“No way! That’s so unlike Wildcat, she loves Adora way too much to forget something like that,” exclaims Scorpia from the break room, audible even through Catra’s headphones where she sits at her desk.
“Shhhhh,” hushes her girlfriend, “I know!”
Catra rips out her earbuds and swivels her ears towards the noise.
“She didn’t forget,” Perfuma’s voice drops lower and Catra flickers her tail in irritation that Scorpia’s girlfriend actually seems to know the meaning of discretion.
She slowly rolls her chair out into the pathway between cubicles, looking to see if anyone else is hearing what she is hearing. Sweat is dripping down Kyle’s face, so that’s a yes, but Catra can’t tell if he’s normally that pale or if he’s about to pass out.
Not wanting to get involved in a lawsuit if the little wimp actually does end up face down in his coffee, she kicks Lonnie’s file cabinet. The other girl raises an eyebrow and shrugs without looking away from the email she’s typing. Her productivity timer in the corner of her screen is ticking down from 15 minutes, marking a scheduled break that she always takes around 10.
“Bitch,” Catra mutters under her breath. Lonnie just quirks her lips up in response and continues pretending to work.
She swipes her mug off her desk, a custom thing Adora had made for her two birthdays ago. It has a picture of Catra covered in cheesy clipart hearts on one side, and reads “You’re the cat’s meow” in a terrible, loopy, live-laugh-love font on the other. Adora meant it as a gag gift, unable to hold back her giggling while she watched Catra open the haphazardly-wrapped box. She had Catra’s real present, a set of high quality knives for the kitchen, because they’re old and boring now, hiding behind her back, of course. But, Catra liked the mug. It was stupid and silly and so Adora that she had to bring it into work to hide the fact she wanted to drink out of it everyday.
A couple years ago, this kind of gossip would have thrown Catra into a tailspin. It’s unsettling now, sure, but Catra’s got the therapy needed to not immediately jump to arson as her primary solution in times of stress. It’s a good feeling, having this kind of handle on her anger.
She saunters over to the break room with a cup already full of coffee and leans against the doorframe. Perfuma and Scorpia are huddled together, whispering some kind of argument back and forth. Catra can make out her name, Adora’s name, and something about their partnership, for some reason, maybe? Their friends have such weird words for platonic relationships sometimes. Catra’s never going to get over the “Best Friends Squad” until the day she dies.
“You guys do know that I’m an investigative journalist, right?” she snarks, swinging one leg in front of the other. “I’m going to find out if you’re talking about me.”
Scorpia jumps a foot off the ground and spins around, “Whaaat, no we were talking about-”
Perfuma delicately squeezes her girlfriend’s bicep, “Our plans for this weekend! Because it's Valentine’s Day.” Perfuma raises her eyebrows at Catra like she’s waiting for a response.
“Riiight, and my name, which I heard, came up in this discussion because?”
“We were just comparing plans! Perfuma said you didn't have any, and I was like whaaat, no? Catra? She’s a bit spontaneous, sure, but on a day like Valentines, well, she's gotta have something,” Scorpia blurts before her girlfriend can stop her.
Catra takes a sip of coffee and raises an eyebrow. “No? Adora and I usually just go to Glimmer and Bow’s for a shitty romcom marathon, and then head home before dinner so, yunno,” Catra waves her hand, willing them to fill in that they’re giving the happy couple some private time to bone down. “But this year Glimmer is busy with something with her mom so she can't host.” Catra shrugs. “It's no big deal.”
Scorpia blanches. Catra hasn't seen her this horrified since the last time they tried to have a group picnic and a spider crawled out of the grass and right onto her leg. Scorpia is one of the emotionally strongest people Catra knows, but even she has her limits.
Perfuma inhales through her nose. “You don't see any problem with that?”
“Wouldn't you think that, maybe, Adora might have a problem with that?”
“She hasn't said anything,” Catra says, taking a swig of coffee.
“Don't you think Adora is the type to want her girlfriend to do something a bit special, on Valentine’s Day?”
Catra squints. “I don’t know, she hasn’t brought it up.” Catra certainly isn’t going to be the one to. She tries to avoid thinking about Adora with a girlfriend as much as possible.
Scorpia sets her claws on Perfuma’s shoulders. “Oh, yunno, I totally forgot, Micah does want to see you in his office,” she says, leaning forward to give her girlfriend an entirely way too obvious conspiratorial nod.
“Okay, that’s not suspicious at all, considering I haven’t got any notification-”
Catra’s cut off by her phone buzzing with the notification sound from Slack.
It’s Micah, asking her to come to his office as soon as she’s available and apologizing that he couldn’t give her any more forewarning.
“This isn’t over,” Catra points at the two girlfriends. Scorpia gulps, but Perfuma looks more like she's seeing Catra off to war than anything else, which definitely doesn't bode well about her meeting with Micah. Whatever, Catra pivots out of the break room with a now empty mug of coffee and marches to her bosses’ perpetually open door.
Micah’s office is as warm and bright as the man sitting behind the desk himself. Despite the urgency of his text, he doesn’t look the slightest bit flustered as he waves Catra into his office and urges her to close the door.
