It’s the indignant mewling that wakes you.
Your eyes open groggily, less of their own free will, and more out of annoyance at the noise. Now you feel her squirming body pressed up against your back: the source of the mewling. Her hands are gripping your shirt and you remember so many nights like this from your childhood. Whenever Catra was upset, it was your bed she’d hide herself away in. Usually at the foot of it and almost always mewling and bristling like the disgruntled kitten she continues to be in her heart always. The worst nights she’d wriggle her way under the covers to your side and you’d have to be careful not to nudge against where there would soon be bruises. She’d always try to wake you, just to have some company.
Some things never change.
With a heavy sigh, you turn to face her. You assume she’s awake by the tone of her whining and strategic wiggling. You try to catch her eye, but she’s looking down, almost dejected. Weird.
“Hey Adora,” she mumbles absentmindedly, still not looking up at you. Very weird. You’re not awake enough to puzzle this one out fully, so you let muscle memory take hold.
You pull her to you, and she clings on tight.
“I’m here. It’s okay,” you say reassuringly. You mean it this time. You aren’t going to let anything happen to her, now that you can do something about it. Not again. Not like before.
You brush the hair away from her face lightly. It’s always in a state of wild and windswept, but Catra’s bedhead is a whole other beast. She leans into your palm as your hand reaches her cheek. You love the feeling of the soft downy fur that covers her whole body. It’s just so unbelievably soft, and it was even softer when you were kids. Apparently, you’re the only one that’s ever thought so, but you chalk that up to Catra literally bristly at most people touching her. Deciding to be bold, you snake your other hand around her neck to bury it in the hair at the base of her head, and grip it lightly to tilt her head up.
Then you kiss her.
It’s soft, and you can tell she wasn’t expecting it, because she gasps through her nose and tenses. You hold yourself there – soft and gentle – until you feel her relax and return the kiss. It’s a hungrier response than you expect; her hands grip your sides to pull you flush against her as her teeth nip at your bottom lip.
You’ve been dancing around like this for weeks now; neither of you wanting to yield and admit what’s going on. Little bits of affection here, kisses when someone lets their guard down there, and an abundance of furtive glances everywhere. You aren’t sure who crossed the line first or even what line it is that you’ve crossed. (You’ll think about it later, you’ve got more pressing matters at hand.)
It takes no effort to flip her onto her back in one swift movement, grabbing each of her hands with your own and pinning them above her head, as you do. Her ears flatten against her head, and she looks up at you in a bit of bewilderment and a bit of offense.
You dip down and kiss her again; harder and hungrier. You hear her whimper against the kiss. You love when she does that. She never seems prepared for you to take the lead, even though you do it more often than not. Your tongue catches a fang, and her hands dig into you.
She pulls back after a moment and you both catch your breaths. There’s a look in her eyes that you can’t decipher and it worries you. You’re about to ask her what’s wrong, but the answer to the question you didn’t get a chance to ask stops you in your tracks.
“I love you.”
She says it so quietly, you would’ve missed it, if you hadn’t been looking at her mouth as she said it.
You can feel her body trembling against yours, and you watch as her eyes brim with tears.
All of your other thoughts are lost in an instant. You release her hands from where you hold them to gently cradle her face.
Trying to soothe her, you croon, “Hey. Hey. Shh. It’s okay.”
You press your face up against her’s, forehead to forehead and nose to nose.
“I love you too.”
Her levies break at your words. Tears turn to sobs into the crook of your neck. Years of pain and anger come flooding out as you feel relief overtake her, and you find yourself joining her in tears.
You don’t know how long you stay like that, in this haze of new emotions.
After a while, you pull back just enough to look at her face, checking in on her. She sniffles and catches your eye. You smile at her and she chuckles.
You find yourself suddenly on your back, Catra straddling you confidently. She’s back to all bravado, sass and deflection, but you aren’t done with your soft kitty just yet (you do so rarely break through that rough exterior). You pull her down to you and kiss her gently, catching her off guard with the tenderness. You use your secret weapon to completely disarm her: you scratch behind both of her ears, and she melts down into you in an instant.
Any adrenaline either of you had is fading quickly as Catra sinks into your chest. Her foot begins to twitch like a happy puppy as you run your thumbs in circles inside her ears. You pull the blanket over both of you as she settles on top of you – there are several tense seconds of displeased yowling as you pull your hands away from her ears to do so. You quickly return to your ear rubbing before the claws come out. She quiets back down and sighs deeply, snuggling against you, completely content now. You can hear her attempting to hold back satisfied little purrs, until you scratch down her spine and she turns into an absolutely powerless puddle of pleased purring.
You chuckle under your breath.
This one… She loves you.
And you love her.
And for once, it finally might be okay.