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Sunflower (The Birth of a Little Sprout)

Chapter Text

Little Alex felt like that was the happiest day of his life.

Today, he and mama went to his favourite park.

It didn’t have the most well-kept rides, nor the most extraordinary ones, but the prettiest flowers were planted all around it and he loved looking at them while he was swinging on the little rusty swing, or getting close to them and inhaling the beautiful smell they had.

He loved flowers!

They were so colourful, like an ocean version of a rainbow (he loved rainbows too!), and they smelled beautifully. They were just so pretty; he couldn’t help but talk always about them!

His mama one time took him to this beautiful field full of them and told him he could pick up every flower he liked the most, and later on they would make a big bouquet out of them! That for the longest time had been his favourite day, but today that had changed.

Today he made a friend!

A nice friend!

See, it’s not like Alex was a mean kid or anything. In fact, he was really friendly and always happy! The only problem is that he felt like he didn’t fit in with the other boys at school, not like they were mean with him, but he just didn’t like the way they acted or played and the things they talked about. So, the next logical thing he did was playing with girls, but them instead, were really mean.

“You can’t play with us, you’re a stinky boy!” They always said, “Boys can’t play with girls!”

That really upset him.

Why? He wasn’t so different from them after all! They both were humans and they both liked playing! They also had a lot more in common. He loved playing house and he, uhm... ah! He loved pretty dresses! His mama always said that not all the girls liked those things, but those ones did! Why were they so mean? Was he just annoying?

But that didn’t matter now, because he found a friend!

While he was looking at this really special flower, (special because it had two different colours, how cool is that?! Pretty shades of blue and gold swirling together not so perfectly, but beautifully nonetheless.), he noticed this girl sitting at the bottom of the stairs that led to the slide.

She wasn’t waiting for her turn or anything. In fact, the park was pretty empty that day, but she just looked pretty sad. And lonely.

So, Alex, feeling really sad just by looking at her, started walking towards her, with the hope of making her feel better and hoping, a little bit at the bottom of his heart, to make a new friend.

“Hey, do you wanna look at those flowers with me? They smell really good!” He said, trying to control the funny accent his tooth gap gave him, just to make a good impression.

Now that he could gave her a closer look, he could notice the pretty caramel colour her skin had, her bushy dark hair, the scrapes on her knees, the tiniest little freckles on her cheeks. But still, it wasn’t until she looked at him after his question, that he was able to look at her eyes.

And they were beautiful.

They were two different colours! But not only that, they were the prettiest shades he had ever seen. Blue the same deepness as the sea alternated by burning amber, the same he just saw in that strange flower seconds ago.

Pretty.

Those eyes were burning.

Why would I want to look at some stupid flowers? They’re useless!”

Wait, what? That’s mean! His mama said that not everything has to have a meaning, things can just be and we can appreciate them for what they are.

“So what?” He said, maybe doing a little pout, “That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them!”

“Why would I want to! They’re not that special!”

“They are!”

“Are not!”

“Are too!”

“Are not!”

 “ARE TOO! Come with me, I’ll show you!” He finally almost shouted.

Why was she so mean against flowers? They were pretty and harmless! But that didn’t matter now, because his latest discovery would surely impress... shoot, he didn’t ask for her name!

“Hey, what’s your name?”

“Are you trying to distract me? I still think they’re lame!” she responded.

Wait, no! He didn’t even think of that!

“No! I’m not, I was just being nice!”

“Well, I’m only telling you if you manage to change my mind, so let’s go see hooow interesting they are! ” and with that she got up and started looking at him with expectant eyes.

Well, now he can’t back down from a challenge, can he?

He took her hand and started walking towards the unique flower he saw earlier.

Her hand is really soft.

He basically dragged her to the bush from earlier and crouched, to then look at her expectantly. And after she did too, he almost shouted an enthusiastic “Look!” and pointed at the unusual flower.

It took her two to three seconds for her to really put it in focus, but when she did, her eyes widen immensely! He could almost see sparkles in them! And he didn’t notice that because he was constantly looking at her, not at all.

That would be weird and rude, wouldn’t it?

Who even does that?

“Wow.” He heard a gasp from his right.

He decided to let it go for now.

Another worry for another time.

“Cool...”

 

“I told you, didn’t I? Aren’t they amazing?”

But when he turned to look at her, she wasn’t looking at the flower, but just eyeing him with a small warm smile.

Oh.

That made him feel things to his stomach that he didn’t understand yet. All jiggly and funny.

“I guess you were right. The name’s Catarina, but everyone calls me Catra.”

Catra.

That’s pretty.

For some strange reasons, he didn’t say that out loud.

Well, Catra, do you wanna be my friend now?” he asked, getting up and hoping with every inch of his heart.

Please say yes.

Catra just stared at him for a few seconds, with this strange face.

Does he have something on his face?

“Well, maybe I could consider letting you be friends with someone as cool as me if you tell me your name.” Even if she had a really cocky tone of voice, Alex could still understand that Catra was just being playful.

Shoot! He forgot to tell her his name!

“I’m Alex! Nice to meet you!” to that he raised his hand, hoping Catra would take it.

But for a few moments she just stared at him with this jokingly judging glare, making him a little nervous. That didn’t last long though, because immediately after she just took his hand and shouted an excited: “That’s more like it!”.

Ahh.

His stomach was turning upside down now.

She was holding his hands with a warm and true smile, excitement clearly visible in her eyes, and little Alex couldn’t help but feeling like he was flying high in the sky, but at the same time falling into a puddle onto the floor.

He knows that he should have said something in that moment, but he just could find himself to do it. He had so many thoughts, so why couldn’t he just say one!

“Alex!”

Just then, he heard his mama call him, and despite loving his mama, he couldn’t help but hate her a little bit in that moment.

“I’m sorry squirt, but now we really have to go.” She said, a little sadness in her voice could be heard, but then it was immediately replaced with smugness, “And who’s this little friend here?”.

Alex isn’t really that good at understanding his own emotions, but he was sure in that exact moment that he didn’t like that tone of voice. He decided to let that go for now.

“Mama,” He said, maybe with a little too excitement in his voice, “This is my new friend, Catra!”

His mama smiled widely, as if proud of him (most certainly proud of him), and just said a welcoming: “Hi Catra! I’m sorry to interrupt, but it’s getting really late. We’ll be here next time on Wednesday, right, Alex?” she then looked at him, questioning.

He won’t ever admit pouting at that, but the promise of returning to his favourite park with a friend waiting for him made him forget everything else.

“Sure! Bye Catra!” he said enthusiastically, waving his chubby hand in the air.

“Bye bye, flower freak!” Despite the insult, she had a big smile on her face.

And Alex couldn’t be happier.

Chapter Text

Ok, Alex was wrong.

He could definitely be happier.

After saying goodbye to Catra, Alex and his mama went to their big white car, (Alex liked to imagine that was his loyal steed Swifty), and while he was playing with his favourite action figure, she asked him with this strange tone:

“Soo, you made a new friend at the park, Catra, huh?”

Alex was already smiling (he was always smiling!), but when he heard her new friend’s name, he couldn’t help but smile a little wider.

“Yeah!” he said, maybe a little too excited, “Her name’s Catra and she’s really funny! She looked really sad at first, so then I wanted to show her some flowers but she said they were lame, but that’s not true! So I showed her this strange flower I found that had two different colours, you should have seen that, and she was amazed and said that she wanted to be my friend too!”

Alex is pretty sure he was talking too much and too fast.

His mama never made a big deal out of it, not at all, she just always smiled widely whenever he got excited about his passions, but ever since his aunt Barbara said those things when she thought he couldn’t hear her, he became a little self-conscious.

(“Mara, dear, can’t you notice that? This boy is weird, I’m telling you!” whispered hastily aunt Barbara, with this fake pitied look, “Just the fact that he can’t connect with his peers should have been a dead give-away!  He always talks too much...”

“So what? Do you personally have a problem with that?” Alex was sure he never heard his mama so angry...

“No! But not only that! He’s way too energetic, he can’t stay put for more than a minute!”

“He’s a kid, Barbara, what did you expect?! For him to already be born with perfect etiquette manners?!”

“Maybe, but have you noticed his ticks? That thing he does with his with his eyes? I've read horrible things on the internet...”

“ENOUGH!”

Alex was too scared at that moment; he didn’t want to listen anymore.”)

But Alex didn’t want to think about that. So, he just focused on his mama’s big smile.

“Really? She seems really nice,” mama said with a sweet voice, “I’m so proud of you sweetie.”

Alex wanted to be brave and strong, just like his favourite super heroes! But the thing is, he’s always been a little of a cry-baby. So, when his mama said that, after everything he went through just to find a friend, he couldn’t help but burst into tears. He really tried not to, he always tried, but he just couldn’t.

“Aw, no baby, what’s wrong? Is it something I said?” mama said, immediately pulling over.

“I-i’m sorry!” he tried saying, but his tears made it really difficult.

“Don’t be, sweetheart, come here.”

Mama just unbuckled her seatbelt and hugged him really hard. But even if Alex loved his mama’s hugs, that just made him cry way harder. And even if the tears kept flowing, he couldn’t help but feel relieved, almost as if a big weight was lifted over his shoulders.

Maybe keeping the tears hidden is a bad idea.

Maybe talking with his mama about these things is better.

After a while, his mama pulled away from their embrace, looking at him with her typical warm smile; “Do you want to tell me why you started crying?”

“I just...” he was trying to find the words, but it was hard. “Nobody at school wanted to be my friend and... *sniff*… i-it was really hard for me *sniff*, so when you said you were p-proud of me, I... I...!”

But the words just wouldn’t come out, and it was so hard, and...!

“Don’t worry squirt, I understand.” Now she was caressing his hair softly. “I’m still really proud of you. Now, do you want to go to the grocery store with me and buy some snacks?”

“Yes!” he said, still with some tears in his eyes.

And maybe yes, this accident that happened after is a little sad, but what he discovered the day after made him forget everything!

When he heard the bell at five p.m. of the next day, he just thought it would be one of mama’s friends, (even though she doesn’t have that many). That thought was immediately proven wrong when he heard a new voice.

Maybe it’s a new friend?

Little Alex got up from the carpet, put his action figures down, and hid behind the half wall that divided the living room from the corridor. He was never good at controlling his curiosity, his mama never said it was a bad thing though...

“Hi! I’m so sorry if I’m disturbing, but I just wanted to say that I’m your new neighbour. The name’s Selena.” The lady that said this, now that Alex could really look at her, was a really beautiful woman.

Her skin, even though it was a deep brownish colour, seem to shine on its own. Her hair was wavy and messy in a way that was clearly intentional, given how pretty it was. She had a slim but curvy physique, but what drew attention the most to her figure were her eyes. Even though they looked soft, they had this mesmerizing sharp turn, that made you honestly a bit scared.

They almost looked like they were burning.

“Don’t worry, you’re not disturbing at all, welcome to the neighbourhood! My name is Mara.” Said his mama with her usual cheerful tone “Would you like to have a cup of coffee? If you’re not busy already, when I first moved here it was like hell, with all the unpacking and stuff.”

“I’d actually love that; I feel like I haven’t stopped for a second these past two days.” His mama now was going toward the kitchen, but the lady wasn’t moving still.

“Also, thank you so much for actually talking to me. Eight of ten people just closed the door to my face. The last two just grunted an ok. Malditos gringos.”

Alex was sure, even though those last words were barely muttered, that didn’t sound like English at all. But his mama just laughed, so it couldn’t be something bad.

“And that little lady behind you, is she going to come in too?”

The other woman, Selena, smiled brightly and then looked behind her. “I’m sorry, she’s not usually so shy, I guess moving away was a bit of a shock for her. Come on mija, deja de aferrarte a mi falda.”

Alex didn’t notice this before, but behind Selena there was a little figure, almost entirely hidden by her gown, that was desperately trying to wrap herself in it. But when the girl finally came out of her hiding spot, Alex almost wanted to cry.

“I have a son too, by the way, maybe we could try and-”

“CATRA!”

When Alex saw his new friend, he couldn’t help but come out of his hiding spot running and hug her really hard. Her mom, knowing that Catarina was not someone that liked physical touch that much, was pretty much shocked to see her daughter returning the hug after an initial moment of shock.

“Oh,” Alex heard his mama say, “What a beautiful coincidence.”

“Uhm, I don’t think I’m understanding what’s happening...”

His mama was just about to open her mouth, but Alex was too eager at that moment to control himself.

“We met at the park yesterday and nOW WE’RE BEST FRIENDS!”

He then gave Selena a big toothy smile and hoped that she would like him.

A lot of adults didn’t like him.

But Selena, beside looking a little shocked, didn’t give him the pitied look the adults usually gave him. She was taken aback at first, but then she just smiled smugly and asked:

“So, when were you going to tell me you found a friend, Catarina?”

At that, Catra immediately got out of the half hug they were in and looked away with a little pout.

Cute.

There was no reason for me to tell you that, you were going to meet him anyway tomorrow...”

“That’s why you basically begged me to go to the park?”

“MAMÁ!”

Catra was red from head to toe, but Alex couldn’t help but smile widely at the whole ordeal.

Because, guess what?

CATRA IS HIS NEIGHBOUR!

He wanted to scream into his pillow and run around the whole neighbourhood ten times. But not now Alex! Now you have to look cool, just like He-man!

“Stop screaming like a rooster mija, go and play with your new friend while me and Mara do grown up stuff.”

Catra looked like a tomato, but his mama just laughed and said: “Go show Catra your new toys, Al.”

A bulb just lighted up in Alex’s mind in that moment.

RIGHT!

His mama bought him some new action figures yesterday! He could show Catra!

“Catra! Let’s go see my new toys! They’re the new ones they made of He-man!”

“Hee-man?” said confused Catra, “Who’s that?”

WHAT?!

“YOU DON’T KNOW HE-MAN, THE COOLEST SUPER HERO?!”

His mama was full on laughing at this point, but Alex was outraged.

I HAVE TO TEACH YOU EVERYTHING!” basically screamed Alex, “BYE MAMA, BYE SELENA, WE’RE GOING!”

And with that, Alex proceeded to spend one of the few afternoons he would never forget.

His first full day with Catra.

Chapter Text

In the end they went to the park anyway.

His mama was trying to say things like: “But you already saw each other yesterday sweetie.”, but Alex wanted to hear none of it. Because you know what?

Being with Catra made him feel ecstatic.

Every time she was near him his heart started beating fast and he couldn’t stop smiling. Sure, Alex was a very happy kid, always smiling and stuff, but Catra made him smile even harder.

Not only that, but it was so easy talking to her.

Usually everyone got annoyed when he started talking too much, but Catra just listened to him patiently with this small smile on her face, even when the things he talked about didn’t interest her that much (and he has a strong feeling that He-man isn’t one of Catra’s favourite things).

What little Alex is trying to say here is that Catra is a real friend that cares about him.

So, Alex, being the not at all intense person he is, wanted to see Catra every single second of his life. Obviously, that isn’t possible, but still, let him want this totally not creepy thing.

Because it isn’t creepy, right?

Right?

Anyway, the next day at the park was even better than the other two encounters. This because Catra was actually starting to open up a bit, and boy, if she had a lot of energy.

Alex usually looked at flowers or went to the swing when he visited the park, but with Catra that was simply not possible. In the span of ten minutes, they managed to go around the whole park six times while playing catcher and running like crazies. But even if his lungs wouldn’t stop burning, he couldn’t help but laugh loudly.

 The only reason why they stopped was because they discovered a pretty ladybug standing on a leaf, and proceeded staring at it in awe for minutes.

“You know what this reminds me of? That show where there’s the ladybug lady and the black cat guy saving the city from those funny villains.” said at one point Catra, still looking at the bug.

Alex’s eyes lit up once again.

“YOU KNOW THAT SHOW TOO? IT’S AMAZING!”

It is no secret now that Alex can’t control his excitement nor his voice, but he still was a little self-conscious about it. But Catra only smiled wide.

Catra’s smile made him feel things in his stomach, but even that strangely pleasant feeling couldn’t stop the existential dread that took him over after he said that. Suddenly, his mind was filled with bad memories.

He used to really love that show, to the point that he pestered his mama day and night to buy him one of the show’s action figures and then bring it to school. But there was only one problem with that.

His favourite super hero wasn’t the cat guy, but Ladybug herself. But can you blame him? She’s, like, super cool!

He never saw a problem with that, even because his mama never said that it was a bad thing, so when he went to school that day and showed his new Ladybug action figure, he expected awe from his classmates.

But that awe never came.

At least, not till the end.

Because at first some of his classmates came near him and started talking enthusiastically about the show with him, but then Derek, (Alex never liked that guy), started saying mean things.

(“Oh my god, is that the lame bug lady?” said Derek in a mocking voice.

See, nobody really liked Derek, but because of his intimidating aura (and his punches) everybody couldn’t help but feel scared when he showed up.

But Alex wanted to be brave like his favourite super heroes, and like Ladybug when she confronted the mean blond girl.

“Yeah, do you have a problem with that?” tried saying Alex with all the threat he could find in his body.

Derek didn’t like that.

“Oh look, the little pussy is trying to look all big and fierce, but he can’t even stop playing with girls’ toys.”

P-pussy? T-that's a really bad word!

“Ladybug is not a girls’ toy! And even if it was, girls are really cool!” 

 “ Uuuh, girls are really cool! Tell me, Alexandra, do you wear dresses in your past time?”

Alex wasn’t liking where things were going, even because all the other kids won’t take his side with how scared they were of Derek.

I should go to a teacher before things get worse!

But before Alex could even move, Derek and his “friends” already shoved him on the ground with too much force.

“Now, Alexandra, let’s see how strong this bug lady is!”

After saying that, Derek put the action figure on the ground and got on it with both of his feet and with all of his weight.

The toy couldn’t help but break in many pieces.

After that, everything was a blur, but Alex could just remember how sore his body felt.

When his mama came pick him up and questioned him, he told her that he fell down a tree in the playground and broke the figure.

He wanted to be strong like his favourite super heroes after all.)

“Alex, what’s wrong? Why are crying?” Said Catra worried, “Did I say something wrong?”

Ah.

Why couldn’t he help but cry every time he thought about it?

But his head couldn’t stop spinning.

Was it so wrong to like a female superhero?

Was it so wrong to like girls’ toys or clothes?

Should he have been offended when Derek called him Alexandra?

Why wasn’t he offended?

Why did it bother him so much?

W-why... why!-

 

Warmth.

There was warmth all over him.

What-

Oh.

Catra was hugging him.

 

Catra was very warm.

 

*Sniff*!”

Was... was Catra crying?

“C-Catra?” said Alex, now worried.

“*Sniff!”

“No! Catra! Are you crying?” Alex would feel so bad if that was the case, so he reluctantly got out of the hug and looked at Catra’s face.

Oh no.

Catra did not only have puffy eyes, but she was full on ugly crying!

Her face was really red, probably because Catra was scrunching it so much, and it was wet all over, both from salty tears coming from her eyes and from a little snot coming from her little nose.

“I-I’m sorry, *sniff*, b-but you just s-stopped all of a sudden and s-started crying, and even if I called you, y-you weren’t responding,” now Catra seemed a lot a like him, babbling words really fast, “a-and I f-feel so sad for m-making you cry! A-and, and!-” but Catra just stopped after that and started crying even harder.

N-no!

Catra did nothing wrong!

“No, Catra, it wasn’t you!” Alex hurried saying, “I was thinking about something sad and you helped a lot with your hug!”

“I, *sniff*, I did?” asked Catra, not crying anymore.

“Yes! You’re my best friend and just being with you makes me happy!”

Being with her also makes his heart race uncontrollably, but that would be funny to say.

Alex wasn’t sure what to expect after saying those words, but he wasn’t surely expecting Catra crying even more.

