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in the dead of night (i'll meet you in my sleep)

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THWUMP.

Glimmer’s eyes snapped open.

If someone was trying to subtly break into the castle, they weren’t doing a particularly good job. Then again, there was no Horde left to send spies…

So what on Etheria was that noise?

Glimmer teleported from her bed to the door and pressed her ear against the wood.

Quiet…too quiet.

But sounds didn’t just come out of nowhere.

Steeling herself, Glimmer slowly pushed the door open. She hoped that her silk nightgown looked at least a little more intimidating than it felt.

***

Catra pushed herself off the floor and rubbed her sore elbow. As she peeked up over the edge of the mattress, she saw Adora slap at nothing and drop her hand back over her chest, muttering something incoherent.

Why did they ever think that sharing a bed this tiny would be a good idea? Even their bunks back in the Fright Zone had been more spacious, though maybe that had to do with Catra’s old habit of sleeping down at the foot instead of pressed against Adora’s back (or maybe they had just grown up). For some reason, Adora was–-what, sleep-fighting? Swatting giant robot flies?

Regardless of what Adora thought she was battling in her dreams, her tactics had succeeding in flinging Catra off the bed and that could not be quietly forgiven. It was a matter of dignity.

And vengeance.

As stealthily as possible, Catra crawled back up. She padded across to the restless, sleeping form and slowly swung one leg over Adora’s waist, careful to keep her weight off of Adora’s hips. It was a miracle that the sound of a body falling on the floor hadn’t been enough to wake her, and Catra hoped her luck would last long enough for her to execute her plan. She could already imagine Adora’s face…

Speaking of, since when did Adora look so serious when she slept? Catra had to stop herself from reaching down and soothing that little crease that always dug its way between her dark eyebrows whenever she thought too hard.

Yeah, that would definitely ruin the plan.

Instead, Catra leaned down, holding her breath to keep it from tickling Adora’s eyelashes. She stopped when their noses were just a few inches apart.

She started with a whisper. “Adora?”

Nothing but a nose crinkle.

“Adoooora,” she sing-songed.

Another indistinct mumble. Vague shifting.

“Wake up.”

As if on command, Adora blinked awake.

“Catra?” Adora’s voice was always a little hoarse right when she woke up (Catra did her best to ignore the way it made her stomach flip).

“Hey,” Catra drawled.

As the ghost of sleep dissipated, Adora noticed their positions. “Why are you–-um.” She paused to swallow drily. “On top of me?”

Catra couldn’t resist curling her lip into a smirk. “Is it a problem?”

“No,” Adora said far too quickly for someone who’d been asleep moments earlier. She seemed suddenly awake, adrenaline no doubt surging through her veins.  

They both knew what they’d gotten up to the night before. And almost every night since Catra’s arrival in Bright Moon, really.

At first, Catra was hesitant about living in the castle, unsure how to act around…whatever Adora was to her at this point. “Best friends” couldn’t even begin to explain their history. They were enemies for the better part of the last year, nemeses who took every opportunity in battle to get the other alone, playing some secret game that no one else knew the rules to and neither dared name out loud. Now, after everything, they were back on the same side. Catra could barely wrap her head around such an impossible truth.

Her transition into Bright Moon was uncomfortable at best, full of grueling council hearings and less official but more merciless interrogations at the hands of Glimmer. Adora was present for most of them, her horror visibly growing as she pieced together the events that took place during the months Catra spent in the Horde without her. She forced herself to keep her distance, intending to maintain the facade of objectivity whether Catra was sentenced or pardoned. When Adora found out about Hordak’s atmosphere manipulator, though, her resolve crumbled. That night, Adora invited Catra to share her room.

At first, Catra refused to sleep anywhere but the floor. By the end of one week, she let herself doze off at the familiar foot of the bed, but she would always wake up a few hours later and return to the floor. Adora, half-asleep, once begged her to snuggle in the most pathetic whine Catra had ever heard. Far be it from a newly minted rebel to deny the great She-Ra. It was funny, Catra thought, that she never tried this back when they were in the Fright Zone. They’d been missing out for years.

Despite Catra’s sparkling reserve of willpower, cuddling inevitably led to less innocent activities.