“Catra! Glad you could make it. I know you’re busy, so I’ll make this quick. Perfuma told me you and Adora are free on Sunday. I need you to cover Bright Moon University’s Annual Valentine’s Charity Ball. If you can, of course.” He turns his monitor around so Catra can see the event’s website, dotted with pictures of local celebrities in expensive evening wear and weird modern food that probably tastes amazing but looks alien. There’s a cream puff that is smoking . Adora would die if she got to eat that.
“I’m not a lifestyle writer,” she says, trailing off as her eyes dart around the screen.
“Yes, yes, I know, but Perfuma put in the request for the time off this morning, and, well, there’s been buzzing,” Micah waves his hands and wiggles his fingers for emphasis in a very dad-like gesture, “around the office that you and Adora were available. It’s not just about the article, we also need two good representatives from the paper to be sociable and mingle a bit, you know how these events are.”
“ Two good representatives?”
“Well, yeah,” Micah cocks his head a little, “It’s a Valentine’s Day Ball. Don’t want you showing up without a date,” he smiles.
“...And that date would be-”
“Adora,” Micah finishes for her, like there isn’t a single other viable possibility that crosses his mind.
“Right,” Catra squeaks.
Micah pauses. His eyebrows pinch in a way that Catra’s grown to recognize as ‘paternal concern’ over the years. Catra fucking hate that expression nothing good ever comes after it.
“Catra, I know I’m your boss, and it's none of my business to get into your personal life or what's happening in your relationship, but I do want to let you know, with no expectation or judgement, that couple’s counseling is covered under our health insuran-”
“Thank you, I read the employee’s handbook.”
“I'm sorry if I overstepped.”
Micah frowns and Catra can tell he doesn’t believe her. Probably because she’s absolutely not okay, and judging by the cramp she’s developing in her lower back from having her muscles tensed for so long, she looks it.
“If it's any consolation,” Micah says, sliding over a paper folder presumably filled with expense reports and receipts, “the ball is fully comped, and you would be getting paid overtime.”
“Yeah, how much is-” Catra opens the folder to see a receipt with several zeroes. “Huh.” She looks back at the computer screen. The fancy dress code is really not Adora’s style, but the free coconut curry shrimp on skewers certainly is. And the overtime pay could totally cover a new blender. Adora’s been complaining about their old one getting slow when she makes her post-workout smoothies for a while.
“You’re really paying for a limo?”
“Well, the company is, but yes, if you’d like transportation, we can send it to your apartment around 7?”
Catra leans back in her chair and brushes her fingers over the fancy hand-calligraphed invitations. “Yeah, alright, 7 sounds good.”
Adora gets home early. It’s not uncommon these days. The administrative position she took at the blood center offers a lot more flexibility than she had when she was purely dealing with donors, and it’s Friday, so clocking out a bit before 5 is normal.
But Castaspella was so just weird about it when she sent her home. Adora can’t think of any reason why her boss would give her a smug smile and a wink as she shooed Adora off with a “Wouldn’t want to keep you from your girl this weekend!”
Adora feels her cheeks flame as she remembers Castapella calling Catra “her girl,” even though she knows she doesn’t mean it the way Adora wants her to mean it.
She’s in the kitchen trying to decide whether she can get away with reheating some of last night’s leftovers as a snack, or if she should tough it out until Catra gets home and keep it for lunch tomorrow when the apartment door slams open.
“ADORA,” Catra shouts.
Adora drops the tupperware of chicken and rice on the floor and runs. “Who? What? Are you dying?!” The wall comes up before Adora can stop herself and she hurtles into it.
Catra freezes in the middle of scrambling to toe her boots off. Her eyes flit up and down Adora’s fame as Adora tries to catch her breath.
Adora glances down. She'd stripped out of her pants and peeled off her binder to change into something more comfortable the second she got home, so now she's standing in front of Catra in her boxers, sports bra, and mid-calf unicorn socks. Nothing too unusual except the way her panic has splotched red across her exposed chest.
Adora zeroes in on the bob of Catra’s throat as she swallows. “It's a tits day, huh?”
“Eh, yeah I guess,” Adora shakes her head and forces her attention back to what her best friend is saying. “I wasn't really thinking about it too hard,” she shrugs.
“Cool, cool,” Catra's eyes still aren't on Adora’s face.
“Did you have a reason for making me think you were bleeding out or…?”
Catra snaps her head back up. “Did you know Perfuma thinks we’re dating?”
“What?!” Adora steps forward to help Catra out of her coat and drops a tiny peck on the edge of her temple, “That’s crazy.”
“I know!” Catra groans, tucking a loose strand of Adora’s hair behind her ear in retaliation for the kiss. “I have no clue where she got the idea.”
“Ugh, but that’s not the point. Does your groomsman’s suit from Glimmer and Bow’s wedding still fit? You still have it right? I thought I saw it last time I borrowed one of your hoodies.”
Adora scoffs, “Well I haven’t tried it on in a while, but yeah it’s there. Also stop stealing my hoodies, you have your own.”
“Nah,” Catra sticks her tongue out, “Yours are comfier.”
