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82 Hours

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(Last night.)

 

“I can’t say goodbye again.”

 

Catra had held her breath before she had said it, like she didn’t want Adora to hear it, didn’t want even herself to hear it.

 

But Adora had heard it. 

 

Responded with, neither can I.

 

And now Catra’s asleep, has been for hours, and Adora, unfortunately, is wide awake. 

 

Adora’s thinking.

 

That’s a first, Catra would drawl if she was awake, if Adora shared her thoughts with her.

 

(But even if Catra was awake, Adora wouldn’t have shared her thoughts.)

 

Do you even like dancing? Catra had asked her. Right after they kissed, right after Catra’s finger had trailed along her jawline and then brushed her lips. Adora’s mind was moving slowly, tracking through mud, dragging itself through an endless sea, and Adora hadn’t even thought about her answer. Yes, of course, what are you talking about?

 

Now she is. Thinking about it, that is.

 

Does she like dancing? Does she enjoy it? She likes it, right?

 

Of course she does. 

 

She hasn’t dedicated the last ten years of her life to nothing. She loves dancing.

 

(Then again, she isn’t really excited about the audition.)

 

No, that’s just because of the whole, like, moving to San Francisco aspect. She had been super excited about moving to New York to dance.

 

Well, had she been? Adora cast her mind back three years, to 17 years old, living in New Jersey, going everywhere with Catra, doing homework in that library, avoiding Shadow Weaver’s gaze as best she could.

 

She was excited to get out of New Jersey, excited that Catra was excited, excited about living in New York… had she been excited about dancing?

 

Adora discards that train of thought, anxiety spiking through her stomach.

 

She started dancing at eleven years old. Why did she do that? What inspired her to take it up in the first place?

 

Adora’s palms start to sweat. 

 

Catra had begged her to join, said she wanted a friend in Weaver’s class.

 

You’ll have to audition for her, but that’s nothing. She needs to fill up her class, she’ll totally let you in. 

 

And what had happened after that? Shadow Weaver had seen excellency in her, refused to let her quit, championed her until Adora outgrew her.

 

Adora swears under her breath rapidly, fumbling for her phone.

 

how do you feel abt dancing?

 

Bow

...what?

 

do you like it? Like, do you enjoy it?

Or is it just kind one of those things you have to do?

 

Bow

Adora what’s going on

 

Answer the q please!!

 

Bow

Is everything okay? You have your

audition today, right?

 

Answer the question please

 

Bow

call me right now

 

Adora swears again.

 

one sec.

 

Adora pulls away from Catra at a glacial pace, whispering apologies Catra doesn’t hear, shifting off the bed, sliding open the door, and padding out into the hallway. 

 

She ducks into the bathroom at the end of the hall, dialing Bow’s number with a tap of her finger.

 

He picks up on the first ring.

 

“Adora, what’s going on?”

 

She grimaces, rubs at her neck. “I… I’m just having a small identity crisis, okay? Nothing to worry about--”

 

“Wh-- who are you on the phone with?”

 

Adora freezes, every thought eddying out of her mind as she hears Glimmer’s voice.

 

“Are-- are you with Glimmer?” She asks, starting to grin. “In your room? In the early morning?”

 

There’s an audible fuck and then a lot of hushed whispers, and then Bow’s voice cracks through. “Um, none of your business?”

 

“Are you two--?”

 

“None of your business!” Bow repeats, voice rising an octave.

 

Finally--

 

“Adora! Shut it! What-- what are you talking about with the identity crisis? Is everything okay?”

 

Adora groans, the temporary joy she gleaned from learning of their relationship slipping away.

 

“I… just… well, um, I just need some clarification. How do you… feel about dancing?”

 

There’s a long, heavy pause.

 

“Uh… I mean, I love dancing. It’s my favorite thing to do--”

 

“You never view it as a chore?” Adora interjects, heart starting to thud.

 

“No-- I love dancing, like I said. It’s what I do to get away from chores-- Adora. What are you thinking?”

 

His voice pitches down, gravely almost, and Adora’s heart starts to race.

 

“I’m just… like, reevaluating my entire life,” she answers hoarsely, tears pricking at her eyes.

 

“Is this because of Catra?” He asks, and Adora can barely hear Glimmer behind him ask, is something going on? 

 

“No,” she says firmly, the kneejerk defense. She winces. “Well, actually, kind of?”

