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love, adora

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The first thing Adora does when her alarm goes off is immediately roll over, grab her phone, and rather aggressively refresh her email inbox.

She doesn’t even bother to turn off her alarm. The unicorn clock she’s had since she was a kid keeps up with its incessant beeping, but Adora tunes it out as she stares at the little loading icon, waiting, waiting, until…

Her email refreshes. No new mail. Adora huffs and puts her phone down again, smacking the button on her alarm clock irritably. Usually, she has a message from Cyra to help her start her day in the best mood. But apparently, she isn’t awake yet.

But Adora is. She pushes her sheets aside and clambers out of bed, still irritable, but hopeful that she’ll come back to a new email after her shower. Because they’re kind of becoming the best part of her day.

The emails, not her morning shower.

She traipses to her bathroom and starts the shower up, stifling a yawn. Monday morning, always the worst. Mondays in general are the worst, especially this year. It’s like her teachers devised a plan to give her the absolute worst Monday class schedule in the history of schedules. Seriously. Two hours of calculus first thing, and she doesn’t even get to go home straight after school. Mondays and Fridays are the only days she doesn’t have soccer practice, but she does have a session with her tutor. It wouldn’t be so bad, if her tutor wasn’t the most condescending jerk on the planet.

She pushes the thought of the horrific day ahead out of her mind as she gets in the shower. As she washes her hair, her thoughts drift to Cyra. Though, that’s nothing new. Lately, her thoughts are always drifting to Cyra. She doesn’t entirely know how, because it’s not like she has a face to picture, but Adora is pretty sure she maybe, possibly, definitely has a tiny little crush on her.

Glimmer would have a field day if she knew. Adora can almost hear the inevitable teasing of wow, Adora, you have a crush on someone and you don’t even know them.

She ignores inner-Glimmer for once. No, she doesn’t know Cyra’s real name, and Cyra doesn’t know Adora’s. All Adora knows for sure about her real identity is that she’s also a senior at Etheria High.

But Adora knows her. She knows her heart, knows her soul, and that’s what matters.

When she gets out of the shower and checks her phone again, she’s not disappointed. Cyra has finally replied to the email she sent last night.

-

From: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

To: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

Subject: Re: THE SUPERIOR SNACK

Sept 28, 7:03AM

she-ra

i actually can’t express with words exactly how wrong you are right now.

like i think i would need to take a picture of the dead look in my eyes for you to fully understand. but i can’t do that because it defeats the purpose of anonymity, so i guess you’re going to have to take my word for it.

anyway you’re completely wrong, reese’s are disgusting, and you obviously have terrible taste in snacks.

oreos for the fucking win.

love, cyra

-

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: No, you’re wrong

Sept 28, 7:10AM

Cyra,

Read the subject line. Reese’s are chocolatey, salty goodness all packed in a little cup. How could you think that’s disgusting? Aren’t you supposed to be smart?

I’ll give you the Oreo thing, though. Oreos are *chefs kiss* delicious. Not even Gordon Ramsay could hate on Oreos.

By all means, send a picture so I can tell you how pretty you are. Because I’m going to need a picture of a pretty girl to keep me going today. Mondays, am I right? I hope your Monday schedule is better than mine, at least. Or maybe we have all the same classes and we just don’t know it.

I doubt it. I feel like I would know if I talked to you. Like my soul would know yours even though I don’t know what you look like.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m an idiot.

Love, She-Ra

-

Adora presses send on the email before she can overthink it and delete that last part. She likes Cyra, and she thinks… she thinks maybe Cyra likes her back. Cyra was the first one to sign her email off with love. That has to mean something, right?

Or maybe Cyra is just comfortable enough talking to She-Ra that it's in a friendly way. Like, the way you write ‘love’ on a present tag or Christmas card. That was their whole thing, how comfortable they were with one another. Adora knows it’s the anonymity, because she can tell Cyra anything without fear of judgement, but it’s also just Cyra.

It’s like she’s the only one who really gets her.

Adora reads what she sent again and starts to feel a little panicked. Like my soul would know yours. Why did she say that? That definitely comes off as romantic, right? God, she’s such an idiot. She blames the lack of sleep she got. She hadn’t realised that Cyra had fallen asleep and stayed up an extra hour just in case she emailed back, and now she might have gone ahead and ruined the whole thing.

She refreshes her inbox obsessively and doesn’t hesitate to press on the next email when it comes in, her heart pounding against her rib cage.

-

From: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

To: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

Subject: Re: No, you’re wrong

Sept 28, 7:13AM

she-ra

i am smart and that’s exactly why i think reese’s are disgusting. it’s not my fault your tastebuds are too tasteless to know good food. but they win some points for the oreo thing.

mondays are definitely the suckiest of all days, but i think the entire human race agrees with you on that sentiment. i don’t know, maybe we do share some classes. i’m not going to ask what you take, though. just in case.

i like to think i’d realise it was you too, she-ra. i feel like you give off a certain vibe. i might be making it up, but i don’t know. i just feel like you’d talk the way you write, you know?

and you’re definitely an idiot. but it’s cute, so… you’re good.

love, cyra.

-

Adora flushes red with embarrassment at the stupid, girly squeak she lets out upon reading Cyra’s email. You’re definitely an idiot, but it’s cute. Does that mean… does Cyra feel the same way?

Adora types her response with a foolishly happy smile on her face. She isn’t brave enough to straight up admit that hey, I know I don’t know what you look like or what your real name is but I think I’m maybe falling for you, so she babbles on about Oreos and how much she hates Mondays for a few paragraphs before sending. She’s practically skipping as she makes her way to the kitchen for breakfast, and it’s so noticeable that even Razz questions her.

“Did you win something, Adora, dearie?” Razz asks as she places a plate of pancakes in front of Adora. “You look like you just won the lottery.”

“Definitely not,” Adora says as she pours a generous amount of syrup on her pancakes. “But in a way, I feel like I did.”


Adora met Cyra on Tumblr, of all places.

Two months ago, when Adora started getting serious about narrowing down her college choices, she decided to find some other people online who were looking at the same schools she was. Talking it out with someone in the same situation would help, and she could make a few new friends before college starts next year.

She’d found Cyra’s post completely accidentally. She somehow clicked on the wrong tag, one for Yale – Adora would never get in there in a million years – and she was just about to exit out when she saw the post at the top of the tag.

cyraofdriluth

ugh ignore this it’s just a rant i’m going to delete but i’m so fucking sick of being in this stupid school in the same shitty town. i can’t wait until i get accepted into yale or columbia or literally anywhere far enough away from this goddamn place so i can leave and finally be me.

the hilarious thing is that this entire crisis mood i’m in right now was set off by my friend joking about me getting a boyfriend. like i’m not the gayest fucking person on this whole planet. maybe i’m dying in this closet idk but im still not ready to come out of it. i’m the one causing myself all of this stress, but when i try to solve my own problem the words catch in my throat and i choke on them. it’s like they’re slowly strangling me to death.

Adora read the post and she just had to know her.

Mostly because she was in awe that there was someone out there who felt the same way she did.

She’d created a new Tumblr account and messaged her. It took ten minutes for them to realise they were from the same place and went to the same school, and then Cyra had given her an email address to message her on, just because she was worried her Tumblr account might have mentioned her friends’ real names or something else that made her identifiable. Cyra wasn’t ready for anyone in her real life to know yet, and Adora understood that. She wasn’t, either.

So, they’d created the Gmail accounts and their aliases, and for the last two months, they’ve been each other’s rock. Adora hadn’t known how much she’d needed someone to talk to so openly, without fear of blurting something out that could out her. Even just talking about gay stuff or mentioning a hot actress or musician that she thought was cute, it had helped her so much.

Actually, Cyra has helped her so much that Adora is starting to feel ready to come out.

It would be amazing if they could come out together. Maybe Cyra would want that.

Adora thinks about her all through Monday morning hell (aka Calculus). Bow, who sits next to her, looks like he wants to ask her about the stupid dreamy smile on her face. If Glimmer were here, she definitely would ask. While Bow has a sense of boundaries, Glimmer doesn’t.

Maybe that’s why they’re dating. Opposites attract and all that.

She’s thought about telling her friends before. Even if they’d judge her for crushing on someone when she doesn’t know what they look like. Or their name. That would be the big thing. But she doesn’t want to tell them. It’s sort of like she and Cyra have their own little world, one that exists for just the two of them.

Plus, telling them about Cyra would mean telling them she likes girls.

“Hey,” Bow finally nudges her once they’ve both finished their work. Adora is pretty sure most of her answers are wrong, because she sucks at math, but she doesn’t care. All she can think about is Cyra. “Are you sure you don’t want to help out with the play? Last chance to sign up today.”

“Really sure,” Adora says. Bow and Glimmer are both involved with the theatre department. They play the leads in this year’s play. Adora doesn’t know what it is. Maybe something Shakespeare? That’s usually how it is. “The rehearsals clash with soccer practice, anyway.”

“Oh,” Bow says, “never mind, then. Just thought I’d ask because we need people to help paint sets.”

It might make her a little bit obsessed, but Adora wonders if Cyra does any extracurriculars. They don’t ever talk about school related stuff, except vague things. And that’s usually Adora complaining. Maybe she should ask.

“Why don’t you paint the sets?” Adora asks. “Are you actors too good for it?”

“No, there’s just so much that needs painting,” Bow says, “even with the art club helping out. I’ll be surprised if we manage to get it all done by opening night.”

“Don’t forget to save me some tickets,” Adora says, because she always went to see the plays. She was a supportive best friend. “Three, in case Razz wants to come. She complained last year when you only gave us two and she had to stay home.”

“I’ll see if I can pull some strings,” Bow winks jokingly, and Adora already knows he’ll be able to get them. “How are Razz and your mom, anyway? We haven’t had a proper Best Friend Squad hangout at your place for a while, so I feel like I haven’t seen them in forever.”

“They’re good,” Adora says, which was true. Mara is really tired, but she works a lot, so Adora doesn’t blame her. “We should do something this weekend, though. I feel bad that I’ve been so busy.”

Busy meant curling up in her bed and emailing Cyra all night, but whatever.

“Are we not all going to the homecoming game on Friday?” Bow asks, “You love sports. I thought it was pretty much set in stone that we’d be going.”

“Oh, yeah,” Adora realises. She’s been so caught up in everything with Cyra that she’d forgotten. “I forgot that was this Friday.”

“Damn, you really have been busy,” Bow laughs good-naturedly, patting her on the back, “you’re lucky you have such a good friend to help you out.”

Adora smiles. “What would I do without you?”

The bell rings before Bow can say anything, and Adora immediately pulls her phone from her pocket. Even though she’s still in the classroom, it’s not technically class time anymore, which means she’s allowed to check her phone.

She checks her email, and she’s glad that Cyra has already responded to her last one. She’s never double emailed before, but she would’ve, if only to rant about her horrible Monday. Adora makes sure to be subtle as she reads what Cyra has written, even though she knows Bow wouldn’t sneak a peek at her phone. She at least wants to get an email sent back before she and Bow meet up with Glimmer.

-

From: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

To: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

Subject: already dying of boredom

Sept 28, 10:29AM

she-ra

is it just me, or is school getting easier?

i got all my class work done in ten minutes last period and spent the rest of the time basically doing my friend’s work for her. i think that’s another reason why i can’t wait to get to college. i’d actually appreciate a challenge one of these days.

anyway, i hope your day is going okay, i know monday is always a killer for you from the way you talk about it.

my day can be summed up so far with ‘bleh’. boring work and trying not to be annoyed by our devolved classmates. honestly i feel like you’re the only person in this school who doesn’t drive me absolutely fucking nuts and i don’t even know who you are

love, cyra

-

Okay, well.

Adora definitely isn’t telling her that she has an obnoxious tutor that she has to meet with on Mondays and Fridays.

She’s always known that Cyra is smart – in that first Tumblr post, she said she was looking at Yale and Columbia. It’s kind of intimidating, and Adora doesn’t want to come off like some dumb jock who isn’t good at the academic side of things. She knows she can’t exactly help finding subjects like literature and history difficult because of the amount of reading, but the only people that know she’s dyslexic are her mother and Razz. And Adora’s not even entirely sure Razz knows.

It doesn’t help that she sucks at math, too. School in general was apparently never destined to be Adora’s strong suit, apparently.

She lets out a few absent ‘uh-huh’ noises as Bow talks to her about… something, and doesn’t tear her gaze away from her phone as she types a response.

-

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: Re: already dying of boredom

Sept 28, 10:45AM

Cyra,

It’s definitely just you.

And to answer your question, my day is as sucky as I predicted it would be. So that’s great. Not.

I appreciate being the only person who doesn’t drive you crazy, but just wait until you meet me in person. You’ll definitely retract that statement when I blast cheesy pop music and make you dance to it with me.

Because I do. Want to meet you in person. I know you’re not ready for people in real life to know you’re gay, and I’m not asking you to meet me right now. I’m just putting it out there. Letting you know. No pressure. :)

Love, She-Ra.

-

She bumps into someone right after sending the email. When she realises who it is, her heart sort of stutters in her chest for a moment. “Oh, sorry.”

Huntara shrugs easily. “No big deal.”

Huntara steps to the side and past Adora without another word. Slowly, Adora tucks her phone into her pocket and stares after Huntara as she makes her way down the hallway.

So, she doesn’t want to get her hopes up, but she’s pretty certain that Huntara is Cyra.

And no, she’s not just saying that because she maybe likes Huntara.

It’s little things that Cyra has said in her emails. She’s always so careful about what she says, but there are a few things she’s let slip. For one, her obvious intelligence. Adora knows that Huntara is smart; one time, a teacher had put Huntara’s history paper on Adora’s desk by mistake, and she’d scored a 93. Plus, she’s a senior, like Adora.

And maybe it’s wrong to say it, but Adora gets a vibe from her. Like she could be gay.

She’s quiet, too. Maybe not fly under the radar quiet, because she’s so tall and muscular she’d be hard not to notice, but still quiet. Adora thinks she’s seen her at a party once in the last four years, and Cyra has mentioned that she’s not interested in partying.

So, yeah, Adora is pretty sure that Huntara is Cyra. Which would work out perfectly, because Adora was attracted to Huntara before Cyra was in the picture. She doesn’t try to, but when she pictures Cyra’s face, Huntara just sort of… comes to mind.

It just fits. That’s all.

She doesn’t hope that it’s Huntara she’s been talking to. She probably wouldn’t be disappointed if Cyra wasn’t Huntara after all.

But she’s pretty certain she is.

It’s just a gut feeling, and if Adora knows anything, it’s that her gut feeling is always right.


She’s still reeling from her earlier encounter with Huntara as she follows Bow and Glimmer down the hallway. The school day is almost over, and all Adora wants to do is go home, collapse into bed, and email Cyra until she falls asleep.

But she can’t. The worst part of her day – even worse than two hours of Calculus – is upon her.

“Okay, if you’re not waiting by the auditorium doors at four-thirty, we’ll leave without you,” Glimmer says with a grin as they pause at the top of a hallway. She and Bow are going straight on to rehearsals, and Adora has to leave A block to go to B block for her tutoring session.

Adora knows she’s just joking – Bow and Glimmer always wait for her to give her a ride home, since Adora hasn’t passed her test yet – but she rolls her eyes and shoves her lightly. “Asshole.”

“You’ll be rethinking that after your tutoring session,” Glimmer says teasingly, “after being stuck in a room with Catra for an hour, you’ll think I’m the nicest person on the planet.”

Adora sighs. Even the mention of her condescending, asshole tutor’s name is enough to make her mood sour. “God, don’t remind me. I’ll see you guys at four-thirty. If I survive.”

Bow smiles that reassuring smile of his. “You two are always so negative. You’ll be fine.”

Glimmer snorts. “Yeah, if she gets a new tutor.”

“Glimmer!” Bow scolds her, and Adora laughs at the affronted look on Glimmer’s face. That’s one way to cheer her up, at least. “We’re supposed to be giving our best friend a pep talk, here.”

“And we’re late to rehearsal,” Glimmer points out, and Bow checks his watch. His eyes widen, and he cringes.

“Go,” Adora says, because she knows he won’t leave until he’s sure she’s properly cheered up. But she has another way to do that. “I’m sure I can fight her off if she decides today’s the day she wants to kill me.”

It’s only half a joke. Catra isn’t known for being the nicest, but she really seems to hate Adora. She’s always calling her stupid, making fun of her for not understanding things, and Adora finds it so hard to ignore it when that’s always been a sensitive subject.

“Okay,” Bow nods, patting her on the shoulder before Glimmer tugs him down the hallway. He calls back a cheerful, “See you at four-thirty!” and Adora watches after her two best friends until they turn a corner and disappear from view.

If they’re late to rehearsal, Adora is definitely late for her tutoring session. But Catra is going to be a bitch either way, so she’s slow on the walk to B block and the empty old music classroom that is her regular source of hell. She uses the time to check her email, to see if Cyra has responded to the one from morning break. She hadn’t replied during lunch break, but she doesn’t normally email during school hours. The morning break email had been a pleasant surprise.

Almost like Cyra knew Adora had the worst part of her day yet to come, there’s an email sitting in her inbox when she refreshes.

-

From: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

To: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

Subject: live laugh love

Sept 28, 3:31PM

she-ra

sending virtual hugs!!!

and… i just cringed at myself. i sounded like one of those live laugh love bitches. disgusting.

in all seriousness though, it sucks that your day… well, sucks. but hey, at least the day’s over. you can go home and do whatever your heart desires, unless you have any extracurriculars.

i am definitely against cheesy pop music. but maybe it wouldn’t be so bad with you. :)

i know you probably won’t believe me, but i do want to meet you too. i guess i’m just not ready for that right now? it’s not even the gay thing – or, well it kind of is – but i just have a bad feeling about it. like maybe you have these expectations of me in your head. i don’t want to disappoint you. but one day, when we’re both comfortable… i’d like that.

i want to call you an idiot to your face ;)

love, cyra

-

Adora knows she isn’t ready. She’d known it when she was writing her email earlier, and she never wants to pressure Cyra. Even though Adora loves the anonymity, and the safe space they’d made, a part of her wants to know what it would be like to have a person. Because sometimes, Cyra doesn’t feel real.

She is real, and Adora knows she’s real. She could’ve walked past her in the hallway at any point today. But in a way, it’s kind of like she’s a super smart AI that lives in Adora’s Gmail inbox. Meeting her, having at least one person who knows her completely… something about that makes Adora’s stomach go crazy with butterflies.

Maybe because in her mind, it’s like a rom-com. They organise a place to meet, like the soccer pitch, and Adora will run over and see her and Huntara will pull her into her arms and kiss her like she’s never been kissed before.

Or, you know. Whoever she is.

The butterflies fluttering in her stomach die a sudden death when she rounds the corner and sees an irritated Catra stood in front of the classroom door. Her arms are folded across her chest, and she’s scowling at Adora like she wants to throttle her.

Adora quickly pockets her phone and meets Catra’s gaze. As horrible as she is, Adora can’t deny she’s attractive. Golden brown skin that never ever seems to break out, because of course the powers that be would give that blessing to such a bitch. Her hair is pretty too – it’s chestnut brown and has a sort of unruly quality to it, messy but by intention. It’s always pulled back in an untidy ponytail, the kind that would make Adora look like a lunchlady, but of course it makes Catra look like a runway model. These cute little freckles are dotted across Catra’s cheeks and across the bridge of probably the most perfect nose ever, and her eyes are especially stunning. One blue like the ocean waves, and the other a deep amber that looked like a pool of honey.

But then Catra opens her mouth, and any positive thought flies out of the window. “Don’t you have any consideration for anyone other than yourself? You’re late, idiot.”

She twists the handle on the classroom door and stomps inside. Adora follows reluctantly and isn’t surprised when Catra doesn’t bother to hold the door open for her. Talk about consideration for anyone other than herself.

“Sorry for not learning how to teleport,” Adora mutters bitterly, “I have to walk here all the way from the math block.”

“Surprised you even know where the math block is, considering how much you suck at it,” Catra retorts, flipping open her textbook like it had done something to personally offend her. “Hurry up and get your shit out. I don’t have all day here.”

If you don’t have all day, then why do you bother tutoring in the first place? That’s what Adora wants to ask. Honestly, she’s ninety percent sure it’s just because Catra loves lording her ‘superior intelligence’ over everyone else. Either that or the verbal beatdowns she gives Adora every session.

If Adora had her shit together, Catra wouldn’t even be her tutor right now. It was a random assignment at the beginning of the school year. Even though Adora isn’t the most academic, she wanted to get her grades up to look more appealing to college recruiters and soccer scouts, so she’d signed up to get one of the school’s tutors. Catra ended up being said tutor, and Adora hadn’t realised she could request a switch until two days after the deadline.

So now, Adora’s only choices are to endure Catra for the rest of senior year or stop getting tutored.

She chose the former, because despite how awful Catra is, she’s actually a good teacher. At least, Adora thinks so, once she stops insulting her and starts explaining.

“Wow, you bombed this test,” Catra laughs mockingly as she looks at Adora’s grade on the pop quiz they’d been given in physics last week. “A 67? My cat could get a better score.”

“It was a surprise test and I hadn’t studied because I had soccer practice the night before.” Adora mutters in reply, snatching the paper back. She hadn’t meant for Catra to see that – it had fallen out along with her math work. “And it’s none of your business.”

“Yeah, because mindlessly kicking a ball around a field is more important than your grades,” Catra says, her voice dripping with sarcasm. “Honestly, I don’t even know why I bother. You dumb jock types are all the same. What’s it like, peaking in high school?”

Adora can say with confidence that she doesn’t hate anybody. That’s not the kind of person she is. But god, Catra pushes her.

She grits her teeth. Catra’s just trying to provoke her and Adora knows it. “Can you just do what you’re here for and actually teach me something, instead of insulting me?”

Catra pouts mockingly. “Aw, did I hurt your feelings? Cry me a river and then open your physics textbook to the chapter on waves and optics.”

Adora spares her a scowl before flipping to the correct page. “I have read this before, you know.”

“Wouldn’t have guessed, from the travesty you made of that test,” Catra retorts. There’s this glint in her eye, and Adora knows she’s enjoying this. It makes her want to strangle her just that little bit more. “I’ll talk you through it. By four-thirty, I’m sure even a bozo like you can get the hang of it.”

And even though Catra uses literally every single opportunity she has to insult Adora, by the end of their session, Adora actually understands the material. So, yeah, enduring Catra’s company for an hour a day, two days a week, is maybe worth it.

Adora’s still relieved when Bow and Glimmer drop her off at home though. They invite her out for ice cream, but she’s too tired, because dealing with Catra for an hour is exhausting. Worth it, but exhausting. When she gets home, she makes the immediate decision to get into her pyjamas, and she’s just about to curl up in bed and email Cyra back when the front door opens.

Adora smiles and comes out of her bedroom to say hi to her mother. She knows that Mara had a long shift at the hospital today. “Hi. Good day?”

“Oh, just the best,” Mara says, but Adora can hear the tired sarcasm. Mara holds up a paper bag with a smile. “But I got takeout, so now it’s marginally better.”

“Ooh,” Adora swipes the bag from Mara’s hand and takes it into the lounge. She opens it up and grins. Burgers. Just what she needs after a long, extremely sucky day. “Mine’s the double cheeseburger, right?”

Mara laughs. “Yes, because you eat your body weight for every meal.”

“I’m an athlete,” Adora shrugs, “I’m allowed to.”

Razz turns her nose up as they take the food into the lounge to watch TV while they eat. “I won’t be eating any of that garbage. I made perfectly good spaghetti.”

“I’ll have her burger,” Adora volunteers, and she’s planning on enjoying some leftover spaghetti later too. Again, she’s going to use the athlete excuse. “No sense in wasting it.”

Adora expects the rest of the day to be mundane, just casual television watching with her mom until bedtime.

But nothing is ever that easy for her.

“So, I was talking to my friend at work today, and her son is around your age.”

Adora pauses with a handful of fries halfway to her mouth. She almost drops them, but she moves fast and catches them before they can fall on the couch. “Oh. Okay.”

“I was thinking, maybe we could set you two up,” Mara says like she’s doing Adora this huge favour, “he’s a really nice boy, I’ve met him myself.”

There it is. That right there, Adora thinks, is the reason for her mental block. The reason the words I’m gay stay trapped in her throat. She loves her mother, and they have an amazing relationship, but that doesn’t mean Mara is without fault. And her fault seems to be already planning Adora’s life out for her, at least in the relationship aspect.

She’s always making comments about what she’s going to do when Adora brings home her first boyfriend or pointing out ‘hot’ male celebrities on TV shows and joking that Adora loves them. And Adora never has the heart to say anything to stop her.

Mara had given up a lot for her. She was just starting medical school when she found out she was pregnant, and had to drop out to have Adora, especially when the douchebag that was Adora’s faceless father had left her alone with the responsibility. Mara was going to be a doctor, and she’d given that up for Adora. She still hasn’t gone back to school to earn her medical license and is currently working shitty hours at the local hospital as a severely underpaid nurse.

So, if it makes her mother happy to joke about Zac Efron being Adora’s long lost love, Adora isn’t going to break her heart.

“What do you say?” Mara asks with that excited, hopeful smile on her face. “Should I tell Sandra to set something up?”

“I have a lot going on right now,” Adora says, and she tries to ignore the disappointment on her mom’s face. She especially tries to ignore that taunting thought at the back of her mind of just how disappointed Mara is going to be when she finds out Adora likes girls. “Senior year and all that. I don’t have time.”

“Okay, that’s fine,” Mara smiles, but Adora knows she doesn’t mean it. “Just let me know if you change your mind.”

I won’t. “Sure, mom.”

“So, what do you want to watch?” Mara passes the remote over to her but makes suggestions anyway. “Buffy? There’s plenty of eye candy now we’re on season four with the army guys.”

Actually, there’s been plenty of eye candy the entire time, because Sarah Michelle Gellar is right there. But Adora finds that she doesn’t have the stomach for her mom’s teasing tonight. Maybe it’s the aftermath of her study session with Catra – she’s too tired to deal with both today.

“I’ve actually got a lot of homework to do,” Adora says, pushing the remote back over to her mom and abandoning the rest of her fries. “I’ll probably be in my room all night. See you in the morning. Love you.”

Adora ignores any questioning as she takes her leftovers to the kitchen and quickly makes her escape upstairs. She flops down onto her bed with a sigh, and grabs her laptop, loading up her Gmail account. It’s times like these when she’s so grateful for Cyra; it’s so freeing, having someone to vent to about this stuff.

Adora wants to meet her so badly. Even if it’s just to thank her for everything she’s done to help her.

She lets out a long, much needed sigh, and starts composing her next email.

Chapter Text

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: TGI FRIDAY

Oct 2, 3:25PM

Cyra!!

It’s finally Friday!!! Another week down!!! No school until Monday!!! And it’s almost like my teacher knew how much Friday means to me, because they let me out early from last period!!!

Plus, it’s homecoming tonight. I’m looking forward to it. Are you going?

I feel like sports are kind of a marmite situation. You either love them or you hate them. I’m the first one. I definitely prefer playing over watching, but I can enjoy a football game every once in a while. Particularly the homecoming game. It’s a special kind of awesome.

Even though I’m looking forward to homecoming itself, I’m also looking forward to hanging out with my friends after the game. We’re going to grab pizza and then head to the afterparty at Sea Hawk’s place. Why does everyone call him Sea Hawk? I’ll probably ask him when I’m drunk later and completely forget.

Also, apologies in advance for any drunk emails you may receive later. Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Love, She-Ra.

-

Catra’s heart flutters in her chest as she reads She-Ra’s email over for the second time.

She can’t even deny it anymore; she’s completely falling for this girl. Whoever she is, she’s walked right into Catra’s life and stolen her heart. Catra’s been trying to drop hints in her emails, maybe getting a little bit flirtatious. Even if she doesn’t know what She-Ra looks like, that doesn’t matter. Trivialities like aesthetics have never interested Catra. It’s the person that matters, and She-Ra has her hook, line and sinker.

She glances at the time. 3:28. She has two minutes to reply. Probably longer, because stupid Adora is always late to their tutoring sessions. Even though she knows Adora will never let her hear the end of it if she’s late, Catra hangs back in her last classroom to type out her reply.

(Is this what being whipped is?)

-

From: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

To: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

Subject: Re: TGI FRIDAY

Oct 2, 3:30PM

she-ra,

i can tell you’re excited judging by the overload of exclamation points. you know, in the most endearing way, you kind of remind me of a golden retriever puppy. you’re always so excited and emotive. my resting-bitch-face ass can’t relate.

i’m sure my idiot friends will probably drag me along to homecoming despite my protests. they’re like that. and hopefully you won’t block me for it, but i’m the latter. i hate sports. watching them is boring, the people who play sports tend to be self-obsessed assholes, and compulsory gym class is a waste of time. but not going to lie… if you happen to play a sport, i’ll take back the ‘self-obsessed asshole’ thing.

sounds like you’ve got a fun night planned out. and don’t apologise for drunk emailing. i’m sure it will be incredibly entertaining.

remember, drunk words are sober thoughts.

love, cyra.

-

Catra sends the email and then slides her phone back into her pocket. She shoulders her backpack and heads towards B block, a light feeling in her chest that she’s still not entirely accustomed to. She doesn’t know how, but ever since She-Ra came along, Catra feels good. Even though she’s still closeted, and things at ‘home’ still royally suck. It’s that light feeling, the one she’s come to associate with her crush. God, that sounds so immature and cheesy. Crush.

Catra doesn’t get crushes. Mostly because it’d probably end up being a straight girl crush, and even if it isn’t, it wouldn’t be reciprocated. She’s not exactly known for going around giving out free hugs and candy.

That’s why she feels like she has to be so careful with She-Ra. Sometimes, she almost forgets that she’s a real person, who goes to Catra’s school. Catra loses herself, imagines that She-Ra is far away, living in another shitty town with the same shitty problems. But no. She-Ra goes to her school, and it’s possible that she knows who Catra is. That means she’ll probably have a general idea or some opinion on what school Catra is like.

That terrifies her; the idea that She-Ra will forget everything they’ve said over email and just associate her with the personality she puts on at school, and the defence mechanisms she uses to keep people away because she knows that everyone always fucking leaves. Not that she’s worthy of having them around anyway.

There are two things Catra knows for sure. One – she’s falling entirely head over heels for this girl. And two – She-Ra will be disappointed when she finds out who Catra is.

“You’re late.”

The cocky, arrogant voice snaps her out of her thoughts. Adora is smirking triumphantly by the door of the old music classroom they use to study in – Catra likes controlled environments, which is why she avoids the library.

Speaking of self-obsessed assholes, Catra thinks as she pushes past Adora to enter the classroom. “Decided to give you a taste of your own medicine. Now you know how annoying it is.”

“Right,” Adora draws out the word disbelievingly, and she’s still wearing that smug little smirk as she drops down in her usual seat. “So, I have this essay for English class, and I was wondering if you’d proof it. It’s an analysis on Macbeth.

Catra wants to bite out an irritated proof it yourself, but that’s what she’d signed up for when she decided to tutor. She’s only doing it because it’ll look good on college applications, but god, the idiotic mouth-breathers they stick her with are so frustrating sometimes. She tutors one of the guys on the football team too, and he uses basically every moment he can to flirt with her. It’s nauseating.

Between him and Adora, Adora is the most tolerable. And that’s only by a small margin.

“Fine,” she snatches the paper Adora holds out, and picks up the worksheet on limits that she’d planned on going through with the dumbass today, “get started on this while I do it. It’s limits, that’s what you said you’re covering in calculus right now.”

“The limit does not exist,” Adora says as she takes the sheet, and Catra wants to smack her head on the table. God, she’s so annoying. She can’t stand the preppy jock type in general, but there’s something about Adora that just gets under her skin.

“Of course you’d make a Mean Girls reference.”

“You understood my Mean Girls reference,” Adora retorts with that smug grin again, “I’m surprised. I thought you’d only watch weird foreign films that come exclusively in black and white.”

Catra scowls. She wants to smack that arrogant smile right off Adora’s dumb face. “Just shut up and get started.”

Catra gets started herself, because Adora’s Macbeth essay isn’t going to magically end up proof-read and annotated. As she flips through, she makes a couple of edits in red pen – mostly spelling mistakes – but it’s a solid essay. To be honest, Adora’s actually quite smart. It shows on coursework that isn’t done in an exam setting; her bad grade on that physics quiz was probably just down to panic. But Catra would never tell her that; god knows that the golden child doesn’t need her ego stroked any more.

“It’ll do,” Catra says finally when she passes the essay back, “I wrote some things in the margins. Put them in, don’t, I don’t really care.”

Adora takes her essay back and reads over Catra’s annotations. She squints at one of them. “Did you call me a dumbass here?”

“You spelled psychological wrong. This is a typed essay.” Catra rolls her eyes. “Honestly, how the fuck did you manage that? Spellcheck is there with a massive fucking red line to tell you hey, dumbass, you fucked up.”

Adora shrugs. “I’ll go over it again later. Thanks for checking it.”

“Literally what I’m here for,” Catra answers in a bored voice. She glances over at the mostly blank worksheet on limits. “Need help with that?”

Adora smiles sheepishly, and for a moment, Catra thinks she’s maybe kind of cute. Her blue eyes always look so bright and hopeful all the time, like she’s always got something to be excited about. Her smile is cute too, when she’s not all smug and arrogant about it, tilting up the corners of her mouth and making her glow with happiness. Even that dumb little hair poof thing she does is endearing in its own way.

Whatever. She’s still a dumb, self-obsessed jock who gets everything she wants handed to her on a silver platter. And somehow, everybody still likes her. It’s infuriating. Adora walks around like she’s god’s gift to the fucking earth, and she’d made it very, very clear that she’s far too good for Catra. She made that clear on the first day of freshman year, when Catra took the seat next to her in Biology I, and Adora had quickly told her the seat was taken when it obviously wasn’t and made her move. Like she was so special she could determine where everyone sat.

Catra still has no idea why Adora never switched tutors at the start of the year. She’d made sure she was harsh enough in those first two weeks and she was sure Adora would ask for a new tutor. But no. She stayed, for whatever stupid reason. And now Catra is stuck helping her with her work for the rest of the year, unless she quits. Catra’s trying really hard to make that happen.

Catra can’t fucking stand her. It’s just so irritating how Adora gets praised for the most mediocre shit when other people work harder. The run-of-the-mill stuff Adora hands in is probably given more acclaim than every single A plus worthy essay Catra has ever submitted. Because congratulations, you took two seconds to stop kicking a ball around a field to fumble your way through your homework. Let’s pop the champagne now.

Four-thirty comes slowly, like the universe is trying to stretch out the time she has to spend with Adora. Maybe it’s some cosmic punishment for something she hasn’t even done yet. It better be something truly bad, because her whole life has been a fucking punishment.

Except She-Ra. She-Ra is the diamond in the rough.

When the clock finally hits four-thirty, Catra packs up her things and watches as Adora prances down the hallway with those two idiotic friends of hers – the sparkly girl and the overly optimistic boy whose arm Sparkles is always hanging off. She rolls her eyes at the lot of them, but especially Adora, and turns to head in the direction of the main exit.

“Wildcat! Hey, I thought I might catch you.”

Catra pauses and turns around, bracing herself for the inevitable Scorpia bear hug. She endures it, and once Scorpia lets her go, she asks, “Did you need me for something?”

“Just wondering what time we’re all going to homecoming later!” Scorpia says. “I’m driving, right?”

“Yeah, I guess so,” Catra shrugs, “whatever time is good for me. I don’t really care about the parade. Or the game, for that matter.”

Catra imagines that Adora will be one of the ones who gets all amped up about school spirit, the preppy, airheaded jock that she is. Just the thought makes her blood boil. Adora’s entire existence just… irritates her.

She doesn’t hear what Scorpia just said, but she’d been expecting her friends to just show up at any old time and pick her up. Instead of talking about homecoming, she talks about the other thing on her mind. “Do you think I can request to drop a tutee? Adora gets on my last goddamn nerve.”

Scorpia frowns. “I thought you said there’s only a two week period? I remember because you were ranting really angrily about it when she didn’t ask to switch tutors. And Entrapta recorded it on her little tape thingy and played it back, so technically you ranted about it twice.”

“There is, but if I say I can’t deal with someone so stupid, do you think they’d let me ditch her?” Catra questions. Bitterly, she laughs, and mutters, “I could just tell her that seat’s taken and make the idiot leave.”

Scorpia smiles awkwardly and says, “Come on, wildcat. It’s only until May, and you know tutoring looks good on your college applications. We’ll graduate, and you’ll go away to college, and you’ll never have to see her again.”

“Thank the fucking lord,” Catra rolls her eyes, “I’m still not going to make it easy for her, though.”

“Wouldn’t expect you to, Catra,” Scorpia says and pats her on the back, “okay, I’ve got to go, but I’ll see you at six. Do you want a ride home?”

“Nah, I like the walk,” Catra says, and it might give her some time to clear her head from Adora’s irritating presence, and it keeps her out of the house for a little bit longer. “I’ll see you later, Scorpia.”

Catra makes her way out of the school building with what feels like a permanent frown on her face. It always takes her a while to stop thinking about stupid Adora after their tutoring sessions. The way that dumb frown never meets her eyes, no matter how much Catra insults her. Stupid resilient dumbass could probably bring the entire school’s worth of school spirit.

School spirit. Hah. Fucking ridiculous, Catra thinks as she kicks a pebble down the sidewalk. The only spirit Catra has towards school is spirit for graduation. She’ll be incredibly school spirited once she’s no longer required to go. She just has to hold it out until May. Then she can graduate, get the hell out of here, and go to college. Have a fresh start. That’s all she wants. A clean slate, because the past eighteen years have been nothing but depressing bullshit.

The house is quiet when she gets in, but it’s always quiet. She listens carefully for any signs of life that aren’t Melog purring in greeting, and scratches behind the cat’s ears as she waits. When she’s finally determined that the foster monster isn’t home yet, she moves to head to her bedroom.

“Catra.”

Catra tenses in surprise. Melog stands in front of her, back arched. It would be funny, the tiny little cat trying to defend her, if she wasn’t terrified. Her foster mother never paid attention to her, not unless she’d done something to royally piss her off. Sharon Weaver isn’t the maternal type.

“Yes?” Catra finally asks, aware of the tremble in her voice, “Is something wrong?”

“You didn’t do the dishes as I asked last night,” Weaver says, her voice cold and firm, “I have housed you for the last nine years out of the goodness of my heart. I took you out of that horrible children’s home when nobody else wanted you. Nobody would’ve picked you. You’d still be there now if it weren’t for me. I think the least you can do is complete your chores when you’re asked.”

“I’ll get it done,” Catra says rigidly. She always goes so tense under her gaze. Black pupils staring down at her, examining her like she’s some gutter rat that just scuttled in off the street.

At least Weaver seems satisfied. That tense, cold smile spreads across her face, but it doesn’t reach her eyes. “Good. Make sure you do. We both know it’s the only thing you’re good for.”

When the click of Weaver’s expensive heels disappears back into the lounge, Catra feels like she can finally breathe again. She retreats to her bedroom with Melog and locks the door behind her. She’ll get to the dishes in a minute – anything to avoid the foster monster’s wrath – but she wants to check her emails first. Just to see if She-Ra has sent anything.

The effects of the encounter with her foster mother wear off in an instant when she sees she has one new email sitting there in her inbox. That single notification from She-Ra is like a big warm hug, pulling her gently out of this place and into the little world that only she and She-Ra share.

-

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: You hate sports???

Oct 2, 4:41PM

Cyra,

You… hate… sports.

I’m sorry, it’s just taking a few minutes to process. YOU HATE SPORTS. WHAT?? Yeah, so, it’s been really cool talking to you and everything, but I think I’m going to be utilising that block button now.

I’m kidding, obviously. But wow. I can’t believe I’m talking to a sports-hater. And I will say, I’m definitely not a self-obsessed asshole, so you can take that back right now. But I am a you-obsessed asshole, so… there’s some food for thought. :)

Drunk words are definitely sober thoughts, and that’s exactly why I’m apologising in advance.

(Totally going to tell you how much you suck)

Love, She-Ra

P.S. I’m kidding.

P.P.S. You don’t suck.

P.P.P.S. You’re actually really great.

P.P.P.P.S. Okay this email is over now

-

Catra’s stomach does that stupid fluttery twisty thing it’s been doing recently. Especially when she reads that one line.

But I am a you-obsessed asshole.

Does that mean…?

She-Ra feels the same. Or at least… somewhat the same. Catra isn’t sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. If they both like each other, then something could come of it, but…

But then there’s the tiny little problem of Catra being Catra. She-Ra might take one look at her and run for the hills. Catra bites down on her bottom lip anxiously and types her response.

With a weird weight in her stomach, and one last scratch behind Melog’s ear, she goes to do the dishes.


From: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

To: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

Subject: you-obsessed asshole

Oct 2, 4:59PM

she-ra

i’m sure if you worked hard enough, you could maybe turn me from a sports-hater to a sports-tolerator. i’m a sucker for pretty girls telling me all about their interests. and as per the subject line, i’m also a you-obsessed asshole. so that’s another thing we’ve got in common.

i’m looking forward to these drunk emails now. you better deliver!! and I hope you have the best time at homecoming. you deserve it.

love, cyra

p.s. you’re ridiculously adorable

-

Adora drops her phone onto her bed and performs some kind of excited flailing happy dance.

You’re ridiculously adorable.

Cyra thinks she’s adorable.

And in a way, she’d kind of typed Adora’s name.

This is just the cherry on top of an amazing day. Even her tutoring session with Catra had been less hostile than usual. It’s a Friday, it’s homecoming, she’s going to have a great time with her friends tonight…

…and the girl she likes thinks she’s adorable.

She pulls on her letter jacket and checks herself over in the mirror. Bow and Glimmer aren’t coming to pick her up for another thirty minutes, but she wants to look good. She knows it’s stupid, because Cyra doesn’t know she’s She-Ra, but she said she’d probably be there. Even if Cyra doesn’t look twice at her, she could look at her.

Yeah, she’s definitely being dumb. But she doesn’t care. She wants to look good for her.

Until she frets over her reflection so much that she almost forgets to reply to Cyra’s email.

-

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: Pretty girls and their interests

Oct 2, 5:21PM

Cyra,

I’m adding that to the list of things we’re going to do when we meet. I’m going to make you play ALL THE SPORTS.

Speaking of pretty girls and the things they like, though, it’s only fair that you get to do the same thing for me. I doubt I’ll be an insert-your-interest-here hater, but you could introduce me to something new. So, Cyra, what are you doing when you’re not having all these big gay conversations with me?

I’m really not looking forward to the sloppy drunk emails, but oh well. It was inevitable that I’d drunkenly embarrass myself in front of you at some point. It’s probably best that the first time doesn’t happen in person.

I hope you have a good night too.

Love, She-Ra.

P.S. I’m blushing

-

Adora sends the email with that bright, dopey smile on her face. It’s the one she always gets when she’s talking to Cyra. Or thinking about Cyra.

“Talking to a boy?”

Adora whirls around in surprise. Mara is standing in the doorway, a knowing smile on her face. The words she’d spoken sink in fast, and Adora quickly splutters out, “What? No.”

Mara doesn’t stop smiling. She’s looking at Adora like she doesn’t believe her. “Of course not. Now I know why you didn’t want to go out with Sandra’s son.”

I didn’t want to go out with Sandra’s son because I’m incredibly gay, mother. But as witty as her internal monologue is feeling, Adora just mumbles a quiet, “Whatever,” and hopes that Mara will go away.

But she doesn’t. Nothing is ever that easy. “So, who is he? What’s his name? Does he go to your school? Are you two going to homecoming together?”

She. I don’t know. Yes. No. “There’s no boy. I’m not… I wasn’t talking to anyone. I just read a funny thing.”

“I know what it looks like when someone has a crush, Adora,” Mara says with that knowing smile on her face still. “But fine. I’ll let you keep him a secret. I didn’t see a thing.”

Mara winks at her as she walks away, and Adora sits down on her bed, feeling a little sick. That whole thing had made what felt like the best day ever feel… off. Every time her mother jokes about boys, Adora feels more and more wrong. It hurts, because Mara is so excited at the prospect of Adora one day bringing home some guy. It stings to know that Mara probably won’t be as excited about Adora bringing home a girl.

Like Cyra senses that Adora is upset, her phone makes the little ding noise that she’d set as her email notification sound.

-

From: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

To: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

Subject: Re: Pretty girls and their interests

Oct 2, 5:28PM

she-ra

‘ALL THE SPORTS’ sounds pretty ambitious, but you know i like a challenge. honestly, when i’m not talking to you, i’m usually sleeping. i’m sure you’re familiar with the concept. but as for interests… i play guitar and bass and also kinda sing. i write songs too. mostly just for myself, because it’s kind of a way to get my feelings out that i keep bottled. i don’t think anything would ever come from it, but i love it a lot. maybe after you teach me every single sport under the sun, i could teach you a couple of chords on the guitar.

i like music. i don’t have a lot of time for it because i’ve got studying to do and all of my other free time goes to you. but i like the way music can evoke so many different emotions and it’s kind of like therapy for me to get all my feelings out and turn them into songs.

lately i’ve been writing a lot of cheesy songs about liking someone. i wonder why…

love, cyra

p.s. i know why

p.p.s. it’s because i’m thinking about you

-

Just like that, Adora goes from feeling a little sick to being absolutely over the moon again. Cyra writes cheesy songs about her. This is literally the best thing that’s ever happened to her.

She’s still riding that high when Bow and Glimmer pick her up, and even though they’re making conversation, Adora doesn’t contribute much aside from some hummed affirmations. She’s still thinking about Cyra.

“You’re happy,” Glimmer observes once they’ve parked and they’re walking to find a decent seat on the bleachers to watch the homecoming parade. “Almost too happy.”

Glimmer is smiling at her in a manner reminiscent of Mara. Adora knows she suspects something, but she honestly couldn’t care less. She couldn’t stop grinning if she tried.

“Just excited to watch the parade and the game,” Adora says easily, “aren’t you excited?”

“Yeah, but I’m not smiling like a crazy person about it,” Glimmer replies, nudging Bow for backup, “doesn’t she look really happy?”

Bow looks Adora over and nods. “Yeah, but it’s Friday. Adora’s always happy on Fridays.”

“See?” Adora latches onto that. “I’m always happy on Fridays, Glimmer. You should know that. You’ve been slacking on your best friend duties.”

I’ve been slacking?” Glimmer scoffs. “You’re the one grinning like an idiot and not telling us why. I think that means you’re slacking.”

“I’m not grinning like an idiot,” Adora says as she grins like an idiot, “come on, let’s just get a good seat.”

Adora is grinning like an idiot even more when there’s a big open space next to Huntara. She’s sat with a couple of her friends – Adora doesn’t know their names – but it makes her stomach flutter with butterflies. Cyra said her friends might drag her here. And there’s Huntara, sitting with her friends, looking like she really doesn’t want to be here.

Because she’s in the lead, when she walks onto the same row, Bow and Glimmer follow without question. Adora sits next to Huntara – she puts a little bit of space between them, so it doesn’t look weird – then Bow sits next to her, and Glimmer on the end of the row. Her stomach twists and turns nervously. She could be sat next to Cyra right now. She thinks she is sat next to Cyra right now.

Look, it’s not like she’s actively trying to figure out who Cyra is. But with something like this… it’s natural to be curious, right? She was curious even before she developed feelings for Cyra. And yes, she’s going to respect Cyra’s wishes and wait until they’re both ready to meet, but it’s okay to test the waters a little bit. Isn’t it?

Like, if she says something right now. Something that references their emails. That wouldn’t be so bad, would it?

“Okay, I’m going to go get some nachos,” Glimmer says, taking her wallet out of her purse and leaving the purse with Bow. “You guys want anything?”

“Popcorn, please!” Adora says. She’s still smiling that wide, idiotic grin, but she can’t help herself. Not when she’s thinking about Cyra, and maybe Huntara too.

Glimmer smirks. “I’ll get you some popcorn if you tell me why you’re so happy.”

Adora laughs. “That won’t work. I don’t want it that much.”

“Dammit,” Glimmer curses, rolling her eyes. Adora knows she’ll probably tell her friends someday soon. Her mother is one thing entirely, but her friends… that would be okay. And despite Glimmer’s gossipy tendencies, she is good at keeping secrets.

And then there’s Bow. He waits for Glimmer to head down the steps in the direction of the concessions stand, and then turns to her with that reassuring smile on his face. “Hey, I’m sorry about that. You know what she’s like.”

Adora has known Glimmer long enough that she definitely does know what she’s like. Her stomach squirms when she hears Huntara say something indistinguishable to her friends, and all she manages to get out to Bow is a garbled, “Yeah.”

“You are smiling like crazy, though,” Bow says, “and I’m just saying… you can tell us anything. You know that, right?”

“Yeah,” Adora replies, anxious because the look he’s giving her has something behind it and for a minute she wonders if he knows. “I know.”

“Like, I’m talking even if you killed someone,” Bow jokes, nudging her playfully, “you know we’d help you hide the body.”

The joke helps her ease up, and when Adora laughs, it’s not fake. “Please, between the three of us, Glimmer’s most likely to kill.”

Bow laughs. “That’s… concerningly true.”

They don’t tell her that when she comes back with a big box of nachos and a bucket of popcorn, because they might end up being the first targets. Adora takes her popcorn with a thank you and is grateful for the parade starting because it means Glimmer can’t keep asking her about why she’s smiling so much. Because at some point, Adora might just crack and tell her.

There’s a big part of her that wants to gush about Cyra. It would be so… normal, to talk to her friends about the girl she likes. Except the situation isn’t normal, because Cyra could be anyone.

Huntara coughs next to her, and Adora uses her peripheral vision to look at her. Cyra could be anyone… but Adora really hopes she’s Huntara. It would be perfect and work out just like a fairytale if the girl she was attracted to before Cyra was even in the picture would turn out to be Cyra.

She should say something. Make casual conversation. They share a couple of classes and have talked a few times. They had a group project together once, too. Nothing to make them more than acquaintances, but it wouldn’t be weird if Adora just chatted casually.

Oh… fuck it. “I didn’t know you were into sports, Huntara.”

Huntara turns to look at her, and Adora grins. Maybe a little bit wider than usual, because that’s the face she pictures when she reads Cyra’s emails. “I’m not, really.”

The answer just fuels her suspicions. “Friends drag you here, then?”

“Basically,” Huntara says, glancing back over at the parade, “are you a football fan?”

“I like all sports,” Adora says, dropping in that little reference. There’s no trace of recognition on Huntara’s face, but that’s fine. She might just have a really good poker face. “Soccer’s my favourite, though. Mostly because I get to play it. I always prefer playing over spectating.”

Huntara looks back at her, and Adora decides she really likes brown eyes. Or maybe just Huntara’s eyes. Maybe she should ask Cyra what colour her eyes are. It’s not like eye colour is a crazy identifiable thing, so it wouldn’t narrow it down much.

