Glimmer: You’re listening to 89.1 KBMC, Bright Moon College and Community Radio. This is The Talk of Shame , your weekly one-stop shop for campus gossip and events. I’m Glimmer, here with my lovely co-host Bow, and this week we have Bright Moon’s hottest jock, Adora Grayskull, on the show. Say hi, Adora.
Bow: Hmm, sounds like we’re going to have to work on loosening her up. How about if we start off with a quick round of Would You Rather?
Glimmer: Great idea Bow. Okay Adora, would you rather…give up your favorite food or give up sex.
Adora: Wow, I almost blurted out sex because I’m so hungry right now but no. Food. I would give up my favorite food.
Glimmer: Good answer, but I will share with our audience that the noises Adora makes when she eats good found border on obscene, so maybe this wasn’t the best question to start off with.
Bow: Adora, would you rather have a dog with a cat’s personality or a cat with a dog’s personality?
Adora: Can I just have a cat with a cat’s personality?
Bow: That’s not how this works.
Adora: Fine. Uh, dog with a cat’s personality.
Glimmer: Ew, why?
Bow: Glimmer, no follow up questions.
Glimmer: Fine, whatever. That’s enough would you rathers. Let’s move on.
Bow: Right. So, Adora, I can’t believe we haven’t had you on the show yet. For our listeners who don’t know, Adora is actually our housemate and a certified member of the Best Friends Squad. We’ve been trying to get her on the show all year!
Adora: Well, you know, soccer just ended so I should have more time to hang now.
Glimmer: That’s right, Adora is captain of the Bright Moon women’s soccer team and just found out that she made the NCAA All American team! Congrats Adora.
Friday night slots at KBMC were highly coveted and hard to score. The Talk of Shame’s first semester on the air had aired on Monday mornings but Bow and Glimmer’s TMZ-style campus gossip show was an instant hit and they’d been working their way towards better time slots semester by semester. Now, as seniors and co-directors of the Talk and News genre at the station, they were finally scheduled exactly where they wanted to be: Friday evenings from 7-8pm. By the time their show hit the airwaves, everybody on campus was already buzzed from pregaming and primed for catching up on campus gossip while they got ready to head out parties and bars.
Bow and Glimmer’s interview with Adora quickly escalated from basketball to much steamier topics. Glimmer officially dubbed her Bright Moon’s most eligible lesbian and then opened the show up for on-air calls.
Bow: Hi caller, you’re on the air.
Caller: Oh wow, hi!
Glimmer: Do you have a question for our guest?
Caller: Yeah, totally! First off, amazing season Adora. I was at like every home game.
Adora: Thanks, we love to have that support at the games.
Caller: Also, I’m on the women’s rugby team and we’re having a party tonight and we were wondering if you wanted to stop by. Free drinks, obviously, and we’re having an arm wrestling contest at midnight.
Adora: Oh wow, yeah, maybe I’ll drop by. Thanks for the invite.
Bow: Thanks caller!
Glimmer: Looks like we have another call on line two. Hi, you’re on the air.
Caller: Hi Adora. Um, you don’t know me but we had a class together last semester, and I just wanted to say that I think you’re really cute.
Bow: Are you SURE she doesn’t know you? What’s your name caller?
Glimmer: Ooo, bummer, looks like they hung up.
After a few more calls, Bow and Glimmer moved onto other topics and Adora was left to her own devices in the studio booth. The booth had a huge window that was half covered in record label stickers and event flyers that looked out into the station office. The office was a mess. Nasty, decades-old couches were covered in piles of t-shirts screen printed with the station logo. Unopened mail from record labels was stacked on tables and desks. Bins of empty CD jewel cases and cassettes were scattered across the floor.
Vinyl records were sacred objects in the station and they remained filed properly in the station library but all other types of recordings just got burned to mp3 and stored on the station server and the redundant CDs and cassettes were tossed in the free bin.
Adora was absent-mindedly scanning the stickers on the booth window and half-listening to Glimmer and Bow run through the biggest campus events and parties of the upcoming weekend when movement behind the window caught her eye. Two women, one seated atop a rusty steelcase desk and pulling the other towards her, wrapping her hands around her, tangling them in her hair, kissing her. Oh. Adora flushed when she registered that they were making out. Right there in the station office! As if there wasn’t a show on the air at that very moment. She flushed even more when she realized that she was staring and that the woman on the desk had caught her looking. Their eyes locked and the woman scowled and flipped Adora off.