“Hm,” Adora’s hands fall from Catra’s shoulders to gently squeeze her waist, “Well, I guess if I can’t stop you,” she sighs. They’ve done this bit a thousand times before, both of them know Adora loves it when Catra wears her clothes.
Catra exhales through her nose as her hands twine up to push Adora’s forehead against her own, like they’ve done ever since they were kids. Adora giggles as Catra’s breath tickles her face.
“Oh, right, I’m asking because I need you to save my ass and be my date to this charity ball Perfuma and the team got Micah to assign me because they somehow got it wrapped around their heads that they’re saving our Valentine’s Day.”
Valentine's Day, there’s something about that that pings something in the far back of Adora’s brain. She shoves it down deep on reflex. “Aw, but Sunday is take-out night,” Adora whines.
Catra’s nails stop tracing the nonsense patterns she’d been drawing onto Adora's back. “Adora, half the reason I didn’t tell Micah to shove it is because the catering is going to be Michellin starred.”
Adora gasps and jolts her head back so she can look her best friend in the face, “Really?!”
Catra laughs and nuzzles her head against Adora’s clavicle, “Yeah, dummy. It’s all fancy rich people shit. But the food should be good and the paper is paying for a limo so…”
“Mmm, and I’d be going as your date? Do you think people are going to believe that?” Adora sighs and nestles her chin between Catra’s ears, “I love you, but you know I can’t act.”
Adora feels Catra’s claws prick her back as she tugs her closer. Years of practice make it easy to bite back the whine that bubbles up in the back of her throat.
“It’s just one night. We don’t have to do anything that you’re uncomfortable with,” Catra turns her face to the side and let her shoulders drop, almost like she’s disappointed. “We basically just have to show up together. No one’s gonna care what we do.”
Adora brushes her hand along the edge of her best friend’s jaw, tilting her head up gently. “Aw, Catra, you know you couldn’t do anything to make me uncomfortable.”
Catra’s eyes are glazed and unfocused, clearly overthinking something. Adora realizes distantly how close they’re standing, how she can feel Catra’s breath on her lips, but, like always, she buries it. It’s not worth it. If Catra felt the same way, she’d have done something by now. Any way Catra lets Adora into her life, Adora will take and she’ll be happy. She’ll take it with a smile and she won’t ask for more. She’s loved Catra as long as she’s known what love is. Her emotions aren’t going to get in the way of this.
“Hey,” Adora glides her thumb over Catra’s soft cheekbone. “Are you ok? You don’t have to go if you don’t want to. It’s not what you normally write, we can call Micah and tell him you’re sick or something. O-or,” Adora stills her hand, “If it’s me-”
“Don't be stupid, dummy, it's not you,” Catra nuzzles further into Adora’s chest and sighes. “Who else would I even go with?”
Adora’s hand freezes from where it’d been gliding back to scratch at the nape of Catra’s neck.
“I mean like, we’re the only single people we know,” Catra says quickly, “What else am I gonna do? Download a dating app? We’re almost 30, if I’ve gotten this far without learning how to use tinder, I sure as hell am not gonna start now.”
Oh, right, of course. There’s always a logical explanation for stuff like this. Adora should learn how to not get her hopes up. She rolls her eyes like she’s rolled off this emotional crash a thousand times before.“You make it sound like we’re spinsters. You can learn how to date at 30, Catra.”
“Whatever,” says her best friend, still clutching her tight. “Do you wanna come to the stupid ball with me or not?”
Adora laughs and resumes petting Catra’s hair, smiling when her purr kicks up and Adora can feel it vibrate through her chest. This is enough, it has to be enough.
“Of course, Catra. I’d follow you anywhere,” she says and kisses her head.
Catra does not care for formal wear, but she can appreciate she looks damn sexy in it. She’s collected a couple nice suits from the unfortunate necessity of office work, and one pastel monstrosity that she wore as Glimmer’s maid of honor, but there's only one she's considering for tonight.
Adora dreaded constricting clothes more than Catra, and only had the one suit she wore as Bow’s best man. Catra remembers the first time she saw her in it, how the world narrowed onto Adora stepping out of the dressing room in a white, slim-fitting, single breasted jacket with gold accents. Her face scrunched in that way Catra loved as she fidgeted with the lapels.
They hadn’t been able to figure out what tie would work with the ensemble, the white tie it came with was far too boring for the wedding couple’s tastes, until Catra snapped her fingers and brought out the matching tie from her favorite suit. It was deep crimson red and the fabric shimmered faintly under light.
Maybe Catra was just drunk on the feeling of seeing a piece of her clothing wrapped around Adora’s neck, but she thought Adora looked damn good. Bow seemed to agree, at least, because he okayed the outfit, and now Catra has to stare at a picture of her best friend wearing her tie everytime she goes to get something from the bookshelf in the living room. And maybe she stares at the picture other times too. Sue her.
Cons of that were now Catra doesn’t have a tie to wear with her favorite suit. She has a black bowtie, from way back when she was still newly out and weeding through a bunch of preconceived notions about what it meant to be a lesbian and butch and trans, and she was just kind of throwing shit at the wall to see what would stick. But, as she remembers while fumbling through tying it in front of a mirror, they make her look like a middle school english teacher escorting the eight grade formal. An extremely cool gay middle school english teacher escorting the eight grade formal, but it's not the vibe she's going for.
