fic can bring a little joy to these dark times! it's a long chapter for y'all
as always thank you for the nice comments, i read and appreciate them all <3
(also, smth about the birthday flashbacks from chapters 2/3 is relevant here so you might want to reread those since it's been a while, or just go ahead and enjoy the chapter!!)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Catra flips through her camera roll with one hand while the other holds a hot mug of coffee. It’s probably not the best drink for a hangover, but it’s the best to avoid a caffeine withdrawal layer of pain to her current headache. It’s fine, she also had some water, (after she dropped her phone when trying to check for the time while half asleep in the morning, seeing instead a selfie of Adora as her lock screen, which led to all the memories of the previous night hitting her, which then led to her curling up in a small ball wishing she could sleep and only wake up when all of her feelings went away. The latter didn’t happen, mostly because of a sharp pain flaring up inside her head ─ that was when she decided to get up and have the water).
Adora apparently had a lot of fun with her phone while Catra was in line for pizza. There are selfies of her doing funny faces, one of which she decided to set as Catra’s lock screen’s background, and the selfie they took together. Both of them clearly not sober, but with the biggest smiles on their faces. Catra wants to delete it. She also wants to print it and put it inside a heart-shaped locket she’d wear everyday. She opts for taking another sip of coffee.
She thinks of what to do next. Homework, probably. Take a shower, definitely. Check if Adora is alive, maybe… or not. She knows she’s alive, she made sure Adora made it back to her dorm before going to her own. She wasn’t gonna let a drunk Adora wander alone even if she wanted to hide in a hole and never have to face her again after that.
God, they really kissed. She panicked last night but maybe this is not the end of the world. Drunk friends kiss each other under the pouring rain all the time, right? Maybe one of the drunk friends doesn’t usually have secret feelings for the other, but it’s not like Adora knows that. Maybe she won’t even remember it. If she doesn’t, Catra can pretend it never happened and they can go on without any awkwardness. Her head throbs. She decides she can just follow Adora’s lead. If she does remember it and wants to talk about it, she will think of something to say.
As if Adora’s somehow reading her mind, a text notification pops up and Catra almost drops her phone inside her mug. With her heart quickening, she taps on it.
Adora (12:27PM): Hey! Thanks for dropping me off last night. Glimmer said you made sure I made it back alive. I know I can be a little too much when I’m drunk so I’m really sorry if I gave you too much trouble or idk made you uncomfortable or anything
Ok, that’s… interesting. Kind of vague. Maybe she actually doesn’t remember much, which is… good? Yeah, that’s what Catra wanted, she reminds herself. She’s just going to reply normally.
Catra (12:29PM): hey np! and don’t worry you were fine. the biggest trouble you gave me was this:
Catra sent a photo.
Catra (12:29PM): ^ my new lockscreen lol
Adora (12:30PM): Omg...... Please delete it
Catra (12:30PM): but u got the inside of ur nose that’s ur best angle :)
Adora (12:30PM): LOL 🙄
A typing bubble appears then disappears before appearing again.
Adora (12:31PM): At least our pic together looks cute
Catra types you always look cute before deleting it.
Catra (12:32PM): and very drunk lol
Catra (12:32PM): how’s the hangover going
Adora (12:33PM): Oh I never get hungover!
Catra (12:33PM): what?? not fair
Adora (12:33PM): :)
Adora (12:34PM): Anyway just wanted to make sure you made it back alright last night! Also I was thinking of going to the library later if you wanted to join?
Catra really wants to. Going to the library with her has become routine already, but she doesn’t think she will be able to focus today, especially next to her. Catra also probably needs some space.
Catra (12:35PM): well *i* do get hungover so i think i’ll just chill today
Adora (12:36PM): Ok! Drink lots of water!!
Catra sighs and locks her phone.
Adora covers her face with one arm. She’s been lying in her bed for two hours replaying the events of the previous night in her head, trying to think of what to say to Catra. Some details are faded in her mind. She isn’t sure if she was the one who kissed first (though how the kiss felt is very vivid in her mind), but what she knows is that she was being too much. Her drunk self is always too much, and she definitely crossed a line. Catra did kiss her back, but… she was drunk and she was also the one who stopped it. Adora can’t forget the look on her face and how she didn’t say a word to her after what happened.
She wasn’t sure what to message her. She thought of sending something in the lines of ‘sorry for kissing you I think I kinda have strong feelings for you and maybe I’ve always had and my drunk self has no restraints but don’t worry it won’t happen again so please don’t stop being my friend’ but that felt like a little too much, especially if Catra was mad at her. It doesn’t seem like she is, which is a relief, but part of Adora doesn’t know how to feel. There’s no way Catra doesn’t remember everything. If Catra wanted to bring it up she definitely would, so should they not talk about it at all? Maybe it’s best to just follow her lead. If pretending it never happened is the way to keep their friendship intact so be it.
Adora can’t stare at the ceiling of her room all day. She checks her phone one last time to make sure Catra hasn’t replied anything else and gets up. Maybe she should go to the gym, she needs to punch something.
The first days of the week drag by. Adora doesn’t text Catra again, and the opposite also doesn’t happen. She thinks of doing that, though. A lot. There’s nothing stopping her, they are still friends. She could just ask about her day, or ask if she wants to grab lunch, or suggest they film something together. They still have interviews with Mel but they should probably have at least one thing filmed for the week.
Adora is sitting on her usual spot at the library (her and Catra’s usual spot, to be more specific), but the table is too big for just her, and it feels wrong to not have Catra across from her. She can just imagine Catra appearing from the bookshelves on the left, holding two cups of tea and placing one next to her, insisting Adora doesn’t have to pay because it’s just tea. Then once Adora is done with her tea she would go get two pastries, always something she knew Catra liked, and give one to her as a thank you. They fell into their own little routine so quickly as if they’ve never had a fallout in their lives.
She stops daydreaming to try to focus on her reading again when Catra appears, walking by a nearby table. Adora blinks hard, wondering for a moment if she’s just a figment of her imagination, but quickly standing up before Catra disappears again.
“Catra?” Adora asks, a little too loud for libraries’ standards.
Catra stops and turns around on her feet. “Oh─ hey, Adora.”
There’s a shh heard in the distance.
“Hi!” Adora whispers-shouts.
Thankfully, Catra walks towards her. Adora tries to calm her quick beating heart.
“Um, are you just arriving? Or were you leaving?”
“I was looking for somewhere to sit,” Catra adjusts her backpack on her shoulder, “didn’t realize you were here.”
“Cool, yeah, I’m here.”
“I see that.” Catra chuckles.
Adora smiles big and fixes her ponytail, suddenly aware of how messy it must be looking right now. “Well, you can join me if you want, this table is too big for just me anyway.”
Catra takes a quick look around, then pulls the chair across from Adora to sit down.
“I guess it’s our table, isn’t it?”
“I guess.” Adora says, relieved, sitting back down.
Catra takes her laptop out of her backpack and sets it on the table. Adora forces herself to stop staring and looks back down on her textbook.
She reads the same paragraph three times, then loses focus again on the next one.
“Hard reading?” Catra asks.
“Hm?” Adora’s head snaps up.
“You’re looking very angrily at your book.” Catra says, with a small smile on her lips. “And you keep tapping your thumb on it.”
“Oh.” Adora stops her hand. “Yeah, I think I need a break.”
“But you just got here.”
“I know,” Catra snorts. She leans her head on a hand, elbow propped on the table, “and I’m already bored. How have you been?”
“Uh, good,” Adora fidgets with the corner of the page, “lots of, you know, homework and stuff.” She clears her throat. “You?”
“Tell me about it. This week’s been so busy.”
“Yeah? I figured. You haven’t talked about filming at all.” Catra says, surprising Adora a little. She then reaches for Adora’s hand. “What happened here?” She strokes the bandaid over one knuckle of Adora’s hand.
“I punched.” Adora tries to remember how to speak like a normal person. “I mean, I went a little too hard at the gym the other day.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t go around punching walls?”
“I didn’t─” Adora blinks, “it’s not that bad. It’s probably healed already.”
“Good.” Catra moves her hand back. “Should we, by the way?”
“Punch walls?” Adora furrows her brow.
“Definitely not.” Catra laughs, and that makes Adora all fuzzy inside. “I meant, film something.”
“Oh! It would be good, right?” Adora answers, trying to not sound too excited.
“Do you have the camera on you by any chance?”
“Shit, no, it’s in my room,” Adora closes her book, “but I can go get it, I don’t mind.”
“You know what, I think we’ve filmed too much on this library already.” Catra says. “Why don’t I follow you along and we can film something around there?”
Adora blinks. “You sure?”
“Yeah, I don’t mind.” Catra closes her laptop. “I needed a good reason to procrastinate, anyway.”
Adora smiles. “Okay, let’s go then.”
Adora wasn’t expecting anyone so her room is kind of a mess. She hasn’t had the energy to clean it up lately, but at least she made her bed. The camera bag is on the floor next to her bed. She takes the camera and turns it on, the display flashes with a low battery message.
“Oh, it needs to be charged.” Adora says, turning around. “We can film another day?”
“We can wait for like 15 minutes?” Catra says from the door.
“Ok! Sorry my room is like this.” Adora grimaces.
“Don’t worry.” Catra snorts. “I’ll help you clean up.”
“Oh no, please, you don’t have to.” Adora removes the battery from the camera and finds the charger on the floor next to the desk. She plugs it in. “I’ll do it.”
“Too late, I already started it.”
Adora turns to see Catra picking up some shirts from the floor and walking to a pair of pants on the corner.
“You know you have that laundry basket right there, right?” She tosses them on the basket Adora keeps at the end of her bed.
“I know…” Adora rubs the back of her neck. Catra proceeds to pick up some books she had left on the floor. “Guess I’ll finally organize my desk then.”
Adora cleans up the mess that is on her desk, throwing out some scrap paper and putting things piled up neatly so it at least looks organized. She finds the picture strip from the day at the carnival and stares at it for a moment. The almost-kiss-that-looks-like-a-kiss picture reminds her of their actual kiss and she aches. She hides it under a notebook. When she’s done Catra has put her books together and folded some clothes she had left all over her bean bag and put it on her bed.
“Found some flashcards.” Catra says, handing her some rectangular pieces of paper.
“Oh, I was looking for them.”
Their fingers brush when Adora reaches for them.
“Thanks,” Adora says, holding the flashcards tightly. She’s annoyed with how that made her heart flutter.
“Of course.” Catra smiles.
Catra walks to the bean bag at the corner and plops down. Her maroon cropped hoodie (that looks a lot like Bow’s pink one) slides up when she slides down, showing more of her stomach. Adora swallows hard.
“What?” Catra asks, staring at her with a curious look.
“What?” Adora blinks and quickly turns around, placing the now wrinkly flashcards on her desk. She pretends to organize them until her face feels less hot.
“Ok, I’m done!”
“Looks like a new room.”
Adora tries to not stare again. She walks to the middle of the room and lies down on the floor, arms stretched out, and lets out a sigh.
“You good?” Catra asks.
“Yeah, just need to stretch my back a little.”
Adora turns her head to Catra. She gets up from the bean bag and lies down next to her, arms also stretched out, fingers almost touching Adora’s.
“Hm, this hurts.”
Catra smiles then turns her head to the ceiling, eyes closed.