“At least you’ll know what’s going on,” Huntara says, “I don’t get football.”

Adora doubts she’ll be the most attentive with the game when maybe-Cyra is sitting right next to her. But in an attempt to be witty, she just shrugs and says, “Honestly, just cheer when everyone else does, and you’ll be fine.”

Huntara laughs. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

When Huntara turns back to the parade, Adora decides to quit while she’s ahead. But that had gone well. Adora didn’t make a fool of herself, and Huntara hadn’t said anything that contradicted Cyra. It’s enough to keep that bubbly, elated feeling in her chest.

Something has to be said of Cyra’s power to make Adora happy, because the smile on her face doesn’t even go away when she accidentally meets Catra’s gaze. She’s walking up the steps with her friends Scorpia and Entrapta, and she scowls at Adora when she sees her. Maybe Adora is asking for a brutal tutoring session on Monday, but she smiles mockingly and waves.

Their team win the homecoming game, and Adora thinks that this is the best day ever.

-

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: wish u where here

Oct 2, 11:57PM

Cyra this party is so fun and I’m drunk and I just wish I was with you right now

I bet you’re soooooo pretty it hurts you should send me a selfie so i can walk around the party and tell everyone about the pretty girl that I think LIKES ME BACK

Im kinda joking even though I wish I did know for sure what you lokoed like Can you tell me something?? What colour are your eyes

Maybe it’s the alocholol I drank giving me confidence but I just gotta say that when we neet I want you to be my girlfriend is that pushy??? IDC I want you to be my girlfriend cyra please be my giflsriend

god I’m so gay

Love, se-ra

ps you’re pretty

-

From: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

To: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

Subject: wish you *were here

Oct 3, 12:04AM

she-ra (or should i say se-ra)

sounds like you’re having a good time. make sure to drink lots of water when you get home though. don’t want you dehydrating on me.

i guess i should say thanks to that rambling mess? i don’t know, i’m not good with this stuff. but i definitely like you back, if that wasn’t already obvious. what’s also obvious is that the ‘alocholol’ you had is giving you the confidence to say that. because you’re so cute and nervous and awkward when i try to flirt with you and it makes my heart skip.

but just so we’re clear here.

when we meet, i want you to be my ‘giflsriend’ too.

love, cyra

p.s. you never stop making me smile, dummy

Chapter Text

Walking around with the knowledge that She-Ra wants her to be her girlfriend is enough to keep Catra in an uncharacteristically good mood.

Even dumbass Adora questions it during their Monday tutoring session. Her exact wording is, “Okay, I’m kind of confused because you haven’t insulted me at all, and we’ve been here for half an hour.”

Catra makes sure to call her as many names as she can during their Friday session, just to make up for it.

But oddly enough, the reason for her good mood is also the reason for a few bad moods over the weekend. Not in a crazy way, it’s just that She-Ra keeps asking questions. Little things, but if she answered everything, it probably wouldn’t be too hard for She-Ra to piece together who she is.

Especially the eye colour question she keeps dropping. She doesn’t want to lie, but how is she supposed to get around that one? If she answers it honestly, that’s it. She might as well tattoo I’m Cyra across her forehead. Stupid heterochromia.

Catra can kind of understand, though. Admittedly, she’s been curious too. Maybe it’s because she knows that She-Ra likes her back, and she’s trying to ignore the little detail of her inevitable disappointment when she realises it’s Catra she’s been talking to the whole time.

But, as smart as Catra likes to think she is, she has no idea who She-Ra could be. She knows she likes sports, and she maybe plays one. She’s generally outgoing. But that could relate to a lot of people she goes to school with. There are plenty of girls’ sports teams, and at least twenty on each if you count reserve players. And all of them probably don’t like her.

Catra knows, deep down, that She-Ra wanting to be her girlfriend won’t be a lasting thing. She’ll take one look at Catra and change her mind. She knows that. Right now, though, she’s just going to let herself enjoy the happiness while it lasts. It might set her up for more pain later, but she can’t find it in her to care.

“Are you okay, wildcat?”

Catra snaps out of her thoughts and looks over at Scorpia. She looks concerned. Even Entrapta has looked up from her laptop and is staring at her quizzically. She must’ve zoned out pretty hard.

“I’m fine,” Catra answers, “just tired.”

The answer satisfies Entrapta, who goes back to doing whatever she was doing on her computer. But Scorpia pauses the movie they have on in the background and asks, “You look really thoughtful. Is something wrong?”

Catra bites her tongue and stops herself from snapping about pushiness and boundaries. Scorpia’s only trying her best, and Catra’s trying not to let whatever bullshit in all of the other areas of her life make her angry anymore. But god, it’s hard. And she doesn’t think she’ll ever stop being angry at people like Adora and her dumb friends who get everything handed to them when she has to work so hard for basically nothing.

“I’ve just got a lot on my mind,” Catra says after a few deep breaths, “no big deal.”

“Okay,” Scorpia smiles reassuringly, and despite Catra’s protests, she throws an arm around her shoulders. “But you know you can talk to Entrapta and I about anything. Right, Entrapta?”

Entrapta types for a few more moments and then glances over her laptop screen. “What are we talking about?”

“I’m telling Catra that she can talk to us about anything,” Scorpia repeats. Catra wonders how she has so much patience. For someone who looks so big and intimidating, she’s honestly just a teddy bear. “We’re the Super Pal Trio! We’ve got to have each other’s backs.”

“Hm, yes,” Entrapta nods, “I suppose so.”

Catra looks between the two of them and sighs. It’s no wonder they’re friends, really. Scorpia, who tries so hard she scares people off. Entrapta, who doesn’t understand social cues and rules. And Catra, who’s probably known for being the biggest bitch in school. The three misfits. That’d be a better friend group name, Catra thinks.

In a way, it makes things easier. To know they have each other. She sighs again and doesn’t meet either of their gazes as she mutters, “I’m gay.”

Entrapta hums. “Alright then. Can I go back to coding now?”

Despite herself, despite how weird those words felt coming out of her mouth, Catra laughs. “Sure. Just… don’t tell anyone.”

“I’m coding,” Entrapta says like it’s obvious, “I’m not going to write it in somewhere that you’re gay. That’s not how it works.”

Catra opens her mouth to answer, but she cuts herself off with a quiet oof when Scorpia pulls her in for a bone-crushing hug. “Oh, wildcat. Thanks for telling us that. You must be so relieved, huh? Feels good, doesn’t it? I remember the first time I told someone I was a lesbian. They were like… yeah, I know. Ah, feels like it was only yesterday.”

“Okay, struggling to breathe,” Catra wriggles out of Scorpia’s grip and mutters, “don’t make a big deal about it. I don’t want the whole world knowing about it yet, but you two are… my best friends, or whatever. So I just wanted you to know.”

She almost tells them about She-Ra, but Scorpia looks so honoured that she’s included in the ‘first’ coming out thing that she doesn’t have the heart. Maybe some other time.

“We won’t tell anyone,” Scorpia says, and then smirks and asks, “so… any girls at school you think are cute?”

“Nope, no, we are not going down that road,” Catra gets up and grabs her phone, making her escape, “I’m going to the bathroom, and then we’re going to steal Entrapta’s computer from her so we can go out and do something. I’m not going to sit here and gossip about girls with you.”

She darts out of Entrapta’s bedroom and locks herself in the bathroom, Scorpia’s loud teasing following her all the way there. She leans against the edge of the bathtub and figures that this is email level important. She at least wants to share with She-Ra what she’d done.

-

From: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

To: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

Subject: a coming out thing?

Oct 10, 2:03PM

she-ra

so you haven’t answered my last email yet but i feel like this is kinda important news and i wanted to tell you

i came out to my friends

it was weirdly easier than i thought it would be. i didn’t even meet up with them intending to do it or anything, i was just thinking about our friendship and how even though we don’t fit in anywhere else, we fit with each other. then it just sort of happened.

they were both… themselves about it. which is a good thing.

anyway, that’s all.

love, cyra

-

Catra reads the email over a few times before sending. She’s been doing that a lot lately, proofing them more and more just in case she drops any details. It’s funny but coming out to her friends is less terrifying than the mere thought of telling She-Ra who she is. Which is fucking hilarious, because she wants to meet She-Ra more than anything.

She wants to kiss her, to hold her hand in the hallway, to take her to prom and dance with her and not give a fuck who sees. Coming out to her friends is a step closer to that. Really, they’re the only people she needs to come out to. Catra doesn’t plan on telling the foster monster, because she knows she’d be a bitch about it. Better someone else delivers the news.

In theory, she could email She-Ra back and just tell her who she is. But in practice, she’s fucking terrified to.


“Oh, wow…” Adora says quietly as she reads Cyra’s last email. She came out to her friends.

“What’s wow?” Glimmer asks, reaching over and stealing a couple of Adora’s fries. Adora steals a chicken nugget in revenge. “Okay, you have to tell me now.”

“Just something a friend told me,” Adora says, because it’s technically true. “I can’t tell you because it’s not my thing to tell.”

Glimmer squints at her, and Adora can tell she’s ready to go into full snooping mode. “You have other friends?”

“Uh. Yes?” Adora laughs. “I am allowed to, you know.”

“I didn’t mean it like that,” Glimmer replies, “I just mean we’re friends with all the same people, so they’re probably my friend too. Are you talking to Perfuma? Mermista?”

“No and no,” Adora says. But then… she could be, if she isn’t almost certain Cyra is Huntara. And she just came out to her friends. It’s almost inspiring. Adora almost wishes that Bow were here, but Glimmer had insisted on a girls’ day, which basically consists of them roaming around the mall until they get bored and inevitably go hang out with Bow again.

If she’s going to tell them, she wants to tell them together.

“I’m just going to answer her, because it’s kind of a big thing,” Adora quickly prefaces as Glimmer stares at her expectantly, “and then you’ll have my full attention again, okay?”

Glimmer rolls her eyes. “Fine. Only because I know you’ll freak out about it if you can’t be there for whoever the hell you’re talking to.”

Adora smiles. “Thanks, Glimmer. I’ll buy you a milkshake to show how grateful I am.”

And maybe I’ll buy an Oreo one for myself, Adora thinks, just because Cyra likes them.

-

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: Re: a coming out thing?

Oct 10, 2:47PM

Cyra!

I’m so proud of you. And I’m happy for you. I’m glad it went well and that your friends were accepting about it. That’s probably the best way to go about it, not even planning for it. That way, you don’t get nervous and awkward. I probably need to do that – as you know, I kind of have a track record for being nervous and awkward. But you seem to like it, since I’m literally your future girlfriend.

To answer the stuff in your last email, I’ve never actually watched or read Percy Jackson. I was a Harry Potter kid. I still love the story and the characters, but JK Rowling being all kinds of awful has diminished it for me. Because I was basically brought up on it, it’ll always have a place in my heart but it’s just disheartening knowing the creator sucks.

I’m never going to stop asking people what their Hogwarts house is, though. It says a lot about a person. So… what’s your Hogwarts house, Cyra?

Love, your Gryffindor She-Ra

-

Adora sends the email and puts her phone back into her pocket. Glancing up at Glimmer, she smiles knowingly. “I’m guessing it’s a large milkshake, then?”

“You guessed correctly,” Glimmer says, “strawberry, please.”

There’s a milkshake bar in the mall’s food court, so Adora goes there instead of back to McDonald’s. She joins the line, but immediately wants to leave it when she realises who she’s stood behind. Her horrible, obnoxious tutor, plus Scorpia and Entrapta. How Catra has managed to make any friends when she’s so condescending and unpleasant, Adora has no idea. She barely makes it through the time she has to spend in Catra’s company. She can’t imagine wanting to spend time with her willingly.

Adora hopes she can go unnoticed, but of course, Scorpia spots her. She beams and says loudly, “Hi, Adora,” and Adora grimaces back. She spares Entrapta a smile and tries not to scowl at Catra. It’s incredibly hard.

“Are you here by yourself?” Scorpia asks, looking around the general area. “You can hang out with us if you want! We’re just grabbing some shakes and then I think we’re going to go catch a movie.”

“I’m here with Glimmer,” Adora says, refusing to even look in Catra’s general direction. She can see that she’s smirking, like she’s just waiting for Adora to meet her gaze so she can insult her in some kind of way. “We’re having a girls’ day out.”

“Sounds obnoxious.”

Catra. Adora scowls and snaps, “You’re one to talk.”

“I’m impressed you can think quickly enough to come up with a decent comeback like that,” Catra looks her up and down, and she looks anything but impressed. “And all this time, I thought you were braindead.”

Adora scoffs, and she has to ignore the little sting that Catra’s jabs at her intelligence always illicit. It’s a point she’s always been insecure about, because of… well, that thing. But she has to remember that just because she finds academic stuff a little harder to focus on, it doesn’t mean she’s any less intelligent than Catra. “Oh, you think you’re so superior to everyone, don’t you?”

“That’s rich coming from you, princess,” Catra says, her voice dripping with venom. “You just can’t stand that someone isn’t worshipping the ground you walk on, can you?”

“Okay!” Scorpia interrupts quickly before Adora can tell Catra just how much she wants to strangle her. “I’m going to guess that’s a no on joining us for the movie then, Adora?”

Adora stares right at Catra when she answers, “No. I don’t want to spend my time in certain company. Honestly, I’m surprised you and Entrapta put yourself through the torture of spending time with her. Or do you just feel bad for her because you know nobody else will volunteer to be around her?”

Adora doesn’t realise she actually said that until the words are already out there, and it hits her that she’s gone too far. She doesn’t know what to think when she looks at Catra, but Adora understands that she’s never ever seen her this angry before.

Catra moves forwards, and Adora squeezes her eyes shut, because if she knows one thing, it’s that Catra’s unpredictable, and she wouldn’t put it past her to throw a punch. But Catra just shoves past her and stomps away, and Adora stands, stunned.

“I didn’t…” she starts with a belated apology, but snaps her mouth shut. Catra is long gone.

Scorpia mutters a, “bye, Adora,” as she chases after her friend, and Entrapta watches after them and then looks at the rest of the line to the milkshake place. “Do I go with them? I suppose I should…”

It takes her a few moments to make her decision, but she quickly scurries off in the direction Catra and Scorpia had disappeared in.

Adora thought she’d feel pride in standing up to Catra. After all, Catra’s always insulting her, calling her stupid, making fun of her if she fails a test. But Adora doesn’t feel proud. She feels nasty. She doesn’t like hurting people, even people like Catra. That’s not who she is.

When Adora gets back to Glimmer with the shakes, she still doesn’t feel any better about it. She sits down across from Glimmer and says quietly, “Catra, Scorpia and Entrapta were at the milkshake place. I think I crossed a line and upset Catra with something I said.”

Glimmer pauses after a sip of her milkshake. “So what? She’s always saying horrible things to everyone else. She shouldn’t dish out what she can’t take.”

“I still don’t feel right about it,” Adora mutters, even though Glimmer has a point. “I guess I’ll just apologise to her at our tutoring session on Monday. She’ll probably call me every synonym for ‘stupid’ under the sun, but at least I won’t have to feel guilty anymore.”

“Just forget about it, Adora,” Glimmer says, “she doesn’t deserve your sympathy. You literally dread going to your tutoring sessions because she’s that horrible to you. You shouldn’t feel bad just because you said one thing that hit a nerve. What’s even her problem with you anyway?”

“I have no idea,” Adora groans, “she just hates me.”

“Exactly, she hates you for literally zero reason,” Glimmer says, staring at her sternly, “you’re not apologising to her. I won’t let you. Let her know what it feels like to deal with an uncalled-for insult for once. Maybe she’ll learn to be a nicer person.”

Even with Glimmer’s weird pep talk, Adora doesn’t feel any better about it. She’ll still apologise on Monday.


Catra throws her pillow across the room with another burst of anger and watches as it hits the wall and drops onto the floor. Melog stares at her in confusion. Catra can almost imagine the words the cat would speak if that were possible. What did you think that would achieve?

“I don’t know, okay?” Catra says to the confused little cat. “Don’t look at me like that.”

Melog mewls back at her and climbs to curl up on her stomach. Catra feels their purrs vibrating against her skin, and she sighs, running her fingers through soft black fur. It’s incredibly soothing. She likes to think this is why she made Scorpia take her home, because Melog is the only one who can make her feel better right now.

“Okay. Thanks,” Catra says, and Melog mews again. “Yeah, I know. I’m lucky to have you.”

And then she realises she’s literally talking to her cat, and that’s totally not sad at all. But whatever. At least with Melog, she knows she’s wanted.

Do you just feel bad for her because you know nobody else will volunteer to be around her?”

She hears Adora’s voice again and runs her fingers through Melog’s fur to calm herself down. Normally, any kind of ‘witty’ comeback the idiot came up with never bothered her. Catra’s no stranger to being insulted and put down, and an insult coming from someone as arrogant as Adora was nothing. But this… it’s like she heard the words in Adora’s voice, but her foster mother was saying them.

Nobody else would’ve picked you. Your own parents didn’t even want you. You’re an unlovable, sociopathic manipulator and everyone knows it.”

Catra lets out a guttural growl and picks up her phone. Even if She-Ra hasn’t responded to her last email yet, she can read some older ones. She-Ra always makes her feel better.

As she waits for her inbox to load, she knows one thing for sure. She’s done tutoring Adora. She couldn’t care less if they’ve missed the deadline to switch. Adora doesn’t have her number, and she’s not in any of her classes. Catra just won’t show up anymore. Clearly, spending time with her is so horrific that she’ll actually be doing her a favour.

The thought stings, and she doesn’t know why.

When her inbox refreshes, she has one new email, and everything feels a little bit better. She reads it with a small smile on her face, because even if her parents gave her up, even if her foster mother is a fucking bitch, and even if stupid Adora thinks she’s so horrible, at least she has this. At least She-Ra is proud of her for coming out to her friends. At least She-Ra wants her.

For now, anyway.

-

From: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

To: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

Subject: bad day

Oct 10, 3:21PM

she-ra

well, i have officially had a bad day, despite the good start. i’m not going to go into details, but i could use a pick-me-up, so send me your dumb sorting quiz and i’ll tell you which hogwarts house i end up in.

it’s totally blasphemous that you’ve never read percy jackson though. i’ll quite literally read those books to you if i have to.

love, cyra

-

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: Re: bad day

Oct 10, 3:29PM

Cyra :(

I wish I could hug you right now. Then again, I actually don’t know how you feel about hugs, so… maybe not. If you don’t like them, that is. If you do, then I’d hug you and never let you go.

You being my own personal audio book sounds perfect. My mom read Harry Potter to me when I was a kid because I always had trouble. I actually have dyslexia, so reading can be frustrating. I don’t normally tell people about it because they tend to get weird or think I’m stupid (not even my best friends know) but I trust you. It’s funny, because you’d think that would make me good at stuff with numbers instead, but I also fulfil the ‘gays can’t do math’ stereotype. Maybe it’s stupid, but I probably make it harder on myself because a lot of my teachers don’t know. I guess I just don’t want any special treatment. The academic side of school is kind of a struggle. I was scared to tell you that because you come off so smart.

I like books, though. It takes me a while to get through them, but I do like to read. Now I’m just imagining a scenario where I’m holding you or you’re holding me (whichever we decide on, but I do have preference for being big spoon!!) and you’re reading me your favourite books while I run my hands through your hair.

Here’s the link to the sorting quiz! Let me know what you get.

Love, She-Ra.

-

From: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

To: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

Subject: i’ll huffle your puff

Oct 10, 3:34PM

she-ra

i’m on the fence about hugs. my best friend is huge hugger so i get them any time she sees me coming and i still haven’t gotten used to that. i didn’t get a lot of hugs growing up so i think it just feels weird? but hugs sound amazing if they’re coming from you.

thank you for telling me about that. and i’m sorry if i made you feel scared to tell me. i know i’ve talked about finding school easy before but i never said that to try and put you down. besides, just being good at academic work doesn’t mean you’re automatically intelligent. intelligence shows in different ways. my other best friend is the cleverest person i’ve ever met, but she doesn’t get straight a’s because a lot of schoolwork doesn’t interest her so she finds it hard to focus and make herself do it. but those grades don’t make her any less smart, you know? she could probably build a robot in under five minutes out of a microwave and a hairdryer.

and for the record, she-ra, you’re one of the smartest people i know.

i still like the idea of reading together. maybe i could read us some harry potter since i’ve never read it? and it’s totally fitting that you prefer being big spoon because i like the idea of being your little spoon. i’d rather die than admit that to anyone else though.

speaking of harry potter, as you can tell from the subject line, i got hufflepuff. i have zero idea what that means. is that the evil one that voldemort is in? please tell me it is so i can redeem some of my badassness back after admitting i want to be your little spoon.

love, cyra.

-

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: Re: i’ll huffle your puff

Oct 10, 3:40PM

Cyra,

Well, as long as you’re feeling comfortable, I’d like to make up for the lack of hugs you received growing up by giving you ALL THE HUGS. And all the kisses, but that’s another story.

To be honest, I was intimidated to tell you because of how easy you find school. There’s a big part of me that really wants to impress you, and I guess I just worried you wouldn’t be interested in me if I wasn’t really smart too. I know it’s dumb, and I know being dyslexic doesn’t make me any less intelligent. I think it was just natural crush nerves, because of course you were always going to be so sweet and understanding about it.

And thank you for saying that. It means a lot. :)

Hufflepuff is most definitely not Voldemort’s house. Try again. But it’s definitely the cutest house, which is fitting for you. My future little spoon! No, I won’t hold back from teasing you for that. ;)

Love, She-Ra.

P.S. I hope I took your mind off your bad day.

-

From: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

To: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

Subject: i am NOT cute

Oct 10, 3:45PM

she-ra

read the subject line and let the words really sink in, because they’re the truest thing you’ll ever read. EVER.

from you, all the hugs and all the kisses sound perfect. more than perfect, if that’s even possible. and to add to the list, i’m going to give you all the compliments about how smart you are when we’re together. just until i’m sure you believe it.

love, cyra

p.s. you did :)

p.p.s. but you always do, so there’s nothing new here

Chapter Text

Adora has plans to apologise to Catra at their tutoring session.

She knows that Catra probably doesn’t deserve an apology, after all of the things she’d said to Adora. If Adora didn’t have an almost superhuman level of determination, all the jabs at her intelligence probably would’ve broken her spirit by now. But Adora isn’t Catra. She doesn’t say mean things to people just to get a rise out of them, or for her own weird entertainment.

Apologising will prove she’s the bigger person, and it’ll make her feel better about sinking to Catra’s level in the first place.

But Catra never shows to their study session on Monday. Or the one on Friday.

Adora waits outside of their usual classroom anyway. Even if Catra never showed last week, she might show this week. It’s Monday again, and everything that Adora said isn’t fresh in Catra’s mind anymore. Maybe she’ll realise that it’s not worth the trouble and show up to their tutoring session anyway. Adora wouldn’t even mind if she spent the entire time just insulting her.

(Okay, well, she would, but still.)

But the time moves by slowly, and Catra still hasn’t shown up twenty minutes into their allotted study time. Adora doesn’t have her number – she’d never tried to get it, because Catra is always on time every single Monday and Friday. She’s never needed Catra’s number. Adora’s tried to find her during school time over the last week, but she has no idea where Catra hangs out, and it’s not like they share any classes. No, Catra is in advanced placement classes, something she’d loved holding over Adora.

Adora doesn’t know how she’s supposed to contact her, because she at least wants to know if Catra’s completely done so she can try and get another tutor. She didn’t realise how much Catra was actually helping until the last week’s homework came back with a grade C rather than the usual B’s she’s been getting under Catra’s tutelage. She’s tried Facebook, which Catra apparently doesn’t have. She found her Instagram, but Catra blocked her five minutes after Adora pressed the follow button. She can’t just attempt to guess her phone number. And Adora never sees her around. It’s like she just sprouted out of the floor outside the old music classroom every time they had a session together.

Maybe she should go to the main office and ask for Catra’s school email address. After all, they’re bound to have it, and if she explains that Catra’s her tutor, the receptionist will give it to her. But that would mean telling the main office that Catra has missed their last two tutoring sessions, which might get her in trouble, and make Catra angrier. And Adora is trying to fix things here, plus get through the school year to graduation relatively unscathed. An angry Catra doesn’t factor into that.

After waiting for way longer than she should for Catra to turn up, Adora decides to go and watch Bow and Glimmer’s rehearsals for the school play. It’s better than hanging around outside an empty classroom or attempting to study by herself. So she makes her way to the auditorium and takes a seat in one of the middle rows.

Bow and Glimmer are performing some random scene; Glimmer is off book, but Bow isn’t, and every time he glances down at his script, she rolls her eyes but in a way that shows she’s not really annoyed, just endeared. Adora waves at them to let them know she’s here, and after watching them practice, she grabs her phone and checks her email inbox. At least her tutor bailing on her means she has more time to email Cyra.

Sure enough, when she refreshes her inbox, she has an email waiting for her. The smile that comes onto her face is like an automatic reflex.

-

From: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

To: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

Subject: disney and the hype

Oct 19, 3:42PM

she-ra

how could i not tell you were one of those kids that was basically raised by disney channel? you definitely give off the vibe. i never had it because i never had cable so i can’t relate to all of your high school musical references. but i wouldn’t be opposed to you introducing me to all of those cheesy disney channel movies when we’re together. just as long as you don’t complain when i get bored and use the time as an excuse to make out.

anyway, i hope your least favourite day (monday) went okay

love, cyra

-

Adora knows she’s blushing, if the look Glimmer is giving her from the stage is any indication. Maybe coming to the auditorium to spend the next half hour emailing Cyra was a bad idea. Adora already knows that Glimmer will be questioning her about it on the ride home.

Weirdly, Adora isn’t freaked out about it. In a way, she almost wants to tell her friends. Her friends have never been the ones she’s scared to tell. Maybe they could help her figure out if she’s just getting her hopes up with the whole Huntara thing, or if it’s a solid theory.

Adora likes to think it’s a solid theory. But if Cyra turns out to not be Huntara, then she’s got zero idea who she actually is.

-

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: Re: disney and the hype

Oct 19, 3:57PM

Cyra,

I’m already making a list of all the must-watch Disney movies from my childhood. And there will be zero time for making out, because I’ll be too busy using my mouth to sing all the lyrics to all the High School Musical songs.

My Monday sucked, but all my Mondays suck, so… nothing new there. It’s weird, because as of the last few weeks, they’ve sucked in the complete opposite way than usual. Does that make sense? It probably doesn’t, but I don’t know how to make it make sense without going into detail.

On a serious note… have you ever hurt someone’s feelings before? And if so, how did you fix it? I’m kind of going through something with a friend right now and I don’t know how to make it better.

Love, She-Ra.

-

Adora had to try not to laugh when she’d typed ‘friend’ in reference to Catra, but still. It’s a vague way to get her problem across, and it makes sense. People have fights with friends all the time. Cyra’s smart – she’ll know how to fix things.

Adora intermittently watches whatever scene the cast of the play are rehearsing as she refreshes her inbox every two minutes, waiting for Cyra’s reply.

-

From: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

To: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

Subject: the wisdom you apparently think i have

Oct 19, 4:08PM

she-ra

i’ll burst your bubble now and tell you i’ve already seen camp rock 1 and 2. my friends made me watch it and honestly i enjoyed them because they’re so laughably bad. like i actually cried with laughter when they went stomping over to the rival camp doing that chant and acting like they were the baddest motherfuckers on the planet when they actually looked so fucking dumb. another scene that killed me is when demi lovato’s bff is playing her garageband beats and demi is like sHe’S rEalLy gOoD!!! those movies are comedy gold.

(on a sidenote, i imagine i look pretty similar to demi’s buddy when i’m in the zone on my guitar, so please refrain from laughing when i sing for you)

there are probably a bunch of obscure disney movies i’ve never heard of that we can watch together. and make out during, because i know you won’t be able to resist me. i can be very persuasive when i want to be.

what you said about your day being bad but in the opposite way doesn’t make a lot of sense, but i’m sorry everything was sucky. hopefully tuesday will treat you better.

i’ve probably hurt a lot of people’s feelings. and i’ve probably never fixed it. it probably hasn’t been conveyed through these emails because i have time to think about what i’m going to type, but i sometimes get annoyed and snap at people. it’s something i’m working on not doing because i hate hurting the people i care about but i’m not exactly perfect yet. but the best thing is always to just be real with the other person and apologise if you think you’re in the wrong. if you think they’re in the wrong then tell them why you’re hurt and try to openly communicate.

it’s easier said than done, and i can’t say i’m even a little bit good at that myself because when i’m hurt i get stupid and run away from my problems, but those are like the textbook rules of what you’re supposed to do. they’re easy to forget when you’re mad at someone, or when someone is mad at you. but usually that just means they care about you enough to be mad about whatever it was you did, so maybe it’s a good thing.

i don’t even know what i’m saying because i got like 3 hours sleep last night so my brain is fucking cloudy, but there’s my advice for you. take it or leave it.

hope things work out for you though

love, cyra.

-

Try to openly communicate. Adora almost snorts with laughter as she reads it. How is she supposed to communicate with Catra when she never sees her around and has no way of contacting her? She rereads the email again and actually does laugh when she gets to the part where Cyra says they care about you enough to be mad. Catra doesn’t care about Adora. Catra actively hates Adora.

Why does Adora want to apologise again?

She remembers the look on Catra’s face when she said what she said and sighs. “Oh, yeah, that’s why.”

Adora groans and leans back in her seat. The auditorium chairs are so uncomfortable, but it’s better than drifting around the hallways until Bow and Glimmer finish rehearsing. They’re doing a musical number now, and Adora watches as Glimmer channels her inner Mariah Carey. A lot of this play stuff looks fun, and even though Adora isn’t exactly an actor – she’s been told she can’t act to save her life – she’d maybe help out with the set painting if she didn’t have soccer practice three nights a week and tutoring on the other two.

“What’s up, Adora?”

At the sound of her voice, Adora really does wish she had some after-school time free. Just to help out with the sets and everything. Not for any other reason.

“Hi, Huntara,” Adora straightens up in her chair and smiles politely, “I didn’t know you were into theatre.”

“I’m not, really, I just got asked to help carry the big sets and stuff,” Huntara says, and then gestures over herself. She’s wearing a pair of big paint covered overalls and carrying what looks like a cardboard cut-out of a tree. “And I’m in the art club and we’ve all been dragged in to help paint things.”

“You paint?” Adora asks, and then realise that’s literally what Huntara just said and clears her throat awkwardly, “Do you do any music stuff too? A lot of people who like one creative thing like all the others too. Like Glimmer acts and sings.”

She’s only asking because Cyra had told her she plays guitar, that she likes music, and that one day she’s going to sing for her. And when Huntara says, “Yeah, I like music,” Adora grins.

“That’s cool,” Adora says, and then drops a quick reference to that whole sports conversation she and Cyra had. “I’m more of a sporty person myself. Kinda the only thing I’m really good at.”

“Don’t get yourself down. I’m sure you’re good at loads of stuff.” Huntara smiles and pats the tree cut-out she’s holding. She nods towards the stage, where Glimmer is still singing. “Well, I’ve got to get this up there. See you later, Adora.”

“Yeah,” Adora says, her heart clenching in her chest, because the way Huntara had spoken reminds her of Cyra, “see you later.”

Adora watches with a smile on her face as Huntara heads on up to the stage with the set. Where had she been before? In the art room, painting? She could’ve had some time to send a couple of sneaky emails. And it lines up with the usual timings too; Cyra never normally emails until around 5pm, which means she has some kind of after school activity. Is that because she’s busy painting sets in the art room for the school play?

Adora gets more and more certain every day. She wants to catch Huntara before she heads back to the art room and say the name ‘She-Ra’ to her, just to see if she has any reaction. But that would mean telling her before they’re both ready to meet, and Adora can’t do that to her.

If it’s her, of course. Which Adora is pretty sure of.

“No luck with Catra, then?”

Adora jumps as Bow sits down in the seat next to her. She nods to the stage and glances up at the big clock to check the time. They’ve still got ten minutes of rehearsal left. “Don’t they need you to run your lines?”

“I’m taking a five minute break,” Bow shrugs, flashing an optimistic smile, “so, like I said, no luck with Catra?”

“Nope. She didn’t show again,” Adora says. The good mood her conversation with Huntara had put her in disappears as she thinks about the hit her grades are going to take. “That’s the third session in a row.”

“Just complain to main office,” Bow says easily, “the school will email her and tell her she has to show up.”

“Yeah, I’m trying to make sure she’s not angry with me,” Adora points out, and doing that will definitely inflict Catra’s rage upon her even more. “I know I crossed a line when I said what I said but… I mean, she says all sorts of horrible things to me about how stupid I am and how I’m self-centred or whatever and I still showed up to every session.”

“First, you’re not stupid or self-centred, she’s just a bitch,” Bow cringes at the word he’d used and adds, “I don’t like to use that kind of language, and I also don’t like calling people names, but I have to say that I agree with Glimmer on this one. Catra’s horrible to you, and the one time you say something back, she can’t handle it?”

“I know, I know,” Adora lets out a heavy breath and mutters, “I just… I don’t like making people feel bad.”

“Yeah, I know,” Bow smiles, “that’s because you’re the better person. You don’t owe her anything. Now, come on. Instead of sitting here and staring off into space, you can quiz me and Glimmer on our lines.”

Adora had wanted to reply to Cyra, but she knows she’s probably busy. Maybe back in the art room painting sets. She can answer when she gets home. She takes a breath, pushes everything with Catra from her mind, and lets Bow pull her over to the stage.


Catra plucks at the strings on one of the school’s crappy acoustic guitars. She pauses, takes a bite of her sandwich, and then goes back to playing. Entrapta is tapping away on her laptop, working on some new code, and Scorpia is just… staring at her.

It’s honestly pretty unnerving, but Catra knows if she asks why Scorpia’s staring at her like she’s grown an extra head, it’ll invite her to actually tell her. And Catra’s enjoying the peace and quiet.

She plays the chorus of Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America by The 1975, humming along to the melody of the lyrics. Scorpia is still staring, and Catra meets her gaze, raising an eyebrow. Apparently, that’s enough of an invitation to talk. Really, it was supposed to convey don’t you have something more important to do?

“Are you okay?”

Catra stops playing completely and frowns. “Uh… yeah?”

“I was just wondering, because it’s been nearly two weeks and you haven’t talked about what happened with Adora,” Scorpia says, and Catra rolls her eyes, “and I know you haven’t been going to your tutoring sessions because I went at the end to offer you a ride home on Monday and you weren’t there.”

“So you’re stalking me now?” Catra scoffs, feeling her walls rising. “Good to know.”

Catra,” Scorpia says sternly, and it’s so out of character for her that Catra looks up from the guitar again. “It’s bothering you, what she said. I know that. But you can’t push me and Entrapta away because you think what she said was true. Because it’s not true. You’re our best friend, and we spend time with you because we love you. We wouldn’t be the Super Pal Trio without you. Right, Entrapta?”

Entrapta looks up from her computer. “Do I have to participate in this conversation? I want to be a good friend, but I’m almost finished with this part of my code and…”

“I don’t even want to participate in this conversation,” Catra answers dryly, “so you’re good.”

“Thanks, Catra,” Entrapta looks back down at her laptop screen, but she pauses before she starts doing whatever technological thing she’s always doing. “It’s not true, by the way. That thing Adora said. Like Scorpia just said; we hang out with you because we love you.”

With that, the keys of her keyboard start clicking again as she types. Catra shifts in her chair uncomfortably. Talking about feelings always makes her feel weird. It’s different with She-Ra, because there’s the separation of the screen between them, but with her friends it’s just… awkward. She thinks they know how she feels about them, but she can’t make the words I love you guys too leave her mouth.

Of course, Scorpia can’t just leave it at that. “I’ve been thinking.”

“That’s a shocker,” Catra mutters before she can think about it. She pauses, takes a breath, and adds a quiet apology. “Sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”

“It’s okay,” Scorpia smiles earnestly and then continues with the awkward-fest they’re having right now, “so, like I said, I’ve been thinking. It never usually bothers you when people say things, unless they’re someone that means something to you.”

Catra tenses. Scorpia doesn’t get the hint to stop talking.

“Do you…” Scorpia pauses, and Catra looks up at her with a warning frown. Almost like she’s telling her not to ask. “Okay, I need you to promise you’re not going to bite my head off when I ask this.”

Catra stares at her. “I can’t promise that.”

“Well, I’m going to risk it anyway. It’s just… ever since, you know, you came out to us, I’ve been thinking, and… well, you talk about Adora a lot considering you don’t like her,” Scorpia pauses again, and it’s like Catra knows what she’s going to say. She wills her not to say it, but of course the universe hates her. “So, I was just thinking maybe you like her, but you can’t admit it to yourself because you don’t think she’d like you back, so you’ve decided to hate her when actually… you don’t.”

“That’s literally the dumbest thing you’ve ever said,” Catra deadpans, but her voice shakes a little, “and that’s saying something.”

“Don’t get defensive, wildcat,” Scorpia says, and Catra scowls at her. She’ll get as defensive as she likes when Scorpia is accusing her of liking some idiot. “I’m just saying, maybe that’s why you’re so pissed off about what she said. And maybe it’s why she gets on your nerves so much. That’s all.”

“I got pissed off about what she said because she crossed a fucking line,” Catra snaps, but takes a breath and says calmly – or a vague attempt at calm – “and besides, I like someone else, so…”

It doesn’t matter that Adora’s stupid blue eyes are so cute. It doesn’t matter that she thought Adora was so pretty that first day they’d met, at least until she basically told Catra to fuck off. It doesn’t matter that Adora’s enthusiastic little smile always reminds her of a certain someone. Because she’s not She-Ra, and she never will be.

Catra likes She-Ra. That’s it.

“You do?” Scorpia sits up and beams. “Who is she? Tell me everything! Oh, I love gossiping about crushes. Shall I tell you about mine too?”

“Sure, you go first,” Catra says, already knowing she won’t say a single word about She-Ra. It’s too… outside of the box. Like, hey, I don’t know what my crush’s real name is, or what she looks like. Scorpia would think she’d lost her mind.

Naturally, Scorpia falls for it, and babbles on about some girl called Perfuma for so long that she forgets to ask Catra who her crush is, and by the time the bell rings signalling the end of lunch, it’s too late for her to ask. They separate and head off to their respective classes, and Catra tries to push Scorpia’s ridiculous theory out of her head.

Catra? Liking Adora? Please.

That’s fucking ridiculous.

Chapter Text

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: SPOOKY TIMES

Oct 31, 12:00AM

Cyra!

It’s officially Halloween! AHHHHHHH! I’m so excited to get hyped up on lots and lots and lots of candy because it’s basically a given that I dip into the candy bowl every single Halloween, despite my mom yelling at me to stop it because they’re for the trick or treaters. Like, it’s not my fault I’m too old to go trick or treating anymore. I would if I could!

I’m also really grateful that Halloween is on a Saturday this year. When it’s on any day except Friday/Saturday I go out to whatever party is on, get really drunk (in the spirit of spookiness) and then regret it a lot at school the next day. I’ll definitely still be regretting on Sunday, but at least I don’t have to add school on top of that regret.

I think my friends and I are going to go to Mermista’s party up at the lake. Do you have any plans? I’ve got a super cool costume planned too, but I guess I can’t tell you about that in case you’re at Mermista’s party too and figure out who I am. Even though I know you probably won’t be since you’re not into parties.

Anyway, hopefully I’m the first to wish you a happy, and very very very spooky Halloween.

Love (spookily), She-Ra.

-

Catra doesn’t care for Halloween. As a kid, she’d never been allowed to go trick or treating because the foster bitch didn’t care enough to take her. It came three days after her birthday, which had always been more of a priority for Catra anyway. Though, you wouldn’t have known she’d turned eighteen three days ago. There wasn’t much of a celebration – just the foster bitch giving her a nice reminder that she would’ve been out on the street if it weren’t for some law about her being legally required to provide care while Catra is in compulsory education. On the positive side, Scorpia brought a cake into school, but Catra ended up with a stomach-ache because she ate too much of it.

So, Halloween is barely on Catra’s schedule. But obviously She-Ra loves it. Maybe next year, if She-Ra decides she still wants to be around Catra once she finds out who she is, they can enjoy Halloween together.

Catra doubts it. This time next year, she’ll be off at college, and so will She-Ra.

Catra tries not to dwell on the future. It’s hard, because her mind likes to come back to it, especially after the completely idiotic things that Scorpia had said. Maybe you like her, but you can’t admit it to yourself because you don’t think she’d like you back.

Catra doesn’t like Adora. If she was going to like anyone at their stupid school, Adora would be at the very bottom of the list. She’s a self-absorbed bitch who cares about nothing other than kicking a ball around a field. It doesn’t matter that she’s somewhat attractive. Adora is the last person Catra would ever like. Besides, she has She-Ra. It doesn’t matter that things with her are a little unconventional. Catra still likes her and wants to be with her when they finally meet.

Scorpia is wrong. You can’t admit it to yourself because you don’t think she’d like you back. Catra is like, ninety percent sure that She-Ra is going to run for the fucking hills when she finds out she’s been talking to Catra the entire time, so she can totally admit it to herself when she likes someone.

And sure, okay, maybe She-Ra’s golden retriever level of enthusiasm reminds her a little bit of Adora. And maybe the stubborn determination she possesses does too. And her obsession with sports. And the way she and She-Ra have this bantering back and forth, and how She-Ra can be kind of a dumbass but in the most endearing way. Maybe those things remind her of Adora.

But that doesn’t mean anything, because Catra doesn’t like Adora, and Adora isn’t She-Ra.

God, she hates that she let Scorpia get into her head. Catra has never liked Adora, and she never will. She’s happier than ever, now she doesn’t have to waste an hour every Monday and Friday trying to get the information for whatever class through Adora’s thick skull. She hasn’t seen her since that day at the mall, and she hasn’t thought about her at all.

Liar, you’re thinking about her right now, her conscience takes on Scorpia’s voice, and Catra scowls and ignores it. She’s glad that she doesn’t see Adora anymore. She was nothing more than a nuisance to her.

She does like She-Ra, though. And if she’s going to be stuck up all night because of her dumb best friend’s stupid accusation again, like every other night for the last week, she might as well use the time to talk to the girl that matters to her.

-

From: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

To: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

Subject: Re: SPOOKY TIMES

Oct 31, 12:07AM

she-ra

i should’ve known you’d be one of those halloween obsessed people. but at least on you, it’s cute. i can imagine you eating the entire candy bowl (yes the bowl included) and ending up bouncing off the walls in a massive sugar rush. i’ve never actually been trick or treating so i guess i’ve missed my window with that, and like you said i’m not interested in parties, so halloween is just another day for me.

i hope you have a good time at your party, though. you deserve it. and whatever your costume is, i’m sure it’s very cool and badass (and probably hot too) but don’t tell me because my best friend was talking about how she wants to go to a party this year and i think she mentioned a lake. so i might have the same plans as you tomorrow, who knows?

for the record, you were the first person to wish me a happy halloween. and hopefully i’m the first to do the same for you. i hope you have as spooky a halloween as you deserve, and don’t get yourself too drunk and irresponsible. remember i can’t stick my hands through the computer screen and hold your hair back for you. but she-ra? i would if i could.

love (very spookily), cyra

-

Catra puts her phone aside and lays back against her pillows. She glances over at her bedroom door just to double check that it’s locked, and lets her fingers stroke gently through a sleeping Melog’s fur.

Her cat lets out a tired purr and Catra smiles. She’s already making plans on how she’s going to hide Melog in her college dorm. Because Melog wouldn’t be safe here, alone with Weaver. She already worries while she’s out at school during the day. Catra would come back and find out that her cat had conveniently ‘run away’ or something. She took the punishment for taking Melog in in the first place; it had been one of the few times Weaver has hit her, and it was worth it. Melog has always been worth it. So, she won’t let Weaver get rid of the one thing in this house that cares about her.

No, when she gets into college, Catra is leaving with Melog and never coming back.

Catra’s phone pings quietly, and she rolls over again to read She-Ra’s reply.

-

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: my responsible future gf

Oct 31, 12:10AM

Cyra,

I already know that when I come out to my mom (despite how disappointed I know she’ll be) she will at least like you. You’re the most responsible and smart future girlfriend ever. Serious question – do you ever drink? Or are you one of those people that’s really against it? Because you never seem bothered when I say I’m going to get drunk at a party, but then I don’t think you’ve ever mentioned drinking. It’s not a big deal if you don’t drink – actually, my mom would probably love that – but I’m just curious.

Speaking of my mom, I just finished watching s4 of Buffy with her and now I’m a little bit… bleh. Kinda ruined Halloween only ten minutes into the day. I know I mentioned it vaguely back when we first started talking, but I just KNOW she’s going to be disappointed that I’m gay. It’s kind of like she’s already planned my whole life out for me in a way, or at least in the relationship sense. She’s always joking about guys and saying all the things she’s going to say to my future boyfriend (hah) and I know she’s probably attended my imaginary future wedding to some perfect man she’s made up in her head at least a hundred times.

I get that when parents have kids, they sort of come with a set of expectations of what the kid is going to turn out like. My mom was really happy to have a girl, I think because she thought we were going to bond over boys and makeup and all of that typical ‘girl’ stuff. Since I was a kid I’ve never been interested in stereotypically girly stuff, always preferring sports, so I feel like I’m going to be breaking her heart twice when I come out. She doesn’t really get to do girl stuff with me, aside from the few times I’ve gotten dressed up for school dances or fancy events, and talking about boys is kind of her way to experience that. I just don’t want to hurt her, you know? She gave up a lot to have me and I feel like in a way, I owe her the stuff she expected. Do you ever feel like that?

Anyway, sorry for getting all deep and serious. It was just something that was on my mind after the fiftieth ‘Spike is hot’ joke she made, and she was saying that Willow/Oz is cuter than Willow/Tara, and you’re the only person I can talk to about gay stuff since you’re the only one who knows. Feel free to ignore it all if it made you uncomfortable. And if it did, I’m sorry, and I won’t do it again. :)

Love, She-Ra.

-

Catra reads the email over a few times, and she feels a weird dip in her stomach. On principle, she’s always been just a little bit bitter when she sees her classmates and their parents. A lot of them don’t appreciate what they have, bitch at their parents, shout at them, say they hate them, and have no idea what it’s like to be given up by them.

Catra has no idea where her parents are. If they’re even alive. What they’re like. And she sees all of these mouth-breathing lackwits at her school telling their own parents how much they suck. It’s hard not to resent her peers for that. Some days she doesn’t even try not to.

But here’s She-Ra, caring so much for her mother that she’s just sitting there and taking all of those little comments that actually hurt. Just because she wants to make her mom happy.

If Catra hadn’t already known it, she would now. She-Ra is legitimately the most amazing person on the planet. In a way, it scares her. Because She-Ra, whoever she is, is going to take one look at Catra and think wow, I’ve been wasting my time on this bitch?

“Whatever,” Catra sighs, knowing she’s setting herself up for heartbreak. “I might as well enjoy her while I’ve got her.”

-

From: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

To: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

Subject: Re: my responsible future gf

Oct 31, 12:17AM

she-ra

i’m glad your mom will maybe like me, despite the whole me being a girl thing. but i’m definitely not responsible. i am smart though, i’ll agree with you there. that’s why people are always more disappointed in me any time i do anything reckless when i’m hurt or sad.

to answer your question, i do drink. just not that often because i’m not really that interested, and not in a party setting either. my kind of drinking environment is like video games and good music with a couple of friends. more lowkey.

i can’t say i relate to parental expectations considering my parents gave me up at birth and my foster mother is a raging bitch who i’ll never be good enough for no matter what i do. but i can say that you don’t owe your mother anything except respect and love. you’re right when you say that a lot of parents do have an idea of what their kid is going to turn out like, but that doesn’t mean you have to BE that. and from the way you’re talking, it sounds like your mom is just trying to be close to you and relate to you because she loves you. i know i haven’t met her, so i can’t say for sure, but i don’t think she’d be disappointed to find out you like girls. it sounds like she really loves you and would support you.

you’d never make me uncomfortable. and i’m always here if you need to rant about how not-hot spike is.

love, cyra.

p.s. willow/tara is way fucking superior, your mom has terrible taste

p.p.s. and here’s a concept for you… buffy/faith

-

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: you’re the best

Oct 31, 12:21AM

Cyra,

I’m falling asleep so I will reply in more detail in the morning but I just need you to know how amazing you are.

What you said made me feel so much better about things. I’m still scared to tell her because I can already picture what she’s going to look like when I do and it terrifies me but at least I’m going to sleep happy tonight and that’s thanks to you.

I already know you’re going to be the best girlfriend I could ask for.

Also, about your parents/bitchy foster mother. You’ve never brought it up before and I won’t push if you’re not comfortable but you can talk about it all with me. I’m here for you too.

Love, She-Ra.


Adora is still thinking about everything Cyra said last night when Mara jokes not to talk to any boys at the party as Adora is walking out of the front door. Her mother’s words don’t bother her like they usually do, because Adora thinks Cyra is right – Mara is just trying to relate to her because she loves her. Adora still thinks that part of her mom will be disappointed when she comes out, but in the end, Adora knows that Mara will support her.

And she definitely knows she’ll like Cyra, so that’s one less thing Adora has to worry about.

Adora pushes her hair out of her face as she walks down the driveway to Bow’s car. She’s not used to having it down; her ponytail has always been more convenient. The leather jacket she’s wearing is her mom’s, and the wooden stake she’s carrying – which she’ll probably end up sticking in her pocket later – is actually plastic. But all in all, she thinks she passes for a pretty good Buffy Summers.

Bow and Glimmer have clearly opted for a couple’s costume, Adora realises as she gets in the back seat and looks them over. She squints at them, and they wait for it to click, and when it finally does, she says loudly, “Oh! You’re Katniss and Peeta!”

“Yeah,” Bow says as he pulls away from the curb and starts driving, “except I’m Katniss, because I’m the one with the bow.”

He uses his free hand to hold up a toy bow, probably one he’s had since he was a kid. His dads let him play with those things as a joke, but then he grew up to actually really like archery. Adora’s been to a few of his competitions, and if there were ever an apocalypse, she’d want Bow on her side to shoot at all the zombies.

“I like it, you’re subverting expectations or whatever,” Adora says, remembering the phrase from one of her literature study sessions with Catra, who she still hasn’t been able to track down. “I’m Buffy,” she says as she explains her own costume.

Adora doesn’t know what possesses her to say it. Maybe it’s Cyra’s reassurances last night, even though they had nothing to do with Bow and Glimmer. But she blurts out a nervous, “I picked it because she’s hot,” and then stares out of the window like the passing houses are the most interesting thing in the world.

Glimmer hums in thought. “Yeah, she is pretty hot.”

“Wait, what?” Adora almost snaps her neck because she turns around so fast. “You do- you do know I mean it in like, the gay way, right? As in, like, I’m a massive lesbian, please don’t tell my mom.”