 

There’s a lot of shuffling, and suddenly Glimmer’s voice is booming through. “I don’t know who the fuck this girl thinks she is, but if she’s trying to manipulate you into giving up that spot--”

 

“Glimmer, no! She’s not-- it’s just, she was talking about dance earlier, mentioned how she felt about it, and, you know, what Bow just said…” She trails off, chest clenching.

 

“Adora, you love dancing. Don’t you?” 

 

“I love… I love dancing with Bow, and I loved dancing with Catra… but… I don’t know if I’ve ever felt that strongly about it--”

 

“Adora. Before you say anything you might regret, please think very hard about why you’re doing this. Is it because of some girl? Some girl who hurt you before and might hurt you again? Are you just caught up in some fairytale relationship right now, and you’ve fooled yourself into thinking that you hate the thing that will literally put you on the map--”

 

Glimmer ,” Bow snaps, sounding aghast.

 

“I’m not saying she should do something that makes her unhappy! I’m saying that she’s spent, what, two days? Two days with this Catra person and now she wants to change her entire life. That doesn’t sound odd to you--?”

 

Adora hangs up.

 

That did not help.

 

Her phone buzzes, probably a text from Bow asking if she’s okay, but she ignores it, instead leaving the bathroom and, on impulse, silently walking down the stairs and sitting in the seat where, just a few hours ago, she kissed Catra.

 

To stop dancing would be like losing my fucking will to live or something, Catra had once said. Dappled with sweat, towel draped over her shoulders, pointe shoes in a loose grasp in her left hand.

 

Junior year of high school. Catra’s first solo was coming up in a show, she had practiced for at least ten hours every day. Adora barely saw her. 

 

When am I going to see you again? She had asked Catra a week before the show, hanging in the doorway of the studio, eyes tracking Catra’s leg as it rose, dipped, rose again.

 

Catra had grinned, twisting to look at Adora. Never?

 

Wow. Okay. Am I really that unimportant? 

 

An eye roll. You really think a lot of yourself, huh?

 

Not really, I just miss you. 

 

Adora will never forget how Catra’s face flushed, how she turned away, how her form wilted for just a second before she fixed it.

 

To stop dancing would be like losing my fucking will to live or something.

 

Does Adora feel that way about dancing? Does she even have to? She shouldn’t have to feel that way about dancing to enjoy it, right? 

 

Adora exhales.

 

The true question is, does she want to dedicate her life to it? Because that’s what’ll happen if she gets the San Francisco spot. She’ll be locked in for life.

 

Dancing has always been her destiny. That’s been clear to her since eleven years old. And yet…

 

Adora stands, fingers brushing the polyester seat, jogging up the stairs and back into Catra’s roomette, sliding under the covers like she never left.

 

Catra shifts in her sleep, tilts her forehead against Adora’s delicately, arms wrapping around Adora’s waist. She murmurs something, briefly, that melts into a snore.

 

Adora stares at Catra, the slope of her nose, the pout of her lips, the cleft between her eyebrows.

 

She thinks.

+

Adora hails a cab, throws her bags into the trunk, ducks into the back seat. She mutters a greeting to the driver, eyes on her phone, finger hovering over the call button.

 

“Where’re you off to?” The driver asks, twisting in his seat to look at her. 

 

She blinks. “Uh…”

 

“You don’t know?” 

 

Where am I going? She checks the time, flashing an apologetic smile at the driver. 

 

It’s 4:11. She can still make it to the company building if she wants to.

 

Does she want to?

 

“Fisherman’s Wharf,” she says after a long moment.

 

“Ah, tourist, huh?” The man replies gruffly, flicking on the engine.

 

Adora forces a laugh, dials a number. “Visiting family.” 

 

He starts to respond, but Adora tunes him out, lifting the ringing phone to her ear.

 

“Hello?” Asks a delicate voice, the delicate voice that informed Adora she had been invited to audition for the company. Take this number, call me whenever.

 

“Hi, Patricia, this is Adora--”

 

“Ah! Adora, we’re so excited for your audition. Where are you?”

 

“Um… the funny thing is, uh, I have decided not to audition, actually. So.”

 

“What?”

 

“I have decided to go in a different direction with the whole, you know, life thing.” 

 

“I’m sorry?” Patricia asks, and Adora’s palms start to sweat when she hears the edge in her voice.

 

“I-- I’m, hm, not auditioning?”

 

Adora hears a muffled swear and then, very abruptly, Patricia hangs up.

 

Adora blinks. Well, that’s handled. Dials another number.

 

“Adora! Your audition is soon! How are you doing?”