“Why do you even have a bean bag?”
Adora giggles. “I don’t know, they are comfy. Might have been an impulsive purchase.”
“Do you still stress buy random markers and then never use them because you just like the yellow ones?”
“I use more colors now…”
“Pink for super important stuff, yellow for regular important stuff, light blue for maybe that’s important, better to keep an eye on it stuff.”
Catra lets out a loud laugh. “That’s what I call character development.”
Adora smiles big and wide. Making Catra laugh never gets old.
With Catra’s eyes closed, Adora can’t stop staring at her. If she moves her hand just a little bit farther she could brush their fingers together, but she stays as she is.
“Are we still doing the worst date thing?” Adora asks.
Catra opens her eyes and turns her head to her. “The what?”
“For the bet I lost, remember?”
“Oh, right.” Catra blinks. “I didn’t really think of anything for it… we’ll also be done tomorrow, so… I’ll let it slide?” She shrugs one shoulder. “You got lucky this time.”
“So lucky…” Adora turns to the ceiling.
She doesn’t want this to be the last time they film together, even if another filming involved Adora embarrassing herself because of a lost bet, but if Catra doesn’t want to film anything else there isn’t really anything she can do.
“Do you think it has enough battery now?” Catra asks after a moment.
“Maybe.” Adora answers. “One of us should go check it.”
None of them gets up.
Adora feels a poke on her hand. “You go.” Catra says.
“No, you go.” Adora turns back to her and pokes her hand back.
“You lost the bet, you go.”
“You just said you were gonna let it slide.”
“Changed my mind.”
“Wow.” Adora laughs. “I’ll go in a bit.”
“Stop being laaazy.”
“You’re being lazy.”
“Your laziness is just transferring to me.”
“You shut up.”
They burst out in giggles.
“Ah, we’re so dumb.” Catra sighs. "Mostly you though."
Adora rolls her eyes.
“Thank you for helping me clean up.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“I mean it.” Adora smiles. “Sometimes it’s hard to just do simple things, you know?”
“Sometimes we just need a little push.” Catra’s voice softens. “This is what friends are for, right?”
“Right.” Adora breathes in. “Ok, let me go check it.”
The camera has one full bar out of three. It’ll probably last at least half an hour or so.
“Ok, I think it has enough to film something.”
“Cool.” Catra sits up and stretches.
“What should we do?”
“Not sure.” Catra scratches her head. “Do you wanna just go for a quick walk?”
“I don’t know, we’ll see where our feet take us.” Catra shrugs.
There isn’t a world where Adora wouldn’t follow Catra, so it’s decided. Adora takes the camera and its bag from the floor and puts it around her shoulders.
“Okay, let’s go.”
They walk through quiet parts of the campus, hand in hand, talking about whatever, filming here and there. It’s peaceful and kind of all that Adora wishes, that this could be their everyday (minus the camera).
The battery lasts longer than she thought it would, but Catra doesn’t say that they should stop so Adora also doesn’t. They walk until the camera dies.
“That was a long walk.” Catra says.
“It was nice.” Adora smiles.
“Oh my God, look where we ended up.”
Adora turns to where she is looking. The smoothie place they got fired from is right on their view.
“God, that place feels like ages ago.” Adora says.
“What do you say, wanna celebrate us being almost done with a smoothie?”
“Are we even allowed in there?”
“Who’s gonna stop us?” Catra pulls Adora to walk with her. They’re still holding hands. “C’mon, my treat.”
“Fine, but let’s not explode anything.”
Adora waits on a small table while Catra buys the drinks. She was afraid their old manager would show up and try to kick them out again, or that there would be wanted posters on the walls with their pictures, but it’s just a standard smoothie place after all.
Catra places their cups on the table and sits across from her.
“I can’t believe you asked for spinach on your smoothie.” Catra says.
“You gotta eat your greens.”
“I don’t want a salad smoothie, I want a pretty one like this.” She takes a sip of her bright purple smoothie. Adora’s is a greenish beige.
“It’s what’s on the inside that counts.” Adora takes a sip of hers. “And it’s delicious.”
“I saw they got a new blender.”
Adora laughs. “Of course they did.”
They stay there for a while, even after their glasses are empty. Adora wants to invite Catra back to her room so they can spend more time together, even if it’s just for them to lie down on the floor again. She doesn’t, obviously.
Eventually Catra checks the time and realizes much more time has passed than originally planned.
“Ok, I gotta go for real, I still haven’t studied today like I told myself I would.”
“We all need breaks sometimes.”
“Look who’s saying.” Catra raises an eyebrow.
Adora shrugs. “Character development, remember?”
She takes their cups back to the counter, not making eye contact with whoever is working there and quickly leaving after.
Outside, they need to go in different directions, but Adora lingers in place for a moment.
“See you tomorrow?”
“Yeah, Mel said at 3, right?” Catra asks.
“Cool,” Catra smiles, “see you then.” She waves and walks away.
Adora sighs. She was hoping she’d get a hug, but maybe it’s best if they don’t do that anymore.
She spends the rest of the evening locked in her room. She manages to busy herself with homework for a while but it’s not enough to stop her from thinking about Catra. It’s been only a few hours but she already misses her. She decides to transfer the clips from the camera to her laptop, since she will have to return it soon. She shouldn’t do that, and also shouldn’t watch some of the clips, and shouldn’t especially watch the video of Catra singing to her on repeat for who knows how many times. She shouldn’t do a lot of things, but she’s not the greatest at impulse control.
She knows she needs to stop, needs to somehow get rid of these feelings she just now realized she has, but it’s just so hard when she’s near Catra. Part of her wishes she had never figured it out, just lived in blissful ignorance until the end of times, but another part just wants to do something with them. She considered bringing up the kiss today, but Catra didn’t even mention anything about the formal, and everything went just so well and normal Adora didn’t want to risk ruining anything. She had feared that Catra’s silence this week meant things had changed between them, but today proved that it didn’t. It’s best if she pretends the weekend never happened. Pretending is kind of their whole thing anyway, isn’t it?
On the next day, their last interview together is at the same spot where they went after filming their first one. Adora finds Catra sitting by a tree.
“Hey!” Adora says, sitting by her side.
“Hey, Adora.” Catra moves a little so they can share the tree. “I arrived before you for once.”
“At our very last interview.” Adora smiles. “Have you had your individual one yet?”
“No, it’s right after this.” Catra says.
“Cool, mine’s tomorrow.”
Adora tries to relax. Just a few weeks ago she could not wait for all of this to be over, now she hopes Mel will surprise them by saying they have to film for another week or two. Catra would probably quit on the spot.
“Are we too early?” Catra asks.
“I don’t think so. Let me check if she texted us.” Adora takes her phone from her pocket. There’s nothing. “Maybe she’s running late.”
Catra yawns and rests her head on Adora’s shoulder.
“Tired?” Adora asks, trying not to freeze.
Adora is heavily aware of the weight of Catra on her, how warm it makes her feel. She hopes Mel takes a long time to arrive.
“Do you think we should tell Mel once she’s done with her class?” Catra asks.
“That we’ve been faking it? That’d be so mean!”
“I know, but what if we bump into her or something?”
“I hadn’t thought that far ahead…”
“Should we stage a breakup?” Catra snickers.
“You already wanna break up with me?” Adora teases, but the thought saddens her. They are not dating, she reminds herself.
“You can be the one breaking up with me, I don’t mind.” Catra answers, then continues with a mocking tone, “Catra, it’s not me, it’s you. I can’t date someone who isn’t a buff jock like me.”
“Shut up.” Adora laughs, pushing Catra with her shoulder. She sits up and Adora regrets missing the close contact. “That’d be a shallow reason to break up with someone.” Adora adds.
“So you just wanna keep pretending?” The corner of Catra’s lips curve into that smug smile that Adora wishes she could kiss off her face right now.
Adora’s face heats up.
“For free?” Adora raises an eyebrow, trying to regain control of the conversation, “I don’t think so.”
“Whatever.” Catra snorts and rolls her eyes.
Adora’s mouth stretches into a big smile.
“You know, I’m kinda surprised I made this far.”
“Me too.” Catra promptly replies.
“What? You still suck at lying, but your acting skills? Not too bad.” Catra nods. “I’m impressed.”
“Yeah, well…” Adora says quietly, “things are always easy when I’m with you.”
Catra looks at her for a moment with an expression Adora can’t quite read, and Adora could swear her cheeks darken, but she then averts her eyes and goes quiet.
Adora worries if she’s crossing lines again. She doesn’t even know where the lines stand, or if there are any lines at all besides the obvious one of don’t kiss your best friend, because they never talked about that specific line that Catra definitely remembers being crossed but has chosen to not acknowledge. Adora breathes in and out. Soon the lines will be clear: they will be normal friends not having to pretend to date each other and everything will be okay (her heart doesn’t feel very convinced about the latter).
“Hi, Mel!” Catra says, bringing Adora back to reality.
Catra waves at Mel who’s now approaching them.
“Hey guys! Sorry, I’m late.”
“Don’t worry,” Adora replies, “how’s it going?”
Mel quickly sets up the filming equipment and soon they are recording.
“So, last interview!” She says. “What did you two think of this experience?”
“It was fun!” Adora says. “Very weird at the beginning, I think… carrying a camera around and all, but we kinda got used to it?”
“Yeah.” Catra agrees. “People still look at us funny but I barely notice it by now. Gotta say I thought it would be boring and we wouldn’t have anything interesting to film, but we ended up doing some very fun things.”
“That’s great! Do you think this project impacted your relationship in any way?”
“Oh, for sure.” Catra says.
“Yeah?” Adora turns to her.
“In a good way.” Catra smiles. She takes Adora’s hand and interlaces their fingers together. Adora is embarrassed by the shot of serotonin that simple action gives her. “I think we grew even closer.”
“Yeah. I’m gonna miss following her around with a camera everywhere.” Adora rubs her thumb over Catra’s hand. “I also think we learned new things about each other. Or, better, relearned things.”
“Like what?” Mel asks.
Adora hums. She can’t answer with I realized I’m a big idiot.
“I’d say this project reminded me of how important Catra is to me, and that I’m so lucky to have her in my life.”
“Are you gonna get sappy on me?” Catra teases with a big smile on her face.
“Maybe.” Adora laughs, turning to the camera. “She’s just─", she wonders how much she can push this whole pretending this far in the game. It’s basically over, anyway, “I just love her a lot.” Adora says, and is taken aback by her own words, by the weight of that four letter word she didn’t plan to say but casually threw in the middle of her sentence. She can’t make herself look at Catra right now.
“Aw, stop it!” Catra exclaims. Adora watches Catra’s hand letting go of hers and panics, only for Catra’s arms to be around her shoulders, hugging her. “Adora is the best thing that happened to me.”
Adora can’t help the bit of disappointment that rises in her when Catra doesn’t say that same word back. She wonders how it would’ve felt to hear it.
“I may be biased but you two are the cutest couple in our class.” Mel says.
Adora makes an expression that hopefully resembles a smile.
Catra keeps her arms loose around Adora’s waist. Adora finds her hand again, tries to enjoy every little bit of pretend they still got. She feels a little wrong for doing this, but she wants to be selfish for a bit longer, before she won’t have any excuses to hold Catra’s hand or cuddle with her in the middle of the quad.