Bow smiles at her in the rearview mirror. “Yeah, we got that.”

“And for the record, I mean she’s hot in an ‘I’m a massive bisexual’ way. We both are. Thought you knew that.” Glimmer says, and she meets Adora’s gaze with a softer version of her usual smile, “but thanks for telling us, Adora. Nobody else knows?”

“One other person does, but that’s…” Adora pauses in thought, “that’s a story for some other time. Or when I’m drunk enough. Thanks for being… yeah. Good about it.”

“Of course,” Bow says, and he looks so proud of Adora when he smiles at her in the rearview again that Adora can’t help but grin back. “I told you, you can tell us anything.”

“I know,” Adora smiles as she looks between her best friends, and she doesn’t think she’s ever felt more grateful for them. “Just… thanks.”

“So, where’d you get the leather jacket?” Glimmer asks, reaching over and tugging at the jacket Adora’s wearing. It hits Adora how crazy it is that something she’s built up in her head to be this big thing was just accepted so casually. Like she said something as mundane as ‘I like grapes’ rather than spilling arguably her biggest secret. “You’re not cool enough to own a leather jacket.”

Adora scoffs in reply, because she’s totally cool enough to own a leather jacket. She doesn’t, but she could. But she’s not offended by what Glimmer had said. Weirdly, she appreciates the casual teasing, because despite what she’d just admitted to them, nothing has changed. “It’s my mom’s old jacket. And shut up, I’m cool.”

Glimmer pauses in thought, but nods in agreement. “Mara’s definitely cool enough for it. You’re definitely not. You’re like a hyper puppy all the time.”

“I am not,” Adora lets out a psh sound, but it sounds so fake because she can’t act for her life and Glimmer’s not exactly wrong. “I could totally pull off a leather jacket. I just don’t because I prefer my letter jacket. Red suits me, that’s what Razz says.”

“Ooh, taking fashion advice from your grandma, huh?” Glimmer laughs, taking a drink out of a big water bottle that obviously isn’t filled with water from the way she cringes. “Real cool, Adora.”

Adora rolls her eyes, but there’s a smile playing at the corners of her mouth. She holds her hand out expectantly. “Shut up and give me that vodka.”

Glimmer offers the bottle out, and Adora takes a drink, wincing and passing it back. When Call Me Maybe comes on the radio, she sings along with her best friends, and uses the time to quickly send an email to Cyra, letting her know that she came out to her best friends and everything went amazingly.

-

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: coming out!!!

Oct 31, 8:04PM

Cyra!

I just came out to my best friends. I think you inspired me, partially because of how you came out to your friends, like you just did it without planning a whole big thing about it, but also because of the things you said about my mom. That no matter what, she’ll love and support me. I know my best friends are like that too, so I just did it, and turns out they’re both bisexual, so I really didn’t have anything to worry about.

Thank you again for inspiring me and helping me feel comfortable.

Love, She-Ra.

-

Adora has a warm, fuzzy feeling in her chest when they get to the party. She knows it’s not the vodka – or maybe it’s a little bit the vodka – but it’s mostly the way her friends keep making little jokes about girls, the way Mara does about boys. It’s enough to make Adora wonder if her mom will start doing that, when she finally comes out.

She barely recognises her classmates surrounding the lake. Some people are dancing to the music on the speaker that’s been set up, some are just standing and talking with drinks in their hands, but everyone looks crazy. Adora supposes that’s the point of costume parties, and it’s funny how a lot of the guys’ costumes contrast with the girls. Like the guys are trying to look as scary as they can, and the girls are trying to look as hot as they can.

Adora definitely appreciates the latter.

There’s a crowd of people gathered around one of the nearby picnic benches playing spin the bottle, plus a couple of others playing beer pong. Adora needs to be a lot drunker before she participates in anything dumb like that, and Glimmer presents her with the not-water bottle again like she’s read Adora’s mind.

“So,” Glimmer says when Adora flops down on the grass just by the edge of the lake. The not-water bottle is placed between them. “Is there a girl you like?”

“Sarah Michelle Gellar,” Adora jokes, considering another sip of vodka but instead offering the bottle to Glimmer, “duh.”

Glimmer rolls her eyes but takes the bottle. “Okay, but like, when you kept grinning like an idiot at your phone. There’s got to be a girl, right? Who is she?”

Adora laughs at the question. Who is she? God, that’s hilarious. “I don’t know.”

Glimmer exchanges a look with Bow, who just shrugs easily and says, “Maybe she doesn’t want to tell us.”

“No, I really don’t know,” Adora says with another snort of laughter. She wonders if alcohol acts like some kind of truth serum for her – she’s barely had any, and she’s already blabbing about Cyra. It’s a wonder she ever kept the gay thing a secret from her friends. “I like her, and she goes to our school but I don’t know who she is.”

“That…” Glimmer frowns at her, “doesn’t make any sense. How fast did the vodka hit you?”

“I’ve had like two sips. It hasn’t hit me at all,” Adora rolls her eyes and rests her head on Glimmer’s shoulder. But she does want to be truthful with her friends. “I met her on Tumblr. Her name is Cyra, but that’s not really her name. I think she might be Huntara but I don’t know if I’m just making that up because I’m attracted to Huntara and I want her to be Cyra, but I just really like Cyra and I wouldn’t mind if she wasn’t Huntara and god this feels good to get off my chest. Anyway… don’t tell anyone.”

She looks up and Bow and Glimmer are both looking at her half in confusion, and half in abject horror. They exchange a look with each other that reads our best friend is crazy, and finally, Bow breaks the silence. “Okay… you say you met her on Tumblr? How can you know for sure she’s really from our school, or even our age? Or… even a girl?”

Adora’s stomach drops, because she’d never even considered that Cyra could have lied. She was just so excited to find someone who felt the same way she did. And it’s not like Cyra messaged her first. Adora had been the one to send the first message. No, Cyra isn’t lying to her. Adora knows that. Adora trusts her.

“I just know,” Adora says, and that doesn’t make the look of concern on her friends’ faces go away. “I know you probably think I’m crazy, but I just know. And besides, I was the one who messaged her first. I saw this post she made about feeling trapped in the closet and I just had to know her. She’s helped me with so much. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have come out to you guys.”

“I’m glad that you found someone to help you through things, it’s just…” Glimmer pauses, “how can you have a crush on someone if you don’t even know their real name?”

“I just do,” Adora mutters, regretting telling them and blaming it on the two sips of vodka. It’s not a very valid excuse but sue her for thinking her friends would be supportive. “Can’t you guys just support me? There’s nothing weird going on, I swear.”

“We can support your crush on Huntara?” Glimmer suggests like that makes it better. She nods over to somewhere behind them, “Look, she’s here. You should go flirt. Have some more vodka for liquid confidence.”

Adora wants to, but she doesn’t want to at the same time. She knows Glimmer’s just saying that because she thinks the Cyra thing is weird, and Huntara’s right there and Adora has expressed some kind of interest. Adora pushes herself up and mutters, “I’m going to find a bathroom,” even though she doesn’t need to. She just needs to be away from the look of worry on Bow and Glimmer’s faces.

She knows that there aren’t technically any bathrooms open around the lake at this time, but someone always picks the locks to the two little cabin bathrooms at the end of the nature reserve that are open during the day. She heads in that general direction so her friends can track her down if they need her and thinks about Cyra to make herself feel better.

Huntara is here, like Glimmer said she was, dressed up like a knight. Adora nods at her in greeting as she walks by. It bodes well, because Cyra had said in her emails that she might be coming to the party with her friends, but Adora doesn’t feel any kind of excitement. What she and Cyra have is special and Bow and Glimmer had just stomped all over it with their judgement.

She thuds into someone in her weird daze to wherever she’s going, and blinks in surprise when she realises it’s Catra. She’s not dressed up, aside from a cat ear headband settled on top of her head.

Catra scowls at her and starts walking away, and Adora realises that this is the opportunity she’s needed. She has no idea what she’s going to say and doesn’t know how she’s going to get Catra to believe she’s sincere, but she has to try. For the sake of her conscience… and maybe her grades too.

“Catra, wait!” Adora hurries after her, stumbles, and accidentally grabs Catra’s shoulder to stop herself from falling. There’s a weird lurch in her tummy that she can’t explain, but she doesn’t have time to think about it because Catra is pulling away and storming off.

“No, wait, I need to talk to you,” Adora reaches out and gently grips her wrist, feeling that weird thing in her stomach again. She pushes past it, because Catra has paused in her tracks, and blurts out while she has the chance, “I’m really, really sorry for what I said. I didn’t mean it, and I know I went too far. So, just… yeah. I’m sorry.”

Catra pulls her wrist out of Adora’s grasp. “Whatever.”

She looks like she’s going to walk away again, and Adora jumps to move around her quickly, blocking Catra’s path. For a moment, Adora thinks she looks really cute, with those little cat ears perched in her messy hair. “Wait. I know you don’t like me for some reason, and that’s… that’s okay, you can dislike whoever you want to dislike. But would you be my tutor again? I really need your help. You can call me stupid as much as you want and laugh when I get bad grades. I just need your help.”

Catra stares at her, and Adora feels her stomach do a weird jump under her heterochromatic gaze. Adora puts on a pleading smile, and finally, Catra sighs, mutters, “fine,” and moves to leave again.

Adora steps backwards to stay in front of Catra, “Wait.”

Catra groans. “What is it now?”

“I just…” Adora pauses, because she’s not entirely sure. Maybe it’s the two sips of vodka finally hitting her. Or at least that’s what she’s going to blame her stupidity on. “Why don’t you like me?”

Catra scoffs. “What, you can’t handle that someone doesn’t like you?”

“No, I just want to know why,” Adora asks, because she at least wants to know what she did. “Like… what did I do?”

“You don’t even know,” Catra says with a loud, bitter laugh. “God, that’s just fucking hilarious. Freshman year, asshole. I tried to sit next to you and you basically told me to fuck off because you clearly think too much of yourself to slum it with me even though you’re best pals with everyone else. There’s your answer. Bye.”

Catra moves to walk around her, but Adora steps back and holds out a hand to stop her. She frowns, thinking hard, trying to remember. There’s a blurry memory of fourteen-year-old Catra in her head, and fourteen-year-old Adora saying politely that she was saving the seat next to her for a friend, which she was.

When she meets Catra’s irritated gaze, Adora can’t help it. She bursts out laughing, and then laughs even more at the way Catra folds her arms across her chest and scowls at her exasperatedly.

“Oh my god. That’s why you don’t like me?” Adora manages to get out through bouts of laughter. The troubled mood she was in because of Bow and Glimmer is completely forgotten. “That was like four years ago! You’re really mad about something that happened four years ago?”

“Believe me, I’m very talented at holding a grudge,” Catra says through gritted teeth, “especially when the person the grudge is against is a fucking idiot.”

Adora laughs even more. “God, that’s adorable. You’re really mad about that. I didn’t even say anything bad, I just told you I was saving the seat for Glimmer, which I was. It had nothing to do with you. Maybe you’d know that if you actually tried to talk to me instead of just calling me dumb all the time.”

“You are dumb,” Catra mutters, but there’s no bite behind it. “Are we done here? Can I get back to my friends now?”

“Nope,” Adora says and she holds out a hand for Catra to shake. “We’re going to be friends. Come on. Shake.”

Catra looks down at her hand and crinkles her nose in disgust. “No thanks.”

“Come on,” Adora grins, “I mean, clearly it’s important to you if you held a grudge for four years. Let’s be friends.”

“I don’t want to be your friend,” Catra rolls her eyes, “can’t you get it through that thick skull of yours that I don’t like you?”

“I could, until you told me why. Now I think you secretly do. I mean, who cares that much about something that happened four years ago if they don’t like someone?” Adora says, wiggling her fingers on her outstretched hand, “Come on, shake my hand. My arm’s getting tired.”

“I’m not shaking your hand.”

“I’m getting a future vision… and look, there you are, shaking my hand,” Adora jokes, wiggling her eyebrows and pointing down at her hand with her other, “I’ve seen the future, so you know it’s inevitable.”

Catra stares at her like she’s stupid, “You are the most annoying person to ever walk the face of the earth.”

“That’s exactly how you know I’m persistent enough make you be my friend,” Adora says, letting the insult bounce right off, “You know how I know you’re going to do it?”

Catra snorts. “Enlighten me.”

Adora grins. “Because you could’ve walked away at any time, but you’re still stood here talking to me.”

Adora never thought she’d ever see Catra speechless, but it happens. Catra’s jaw works like she wants to say something, but instead, she quickly grabs Adora’s outstretched hand, shakes it, and rolls her eyes, “Anything else?”

“Nope, feel free to go back to your friends,” Adora smiles, moving aside to let Catra pass, “I’ll see you on Monday!”

Adora swears there’s a hint of a smile on Catra’s face as she walks away. “Yeah, yeah, whatever.”

Chapter Text

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: Monday… again

Nov 2, 7:04AM

Cyra,

Read the subject line and you’ll know how I’m feeling straight away.

I HATE MONDAYS.

But I like you, so that makes things a little better.

Love, She-Ra

-

Despite her inherent hatred for Mondays, and how she thinks she’s having a two-day post-Halloween hangover, Adora feels okay.

She apologised to Catra, so she’s not walking around with guilt weighing in her stomach anymore, and she actually got her to be her friend. Or at least unofficially, because Adora’s pretty sure Catra only shook her hand so she’d leave her alone. She just hopes she’ll show up for their tutoring session later – Adora is really starting to worry about her grades.

When she sits down for two hours of hell (aka calculus), she still feels alright. Until Bow sits in his usual seat next to her, and she remembers the things he and Glimmer had said about Cyra. Adora knows her friends are only trying to look out for her, but it still stings that they think she’s gullible enough to get led on.

“Hi,” Bow says as he gets his things out, “are you okay?”

“Still a little hungover,” Adora replies. She remembers what Cyra had said about communication, and she knows that Bow and Glimmer are only worried because they care about her. “And still a little hurt by what you guys said.”

“Oh,” Bow’s smile falters slightly, “about… this girl you’re talking to?”

“Yeah,” Adora says, “I know you guys are trying to look out for me, but I know what I’m doing. I trust and believe her when she says she’s a student here. It’s literally why we started the whole anonymous thing in the first place, because neither of us were ready for anybody real to know.”

“We just worry about you, you know?” Bow says. He smiles gently. “But if you’re sure, then we support you. All we want is for you to be happy.”

Glimmer says the same thing when they meet up with her for morning break, and then she’s obviously got to ask, “so, why do you think she’s Huntara?”

“I don’t know,” Adora answers, trying to keep her voice low in case Huntara – or Cyra – happens to walk by. “There’s just… these little things that line up. And it’d be cool if she was, because I’ve always found Huntara attractive. I think the crush I had on her before was mostly because of how she looks, and my idea that maybe she’s Cyra has made me like her more.”

“So…” Bow trails off like he’s trying to think of how to word his next question, “so… if Huntara said she liked you, but a different girl came forward as Cyra, who do you think you’d choose?”

“Cyra,” Adora says instantly. She doesn’t even need to think about that. Huntara is attractive, but Cyra is the one she’s falling for. “I’ve never met anyone like her. She’s helped me with so much, and she understands how I feel. Even when she doesn’t, she tries to make me feel better anyway. I just feel like we have this connection.”

Glimmer snorts with laughter. “Sorry, I just thought- what if she turns out to be like, really gross? Like, what if she smells?”

Adora rolls her eyes. “I don’t care if she smells.”

“I think you would, if you had to smell her.”

“Okay, I’m done talking about this now,” Adora says, ignoring Glimmer’s quiet laughter. She knows she’s only teasing, but Cyra is a sensitive subject. She’s so important to Adora, and she doesn’t want her friends making Cyra a joke. “You ruined it.”

“Adora, no!” Glimmer stops laughing and flashes a smile. “I’m just joking. I want you to talk about it. So, do you want to find out who she is?”

“I do, but I want to be able to be with her, you know? I want to be out and ready to show her off to the world the way she deserves.” Adora says. Even just the thought of walking down the hallway holding hands with Cyra gives her butterflies. “But right now… right now I want to figure out who Huntara is. If she’s Cyra or if I’m just imagining things.”

She’s only talking hypothetically. She’d never go behind Cyra’s back like that, but it would be nice to know that she’s not Huntara. If she isn’t. Just so she doesn’t have any expectations and look completely floored if she’s wrong.

But Adora’s still pretty sure it’s Huntara.

After morning break, Adora has a free period before lunch. She normally gives a good attempt at studying before giving up and messing around on the internet until lunchtime. Today, she skips the studying and goes straight to her Gmail inbox, refreshing it and beaming when she sees she has an email. It's always a nice surprise to get a response from Cyra during school hours.

-

From: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

To: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

Subject: Re: Monday… again

Nov 2, 8:03AM

she-ra,

your vendetta against mondays is incomprehensibly adorable.

i’m saying it now. when we meet, you and i are going to skip school (on a monday of course) and we’re going to do something fun. maybe you’ll warm up to mondays after that.

and i like you too, so i think that works out pretty well.

love, cyra

-

Adora reads the email over with a smile, and when she types out her response, she adds something else in. Not because what Glimmer said about smelliness had bothered her or anything.

Because it hadn’t. She’d like Cyra even if she smelled like Razz’s old socks.

-

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: Bad influence

Nov 2, 11:04AM

Cyra,

I would never ever ever skip school! I can’t believe you’d turn out to be such a bad influence on me. *gasp*

I’m totally kidding. I’d skip school with you. I’m pretty sure it’s like, a rite of passage to skip one day of school that isn’t senior ditch day, and going on a date with you to make me like Monday for once sounds like the best way to do it.

(Yes, it’ll be a date. No arguments.)

So, this is probably going to sound really weird, and you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to. But also, please don’t think I’m a psychopath for asking. What do you smell like? I know it’s a weird question, but you always dodge it when I ask what colour your eyes are so… maybe you’ll tell me what you smell like. Because it’s not like I’m going to go around school sniffing every single girl until I find you.

Or am I?

I’m not, that’s weird.

For the record, I’ve been told I smell like coconut.

Love, She-Ra.

-

She sends the email and then tucks her phone back into her pocket. She knows that Cyra won’t respond until later, because she almost never replies during school time.

It doesn’t stop her from checking her inbox every five minutes for the rest of the day.

She doesn’t have a reply yet when she’s heading to her study session with Catra. That’s if Catra even shows up. Again, she’s pretty sure Catra only said she would so Adora would leave her alone.

But she makes the familiar walk from her last class in A block to the old music classroom in B block. She expects an empty hallway when she rounds the corner, but Catra’s there, stood leaning against the wall, typing something on her phone.

Adora really didn’t think she’d come. She almost wants to hug her.

Catra looks up, sees her, and glances at the time on her phone. She rolls her eyes as she pockets the device. “You’re late.”

“You’re here,” Adora says, not bothering to hide the smile that’s fighting to show. “I didn’t think you’d come.”

“I said I would, didn’t I?” Catra says like it’s obvious, and when she pushes open the door to the music classroom, she surprises Adora even more by holding it for her. “So, what do you want to cover?”

If Adora wasn’t falling behind in class thanks to the recent missed sessions, she’d probably use this as an opportunity to get to know Catra. She can’t be so bad behind the wall of apathy she puts up. But Adora is falling behind, so she takes out the mini practice essays they’d done in history class last week and says, “probably something like this.”

There’s a 65 and D in red ink circled at the top of the page, and Adora braces herself for Catra’s inevitable comment about how stupid she is. Maybe something like you’re lucky this was just a practice test or my cat could do better. Or perhaps she’ll say something especially mean and disheartening to make up for lost time.

But Catra surprises her completely. “Okay, your teacher wrote that you have to focus on the question. Give me a minute to read this so we can figure out where you stopped doing that.”

Adora frowns. No ‘you’re so unintelligent it hurts’ or ‘do you have an IQ of minus 100?’. “Wait, why aren’t you calling me stupid?”

Catra pauses and looks up from the papers in her hand. Her perfectly shaped eyebrows dip into a small frown, and there’s confusion flashing in heterochromatic eyes. “What kind of a question is that?”

“It’s just…” Adora points at the papers in question, tapping the 65 at the top of the page. “I got a D. Usually you make some kind of comment about how dumb that makes me.”

“A letter on a paper doesn’t dictate your intelligence,” Catra says in a bored tone when she looks back at the mini essays and starts to read again. “I shouldn’t have said those things, and I’m sorry about it. And for the record, I do think you’re smart and it shows in the work you’ve been allowed more time on. I think you just feel the pressure of the time constraints when it comes to tests and you panic.”

The words remind her so much of Cyra and it makes Adora’s heart do this weird little skip. For a moment, she wonders if it could be Catra, but then she almost laughs. There’s no way she’s talking to Catra. Cyra’s lowercase typing style is enough to prove that. Adora doesn’t doubt that Catra would type with perfect grammar and punctuation just to prove that she could.

But it’s still the nicest, most sincere thing Catra has ever said to her. Maybe Adora’s crossing a line, but she leans over and pulls Catra in for a hug. Catra lets out the most adorable little squeak in surprise, and she’s a little bit tense. But then she relaxes and lets one arm loop around Adora to awkwardly pat her on the back.

“Sorry,” Adora says as she pulls away, “it’s just, that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.”

“Don’t get used to it,” Catra flips to the next page of the essay, “I still think you’re an idiot.”

Adora grins. “You literally just said you think I’m smart.”

Catra glances up, those strikingly beautiful eyes meeting Adora’s. There’s a flicker of a smile on her face when she answers, “and that means you can’t be an idiot?”

“Well, yeah,” Adora says like it’s obvious, “Smart people are smart. ‘Smart idiot’ is like, a complete oxymoron.”

“Wow, you actually used that word correctly,” Catra says dryly, not looking up from Adora’s history paper, “good to know you really listen to me.”

“Obviously I listen,” Adora answers, watching as Catra grabs a yellow highlighter and covers a few passages on her paper. “Why else would I bother with the whole tutoring thing? I need to get my grades up and I can’t study by myself. I can’t focus and I get distracted.”

“Wait,” Catra’s highlighter tip hovers over a sentence as she glances up, “you actually care about your grades?”

“Uh… yes?” Adora answers, because why else would she have stuck with tutoring even when Catra was being such an ass to her? “School sucks, because I’m not naturally smart like you. I have to study a lot to even make B’s.”

Catra stares at her, and she looks… almost surprised. She opens her mouth like she’s going to say something, but her jaw snaps shut as she second guesses herself. She looks back down at the paper and highlights the sentence she was on.

Catra stays silent, reading the next whole paragraph before replying. “Not naturally academic.”

Adora blinks. “What?”

“You said you’re not naturally smart. You’re wrong.” Catra doesn’t look up. “You’re not naturally academic. Like I said before, grades don’t determine intelligence. The school system isn’t exactly the most inclusive.”

It’s another compliment. It’s disguised as… not an insult, but it’s definitely not a straight up compliment. Either way, it makes Adora want to hug her again. She doesn’t, because Catra had seemed uncomfortable before.

“Oh. Yeah, I guess it’s not,” Adora agrees, because Catra has a point. She only told her literature teacher about her dyslexia because of the novel they’re studying; he’d occasionally choose someone to read a few passages out loud, which was pretty much torture for her. “I’ve never actually gotten an A in anything that wasn’t gym before.”

Adora expects a comment about gym being an easy A, or that it doesn’t really count. Or maybe Catra boasting about how she’s never gotten anything less than an A. Adora knows that because Catra told her one time as she was scoffing at a D Adora got on a piece of homework.

“Still an A,” Catra says, surprising her completely, “don’t brush it off just because it’s something you’re naturally good at.”

Adora narrows her eyes. “Okay. Why are you being so nice to me? Seriously.”

“Uh, because you’re forcing me to be your friend?” Catra looks up and scowls, tossing the history paper back over to her. Then, something in her gaze softens and she admits something. “Someone I really care about struggles with academia too. And I know that if someone talked to her the way I talked to you about it, I’d want to fucking murder them. So, I’m done with that. In seriousness, anyway. Jokes aren’t off the table.”

“Oh,” Adora says. It’s weird, but she’d never really imagined Catra caring about anything or anyone. She’s always walking around with so much practiced indifference. “Well. Jokes are fine. And thank your friend for me.”

Catra lets out a breath through her nose that sounds a little bit like laughter. “Will do.”

“Or maybe I could thank her in person. Does she like flowers?” Adora asks. She’s mostly joking, but after a quick deduction, she figures Catra’s talking about Scorpia, because Entrapta is crazy smart and probably gets A’s in everything just like Catra. “It’s Scorpia, right?”

“Sure,” Catra picks at her chipped black nail polish, “Scorpia.”

Adora doesn’t even consider that Catra might be lying.


Maybe it’s weird, what she’s doing. But Catra can’t find it in her to care.

She carries the parcel in her arms and tries to think of a good location. Auditorium? Someone could see. Cafeteria? She’d blend in because there are so many people in there, but someone could notice her, or someone could take the thing she’s trying to hide.

Eventually the idea comes to her. The music classroom.

Not the old, disused classroom where she tutors Adora, but the current music classroom. It’s down in the basement of A block, and there’s a nice little storage cupboard where she can put the parcel. Plus, it’s always empty on a lunchtime.

Or it will be, when she tells Scorpia and Entrapta they’re going to eat somewhere else today.

Thankfully, the music room isn’t being used the period before lunch, the one that happens to be her free period. She goes in, deposits the parcel on top of the dusty snare drum in there, and sneaks out before anyone can see. And then she sends the email.

-

From: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

To: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

Subject: a surprise

Nov 6, 11:32AM

she-ra

this might sound weird, but just go with it.

earlier this week, you asked me what i smell like. definitely not a weird question, because everyone smells like something. since i haven’t seen a girl wandering around sniffing people, i can assume you’re not using the info to find me. not that a vague answer of ‘i use strawberry shampoo/conditioner so i guess that’ would narrow it down much anyway.

but here’s the thing. i left a present for you in the storage cupboard of the music classroom. on top of the snare drum. i think it’ll smell like me – after all, it’s one of my favourites. but it’s yours now, so please go and retrieve it and then do with it what you will.

i promise i’m not hiding outside to see who you are.

just trust me, okay?

love, cyra.

-

Catra sends the email with a smile and pockets her phone again. She heads back up the stairs to the main hallway and almost walks straight into someone. The smile is wiped from her face completely, and she’s about to tell the person to watch where the fuck they’re going, but then she meets bright blue eyes and a sheepish smile and the words die in her throat.

“Sorry,” Adora says, holding up a laminated hall pass, “oh, Catra. Hi. Sorry, I’m in a rush. Literally about to pee my pants.”

Catra snorts with laughter, and Adora’s smile gets a little brighter. She steps back and gestures ahead. “Go on then, dumbass.”

“Yeah, um,” Adora bounces in place. She looks like she’s going to say something, but instead, she mutters a quiet, “thanks,” and runs off down the hallway.

Catra watches after her with a small smile. Maybe Adora’s not so bad after all.

Not that she’d ever say that to her face.


When her class finishes for lunch and Adora sees the new email sitting in her inbox, her heart beats a little faster in her chest. Glimmer notices the smile right away and asks, “Your girlfriend?”

“She’s not my girlfriend yet,” Adora answers by way of a confirmation. As she reads the words Cyra has written, a confused but intrigued frown settles on her face. “She says she left a present for me in the music storage cupboard.”

Glimmer raises her eyebrows and leans over Adora’s shoulder to read the email on her phone screen. She laughs quietly. “I knew you were bothered by me saying she might smell.”

Adora flushes. “Shut up. At least this proves to you and Bow that she is a student here.”

Glimmer hums in agreement. “Yeah, actually. That’s fair enough. Come on, let’s go get your gift.”

Adora is glad that Glimmer is with her; she’s never taken music so Glimmer can show her the way to the classroom. She wonders if Cyra takes music, but quickly realises that she obviously would, with the way she’s talked about her songwriting and her love for her guitar. Adora almost considers asking Glimmer who’s in her class. Like Huntara, maybe.

They head down the steps to the basement floor, and like Adora’s hopeful thought had summoned her, Huntara passes them by on the way up. She says, “hi, Adora,” on her way past, and Adora mumbles a quiet hello in reply.

Glimmer nudges her. “That’s a good sign.”

It is, but Adora’s fairly certain that the art classroom is down here too. Huntara could’ve easily been coming from there.

The music classroom is empty when they enter. Adora spots the storage cupboard immediately, on the opposite side of the room to the teacher’s desk. She glances around, just to double check that nobody is peeking in – she trusts that Cyra isn’t watching, she’s just paranoid – and then pulls open the cupboard door.

On top of the snare drum, as promised, is a neatly wrapped parcel. There’s a label stuck to it, but nothing written except a little love heart drawn in pen that makes Adora blush. Glimmer watches her impatiently. “Open it!”

Adora rolls her eyes and picks it up. It hits her that Cyra held this in her hands, brought it here, drew the heart on the label. It makes her feel a lot more real.

Adora tears the wrapping paper carefully, balling it up and tossing it into the trash can by the teacher’s desk. She moves out of the storage cupboard and into the light as she unfolds the shirt that was inside the paper.

It’s an incredibly soft white t-shirt. Upon closer inspection, Adora realises it’s a Phoebe Bridgers t-shirt, and she wonders if Cyra got this at a concert. She’s talked about loving concerts before and promised to take Adora to her first ever one when they meet.

Adora holds the shirt up, spreading it out, and has absolutely no shame when she brings the collar of the shirt up to her nose to smell it. It smells sweet like strawberries, but there’s also something else there. It’s musky, like smoke and summer rain or the pages in an old book, and it reminds her of the way Cyra talks, how she’s the smartest person Adora knows.

Adora holds the t-shirt close to her chest and sighs. “I love it.”

“One thing, though,” Glimmer says, and Adora had almost forgotten she was here. “It’s too small to be Huntara’s.”

Adora holds it out again and realises exactly that. But then… “It could be an old t-shirt. She said it was one of her favourites.”

“It could be old,” Glimmer agrees, “but we don’t know if it is.”

Adora hugs the shirt back to her chest again. Whoever gave her this, it doesn’t matter. She knows she’s falling for her. If it’s Huntara, or if it isn’t.

-

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: Re: a surprise

Nov 6, 12:08PM

Cyra,

I love it. I love it so much. Thank you for this. You really just gave me one of your favourite shirts, huh? I will appreciate and cherish it so much.

And for the record, you smell amazing.

Love, She-Ra

Chapter Text

“Feel free to laugh at me all you want, because I’m eighty percent sure I just bombed my calculus midterm.”

Catra looks up from her phone when she hears Adora’s voice coming closer down the hallway. She quickly finishes reading She-Ra’s last email and pockets her phone again. She thought she’d have time to reply because Adora’s almost always a few minutes late, but she’ll have to wait until they’re done studying.

Catra realises what Adora had just said and rolls her eyes. “I’m not going to laugh at you.”

She would’ve, a month ago. But ever since She-Ra told her about her insecurities surrounding academia, Catra felt a little guilty for mocking Adora for similar things. And it was kind of uncalled for. 

“Okay, I know what you said about your friend, but have you had some kind of personality transplant since that Halloween party?” Adora squints at her like she’s trying to detect a lie. “Did you get pod-peopled? Should I be calling Area 51?”

The stupid joke reminds her of She-Ra, but Catra shakes the thought from her head. Even if Adora is… slightly tolerable, Catra still doesn’t like her. Not in the way Scorpia seems to think, anyway. In a friend way, maybe, but there’s no way she’d ever be interested in Adora romantically. And she’s not going to do that to She-Ra, either. She knows how she’d feel if She-Ra started liking some other girl just because she thought she was Cyra. It would suck, and Catra’s not going to build up any expectations like that.

Not that she wants She-Ra to be Adora. Because she doesn’t.

Obviously.

“Do you have to be so annoying all the time?” Catra rolls her eyes again, and Adora just grins. That stupid, earnest grin, the one that lights up her pretty blue eyes. “Come on. We have work to do, dumbass.”

“Ah, okay, never mind,” Adora says as she follows Catra into the classroom, “you called me a dumbass, so you must be feeling like yourself.”

“Just saying it like it is, dumbass,” Catra answers as she sits down, and Adora lets out this cute little laugh that makes her stomach lurch like she’s just gone down the big dip on a rollercoaster. She pushes the feeling away. “I guess we’re working on calculus, then?”

“Ugh, no. I’m all calculused out,” Adora says, searching through her bag for something. “Maybe we could do English literature?”

“You don’t need my help with that, you’re good at it once you focus,” Catra says, and then wonders why she’s complimenting her. Adora’s bright blue eyes light up in that adorable way they do when Catra says something nice to her, and Catra tells herself that’s not the reason why. “When’s your history midterm?”

“Next week,” Adora says, and she’s still looking at her like that, in that stupid way that makes Catra’s throat close over. She finds that she’s mad at Scorpia for getting into her head. “Do you really think I’m good at literature?”

Catra shifts uncomfortably and focuses on scribbling down a few potential history essay questions in her notebook. “I said it once, I’m not going to say it again.”

Adora beams anyway, flipping open her own notebook with a renewed energy. “Well, thanks.”

Catra looks anywhere but Adora as she pushes over the questions she came up with. She’s tried to mirror the way they’re presented in a history test, vague and including a factor to be argued rather than a direct question. After reading through Adora’s work last Monday, that’s what trips her up. She doesn’t get what the question is asking and drifts off topic. “Pick one of these. Write a short practice essay. Read what the questions are asking.”

Adora smiles knowingly and looks down at the three questions on the page. The smile drops into a frown as she keeps reading them over, tapping her pen against the edge of the table. Catra digs in her backpack for some leftover celebratory cake that Scorpia made last night. Not because she doesn’t like seeing Adora frown. Just because she might as well be nice to her if Adora’s going to force her to be her friend.

“Here,” Catra says as she passes the wrapped slice over with a plastic fork, “brain food. Scorpia made it.”

Adora smiles again, and Catra’s heart jumps. It’s just because she’s pretty, anyone can see that. Not because I like her, Catra thinks to herself.

“Thanks,” Adora says, “I might have to go make friends with her if she makes you be nice to me and brings cake into school all the time.”

“This was a one off,” Catra says, and because Adora looks at her quizzically, she adds, “I got into Yale on a scholarship. Early admissions.”

“Oh my god,” Adora says through a mouthful of cake. She pauses to chew and swallow, and then Catra is enveloped in a hug. Naturally, she’d gone and made friends with another hugger. “That’s amazing! Okay, I know you’re probably going to complain about it, but there’s this really nice ice cream shop on my way home. Let me buy you some ice cream as a congratulations.”

Catra knows she should say no. But when Adora pulls away from the hug and sends her that heartfelt, enthusiastic smile again, Catra’s mouth works before her brain. “Fine. I guess.”

“Whoa,” Adora laughs, “I didn’t think you’d say yes. Are you warming up to me or something?”

More than that, regrettably, Catra thinks to herself, and then thinks of She-Ra and feels guilty. “Just get to work on the practice essay, idiot.”

Adora smiles. “That was totally a yes.”

When Adora looks back down at her notebook and starts to write, finds herself smiling. She glances away from Adora, and since she’s so focused on writing the little practice essay, Catra takes her phone out of her pocket. She doesn’t want to be thinking about Adora.

Because Catra likes She-Ra, and she’s not going to get her hopes up for any specific outcomes. That’s not fair to her.

She reads She-Ra’s last email again and hates that she hears Adora’s voice when she does.

-

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: Gotta get down on Friiiiiday

Nov 13, 3:27PM

Cyra,

It’s officially the end of the week!! And there’s only one week of school left until Thanksgiving break!!

I don’t know why I always feel the need to update you on what day it is like you don’t have a calendar built into your phone. Maybe I just need someone to love Fridays and hate Mondays with.

Anyway, I hope you have a long, relaxing, amazing weekend. Any plans? I will be cuddling up with your t-shirt and pretending like I’m cuddling up with you.

Love, She-Ra.

-

From: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

To: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

Subject: what’s a calendar

Nov 13, 3:48PM

she-ra

who needs a calendar when you’re my personal (and very beautiful) calendar? and you know i’ll always volunteer to love fridays and hate mondays with you. just as long as you promise not to hate the mondays where i take you out on dates.

i have no weekend plans except curling up in bed and talking to you. it would help if i could curl up in bed WITH you but i guess my cat will have to do. oh well. one day.

love, cyra.

-

Catra presses send on the email and leans back in her seat. Adora’s still scribbling down her answer to whichever question she picked at a mile a minute. Catra watches her, her stomach lurching at the way Adora’s brow is furrowed, how she’s holding her tongue between her teeth in concentration. Scorpia’s words pop into her head again and she squeezes her eyes shut, sighing.

Why did Scorpia have to choose the worst thing to be right about?

And She-Ra… Catra hasn’t thought about who she is. Not properly, anyway. But she’d be lying if she said the way she talks doesn’t remind her of Adora. She’s not saying that she is Adora. But she could be. Maybe. If this were some kind of fairytale, anyway.

But it’s not. It’s real life, and Catra doesn’t get lucky like that. She’s going to be lucky enough if She-Ra still wants to be with her when she finds out who she is. It’s not like she’s worried it’ll be a looks thing, just a Catra thing. Nobody has ever picked Catra first. Not even her own parents.

Everyone knows it. Scorpia and Entrapta have each other. Weaver’s right on the money when she says Catra’s some unlovable monster who’ll never have anybody.

Even Adora knows it. “Do you just feel bad for her because you know nobody else will volunteer to be around her?”

“Everything okay?”

Catra jumps when Adora speaks. She’s still leaning over her notebook, but she’s looking up, and actually looks genuinely concerned.

“Everything’s fine,” Catra says quietly, “just get your work done.”

“I’ve written one short essay. I asked you if you’d check it over and you were just…” Adora gestures over her, “all zoned out.”

“Oh,” Catra realises as Adora pushes her notebook over to her, “it’s nothing. I’ll just… yeah.”

Catra starts reading the essay, and Adora reaches over and puts a hand over the words on the page to get her attention. “Hey. If you want to talk… you can talk to me. I know I can ramble sometimes, and I’m usually more of a punch-your-feelings-out at the gym kind of friend, but I’m an okay listener.”

Are you my secret online almost-girlfriend, or am I just seeing things I want to see? Also, just a side note, you don’t think I’m some horrific, unlovable monster, do you? Catra thinks to herself as she looks into sincere blue eyes. “It’s nothing.”

Adora frowns but nods slowly. “Okay. If you’re sure.”

I’m just overthinking, Catra tells herself as she looks back down at Adora’s messy handwriting on the page, it’s not her, and she wouldn’t want me anyway.


Adora thinks Catra’s warming up to her.

At least, she hopes that’s what this is. Catra hasn’t mocked her for getting a bad grade, and Adora doesn’t think about their tutoring sessions with a lingering sense of dread anymore. And Catra actually said yes when Adora asked her to go for ice cream. It’s free ice cream, so most people would probably say yes, but still.

Adora’s pretty happy with how this is working out.

She texts Bow and Glimmer to let them know she’s walking home, because the ice cream shop is on the way. Then she sets off walking with Catra, who’s gone all silent and broody again.

Adora isn’t sure if she should ask about it, because she tried before and Catra had brushed her off. She wants to, because despite Catra’s protests, they’re friends, but she also doesn’t want to push. Catra seems like the kind of person who wouldn’t respond well to prying.

Instead, she decides a distraction will work best. “So, which other schools have you applied to?”

Catra snaps out of her thoughts again and frowns. “What?”

“Like, colleges,” Adora elaborates, “which others have you applied to?”

“Stanford, Harvard, Columbia, NYU,” Catra lists off, and Adora isn’t surprised that they’re all good schools. “And a couple of safety schools. But I’m probably going to go with Yale. They’re the best in the country for law.”

“Law, huh?” Adora says thoughtfully. Mostly because Cyra has said she was thinking of studying law. But then… there’s probably a lot of people who want to study law. “That’s cool.”

Catra shrugs like getting into Yale to study law isn’t a big deal at all. “What about you? What are your plans?”

“I’ve got an interview soon with a soccer recruiter from Connecticut State University. They’re a Division I school so if I can play for them, it would be amazing,” Adora says, admitting quietly, “honestly, I don’t know if I’d have a chance at getting in anywhere without soccer. That’s another reason why I asked for tutoring. I have to keep my grades up to stay on the team.”

“Don’t be an idiot,” Catra says, and her voice is so soft it surprises her. “Of course you’d get into places. You’re not stupid, Adora.”

“Okay, you’ve definitely been pod-peopled,” Adora jokes to mask just how much the words mean. “You called me stupid for like, two straight months.”

Adora knows she apologised, and she accepted the apology. It’s just a weird attempt at a joke. Catra doesn’t seem to take it that way.

“I didn’t mean that.” Catra says quietly. After a long, irritated sigh, she admits, “I just didn’t want to tutor you. I thought if I made it hard, you’d switch tutors, but then you didn’t. So, I kept going to get you to quit. It was dumb and I was the stupid one.”

“Wait, what?” Adora pauses on the sidewalk, raising her eyebrows incredulously. “So… you didn’t mean any of it? You were just trying to get me to quit because you were mad about the whole freshman year thing?”

“You’re still an idiot, and a dumbass,” Catra mutters, “but you’re not stupid.”

Adora tries to stifle her laughter, but Catra hears it anyway and scowls. If anything, that just makes her laugh more. “You’re like, the queen of being petty, huh?”

Catra rolls her eyes. “Shut up.”

“Okay, okay,” Adora says, laughs again, and then apologises for laughing even though she’s still laughing. Catra just stares at her, scowling, waiting for her to stop. After a few minutes, Adora gets her laughter under control and holds out her hand. “Hi. I’m Adora.”

Catra blinks at her. “Okay, I might take back the ‘you’re not stupid’. I know you’re Adora. We’ve attended the same school for four years.”

“Oh my god,” Adora laughs again, “I’m trying to start fresh here. Shake my hand.”

Catra raises her eyebrows. “I already shook your hand at the party, dumbass.”

“Then you know it won’t kill you to do it again,” Adora says, and starts over. “Hi, I’m Adora. It’s nice to meet you. What’s your name?”

Catra snorts, reluctantly shaking her hand again. “This is the dumbest thing ever.”

“Hi, this is the dumbest thing ever,” Adora teases her, and she’s surprised when that actually gets a laugh out of Catra. She definitely hadn’t expected Catra’s sense of humour to be dad jokes. “Come on. Just play along.”

Catra rolls her eyes and sighs dramatically. “Fine. Hey, Adora. I’m Catra.”

“It’s nice to meet you for the first time ever, Catra,” Adora says, laughing lightly when Catra rolls her eyes again, “I was just heading to get some ice cream. Where are you going on this lovely Friday?”

Adora can tell that Catra’s trying to hide a smile when she answers. “I was going to get some ice cream too.”

“What a coincidence!” Adora says, and she can’t help the big grin on her face when Catra really smiles then. For a moment, Adora just looks at her, taking her in, because she’s so pretty anyway but when she smiles it’s like her natural beauty amplifies. Adora wonders why she doesn’t smile more, when it makes her glow so much.

Adora realises she’s staring, and quickly snaps out of it. “Well. Since we both happen to be going for ice cream, maybe we should go together. Get to know each other, since we just met and all that.”

Catra hums, and the beautiful smile on her face turns into a teasing, but fond smirk. “I don’t know. You seem kind of annoying.”

“Oh, I’m really annoying,” Adora says, “but I think you like it.”

Catra rolls her eyes. “I have no idea where you got that from.”

“I’m pretty perceptive,” Adora shrugs easily. She nods down the street in the general direction of the ice cream place. “Come on. I owe you ice cream.”

Catra doesn’t move. For a moment, she studies Adora. Looking her over for something. Maybe she’s worried Adora’s not being genuine, or something like that. Whatever it is, she seems to find what she’s looking for. There’s a reserved smile on her face when she nods and starts walking. “Okay. But I want a triple scoop.”

“Expensive tastes,” Adora comments, but she was planning on getting a triple scoop anyway. Adora has the jock excuse, but Catra doesn’t. She looks her over amusedly. “Are you sure you can eat a triple scoop? It might be bigger than you.”

Catra is lithe and slender, and she’s a few inches shorter than Adora. Maybe… maybe the same size as that t-shirt Cyra had given her. But Adora quickly pushes the thought from her head, because Catra’s pretty much the typical height and build of the average teenage girl, and Adora can’t go around thinking every single girl who could fit into the t-shirt is Cyra.

“This is going to be my dinner tonight, so I’m sure I’ll manage,” Catra says with an offhanded shrug.

“Your parents must be pretty chilled out, if they let you get away with stuff like that,” Adora says casually, “my grandma is going to be pissed at me for eating ice cream before dinner. She basically always cooks because my mom works a lot, and she gets mad when we don’t appreciate her food.”

Adora notices the way Catra completely ignores the comment about her own parents. Maybe they’re not close, Adora figures. But she doesn’t push. Like she said, she’s perceptive.

“I can see why,” Catra says, “I’d be pissed too if I worked hard to prepare a meal and then my annoying granddaughter came in to tell me she’s just stuffed her face with ice cream.”

Adora laughs. “Oh, that’s cute. You think I’m naïve enough to tell her. No, I’m just going to smile and eat it all anyway. I’ll have a stomach ache, but I’d rather have that than face Razz’s wrath.”

“I already like her, if she gives you shit,” Catra says, “Can I be friends with her instead?”

“Only if you want to spend your weekends playing Scrabble,” Adora says, but when Catra raises an eyebrow, she rolls her eyes. “Never mind. That’s probably like your perfect weekend, right?”

“I’m good at games like that,” Catra says, following Adora down a side street. It’s a shortcut to the ice cream place on the next block. “I bet you prefer stuff like Twister.

“Nah, I like video games,” Adora replies, and then stuffs her hands in the pockets of her letter jacket. “And sports. Obviously. I bet you’re good at those too since you’re good at everything else.”

Catra snorts with laughter. Adora doesn’t get what’s funny, and Catra doesn’t really elaborate, because they get to the ice cream shop and walk inside and Adora remembers exactly why she likes this ice cream shop.

Because Huntara works here.

She’s working behind the counter, preparing a cone for the customer at the front of the line. Adora tries not to make a fool out of herself. Not just in front of the girl she’s fairly positive is Cyra – because that could’ve been an old shirt – but in front of Catra too. Adora doesn’t know if she’s being dumb thinking it, but Catra just gives off a cool aura. Everybody knows Adora’s as clumsy as a baby deer learning to walk everywhere except the soccer field, but Catra walks around with all of this grace and ease.

Adora doesn’t doubt that she’d be an excellent flirter. So, she really doesn’t want Catra to see her embarrass herself. She doesn’t dwell on why.

When they get up to the counter, Huntara flashes her a smile. “Hi, Adora. What can I get for you?”

“Hey,” Adora says, and then realises she’s been asked a question, “oh, I’ll have a cone with um, two chocolate scoops and one vanilla. Catra?”

Catra barely looks at the available flavours, and she’s smirking at Adora like she knows exactly what Adora’s thinking. “I’ll have a triple scoop Oreo cone, thanks.”

Wait… Oreo?

Adora’s so stunned by the choice that she drops the cash she’d gotten out and has to scramble on the floor to grab it. All while the (possible) girl she’s so sure she’s falling in love with is staring down at her sympathetically, the other apparently possible one is watching her with that teasing smirk on her face and being entirely unhelpful.

No, Adora tells herself, don’t be stupid. Oreo is a popular flavour. Because it is, there’s literally a little star next to the Oreo flavour on the menu, indicating that it’s one of the popular ones.

Adora manages to scoop all the change up and put it on the counter for Huntara. When she goes to scoop the ice cream for the cones, Adora meets Catra’s gaze. She’s still smirking at her like that, and Adora mutters out a quiet, “What?”

“Real smooth there, idiot,” Catra says, and her gaze flicks over to Huntara for a fraction of a second. “Real smooth.”

“What?” Adora blinks at her, because was she really so obvious that Catra could pick up on it after only being her friend legitimately for all of twenty minutes? “No! It’s not like that.”

“I didn’t say anything,” Catra answers, but she’s still smirking at her, “just that you have no game.”

“I don’t need game, I’m ordering ice cream,” Adora mutters, because Huntara walks back over with their ice cream cones. “So… shut up.”

She takes her own and passes the other one to Catra, who says loudly, “don’t drop it.”

Adora shoots daggers at her and then smiles politely at Huntara. “Thanks, Huntara.”

Huntara returns the smile, and Adora can imagine Cyra’s words coming out of her mouth. All of the wonderful things she’d said to She-Ra, all of the adorably soft, sweet things. Adora doesn’t even know why she’d considered Catra. There’s no way Catra would ever admit to being anyone’s little spoon. She’d probably be insulted by the suggestion. Plus, Cyra’s a Hufflepuff, and Catra’s pretty much the biggest Slytherin that Adora has ever met. Duh.

They head out of the shop and Adora’s grateful for the ice cream to cool her down. She doesn’t bring up whatever Catra’s probably thinking. She doesn’t want to deny her sexuality but bringing it up again and vehemently denying it would just confirm it. Better to act like nothing happened.

Catra acts exactly like that too. She’s almost halfway done with her ice cream when she turns to Adora and says, “Thanks. For the ice cream, I mean.”

“You deserve it. It’s not exactly easy to get into Yale,” Adora says. She flashes a sincere smile, because she’s happy for this. Weirdly, she’s grateful that she was brave enough to ask Catra why she disliked her at that party. If she hadn’t done that, they wouldn’t be here.

Catra shrugs like it was easy to get into Yale and leans against the ice cream shop’s outer wall in a little beam of sunlight. Adora is caught off guard by how pretty she is. The sunlight makes her tanned skin glow golden, and Adora notices little details like Catra’s freckles, the little baby hairs framing her face that don’t quite fit in her ponytail, the way the corner of her mouth quirks up into a soft half-smile that she wouldn’t have noticed if she was stood a little further away.

And her eyes. Her eyes are the first thing Adora really noticed about her, when the lady at the main office had assigned them tutor and tutee. Her first thought had been whoa, they’re pretty, and then she realised they were narrowed in a glare at her and she’d taken that thought back. But right now, they look extraordinary. The sunlight has turned a simple blue and amber to sparkling sapphire and flaming gold.

“Well,” Catra says after she’s finished the last bit of her ice cream cone. She pushes off against the wall, and Adora realises half of her own ice cream is melting in her hand. “It’s been fun, but I should get home. Got a cat to feed.”

“Do you want me to walk you there?” Adora asks, and she doesn’t know why she asks it. She’s never offered to walk her friends home before, unless they’re drunk and she’s concerned for them. But it’s five p.m., broad daylight, with cars zooming by on the road. There probably couldn’t be a safer time for Catra to walk home.

“I think I can remember the way by myself,” Catra says, and Adora realises it’s a joke belatedly. She laughs politely, and Catra looks at her with a fond amusement. “Your ice cream is melting, idiot.”

“Oh, right,” Adora realises and tries her best to clean it up before it can get too messy, “well, um… I’ll see you Monday?”