 

Adora winces. “Hey, Angella.”

+

The person overseeing Catra’s audition is almost ridiculously cheery. 

 

Since the very moment Catra stepped on stage, she’s had a gigantic grin on her face, has talked a mile a minute.

 

It’s so unlike everywhere else, so unnervingly comforting, Catra doesn’t know what to do.

 

“You’re Catra, right? That’s so amazing-- I’m Alima, a senior member. You know, I’ve been here long enough to know what the supervisors want, so I’ll be looking at your skills today-- it’s so wonderful you’re here. All the way across the country, right? Davis scouted you… was it Davis? No, yeah, it was Davis. He saw you dance all the way over in New Jersey, right? We send scouts all over the country, two to each state-- like senators, right?-- so we get people from all over. I, coincidentally, lived in San Francisco already, so it wasn’t too much of a huge change. My friend, Damara, lived up in Seattle before moving here, so little bit of a shock. But New Jersey! That’ll be quite an adjustment.” She cocks her head. “If you get in, that is.”

 

Catra nods, stomach roiling.

 

“Start whenever you’re ready. You brought your own music?” 

 

Nod. Click of a button.

 

And it starts.

 

The delicate lean into a spin, the quick breath before she plunges into a deep arabesque, and it’s like three years ago, with Juilliard and the other ten schools she snuck out to audition for.

 

A burning spotlight, a smooth, dusty stage, keen eyes watching her, it’s all the fucking same. The same worry claws at her throat, the same sweat dots her hairline. Deep breath in, deep breath out, smooth transition, one movement.
How many times has she done this? How many more times will she do this? A twirl, a breathless leap, a smile, fingers splayed just so. How many minutes of waiting for approval, of staring at her phone, willing it to ring?

 

Catra straightens, leg sweeping across the floor, back arching. 

 

(She realizes she doesn’t care how many more times she has to do this, as long as she gets to dance at the end of the day. As long as she gets away from Shadow Weaver, as long as her life moves forwards instead of back.)

 

And the music continues, her dancing continues, leaping and twirling and dipping and rising until she’s at her final move, a dizzying spin, and she turns one, two, three, four, five, and however many more times until the last plunk of the piano, until she stops, hold your position , and meets Alima’s eyes, gleaming in the empty audience.

 

Wonderful job!” Alima crows, a bright smile on her face.

 

Catra allows herself one grateful exhale, grinning back at the woman.

 

“Thank you.”

 

“Now, I just have one question to ask. Just a little extra thing, everyone has to answer it. Got it?”

 

“Mmhm, yeah.”

 

“Why are you doing this?”

 

Catra’s mouth falls open as the simple phrase yanks her back years.

 

Why are you doing this? Adora had texted her the morning after she left that voicemail. Catra had read the message and thrown out every piece of Adora she had, the anger she felt at the five words unparalleled. Why are you doing this? Catra wanted to reply, wanted to hurt Adora even more than she had the night before. Because why did she do anything at that point in her life? She did it because she was angry and resentful and wanted to bring Adora down to her level. It was because Adora left her, left her to rot in New Jersey while she went off to New York and built herself a life.

 

She had gotten over it.

 

Had felt a flash of it three days ago, when Adora had sat down next to her on the train.

 

Had gotten over it again.

 

And now she was here. Standing, slack jawed, as the world continues around her. 

 

“Why am I doing this ? Like, auditioning here, dancing…?” Catra trails off, eyes locked on Alima, who was still tucked into a plush seat.

 

She nods.

 

“Dancing is my life,” Catra blurts. “It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do, it’s-- it’s all I will ever want to do.”

 

“And you believe the San Francisco Ballet Company can help you do that?” Alima persists, an uncomfortable edge to her voice.

 

“I-- I believe my talents will contribute a lot to the San Francisco Ballet Company.”

 

“And what happens if we accept you? What is your next step?”

 

Catra blinks. “I… uh, well, firstly, I’ll graduate from Montclair--” She cuts herself off, heart leaping into overdrive as Alima scribbles something on a notepad-- there’s a notepad in her lap, Jesus she’s been writing things this entire time --

 

“Yes, and?”

 

“Um, I’m-- I’m going to move to San Francisco and just… dedicate myself to my dancing. I plan on dancing for as long as I can-- I want it to be my career, and the San Francisco Ballet Company is where I want to do that.”

 

She huffs out a breath, clasping her hands together behind her back in an effort to disguise their shaking.

 

Alima finishes writing.