Fuck. It was Catra. Of course. Catra was the station manager. Her show was directly after Bow and Glimmer’s, and she was arguably the coolest fucking DJ at the station. She was also not a fan of Adora.
Adora spun around on her stool, desperate to find anything else in the booth to focus her attention on. The binder of public service announcements was perfect. Adora frantically buried her face in the PSAs.
Glimmer noticed that Adora was being weird and shot her a “you good?” look. Adora cringed and shook her head. Glimmer and Bow were in the middle of a bit on the best spots to hook up in the library so Glimmer had to let Adora’s thing drop for the moment. The show was almost over anyway.
Five minutes later, as the duo was starting to sign off for the night, the booth door swung open and Catra appeared in the doorway. She leaned against the doorframe in her leather jacket, still scowling, with a stack of records under her arm and wild curls of brown hair cascading down to her shoulders. Adora gulped. She looked terrifying and so fucking hot. She arched her eyebrow and tapped her wrist with a single, perfectly manicured black fingernail, silently suggesting that Glimmer and Bow get the fuck out of her booth as soon as possible.
Glimmer just rolled her eyes and pointed at the official booth clock. They still had two minutes. Bow finished out their sign off and put on one last song to take them through the hour. The second the headsets were off and the mics were muted, Catra shoved her way past Adora into the booth.
“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t use my station to pimp out your stupid friends,” she huffed.
“Excuse me?” Glimmer was shrill, there was no denying it. “First of all, this isn’t your station--”
“I’m the station manager Sparkles, and it’s my job to make sure you idiots don’t commit any FCC violations and get us kicked off the air.”
“--and second, we were not pimping anybody out.”
“I don’t know, using your show to find a date for Adorka is pretty sketch.”
“It is not! People really like it when we have guests on the show.”
“Whatever, get out. I need to get set up. Some of us actually use the equipment in here.”
“Ugh, fine, whatever,” Glimmer replied as she dragged Adora out. Bow followed close behind. They headed directly out of the station, which was on the top floor of the student union. Adora heard the start of Catra’s sign-on as they slipped out of the station.
Here we go, another Friday night on 89.1 KBMC, Bright Moon College and Community Radio. You’re tuned into Cat Scratch Fever with DJ Wildcat. I’ve got the good stuff lined up for you tonight. Gimme a call here at the station if you want to request anything…
“God, Catra is such a bitch. Every fucking week she acts like we’re ruining her show or something.”
“Just ignore her, Glim,” Bow replied. “She just acts like that to piss you off. If you didn’t get so mad, she’d probably leave us alone.”
“UGH, whatever. You want to hit up that rugby party, Adora?”
At Bow’s insistence, Adora tagged along to the show the following Friday night. Since she wasn’t actually a guest on the show, she spent some time exploring the rest of the station. The vinyl library was huge. Shelves and shelves of every genre from jazz to hardcore lined the walls of two rooms off the station lounge.
Every square inch of wallspace in the station was plastered with band and record label stickers, except for one large wall covered in a grid of polaroids. Adora took a closer look and found that they were photos of all the station staff and djs. Bow and Glimmer looked so cute in theirs. They were posed with microphones in front of the student union like the hosts of Access Hollywood. Bow did make a good Mario Lopez.
Adora recognized a couple of other DJs. Mermista, who had lived on her floor freshman year, apparently had an underground hip hop show on Thursday nights. Perfuma, her lab partner from intro biology, had a roots reggae show on Sunday mornings. And there, in the middle of the board, was Catra. She was smirking in that same leather jacket and cradling a record. Adora couldn’t tell what the album was but when she leaned closer and squinted, it looked like there were tiny people in neon clothes trapped in test tubes? She was so focused that she didn’t hear somebody walk up behind her.
“If my photo goes missing again, at least I’ll know who stole it this time.”
Adora whipped around and found herself face to face with Catra. It had been a long time since Adora had gotten this close a view of Catra’s mismatched blue and amber eyes. They were just as beautiful as ever.