“Sure,” Catra says, already turning and heading off down the street, “bye, Adora.”

Adora watches after her until cold melted ice cream runs down her hand and makes her jump.

Chapter Text

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: THANKSGIVING IN T MINUS 7 DAYS

Nov 19, 7:05AM

Cyra,

If you can’t tell by the subject line, I love Thanksgiving. Not for any dramatic reasons, I just really fucking love a whole day dedicated to eating my grandma’s food. To be honest, I really love food. I’m not good at much, but I do know a few of my grandma’s recipes and I think I’ve got them down. Maybe a future date could be me cooking you a meal? Homecooked meals and candlelit dinners are romantic, right?

Speaking of me not being good at much, I realised recently that I kind of suck at making friends. Which is weird, because a lot of people like me. Wait, that sounds conceited. I don’t mean it in a ‘wow I’m amazing everyone likes me’ way, I just mean people generally seem to like to talk to me even though I have no idea why. Because I’m kind of hopelessly awkward.

I know how to make acquaintances with people, but actually befriending someone is so different. You don’t want to come on too strong because you might scare them off, but then if you don’t seem interested enough, they’ll think you’re just being casually nice. There’s this one person I really want to get closer to (in a friend way don’t worry) but I don’t know how to approach her about it and she seems kind of… skittish.

Ugh, people are confusing.

Anyway, at least we only have today and tomorrow at school and then we’ve got the week off for Thanksgiving break. What are your plans for it? Like I said before, my plans are to eat my entire body weight in food.

Love, She-Ra.

-

Catra knows she’s being stupid.

She knows she’s seeing things she wants to see.

But… grandmother’s cooking. Adora had mentioned that her grandma always cooks. It was the first thing Catra thought when she read the words on the screen, and now she can’t stop thinking about it.

Rationally, she knows that lots of people go to their grandparents’ house for Thanksgiving. Probably like, fifty percent of the people who celebrate Thanksgiving do that and Catra shouldn’t get her hopes up because one girl she maybe thinks is cute told her that her grandmother cooks.

She doesn’t even want to get her hopes up, anyway. She-Ra is She-Ra. Whoever she is, Catra likes her. Catra’s falling for her. She might not be a lot of things, but she is loyal, and she’s staying loyal to She-Ra. Adora’s pretty blue eyes be damned.

Besides, if she was reading things correctly back at the ice cream shop, Adora has a thing for that big muscular girl, and Catra knows She-Ra wouldn’t go behind her back like that. She-Ra might not want her when she finds out who she is, but she wouldn’t lie.

-

From: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

To: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

Subject: Re: THANKSGIVING IN T MINUS 7 DAYS

Nov 19, 7:09AM

she-ra,

considering i basically live off lucky charms, oreos and microwave mac and cheese, i can’t really agree with that sentiment. but you can help me expand my horizons. that’s a yes to the home cooked dinner date, and a double yes to the fact that it’s incredibly romantic.

also, don’t put yourself down. you’re good at lots of things and i’m going to make you believe it.

you’re clearly good at making friends, because you have to start as acquaintances, right? i wouldn’t know because i actually DO suck at making friends. we probably wouldn’t be this close if we met in person rather than online. i kind of freak out when people try to talk to me because i don’t know what their angle is. nobody’s ever nice to me just to be nice. i still sometimes think the friends i’ve got are plotting some elaborate practical joke where i’m the punchline. i know they’re not, but i get in my own head about that kind of thing. yay for paranoia and abandonment issues.

as for thanksgiving plans, probably going to help myself to two portions of the aforementioned microwave mac and cheese rather than the usual one. clearly i’ll be having a massive celebration.

love, cyra.

-

Catra sends the email. She glances at the time at the top of her phone screen and knows she should get out of bed and get dressed. Unlike most people, Catra’s a night showerer. Not for any reason other than the extra sleep-in time.

After a few more moments of snuggling with Melog, she reluctantly gets out of bed. She creeps over to her bedroom window, light on her feet, and checks the driveway. All the tension leaves her body in an instant when she sees that Weaver’s car is gone already. That’s good. The last thing Catra wants is an encounter with her first thing in the morning.

The foster bitch had been extra bitchy lately. Catra isn’t dumb; she knows that it’s because she turned eighteen. Weaver had always made it incredibly clear that she’d be kicked out on the street on the day of her eighteenth birthday. But because she’s still in education, Weaver has to keep her until she graduates. She’d been extra bitchy to make up for it.

Catra is only mildly irritated about it. She doesn’t want to stay with the foster monster any longer than she has to, because the emotional beatdowns every single time they talk are fucking tiring. But at least she and Melog still have a place to sleep until graduation.

Speaking of Melog; they scream at her for their breakfast, and Catra rolls her eyes. “You don’t have to do that every single morning.”

Melog doesn’t shut up until Catra has gone into the kitchen, pried open a can of cat food and scraped it into their bowl. Then, they dive right into the food like they haven’t eaten for a week. “Don’t act like that. I gave you four treats last night because you kept hitting me.”

Melog pauses between bites to meow at her irritably, and Catra laughs. She wonders if they really understand her, sometimes. They’ve got something going on, because Melog follows her everywhere she goes. That’s literally how she ended up with a cat in the first place – they just decided they liked her and followed her home five years ago. She thinks that’s why she loves them so much; they chose her.

“And you’re still here, aren’t you?” Catra says, glancing over to Melog as she pours herself a bowl of Lucky Charms. “Even with the foster bitch lurking around.”

Even if Melog’s survived five years in this hell hole, Catra still doesn’t trust Weaver with them. She even felt tense when she was getting ice cream with Adora last Friday, because Melog knows when she usually gets home and is always there to greet her. She doesn’t like leaving them alone in the house. She always leaves her bedroom window open so they can get out, and occasionally they’ll meet her on her walk home from school.

Melog hops on the table as Catra eats her cereal, occasionally trying to poke their head in the bowl and see what she’s got. “Melog, no. You had your breakfast.”

Bright blue eyes stare at her longingly, so she grabs one of the oat pieces stuck to the side of the bowl and lets Melog have it. “You’re lucky I love you.”

Melog rubs their cheek against her arm affectionately, and she knows that they’re telling her they love her too.

When she finishes her cereal, Catra washes her bowl and heads back to her room to get dressed. Melog curls up on her bed again, and Catra wishes she could too. She doesn’t want to deal with school today, and not just because she can’t be bothered with her boring classes. She has a tutoring session with that dumb jock from the football team later, the one that always tries to hit on her.

She pulls on a sweater and some ripped jeans, brushes her teeth, washes her face and tames her hair into the usual messy ponytail. Yawning again, she doesn’t even bother double checking if she has everything she needs in her backpack. Quite frankly, she doesn’t care. Thursdays are the worst just because she has gym later, and conveniently forgetting her gym clothes works out perfectly fine for Catra.

She pauses in the doorway on her way out and refreshes her email inbox. She doesn’t get a lot of time to check during school thanks to the workload from her A.P. classes. Some days she barely has chance to eat at lunchtime.

-

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: Scurvy

Nov 19, 7:27AM

Cyra,

Please eat some fruit or veggies this instant. Bananas are always a nice breakfast alternative! If you’ve already eaten breakfast, then at least promise you’ll have something healthy for lunch. Maybe some carrot sticks with your Oreos. I really don’t want you to die of scurvy. Because yes, that’s a thing that can happen to real people, not just pirates.

I’m honestly not trying to put myself down when I say I’m not good at a lot of stuff. I’m not saying I’m not good at anything. I’m good at sports and cooking and (surprisingly) I can knit really well, even though admitting that to people makes me feel as ancient as my grandma. But I feel like the stuff I’m good at is outweighed by all the stuff I’m mediocre or bad at. I suck at academic stuff, and I’m not the best at creative things either. I’ve been told I can’t act to save my life. I guess I can carry a tune, but I’m not a singer. I dropped art class in sophomore year because I can’t draw.

I guess I’m okay at being friendly, but I actually only have two really close friends. Some people say that’s better, but I don’t know. I think that’s why I want to try and get closer to this one person, because I feel like we could be good friends if I just figure out how to get through to her. Have you ever met someone that you wanted to be closer with, but you don’t know how to approach them about it?

You never elaborated after that one time you mentioned it, but you’re not joking about the abandonment issues thing, are you? I’m guessing it’s because of your parents. I’m sorry, that was probably really blunt, but I sat wondering for ten minutes trying to figure out how to word it and that’s the best I came up with. Like I said, I’m awkward. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, you can open up about all of that to me. I won’t judge you. I can actually understand in a way; my dad left my mom when he found out she was pregnant. I’ve never met him, but apparently I look a LOT like him considering I look nothing like my mom.

My point is, I just want to be there for you like you are for me. But there’s no pressure to talk about anything serious like that if you don’t want to. :)

If I could invite you to join me for Thanksgiving, I would. My grandma makes a mean mac and cheese and I’d get her to make some especially for my beautiful future girlfriend. :)

Love, She-Ra.

-

Catra reads the email over as she walks down the street and types out her response. She nearly ignores the penultimate paragraph, because talking about that stuff always leaves her feeling wrong. But it’s nice in a weird way, to have the reassurance that She-Ra sort of understands parental abandonment. Sad thing to bond over, but whatever. Catra trusts She-Ra, so she gives her something.

-

From: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

To: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

Subject: Re: Scurvy

Nov 19, 7:35AM

she-ra,

unfortunately, you’re too late. i’ve already eaten my traditional breakfast of lucky charms. but just because i like you, i’ll make sure to eat an apple at lunchtime. just so you don’t worry about me getting scurvy and living out my pirate dreams.

sometimes it’s better to be really good at a few things than just ‘good’ at a lot of things. you must be really good at whatever sport it is you’re the most interested in. you never usually email until an hour-ish after school finishes so i kinda figure you’re on a sports team, and you’ve got to be really good at the sport to get onto a school team. i already expect you to cook me a three course dinner, and now i want you to knit a sweater for me. preferably dark colours to fit my sad emo aesthetic.

i tend to keep a lot of people at arm’s length, but part of me does want to let them in. so i guess i have felt like that, because i’d have no idea where to start if i wanted to get closer to a person. maybe anonymously emailing them?

it was half a joke, half serious. sometimes joking about things that suck makes it easier to deal with. but yes, it’s because of that. i appreciate you telling me about your dad. it’s probably depressing to be bonding over parental abandonment, but it’s nice to know that i have someone who understands somewhat. i think it messed me up a lot. the first thing i ever remember thinking was why don’t they want me and why am i not good enough for them? sometimes i wish i could just ask them, you know? but i have no idea how i’d even get in contact with them, or if their answer would just fuck me up more. that on top of a lot of other stuff i don’t want to unpack right now makes it hard for me to believe that anyone wants to be around me. because if my own parents didn’t, why would someone with no attachment want me?

i hope you know i’ll be asking your grandma for some of this mac and cheese when i’m meeting your family.

love, cyra

-

Catra sends the email with a small sigh and picks up her pace a little bit. She doesn’t really care about being late, but it’s not worth the trouble.

Her classes are dull as always. She finishes the work within fifteen minutes of it being set and spends the rest of her class time working on her homework, doodling in the back of her notebook and writing out little chord progressions and lyrics that could work together nicely. The lyrics are disgustingly sappy, and she crosses out one line about blue eyes when she realises she’s written it.

She eats an apple for lunch, like she promised She-Ra she would. Half-listens to Scorpia as she babbles on merrily about that Perfuma girl she likes while she gets some of her homework done and then lets herself have five minutes of respite to pluck random chords on the school’s shitty acoustic guitar.

“Hey, you never told me about the girl you like!” Scorpia realises when she finishes some monologue about the flowers her crush always wears in her hair. “You know, since you said you don’t like Adora like that.”

Catra tenses, and maybe when she strums her next chord, it’s a little harsher than it’s supposed to be. “I don’t like Adora like that. I don’t like Adora period.

“That’s a lie.”

Catra whirls around in her seat to see Entrapta peering over her laptop screen at the two of them. “Did I ask for your opinion?”

“No, but you were lying,” Entrapta says, shrugging easily, “Adora told me you got ice cream with her when I was helping her with her computing work. Why would you do that, if you disliked her?”

When Catra turns around again with a plan to pretend Entrapta had never spoken, Scorpia’s looking right at her with a shit-eating grin on her face. “Oh, I knew it!”

“You know nothing,” Catra shoots her a warning glare, but it does nothing to discourage Scorpia. “I don’t like her.”

Entrapta contributes unhelpfully with, “the data says otherwise. Data never lies.”

“Yeah, wildcat,” Scorpia grins, “data never lies.”

“I hate you both.”

“No you don’t,” Scorpia says in a sing-song tone. Like she’s happy she’s finally made a chip in the massive walls Catra keeps up. “It’s okay if you like her, Catra. You’re allowed to have feelings.”

But she’s not. It’s not okay, because Catra likes She-Ra, and if the roles were reversed and she found out that She-Ra had been ogling some other girl, she would be hurt. More than hurt. Thinking that She-Ra might be Adora isn’t an excuse.

She repeats that to herself in her head as she makes her way to gym class. She doesn’t have her gym clothes with her – she didn’t think she did – so they let her use the time to go to the library and study, which is a better use of her time anyway.

To keep her mind on She-Ra, Catra opens up her Gmail account and checks if she’s responded from this morning.

-

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: You

Nov 19, 12:39PM

Cyra,

I really hope you’re eating that apple right now. If you’re not I’ll have to track you down and MAKE you eat it. It’s for your own good.

I guess you have a point. And along with the meals, plus a permanent invitation to all of my games, I’ll knit you that sweater. I’ll have to wait until we meet, though. I want to take your measurements so I can make sure it fits perfectly and I’m totally not using that as an excuse to touch you. ANYWAY I’m guessing you want the colours to be on the greyscale. I bet you look cute in all black.

Very funny, but the person I’m talking about would probably laugh in my face if I suggested such a thing. But I’m glad that our emails have brought us closer. Honestly, sometimes I feel like you’re the only person who knows the real me.

I can see why that would mess with your head. Any unanswered questions are frustrating, especially one as big as that. I can’t tell you why your parents gave you up, but I’d assume it was because they couldn’t look after you and wanted to give you to someone who could. But Cyra? You’re absolutely good enough. And it might not mean much, but I want you. I’ll always want you.

I’ll let my grandma know when you’re coming over so she can make more mac and cheese than you could ever imagine. Like, I’m talking both of our body weights. Maybe times ten. And even that won’t be enough, because despite how wildly unhealthy it is, mac and cheese is delicious.

Love, She-Ra.

-

That’s enough to take her mind off Adora. She-Ra wants her. She-Ra thinks she’s good enough. She-Ra is perfect.

Catra isn’t thinking about Adora, or how she maybe likes her, and how she can’t like her. She focuses on her A.P. Chemistry homework. She thinks about chemical kinetics and thermodynamics and doesn’t think about pretty blue eyes and that stupid, hopeful smile.

But then she’s right there in front of her, and Catra blinks a few times to make sure she’s not hallucinating her. Adora’s smiling a little sheepishly as she pulls out the chair next to Catra. There are plenty of free tables, and Catra almost questions it, or tells her to go sit at another one.

“Would it be completely rude of me if I asked you to help me with my math homework?” Adora asks as she takes said homework out of her backpack. Catra feels something dip despondently in her stomach. Of course she just wants homework help. “I know you’re off the clock right now, so you totally don’t have to. But… please?”

Adora’s eyes are always so bright and happy and hopeful. One look into them, and there’s no way Catra could say no. “I’ll do your math homework if you’ll do my chemistry homework.”

Adora almost looks like she’s considering the offer, but she glances over at Catra’s homework and grimaces. “No thanks. That looks hard.”

“I’m joking, idiot,” Catra grabs Adora’s worksheet on derivatives and looks through it. “Okay, so-”

“Wait, no, I shouldn’t have even asked,” Adora cringes, reaching out to take the worksheet back. “You’re doing your own work and that’s obviously more important. I honestly just wanted to talk to you. I mean, I did come in here to do my homework because it’s my free period, but then I saw you and didn’t know how to approach you. Do you have a free period right now too? Wait, duh, of course you do-”

“Take a breath, princess,” Catra interrupts her, trying to act like the words I honestly just wanted to talk to you hadn’t made her heartbeat pick up. “And actually, I don’t have a free period right now. I’m supposed to be in gym class, but I conveniently misplaced my clothes for it.”

“Oh. I love gym class. You can borrow my kit, if you want,” Adora offers, and when Catra looks as disgusted as she feels, she laughs. “I do wash it, you know.”

“It’s not that, I just think physical education is a waste of time. Two whole hours I could be using to work on things that matter completely wasted kicking or throwing a useless ball.” Catra rolls her eyes. “Count me out.”

“Well, it’s not totally useless,” Adora says, pulling her letter jacket tighter around her shoulders. Catra wonders if she’s hit a nerve. “And it’s like, the only thing I’m good at, so…”

The words remind her of the things She-Ra had said in her email that morning. Catra feels that stupid spark of hope in her chest, right where her heart is. She doesn’t know if she should let herself feel it.

“I didn’t mean it like that,” Catra says, because Adora looks a little bit like a kicked puppy and apparently Catra has no spine anymore. “I just mean it’s useless for me, because I suck ass at it.”

Adora raises her eyebrows like she doesn’t believe her, but that spark is back in electric blue eyes, so Catra thinks it was worth admitting to that. “You do? But you always seem so… agile. Like, I can’t imagine you ever falling over.”

“Track isn’t so bad. And the dance stuff that we had to do that one time was easy,” Catra says, because she doesn’t really consider that sports. It is, but it’s more a separate area of it. “I don’t have any aim, so the ball sports are a big no.”

Adora reaches over and rips a blank sheet of paper out of Catra’s notebook. She balls it up and then presses it into Catra’s hand. “I’ll believe you if you take a shot at getting it in the trash can over there.”

She nods over at the wastepaper basket near the librarian’s unoccupied desk. It’s only around ten feet away from them, and an easy shot for someone who does possess an ounce of aim. Catra looks at Adora and rolls her eyes. “Is this really necessary? I don’t want to get kicked out of the library because I got mistaken for some dumb jock.”

“The librarian isn’t even there, and you’re too little for anyone to think you’re a jock,” Adora says, poking Catra in the ribs, “and yes, it is necessary. I need to see that you’re not actually some holy human being who’s good at everything.”

Catra groans, but at least attempts to aim for the basket. She throws the ball of paper and it embarrassingly flops onto the floor about one foot short and another two to the left. “There? Are you happy now?”

“Extremely,” Adora says, and she looks it too. There’s this big triumphant grin on her face, and it’s so cute that Catra can’t even be mad. Adora jumps up and grabs the ball of paper again, but instead of dropping it in the basket, she walks back over to the table and crunches it tighter. “Watch and learn.”

Adora closes her eyes, throws the paper ball, and it lands right in the basket with ease. It doesn’t even bounce off any of the sides. She opens her eyes again, sees that she got it in, and looks even merrier, which Catra hadn’t thought was possible.

Catra rolls her eyes and mutters, “Show off.”

Adora shrugs easily. She’s still smiling, but that’s not any different from how she usually is. “It’s just natural to me. Anyway, I know I said I took back asking, but… will you help me with my math homework? It’s actually graded, so it’s kind of important that I don’t freak out and get everything wrong.”

Catra looks at the forgotten sheet of homework in front of her. Her own chemistry work is half-finished, but she can work on that later. She grabs Adora’s work and prefaces what she’s going to do with a warning. “This is a one-time thing. Just because you’re not so bad company.”

She’s more than not so bad, but Catra can’t say that. She already feels guilty enough when she thinks about She-Ra, even if there might be a chance that She-Ra is sitting right next her. Possibly. Maybe. If Catra is dumb enough to let herself hope.

“What do you mean one-time thing?” Adora frowns at her. Her nose does this crinkly thing when she frowns, and her eyebrows dip in confusion. “You tutor me twice a week.”

“I’m not going to help you with your homework,” Catra says, “I think derivatives are easy, and you’re looking at it like it’s written in French, so I’ll do it in my notebook and you can copy the answers and the working out onto the actual worksheet so it looks like you did it.”

Adora blinks at her. “Catra- you can’t, they’ll know since you’re a straight A student and I’m averaging a C in math. And isn’t that like… cheating, anyway?”

“I’ll aim for a B then,” Catra says, already getting started, “and technically it’s only cheating if you get caught. Which you won’t.”

“You really don’t have to,” Adora says quietly, “you have your own homework to do.”

“Consider it an early Christmas present from me,” Catra answers, but pauses with her pen on the paper. Her throat constricts, like her body knows what she wants to say and is trying to stop her from saying it. She does it anyway. “Or the beginning of me making up for every bad thing I ever said to you.”

“Oh,” Adora blinks in surprise, and that soft, genuine smile spreads onto her face. She taps her chin like she’s thinking hard and says, “I can’t think of you saying anything bad to me before. After all, we only just met last Friday.”

Catra can’t help it. She laughs so hard and so loudly that the old librarian shuffles out from between the bookshelves she’s restocking to shush her harshly. Catra knows she’s blushing when she exchanges a look with Adora, but she can pass it off as embarrassment.

Catra bites down on her bottom lip in an attempt to stifle her smile, but it doesn’t work. Sighing, she says fondly, “you’re an idiot, you know that?”

Adora bumps against her playfully. “I’ve been told.”

When Catra meets those pretty, sparkly blue eyes, she feels a weird hiccup in her chest. Her stomach flutters, her heartbeat picks up, and it all feels so wonderful until she remembers She-Ra and feels the hard weight of guilt in her chest.

God, she’s fucked.

Chapter Text

“I just don’t get how you’re not dying to know who she is.”

“Glimmer’s got a point, Adora,” Bow says, watching as Glimmer paces the length of Adora’s bedroom. “You’re normally pretty nosy,” he realises what he said and his eyes widen, “I don’t mean that in a bad way, you’re just curious, you know?”

“I am dying to know who she is,” Adora breathes out in a sigh. She hopes it’s quiet enough that her friends won’t hear it, but Glimmer pauses in her tracks and Bow turns to look at her. She holds her hands up. “Fine. I want to know who she is. I want to meet her.”

“Then ask her,” Glimmer says, pointing to Adora’s phone. “Email her right now and ask her to meet you. Or at least ask her when you’ll get to meet her.”

Adora grips the phone anxiously. She doesn’t unlock it. “I don’t want to pressure her. I don’t think she’s ready.”

“Are you ready?” Bow asks her, and Adora looks up in surprise. She doesn’t know if she’s ready. She wants to tell her mom and Razz, and once she’s done that… there’d be no reason to keep her identity a secret from Cyra anymore. She could be with her, out and proud.

“I’m ready for her,” Adora finally answers, “and I want to tell my mom, it’s just so… awkward. And scary. Knowing her, if I sit her down and say I need to tell her something, she’ll probably joke that I’m pregnant.”

“Okay, leave asking your girlfriend when she’ll be your girlfriend until after that,” Glimmer says, resuming her pacing. “Even if you can’t know who she is yet, you can know who she isn’t.”

Adora frowns. “What?”

“Huntara!” Glimmer says like it’s obvious and sandwiches herself between Bow and Adora on Adora’s bed. She grabs Adora’s laptop and opens up a blank word document without asking, but it doesn’t faze anyone. “Okay. Tell me everything you know about Cyra.”

Bow leans around Glimmer with a reassuring smile. “If you want to, Adora.”

“Yeah, of course,” Glimmer says, but she looks at Adora expectantly and then nods at the word document. “Only if you want to. But I was thinking if you write down all of the little things you know, maybe it’d help you figure out if you’re really onto something with your Huntara theory.”

Adora knows she shouldn’t. She knows it’s wrong to pry and try to figure out who Cyra is before she’s ready. But then… Cyra had willingly given her the information, and it’s not Adora’s fault if she figures it out just from that.

“Okay,” Adora says, and feels instant guilt. That’s a sure sign she should stop, but she tells herself this will be a good thing. If she’s Huntara, then she’s just confirming what she already knew. If she isn’t, then no harm done. In fact, she’s stopping herself from making a huge mistake if it’s not Huntara. “She likes music. She writes it, and plays guitar and bass, and sings, but I don’t think it’s something she’s that open about.”

Glimmer nods and writes it down. Adora lists more things – she has two close friends, she has a cat, she doesn’t really party or drink. She was at homecoming and Mermista’s Halloween party. The only thing she doesn’t tell her friends or put on the word document is that Cyra is fostered. She’s barely opened up to Adora about it until recently, and Adora doesn’t think she’d appreciate her going around telling people. But she keeps it in mind.

The list isn’t too long, and quite frankly, could fit with anybody. Adora groans, but in a way, she’s sort of relieved. If they had some kind of a eureka moment and figured out who Cyra was before she’s ready, Adora knows she’d feel bad.

She doesn’t want to figure out the Cyra thing. All she wants is to figure out the Huntara thing.

Adora thinks about it for most of Thanksgiving break. It doesn’t help that Glimmer has decided she’s the next Sherlock Holmes and spends what seems like all of her time screenshotting things from Huntara’s social medias. She sends them to Adora with captions like ‘this could fit’, and Adora takes most of them with a grain of salt.

Except for one picture, which Huntara had tagged at a Julien Baker concert and said in the caption that she enjoyed the opener, Phoebe Bridgers.

Adora takes the shirt out from under her pillow and unfolds it. The post Glimmer sent her is from a few years back. The shirt could’ve fit Huntara back then.

Even though Cyra is so careful with the things she says in her emails, Adora gets more and more certain by the day. Especially when she mentions that her ‘psycho AP English teacher’ had set an essay over Thanksgiving break. Adora knows that Huntara is in AP English.

There’s still a weird feeling of uncertainty, just in case she’s somehow wrong. But any time she looks back at the list on her computer, and the screenshots Glimmer sends, she feels a weird happiness bubbling inside. Everything adds up. Everything fits.

Except the shirt, but the shirt could’ve fit four years ago.

The elation carries her all the way through to Thanksgiving. She’s practically walking on air until Razz whacks her on the arm with a broom.

“Ouch!” Adora rubs her arm where she’d hit it. “What did I do to you?”

“You weren’t listening,” Razz says, extending the broom threateningly again. “We have an emergency, Adora.”

“What?” Adora forgets about Huntara, forgets about Cyra, because ‘emergency’ is never good. “What’s wrong? Is it mom? Is she stuck at the hospital?”

“No,” Razz says, and from the way she says it, it sounds like it’s going to be something worse. “We don’t have any cranberry sauce.”

Adora relaxes and rolls her eyes. “You hit me with a broom over cranberry sauce?”

“I need you to get off your lazy ass and go buy some,” Razz points to the front door, puts her broom down, and continues bustling about the kitchen. Everything already smells amazing, and they’re not eating for another three hours. “I don’t have time to make it. Go on, get out.”

Not wanting to get whacked with the broom again, Adora finishes her fruit bowl she’s eating for breakfast and goes to get her shoes on. She has to walk, because she’d failed her written driving test again. She’s practically a perfect driver, she just can’t nail the theory test.

Maybe I should ask Catra to help me study for it, Adora considers, but then she doesn’t know if Catra has a license or not. She wishes she’d asked for her number when they were studying last Friday. She’d meant to, but she was so caught up in it being the last day of school that she sped off the moment the clock hit four-thirty.

It doesn’t take her long to get to the store; it’s only a twenty-minute walk, and Adora walks fast, so she makes it in fifteen. What she thinks is going to be an easy, five minutes in and out trip turns into something else when she sees her. It’s almost like the universe had heard her wish.

“Catra!”

Catra pauses where she’s walking down the aisle and turns around. Heterochromatic eyes meet blue, and Catra softens, relaxes, and there’s a reserved smile on her face. “Hey, Adora.”

Adora skids to a halt on the slippery vinyl floor in front of her. She stuffs her hands in her jacket pockets and says, “Hi.”

“You yelled my name that loudly just to say hi?” Catra raises her eyebrows and looks her over, and Adora knows she’s blushing embarrassedly. There’s something about Catra that always makes Adora feel so awkward and clumsy. “Okay, weirdo.”

“What are you doing here?” Adora asks, continuing the awkward and clumsy streak. Maybe it’s because she’s pretty, Adora wonders. Pretty girls are always intimidating, and Catra is more intimidating and more attractive than most people.

“Uh… shopping,” Catra says like it’s obvious, “I’d ask you the same question, but what else would you be doing in a grocery store?”

“Oh, yeah, good point,” Adora says, “my grandma forgot cranberry sauce, so she hit me with a broom until I agreed to go get it.”

Catra snorts with laughter. “Tell me there’s not a grandpa in the picture, because I think I just fell in love with her.”

The joke takes Adora off guard. Is she…? Adora wonders but interrogating friend in the grocery store to ask after her sexuality just because she made a joke is more than a little weird, so she lets it go.

“No grandpa, but Razz has really high standards, so…” Adora retorts, and then realises how that sounds and winces, “not that I’m saying you’re not attractive, you actually really are, like, probably one of the most attractive girls at our school, if not the most attractive, in a totally objective way of course, because I think it’s really good for women to uplift other women and compliment each other because I’m just like… a really big feminist.”

Catra looks her over, one of those perfectly shaped eyebrows quirked up in amusement, the corner of her mouth tilted up in a smirk. “Right. A feminist. If that’s what people are calling it nowadays.”

Adora blushes and decides it’s best to avoid that conversational topic all together. “So… what are you doing today? Big Thanksgiving plans?”

“Nope,” Catra says with a nonchalant shrug, “I was in here for some snacks and then I was going to lock myself in my bedroom and marathon Parks and Rec with my cat.

“What?” Adora questions, but when Catra looks deadly serious, she shakes her head. “No. No, you’re not. That’s like, the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.”

“Wow, thanks.”

“You’re coming with me,” Adora’s already taking Catra by the wrist and pulling her towards the automatic doors, “I’ll show you a real Thanksgiving dinner. My grandma cooks enough for like, fifteen people, so…”

Adora swears Catra laughs quietly, but all she says is, “Uh, Adora?”

“No arguments,” Adora holds up her free hand to silence her, tugging her out onto the sidewalk and starting the power walk back to her house, “I’m not letting you have your sad little lonely Thanksgiving.”

“Alright, fine,” Catra answers, and Adora realises what she’s snickering at when she adds, “I’m only coming so I can watch when your grandma whacks you with a broom again for forgetting your cranberry sauce.”

“Oh,” Adora stops in her tracks and then immediately does a 180 back to the store. She keeps a firm hold on Catra’s wrist. “I’m going to buy the cranberry sauce and then show you what a real Thanksgiving is like.”

“Sure,” Catra says, as Adora takes them back into the store, “you don’t have to literally drag me there, you know.”

“I feel like you’ll run away, and you look like you’d be fast,” Adora says, but her hold trails down Catra’s wrist to take her hand instead. Catra looks a little stunned by the action, and Adora almost apologises and lets go because god knows what possessed her to do that in the first place. But then Catra’s fingers lightly curl around Adora’s and don’t let go.

There’s a strange knot in Adora’s throat when she realises this is the first time she’s ever held hands with a girl.

She likes it. She likes it a lot. Catra’s hand is so soft and warm and smooth in Adora’s. The pads of her fingers on her left hand, the one Adora is holding, are rough and calloused as they brush against Adora’s knuckles. Adora is curious why. Her nails are painted a pretty, glossy black, and Adora wonders how just holding a girl’s hand can give her butterflies.

She assumes it’s the thrill of things. Even if she’s just holding her friend’s hand platonically – which she is – it’s still the first time she’s ever held hands with a girl. She wonders what it’ll be like to hold Cyra’s hand.

Thinking of Cyra reminds her of how she’d awkwardly rambled to Catra about women supporting women, and she realises just how fucking gay she’d sounded. Catra obviously knows, but she doesn’t know that Adora’s family is still in the dark. She’s going to have to tell her.

“Hey, so,” Adora breaks the strangely comfortable silence, reaching out with her free hand and plucking the first jar of cranberry sauce she sees off the shelf. She inspects it like it’s the most interesting thing in the world. “My family don’t know I’m a… feminist. If you know what I mean. So, I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t say anything about it around them.”

The nervous butterflies in her stomach jolt to life again when Catra squeezes her hand gently. “I won’t. And for the record, I’m a pretty big feminist myself, so…”

Wait, does she literally mean feminist? Adora questions, but from the quiet, nervous tremor in Catra’s voice, she knows she means it the way Adora means it. “Oh. Really? I didn’t know.”

“Most people don’t,” Catra says quietly, “but you’re my friend, so…”

“Well,” Adora pauses, because is everyone going to come out to her when she comes out to them? First Bow and Glimmer, and now Catra. “Thanks for telling me. I… most people don’t know about me either. Just Bow and Glimmer, actually.”

“I’m honoured,” Catra’s usual playful sarcasm is back again, and Adora smiles nervously. She’s still holding her hand, and Adora doesn’t know if she should keep holding it.

“Anyway,” Adora says, holding up the cranberry sauce jar, “I’ve got what I need. Anything you want?”

Catra shrugs and lets Adora lead her in the direction of the checkouts. Neither seem to want to let go of the other’s hand. Adora thought Catra would’ve dropped it by now. “I was going to buy some Oreos, but you said your grandma cooks enough for fifteen people, so…”

Adora pauses, and Catra stops in surprise. She looks at Adora quizzically, because nobody stops in their tracks just because their friend said they wanted Oreos. “You got Oreo ice cream at the shop the other week.”

“I like Oreos,” Catra says slowly, “is that a crime?”

“No, no,” Adora quickly answers, thinking, but Cyra likes Oreos too. “I just figured you would be too cool to like popular things, and Oreos are like the most popular cookie.”

It’s a shitty excuse, and Adora knows it. Catra looks at her a little weirdly, like she’s confused and a little freaked out, and lets out a soft, “oh,” in response. It basically just confirms to Adora that she’d overreacted. Not every single girl who likes Oreos is going to be Cyra. Glimmer likes Oreos, and she’s not Cyra.

Besides, Catra’s probably the last person on the planet it could be. Adora doesn’t doubt that if she told her about Cyra, Catra would laugh at her, tell her she’s getting catfished, and call her an idiot for good measure. Or call her sad and pathetic for relying on a girl she doesn’t know in real life. It’s not sad and pathetic, but Catra would think it is. Adora knows that much.

“Maybe on whatever planet you’re from people are like that, but here on Earth, we like what tastes good regardless of popularity,” Catra says, snapping Adora out of her thoughts, “did you get bonked on the head while you were off being a dumb jock at soccer practice?”

“Very funny,” Adora says, and she regains some of her composure. She grabs a pack of Oreos on their way to the checkouts and says, “these are for dessert. No spoiling your not-sad Thanksgiving dinner.”

“Listen, I appreciate you kidnapping me and everything,” Catra says, and Adora rolls her eyes as she scans the Oreos and cranberry sauce in the self-service checkout, “but are you sure it’s cool with your family?”

“Yeah,” Adora says, even though she knows Mara will get all embarrassing and fuss over her bringing a new friend over. “My mom might interrogate you a little bit, but that’s just her way of being friendly.”

“You’re making it sound like I’m going to get waterboarded,” Catra laughs nervously, and Adora decides to text ahead and let Mara know that Catra’s not exactly an open book.

“I wouldn’t put it past her,” Adora jokes, and something in her stomach feels off when she realises she has to let go of Catra’s hand to count out the money in her pocket. She pays quickly and sends a quick forewarning text to her mom to let her know she’s bringing a guest, and she guesses she could take Catra’s hand again, but she’s not brave enough.

She glances down at it a few times on the walk back to her house, though. Every time, she reprimands herself. She shouldn’t want to hold Catra’s hand.

Catra isn’t Cyra.


Adora is She-Ra.

Catra had almost talked herself out of thinking it, but it’s her. Who else would react like that to Catra saying she likes Oreos?

She started to doubt again, because Catra’s never that lucky. Never. But then when Catra mentions she’s never seen High School Musical after Adora makes a joke about it, she remembers what She-Ra had said about being basically raised by Disney Channel movies, and how it was such a big deal that Catra had never seen any.

Adora’s just as dramatic about it, telling her that she’s never lived, and she sings along to all the songs like she said she would in her email. And unlike what she said in her email, she can do more than carry a tune. That gives Catra another minute of doubt, so when Adora pauses the movie right before, “Bop to the Top, the greatest song of all time,” to run to the bathroom, Catra pulls her phone out of her pocket and starts obsessively checking over her emails.

In the same email where She-Ra said she could carry a tune, she’d mentioned about wanting to get closer to someone, not knowing how to go from acquaintances to friends. And that same day, Adora had sat next to her in the library under the guise of homework help, and later admitted that she just didn’t know how to approach Catra.

She scrolls back a little bit more, to when She-Ra told her about coming out to her friends. Turns out they’re both bisexual. Catra knows that Sparkles is, because she’d made a whole PowerPoint about bisexual erasure in novels for a literature class presentation once. Is Arrow Boy bisexual too? Catra doesn’t know that for sure. But Adora said that only Bow and Glimmer know that she’s a lesbian, so it still fits, because only She-Ra’s two best friends know about her.

She goes back even more. Halloween, when She-Ra had opened up about her mother and her constant jokes about men while they were watching Buffy together. Adora was dressed as Buffy at the party, and Catra supposes she’ll see Adora’s mom’s jokes for herself when she gets home from work.

Further back. She-Ra talking about hurting someone’s feelings, a few days after she’d said that thing to Catra. She-Ra opening up about her dyslexia and how hard she finds academics, and Adora had told her that she struggles with it. She-Ra rambling about how much she loves sports. How Catra had guessed that she’s on a sports team, and Adora is on the soccer team. She-Ra isn’t out to her family, and neither is Adora.

She’s not making this up, right? Please say she’s not making it up.

When Adora walks back into the lounge, Catra quickly locks and pockets her phone again, her heart beating out of her chest. It’s her. It has to be. Right?

Catra knows she still somehow could be wrong, but she really feels like she isn’t. For once, Catra lets herself hope.

“Okay, this song is about to change your world,” Adora says as she flops back down on the couch and grabs the TV remote to play the movie. “Like, Beethoven has been real quiet since Sharpay and Ryan dropped this anthem.”

Catra laughs quietly, mostly just because she needs to act somewhat natural. Her mind is fucking reeling, because Adora’s probably She-Ra, and Catra likes Adora, and She-Ra, and they’re the same person. That doesn’t happen. That’s not supposed to happen. What’s supposed to happen is that She-Ra turns out to be some random person who doesn’t want her because she’s Catra, and Adora won’t want her either, for the same reason.

Or because she likes someone else, Catra thinks to herself, remembering how nervous Adora had been in front of that big muscular girl at the ice cream parlour. There’s a painful pang in her chest at the thought, but then Catra remembers that Adora said it wasn’t like that. She hopes she was telling the truth.

She called me attractive in the grocery store, Catra realises, maybe… maybe there’s a chance.

“I love this part,” Adora jumps up and mimics the choreography of the chorus, and Catra questions why she likes such a fucking dork.Slip and slide and ride that rhythm.”

Adora turns around and smiles that bright, optimistic smile of hers, the one that always looks so hopeful and open and Adora. Catra thinks of She-Ra again and her heart stutters in her chest.

“Oh, god,” Adora lets out an embarrassed laugh and flops back down on the sofa. Her thigh grazes against Catra’s accidentally and sends Catra’s mind reeling. “That’s embarrassing. Why did I dance like that in front of you? Please delete that from your head.”

“Never,” Catra says, and realises her usual sarcasm sounds off. She clears her throat and tries to clear her mind too. “I already knew you were embarrassing, anyway.”

Adora smiles. “How did I know you’d say that?”

Because you know me. You don’t know it, but you do. Catra doesn’t know if she should say something. She almost does, but a loud crash comes from the kitchen and Adora jumps up in surprise. “Razz? Are you alright?”

Razz peers around the doorway and scowls sternly at Adora. “Stupid pan fell out of the cupboard.” She points the offending pan Adora’s way. “You have to learn to stack it right, Adora.”

“Oops,” Adora says, “sorry.”

When Razz shuffles back to the kitchen, Catra says concernedly, “are you sure we shouldn’t help her?”

God, no,” Adora’s eyes widen endearingly, and she shakes her head so fast Catra wonders how she hasn’t gotten whiplash. “She’s weirdly territorial about cooking. Unless she’s teaching you how to make something, you stay the hell out of the kitchen."

I do know a few of my grandma’s recipes, She-Ra had written once. “Has she ever invited you to learn anything?”

“She has,” Adora says, looking back to the television. “You’d be surprised, but I’m actually a pretty good cook. And I’m an unexpectedly talented knitter too. Maybe I’m just a grandma in disguise.”

Catra’s stomach jolts again. She doesn’t know if she’s pushing her luck when she lowers her voice in a way she knows gets her a reaction and says, “maybe you could make me something, sometime.”

Adora coughs awkwardly. “Uh, yeah. Maybe.”

Bad response. Try again? “You know,” Catra lets her hand graze against Adora’s thigh ‘accidentally’, “homecooked meals are basically the pinnacle of romanticism.”

“Are they?” Adora lets out a tense laugh and shuffles a few inches back. “Thanks for the tip, I suppose. You can probably tell, but I’m not like, the smoothest person on the planet. Look up useless lesbian on Urban Dictionary and you’ll see a picture of me.”

It sounds and looks like she’s uncomfortable and Catra’s stomach drops. The awkward, immediate-subject-change response and how she’d put a physical distance between them basically confirms what she already knew, that Adora won’t be interested in her.

That She-Ra won’t be interested in her.

She should leave. She should make some excuse, get up and go home. Email She-Ra, tell her they’re done, that it’s all over, and that she hopes she has a good life and finds everything she wants, because she’s not going to want Catra.

But then Adora turns to her with a grin and says, “Okay, you have to have heard Breaking Free,” and Catra’s heart stutters in her chest.

She’s screwed. She’s so screwed. But maybe she should just take what she can get while she can still get it. Keep emailing She-Ra – Adora – until the inevitable disappointment. She’s setting herself up for complete and utter heartbreak, but when Adora’s smiling at her like that, Catra can’t find it in her to care.

We’re soaring, flying,” Adora belts out, nudging Catra playfully, “there’s not a star in heaven that we can’t reach! Come on, you have to know it.”

Catra does, but not well enough to join Adora’s mini karaoke session. Not that she would anyway. “I’ve heard it.”

“Good, otherwise I’d think you were living under a rock for the last eighteen years,” Adora laughs, “I’ll get you performing the choreography with me soon.”

“Not a chance, princess,” Catra settles back against the couch cushions with a sigh. Just like with her. No chance. “But feel free to get up and perform.”

“So you can film it and somehow wide-release it to the whole school on Monday?” Adora raises her eyebrows. “No way.”

“I wasn’t going to do that,” Catra says, and adds with a bitter tone, “but nice to know what you think of me.”

Adora frowns, quickly shaking her head, “Wait, I wasn’t-”

She’s cut off by the sound of the front door opening and closing, and a woman’s voice calling, “Is my Thanksgiving dinner ready yet?”

Razz’s voice follows. “Twenty minutes. Adora, set the table.”

Adora gets up once she’s paused the movie again. She glances back at Catra and mutters a quiet, “I wasn’t trying to offend you,” offering a soft, sheepish smile. She points her thumb over her shoulder in the direction of the kitchen. “I better go do that before she gets the broom out again, and then I can introduce you to my mom.”

Catra watches after her as she leaves the room, and she sinks down into the couch. Her stomach is tangled up into knots. She should never have come here. She was better off going about her day with zero idea who She-Ra was. Now things are just confusing and a little bit shitty because she knows it’s not going to work out but she still can’t fucking help herself.

It’s like she’s a goddamn masochist or something.

“Catra,” Adora says as she comes back into the room followed by a woman in pink scrubs, “this is my mom, Mara. Mom, this is my friend Catra.”

If Adora hadn’t literally just said the woman standing next to her is her mother, Catra wouldn’t have thought it. They look nothing alike, aside from the same gentle blue eyes and tall, athletic physique. Where Adora is fair, Mara is tanned. Adora is blonde, Mara is a brunette. Really, Mara looks more like Catra than Adora.

It reminds her of another She-Ra email. My dad left my mom when he found out she was pregnant. I’ve never met him, but apparently I look a LOT like him considering I look nothing like my mom.

God, it’s really her, isn’t it?

“It’s always so nice to meet Adora’s friends,” Mara says kindly, a welcoming smile on her face. Her smile is the same as Adora’s too, Catra notes. “She never brings anyone over except Bow and Glimmer, I was starting to think she didn’t talk to anybody else.”

I actually only have two really close friends, Catra remembers from another She-Ra email. It’s like the universe is screaming ‘Adora is She-Ra’ at her at full volume.

Mom,” Adora rolls her eyes, “stop it.”

Catra puts on a polite smile. She’s never sure how to act around parents, but Scorpia’s mothers seem to like her, so she just acts the way she does around them. “It’s really nice to meet you. I hope I’m not intruding or anything, Adora said it was okay if I came for dinner.”

“Of course not. Everyone is always welcome here, and my mother takes it upon herself to make enough food just in case the entire town decides to come over,” Mara laughs. She pats Adora lightly on the shoulder and says, “I’m going to go get out of my scrubs, and then I’ll be back here asking everything there is to know about your new friend, Adora.”

Adora waits until Mara has gone, and then she turns to Catra with an incredulous, “I’m sorry, who the hell was that?”

Catra raises her eyebrows. “What?”

“You were all… polite,” Adora squints at her, “did you just get possessed? Do I have to call an exorcist right now?”

Catra rolls her eyes. “You’re an idiot.”

“Oh, okay, never mind,” Adora says, a soft smile creeping onto her face, “you’re good. Also, apologies in advance, because like I said before… my mom will ask a lot of questions. You don’t have to answer any.”

“It’s fine,” Catra says, even though it’s not, really. She never likes to talk about herself, and there’s the added fear that she’ll say too much and Adora will figure out she’s Cyra. She can’t imagine how awkward it would be for that revelation and subsequent dumping in front of Adora’s family. “Are we actually going to finish your dumb Disney movie, then?”

Is the offer to make out with you during it still there? Catra almost wants to say. But she can’t. Adora can’t know. She’ll leave if she knows.

“Oh, yeah,” Adora collapses onto the couch and stretches, grabbing the remote. She presses play and hums along to the end of Breaking Free. “Honestly, Troy and Gabriella were nowhere near as good as Sharpay and Ryan. How are you going to pick Breaking Free over Bop to the Top? Tasteless.”

“I’m not even going to comment on that,” Catra says, “because I don’t think I’ll be able to not make fun of you.”

Adora laughs. “That’s never stopped you before.”

“I don’t want your mom to kick me out before I get the free food,” Catra shrugs easily, “I’ll mock you plenty after dinner to make up for it.”

Right,” Adora drags the word out disbelievingly. She’s smiling smugly, in the way that used to make Catra want to smack her. Now she just looks cute. “I know you’re here because you like me.”

“I don’t like you,” Catra says, even though she likes Adora more than she knows. Apparently, she likes Adora more than Catra herself knew, up until about ten minutes ago. “You quite literally dragged me here against my will.”

“Sure, sure,” Adora nudges her with her elbow, still wearing that smug, knowing smile. “I like you too, though. And you know what I think?”

Catra’s teeth drag across her bottom lip nervously, and in a panicked defence, she mutters, “Didn’t know you could think.”

“Wow, funny,” the jab bounces off Adora easily, “I think you’re secretly a softie.”

Hah,” the fake laugh sounds more nervous than sarcastic, “you’re delusional.”

“That just confirmed it,” Adora grins, “it’s okay to open up, you know. I’m not going to run and tell everyone you’re actually – gasp – nice.”

Catra is saved from replying to that when Mara comes back into the room and sits on the adjacent couch. She looks at the TV and laughs. “High School Musical? You really can’t stay away from Zac Efron, huh, Adora?”

It’s alarming, how quickly Adora collapses in on herself. She lets out a nervous laugh and a mumbled yeah, and if Catra wasn’t already certain that she’s She-Ra, she is now.

“Or are you two fighting over him?” Mara continues, “Fair warning, Catra, this one’s competitive.”

Catra glances over at an unusually subdued Adora and figures screw it. She laughs politely and says, “Actually, there’s no fighting over men for me. I’m very much a lesbian.”

“Oh,” Mara looks surprised for a few moments, but then her easy smile comes back and she says, “so it’s Gabriella for you, then.”

“I guess so,” Catra says, and she’s a little stunned by how easy that was. She’d mostly only done it to show Adora she meant what she said in that one email from forever ago – her mother loves her and will be accepting.

Adora recovers slightly, but she’s still a little bit off when she jokes, “What, not Sharpay?”

“Nah,” Catra says, “her personality is way too much like Sparkles for me to stomach.”

Adora looks back at the screen and her eyes widen in realisation. “Oh my god, that’s so true.”

“Dinner!” Razz calls from the kitchen, and Mara gets up to go help her take the dishes over to the table.

Adora gets up too but pauses and turns around to Catra. “I… you didn’t… you didn’t have to come out to her just to get the attention off of me.”

“I saw your face. What she said upset you.” Catra says quietly, “For the record, I can tell she really loves you. I don’t think you saying you like girls would change a thing. She’d probably just talk about how you’re in love with the blonde, fictional version of Sparkles.”

Adora glances towards the doorway, and when she turns around, she extends her hand out to Catra. “Come on. Dinner’s ready.”

Accepting that Adora’s not going to say anything else on the subject, Catra takes her hand and lets Adora pull her up. She lets go straight away. “You’ve really hyped up this food for me, you know. It better not be a disappointment.”

“It won’t be,” Adora says quietly. She pauses again, and looks at Catra, her mouth working like she’s trying to think about what she wants to say. Eventually she settles on, “thanks.”

“Don’t thank me, idiot,” Catra answers with an eye roll, “seriously.”

Slowly, Adora smiles. That soft, hopeful one that Catra wants to kiss right off her dumb face. “I was right.”

Catra raises her eyebrows. “About?”

The smile turns into a full-blown grin, and it reminds Catra of Scorpia whenever she’s poking fun at her for something. “You’re totally a softie.”

“Shut the fuck up, Adora.”


“This food is really amazing, by the way, Razz,” Catra says after another forkful of mashed potatoes, “I’d ask for the recipe, but I’m not much of a chef.”

Adora glances over at Catra. She’s fairly certain Catra is a magical shapeshifter, because whoever the polite girl sitting next to her is, Adora’s never met her before.

“Nonsense, anyone can cook,” Razz waves the suggestion away like it’s completely ridiculous. “Next time Adora brings you over, I’ll teach you how. If I can get things to sink in with Adora, I’m sure you won’t be much trouble.”

“Wow, thanks, Razz,” Adora says dryly, stabbing at some turkey with her fork. “Good to know what you think of me.”

