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sometimes it feels just like i'm falling in the ocean

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“That went so much better than I could have ever hoped.” Smirking, Catra dropped the hilt of the sword under Adora’s chin and lifted it to get a better look at her sleeping face. Her expression was peaceful, and it made something stir in Catra’s chest, memories of when they called the Horde home, of when they were attached at the hip and she curled up at the foot of Adora’s bed because otherwise, neither of them could sleep at night. The only time Adora ever relaxed was around Catra, after all. “Looks like you’re mine now, Adora ,” she crooned, before pulling the sword back and watching Adora fall back limp against Scorpia’s arm. “Come on, get her on the ship. We’re leaving.” 

Entrapta paused, looking up from her screen for the first time since the fighting started. “Oh, but we haven’t finished digging up the tech—” 

“I don’t care,” Catra growled, cutting her off. She was tired, cold, and they had Adora. She wanted to get home as soon as possible. “We have She-Ra. We won’t risk losing her in a blizzard while her friends are still here. Hordak will understand.”

Catra turned away and started heading for their boat, gripping She-Ra’s weapon just a little bit tighter. Things were finally going her way. She had crawled out of Adora’s shadow without anyone else’s help, and now she was stronger than ever. 

“Catra, are you sure you’re okay?” Scorpia asked, jogging up to her while trying to balance Adora in her arms. “I mean, she was going berserk, and you weren’t really ready for it because both of you hold back when you fight. You took a really hard tumble there, eh? She just grabbed you, and uh, well, I’m sure that hurt. So are you sure—” 

“Scorpia, shut up,” she snapped.

“Right, right, I’m sorry.”

Catra took a deep breath, shuddering when a particularly harsh breeze hit. The disk in her pocket felt heavier with every step. But it was fine. She didn’t need anyone.

“I’m gonna go find some blankets. Scorpia, secure Adora so she doesn’t cause any trouble when she wakes up.” 

“Got it,” Scorpia said with a salute. Catra rolled her eyes and headed below deck. Scorpia let her gaze linger after Catra, before sighing and picking up the rope. She turned to Adora and found her unconscious body… not there anymore. She fell to her knees, frantically looking for her. 

“Oh, okay, well today is just not my day, is it?” Scorpia said to herself, her voice cracking hysterically. She glanced up at Entrapta, who pointed her finger towards the front of the boat without looking up from whatever it was that she was doing. Scorpia scrambled up and headed there. “Adora? Are you— mph!” 

Her ears were filled with giggling, her mouth with a mop. Adora stumbled, somehow tripping over her feet and falling flat on her back. She only giggled harder, letting the mop fall from her hands and roll away. Scorpia wiped her face with her sleeve and crouched down. “Uhh… you okay there, Adora?” 

Adora squinted at her, a dumb smile on her face. She grabbed the mop again and used it to support her clumsy attempt at sitting up. “Wowww,” she slurred, pointing at Scorpia’s nose, “you… are a big bug.” She slipped backwards again. Scorpia just stared. She finally understood that there was no way she could replace Adora in Catra’s heart, not when she was so… endearing. She decided not to question her sanity and just roll with it. There were weirder people in the Horde. 

“Yep. That is the truth, glad you’re seeing clearly.” She tried to pick Adora up again, practically dragging her by the arm. “C’mon, let’s get you secured so you don’t run away.”

Adora snorts, the rest of her body falling limp. “Run away? I won’t do that, ‘cause you… you’re jus’ great, y’know?”

“Catra doesn’t seem to think so,” Scorpia muttered, trying to get a better grip on her wrist. But before she could, Adora slipped away. She stood up and grabbed Scorpia by the shoulders, then decided to sigh dramatically and put all her weight against her.

“Catra,” she mumbled, smiling into her armour, “she’s mean.” Scorpia sputtered and took a step back, letting Adora fall face-first back on the floor.

“She’s misunderstood .”