“R-Really?!” she sputtered between sobs,Oh, Alex, you’re my best friend too and you make me really happy too!”

Okay, now Alex was crying too.

“You really think that?” asked Alex, already feeling his cheeks wet.

“Yes!” answered Catra.

“CATRA!” then shouted Alex, while shoving himself forward to hug his best friend.

“ALEX!” responded Catra while returning the hug.

And for them it might have been a really touching moment, but when their mothers saw them embraced like that while crying uncontrollably, they couldn’t help but feel a little worried about the whole ordeal.

Well, one thing is certain, that was the start of a very special and unbreakable bond.

Chapter Text

Today, little Alex was going to Catra’s house.

The idea was all Catra’s, and it came while they were playing in Alex’s room, something that now was becoming a sort of habit (to Alex’s immense happiness).

And even though the idea was Catra’s, it all started with a comment Alex made while they were playing with his action figures.

“Makeup sure makes you really pretty, but doesn’t it bother your face after a while?” he asked Catra, even though it was more of a rhetorical question, while looking at the figure she was playing with, a super tall and muscular female super-hero with tons of red lipstick and heavy eyeliner.

“I dunno, my mamá never says a thing about it.” answered Catra while frowning and doing a little pout, clearly thinking about something.

But Alex didn’t have the time to think too long about it, because Catra suddenly shouted beside him.

“AH!” she said, maybe too loudly, while standing up from her previous sitting position on the floor, “Why don’t we see for ourself?!”

“What do you mean by that?” asked Alex confused.

Catra’s eyes started shining, almost as if she was waiting for Alex just to ask that question.

Her eyes are cute when they sparkle like that.

“I know where my mamá keeps her makeup and she has tons of it!” she said enthusiastically, while crouching again near him and holding his hands, “We could take it without her noticing and try it!”

Her hands are soft- wait, what?

What do you mean “without her noticing”? Won’t she be mad?” he then asked, clearly worried.

His mama doesn’t like when he takes her things without asking.

One time he saw a strange piece of clothing with two cups hanged on the handle of mama’s door, took it and asked her what it was.

His mama then scolded him about taking it without asking for permission, while blushing. It was really pretty though, because it was covered in pretty frills.

He loved things covered in pretty frills, especially cute dresses!

Wait, he’s getting distracted, Catra’s talking.

“Don’t worry about that! She won’t be mad if she doesn’t notice!”  said then Catra, while doing a little wink.

Alex still wasn’t sure about it, but if Catra is happy then it doesn’t really matter.

So that’s why, when Selena came to pick up Catra a while later, Catra immediately asked her if Alex could come to their house the next day.

Selena was a bit confused of all of that enthusiasm coming off her daughter, but she agreed happily with a smile on her face.

When the next day Alex’s mama took him to Catra’s house across the street, he was actually pretty excited.

He never went to a friend’s house before!

That’s why Alex started overthinking about every single outcome that could happen that day and prepared a backpack with all the things he may need.

Said it like that made it look like it was full of special tools for surviving in the wild, but in reality, it was just full of toys.

When Selena opened the door, she welcomed him with her usual warm but playful smile (that was so much like Catra’s) and, after saying goodbye to his mama, guided him inside.

The house, even though it wasn’t that big, was warm and welcoming, much like its owner. The first room you saw entering the house was an open space where the kitchen, dining room and living room were putted together, and at the end of it all there was a big door window that led to the backyard, much like his house (that because every house in the neighbourhood was made from the same mold basically, or so his mama told him).

Every bit of furniture was made of wood, with the exception of some red-orangy tones scattered here and there. But the thing that caught his eyes the most were the colourful strange decorations that were scattered all over the places.

But before his eyes could even search for his best friend, he heard a voice coming from the couch that was facing away from him.

“Is that the new little friend of our cute hermanita?”

When Alex looked for the source of the voice, he saw a guy that was way older than him poking from the orange couch at the centre of the room that looked suspiciously like Catra.

Almost like a comic film, two other heads started poking from the couch.

“You’re right Ale! It looks like it’s him!”

“Look at his backpack! It’s almost two times his size, so cute!”

Okay, now Alex was starting to blush.

And be a little annoyed.

It’s not like he doesn’t like being called cute or pretty, the opposite actually! But the way they were saying it, it made him look like he was this tiny little thing with a pacifier on his mouth, and even though Alex has never been good at understanding his own emotions, he didn’t like that feeling one bit.

He wanted to look big and fierce!

And brave!

But that didn’t seem like the impression at the moment.

“Ah, look! He’s frowning!”

“And doing a little pout!”

“So cute!”

Aaaaah!

Stop!

And at that moment, right when he looked like a very bright tomato, he heard a voice coming from the stairs at his right.

“STOP IT! YOU’RE SO ANNOYING!”

Ah.

Here’s Catra.

“Ah, here’s our little princess!” said the bigger one (Ale?), with a tone that wasn’t entirely mocking, but hid a fair amount of fondness.

“I’M NOT A PRINCESS!”

Now it was Catra’s turn at being a tomato. It made him feel less lonely.

She then stomped angrily down the stairs, took his hand and started dragging him upstairs.

“Come on niños, stop pestering that little boy, I like him very much.”

“OH MY GOD, MOM!”

“I DIDN’T SAY ANYTHING WRONG, DROP YOUR ATTITUDE.”

It was right at those words that Catra shut close the door to her room, still redness in her cheeks, but Alex could only feel a strange feel of warmness at Selena’s words.

She likes him very much.

I’m sorry for all of that, they’re all so annoying,” said then Catra, still facing the door, “the only one that I can stand in this family is my papi.”

But Alex was too occupied taking in Catra’s room.

It wasn’t impressive or anything, just a normal room that had warm orange walls and wood furniture like the rest of the house, but just the fact that he was in Catra’s room, made his heart beat a little bit faster.

Ahh.

It even smells like Catra.

Wait, what? Alex, stop being weird!

Cool, right?” said then Catra while getting closer to him, “That’s the privilege of being the only girl in the family, I get to have my own room!”

Alex didn’t understand that concept too much.

After all, his family was formed by him and his mama. Meanwhile Catra’s had so many people, it honestly overwhelmed him a bit. But still, he took Catra’s word and saw this as a super cool privilege.

“The other three morons are all in the same room. Anyway, you didn’t forget about our plan, didn’t you?”

Ah, right!

The makeup!

“No, I haven’t!” he answered, maybe a little bit defensive.

“Yes, you totally have!”

“No, I haven’t!”

He then started chasing Catra in the tiny room, for actually no reason other than it was fun.

And he loved Catra’s laugh.

In fact, when he caught her and dragged her with him on the ground, they both couldn’t stop laughing.

“Stop distracting me,” said Catra while getting up and heading for the door “dumbass!”

“Catra! That’s a very bad word!”

But Catra only showed him her tongue and started running towards the corridor.

“Catraa! Wait for me!” he said, getting up from his spot on the floor and started following her.

He then found her in front of a door, looking at him expectantly.

“So, here’s the plan.” she then whispered to him, “My mamá won’t come upstairs for a while, but just to be sure, you’ll stay here and give me a signal if she comes, okay?”

Alex was still very nervous about the whole thing, but he nodded anyway.

In the end, Selena never came upstairs, and the two little devils manage to snuck all of her makeup to Catra’s room.

And boy, if it was a lot.

“Ahhh!” Catra had sparkles in her eyes.

Well, it’s not like Alex was different, but still, she was very cute.

Selena’s makeup was a lot and there were so many colours to choose for the eyes! Looking at them from their position on the ground made it look like they were looking at a sea rainbow!

There were even colours he had never seen before!

His excitement could only grow at the prospect of looking like one of those gorgeous models he saw on magazines. The boys always looked so boring, but the girls were absolutely stunning. He couldn’t help but imagine himself as one of those models on the runaway with tons of rainbow makeup.

And... and...

MUSCLES!

Tons of muscles!

It would be so cool to be a pretty buff lady with flowing hair and colourful makeup!

Wait, what?

No, you can’t be a lady Alex, you’re a boy!

But boys are so boring...

Wait, is Catra going to give him a boyish makeup?

“I’m going to make you so pretty, you have no idea.” Catra said and then grabbed a random brush and went straight for the blush.

Well, that reassures him a bit.

“I’ve watched some YouTube tutorials on my mamá’s phone, so I’m a real expert.” she then reassured him, but it still couldn’t stop his nervousness.

But then, he thought that he was with Catra, so all of it disappeared in playfulness.

“Ooh then, mighty Catra, may I ask for a red and gold look?” Alex was never good at telling jokes, he never understood them too well, but with Catra it only felt natural.

“Of couurse, my pretty damsel!” answered Catra with laughter in her voice.

Alex didn’t know for how long Catra worked, but the feeling of Catra’s hands on his face while their faces were really close to each other was a really good one.

His heart was going boom, boom!

But Alex could never see Catra’s final masterpiece, because before she could finish, Selena entered the room with a trail of snacks and fruit juices.

“Are you kids hungry? I’ve brought some-” but she never finished her sentence, because when she saw them, she just stopped in her track with her mouth open.

Alex was expecting everything, from scolding, to screaming, to disappointment, but he surely wasn’t expecting Selena laughing at the top of her lungs.

Both kids just stood there awkwardly watching a woman in her thirties basically falling down on the floor for laughing too much.

What the two kids didn’t know was that Alex in that moment didn’t look like a beautiful super model, but more like a clown that submerged his head in a rainbow.

There were even glitters on random part of his face!

(I saw that in a makeup tutorial! Would have probably said Catra.)

After that beautiful sighting, Selena would have probably taken more time to recollect herself, but a sound, that sounded suspiciously like a sob, made her stop immediately.

One would have thought that it was coming from our favourite sweet crybaby, Alex, but when Selena glanced up, she noticed that her assumption was wrong. Because the sound wasn’t coming from him, but from our troublemaker Catra.

See, Catra had always been a particular child, mostly because she wanted other people to see her as a tough kid, but the thing that even her own family always forgot was that she was secretly a sweetheart and cared enormously about other people, especially the ones she loved the most.

From crying when a character got hurt in cartoons to drawing special cards to members of her family when they felt sad, Catra wasn’t really as uncaring as she pretended to be.

So, when she saw her mamá laughing at her work, she couldn’t help but feel sad.

She put so much effort in it!

But when her mamá noticed her face, she immediately came to hug her.

“No, mija, don’t cry! I love it!” said Selena in a sweet voice “It just took me off guard at first...”

“F-for, *sniff*, for real?” asked hesitantly Catra.

“For real.” she reassured her with a firm voice.

Alex had watched the scene unfolding before his eyes a little baffled, but just from that conversation he could notice how much Catra and her mother cared for each other.

But still, watching Catra cry made him sad. A lot.

But he definitely didn’t have puffy eyes!

N-no...

“Now,” said Selena while turning towards him, “I still can’t believe how you managed to drag Alex into this fantasy of yours, mija.”

“I didn’t drag him into a fantasy!” said Catra defensively, “He asked me to do his makeup!”

“Oh, silly! Boys hate makeup.” said her mother, the turned to him, “But Alex is a real sweetheart, he probably just wanted to make you happy, right, Alex?”

What?

Was- was he supposed to not like makeup?

Was he supposed to lie?

He’s pretty sure he was making a funny face right now, because Catra was looking at him strangely.

But then Selena didn’t give him the time to answer. She just got up at some point and said:

“Alright kids! Now I’m going to do your makeup, and you’re going to look gorgeous.”

Follow me!” she then headed to the door.

But before getting out, she said with a very scary tone: “And no more stealing my makeup. Understand Catra?”

“B-but-” Alex heard her trying to protest, but before she could continue, Selena interrupted her.

“I’m getting the chancla.”

“Okay mamá, no more makeup!” said then Catra with a smile, but Alex had the strong suspicion that it was fake.

She looked kinda terrified.

But that wasn’t the moment to think about that, because now they had to receive a makeover!

They went downstairs and sat on the orangy couch, while Selena wiped off Alex’s makeup and started working on both of them.

Alex in the end never got to see Catra’s masterpiece, but he believed it was a beautiful piece of work, just because it was Catra that did it.

And he would love anything that Catra did.

When Selena finished, she gave them a mirror to look at themself and...

Alex was honestly a lot disappointed.

Not because Selena wasn’t good at makeup, not at all, in fact, Catra looked absolutely stunning with her delicate winged eyeliner and her bloody red lipstick, but for him... only a little eyeliner pencil.

Maybe some black eyeshadow around the eyes?

But still, it was nothing compared to Catra.

But why?

Has he been a bad kid?

Did he have an ugly face?

When Selena went up to grab her phone that she left in Catra’s room, Catra got near him and whispered:

“Don’t worry about mamá’s work, she probably did it that way because you’re a boy.”

Oh.

Oh.

Why did that hurt that much?

“Don’t worry, I know you like makeup,” she then told him reassuringly, “When I get my own, I'll give you a real model look.”

At those words, Alex turned his head to Catra so fast that the world started spinning.

When he saw Catra’s characteristic sweet smile, he couldn’t help but return it with a brightness of 5000 watts.

When Selena then returned to them and took a selfie of the three of them, he wasn’t as sad as he was before.

Because the prospect of a makeover session with Catra when they were both older was enough to keep him happy for a lot of time. And also, the promise that:

Catra will always have his back.

Chapter Text

It was the last week of summer, but also the happiest little Alex has ever lived.

See, for every last week of summer Alex could remember (which weren’t that many, to be honest), Alex would most likely be sited on the floor of the living room in front of his big tv, watching one of his favourite super hero cartoons and eating chocolate ice-cream with his mama.

Honestly, that sounded like a very good time if you asked him.

Like, chocolate ice-cream!

He absolutely LOVED chocolate ice-cream!

More like he absolutely loved sweets.

Okay, maybe he just really loved eating in general.

BuT CHOCOLATE ICE-CREAM!

Anyway, he never had a problem with those kinds of plans before, but now his idea of “great last week” has been completely twisted!

He was on a road trip!

And not just a regular road trip.

He was with Catra!

ON A ROAD TRIP!

Okay, calm down Alex, deep breaths.

To be fair, Selena came with them too and was actually seated in the front seat of Mara’s big, white car. In fact, this wasn’t something out of the blue, but a very organised trip.

It all started two days before, when Alex and Catra were playing hide and seek at his house while their moms were drinking coffee. They actually were getting along really well, to the point of calling each other regularly and meeting up a lot. Alex couldn’t really complain about that.

More time with Catra!

But that’s not the point. The point is that, while they were just chatting, they started talking about how a road trip together would be lovely.

Unfortunately for them, Catra had always had an inhuman hearing.

Selena honestly found it really annoying when she was whispering about a surprise for Catra with his father in the kitchen and she would be able to hear it from her locked room.

Without even explain to Alex what was happening, she immediately got out of her hiding spot and started sprinting towards the kitchen, pestering them about actually doing it.

Alex didn’t understand at first what was happening, but when he caught on, he joined Catra with his pleas.

Selena and Mara weren’t really sure about their idea before, but now seeing their kids so excited, they couldn’t help but comply.

AND THANK GOD!

THEY’RE HERE!

Well, they’re actually in the car right now.

They just left the city, so the view outside of the car window was filled with big mountains and pretty pink clouds.

This because it was really early. It didn’t bother Alex that much, he loved waking up early! He didn’t know why, but living in a quiet world for even just an hour made him feel somewhat at peace with himself.

But he suspected Catra didn’t like it that much.

“*Yaaawn*”

“You alright Catra? You look pretty down...” asked her Alex, but he was pretty sure he knew what was the problem.

“Down? Alex, the sun is not even up yet, how can you be so energetic?” she answered, with glossy and unfocused eyes.

“Dunno, I like waking up early.”

“You’re a dummy.”

“Why?!”

“You just are.”

Even the sleepiness couldn’t stop Catra’s teasing, but Alex couldn’t help but feel a little self-conscious

What if she was just bored?

What if she didn’t want to be here?

What if her mother forced her to be here?

“Alex? What’s with that funny face you’re making?” said Catra, waking him up from his thoughts.

“I-I’m...” he started saying, his voice trembling a little, “I’m sorry...”

“You’re... you’re sorry?”

“Yeah... you had to wake up this early, a-and you probably didn’t even want to come here...s-sorry...”

Ah.

Why was the world blurry?

“See? I was right, you’re a dummy.” said Catra while... poking him on the forehead?

What?

“W-why?!” he asked, maybe being a little mad.

“I was the one that pestered our parents to do this trip!”

Sugar snaps, she’s right!

Besides, why wouldn’t I want to be here? You’re my bestie after all.” she then said, looking away on the window.

B-bestie?

“I’M YOUR BESTIE?!”

Catra basically jumped off her seat after he said (screamed) that. They both didn’t notice that, but even Mara and Selena turned to see what was going on.

“What’s wrong with you?! Don’t scream so suddenly!”

Oops!

“And more importantly, wasn’t it obvious?! Didn’t you say we’re best friends?!”

“But you agree with that?”

“OBVIOUSLY! I would have said so if I didn’t, you dummy!”

His heart was warm suddenly.

“C-CATRA!” he then screamed, hugging her very tightly.

Catra almost didn’t want to return it, given how dumb her best friend was being.

She did it anyway.

“You stupid dummy.” she whispered, while rubbing his back.

Little did they know, their mothers had watched the whole scene, now awwing at them, overwhelmed by their cuteness.

After the hug, both kids started watching out of their windows, now in silence.

But that couldn’t last long.

We’re talking about Alex after all.

“Hey, Catra?” he asked, while swinging his legs in his seat.

He didn’t know why, but he couldn’t stay put for more than a few seconds.

“Tell me, dummy.”

“Stop calling me that!”

“But that’s the truth.”

“It isn’t- anyway, can I ask you a question?”

“You already did.”

“Why are you like this?”

“You like it.” she then turned towards him, while bleeping.

Ahh.

No, Alex, concentrate!

“Anyway, why did you bop my forehead?” he asked, still bothered by that weird action.

“Mmmm...” now she was looking at him with this blank stare. He was starting to get used to it.

“You have a big forehead.” she then concluded, her face still very serious.

“Wha- no! I don’t!” he said, very mad.

He wouldn’t have admitted that out loud, but he was blushing quite a bit.

“Yes, you do! Look!” she then put her hand on his forehead, (her hand, on his forehead, her warm hand near his face- stop Alex!) raised his bangs and passed him the little mirror that was on the back pocket of the front sit.

She... was right.

That doesn’t mean he would admit it though.

“Mhpm.” he only let out of his mouth, even redder than before.

“You know I’m right! Look, we could play tris on it!”

“Stop it!”

After that, they started bantering in their usual playful manner, saying “snarky” remarks fort and right to see who could fluster the other more, (or Alex liked to think that, but in reality, it was just Catra teasing him endlessly and Alex becoming more similar to a tomato the more the time passed.)

That didn’t last long though, because after a while they gradually shifted into looking at the outside clouds and saying to the other what they looked similar too.

“Look, it looks like a zebra!”

“Where can you see the zebra there, dummy?”

“Doesn’t that part there look like their funny hair?”

“Wait, I can kinda see that...”

Needless to say, the trip, which was fairly long, felt like it lasted only a bunch of minutes to our two kids, too occupied into playing together.

Our little Alex and Catra were almost sad when the car stopped.

That didn’t last long, though, because the sight before them was majestic.

They were surrounded by trees that were gigantic, (Alex couldn’t help but feel really tiny just by looking at them), and from where his mama parked the car, he could see a big lake in the distance, while the chirping of the birds filled his ears.

“Wow...” he couldn’t help but whisper, still looking at the scenery with wide eyes.

“Brr... I’m freezing.” he heard from his left, then saw Catra hugging herself while shivering.

True, it was still Summer to be honest, but they were pretty high, on a big mountain, (he couldn’t remember the name though, but he was sure his mama told him at some point) and the sun was just starting to set, so it was pretty cold.