The interview doesn’t last as long as Adora wishes, until, unceremoniously, it comes to an end.
“Thank you so much guys,” Mel says, “you two were great!”
Catra sits up.
“Of course, we were happy to help.” She says.
Adora stares at her, and doesn’t shy away when Catra turns her head to her.
“I guess that’s it.” Catra says quietly. Her eyes, soft and sweet, staring right back at her.
Catra squeezes her hand and lets it go so she can get up.
Adora sighs and follows, too many emotions bubbling up inside her. This feels like a weird type of goodbye.
“You two are gonna film Catra’s interview now, right?” Adora asks Mel.
“Yep, let me just pack my stuff.”
“Cool, I’ll see you tomorrow for mine?”
“Yeah, see you tomorrow!” Mel waves.
Adora holds her breath before turning to Catra, unsure of how to say bye and not suddenly start crying in the process, but before she can decide it, Catra pulls her in for a hug. Adora is startled for a second before she melts in Catra’s embrace, holding her back tight, trying to memorize the way she feels in her arms; she keeps fearing she won’t get to do that again.
“Bye, Adora.” Catra says softly.
Adora lingers for just a little longer before letting her go.
The walk back to her suite is blurry. She closes the door behind her and rests against it with her eyes closed.
“Adora!” Bow exclaims. “How are you doing?”
Adora opens her eyes. Both Bow and Glimmer are watching TV on the couch.
“Hey guys. All good, how about you?”
“You sure it’s all good?” Glimmer asks. “You look down.”
“Just tired. Long day.”
“Don’t you ‘just tired’ us!” Bow says, getting up. “Are you in need of hugs?”
Adora snorts. “Honestly, yes.”
Bow gasps and runs to her. He wraps his arms around her and hugs her tight.
Adora loves Bow’s hugs, but this is not the specific hug she’s thinking about right now.
“Feel better?” He asks.
Adora nods. “Thank you.”
“Hey, I also want a hug!” Glimmer exclaims. “But you come to me, please.”
Bow leads Adora to the couch where Glimmer is with her arms up.
Adora laughs again and gives Glimmer a big hug. She feels lighter.
“Thanks, you two.” She sits next to Glimmer and Bow sits next to her.
“Do you wanna talk about it?” Glimmer asks.
“I don’t wanna interrupt your TV show.”
“Don’t worry, we can pause it.” Bow reaches for the remote and pauses whatever they were watching.
“I wasn’t really paying attention anyway.” Glimmer says.
“No!?” Bow asks. “I thought you loved America’s Next Top Model!”
“You do.” Glimmer answers. “That’s why I just watch it with you.”
“Woah, okay, we can talk about that later.” Bow says as Adora stifles a giggle.
“Talk to us, Adora,” Glimmer says in a soft voice, “you’ve been off since you appeared completely soaked here after the formal.”
Adora hasn’t told them about the weekend yet, she wanted to process things herself first. There’s no reason to keep a secret from her best friends now.
“It’s just…” Adora sighs. “Catra.”
“You two fought again?”
“No, no. We… kissed.”
Adora expects them to react but their expressions stay the same.
“Yeah, well, you told us that like five times during the party.” Glimmer says. “For the documentary, right?”
“I did?” Adora shakes her head. “I meant we kissed after that. Like… a real kiss.”
“Oh.” Glimmer says as Bow squeaks with his mouth closed.
“And… you’re sad about that?”
“No. I mean, yes─ no,” Adora groans, “you two were right.“
“You like her?”
Adora nods and hides her face in her hands. “So much.”
Bow squeaks again. “That’s great, right!? You two kissed!”
“No, Bow…” Adora sighs. “You know how I get when I’m drunk─ I dont think she wanted to kiss me.”
“Have you talked about it with her?” Glimmer asks.
“She doesn’t even want to mention it! And if I brought it up it would probably make everything too awkward, and I don’t wanna make her uncomfortable, or─”
Bow takes one of Adora’s hands with both of his. “You should tell her how you feel.”
“I can’t risk losing what we have now. I missed her so much, Bow─”
“What if she feels the same?”
“She doesn’t…” Adora shakes her head. Her vision gets blurry.
Glimmer wraps her arms around Adora’s shoulders. “So you’re just gonna stay like that? I don’t want you to be miserable.”
“It’ll pass…” Adora replies weakly.
Bow squeezes her hand. “Catra is a good friend, she's not gonna push you away again if she doesn’t feel the same.”
“You don’t know that, what if she does? I just─” Adora breathes in, a tear finally falls down her face, “I don’t think I can handle losing her again.”
Bow sighs. He wipes the tear away with a thumb. “Well, think about it. Sometimes we just gotta take risks, you know?” He glances at Glimmer.
“Do you want some ice cream?” Glimmer asks. “We still have some left.”
“Yes, please.” Adora sniffs.
Glimmer gives her a kiss on the top of her head and goes to get the ice cream.
“Bring me some too, please, Glim!”
“Can we talk about something else now?” Adora asks.
"Of course," Bow unpauses the TV, "let me catch you up on this season.”
Adora tries to pay attention to him but she can’t help her thoughts from switching to Catra again. She wonders how her interview is going.
Catra waits for Mel to set up the equipment in her room. She knows things won’t be the same from now on with Adora, but she hopes it’ll be better, somehow. They get to be friends now, real friends. With no more fake hand holding, or fake flirting, or drunk kisses. That should make her feel relieved, but all she feels is a tightening in her chest since she watched Adora leave the quad until she disappeared from view.
Catra pulls the chair from her desk. “Is it ok if I sit here for the interview?”
“Yes, that’s perfect. I’m almost ready to go.”
Catra keeps thinking about how Adora said she loved her. She’s said it before in completely platonic contexts, but now Catra almost thinks there was something else in her voice. She knows, though, that’s just her falling into old bad habits again, hoping for something that won’t ever happen. She just wishes she hadn’t panicked and had said she loved her too. That’s one of the things Catra has never been able to do ー tell Adora how she really feels.
“So, we haven’t really had individual interviews,” Mel says once she’s ready, “and I was thinking this could add something new to the project, like maybe two sides of the same story, or even something more personal and vulnerable.” Mels says.
Mel presses the record button. “Alright, last interview for you!”
“Yay! I mean, it’s been great, but I’m glad to complete this project.”
“Don’t worry, I get it. So, did you have anything in mind in how you wanted to portray your relationship on camera when you first started filming? And did that change as the weeks went by?”
“Hm, I didn’t have anything specific in mind. I just thought we’d film a little of our day to day and that’d be it.” Catra tries to think about what went through her head when choosing what to film. “I think what changed for me was that I stopped trying to film stuff that would be interesting for an audience, and started filming more of what was interesting to me, if that makes sense.”
“What kind of things?”
“There are a lot of clips of us in the library because that’s where we spend so much of our time. That is probably very boring to watch, but I always felt like I needed to film something there. I think it’s because it reminds me of our childhood when we’d spend all of our time glued to each other.” Catra shrugs. “I don’t know.”
“That makes sense.” Mel reassures her. “It’s still so crazy to me how you two have known each other for almost all of your lives. Do you even remember how it was when you met her?”
“It’s hard to think of a time before Adora, but I do remember that day. It was my first day at the new school after having just moved to the neighborhood. She was the first kid to be nice to me and we instantly became friends.”
Catra smiles remembering how Adora has always been there for her, and even when they were so little she’d say that she always would be Catra’s friend.
“I know you two only started dating around a year ago, but when did you realize you had feelings for her?”
“Oh, umー” Catra snorts and shakes her head.
She realizes she’s never told this to anyone. If she can’t say it to Adora, maybe telling the camera will make her feel better and let her put a final stop on it, so she can finally put it all behind her.
She takes a deep breath.
“Well, I was around 11 or so, realizing I was very gay, and realizing I had this huge crush on my best friend.” Catra crosses her arms. “I thought it was just a stupid crush that would go away soon, but high school comes around and I’m basically going crazy, can’t stop thinking about her, getting jealous of her… All that typical teenage girl in love madness.”
“Wow, that’s a long time ago.” Mel raises her eyebrows.
“Yeah,” Catra lets out an empty laugh.
“And you never told her then?”
“Oh, no, no. I thought she wasー well, I was always too afraid of losing her.”
“What would you say changed from that period until you two finally got together?”
Catra sighs. “I guess… we matured apart from each other. We had rough periods in our friendship, mostly because of me and my feelings. It was my messed up way of getting over her…” Catra then forces a smile, “but eventually we fixed things and the feelings came back, and, well, the rest you know.”
“I’m glad everything worked out in the end.” Mel smiles and Catra’s heart gets on the brink of breaking all over again. “Do you keep anything with you that holds a special meaning in relation to her?”
Catra hums. She first thinks of the necklace she’s wearing, but then remembers what she’s always carried with her. It would be easier to just talk about the necklace, but since today is suddenly wear your heart in your sleeve day…
She gets up and kneels next to her bed. She moves some boxes out of the way and reaches further underneath to pull a smaller one. She gets up with it and goes back to her chair.
Catra carefully takes off the lid and smiles because the box still smells like Adora’s old glitter pens.
“Since we met, Adora always writes me a birthday letter. I don’t know why she started doing it but it became a yearly tradition.” Catra finds the last one she received, back from their senior year. She traces the old cat sticker with her index finger and remembers the day like it was yesterday; remembers the promise written in it and the day at the cemetery. “They’ve always been my favorite gift in the world, honestly, and a reminder of how much Adora cares for me.”
“That’s so cute! You’ve kept all of them?”
“Every single one.” Catra puts the letter back in the box. “Of course a gift isn’t the only way to show someone you care about them, and other things are way more important.” Catra says, more as a reminder to herself. She knows now Adora never stopped caring about her. “Adora has many ways of showing that.”
Mel nods. “Do you have a favorite one?”
“They all mean a lot to me, but… the one from our senior year is extra special. It’s full of hopes and dreams for the uncertain future that was to come. We still were far from knowing if we’d get into the same university so Adora wrote how our friendship was so strong that we’d always be together, even if not physically.”
“That’s a very special tradition.”
Looking at the letters doesn’t bring out that old hurt or resentment. She doesn’t mind anymore that the letters stopped, instead she’s content they lasted for so long.
“It is.” Catra smiles and puts the lid back on.
Once Mel is gone, Catra lies in her bed with the box of letters open. She finds the oldest one ー a yellowed piece of paper, with many folding marks for having been folded wrongly too many times, and with big round letters forming sentences that slant slightly down.
Happy birthday! I love birthdays. My grandma lets me eat lots of cake on my birthday. I hope you can eat lots cake too. I love being your friend. I am very happy we met this year.
At the bottom there is a smiley face and some balloons drawn with crayons. They must've been eight years old then.
She picks a random one. It’s in an envelope this time, but the cat sticker that closes it has lost all of its glue. There’s a picture of the two of them taped to the paper, it must be from 8th grade. A young Catra with straightened hair and horrible eyeliner smiling next to a young Adora with terrible bangs and shiny braces on her teeth. Catra didn’t even remember a letter having a photo. She takes her phone out to take a picture of it.
She swipes to the side once she’s done and sees their drunk selfie at the pizza place. It’s almost uncanny how both pictures look so much alike: same smiles, same positions on the frame, Adora on the left, Catra on the right, but way different hairstyles, thankfully. God, it is crazy how they’ve known each other for their whole lives. How could she almost lose Adora the way she did?