But Adora didn’t seem to hear her. She kept going. “But she makes me happy. She’s mean to people who are mean to me. She’s soft, ‘n cuddly. ‘N she smells warm.” Adora shivers because even though She-Ra is a magical princess that can’t feel the cold, Adora isn’t and she forgot to bring a winter jacket. “Catra’s warm.” She starts giggling again. 

Call the devil and she shall appear. That’s when Catra decides to show up again. She sees Scorpia hugging herself self-consciously, watching Adora curled up into a quivering ball on the floor, giggling uncontrollably. Catra considered just walking away from what would no doubt be an odd situation, but she was kind of stuck on a floating death machine in the middle of the freezing ocean, so it’s not like she could have gone far anyways. 

“What is going on here?” 

Adora’s head shot up at the sound of her voice. “Catra! Hiiiii. We’re jus’ talking ‘bout you.” She got up and stumbled towards Catra. “‘Member when we slept together. You were so warm. It’s ‘cause of your fur, right? Soft fur. You’re soft Catra. ’N you have the cutest sneeze. Like a kitten.” She hiccupped and started giggling again, reaching out and trying to touch Catra’s ears. Catra didn’t even try to stop her. She was frozen in place.

“What is going on here?” she repeated slowly, looking at Scorpia. But Scorpia was out of commission. She was glaring at Adora.

“‘Slept together’?” she echoed in horror.

Catra’s eye twitched. “That’s not—ugh! Adora! Stop touching me!” She grabbed her wrist and Adora squirmed, swatting at her and trying to get back to petting her head. Catra pulled her hands down but Adora ended up losing balance, falling forward into her arms.

“Hey Catra,” she mumbled into her chest. Catra’s heart was hammering. 

“What’s the matter with you?” She shoved Adora away, steadying her by clutching her shoulders, forcing her to look at Catra. Adora just smiled brighter, looking even more like an idiot. Catra shook her, exasperated.

“I dunno, wha’sa’ matter with you ?” she replied dumbly, narrowing her eyes and pointing a finger at Catra.

“Matter is generally a physical substance that has mass and can take up space.” Entrapta strolled in oh-so-casually, before looking up from her screen. She glanced at Adora and grinned. “Oh, is she all floppy now? Wonderful!” 

“Not wonderful! I think I preferred her trying to kill me!” Catra was trying to push Adora away, but she kept bringing her arm up towards Catra’s face. 

“Boop. Boop. Boop boop boop,” Adora was singing under her breath. When she finally touched Catra’s nose, she yelled, “BOOP!” successfully startling Catra enough to let her go. Adora ran, and Catra took a moment to close her eyes and rub her temples to subdue an incoming headache. She turned to Scorpia, saw that she was having an existential crisis, and decided instead to turn to Entrapta. 

“What do you mean she’s ‘floppy’?” she hissed.

“Exactly what it sounds like,” Entrapta said cheerfully. “I think it’s fascinating. Her sword was infected and it reflected on her, but the moment she let go of it… oh, I wonder what would happen if the sword was infected when she wasn’t touching it. Is she connected to a piece of the first one’s tech? Maybe she isn’t as organic as I originally thought.” She quickly typed something on her screen then looked up at Catra, who was fuming. She offered her a smile. “The only way to stop it would be to destroy the disk, which I don’t recommend. We should do some experiments first, see if we can break the connection without—”

“You know what, forget I asked. We’ll knock her out. Scorpia, could you…” But scorpia.exe had stopped working. Catra let out a frustrated scream. “I didn’t sleep— you know what, nevermind. Adora. Adora!” She started to head in the direction she saw her go. It’s not like she could have gone far, they were on a boat, in the middle of the ocean. It’s not like… 

She was in the water. For fuck’s sake.

“H-h-hey C-Catra!” Adora called out, waving wildly from the middle of the fucking ocean. “I-i-it’s cold. B-but the w-water’s grrrr-rreat.” She made a clawing motion with her hand and actually growled when she said ‘great’, but it was a stupid growl because she was giggling and shivering and Catra couldn’t deal with this. She saw Adora in the water and immediately shut down and had to be restarted. Then, when she was reset, she jumped into the ocean because it’s Adora , it’s her dumb idiot Adora and she had to save her.