“I, uh... Sorry, I was just looking.”
“You know, technically only station staff is allowed in here.” Catra moved half a step closer, causing Adora to back up against the wall of polaroids.
“I’m here with Bow and Glimmer.”
“I’ll just...I’ll just go back to the booth.”
“Suit yourself, princess.” Catra turned and disappeared into the record library.
Adora flinched at the nickname and quickly retreated to the on-air booth.
A half an hour later, Catra pulled the same “get the fuck out of my booth” act at the end of Glimmer and Bow’s show. As always, it pissed Glimmer off to no end and Bow had to run interference to make sure everybody made it out of the station unscathed. Adora tried to stay out of it but she could feel Catra’s eyes on her as her friends packed up and they slipped out of the booth.
“I don’t think I should come in this week,” Adora pleaded as Glimmer physically dragged her up the stairs of the student union. “Catra made it pretty clear that guests aren’t allowed in the station.”
“Guests ARE allowed in the station, she has ‘guests’ all the time.”
“Yeah, if you call her make out partner of the week a guest,” added Bow.
“She’s a tyrant. She thinks just because she’s the station manager, she can do whatever she wants in the station. I shudder to think about what’s happened on those couches in the station office. Don’t EVER sit on them, Adora,” continued Glimmer. “And anyway, you’re going to be an actual guest on the show this week so it’s like definitely 100% okay for you to be there.”
“Ugh, fine,” Adora groaned.
Ten minutes into the show, Bow and Glimmer welcomed Adora back onto the airwaves to talk about the pie eating contest fundraiser for the equestrian club that she was competing in.
Adora: Last year I got through two and half pies but I really feel like I can finish three this year.
Bow: Folks, it’s true, this woman can really put it away when she’s hungry. You should have seen her last year.
Glimmer: Frankly, it’s disgusting but they have to raise money for those horses somehow. Alright, moving on, we’re going to open up the phone lines so if you have any events you want to plug or questions for our guest, give us a call!
They let a couple of pop songs play while they waited for calls to start rolling in. A couple people called to plug campus events, one woman called to ask Adora if she would spot her in the weight room and soon they were almost out of time.
Bow: Looks like we’ve got time for one more call. Caller on Line 1, you’re on the air.
Caller: Heyyy Adora.
Glimmer: Why are YOU calling?
Caller: I have a question for your guest.
Glimmer: Just ask it.
Caller: So, I was wondering whatever happened to Adora’s sword.
Bow: Her sword??
Caller: Yeah, her big, powerful sword. She knows what I’m talking about. Right, princess?
Caller: Oh, have you never met the Princess of Power?
Adora: Bow, hang up on her.
The call was disconnected.
Adora could see Catra doubled over with laughter in the station office through the on-air booth window. She burned with embarrassment and wanted nothing more than to storm into the office and put Catra in her place but she managed to stay seated. Glimmer, on other hand, had to be restrained by Bow.
“Why don’t you two head out now and I’ll finish up the show?” he said, clearly hoping that they would be out of the booth before Catra appeared.
“I swear to god I’m going to lose it on that bitch,” Glimmer fumed.
“Just go! I’ll meet you downstairs.” Bow pushed them out of the booth and hoped they would continue out the station door.
“What the fuck was that Adora? Do you know Catra or something?”
Glimmer’s eyes went wide.
“WHAT. How? From when? Why don’t I know this? Ugh, I knew she was acting even worse every time you were around. What did you do to her?”
“What did I do to her ?! More like what did she do to me!” As soon as the words slipped from Adora’s mouth, she realized how much she’d just admitted to Bright Moon College’s gossip queen. Glimmer’s eyes were sparkling with the hunger for juicy details and Adora knew there was no way out of spilling them.
“You’re telling me everything.”
“Fine. But we should wait for Bow, he’s going to want to hear this too.”
“I’m here!” Bow called, sprinting down the stairs.
Adora told the whole story as they walked back to their apartment.
“So, Catra and I went to high school together.”
Adora silently cursed her overly dramatic friends.
“And we were really close.”
“We actually went to prom together.”
Glimmer was so shocked that she literally slapped Bow (on the shoulder, at least).