Her eyes sting. She thinks of how easy it was to hold Adora in front of the camera, and how hard it is to stand next to her, unable to do that, any other time. Thinks of wanting Adora for almost all of her life and never having her the way she ached for. Remembers her hungry lips against Adora’s, the illusion of having her for just that brief moment that only worked to make all of her longing stronger.
There’s no Catra without Adora, and she bets there’s no Adora without Catra either. No one knows the other like they do. She will find a way of shutting her feelings off... eventually. But even if she hurts for the rest of her life, what matters most is that Adora stays. She can’t imagine losing her again.
“The goal of these individual interviews is to hear different sides of the same story,” Mel tells Adora, “and also to capture a more personal and vulnerable side.”
“Vulnerability, awesome!” Adora laughs nervously.
They are in her room, getting ready to film. It was weird to wait for an interview without Catra.
“Don’t worry, you can answer as much as you want.”
“Okay.” Adora breathes out. “Let’s do it.”
Mel starts recording. “My first question is about the project itself. Did you have an idea of how you wanted to portray your relationship on camera when you started it?”
“Wellー wait, should I look at you or the camera?”
“You can look at me.”
“Cool.” Adora clears her throat. “I think I just wanted to show the things we do together every day. Like our typical routine.”
“Did that change as the weeks passed?”
“We kept filming our day to day, but we also tried to do new things to have more variety to film, I guess.” Adora hums. “Now that I think about it, I was with the camera for most of the time so I wonder if there are more shots of Catra than of me. I loved filming her when she was just, I don’t know, being herself? She has this tough and cool outside appearance, but she is super sweet and cute too, so I guess I was hoping to capture that side of her.” She pauses. “God, if she hears me describing her like that she will kill me.”
“So,” Adora continues, “what changed is that I probably started focusing more on Catra?”
“There are no wrong answers! I know you two have met when you were both very little. Do you remember any of it?”
“It feels like Catra’s always been part of my life,” Adora answers, “but I remember on the day we met she was the only new student. She was alone during recess, so I went to say hi to her. I think I said her eyes were cool and we went to play together, then we became instant best friends.” Adora smiles at the memory.
“When did you realize you had feelings for her?”
Adora wonders if she should lie, but they’ve only made up specifics of when they got together, not of when they supposedly had feelings for each other.
“God, it took me so long…” she sighs. “Thinking back, when we were growing up I was very obsessed with Catra, but I never realized I had this very big crush on her then.” She pauses. “It takes me a lot longer than it should for me to realize things about myself, I’ve noticed. We went through some hard times in our friendship, but once we became closer again my feelings resurfaced ー again, without me fully realizing it at first. Sorry, I’m rambling so much.”
“Don’t worry, you’re totally fine.”
“But to finally answer your question, I guess I was very much in denial, but when we kissed for the first time… A kiss never felt like that before. It was like everything suddenly made sense and I realized how much I probably have always liked her but was too dumb to ever notice.” Adora smiles sadly. “You’d think being in love with your best friend would be something easy to figure out.”
“I guess not always, but the important thing is that it all worked out.”
Adora takes a deep breath, forcing a smile. “Yeah.”
“We’re almost done! Do you have anything that has a special meaning in relation to Catra?”
Adora hums. “I have something back home… It's a jacket I basically stole from her in high school. It just comforts me a lot and makes me think of her when I’m alone. Does that count?”
“But I’d say my good memories with her are what are most special to me. Sorry, that’s so corny.” Adora snorts. “This project gave me some really wonderful memories, so thank you for that.”
“Really? That makes me so happy! Do you have a favorite one that you may have filmed?”
“We didn’t film much of that because it was too personal, but we had an unplanned road trip that was very healing.”
“I’m glad to hear that.” Mel says, then reaches for the camera to stop recording. “Okay! I guess that’s a wrap.”
Adora lets out a long breath. “Are you happy to be done?”
“Well, I still got all the editing, so halfway done.” She laughs. “But it’s been so fun, thank you again for participating.”
Mel starts to pack her stuff while Adora gets up to put her chair back by her desk.
“You know, it’s so funny how you two had feelings for each other for so long without the other knowing.” Mel says.
Adora’s stomach drops.
“Sorryー what?” She turns around so fast she almost trips on her feet.
“Oh, in Catra’s interview yesterday I asked the same questions. She also talked about the period when she had a crush on you and all that.”
“Ahー” Adora struggles to maintain a normal expression, a million thoughts racing through her head, “right! Uh, yeah, we haven’t talked about that in so longー” she laughs nervously, “um, could I maybe, uh, maybe watch Catra’s interview?”
“Sure, since we’re done!” She takes her camera and opens a small part on the bottom to take a little card from it, “I can give you all the interview files if you want, they are on this SSD, so you can share it with her later too!”
“Yeah, sure! Let me get my laptop.” Adora tries to control her racing heart. There’s no reason to freak out when she hasn’t even heard whatever it is that Catra said. It was probably just part of the whole lie.
After walking from one side of her room to another looking for her laptop, she sees it on top of her pillow right where she left it. She quickly takes it to Mel, being grateful it has enough battery. The transfer of all the files takes an eternity. Adora wishes she could just get that specific one but she has no option other than to wait.
Finally, once Mel has left and Adora is locked in her room, headphones on, and the interview open on her screen, she presses play.
Catra sits facing the camera, similar to how Adora was just now. She looks a little down, Adora notices right away, differently from her more energetic self she is in front of the camera. Her interview was right after their last one together that left Adora feeling miserable, so she wonders if she maybe felt the same.
Mel asks the same things she asked Adora. It’s cute how they have almost the same memory of first meeting each other. She watches without skipping any of it, nervous for the specific question she wants to hear, but at the same time ready for it to not be what she is now hoping for.
“I know you two only started dating around a year ago, but when did you realize you had feelings for her?” asks Mel.
“Oh, umー” Catra shakes her head, seemingly startled by the question.
It takes her a moment to speak again. She stares at the ground, brow furrowed, until she comes to a decision.
Catra keeps her eyes mostly down, not looking so much at the camera anymore as she talks. She has her arms crossed, looking smaller. Adora believes she’s being completely honest.
“And you never told her then?”
“Oh, no, no. I thought she wasー well, I was always very afraid of losing her.”
Adora’s heart tightens. Catra is vague in her words but Adora knows very well about the rough periods in their friendship, how in high school one day everything seemed fine and on the next Catra barely wanted to talk to her anymore. So much of that time suddenly makes sense now.
She remembers her tipsy confession to Catra, how she didn’t have the courage to say her crush had been way more than just “middle school kid’s stuff”, how she unknowingly mistook Catra’s reaction, thinking she was weirded out instead of most likely shocked. She wishes Catra had confessed then, too, but how could she after all the rejection Adora unintentionally and intentionally put her through? Catra hurt in silence for so long it’s no longer surprising things got so ugly between them.
If that was her “messed up way of getting over her” does it mean it worked? Could she… still have feelings for Adora? Would she even have reapproached Adora if she did? She doubts it.
Adora zones out with all of those thoughts going through her head, with her heart feeling so small imagining all the pain Catra went through. She zones back in once Catra appears with a small box in hands. She has no idea what she’s about to show and she could never have anticipated it.
“Since we met, Adora always writes me a birthday letter. I don’t know why she started doing it but it became a yearly tradition.” Catra carefully takes one of the envelopes out, like it’s a precious thing. “They’ve always been my favorite gift in the world, honestly, and a reminder of how much Adora cares for me.”
“That’s so cute! You’ve kept all of them?”
“Every single one.” Catra puts the letter back in the box. She has a mix of fondness and sadness on her face.
Adora doesn’t know how to process that. She had no idea Catra kept the letters with her, especially after everything, or even that they meant so much to her. Catra doesn’t mention it as a past tradition, maybe so Mel can’t ask why it suddenly stopped, butー
Adora never stopped writing them.
There are three letters that she never sent, but did write. Three letters that Catra has no idea existed and still exist, because Adora wrote them, kept with her for all this time, unwilling to let go of that little ritual that always made her feel close to Catra, even if Catra didn’t care for it. She did, though, Adora finds out now. She’s always cared for it.
Adora closes her laptop hastily and throws her headphones to the side. She digs through her closet, through the many folders she keeps to organize her stuff, and finds the one where she keeps important documents unrelated to school work. Tucked together in it she finds the letters, still there where she left them.
Euphoria and fear take over her body. There’s no way of knowing if Catra still has any feelings for her, or if she would even consider being more than friends because of all the hurt of the past. Maybe it’s just too late for them, but that doesn’t matter right now. Adora can live with unreciprocated feelings, she knows their friendship is strong enough to survive, but they’ve kept things from each other for way too long.
Adora takes the letters, carefully. She owes this to Catra, to them.
The documentary is over, it’s time to stop lying.
'how dare u end it on a cliffhanger op' - you rn probably
just one chapter left woooo!! sometimes you have a silly concept + an exact idea of how you want to conclude that concept and it takes you 65k+ words to get from A to B. wow writing is hard
if you enjoyed this chapter let me know!! nice comments make me update faster :-)
Chapter 10: like real people do
it's done!!!!!!! as always thank you for all the comments on the last chapter!
i hope this chapter is worth the slow burn :-)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
There’s a knock on Catra’s door.
“Catra, are you there?”
“Hey!” Scorpia says, entering and closing the door. “Were you taking a nap?”
“No.” Catra says as she yawns. She’s sprawled on her bed where she’s been for most of the day, trying to not think about a certain someone but failing. She wonders if Adora is done with her interview by now. “I was just lying here.”
Catra finds enough energy to sit up, stretching her arms out and feeling some joint crack with the motion.
“What’s up, Scorps?” She realizes she hasn’t seen Scorpia since the formal.
“Just wanted to say a quick hi,” Scorpia sits at the end of the bed, “did you do anything today?”
“Just mostly stared at the ceiling.”
“So you’ve been moping?” Scorpia asks with a slightly worried voice.
“What? No! I was just… contemplating,”
“Then why have you been listening to your emo playlist for the longest time?”
“Scorpia…” Catra quickly reaches for her phone and pauses some angsty emo song that was playing. “What did I say about stalking my Spotify?
“It’s not stalking!” Scorpia raises her hands in defense. “Sometimes I like to check on my friends, you know that. For example, Entrapta was listening to dubstep, so I know she’s probably gaming or something. But you’ve been quiet all week, I already wanted to check on you anyway.”
"Well, I'm checked." Catra raises two thumbs up. "Thanks?"
"Adora said you two kissed─"
"What!?" Catra's voice raises an octave.
Scorpia startles. "At the formal? For the filming you two had?"
"Oh," Catra's shoulders drop, "yeah. Why did she tell you that?"
"I don't know, she was pretty drunk."
"She was." Catra nods.
"So I wanted to see how you were─"
"Are you and Perfuma dating?"
"Uh─? N-no," Scorpia's cheeks turn red, "not yet, at least, but we hung out all day yesterday," she giggles, "Wait! Stop deflecting!"
“You two look very cute.”
“Thanks," Scorpia blushes more, "but see, the thing with Perfuma is that we’ve been open about things, you know? Communication? The basis of any type of relationship?”