She hit the water and yelped because, wow, it was cold, and it completely knocked the wind out of her. Then she remembered that she never learned how to swim. Most of the soldiers at the Horde were taught, of course, in case there was ever a mission that required swimming, but Catra always skipped the water training session because, well, water. Adora, on the other hand, was a great swimmer. She could do it in her sleep. Or when she was drunk. So Catra hit the water and immediately regretted all her life decisions, because Adora didn’t need anyone to save her, not even when she was floppy. 

Maybe she was frozen. Catra forgot how to breathe. She was becoming a catsicle. If she survived, she was going to kick Adora in the shins. With a baseball bat.

And then there was yelling from the ship, and maybe she heard splashing, and then Adora was there holding her, but wasn’t she drowning? And it was cold, cold enough to soak her bones and cold enough to make all her limbs lock up and cold enough that when she could finally breathe, she couldn’t stop shivering. There was an annoying noise by her side and when she huffed and turned around to try and shut it up, it was Adora next to her, her teeth chattering, her eyes closed, her head resting on Catra’s shoulder. Her breath caught in her throat, but after a moment she decided that she was too tired and too cold to care, and she decided that the shin kicking with the baseball bat could wait, so she leaned on Adora and pulled the blanket that was around them closer and closed her eyes. She tried to go back to a time when things were okay because things weren’t okay anymore but at least this moment, this moment was perfect. 

And then Adora fucked it up by waking up. She smiled a dopey smile, one that reminded Catra that she was loopy and not the real Adora. “Hey Catra. ‘M cold.” 

“You probably shouldn’t have jumped into the icy water then.” What she said wasn’t funny, but Adora still giggled. 

“But you saved me, so i’sokay.” Catra was pretty sure that wasn’t what happened, but she didn’t say anything. 

“Whatever.” 

Adora was silent for a moment, then started to laugh, harder than before. It was annoying.

“What is it?”

“Did you just jump into icy water for me?” she asked with a snort. Catra bristled, but her voice sounded so much like the real Adora and it made her heart do somersaults. She shoved her away and scoffed. 

“Shut up, it’s not like I like you or anything.” Adora burst into giggles, wrapping her arms around Catra. She didn’t have the heart to try and stop her, so she fell into the hug.

“You did,” she slurred quietly into her ear. “Ths’s good. You’re good.” Her breath came out in soft puffs, and it made the hair by Catra’s ear stand up. She snuggled up against Catra. “Hey, Catra?” 

“What?” She tried to sound distant, but it came out as a whisper. 

“I love you.”

And she couldn’t do this anymore. 

Catra shoved Adora off of her and stood up, ignoring her mildly confused whining. She stormed over to where Scorpia and Entrapta were. 

“Where’s the disk?” she snapped. 

“Catra, I couldn’t help but overhear,” Scorpia started to say, but Catra glared at her until she shut up.

“Where is it?” She looked at Entrapta. Entrapta pointed to a table. The disk was sitting on it. Without hesitation, Catra grabbed the disk and broke it without any trouble. Then her demeanour crumbled. The anger melted off her face and left grief, left loss and sadness etched deep into her skin, deep enough to leave everlasting scars. Scorpia tried to say something, but Catra shushed her. “I’m so tired.” 

And if she started to cry, no one said anything about it.

Chapter Text

When Adora woke up, she had a headache, and it sucked. She was also freezing, which was probably her own fault for not bringing a thicker jacket to a winter wonderland. She groaned and tried to sit up, and then realized that she wasn’t on Sea Hawk’s boat. 

And then she maybe freaked out a bit. 