 

Her gaze snaps back up to Catra’s, a warm smile on her face. “Well, that’s… frankly, that’s just awesome. Your responses are just what we’re looking for-- don’t tell anyone I said that, though--, and your routine was very impressive. We only have four more applicants to review-- wait, no, three, we had a no-show yesterday, you see, so we’ll probably get back to you within a week.”

 

Catra lets out a relieved laugh, a garbled string of words that sounds like thank you thank you I won’t disappoint you I promise following.

 

And then it stops. Abruptly, dizzyingly.

 

“No-show?”

 

Alima nods. “Nothing to concern yourself with, though.”

 

“Yeah, no, of course. Thank you so much for seeing me.”

 

Alima says a few more cheery, comforting words, but Catra doesn’t hear them.

 

No-show.

+

After two days of not knowing how to tell Catra about her decision, two days of sitting on a second train, driving herself batshit, Adora settles on a quick, innocuous text.

 

Can I call you? We need to talk about something. 

 

She receives a response almost immediately.

 

What have you done

+

The next three days go by in a blur.

 

Catra gets back to New Jersey the night before classes start up again, infuriatingly, with no word from Adora on why the fuck she would cancel her audition.

 

Catra knows the no-show is her, fucking knows it because she knows Adora , knows the bored look on her face when she dances, saw that doubtful look in her eyes when they parted at the train station.

 

It’s fucking infuriating. Adora’s throwing away the certain success she has, the perfect life that’s been mapped out for her. Catra can’t fathom it.

 

(Of course, none of this anger is stemming from the fact that she secretly thinks the only reason she’s legitimately in the running for the San Francisco spot is because Adora dropped out. None of it.)

 

Now it’s 9am, and she feels like shit. So much is wrong .

 

The class she’s in is horrifically boring, for one.

 

Half the students are gone, half of that half hungover from the end of spring break parties that ravaged the campus last night. Catra distantly wonders if that hungover percentage includes her professor, who looks like he got hit by a bus a few hours ago and just barely managed to drag himself to work.

 

Scorpia, next to her, reeks of booze but is dutifully taking notes, while Catra’s just scrolling through a Buzzfeed listicle, less interested in the history of European art than her professor’s breath.

 

She, shamefully, has texted Adora a few times since she got back and, of fucking course, received no response. 

 

What have you done

Call me

Adora

What the fuck

You better have a really good explanation for this.

 

Adora could at least deign to give her a call, a text back even.

 

But whatever.

 

It’s not like Catra cares. Because she doesn’t. Not at all.

 

Fascinating ,” Scorpia mutters, nudging Catra, a signal to start paying attention.

 

Catra begrudgingly obliges, putting her phone face down on the desk and swiping one of Scorpia’s extra pencils. “What are we talking about?” She whispers.

 

“Baroque German architecture--”

 

Catra groans. “You aren’t serious.”

 

“It’s going to be on the test!” Scorpia responds, eyes wide.

 

Catra sticks her tongue out at Scorpia, but turns back to the teacher, eyes sweeping over the slides, registering next to nothing.

 

She squints.

 

“I don’t know what any of these words mean,” she hisses to Scorpia, who just rolls her eyes.

 

“Well, maybe if you had been paying attention--

 

Her phone buzzes.

 

“Thank Jesus,” Catra mutters, hoping it’s a meme or something from Entrapta. Or maybe even a message from Adora, apologizing for the days of silence, professing her love, not that Catra cares, though.

 

It isn’t Entrapta, and it isn’t Adora.

 

Unknown Number

Hi, Catra! This is Alima, the senior member 

who observed your audition. Congratulations! 

I’m so happy to inform you that you are officially 

a dancer in the San Francisco Ballet Company. 

If you have any questions, please just respond to 

this text. You should be receiving some mail soon 

that’ll solidify things. Once again, congrats.

 

Catra shoots up out of her chair, drawing the attention of the conscious few in the room. She doesn’t notice.

 

“Catra--?” Scorpia asks, putting a delicate hand on her arm.

 

“I got it,” she whispers. “I got the spot.”

 

“You got it? Oh my god, Catra, I’m so happy for you--”

 

“I need to get out of here.”

 

“Wait, what? Catra--”

 

Fingers fumbling for her things, shouldering the heavy door open, an apologetic yell to the professor. 

 

And she’s gone.

+

Glimmer fixes Adora with a scathing look as soon as she steps off the train. “I just spent the past three days trying to explain to my mother why in the world you wouldn’t audition for the company, the audition she set up for you, the audition she’s been prepping you for for months .”