Catra examines her nails, avoiding Scorpia’s stare. “Sounds fake.”
Catra glances at her. Scorpia’s big worried eyes begging her to be honest.
“It’s─ complicated, ok?” Catra frowns. “It’s not like you and Perfuma.”
Catra lies back down again with a groan. “Well, you haven’t been friends with Perfuma since you were a kid, or been in love with her for most of your life, or ruined your friendship just to get over her, or gotten back into her life just to fucking fall for her again!”
“Oh. You never told me much about any of this”
Catra takes a deep breath. “Yeah, well, it was weird. You know why.”
Scorpia hums. “That stopped being weird a long time ago, ok? I’m here for you.” Her voice goes soft. “Have you talked to her about it?”
“No, Scorpia, I can’t. You don’t understand, she doesn’t─” Catra raises her arms up, then drops them, defeated, “...want me.”
"But she looked so excited talking about you at the formal─"
"She was drunk, Scorpia, she doesn't even remember half of it." Catra sits up again. She rubs at her eyes. "I can't keep feeding myself false hopes, ok? I'm over that phase, it's not healthy for me."
Scorpia scoots closer. “Can I give you a hug?”
“Sure.” Catra tries to smile.
Scorpia’s big and warm arms embrace her.
“I still think you should open your heart to her,” Scorpia says, squeezing her but being kind enough to not crush her ribs, “you two are friends again, that’s not gonna change, but it’s your call. I’m here to support you, alright?”
Catra nods. “Thank you.”
“So, what’s the plan?” She asks, letting her go. “Something that is not sulking in bed all day, please.”
Catra snorts. “I don’t know… do you think Entrapta is free right now? I think we’re way overdue for a super pal trio night."
Scorpia’s face lights up.
“And I could use some distraction.” Catra adds.
“I know she’s at her place, so let’s just show up!” Scorpia says, getting up. “Oh, and let’s get some takeout on the way. This is gonna be so much fun!”
Catra smiles with Scorpia’s excitement. Spending some time with her friends will be good for her. She gets up too and puts on a comfy hoodie, then looks for her keys and wallet.
“Don’t forget your phone.” Scorpia reminds her.
Catra hesitates. If she takes it she’ll probably keep looking through her pictures with Adora, or will keep scrolling through her texts with her. She doesn’t need that right now.
“I think I need a phone break for once.”
“Then turn it off.” Scorpia smiles.
“Yeah.” Catra takes it and does so. “I don’t think I ever turned this thing off.”
Scorpia blinks. “Me neither! Should I turn mine off too?”
“Why?” Catra frowns. “No, text Entrapta we’re on our way. Ask her if she wants us to get any of that disgusting energy drink she loves.”
“Okay!” Scorpia says.
“Cool, let’s go.”
Catra opens the door for her.
“So, how was your date yesterday?” She asks, genuinely interested in knowing more about her friend’s soon to be girlfriend. She doesn’t really know Perfuma, but if she's Adora's friend she assumes she must be a good person, and Scorpia deserves only the best.
"It wasn't a date!” Scorpia stops. “Wait. Oh God, was it?"
Catra laughs. “Maybe ask her that?”
Adora gets up from the floor, letters still in hand. Her first impulse is to run to Catra and tell her everything, but she needs to know where she is first. She finds her phone and texts Catra asking if she’s free right now.
Pacing around the room for thirty seconds, she realizes she’s too impatient to wait for a message back so she just clicks on the phone icon. It rings… and rings, and goes to voicemail. She ends the call.
Well, that’s anticlimactic.
Adora might explode if she just stays put, so she decides to go to Catra’s dorm. Maybe she’s there and her phone is dead or something.
On her way she tries calling Catra again, but it goes to voicemail one more time. The voice is just a generic voicemail message, but this time she doesn’t hang up.
“Hey, it’s me. Can you text me or call me when you get this? It’s… important. I’m walking to your dorm right now but I don’t know if you’re there. Uh, yeah, bye.”
Adora’s legs burn a little by the time she arrives in front of Catra’s door in record time. She takes a deep breath before knocking.
She waits for a moment and knocks again. No response.
She groans and rests her forehead against the door. She should’ve thought this through. There are a million places Catra could be at right now on a Friday evening, momentarily away from her phone. She will get back to her eventually. Still, Adora can’t relax.
She sits down, back against the door, letters still in one hand, clutched tight. She pouts. They’re gonna get all wrinkly. The denim jacket she’s wearing has big inside pockets where the letters can fit and will be safer than in her hands. She should’ve put them there from the start.
She tries calling one more time. Voicemail. She leaves another message.
She considers just waiting here, but her stomach rumbles. It’s dinner time so she decides to head to a dining hall and after that go back to her room and wait for her to reply.
There’s so much Adora wants to tell her.
Catra really missed spending some time with Scorpia and Entrapta. They’re a very particular combo of personalities which can turn things into chaos very quickly, but it’s always a fun time. Entrapta has lived off campus since when she made two entire dorm buildings go out of power because of all the gadgets and computers or whatever she had draining power in her room. She didn’t want to get rid of her things so she simply moved, and found a way for power outages to not happen again where she lives, apparently.
While they eat, Entrapta spends a good amount of time explaining to them about the game she’s been playing (Scorpia was right about the dubstep being her gaming music), which Catra doesn’t understand much, then she turns to explain about some new computer science thing Catra understands even less. She knows it’s rare for her to speak freely about her interests without being interrupted so she and Scorpia always let her tell them everything she wants.
“That was all really interesting, Entrapta,” Catra says, finishing eating her noodles, “I didn’t understand much, though.”
“That’s okay!” She says. “I can explain more later.”
“I’m glad you’ve been having fun.” Scorpia smiles.
“I got a new board game I wanted to play with you two!” Entrapta jumps up, then stops. “If you wanna play a board game today, that is.”
“What is it about?”
“War!” She exclaims. “It looks fun. There’s a lot of strategy which you like, and there’s also diplomacy and possibilities for teamwork, which Scorpia likes.”
“Ooh!” Scorpia says. “I’m down.”
“Sure, let’s play it.” Catra says.
A complicated board game is everything Catra needs to have her mind focus on something that isn’t Adora. They are not familiar with the rules so they end up creating their own as the game goes on. Catra is very good at strategy and quickly gains a lot of territory from the map and from Scorpia. Entrapta spends all her resources in technology points and has a sudden boom of expansion. Scorpia tries to advance by making treaties and deals with neighboring territories, but that goes too slow compared to Catra’s and Entrapta’s more morally questionable ways of advancing. At the end, Scorpia convinces them to make a peace treaty so that they don’t end up killing each other.
“We all win!” Scorpia claps.
“We should probably follow the game’s rules next time.” Entrapta says, playing with the tiny pieces of the game.
“Improvising is fun.” Catra shrugs. “Thanks for the game! How long did we even play for?”
Entrapta looks at the big watch on her wrist.
“Plus 26 minutes of us reading the rules and choosing to ignore most of them.” Entrapta smiles.
Scorpia scratches her head, counting something on her fingers, then gives up and checks the time on her phone.
“Oh, wow.” She says. “We should probably head out soon.”
“Are you going to meet up with your girlfriend?” Catra asks, smiling and raising an eyebrow.
“You have a girlfriend?” Entrapta asks.
“No! And no!” Scorpia blushes.
“She will have soon.” Catra tells Entrapta.
“I did say I’d call her tonight, though…”
“What about yours?” Entrapta asks Catra.
“She’s not my─ we were only faking it for that film project, remember? It ended yesterday.”
Entrapta hums curiously. “Then why did she tell me she kissed her ‘girlfriend Catra’ at the formal last weekend?”
“How did I miss Adora telling the entire population of the formal that!?” Catra throws her hands in the air. “Wait, you were there?”
“I went for the tiny food – which was delicious – said hi to Scorpia and her not yet girlfriend,” Scorpia nods happily, “said hi to Adora when she bumped into me and almost fell then told me that, thought about saying hi to you but you were surrounded by too many people, then I left.”
“Yeah, that checks.” Catra blinks. “Well, we should go. Thanks for having us, Entrapta.”
“Okay! Tell your not girlfriends I said hi, or something, I’m not sure… you two can be very confusing.”
“Yeah, we are, sometimes.” Scorpia laughs and gets up to give Entrapta a hug. “Don’t go to sleep too late, ok?”
Entrapta lets out a high pitched laugh as Scorpia lets her go then stops abruptly. “Wait, you’re serious?”
“She doesn’t need sleep, Scorpia, she’s a superhuman.”
“We all need healthy sleep schedules!” Scorpia replies. “But you do look rested, though, so alright, enjoy your games.”
After Scorpia insists on checking if Entrapta has food in her fridge and not just energy drinks (which she does, but she should have more healthy things, according to Scorpia) they say bye again and actually leave this time.
“Feeling better?” Scorpia asks.
They’re in Scorpia’s car on their way back to campus.
“Yeah, it was fun.” Catra answers.
She’s in a better mood than she was before, but she’s still a bit restless. Usually going for a walk is what works best to relax her mind a bit. It’s a short ride back anyway, so when they enter the campus, she tells Scorpia she’ll walk the rest of the way.
“Are you sure?” Scorpia says once she stops the car. “It’s kinda late already.”
“There are lots of people out and about, don’t worry. My dorm is not too far.”
“Okay… you sure you’re alright?”
Catra nods. “I go for late walks all the time.”
“Fine. Call me if you need anything, ok? And turn your phone back on!”
“Oh, yeah.” Catra leaves the car. “Thanks, Scorps, you’re the best.”
“Have a good night!”
“You too.” Catra waves before Scorpia drives away.
Catra remembers she hasn’t been to the library’s rooftop in a very long time. That place always helps her put her thoughts into place, so she decides to go there before heading back to her room.
As she walks, she takes her phone from her pocket and turns it back on. It was weird not mindless checking it every 10 minutes, but kind of good too. The screen lights up and she almost thinks the phone has glitched out when it vibrates like crazy and several notifications pop up. Catra freezes when she sees a bunch of missed calls notifications from Adora.
Worried, she first opens her texts. There’s one from right around the time she left her room asking if she was free, and another a couple hours later saying ‘ sorry for all the voicemails omg’.
Initial worry washes away. If there was anything wrong she’d have said something in that last text, but now Catra couldn’t be more curious to know what on Earth is going on. She taps on the first voicemail Adora left.
“Hey, it’s me.” Adora says, her voice is a little shaky, though it may just be the phone’s distortion. That still works to make Catra a little worried again. “Can you text me or call me when you get this? It’s… important. I’m walking to your dorm right now but I don’t know if you’re there.” There’s a small pause, like Adora expected Catra to somehow reply. “Uh, yeah, bye.”
Catra quietly curses. Of course she would turn her phone off right before Adora tried to reach her. She went all the way to her room?
She taps on the next voicemail.
“Hi. Me again. So you’re not in your room, but you already know that.” There’s a cute snort followed by a sigh. “Sorry I’m calling so much, it’s not a health emergency or anything like that, so don’t be worried in case you are. It’s just… anyway, call me when you can, please.”
Catra wonders if Adora is still awake. She’ll at least message her once she finishes listening to the voicemails. She taps on the next one.