Deep breaths , she thought to herself, trying to remember what happened before she was knocked out. It was kind of hard to breathe, much less think, when she was shivering her ass off. Why was she wet ? The last thing she remembered was standing over Catra, trying not to show that she was shaking, trying not to let her know just how much her stupid smirk affected her. Because Catra was right. She’d never have the guts to really hurt her. She never did. And Catra was talking, and Adora was just about to drop her sword because she was weak like that, but there was something flashing red in the corner of her vision and then she was out and— 

Oh. The red disk. 

Shit. 

But that was impossible. They destroyed the disk months ago. Unless Entrapta had found another one… It would explain why she couldn’t remember anything. If she had been as useless and “floppy” and Glimmer told her she had been before, well, that wasn’t good. Had she been captured? Surely, they wouldn’t leave her alone and untied. Maybe Sea Hawk had burned yet another ship, and so they were on a different one. Had her friends managed without her? 

Adora sneezed when she stood up. A blanket slipped off her shoulders, and she felt a chill go up her spine. She picked up the blanket and put it back over her shoulders. Not that it really helped much, but it was better than nothing. She needed to find dry clothes before she caught a cold, that is, if she didn’t have one already. She sniffed and hugged herself to keep warm, then took a step forward. 

That’s when Catra walked by. 

Oh. So she had been captured. Maybe she was free because they thought she was all floppy and useless. But if she wasn’t anymore, then that meant the disk was destroyed. Had they accidentally broken it? Did they know it was broken? Perhaps if Adora could act floppy, they wouldn’t know the difference, and therefore wouldn’t try to disable her which would give her time to escape. 

But Catra was staring now, and not saying anything which was very out of character for her. Adora stared right back. And then she sneezed again. 

“Bless you,” Catra said without thinking. 

“Thanks.” Adora shivered, rubbing at the goosebumps on her arms. She looked at Catra again, who was trying to avert her gaze. Adora noticed her eyes were red and her ears were pointed down, defensive. She was only ever so quiet when she was upset. Did that mean… “Were you crying?” 

Catra turned around abruptly to hide herself, wiping her face with her arm. “Of course not.” 

And okay, Adora knew she probably should’ve taken advantage of the situation. It would’ve been easy for her to take down Catra if she was thrown off, but Catra hardly ever cried, so something really bad must have happened, and as far as Adora knew, she was always there for her when things got bad. Every single time Catra ran away in tears at the Horde when they were children, Adora chased her down and stayed with her until she was better. There was too much history between them and Adora couldn’t help but be worried. 

“Hey. What happened?” she asked softly, inching closer to her. Catra huffed and crossed her arms, but still didn’t meet her eye.

“Just go, Adora. You’re free.” She made a half-hearted shooing motion with her hand. Adora frowned and put her hand on Catra’s shoulder. It was supposed to be a comforting gesture, but she was cold to the touch, and her fur was soaked. Catra flinched and Adora let go. 

“You’re wet too. You hate the water.” Catra would have avoided water at all costs, especially in the cold.

“Thanks, Captain Obvious,” Catra muttered. 

“What happened?” Adora reached for her shoulder again without thinking, but Catra scowled and she backed off. 

“Why do you care? I’m tired, Adora. Just leave me alone, you didn’t seem to have a problem with it before.” Adora winced. She was right. Adora wasn’t there for her. She briefly wondered if Catra cried when she defected. If she did, then Adora wasn’t there to make her feel better. She had no right to feel bad about it now, after all this time, but… she still worried. 

“I can’t exactly leave while we’re still floating in the middle of the sea, now, can I?” She tried to make it sound like a joke, tried in vain to cheer Catra up, but it was a dumb thought. It came out in a sad whisper and only seemed to irritate Catra. 

“Fine, just sit there and look pretty! Don’t bother me.” And then she sneezed. Her tail fluffed up. It was precious, and Adora almost felt bad for smiling. “Stop looking at me like that!” 

Adora blinked. “Like what?”

Catra groaned, waving her hands in Adora’s face. “Like you pity me. If I had known you weren’t going to try and leave, I wouldn’t have snapped the disk.” Her ears drooped and she finally looked up at her hesitantly. Adora raised her eyebrows.