Adora watches as Catra chats politely with Razz and Mara. It’s so weird, to see her acting so… proper. In their tutoring sessions, Catra always leans back on her chair or rests on the table with her elbows, usually with her legs stretched out for maximum comfort. Here, she’s sat formally, like she’s meeting people of importance, and her elbows haven’t touched the table once. Razz had pointed it out, and then promptly told Adora to take her own elbows off the table because it’s not polite.

It’s weird to see her actually smiling, too. Catra doesn’t smile much, and the way she’s smiling right now isn’t truly genuine. It’s more restrained and controlled, but it’s still there. Again, like she’s meeting important people rather than Adora’s mom and grandma. Adora is just so used to seeing her scowling at everyone and everything that it’s completely jarring.

Catra’s only been over for a couple of hours, but Adora has already seen so many sides to her. A polite, upstanding young girl meeting her friend’s parents. A genuine, caring friend who came out to Mara just to show Adora it’d be okay. And of course, her usual grumpy, sarcastic self.

And then there was that other thing. That moment where Adora was maybe ninety percent sure that Catra was flirting with her. Obviously, Adora knows she was joking. Friends do that sometimes. Adora and Glimmer have joke-flirted with each other before, but everyone knows they’re not serious.

What is serious, though, is the way Adora felt about it. The way she still feels when she thinks about how Catra had dropped her voice a little lower. How her words had come out so silky and raspy at the same time. Homecooked meals are basically the pinnacle of romanticism. Even the replayed memory makes Adora’s heart feel like it’s falling through a trap door of Catra’s design.

It also makes her stomach drop with guilt. If there’s one person she’s certain isn’t Cyra, it’s Catra. She just seems… above it, in a way. Maybe it’s because she comes off like she’s so much more mature than everyone else in their school. Adora can’t imagine her staying up every night emailing her crush, whose identity she doesn’t even know. It just seems a little too childish for it to be Catra.

Adora tunes back into the conversation the moment her least favourite word is dropped.

“You’re smart with an incredibly bright future ahead of you, you put up with Adora so you must be extremely patient, and you’re obviously a very beautiful young girl,” Razz says, “there’s got to be a boyfriend in the picture, right?”

Between Mara and Razz, Adora knows who’d be the more accepting. After all, Mara isn’t the one who goes to church every Sunday and prays whenever something goes wrong. Adora watches carefully, waiting to see what Catra replies with.

Catra laughs. Genuinely, not the polite laugh she’d been using every so often in conversation. “Uh, no. Definitely not. I’m gay, and before you ask, depressingly single.”

Depressingly single, Adora thinks to herself. Even though she and Cyra aren’t together, they’ve made it pretty obvious that they’re going to be. That doesn’t count as ‘depressingly single’.

Wait, why am I even thinking about this? Adora questions to herself. It’s not Catra, and I’m getting surer by the day that it’s Huntara.

Razz blinks at Catra like the words are taking a little while to process. Eventually, she lets out a quiet hum in acceptance. “Well, Adora isn’t gay, but you should date her anyway. She needs someone to get her ass into gear, and a man definitely isn’t going to do that.”

Adora splutters on her mashed potatoes. “Razz. You can’t say that.”

“Sorry, Catra,” Mara apologises on Razz’s behalf, “she puts her foot in her mouth at least once per dinner.”

“Oh, is that homophobic?” Razz questions out loud. She reaches over and pats Catra’s hand. “Sorry, dearie. A lot of this stuff flies over my head. My point was just that I like you more than any man she’ll ever bring home.”

“Men suck, so I don’t blame you,” Catra says, placing her cutlery down, “if you don’t mind, I’m just going to go to the bathroom. I’ll be right back.”

Adora quickly tells her the directions, and she watches Catra walk away until she turns down the hallway and out of sight. When she turns around again, Razz is staring right at her.

“Jesus,” Adora jumps and nearly drops her fork into her mashed potatoes, “why are you staring at me like that?”

Adora expects the worst. Maybe some homophobic comment now that the only openly gay person in the room has gone to the bathroom, one that would push Adora further back in the closet. But instead, Razz nods towards the hallway and says, “I don’t care if you’re straight. You marry that girl. I like her.”

Adora feels her cheeks heating up, and she knows she’s probably turned as red as a tomato. “What?”

“Ignore her, Adora,” Mara laughs jovially at the joke, “she’s just happy that Catra’s too nice to tell her to shut up.”

Adora actually does laugh at that. Catra? Too nice? That’s rich. “Yeah, sure. Catra is way too nice.”

“Is she…” Mara pauses, but asks anyway, “is she not close with her family? Thanksgiving is a family time, so you’d think she’d want to be home.”

“I don’t know,” Adora says, because she honestly has no idea what Catra’s family is like. Catra has never mentioned anybody. Adora’s not even sure where she lives. “I don’t think so. She said she was just going to eat Oreos and watch TV with her cat, so…”

Cat… Adora realises, but she shakes that idiotic thought from her head. Lots of people have cats, and she shouldn’t get her hopes up.

Wait. Get my hopes up? Adora shakes that thought from her head. She doesn’t like Catra like that. Catra is just her friend. Sure, maybe she’s insanely pretty, and maybe when she possibly flirted with her it made Adora feel a few things. And maybe it gave her butterflies when Catra just came out to a total stranger when she wasn’t even sure it was safe, just to make Adora feel better.

But she doesn’t like Catra like that. She likes Cyra like that, and Catra isn’t Cyra.

“Well,” Mara flashes Adora a weird smile, and she has no idea what to think about it, “your friend is always welcome here.”

Adora frowns at the weird emphasis on friend, but she doesn’t have time to question it, because Catra comes back and sits down. She nudges Adora lightly, and something in Adora’s stomach jumps.

“Hey, uh,” Catra starts, “I think I’m going to have to head home soon. I usually feed my cat around this time and I know I’ll get scratched up in revenge if I make Melog wait much longer.”

“Okay,” Adora says, “we can give you a ride home if-”

“No, that’s okay,” Catra answers, “you’ve done enough for me today.”

It’s then that Adora gets to see Catra’s real smile again. It’s so soft and gentle and definitely adds to Adora’s theory that she’s secretly a softie. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah,” Catra says, and after a few moments, “thank you, though. For all of this. Definitely beats Oreos and Parks and Rec with my cat.”

Adora smirks at her. “Is this you finally admitting you like me?”

“Not a chance, loser,” Catra says, but the smile on her face says otherwise, “not a chance.”

Chapter Text

Even though Adora knows it’s wrong, she can’t stop thinking about Catra.

It’s wrong, because Adora knows she’s not Cyra. Huntara is Cyra, and everything was fine until Catra came over on Thanksgiving and threw a gigantic wrench into everything. Adora’s always known that Catra’s attractive. It was easier to ignore when she was still acting like a massive jerk all the time.

But now Catra’s coming out to Adora’s mother despite her own feelings just to show Adora her mom would be okay with it and watching Disney movies with her despite how lame it is and being secretly so sweet that Adora can’t understand why she hides it.

Adora regrets getting her number on Thanksgiving, too.

(No, she doesn’t.)

Because Catra sends her screenshots of tweets she thinks Adora might find funny, and cute pictures of her cat, and cute pictures of herself, and Adora thinks they’re really friends now. It’s what she’d wanted. But she never wanted these weird feelings.

Adora likes Cyra. She knows that much. And she knows that this whole thing with Catra is just simple attraction. Catra is attractive, and nobody can blame Adora for noticing that. Because that’s all she’s doing. Just… noticing.

She doesn’t think anything of it when she wakes up on Monday morning and texts Catra before she checks her emails.

adora 💕 (6:51AM): I’ve constantly been hitting snooze since 6:30 and I still feel *angry Scottish lady voice* DISGUSTAAAANG

adora 💕 (6:51AM): Seriously the first Monday back after break is like… ultra boss Monday

She checks her emails when she realises, but Cyra still hasn’t responded to the one Adora sent last night. Adora locks her phone and wonders if she should just talk to Huntara later. Maybe if she goes up to her and says hey, I know it’s you, let’s go out, all of these weird thoughts she’s been having about Catra will go away.

Because Adora likes Cyra. It’s just that now… she’s maybe wishing Cyra is someone else.

Adora pushes the thought from her head the moment it comes into it. No, that’s not fair of her. Not to Cyra, and not to Catra either. She shouldn’t hope for any specific outcome, and she knows for a fact it’d never be Catra.

She distracts herself by finally forcing herself up and out of bed. She does the usual morning routine and then gets dressed, throwing on a t-shirt, some jeans and her letter jacket, and walks into the kitchen for breakfast. Razz is already busy cooking bacon, and Mara is quickly eating before she has to head off for her shift.

“Morning,” Adora says as a plate of bacon and scrambled eggs is placed in front of her, “thanks.”

She picks up her cutlery and eats in a tired daze. At least until her phone buzzes and she almost drops her food on the floor in her haste to check it. She doesn’t know who she wants the notification to be from, and there’s a weird rolling sensation in her stomach when she sees it’s a text from Catra.

Catra 😻 (7:23AM): good morning to you too

Catra 😻 (7:23AM): luckily for me i don’t need an alarm because i have a cat that screams at me until i feed them

adora 💕 (7:23AM): Haha I bet that’s cute though!!!

adora 💕 (7:23AM): Because from the pictures you sent they look adorable, and I really want to meet them!!!

Adora looks down at her texts and wonders if she sent too many exclamation points. Like, who sounds that excited about a cat? But it’s too late for that realisation so she locks her phone and places it down on the table with a sigh.

When she looks up, Mara is smirking knowingly. “Is that the person you’re secretly dating?”

“Adora has a boyfriend?” Razz questions before Adora can say anything. “No. She’s too young for that.”

“It’s just Catra,” Adora quickly says, “there’s no secret boyfriend.” And there never will be.

“I like that girl,” Razz says, taking the remainder off the bacon out of her pan and plating it up. “She was very polite. Maybe you can ask her for some lessons in manners, Adora.”

Adora rolls her eyes, because Catra’s the furthest thing from polite with everyone else. It had been so weird to watch Catra interacting with Mara and Razz. Kind of like an uber-polite alien was wearing Catra as a costume. “Well, she already tutors me in everything else, so…”

Mara frowns. “So you ended up getting a new tutor after all, then? I remember you saying how the one they assigned to you was a horrible, condescending asshole.

“Uh… she and I maybe got off to a rough start,” Adora says offhandedly, even though rough start hardly covers it, “but we’re good now.”

Her phone buzzes again, and Adora picks it up calmly this time.

Catra 😻 (7:28AM): they’re not cute they’re pure evil

Catra 😻 (7:28AM): i think they sensed that i have zero backbone whatsoever because literally the reason i have a cat is because they literally just followed me home one day and decided they live with me now

adora 💕 (7:29AM): That’s such a cute story though

adora 💕 (7:29AM): Also Razz just said you need to teach me some manners. YOU. Manners. Unbelievable.

“It’s good that you’re getting along now,” Mara says, “and I’m glad you’ve been making new friends. I know you’re happy with Bow and Glimmer but ever since you told me they’re a couple, I’ve been worrying about you. I don’t want you to feel left out.”

“They don’t make me feel left out,” Adora quickly assures, because they don’t. Or at least, she hasn’t felt that way. Maybe because she’s been so caught up in everything with Cyra.

“Good,” Mara says, “but my point is…” she pauses like she’s trying to think carefully about what she’s going to say. “I’m glad you’ve got a person you can do things with while Bow and Glimmer are off having couple time. And I’m glad that it’s someone like Catra, because she really is a lovely girl.”

Adora frowns, because she has no idea what any of that means. Why would her mother care so much about her making another friend?

Of course her phone buzzes at just the right (or wrong) moment.

Catra 😻 (7:31AM): i have no idea what you’re talking about i’m always so polite

Adora doesn’t know how Catra manages to make sarcasm land over text, but she admires her skill.

adora 💕 (7:31AM): Oh yeah you’ve never said a mean thing about anyone ever you practically walk around giving free hugs

She sends the text and locks her phone before she can decide that it’s overkill, and then when she hears the beep of Bow’s car horn outside, she shovels the rest of her scrambled eggs into her mouth and says a quick goodbye to Mara and Razz.

The first thing Glimmer says to her when she gets into the back seat of Bow’s car is, “emailing your girlfriend? You’ve got that smile on your face again.”

It’s then that Adora realises she hasn’t checked her emails since she’d gotten up. “Oh, shit.”

Sure enough, there’s an email waiting right there in her inbox, and Adora can’t help but feel culpable. Like she’d been caught cheating even though all she was doing was texting her friend.

She tries not to focus on the crushing feeling of guilt at the pit of her stomach.

-

From: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

To: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

Subject: back to hell

Nov 30, 7:22AM

she-ra

after a glorious week of hibernation we’ve got school again. i can imagine how you’re feeling about that. at least it’s not that much of a long haul until christmas if you ignore the fact that we have finals.

you can pretend i never said the word finals, it’s okay

hope you managed to drag yourself out of bed at least. but i wouldn’t rat you out if you conveniently had a sick day today.

love, cyra.

-

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: Re: back to hell

Nov 30, 7:36AM

Cyra,

Please don’t ever say the word ‘finals’ in my presence again or I might actually have to block you.

(Just kidding, I would never.)

That sick day idea is a good one but my mom would never buy it. She knows how I feel about Mondays. Speaking of – do you ever feel like the first Monday back after break has the power of like… five Mondays put together? Like ultra-mega-demon Monday. It’s extra horrific because you’ve had that sweet time off and now it’s being unbearably ripped away.

At least tomorrow is December. I’ll warn you now, I’m an incredibly festive person. Expect to be spammed with links to Christmas songs.

Love, She-Ra.

-

“Uh, what was that about?” Glimmer questions, and when Adora doesn’t answer, she sighs and tries another plan of attack. “So, did you look at the screenshots I sent you? It’s so Huntara, right?”

“Yeah,” Adora says, because there’s so much evidence for that that it’s getting undeniable. She’s just not as enthusiastic about it anymore, which is so stupid, because she should be happy whoever Cyra turns out to be. “It probably is.”

“Are you okay, Adora?” Bow asks, meeting her gaze in the rearview mirror. “I thought you liked Huntara. It’s good that it’s her, right?”

“It is,” Adora says, but she doesn’t sound too excited and it’s obvious. She knows this whole thing with Catra will just blow over, and she’s definitely not going to talk to Bow and Glimmer about it. Talking about it would just make it real. So instead she says, “But we don’t know it’s her for sure. It could turn out to be someone else.”

The someone else in her head is a small, slender girl with heterochromatic eyes and wild, messy hair.

“Two close friends – Huntara has those two she’s always walking around with. Doesn’t party – Huntara never comes out on weekends,” Glimmer starts, “she went to a concert and gave you a band t-shirt of that same artist. You said she likes music, and I sent you that picture of her with that bass guitar. You even said you had a gut feeling, and that she kept popping up in places Cyra said she’d be.”

“I know, it’s just…” Adora pauses in thought, “I’m having doubts, I guess.”

“Well, don’t,” Glimmer says, “you don’t have soccer practice tonight, do you? You should come to rehearsals. She’s going to be there to help with the sets. You can offer to help and make conversation, and that’ll ease your nerves.”

“I have my tutoring session with Catra after school,” Adora says, and she doesn’t want to miss it. She’s starting to look forward to the study sessions now that Catra is her friend. Not for any other reason. Just because they’re friends. “I can’t come.”

“You can blow it off,” Glimmer says like it’s obvious, “you’re always complaining about how horrible she is, anyway. Cancel and come to rehearsal.”

“Catra’s not horrible,” Adora defends her, “and I need her help, anyway. Especially with finals coming up.”

“Catra’s not horrible?” Glimmer snorts with laughter. “She refuses to call me anything other than Sparkles and always acts like everyone else is beneath her. You know that better than anyone.”

“She’s not like that, not really,” Adora shakes her head, because the more time she spends with Catra, the more obvious it becomes that the sarcasm and eye rolling is all a front. “Anyway, I can’t skip studying.”

“Ask her if you can leave early, then,” Bow says, and for once, Adora can’t stand his reasonable solutions. “Then you can come to rehearsal and talk to Huntara.”

Adora agrees, if only to get them off her back. She has zero intention of leaving her tutoring session early. But not because she’s interested in Catra. Just because she needs to study.

Studying. That’s all.


When Adora rounds the corner at 3:31PM, Catra can’t help herself. “You’re late.”

“I guess we’ll have to keep studying until 4:31, then,” Adora says after checking the time on her phone. She smiles, and Catra’s heart clenches in that painful but beautiful way. “More time in your wonderful company. What a shame.”

“I have places to be, dumbass,” Catra says, even though the only place she has to be is at home with her cat, “can’t be a minute behind my busy schedule.”

“Didn’t realise hanging out with your cat was so time consuming,” Adora says as she moves past Catra to enter the empty classroom. “But okay.”

Catra laughs, because that was surprisingly witty. “Oh, yeah, Melog’s really demanding.”

Adora looks up with a smile as Catra sits down. She pulls an essay out of her backpack, and Catra expects the usual question of can you proof read this? But Adora surprises her.

“I just got this back today. It’s coursework we handed in before Thanksgiving. I wanted you to be the first to see it.” Adora slides the paper across the table. “I got an A minus. That’s the best grade I’ve ever gotten in anything that wasn’t gym. And it’s in literature class, too.”

Catra doesn’t know if she should read into that. I wanted you to be the first to see it. Yeah, it could be because she’s Adora’s tutor and she wants to share her good grades with her, but it also could be because Catra’s opinions mean something to Adora. It could be because Adora likes her, and she wants to impress her by showing her the A. After all, she’d responded to Catra’s texts before her Cyra email this morning.

Because… Adora would rather talk to her, even though Cyra is also her?

It almost makes her want to tell Adora the truth. To push the textbooks between them aside, tell her she’s Cyra, and then go in for the kiss.

In any case, Catra knows why the literature class part of that is so important to her, and she almost acknowledges it. But then she remembers she’s not supposed to know that, because Adora told Cyra, not Catra.

That’s going to be hard to keep track of.

“I’m proud of you,” Catra says, and she really means it. It’s been easier to be sincere and open since she realised that Adora was She-Ra. Technically, she’s been open with Adora for months. “Really. You worked hard and you deserve it.”

“I couldn’t have done it without you,” Adora says, nudging her lightly, “you probably don’t even remember, but you said offhandedly once that I didn’t need your help with literature, because I was good at it once I focused. It honestly gave me the confidence. I kind of… have trouble with that kind of thing and start to panic because of how hard it can be, but then I remembered what you said. It helped me calm down and keep my focus.”

“Oh,” Catra answers, drumming her fingernails nervously against the table. She doesn’t know what to think about that either, “well. You’re welcome? I don’t know. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to say to that.”

God, she hates this. She hates that some stupid dumb jock with her stupid pretty blue eyes and bright smile has made her so flustered. She’s usually so good at hiding what she’s really feeling, and here’s Adora, smashing through Catra’s walls with a battering ram.

Adora laughs, and Catra tenses when gentle arms wrap around her and pull her in for a hug. Into her shoulder, Adora says, “You’re really bad at this.”

Trying to relax, Catra awkwardly hugs Adora back. “Hugging?”

“Yeah,” Adora says as she pulls away. She flashes a smile and adds, “Don’t worry, I’ll soon teach you.”

“I’m the teacher here,” Catra says with a roll of her eyes, but also because what the fuck. Adora wants to teach her how to hug? That sounds a lot like she’s asking to cuddle her, and that opens a whole other can of what the fuck. Catra panics and says a little more harshly than intended, “Get your work out.”

“Territorial over your position, huh?” Adora laughs as she gets her things out. “Relax. I’m only joking. Anyway, can we do some physics work today? That class is kicking my ass.”

Catra takes a breath. She was only joking. Of course she was only joking. Obviously. Adora doesn’t want her. Not like that. If she did, she’d tell her she’s Cyra right now. Or more likely just launch herself across the table and kiss her.

“Sure,” Catra answers finally, and she’s not sure if she’s referencing the work when she says, “whatever you want, Adora.”


At four o’clock precisely, when Adora is halfway through solving a series of questions from her physics textbook, there’s a knock on the classroom door. Catra glances over at it with a frown, and then looks back at Adora quizzically.

She’s cute when she frowns, Adora thinks, and then shakes the thought from her head immediately. She clears her throat, and she’s going to say it’s probably some random person playing a prank when Glimmer’s voice echoes through the door. “Adora?”

Damn her, Adora thinks. Glimmer must’ve known Adora wouldn’t cut her study session short. “Glimmer?”

Glimmer takes that as an invitation to push open the classroom door. She plasters on a grin. “You’re not busy, are you? We’re really short on people to paint sets, and I’ll owe you so much if you could maybe come help?”

Catra coughs, and it sounds a whole lot like Sharpay. Adora laughs and they exchange a knowing grin that makes her stomach flip.

“Uh, actually, I am kind of busy,” Adora taps her notebook importantly, “we’re doing physics. You know I suck at physics.”

“Let me rephrase that,” Glimmer starts, glaring at her meaningfully, “we’re short on people to paint sets, and you’re coming to help. I don’t care if I have to drag you there.”

“Glimmer, I can’t,” Adora says, glaring right back in exactly the same way, “I’m studying.”

“Go.”

“What?” Adora whips around to look at Catra in the hopes that she hadn’t spoken. Catra looks right at her, eyebrows raised, left corner of her mouth tilted up in a smirk, heterochromatic eyes shining in amusement. “You didn’t just say something, did you?”

“I said go,” Catra shrugs, “thirty minutes of physics isn’t worth you facing Sparkles’ wrath, so go. We can finish up on Friday, and if you’re really freaking out about it, you can call me and I’ll talk you through it on the phone.”

The big grin on Glimmer’s face is almost reminiscent of the Grinch stealing Christmas. “I never thought I’d say this but thank you, Catra. Come on, Adora.”

Glimmer grabs Adora’s things and unceremoniously dumps them into Adora’s backpack. Adora quickly turns to Catra again. She doesn’t know what possesses her to say, “you could come with…”

“And hang out with a bunch of annoying theatre kids?” Catra snorts with laughter. “I’ll pass. Have fun.”

Adora stares pleadingly at Catra as Glimmer pulls her out of the classroom door, but Catra doesn’t budge. Adora’s stomach sinks in that weird way, and once they’re out of B block and definitely out of Catra’s earshot, Adora says, “what was that for?”

“I knew you wouldn’t cut the study session short yourself, so I came to rescue you,” Glimmer smiles, “you’re welcome. I’m surprised Catra was so easygoing about it.”

“Me too,” Adora says, but not in the way Glimmer thinks she means it. She sends Catra a quick text – I can’t believe you made me go with her – and lets Glimmer drag her to the auditorium.

“I have to practice this next scene with Bow,” Glimmer says, finally releasing Adora’s arm, “Huntara’s backstage. Go talk to her.”

Adora watches as she rushes off, a weird feeling in the pit of her stomach. Her phone buzzes, and the feeling dissipates when she sees Catra has texted back.

Catra 😻 (4:03PM): totally worth the look on your face as she dragged you away

adora 💕 (4:03PM): You’re a meanie!! :(

Catra 😻 (4:03PM): have fun with the crazy theatre kids

Adora texts back just to tell Catra how annoying she is. When she slips her phone into her back pocket, she looks up to the stage to see Glimmer glaring at her. She points harshly to the curtains and mouths go. Bow smiles apologetically.

Adora rolls her eyes and decides she might as well. She likes Cyra. Whatever weird feelings she’s getting around Catra don’t matter, because she wants Cyra, regardless of who she turns out to be.

She won’t turn out to be Catra. Adora knows that much.

But she could be Huntara. It’s looking so likely that she is, and that’s a good thing. Adora needs to remember that, and she can’t let dumb feelings for her hot tutor get in the way of that.

She heads to the backstage area, and sure enough, there’s Huntara. She’s painting another tree prop. Adora figures they need a lot, since they’re doing The Wizard of Oz. She passes by a few students practicing their lines and stops behind Huntara.

“Need some help?”

“Hi, Adora,” Huntara says when she turns around. She reaches out and grabs a clean paintbrush, holding it out handle-first. “Go for it. You might want to take your jacket off and grab an apron, though.”

Huntara gestures over to a big pile of aprons, so Adora swaps her letter jacket for an apron and gets painting. She’s quiet for a while, trying to think of something to say, until she eventually settles on a lame, “How was your Thanksgiving?”

“It was okay,” Huntara shrugs easily, dabbing her paintbrush in the green paint, “how was yours?”

“It was pretty good, actually. My grandma cooked dinner, and my mom had an early shift at the hospital so she could actually join us to eat,” Adora says, “and my friend Catra came over.”

“Catra…” Huntara frowns like she’s trying to place the name and asks, “Oh! Little, brunette, scowls at everyone all the time? She’s in my AP literature class.”

“That’s her. She’s in all of the AP classes and she’s literally the smartest person I’ve ever met. She got into Yale, which is pretty impressive. She tutors me.” Adora rambles on and then decides she needs to promptly move the discussion away from Catra because of the fuzzy feeling in her chest. “So, what about you? What’d you do for Thanksgiving? Any cool family traditions?”

“It was just the standard dinner. Kind of boring.” Huntara answers. “Food could’ve been better, because my foster parents aren’t the best cooks in the world, but still.”

Adora freezes and a glob of brown paint lands on the tip of her Adidas. Foster parents. It’s her. Cyra told me about her foster mother, and it would explain why Huntara is kind of intimidating and closed off. Adora’s heart picks up. Partially because she can’t believe she was right, but also because she’s standing next to Cyra.

I knew it wouldn’t be Catra, her brain decides to say, and Adora pushes the thought from her head. She hates that there’s a tiny pang of disappointment at the pit of her stomach, because she wanted it to be Huntara for so long and she’s a little bit mad at Catra for being so fucking perfect and making her feel things.

It’s that tiny determined reminder that this is what she’d wanted that makes her talk. Just a reference to the emails. Just to make sure. “Don’t you think that the first Monday back after break is like, the actual worst? Like Monday decided to be even more horrific just to make up for the fact that you got out of one Monday. I’m already excited for the weekend.”

Huntara pauses after painting a couple of leaves. Adora thinks it’s because she knows, and then she knows it’s because she knows when Huntara smiles. “Well. If you want to look forward to the weekend even more, I know this really nice sandwich shop if you’d be interested in grabbing lunch?”

“Yeah,” Adora breathes, and then snaps out of the weird blissful surprise. It’s Cyra. Cyra just asked me out. “Yeah, that’d be fun.”

“I mean like,” Huntara looks her over but then coughs and looks away. It’s a strangely nervous reaction from someone usually so confident. “I mean like a date. If that’s… something you’re interested in.”

Adora meets her gaze and thinks she understands. At least, there’s something in her eyes when she smiles, and Adora thinks it means she knows. Huntara knows that she’s She-Ra, and that’s why she asked her out. “Yeah. That’s something I’d be interested in.”

“Okay. Good.” Huntara nods. “Cool. I’ve got your number already, haven’t I?”

“Pretty sure you do,” Adora says. It’s supposed to be a little joke, because obviously Huntara has a way of contacting her when she’s got her email address. “I’ll text you to organise the details?”

“Sure,” Huntara grins, “I’m already looking forward to it.”

“Yeah,” Adora smiles, and any thoughts of messy brown hair, that cocky smirk and heterochromatic eyes are pushed to the back of her mind when Adora reminds herself that she likes Cyra, and Cyra is looking her right in the eyes. “Me too.”

Chapter Text

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: TODAY

Dec 5, 11:08AM

CYRA

I’M EXCITED. YOU KNOW WHY. AHHHHHHHH.

Okay, relax time now. But seriously. I can’t wait.

Love, She-Ra

-

From: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

To: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

Subject: Re: TODAY

Dec 5, 11:29AM

she-ra

i can honestly say i have no idea what you’re talking about.

unless you’re just hyped because it’s saturday. i know how much you love your weekends.

love, cyra.

-

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: FUNNY

Dec 5, 11:37AM

CYRA

HAHA I LOVE YOUR SENSE OF HUMOUR AND NICE REFERENCE THERE

Seriously. You know. Yeah.

Love, She-Ra.

-

From: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

To: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

Subject: Re: FUNNY

Dec 5, 11:40AM

she-ra

uhhhhhh thanks?

honestly i really don’t.

love, cyra.

-

Adora reads Cyra’s last email with a laugh. Of course she knows, she’s just playing around. Because today is the day she’s going out with Huntara.

No. Today’s the day she’s going out with Cyra.

Huntara had texted and suggested a lunch date, because it feels a little more casual than a dinner date. Adora agreed, because she’s known for being awkward and she’d rather embarrass herself in a low-pressure environment.

And casual means she can wear the shirt for the first time.

She pulls it out from under her pillow and hugs it to her chest. She’s kept it mostly neatly folded, but there are a couple of creases. Adora supposes it won’t matter. That’s probably why Huntara suggested a casual environment in the first place, so she could wear the shirt she’d given her.

Adora puts it on and feels Cyra’s scent wrap around her like a warm hug. It’s fading, but not by much, because Adora’s been careful to leave it mostly untouched, occasionally pulling it out when she was wishing she was with Cyra. It’s nice that she finally gets to wear it, because after today, she won’t have to wish she’s with Cyra anymore.

She checks the time again, because it’s still forty-five minutes until they’re meeting at the sandwich shop Huntara suggested. Adora is nervous – she’s so nervous, and she keeps bouncing her leg up and down as she sits on her bed. She wonders if she should let her hair down for a change, but then ties it up in her usual ponytail again. There’s a weird disconnect between Huntara and Cyra in her head. Even though she knows it’s Huntara and knows that she sees her every single day with the same boring ponytail, it feels like she’s meeting someone completely new.

She’s so nervous that even Mara notices, and then there’s the inevitable, “are you meeting with your secret someone?”

Adora feels bad. Not just because her mother’s teasing always makes her feel weird, but because she feels like she should tell Mara before she meets Cyra. She opens her mouth with bravery and goes to tell her the truth.

But instead, all she gets out is, “there’s no secret anyone.”

There’s a feeling of shame associated with the way she just chickened out. Mara smiles from the doorway and says, “Sure,” in a way that shows she doesn’t believe her. “You can bring them home, you know. I won’t embarrass you. Much.”

“There’s nobody to bring home,” Adora says, and that feels more like a lie. There will be someone to bring home after this. “I’m just going out to meet Catra.”

Catra’s name is the first that comes to mind and Adora tries not to question why. There’s a weird look on Mara’s face. Almost like she’s been proven right about something. It’s still oddly teasing. “You two are close, then?”

“She’s a good friend,” Adora says, “I like hanging out with her.”

“Adora,” Mara’s tone is strangely serious, and it’s enough to make Adora look up at her in alarm. Her mother smiles. She’s not teasing her anymore; the only thing Adora sees there is warmth. “You know you can talk to me about anything, right?”

Adora’s throat knots. She remembers that imperceptible look on her mother’s face and links it to disappointment in her moment of panic. “There’s nothing to talk about.”

“Okay,” Mara says, “but if there was, I just want you to know that it would be okay, and your grandma and I would still love and accept you. And tease you, of course. And we both really do like Catra.”

“I have to go,” Adora panics and pulls her jacket on, “I’ll be late and she always gets on me for that. Bye.”

As she makes her escape, she realises what an idiot she is. Her mother was giving her the perfect opening and she completely wimped out. She even reassured her that everything would be the same. No, everything would be better, because there’d be no more teasing about men. Adora wanted to tell her before she meets up with Cyra, too. She just felt a weird pressure and it freaked her out.

Adora takes a few breaths as she walks, and promises she’ll talk to Mara soon. When she feels ready.

She wonders why her mother mentioned liking Catra, though. What did that have to do with anything?

Whatever, it’s probably not important.

The sandwich shop isn’t too far from her house, and there’s still a lot of time until they’ve got to meet. Adora sits on a wall nearby and checks her phone obsessively. Huntara has texted, not emailed, to say she’s looking forward to meeting her, and there’s a text from Catra too.

Adora opens Catra’s message first, and again tries not to question it.

Catra 😻 (11:56AM): melog says hi

Attached is a picture of Catra with a little black cat perched precariously on her shoulder. She’s giving the cat her classic what the fuck look, the one that sometimes still gets directed at Adora when she asks a dumb question in their tutoring sessions. Only now, it’s usually coupled with a laugh and a teasing, “come again?” instead of a harsh, demoralising comment.

adora 💕 (11:59AM): Are they trying out for the school gymnastics team? They’ve got good balance.

Adora swaps conversations and texts Huntara back with a measly me too. Her phone buzzes again and she switches back to the text thread with Catra.

Catra 😻 (12:00PM): nah they just like to be tall

adora 💕 (12:00PM): And they’re trying to accomplish that by hanging out on your shoulder? But you’re tiny.

Catra 😻 (12:01PM): and… this conversation is over, goodbye.

Adora laughs out loud at the dramatic response, and blushes when someone walking by gives her a weird look. She glances back down at her phone and imagines Catra’s cute little grumpy face. The way her nose crinkles in disgust, the way she rolls her eyes for the perfect amount of sarcasm, and the way she always seems to be holding back an adorable smile.

adora 💕 (12:01PM): Hey!!! Come back!!! You can’t get mad at me for pointing out the truth.

Catra 😻 (12:02PM): the number you are trying to reach has blocked you from all contact. apologies for the inconvenience. – miscellaneous cell provider

adora 💕 (12:02PM): Can I bribe you with my really amazing cooking? You get 3 free meals made personally for you by me if this number magically gets my texts again, oh mighty cell provider.

Catra 😻 (12:03PM): 3 free meals, 1 from razz too and you can never call me short again

Adora laughs quietly at the last condition. There’s a smile on her face, and she doesn’t remember how it got there.

adora 💕 (12:04PM): Done and done. Razz will look forward to seeing you again, she said she likes you. You probably guessed that because she literally told you to marry me but still. I bet it’s because she’s probably never met anyone tinier than her before.

Catra 😻 (12:05PM): first i’m way taller than razz and second what did i JUST say???? communications are blocked again bye

adora 💕 (12:05PM): You said I couldn’t call you short. I called you tiny. No violation.

Catra 😻 (12:06PM): i’m gonna go call yale and tell them i revoke my decision to attend there next year due to the fact that i just got outsmarted by an idiot

There’s this weird, fluttery feeling in her stomach when she reads Catra’s text. Almost like delight. Adora has to bite down on her lip to stop herself from laughing again. She probably looks like a crazy person, sitting on a wall and giggling to herself like a schoolgirl with a crush.

The thought brings her to a standstill. No. She doesn’t have a crush. Well, she does, but not on Catra. Adora likes Cyra. Huntara. She glances down at her phone again, at the message waiting for a response, and her throat knots.

adora 💕 (12:08PM): Give them my name, maybe they’ll give me your spot since I defeated you.

Catra 😻 (12:09PM): okay i wouldn’t go THAT far you didn’t defeat me

adora 💕 (12:09PM): Wow I didn’t know you lived in De Nile, Catra. Must be a pretty long commute to school every day.

Catra 😻 (12:10PM): i hate that your dumb dad joke just made me laugh

Adora’s stomach does that thing again. She’s only heard Catra truly laugh a few times, but it’s such a pretty laugh. So soft and musical and light. It gives her butterflies to know she caused it, but then the butterflies are crushed by the sudden weight of guilt in her stomach.

She shouldn’t be feeling like this. She’s supposed to be feeling this way about Huntara – Cyra – who she’s meeting in twenty minutes. This is so wrong of her.

adora 💕 (12:10PM): I realised your sense of humour was dad jokes when you laughed at one I made back when we had our ‘fresh start’. It’s cute.

Adora sends the message, then realises what she said and wishes she could go back and erase it. No. It’s not cute. Well, it is, but Adora shouldn’t be thinking that. She should end this conversation right now and do something like call Bow or Glimmer to distract her until Huntara comes.

But then Catra texts back, and Adora can’t help herself.

Catra 😻 (12:13PM): i am NOT cute

What the hell is she supposed to say to that? Yes, you are? Because Catra is cute, but in a totally platonic way. Adora doesn’t want to come off like she’s flirting, because she’s not. She’s meeting Cyra soon, and she’s not going to mess that up because a pretty girl made a few jokes that made her smile.

Catra isn’t Cyra. Huntara is. Which means Huntara’s the only person Adora should be flirting with.

adora 💕 (12:15PM): Whatever you say

Does that come off as flirtatious? Adora doesn’t know, because she’s not exactly an expert at flirting with girls, so she doesn’t know what she’s supposed to say when she doesn’t want to flirt.

God, she’s so bad at this.


Catra reads the texts over and over again.

It’s cute. Whatever you say. Is Adora… is Adora flirting with her?

She can’t be. Catra already tried and Adora hadn’t seemed interested. If she had, then she would’ve come clean about everything on Thanksgiving rather than depressingly stretching out whatever time they have left before the inevitable disappointment.

Unless she knows. Maybe it finally clicked somehow. That could explain the weird emails from this morning.

“That can’t be it,” Catra mutters to Melog, who has moved from her shoulder to curl up at the end of her bed. “Adora’s the type to come clean about something immediately. She’d tell me, even if it was to let me down. She’s all dumb and noble and honest about everything.”

Melog meows tiredly, and Catra sighs. She lays back on her bed and stares up at the ceiling. “I know she’s not going to want me, Melog. Nobody ever does. So what the fuck is she doing?”

Melog moves and curls up on Catra’s chest, almost like they’re saying I want you. Catra lets her fingers wind through soft fur and tries to think. Rationally, she knows Adora isn’t flirting. But the more Catra scrolls back through their texts, the more likely it seems. Even though when she’d tried something tame on Thanksgiving, Adora had looked uncomfortable.

Another text comes through. It’s a selfie with an ugly Snapchat filter, and it almost confirms that she’s not flirting. Who sends ugly selfies to someone they’re trying to flirt with? But then she notices it and her heart tugs.

Adora’s wearing her shirt. Was she sending the picture because she knows it’s Catra’s shirt, and she’s trying to show her that she knows without saying it? God, this girl is so confusing.

She switches to the group chat she has with Scorpia and Entrapta. It’s stupidly titled Super Pal Trio, because of course Scorpia can’t have a normal group chat name. She hates that she’s devolving to this, but she types a quick message and sends it.

wildcat (12:20PM): hey can i ask you guys something?

scorps (12:20PM): Anything!!! What’s up?

geek princess (12:21PM): Do you have any accompanying data to what you’re asking? It might help me come to a better conclusion. But I’ll try my best to answer whatever it is.

wildcat (12:21PM): actually it might be better if i call

scorps (12:22PM): Sure thing, wildcat! Group ft?

“Ugh, god,” Catra mutters as her thumb hovers over the FaceTime button. “This is fucking embarrassing.”

She crosses over to her window to check that Weaver’s car is still gone before calling, because she knows she’d have something to say about Catra’s loud, obnoxious friends echoing through the walls. Catra really doesn’t need the foster bitch’s bullshit on top of everything else.

When she calls, Scorpia starts rambling immediately. “What happened? Did someone hurt you? Do I need to find them and finish them off? Because I know you’ll have already done a number on them, wildcat, it’s just that nobody hurts my friend. Who are they?”

“Scorpia, relax,” Catra rolls her eyes and flops down on her bed again. Melog moves to rest on her stomach again, and she pets them with one hand while holding her phone with the other. “It’s nothing like that. I’m just kind of confused.”

“I don’t think I can help much with confusion,” Entrapta says, “unless it’s tech, I’m never sure what’s going on.”

“Sometimes you’re weirdly wise,” Catra shrugs, and then acts like she hadn’t given any kind of compliment, “anyway, it’s a people thing. You know I maybe mentioned in passing that I had a crush…”

“Oh my god!” Scorpia’s grin is blinding even though the pixelated phone screen. “You’re telling us about your crush? This is huge, you never talk about this kind of thing…”

“Yeah, don’t make a big deal about it,” Catra interrupts before Scorpia can gush more, “it’s a pretty complicated situation.”

“Okay, okay,” Scorpia says, “I’m all ears. Can I just say, though, I’m really glad you’re opening up to us!”

“I said don’t make a big deal about it,” Catra mutters, embarrassed. This is why she’s so uncomfortable about it, because Scorpia always makes a big thing about Catra opening up. But desperate times call for desperate measures. “So, I started talking to this girl through emails…”

She recounts everything to her friends. Meeting She-Ra through Tumblr, moving to anonymous emailing, being a safe space for each other, developing feelings, and then figuring out that it was Adora the whole time. She mutters a quiet “so maybe you were right about me liking her,” and hopes Scorpia doesn’t hear, but there’s a smug smile on Scorpia’s face right after.

“And now I think she’s flirting with me, and I can’t tell if she knows it’s me and that’s why, or she’s not flirting and I’m just reading into things like an idiot,” Catra finishes with a sigh. “I mean, she called me cute. Who does that?”

“Someone who doesn’t value their life,” Scorpia jokes, but when Catra glares sternly through the phone, she quickly apologises, “sorry, sorry! I don’t know, wildcat. Maybe you should just be honest with her and tell her it’s you. You’re one hundred percent sure it’s her, right?”

“Yeah,” Catra says. Even if she wasn’t, the shirt would’ve confirmed it. “I’m sure.”

“I think you should tell her,” Entrapta says, “she says she likes you in her emails, and if you think about it, it’s a good way to get to know another person. You learn their thoughts and feelings without any immediate bias based on previous experiences or physical appearance. It’s fascinating, really. Do you mind if I take a look at some of these emails to see how things blossomed? This would be a fantastic social experiment in a controlled environment-”

“You’re not looking at my emails,” Catra says flatly, “so you both think I should just tell Adora the truth?”

“Yeah,” Scorpia and Entrapta reply simultaneously, and Catra groans. Scorpia laughs gently. “Come on, wildcat, it won’t be so bad. She likes you, and you’re friends now, so you already know she likes you in real life too. Even if she’s not flirting with you, there’s a pretty big chance she’ll be happy it’s you. You could have everything you want if you just open up to her.”

There’s a lump in Catra’s throat, kind of like she’s swallowed a golf ball. That’s how nervous even the thought of telling Adora makes her feel. But her friends have – shockingly – made her feel a little bit better.

“I’ll think about it, I guess,” Catra finally forces out. It’s more than she expected. “Thanks for… yeah. This.”

“No problem, wildcat,” Scorpia beams on her phone screen, “always here to help!”

Entrapta hums in agreement. “That sentiment is also true for me, except when I’m busy.”

Catra laughs at the blunt honesty. “Thanks, guys. I’m going to go and think about things. Later.”

Catra hangs up and tosses her phone aside. Melog stares up at her from where they’re laid on her stomach, and she meets their gaze with a tired smile. “I don’t know what to do, buddy. Maybe they’re right. Maybe things would work out if I just told Adora the truth. And- and she did say all of that stuff in an email about wanting to get closer to me but not knowing how… maybe she could be interested. I think… god, maybe it’s like the worst idea I’ll ever have, but I think I might tell her.”

Catra nudges Melog off her stomach and gets up. Maybe some brain food will help her make her decision. Microwave mac and cheese isn’t exactly brain food, but still. She unlocks her bedroom door and walks down the hallway to the kitchen, Melog following at her heels. She doesn’t bother to be as quiet as she usually would, because Weaver’s car isn’t in the driveway, but as the microwave hums and heats up her pasta, she realises that she’d made a big fucking mistake.

She spots the foster bitch’s coat slung across the back of one of the chairs at the kitchen table, right before she hears the click of her expensive heels on the vinyl flooring. Catra tenses, because she’s not supposed to be here. Not if her car’s not here.

And now Catra has nowhere to run.

Weaver pauses in the kitchen doorway, squinting at Catra like she’s a speck of dirt on her shoe. “I have told you many times that if you want to call your friends, you will be courteous and use headphones.”

“Your car wasn’t here,” Catra says quietly, “I thought you weren’t home.”

“My car is in the shop, and my rules still apply whether I am in the house or not.” Weaver states, still looking at her with mild disgust. There’s an uncomfortable silence, and then Weaver says, “I overheard some interesting things while you were speaking loudly with your friends.”

The microwave beeps. Catra barely hears it. “Oh.”

“I can’t say I’m surprised,” Weaver says. Her gaze sweeps over Catra, a mocking laugh rumbling in her throat. “You were always… wrong. Even as a child. Your parents probably sensed it and couldn’t wait to be rid of you. I myself am looking forward to your graduation so I can finally be shot of you and that filthy little stray.”

Catra doesn’t say anything. She doesn’t think she can.

“Your friends are quite amusing. Are you sure they’re really your friends, by the way? They only seem to pity you.” Weaver laughs again, cold and sarcastic. “They were setting you up for failure, too. This poor girl you’ve fixated on won’t want you, even if she is of your… perversion. Who would?”

Melog curls their tail around Catra’s ankle and hisses at Weaver, who just laughs. “A mangy cat is the only companionship you will ever have. Those with actual thinking skills know that you’re just as worthless as it is. You are a lazy, sociopathic, miserable creature, who is not capable of nor deserving of love. If you were, your parents would never have given you up. But by all means, go and tell this girl how you feel. I’m sure she’ll tell you the same thing I have.”

Catra squeezes her eyes shut as Weaver approaches. Her throat closes over and her body freezes in terror when a cold, rough hand cups her jaw. “Use headphones next time, darling.”

Catra doesn’t open her eyes until the click of Weaver’s heels have faded into the distance.


“Nice shirt, by the way.”

Adora looks down at it with a soft smile. Huntara grins at her, and it feels like an inside joke of sorts. Adora supposes they have a lot of those already. “Thanks.”

Punisher is probably one of my favourite albums ever,” Huntara says, pausing to pull out Adora’s chair for her, “at least top three.”

“Well,” Adora says as she sits down, “the soundtracks for High School Musical 1, 2 and 3 take up my top three spots.”

It’s a joke, another subtle reference to their emails, and Huntara laughs kindly. “That’s a little less angsty, I’ll give you that.”

“Well, you know me,” Adora shrugs, picking up one of the menus and pretending to browse through it, “I’m always the optimist. Except on Mondays.”

“I think that’s the case for every single person on the planet,” Huntara says, putting down her own menu and gesturing over to the counter. “Do you know what you want? I’ll go get it.”

Adora blinks in surprise. “Oh, you don’t have to…”

“It’s my treat,” Huntara says, and she looks at her that same way she had in the auditorium. It’s enough to make Adora nod in agreement, a weirdly dopey smile on her face. Her phone buzzes in her pocket again, and for a second, she wonders if Catra has responded to the dumb selfie Adora sent her. “What do you want?”

“Oh, uh,” Adora pauses, because she hasn’t actually looked at the menu and she’s more bothered about why she’s focused on Catra. “Grilled cheese?”

“Sure,” Huntara smiles, “be right back. Fair warning though – it’s really cheesy. I’ll be working my sandwich off at the gym tonight.”

Wait, what? Adora frowns, but Huntara walks over to the counter before she can question it, because Cyra hates sports. Why would she go to the gym?

But then… working out is different to playing sports. Maybe she was just joking in her email and trying to throw Adora off because she’s so muscular. Adora pulls her buzzing phone out of her pocket as she shakes off her doubts. It’s not a reply from Catra, it’s a notification from the Best Friend Squad group chat she has with Bow and Glimmer, asking her how her date is going.

She slips her phone back into her pocket and tries not to wonder why she feels so… weird. It’s not like she’s disappointed or anything – Huntara is nice, and Adora would be happy no matter who Cyra turned out to be, it’s just…

It’s just that all she sees when she closes her eyes is Catra.

Adora puts on a smile when Huntara comes back with a tray of food. She is happy to be here. She likes Huntara – Cyra – and that’s all that matters. Adora doesn’t dwell on how she keeps having to reassure herself.

Instead, she decides to talk about what she knows. Them. She-Ra and Cyra. And really, this question is bound to come up at some point, so Adora’s just getting it out of the way early. Mostly, she’s just curious. “So, did you have any idea it was me?”

Huntara places the tray down on the table and frowns. “Any idea what was you?”

“Okay, that was funny this morning, but I’m kind of past it now,” Adora laughs easily, but when Huntara doesn’t look any less confused, her stomach turns to iron and a cold chill creeps down her spine.

No. There’s no way she was wrong about this.

“What happened this morning?” Huntara asks, and Adora’s fears are confirmed. It’s no joke. She genuinely has no idea what Adora is talking about. “What do you mean?”

“You’re…” Adora’s words catch in her throat. How could she have been wrong about this? She thought she’d know. She thought she did know. “You’re not Cyra?”

She can’t have been wrong. Can she? Everything fit. Those pictures Glimmer sent her of Huntara playing bass guitar. How Huntara had been to a Phoebe Bridgers concert. Huntara had foster parents. She was always at the places Cyra said she’d be, like homecoming and Mermista’s Halloween party. She has two close friends. She’s in AP English. She’s smart.

Everything fit.

Except… Adora realises what she’s wearing, and that it quite literally doesn’t fit Huntara.

Everything fit. Except the shirt.

“Who’s Cyra?” Huntara asks, and the words make Adora feel sick. She must look as ill as she feels, because Huntara asks with genuine concern. In a way, she’s sick because she’s relieved, but she also knows that whoever Cyra really is… she’s going to be hurt. “Adora, are you okay?”

“I’m sorry,” Adora’s chair scrapes piercingly against the floor as she gets up and staggers back, “I’m sorry, I have to go. I’m just- I’m sorry.”

She doesn’t know how far she runs. Clearly, she doesn’t know anything at all. How could she have been so wrong about this? There were so many things that pointed to Huntara, and even Bow and Glimmer agreed with her. The whole time, she was just seeing things. It had just been one big fucking coincidence.

Which means Cyra’s still out there. And Adora basically just went on a date with someone else.

She has to come clean. She has to tell Cyra the truth, that she’d gone behind her back and tried to figure out who she was. Should she tell her who she is? Adora isn’t sure. Maybe they need to just meet and talk things over like that. She has no idea, and it’s not like Google will have a solution for her very unique problem.

After a long, thoughtful, and actually quite stressful walk, Adora finally has some idea of what she should do. She pulls out her phone and types four words into the subject line of a new email.

Complete and total honesty.

-

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: Complete and total honesty

Dec 5, 2:23PM

Cyra,

There are a lot of things I need to talk to you about. But really I just have to be honest.

I know I shouldn’t have, and I know it was wrong of me, but I was trying to figure out who you were. I’m sorry. I know you’re not ready to meet, and I should’ve just respected that. But I had a stupid theory, and my even stupider friends encouraged me to try and find out if you were who I thought you were.

I was so sure it was you. Everything she said lined up with what you’d said, and she did things that gave me butterflies. I thought she realised it was me, too. So when she asked me out, I said yes. That’s why I was so excited earlier. I thought I was going on a date with you.

I was wrong. I was so, so wrong. She wasn’t you, and I should’ve known that. Part of me did, because I felt off the whole time, but I was so sure that she was you that I pushed through it. I left five minutes into the date once I realised and I’ve been trying to think of what to say and how to say it since.

I like you so much. Your emails are the best part of my day, and the things you do and say make me smile and give me butterflies. You helped me feel so comfortable with myself, and you’re always there for me. You’ve become my rock, and I think the only reason I went so crazy trying to figure out who you are is because I like you so much and I just want to be with you already.