Sighing, she tugs on one end of the bow tie and unbuttons the top couple buttons on her shirt so she can at least breathe easier while she decides what to do.
Catra hears the two quick knocks on her door she’s come to associate with Adora barging in without waiting for a response. “Hey can you help me tie thiiiiss…” Adora freezes in the doorway as she stares at Catra’s open shirt. “Uh, is that what you’re wearing.”
Catra unbuttons another button. “Do you think this is too much boob?”
“No, you're good,” Adora says, eyes transfixed on Catra’s fingers. As soon as the moments there, it's gone when Adora shakes her head and steps forward to adjust how Catra’s jacket hangs on her shoulders. “Hey, you worked hard for those,” she says with a soft smile and the most platonic shoulder squeeze Catra’s ever felt in her life. “You deserve to show them off a little if you want.
Catra flicks her tail and curls into the attention. For all she likes to tease Adora, she knows it's just passing attraction for her. They’re two lesbians who have lived together their entire lives, it’s natural for a bit of sexual tension to bubble up here and there. Adora is far too unsubtle to keep any kind of romantic feelings under wraps. Not that Catra really knows what romantic feelings would look like on Adora, but she's sure after 25 years of being best friends with her she’d be able to recognize it when she sees it. Not that she hopes she’ll ever see it.
Catra thumbs the top of Adora’s binder where she can feel it underneath her shirt. “Yeah, well, yours are looking flat as fuck right now, so congrats to you too.”
Adora’s head is buried in Catra’s shoulders before she can even finish her sentence. She’s doing that adorable, snorty, half-wheezy laugh she does when something truly makes her lose her shit. Catra rubs a soothing hand down her back to help her catch her breath, and just when Adora’s almost recovered, Catra opens her mouth, intending to say something witty and set her off again but Adora beats her to it.
“I love you,” she says, muffled around the jacket that matches the tie around her throat.
“I love you too,” Catra says, natural as anything.
Adora’s hands flex harder into Catra’s back. “Do you think people are gonna buy it?”
The purr that’d been kicking up in the back of Catra’s throat dies. “I dunno, I’m not sure if it really matters to be honest. We don’t have to do anything too hard anyways, just make some rounds with you hanging off my arm so I can make some notes about who is here and the catering and the charity and whatnot and then after that we get to eat rich people food and go home early.”
“That’s true,” Adora sighs, almost like she’s disappointed. “I guess nobody is gonna be looking at us too hard anyway. It’s not like anybody we know is gonna be there.”
Everyone they know is here. Adora feels like she’s about to pass out. Catra looks like she’s going to have an aneurysm.
Mermista and Seahawk are over by the bar. He’s tugging on her arm and making moves towards the dancefloor even though no one else is on it yet. Bow and Scorpia are gesturing enthusiastically about some sort of fried dough on a stick while their respective wife and girlfriend laugh pleasantly by their sides. Even Spineralla and Netossa are here, hands intertwined on one of the tables while they stare lovingly into each other's eyes.
Adora’s not sure which of them says it. They’re standing close enough that it could be either.
“Catra,” Adora squeaks.
“Uh huh, Adora.”
“I think this is gonna be harder than we thought.”
Catra barks out a laugh and reaches to comb her fingers through her hair before Adora catches her wrist and guides it back down.
“Hey! Your ponytail,” Adora says, brushing her thumb across the back of Catra’s hand. “You spent like 30 minutes making that ‘artfully messy,’ are you really gonna it actually messy in the first 5 minutes?”
“Well excuse me for not being Mr. Natural Beach Waves over here,” Catra tugs gently on one of the loose locks of Adora’s half-up, half-down hairdo, “some of us are still getting used to how thick and sexy our hair is on hormones.”
“Catra, it's been over 10 years, I’m pretty sure you can't keep using that excuse.”
“Transphobe,” Catra says, and settles so her back is resting against Adora’s front while they survey the rest of the ballroom. “Has it really been over 10 years?”
“Mhm,” Adora threads her fingers through Catra’s and squeezes. “January 12th, a week before my birthday, remember?”
“Wow,” Catra breathes.
“And you get more beautiful every day.” Adora drops a kiss to her temple, since Catra’s dress shoes have a slight wedge to them and she can't reach the top of her head from this position.
“Wooooow, I can't believe you just think I’m hot because I take pills for it.”
“Whuh-shut up I never said that.” Adora shoves her hands underneath Catra’s jacket and wiggles her fingers over her ribs, muscle memory after years of friendship guiding her to where she knows Catra is the most ticklish. She doesn’t know how to deny the accusation without letting it slip that she’s been into Catra since middle school .
Catra laughs and squirms away. “Stop you’re gonna fuck up my shirt!” Adora laughs back and grabs at Catra's jacket to spin her back against her torso so she can’t escape. It’s a practiced move, but maybe one she hasn’t thought through under romantic mood lighting and matching formal wear.