“You WHAT. How are we just learning about this? ADORA. What the fuck. Catra?!”
“Just let me tell the story, okay?”
“Fine. I need details .”
“Okay, so like I said, Catra and I went to high school together. We were friends and I...ugh, it’s so embarrassing. I had a huge crush on her for years. But she was always, like, too cool for me or whatever. I don’t know, we were just friends. Until senior year, I finally decided to just go for it and I asked her to prom, and she said yes.”
“I’m sorry but this is wild. You had an unrequited crush on Catra ? You’re such a catch and she’s so…you know...”
“Glimmer, let her keep talking.”
“So we went to prom together, and I was obviously a total mess the whole time because I was so into her. She looked super hot that night. She wore this maroon suit and these leather fingerless gloves. Ugh, I’m dying just thinking about it now.”
“Wait. Adora. You’re not still into her are you?”
“I mean...no? But she’s still hot, obviously. You have to admit that.”
“Anyway, things got a little steamy at an after party that night.”
“Excuse me, you’re going to need to explain what you mean.”
“We just made out. It was still high school! But, yeah, we kinda had a thing after that. Like, we weren’t officially dating but it was definitely more than just a friends with benefits thing. Honestly, it was really confusing.”
“I’m sorry, this is so weird.”
“Glimmer, don’t judge,” Bow warned. “Remember what a disaster you were in high school.”
“Zip it, Bow. Let Adora continue.”
“Yeah, so we hooked up a lot throughout the summer before college and I really wanted to get serious. Like, I really liked her. And secretly, when nobody was around, she was actually really sweet. But I guess we weren’t on the same page because as soon as we got here, she ghosted me.”
“Adora, there are only like 2000 students here, it’s impossible to ghost someone.”
“Well whatever you want to call it, she disappeared. Stopped texting me. Avoided me completely. I’ve had like three conversations total with her since then and two of those have been in the radio station.”
“Damn. She really just pretends like she doesn’t know you?”
“Yeah. It used to really upset me but I’ve kind of just accepted it.”
“Why didn’t you tell us before?” Bow asked.
“I don’t know. When it happened, you guys were new friends and I barely knew you and it seemed too private. I was too awkward to talk about sex stuff and I didn’t want everyone to think I was the sad girl. And then eventually too much time had passed and it would have been weird to bring it up. I figured, if she wants to pretend like she doesn’t know me, fine, I’ll let her.”
“I still can’t get over this. You and Catra were fuck buddies.”
“What? It’s true!”
“Adora is obviously uncomfortable with that description.” She was thankful for Bow’s diplomacy.
“It’s just weird to hear you call it that.”
“You know it’s going to be hard for me to keep this a secret, right? I mean, this is the juiciest gossip I’ve heard all year. Bright Moon’s hottest jock used to bang the ice queen of KBMC? Fuck. This is so perfect for the show.”
“Glimmer...we are not throwing Adora to the wolves like that.”
“Sometimes I wonder why you even do this show with me Bow. You clearly don’t have what it takes to make it in campus celebrity gossip.”
Glimmer and Bow argued back and forth about the ethics of their show for the rest of the walk home. Adora had learned a long time ago to stay out of their disagreements over the show, even when said disagreements apparently centered on her own personal life.
Adora refused to spend any more Friday nights at the station. The thought of seeing Catra again now that Glimmer and Bow knew their whole backstory was too much. Plus, some of the girls she’d met at the rugby party had invited her for pitchers at a bar in town and that sounded way better than hiding from Catra in the on-air booth.
She was plenty buzzed by the time she returned to the apartment for a Best Friends Squad movie night.
“Did you see Catra?” was the first thing out of her mouth. She cursed that last beer she’d downed before leaving the bar. It’s not like she cared if they saw Catra or not.
“Don’t even get me started,” Glimmer groaned. “She was, as usual, a complete bitch.”
“You kind of started it, Glimmer,” Bow said.
Glimmer huffed as she uncorked a bottle of rosé. “Not true. She tried to kick us out of the booth a full five minutes early. I just let her know what I thought about it.”
“Okay, she wasn’t actually cutting us off early, she was just hovering annoyingly in the doorway like she always does. Glimmer is the one who...well, actually, you should tell her,” Bow said to Glimmer, who was indulging in an excessively heavy pour of the shitty wine she’d just uncorked.