I don’t want my stupid mistake to wreck everything, but I understand if you’re upset. I know I would be if the roles were reversed.

I’m sorry. I really am.

Love, She-Ra.


When she hears the familiar ping from her Gmail account, Catra’s mood picks up. Not by much, because she still can’t stop thinking about what Weaver said.

“This poor girl you’ve fixated on won’t want you, even if she is of your… perversion. Who would?”

“You are a lazy, sociopathic, miserable creature, who is not capable of nor deserving of love.”

“But by all means, go and tell this girl how you feel. I’m sure she’ll tell you the same thing I have.”

Weaver is right. Catra has always known it – there’s no way that Adora will want her. Adora is everything good in this world. Everything that Catra doesn’t deserve.

Even Adora knows it. She’d said it herself, that day at the mall. I’m surprised you and Entrapta put yourself through the torture of spending time with her, Adora had said to Scorpia, or do you just feel bad for her because you know nobody else will volunteer to be around her?

Melog nudges her with the tip of their nose, and Catra runs her fingers through their fur despondently. “Everyone is right, Melog. I’m lucky you even bother with me.”

Her phone pings again, the notification lighting up her screen, reminding her that she received an email two minutes ago. As wrong as she feels, She-Ra always makes her feel a little bit better, so Catra unlocks her phone and goes to her inbox to read her last email.

What she reads shatters her already broken heart into a million pieces.

The weird emails from this morning make sense now. Adora had been wearing her shirt for a reason, but it wasn’t because she’d figured out she was talking to Catra. No, she’d worn her shirt to go on a date with someone else.

It was probably that big muscular girl, Catra realises with a flash of anger. She should’ve known she was reading things right at that ice cream place. And if that’s what Adora is into, then Catra has even less of a chance that she already thought.

It probably didn’t even cross her mind that it could be Catra. Of course it didn’t. Adora’s made all of these little comments about how callous she apparently thinks Catra is, like when she said that Catra would film her embarrassing dancing and forward it onto everyone. She probably thinks the exact same thing as Weaver, that Catra’s some heartless monster who’s entirely unworthy of love.

Maybe it’s just the truth.

Catra stares down at the words on her phone screen. They’re all blurring together in frustration, and she can’t fucking look at them anymore. Without thinking, she throws her phone against the opposite wall with a loud, “fuck,” and stares at the little black chip it leaves in the otherwise white walls.

Fine,” Catra mutters to herself, “if she wants to fuck off with that girl, I don’t care. I’m done. I’m fucking done.”

She writes out the email she’s going to send in her head, telling Adora that she’s done with her, that she’s a lying, unfaithful bitch, and when she’s finally perfected it, she gets up and grabs her phone, still fuelled by the hurt and betrayal in her chest.

But when she stomps back over to her bed, Melog is staring up at her with those bright blue eyes, and they remind her so much of someone else’s that it makes her heart stop in her chest.

She looks down at the cracked screen on her phone, and when Melog nudges her hand with their nose, she puts the device on her bedside table and takes a breath. When she lies back down on her bed, the little cat curls up on her chest, and Catra buries her face in soft black fur as she cries herself to sleep.

-

From: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

To: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

Subject: Re: Complete and total honesty

Dec 6, 3:13AM

she-ra

so, i’ve read your last email more times than i can count trying to think of a response. i tried to write plenty others. some of them sad. most of them really, really angry. there’s a lot i want to say, and i don’t know how to put it. but then i stopped reading the email and started reading the subject line. and i suppose that’s what i want to convey.

complete and total honesty. so here goes.

i like you. i really like you. and i know you said you liked me too. and i’m not denying that you meant everything you said to me, because you’ve never seemed anything less than genuine. but i’ve also known for a while now that this thing we’ve got going on wouldn’t have translated into real life. i knew you’d have some kind of hope or expectation as to who i was, and i knew you wouldn’t have been hoping it was me. you wouldn’t have wanted me once you met me, and that’s okay.

i already accepted that when i figured out who you were. because to be completely honest with you, i’ve liked you for years and i only just accepted that a little while ago. i couldn’t accept it for so long because i knew you wouldn’t want me and i didn’t want to set myself up for heartbreak. turns out i did it anyway, and i’d do it all again for the time we had. you were so worth it.

the thing is that i’m never anybody’s first choice. you know that yourself because you clearly had someone you wanted over me. which is fine, i’m used to it. i’m not saying it as a whole ‘oh woe is me’ thing or trying to get sympathy. that’s just how it is, and how it’s always been. i expected that this would happen, so i’m not even overly emotional. i’m just resigned. accepting, even. i knew i was setting myself up to get my heart broken even before i figured out who you were, so this was inevitable. in a way, i did this to myself.

basically, what i’m trying to say is that this will be my last email. i tried, but i don’t think i can keep putting myself through this. i genuinely hope things work out for you and this girl you like. you deserve to be happy.

thank you for everything you did for me, adora.

cyra

Chapter Text

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: Please

Dec 6, 9:29AM

Cyra,

Please don’t do this. I need you. I don’t want the other girl, I want you. You’re the one who has helped me through so much, you’re the one who makes me feel so safe, you’re the one who has me falling for you even though I don’t know what you look like.

But apparently, you know what I look like. Maybe I wasn’t as subtle as I thought. I wouldn’t be surprised. But then… you’re smart, so you probably found it easy to figure out. I’m just the fucking idiot who got it wrong.

I understand that I hurt you. I never wanted to ruin this. I was so excited to know who you were that I made a mistake, but that’s not because I have feelings for anyone else. I have feelings for you.

I want you. I really, really want you. Please don’t leave me like this.

Love, Adora.

-

Adora feels like she spends the whole weekend refreshing her inbox over and over again, waiting for Cyra to say something. She decides she hates email, because there’s no way for her to know if Cyra has even seen her message.

She’s terrified for school. Cyra knows who she is. She wonders when Cyra figured it out. Adora knows she’s not the most subtle of people, but she thought she’d done okay at concealing identifiable information. Apparently not. Maybe Cyra has known the whole time. Or maybe she realised and decided she wasn’t attracted to Adora, and she’s using the Huntara thing as an excuse to leave.

Or maybe it was all a big joke, Adora thinks, and then pushes that thought away. No. She can’t handle that. She can’t handle the mere thought that the girl who had done so much for her was all just one big practical joke to hurt her.

The reality is, Adora fucked up, hurt the one person she never ever wanted to cause any harm, and lost her.

When her alarm rings on Monday morning, Adora thinks that this is an even worse Monday than usual. Because she doesn’t wake up to an email from Cyra, teasing her for being dramatic about how much Mondays suck, and telling her how much she likes her drama anyway. No, today, she wakes up to an empty inbox, just like yesterday.

Cyra really meant it. She’s actually just leaving, without telling Adora who she is.

Adora is moody all through breakfast, mostly giving Razz one word responses to her rambling about bingo and how the grocery store aren’t stocking the big twenty four packs of toilet paper anymore, and that the highest it goes is sixteen. Adora wishes that the only problem in her life was sixteen pack toilet paper.

She’s barely touched her breakfast when there’s a loud beep from Bow’s car horn outside. Adora thanks Razz for the food anyway and traipses out to the car with a despondent, “hey.”

Glimmer raises her eyebrows at her attitude. “Whoa. What’s up with you?”

Adora looks up, and both of them are turned around in the front seat with concerned looks on their faces. Adora registers the rumble of the sitting car engine. “Don’t waste your gas. We have to get to school.”

Bow looks at her like that’s the dumbest thing he’s ever heard. “Adora, we’re not going until you tell us what’s wrong.”

She’s avoided doing exactly that for two reasons. One, the whole situation is fucking mortifying. Two, telling Bow and Glimmer makes it real. Telling them means she’s accepting that Cyra is done with her.

But they’re staring at her so expectantly, and after a few moments of silent showdown, Adora caves. She groans, resting her head against the cold window. “I fucked it up. It wasn’t Huntara.”

“Whoa, what?” Glimmer frowns. “But we were so sure! You said everything lined up.”

“I wasn’t sure, until she mentioned she had foster parents,” Adora says, “Cyra does too. I thought it was too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence, you know?”

Bow holds a hand up to stop her before she can go on a crazy mad rant about how stupid she is. “Okay, what did Huntara actually say?”

“She had no idea what the fuck I was talking about,” Adora says flatly, “I asked her if she had any idea it was me the whole time, and she didn’t know what I meant. Then I asked her if she was Cyra and she had no idea who that was.”

“Damn,” Glimmer says, mildly surprised, “what were the odds of that? There were so many things that matched.”

There were, Adora thinks to herself. But there also weren’t. Like the shirt that was obviously too small. Huntara liking the gym and being into bodybuilding is another glaringly obvious one. She’s never mentioned any pets, let alone specified a cat. And, Adora had realised as she was despondently scrolling through old emails, there’s no way Huntara could be a little spoon.

“And now, Cyra won’t talk to me,” Adora laughs bitterly when she remembers the cherry on top, “and guess what? She knows who I am. Seemed like she’s known for a while. So I’m the idiot who mistook her for someone else, and she just knew. I always said in my emails that I thought I’d know if I spoke to her, and now I’m never going to know.”

“She didn’t ghost you,” Bow says like even the suggestion is impossible. But Adora nods once and feels tears sting at her eyes. She didn’t even know she had any of those left. “Okay, that’s it. We’ll help you figure out who she is, because I need to… give her a stern talking to for upsetting my best friend.”

“That, and a good ass kicking,” Glimmer agrees. She reaches over and squeezes Adora’s shoulder. Not like they can hug when she’s in the front seat and Adora’s in the back. “We’ve got your back, Adora.”

When she looks up and meets their gaze, for a minute, Adora actually believes them.

At least until she gets to school and realises at least half of the student population are girls. It’s a big school too, the only high school in town, so each grade has at least a hundred and fifty kids. Working through all of the seniors and trying to figure out which one could possibly be Cyra is hopeless.

Adora’s at her locker when the one girl she knows Cyra isn’t corners her.

“Hey,” Huntara greets her awkwardly. She’s looking at her weirdly, but Adora doesn’t blame her. She did run out on a date, after all. “Is everything okay?”

“I’m really sorry,” Adora says, closing her locker and turning around to face her. Her gaze drifts over Huntara’s shoulder for a second, when she sees Catra walk past with Entrapta. For a split second, heterochromatic eyes meet blue, but then Catra’s gaze flicks to Huntara and she looks away, disappearing into the sea of students walking down the hallway.

Adora shakes the interaction from her head. “I shouldn’t have run out on you, Huntara.”

“Better that you ran out then than later,” Huntara jokes, but it doesn’t land. “Do you want to talk about it? You never answered my question.”

Adora realises what that question was. She sighs. “To be honest, everything’s not okay, but it’s way too complicated to explain.”

“So…” Huntara pauses, and it’s strange to see someone usually so confident so uncomfortable, “I’m guessing that’s a no to a do-over date at the weekend?”

“Yeah,” Adora breathes the word out, and she feels so guilty that she dragged Huntara into her whole mess. “I’m sorry. I’ve just got a lot going on.”

“It’s okay,” Huntara says. She smiles, but it’s not her usual easy-going one. “If you change your mind, let me know.”

As Adora watches her walk away, she realises she doesn’t feel anything. There’s no pull in her stomach, no disappointment that she’s letting Huntara go. She found her attractive before Cyra, but now Adora realises that it was just that. Simple attraction. Maybe she’d projected Cyra’s personality onto her because she thought Huntara was hot, and she was only interested in her because she just likes Cyra.

The realisation crushes her. How could she have been so stupid? Why did she jump ahead the way she had?

The day passes by in a depressing blur. She stares at every single girl in each one of her classes, probably freaking them all out. She needs to know who she was. Even if Cyra is still hurt, and even if Cyra still doesn’t want her. She just needs to know. She doesn’t know if she’ll be able to move on if she never finds out.

She almost forgets that she has her tutoring session when the bell rings. She’s halfway out the front doors when she’s got to turn right back around and make her way to B block, and by then she’s ten minutes late.

Adora almost expects that Catra won’t be there. That she’ll have waited five minutes and then made her way home. But she’s there, leaning against the wall outside the classroom, sucking on a lollipop.

“I know,” Adora says when Catra sees her, “I’m late. Sorry. I’m having a bad day.”

Catra frowns. She looks her over, studying her so much that Adora wonders if she doesn’t believe her. She half expects Catra to call her lazy when she opens her mouth to talk.

“Bad breakup or something?” Catra asks finally, and Adora blinks in surprise, wondering how she knows. She realises that Catra had seen her with Huntara that morning, and she opens her mouth to clarify but doesn’t get time to, because Catra unzips her backpack and pulls out another wrapped lollipop, orange flavoured. “Lollipop?”

“Uh… thanks?” Adora takes it with a frown. “Why are you carrying lollipops around?”

“Someone in Entrapta’s weird computer class had a birthday and brought them in. She stole a few for me and Scorpia,” Catra says indifferently, pushing the classroom door open and gesturing for Adora to walk inside. “Anyway, what do you want to cover?”

“How to make someone forgive you would be really great,” Adora mutters. She knows Catra hears her from the way she frowns confusedly, but there’s no way Adora’s talking to Catra about this. “Sorry. I know, I need to focus.”

Catra stares at her, and Adora feels naked under her heterochromatic gaze. She can tell that Catra feels awkward, because she’s clearly tense and there’s something in her eyes Adora can’t identify.

Eventually, Catra turns away and says boredly, “if you want, we can cancel today.”

“I can’t,” Adora says, “as much as I’d love to go home and curl up under a big pile of blankets with a tub of ice cream, we’ve got finals starting next week. Calculus is my first one, so…”

“Okay,” Catra answers, and Adora roots around in her backpack for the right textbook. “We’ll go back to limits because you were kind of shaky on them.”

“The limit does not exist,” Adora says dully, “just like love.”

“I…” Catra pauses, and it’s so obvious that she has no idea what to say to that. Eventually she mutters coldly, “People always let you down. You’ll get over it.”

“That’s the thing,” Adora laughs bitterly, “I don’t know if I will. Sorry that I’m moping around and putting all of this on you. It’s just… how do you get over something without any closure?”

“Just… get your work out.” Catra shifts, obviously tense, and Adora knows it’s probably because they’re not close enough for this kind of interaction, and Catra probably just doesn’t know what to say. “I’m your tutor, not your fucking relationship therapist.”

Adora blinks in surprise at the harsh tone. It’s far too reminiscent of the way Catra used to be towards her, and she doesn’t understand why. “I’m not asking you to be. I’m sorry. You’re right, I need to focus. It’s my own fault for being so fucking stupid anyway.”

Adora rifles around in her backpack for her notebook, and she hears Catra sigh next to her. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. I’m not exactly in the best mood either but I shouldn’t take it out on you.”

Adora pauses with her backpack and looks up to meet Catra’s gaze. There’s something that looks a lot like guilt on Catra’s face, so it makes it easy to forgive her for snapping. That, and the little flutter she gets in her chest when she looks into those beautiful eyes. But then that makes her stomach drop with guilt, and Adora’s mood sours again. “Maybe we should just cancel today.”

Catra looks incredibly relieved and she doesn’t hesitate to stand up and grab her bag. “Okay. I’ll see you later.”

“Wait,” Adora jumps up and grabs Catra’s wrist before she can disappear out of the door, “what’s- what’s going on with you? Why are you having a bad day?”

Catra pulls her wrist from Adora’s grip and doesn’t look around. “Some people have bad days. I’ve had a bad life.”

She disappears around the corner before Adora can ask her what she means.


From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: so…

Dec 10, 12:08PM

Cyra,

So… it’s been five days since I screwed it all up royally. I keep looking everywhere at school, looking anywhere for just… some kind of sign. I’m so sad that Bow and Glimmer are worried, Catra is avoiding me and acting all weird, and my mom has no idea what’s going on with me because she still doesn’t know I’m a lesbian, so I can’t exactly tell her that my online girlfriend ghosted me. Something else has been playing on my mind, too.

I realised today… I’m never going to know who you are, am I? I’ll have to go through life always wondering who it was that meant so much to me. I’ll never get to hold your hand, or kiss you, or do any of the things we talked about doing together.

It never mattered to me what you looked like or who you turned out to be. All I wanted was you, Cyra.

Love, Adora.

-

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: Monday again

Dec 14, 6:38AM

Cyra,

It’s my least favourite day of the week today. Though lately every day has been my least favourite day, because it’s another day without you.

Everything reminds me of you. Any time I see a girl eating Oreos in the cafeteria, I wonder if she was you. Any time a girl mentions her cat, it’s the same thing. Everything makes me think of you, but I’m scared to make another guess because I feel like if I get it wrong, it’ll be like I’m betraying you all over again.

Is this what heartbreak feels like?

Love, Adora.

P.S. Your shirt doesn’t smell like you anymore.

-

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: Come back

Dec 18, 3:53AM

I miss you.

-

“Okay, what is up with you?”

The question is coupled with a light whack on the head from Razz’s broom. Adora doesn’t even wince, just grips Cyra’s t-shirt tighter. It doesn’t smell like her anymore, but Adora remembers exactly what it used to smell like, and that’s enough to comfort her at least a little bit.

Mara pries the broom away from Razz with a scolding, “mom,” and props it up against the wall. Adora buries herself further into the big pile of blankets she’s made on the couch. Lemonade Mouth is playing on the TV, but considering it’s a comfort movie, it’s not doing much comforting.

“Mom, would you mind making some hot chocolate?” Mara asks Razz, who bustles off to do just that. Adora feels the couch sink under added weight, but she doesn’t look away from the TV. “Okay. What’s going on? You haven’t been yourself lately.”

Adora ignores the question entirely. She stares at the TV and says, “I could’ve gone to school today, you know. It was the last day before Christmas break, we wouldn’t have done any real work anyway now that finals are over. I’m fine.”

The dead, emotionless voice the words are said in don’t do much to ease her mother’s concern. Adora can feel it. “You’re walking around like a zombie. Something happened, and if it’s affecting you this much, you need to talk about it.”

“Maybe… maybe I broke up with Zac Efron, and that’s really getting me down,” Adora laughs bitterly, “god. Zac fucking Efron. Seriously.”

“Adora…” Mara frowns, “what…?”

“Maybe it’s affecting me that my own mother doesn’t know when to quit,” Adora mutters, pulling her blankets tighter around herself, “maybe I’m sick and tired of it all. Maybe I just want to be left alone without you making some stupid joke that I’m dating every man that has ever existed ever.

“Adora, I wasn’t trying to make you uncomfortable,” Mara says. “They were only jokes. Your grandma and I used to joke like that all the time.”

“Well, I’m sorry I don’t live up to your expectations of a perfect daughter,” Adora says, shuffling to the side, away from her mother’s comforting arms. Adora doesn’t think she deserves them. “Now can you leave me alone?”

Mara moves, but not away. She pulls Adora in for a tight hug and kisses the top of her head through the blankets. “The only expectation I have for you is that you have a long and happy life, and you share it with whoever you choose. I’m sorry if I made you feel otherwise.”

Even more guilt is added to the big pile of it that Adora has been carrying around in the pit of her stomach for the last two weeks. She sighs and leans into her mother’s hug. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have spoken to you like that.”

Mara squeezes her tightly. “Are you going to tell me what’s making you so cranky, then?”

Adora thought she’d be scared. She always has been, any time she’s thought about telling her mother before. But now she’s just tired. She says the words the moment Razz walks back into the room with two mugs of cocoa. “I’m gay.”

“And that makes you cranky?” Mara asks, and the absurdity of the response makes Adora laugh for what feels like the first time in forever. “Strange thing to be cranky about, but okay.”

“It’s not that,” Adora says as she takes her cocoa from Razz, “there’s… there’s a girl.”

“The one that makes you smile at your phone like you’ve won the lottery?” Mara asks. When Adora nods, Mara smiles knowingly. “Does she also happen to be the girl you brought home for Thanksgiving?”

Adora chokes on her sip of hot chocolate. “Wait, what? You think- me and Catra? No!”

She still gets butterflies when she thinks of her, and all it does is help the guilt she feels build and build, like she’s betraying Cyra all over again. She wants to think that it could’ve been Catra, in a perfect world, but she’s terrified to make another fucking mistake.

That’s how she messed everything up in the first place.

“You always rush to answer when you see she’s texted you, you told me you were meeting her a few weeks ago when you were all smiley, and you brought her home for a holiday,” Mara says, “and it’s really obvious that she likes you. I just assumed it was mutual.”

“What?” Adora stares at her mother with wide eyes. “Catra doesn’t like me. Not like that, anyway. She didn’t even like me as a friend until a couple of months ago.”

“So, you’re gay, and Catra likes you,” Razz says, “and you’re not going to ask her out? You never listen to me, do you? That girl is a catch.”

Adora’s cheeks sear red with a blush. “It’s complicated. But Catra doesn’t like me. And I… I mean, I- she’s… she maybe makes me feel a little nervous, but I don’t have a crush on her.”

Adora knows in her gut that it’s a lie, but the knowledge of that makes her feel even guiltier. It’s like no matter what she does, she’s betraying Cyra somehow. And the feelings she has for Catra have been there for a while, she knows that. She’s desperately been trying to ignore them, to deny them, but they’re there, and they’ve been there since Thanksgiving.

“Okay, whatever you say,” Mara says like she doesn’t believe a word of that, “who’s the girl, then? If it’s so complicated.”

“It’s not Catra. It could be anyone, and me trying to guess is what ruined the whole thing in the first place,” Adora rambles, and then realises how crazy she sounds. “I don’t know who she is. I started talking to her through email, but she goes to my school, and we stayed anonymous so we could have a safe space to talk about gay stuff while we were both closeted. Not that kind of gay stuff – well, a little bit – but just how hard it is to be stuck in the closet. It was easy to talk about with someone who understood.”

“I thought I knew who she was. I thought I’d figured it out, and when the girl asked me out, I said yes. I thought she realised it was me and that was why she was asking, but…” Adora sinks back down into her bundle of blankets and takes a sip of her hot chocolate, “I was wrong. It wasn’t her. And when I owned up to it, she stopped talking to me because she thinks I don’t want her. It’s been two weeks and I can’t think about anything else. I probably bombed all my finals too. I just miss her.”

She expects Mara to say she doesn’t understand or tell her not to talk to strangers on the internet. Razz looks like she’s about to, but Mara holds up her hand to silence her before she starts and rubs comforting circles into Adora’s back. “Have you tried to talk to her about it? Emailed back and explained your side of things?”

“I’ve sent four over the last two weeks,” Adora sighs, “she hasn’t responded. I don’t even know if she’s read them. I guess I just don’t know how to accept the fact that I’ll never know who it was that helped me so much.”

“Maybe you should call your friends,” Mara says, and Adora looks up questioningly. The rules were that if she missed a day of school, she wasn’t allowed to go out after school. “I know my rules, but I’ll waive them since I made you stay home. They’ll cheer you up, or at least help you forget for a little while. Getting out and doing things will help you move on.”

Anything would be better than camping out on the couch watching Disney movies by herself. Adora nods, and Mara gives her one last hug before letting go.

When she pulls her phone out of her pocket, she’s almost tempted to go to Gmail to see if Cyra has finally responded, even though Adora knows in her heart that she hasn’t. She moves to her text messages and finds she has to choose between two separate conversations. The first one, her group chat with Bow and Glimmer. The second, her conversation with Catra.

Adora wants to choose Catra. She’s barely seen her lately, aside from their tutoring sessions every Monday and Friday. And even those have been difficult, what with Adora moping and Catra clearly having no idea how to respond. She’s pretty sure that Catra is avoiding her because it’s so excruciatingly awkward.

That’s exactly why Adora texts Bow and Glimmer instead. She’d just be depressing around Catra, and Catra wouldn’t know what to do about it. At least with Bow and Glimmer, they know everything about Cyra. She doesn’t have to do some awkward, rambled explanation with them about the thing that’s hurting her. She already got that out of the way. And at least with Bow and Glimmer, she doesn’t have a secret crush on either of them.

Yeah. Bow and Glimmer will fix her right up.

Adora (4:58PM): Are you guys going out tonight?

They pick her up twenty minutes later for a sleepover, which is technically the truth. Adora doesn’t tell her mom and Razz about the party they’ll be going to before the part where she sleeps over at Glimmer’s. She also doesn’t tell her mom and Razz about the bottle of whiskey she stuffs in her overnight bag, which she starts drinking the moment they’re safely in Glimmer’s bedroom.

She cheers up when they play a few pre-party drinking games, but her mind keeps going back to Cyra. And then it keeps going back to Catra, because how could Mara think Catra liked her?

Maybe it’s wrong to think it, but Adora can’t really imagine Catra having a crush on anyone. She just seems… above it, in a way. Like she’s matured past the phase of staring at someone in the hallway or wondering if the girl she likes is going to be at the dance or doodling a name in the back of her notebook.

Guilt drops in her stomach again. It feels wrong, to think of Catra, because Adora knows she’s thinking about her in that way. Even though Cyra is done with her, it still feels like she’s cheating on her. They were never even together, but Adora feels so guilty about it.

“Hey,” Bow nudges her, and Adora realises there are tears brimming her eyes that she quickly wipes away, “everything okay?”

Adora hugs her whiskey bottle to her chest and nods. “Everything’s fine.”

Glimmer and Bow exchange a look, like they have some secret in-a-relationship telepathy going on that Adora will never understand, because she’ll never get over Cyra enough to have a relationship with someone. Then Glimmer puts an arm around her and says, “it’s okay if it’s not fine. We don’t have to go out tonight. We can stay in and watch dumb movies that’ll make you laugh.”

It’s the first time she’s ever felt like it, but the suggestion makes her feel like the biggest third wheel on the planet. It makes her wish that Catra was here, rolling her eyes and making sarcastic comments that make Adora laugh, and then she feels even guiltier.

Admitting things has always made it more real to Adora. Like if she keeps everything bottled, she can pretend it doesn’t exist. Other people knowing about things means it exists in a space outside of her own head, and it sometimes makes things worse. But it can also make things better.

Ultimately, she thinks it’s the whiskey that makes her talk. “I think I like Catra.”

Glimmer looks totally floored. Even Bow is surprised.

“What? You mean, like…” Bow tries to rationalise, “like, you think she’s Cyra?”

“No. It’s not Catra. Catra would think the whole thing was stupid because she’s way too cool and smart to talk to some dumb girl online.” Adora mutters. “But it’s like I want her to be Catra, because I think I want Catra. I can’t stop thinking about her, and then I feel so guilty, and I just… I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Glimmer squeezes Adora around the shoulders and says, “Okay, time for a little bit of tough love. Cyra acted like a fucking coward and ghosted you. It’s been two weeks and you’ve heard nothing, even though you’ve reached out. Maybe you should let her go. And if you really like Catra, then you should try and pursue something. If she likes girls, anyway.”

“She does,” Adora murmurs, but even thinking about letting go of Cyra hurts. “I know you think I should forget about Cyra, but you don’t get how much she helped me. Not just with the gay thing. I can’t just move on from her. I have to find her.”

“Okay,” Bow puts his arm around her too, and it’s like he and Glimmer are the bread of an Adora sandwich. “We’ll help you find her. But tonight, you’re going to forget about her and have a good time, okay? There’s nothing you can do about it right now.”

Adora nods with a quiet acceptance. Even if she doesn’t think she’ll ever find Cyra, she can at least try to cheer up for one night.

“You’re right,” Adora says, holding up her bottle of whiskey, “let’s go party.”

Chapter Text

Catra jolts awake to the sound of her phone ringing.

One glance at the time, and fear makes her move even faster to shut the noise off. It’s two in the morning. She presses the lock button to silence the call and then pauses, waiting for Weaver’s footsteps. She breathes out a near silent sigh of relief when the house stays quiet.

Catra looks back to her phone screen. It’s still ringing, just the sound has been cut off, and it’s… Adora?

Catra watches, almost like she’s waiting for the phone to stop ringing so she doesn’t have to make a decision. She’s pretty sure she answers it on the very last ring. “What?”

“Catra!” Adora shouts down the phone, and Catra pulls the device away from her ear, cringing. She grabs her headphones just in case and then has to search around for that stupid little connecter thing, because headphone jacks are supposedly so impractical.

“Adora,” Catra says once she’s finally plugged her headphones in and turned the sound down as low as it can go without muting it. “It’s two in the morning. Why are you calling me?”

“I want to hang out with you,” Adora says like that’s a totally normal thing to propose at two in the goddamn morning. She’s drunk, Catra realises from the way she’s slurring, and definitely at a party from the background noise. “I wanted to hang out with you earlier, but I was sad then, and you don’t seem like you know what to do when people are sad. Which is okay. It’s cute actually. It makes me want to squish your cute little face because it’s sweet that you try anyway. But anyway, I’m not sad now, so we can hang out. Where do you live?”

Catra knows it’s entirely her fault that Adora was sad enough to get herself in this drunken state, and it’s that guilt that makes her say, “Where are you?”

“I’m at party city!” Adora exclaims, and even the lowest possible headphone volume is enough to make Catra’s ears hurt. “Wait, that’s a store. I’m not at a store. I’m just at a party.”

Catra takes in an exasperated breath and asks, “Where’s the party?”

“Um…” Adora pauses, and Catra can hear the frown in her voice, “in someone’s house.”

“Going to need a little bit more information than that, idiot,” Catra says fondly, and Adora hums again. There’s a rustling sound, and then a muffled shout of who’s house is this? A few moments later, Adora answers. “It’s Sea Hawk’s. Do you know where that is? Also, do you know why people call him Sea Hawk? I’m not even sure I know his actual name.”

“I know where that is, it’s not far from me, and I have zero idea why you dumb jocks insist on nicknaming yourselves even dumber things,” Catra says, pushing herself up onto her elbows, “hang tight. I’m going to come and get you and walk you home.”

“I don’t wanna go home,” Catra can imagine Adora pouting like a child as she says it, and it does nothing to dispel the already adorable mental image she has, “can’t you stay at the party for a while? It’s really fun.”

“It’s two in the morning and if the party hasn’t been broken up by the cops yet, I imagine it will soon,” Catra says, “just… stay put, okay?”

It’s hard, pulling sweatpants on over her pyjama shorts while her phone is in one hand, and also trying to keep as quiet as she can because she doesn’t want to wake Weaver up. Adora is babbling on about something or other on the phone, but Catra can barely hear her. She has too many things to concentrate on.

She double checks that her bedroom door is locked, and then unlocks the window and pushes it open. Melog stares at her quizzically from the bed. They get up to follow her, but Catra touches the top of their head gently and pushes them back. “Stay, Melog. I’ll be right back.”

She pulls the window almost shut and lodges a stone underneath to keep it open. Catra can feel Melog watching her as she creeps down the driveway and walks down the street.

She unplugs the stupid headphones and pulls her phone up to her ear again. Adora’s still talking. “…and I know I messed up, but I just miss her so bad, Catra. Have you ever missed anyone like that?”

You. Right now. But Catra can’t say that without making things even more awkward than they are now. It’s better to just deal with stupid, unrequited feelings rather than still have unrequited feelings but the other person knowing about it. Weaver is right. Adora doesn’t want her, and she’ll get over it. Being Cyra again would just get the both of them hurt.

“What were you talking about?” Catra asks, even though she knows exactly what Adora was talking about. “I had to put my phone down to get dressed.”

“You’re coming to the party?” Adora shouts, and then relays this information to someone else with a loud Catra’s coming to the party. “That’s great, Catra. I’m glad. I missed you the last couple of weeks. I feel like I’ve barely spoken to you. I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable by being sad.”

“No, Adora. You didn’t,” Catra says quietly, “you’ve never made me uncomfortable.”

She’s surprised that she means it. Even with everything that happened, it’s like she can’t be angry at Adora.

“Good,” Adora murmurs it softly, and Catra has to turn her phone volume up to hear, “I like you. You’re a good friend. You pretend you’re not, but you are. You’re so special and sweet and kind and funny and I just want to hug you. Are you coming to the party? I want to hug you.”

If Catra had any kind of self-worth, she’d turn around right now and go home. She-Ra – Adora – had hurt her a lot. Even if she knew it was coming, it hurt. Not only because she knew Adora wouldn’t want her in real life, but because Adora thought she was someone else. It still hurt, yet all she wants to do is get on Gmail and talk to her again. She’s not helping herself when she’s talking to Adora in real life still, but at least it’s not pouring-her-heart-out conversations.

In real life, Catra can keep a distance. She couldn’t do that as Cyra.

“I’m coming to the party, doofus,” Catra says, “I already told you I was.”

“Okay,” Adora answers, “hurry up. I want to hang out with you.”

It’s not hard for Catra to find the party the closer she gets. She can hear the booming music from three blocks away. She keeps Adora on the phone, because sober Adora has a short enough attention span. She can’t imagine what drunk Adora is going to be like.

Adora’s talking about her mother now, and from Catra can gather, she finally came out to her. So Adora wouldn’t have needed her anymore, anyway. She’s told everyone important and she can be out and proud with Huntara all she likes. Catra knows that’s who Adora thought she was, and as much as she tried, she can’t be mad at her for that.

(She can be mad at Huntara, though.)

When she finds the party, she keeps her phone close to her ear and asks, “Where are you?”

“I told you, I’m at Sea Hawk’s party,” Adora says, cutting off her own drunken rambling about how she came out, “where are you?”

“Also at Sea Hawk’s party,” Catra has to shout over the loud, headache inducing dubstep playing. The sooner they get out of here, the better. “I’m trying to find you.”

“Oh,” Adora says, and Catra turns her phone up to maximum volume. It hurts her ear, but it’s the only way she can hear Adora over this sorry excuse for music. “I’m on a couch. It’s comfy. I think I might take a nap.”

“Yeah, please don’t.” Catra pushes her way through drunk football goons and goes into a different room. Kitchen. She slips by a few cheerleaders who giggle because she’s basically in her pyjamas and rolls her eyes, but she finds the lounge.

There are a lot more people in here, and she has to elbow her way through until she eventually finds the couch. Adora is stretched out on it, her head on Glimmer’s lap, her legs on Bow’s, her phone held up to her ear.

“Look up, genius,” Catra says into the phone, and Adora looks up and sees her. Catra’s heart breaks all over again at the way she smiles, because she knows she’ll never mean it in that way. “Hey, Adora.”

“Catra, you came,” Adora scrambles to get up from where she’s laid, with a little assistance from Bow and zero from Glimmer. They both look at least tipsy, Catra realises as she hangs up her phone and slips it back into her pocket. “Hi. Can I get you a drink?”

“Nope,” Catra steadies Adora, but it’s hard, because Adora’s at least four inches taller and has a lot more muscle. “Come on. I’m walking you home.”

“I can’t leave,” Adora looks at her like she’s crazy, “I came here with Bow and Glimmer, I can’t ditch them.”

“They seem a lot less drunk than you do, dumbass,” Catra says, but she checks anyway. “You two okay to handle yourselves?”

“Yeah,” Bow says, smiling tiredly, “I think we’re going to stay the night.”

“There you go,” Catra moves Adora’s arm so it’s around her shoulders and tries not to think about it. She wishes it was there in a different way, but that… that could never happen. Weaver is right. Better to just keep things to herself. “Come on. Help me out here, you’re heavy.”

Slowly, lazily, Adora starts to move. Catra mostly carries her through the crowds and out of the front door, and it’s not until they’re halfway down the street that Adora almost wakes up. She blinks, turns her head, realises they’re not at the party anymore, and mumbles, “No, I can’t go home. My mom will kill me.”

“I’ve met your mother, Adora,” Catra says, “she might be mad, but that’s it.”

“She’ll be really mad,” Adora emphasises, those pretty blue eyes wide with concern. The colour is cloudy like the sky before a storm, and her pupils are crazy dilated from the alcohol. “I lied to her. I told her I was having a sleepover at Glimmer’s.”

“That’s on you,” Catra shrugs, “you’ll be home and safe. That’s what matters to me. I don’t care if your mom or Razz shouts at you for lying.”

“No, seriously,” Adora says insistently, “I can’t go home. Can’t we go to your house? I promise I’ll leave in the morning; I just can’t go home like this. I don’t even think I have my keys.”

Can’t we go to your house? They really can’t. Weaver doesn’t let her have people in the house. If she found Adora, it would be bad. Things at home are okay as long as she follows Weaver’s rules. Their mutual avoidance policy stays in place as long as she follows the rules. Catra doesn’t know if she can take another emotional beatdown.

But Adora is looking at her like that with those pretty blue eyes, and Catra’s a fucking idiot. “Okay. We can go to my house.”

Adora grins, lets out a loud, celebratory whoop, and shouts, “yay! Sleepover at Catra’s!”

“But you have to promise me you’ll be really quiet,” Catra quickly says, and Adora’s smile turns into a confused frown. “Like, no talking above a whisper.”

Adora cocks her head to the side a little bit like a puppy. “Why?”

“Because…” Catra pauses, not knowing how to word it. Eventually, she realises Adora won’t remember any of this in the morning anyway. “It’ll be really bad for me if you’re not. So I need you to promise me you’ll be quiet. Okay?”

Adora stares at her for a long time. Catra’s still basically dragging her down the sidewalk, because apparently staring at Catra unnervingly is a better use of Adora’s time than walking.

Finally, Adora nods. “Okay. I promise I’ll be quiet.”

“Thank you,” Catra says, even though she knows this is probably all going to go incredibly wrong. “I appreciate it.”

She adjusts her grip on Adora – one hand holding her wrist to keep Adora’s arm around her shoulders, and the other holding onto Adora’s waist. That’s when Adora realises that she’s touching her at all, and the hand around her shoulders moves. She pulls her wrist out of Catra’s grip and tangles their fingers together instead.

Catra can’t bring herself to let go.

“I like holding hands with girls,” Adora comments as they walk. A police car zooms by with sirens on, and Catra assumes it’s going to break up the party. “You were the first girl I ever held hands with. You know my mom thought you were my girlfriend?”

The question makes Catra stumble on a crack in the sidewalk. She regains her balance quickly, and realises Adora is giggling to herself, muttering you, my girlfriend, funny. Catra swallows the lump in her throat at the blunt confirmation of what she already knew. “And why exactly did Mara think that?”

“Because I always get happy when you text me, and I brought you home for Thanksgiving. And you’re pretty and gay too so I guess she just assumed my pretty gay friend I brought home was actually my pretty gay girlfriend. And she thinks you like me in the gay way.” Adora rambles, pausing to laugh again. Catra feels a knot in her throat, because it’s really great to know that her feelings are a) so obvious and b) so amusing. “I said gay a lot. I wouldn’t mind it if you were my girlfriend.”

The words stun her so much that she almost drops Adora. “What did you just say?”

“Gay,” Adora shouts, laughing again. Catra shakes her head. She can’t have said what she thinks she said. “I said gay.”

Catra hushes her as they stop in front of her house. The whole place is still in darkness, which is good. If she’d woken Weaver up on her way out, the porch light would’ve been on, a silent message to come in through the front door and take the berating that’s coming to her. Weaver likes her scared. “Okay. Remember what I said about being quiet?”

Adora holds the forefinger on her free hand up to her mouth. “I’m quiet,” she says, not quietly at all.

“Going to need you to be a little bit quieter than that,” Catra whispers as she walks Adora over to her bedroom window. She shimmies it open and discards the stone she’d used to wedge it open. “I’m going to climb in first, okay? I need you to-”

Melog mews happily upon seeing that she’s back, and Catra realises what Adora’s about to do. She clamps her hand over Adora’s mouth right when she shouts “kitty!

She pauses, waiting for any sounds of life from inside the house. There’s nothing except Melog’s quiet purrs. Her hand stays over Adora’s mouth until her tongue darts out and licks it, and Catra cringes. She wipes her hand on Adora’s shirt and whispers, “you’re gross. Come on. Quietly.”

It’s a fucking challenge, trying to help a drunk Adora through her bedroom window without making any loud noise. Catra has to guide her through, limb by limb, all while trying to keep her loud mouth shut. Finally, she pulls her window shut slowly and locks it, checking the lock on her bedroom door too, even though she checked it before she left.

Adora is immediately enamoured with Melog. She sits cross-legged on Catra’s bed, petting the little cat while they purr in her lap. Catra rolls her eyes and forgets there’s another person here when she stares right at Melog and mutters, “attention whore.”

Adora stares up at her with a big grin. Catra’s almost afraid she’s going to shout again, but thankfully, she whispers. “You talk to your cat?”

“No,” Catra busies herself with finding a suitable set of pyjamas for Adora to borrow. She pulls off her sweatpants and is grateful she had the foresight to leave her pyjama shorts on underneath, and then tosses an old, oversized t-shirt and a pair of red pyjama shorts Adora’s way. “Get changed.”

Adora stares down at the bundle of clothes on the bed in front of her. “I think you might need to help me.”

Catra grips the side of her dresser and asks the universe why they’re doing this to her. “Fine.”

Adora gently nudges Melog from her lap and stands up, wobbling a little bit. Catra moves to steady her, and Adora mumbles something Catra doesn’t catch. Without any warning, Adora pulls her t-shirt up and over her head, tossing it across the room. Catra looks away even though she doesn’t want to, but just a glimpse at those toned abs is enough to make her think things she shouldn’t be thinking.

Adora picks up the shirt Catra had given her to sleep in and pulls it over her head, but then instead of taking off her jeans, she pauses. Adora brings the collar of the shirt up to her nose and sniffs at it unapologetically.

Then she stares at Catra like she’s a complicated math equation. “You smell like her.”

Oh, Catra realises. She doesn’t know what to say to that. Adora keeps looking at her, blue eyes searching Catra’s face for something. There’s a question in her eyes, and Catra knows what it is.

Catra clears her throat and levels her voice. “You’re drunk, Adora.”

“I know,” Adora mumbles, finally tearing her gaze away from Catra to fumble with the button on her jeans. Catra holds her steady as she stumbles out of them and pulls on the pyjama shorts. “Maybe I’m just making things up because I miss her so much and I want her to be you.”

Catra’s throat knots. It’s like the universe is tormenting her, making Adora say these things when she’s drunk and doesn’t mean them. She pretends like she hasn’t heard when she pulls back the covers of her bed and helps Adora in. She tucks her in and mumbles, “I’m going to get you some water. And maybe a bucket.”

It means braving the house outside of her room, but she’d honestly take Weaver over this conversation.

She unlocks her bedroom door and creeps down the hallway. Catra feels Melog brush against her leg as she walks and feels slightly comforted. They’re only small, but they still defend her. Quickly, she fills a glass of water and grabs the first big bowl she finds in the cupboard, hightailing it back to her room before anything can happen.

Catra lets Melog run inside first, then slips into the room herself and locks the door behind her again. When she turns around, Adora is sitting up. Catra’s guitar is rested in Adora’s lap, and Adora lightly plucks the B string, barely loud enough to make a sound. “I didn’t know you played guitar.”

Catra doesn’t say anything as she puts the bowl on the floor by Adora’s side of the bed and places the water on her bedside table. Then, she takes the guitar from Adora’s lap and places it back in the corner on its stand. “I don’t trust your drunk ass with that. It’s the only expensive thing I own.”

Adora’s still staring at the guitar in the corner of the room. “I like the colour.”

“Me too,” Catra says. It’s a Fender Stratocaster in Miami blue, one of the American professional ones. Not that she’d ever do anything professional with it. That’s just a pipe dream. “That’s why I picked that colour.”

Adora hums. She’s still sitting up, but now she’s staring at Catra instead of the guitar. She tilts her head to the side again, like a confused golden retriever puppy.

Catra clears her throat and changes the subject quickly, before Adora can voice whatever she’s thinking. “Don’t tell me you sleep with that dumb little hair poof?”

Adora reaches up and realises her hair is still in its usual ponytail. As a response, she lets it down and pulls the hair tie onto her wrist. She stares at Catra again. “You don’t have a ponytail right now. You do at school.”

“That’s because you woke me up and I’m not going to do my hair and makeup to carry your drunk ass home,” Catra’s words come out a little panicked. Maybe because she thought Adora was going to ask something else. “Go to sleep. I’ll curl up on the floor.”

Of course stupid, noble, too-good-for-her Adora would protest that. “I’m not going to steal your bed from you, Catra. It’s big enough for the both of us.”

“It’s fine,” Catra says, “I’ve had worse nights of sleep.”

Adora folds her arms across her chest. “I’m not sleeping until you get into bed with me.”

Catra wants to say she only does it because she hears shuffling across the hall. She dives onto the bed and flicks her lamp off; if Weaver sees the light under her door, she’s in trouble. She clamps a hand over Adora’s mouth just as she hears the distinct sound of the foster bitch’s bedroom door opening.

There’s that creak in the floorboard. She’s standing there. Waiting. Listening. Adora stares at her questioningly, and Catra shakes her head, internally pleading with whatever powerful force is out there. Make her go away.

Weaver tries the door handle. Catra doesn’t even breathe. She’s hyperaware of Adora right there, staring at her questioningly, asking her with her eyes what’s going on.

There’s a quiet mutter outside the door. The only part Catra can distinguish is “insolent little runt.”

The floorboard creaks again, and then Weaver’s bedroom door shuts. Catra waits, listening to every single scrape and shuffle as Weaver goes back to bed, and only lets go of Adora when she’s sure she’s gone.

It still takes her a few minutes to level out her breathing. From her outline in the dark, Adora looks horrified. There’s a sound of ruffling sheets, and Catra almost thinks it’s Weaver getting up again until a soft hand takes her own.

“Catra,” Adora whispers so quietly she almost doesn’t hear it, “is everything okay?”

Catra lets go of Adora’s hand and bundles up under the covers. She turns to face the wall. Melog crawls up to lie next to her, their rough tongue licking her cheek comfortingly. “Everything’s fine.”

“It… it doesn’t seem fine,” Adora says again. A hand rests on Catra’s shoulder, making her jump. “You seem really scared. Who was that?”

“It’s nothing,” Catra whispers back, “just forget about it.”

Adora is drunk. She probably will forget about it by morning, anyway. But then strong, gentle arms wrap around her waist, and Adora’s front presses closely against Catra’s back. At first, Catra’s body tenses in alarm, but then Adora whispers, “it’s okay,” into her ear and slowly, she feels herself unravelling.

Catra breathes out a long, weighted sigh. “I’ll… I’ll tell you in the morning, okay?”

“Only if you feel comfortable,” Adora murmurs into Catra’s shoulder. Her arms squeeze Catra’s waist and she takes in a deep breath. There’s a long, comfortable silence, Adora holding Catra and Melog purring against Catra’s chest, and then… “is it you?”

Catra stares at the wall. Because the room is so dark, it’s almost like she’s staring into the abyss. “I don’t know what you’re asking me.”

She does. She really does. But she needs Adora to say it.

Adora’s fingers clench against Catra’s pyjama shirt. “Cyra. Is it you?”

Catra stays quiet. Not because she’s trying to avoid the question. She just doesn’t know which answer Adora is hoping for. Every single instinct in her body, everything she’s ever known is telling her that Adora wants her to say no. But the way Adora is holding her right now, waiting so patiently, tells her that it’s the opposite.

“I thought it was Huntara for so long,” Adora whispers into the silence, and the words leave a sting in Catra’s chest, “I was so sure. But then Thanksgiving happened, and ever since… Catra, I can’t stop thinking about you. I still thought it was Huntara, and I felt so guilty and confused because I was so sure she was Cyra, but then you were there giving me butterflies and making me smile just from a text. I didn’t want to expect anything from Cyra, but I think… I think I wanted her to be you.”

It feels like a trap. What Adora just said goes against everything Catra has ever been told. Nobody ever wants her. Her parents didn’t. Weaver doesn’t. Adora shouldn’t. But here she is telling Catra that she does.

“Catra,” Adora says. She buries her face in Catra’s shoulder again, holding her so close that Catra can feel Adora’s heartbeat against her back. It’s going so fast. “I need to know. Is it you?”

Catra doesn’t know how long she lies there, staring right at the wall, feeling Adora’s arms wrapped tightly around her. But finally, she answers.

“Yeah,” Catra breathes out, long after Adora’s breathing has levelled out and she’s fallen asleep, “yeah, it’s me.”

Adora’s only response is a sleepy snore.

Chapter Text

Adora wakes up with a pounding headache.

She blinks. For a moment, she wonders if she’d fallen asleep with her face buried in Cyra’s shirt, because all she can smell is her. It’s surrounding her, keeping her warm and safe.

But then Adora sits up. The blurry, unfamiliar room spins, and Adora’s hands clench against the side of the bed, steadying herself. Then she braves another glance.

There’s nothing identifiable about the room. No personal photographs, no posters, no decorations. Just standard, cream-coloured walls, and a white closet door adjacent to the bed. The curtains blocking the light from the window are heavy blackout ones, but a few rays of sunlight are sneaking through from the way they’ve been pulled shut, lighting the room in a dim glow. Adora spots the baby blue electric guitar propped up in a corner, as well as a relatively untouched looking cat bed on the floor by the desk opposite the bed. Adora grabs the warm, black sheets that had fallen to her lap when she sat up. She pulls them up to her chin again, just to check she isn’t making things up.  

Nope. Not making things up. The sheets smell exactly like Cyra’s t-shirt. Strawberries. Smoke. Old books. Summer rain.

Whatever the fuck happened last night… somehow, Adora ended up in Cyra’s bedroom.

The bedroom door is pulled almost shut, a tiny sliver of light from the hallway bleeding through into the bedroom. Adora’s alone, but the space in bed next to her isn’t cold. It’s not warm, either. Sort of lukewarm, like someone just left a little while before Adora woke up.

Adora strains to remember what happened last night. After talking to her mom, she texted Bow and Glimmer to see if they were doing anything. They told her there was a party at Sea Hawk’s, and since his parents were on vacation it was going to be a big one. They picked her up, stopped off at Glimmer’s for a few pre-drinks, Adora had blabbed about maybe liking Catra, and then the party. Adora remembers doing shots with Mermista and Perfuma. A lot of dancing. Then Netossa and Spinnerella got fake married with a couple of ring pops. Then more dancing.

Things start to get blurry around the time of the fake wedding. She remembers dancing and drinking more, feeling sad every single time she looked at a couple. She’d seen Perfuma and Scorpia dancing together, which made her sad, because she thought she’d never get to dance with Cyra. So then Adora decided it would be a smart idea to call someone she could dance with.

Adora finds her phone on the nightstand next to a glass of water. The screen is bright when she wakes it up, and the battery is almost dead. She ignores the texts waiting there and instead checks her call history. She needs written proof of what she thinks happened.

Sure enough, the last call was to Catra. It had lasted twenty minutes, and Adora has no idea what she’d said during those twenty minutes. The call ended at 2:37AM. Adora had hung up when…

When Catra came to get her. Catra had brought her here.

It’s Catra.

Cyra is Catra.

It all fits. It has to fit.

The bedsheets that smell exactly like the shirt Cyra had given her. The electric guitar in the corner of the room. The cat bed on the floor by the desk.