Catra stares up at Adora from where she's collided with her chest. “Hey,” she says, her face unreadable. Her eyes are shining but half-lidded, mouth open slightly, and Adora can make out a tinge of blush underneath the peach-fuzz fur that covers her face. It's so soft. Adora’s felt it before, underneath the pads of her fingers. She wants to feel it again, she wants to feel it under her lips as she presses gentle kisses across her Catra’s cheeks. She wants more than that too.
But she just stares back, “Hey.”
Adora grips her best friend’s biceps tighter. She needs to let go, she needs to let go so badly before she ruins everything, but she can't and Catra’s looking at her with her head cocked and eyebrow raised and Adora knows she won't be able to defend herself after what comes next and Catra will know and-
“Oh good, you guys made it! We were worried for a second there,” Bow’s voice pipes up from the side.
“Guh,” Adora says.
Bow’s arm is wrapped around his wife’s shoulder. She’s wearing a shimmering purple ball gown that poofs out so dramatically that Bow has to contort his body a bit to even stand near her. He's wearing a matching suit with the shirt cropped over his belly button. Adora loves her friends so much.
Catra’s face scrunches up in performed displeasure as she curls further into Adora. “I thought you guys had to do something with Glimmer’s mom?”
Glimmer puts her hands on her hips. “Yeah, my mom, the president of Bright Moon University? Do you not remember how we met in college?”
“Of course I remember how we met in college!” Catra bristles. “You were a brat and a menace who always hogged the bathroom sink and I still think that if I had actually filed that complaint your mom would have expelled you on principle.” She turns up her nose, leaving a teasing eye peeking open so the other girl knows she’s supposed to respond.
Adora giggles as Catra and Glimmer continue to verbally duke it out, Catra’s fur standing up progressively more and more on end as the argument continues. Though Adora can tell by the turn of her mouth she's struggling hard not to laugh.
She looks to Bow, wanting to make fake exasperated eye contact about their best friend’s antics, but his eyes are laser focused where Adora’s hand is stroking up and down Catra’s arm. He’s biting his lip, a leftover habit from when he used to stick out his tongue while he was focusing on something.
“Wait,” Adora freezes, “how did you guys know we were coming?”
“Uhhhhhhh,” Bow’s voice breaks like it hasn't in years.
Glimmer slaps a hand over her husband’s mouth. “My dad is Catra’s boss, Adora, he told us you guys were coming!” She laughs, “Obviously!”
Catra squints. “No shit. Did he say why I’m doing this pointless assignment on Valentine’s Day ,” she gestures between herself and Adroa.
“So you guys did have other plans!” Bow exclaims, and then deflates like a tube man outside a car dealership whose power got cut, “I am so sorry I doubted you guys, you were just acting so weird and we were all worried and no one wanted to talk to you directly because we all knew you’d been through so much together and probably wanted to try working it out yourselves but neither of you seemed to care that your relationship... why are you looking at me like that.”
Adora’s eyes are starting to water from how long she’s held them open in abject terror, and she’s sure her face is pale enough to match her suit. She feels Catra’s claws prick her bicep through her sleeve and Adora knows she doesn’t look any better.
“Holy fuck,” Catra breaks the silence, “Maybe I’m worse at my job than I thought.”
“Hey don’t say that!” retorts Adora on reflex. “Whoa, uh,” Adora stumbles as Catra yanks her to the side, “ See you guys later!” She waves at Glimmer and Bow. Bow gives a weak wave back, and Glimmer starts to follow, face a mixture of confusion and outrage, but her dress gets caught under one of Bow’s feet and Adora turns around before she has to see the outcome of that spectacle.
Catra marches them through the crowd. She’s leading, so Adora can’t see her face, but her ears are pinned back and her tail is trashing behind her wildly enough that it keeps hitting Adora in the legs.
Adora squeezes Catra’s hand to remind her that she’s not alone. Instantly, Catra squeezes back and wraps her tail around Adora’s wrist. She glances back at Adora with her eyebrows knit in concern, but the tension falls away when Adora gives a small smile back. They’re both obviously still concerned and confused and mix of other conflicting emotions, but they have each other. As long as they don’t lose that, they’re going to be okay.
Catra finds a multi-stall unisex bathroom. And man, where was this the last time they went to the art museum? It is not fun having to wait your turn to use the only single-stall, trans-friendly bathroom in the whole fucking building everytime you have a group outing. Which, holy shit, now that Adora thinks about it, was that a date? How many best friend squad hang-outs have been double dates? Obviously, it’s not a real date because Catra didn’t think it was a date, and Adora didn’t either at the time, but holy shit-
“Adora,” Catra snaps her fingers in front of Adora’s face.
Adora shakes her head to get herself back in the present. “Catra,” Adora says.
“Adora,” Catra whines.
“Catra,” Adora says.
“Stop saying my name!”
“Stop saying my name first!”
Catra rears her leg back like she’s going to kick the wall, but takes a deep breath and taps it with her pointy-toed boot instead, “Ugh! I don’t know what to do.”
“Well, ok, no need to take it out on the wall,” Adora laughs, she loves this girl so much.
“How did we miss that all our friends think we’re dating!” Catra throws her hands up and Adora has to step out of the way as she starts pacing around the room. “I’m supposed to be an investigative journalist! Shit like this isn’t supposed to fly over my head, I’m supposed to catch it and strangle it until it tells the truth and then write about it and win a Pulitzer.”