He didn’t feel it that much though. After all, his mama always told him that he was a furnace.

Remembering that, he half hugged Catra, hoping to make her warmer.

“Oh my god, you’re so warm, how can you do that?!” Catra immediately said, hugging him fully.

Oh god.

His heart was beating really fast.

Can Catra hear my heartbeat?

He tried shoving those invasive thoughts in the back of his mind and started rubbing Catra’s back to make her happier.

He loved making Catra happy!

He doesn’t know why, but seeing Catra smile made his chest feel warm.

Their hug was interrupted by Catra’s mom giving them a fluffy blanket each and telling them to wait here while her and his mama organised the chairs and all the other stuff.

Little Alex was glad for the blanket, but couldn’t help but feel sad that now he couldn’t hug Catra anymore.

“Where are you going, dummy?” Said Catra after a few seconds, “You are my blanket now, so you have to act like it and hug me until I don’t feel cold anymore.”

Alex was pretty sure that him going from doing a little pout to a thousand-watt smile would have been a funny thing to watch, but he didn’t care, so he just got close to Catra again and hugged her.

He probably shouldn’t have liked that much Catra calling him a “blanket”, but the idea only made his heart warm.

Heart, what’s wrong with you?!

They waited for their moms to set everything up cuddled on the dirt ground, (Don’t worry, they had a towel under them!), while their moms in the distance couldn’t help but get out squeaky sounds at the sight of their kids cuddled like that.

(“Are you seeing them, Mara?! My fucking heart, I can’t!”

“They’re so cute, aren’t they!”

“Look at your son, he has his puffy cheeks all red and he’s smiling like crazy!”

“Catarina instead is trying so hard to look cool, it warms my heart.”

“Do you think...”

“Do I think what?”

“You know, the blushing, the hugging...”

“Selena, I think we shouldn’t force them.”

“But...”

“No buts.”

“I wouldn’t mind being your sister-in-law, you know.”

“Selena!”

“What!”)

When their moms finally called them and told them to come, the sun was now bright in the sky, and the air was a little warmer.

They got up from their spot to head to their little “camp”, but before Alex could even walk, Catra stopped him with saying “The last one that gets there is a dummy!” and then started running furiously towards their moms.

That’s not fair!

She didn’t even wait for him!

He started running too as fast as he could, but they both knew who was going to win from the start. Catra was a missile, once she started running, it was impossible for you to catch her. Also, Alex has always been a little chubby, even because he never cared about sports that much.

Anyway, despite his competitive nature, he couldn’t care less about winning while running, jiggling uncontrollably and shouting: “It’s not fair!” at a cocky Catra.

But when they both arrived at the start of the lake, they couldn’t help but stare intensely at the water.

It was so clean!

You could see every shiny rock on the bottom!

Well, to be fair, the cleanliness of the water was only persistent for the first foot of it, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t fascinate him.

It almost was as if the water was calling him.

“Mama!” he shouted, excited, “Can I take my boots off?”

“Sure, squirt.” said his mama, “But only wet your feet a little, don’t go far.”

“Okie!”

He started taking off his little rainbow boots to get into the water.

“At least Alex knows how to enjoy the lake, my Catarina for some reason hates-”

“Mamá! Can I get off my boots too?” said Catra, with a somewhat determined face.

Selena couldn’t help but look at her daughter with a baffled look.

“S-sure, mija.”

Catra then proceeded in taking off her boots too and joining Alex in lightly wetting their feet and staring in awe at the water.

“Mara!”

“Selena, no!”

 


     

Both parents had the suspicion that their kids would be kind of bored staying near a lake in the middle of nowhere for an entire day, but when they saw them both dozed off on the towel set on the ground while the sun was setting off, with little smiles on their faces, they couldn’t help but feel a little stupid at even thinking that.

Because that day will forever be imprinted in Alex’s mind.

Chapter Text

After the first time, going to Catra’s house had become something he could call routine.

Yes!

More time with Catra!

So, as always, right now, four days before the first day of school, he was playing with Catra in her courtyard.

They weren’t actually playing together, like at tag or something, but currently he was watching Catra draw a butterfly with some crayons.

You should’ve seen it!

Catra was so good!

When she confessed to him earlier that she liked to doodle, she almost looked ashamed of it, as if it was a bad thing. It absolutely isn’t! Alex made that pretty clear to Catra.

He also loves doodling!

Only specific things though, like He-man characters or, a cooler thing...

Himself as a superhero!

He loved drawing himself with big muscles and red capes!

Oh, and flowy long hair!

He knows he’s not supposed to have really long hair, but they are so cool!

Anyway, when he asked Catra if they could draw together and Catra had agreed with sparkly eyes (She was so cute), he expected something normal, not for Catra to be a prodigy! Her drawings were amazing! She even did the shadows!

So now, instead of drawing with her, he was looking at Catra, maybe too intensely, work at her masterpiece.

But Catra was just so cool!

First the makeup, then the running, now the drawing, he couldn’t help but praise Catra at her extraordinary abilities!

She didn’t like it very much though, because every time he did it Catra would call him dummy and not look at him in the face.

She even blushed in shame!

But when she got to the good part of her drawing, the shadows (and he had no idea how she did those), they both heard a loud sound of a slamming door coming from the front door.

Little Alex had no idea what was happening, but Catra knew fully well, and she already felt annoyed with every part of her being.

“Hey princess! You know what time it is, so unless you want a ball shoved in the back of your head, go to your room.”

Who?

Ah, it was Catra’s brothers.

What were their names again?

“Look, it’s the cute little friend again!”

Okay, now he remembered why he didn’t know their names.

“Stop it, you’re all so annoying!” Catra said, angry, “Let’s go Alex, now they have to play soccer, eww.”

“Soccer?” he asked confused, “What is that? Is it like volleyball?”

Him and Catra were heading probably to her room, but after he said that he was immediately stopped by someone taking his hand.

“Hey kid.” said the older guy.

Alex would have never admitted it, but he was hella scared at that moment.

Can you blame him? The other boy was older and bigger than him, and had this scary face at that moment!

When he opened his mouth, he was ready to flinch, but...

“Do you really don’t know what soccer is?!”

W-what?

“Oh my god, seriously?!” said the middle one, “You’re shitting me!”

T-that's a bad word!

“Am I... supposed too?” he asked, confused.

It’s not like it’s a super important thing like... dunno, He-man.

“Alex, don’t listen to them, they’re just-”

“OBVIOUSLY!” shouted the bigger one.

“Not it isn’t!” then said Catra, while she stopped holding his hand and confronted his bigger brother.

Alex could see her trying to make her herself seem bigger, probably to look scarier.

It wasn’t working though, she just looked adorable.

“Alex isn’t lame like you, that’s why he doesn’t know what it is!”

Oh.

Oh.

That made his heart beat so fast, he was scared it would get out of his chest.

“What are you saying, princesa?-” “I’M NOT A PRINCESA!” “Knowing what soccer is and playing it, is like, being cool 101.”

To that, Alex started talking again.

“R-really?”

“Obviously!”

“Alex, don’t listen to them, they’re-”

“But don’t worry kid, we’re going to teach you everything!”

They... are?

“We are?”

“No, you’re not!”

“Let your little friend decide for himself, princesa.”

“Andro, I swear to god if you keep calling me-”

“So? The choice is yours!”

They’re letting him... decide?

But, Catra said it’s a bad thing!

Buut, he also was very curious...

“Catra...” he then started, turning towards her, “Maybe, I should try it...”

“But, Alex!”

“Don’t worry! Just a match, and we’re going back to play. Oh, and you can play too!”

To that, Catra made a disgusted face.

“Who, me? Never! I’ll just watch you from the side”

Then she poked his forehead and said: “Good luck, dummy.”, then proceeded to climb their tree (how?!) and started staring at them.

Well, now that Catra wasn’t by his side anymore, he couldn’t help but feel really scared.

“Ok, kid.” said again... Andro?, drawing the attention back to himself, “Now we’re going to teach you the rules of one of the best sports in the world, not that horrible football everyone here seems to like...”

Oh, he knew football!

“Is it similar?”

“Not at all. Just a badly ripped off version.”

Oh.

“Anyway, the rules are simple. To make points, you have to kick the ball into that net,” to that, he pointed at a weirdly shaped net. There were actually two of them. “and you can only use your feet. No hands! You’ll have a penalty if you do!”

“O-ok.”

“You also have to protect your own net, on the other side,” oh, so that’s why there are two, “because it is played with two teams that go against each other. Usually, there’s a specific person that defends the net, but we’re not enough people.”

Ok, it actually wasn’t that difficult.

“Now, we’ll play for ten minutes, for the first match to warm up, who has the most points wins. Is everything clear?”

He... thinks so?

“Y-yeah...”

“Ok, now, we’ll play together, and while we’re playing, I’m going to give you some tips, is that alright?”

“Yeah, everything’s ok.”

“Now, let’s start. Guys, prepare the timer!” he shouted in the end to the other two guys.

Wait...

“I’m sorry!” he said, maybe too loudly.

Well at least they all heard him.

“You... you didn’t tell me your names...”

“Shit, you’re right!” said always the older one, now starting to introduce himself, “I’m the older and cooler guy, Alejandro!”

“Well, that’s not true.”

“The moany one is Luis” he said then louder, “and the youngest one is José.”

“Can we start now?”

“Y-yes!”

The middle one, Luis, picked up a white and black ball and positioned it in the middle of the garden.

“3!”

Ok, he can do this.

“2!”

He wasn’t nervous, not at all.

“1!”

Ok, maybe a little.

“Go!”

With that Alejandro started sprinting at full speed towards the ball, taking it and running towards the net while at the same time he kept kicking it.

Shoot, that seems difficult!

“Kid, take it!” he shouted after being cornered by, uhm, José, (They all looked so similar!) and then kicked the ball in his direction.

Oh no!

He should take it, right?

He almost didn’t take it, but he managed to stop it with his feet.

Now?

He should run, right?

“You can’t stop while you have the ball, go towards the net!”

“O-ok!” he said, trying to keep the ball from going sideways.

But his run didn’t last that long, because he was immediately stopped by Luis. But then he took the ball from his feet and started running towards their net! Now that he finally had the ball!

“Alex!” said Alejandro, making him turn towards him, “They can do that, but remember you can do it too! Watch me!”

He then started sprinting towards Luis and blocked him, trying to take the ball out of his grip.

Oh! So you can do that!

But right when Luis started to get cornered, Alex noticed by his gaze and the movement of his foot that he was trying to pass it to José. In a crazy adrenalin fuelled moment, Alex sprinted in between them and stopped the ball right when Luis kicked it.

Everybody stood still for a moment, or maybe two.

Did... did he do something bad?

“ALEX, THAT WAS SO GOOD! YOU’RE AMAZING!” he heard from above him.

Who?-

Catra.

It was Catra cheering for him.

Ahh.

But then, Catra’s words awoke Alejandro from his trance.

“Alex, never stop running, start going towards the net!” he basically screamed, then started running towards him in parallel.

So he exactly did that, beginning running.

That feeling, the feeling of running with the ball away while the other team was chasing him, running as fast as he could towards the net.

That feeling was incredible.

Maybe it was the adrenaline, but little Alex in that moment felt like he could conquer the world with only the snap of his fingers.

“Alex! Pass it to me!” he heard from his right.

“Ok!”

“With the side of your foot!”

W-what?

“What?”

“Kick it with the side of your foot!”

So, he tried doing that, and it worked!

He didn’t even have to turn towards him to do it!

God.

Oh god.

His heart was beating so fast, it threatened to get out of his body.

The other two boys didn’t catch up with the situation fast enough, so Alejandro kicked the ball with inhuman force and scored!

“GOAL!” He screamed with all of his lungs, then started running towards Alex at full speed.

It wasn’t surely an extraordinary goal, but Alejandro picked up Alex and started swinging the little boy in the air as if they just had won the nationals.

“That was amazing! How did a little kid like you do that?!” he then said, while laughing and putting him on the ground.

He... had no idea.

But.

That had been amazing.

“THAT WAS AMAZING!” he then screamed at the top of his lungs, “You were all “Ahh!”, the others were “oooh!”, then I came, I picked the ball with a “swoosh!”, then I ran, and you came, then went boom!, and then GOAL!”

 

He was surely talking again too much, too fast, and gesticulating like crazy, while also jumping enthusiastically, but no one seem to mind. Even the other team was smiling!

“Yeah kid, you were amazing.”

“For once, we think the same.” then he heard from his side. It was Catra, now down on the ground again, with an uncharacteristic dorky smile on her face. “You made me interested, that is a miracle on its own.”

Yeah, the feeling of victory was ecstatic, and the others complimenting him was also a pleasant feeling, but nothing will ever compare to Catra’s compliments.

“So kid, want to do another match?”

Absolutely.

But.

He was here for Catra, and he left her alone for too much already.

“Maybe another time?” he said, “Catra still hasn’t finished her drawing, and I would love to see it completed.”

“Sure kid, see you next time!”

He then grabbed Catra’s hand and they both started going towards her room.

“You know that I know you wanted to do another match, right?” then Catra said, while they were going up the stairs.

“You could’ve done another one, dummy, you didn’t have to make me happy.”

“But I really meant it, I want to see the butterfly finished!” he answered.

They then got inside Catra’s room, and only when Catra closed the door Alex spoke again.

“Besides, making you happy makes me ten times happier than playing ten-thousand soccer matches.”

Now Catra was as red as a pepper.

“Oh my god, you’re such a sap!”

She then sat on the ground, already taking in her hand the crayons and the drawing.

“Now come here dummy, before I change my mind.”

Alex complied obediently, sitting next to Catra and resting his head on Catra’s shoulder.

Well, he really meant that, though.

Chapter Text

The world was really soft and warm.

Little Alex felt like he was surrounded by soft cotton and a warm fireplace.

Like... like a hug!

A soft hug!

He almost never wanted to end it.

“Alex! Wake up!”

What?

He opened his eyes slowly, realizing that he was under the sheets of his bed.

He got out of his sheet cocoon and looked around in his room while stroking his eyes, trying to remember what day it was today.

What day was today?

It was important, somehow...

AH!

“IT’S THE FIRST DAY OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TODAY!” he shouted enthusiastically, getting up of bed so fast the world started spinning, running towards the bathroom to get ready.

He almost tripped on the way there, making his mama giggle, but he managed to brush his teeth and put on his clothes like, super fast!

After putting on his favourite unicorn shirt, (because he wanted to look super cool and make a good impression!), he headed downstairs and went straight to the table, already waiting for his pancakes.

“Hey there squirt, calm down your spirits!” said his mom, giggling from behind him, while heading towards the counters, “It’s still really early, do you want to help me in the kitchen?”

“Yes!” he shouted enthusiastically.

He loved helping his mama cooking!

He wasn’t really good at it though, he always made a mess of some sort, but it was really funny!

So, he quickly got up from his seat and helped his mama prepare chocolate chips pancakes, (and by that he means passing his mama ingredients and licking the spoon).

When they were finally ready, he went to his seat and ate them like a starving man, (which is the norm usually, but today more than ever).

“Hey, calm down sweetie, or you’ll end up choking.” said his mama with a sweet tone, “Besides, we can’t go to school immediately, we have to wait for your friend.”

Well, that stopped him.

“My... friend?” he asked confused, “from school?”

His mama laughed at that, as if it was a really stupid question.

But he really wasn’t understanding what was happening.

“No, silly, Catra!” she told him, “Aren’t you obsessed with her lately? Shouldn’t she have been your immediate thought?”

Oh.

OH.

CATRA!

“WE GO TO THE SAME SCHOOL?!” he screamed at the top of his lungs, not caring about anything else at the moment.

“Of course, sweetie. You’ve been so much happier with her, lately, this is the least Selena and I could do.” she answered, her smile never leaving her face.

Alex was honestly... so happy.

He couldn’t even describe it!

He just...

He just!

“*sniff*, THANK YOU MAMAA!” he sobbed while running towards her to hug her.

“Now now, why don’t you go watch some cartoons while we wait for her?”

“Yes!” even though he was excited, both for school and Catra, he could never say no to cartoons!

He was almost sad when his mama called him.

Not for long though, because, FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!

“Hey hey, where are you going, squirt?” said his mama, stopping him from his run towards the clothes hangers.

“To... put on my jacket?” he hesitantly said. It was also a He-man jacket, mind you, (In reality, it was just a normal jacket, but it had He-man's colour scheme, and he liked to play pretend, okay?).

“I know, sweetie, but I have to give you something that every elementary schooler wears.”

To that, his eyes started sparkling.

He... would get to look like a grown up?!

“It was really hard to find it with this decoration, all of them basically have only cars, but here it is.”

Then, his mama unfolded in front of his eyes a piece of clothing that was deep blue, with tiny buttons, a white collar and on the left upper corner a...

“UNICORN!”

His mama could only giggle seeing is kid looking so excited over a rainbowy magical horse, snatching from her hands the school apron.

“IT’S PERFECT!” now he was the one giggling, while spinning in circles the apron and hopping around.

“Be careful, you don’t want to ruin it, don’t you?” she said, still smiling widely, “Now, let me help you put it on.”

After finishing getting ready, (and after Mara finally convinced Alex to stop looking at himself in the mirror), they headed to the car, waiting for Catra and Selena to come.

When Alex finally saw Catra, his heart couldn’t help but skip a few beats.

She was wearing her school apron too, but hers was white and it had a ballerina on the upper left corner, instead of a unicorn.

And her hair...

It was tied up!

It looked so stunning!

To be fair, he already saw her with a messy ponytail a couple of times, but now she had a beautiful long braid!

Alex was pretty sure her mom forced her though, because Catra already told him she didn’t like tying her hair because it was curly and unruly and it hurt quite a bit when she tried to.

And also because she had a big pout right now.

 

When both her and her mom got into the car, his mama, trying to be nice, asked: “That braid is so cute Catra! Did you do it yourself?”

Oh no.

“NO!” Catra shouted, “I HATE IT! MY MAMÀ FORCED ME!”

Ah!

He knew it!

He isn’t a dummy like Catra said, he’s really smart!

“Stop whining, Catarina, we already ended this discussion.”

Selena had a really scary face...

“NO, YOU DID IT! I TOLD YOU I DIDN’T WANT IT!”

“Catarina María Espinoza, I swear to god, if you keep raising your voice like that, you’re going to taste sandals for weeks-”

“Anyway!” said his mama abruptly, trying to change the subject and hoping to save Catra’s life, (Selena was really scary when she wanted to), “How has this week been in the new neighbourhood, you haven’t told me!”

“God, Mara, you have no idea! So, basically...” Alex wasn’t really paying attention from that point on, but instead was focusing on his friend and... are those tears in her eyes?

No! Today was a special day! He had to make Catra happy!

But how?

Without thinking, he held Catra’s hand in his own.

“What are you doing?” she said, looking at him as if he had three heads.

“You’re sad, right? Because of the fight with your mom,” he started, “I just thought this would make you feel better.”

He was really nervous now, especially because of the weird look Catra was giving him.

Did he mess up?

Did Catra hate him now?

“Even though you’re such a dummy, you can be smart sometimes.” she said and then squeezed his hand.

And smiled.

Smiled.

That smile makes him feel things he doesn’t understand yet.

So, like every smart person would do, (and he’s 100% smart!), he decided to ignore those feelings.

“Catra,” he said, trying to change the subject, “I love my unicorn, but that ballerina looks so cute!”, then pointed at the sewed ballerina on her apron.

Wrong choice.

“OMG, I HATE IT!” she shouted, raising her hands in the air, “I have no idea what ballet even is! And those too-too or whatever they’re called look totally stupid.”

Now she was doing a little pout, and Alex didn’t totally think it was cute! He was sad and super upset for her friend! Y-yes!

“I think it looks pretty...” he tried saying, trying to calm Catra.