“I was ignoring her, as usual, until she said something about you , Adora.”
Adora suddenly felt hot. It was probably the beer finally catching up with her. Definitely not the thought of Catra and Glimmer having some kind of incident over her.
“What did she say?”
“She said something about how she was glad we didn’t bring that idiot jock to the station again.”
Adora decided she needed some of the wine.
“So obviously,” Glimmer continued, “I told her that she could fuck right off because we know about PROM and everything after and the secret’s out that she was actually super into you.”
“What?! Glimmer! You told her that? That’s not even true!”
“Yeah, of course I told her. Then she got super pissed and she literally dragged me out of the booth and told me to shut the fuck up and said that if I ever told anybody about you and her, she would kick us off the air and guarantee that we didn’t get a show next semester.”
“Wait, seriously?” That sounded dramatic, even for Catra. It was already obvious that Catra didn’t want to talk to her, but freaking out and threatening to take their show away seemed like overkill. And while her threats clearly enraged Glimmer, they just made Adora sad. She really had no idea why Catra was so worried people would find out that they used to know each other or whatever.
“She’s out of control. I can’t believe she threatened us like that. She can’t just take our show away.”
“Just let it go, Glim,” Adora insisted. She doubted Glimmer would.
Every semester, KBMC threw a huge party at the radio house. The radio house was one of those huge, decrepit, hundred-year old victorians that dotted the neighborhoods around campus and had supposedly been rented to KBMC DJs for decades. Station management and DJs got free drinks all night. The best campus bands played sets in the basement and the once-grand dining room was transformed into a dance floor. It was definitely the destination of the night for more than half the campus, though odds were you wouldn’t get through the door if you didn’t know someone at the station.
Glimmer and Bow were obviously going, and so, by default, was Adora. Their plan was to do their show, hit up a pizza place for some cheap slices, then head to the party. Bow tried to get Adora to tag along to the station but she was adamant that she planned to stay away from KBMC for the rest of the semester. She assured them that she’d listen to the show from home and then meet up with them at the pizza place.
She was only half listening to the show when something Glimmer said something that caught her attention.
Glimmer: Alright, tonight, in honor of KBMC’s biggest event of the semester, I have an especially steamy blind item to share.
Adora snapped to attention and snatched her phone. She immediately dialed the radio station but nobody picked up. She called Bow. No answer. She called Glimmer. Also no answer, as expected. Glimmer was still talking on air.
Glimmer: So, I have it on good authority that a certain member of KBMC station management used to have a spicy friends with benefits situation with one of the stars of the Bright Moon women’s soccer team. You might be thinking, jeez Glim, that’s kinda boring, but wait, it gets so much better.
Adora kept dialing the station while simultaneously texting the groupchat things like WHAT THE FUCK GLIMMER?!?!? and BOW STOP HER!!!
She checked the time. It was 7:45, so she knew that their show was almost over, but Catra was also probably already at the station. And knowing Catra, she was also probably about to literally rip Glimmer’s purple hair from her head. Adora grabbed her jacket and started running to the station. She wouldn’t be able to hear the rest of whatever Glimmer was planning to say but at least she might be able to stop a murder if she got there in fast enough.
After sprinting across campus, Adora had to stop and ring the doorbell of the station and pray that somebody would let her in. She had forgotten about this particularly inconvenient barrier. She had spent enough time in the station to know that ringing the doorbell actually set off a set of silent flashing lights in the on-air booth and in the station lounge and she was at the mercy of whoever was on the air or hanging out in the station.
Though nobody seemed to be coming to open the door, she kept her finger on the buzzer and prayed there wasn’t a fist fight happening in the booth. As she put her ear up to the door to listen for any sounds of violence, the door swung open.
“What?” A very clearly annoyed woman with blue hair stood in the door. “Oh, hi Adora.”
“Mermista, hey, sorry. Are Bow and Glimmer still in there?”
“Ugh, yes. They’re almost done.”
Adora started to push past her, and then paused to ask, “Is Catra here?”
“No, I’m subbing for her tonight. She’s setting up for the party.”