“Oh, only aiming for the second highest prize in journalism, huh? “What happened to your ‘ambition?’” Adora teases, pinching her forefinger and thumb together like a chef after adding the finishing touches to his masterpiece.
“Yeah, well, apparently if the CIA assassinated me I’d be leaving behind my dear, loving girlfriend so I can’t exactly hope for that anymore, can I?” Catra slumps over the counter. She lays there for a second before craning her neck so she can face Adora in the mirror. “You still like ‘girlfriend’ right? We haven’t talked about that in years.”
“Yeah, I like how it’s plural when there's two of them.”
“Cool,” Catra says and slouches back down. She taps her fingers on her stomach and then hoists herself up on her elbows to look at Adora the right way. “You’re not freaking out how I thought you would.”
Adora shugs and walks over so she can lean against the sink where Catra is resting. She is freaking out, but she’s thinking it through, sorting stuff into boxes the healthy way CBT taught her to, and mostly not the toxic ‘this thought distresses me so I’m going to chuck it to the back of my brain and hope it doesn’t bounce back and hit me in the face later’ kind of way she used to handle things with when she was younger. Mostly. If Adora loves one thing it is compartmentalizing.
“I guess it's just kinda like,” Adora rubs the back of her head. “What can we do about it? All our friends think we’re dating.” Which is. Wow. Adora holds that thought up and doesn’t know what box to put it in. It’s not technically avoidance if she comes back to it later. “Do we tell them now and make that everyone’s whole Valentine’s Day? Do we keep doing whatever it is we’ve been doing and let them keep their assumptions until later?” She rolls her shoulders back and shrugs again, averting her head off to the side so she can stay focused.
This was supposed to be Catra’s night, before everything went to shit, she’s going to stay solutions oriented about this. She owes Catra that much, to not be weird about the whole thing. “I guess, whatever you’re ok with is fine by me.”
Catra’s looking at her with that far-off, intense expression again.
“You’re not embarrassed that people think you’re my girlfriend at all, huh?”
Adora flushes, “I mean, uh, no? Yes? Whatever is the normal amount?” She is mortified that her friends saw through her crush so easily, but, thinking about it, she also can't break through the euphoria of people thinking that she's dating Catra to feel more than a tinge of self-shame about that .
Adora takes half-step closer so her leg is pressed up against Catra’s where she rests on the counter. She needs the emotional support. “Are you?”
Catra’s throat bobs. “Am I what?”
“Embarrassed that people think I’m your girlfriend?”
Catra sits up a little more. “What, no, are you crazy? You’re so far out of my league it’s insane people think we’re together.”
That's stupid. That’s so fucking stupid Adora cannot believe someone as smart as Catra would even consider it.
“Nuh-uh!” Adora fumes, pointing a finger at her best friend. “ You’re the one out of my league,” The idea is ludicrous . She has to set her straight. “Like you’re so smart and passionate and driven and, just, God, Catra,” Adora huffs, “You should see the way a room changes when you walk in it, the way people stop what they’re doing to listen to you talk. It’s amazing. You’re beautiful and handsome and the funniest person I’ve ever met. I love your voice and how you care so much about your friends even if you show it by teasing them. I don't know how I could be the same person I am today if I didn't get to grow up with you. I can’t even remember a time when I didn’t lo-” Adora shakes her head and clenches her eyes shut. “Fuck.”
It doesn't have to mean anything. Maybe Catra will miss it. They say “I love you” all the time. Why would this one be different?
“ Shit, Adora, I-” Catra stammers.
A gentle hand comes to rest on Adora’s arm and she has to bite back a whimper.
“I- Adora, it's ok baby, look at me.”
Adora opens her eyes. Catra looks ethereal in the harsh bathroom lighting. She looks ethereal anywhere, but here she’s backlit and radiant as she reaches a shaky hand up to cup Adora’s face.
“You’re amazing, ok? Don’t talk down on yourself like that.”
“Don't talk down on yourself first,” Adora murmurs into Catra’s palm.
Catra laughs, high and breathy. “Ok, I guess we’ll both have to stop talking down on ourselves.”
She smooths her thumb over Adora’s cheekbone, and Adora knows it's impossible to miss the way her breath hitches as the tenderness. “Adora,” Catra starts, voice slow and soft, “Did you mean it?”
“I,” Adora shudders, “Yeah, Catra, I meant it. Anyone would be lucky to call you their girlfriend.”
Catra somehow steps closer and takes one of Adora’s hands in hers. “I meant it too,” she whispers. “Adora, what-”
A regal voice muffled by the static of a cheap university microphone comes filtering through the bathroom door.
“Thank you, all for coming to the annual BMU Valentine’s Day Charity Ball, I hope you have been enjoying the dinner service. We’re going to clear the food tables in 15 minutes to open the dance floor, so please make sure you have had your fill of the- oh, Micah, dear, what are those things called that I like so much?” There’s a pause as Angella presumably gets the answer from her husband, but Catra interrupts before Adora can hear the rest of the announcement.
“Holy shit I forgot I was at work.”