It didn’t work.

“Are you imitating my mamá? Because, if you are, it’s not funny. She said the same thing!”

Did- did he offend Catra?

OH GOD, HE OFFENDED CATRA-

“Stop making that funny face, I know that you’re such a dummy you can’t even say mean things, but still!” she was still gesturing animatedly with her hands, trying to spend up her energy maybe, “Maybe you and my mamá like it, but I don’t! Why can’t she understand that!”

Well, he liked Catra’s mum really much, but he couldn’t help but admit that Catra was totally right. Sometimes she was really stubborn about some things, not letting you even talk.

“Catarina, I swear, are you still talking about that fuc-” “SELENA.” “-freaking ballerina?!” they suddenly heard from the front seat.

“I. DON’T. LIKE. IT!” Catra said loudly in a bratty way.

Mara knew this was going very badly very quickly, so she decided to intervene.

“Hey squirt, did you show Selena your decoration?”

“OH!”, he answered, “I didn’t!”

Now Selena was smiling again.

“That’s right! You didn’t!” she said, “Let me see, what is it?”

He got closer to her and showed her Swifty, (it looks like his imaginary steed, okay?), then said “Look!”, his voice filled with excitement.

“Is that... a unicorn?” she questioned, looking... confused?

“A rainbow unicorn!” he corrected her.

Unicorns and rainbow unicorns are so much different!

Rainbow unicorns are way cooler!

“A rainbow... unicorn.”

“Yeah! I named him Swifty! He has big and shiny wings and likes to do loop de loops when...” but then he stopped talking. Because Selena was giving him this strange look that he knew too well, the same one the adults gave him often.

He had no idea what it meant, but it always made him feel horrible.

Why did they always look at him like that?

Was it him?

Was he bad?

Then, he felt something squeeze his hand.

“So? Don’t just stop mid-sentence, now I’m curious.” he heard Catra say, looking at him with curious eyes.

He turned to look at her, feeling something warm in his chest.

He started talking again.

For a lot actually.

He was so occupied explaining every little detail about Swift Wind that he didn’t even notice they had arrived.

But when he looked out of the window, he couldn’t help but open his mouth at the sight of his new school.

IT WAS ENOURMOS!

It was the school for grown ups!

His old school was never that big. It barely had three classrooms, but at least it had a fairly big playground!

But this school was big, and there were tons of different children and parents, all waiting for the opening hour. It was also filled with tons of cars, all trying to find a park spot.

Alex couldn’t help but be in awe.

“Come on, dummy, it’s not that big of a deal, it’s just school.” she said to him, but he could clearly see the sparkles in her eyes.

“Kids, get out of the car!” said his mama right after opening the car door for them.

When both kids got out of the car, Catra looked pretty confident, but Alex just couldn’t get himself to move.

It was... too loud.

Everything was too loud.

He didn’t know why, but loud places made him feel really uncomfortable.

Especially crowds.

And there were a lot of kids laughing, and screaming, and parents yelling, and birds chirping, it was...

Too much.

Too too much.

But he woke up from his trance thanks to Catra taking his hand and giving him a big smile, so he quickly got happier and started walking with his mama, Catra and Selena towards the school entrance, which opened at that exact moment.

Stop being strange, Alex.

But turns out elementary school is even cooler than he thought!

There were big and long corridors, lots of different classes and the most colourful posters were hanged everywhere.

It was so cool!

He was so excited!

Their moms, after talking to a very intimidating man, gave them both their backpacks and told them to follow a kind-looking woman that had already gathered a bunch of other kids.

She had long black hair pulled into a weird hairdo, black (beautiful!) lipstick and what looked like and hand-made knitted jumper.

They followed her till they arrived into an empty classroom.

It was weird though, because all the desks were putted at the end, leaving the big room pretty empty.

“Okay kids, now listen to me. Form a big circle at the centre of the classroom and then sit down, because we’re all going to introduce ourselves!” said the woman with an excited smile on her face.

So, they did exactly that, all sited together in a circle. Alex and Catra were sited next to each other, of course.

“So, hi to everyone, my name is Castaspella Maghanoy, but you can call me Casta, and I’m your new teacher!”

They went from there.

It had been an exciting day!

First, everybody introduced themselves, then they played 20 question and played some games afterwards!

He couldn’t help but be a little disappointed, his mama said that he would get to study like big kids in elementary school!

It didn’t matter though, because he had so much fun with Catra!

She would constantly say (mean) jokes while someone was talking, and he couldn’t help but laugh every single time. Teacher Casta even reprimanded them a couple of times.

Still, he couldn’t stop giggling!

When school finished, they all went to Catra’s house to eat all together. Catra’s mom served these special meatballs that were delicious! They had a strange name though.

It was like, ehm, a...abodeelas? Anboddyggas?

He wasn’t sure, Catra tried teaching him one-hundred times, but he just couldn’t do it!

She called him a dummy after giving up.

But it was a great night!

Alejandro even called him a smart kid and asked him when would be the next time they play soccer together!

When they had to go, he hugged Catra really tight and waved goodbye while he and his mama crossed the street to go home.

What a wonderful day that had been.

Chapter Text

The second day of school was far more exciting!

Little Alex really felt like a grown up!

This time they didn’t sit in circle and played games, but they seated in big desks and had their own textbooks!

Everybody else was very nervous, because they had to choose with who they wanted to be seated with, but it wasn’t a problem for him!

He had Catra!

He could even hold her hand whenever he wanted under the desk!

Anyway, that day they were learning the letters of the alphabet and writing them down on their exercise books with bright pencils, while Mrs Casta was writing them on the chalk board and saying a fun fact about each letter, so they could remember it better, or so she said.

It’s not like he didn’t know the alphabet though, but his teacher said that they were doing it in a very good way so that they would never forget it, and Alex believed everything she said, because teachers are really smart!

They just had just gotten to the letter W when the recess bell rang.

Mrs. Casta stopped them and told them to socialize with their other classmates while eating the snacks they brought from home.

His mama, (his favourite person EVER!), gave him strawberries.

STRAWBERRIES!

HE LOVED STRAWBERRIES!

So, understandably, he was really happy when he saw them in his He-man lunch box. (So cool, right!).

He was expecting something similar from Catra, but instead just saw her get out from her pocket a tiny cylindrical container with a blue cap and inside... some sugar?

Maybe it was sugar to put on some kind of fruit?

He was so convinced of that idea that he was shocked when he saw Catra open the cap, lick her finger, put it in the strange sugar and then lick it again.

That’s dirty!

“Catra, what is that?” he said, worried for his friend, but at the same time very curious.

To that, Catra turned towards him, still with the finger in her mouth, with a confused look.

She then looked down, back at him again, and exclaimed a loud: “OH!”

“Lucas Mango!” she then answered enthusiastically, shoving the tiny container in his face.

He was still confused.

“... what?” he asked, again.

“Okay, so, basically,” then she started talking really fast, “My papi comes back and forth from Mexico, right? So, sometimes, he brings me some snacks, and these ones are the best! I had to beg my mamá to bring this instead of a banana, yuck!” she concluded with a funny face.

“Oh” he said, still trying to process everything Catra said, “That’s... that’s awesome!”

She nodded enthusiastically to that.

“So your dad just brings bags filled with snacks sometimes?” he asked, just to be sure.

“Yes!”

“That’s awesome!” he said.

Bags full of candies sounded awesome!

“I know! Want to try?” she then offered him the candy.

Wait, is it candy?

“Is it sweet?” he asked.

“Yup, super sweet, just like sugar.” she answered.

Well, here goes nothing.

He licked his finger, just like he saw Catra do, sticked it into the sugary powder and tasted it.

It was...

SOUR!

SO SOUR!

“CATRA!” he screamed, jumping out of his seat.

He expected Catra spurting out apologies, maybe her just saying: “What’s wrong?”, but instead, she was just laughing hysterically in her seat, holding even her stomach.

“BWAHAHAHA!” she was saying, “You should’ve seen your face! It was all scrunched!”

Her laugh is so squeaky and cute-

NO ALEX!

Catra is not cute right now, SHE’S MEAN!

“Catra!” he said angrily, “Don’t laugh, you’re mean!”

“I’m not!” she said, still laughing, then got up and squished his cheeks together, “You just can’t take a joke.”

She... was right.

BUT!

He won’t ever admit it!

But right when he was opening his mouth to talk back, he heard a voice from his right.

“Hey!” said a boy with ruffly brown hair and a confident smirk, “Is that a He-man lunch box? I love that show!”

Alex looked at him for a moment or two, processing what he said.

He likes He-man.

HE LIKES HE-MAN?!

“YOU LIKE IT TOO?” he said, maybe too enthusiastically.

“Here he goes...” mumbled Catra, now sitting again in her chair.

“What’s your favourite character?! Mine’s He-man!”

“He-man? No, that’s super boring! Skeletor is better!”

“No, you’re wrong! He-man's fantastic because...”, then, he started describing all of the most badass scenes where he was the best.

He knew them all by heart!

It didn’t last long though.

“Eww, stop talking so much, you’re annoying!” said the kid, interrupting him.

Well, that stopped him.

W-what?

Was he doing it again?

Oh no.

He’s being annoying again.

Now everyone is going to hate him again.

N-now everyone-

“At first it looked like you didn’t have a brain, but now you gave me the confirmation.”

His train of thoughts was interrupted by Catra’s words, that now got up from her chair and was glaring down at the kid with a really scary look.

“W-what are you saying?!” he told her, clearly defensive.

“If you can’t even pay attention to someone talking for more than fifteen seconds, then you have serious problems.” replied nonchalantly Catra.

“T-that’s not true!” now the kid was almost crying, “You’re mean!”.

He then he started running away from them, covering his eyes.

“Bu-uh!” said Catra in a mocking voice, while sticking out her tongue.

Alex couldn’t help but stare at the whole scene astonished.

He slowly turned towards Catra, who know was sited again in her chair.

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why did you do that?” he couldn’t help but ask-

Why?

“What do you mean: “Why did you do that?”?! He was being a dick!”

“CATRA! BAD, BAD WORD!”

“Relax, my brothers say it all the time.”

“IT DOESN’T MAKE IT OKAY!”

“Fine, fine!” she said, clearly ignoring his words.

“Anyway, he wasn’t being a- a meany, he was just being honest...” Alex said, looking away.

Right...

“You’re a dummy!” shouted Catra, forcing him to look at her, “You’re, like, the kindest and funniest person in this room, he was being moany just because he’s a-… b-bad person.”

Oh, so she was listening to him.

But, his attention wasn’t at all focused on Catra avoiding the bad word.

You’re the kindest and funniest person in this room.

Catra thought he was the kindest and funniest person in this room.

Ahh.

“Y-you really think I’m the kindest and funniest?” he asked timidly, maybe his cheeks a little redder than usual.

But it was like he just slapped Catra in the face, because Catra turned her head super-fast towards him with super wide eyes and red cheeks.

She looked away immediately.

“I-I mean, that’s objective! Only stupid people would think otherwise...” she barely muttered, pretty defensive.

Alex could only look at her with a big, sweet smile on his face.

Maybe that guy was really mean, but Alex didn’t even think about it while Ms. Casta was explaining what vowels are, he didn’t even think about it when he got home.

Because the only thing that was occupying his mind were Catra’s words.

You’re the kindest and funniest person in this room.

Ahh.

Even when he went to bed and his mama gave him a kiss on the forehead, he was still thinking about it.

He fell asleep with a smile on his face.

Chapter Text

It was two and a half p.m., right after school, and little Alex was just entering his house hand in hand with Catra.

See, school had become the perfect excuse for him and Catra to spend a lot of time together, and Alex wasn’t complaining at all.

So, when his mama came to pick up both of them and told them Catra was going to eat at their house, he couldn’t help but scream in joy!

Now they just entered the house, and while his mama went immediately towards the counters, he and Catra took their time to undress and went upstairs to wash their hands. Alex thought it would be quick.

But Catra is a meany.

And so, she started splashing his face with the water that was dripping from her hands.

He was outraged at first, but obviously! She wetted him!

“Catra!” he said, clearly very angry!

She didn’t say anything though, she just kept laughing with her typical squeaky laugh.

Cute.

No Alex!

To make her pay, Alex did it too, just to make her less smug!

Needless to say, that started a very bloody fight, that can be compared to the worse wars! (Even though they were giggling the entire time.)

They only stopped when Mara called them for dinner, but of course, Catra had to make it a race.

She won.

Anyway, he couldn’t help but smile so wide when he saw what was for dinner.

Cotoletta!

It’s something his nonna always did, like an Italian recipe, and even though it was super simple, (it was after all chicken breast breaded and fried in olive oil), it was one of his favourite dishes!

It also reminded him a lot of his nonna.

By the way, he hasn’t seen her lately.

Where is she?

Oh!

Sugar snaps, there are even the fried potatoes shaped like smiley faces!

This is the best lunch ever!

“Thank you, Mara, for all the food!” said Catra, with sparkles in her eyes.

“Don’t even think about it sweetheart, it’s nothing!” said his mama, “Now now, eat!”

They then started eating and talking with her mama about school stuff.

Which by the way, was awesome!

They started doing difficult exercises, just like grown ups!

When they both finished eating, they asked Mara if they could go play, and when she said yes to them, they both started running furiously towards Alex’s room.

It didn’t take them long to find Alex’s action figures and starting playing with them.

What didn’t take little Alex long too, was asking Catra a question that was in his mind for a while.

“So, Catra,” started Alex, “Your dad brings you tons of snacks and sweets from Mexico, right?”

“Yup.” said Catra while she was brushing Starfire’s long hair, making the p pop.

“So, are you, like, Mexican?” he asked, curious.

“I mean, technically yes.” she answered.

“Why technically?”

“Because I was born there, but my family moved here when I was, like, one,” she started, now braiding Starfire’s hair, “So I don’t remember anything. If I don’t really remember anything, am I really Mexican?”

“Dunno,” said Alex, “Do you feel like one?”

Catra seemed to think about it for a while.

But then, she looked up and said confidently: “Yeah!”, then she stopped for a second and added: “I mean, I’m different from you.”

“But aren’t we all different?”

“Eh, fair enough.”

They then started playing in silence for a while. That couldn’t last for long though.

We’re talking about Alex, after all.

“And how did you come here? Do you miss your old house?”

“Meh, not really.” she answered, now making two soldier figures fight, “It was a temporary house after all. See, my papi worked in a factory that did, like, chairs, but it was destroyed in an earthquake, so they, like, decided to move the factory here.”

“So, then you all moved?”

“Yup. But my papi bought an ugly house in an ugly neighbourhood just to save money and then buy a pretty one after.” she told him, “So I don’t really miss it.”

“Ohh, now I understand!” he said, smile on his face.

Now he knew more about Catra!

“Also, theotherkidswerereallymean.” she then barely muttered.

Huh?

“What?” he asked her.

He didn’t understand anything!

“The other kids... they were, like, mean.” she answered him, still in a low voice, now looking shyly down.

“Why?!” he said, now really angry.

Who?! He’s going to hurt them all a lot! (even though he doesn’t like violence!)

“It’s nothing, really...” she said.

But he could clearly see tears starting to form in her eyes.

“Catra...” he said, with a reassuring voice, while coming closer to her and holding her hand, “It isn’t nothing, you’re crying...”

“But...”

“No buts!” he interrupted her, “We’re best friend, right? You don’t have be tough or hide anything from me.”

She then looked at him with glassy eyes.

She started talking.

“They... they called me dirty.”

“But you’re not! You smell like pretty flowers!” he said without thinking.

Shoot! He shouldn’t have said that!

But anyway, why would they call Catra dirty, she doesn’t look dirty at all!

“I know! I wash myself every day!” she told him, “but I have, like, dark skin and bushy hair, and, I dunno, they thought that.”

“Well, they’re dumb.” he said to Catra, “They don’t even know what dirty means!”.

To that, he threw his hands in the air, just to emphasize.

It worked, because Catra started giggling.

“You’re right, they’re dumb.”

“Also...” now he was sure he was blushing a little, because his cheeks felt warm, “Your hair is really pretty.”

“You- you really think so?” Catra asked him, now looking at him with hopeful eyes.

Ba-thumpt, ba-thumpt.

“Y-yeah! Obviously!” said in the end Alex, with newfound confidence.

“THANK YOU!” almost screamed Catra before tackling him to the ground and hugging him.

Ahh.

Ahhhh!

Catra is hugging him!

Heart, stop beating so fast!

Oh god.

Oh god.

Is he having a panic attack?

But Catra wasn’t moving anymore, she just kept hugging him thigh.

Catra’s really warm.

Well, he surely doesn’t mind staying like this for a while.

He surely doesn’t mind staying like this forever, either.

But, forever didn’t last long, because right then his mama opened the door with a bottle of orange juice and two glasses in her hands.

“Well, am I interrupting something?” said his mama, trying to remain serious, but Alex could clearly hear her giggle a little.

Now he felt embarrassed, even though he didn’t know why he should be.

He stopped hugging Catra.

“N-no! Not at all!” said immediately Alex, clearly defensive.

“Okay,” she then said his mama, “who wants orange juice?”

Well, they couldn’t say no to orange juice.

It was only when his mama went away and they were halfway through their juice that Catra started speaking again.

“Alex,” she said, with a strange look on her face, “We’re besties, so I can tell you everything, right?”

If he had to be completely honest, now Alex was a little scared.

“Obviously.” he replied anyway, without a single doubt.

“I overheard my mom on the phone the other day, the one before first day of school,” she started explaining, “And even though I couldn’t hear the whole conversation, even if I tried really hard, I got the jits of it.”

Well, now little Alex was really curious.

“So? What did you hear?” he tried asking in a neutral tone.

“My abuelo is dying.”

WHAT?!

“What?! W-who?” he said.

He- he didn’t even know what to say.

Death sounded normal when it happened to bad guys in cartoons, but applying it in real life is really scary...

“My- my grandpa, he’s dying.” she repeated, “My mamà was talking with tia Aletia on the phone about it. He’s in an hospital here, and if he doesn’t die immediately, he won’t last more than a year and a half.”

Now, Catra was starting to sob, and Alex did the only thing he could think of.

He hugged her.

That didn’t stop the crying, but it actually made it worse.

But it didn’t feel bad though, it was almost like Catra was freeing herself from this, in a way.

She stopped crying after a while.

“My abuelo always tells me stories of when he was young, or even some famous myths. I always love listening to him.” Catra started saying, still hugging him, “Will- will it really end? Just like this?”

He... he didn’t know what to say.

He tried anyway.

“I dunno, but shouldn’t we stop being sad because it’s ending and start being happy because it happened? Or so, my mama always says.”

To that, Catra got out of their embrace.

“Hey, that’s actually a good say.” she said, “So you aren’t a complete dummy after all.”

“I told you!”

Then Catra gave him a tiny smile.

“So, what about your grandparents?” asked him Catra, obviously trying to change the subject.

“Well, I don’t have a dad, so no four grandparents, and my mama’s father died when she was tiny, so I never met him, but I have a nonna!” he then concluded, while smiling a lot.

He loved his nonna Razz!

“Nonna? Is she Argentinian? I had an Argentinian friend!” asked Catra, now smiling more than before.

“No, no, she’s Italian! From the south, and there is some kind of difference between south and north, probably...” he didn’t really remember well.

His nonna always talked so much!

“She’s an amazing cook, and she always tells the best stories!” he kept saying, “But sometimes, she’s mean to me!”

“Mean? Why?” asked Catra.

“Well, last time she told me that I was saying both her name and my mama’s wrong, because I couldn’t do the “r” right!” he said, exasperated just thinking about it.

“And she started making fun of me with my mom because I couldn’t do that strange sound!”

“You mean, the rolling “r”?”

“Yeah!”

To that, Catra started laughing.

“Obviously, you’re too much of a dummy for this.”