“You snapped the disk?” she asked in a soft voice, beaming. So it wasn’t an accident. She didn’t want Adora to be floppy and useless. She helped her. Was she letting her go? Catra scowled, but the anger didn’t quite meet her eyes. She still looked crestfallen.  

“I didn’t do it for you,” Catra mumbled. That’s when Scorpia walked over, holding a stack of blankets and whistling a merry tune. 

“Hey, Catra, Entrapta said we’ll be in Salineas in an hour. I found more blankets so that you could warm up and we could maybe play some board games to make you feel better— ” her voice faltered when she noticed Adora. “Oh, Adora. You… haven’t left.” As if she could just leave while she was stranded miles from any land. What, did they think She-Ra could fly? “I’ll just, um, leave these here, then.” She awkwardly put the blankets down and shuffled away as quickly as she could to the other side of the boat. Adora watched her leave, furrowing her brows. 

“Why are we wet, anyway?” she asked, glancing at Catra who made no move to pick up another blanket and dry off. She stubbornly crossed her arms and stayed rooted to her spot. 

“You jumped into the ocean.” She chuckled dryly. “You’re such an idiot.” Adora felt her cheeks heat up a bit. She looked down at her wet clothes, and then back at Catra. 

“Why are you wet then? If I’m the one that jumped.” Adora grinned when Catra averted her gaze quickly. She could have sworn she saw her cheeks turn red. 

“Yeah, well. Couldn’t let you drown, now could I? It’s not like I like you or anything, don’t flatter yourself!” Oh yeah, her cheeks were definitely red. Maybe the cold was messing with her head or something, but Adora laughed. 

“I didn’t say anything.” She bit her lip. “But… you can’t swim?” 

“Shut up,” Catra muttered, letting out a shaky breath. She gave in and snatched a blanket from the pile Scorpia brought in, pulling it over her head. Adora could see that she was still shaking though. It was too cold for this.

“Catra… I know… I know I left and everything,” a knot started to form in Adora’s throat, “but you know… you know I still care, right? We may be on opposite sides, but—”

“But what?” Catra cut in. “But you’ll go easy on me? But you won’t hurt me?” 

“I— maybe?” 

Catra shook her head. “That’s not how this works, Adora. You can’t keep pulling your punches, you have to,” her voice cracked, “you have to choose a side. You’re not supposed to care.” 

“But you’re my… I’ve known you longer than anyone. You’re my best friend.” 

“Was. I was your friend. You made more,” she spat out bitterly. “Didn’t you, Adora ?” 

“Catra…” 

“No. I don’t… I don’t want to have this conversation with you right now. I can’t. Because you didn’t mean it…” 

Adora frowned. “Mean what?” 

Catra didn’t stop. “... because if you meant it, then you wouldn’t have left .” 

“Catra, what are you—” 

“Leave me alone.” 

“I just want to—”

“JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!” 

Adora wanted to say something, anything, because this was the closest they had gotten to making up since that time they were at the First Ones' ruins in the Whispering Woods. They had been together for so long and Adora just wanted to fix their relationship, and she wanted Catra to see that the Horde had wronged them. She knew Catra didn’t really care about fighting in the war, not really, she knew that everything that Catra did was out of spite or revenge, and maybe if they could make up it would make them both happier. But then she felt a jab on her side, and things got blurry and her head started to spin and the edges of her vision darkened. 

“I know I shouldn’t have been listening and I’m really sorry, but things were escalating and I just thought you might want some peace and quiet after everything that happened so I may have pricked her—”

“Scorpia. It’s fine,” Catra sighed. “Thank you.”

She could have sworn she heard Catra mumble an “I’m sorry” before she blacked out.

Adora woke up later with a runny nose on the shore near Salineas, all alone. Her clothes were still slightly damp, but there was a blanket wrapped around her. It smelled like Catra. It was warm.