The first time Adora kissed her, Catra cried. Not a single, poetic tear–no, she had to break away and sob for several minutes before she could catch her breath again. She was reasonably certain that she’d scare Adora away, but Adora made a point of wrapping her arm around Catra’s waist and holding her as close as possible until the morning light pulled back the curtains.

She refused to let Catra sleep alone again.

Over the next few weeks, Catra found her grounding, comfortable in Adora’s room even if not around the rest of the castle. She’d fall asleep with her head on Adora’s chest or lap, gentle hands stroking through her wild hair and expertly dodging every stubborn knot.

Sometimes, their lips stayed locked for so long that Catra wondered if they would sleep at all (she often hoped not). Hands started to roam, and ever so slowly the walls that they’d built up between them crumbled into dust.

As Catra sat there, perched over Adora’s hips, Adora’s face turned redder than her old Horde jacket.

“Sorry to crash your beauty sleep,” Catra started, “but I need to ask you something.”

“Yeah?” Adora breathed.

“Yeah,” Catra answered, dragging a single pointed nail lightly along that perfect jawline. She’d recently discovered a particularly sensitive spot just under Adora’s chin, and she let her fingertips brush over it just enough to inspire a shiver.

Adora held her breath, inviting the question into the little space left between them. Catra was endlessly amused with how quickly Adora’s ability to speak vanished when they were this close.

“Wow. If I knew this was all it took to shut you up, I would have starting making out with you years ago,” Catra teased.

Somehow, Adora’s confidence sparked. “Do you actually have a question or are you just gonna trash talk?”

Catra let her nails dig into the exposed skin of Adora’s shoulder with just enough to pressure to make her threat credible. “I wouldn’t wake you up without a good reason.”

A scoff escaped Adora’s throat. “You totally would.”

“You really think so?” Catra whispered over Adora’s lips.

“I…don’t…” Her gaze darted across every every feature of Catra’s face (eyes, brows, nose, freckle, freckle, freckle) before coming to rest on her mouth.

For one valiant moment, Adora restrained herself.

Then a rough hand tangled in Catra’s hair and pulled hard, crashing them together in a graceless, bruising kiss.

It took all of Catra’s willpower to stay focused her scheme, but when Adora’s other hand snaked up the back of her shirt, everything became hazy again.

Would it really be so bad to let it go?

Wasn’t the feeling of blunt nails scraping over her spine better than petty revenge?

…Not quite.

If Catra was going to follow through, she needed Adora to stop kissing her. It was way too distracting. She let her lips trace the path her nails had taken over Adora’s neck.

“What was–-what was your question?” Adora’s voice strained higher.

With no good reason to be gentle, especially after Adora’s aggressive initiation, Catra bit down on the tense veins and flexing muscle. She knew she’d leave a mark, and she really hoped Adora would have at least one important meeting the next day. It was always funny to see her get all huffy about hiding evidence.

With Adora already writhing underneath her, Catra decided to make a point of dragging things out.

“You’re so impatient,” Catra taunted, her breath coaxing goosebumps out of the deep red mark she’d just left. 

Adora’s shuddering exhale only served as encouragement.

“I don’t like rushing,” Catra continued. “It's so much better when I take my time, don’t you think?”

The next sound that came out of Adora’s mouth was well beyond profane. She yanked Catra’s shirt up, hands swarming over hot skin, a clear sign that she wasn’t interested in any more games.

But Catra was just getting warmed up.

She grabbed Adora’s wrists and pinned her hands above her head, drawing out a frustrated groan.  

“Aww,” Catra cooed cruelly.

“Catra,” Adora said. She might have been aiming for stern, forceful even, but the name tumbled off her desperate tongue before it could harden into a reprimand.

“Yes, Adora?” Catra challenged, keeping hostile hands trapped with one of her own while her unoccupied fingers danced over Adora’s ribs.

She wasn’t going to get a better opportunity. At that moment, Adora was at her mercy entirely.

So Catra tickled her.

Adora’s shocked laugh was more of a scream. She flailed on the mattress, trying to buck Catra off or free her hands. Eventually she managed the latter, but that meant Catra had an extra weapon at her disposal. While Adora swatted futilely, Catra doubled the tickling. Her efforts elicited a string of the cutest involuntary giggles. It was one of her favorite Adora noises, along with just about every other sound she made or word she said.