 

Adora winces.

 

“I don’t know what’s going through your mind, and I fully support you, but I’m not fucking talking to my mom again. It’s up to you.”

 

Bow lets out a low whistle. “The ultimate punishment.”

 

“Is she, like, really pissed?” Adora asks, stomach sinking.

 

Glimmer nods gravely. “You’ve got quite a conversation coming your way.” She pitches her voice down, imitating Angella almost perfectly. “ Glimmah, why did Adora do this? Did she say anything about this to you? Can you stop her? Did she hit her head? Is this because of your Paris plans? What did you say to her? Did Bow say something? ” 

 

“Can I just blame it on you?”

 

“Haha. No.”

 

Adora sighs. “Well, I knew this was coming.”

 

“Yeah, and after Angella kicks your ass, you can tell us about Catra ,” Bow says, eyebrows waggling.

 

“Ooh, yeah,” Glimmer adds. “How much sex did you two have on the train?”

 

“Yeah, and after I tell you all about that, you guys can tell me how much sex you had while I was gone,” Adora retorts, grinning as they both immediately flush.

 

Glimmer groans into her hands. “Just go away. Go get lectured by my mother.”

 

Adora salutes. “Ay-ay, captain.”

 

The muttered retort she gets in response is lost in the bustle of the crowd.

+

Catra sprints through the station, just barely catching the last train of the day from Montclair into NYC.

+

Angella’s pissed.

 

Not as pissed as Adora thought she would be, though. 

 

Adora basically hasn’t even said one word since she got to the spacious, windowed studio Angella calls her office, just sat and listened as Angella told her all about how she was ruining her life, destroying everything she’s ever worked for, all that.

 

“You at least intend to finish your degree?” She asked at one point.

 

Adora had shrugged. “Probably?”

 

Probably ?” Angella had shrieked.

 

Another, separate lecture ensued.

 

Adora has stopped listening now, instead gazing out the large windows of the studio, watching from a distance as students moved from building to building, carrying instruments, bags of clothes, fistfuls of sheet music.

 

She’ll miss it here, she realizes. 

 

Adora tunes in, desperate to get away from that thought.

 

“And don’t even get me started on how you left Patricia high and dry like that--”

 

Adora tunes out.

 

There’s a couple walking across campus, hand in hand, grinning and laughing at each other. Adora can’t help her smile, the pang of longing in her chest.

 

She needs to text Catra back.

 

She wanted to deal with everything here, Angella, classes, Bow and Glimmer, then hop on a train and go to Montclair, surprising Catra there. But dealing with stuff in New York had taken much longer than anticipated, and now it just seemed like Adora was ignoring her.

 

Her eyes track the couple as they part with a quick kiss, one heading into the cafeteria and the other heading towards the music hall. 

 

She dares a glance at Angella.

 

“... even taking this seriously-- ?”

 

She goes back to looking out the window.

 

And her jaw goes slack when she sees Catra.

 

Wandering around campus, a scowl on her face.

 

“Oh Jesus fucking Christ ,” she mutters to herself.

 

“What was that?” Snaps Angella.

 

“Nothing,” she says quickly, thumbing her phone out of her pocket.

 

A quick, covert text to Glimmer had her and Bow intercepting Catra before campus security could (it was really funny watching that unfold from a distance), and then it was just a race to get Angella placated with useless apologies so she could run out and talk to Catra before she and Glimmer started fighting or they got caught or any of the other thousand possible scenarios.

 

I’m sorry, I’m not changing my mind, I’ll stay in touch, I’m not moving away, I’ll finish out my senior year, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, and Angella finally dismisses her with a wave of her hand.

 

And then Adora dove out the door.

 

She’s currently running across campus, to dance studio D, where Glimmer said they had managed to hide.

 

It’s actually pretty ingenious, because no one goes into studio D. The mirror is cracked and the floor unswept, walls stained and ceiling discolored. It’s just generally gross, making it the perfect place to be if you don’t want to be found.

 

Adora bursts through the door.

+

“Thank god you’re here,” the president’s daughter mutters when Adora crashes into the studio.

 

“Catra, uh, hi,” Adora manages, chest heaving with pants, face red. Catra surveys her from where she’s leaning up against the wall, an eyebrow raised.

 

“Eloquent as ever,” she responds, which earns her a sharp look from the one in the inappropriately short crop top. Catra gives him her best glare, which has him quickly looking away.

 

“Can we, um, have a moment alone?” Adora asks.