“I’m not! It’s really difficult!”

“But I can do it.”

“You’re different!”

“Dummy.”

“ANYWAY, did you know that my mother’s name is actually Marta?” he said to change the topic.

“Really?!”

“Yup, but someone named Hope or something said it wrongly and they kept it, or something. I don’t really remember well, they were talking too fast.”

“...”

“Catra?”

“You know that you’re not saying my name right too, dummy?”

“STOP IT!”

They kept talking for a long time about everything that came to their mind. It was for almost the entire day.

But they both wanted it to never stop.

 

Chapter Text

Little Alex was very nervous.

Why, you ask?

Don’t you know what day is today!

It’s October 28th!

And he’s super anxious!

He obviously prepared every little detail for today, he isn’t a complete dummy! But he couldn’t help but feel a horrible sense of dread starting in his lower tummy.

What if something went wrong?

What if he was being too clingy?

No, Alex, stop thinking about it!

If you start to think about bad things, they’re going to happen!

He quickly looked himself in the mirror and softly slapped his cheeks, making them a little red.

He then went to his desk and grabbed a roughly packed box with a bright red ribbon glued on it and some drawings scribbled on top of it, put it in his backpack, along with some special candy, and started running down the stairs.

Wait, what day is today, you ask?

It’s Catra’s birthday of course!

Catra told him one day right after he finished playing a match with Alejandro, Luis and José, and they were heading towards her room to grab her new bubble maker and play with it.

“Catra!” said Alex, excited, (soap bubbles are amazing!), “That’s so cool! You have, like, twelve of them! How?”

“See, my papi had to do something very important, so he had to go to Mexico, and because he felt bad for not being here the day of my birthday, he decided to gift me both an entire day of cuddles and a whole package of them!”. When she finished talking, Catra turned towards him with sparkly eyes and a big smile.

BIRTHDAY!?

“CATRA!” he suddenly screamed, making Catra jump a little, “YOU DIDN’T TELL ME ABOUT YOUR BIRTHDAY!”

He was a little angry, he had to admit it.

She didn’t tell him about her birthday!

And they’re besties!

“Whoopsie.” she only said.

“Don’t say that, I’m mad!” he told her, “A birthday is a super important thing and you didn’t tell me!”

“I just forgot, okay?!” she said defensive, now raising her voice too, “Besides, you didn’t tell me yours either!”

That stopped him, making him look at Catra with a blank face.

“Ah.” he said.

Catra then raised her finger and poked him on the forehead.

“Dummy.”

She then told him that her birthday was on October 28th, (and he told her that his was on January 19th!), and that the only real birthday she celebrated was with that Argentinian friend she told him about a while ago, Malen.

“But she moved away before we could celebrate my fifth birthday, so that’s a bummer.” Catra finished the story.

“And you didn’t find any other friends?” he asked, still sad knowing Catra didn’t have good birthdays.

“Nope, I didn’t like the other kids at all.” she told him, scrunching her nose a little.

But Alex knew it was more than that, she told him so a month and a little more ago.

He decided to not press it though.

BUT.

CATRA DIDN’T HAVE ANY AWESOME BIRTHDAYS!!!

THAT’S OUTRAGEOUS!

And he’s going to change that!

That’s why he spent the three days from Catra’s confession to her birthday planning the perfect party!

And, okay, maybe he was obsessing a little about it, writing everything even on a rainbow agenda, but Catra totally deserves it!

Now it was only a matter of everything going as planned.

Which is terrifying.

But! He promised himself that he’s not going to think about it. Or trying not to think about it.

When he went down the stairs and to the living room, he could see his mama putting the last decorations, which were colourful banners and caps with written all over them something along the lines of: “Happy birthday!”

He hoped Catra would like them, but what was really worrying him weren’t the decorations, but a brightfully packed box in his backpack that now seemed to weight a ton.

He tried to make the packaging as special as possible. First of all, he made it himself!

It had been a little hard wrapping the paper around the box with tape and making it look pretty, but he did it, and all by himself!

Then, he grabbed some coloured pencils and started scribbling little drawings of him and Catra holding hands, along with some rainbows and hearts.

After that, he sticked with his own school glue a bright red ribbon on the top.

And it looked so cool!

But what he wasn’t sure about was what was inside the box.

Maybe he should’ve picked something else instead of-

“Alex! Are you ready sweetie?” he heard his mama call him.

“Y-yeah!” he said.

Now the jitters were really taking control of him.

They both turned off all the lights, (and closed all the windows, so that everything was pitch black), and went straight to the door.

“So now we gotta stay like this for a while? Cool. Now I can’t see your ugly faces.” said Alejandro from somewhere in the room.

“You’re mean.” he heard Luis say.

“Cry about it.”

Oh yeah.

Catra’s brothers are here too.

They wanted to be cool about it, but they love to dead their little sister, so they basically begged to be at the “party” too.

Alex and her mama crossed the street and knocked on Catra’s house’s door, and a smiley Selena opened the door.

Catra had no real idea what was going on. Selena told her that it was just a normal day and that she would go to Alex’s house to play and spend her birthday together.

No big deal whatsoever.

When Catra was out of her house, they all got back to his own.

Catra didn’t look really happy though.

And she’s right from her point of view. Alex didn’t say happy birthday to her!

But obviously she didn’t know that Alex was just waiting for the right moment!

And that right moment came exactly when they opened the door.

“Eh?” said Catra confused.

“Why is everything so dark?”

“SURPRISE!”

Right at that moment, all the lights turned on, and two of the three boys were screaming that and popping confetti in front of a bright table and a banner with “Happy Birthday!” written on it, while Alejandro was filming the whole thing on his phone.

Alex turned to Catra and said: “Happy Birthday!”, while smiling brightly.

Catra looked at him for a second, with a strangely blank stare.

Oh no.

He did wrong, didn’t he?

Now Catra’s going to hate him.

Now Catra’s-

“YOU’RE A DUMMY!” she suddenly screamed, then launched herself towards him and hugged him really tight.

Was... was she crying?

“You’re all dummies...”

Alex couldn’t do much other than rub his little hand up and down Catra’s back.

But a thought was gnawing at his mind.

“... d-do you hate it?” said Alex with a whisper.

“No...” told him Catra, still not moving from their embrace, “It’s perfect.”

The rest of the day went perfectly.

They played at every game possible while their mamas talked, laughing like crazies, and even watched a movie at some point!

Then his mama brought to them the cake, (which was perfect, because his mama did it), covered in confetti and pretty decorations.

And also the cupcake he made exclusively for Catra!

It was... not the best, he had to admit.

The cupcake didn’t have a smooth surface, but was leaning to a side, so the frosting on top wasn’t the straightest either, nor a perfect swirl, but Catra smiled, so everything’s okay!

And even though everything was going great, Alex couldn’t help but feel still super anxious.

He didn’t give her the present yet.

But Alex wanted to be a cool superhero, so he had to be brave!

So, he took Catra’s hand and guided her to the backyard, where there was nobody.

“What are you doing, dummy?” asked Catra, while giggling a little.

The sun was almost completely out, so he had to be quick.

“This is a birthday, right?” tried starting Alex, nervous.

“Obviously, dummy.” answered Catra.

“And what’s one of the most important things in a birthday?”

“Uhm, I dunno, cake?” she told him, tilting her head a bit in confusion.

At that point Alex took out from his back the box he was obsessing about for the entire day.

Catra first looked at the box, then at him.

“Present!” she shouted, almost scared, “You really are a dummy! You shouldn’t have!”

She then took the box in her hands and started looking at it intensely, turning it around in her hands.

“Is... is that us?” asked Catra, now focusing on the drawing Alex made.

“Yes! I’m not as good as you, but-”

“It’s perfect!” she interrupted him, now smiling super wide, “You even drew my freckles!”

At that Alex blushed a little.

He just liked them a lot, okay?!

“What is it?” asked Catra.

“Just open it.”

And she was, indeed, about to open it, but right at that moment the others came.

“Alex, what are you doing?!” said his mama, “We want to see Catra’s reaction too!”

“Yes Alex, why didn’t you call us?”

“Thank God we got there before she opened it.”

Alex... wanted it to be only him and Catra.

He didn’t really know why, he just... did.

I guess it’s too late now.

Catra finally shred in a million pieces the paper that was wrapping the present, (but put particular attention in not damaging the drawing), clearly excited about the surprise.

And she was so surprised that when she saw what it was, she stopped completely.

“So, do you like it?” said Alex, trying so hard not to make his voice tremble.

Now Catra was holding a shiny coloured pencils box, the very one Alex had made her mama go through hell to find.

“It’s the special brand you told me about some time ago. And it’s not the normal set, it’s the one with twenty-six different colours, it even has gold and silver!”

Now little Alex was talking without thinking, growing more and more worried by Catra’s silence.

But right when Alex was starting to feel his eyes dampen, Catra raised her head and looked at him with a surprised look.

“ALEX!” she suddenly screamed, throwing herself towards Alex in a tight hug for the second time that day.

“It’s really... perfect.”

Chapter Text

Catra used a lot Alex’s present from that day on.

In fact, she even used it to make him his present for his own birthday.

And it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

She drew him with all the shades and stuff!

But not only that, because paired with the drawing there was a plushie.

And not a regular plushie.

AN UNICORN PLUSHIE!

And it has this strange material on the horn that is rainbowy and changes colours when you move it!

He nearly cried!

Okay, maybe he really did cry, but they were happy tears, so it’s all good!

Besides that, now Catra’s room was filled with all of her drawings sticked on the walls, and now it was very colourful.

And Alex was very happy!

That meant Catra liked his present a lot!

But this is old news.

Now it’s March, probably five months later, and Alex is currently in Catra’s kitchen preparing some special kind of tea cookies with her and her mom.

And it was being a lot of fun!

Selena made them pick up the ingredients all by themselves, then while she was preparing the dough, she let them put their hands into the bowl!

Obviously, they had washed their hands before doing that, and feeling the sticky dough was one of the best feelings he had ever experienced.

And he experienced a lot of those!

Anyway, now they were rolling the dough on a pan and cutting different shapes on it with various cookie cutters. Selena told them they were supposed to be all circular, but she let them use other cookie cutters shaped like hearts and stars because it was more fun!

While they were doing all of this, the TV was playing softly in the background, currently set on the cartoon channel.

And along with the shoes, there’s a shiny lip-gloss ready to be used. Go get them at your closest store, they’re waiting for you!

Various toys ads could be heard, but the two kids weren’t really paying attention to them, too focused on cutting the perfect shape on the dough.

Then Alex heard something that picked up his interest.

Hey, you! Yes, you! Are you a fan of the manliest super hero He-man?

To that, Alex immediately raised his head towards the television with extremely intense eyes, completely forgetting the cookies.

He could hear Catra giggle beside him. She always told him he was a little too obsessed.

And he wasn’t!

He was just... super intense about it!

He only tended to super focus on something from time to time, that’s all.

Then you’re surely going to love his new long-lost twin sister, She-ra!

“SHE-RA?!” suddenly shouted Alex, now getting off the stool he was on and running towards the TV.

“Alex!” he heard Selena distantly, “Your hands are dirty, where are you going?”

But now, all little Alex could focus on is the TV in front of him.

And especially what was playing on said TV.

Every Wednesday at 5 p.m., come watch She-ra: Princess of Power on channel 47!

With that, the channel showed what She-ra looked like.

And wow.

A beautiful muscular woman with gorgeous makeup and flowy blond hair stood in front of the screen, holding a big sword while being surrounded by a shower of rainbow glitter.

“...”

It was everything he ever wanted.

“AAAH!” he suddenly screamed, “CATRA! LOOK! IT’S FANTASTIC!”

Now he was hopping all around the living room, while shaking his hands uncontrollably from the excitement.

Catra, a responsible kid, first washed her hands, then walked towards her bestie.

“How can you be so excited? It’s just He-man’s crappy female version.” she told him.

“That’s mean Catra, and not true!” he said while getting super offended.

“You just like it ’cause she’s everything you want to be.”

“... well, that’s true.”

Selena, seeing the two kids so engaged (well, mostly Alex), putted all of the cookies in the oven and went to the living room too.

“What is this new Sheera? A new super hero?” Selena asked them, curious about their excitement.

“Yes!” answered Alex enthusiastically, “She’s He-man's twin sister!”

“Oh!” said Selena, “So, she’s like He-man?”

“No! She’s even better!”, Alex now couldn’t contain a huge grin.

Alex’s happiness was now infecting Selena too, making her smile widely.

“Can I ask why?”

“She’s basically everything Alex wants to be.” said Catra, joining in the conversation.

“Catra!” said maybe too loudly Alex, blushing a little, “I-I mean, yes... kinda. But obviously!”

Now he was jumping again from excitement.

“She has big muscles, flowy hair and... oh! A pretty dress!” he said, sparkles in his eyes.

Selena... couldn’t help but look at him attentively.

This little boy, talking about these things, like dresses, make-up, rainbows and unicorns with such vigour.

And all she could see was... happiness.

Enthusiasm, joy, excitement.

Such genuine passion and happiness could be hardly seen in many’s eyes.

She went to the couch and took a seat.

“Alex, could you and Catra come seat here with me for a second?” she asked, intent clear in her eyes.

“Yeah!”

“Okay.”

After the two kids took a seat, Selena turned towards Alex.

“Hey sweetie, could you answer some of my questions?” said Selena.

“Okie!”

“Tell me, what’s your favourite colour?”

“Rainbow!”

“That’s not a colour, dummy.”

“It’s okay Catarina. Alex, if I were to buy you a pretty rainbow dress, would you be happy?”

“Sugar snaps, yes!”

“And what’s your favourite fantasy creature?”

“Unicorns!”

“Okay, last question. But promise me that you’ll be completely honest.”

“Alright!”

“That day when you stole my make-up, you did enjoy it, did you?”

Now Alex’s eyes changed drastically.

All of the happiness from before was gone, and now they were filled with sadness and... shame?

“Y-yeah.” he answered, looking down.

Selena paused, really looked at him, and then...

“Me too!” she said, making Alex’s head turn sharply in her direction, “Maybe you can change Catarina’s mind about these things, so we’ll finally have something in common!”

To that, Alex gave her a toothy smile: “I don’t think that’s possible!”

“Yes! It is impossible! I’ll never be more girly or whatever!” said Catra while standing up on the couch and doing a little pout.

Selena couldn’t help but laugh at that.

“I was joking! Come on, group hug.” she said while opening her arms.

Alex immediately went to hug her, (he loves hugs!), but Catra hesitated a few seconds before joining them. It was all a façade though.

Catra loved her mamá’s hugs.

And while Selena was hugging these two dorky kids, she couldn’t help but love the warmth it gave her.

She had been such an idiot.

Chapter Text

It was a warm summer day, and little Alex and Catra made an extraordinary discovery.

While they were sitting on Alex’s porch, extremely bored, Catra suggested to go explore around the neighbourhood.

Alex was confused at first. He had lived there his entire life and he had no idea what they were supposed to explore. He went along with the idea anyway.

At first, he thought that Catra wanted to go around the other houses and visit some nearby shops, but instead, she insisted they had to go into the forest.

See, behind Alex’s house, there’s a little forest with super big trees.

They weren’t actually that big, but in comparison to Alex they were!

Anyway, his mama always said that he shouldn’t go in there because it’s dangerous and he could get lost.

That’s why he was so hesitant to follow Catra.

“Catra! Please, let’s go somewhere else, it’s dangerous in there!” he said, still not leaving the sidewalk.

“Come on Al, don’t be a scaredy cat.” said Catra, just a step away from the trees.

Oh, yes, she had started using that nickname a while ago.

He loved it.

“You know what they say: Curiosity killed the cat.” he tried joking.

“But satisfaction brought it back. Now stop joking about my name and let's go.” now she was crossing her hands and tapping an impatient foot on the ground.

“Ah,” he said, his mouth gaping a little, “I didn’t know about that part.”

“See? You’re a dummy. Now follow me.”     

Alex, finally giving in, followed Catra into the forest.

They walked for a while, talking about everything that came to their mind.

It was mostly things like what they expected from their second year of elementary school, how dumb that kid looked when he fell out of the swing the other day, or some very important existential questions, like: Are the trees really big or are we just really tiny?

Anyway, after some minutes of walking Alex was becoming fidgeting, mostly because it was just trees and they weren’t really seeing anything new.

And that’s when they saw it.

In the middle of the forest, hidden by tall trees, there was a small lake surrounded by soft grass.

Wow.

They couldn’t help but look at it with their mouths open.

After a few moments of awe, the two kids looked at each other briefly, then shared a malicious smile and started running furiously towards the water.

And they maybe sorta kinda gotten each other a little wet.

Okay, maybe a lot wet.

But!

It’s Summer! It’s only fair!

Just... don’t tell their moms.

But Catra started splashing him with the water and he couldn’t just stand there and watch!

And it was a bloody fight.

So bloody that the two were exhausted after they called a draw.

Okay, maybe Catra won.

But only by a little!

Anyway, the fact is that they were both out of breath after it, so they went buy some ice-cream to then bring to the lake and eat there.

Because now Alex was seven and was a big boy, his mama gave him money to buy ice-cream for both him and Catra, so they didn’t even have to ask her!

And now here they are, sited under a big tree near the lake to escape the sun, eating ice-cream.

Not only that, but Catra was leaning her head on his shoulder, and that was making his heart beat like crazy.

He didn’t know why though.

“Hey, Catra?” he said at some point, while looking at a flower that fell down on the ground, “Do you know what kind of tree this is?”

“Nope,” she said, still licking her hazelnut ice-cream, “But you sure know, right, flower freak?”

He giggled a little at that.

Catra called him that nickname the first time they met.

And it still was one of his favourite days!

“Yeah! This is a Magnolia Tree. I know because I read it in a book with tons of flower pictures!”

“Cool.”

They stayed a little longer like that.

It was actually a very pretty scenery, the tree behind them covered in beautiful flowers and the lake painting itself with stunning colours thanks to the sun lights.

“Al?” asked Catra at some point, breaking the silence.

“Yeah?”

“What do you wanna be when you grow up?”

He didn’t even have to think about that!

“I want to be a superhero!” he said without hesitating.

He immediately imagined himself with a big red cape, huge muscles and flowy golden hair!

Okay, maybe he should just ignore the last part.

“Superheroes don’t exist, dummy, you can’t be one.” said Catra, poking him on his side.

He knows that!

He knows it, okay?!

It’s just that he liked to... pretend.

Sometimes.

“I know! But there are real life superheroes!”

“Huh?”

“Like firefighters! My mama always says that they’re superheroes.”

“...”

Catra stared at the ground for a few seconds, scrunching up her forehead.

“...shoot, you’re right.”

“See!”

“So, you want to be a firefighter?”

“I dunno, but I want to help people!” he said finally.

He had to admit, he never really thought that hard about his future, but now that he was, he imagined himself surely helping people!

And... and...

“I want a pretty wife too!” he said out loud, even though it was supposed to be a thought.

After realizing what he said, Alex turned a warm shade of red, making Catra laugh with her distinct squeaky laugh.

She then made a serious face.

“I don’t.” she said after she stopped laughing.

“Huh?”

“I don’t want a husband.” she said, not looking at him in the eyes.

“Why?”

“I dunno. Boys are stinky.” she said.

Ouch.

That hurt a little.

“Hey!”

“You’re different.” she said, the poked him again on the side.

He’s different from the other boys.

He doesn’t know why, but hearing that made him feel giddy. Not only because that made him special to Catra’s eyes but also because... he doesn’t know, really.

“Anyway, when I try to imagine myself in the future, I see a super cool me in a super cool apartment doing cool stuff. And I have a cat. No husband.” said Catra, now playing with Alex’s hands.

He doesn’t know why Catra likes playing with his hands, but it makes him feel all bubbly inside, so it’s okay.