Adora picks her phone up and loads up her Gmail account. She scrolls back through her emails, picking up on more and more things. Things that were so glaringly obvious that she wants to smack herself.

Cyra types in lower case. So does Catra in her texts. Cyra’s best friend is a hugger. Scorpia is the biggest hugger Adora knows. Her other best friend is a somewhat genius who finds school boring because she’d rather be building robots or coding things. Who else could that be except Entrapta?

Cyra told her she wanted to study law and in that original Tumblr post she mentioned Columbia and Yale. Catra’s been accepted to Yale to study law. Cyra mentioned a psycho AP English teacher, and Huntara had literally told Adora that Catra is in that class with her. Cyra’s the smartest person Adora’s ever spoken to, and so is Catra. They’ve both said the same things to her about grades not defining intelligence. She saw her in the hallway the period before Cyra left that shirt for her, now that she thinks about it. They both hate sports. They both have a cat. They both love Oreos.

She would never tell me her eye colour! Adora realises. Because she has heterochromia? That has to be it.

Then she realises something else. Something Cyra had said in that very last email. I’ve liked you for years and I only just accepted that a little while ago. I couldn’t accept it for so long because I knew you wouldn’t want me.

Catra had been incredibly dedicated to disliking Adora for the first three years of high school. Purely because Adora said she couldn’t sit with her.

“Oh,” Adora mutters quietly, “oh, that makes a lot more sense.”

Suddenly, she feels bad for laughing about that.

She feels less bad when she realises that everything fits. Everything, right down to the bed she’s sitting on, points to Catra.

Adora’s not making this up, right?

She’s a little paranoid she might be. She’s been wrong before, and that had been excruciating. Plus… she knows she wants it to be Catra. Maybe she’s just making connections just because Cyra turning out to be Catra would be the perfect ending.

No. Adora thinks through everything she knows about Cyra, and everything she knows about Catra. It has to be her. She can’t talk herself out of it, because if she never asks and Catra is Cyra, she’ll never forgive herself. It’s not like she has anything to lose, anyway. Cyra isn’t talking to her already.

Adora pushes the bedsheets aside and shakily stands up. The room lurches, and in any other circumstance, Adora would go back to bed. But she has to find Catra. She has to see her; she has to have the visual confirmation of what she thinks she knows. She doesn’t want this to end up something she’d dreamed up in a drunken haze.

She pulls the bedroom door open and peers into the hallway. If she strains, she can hear Catra’s voice coming from the left, so she follows it, taking it slow. Everything is still pretty spinny.

“Yeah, I know,” Catra is saying as Adora rounds the corner. She’s in the kitchen, eating a bowl of Lucky Charms. One hand is absentmindedly stroking down Melog’s back. There’s nobody else in the kitchen except Catra and her cat. “Don’t look at me like that. Weaver was right, I can’t do anything about it.”

For a moment, Adora thinks she’s on the phone. But Melog meows at Catra, and Catra groans. “Shut up. You don’t know anything, you’re a cat.”

“Apparently they know a lot, since you talk to them like they’re a person,” Adora says. Catra jumps and lets out this adorable surprised squeak. “Good morning.”

She almost asks are you Cyra right off the bat, but then figures that’s too forceful. And she kind of just jumpscared Catra, so she doesn’t want to freak her out even more. Especially not if she’s right, and Catra really is Cyra.

Cyra is a flight risk, clearly, and Adora’s more than a little terrified of being wrong again.

“Hey, Adora,” Catra says quietly, “how are you feeling?”

Adora pulls out a chair at the kitchen table and sits down across from Catra. There’s concern in those beautiful eyes of hers, and it makes Adora’s stomach twist and turn in a wonderful way. “I have a really bad headache, my mouth tastes gross, and I feel like I just got hit by a truck. But other than that, I’m okay.”

Catra lets out a soft laugh and nods down at her cereal bowl. “I’d offer you some Lucky Charms but I have a feeling you’d yell about sugar.”

Because I said so in my email? Adora questions. She almost asks at the risk of sounding like a crazy person. But instead, she tries something subtler. “You’re right. Do you have any bananas instead? Don’t want to get scurvy.”

Catra reacts. Not obviously, but there’s this sad smile on her face, like she’s seeing something familiar after a long time. “I don’t know. Just whatever’s in the fruit bowl.”

It’s her. Adora’s stomach flutters, the butterflies she always has when she thinks about Cyra, and more recently Catra, coming to life. It’s definitely her.

Adora doesn’t go and get a banana. Honestly, she doesn’t think her stomach can handle it. If she hadn’t woken up in Cyra’s bed, she probably would’ve just rolled over and gone back to sleep. There’s another wave of blurry spinning, and Adora squeezes her eyes shut and grips the edge of the table.

Catra pauses with the last spoonful of her sugary death cereal halfway to her mouth. “Are you okay?”

“Hungover,” Adora murmurs quietly, opening her eyes again. Are you Cyra? She wants to say back. She wants to ask so badly, but she’s not in the condition to get her hopes crushed again if somehow, she gets it wrong a second time. She’d been so sure it was Huntara, and look how that ended up. “I think I need to sleep a little bit more.”

She’ll ask Catra after she’s rested. Then, if she turns out to be wrong… she’ll handle it better when she doesn’t already feel like she’s going to vomit.

“I didn’t wake you up, did I?” Catra asks, and when Adora shakes her head, she eats the last spoonful of her cereal and takes the bowl over to the sink. “I only got up because someone,” Catra turns around and fixes her cat with a glare, “decided to scream at me until I got up and gave them their breakfast.”

“Surprised I didn’t hear it,” Adora says, reaching her hand out and letting Melog give it a cautious sniff. “Hello, little kitty.”

She hears the kitchen tap running and assumes it’s just Catra washing her bowl. “Don’t give them attention, they’re conceited enough as it is.”

Tiredly, Adora laughs. “Just like you, then.”

“Wow,” Catra rolls her eyes and puts a glass of water in front of Adora. She holds two painkillers in her hand. “Just for that, you’re not getting these. Enjoy your headache.”

Catra puts them down on the table anyway, and Adora takes them gratefully. “Thanks. For looking after me last night. It… it was stupid and selfish of me to call you. I didn’t think.”

“I figured you usually didn’t think, so there’s nothing new there,” Catra says. Adora laughs, and she meets Catra’s beautiful multicoloured eyes. She’s gazing at her softly, and Adora wants to forget how she’ll tumble over in a dizzy haze if she tries any fast movements like pushing forwards and kissing her. “It’s okay, though. I’m always here if you need me, or whatever.”

Catra says it so casually, like the words don’t mean so much. Adora smiles and finishes off the glass of water Catra had given her. “Right now, I’d appreciate it if you somehow had a spare toothbrush lying around here somewhere.”

“It’s almost like I knew I’d have a drunk dumbass calling me,” Catra says, and Adora doesn’t even have to ask her to help her up. She just does it and keeps a gentle hand around Adora’s waist as she walks her down the hallway. “There should be one in the cupboard in the bathroom.”

“Thanks,” Adora says, and because she’s so hopeless, “so… why did you even come and get me? I… I would’ve been okay. I was with Bow and Glimmer. And… and it kind of felt like you’ve been avoiding me over the last few weeks.”

Since I messed everything up with Cyra! Adora realises. She’d assumed Catra was avoiding her because of her constant moping, but it was obviously because she was trying to keep a distance in real life too. After all, Cyra knows who she is, and a lot of the stuff she said fit with Catra.

I’ve liked you for years and I only just accepted that a little while ago. Adora remembers from the email that had broken her heart. That means Catra has liked me for years, Adora thinks, and her heart speeds up in her chest.

“So you noticed that, then?” Catra answers, but she shakes her head and continues before Adora can answer. “And anyway, considering Scorpia texted me telling me she almost got arrested last night after the cops broke up the party, I don’t think you would’ve been okay. And Sparkles and Arrow Boy got away fine. I asked her because I figured you’d worry. But you could barely walk, let alone run. You’d be in a jail cell right now if it weren’t for me saving your ass.”

Adora blushes. She knows she gets a little floppy when she’s drunk. She takes the red toothbrush Catra holds out for her and squeezes some toothpaste onto it. “Yeah, but unless you’re psychic, you can’t have known what would happen. So why did you come and get me?”

Catra raises her eyebrows, and Adora knows from the amused sparkle in her eyes that she’s not going to make getting the answer easy for her. “Why did you call me?”

“I asked first,” Adora’s words come out garbled because of the toothbrush in her mouth, so she repeats them once she spits and adds, “so tell me,” for good measure.

“You’re really going to make me say it, aren’t you?” Catra huffs from where she’s sat on the edge of the bathtub. “Fine. You seemed really out of it and I wanted to make sure you got home safe. I care about you, so…”

“Aw,” Adora lets out, pausing mid-toothbrushing to say, “I care about you too.”

Catra almost looks confused at the words, but the expression only passes on her face for a few seconds. It’s so quick that Adora assumes she imagined it. “Your turn. Answer my question.”

Adora doesn’t answer until she finishes brushing her teeth. She puts the toothbrush in the holder slowly and uses every last second of time to consider her response. Eventually, she settles on the truth. Not the whole truth that would lead to a big long serious conversation, but part of it.

“I went out because I wasn’t feeling too good and I thought that going out with my friends would take my mind off things. But then it was like I was surrounded by all of these couples, and I saw Perfuma and Scorpia dancing together, and I wanted to dance with someone too,” Adora knows she’s blushing when she admits, “so I called you.”

Adora can’t look at Catra when she says that last part. She can already imagine the smirk on Catra’s face.

“So… you called me at two in the morning and woke me up,” Catra says slowly, “because you wanted someone to dance with? Were there no single people at this party except you?”

“I know it’s stupid,” Adora mumbles embarrassedly, turning towards the bathroom door and already moving in the direction of Catra’s bedroom. “And I’m sure there were plenty of single people. I just wanted it to be you.”

Adora’s not just talking about dance partners when she says that last part. She can’t tell if Catra knows or not.

“You…” Catra starts, but Adora doesn’t find out what she’s going to say. Instead, she just holds open her bedroom door and says, “go on. Get some more rest. Depending on when you wake up, you might have to leave through the window. But you came in that way, so I guess it works.”

Adora almost asks why as she climbs back into Catra’s bed and feels that familiar scent wrap around her like a warm hug. But then she remembers. Catra being so insistent that she had to be quiet, because it would be ‘really bad for her’. The other occupant of the house getting up, and the look of sheer terror on Catra’s face.

Forget being too hungover for serious conversations.

“Catra,” Adora says, because Catra stays right by the door, Melog stood by her feet. “Is… is everything okay here?”

“I’m just… not supposed to have people over,” Catra answers, and it seems like the vaguest answer she could’ve possibly given. “My foster mother can’t see you. She…” Catra pauses, sighs, and then mumbles, “just get some rest.”

“Come here,” Adora says, and she’s surprised when Catra actually does. But not before shutting her bedroom door and pulling the lock across. Catra stands by the bed, and Adora takes her hand, “No, come here.”

Slowly, Catra sits down next to her, and little Melog jumps up and gets comfortable on the end of the bed. “It’s fine, Adora.”

Carefully, Adora reaches out and takes Catra’s hand. She’s not thinking about the Cyra thing anymore, not when… not when she has this horrible thought at the back of her mind. She has to ask. Under any other circumstance, she’d be too awkward to ask a serious question. But Catra looks so small, sat there next to her, a strangely blank look in eyes that are usually sparkling and bright.

“She doesn’t…” Adora pauses, taking a breath, “she doesn’t hurt you, does she?”

“No,” Catra says, and Adora isn’t sure she believes it until Catra keeps talking, “not physically, anyway. That’s not her style. She’s smacked me a couple of times, but it’s not… it’s not like that.”

Not physically, anyway. Adora pulls Catra close, and her heart breaks at the way she tenses because she’s not used to hugs, and Adora is starting to understand why. “Catra.”

“It’s okay,” Catra murmurs into Adora’s shoulder, relaxing into her touch, “she mostly just ignores me. It’s if I ever break one of her stupid rules or do something she doesn’t like, she… she just has this way of getting into my head and I don’t know if I can take it happening again. Not right now.”

“What does she say to you?” Adora lets her fingers move through Catra’s hair, and god, it’s so soft. Even with a few tangles from sleeping. Catra seems soothed by the motion, so she keeps going. “I need to know so I can figure out just how much I have to kick her ass.”

She adds the joke to try and make Catra feel better, but she doesn’t laugh. Instead, Catra just melts further into Adora’s touch and buries her face into her shoulder. “Just the usual spiel about how I’m a lazy, worthless monster who doesn’t deserve or isn’t capable of love, and that it’s no wonder my parents or anyone else never wanted me.”

There are a couple of inner realisations in Adora’s head when she hears that, but she pushes them aside. That isn’t important right now. Catra’s safety is important.

“You can come and stay with me,” Adora says, and she means it, “Melog can come too. My mom and Razz both basically wanted to adopt you on Thanksgiving anyway and Razz is a massive cat person. Seriously. If she lived alone, she’d be the local crazy cat lady.”

Catra lets go of her and lies back against her pillows. She stares up at the ceiling, still with the same blank expression on her face. Like she’s numb to it all. “It’s fine. I’m leaving once we graduate anyway, whether I want to or not.”

“Leave before, then,” Adora says simply. She reaches out and lets her fingertips graze Catra’s, and she looks at her meaningfully when she says, “I want you to come and stay with me. We can talk to my mom and Razz, and you won’t have to put up with your foster mother’s bullshit anymore.”

Catra’s eyes meet hers, and Adora smiles softly, trying to show she means it. Trying to show more than just that. “She’s right, though. She’s always been right. I mean, they had to know I was messed up in some way. Why would they have left me otherwise?”

“Have you ever considered that maybe they were doing what they thought was best for you?” Adora says, and Catra lets out a derisive laugh. “I know it didn’t work out that way, but they probably didn’t think they could take care of you and wanted you to go to someone that could. And all of that stuff your foster mother says, it’s not true. None of it.”

Catra sighs. “Sure.”

It’s disbelieving and there’s a dry, sarcastic quality to it. For once, Adora doesn’t find it endearing. “It’s not true, Catra. Everyone is deserving of love, and your foster mom is probably a bitter old hag because she never got any and wants to take it out on you. You’re the most hardworking person I know, you have so much worth, and you’re so caring and kind and loving even if you hide it behind sarcasm and eye rolling.”

“And you can forget the whole ‘nobody wants me’ thing,” Adora takes in a deep breath and takes Catra’s hand, “because I do. You’ve got your proof right in front of you.”

“You…” Catra stares down at their hands and then back up at Adora. She looks confused and sits up like she’s trying to get a better look at Adora, trying to see if she’s genuine or not. “You do?”

“I called you at two in the morning because I wanted to dance with you,” Adora laughs quietly and rests her forehead gently against Catra’s, “of course I want you. I thought you were supposed to be the smart one here.”

Catra’s grip tightens around Adora’s hand, and slowly, heterochromatic eyes flutter closed. Adora is so close to her that she can count her freckles.

Catra sighs. “Maybe you’re rubbing off on me.”

“Maybe,” Adora’s eyes close too, and she feels her there, knowing that Catra knows. “Come and stay with me. I don’t want you to be around her anymore.”

“Only if it’s okay,” Catra says, and Adora pulls away grinning when she realises it’s a yes. “I don’t want to be-”

“You’re not a bother, or a burden, or any other synonym,” Adora says, shifting to grab the bedsheets and pull them up. She doesn’t hesitate to pull Catra close, and she has a hazy memory of doing the same thing last night. Only this time, she lies on her back, letting Catra curl into her side. “You deserve to be happy, Catra.”

Catra doesn’t say anything for a long time. She just lies there, one arm slung protectively over Adora’s stomach, her face buried in Adora’s shoulder. Adora holds her close, keeping an arm around her, already vowing to make up for all the hugs Catra has never gotten.

Just when Adora thinks Catra has fallen back to sleep, she finally speaks.

“It’s me,” Catra says into Adora’s shoulder, “I’m Cyra.”

Even though she thought she knew that, Adora’s heart pretty much goes into overload at the confirmation. She’d definitely be jumping up and doing some kind of dorky happy dance if her arms weren’t wrapped securely around Catra, and if she didn’t think she’d fall over and break something. It’s Catra. Every single thing Cyra ever said about wanting to hold her hand, kiss her, take her on cute dates, it was Catra saying them.

But instead of freaking out because of the excitement and happiness and overwhelming positivity in her chest, Adora just squeezes her gently around the waist. “I know.”

“You know?” The question is muffled by Adora’s shirt, but Catra’s surfaces to look her over. “Since when?”

“Okay, honestly, only since I woke up today,” Adora admits, blushing under Catra’s gaze. Catra looks like she’s waiting for more of an explanation, so Adora continues. “Turns out sniffing people actually is a pretty good way of identifying them. And I kind of embarrassingly inhaled your shirt enough that I thought when I woke up, I’d fallen to sleep doing that. Then I connected the dots.”

“And you weren’t…” Catra pauses, and she looks uncharacteristically nervous when she asks, “you weren’t going to say anything?”

Adora knows why she’s asking. The unspoken question hangs between them. Is it because you don’t want to be with me? Adora lets her fingers wind through Catra’s messy hair and she breathes out, “I wanted to. I’m just really tired and hungover and I didn’t want to keel over in the middle of a serious conversation.”

“Would’ve been funny,” Catra says quietly, but her usual dry humour doesn’t hit the mark. She’s still frowning, but she lies back down next to Adora and lets her arm drape over Adora’s stomach. “Get some rest.”

Bravely, Adora lets her hand slip up Catra’s t-shirt to rest on her waist. She’s so warm, and her skin is so soft, and Catra lets out this almost inaudible gasp at the contact. Adora can’t believe she’s this lucky. She can’t believe it’s really Catra. “I wanted it to be you. I couldn’t stop thinking about you after Thanksgiving. I always wanted to be around you and I felt bad about it, because I didn’t… I didn’t think it could be you.”

“That’s when I figured it out,” Catra admits, and Adora feels her stomach drop that she’d known for that long. “You kind of freaked out when I said I liked Oreos. And then you wouldn’t shut up about how Disney Channel movies are cinematic masterpieces, and then I went back through all of the emails and everything fit.”

“You should’ve told me,” Adora says, knowing it sounds a lot easier than it must’ve been for Catra, “I obviously wouldn’t have been disappointed considering how happy I am right now.”

“I thought about it. Barely.” Catra says, “But I tried to say something mildly flirtatious and you looked pretty uncomfortable.”

Adora strains to remember, and then she realises what Catra is talking about. When she’d somehow made her already incredibly attractive voice even more attractive – which Adora hadn’t known was possible – and suggested Adora should make her dinner some time.

“I looked uncomfortable because I liked you flirting with me. I felt bad because at that point I was ninety percent certain it was Huntara I was talking to,” Adora says. Catra’s voice had given her shivers, and she’d felt a tug in her stomach, like she wanted to lean over and kiss her. Then the guilt had hit because she was so sure it couldn’t be Catra. “You really didn’t think you’d ever have a chance with me?”

“Not just you,” Catra says quietly, her voice barely above a whisper. Almost like she didn’t want Adora to hear her. “Anyone.”

“Well, that’s dumb,” Adora laughs without thinking, “you’re so smart, funny, beautiful, and you’re basically a big softie even if you pretend that you’re not. You’re a total catch. And I’m lucky enough to be the girl that caught you. Which is good, because now my grandma has to tell me I’m making a smart choice.”

“I’m not good with the feelings stuff,” Catra says. She sits up again, looking at Adora so gently that it sends her heart into overdrive. “Or people stuff in general. I never know where I stand with people, so I keep them away because I’m terrified of being abandoned. Every single instinct is telling me to push you away right now.”

Adora watches her carefully. Catra stares back, and then slowly, her hand reaches out. There’s a new kind of confidence about Catra as she lets her fingers thread through Adora’s, tethering them together in an unspoken agreement.

“But I don’t want to push you away,” Catra finally says, looking down at their linked hands, “even if you do leave me in the end. Being with you, even for just a little while… it would be worth the pain of losing you. If you really want me, Adora… I’m here.”

“Of course I do,” Adora squeezes Catra’s hand, “you’re… you. You’re the girl that listens to my dumb rants about Mondays and debates me on the best snack food and comforts me when I’m feeling down. And you’re also the girl that calls me an idiot and does my math homework for me and comes out to my mother just to show me it’d be okay. I want you, Catra. All of you. And definitely not just for a little while.”

Finally, Catra looks like she believes her. She smiles that beautiful, radiant smile, the one she always hides or tries to stifle. She looks so completely unafraid to be happy, and Adora can’t help herself. She sits up in bed, cups Catra’s jaw with her free hand, and guides her into a kiss.

It’s a wordless confession of everything she’s ever felt for Cyra, and for Catra. Catra lets out this adorable squeak in surprise when Adora pulls her in, but when she kisses her back, it’s like Adora’s whole body comes alive. Catra’s lips work against hers like they were always meant to be doing that. They’re so soft and taste like the marshmallows from her absurdly sugary breakfast and they part easily when Adora’s tongue lightly grazes her bottom lip. Catra’s free hand grips a clump of Adora’s t-shirt at her shoulder, so tightly that Adora wonders if she’ll ever let go and decides she really wouldn’t mind if she doesn’t.

Adora doesn’t know who pulls away first. They barely do, anyway. Adora rests her forehead against Catra’s again, and her eyes open slowly to the beautiful girl in front of her. Catra’s eyes are still closed, a soft smile toying at her mouth. Adora lets her thumb trace across Catra’s cheek, grazing over the freckles dotted there that remind her of the stars in the night sky. It’s a fitting comparison, but not even the universe can hold a candle to Catra’s beauty.

“Wow,” Catra breathes the word out, “so that’s what a kiss is supposed to feel like.”

Adora laughs softly, because she feels exactly the same. She doesn’t have much to compare it to – a few spin the bottle kisses at parties – and maybe that’s because those kisses weren’t much to begin with.

Slowly, Catra opens her eyes. Shimmering ocean blue and deep amber that shines like gold. Adora smiles at her, and Catra smiles back, letting out this fond little laugh that makes Adora’s heart skip.

“Bet you’re glad I drunk dialled you, huh?” Adora finally says and receives one of Catra’s signature eye rolls in return. “Don’t look at me like that. You totally are.”

“You can’t prove a thing,” Catra retorts, poking Adora’s shoulder. “Now shut up and go back to sleep.”

Adora smirks. “Or we could talk about how you literally ghosted me for two weeks. I can’t believe you did that.”

Catra flushes bright red, and it’s probably the most adorable thing she’s ever done. Her beautiful eyes widen, and she flops back onto the bed and rolls over, staring at the wall. “Okay, first, I didn’t ghost you. I told you it was my last email. And second, shut up.”

“Wait, that’s not what ghosting is?” Adora frowns, and she sees Catra’s shoulders shake with a quiet laughter. “Huh. I didn’t know that. I guess we’ll talk about how you held a grudge for four years because you thought I didn’t like you instead.”

“Adora,” Catra growls into her pillow. It’s supposed to sound threatening, but Adora just laughs. “Shut. Up.”

“Never,” Adora lies down and wraps her arms around Catra’s waist from behind, “being my girlfriend means you consent to teasing at all hours of the day.”

“I want to be annoyed with you, but I don’t think it’s possible because of what you just said,” Catra answers, rolling over to face her again. She’s still blushing, but Adora doesn’t think it’s because of the way she was teasing her. “Girlfriend. I’ve never been a girlfriend before. I’m not sure I’ll be all that good at it.”

“I’ve never been a girlfriend before, either,” Adora brings a hand up to tuck Catra’s wild, messy hair behind her ear, “I guess we can figure it out together?”

Catra’s lips brush gently against Adora’s again. “Yeah. Together.”


Slowly, Catra’s eyes blink open.

There’s no sound in the room besides Melog’s light snores from the foot of the bed and the quiet ticking of the clock on her bedroom wall. For a minute, she wonders if she dreamed everything before. It’d be just like her brain to do that to her. Make her see what she could have and take it away.

But then she realises that there are strong arms wrapped lightly around her waist, and blonde hair in her face. Adora’s still here. Adora still wants her. Catra doesn’t quite believe it yet. Maybe only time will make her believe it. But she knows she can believe it, and that’s what matters.

Carefully, Catra shifts in Adora’s arms. Adora doesn’t stir as Catra sits up, and she assumes she always sleeps like a rock. It makes the dumb butterflies in her stomach go a little crazy when she realises she’ll get to learn things like this about Adora that nobody else will. Catra will get to know her so deeply. Surprisingly, it doesn’t terrify her that Adora will get to know her like that too.

She squints over at the clock. In the dark room, she can just make out that it’s almost twelve. Melog had woken her up earlier because the little cat is used to getting breakfast at seven, so that’s almost five extra hours than Catra usually gets. She looks back at Adora again. Her lips are slightly parted, blonde hair splayed all over the pillow like a golden halo. Her chest rises and falls slowly as she breathes, and she looks so peaceful that Catra wants to kiss her again.

Then the memory that they kissed pops into her head again, and Catra knows she’s blushing. God, she’s usually so good at hiding how she feels, and then Adora comes along, and now she’s some blushing mess?

Maybe it’s because she wanted it for so long, even if she didn’t fully realise it. She always thought Adora was beautiful. Not even in a crush way, just in a ‘water is wet’ way. It’s an obvious fact of life – Adora is beautiful. But it’s not just that. She smiles at everyone. She never seems to hold anything back, always giving one hundred percent to everything she does. And she’s the most resilient, determined person that Catra has ever met. Adora is so many amazing things, and she’s here choosing Catra.

It’s fucking wild.

Catra reaches out, pausing with a hand hovering over Adora’s shoulder. Adora’s arms are still half wrapped around her waist, though one has fallen down a little further to her hip. Catra has always been a little bit awkward when it comes to physical contact. She can say with almost a hundred percent certainty that Scorpia was the first person to hug her, back in freshman year. Weaver certainly wasn’t doling out hugs, and the group home had everyone keep to themselves, because who knew who was going to leave next? Touching, even in a platonic way, isn’t something Catra is familiar with.

She wants it, though. Waking up in Adora’s arms the way she had was so perfect. She felt so warm, so safe. The thought of holding Adora’s hand as they walk down the street together sets those dumb butterflies off again. And basically the whole time they watched High School Musical together, Catra had wanted to just curl up with her on the couch, snuggle into her, feel her right there.

She doesn’t know how to say she wants these things. Normally it feels so awkward and uncomfortable to even think about asking. But it’s Adora, and it’s She-Ra, who she’d opened up to about so much. She has to push past her stupid pride for her.

Gently, Catra shakes Adora’s shoulder. She stirs, letting out this quiet groan, blue eyes slowly blinking open. Catra smiles down at her. “Hey, Adora.”

“Catra,” Adora mumbles, pausing to yawn, “what time is it?”

“Nearly twelve,” Catra lies back down next to her, on her side. Pushing past her stupid worries that Adora will push her away, she reaches out and brushes Adora’s hair back from her face. “How are you feeling?”

She means it in the hangover sense, but Adora doesn’t answer it that way. She barely answers it directly. She grins, and her hand squeezes Catra’s waist where her t-shirt had ridden up. “You’re my girlfriend.”

Catra snorts with laughter. “My condolences.”

“Don’t do that,” Adora rolls her eyes, “there will be no self-deprecation under my roof.”

“We’re not under your roof,” Catra points out, and Adora pauses, frowns, and mutters a quiet oh, yeah. Catra smiles, because Adora’s so fucking cute she can’t not smile. “But fine. Just because you look all pouty about it, I won’t.”

“Aw,” Adora actually does pout, but it’s more in a ‘that’s adorable’ way, “you like me. That’s so embarrassing for you.”

“I don’t like you,” Catra nudges her lightly under the covers, and Adora laughs, “you’re at the very bottom of the list of the people I like.”

“But I’m still on the list, which means you like me,” Adora retorts quickly, and Catra doesn’t know how she ever thought Adora was a dumb jock when she comes up with these things so fast. She’s so smart. Catra realises she must be looking at her differently, because Adora smiles, squeezes her waist again, and asks, “what are you thinking about?”

“How you’re so smart,” Catra says, smirking, “and how hot it is.”

The effect is instantaneous. Adora’s face turns beet red, her mouth works like a fish out of water, and she manages a “stop!” before burying her head in Catra’s shoulder to hide.

“It’s true, though,” Catra’s hand hovers with hesitation for a few seconds, but then she lets it run through messy, tangled blonde hair. “You’re so smart. I’m sorry I ever said otherwise.”

Slowly, Adora’s finger traces up and down her spine through her shirt. Catra almost shivers. “It’s okay. I know you never meant it.”

Adora pulls back slightly. She’s still blushing, and Catra realises why when her lips brush against Catra’s cheek. “Whoa.”

“Sorry,” Adora says the moment the word tumbles out of Catra’s mouth, “did you not… I mean, are we taking things slow here? I’ve never had a girlfriend before, and like you said earlier, I have no idea what I’m doing, I just want things to go well and I don’t know if you want to set any boundaries or…”

Catra watches as Adora rambles on about boundaries, an amused smile on her face. She’s so cute when she gets like this, all awkward and wordy. Catra lets her hand cup Adora’s jaw as she interrupts, “Adora, please breathe before you pass the fuck out.”

“Right,” Adora blushes again, bites down on her bottom lip, and then asks, “so… boundaries? Taking things slow?”

“I’m good with whatever you’re good with,” Catra assures her, “but I think taking things slow is off the table when you literally asked me to move in with you.”

Adora’s blush deepens. “Well. That’s a little bit different. I just don’t want to do anything that makes you uncomfortable.”

“Right now, my stomach is making me uncomfortable,” Catra says, “we need to eat, and I think you owe me three meals, so…”

“Catra,” Adora pulls her back when she sits up, “I’m serious. Just… promise you’ll tell me if I ever do anything that’s too much for you.”

“Only if you promise the same thing,” Catra says, and Adora nods, “then we’re good here. Now go cook for me.”

Adora laughs. “I will, but I can’t do it here. I don’t know what ingredients I have to work with. Plus, I want to get you out of here as soon as I can, so… let’s go.”

“Can Melog come?” Catra glances over at the little cat snoozing at the foot of the bed. “I really don’t like leaving them alone with her. But then…”

Catra realises something she hasn’t checked, and her eyes widen. She pulls out of Adora’s grasp and pushes the curtains aside, hoping that the driveway is empty. But no. Of course it isn’t. Weaver’s sleek black Mercedes is parked there, mocking Catra from where it sits.

“She’s here,” Catra mutters, mostly to herself. They’d been talking so loudly. She has to know. She’s probably waiting in the kitchen for Catra to come in so she can give her whatever emotional beatdown she deems necessary.

“She is?” Adora gets out of bed, a gentle hand reaching out to squeeze Catra’s shoulder comfortingly. “Good. I’m going to give her a piece of my mind.”

“Adora, no,” Catra says, but Adora’s already walking towards the bedroom door and unlocking it, “Adora!”

“I’ll handle it,” Adora turns around, and there’s a stubborn fire in her eyes that Catra has never seen before. It stops Catra’s protests. “It’s because of her that I almost lost you. I’ve got a problem with her too. Just stay here, okay?”

“No,” Catra takes her hand, “whatever happens. I’m with you. I’m… I’m done letting her mess with my head.”

A tiny smile breaks through the steely resolve on Adora’s face. Adora brings Catra’s hand up to her lips and presses a soft kiss to the back of it. “Okay. Come on.”

Weaver is in the kitchen, just like Catra thought she’d be. She starts talking before Catra and Adora walk in. “Catra. I don’t know how many times I have to tell you for it to get through that thick skull of yours, but there are certain rules in this house that… oh.

Weaver stops talking when she notices Adora. Her face contorts into what Catra thinks is supposed to be a smile. It doesn’t reach her cold eyes, which are staring directly at Catra in a threatening gaze.

“Hello there, dear,” Weaver addresses Adora. There’s a quick glance down at their linked hands, and Catra knows what she’s thinking. “I’m Catra’s foster mother, Sharon Weaver. It’s so nice to meet one of Catra’s… friends.”

“It’s not nice to meet you,” Adora says flatly, and Catra doesn’t think she’s ever seen her scowl, but she’s doing it now. “I know how you treat Catra, and it ends here. She’s coming home with me, and she’s not coming back.”

Weaver laughs coldly. “Oh, this is amusing,” she gives Catra that look, the one that roots her to the spot in terror. She doesn’t let it shake her. “How did you manipulate this… lovely young woman into caring about you, then?”

“You don’t get to talk to her,” Adora snarls, nudging Catra behind her, “You’ve said enough bullshit. Because that’s all it is. Catra is one of the most kind-hearted people I’ve ever met. She’s not any of the things you’ve tried to make her believe she is. You’re done.”

“I have had to deal with her since she was nine. I think I know her much better than you do.” Weaver’s tone is harsh, but she never shouts. She has a way of making someone crumble without raising her voice. “It’s the same routine. She makes you pity her so you take her in. She is a sociopathic manipulator who will use you for all you are worth and then move onto the next. That is what people are to her. I took her in out of the goodness of my heart, clothed her, fed her, even tolerated that mangy cat, and now she is disappearing the moment I’m no longer useful to her. She will do the same to you too.”

Adora jolts like she’s going to move forwards and bitch slap Weaver, and as much as Catra would love to see that, she can’t let Adora sink to Weaver’s level. That’s what she does. She manipulates to make people unhappy. Catra had let her do it to her for long enough. She almost let it cost her Adora, she realises, and there’s this strange flare of something in her chest.

She was going to tell her. Catra had pretty much decided to tell Adora the truth, and then Weaver came along and ruined it. If it hadn’t been for her, she would’ve had Adora sooner. It makes her hate Weaver just a little bit more.

Adora takes a step forward. “You won’t talk about her like that. I won’t let you.”

Catra pulls her back by the hand, and when Adora turns around questioningly, she shakes her head. “Adora, it’s okay. She’s not worth it.”

“How can it be okay?” Adora asks, and she sounds so sad and hurt that it makes Catra even angrier at Weaver. “How can you let her talk about you like that?”

“I’m not letting her. I let her for almost ten years.” Catra looks up at Weaver, a stubborn resolve in her eyes. She takes a breath, and lets her grip on Adora’s hand tighten, keeping herself grounded. “You did nothing for me. Nothing except make me hate myself and get in my head so much that I was making myself unhappy for no reason. Just because it gave you some sort of sick pleasure to see me hurt. It’ll probably take me fucking years to get over everything you did. You were poisoning me, from the very first day. But I’m done, and I won’t let you fuck with my head any longer.”

Weaver’s nails scrape against the kitchen table. It’s the only physical sign of the anger Catra sees blazing in her eyes. “You were always an insolent little brat.”

“Tell it to someone who cares,” Catra snaps, and she’s surprised by her own bravery. Her heart is hammering against her ribs, but she doesn’t let the fear show. Not when Adora is looking at her so proudly, holding her hand tight. “I’m going with Adora and I never want to see you again.”

“Go wherever you like. You would’ve been out of this house the day you turned eighteen if you weren’t still in school.” Weaver says it flippantly, but there’s still that burning anger in her cold eyes. “Do not come crawling back when she realises what an unlovable creature you are and kicks you and that mangy cat out onto the street.”

Catra squeezes Adora’s hand when she steps forwards again. She looks right back at Weaver, pushing aside the doubts and fear inside. “You’re the unlovable one.”

Whatever Weaver says next, Catra doesn’t hear it. She pulls Adora down the hallway, Weaver’s voice just irrelevant background noise in a way it’s never been before. Usually, her words could break through whatever walls Catra put up.

She shuts the bedroom door behind them and leans against it, taking a deep breath. A sleepy Melog looks up from the bed and blinks at her, almost like they’re asking if she’s okay.

Adora actually does ask. “Are you okay?”

Catra looks back at Adora. She takes her hand, and when she says, “I think so,” she doesn’t feel like she’s lying. “I mean, not totally okay. It’s… weird.”

Adora looks concerned. Her thumb traces gently across Catra’s knuckles, communicating silently that she’s there for her. “Weird how?”

“She messed me up a lot. Like I said to her, it’s like she’s been poisoning me from day one, and it’s going to take a really long time for me to get over it. If I ever do.” Catra feels Adora’s fingers tighten around her own when she says that. “I’m not entirely okay. But I do feel like I’m starting to be. Like this is the beginning. It’s kind of like… like I feel free.”

“Good. And just so you know, I’m really proud of you for standing up to her.” Adora’s lips graze her cheek, and slowly, she lets go of Catra’s hand and walks over to pick up her guitar. “Now… let’s pack some of this. Can you drive? We can come back for the rest with Razz’s old car later.”

Catra debates an awkward ‘thanks for being proud’ but instead, she decides to do what she does best; tease Adora. “You can’t drive? Did you run someone over during your test?”

Adora plucks one of the guitar’s strings threateningly. “Careful. I’ll find some scissors and cut these.”

“They’re tougher than they look, actually,” Catra says, “and I’m going to take that as a yes for the running someone over thing.”

“If you have to know, it’s not the practical stuff I’m bad at,” Adora rolls her eyes, “it’s the written test.”

Catra realises why, and then remembers what Adora had said about it in her email. I don’t tell people because they get weird about it. “I could help you study for it, if you want.”

Almost like Adora had expected some sympathetic comment, she looks up in surprise and grins. “Yes. Yeah! That would be really great, actually. My mom says I can have Razz’s old car once I pass, and I know I’ll pass the practical first try once I get the written done. Anyway, are you going to help me pack or are you just going to watch while I do it?”

“Figured dating a jock means she does all the heavy lifting,” Catra smirks at her, but pushes off from the door and heads to the closet to grab her guitar case, “but fine, I guess.”

She puts the case on the bed and Adora lowers the guitar into it. Adora reaches over, finger slowly plucking the strings. “This was another reason why I thought Cyra couldn’t be you.”

Catra closes the case lid and buckles it shut. “Really?”

“Yeah,” Adora says, “studying law at Yale doesn’t exactly scream I play guitar and write songs. Maybe it was wrong of me to play into… stereotypes? Is that even a stereotype? I don’t know. I just didn’t think you’d do that kind of thing.

“Ouch, Adora,” Catra laughs, “so quick to judge.”

“Shut up,” Adora nudges her playfully, “I just didn’t expect it from you. That’s all.”

“Yeah, well,” Catra shrugs, a little awkwardly, because she doesn’t talk about how much she actually enjoys playing and writing music. But it’s Adora, and she already knows. “It’s kind of the only thing I actually like to do, so…”

Adora’s nose crinkles in confusion. Catra resists the urge to kiss it. “Wait, so… why study law, then?”

“I mean, it’s not like anything real can ever come out of me playing a guitar and singing about how pretty my girlfriend is,” Catra shrugs, “law is… practical.”

“Just practical?” Adora raises her eyebrows, and Catra realises how… depressing that sounds. “I always think you should go after what you want. It’s incredibly unlikely I’ll ever make money playing professional soccer, but you can bet I’m going to try my hardest to accomplish that anyway. If you don’t even try, then… you’ve already lost.”

For the second time today, Catra is knocked off her feet by how smart Adora is. She almost tells her again, but she chooses a different way. Catra cups Adora’s jaw and pulls her down into another kiss. As she feels Adora’s arms wrap around her waist, she melts into the touch and wishes they’d been doing this the entire time.

“I’ll never get used to that,” Adora grins as she pulls away. She taps the guitar case once and then nods to Catra’s closet. “Come on. I’ll get some clothes. You grab Melog, and let’s go home.”


Melog looks incredibly confused at the new surroundings. Adora watches as the cat wanders around, sniffing everything, and she half expects Catra to talk to them again. It’s cute when she does that, and Adora doesn’t blame her for it. Melog is so expressive, and Catra had been alone in that house with that horrible woman. It’s no wonder she found solace in her cat.

“Okay, I’m just going to explain the situation to my mom,” Adora says. She already knows that Mara will be okay with it. One time, a lady from her work, Hope, had stayed with them for a while when she went through a divorce. “Just… wait here. And then I can show you my room.”

Catra lowers her guitar case from her back and onto the couch. “Okay.”

Adora flashes her a smile, starts down the hallway, then second guesses herself and turns back. Catra frowns at her, and Adora just pulls her in for a quick kiss. “Sorry, I just… I waited a long time to be able to do that. I’ll be right back.”

Catra’s soft, gentle laugh follows her down the hallway, and Adora can’t wipe the smile off her face. She’s still grinning when she finds her mother in the kitchen, sipping on a cup of coffee while Razz talks about some drama that happened at bingo last night.

“Uh… hi,” Adora announces her presence, leaning against the door frame, “so, there’s something important I need to talk to you about.”

“You found your anonymous girlfriend,” Mara says, and Adora blinks in surprise. What? How did she- “And now you’re wondering how I know. It’s because I’m psychic.”

“No, really,” Adora rolls her eyes, “how do you know?”

“She knows because you’re smiling like an idiot,” Razz says loudly, “I can see that, and I don’t even have my glasses.”

“Right, well,” Adora pauses, trying to think of the best way to phrase this, “so, yeah. You’re right. I found her. It’s- um… it’s Catra.”

“I knew you liked her!” Mara exclaims, and Adora rolls her eyes again. “That’s so perfect! It turned out to be the girl you liked all along.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Adora blushes and waves her mother’s teasing away, “anyway, that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about.”

She tries to make herself look serious, but it doesn’t work with the bright pink blush on her cheeks. At least the words, “it’s important,” make her mom stop teasing her for five minutes.

“Okay,” Mara says, “what’s wrong?”

“I was wondering if Catra could stay here for… the foreseeable future. She- things aren’t okay at home.” Adora tries to explain it. “I couldn’t let her stay there. Oh, also, I was wondering if her cat could stay too. And they’re both already here. And we need to borrow Razz’s old car to go back and get the rest of Catra’s stuff. And you can’t say no because you let your friend from work stay, so…”

“Girlfriend from work, actually,” Mara says, and Adora barely has time to process that before her mom is asking a serious question, “What do you mean by things aren’t okay at home?”

“Her foster mother is emotionally abusive. I heard the way she spoke to Catra, and Catra seemed so scared of her, and I’ve never seen her scared,” Adora says, “I can’t let her stay there.”

“It’s okay. She can stay here as long as she needs to. The cat too.” Mara smiles reassuringly, and Adora feels a weight off her chest. That’s a relief. “What’s her foster mother’s name? We’ll report her and try to get her foster license revoked.”

Adora dives forward and wraps her arms around Mara, almost making her spill her coffee. “Thank you, thank you, thank you. You’re the best.”

“Anything for my daughter and her girlfriend,” Mara says, “she is your girlfriend, isn’t she? Because if you haven’t asked her, I’ll go in there and ask her for you.”

“Yeah,” Adora answers with a smile, “Yeah, she’s my girlfriend.”

“You give her these,” Razz shoves a plate of cookies towards Adora, who takes them and almost drops them, “I like that girl. Let’s hope she can knock some sense into you.”

“Actually, I think she already has,” Mara says, taking a cookie from the plate, “your report card came in the mail today. Let’s just say I’m really proud.”

“Wait, really?” Adora’s eyes widen, and she spots the opened envelope on the table. She grabs it with her free hand and then decides she wants to look at it for the first time with Catra. “Thanks again. For… yeah. Thanks. And my brain hasn’t fully absorbed that you just said that Hope lady is your girlfriend, so expect me to come running back in here demanding to know why you didn’t tell me that in around fifteen minutes when it finally sinks in.”

Adora flashes one last smile and makes her way back to the living room. Catra has already gotten herself comfortable on the couch, and Melog snores on her lap.

“Hey, Adora,” Catra says so softly that it makes Adora’s heart skip, “are those cookies?”

“Razz says they’re for you. And you can stay for as long as you need. And I think my mom just told me she’s bisexual and has a girlfriend, so that’s… like, would’ve been good to know when I was freaking out about her maybe being disappointed that I’m gay.” Adora puts the plate on the coffee table and then holds up the envelope. “Also… my report card came. Want to see if your hard work paid off?”

“It’s your hard work, dummy,” Catra rolls her eyes and reaches forwards to grab a cookie, “go on. Open it.”

“Okay,” Adora pulls the card out of the already-open envelope. She shuffles closer to Catra, so her whole right side is pressed up against Catra’s left, and then reads the grades on the page. “Oh my god.”

Soft lips press against her temple, and Catra’s arm falls gently around her shoulder. “Knew you had it in you.”

“Nothing less than a B minus,” Adora reads over the grades again. The B minus in question was in calculus, which she totally thought she’d fail. Weirdly, that makes it the grade she’s the most excited about. Until she sees… “I got an A in literature!”

“I don’t know why you’re so surprised,” Catra laughs, “you know you’re good at literature.”

“I know, but…” Adora stares down at the little printed A and feels herself swell with pride, “it’s hard, you know. When we have to analyse these long passages, and on really bad days I can barely read them. I didn’t think I’d ever get an A.”

“Well, you got three,” Catra says, glossy black nail pointing them all out, “literature, geography and – why am I not surprised? – gym.”

“Three,” Adora repeats, resting her head on Catra’s shoulder. “We’re definitely celebrating tonight.”

Catra laughs. “Should I put the champagne in to chill?”

“God, no,” Adora balks, “no more alcohol. But we could have a pizza party. Just you, me, and the cast of High School Musical 2. How about it?”

Catra pretends to think about it. “Do I get to ignore the cast of High School Musical 2 and make out with you?”

“No, that movie is a cinematic masterpiece,” Adora teases her, “I warned you before, there wouldn’t be any time for making out during High School Musical. I have to use my mouth for singing.”

“You’re so…” Catra rolls her eyes, “honestly, why do I like such a fucking loser?”

 Adora shrugs. “It’s endearing.”

“You tell yourself that, babe,” Catra snorts with laughter, and Adora’s stomach basically performs a gymnastic routine at the pet name.

It hits her then that this is really real. Catra is really Cyra. Catra is really her girlfriend. The person saying all of those wonderfully soft and romantic things to her was Catra. Even when she was still being a jerk to her in person, behind her screen, Catra was telling her how much she liked her and wanting to be her little spoon and taking Hogwarts sorting quizzes for her.

“Oh my god, I just remembered you’re a Hufflepuff,” Adora snorts with laughter, because that’s the cutest possible result. “You’re like a Hufflepuff who’s pretending she’s in Slytherin. I’m really going to have to go back and reread some of our emails so I can gush about how cute you are.”

Catra scowls at her. “Let’s get one thing straight here, princess. I’m not cute.”

“Remember when I thought that look was threatening?” Adora laughs to herself. She puts her hand under Catra’s chin and guides her into a kiss. Against her lips, she smiles and murmurs, “those were the days, huh?”

Catra shoves her back playfully by the shoulders. “The days when you insulted me while I was just minding my own business, trying to get an Oreo milkshake? Yeah, real fond memories.”

“Oh, shut up,” Adora laughs and pushes her in exactly the same way, “you started it.”

Catra hums mockingly, tapping her chin like she’s thinking. “I don’t think you have any proof of that. I would never do such a thing.”

“Was that like, your special little way of flirting?” Adora asks, and when Catra blushes, she knows she’s right. “Oh my god, it was! You thought insulting me would make me like you? Damn, you really are bad with people.”

“Here we are, though,” Catra gestures around them, “it worked.”

Adora laughs. “It did not work.”

“Sure about that?” Catra questions, leaning in to kiss the tip of Adora’s nose. It’s crazy how right it feels. “I think you like it. Idiot.”

“Say that again to my three A grades,” Adora brings her report card up and holds it in the tiny gap between them, blocking Catra from kissing her, “they’ll tell you who’s the idiot.”

“So…” Catra pushes the report card aside and grips her by the waist, “you?”

“Yeah, you,” Adora retorts, sticking her tongue out childishly. Catra buries her head in Adora’s shoulder and laughs. Adora pulls her close and smiles fondly to herself. “Hey, do you think we should go on a date?”

“I think we need to work our way through the checklist we’ve already got,” Catra says as she pulls back. Her hand finds Adora’s soon enough. “All of your favourite Disney movies, me reading Percy Jackson to you while we snuggle, you teaching me ‘all the sports’, me maybe teaching you a couple of chords. And don’t forget those three meals you owe me. I expect them all to be three courses of fine dining accompanied with a nice bottle of expensive red wine.”

Adora laughs. “Sounds like we’ve got a lot to get started on.”

“We do,” Catra says. She smiles softly to herself, and when she looks up at Adora, it doesn’t waver, her beautiful eyes sparkling happily. “But I’m all in, if you are.”

“Catra,” Adora lets her thumb trace lightly across Catra’s knuckles, “you know I am.”

Chapter Text

Things don’t truly sink in for Catra for a while.

Maybe because part of her is waiting for the punchline. The part where something goes wrong and Adora changes her mind. Maybe the part where Catra does something to ruin it. Maybe where she has to go back to Weaver for some reason.

She can barely believe the offer to stay with Adora and her family, and she’s very cautious that it’s going to get taken away at any given moment. But they do more than just take her in – Mara drives them back to Weaver’s to pick up Catra’s things, and spends the entire time shooting glares at the woman. Weaver doesn’t dare say anything to Catra other than ‘good riddance’, and when that door closes behind her, Catra doesn’t let herself feel relieved.

She’s anxious in Adora’s house. Mostly just because they have no obligation to keep her. If Mara and Razz decide that Catra is too much, she doesn’t know what she’s going to do. She can’t go back to Weaver, that’s for sure. But she tries to conceal her worries and maintains an armour of politeness in the hopes that it’s enough. She doesn’t take more than what she’s offered, and sometimes even when she’s offered things, she doesn’t.

Adora seems oblivious to Catra’s inner conflict – she bounces around the house like the hyperactive golden retriever she is, talking about all of the things they’re going to do. She quite literally makes a list and tells Catra they’ve got to start making their way through it.

She doesn’t settle until Christmas morning, when she wakes up stupidly early for no reason. Adora is still sleeping next to her – Catra has learned she’s a heavy sleeper – snoring lightly with her arms wrapped gently around Catra’s waist. Melog is sleeping in the spot they claimed on their first day, at the foot of Adora’s bed. It isn’t hard to break free of Adora’s hold, and Catra goes to the kitchen for a glass of water.

She doesn’t expect to see Mara in there already, flipping pancakes. Catra is a second away from turning around and slinking back to Adora’s room when Mara turns around and notices her.

“Oh, Catra,” Mara smiles, “I didn’t wake you, did I? I’m trying to be quiet, but my mother’s the cook, not me.”

“No, I just came to get a glass of water,” Catra says quietly. She never knows how to act around Mara and Razz, and generally just avoids them if she can. “Why are you making pancakes at seven in the morning?”

“It’s a Christmas tradition,” Mara explains, “and the one time a year my mom lets me do the cooking. Once they’re all done, I’m going to cut them into Christmas tree shapes and then wave one in front of Adora’s face to wake her up. Do you want to taste test the ones I’ve already made?”