 

The two goons look at Adora, obviously offended. 

 

Please ?” Adora stresses, giving them a pointed glare.

 

“Oh, Jesus, fine,” the sparkly one snaps. “BTW, my mom’s out for the rest of the day, just so you know.”

 

“Really?”

 

Sparkles nods. “You stressed her out so much she decided to take the rest of the day off.”

 

Adora winces.

 

After some hushed whispers about the president and not-so-covert glances at Catra, they file out. 

 

And, all too soon, Catra and Adora are alone.

 

“Hi.”

 

Catra cocks her head. “Your henchmen muscled me into this shit studio without an explanation, you know.”

 

Adora looks like she’s trying to stamp down a smile. “Uh-huh. Yeah, I’m sorry about that--”

 

“You didn’t respond to any of my texts. Or calls.”

 

“I’m sorry about that too. A lot’s been going on here,” Adora says lamely, rubbing at her neck.

 

“It sounds like you’re already bored of me,” Catra snaps, turning away so Adora doesn’t see her pinched frown.

 

No-- God, Catra, no. It’s just, like I said, things have been busy. I just got back from a meeting with Angella about the whole, you know, thing.”

 

Catra nods, mouth curving up. “Ah, yes. The thing . You gonna tell me why you decided to throw away your entire future?” She turns back to Adora, an eyebrow raised.

 

Adora, uncharacteristically, scowls.

 

“I don’t need to hear this from you too.”

 

“Yeah, well, you’re going to.”

 

“Catra--”

 

“You shouldn’t have fucking done that, Adora.”

 

Catra--

 

“You threw it all away ! Dancing was your fucking d--”

 

“My fucking what? My fucking destiny ?”

 

“Yeah!”

 

“No-- okay? It’s fucking not! I’m sick and tired of everyone else deciding what I like, what I’m gonna do-- first it was Shadow Weaver, then Angella-- What if I don’t want to? What if I want to open up a flower shop on First Ave or something?”

 

“W-- you want to open up a flower shop ?”

 

“Who the fuck knows! All I know is that I don’t want to dance like I have been! Not for a career, certainly not competitively, I just want-- I want my destiny to be my decision.”

 

“Adora, I’m not worth this, I’m not worth destroying your career over--”

 

“Jesus, Catra-- I didn’t do it for you! I did it for me , because-- because, I want to feel about something the way you feel about dance and-- I don’t know! Maybe it’s that simple. I don’t want to anymore .”

 

Catra looks at her, stricken.

 

“You’re a fucking idiot.”

 

“I know what I want.”

 

Catra laughs hollowly. “You-- you ‘know what you want’, no, you’re a fucking idiot.”

 

“I thought you, of all people, would understand--

 

“Well I fucking don’t, okay! I don’t understand how you could just-- you could just… leave all that behind-- all of that success and power and certainty--

 

“But I did! There’s no changing that!” 

 

Catra doesn’t respond, not trusting what’ll slip out of her mouth if she opens it. 

 

“It’s not what I want,” Adora says after a long minute, voice breaking. “No amount of success will change that.”

 

Catra sweeps her eyes over Adora’s shaking hands, the furrowed brows, deciding to take Adora’s words at face value, to not read into it. Adora’s telling the truth. If she isn’t, it isn’t Catra’s problem.

 

The least Catra can do is be honest with her.

 

Catra forces herself to nod. “No, no… I--I’m sorry. I just, I think I got it into my head that you were gonna resent me, or pin the blame on me if this doesn’t work out, or something--”

 

“I would never do that,” Adora breaks in, grabbing Catra’s hand. “You know that, right?”

 

“Of course I know that, it’s just-- it’s all changing so quickly , Adora. The last time things changed this quickly, I lost you... and I can’t do that again.”

 

Adora looks at her a little too closely.

 

And a bolt of fear runs through Catra, a profound fear that Adora will see what Catra isn’t ready to show her yet, that Adora will recognize it, will try and return it. Adora will ruin it by saying it out loud, or maybe Catra will, who knows, and the hand in hers will slip away, the peace will shatter.

 

Catra looks away, ducking her head.

 

And the hand in hers slips away anyway.

 

“So… um, did you just come here to yell at me?”

 

Catra’s gaze snaps up to Adora’s, mouth falling open. “Oh my god-- um, so, I got the spot.”

 

Adora blinks. “The-- the San Francisco spot?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Wh- what ? And you’ve waited this long to tell me? Oh my god, Catra! Catra !”