“What about you?” asked Catra, “What do you see?”

“Mmmm...” he said, “Let me think...”

He saw a beautiful sunny house! And a cute wife reading a book for adults on the sofa, and...

Himself?

It was... weird.

He really tried, imagining himself with a supercool haircut and a black smoking, but... it was just all distorted.

It seemed... wrong, somehow.

Like he just couldn’t grasp himself clearly.

What-

“Come on, let’s go,” said Catra, suddenly getting up, “Clearly all of this thinking is hurting your brain, you’re too much of a dummy.”

“I’m not a dummy!”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever, let’s go watch cartoons at your house.” Now she was already walking away.

“You want to go there only because my mama promised you her special home-made ice-cream!” he said back, now getting up too.

“That’s not true!” she said, but her cheeks were now red, “Race you there!”

And now she was running, only because she didn’t want to admit the truth!

“Catra! Wait for me!”

And despite his brain being now filled with thoughts about his mama’s ice-cream, he couldn’t help but still think about that horrible empty sensation he felt before.

What even was that thing?

Well, he’ll think about it later.

Chapter Text

Summer passed super-fast, (probably because he was with Catra the entire time), and now it was already their second year of elementary school!  

Alex always loved school, so in summer he always waited enthusiastically for it to start again, but now he felt himself missing those funny times with Catra at their secret lake.  

When he said that to Catra, she told him something like: “I’m finally turning you normal!”  

Anyway, he wasn’t that sad, because he’s still with Catra all the time!  

That day he also felt extremely happy!  

Guess why?  

He finally entered a soccer team!  

He asked his mama some time ago if he could join one of those while they were having dinner and she just said that she will look for one.  

After a while she took him to a special audition, and they took him!  

Now he’s part of the team!  

He’s so excited about all the things he’s learning that he can’t help but talk about them with Catra every time he can.  

He’s not that much of a dummy though, he knows Catra is getting a little bored, so he promised himself that he will talk about it only once a day!  

Now, while they were having recess in the playground of the school, was one of those times.  

They were currently sited on a low stone wall, while he talked about e verything  he learned to an eating Catra.  

“And then they told us that we should always start running with our left foot because you can kick the ball without stopping running!”  

“Honestly though, I didn’t think soccer had so many rules and techniques, I thought you just had to randomly kick a ball.” she said while still chewing her  sandwich .  

Sure, it was a little gross, but Alex liked it.  

Why? Because that means that they’re really close and they can be gross with each other!  

“I know right! It’s so cool!”  

He was sure he had sparkles in his eyes, while moving enthusiastically his chubby hands in the air.  

He was just so happy!  

He felt like nothing could ruin his day at that moment.  

“Oh god, is that our cutesy Alexandra?”  

 

Oh  no .  

“Is that a friend? I thought you were too in love with your dolls to have some.”  

He slowly turned to his right, and right there, he saw Derek, standing taller than ever, with two other guys on his back. He knew they weren’t really friends, just some boys that were either scared of him or wanted to feel cool.  

He tried to send him away, to scream at him for the mean things he did to him last time, hell, even just stand up to be the same height so Catra won’t think he’s a coward, but... nothing.  

He just... couldn’t move.  

Every time he thought about what happened last time, his brain just  freezed  immediately.  

“Al, is he talking to you?” asked Catra, confused about what was happening.  

Ah, right.  

He never told Catra what happened.  

He stood up, because he wanted to be big and brave, and opened his mouth.  

But... the words just couldn’t come out.  

“Please, go away.” was the only thing that he managed to say.  

Gne   gne please go away , is that the only thing you can say? But obviously, what was I expecting from a little girl.”  

He was talking again about those things that made his head feel numb.  

Whenever he said, those insults, his head started pounding, and he never knew what to feel or how to react.  

Was he supposed to be offended?  

Was he supposed to feel nothing like right now?  

He wasn’t crying.  

He wasn’t-  

“Maybe, he only said that because he’s smart and doesn’t have a crappy mouth that says every little stupid thing that comes to his mind.”  

He quickly turned around to see Catra standing up with an extremely scary face.  

“What did you just say to me?” said Derek, taken aback.  

“You heard it pretty well, fuckface.”  

Shoot, no!  

He sent a terrified look to Catra, shaking uncontrollably his head.  

He didn’t want Catra to get hurt!  

But Catra just kept advancing, now face to face with the big bully.  

It was actually a very comical sight seen from an outsider.  

Catra was very tiny, even for her age, so Derek was towering a few inches over her. But despite her small figure, Catra was still somehow emanating a threatening aura.  

“Wha-” he said at first, face red and closed fists, “You have a lot of guts for being a little dirty cockroach.”  

“At least I have a brain, you monkey.” said Catra, raising her chin.  

“That’s it!”   

At that, Derek took Catra’s wrist forcefully.  

Then, everything went too fast.  

The next thing Alex knew was that Catra took his hand and started running  furiously  towards god knows where.  

Now that he was paying more attention, Alex could notice Derek’s cries.  

“Catra, what did you do?!” he said,  panicking, “ Where are we going?!”  

“Just follow me,  you  big dummy!” she answered out of breath.  

Their little run actually brought them behind the abandoned gym of the school, a place where no one really came to.  

It was just an untreated little park with tall grass that was just behind the gym’s door locked with a really big lock.  

“Catra!” he said, now getting angry, “Can you please tell me what happened?!”  

Catra wasn’t looking at him in the eye, but just lightly dragging her foot on the dirt underneath her.  

“Well, I could’ve  sorta  scratched his eyeball a little...” she said, while making her index fingers touch.  

“CATRA!” he shouted, terrified.  

SCRATCHED HIS EYEBALL?  

WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?!  

“WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?!” he shouted, again, now shaking Catra’s shoulders.  

“Listen, he took my wrist and was definitely going to hurt me, I just defended myself! Besides, my  mamá  forgot to cut my nails.” she said, trying to find excuses for her bad action.  

Again,  bad  action.  

“That doesn’t mean you can  scratch him on the eyeball  or whatever that means!” he said, now walking in circles.  

“What will happen if someone finds out?” then, a realization hit him, making him put his hands on his face and turn towards his friend, “Catra, wHAT IF WE MADE HIM BLIND?!”  

Okay, now he was  really  panicking.  

“Relax! I didn’t even touch his actual eyeball, he’s going to be fine.” she told him, “As for us, if you keep panicking like this, we’re definitely going to have it bad.”  

“You’re not reassuring me!” he said.  

“Okay, I know that you’re a goody two shoes and it’s really hard for you, but think about this:”   

Then, she walked towards him and put her hands on his face, squishing his cheeks, “He. Deserved. It. He was saying all of those bad stuff to you, which, by the way, you still have to explain to me why, so, don’t feel bad for him.”  

She pulled away after her little speech and started heading towards their school.  

“Come on now, try to act as normal as possible, we’re  gonna  look suspicious if we stay here.”  

Obviously, the moment they got to class, Mrs. Casta stopped them and took them aside, hand in hand with a “crying” Derek.  

Or better, she took Catra aside.  

Alex didn’t know why Derek hadn’t told on him, but it surely couldn’t be for a good reason.  

“Catra,” he heard the teacher start, “Is it real that you had a fight with Derek?”  

“No, Mrs. Casta,” said Catra with a straight face, and Alex had no idea how she could lie so well, “I don’t even know this guy.”  

“That’s not true!” he heard Derek say, trying to look as innocent as possible, “She hurt me really bad!”  

Now Mrs. Casta had a really scary face, something Alex had never seen before.  

He then took a decision he could have never seen himself take a year and a half ago.  

“Catra, if you’re lying, I’m going to be really-”  

“I’m sorry Mrs. Casta, I know I shouldn’t have listened to your conversation,” he interrupted them, “but Catra and I have been together all day and she definitely didn’t do something like this!”  

To that, both Catra and Derek turned towards him with a look of pure shook, their mouths even gaping a little.  

But Mrs. Casta just seemed to think about it for a few seconds.  

“Well,” she said then, “if it’s you of all people telling me this, Alex,  then I'm  definitely going to believe it.”  

“Now, Derek,” she said after turning towards the kid, “It’s not a good thing to accuse innocent people!”  

What both Catra and Alex heard after that wasn’t really that understandable, given the fact that Mrs. Casta was now moving away from them, but they both definitely noticed the withering glare Derek was sending them.  

“Alex!”   

He literally jumped at that, too concentrated at that moment on their teacher and Derek.  

“I can’t believe you just did that!” said Catra, now having Alex’s full attention, while shoving her arms in the air, “Then you’re not a complete goody two shoes!”  

“I mean,” he said, “I definitely didn’t like what I did, but I would do that one-hundred times again to get you out of trouble.”  

Alex thought that he had been a little too sappy at that moment, but when he looked at Catra he saw her completely wide-eyed and with red cheeks.  

It didn’t last long though, because she immediately scowled really hard and looked away, even though her cheeks were still red.  

“Whatever, you’re such a dummy.” she said while starting to walk towards their class, “Now let’s go to class before the bell rings.”  

But Alex knew that Catra was trying to hide her feeling, and thinking about how deeply she cared about him, even considering what happened that day, put a smile on his face.  

Chapter Text

In the end, Alex explained to Catra who Derek was and what happened. 

He still didn’t really want to tell anybody, to be honest. 

What happened that day was really stupid if he had to be fair, (even though his brain stopped functioning completely every time he thought about it), and telling other people made him sound very weak. 

Besides, talking about his problems always made other people sad. 

And he didn’t want to make other people sad! 

Sometimes, his mama is really gloomy, on the sofa at three in the morning drinking some type of strange juice. He really hates seeing her like that, so he’ll try anything to not make her more sad, even if it means not telling her about the nightmare he just had. 

Anyway, even though saying things like this made other people feel that way, when he told Catra about it she didn’t look sad at all. 

More like super pissed. 

(“I can’t believe that- that-… THAT MONKEY!”  

“Catra, please, calm down. It’s  nothi -”  

“Don’t say it’s nothing! He was an a-hole!”  

“Catra!”  

“It’s not a bad word!”  

“We both know it’s not true...”  

“Anyway, who the hell does he thinks he is!”  

Watching her circle around her room while kicking some toys was actually a funny sight.  

“Playing with female action figures isn’t being girly!”  

She then looked at him straight in the eyes, face very serious.  

“Listen to me, dummy! You’re the manliest boy I’ve ever met, don’t listen to that scumbag!” she said, pointing a finger at him.  

He knows that Catra was trying to cheer him up.  

He fully knows that he  should  feel happier at those words.  

But.  

But. 

“And, hell, even if you weren’t, it’s not something bad! Being girly isn’t something bad!”  

To that, Alex raised his head, looking at Catra with hopeful eyes.  

For some strange reason, he felt like something really warm was hugging his heart.)  

But that first incident wasn’t the end of it all. 

Not even close. 

After that, Derek was only targeting him more that he was before. 

Maybe because he had to prove a point, most certainly because his pride had been hurt, it didn’t really matter, what mattered is that now only walking through his school corridors had become hell. 

Not really when he was with Catra, after almost becoming blind not one, but two times, (yes, it happened  again ), Derek was pretty scared of her. Every time Catra only saw him in the corridors, she would basically hiss at him. 

No no, the problem was when Catra was doing some sort of solo activity or couldn’t follow him. 

Like right now. 

The school day had finished, and little Alex had to go to the bathroom. 

While he was playing with Catra in the school’s playground, both waiting for their parents to arrive, she accidentally shoved him into the dirt, making his hands all dirty, so he went there to wash them. 

He just wanted to wash his hands.  

“Hey nerd, are you washing the glitter out of your hands? Too much playing with dresses?” 

No. 

No.  

Nonononononononononono- 

Alex turned around, not even turning off the tap, and there he saw Derek with his two “friends” towering over him. 

He just stood there, like a deer in headlights, not being able to move his body. 

The faucet kept going. 

“What? You thought your feral friend was going to protect you forever?” 

The dark walls of the bathroom looked like they were getting closer, almost as if they wanted to suffocate him. 

Drip drip drip. 

“Don’t talk about-” 

“Aww, now you want to defend her? With what, the power of unicorns?” 

Then, he grabbed him by his shirt. 

It was his favourite one, a unicorn surrounded by glitter on a rainbow background. It was made of soft wool, making wearing it feel like a warm hug. Now it only felt threatening, closing around his neck too tightly because of those cold hands’ grip. 

“I can’t believe you had the courage to talk to me in that way when you wear this.” 

Drip drip drip. 

“You look ridiculous. What are you, a two-year-old little girl?” 

Giggles. 

Then, he felt the cold ground.  

He probably should have felt angry at the water that was staining his shirt, but not right now. 

That was a bad shirt. 

“At least your friend has actual balls.” 

Drip drip drip. 

 


 

He didn’t go back to Catra. 

When he saw his mother’s car in front of the school, he immediately headed towards it. 

While he walked, he couldn’t feel his feet on the ground, couldn’t hear the chirping of the birds, couldn’t see the people he was passing next to.  Everything else was a void except the car he was heading towards to. 

His mama noticed immediately that something was wrong, his son’s usual enthusiasm gone and his answers too mechanical, but even though she kept asking, Alex just kept giving the same exacts answer. 

“Everything’s fine, mom” 

 


 

When they went home, Alex went immediately to his room. 

He stayed for a while sited with his back on the door, looking at nothing. 

Everything was the same. The warm light coming from his window tinted his room in the exact gentle manner, all of his toy boxes in the same place he left them, all of Catra’s drawings that were made for him were hanged in the same places. 

Everything was the same.  

But at the same time it wasn’t. 

He got up from his position and headed straight to his wardrobe, putting out every embarrassing piece of clothing out and collecting it all in one corner of the room. 

Before he could do anything about it, his mam-, mom, called him downstairs to have lunch. 

He headed straight to the kitchen, wanting to go back to his room the fastest he could, and as he was sitting in his usual chair, the bell rung. 

“Sweetie, please, can you open the door?” asked his mom, concern could still be heard in her voice. 

“Okay.” 

He got up and headed to the door, opening it. 

Honestly, he didn’t know who he was expecting when he opened the door, he wasn’t really thinking about it. 

But he surely wasn’t expecting to see his nonna. 

“Ale, dearie, you’ve grown up so much!” 

Right there, outside the door, was standing his nonna Razz, with the same eccentric hair and wardrobe as he remembered. 

And despite everything, a small smile appeared on his face. 

“Nonna!” he said, raising his hands and waiting for a hug. 

Nonna not only hugged him, but swept him out of his feet, spinning him around the room and making him uncontrollably giggle. 

“My sweet little Alessandro!” she said to him as she pressed little kisses on his head. 

“Mamma, I told you one-hundred times that it is Alexander.” said his mama, entering the conversation. 

“Whatever, Marta,” replied his nonna while putting him down, “I’m staying for a few days, hope you don’t mind.” 

She didn’t even wait for a response and headed straight to the kitchen, starting to mess up with the pans. His mama only laughed softly, both her and himself used to nonna’s antics. 

“I guess we’re all going to redo lunch, aren’t we?” his mama asked. 

“Obviously, dearie! And bring a chair for my sweet little boy, I need to do some good ol’ bonding.” 

“Sure, sure.” 

Little Alex was excited!  

He loved cooking with his nonna! 

He enthusiastically took a chair and stood on top of it to help her with what they had, while his mama went grocery shopping. 

And even though the smell of good food and of her nonna’s sweet perfume took over his senses, horrible thoughts still threatened to slip into his mind. 

“That frown doesn’t look good on your cute little face, dearie.” said his nonna, making him snap out of his trance. 

“Besides, those are just miserable people that are envious of your passions, you shouldn’t listen to them.” she continued, putting into the oven some sort of pie. 

Yeah, maybe she’s right, but- 

… huh?! 

“How do you know that?!” he asked, super-duper confused. 

“Know what? I’m just an old stupid lady, I don’t know anything!” she said, then laughed. 

He... was still extremely confused, but his nonna was a really eccentric lady, so he never really questioned everything she did that much. 

Still very strange though. 

“There’s only one thing I know for sure,” she said suddenly, then got really close to him and held his cheeks in both of her soft hands, caressing them. 

“You and your mother are the best things that happened in my life, and not because we’re family, but because you’re the kindest and most passionate people I've ever met, don’t ever let anybody tell you otherwise.”  

Before Alex could think of anything, his nonna hugged him tightly and gently stroked his hair. 

“My sweet little girl.” 

He didn’t correct his nonna. 

She was most probably talking about his mama, but it felt... nice. 

He would keep it as his little secret. 

And while Alex was enveloped by that warm hug, sweet tears started rolling from his eyes, the emotions inside of him too big to contain anymore. 

“Come on now, let’s focus on more important things,” she said after a while, wiping away his tears with her hands, “For example, have you been practising your “r”?” 

“I told you already a thousand-times!” he said way too loudly, defensive, “I can’t do it! I’m not like...” 

Catra. 

CATRA! 

“Nonna!” he said enthusiastically. 

“What is it now, little boy?” his nonna asked, now swirling a bunch of spaghetti into a pot. 

“I have a bestie!” he told her, discarding everything he was working with. 

To that, his nonna stopped immediately what she was doing and turned towards him, then took his hands in hers, and with sparkles in her eyes, she said: “REALLY?!” 

“YES!” he answered. 

“YOU HAVE TO TELL ME EVERYTHING!”  

“I KNOW!” 

 


 

And while Alex and his family were eating all together at the table, he felt an indescribable warmth overtaking him in such a powerful way that every little negative thought didn’t feel as unbearable as before. 

He felt kind of stupid, he thought, as his nonna kindly tucked him into his bed. 

Before falling asleep, he looked at all of his glittery shirts piled in an angle of his bedroom and then smiled. 

Those weren’t going anywhere.  

 


  

He was in a dark room.  

He looked around for a while, but he couldn’t make out anything about his  surroundings .  

Then, he saw a distorted version of Derek, one with sharp teeth and too small eyes, that took him by his shirt and started making fun of him along with his friends, that were too tall and thin to not be considered creepy.  

Alex was already crying, but then, the tall guys got out of his visual, and he saw Catra, standing there and looking at him.  

Before he could do anything, Catra shook her head, then whispered a word. It was barely  earable , but it was as if it resonated in Alex’s head.  

Pathetic. 

No...  

No!  

Catra, please, no.   

No,  nononononono-  

 


  

“NO!” 

Alex woke up almost screaming, completely drenched in sweat. 

He swiftly looked at his shirt piled up in that corner, and then decided. 

He’s telling his mom to throw everything away in the morning.   

Chapter Text

When Alex talked with his mom the next morning, she was extremely confused and concerned, but he tried to keep a straight face through it all, even though it was really hard.  

He didn’t want his mom to know how pathetic he was.  

Catra too was having her suspicions.  

He noticed that the moment he opened the door and saw the expression on her face, mad and questioning at the same time, a pout on her face and her arms crossed.  

His mom invited her without telling him on purpose, that was obvious. Even rocks know that when Alex is feeling sad, all you have to do is call Catra. Not particularly because her only presence made him strangely happy, (even though it was somehow true), but because she has... a way, with him.  

He doesn’t know how Catra always manages to do that, but with her attentive stare and a few correct words, she is always able to make him pour his heart out.  

Which was, really, really bad in this situation.  

He didn’t...  

He was scared of his dream.  

When he saw Catra right there, staring at him, it made him...  

It made him almost tear up.  

He told a poor lie after quickly greeting her and stormed towards the bathroom.  

He had to calm himself.  

Just a little.  

He is eight now, he’s a big boy!  

He can avoid crying only once in his life.  

He quickly dried his face with some toilet paper and went to his room, not quite sure why, but he was greeted with the sight of Catra sited on his bed and looking out of the window.  

She seemed... sad.  

And worried.  

He went up to the bed and sat next to her, not sure what to do or what to say.  