“Hi. It’s─ you know it’s me. Do people even leave voicemails anymore? Or listen to them?” Now Adora sounds like she’s outside, walking somewhere. “Anyway, I just had dinner and now I’m getting a little worried. You’re always with your phone, but maybe it’s just out of battery. I bet you think I’m being dramatic.” There’s a pause. “ I just hope you’re ok. This will be my last voicemail, ok, sorry for all the notifications.”
Catra promises herself she will never turn her phone off again in her life.
She taps on the next one.
“So, I lied. That wasn’t my last voicemail. You know what I’ve been meaning to ask you? If you ever found a rooftop to go hide like you did back in high school.” Catra frowns, finding it both funny and weird that Adora mentioned that when she’s on her way there. “I don’t think you’re hiding right now, or anything, but that just crossed my mind.” Her voice softens. ”I remember those days when I couldn’t find you anywhere until I got to that spot only us knew about. It always felt like our own little hideout from the world…” she sighs. “I don’t know why I’m calling to tell you that.”
Something tugs in Catra’s chest. She’s almost at the library and there’s one voicemail left. She taps on it.
“Funny story, I found it! Well, I’m pretty sure this is it. I may or may not have looked through your instagram and found a picture from a very high angle that looked like it could be from the top of the library? I’m gonna try going there now, the sky looks pretty tonight and I’m not doing anything anyway, so… Oh, I also saw you on an insta story that Scorpia posted, so now I know you’re okay, yay!” There’s a tiny laugh. “I got all worried for nothing. You looked pretty─ happy! Pretty happy, uh, hope you’re having fun, we can talk tomorrow then.” Catra blushes. Did Adora just call her pretty out of nowhere? “Guess I could just be texting you that, what am I doing,” her voice gets low at the end, like she put her phone away as she hung up.
Catra finds her student ID to open the library’s door. She checks the time of the last voicemail, it’s from about a half hour ago. Her heart suddenly beats loud in her ears. Why is Adora doing all of this? Could she still be there?
Catra tries to call her as she enters the elevator but the phone loses signal. Fucking elevator. She presses the top floor button over and over again as if that’ll make it go faster. As soon as it stops she hits the call button again and turns to the door next to it that leads to the rooftop.
Adora picks up after one ring.
“Catra!” There’s a mix of surprise and happiness in her voice.
“Hey, Adora,” Catra breathes out, opening the door and quickly going up the small staircase, “just listened to your messages. Are you still at the rooftop?” She asks as she opens the rooftop door.
She finds Adora staring right back at her.
“Yes.” Adora smiles that big smile that lights up all of Catra’s world.
“Hi,” Catra says, not able to stop her mouth from mirroring the expression.
“Hi,” Adora laughs.
“I guess we can hang up now.” Catra puts her phone back in her pocket and walks towards Adora by the ledge.
“Oh,” Adora snorts, “yeah.”
The ledge is about the height of Catra’s stomach, so she leans on it. Adora just stands next to it, watching her carefully, clearly anxious. Catra always knows when she’s anxious.
“Sorry for missing your calls.” Catra says. “I don’t ever turn off my phone, I don’t know why I decided to do that today out of all days.”
“That’s okay.” Adora replies, rubbing the back of her neck. “Sorry for spamming your phone.”
“That’s okay.” Catra repeats and they smile again.
Adora is watching her so intensely that it’s starting to make her nervous. Catra straightens up and turns to her.
“So… what’s so important?”
“Right.” Adora quickly breathes in and out. She swallows and averts her eyes. “So, um─”
“Hey,” Catra says, softly, placing her hands on Adora’s shoulders, “it’s just me. Relax, okay?”
Adora looks back at her. Catra feels her shoulders relaxing and lets go of her.
“I need to give you something,” Adora says, looking calmer now. She reaches for the inside of her jacket and holds what looks like envelopes with both hands.
“I never stopped writing to you,” she says. “Your birthday letters.”
Catra blinks. “What?”
“Here,” Adora gives her one envelope that has a familiar cat sticker.
Catra takes it, not really comprehending what is happening.
“Freshman year. I was away at a science conference, not sure if you remember it. I wrote it while I was there but when I came back to campus I couldn’t find it anywhere. It was just like me to forget something so important at the hotel… I called them so many times, begging for them to find it but I should’ve just written another one, right? I don’t know what I was thinking, but then a week later I found it inside a notebook that was in my backpack.” She shakes her head. “Of course I had it with me all along, but then… I don’t know, it had been almost two weeks since your birthday and I was so embarrassed with the situation. I also never knew if you actually liked the letters or not, so I just… never gave it to you. I’m sorry.”
“You…?” Catra tries, but fails. She opens her mouth again to say something, anything, but Adora continues,
“Sophomore year,” she gives her another envelope, no sticker this time, “you were being so mean and I just… I couldn’t understand why, and I was just so tired of you treating me like that and barely talking to me, but still, I─ I wrote it. I thought maybe this could be a peace offering. Maybe if I was completely honest you would talk to me and we would be friends again, but─” Adora breathes out, “I was also bitter and angry and scared you’d, I don’t know, just make fun of me or something, so I never gave it to you.” She looks down. “I don’t think I even wished you a happy birthday, I’m sorry.”
Adora shuts her eyes for a moment, when she opens them again they’re glistening.
“Adora,” Catra breathes, barely a whisper.
“And last October,” Adora sighs. She gives Catra the last blank envelope in her hands, “we hadn’t talked in so fucking long. It was worse than when I thought you hated me because you wouldn’t even look at me anymore, like if you didn’t even know who I was. When your birthday came around, it finally hit me that I had really lost you. I wrote this letter more for myself than for you. I was sure you didn’t want anything from me ever again.” She rubs at her eyes. “But I kept all of them. Writing them always made me feel close to you.” She smiles sadly.
All that time that Catra spent thinking the letters were nothing more than meaningless pieces of paper to Adora… she never imagined she could be that wrong.
Catra surges forward for a hug, tiptoeing to fling her arms around Adora’s neck. Adora has to take a step back with the sudden movement, but she catches Catra and holds her close.
“I’m the one who should be apologizing.” Catra finally says something, her own eyes stinging, guilt weighing heavy inside of her. She buries her face in Adora’s neck, too overwhelmed to say everything she wants to say. Back when they talked on their road trip, Catra never told her the full reason for her old, awful behavior. She remembers Scorpia’s words from earlier this evening, telling her to open her heart.
“I had no idea you kept the letters with you, or that they meant so much to you,” Adora says.
“How─?” Catra asks, moving back to look at her, but they’re still close, holding each other by the arms.
“After I was done with my interview I asked if I could watch yours…”
“Oh,” Catra says, remembering the other things she said.
At the time it didn’t even cross her mind that Adora could watch it one day. Adora must sense her panic because she holds her more firmly, as if afraid Catra is about to run away.
Catra doesn’t want to run anymore.
She scrunches up her face. “All those things I said─”
“Wait,” Adora stops her, “that wasn’t the only thing I needed to tell you. Growing up, I was just too dumb to see it, but I had feelings for you too, and… I still do. I like youー fuck, no,” she shakes her head, “I’m so tired of keeping things from you. I love you, Catra.”
Catra inhales sharply. The world enters into slow motion as her brain tries to process those words, that they came out from Adora’s own mouth, that they are directed to her.
“And I know in the video you said those things…” Adora continues,
Catra is still gaping at her, too shocked to express anything else with her face. Everything Adora’s done since they reunited briefly flashes in her head; the amount of care Adora has for her, the things she said that Catra forced herself to not think too hard about, the way she kissed her like she craved for that as bad as Catra─
“...but you also said that… you got over me? And that’s completely okay, obviously, but I just… needed to get this off my chest because─”
“Adora.” Catra snaps back to reality, heart beating so hard she’s sure Adora can hear it. “I don’t think I ever got over you.”
“No!?” Adora widens her eyes, and her genuine surprise makes Catra laugh.
“You’re such an idiot.” Catra grins.
She cups Adora’s face with trembly hands, letters having fallen from them some time ago.
“I love you too.” She says, surprised with how easy it is to finally tell her, already wishing to say it again.
Now it’s Adora’s turn to look stunned, but her mouth quickly stretches into the sweetest smile Catra has ever seen. Catra brings her closer, rests their foreheads together and cradles Adora in her hands. She dreamed of this for so long she never thought one day it would come true.
“I always have.” Catra whispers, closing her eyes, breathing her in.
Adora’s hands find Catra’s waist, bringing her in, flushing their bodies together.
“Catra─” Adora breathes over her mouth, voice full of relief.
Catra angles her head, pauses for a second, cherishing how Adora’s breath catches before their lips finally touch. Catra lets out a shaky breath against Adora’s mouth, fingers tangling on the hair of the back of her head, and presses her lips harder against Adora’s.
This kiss is so much different than their previous drunk, desperate one. Everything is clearer and heightened now; the softness of Adora’s lips, the goosebumps on Catra’s skin when Adora’s hand slides up to the nape of her neck, the soft noise Adora makes when they deepen the kiss. The fire that builds up inside of her is no longer scary. She welcomes it, allows her to give herself completely to Adora. If the world ended right now around them she wouldn’t even notice it.
When they draw apart, breathing hard and faces still close together, Catra smiles so hard her cheeks start to hurt. She flutters her eyes open, dazed, and finds Adora grinning back at her, the corners of her shiny blue eyes crinkling.
“I dropped the letters,” Catra says, speaking the first coherent thought that comes to her mind.
Adora bites her lip and laughs softly. “Do you wanna pick them up?”
Catra leans in and brushes their noses together.
“Can I kiss you again first?”
Adora strokes Catra’s cheek with her thumb.
“You can kiss me all you want.”
And so Catra does.
Catra wakes up slowly. Adora’s arm is around her stomach, their legs are tangled, and she has probably never felt so comforted. She moves quietly, turning to face Adora but trying to not wake her up. She sighs at the sight of a sleepy Adora, looking so beautiful and peaceful in a way she hopes to witness every day from now on. She carefully moves the hair falling over her face, tucking it behind her ear. She was afraid she would wake up to find out everything from the previous day had just been a dream, but here is Adora, curled up with her in Catra’s own bed, wearing one of Catra’s old band t-shirts, with a bruising mark near her collarbone Catra is guilty of inflicting.
Adora stirs, brings Catra closer and mumbles something indescifrable, then seems to fall asleep again. Catra tries to stifle a laugh, but her body still shakes, which makes Adora shift again.
“Sorry,” Catra whispers, voice hoarse from sleep.
“Hm?” Adora lazily opens her eyes. It takes a second for them to focus, but when they do she smiles so big and says, “Catra,” in a way like she too is surprised to wake up in Catra’s arms.
Adora stares for another moment, her gaze flickering between Catra’s eyes.
“You’re so beautiful.”
Catra blushes. “I probably look like a mess right now.”
“No.” Adora replies, then moves closer and plants a short and sweet kiss against her lips. “Beautiful.”
That leaves Catra unable to reply with anything else that is not a grin, until she remembers her new favorite words.
“I love you.”
Now Adora is the one grinning at her.
“I love you too.” She cups Catra’s face with one hand and leans in for a longer kiss.
Catra would be more than happy to just stay like that for hours, but she’s very curious about something.
“Can I read the letters?”
“Of course.” Adora smiles. “They’re yours.”