 

Adora lunges for her, sweeping her up in her arms. Catra can’t help the laugh that slips out of her, plus the yelp that follows when Adora picks her up, swinging her around messily.

 

“How could you have not told me?”

 

“I forgot!”

 

“Jesus, Catra.”

 

And Adora kisses her.

 

Hands wrapped around her waist, Catra still hoisted half in the air, Adora kisses her, eyelashes wet with unshed tears. Catra’s hands drift along Adora’s jaw, eyebrows scrunching up as the kiss deepens.

 

They part.

 

“God, I’m so fucking happy,” Adora whispers. “You-- you have to teach me your routine. Remember when we’d do that in middle school? Lock ourselves in a studio and teach each other?”

 

Catra smiles, remembering. The smile fades when she looks around the studio, nose wrinkling. “Here? Sparkles said this was, and I quote, the worst studio we got. ” 

 

Adora drops Catra, pulling her towards the door. “I know just the place.

+

When Glimmer pops into her mom’s office/studio a couple hours later to pick up her bag, she sees Adora and Catra, acting like they’re fifteen again, stumbling through the Hot Honey Rag routine, long bored with Catra’s stuck-up, proper ballet dances.

 

“No, Adora-- swimming arms, did you learn anything from this fucking school?”

 

“‘Swimming arms’-- what does that even mean ?”

 

“No, like, swimmy, flowing , all that shit. They can’t be rigid!”

 

“So, just say flowing. ‘Swimming’ is a completely different thing--”

 

“Oh my fucking god--”

 

“The cartwheel! Oh my god, we missed the cartwheel!”

 

Glimmer watches for a bit, leaving when they start making out against the mirror, feeling like she’s intruding on something.

 

As she walks back down the hall, raucous laughter follows her.

+

“What happens next?”

 

A long pause.

 

“I don’t know.”

 

A sigh.

 

“Try anyway?”

 

It’s 2am, they’re in Adora’s dorm, splayed out on the floor, hand in hand. 

 

“We finish our degrees, for one.”

 

“Visit each other on the weekends.”

 

A smile, hidden in the dark.

 

“Move to San Francisco.”

 

“Set up shop in a tiny fucking apartment.”

 

They danced until they couldn’t anymore, stumbled back to the dorms, plugged in Catra’s phone, changed clothes.

 

“I’ll get a job somewhere. Somewhere like a bookstore. Or a florist.”

 

“I’ll go to work at the company.”

 

“We’ll be together.” 

 

Another smile, hidden in the dark. 

 

And then, barely a moment later, a kiss shrouded in shadows.

+

It’s Friday. A Friday that happens to be the day after one of the Thursdays where Catra cleans Shadow Weaver’s studios. A Friday that happens to be the day after Catra skipped her cleaning duties and dodged Shadow Weaver’s calls about it, too.

 

Catra swings through the open door of Weaver’s Academy for Dance: Studio C , avoiding the curious looks from the ten years old who usually only see her on Thursdays, and strides towards Shadow Weaver’s office.

 

Through the small window, she can see the old woman hunched over a bunch of documents, pencil scratching away.

 

Catra inhales, exhales.

 

“Knock knock,” she drawls as she opens the door, hoping her hands aren’t visibly shaking.

 

Shadow Weaver’s gaze snaps up. Catra consciously cherishes the silent moment before Shadow Weaver’s mouth opens, and her bullshit starts spewing out.“Do I even have to tell you how ridiculously late you are?”

 

“I--”

 

“No employer will ever keep you on if you decide just not to come in every time you don’t feel like it.”

 

“That’s not--”

 

“You’ll never succeed anywhere. Of course, I didn’t have much hope for you in the first place--”

 

“I’m moving to San Francisco,” Catra snaps, forcing herself in between Shadow Weaver’s stinging words.

 

Shadow Weaver falls abruptly silent, cold eyes sweeping over Catra’s face. “Ha. Very funny. No you aren’t.”

 

“I auditioned for the San Francisco Ballet Company last week. I’ve been accepted.”

 

Shadow Weaver huffs out a sigh, turning back to the paperwork in front of her. “Who will clean my studios?” 

 

Catra can’t help her laugh. “Do you really think I’m going to give up the opportunity of my life just to stay here and clean studios for you?”

 

“No, of course not. You’re not that stupid. But, I did think you would be more grateful for everything that I’ve done for you. Those hospital bills didn’t get paid magically, you know. And you never would have become a dancer worthy of the San Francisco Ballet Company without me . I think I’ve earned a little more respect.”