Adora breathed a sigh of relief.
“By the way, that’s totally wild, you and her.”
The relief was gone.
“I’m going to kill Glimmer,” Adora muttered as she headed toward the on-air booth.
The second the duo finished signing off, Bow was making excuses. “I didn’t know what she was planning, she started the whole thing while I was out of the booth looking for a record, she didn’t run it by me ahead of time, I’m so sorry Adora.” He was babbling, but Adora was focused on Glimmer.
“Glimmer, what the hell? I told you not to say anything!”
“No you didn’t.” Glimmer was scrolling through her phone as they walked, clearly pleased at the response their show had gotten on twitter that night.
“What are you talking about, of course I did.” Adora stepped in front of her, demanding her full attention. Glimmer sighed and put her phone away.
“You never said not to say anything. You said to let it go , but after being my best friend for four years, you should know that there was no chance in hell I was going to let it go.” Glimmer had a point. Adora really should have known. She should have been more explicit.
“Catra is going to freak out when she hears about this. She probably already has!”
“Why do you care? She already pretends like she doesn’t know you.”
“Because you’re going to lose your show!”
“No, I thought about this. If she tries to pull some station dictator bullshit, I’ll just tell everyone that she’s abusing her power and she’ll have to step down.”
“You sound so confident, as if she doesn’t have a whole horde of djs wrapped around her finger.”
“Just trust me. It’s going to be fine. And people love when we do blind items on the show.”
“Glimmer, anyone with half a braincell would know who you were talking about. Calling it a ‘blind item’ is pretty disingenuous.”
“Your big ass vocabulary words are not going to change my mind. I have no regrets.”
Bow managed to defuse the conversation enough to refocus them on pizza, but Adora was definitely less interested in going to the station party than she had been an hour earlier. Bow reassured her that the party would be packed and it would be easy to avoid Catra.
He was totally right. The rooms in the house were dark and packed full of bodies. They headed to the basement where their friend Frosta’s band was playing and then migrated to the dancefloor after that. And despite the overpowering smell of body odor, weed, and cheap beer, Adora was having a great time. By the time she crushed her third tallboy of Coors, she had completely forgotten about Glimmer’s stupid blind item.
She was on her way back to the makeshift bar for a fourth tallboy when she felt somebody grab the back of her shirt and drag her back onto the dancefloor. Half the rugby team was there and Adora assumed it was the girl she’d just been dancing with, but when she finally managed to spin around in the sea of bodies, she found herself face to face with Catra. Her leather jacket had been swapped for a black KBMC station t-shirt cropped scandalously short and her hair was piled on her head in an unruly topknot and as Adora stood, blinking and slack-jawed, trying to process exactly what was happening, all she could focus on was the single drop of sweat sliding down Catra’s neck and pooling at her collarbone.
“So? Are you just going to stand there staring like an idiot? What the fuck Adora?” Carta’s angry taunting snapped Adora out her daze.
“Dude, you’re the one who grabbed me. I didn’t even see you. I was avoiding you!”
A little bit of the anger drained from Catra’s eyes. Adora couldn’t place what it was replaced with. She could barely hear Catra over the music, but it sounded like she said, “well some things never change, I guess.”
Adora pointed to her ear and mimed that she couldn’t hear, and all that anger boiled right back into Catra’s expression. She fisted her hands into the front of Adora’s shirt and pulled her close and then growled, loudly, into her ear, “ I SAID, SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE, ASSHOLE. ”
Adora had no idea how to interpret that. Catra was still gripping her shirt. Her face was still practically pressed against Adora’s. Adora could hear her breathing. She could smell her, an intoxicating mix of sweat and vetiver and smoke. She shifted and brought her mouth close to Catra’s ear and replied, her voice deep and aggressive, “Excuse me, but what the fuck Catra? If you want to talk about avoiding people, I have four years of treatment from you that I can share.”
Catra’s eyes went wide. She seemed to suddenly realize her hands were still twisted into Adora’s shirt. She pushed Adora away with a half hearted “fuck you, Adora” and disappeared into the dance floor.
Adora tried to follow her but she couldn’t weave through the tangled bodies as easily as Catra. When she finally emerged on the other side of the room, Catra was nowhere to be found. She continued scanning the crowds as she moved from room to room and eventually caught sight of Catra disappearing at the top of the stairs leading to the second floor.