Adora giggles weakly.
Catra drops the hand that was holding Adora’s face. “Oh my god I have to interview people before the dance floor opens or else I’m not gonna be able to get quotes.” She looks at Adora with her eyes wide set in panic. “Adora I am so sorry-”
“Hey,” Adora takes both Catra’s hands back in hers, “Hey, it’s okay, we’re gonna be okay. I know your job is important to you-
“Not more important than you!”
“-But I can wait 15 minutes, and your quotes can’t,” Adora bites her lip and gives her a hesitant smile. “Maybe… you could still introduce me as your girlfriend? Since we’re both, uh, okay with it?”
Catra blinks twice and then wraps her tight in a hug, tail swaying happily behind her. “Yes. Yeah. Yes. Let’s do that,” she says into Adora’s shoulder. She gives her one last squeeze before taking her hand and leading her out the bathroom. She pauses with her hand on the door.
“I love you.”
Adora smiles. “I love you too,” she says, and she means it.
Normally Adora is the one bouncing off the wall, but Catra is practically vibrating as they make their way back into the ballroom. It feels a bit dick-ish to be dragging Adora around like this, but after the first time she introduces her to some wealthy overdressed philanthropist type as her girlfriend and Adora beams, she’s pretty sure her apology overtime-pay blender is going to more than be enough to make up for it. Also, Catra’s pretty sure she knows where they’re going to stand by the end of the night, and she has some ideas about other ways to make it up if that doesn't work.
Judging by the way Adora’s eyes keep blatantly flitting down to Catra’s open shirt as she gives a series of increasingly speedrun interviews to some stuck-up socialites, her “girlfriend” is making a similar list. Knowing Adora, she's probably going to try and actually make an actual, physical list of stuff they’ve mutually agreed to try at some point. Or a color-coded excel spreadsheet. How Catra fell so far in love with this dumbass she will never know.
Well, she has some idea, looking at Adora under the soft blue lights of the converted auditorium.
Catra swears her eyes are twinkling, that shine cannot be a trick of the light. Some crooning love song Catra doesn't recognize is playing in the background as she watches the twitch of her best friends mouth as she begins to talk.
“Catra, baby, I think Madame Razz just said she's been catering for these kinds of functions for over 40 years?”
“Oh! Um, right,” Catra clears her throat, god, when did she get so soft . Adora giggles under breath and Catra shoots a half-hearted death glare her way, but Adora just raises a challenging eyebrow in return.
Catra adds a couple more items to the list that’ll show her. And a couple more that won't, but c’mon, with a face like that, pulling that expression? Who can blame her.
“Oh dearies, don't you worry about Madame Razz, I know how special anniversaries can be,” the old woman Catra forgot was standing in front of them smiles and sighs. “I still remember the pies I made for your wedding.”
Her face falls into a glare faster than Adora runs into the dining room after Catra tells her they’re having thai food for dinner, and she hits Adora in the leg with her cane, “Had to stop this one from eating them before the reception. Pah! No patience at all!”
Adora yelps and jumps out of the way of another swing, though this one wasn't aimed at her. The kook swipes her cane through the air between them. “Other than how long it took you two to get married!” she cackles. “You could have had a double wedding with that sparkly couple, but you just had to wait until 2022!” She leans close to Catra and winks, “That was a good year, lots of 2s.”
Before Catra can ask what the hell all that means, the geriatric walking fabric store sets her blunt weapon down and lets her old lady shawl fall non-threateningly back over her shoulders. “Well, Madame Razz has to get home before loo-kee scratches up her couch, you young people enjoy the night, and don't do anything I wouldn't do!” she calls over her shoulder as she hobbles back to the staff exit without waiting for any kind of dismissal.
Adora pulls Catra closer and they just kind of stand there for a minute before Adora pipes up.
“It's 2021, right?”
“Okay cool, just wanted to make sure.”
Catra doesn't have anything more to say to that, but Adora bounces up and down on her heels a couple times before continuing, “Yunno, wedding pies sound like a cool idea, you could a bunch of fun flavors and stuff so everyone has something new to try.”
Catra glares at Adora through the side of her eye and wrinkles her nose, “We are not getting a bunch of weird pies for our wedding, I know you like cake more anyway.”
Adora’s face breaks out in a wild grin.
“What? Why are you smiling that, you look stupid.”
The lights chose that moment to dim into something more suitable to dance to, as a slow, romantic orchestral song drowns out the rest of the ball.
Adora spins her around by the waist, and pulls her into a teasing sway. “ Our wedding.”
“Oh my god. No, I did not say that.”
“You want to marry me, that is so embarrassing for you.” She tries to nuzzle into Catra’s forehead, but Catra turns away in a panic and blocks her face with her hand.
“Oh my god, shut up Adora!”
“No take backsies!” Adora looks down at Catra’s face and registers the fear there. She pales and pulls back, “Oh, uh, unless you don't want to.”
Catra digs her fingers into the back of Adora’s neck to keep her from leaving “No! No, I want to. Just, ugh, you're so embarrassing.” She flops her head onto Adora’s chest. She’s not that much shorter so she has to bend awkwardly at her knees to get there, but it's worth it to feel the calming solid pressure of Adora's pecs. And to feel Adora’s heart rate kick into overdrive.