 

“You’ve earned nothing .”

 

Shadow Weaver stands suddenly, looming over Catra. “You’ve always been this way, you know. Insolent and ungrateful, worthy of nothing.

 

As Shadow Weaver continues, Catra gets caught in it. She swore to herself she never would again, but of course, that promise was shit. She’s against a wall, words being thrown at her like knives, staring up into a face contorted in anger, and she gets caught in it. She starts to drown.

 

Her nails dig into her palms, fists clenching, Shadow Weaver’s low, hateful voice grating like nails on a chalkboard.

 

And then.

 

“Catra?”

 

A flash of blonde hair.

 

And that’s all Catra needs to snap out of it, to shove Shadow Weaver away, causing the old woman to stumble back into her hulking wooden desk, the desk Catra used to stare at when she was getting screamed at for corrupting Adora.

 

“Catra…?”

 

Adora walks into the office slowly, eyes wide.

 

Adora.

 

Adora, who is spending the weekend in New Jersey, who was waiting in the car. Adora, who’s about to drive herself and Catra down to a bar where she’ll meet Scorpia and Entrapta for the first time. Adora, who asked Catra to be careful, who promised Catra she’d come get her if Catra needed it.

 

Adora’s here.

 

Catra tries to calm her breathing, tries to rein in her panting and will the tears away. 

 

“Are you ready to go?” Adora asks in a wavering voice, putting a warm hand on Catra’s elbow. Catra anchors herself to that warmness.

 

“Yeah, yeah, sorry. I’m ready.”

 

Adora gently pulls her closer, whispering something Catra can’t begin to try and decipher, and they’re halfway out the door when Shadow Weaver clucks her tongue, and Adora stalls. 

 

That fucking noise, Catra remembers how Shadow Weaver would do that whenever Adora messed up, stumbled, wilted. She’d cluck her tongue, and Adora would flinch.

 

Catra turns, whispering, “ Adora--

 

“It’s extremely rude to not respond to my letters, you know.”

 

Adora’s face flames red, her grip on Catra tightens.

 

“Adora-- Adora, let’s just go, okay?” Catra mutters, tugging on Adora’s arms.

 

“Especially when I put so much time and energy into your career… it’s extremely rude.”

 

“I…”

 

Adora trails off, hand coming up to rub at her neck.

 

“A good place to start would be, ‘I’m sorry’,” Shadow Weaver says, in that steady, lecturing voice of hers.

 

Adora leans into Catra, a movement Shadow Weaver tracks if her pinched frown means anything. 

 

“Adora…” Catra mutters, taking a step back. Adora follows, eyes still stuck on Shadow Weaver.

 

“I do have something to say, actually,” Adora says, voice strained. 

 

Shadow Weaver’s eyebrows rise expectantly. “Yes?”

 

“Fuck you, bitch.”

 

And Adora yanks her away.

 

With Shadow Weaver’s outraged yell following them through the hall, clinging to each other like they’ll fall and never rise again if they let go.

 

They reach the car, locking themselves in with a huff. 

 

And then silence. Silence, silence, silence, until.

 

“‘Fuck you, bitch’?” Catra mutters, an almost hysterical laugh bubbling out of her. “I can’t fucking believe you said that to her. ‘Fuck you, bitch.’”

 

Adora grins, looking away and burying her head in her hands. Muffled, she says, “ Fuck you, bitch . Yeah.”

 

Catra leans over, kissing Adora lightly, whispering fuck you, bitch over and over until they can’t breathe because they’re laughing so hard.

+

And that’s how it goes. Rushing out of classes to see each other, writing fuck you, bitch on each other’s arms as they walk through Central Park, falling asleep on shoulders, exchanging lingering kisses at the train station. 

 

Their graduations are on separate days, which is lucky.

 

They kiss as hats soar.

 

And then it’s scraping and saving every last penny to afford the tiniest apartment in all of San Francisco, Catra rushing off to the company building every morning while Adora surveys the classifieds. 

 

And years pass.

 

And things change.

 

Catra chops off all her hair, Adora gets a tattoo. 

 

Glimmer and Bow move to Paris, move back to New York because, according to them, French is too hard to learn.  

 

Scorpia moves all over the country, seemingly at random, crashes on Catra’s and Adora’s couch whenever she has the chance.

 

Entrapta takes over the world. 

 

It’s all wonderfully, startlingly domestic.

 

And they never get on a fucking train again.

+

the end