Adora took the stairs two at a time and reached the top quickly enough to see Catra slam a door at the end of the hallway. There was a handwritten sign taped on the door that read Residents Only - don’t you fucking dare enter if you don’t live here.
Adora opened the door.
It was another staircase leading up to the next floor. The staircase was dark but a little bit of light trickled in from the room at the top. Adora ascended slowly, taking each tread as quietly as possible. There didn’t seem to be any voices or other sounds coming from the room above her.
At the top of the stairs was an attic bedroom. A quick scan of the room suggested it was probably Catra’s. Her leather jacket was tossed over a desk chair. There were two crates of records and a turntable in one corner. It smelled like her.
But the room was empty and there didn’t seem to be any other doors. Adora took a couple of steps farther into the room and noticed an open window by the bed.
“Catra?” She called, as she approached the window. There was no response, but she stuck her head out anyway. It opened onto the roof, which sloped down to a small landing, probably the covering of the second floor balcony, where Catra was sitting.
“Go away, Adora,” she said, without even turning around. “I know it’s you.”
Adora started to climb out the window. It was a tight fit and she tried not to think about what might happen if she slipped. Probably good that she hadn’t gotten that fourth beer.
“If you fall, I’m not catching you.”
“I wouldn’t expect you to. Honestly, I’d probably take us both out, so let’s just hope it doesn’t happen.” Adora was mostly out of the window but still had the slope of the roof to contend with. When she was finally free of the window frame, she sat down on the roof and scooted inelegantly down to the landing Catra was sitting on.
“You know for a jock you’re pretty clumsy.”
“I’m half drunk and we’re on the third story.”
“Why are you even out here?”
Why was Adora out there? Just hours earlier she was so stressed about the possibility of running into Catra that she hadn’t even wanted to come to the party. She could have just let Catra storm off on the dancefloor and things probably would have gone back to how they had been. A somewhat uncomfortable but functional agreement to ignore each other. But then Adora remembered the blind item and Catra’s threats to Glimmer the week earlier.
“I guess I just thought we should talk? Or something. I don’t know.”
“Your friend Sparkles is bitch, you know.”
“Glitter, Sparkles, Shimmer, whatever.”
“She says the same thing about you.”
Catra huffed but didn’t say anything in reply. Adora still wasn’t completely sure what she was doing out on the roof with a woman she’d long ago written off as a lost cause. The sounds of the party below filled the silence.
They sat on the roof, not talking, not even looking at each other, for a long time. Longer than Adora expected Catra to put up with her, but then Adora realized it was Catra’s roof. Maybe she was just waiting for Adora to leave. Adora was getting cold anyway. She couldn’t imagine how cold Catra must be.
She started to rise and awkwardly climb the roof back up to the window when she felt a light tug at her ankle.
She turned and sat back down.
“Let’s talk or whatever.”
“Okay,” Adora replied.
“Well? You’re the one who wanted to talk.”
There was so much Adora wanted to talk about. She wanted to know if Catra was going to take Glimmer and Bow’s show away and blacklist them next semester. She wanted to know why Catra was so upset that people knew they used to hook up. She really wanted to know why Catra had stopped talking to her during freshman year. And she wanted to know what the hell Catra meant when she called her an asshole on the dancefloor. But she didn’t know how to start.
But she had to start somewhere.
“So you heard their show today?”
“I didn’t know she was going to do that. I told her not to say anything. I guess I should have made her promise or something.”
“Yeah, like that means anything to you.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Why are you like this? I don’t even know what you’re talking about half the time. No, scratch that, all the time because you’ve only talked to me like three times in the last four years. What’s your problem?”
Catra was scowling, again. Like always.
“You know what, that’s the whole problem. You don’t get it. You don’t get me. You never did.”
Adora was still confused.
“Catra, we were friends for years. I’m pretty sure I must have ‘gotten it’ back then. And then, that summer, I really thought I got it. I thought we were good.”
Catra scoffed and looked away.
“Explain it to me then. What don’t I get? What am I missing?”