“St–stop it!” Adora cackled, barely managing not to flop out of bed even with Catra’s weight anchoring her.

The sight of her laughing so freely, so purely, was enough to pique Catra’s stoically guarded fluffy feelings.

A smile stretched across Catra’s face as she brought her hands to her own hips and sat back. “Are you ready to answer my question?”

Adora’s giggles sublimated into the still-charged atmosphere around them. “You broke me,” Adora sighed. “Interrogate away.”

“Why…did you push me off the bed?!” Catra punctuated her sentence with more tickling.

Adora shriek-laughed again, but this time she was ready. She managed to grab Catra’s wrists and cease the torture. "Did I really push you off?"

Catra put on a frown.

“Sorry. I’m sorry,” Adora said, still chuckling.

“That would be more convincing without the laugh track.”

Adora pulled her down and kissed her, all softness and sympathy. “Are you okay?” She asked, real concern bleeding into her broad smile.

Catra rolled her eyes. “No, I fractured my skull.”

Adora rapped her knuckles against Catra’s head. “Nah, it’s way too thick. No way a plush carpeted floor could break it.”

“Now who’s trash talking?”

“I mean, you could make me stop,” Adora invited.

Their next kiss reminded Catra of their first all those weeks earlier. There was no expectation, only expression. A tender desperation to put unspoken words into comprehensible action.

“Hey, Catra?” Adora mumbled when Catra broke first for a gasp of air. “I just–-”

Catra reconnected their lips before Adora could go on.

“I wanted to say–-”

Another interrupting kiss.

“I love you.”

Catra shot straight up, freezing her stare on Adora’s now very nervous eyes.

“You what?”

Adora followed her, sitting up and forcing Catra to rest her weight back on Adora's thighs. “I love you?”

“Was that a question?”

“Well, I–-is it okay?” Adora didn't get nervous, exactly. Not around Catra. But in the wake of her confession, she was definitely approaching flustered. 

Catra’s eyes went wide. “Of course it’s okay, you dumbass. It’s better than okay.”

The tension melted out of Adora’s shoulders. “Oh. Good.” Her half-cocked, adoring smile burned itself onto Catra’s heart.

Catra might have died if she didn’t kiss her again right then.

Before it could gain any real momentum, Adora pressed her back by the shoulder. “Do you, ah…um…”

“Uh, obviously,” Catra answered. “For, like, years." 

Adora sputtered, shocked. “Wait, the whole time?”

Catra nodded. “And you said I have a thick skull." She circled her arms around Adora’s neck, a tiny part of her subconsciously fretting that she might run away in light of the revelation. "You seriously have no idea how impossible it was to stop.”

“I think I do,” Adora said, settling her hands on Catra’s hips and holding her steady.

“It was really annoying.”

“No kidding.”

“Maybe we’re both dumbasses.”

“I think that’s fair.” Adora kissed her again, slowly, languidly, with no intention of stopping.

And that’s when the door flew open.

Catra let out a little squeal and jerked away. When she saw the silhouette in the frame, she hissed.

“Glimmer?!” Adora shouted.

“Ahh, I'm sorry! Please say you’re both wearing pants!” Glimmer exclaimed, squeezing her eyes shut and covering them for good measure.

“What–-why are you-–”

“I thought you were in trouble. I heard this huge thud and then screaming and–-”

“For future reference,” Catra cut in, “if you hear screaming coming from our room, do not come in.”

Adora flushed bright red. They hadn’t even talked about going that far yet, but that certainly wouldn’t stop Catra from taking advantage of an opportunity to make Glimmer deliciously uncomfortable.

“Noted,” Glimmer said firmly. She left as quickly as she’d entered and stomped off down the hall.

Catra was busy being far too proud of herself while Adora wondered if she would ever live this down.

“Okay, that was humiliating,” Adora said.

“Why? 'Cause you weren’t on top?” Catra countered.

Adora grumbled and fell back on the bed. “Can we just go to sleep?”

Catra snickered and finally climbed off. She lay down and attached herself to Adora’s side like a koala on a tree trunk. “Whatever you want, Princess.” Leaving one last kiss on Adora’s cheek, Catra closed her eyes.

***