Catra climbs over her to get up from the bed and go look for Adora’s jacket on the floor. She remembers they put the letters back in her pocket once they picked them up last night. She finds it by the door then goes back to sit under the blanket next to Adora, who also sits up.
She opens them chronologically.
“Back then I kept checking my mailbox everyday hoping you decided to put this letter there.” Catra says, holding the first envelope.
Adora wraps her arms around her waist and rests her head on Catra’s shoulder. “I’m sorry.”
“No, no, don’t be,” Catra replies, “I’m just remembering it. I should’ve told you how much I liked them.” She opens it. “Wow, no glitter pens?” Is the first thing she notices.
Adora snorts. “I thought we were too old for glitter pens when we started college.”
Catra smiles. The letter is as sweet as all the birthday letters she’s gotten, but reading it now is bittersweet, especially with the ending being “I can’t wait to experience all the adventures we’ll have here together. Love, Adora.”
“Didn’t you think they were too corny?” Adora asks.
“Definitely, but I loved that about them.”
The second letter has a different tone. It’s the shortest one Adora has written but it manages to make Catra’s chest tight. She wonders what she would’ve done if she had read it back then. Would she still be too blinded by her hurt and resentment to try to fix things?
Happy birthday! I know things have been weird between us so I wanted to be completely open with you. I feel that our friendship is slipping through my fingers and that scares me because I don’t know how to fix it. I would like to understand what’s happening, but I can’t do this alone.
I hope today is a day full of love. I wish I could celebrate it with you.
You mean so much to me and I will always love you. I hope you don’t forget that.
Love and miss you,
The third letter breaks Catra’s heart.
I will never give you this, but I need to let this out somewhere. I have no more hope that we will be friends again, and that makes me so sad, because I miss you, and I will always miss you.
I miss your smile. I miss the gleam in your eyes when you’d beat me in mario kart. I miss laughing with you every day. I even miss you making fun of me for not being able to pronounce words in portuguese right. Those are the things I remember when I think about you. I'm going to try to remember the good times with you instead of the bad ones, because those break my heart.
I'm sorry things ended up like this. I'm sorry I couldn't fix things, and I’m sorry I gave up on trying to fix them. I don’t think I’ll ever meet someone like you, so I’m trying to be grateful for the fact that I did meet you and that I had you in my life. I lost you and the hole you left will never heal completely, but that’s better than if I had never met you at all.
I hope that wherever life takes you, you are happy, and you find people that will make you happy in a way that I could not.
“Wow,” Adora says, “how did I write all of that and still didn’t know I was in love with you?”
Catra snorts. She presses the back of her hands over her stinging eyes.
“I’m so sorry, Adora,” she sighs, “I focused so much on trying to stop my own hurt that I never even considered how that was hurting you.”
Adora hugs her tighter for a moment.
“We both did things we regret, but we’re different people now, we’ve learned. We’ll do better, together.”
“I know, it’s just─ all this time I wasted…”
Adora sits up and gently turns Catra’s face to her.
“We can’t change the past, but we can make up for it, okay? Think about all the time we have ahead.”
“You’re right.” Catra smiles and offers her pinky, “No more keeping things from each other?”
Adora wraps her own pinky around Catra’s.
“No more keeping things from each other.” She nods, then, after a moment, “We’re dating, now, right? Like, for real?”
“What?” Adora asks. “I just want to be sure.”
“You’re just so cute,” Catra grins, then takes both of Adora’s hands. “Adora, would you like to be my girlfriend?”
Even though she already knows the answer, butterflies flutter in her stomach.
“I would love to be your girlfriend.” Adora squeezes her hands.
“Everything clear now?” Catra asks.
Adora nods enthusiastically.
“Great,” Catra smirks, then moves a hand to the back of Adora’s neck, “now come here.” She says, pulling her in for a kiss.
The kiss is interrupted by Adora’s phone ringing.
Catra lets out an annoyed hum against Adora’s lips.
Adora giggles, “I should probably see who it is.”
Catra plops down on the pillow when Adora gets up. She watches her picking up her phone from the floor and answering the call.
“Glimmer, hi!” Adora says. “No, I’m not at the gym, I’m─ brunch? Oh, you two don’t have to─” there’s a pause, then,” but Glimmer, let me─” she blinks and looks at her phone. “Well, bye then.” She looks at Catra. “Wanna go for brunch?”
Adora says Glimmer and Bow want to take her out for brunch to cheer her up. Glimmer didn’t want to accept a no as an answer so Adora couldn’t even explain that she no longer needs cheering up. They decide to go together.
Catra changes into her usual clothes but adds Adora’s denim jacket to her outfit. Adora doesn’t complain as she keeps Catra’s t-shirt on along with her jeans from yesterday. When they show up at the restaurant in town like that, holding hands, they don’t even have to say anything for Bow and Glimmer to figure out why Adora wasn’t in her room in the morning.
They are both so happy for them that it makes Catra all warm inside, grateful for the new friends she’s made in these crazy past weeks.
At some point Catra mentions they can now have double dates, which causes a brief awkward silence. She’s confused because she could swear Bow and Glimmer were a couple, but when Adora tries to explain that they aren’t, Glimmer interrupts them, saying they also have some news to share.
“Since when!?” Adora almost shouts. “Why didn’t you tell me? Your literal best friend and roommate!?”
“I’m sorry!” Bow exclaims, looking genuinely broken for hiding something from Adora. Catra has to cover her mouth with a napkin to not laugh. “Glimmer didn’t let me say anything!”
“Please don’t be mad!” Glimmer pleads. “We were going to tell you soon, I swear, it just happened so recently, and you were so upset about Catra, I didn’t want to bring up relationships─”
“But I’d be so happy for you guys! I mean, I am! What the hell, this is amazing, I love you two so much─” Adora’s anger has already dissipated and she now looks on the verge of tears.
Bow gets up and runs around the table to hug Adora.
“We love you!” He says, also tearing up.
Glimmer also gets up to join the hug. “Stop, you guys, I don’t wanna cry on my pancakes.”
Catra blinks. What the heck did she get into?
“Guys,” Catra says, “this is a restaurant.”
“C’mere you too.” Adora pulls her in for the group hug as Bow’s arm somehow also reaches for her.
Once they let go, Catra tries to pretend she didn’t enjoy it but she can’t hide her smile.
“Are you all always like this?”
They all nod.
“And now you’re stuck with me and with them,” Adora teases her, “because you looove me.”
“Shut up!” Catra squeaks and shoves at her shoulder. “Or I’m gonna steal your food.”
“Please, not my food.” Adora laughs and decides to give Catra mercy.
Bow and Glimmer are looking at them with very endeared eyes which makes Catra blush.
“So, when did you two become a thing?” Catra asks. “I thought you were already dating for all this time.”
They both share a smile.
“At the formal I finally had the courage to confess my feelings for him.” Glimmer says.
“Aww!” Adora says. “That formal was really something.”
“You remember it?” Catra asks.
“Of course.” Adora frowns, then pauses. “Oh, right. I thought you didn’t want to talk about it.”
“I thought the same… or that you just didn’t remember.”
Adora reaches for her hand. “It was literally all I thought about until yesterday.”
“Guess you two have a lot to discuss.” Bow says, softly.
They do, and they have all the time in the world for that.
Catra asks Adora out for dinner that coming week and takes her to a nice restaurant in town. The place is dimly lit, with a small candle on each table and calming music on the background. She sits with an elbow propped on the table, head resting on her hand, admiring the girl in front of her while they wait for their food. Adora looks beautiful as always, dressed up a little less casual than usual, with her hair in a high bun. Catra has hers in a ponytail for a change.
“What’s on your mind?” Adora asks.
“You.” Catra replies promptly.
Adora smiles, a faint blush painting over her cheeks. She mirrors Catra’s pose.
Something about being on their first (official, real) date fills Catra with warmth. Being allowed to stare at her without pretending she isn’t, or just replying like that, completely sincere, is what Catra always dreamed of.
“Do you also have this weird feeling that we’re supposed to be filming right now?”
“A little.” Catra snorts. “I’m glad we don’t have to, but we can still capture some moments, I guess. Can I take a picture of you?”
Catra takes her phone and points it at Adora, then says something that makes her laugh so she can capture her mid giggles.
“Perfect.” Catra says. “New lockscreen. Gonna miss seeing your drunk face and big nostril whenever I look at my phone.”
“You still had that!?”
“It was cute.” Catra shrugs.
Adora rolls her eyes but laughs at the same time.
“Mine is still our selfie from that day.” She says, a bit shyly. “Last week I’d change it before leaving my room in case I ran into you, so you wouldn’t see it.”
Catra raises her eyebrows. She hasn't stopped to think about how Adora was also in her shoes, trying to shove her own feelings away and being afraid of what would happen if the other found out. She reaches for Adora’s hand across the table and intertwines their fingers.
“I’m glad we don’t have to hide or pretend anymore.”
“Me too.” Adora says, voice soft and sweet. “You know what I noticed? This is a candlelit dinner. What are we doing after? Hand holding at the park?”
“I mean, if you want to?” Catra says, a little confused.
“Oh, isn’t that ‘boring and cliché’ ?” Adora teases her, doing the quotes with her free hand.
Catra then remembers her own words describing the date she’s in right now and laughs.
It had crossed her mind to plan something more elaborated, but she realized all she wanted to do was experience all the simple and real and even cliché things with Adora. Anything, as long it was with Adora.
“Nothing is boring with you.” Catra replies, and means it.
Later, when they are walking back (and hand holding), Catra says,
“I have an idea for our second date.”
“Already planning it?” Adora asks, smugly.
“Mhm, but I don’t think you’re going to like it.”
Adora raises an eyebrow in question.
Catra decides to no longer let the fact that she won their bet slide, even with Adora telling her she let her win (which she argues back that Bow would’ve picked her anyway).
When the day comes, Catra makes them wear matching t-shirts that say I’m with stupid (Catra’s) and stupid (Adora’s) and also gives Adora a unicorn cap. She makes sure to register the moment with plenty of pictures. She wouldn’t actually make Adora go through something too terrible, so she chooses to take her to Halfmoon’s poetry night, which happens to be a haiku night. She lets Adora take off her hat but only because she isn’t able to stop laughing whenever she looks at her face.
Adora doesn’t understand why people snap their fingers instead of clapping (and neither does Catra, really), and struggles really hard to not roll her eyes with every hipster kid that goes on stage to say something neither of them gets. It’s hilarious to watch her, and definitely a terrible date, except for the fact that they’re still managing to have fun together.
When someone asks if there are any volunteers from the audience, Catra raises her hand. Adora panics, thinking she’s going to make her go up the stage, and if Adora wasn't a little ball of anxiety she totally would make her, but she’s the one who goes instead. She says her poem is dedicated to her girlfriend, says some string of words that very likely do not form a haiku, then bows. There are a few shy finger snaps from the audience as she walks back to her table, finding Adora with tears in her eyes from laughing.
Afraid they might get kicked out, Catra decides Adora has suffered enough and they leave to go get ice cream. Adora tells her that was the worst “worst date” because it wasn’t even all that bad, but she still wants revenge, so they need to think of a new bet soon.