“Oh, I'm the one that's embarrassing?” Adora asks through an audible smirk. Her hands come to rest on Catra’s waist and she gives her a gentle squeeze as she shuffles closer.
“Mhm,” Catra nuzzles against the side of Adora’s neck. “All sappy and shit.”
“Sure thing, honey.”
Catra wrinkles her nose, “Honey?”
“Hey, you already said I'm a huge sap and you want to marry me, I thought I could take a risk on a pet name.”
“Not that one,” Catra huffs.
“Okay… sugar pie.”
Catra lifts her head up and looks Adora dead in the eye. She’s smiling like an idiot and not at all intimidated.
“I want to marry you too, Catra,” Adora says, bumping their noses together.
Catra feels her chest rumble as a purr kicks up in the back of her throat. She knew that already. She did! She's an investigative reporter and all evidence in their previous conversation points to Adora loving her back and wanting to spend the rest of her life with her.
But still, it's nice to hear her say it. She wants to hear her say it again. She threads her fingers through Adora’s loose hair and steps closer, “Yeah?”
“Yeah,” Adora murmurs, cupping her jaw and titling her chin up. Her eyes flit down to Catra’s lips and Catra can't tell if Adora is leaning towards her or if she's leaning towards Adora, but her eyes are fluttering shut and it doesn't matter when all of a sudden the momentum stops.
“Wait,” Adora blurts, “You did mean that like, not platonically, right?”
Holy fuck she loves this dumbass.
“You're such an idiot,” Catra says and closes the gap and kisses her.
She can admit, later, after she and Adora have shared dozens more kisses, that maybe the reason the first one was so good was the emotion behind it and not the technique. Neither of them had really been going around and kissing a lot of other people after all, so their experience was… limited. But in the moment, with Adora’s slightly chapped lips on hers, and her gentle hands tangling through Catra’s curls, it's perfect. It’s all Catra’s ever wanted.
After what is most certainly not long enough, Adora pulls back a millimeter. “So, that’s a yes then?” Catra can feel her lips brush hers as she talks.
Catra laughs and laces her fingers together loosely over Adora’s shoulders. “Yeah, dummy, I've been in love with you since, like high school,” she says and pulls her in for another kiss, slow and soft this time.
“Wow,” Adora sighs.
“Don’t ruin it.”
“I won't, I promise.” And this time, it's Adora who kisses her. Catra has no complaints. “I think I've been in love with you my whole life.”
“I don’t know when it started, it didn’t like, completely register until I realized I was gay, but after that,” Adora shrugs, “everything fell into place.”
“Wow,” whispers Catra.
They sway together, Adora’s thumbs smoothing soft circles on Catra’s hips while Catra’s fingers twine through Adora’s hair. Catra doesn’t even care that it took so long for them to get here. It’s them, it’s always going to be them.
“Is now a good time to tell you that I totally messed up your hair when we kissed, or should I wait until later?”
Catra jumps up so she can wrap an arm around Adora’s neck and bring her down to noogie level. “You asshole! I spent like 30 mintutes on that!”
Adora tries to squirm away the best she can while giggling uncontrollably, “Hey, it’s just become so thick and sexy since you went on hormones I can’t help it.”
“Don’t throw my words back at me, you asshole,” Catra retorts. “You’re a terrible girlfriend.”
“Yeah.” Adora manages to break free so she can stand and face Catra with nothing but love in her eyes. “But I’m your girlfriend.”
Catra can’t help the sappy smile that worms its way across her face at those words. “Yeah, you are,” she says, and touches their foreheads together. This time, she lets herself bask in the feeling of Adora’s breath on hers, and the warm, woodsy scent of her cologne. “And I’m yours.”
Adora lets out a pleased noise from the back of her throat and bites her lip. “Yunno, technically, I think I’m your fiancé .”
Catra gets permission from Micah to write something a bit more personal than their usual fare, and it works out well because her article goes viral . People love laughing at some truly useless lesbians, apparently.
While it’s not going to win Catra a Pulitzer, it does mark her as a kind of quasi-household name for a bit. Which is crazy, and Adora could not be more proud. She keeps wanting to brag about it to their friends, but Glimmer wouldn’t talk to them for a full 2 days after the article came out. She only relented when Adora invited her to go ring shopping.
Adora doesn’t anticipate she’s going to be getting any less shit for it anytime soon, though. Apparently, doing every kind of PDA known to man short of making out with someone, combined with a lifetime of devotion, and the fact their schedules revolve around each other, and that they actively chose to live together despite being able to afford separate places, doesn’t paint a very platonic picture. Who knew?
Adora resolves to set them straight by publically making out with Catra whenever possible. She might technically be in the wrong about this one, considering both she and Catra were pining for well over 10 years minimum , but Adora’s stubborn like that and she’s not letting up anytime soon. Plus, she gets to kiss Catra, so by all accounts she’s winning.
Things eventually fade back to normal, albeit with one less bed and a lot more kisses, but it’s good. With her girlfriend, and a year later, her wife, in her arms, nothing can ever be anything short of amazing.