Adora watched Catra. She was still facing away but she turned her head slightly and looked at Adora side-eyed. It looked like she was contemplating something, deciding what or how much to say.
“You don’t understand anything unless it’s spelled out for you. You never read between the lines. You’re so oblivious.”
She paused and unfolded her body, letting her legs stretch out in front of her and leaning back into the slope of the roof.
“You know why I stopped talking to you?”
“No, tell me.”
“Because I couldn’t talk to you. I tried to show you so many times how I felt about you and you never got it. So by the end of the summer, I knew you never would. You didn’t want me the way I wanted you. It was too hard to have you any other way.”
Adora frowned and tried to process what Catra was saying. She thought back to that summer and tried to decipher what Catra was talking about.
“How did you want me?” Adora asked so quietly it was almost a whisper.
Catra stared at her for a long time, jaw clenched, brow furrowed. Adora could tell she was deciding something. Eventually she stood up.
“I can’t do this Adora. I’m going back to the party.”
Catra was up the roof and through the window faster than Adora could stand, but she scrambled after her and managed to squeeze back into the bedroom before Catra had gotten halfway down the stairs.
“Come back, I…”
She turned and looked up the stairs at the Adora. It almost seemed like her mismatched eyes were glowing in the dim light but when Adora descended the few steps between them, she realized Catra’s eyes were glistening because they were damp.
“I think I get it.”
“You really don’t.”
But Adora did. She remembered all the moments that summer when she’d sensed it, when she’d almost said it herself. At the time, she’d decided to let Catra lead. Catra had always been more guarded, more protective of her feelings, and Adora had decided it was Catra’s decision to define things. She hadn’t wanted to force anything.
Now, almost four years later, and with nothing to lose, Adora decided to take a chance. She knew whatever they had before was gone but she hoped she could at least clear the air. It had hurt a lot when Catra had suddenly cut things off, but Adora had moved on. It was only their recent encounters at the radio station that had excavated any lingering pain or confusion. She had grown up a lot, and Catra probably had too. Adora thought that maybe if they could sort out whatever happened between them, they could even try to be friends.
So she went for it. She laid her cards on the table, bet on a hunch, went all in.
“I loved you, Catra. I was in love with you.”
Catra shook her head and backed farther down the staircase. Maybe Adora had bet wrong. Adora thought about following her, but decided otherwise and sat down on the stairs. She buried her face in her hands, embarrassed about what she’d just admitted. She kept talking.
“I didn’t know how to say it. I thought it would ruin things or freak you out or something. I thought you would say something if you felt the same way. I thought maybe you just needed more time. But then, well, you know what happened.”
She couldn’t bear to look at Catra. She assumed Catra would continue down the stairs and back to the party, but she didn’t hear any movement. The walls were vibrating from the stack of speakers in the room below them.
She lifted her head up and saw Catra still standing a few treads below her, watching her, thinking. Adora figured she’d already said so much, she might as well keep going.
“I’m sorry Catra. I didn’t know what we were doing at the time. I might have understood better if we had been older.”
Catra came back up the stairs and sat on the step below Adora, her back against the wall. She sighed, loudly enough that Adora heard it over the noise of the party.
“We’re both such idiots,” Catra muttered. She laughed quietly and shook her head.
“Yeah, I know.”
“I thought you were just...I don’t know, just having fun for the summer. I thought it didn’t mean anything to you.”
“It meant everything to me. I was heartbroken when you stopped talking to me.”
Catra sat up and squeezed onto the same step as Adora. The staircase was narrow and Adora had to wrap her arm around Catra to make space for her. Catra leaned her head against Adora.
“I loved you too, you know. It scared me. I thought there was no way you could love me back.”
They sat on the stairs for a while, leaning against one another, wondering what to do next. And then a familiar bass line started to shake the walls of the old house. A song neither of them had heard in years. Adora looked at Catra and grinned.
“You wanna dance?”
Catra laughed and shoved Adora’s shoulder. “Pff, with you? I have a reputation to maintain.”
“According to Glimmer, I’m the hottest dyke at Bright Moon. You’d be lucky to dance with me.”
“Shut up,” she said, still laughing. She stood and grabbed Adora’s hand as she started down the staircase. “Hurry up, dummy, this song’s gonna end soon.”