About two weeks later, Mel sends them the edited documentary. They were planning to watch it together, but when Bow finds out about it he makes the whole gang have a movie night to watch it along with Mermista and Sea Hawk’s one. It’s sweet to watch things from a new light now, but it’s also terribly embarrassing. Especially when their friends point out so many things that there was no way that they could be actually faking ─ and, well, they weren’t. Catra tries leaving but Adora doesn’t let her, holding her on her lap so she can’t escape. That isn’t the worst place to be if Catra is being honest, so she stays.
When it shows Catra singing under the cherry blossom tree, Adora quietly tells her that was probably when she started to fall in love again. Catra would've kissed her right then if Glimmer hadn’t already complained about their PDA five times that evening. Instead, she takes a mental note of that, promises herself to keep writing songs for Adora, and to surprise her with them on her birthday. Adora deserves a yearly tradition too, but nothing ever felt right until then. That sounds perfect.
Their routines become even more intertwined as they can’t seem to stand to stay more than a few hours apart from each other. Catra tells Adora everything she never thought she’d be able to or even want to share from their past. It feels surreal but so good to finally be completely honest with her.
Adora joins her on tango lessons, and even though she insists for Catra to dance with someone more experienced, Catra always picks Adora to be her partner. She’s getting better (slowly) and Catra wouldn’t want to dance with anyone else. Scorpia still appears sometimes, and she also has a new dance partner with Perfuma always accompanying her.
Catra follows Adora in her weird sword fighting club, joining only for the light, fun practice, and cheering for Adora as she beats up dudes on the serious fights. Adora tries to convince Catra to join her in the gym in the mornings, but what often happens is the opposite ─ Catra convincing her to stay in bed for just a little longer.
One day, Adora surprises her with a cheesy promposal cardboard sign. Catra is very confused because there’s obviously no prom in college, but Adora says they’re throwing their own with Bow and Glimmer’s help, to make up for the proms that they should’ve shared together. The four of them dress up in fancy clothes and sneak to the library’s rooftop, with a speaker and some balloons for decoration, and dance together until their feet beg them to stop.
Catra never thought all the pieces of her life would feel so right or that she could ever be this happy.
The academic semester is almost over. With only finals left, summer is on the horizon. Before they have to focus on studying for the exams, they allow themselves a day to breathe and not worry about that. Halfmoon always has a big concert night on the last day of classes of the semester and this time Catra is performing, so it’s a great opportunity to have a friends night out. Adora already became a regular at Halfmoon, following Catra to either see the day’s performances or to watch her rehearsing or jamming with friends. Tonight she couldn’t be more excited.
Adora and all her friends are seating at two conjoined tables, talking and watching the performances, Catra by her side. Adora still can’t quite believe how lucky she is to have the best friends in the world and the best girlfriend in the world.
“I think there’s one after this band then it’s me,” Catra says, turning to her, “so I should go soon.”
“Okay.” Adora smiles. “Nervous?”
“Not really. More like pumped and excited."
Adora’s eyes travel up and down Catra’s body. She has her full rockstar look on, so Adora can’t stop staring at her.
“What?” Catra asks, noticing Adora’s non subtlety.
“Do you even know how hot you look?”
Catra first smiles that shy smile of when Adora catches her off guard, but it then turns into a smirk. She flips her hair to one side.
“I do, yeah.”
She also has her full rockstar confidence on. Adora can’t even be mad.
“You should see my girlfriend, though.” Catra twitches an eyebrow. “Hottest girl you’ll ever meet.”
Adora laughs. “You’re such a dork.”
“I don’t think a dork would look this cool,” she gestures at herself, “dork.”
Adora rolls her eyes. “Don’t you have a song to go sing, or something?”
Catra leans closer.
“Can I get a good luck kiss first?”
Without thinking twice Adora closes the distance and feels the soothing warmth that blooms in her chest whenever their lips touch.
“You got this.” Adora says.
“Thanks, babe.” Catra smiles and leaves towards the stage area.
Adora turns back to the table.
“Hey guys, Catra is playing soon. Who wants to go join the crowd in front of the stage?”
Scorpia and Bow are the first ones to jump off their chairs in excitement.
Adora stands in front of the stage. When Catra appears with her band, she first looks somewhere above them with a confused look, then her eyes search the crowd and lock with Adora’s. She beams, seeing her and everyone right in front of her.
She looks to her bandmates to make sure everyone is ready before shouting into the mic, “Halfmoon, how are we feeling tonight!?”
Adora screams along with everyone.
“I hope you all like some good old Paramore!” She says, then the band starts playing Still Into You.
Adora feels so proud seeing her having so much fun on stage, making the whole place sing and dance along with her. At one point she takes the mic from the stand and walks towards the edge of the stage where Adora is. She kneels and reaches for Adora’s hand as she belts “Baby, not a day goes by that I'm not into you,” before she winks and runs to put the mic back and properly finish the song.
Adora can hear Glimmer making fun of her but she’s too over the moon to care, and too hypnotized to pay attention to anything else that’s not Catra. When the song ends Adora screams even louder than before.
As the band leaves, Adora goes to the side of the stage to wait for Catra. After a short while she approaches with her guitar case on her back.
“Hey, princess,” Catra says, “come here often?”
Adora crosses her arms. “Only when my girlfriend is singing.”
“Aw, you’re not single? Wanna ditch her for me?”
Adora hums. “I don’t know, she’s one of a kind. What do you have to offer?”
“This,” Catra pulls her by the waist and plants a kiss against her lips.
Adora cradles her face when they draw apart.
“Interesting offer, will think about it,” she says, as they break into giggles.
“I wanna take you somewhere.” Catra says in that soft voice she reserves only to Adora.
“It’s a surprise.”
Catra borrows Scorpia’s car and drives them to the other side of the campus, where the Bright Moon observatory is.
“Isn’t it closed right now?” Adora asks when they park by the entrance.
“I have my ways.” Catra replies.
“You always do.” Adora can barely contain her curiosity.
“Did you know I took an intro to Astronomy once?”
“Really?” Adora frowns.
“I needed an easy A class for the semester,” Catra shrugs, “and we got to come here and look at cool stuff.”
Before leaving the car, Catra takes what looks like a poster tube from the back seat with her, then she leads them to the projection room. The ceiling is curved and made of a giant screen and there are chairs circling the middle where there’s a computer with what looks like a weird projector.
“Wow.” Adora says.
“Yeah, this is the coolest room.”
Catra turns the projector on and the room goes dark as the ceiling lights up with a beautiful night sky, dotted with thousands of stars. Adora spends a good moment just looking up, enchanted by the view.
“This is amazing.”
“Right?” Catra says, “and we can travel around.”
She zooms where Polaris is.
“So you obviously know the Ursa Minor constellation.” She says.
Adora hums as the Little Dipper gets bigger on the ceiling.
“There’s a little star in the middle of it…” she zooms even more, stopping when the now big shiny spheres look blurry, “that one that is more yellow and a little bigger than the others?”
“I see it.” Adora nods. “What about it?”
“Well,” Catra takes a piece of paper from the poster tube and hands it to her.
Adora frowns and examines it. It’s a certificate with some coordinates Adora assumes is from that star, saying it’s been registered and named… Mara .
“I know people can’t actually buy stars, but there’s this big celestial database where you can choose a constellation and name a star from it,” Catra says.
“You adopted a star in my name?” Adora asks, surprised, “And named it my mom’s…?”
“I know how that constellation is important to you, and how when we were little you always said your mom had turned into a star, so… that star has your mom’s name now.”
Adora blinks, still looking down at the paper, suddenly overwhelmed with so much she can’t even put it into words, but mostly with love. She inhales deeply and sniffs.
“Adora?” Catra puts a hand on her shoulder. “Did I mess up? Should I have not─”
Adora turns to her and hugs her.
“No, no, I love it─ I just─ I love you so much,” she holds Catra tighter, “this is beautiful, I don’t even know what to say,”
“You don’t have to say anything.” Catra replies, pressing a kiss to her cheek. “I’m happy you liked it.”
They stay like that for a while, with the stars above them and the low humming buzz of the projector filling the silence.
Adora puts the certificate back in the tube so it’s safe.
“Thank you.” Adora says, gently cupping Catra’s cheeks in her hands. “I wasn’t expecting anything. What is it for?”
“I just felt like it.” Catra smiles, holding her waist. “And I wanted to bring you here before the semester ended.”
Adora spends a long moment just staring at those sweet mismatched eyes, wondering how it’s possible that every day she loves her more and more.
“So are you gonna kiss me, or what?” Catra asks, wiggling her eyebrows.
Adora laughs, bright and light, and brings her in.
It’s the first week of summer break. Adora and Catra are home (Adora’s home, but she hopes it feels like Catra’s too). Razz couldn’t be happier to see Catra again, and teared up seeing the star certificate that now hangs framed in the living room, along with pictures that have been there for years, and a new picture of both of them.
Adora and Catra are lying on the grass in the backyard at night, just like they did so many summer nights when they were little. So much has changed, but so many things are still the same: the warm summer breeze that envelops them, how wonderful her grandma’s pie is, how Adora is at her happiest when Catra is right next to her.
“Excited for your internship?” Catra asks.
Adora nods. “Yes, but I’m gonna miss you much.”
“We’ll visit each other, remember? But I’ll miss you too.”
Catra got an internship in New York, while Adora got one at the Bright Moon rehabilitation center. She’s been thinking of going to a physical therapy post grad program instead of med school, which is probably less anxiety inducing and more close to what Adora would like to help people with. Catra’s been so helpful with her full support for Adora to explore and discover what she really wants to pursue.
They still have another week before their internships start, and they will get to see each other throughout the summer as they will only be a few hours long train ride away. Still, Adora misses her already.
“What if you meet a girl that actually knows how to play instruments or dance tango and is way cooler than me?”
Catra laughs that squeaky laugh that Adora can’t get enough of. She then turns on her side, propping herself up on her elbow, and takes Adora's hand, holding it close to her chest.
“Adora, it’s always been you. Always. Why do you think I’ve always been so paralyzed by fear? I knew I’d never find anyone else like you,” she presses a feather light kiss to the back of Adora’s hand, “or love anyone like I love you.”
Adora’s heart flutters, her lips curling up into a fond smile.
“I feel like I spent most of my life chasing something that I couldn’t even name,” Adora says, “but it was in front of me all along. It’s always been you too, Catra.”
Catra grins, eyes sparkling as much as the stars above them.
Adora reaches for Catra’s cheek, caressing it, and Catra leans down, closing the distance between them.
It has always been her, and it will always be the two of them.
Adora keeps Catra in her arms for the rest of the night.
they did it, they finally got together :')
wow i can't believe this fic is over!! when i had a silly fake dating au idea back when s3 ended (and i thought i'd finish it before s4 LOL) i never expected it to become such a big project or that this story would grow to be so close to my heart.
i also never expected it to have so many people reading it so THANK YOU SO MUCH for following along! it's honestly mind blowing, so whether you've been here since the beginning or just found this fic today, thank you!!!! i hope it brought you joy :D and special thanks to everyone who leaves nice comments, you have no idea how that's motivating for fic writers, especially on multichaptered fics (writing is Hard let me tell ya).
fun fact the third letter is based on the letter from the Rebel Princess Guide book that Adora wrote and never meant to send to Catra (if you search it there are screenshots of it!)
i'll miss writing for this world but i'm so excited i got to finish it. if you liked it let me know!