“Catra?” he tried starting, maybe his voice shaking a bit, “Is there something wrong?”  

That seemed to be the wrong choice of words, (or the correct one, depending on the point of view), because Catra immediately snapped her head towards him.  

“I should ask you that!” she said, anger clear in her voice, “You left without saying anything yesterday, then you didn’t come visit me, now you’re avoiding me!”  

She stopped for a few seconds, but more than calming herself, she was... deflating, her face now filled with sadness.  

Alex never wanted to see that look on  Catra’s  face.  

“Did...” she started, “Did I do something wrong?”  

And her eyes. They were lucid and puffy, just like when first saw her on the door, but only now he was really focusing on them.  

Catra   too was trying to hide her emotions.  

Alex was so focused only on himself that he completely failed to notice  Catra’s  sadness. She probably tortured herself mentally for an entire day, but he was so selfish to not even think once about her. She probably even cried a lot before coming to his house.  

“No! It’s not your fault!” he said immediately, then hugged her really tight.  

“It- it isn’t?” he could hear her sob a little.  

“Of course not!” he then got out of the hug and looked at her intensely in the eyes, “Catra, it’s the opposite, you always make me smile!”  

She stopped in her tracks for a second and eyed him carefully, sadness still present but now overtaken by something else.  

“But there is something wrong, isn’t it?” she asked, with that kind of questioning look that he knew he could hardly escape.  

“No!” he said, getting defensive too easily, “There isn’t anything wrong, everything is fine!”  

“I noticed that you’ve moved all of your toys in the corner of the room.” she said, almost as if ignoring what he just said.  

“Well, I was just thinking that-”  

“Your mama told me that you asked her to throw all of your colourful shirts away.” she then continued.  

 “My mom-”  

“Mom? You never call her that-”  

“STOP!” he yelled in the end, desperate, all of  Catra’s  questions now too much.  

Catra became completely still, shock clearly present in her eyes. And she was completely right,  Alex  never  yells .  

“Sorry, I just...” he was now playing with his own hands.  

He didn’t know what to say anymore.  

Luckily, it seemed like Catra always seemed to know what to say when Alex didn’t, and the same thing could be said with the opposite.  

“Okay, fine, I was being pushy,” she said when the silence had become too long, “and you clearly don’t want to talk about whatever the hell happened, and, by the way, I’m super mad about  it  and I can only forgive you if you give me at least ten special Alex hugs.”  

He could only giggle softly at that, still not knowing where Catra wanted to go with her little speech.  

“What I’m trying to say is, I...” she then blushed, as if what she was trying to say next was really difficult to let out, “I really, really care about you, you’re my bestie after all, and...”  

She looked at him intensely in the eyes after saying that, but with a softness there at the same time.  

“My point is, I care a lot about you because of everything that makes you... you, and the same goes for every single intelligent person on this planet, so don’t let dumb people convince you to be someone else to be normal or some shit like that.”  

“Catra!”  

“Oh my god, Al, you’re no fun!”  

But after their little banter, what Catra said really hit him and...  

She cares about me because of everything I like.  

He started crying.  

Catra only giggled at that, then put her soft hands around him and hugged him gently.  

“You’re such a cry-baby, you know?” she said, but her voice was so full of fondness that he couldn’t possibly take offense to that.  

Besides, it is true.  

“I’m telling my  mo - mama to not throw away anything.” he told her whispering, almost as if it was a secret confession.  

“Of course you are.”  

They stayed there, hugging each other, for what seemed like a long time, and they both honestly didn’t mind it at all. Yes, they could’ve stayed like that for eternity, in their little warm bubble.  

But they both know that eternity doesn’t last forever.  

“Ale,  gioia mia , we have to bake a pie today!”  

Suddenly, his  nonna   bursted  into his room, demanding to bake a pie together. It was something that happened fairly often, and he normally didn’t mind at all.  

But he was having kind of a moment right now.  

Catra got out of their hug, cheeks red, and eyed kind of badly his  nonna  Razz.  

Nonna nonna !” he said while getting up from his bed, “This is my bestie, Catra!”  

He couldn’t help getting excited, his two favourite persons were going to meet each other!  

“Oh my god, you’re the famous bestie!” said his  nonna , now sparkles in her eyes, “You’re so cute, dearie, even though I liked you so much with that beautiful white dress.”  

Catra, that in the meantime got up from her sited position, gave her an extremely confused look.  

“What dress?” she said, tilting her head to the side.  

“Dress?” repeated his  nonna , “Who talked about dresses? I’m just an old lady, you know!”  

Catra sent him a concerned look, but Alex just shook his shoulders, as if to say: “She’s just like this, you’ll get used to it.”  

“Now, now, Catra, do you want help me bake a pie while we make fun of my Ale’s  r ?” said his  nonna , reopening the door.  

“Yes!” responded immediately Catra, a malicious grin on her face.  

Alex didn’t even have the time to say an “That not fair!” that Catra and  nonna  Razz were already in the corridor laughing together.  

Chapter Text

Strangely, his  nonna  and Catra got along pretty well.  

Mostly they bonded over teasing him, so little Alex didn’t really how to feel about it. He loved them both with all of his heart, and he knows (probably) that the feeling is reciprocated, but he was getting tired of them constantly reminding him how much of a  dummy  he is.  

It was still a strange relationship, though, because of his  nonna’s  strange “predictions”, as he and his mama liked to call them.  

Those predictions aren’t nothing new, his  nonna  has always been a little crazy, but they got somehow worse when she met Catra.  

She kept babbling about sparkling rings, roses’ crowns and white dresses and suits, and it was honestly driving the two kids a bit nuts.  

But when his  nonna  had to go away again, to wherever she always went, they both shed a few tears.  

Anyway, that was the past, and now Alex should focus more about the present.  

The very anxiety filled present.  

Okay, it may be true that Alex is a really anxious kid, but you can’t really blame him this time!  

The thing is... he’s going to play his first soccer match in five minutes.  

Okay, more like six.  

But still.  

It was almost the end of summer, some weeks before their third year of elementary school, and Alex and his team were all currently in the dress room, which now was filled with a lot of noise caused by their general laughers or excited thrills. Well, everybody’s except his.  

He was  kinda  paralyzed in anxiety at that moment.  

He honestly looked like a funny zombie, completely still, sited on a bench and face extremely pale with never blinking eyes.  

Not for long though, because almost immediately a girl from his team went up to him, asking what was wrong. Regarding this, little Alex was positively surprised by his team.  

They were all so nice!  

Like Samantha right now, the girl sited next to him, asking him if everything was okay while softly rubbing his back. She and the others didn’t care about whether or not he was a boy or liked certain things, they all just wanted to play with him and have lots of fun!  

Which was certainly something really good, but right now it didn’t really help ease his nerves.  

When his coach, Marcus, told them that they were going to play a real match against another team, Alex, and the others, were really excited about it!  

Some more than others, given the fact that some kids were bigger than him and also played several other matches. In fact, they were a really diverse group.  

Anyway, the problem is that the more the time passed, the more he started feeling his tummy make strange  rumblies , but not the ones he felt when Catra held his hand, those were nice, but really  really  bad ones.  

Also, now that he’s talking about Catra, she was also the reason why he was so nervous.  

Not really because of her, per se.  

In fact, when Catra told him that she had to be there for his first match, Alex was super happy!  

That meant that Catra really cared about him and the things he likes!  

No  no , if only Catra had been coming, Alex wouldn’t have been too much anxious, (but still a little bit, he wanted to impress her after all!), the problem was another one.  

The problem was...  Catra’s  family.  

Catra’s   whole  family.  

See, Alex and Catra have been besties for almost two years, and even though they’ve been inseparable, he... never really met  Catra’s  dad.  

Yes, he knows that because they moved recently, he had to do a lot of back and forth, (and also because of whatever was happening in  Catra’s  family), but he couldn’t help but think her father was...  kinda  avoiding him.  

But he had a good reason to think that!  

The few times they saw each other he always had a super scary face! It didn’t matter that Catra always said that her dad was like a huge teddy bear, he couldn’t stop himself from feeling scared!  

In a few words, he had a lot of pressure on his shoulders.  

He had to impress Catra because he always wanted to look the best in her eyes, he had to impress her dad so he wouldn’t hate him, he had to make Alejandro proud to thank him for everything he taught him.   

And his mama! Also his mama!  

To sum everything up, he was currently having a panic attack.  

But he couldn’t just run away, that would only make him look like a coward!  

So, when his coach called the whole team to play, he reluctantly got up and followed him outside, feeling immediately overwhelmed by the crowd’s cheers and screams.  

Loud noises certainly didn’t help with his anxiety.  

While heading towards the field, he didn’t even try to look at the bleachers, too self-conscious to even try, and got to position.  

The referee was just introducing the two teams, when he heard a familiar  loud  voice coming from his side.  

He couldn’t help but turn his head towards the sound, trying to avoid the overwhelming amount of people watching him at that moment.  

Then he saw her.  

Catra.  

“YEAH! THAT’S MY BESTIE!”  

His eyes could only widen immensely at those words.  

Catra was currently standing from her seat, shouting encouraging words while moving her hands and smiling like crazy. Things like: “You’re the best!” or “They don’t stand a chance with you on the team!” that he didn’t realize how much he needed .  

The smile that formed on his face was inevitable.  

He could do this.  

-  

In the end, Alex’s team didn’t win.  

They lost for just one goal, 4-5, even though they all gave their bests and fought with all of their willpower.  

Their coach said that it was normal, lots of the members of the team had never played before, (himself included), so they shouldn’t be sad, even because they played fantastically.  

He knows he should have been happy at those words, but he couldn’t stop the horrible feeling that was growing at the pit of his tummy.  

He wasn’t given the time to think about it too much though, because immediately after his coach finished talking with them, he heard running footsteps behind him.  

He could barely turn on time to catch Catra and avoid falling helplessly on the ground.  

“That was amazing!” almost shouted Catra, hands still not leaving his shoulders and a rare overly enthusiastic smile on her face, “My heart has never beaten so fast watching a soccer match, and trust me, I’ve watched  a lot  of them.”  

Alex was sure his cheeks weren’t warm only for his previous physical effort.  

“What are you saying?” he said, fully believing Catra was being too dramatic, “It wasn’t that special, we didn’t even win.”  

“Well, I think Catra might be a little biased, but I'm one-hundred percent sure  you  were fantastic.”  

From behind Catra, Alejandro was heading towards them, followed by both of their families.  

“You-… you really think so?” he asked, heart full of hope.  

“I know so!” Alejandro said enthusiastically, “You followed everything I taught you, hell ,  you did three out of four goals!”  

Well, it was true that he scored a lot of goals, but it was only luck!  

“Yeah!” he heard his mama say while she approached him, the biggest smile on her face, “I’m so proud of you, sweetie!”  

She kneeled in front of him and gave him a warm hug, while ruffling gently his hair, which he had to admit, was getting pretty long.  

He always liked it not too short, and every time he and his mama went to a barber, he would start crying if the cutting went too far. Sometimes he dreamed about letting his hair grow and tying it up in a pon-  

Stop Alex.  

Just  stop.  

He got lost in his mind a bit while his mama was hugging him, but he surely woke up from his trance when he saw a particular figure in front of him.  

Catra’s  dad.  

His mama let him go, and he immediately straighten himself, not sure if it was because of fear or because he wanted to look more confident.  

He doesn’t know, really.  

Catra’s  dad, (F- Fernando? Catra never calls him by his name, obviously, so he isn’t sure.) , approached him, standing tall over him and with his usual intimidating glare, making him shiver a little bit.  

“Hey.” he said with a deep voice, then looked at him for a few seconds.  

“You’re Alex, right? My  niñita  told me so much about you!” he then said in an extremely cheerful voice, then kneeled down and held out a hand for him to take.  

Alex was... shocked, to say the least.  

The man in front of him wasn’t as scary as the other times!  

He had a cute smile on his face and his eyes sparkled with joy!  

Alex shook his hand, maybe still trembling a little, and tried to reciprocate his smile.  

“You were so good back there, you reminded me of my guys when they were young.” while he said that, he side-hugged all of  Catra’s  older brothers, ignoring their protests.  

“Ah!” he said suddenly, then picked up something from a tiny backpack he was carrying on his shoulders and put it in front of him.  

It was... a shirt.  

A glittery rainbow shirt.  

Alex took it in his hands, and the world suddenly slowed down.  

No, more like it stopped completely.  

He couldn’t hear the other kids’ cheers, he couldn’t see the space surrounding him, he couldn’t feel the dirt underneath his shoes.  

What brought him back to heart, could have been considered something insignificant.  

It was a tiny soft hand on his back, moving up and down in a  soothing  manner.  

He turned to his side, and saw Catra sending him an encouraging soft smile.  

Than ...” he hesitated a few seconds, then smiled widely and brought the shirt to his chest, hugging it  tightly , “Thank you so much!”  

“Come on, everybody, let’s head home, we can’t waste all of the food that I've made!” said suddenly Selena, interrupting the interaction and then guiding everybody towards their cars.  

But before he could follow them,  Catra’s  dad stopped him by putting a gentle hand on his shoulder.  

“Hey, kid, listen,” he started saying with a sweet voice, “I know I might be a stranger to you, but I feel like I’ve known you since forever, with all of the videos of you and my sweet little  Cati  that Selena sends me.”  

He stopped for a second, inhaled through his nose, and looked at him in the eyes.  

“So if I made you feel uneasy for whatever reason, you can just tell me, you know?”  

And he doesn’t know what possessed him in that moment and why, but he just... hugged him.  

Really hard.  

Maybe it was because his mind was all over the places lately, but he didn’t regret it one bit, it felt like he was healing somehow.  

And it got even better when Catra, that had probably watched the whole scene, came too, her sweet scent invading his nostrils.  

And maybe the world didn’t feel so cold at that moment.  

Chapter Text

They were both currently in Catra’s room.  

If little Alex had to describe the moment, he would probably choose the word...  soft .  

The room, that had already warm walls, was basked in dim sunlight, toned down by red curtains, that tinted the room in pretty orange tints.   

It could’ve been a painting for how pretty it was.  

He and Catra got to her bed after getting bored of playing superheroes, and now, cuddled on soft sheets, they were both just... existing.  

Even though Alex was a little adult now, being nine and all, he still couldn’t stay put for more than a minute. He loved moving around and he hated staying still for too long. But with Catra it was just different, in a way.  

She was like a cat, (Get it?), in this sense, all it took for her was hug him and it would instantly calm him down, (and make him a little sleepy and cuddly).  

He wasn’t feeling completely relaxed, though, because Catra decided that was the perfect moment to also play with his hands, which is something really weird, but that she always does, and even though she said that it calms her and all, it just made his heart fizzy.  

He doesn’t really know how to explain it, honestly.  

Whenever she does it, his whole body starts buzzing making his heart beat fast, and he feels a bunch of warmth coming to his head and near his ears.  

He still couldn’t pinpoint if it was a bad feeling or a good feeling.  

Yes, it made him super nervous, but in a good way? He could ask Catra, she’s super smart at everything, but for some reason, it embarrassed him to even speak up about it.  

Anyway, what little Alex is trying to say here, is that everything in that moment seemed perfect.  

In a sudden flash, he saw himself in the future, in this exact same position, on a warm couch, with Catra right beside him. He still couldn’t see his face clearly, there was a bit of fog around it, but for the first time, the future didn’t seem so wrong.  

But both Alex and Catra know that nothing lasts forever.  

Right when little Alex was starting to doze off, a pained cry could be hardly heard from downstairs. It was so mumbled that Alex didn’t even notice it at first. What he did notice, though, was Catra stiffening right beside him.  

In fact, nothing could go past Catra’s super hearing abilities.  

“Did you hear that?” she said while getting out of his embrace.  

“No, what-”  

That sound again.  

Now he definitely heard that.  

Alex turned to his left to share a worried look with his best friend, and couldn’t help but notice her huge glassy eyes and her furrowed brows.  

They both had an incredibly bad feeling.  

Nonetheless, Alex grabbed Catra’s hand and started heading towards the door, knowing fully well that Catra wanted to go check if something was wrong.  

They got out of Catra’s room and went through the corridor maybe too slowly, but they both were scared of what was waiting for them down the stairs.  

And they were completely right about being scared.  

There, sat on the kitchen floor, was Selena.  

She was slouched on the counters, her whole body spasming rhythmically because of sobs that she was desperately trying to hide, while she held on her phone in her hand hard enough to break it in half.  

When Selena raised her gaze and saw them both freezed on the top of the stairs, she only started crying harder, folding her body in half so her head was on the ground to hide her patchy and wet face.  

If this was traumatizing for him, little Alex couldn’t imagine what Catra must have felt in that moment.  

When he turned towards her, he truly wished he wouldn’t have done that, because the sight of Catra with wide glossy eyes, little tears running out of them, completely frozen, was something that would truly haunt him for his entire life.  

He opened his mouth to say something to her, anything, but he was interrupted by Catra’s father, who both of them didn’t even noticed was there, obscuring their vision.  

He just hugged them tightly so they wouldn’t be able to see what was going on behind him, whispering things like: “No, you kids shouldn’t see things like this.” and stroking their heads.  

“But mamá-” tried protesting Catra, but was immediately shushed by her father only burrowing her deeper in his chest.  

“Alex, listen to me.” he then referred to him, face serious, “You’re a big kid, so I trust you to do me a really important favour.”  

To that, Alex could only nod.  

“Take Catra to her room and hug her as tightly as you can.”   

He then moved his hand to Alex’s cheek.  

“She needs you.”  

To those words, Alex could barely manage not to cry.  

How could he be there for Catra, when he couldn’t even hold himself up together? When those sobs behind Catra’s father’s shoulders haunted him that much?  

But he had to.  

For Catra.  

He nodded firmly, then used all of the muscles he gained thanks to his soccer practise to drag Catra out of there.  

But Catra was a nature’s force.  

“Al, what are you doing?” she said when Alex started dragging her upstairs, taken aback.  

He didn’t respond.  

“Alex, answer me!” she started shouting, trying to get out of his grip.  

Again, he didn’t respond.  

“Alex, LET ME GO!”   

Now she was spasming frenetically, punching his arms that were constricting her with all of her force.  

“I SAID, LET ME GO!”.  

Silence.  

“ALEX!”  

He doesn’t even know where he found the strength to drag her all the way upstairs, but when he did, he run to her bedroom and closed the door, putting himself in front of it.  

“WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!” Catra screamed to his face after he dropped her.  

Catra’s face was puffy and crimson red in a patchy way, her tears running freely and merging together with the snout coming down her nose, making her face a mess. Her body spasming  hysterically  from the sobs.  

He couldn’t stop the tear that fell down his cheek.  

“ALEX!”  

She launched herself towards him, anger finally exploding, then started punching his chest frantically, without a pattern.  

“LET ME OUT OF HERE!” she shouted again, still punching him, with her hair falling messily on her face and getting wet from her tears.  

“LET!”   

Punch.  

“ME!”  

Another punch.  

“OUT!”  

And another punch.  

“OF!”  

And another one.  

“HERE!”  

And another.  

But Alex wasn’t moving.  

Slowly, her frantic hits started getting weaker and weaker, her screams turning into whispers.  

“Please, Alex.”   

Nothing.  

“Please.”  

Her face fell down on his chest, her fists also there, but still, her voice falling.  

Slowly, Alex raised his arms and wrapped them around her, enveloping her in a tight hug, trying to convey everything he wanted to say in that moment.  

It’s going to be okay.  

I’m here.  

Don’t cry.  

With that, they both fell on the ground, the only sound surrounding them being Catra’s fast sobs, both emotionally and physically exhausted.  

Alex burrowed his face into Catra’s hair, that smelled of sweet honey, trying to soothe himself too.  

They stayed like that for a while.  

-  

It was only a matter of time before a gentle knocking could be heard, with a weak voice following right behind.  

“Kids? Are you there?”  

It was Selena.  

She entered the room and explained to Catra what had just happened, hugging her really hard and stroking her soft hand up and down Catra’s back, while Alex kind of stood there  awkwardly .  

It was no mystery for anybody that Catra’s grandfather died, Catra told him personally that he didn’t have long to live almost three years ago, so it technically shouldn’t have been a surprise.  

The problem was that he went for a visit just the day before and the doctor told them that he still had more than a year to live, so the event shocked Catra’s parents a lot.  

Still, predictable or not predictable, it wasn’t anything that could be easily swallowed.  

Alex didn’t actually know how to relate to that. His only family has always been his mama only, his  nonna  only visiting him once every year, so he had no idea what they were feeling in that moment. But still, it hurt him so much seeing both of them in that state.  

After a little while of bittersweet embraces and a bit of crying, Selena took them both downstairs.  

Catra’s brothers were somewhere for school, so they weren’t in  the house at that moment, and it was just the two of them huddled on the little wooden couch besides the stairs while Catra’s parents discussed about something, Alex unable to let her go. 

In reality, both of them couldn’t let go, judging by Catra’s iron grip on his shirt.  

“Alex?” he heard Selena call him at one point, then raised his head towards her.  

“Come here sweetheart, I’ll take you home.” She raised her hand towards him.  

He started getting up from his sited position, when Catra stopped him midway, gripping on his shirt.  

“Catr-?”  

“Don’t go.”  

He turned towards her, but was met only with her scalp, eyes fixed on the ground.  

“Wh-?”  

“Please.” she continued, then finally looked at him in the eyes.  

“Stay.”  

Her eyes were huge and glossy, and despite the weakness present in them, there was also this impelling trust imbedded inside that made his knees go weak.  

He immediately rushed towards her and got sited again, hugging her  tightly .  

“I’m not going anywhere.” he whispered in her hair, wanting to be heard only from her.  

“You promise?” she asked, then tightened the grip on his arms.  

“I promise.”  

Chapter Text

After the departure of Catra’s grandpa, the entire Espinoza family flew back to Mexico in a matter of hours.  

Catra explained very briefly to Alex that Mexican funerals were pretty different than American ones, and, most importantly, they are known for being a bit long, so between the ceremonies and the grieving period, she would be gone for one, if not even two months.  

This made Alex understandably sad.  

He was also very conflicted, because a part of his mind was upset that he wouldn’t be able to see Catra for so long, but the other part understood very well why and thought that being gloomy would only be selfish.  

Anyway, all of this led to Alex sighing loudly in front of his window for the majority of his time.  

What could he possibly do without his bestie?!  

He tried playing with all of his toys, (even all at once, like that time when Catra suggested it and they both made a huge mess of his room), going out to get some ice-cream, (like that time he bought all alone his first ice-cream with Catra), even played in the park with other classmates!  

But nothing, there was just this feeling as if he was incomplete, like he had a hole in his chest!  

He even tried to talk to his mama about it! She comforted him with her warm hugs and kind words, but she really couldn’t do anything more than that.  

That was really one the most boring weekends he had ever had to experience.  

But in the end, as his mama also said, boredom isn’t that big of an evil, and he guessed she was right, but he just couldn’t really agree with it in that moment.  

It wasn’t until school started that he really understood what his mama meant.  

He was walking down his school hallways, a few minutes before class started, with a little pout on his face. But can you blame him? He was still thinking about everything that happened with Catra!  

Anyway, it was just another school day like the others.  

Until he saw a certain figure on his side.  

Then it wasn’t.  

He stopped right in his track, unable to move his body, as if every muscle had magically turned into goo.   

His mind was filled with static.   

White noise making his ears pound.  

His hands trembling, as if trying so hard to grasps something, but too weak to do so.  

His vision becoming blurry, his eyes constantly unfocusing.  

Derek.  

Little Alex was so worried about his bestie that he completely forgot about the guy that was constantly trying to ruin his life in every way possible.  

Thanks to the protective presence his best friend gave him for the past two and a half years, he learned to not be that scared every time he crossed a random corridor.   

And also the fact that he memorised the safest routes for everywhere he had to go.  

 

And also because he memorised Derek’s routine too.  

He felt... weak, even just admitting that in his mind.  

In the end, Derek didn’t even do something so scandalous, he just... pushed him around a little. He was really just being a baby.  

Still, he couldn’t help completely freeze every time he saw him.  

Like right now, stopping so abruptly that he almost made the kid behind him trip on himself, if the glare he sent him was anything to go by.  

Without even thinking, he raised the hood of his hoodie all the way up to cover his face, his brightly coloured hoodie, and, after scanning quickly for an easy way out, rushed out of there in a matter of seconds.  

That was another thing he learned how to do.  

Now he became super-fast at finding the quickest exit of whatever room, like a super power! Even though he did that unconsciously, without even thinking.  

And that’s what he did for the entire month Catra didn’t go to school.  

He was actually pretty good at avoiding being seen, even with all of the bright pieces of clothing he wears every day.  

But all of this hiding tired him down immensely, making him come home every day exhausted, and there was only one thing that managed to make him smile.  

Catra.  

See, Catra’s family had a landline phone, and so did his mama, so they agreed to call each other every day after dinner.  

Honestly, only the sound of Catra’s voice could made his heart flutter, (is that a weird thing to say?), so listening to her talking about what was going on so far away from him, especially after going their entire lives seeing each other every day, was like music to his hears.  

Most of the time she would talk about that chatty aunt, or that annoying cousin, or the wife of her distant uncle twice removed.  

It constantly amazed him how many relatives Catra managed to have.  

All of his life, his family had only been his mama and his nonna, even just talking about dads or siblings weirded him out a little.  

But honestly, Catra’s phone calls, (and his soccer practise), were the only thing that made him go through the day, (and yes, that may be a little dramatic, but come on! His super duper bestie for life just abandoned him! Show a little of empathy!).  

And everything was going okay those two months, really, if not a little boring.  

Until  that  day.  

The day where his attention slipped for just a couple too many seconds. Because as he was tying his shoes,  She-ra themed  shoes, he felt someone push him from behind, and before he could react, he fell face first into the floor.  

He touched his nose, flinching because of the sharp pain it sent, when he heard a too familiar mocking laugh behind him.  

Oh no.  

“Of course girls’ shoes don’t work, what was I expecting?”  

nononononononono-  

As he felt his muscles freeze, and his mind go numb, he turned around slowly, scared of proving what he already knew was too real.  

Behind him, an all too familiar figure stood, with a dark grin plastered on his face. And Alex stood there, like a deer in headlights, unmoving.  

Coward.  

“You know, I think those shoes would look stupid even on a dumb girly chick.”  

You shouldn’t wear those.  

“What? Did your brain freeze?”  

Weak.  

“Where’s your feral friend today, forgot to bring the leash?”  

Catra would just laugh at you.  

“Now that I think about it, you’re perfect for each other! Her an ugly tomboy and you a girly fag.”  

Catra would...  

“I care a lot about you because of everything that makes you... you”  

Catra likes him for who he is.  

“What the hell is your problem?!”  

All the people he cares about like him for who he is.  

“Don’t just stand there, answer me!”  

Even if he’s just a dummy.  

Tired of Derek’s abusive words, he stood up on his feet, and thinking about all of the support Catra and the people he loves give him every day, gave him the courage to say these next words.  

“Stop.”  

“Huh?!” said Derek while flinching violently, as if Alex had just slapped him.  

He hardened his stare.  

“Just stop it, you’re not funny.”  

“Who the hell cares if I’m funny or not?!” he tried to push him on the floor again, but thanks to the muscles soccer gave him, he didn’t succumb.  

Alex wasn’t listening anymore.  

“I like who I am,” he said, raising his voice and straightening his posture, that also made him notice that now he could look at him in the eyes without standing on his tiptoes without problems, “Everybody I care about likes me for who I am.”  

He took a slight pause, coming even closer to his face.  

“And you are not one of them, so I couldn’t care less.”  

Derek, completely shocked by those words, stood there motionless for a few seconds.  

...  

Then he punched him in the face.  

But Alex was tired of just taking, so he just started hitting him even harder.  

Of course, the commotion couldn’t not attract an audience, that would soon even catch the attention of a teacher.  

His  very angry teacher, that immediately separated them from going any further, even though Alex already had a black eye and Derek a bruised nose with blood coming out of it, and then reprimanded them harshly.  

“He started hitting me first, but I know I shouldn’t have continued.” he said to her, feeling sorry but not quite regretting it.   

Mrs Casta, knowing that Alex was a good kid, and acknowledging that he was just defending himself, decided not to punish him, but she would still call his mama to tell her what had happened.  

That’s why, when he came out of school, he had a sad pout on his face. It immediately faded away though.  

Because Catra was there, waiting for him.  

Yes, beside his mama, Catra stood there, with one of the cutest smiles he had ever seen on her face, and with a cute light lilac shirt and the prettiest skirt- Alex, focus!  

Needless to say, he immediately ran up to her and hugged her as thigh as he could, (and maybe even sobbing a little, but can you blame him?).  

“You’re squeezing me to death, you cry-baby!” said Catra laughing, even though she was currently dying by Alex’s hand.  

He stepped out of the hug, even though their faces were still pretty close to each other, and tried to convey with his soft look all of the love and affection he had for her.  

Love?-  

“Ehm.”  

When Alex turned around towards that sound, he saw his teacher with a pretty stern face.  

Shoot.  

He completely forgot about  that  for a second.  

“Ms Grayskull, can you follow me for a second?”, said Mrs Casta, then walked away.  

His mother sent him a worried look, and Alex couldn’t do much besides lowering his glance to the ground. She then followed the kid’s teacher towards the school entrance.  

“Oh uh,” he heard Catra say beside him, then turned around to look at her, “What did you do? You got an A instead of an A+?”  

Alex lowered his eyes again, then started fidgeting his hands nervously.  

“I might... have gotten into a fight with Derek.”  

“WHAT?!”  

Alex jumped in fear at Catra’s high pitched voice, but when he finally looked at her, fearful that she would hate him for some reason, he just saw her beaming at him.  

“Who started it? Do I have to punch someone?!” she said while raising both her hands to put them on his shoulders.  

“I might’ve already did... and gave him a bloody nose.” now he was embarrassed of himself, and blushed a little.  

“OH MY GOD, YES!” Now Catra’s eyes were really sparkling while she shook his shoulders back and forth, but then she raised her hands on his cheeks and squished them, “My little baby is growing, I’m so proud!”  

“God, Catra stop it!” he said offended, but he was laughing nevertheless, “Besides, I’m older than you!”  

“But you’re still my wiwwle baby!” she replied with an obnoxious baby voice, embarrassing him.  

“But really,” she then turned serious, “I’m proud of you for standing up for yourself.”  

She had that soft look on her face again.  

It made him melt.  

“Really?” he asked her, his voice a whisper.  

“Really.” she reassured him.  

A few heartbeats passed between them, while the world outside their little warm bubble ceased to exist.  

“Special Alex hug?” Catra said, interrupting the silence.  

“Absolutely.” he replied with no hesitance.  

Then absolutely crushed her with his arms.  

He really never wanted that special hug to end.  

Chapter Text

It was the last summer before middle school.  

And Alex was super excited!  

Well, not totally, if he had to be honest.  

All the adults around him told him that he was finally growing up, becoming a little man and all, picturing middle school like the passage into adulthood.  

But at the same time, from Alejandro’s perspective, (and all of his friends’), middle school was the worst period of his life. He described kids from that age as: “Dumb and mean for no reason whatsoever”.  

He honestly didn’t know who to believe, but he knew that he had a lot of respect for Alejandro.  

Anyway, all of this didn’t worry him  that  much, and do you know why?  

Because he has Catra with him!  

Even though bad things might happen to him, he knows Catra will always have his back, and so will he, that’s how besties work!  

Besides, Catra’s good like that.  

Like right now, after the ending of “She-ra: Princess of Power” was announced, which completely  devastated  him, she made him come with her to a trip that would lead them to a super-secret spot she just discovered!  

Wasn’t she really amazing?  

And so here they are, on a super high spot where they could see the entire city.  

Well, not really, maybe Alex is exaggerating a bit here, but hey, it’s still really impressive!  

So, Catra led him to this metal tower that had only a balcony on the top and some stairs on the inside, that was probably used for... well, he has no idea what it was used for, but it’s really old and cool.  

A little part of his brain, that sounded suspiciously like his mama, was telling him that it was dangerous, that the structure was pretty old and high and bad things could happen, but he has gotten used to ignoring it all these years he has been friends with Catra.  

Besides, Catra’s huge grin was definitely worth it.  

He doesn’t really know why, but she has always loved high places, like the huge tree behind her house, or the school’s rooftop.  

“Look, Al, look!” she excitedly told him, while dangerously hovering over the railing, “Everything looks so tiny!”  

The little voice inside Alex’s head returned again, but this time he failed to ignore it, probably because he really cares about Catra.  

“Catra, please, don’t do that, it’s scary.” he said to her.  

He could clearly see an annoyance cross Catra’s face when she turned around towards him.  

“I’m sorry mom, I won’t do it again.” she mocked him, then raised her hands.  

“I’m serious!” he told her defensively, even though he was laughing.  

He could never be really mad at Catra, even if sometimes he really wanted to be. Catra takes advantage of it too often.  

“That’s specifically why you sound like my mom.” she said, starting walking towards the wall on the opposite end of the railing, then slid on the ground till she was in a sited position.  

“I hate you when you say things like that.” he said while crossing his arms, (and maybe doing a little pout.)  

“Wrong, you don’t hate me.” She said back with a coy grin, then started patting the ground beside her with her hand.  

Well, he can’t disagree with that.  

He made his way across the little platform and sat where Catra told him to, both now sheltered by the structure from the burning sun. And almost immediately, Catra leaned on his shoulder.  

Oh god.  

Even though Catra has been his best friend from more years than he could count, the immediate burning that he felt going to his face, along with the frantic beating of his heart, would still come haunt him every time Catra did something like that.  

It wasn’t a bad feeling though.  

“Alex,” she started talking out of nowhere, “We’re going to be middle schoolers, do you ever think about that?”  

He sure has been thinking about that a lot. It practically has been the only thing in his mind for a while now.  

“Yep, we’re going to be grown-ups!” he replied, trying to sound the happiest possible.  

He always wants to cheer Catra up!  

“I can’t really imagine you ‘grown-up’.” she said while laughing, joking a little.  

The tall trees ahead of him started to become fuzzy, the chirping of the birds becoming static.  

He took a breath.  

Then he decided to open his mouth.  

“I can’t really either.”  

He remembers hoping with every part of his being, in a moment of fear, that Catra would receive that as a joke, and would laugh it off.  

Of course, we’re talking about Catra here, so he knew fully well that couldn’t be possible.  

She turned towards him, her brows furrowed, probably with worry, and gave him a questioning look.  

“What do you mean by that?”  

Here we go.  

“I can’t...”  

He took another breath.  

“I can’t really imagine myself in the future either.”  

Catra looked at him again with an intense piercing gaze for another few seconds.  

“And why does that bother you so much?” she asked him.  

When he felt Catra take his hand softly, he turned towards her, but couldn’t maintain eye contact for too long, her eyes too intense for him to handle.  

“I... I don’t-, when you think about the future, you see yourself, right?” he asked her, trying so hard to find a point to start.  

“Uhm...” she raised her eyes to the sky, thinking about it for a second, “I mean, yeah, I guess I can.”  

“Why?” She turned back towards him again.  

“I can’t-, I just can’t do it.” he said to her with a trembling voice.  

“See yourself?”  

“Yup.”  

“Okay,” she started saying, “but, a lot of people can’t-”  

“No!”  

It wasn’t something normal at all.  

“It’s not... it’s not as simple as you may think.”  

Another pause.  

Catra’s dual-coloured eyes kept watching him.  

“When I try to imagine myself in the future it looks... wrong?” he was trying really hard to put into words what he felt exactly.  

“What kind of wrong?” she tried asking him, but now she sounded... more understanding, in a way.  

As if she just realised how important that conversation was for him.  

“I don’t know exactly how, it’s just wrong, a-and...” he answered.  

Shoot, why was is throat clogging up?  

His vision started to become blurry, and the words were starting failing to come out of his mouth.  

But Catra’s look now didn’t seem only  intense , but it was almost like it was trying to tell him something like: “I won’t judge you, whatever you’re going to tell me.”  

It encouraged him to continue talking, even if just a bit.  

“And it’s not just wrong, there’s this horrible sensation that comes with it that’s just very horrible and I can’t stop it and it keeps coming and-!”  

...  

Catra was hugging him.  

The world calmed down.  

Now he could only feel the scent of sweet honey coming through his nose.  

And only when his breath calmed down, he realised it had speed up a lot.  

“It’s okay, Al.”  

Catra’s voice was so sweet.  

He could feel the affection coming through.  

“If you don’t like the version you’re imagining, maybe you just have to think of something different.” she chuckled a little in the end, realising how superficial that mind sound.  

Maybe it meant something deeper.  

“And maybe that terrible feeling won’t ever go away,” she started wiping the tears away from his face, “but remember that I'll always like every part of you.”  

Gosh, her eyes.  

Her face.  

The expression she was giving him was telling him everything her words couldn’t.  

He started crying again.  

But this time, in Catra’s arms, the future didn’t look so gloomy.  

Chapter Text

The word was warm. 

Too warm. 

Why was it so warm again? 

“Alex?” 

It shouldn’t be. 

“Alex.” 

Maybe Catra’s hugging him? 

“Alex.” 

He loves Catra’s hugs. 

“Alex!” 

He opened his eyes, only to find his mama staring at him with a smirk. 

“Come on, sleepy head, wake up, today’s a special day!” she said to him, then started walking out of his room. 

“What?” he said, still confused. 

What day is it? What time? What year? 

“Alex, stop sleeping! Today is your first day of middle school!” 

… 

“OH GOD!” he shouted, then started walking, (running), towards the bathroom, almost falling. 

He heard his mama giggle, but he was too concentrated on brushing furiously his teeth. 

He was excited! 

Well, not quite as when it was his first day of elementary school, today’s excitement was more mixed with anxiety. 

But! 

He’s still really excited! 

He went up to his wardrobe, and after a bit of hesitance, he decided to wear a pink shirt with rainbow on the hems of it. 

After picking up his He-man and She-ra's backpack, (which had the two super heroes on the front, while being coloured white and gold with red shoulder-straps), and eating a quick breakfast, he kissed his mama goodbye and headed out of the door. 

Because, guess what? 

He’s taking the school bus all alone! 

Well, not  alone  alone, he’s going with Catra, but still. 

And regarding Catra, he’s excited about her too! 

See, yesterday while he was hanging out at the Espinoza house, he heard the same argument he hears every year before the first day of school between Catra and Selena. 

It just Selena wanting her daughter to tie her hair in a cutesy manner and Catra endlessly repeating that she doesn’t like them that way. 

In the end, it’s always Catra that wins, but this time, when they were alone, he tried telling her that she does look very cute with a ponytail. 

Alex kind of expected Catra lovingly hitting him, but he surely didn’t expect a quiet: “If you ask me to then I can do it.” muttered with rosy cheeks. 

He couldn’t possibly skip that opportunity. 

Which is why he is now dying seeing Catra walking towards him with the prettiest bow he has ever seen that ties her hair up in a ponytail. 

Only after a lot of screams and “DON’T SAY A WORD!” later they finally got into the bus, waiting for it to take them towards their new school. 

And it was only when he was the structure that it really hit him. 

They’re in middle school.  

 

“Are you coming or not?” said Catra ahead of him after he stopped in his tracks. 

“Yeah, yeah, I’m coming.” he said to her. 

These could either be the worst years of his life or the bests. 

He just hopes they won’t be  that  bad.