Mara nods over to a big stack of pancakes on a plate next to her. Catra looks at them, aware that her stomach is quietly rumbling, and shakes her head. “No, that’s okay. I don’t want to take away from Adora’s breakfast.”

Mara laughs, but quickly realises that Catra isn’t joking and her expression dips into a frown. “I can tell you don’t feel entirely comfortable here yet, but you don’t need to worry. You’re allowed to get comfortable. I won’t see any kid out on the street, but especially not my daughter’s girlfriend. We’re not going to boot you and Melog out if you eat one too many pancakes.”

Catra pauses by the door. This is usually the kind of conversation she’d run away from. “I just don’t want to overstep. I can give you money for food and rent, I’ve got a summer job-”

“I don’t want your money,” Mara waves the suggestion away, “I just want you to settle down. You’re staying here, and you’re allowed to relax and treat it like a home.”

Catra hesitates, because she realises she doesn’t know what that means. She’s not sure she’s ever had a home before. Weaver’s house certainly wasn’t one. “I don’t know if I know how to.”

“Okay, come here, you need a hug,” Mara turns the heat down on the stove and turns around completely, spreading her arms out. “I give the best ones in this house, so come on.”

Catra hangs back by the door for a few moments. It’s stupid, because she wants to go ahead and hug Mara like any normal person would, but there’s this little voice at the back of her head telling her that it’s a trap.

When she realises that kind of thinking is something Weaver had ingrained in her, Catra pushes herself forwards and lets herself fall into the hug. Mara had lied – her hugs definitely aren’t as good as Adora’s, but Catra is pretty biased. She buries her face into Mara’s shoulder and sighs. Is this what it’s like to have an actually caring parent?

Catra pulls back when she smells burning. “Uh, Mara, your pancakes.”

“Oh, shit,” Mara turns around and quickly pulls the two pancakes in the pan out. They’re completely blackened on one side, and she laughs as she tosses them into the trash and ladles more batter into the pan. “This is why my mother does the cooking around here. If she ever decided to retire, it’d be Adora’s job. The cooking gene skipped me.”

“I’m not exactly a chef either,” Catra says, remembering the one time she tried to make something other than microwaveable pasta. It went incredibly wrong. “If you want, I could help. Maybe not with the hot pan, but I could cut the pancakes into the Christmas trees.”

When Mara brandishes a comically large knife for the job, Catra stares at it a little wide-eyed. “You’re a lifesaver. With two of us, this’ll be done before my mom wakes up and kicks us both out of here.”

Catra takes the knife and gets to work, all while her brain is thinking through things to say. She doesn’t know how to interact with parents, so she always defaults to uber-polite, which Adora keeps rolling her eyes at.

Once she’s shaped a few of the pancakes, she awkwardly clears her throat and says, “so, uh, Adora says you’re a nurse?”

“I am,” Mara says, putting another pancake onto the plate, “it’s tiring, I won’t lie, but I like helping people. Originally, I wanted to be a doctor, but then I found out I was pregnant with Adora. I couldn’t afford medical school and a baby, and I knew which I’d rather have. So, I dropped out and got the nursing job.”

Catra doesn’t know if it’s a sensitive subject. “Do you think you’d go for med school now that Adora is older?”

“No, probably not,” Mara shakes her head, “I know she’s trying hard to get a soccer scholarship, but any money I have saved will go to pay for her college if she doesn’t get one. I’m happy with the life I have, anyway. I’d never trade Adora for anything.”

Must be nice, Catra thinks, but then tries to shake that bitterness away. She’s still working on it when Mara talks again.

“Thank you for making her so happy, by the way,” Mara says, “even before the two of you figured out you were talking to each other. She was always smiling down at her phone like someone had just texted her and told her she’d won the lottery.”

“And if I break her heart you’re going to kick my ass,” Catra finishes, “that’s what you’re going to say next.”

“Yes,” Mara agrees, “but I’ll also kick her ass if she breaks yours.”

“Yeah, sure,” Catra snorts with laughter, because that’s obviously a joke. But when she looks up, Mara looks totally serious. “Wait, really?”

“Yeah,” Mara nods, “I won’t raise a heartbreaker. And I think my mom’s heart might give out if you two broke up. She’s already decided you’re her new grandchild.”

Catra doesn’t know what to say to that. She finds that’s a trend in the conversations she has with parents. She eventually decides on a subject change, and she has no idea why she asks the thing she asks. “Why didn’t you tell her? You know, about you and your girlfriend. Adora kind of mentioned that to me, I hope that’s okay.”

“If I knew she was struggling with her sexuality, I would’ve,” Mara says, and then she laughs lightly and admits, “honestly, it’s kind of a new thing for me too. I never really thought about it before, until Hope and I began to get closer, and that’s one of the things we both bonded over. You and Adora are lucky you’re so confident in yourselves so young. I thought I knew everything there was to know about myself, and it was a little bit of a curveball.”

“Well, I know it means a lot to Adora that you told her,” Catra says, “even though she jokes that it would’ve been nice to know before she spent all that time worrying about what you’d think of her coming out. It’s- she talked to me about it a lot, when we were emailing, and from the way she spoke…”

Catra pauses, and Mara flips another pancake and waits patiently for her to talk. Finally, Catra finds her words. “I always kind of resented my classmates when I saw the way they treated their parents. All teenage angst and I hate you, mom. As someone that never had the luxury, it made me mad that they never appreciated what they had. But not Adora. She talked about how uncomfortable it made her, when you’d joke about guys, but she didn’t want to say anything to correct you because she figured you were trying to bond and she wanted that. She was thinking about you, even though she was hurting herself in the process. It’s… it’s one of the things that made me fall for her. She’s always so appreciative of everything she has.”

“Well, she does have her moments of teenage angst, like the one time I volunteered to chaperone the school dance when she was a freshman and she got annoyed when I decided to break out my amazing dance moves,” Mara laughs, but her expression softens and she says, “I know it’s supposed to be the other way around, but her being brave about who she is… that’s the thing that inspired me to tell her. Sometimes I look at the amazing woman she’s grown into and I can’t believe that’s the little kid who was so obsessed with horses that she wanted to be one.”

“Oh, of course she was the crazy horse girl,” Catra laughs, because she knew she got that vibe from Adora, “there’s always one in every class.”

“She was more than crazy,” Mara says, “one weekend when she was nine, Razz and I decided to take her to Six Flags, and she threw a tantrum because it meant she couldn’t go riding that weekend.”

“She rides horses?” Catra shakes her head as she cuts the next pancake into a vaguely Christmas tree shaped blob. “She’s definitely crazy. I don’t get people who do that. Like, who looks at a gigantic horse and decides yeah, I’m going to get on its back and hope it takes me where I want to go.

“She doesn’t do it anymore. It’s quite an expensive hobby, and she quit when she was thirteen. I know she misses it, and I offered to pick up extra shifts if she wants to start again, but…” Mara smiles sadly, “she wouldn’t go for it. Says she’s got soccer, so it’s not like she doesn’t have something to do in her free time.”

“Maybe I can figure out a date where she gets to ride again. I sure as hell won’t be getting on any kind of horse, but I could watch her have fun,” Catra pauses, “actually, maybe not. I know she’d somehow talk me into it, and I don’t want my obituary to read fell off a horse.

“Have I mentioned how much I love you two together?” Mara asks, and Catra doesn’t know how to respond except for an awkward smile. “Seriously. I’ve never seen Adora so happy. And thank you for being there for her when she felt like she had to stay in the closet. I know how much it meant to her and I’m glad you both found a safe space in each other. I know if you have something on your mind, you’ll most likely go and talk to Adora, but if you ever need a… a parent’s advice on anything… you can always come to me.”

The sentiment means more than Catra knows how to voice. She pauses on the pancake she’s cutting and tries to form words but finds that she fails. Eventually, all she manages is, “thank you. For… everything.”

Mara seems to know what she means. She smiles, drops the last pancake onto the plate for Catra to cut, and doesn’t say anything else except, “Go wave one of those in front of Adora’s face and watch as she jumps up like her spidey-senses have been activated. You’ll laugh for hours.”

“I do love laughing at her,” Catra says with a slightly devious grin, grabbing one of the pancakes off the top of the stack and heading back to Adora’s room to do just that. It’s just as hilarious as Mara described – when Adora catches the pancake’s scent, she sits up instantly, face-first into the thing.

Embarrassment always seems to bounce right off her, even when Catra stands by the bed laughing her ass off. Adora rolls her eyes and starts to eat the pancake she’d just faceplanted. “Wow, haha, Adora’s excited for pancakes. So funny.”

“It’s funny the way it just woke you up like that,” Catra says between laughs, “you’d think that you hadn’t eaten for a week.”

“I love my Christmas pancakes, okay?” Adora reaches out and shoves Catra lightly, and then her beautiful blue eyes widen and she gasps. “It’s Christmas.

“Well done with that deduction, Sherlock,” Catra teases her, holding out her hand, “come on. There are way too many pancakes in the kitchen. Give the rest of that one to Melog, they look like they want it.”

“Wait, I want to give you your present first,” Adora says, but she passes the little bit of leftover pancake to an excited Melog and receives a happy purr in response. “It’s kind of something I want to do in private, if that’s okay.”

Catra raises her eyebrows. “Uh… what?”

“Not in that way!” Adora blushes. “I just want to tell you something and I don’t want my mom and Razz watching.”

“Okay,” Catra watches as Adora gets up and walks over to her closet, digging round in the back. She pulls out a little bag, and it doesn’t take Catra long to deduce what’s going to be in it. “Tell me you didn’t get me jewellery.”

“It’s sort of a present for both of us,” Adora says like that makes it any better. She sits down on the bed and pulls Catra down next to her. She opens up the bag herself, and there are two little boxes inside. She passes one to Catra. “Open it.”

“Adora,” Catra starts, “you-”

“Just accept it and open it, okay?” Adora interrupts, and Catra has never heard her sound so serious. “It’s important to me.”

“Okay,” Catra says, and she opens the little box to find a pretty silver ring inside, “you got me a ring. We’ve been dating for five days.”

“It’s not- I’m not proposing, obviously,” Adora laughs, opening up the other box to show the exact same ring there too. “It’s… it’s a promise ring. I know you worry that I’m going to leave, or I’m going to change my mind or something, so the ring is to remind you that I’m here. It’s there to remind you that I’ll always want you. That’s my promise to you. That’s why I got two. As long as we’re both wearing them, we’re both promising each other that we’re always going to be here for one another.”

As tempted as Catra is to make some stupid joke about how they’ll be breaking that promise every time they take the rings off to shower, she’s a little overwhelmed. She kind of assumed that Adora had been oblivious to how anxious Catra had been feeling – she’d been trying her best to conceal it.

She’s genuinely speechless. The only response she manages is leaning in and pulling Adora in for a kiss. Adora seems surprised by the action, but only at first, because she melts into it and wraps her arms gently around Catra’s waist, pulling her closer so that when Catra pulls back from the kiss, they’re still touching.

“I didn’t know you knew how I was feeling,” Catra admits, “honestly, I wasn’t sure if I wanted you to know.”

“I’m your girlfriend, dummy. You should talk to me about how you’re feeling.” Adora pokes her in the cheek lightly, and Catra rolls her eyes and bats her hand away. “But honestly, it wasn’t hard to figure it out. Sometimes… sometimes you look at me like you’re going to blink and I’m going to disappear. Like you don’t believe this is really happening.”

“A part of me doesn’t believe it,” Catra says, because there’s always that little worry at the back of her mind when she wakes up every day, expecting to open her eyes to her bedroom at Weaver’s. “But I’m trying to.”

“I know,” Adora gently takes Catra’s hand by the wrist and uses her other hand to pull the ring from the box, “but any time you doubt, you can look down at your hand and be reminded. And then you’re going to call me and I’ll be there to reassure you. I know it was probably a lot easier for you to talk about your feelings when I was just an entity behind a screen, but it’s still me. And I’ll always be here for you.”

Catra watches as Adora slides the ring onto her finger and then brings Catra’s hand up to her lips to kiss the back of it. When she goes to put her own ring on, Catra stops her. “Let me?”

“Yeah,” Adora drops the ring in Catra’s hand and smiles. As Catra slides the ring onto Adora’s finger, Adora nudges her playfully. “Hey. You know all those times I signed my emails with love?”

“Yeah,” Catra says, “I remember. Wasn’t that long ago.”

“Well…” Adora’s thumb traces a little heart across Catra’s knuckles as she holds her hand, “I meant it. In that way. I love you.”

Catra has never said those words to anybody. Not even in a platonic way. She never thought she would, either, but when Adora is looking at her like that, and her whole body feels so light, she has no trouble saying in return, “I know. I meant it too. I love you, Adora.”

“Wow, okay,” Adora’s cheeks flush a gentle pink and she grins so widely that it makes Catra’s heart skip. “Merry Christmas to me.”

“Five days in and you’re already telling me you love me,” Catra teases her, “I guess you’ll actually be proposing in about a month?”

“I- shut up,” Adora laughs, rolling her eyes, “you know it’s different. If we started talking in person, I would’ve asked you out months ago.”

Catra hums. “If we started talking in person, we definitely wouldn’t be here right now.”

“I don’t believe that,” Adora says with a shrug and that easy smile. She pulls Catra up, and her arms wrap around her waist, pulling her close. “You had me falling for you in person and feeling crazy guilty about it, so…”

Catra lets Adora pull her in for a quick kiss, and when she pulls away, she wraps her arms around Adora and buries her face in her shoulder. She holds on tight, like Adora is going to fall through her fingers like liquid and evaporate, and it overwhelms her. Just the simple realisation that this is real, and that Adora actually wants this. Adora feels the same way Catra feels about her.

“Can I be honest with you?” Catra says, and she’s not sure what makes her say it. She clings onto Adora, and Adora’s fingers wind their way through her hair. “I don’t know if I ever intended on meeting you. I never even considered that this would actually happen. If we ever organised anything, I probably would’ve chickened out of it.”

“That’s okay,” Adora says easily, and when Catra looks up in surprise, she smiles and presses a soft kiss to her forehead. “I would’ve found you eventually. Now, come on. I’m hungry, and Melog is staring at you like they’re waiting for their breakfast, so…”

Almost on cue, Melog starts that loud meowing that basically translates to food now. Catra rolls her eyes at the little cat, and steps back from Adora, but she doesn’t let go of her hand. “Okay. Let’s feed the demon cat before the claws come out.”

Adora laughs but stops Catra before she can walk out of the bedroom. She smiles that soft, happy smile of hers, and pulls Catra in for another quick kiss. “Merry Christmas, baby.”

The pet name is enough to leave Catra a blushing mess, and Adora grins, because she’d clearly known exactly what she was doing.

“Aw,” Adora laughs, “you’re so cute.”

“Shut up,” Catra rolls her eyes and reaches out to shove her lightly, “you’re an asshole.”

“An asshole that you looooove,” Adora grins, “god, I’m never going to get over that. You love me. I knew you were a secret softie.”

“You don’t know anything,” Catra retorts, but when Adora just smiles knowingly, she sighs. “Fine. Okay. Maybe. But only around you. You tell anyone else, you die.”

Adora snorts. “What’re you going to do, cuddle me to death?”

“You joke now, but I’d probably find a way,” Catra says, pulling Adora out of the bedroom and towards the kitchen, “so if you’re smart, you’ll shut up.”

Adora grins. It’s that smug, arrogant grin that used to drive Catra absolutely nuts. It still does, but in a positive way now. “Right. Sure. I think my 3 A’s are enough to prove that I’m smart.”

“Are you still going on about that?” Razz asks as she shuffles past. “I already gave you twenty dollars for it.”

“Hey, if she gets twenty for three A’s, can I show you my report card?” Catra jokes, and when she does, Mara meets her gaze with a proud smile. “Actually, every report card I’ve ever gotten.”

Adora rolls her eyes. “Okay, we get it, you’re smart.”

“Yeah, I am,” Catra says, and she softens a little bit when she says, “but you are too. That’s why I’m in love with you. I only like smart girls.”

Adora flushes, but she puffs her chest out proudly as she sits down at the kitchen table. “That’s right. I’m smart. You and me, we’re just two scholars.

She says it with a weird inflection that makes Catra snort with laughter, and when she sits down next to her at the table, they meet each other’s gaze with a soft, knowing smile. There’s a weird feeling in Catra’s chest – it’s not love, because she knows what that feels like. It’s almost like serenity.

If this is going to be my life from now on, Catra thinks, I’m not sure if I’ll remember what being unhappy is like.


Adora is so incredibly grateful that they’re off school for winter break.

She has a break from learning about math and science and whatever else, which means she can perfectly dedicate every single moment of her time to learning about Catra.

She knows that she already knows a lot. Probably more than anyone else knows, from everything Catra told her as Cyra. But Adora wants to know more. She wants to know everything.

It starts with little things that she picks up. She’d known that Catra prefers being the little spoon from her emails, but she didn’t know the way Catra likes to snuggle. It’s like she curls into Adora, wraps herself around her so every single part of her is touching Adora in some way. She holds on tight, like Adora is about to disappear, and Adora holds her just as tightly, reassuring her that she isn’t.

It’s how they sleep every night, Adora holding Catra and Catra clinging onto Adora, and Adora doesn’t know how she ever slept before.

She picks up other things, too. Like the way Catra has an absurd hatred for socks, slippers, and sometimes shoes, but deals with them because apparently walking around barefoot is ‘rude’. Adora hides her socks after that, because she wants Catra to feel comfortable at home.

She learns that Catra wasn’t lying when she said she was hopeless in the kitchen, when Adora adds ‘baking cookies together’ to her list of things she wants to do with her, and it basically ends up a disaster.

“I know it’s petty,” Adora says as Catra tries to fish out the extraordinary amount of eggshell she managed to crack into the bowl, “but I always feel so proud when I’m better than you at something, because you always seemed so perfect at everything.”

“Okay, I’m done,” Catra pushes the bowl away with a childish pout. “They can be eggshell cookies, I don’t care. It’ll give them a nice crunch.”

It’s one of the first things Adora learns about in-person Catra; the reason she’s so perfect at everything she does is because she outright refuses to do the things she’s not perfect at. She’s a disaster in the kitchen, and when Adora manages to drag her outside to have a friendly penalty shoot game, she’s a disaster at that, too. You’d think they’re playing dodgeball, with the way Catra lets out the cutest little squeaks and runs in the opposite direction of all the shots Adora sends her way.

Adora literally wins ten to one in that game, and the one is because she felt bad and let the ball roll past her, just so Catra could say she scored one goal. And even then Adora had to give the ball a slight nudge to the right so it actually ended up in the net.

“Sports are dumb,” Catra loudly proclaims after her crushing defeat, launching the soccer ball across the garden. Adora thinks she’s aiming for the fence, but it bounces off Razz’s garden waste bin and rolls across the grass to a stop.

“Well, we’ve got like a thousand other sports to try, so don’t discount it yet!” Adora answers peppily, even though she doesn’t intend on making Catra play anything other than soccer with her. And she’d already tried to, for Adora, so that’s what matters. “You might turn out to be a really skilled water polo player.”

What Catra is really skilled at is music. She avoids letting Adora hear her play for a long time. Not explicitly, but any time Adora brings it up, she laughs awkwardly and mumbles something about, “later.”

It happens by accident; Adora comes back into her bedroom after helping Razz in the kitchen to Catra playing a song on her guitar. She thinks it’s supposed to be played on an acoustic, because it’s a softer piece, but it still sounds nice on the strings of her unplugged electric.

Hey you, if you hear me calling,” Catra sings, and Adora’s eyes widen. She’s talented. She’s so talented, and Adora can’t understand why she wants to waste it studying law. “Hey you, if you see me falling…”

“Did you write that?” Adora asks. The guitar ceases and Catra jumps in surprise, letting out a quiet little yelp. “Sorry,” Adora says, sitting down on the edge of the bed next to her girlfriend. “But did you?”

“I- uh,” Catra says, blushing embarrassedly, “yes. You weren’t supposed to hear that.”

“I’m glad I did,” Adora says, and then quickly, “can I hear the full song?”

Catra strums a random chord and shrugs. “I don’t know.”

Adora laughs. “You don’t know the full song?”

“No, not- ugh,” Catra rolls her eyes and flops backwards on the bed, her guitar laid across her stomach, “It’s just embarrassing, okay? The songs I write… they’re like- really personal. I’ve never really talked to people about my feelings or whatever, so that’s how I get them out, and it’s- I don’t know. It’s awkward.”

“That’s exactly why I want to hear them. I want to know how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking,” Adora reaches out and brushes her fingers through Catra’s hair, “and I want to hear your pretty voice again. I promise I won’t tease you about how cute you are.”

Catra raises her eyebrows, and Adora knows that tempted her. “Forever?”

“For… a week,” Adora considers, and Catra sits up again, one hand curling around the neck of her guitar. “Come on. That’s a good deal. No teasing about anything for a whole week.”

Catra squints at her. “If you do it anyway, what do I get?”

“Lots of kisses?” Adora offers. She lets her hand trail across Catra’s jaw, thumb tracing lines between the freckles dotted on her cheek. “And we can play Trivial Pursuit like you wanted, even though it’s the most boring game ever invented and you’ll automatically win because you know a bunch of stuff I don’t.”

Catra laughs softly, leaning into Adora’s touch. “Okay. I’ll sing for you. But you can’t look at me with those big blue eyes or I’ll forget what I’m supposed to be doing, so… turn around.”

Adora smiles. Catra’s so cute when she gets nervous, but Adora promised she wouldn’t tease her, and she figures that starts now. So she presses a soft kiss to Catra’s cheek and turns around. “Okay. Wow me.”

Catra does exactly that. ‘Wow’ doesn’t even summarise it. Her voice is amazing, the perfect balance of smooth and raspy, and she plays the guitar like it’s second nature. But it’s the words that make Adora’s heart skip. She’s hearing Catra’s raw, real feelings for her. Catra has always been the type to keep her feelings to herself – Adora knows this. And the song she sings is her asking for help, asking if Adora will take on her burdens and support her and telling her that she’ll do the same thing for her.

“Don’t make fun of me,” Catra says when the final chord rings out, “or I might actually just run into the woods and never come back.”

“I’d never make fun of you,” Adora says, even though they both make fun of each other all the time. Catra looks at her emphatically, and Adora laughs. “Okay, not for anything real anyway. You’re really, really talented, Catra. And I’ll have to kick your ass if you don’t even try to do anything with your music.”

Catra laughs softly, and Adora can tell that the words meant something to her. But she doesn’t say it. “Please. I’d kick your ass before you kick mine.”

Adora rolls up her t-shirt sleeve – technically Catra’s t-shirt, because she’d taken to picking and choosing from Catra’s clothes and Catra had been doing the same with Adora’s – and flexes her bicep. “Look at that. I’d have you on the ground in a second.”

Catra raises her eyebrows, putting her guitar out of the way. “You want to go right now?”

For a moment, they both stare at each other, daring the other to strike first. Then Adora smirks, lets out a deafening war cry, and pounces on Catra, pinning her down to the bed. Catra pushes up to knock her off, but Adora keeps her pinned, smirking down at her until she eventually gives up and glares at her.

Adora laughs, leaning down as if she’s going to kiss her. Her lips are millimetres from Catra’s, and she laughs and whispers, “told you I’d win.”

Pfft, I let you win,” Catra scoffs, but there’s a pink blush rising on her freckled cheeks, “I knew your jock pride couldn’t take it if I won, so I was just being a considerate girlfriend.”

“Mhm, sure,” Adora smirks, but presses a soft kiss to Catra’s lips. “Thanks for being a considerate girlfriend, baby.”

The pet name has the effect Adora wanted; the subtle blush on Catra’s cheeks rises, and she breaks the eye contact in embarrassment. “Okay, get off me.”

Adora laughs but rolls over and lies on her bed next to Catra. She finds her hand and tangles their fingers together and decides that this is all she ever needs. Just Catra, holding her hand and singing to her and adorably rage-quitting everything she’s not immediately perfect at.

They’re in their own little world for a while; Adora knows she basically drops off the face of the planet over winter break. When her friends ask her if she wants to do anything, like go out to one of the parties on, Adora tells them she has a lot of studying to do. Which is technically true, because she’s studying Catra.

It’s not just Catra’s mannerisms, likes and dislikes that Adora is trying to get to know. It’s in the physical sense too. When Mara is working a late shift one night, and Razz is out at bingo with her friends from her book club, Adora realises it’s a golden opportunity to get started on that.

She knows Catra’s lips well enough now. Adora has basically committed every inch of her beautiful face to memory. Every single fleck of gold in her beautiful amber eye, and every speck of grey in her blue one. She’s counted the freckles on her cheeks – thirteen on the left, seventeen on the right, and six across the bridge of her adorable nose. She learns that the strands of hair just behind Catra’s ears start off grey at the roots, and when Adora teases her for being an old lady at eighteen, Catra rolls her eyes and says they’ve always been like that.

But Adora comes to learn the other parts of Catra too. The parts nobody else has been allowed to learn before. She learns the way Catra’s jawline feels to kiss, she studies and memorises all of the beauty spots and stretch marks and scars on Catra’s body and makes sure to kiss each and every one. She lets her fingers explore every inch of Catra’s beautiful body and learns exactly how to get her to make the most wonderful sounds when Adora’s hand wanders up her thighs to touch her in a place where nobody else has.

Adora spends her winter break taking in every single part of Catra that she can. She’s totally absorbed in her, falling for her more every single day. Her Catra. Her Cyra. Her love.

Adora learns things about herself, too. She learns that she hates not touching Catra. Maybe it’s because she went so long without it, because they spent all of that time talking to each other online and Adora always craved it. But now that Catra is right there, Adora can’t stop.

When they’re eating together, Adora makes sure she’s sat next to Catra at the table. She’ll sit basically on the edge of her chair, just so her leg will be pressed up against Catra’s. When they’re on the couch, Adora always has an arm around Catra’s shoulder. In bed at night, they fall asleep tangled together. When Adora came in from a run wanting to cuddle with her girlfriend and found Catra studying, she sat right next to her, ran her fingers softly over golden-brown skin and played with her messy, wild hair until Catra finished.

It's like she’s got an addiction to it. She doesn’t know how she’s going to cope when they go back to school, because she doesn’t share any classes with Catra.

But Adora pushes school from her mind for now. It’s still winter break, and she and Catra are in their own, special little world. She’s aware that she’s maybe not being the best friend right now, but she also doesn’t care. All she wants right now is Catra.

On New Year’s Eve, they almost have the house to themselves. Mara is working the late shift, and Razz goes to bed at seven p.m. on most nights, so they’re basically left to their own devices. Usually Adora would be going out to a party with her friends – Bow and Glimmer had even texted and asked what time they were picking her up, but Adora knows from her emails that Catra doesn’t care for parties and drinking, so she says she’s staying home.

“Is Razz going to stop making me all of these cookies?” Catra asks when Adora walks back into the kitchen after putting her phone on charge in her room. “I feel impolite if I say no, but my jeans are getting tight if you know what I mean.”

“Maybe that means you should take them off,” Adora says as she wraps her arms around Catra’s waist from behind and rests her chin on her shoulder. “I definitely wouldn’t be complaining.”

Catra laughs. “You really just take any opportunity you can, huh?”

“Don’t act like you don’t like it,” Adora says as she lets her go. When Catra turns around, Adora moves her hand up to cup her jaw and traces her thumb across the freckles on Catra’s left cheek. “I can’t get over how pretty you are.”

“Shut up,” Catra says, but there’s a pink tint to her cheeks as she mutters, “I guess you and your dopey face are pretty cute too.”

“Come on,” Adora takes Catra’s hand instead, and uses her free one to bat Catra’s other hand away from the plate of cookies. “Stop that. I slaved over that lasagne in the oven, you’re not going to spoil it by eating my grandma’s cookies. I’m trying to give you that romantic homecooked meal date that we promised.”

Catra hums. “Including the expensive red wine?”

“I mean…” Adora pulls her over to the fridge and opens it up. There’s a bottle of prosecco in there – a gift from her mom for Adora and Catra to share as a New Year’s Eve treat. “Mom bought that for us to have, but I didn’t think… I didn’t think you drank.”

“I don’t, really,” Catra shrugs, “but sometimes I make exceptions. Besides, I figured you’re only staying home because of me-”

“Okay, I am, but not in the way you probably think,” Adora interrupts her, “I just want to be with you. Whether that’s at home or a party. I just know that you’re not really interested in partying, so… I figured we could have a nice romantic night in and see the new year in together.”

“You’re such an idiot,” Catra says fondly, and Adora pulls the bottle of prosecco out of the fridge. “I would’ve gone to a party with you if that’s what you wanted to do. But I wouldn’t know, because you didn’t say anything.”

“I just didn’t want to push you into something that I know you’re not interested in,” Adora says with a shrug, “that’s all.”

“You said all of that stuff to me about wanting to know how I’m feeling, and that goes both ways, dummy,” Catra says, squeezing Adora’s hand gently. “If you wanted to go out, you could’ve told me. I want to do things with you, whether it’s the stuff I like or the stuff you like. You don’t have to put aside the stuff you want to do for me.”

“I know,” Adora says quietly, “I guess I just don’t want to mess this up. You- you don’t know how much you mean to me.”

“I think I do,” Catra laughs softly, “and you’re not going to mess this up.”

“I did before,” Adora mutters, the words this will be my last email flashing in her memory, “I messed it up.”

“Hey,” Catra squeezes her hand again and Adora meets that heterochromatic gaze, “you didn’t mess it up, dumbass. I’m right here.”

“I just…” Adora pauses and sighs, “I keep remembering how it felt to be without you, and that was before I really had you in the first place. I don’t want to feel like that again, not now I know what it’s like to be with you.”

“Okay,” Catra holds up her pinky on her free hand, “you’re going to promise me right now that we’ll both be open and honest with each other. Because that’s the only way this thing is going to work out. And if you ever want anything from me, all you have to do is ask.”

Adora links pinkies with Catra and then meets her gaze with a soft smile. She’s already feeling better. “I promise.”

“Good,” Catra smiles, “now let’s pop that prosecco and start our romantic night.”

Adora watches as her beautiful girlfriend pops open the prosecco bottle and pours two glasses. Slowly, she reaches out and brushes Catra’s hair back from her neck, leaning down to kiss it. Not in a way where she’s trying to initiate something, just because she feels like it. Just because she can.

Her arms wrap around Catra’s waist again, and she rests her chin on her girlfriend’s shoulder when the question comes to mind. “Can I ask you something?”

“You just did,” Catra quips, offering her a glass of the prosecco, “but because I’m so nice, I’ll give you another question.”

Adora lets out an amused hum at her reply, and then asks, “What’s cyraofdriluth? Like, why did you pick that?”

“Because it’s my Tumblr url and that’s where you first messaged me?” Catra says a little too quickly, and then asks, “what’s She-Ra?”

“It’s like my superhero alter ego. My mom and I would play this game when I was little, and we’d pretend that there was someone in danger and they’d call for She-Ra, Princess of Power.” Adora says. “It’s kind of dorky.”

“That’s cute,” Catra says, and after a few moments of silence, she admits, “it’s my birth mother’s name. I snuck into Weaver’s office and found my birth certificate. She took it away from me before I could see my bio dad’s name too, but I got that. Cyra Driluth. I guess using it made me feel closer to her.”

“Do you want to find her?” Adora asks. “If you have a name, maybe you could.”

“I don’t know. Part of me does. But another part of me doesn’t, because she obviously didn’t want me.” Catra says quietly, and before Adora can reassure her, she shakes her head, “Besides… I think I’ve found my family, anyway.”

Adora presses a soft kiss to Catra’s cheek, “I think you have too.”

“Yeah,” Catra says, and she looks around at Adora meaningfully. Carefully, she pulls her in for a kiss. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Adora answers, and when there’s a flicker of a smile on Catra’s face, Adora can’t stop the full-blown grin on her own. “We’re going to be okay, huh?”

Catra smiles properly – one of her rare, wide grins where her eyes light up so beautifully. “Yeah. We are.”

Chapter Text

When Adora wakes up on the first Monday back after winter break, she already decides that this is the worst Monday to ever exist in the history of Mondays. For two reasons – one, it’s the first Monday after a break, which means it automatically sucks even more than the average Monday. And two – she can’t just stay in domestic bliss with Catra anymore.

One thing makes it slightly better, though. When Adora’s alarm goes off, she smacks it to shut it up and rolls over to see Catra smiling tiredly at her.

“Morning,” Catra says, snuggling back into the pillow. Her voice is extra raspy in the mornings; that’s another thing Adora has learned about her, that she somehow manages to make her voice even prettier. “I’m going back to sleep.”

Adora laughs. “We have school.”

“I showered last night,” Catra squints over at Adora’s alarm clock and says, “that means I get an extra half hour in bed. Enjoy your shower.”

“I’d drag you out of bed just because, but you’re too cute,” Adora leans over and kisses Catra’s forehead, then runs her hand through messy, soft hair. “I’ll come back and wake you up for breakfast.”

At the word breakfast, Melog sits up from the foot of the bed and wanders up to sit on Catra. They meow loudly at her, and Catra laughs into the pillow and then glares up at Adora. “You had to say the b word, didn’t you?”

“Whoops,” Adora laughs, “I’ll feed Melog if you want.”

“Nope, because they think I’m an idiot,” Catra sits up and pets Melog affectionately, “so if you feed them, they’ll still follow me around and try to trick me into feeding them again.”

Adora watches as Melog jumps off the bed and goes trotting towards the bedroom door. They look back at Catra, staring expectantly. “They look like they’re saying come on, slave.

“You’ve clearly never owned a cat before,” Catra says, “they own you.”

Adora laughs as Catra dramatically pushes the duvet off and heads towards the door to feed Melog. “And yet you still love them.”

“They’re my best friend,” Catra says, and pauses as she opens the door. “Don’t tell Scorpia I said that, because she’d actually cry.”

Adora laughs at the words, but as Catra walks out of the room, she opens her mouth to ask if they’re telling Scorpia about that other thing. Like, the fact that they’re girlfriends now. Not just Scorpia, but everyone else too.

That’s what they always said, right? That when they were together, once they’d told everyone that mattered, they’d be out and proud. But Adora wants to check before she goes and does anything to make Catra uncomfortable.

After her shower, she heads to the kitchen and joins Mara, Razz and Catra for breakfast. She sits down in her usual seat at the table, right next to Catra, and greets her girlfriend with a kiss on the cheek as Razz puts a plate of bacon and eggs in front of her like she’d just conjured them up from nowhere. Sometimes it seems like she does.

She sees Razz sneak a few bites of bacon to Melog too, who is creeping around the kitchen table and acting like they haven’t eaten for a week. Adora goes to ask Catra about the school situation, but Mara beats her to it. “You drive, don’t you, Catra?”

“I can,” Catra says, nudging Adora lightly, “I said I’d help Adora with her theory test.”

“You can use my mom’s old car, if you’d like,” Mara offers, looking over at Adora, “it saves Bow and Glimmer from going out of their way to pick you up for school.”

And it gives me more alone time with my girlfriend, Adora thinks to herself, and when Catra meets her gaze like she’s asking for permission, Adora nods softly. Catra smiles. “Okay. That sounds good. Thanks.”

Adora quickly texts Bow to let him know she doesn’t need a ride. He texts back with a smiley face and an okay, but two seconds later, another text comes through.

Bow (7:14AM): ARE YOU GOING TO EXPLAIN WHY YOU DROPPED OFF THE FUCKING PLANET OVER WINTER BREAK

Adora frowns at her phone screen, but then another text comes through.

Bow (7:15AM): Ignore that last message, Glimmer stole my phone and now I’m going to go give her a nice talk about boundaries :)

Adora imagines that scenario in her head and laughs lightly. She texts him back and then puts her phone in her jeans pocket, and once she and Catra finish breakfast and go to brush their teeth, she stops her girlfriend by the front door.

“Hey, I think we need to talk.”

Catra raises her eyebrows. “Damn, okay. You’re dumping me already?”

She says it like a joke, but there’s something in her eyes that tells Adora it’s a genuine worry. Adora smiles and takes her hand to reassure her, the same hand that her ring is on. “Nothing like that. I just thought maybe we should talk about school. If we’re- you know. Going to be open about this. I’m obviously not asking to stick my tongue down your throat in the middle of the hallway, but just… holding hands and little kisses before class. I was just wondering if I could tell people that you’re my girlfriend.”

“Oh,” Catra says, and she lets out this adorable little laugh that Adora has come to know means you’re a dumbass. “Of course. I thought we already agreed on that, anyway. Plus, I do kind of want to stick my tongue down your throat in front of the jolly green giant.”

Adora snorts with laughter, but Catra looks deadly serious, and she punches her lightly in the arm. “No dangling me in front of Huntara. That’s mean.”

Catra raises her eyebrows. “You’ve met me. You know I’m mean.”

“You’re not mean,” Adora rolls her eyes, squeezing Catra’s hand, “not really. Sometimes you say mean things, but that’s just because you get all defensive and try to push people away. Like the girl you had a crush on for four years.”

Catra’s easy expression drops into a scowl. “Are you ever going to let that go?”

“Nope,” Adora grins, kissing the tip of Catra’s perfect nose, “you had a crush on me. That’s so embarrassing. You’re literally that Tumblr meme where that five-year-old had a crush but couldn’t process it so they told the crush to get out of their school. How does it feel to have the same level of maturity as a five-year-old?”

“I’ll actually dump you right now, you know,” Catra rolls her eyes, and when Adora goes to kiss her, she puts her hand on Adora’s face and blocks it. “Nope. No kissing for you.”

“Damn, and here I was, about to let you kiss me in front of Huntara so you can show off,” Adora says, even though she didn’t intend on that at all, “oh well.”

“Wait, I changed my mind,” Catra says quickly, and Adora laughs. It doesn’t take long for Catra to catch on, and she scowls again. “And of course you were lying.”

“Like I said, that’s mean,” Adora shrugs, but she thinks of something else and pulls her letter jacket off, putting it gently around Catra’s shoulders. “But you can have my jacket. Since I wear it basically every day, everyone will know whose it is. Everyone will know it’s your girlfriend’s.

“Hm,” Catra considers, but she’s already putting her arms in the sleeves and pulling it tighter around herself. It’s a little bigger on her, but if anything, it just looks cute. “Okay. I like this compromise. Now let’s get to school, idiot. I know that you can’t afford to get detention because you’ve got a tutoring session later, and she’s kind of a hardass.”

Adora follows Catra to the car with a smile. “I don’t know. I think she’s secretly a softie.”

Catra rolls her eyes. “Maybe she is, but she’ll kick your ass if you tell anyone.”

“I think I already proved that if anyone’s kicking ass around here, it’s me,” Adora says proudly as she gets in the car. “Nobody can beat my guns.”

“Whatever, weirdo,” Catra says, but she’s smiling fondly, and when Adora holds out her arm and says kiss my guns, she actually does it. “Don’t let that inflate your already gigantic ego.”

Adora just pulls her back for a real kiss. “Too late.”

When they get to school, Adora almost doesn’t believe that it’s really happening. She’s really here, actually happy on a Monday morning, walking into school holding hands with her Cyra. It’s everything she’s wanted for months, and it’s just as sweet as she imagines.

It’s even sweeter when Catra pulls her in for a goodbye kiss before disappearing off to her A.P. classes. Adora stands there with a dopey smile and a deep red blush on her cheeks until she’s snapped out of it by a weight slamming into her.

She recognises Glimmer’s usual perfume instantly, and she lightly shoves her best friend off her, already bracing herself for the inevitable questioning. Adora knows she was pretty MIA over break, and after that text this morning, she expects that her friends will want to know why.

“Adora!” Glimmer says sternly, and Adora knows she’s in trouble. “Where were you all break? We thought you died.”

Adora laughs, and she can’t wipe the lovesick smile off her face. “I was at home. Hanging out. At home. Having a good time. At home.”

Glimmer squints at her suspiciously. “Okay, the last time we saw you, you were moping around about your girlfriend ghosting you.”

“Way to be tender about it, Glimmer,” Bow shakes his head at her, an endeared smile on his face. “Seriously though, Adora. We were worried about you, and now you’re showing up to school looking like you just found out you won a billion dollars.”

Adora smiles again, and Glimmer gasps, pointing at her like she’s just solved a massive mystery. “You found her!”

“You did?” Bow asks, clasping his hands together in excitement. “Oh, that’s amazing! Who is she? Are you two together?”

“Obviously they’re together, Bow,” Glimmer rolls her eyes, “look at the smile on her face. That’s an I’m in love and it’s totally gross smile.”

“She probably gave you a ride to school, didn’t she?” Bow says, and grabs Glimmer’s arm before she can run back outside to try and deduce which car isn’t usually there. “I’m glad everything worked out for you, Adora. I know how much you missed her.”

“Yeah, I’m glad too,” Glimmer says, “now tell us who she is! We have a right to know, since you ditched us all winter break to hang out with her.”

Adora wants to tell them. She wants to gush about how amazing and perfect Catra is, and how she’s never felt this way about anybody before. But she also wants to milk this for what it’s worth, which she knows she can do. “I’ll tell you if you buy me an extra brownie at lunch.”

Glimmer scowls, but begrudgingly agrees. “Fine. Who is she?”

The bell rings at just the right moment. She flashes a teasing grin to Bow and Glimmer and runs down the hallway with a loud, “got to get to class!”

It’s even harder to focus on her schoolwork than usual, because all she can think about is Catra. She never usually sees her around school – it was almost like she used to sprout out of the ground for their tutoring sessions – but Adora wonders if that’ll change. She hopes it will. She wonders even more where Catra hangs out, and if she can join her for lunches and breaks sometimes.

Catra is nowhere to be found during morning break, and Adora keeps so tight-lipped about Cyra’s identity that Glimmer starts to question if she’s just making the whole thing up. At lunchtime, though, Adora takes matters into her own hands.

adora 💕 (12:08PM): Where are you? I miss you

Catra 😻 (12:09PM): you’re a sap

adora 💕 (12:09PM): That doesn’t answer my question :( Where are you!! I don’t know where you usually hang out

Catra 😻 (12:10PM): figure it out

Adora huffs when Catra’s message comes through. Of course she isn’t going to make it easy. Her phone buzzes again with another text, and she rolls her eyes at it, but there’s a smile tugging at her mouth.

Catra 😻 (12:10PM): i would think someone who got 3 a grades last semester can do it

Catra 😻 (12:10PM): it’s really not that hard to find me

adora 💕 (12:11PM): Just tell me!!!!

Catra 😻 (12:11PM): where’s the fun in that?

adora 💕 (12:12PM): You’re a nightmare

Catra 😻 (12:13PM): a nightmare that you loooooooooove

It’s payback for the teasing this morning, Adora decides. That’s why she’s being so difficult in the most adorable way.

adora 💕 (12:14PM): Yeah, I think I retract that statement.

Catra 😻 (12:14PM): ouch

Catra 😻 (12:14PM): still not telling you where i am though

Catra 😻 (12:15PM): see you soon sherlock

Adora ughs out loud at the message, and Bow laughs. “Trouble in paradise?”

“She won’t tell me where she eats lunch,” Adora says with an eye roll, “she says I can figure it out myself, like it’s that easy. I never see her around school, so I don’t know where she would… wait.”

Glimmer snorts. “Figured it out?”

“She left the t-shirt for me in the music room,” Adora says, mostly to herself, “duh. That’s where she is.”

Adora finishes off the rest of her sandwich in three bites and gets up, pulling her backpack onto her back. Glimmer looks insulted. “Wow, thanks for inviting us. I bought you your extra brownie and everything.”

“Come on, then,” Adora rolls her eyes, “I might be completely wrong.”

Glimmer laughs. “Wouldn’t be the first time.”

Adora shoots her a glare, and Bow scolds her with a quiet, “Glimmer.”

“What?” Glimmer looks between the two of them with a sheepish smile. “Sorry. Too soon?”

Bow nods. “Maybe a little.”

Adora lets them come with her to the music room. She hopes she’s not wrong, because from the way Catra was talking, she seemed to think Adora would find her. Even though it’s something small, she doesn’t want to let her down again.

There’s music coming from the classroom when they get there. Duh, Adora thinks to herself, it’s a music classroom. She peeks in through the window in the classroom door and smiles. Catra is in there, with Scorpia and Entrapta. They’re using the teacher’s computer to play music out loud. Or more like Catra and Scorpia are – Entrapta is sat at a desk, laptop out in front of her, half-eaten lunch to the side. She’s at least bopping her head to the music as she types.

Adora pushes the classroom door open and laughs quietly to herself at the look Scorpia gives Catra. It’s not subtle at all – Scorpia smirks and wiggles her eyebrows at Catra, in a classic look, it’s your crush move. Catra rolls her eyes, and she does it again when she sees Bow and Glimmer.

“Ugh, what’d you bring Sparkles here for?” Catra says, taking Adora’s hand and pulling her close. “I don’t want to listen to her screeching showtunes for the rest of my lunch break.”

“It’s Catra?” Glimmer stares at the two of them with wide eyes. “No fucking way.”

“Hey, that’s good!” Bow gives Adora a thumbs-up and his regular enthusiasm. “You said you wanted it to be her.”

“Aw, you meant that?” Catra looks genuinely surprised, but there’s a pink blush on her cheeks. “I thought you were just saying it to be polite or whatever.”

Before Adora has a chance to reassure her verbally, Scorpia pulls them both into a bonecrushing hug. She messes up Catra’s hair in a manner Adora assumes is supposed to be affectionate. “Oh, wildcat, I’m so proud of you! You told her! See, I told you so. I told you she’d like you back. Now you know you should always come to me for advice. I’m basically the best friend ever.”

“Yeah, okay,” Catra twists out of Scorpia’s grip and pulls Adora with her. She scowls and fixes her ponytail. “Let’s not make a big deal about it.”

“I wondered why you were wearing Adora’s jacket. I assumed it was some kind of school spirit thing. Anyway, updating my notes…” Entrapta murmurs behind her computer screen, “Catra is now romantically involved with Adora.”

Catra sighs dramatically. “What did I just say?”

“Does your mom know?” Bow asks, because Adora hadn’t mentioned the whole coming-out-to-Mara thing last time she saw them. She was too upset about everything. “Did you tell her?”

“She knows,” Adora says, throwing an arm around Catra’s shoulders, “she likes her because Catra always pretends like she’s really nice and polite whenever she talks to her. She emptied the dishwasher last night and my mom basically told me to marry her.”

Glimmer snorts with laughter. “I’d pay to see Catra being polite.”

Catra scoffs. “Shut it, Sparkles.”

“Hey, be nice,” Adora fixes her with the puppy dog eyes, because she learned quickly that they get her anything she wants. “For me?”

“Fine,” Catra mutters begrudgingly, “but only because I can tell from your dumb face that it means a lot to you. Not because I like you.”

“Nope,” Adora agrees, “it’s because you love me.”

“Hold on,” Glimmer points accusingly at Catra, and Adora imagines that if Melog was here, they’d be hissing at her. “You ghosted her. You don’t know how messed up she was-”

“It’s not my fault that your dumb friend doesn’t know the definition of ghosting,” Catra rolls her eyes, “she went out with someone else, told me about it, and I said that’s fine, I forgive you, but I can’t keep talking to you anymore. I said it would be my last email. Ghosting implies that I just never responded, which I didn’t do. I made myself perfectly clear.”

Glimmer turns to stare at Adora with the same accusatory glare. “Is that true?”

Adora cringes. “Yeah. That’s true.”

“Okay, I don’t have to kick her ass, then,” Glimmer looks back at Catra and admits, “to be honest, part of that was on me. I was helping her with the Huntara thing and we found some stuff that could’ve fit.”

“Yeah, she told me her stupid friends encouraged her,” Catra says casually, and when Adora smiles apologetically, Catra squeezes her hand. “Come on. You know I’m over it.”

Adora searches Catra’s face for any dishonesty, but Catra just looks at her softly until eventually Adora smiles, feeling satisfied. “Okay. Good.”

“Well, for the record, we approve, and because you’re Adora’s girlfriend, you’re automatically in the Best Friend Squad,” Bow says, and he nudges Glimmer, “right, Glimmer?”

Glimmer rolls her eyes. “I guess.”

“Like I want to be part of your little club,” Catra rolls her eyes, but Adora pokes her in the shoulder and mutters for me, and that’s all it takes. “Fine. But no friendship bracelets. I have a reputation to uphold. I don’t want people thinking I’m a sparkly nerd by association.”

“I mean, you are kind of a nerd,” Adora murmurs, loud enough for Catra to hear her and scoff in offence. She genuinely looks so insulted that it makes Adora laugh. “What? You are! I mean, you do tutoring, you’re in all AP classes, and I heard you tell my mom that you’re on track for valedictorian. And you make puns like, all the time. You’re a nerd.”

“I am not,” Catra shoves her lightly, and Adora just shoves her back with a laugh, “I play guitar. That’s cool.”

“Yeah, but you also do all of your homework on time,” Adora snorts, “not very punk rock of you.”

“She’s got a point, you know,” Scorpia says, and Catra whirls around and fixes her with a glare, “have you ever failed a test before? Like, ever?”

“Not my fault they make them so easy,” Catra rolls her eyes, “and anyway, I didn’t ask you.”

“Oh, so you’re saying if you did fail a test, you’d be totally cool with that?” Glimmer says, and Catra scowls even more. “Damn, and for a minute, I actually thought you were kind of cool.”

“Actually, I think I recorded this one time she got an A minus and she went on a rant about how the teacher hated her…” Entrapta says, and she starts tapping around on her computer. Catra jumps over and shuts the laptop immediately. “Hey! Don’t touch my computer.”

“Don’t record me, then,” Catra says as she sits back down next to Adora, that adorable scowl on her face. She pokes Adora in the arm and then points to the door. “Take your sparkly friends and leave me alone.”

Adora knows she’s kidding, especially when Catra doesn’t push her away when she pulls her in for a kiss.

It takes a lot of effort, to tear herself away from Catra at the end of lunch break. Especially because she’s supposed to go to geometry, which she already knows is going to suck. Catra kisses her goodbye and goes off to her own class – which Adora makes sure to call her nerdy AP class – and Adora walks to class with Bow, missing her girlfriend already.

“Aw, you two are so cute,” Bow nudges her playfully as Adora stares after Catra down the hallway for as long as she can. “I’m glad things worked out. I know how upset you were when you thought you’d lost her.”

“I understand why she freaked,” Adora says, even though the realisation had broken her heart. She knows that Catra’s still cautious, and there’s still little doubts that show sometimes. Like when she hesitates to take her hand or looks at her like she’s something fleeting, and she needs to take in the view while she can. “It still hasn’t sunk in for me. Sometimes I look at her and I’m like… wow. It was her the whole time.”

“I wouldn’t have guessed it,” Bow says, “she always seems so… closed off.”

“She… is,” Adora admits, “but not to me. Not anymore. I think she’s trying to let people in.”

“Well, as long as she treats you well,” Bow says, “then she’s got an open invitation to the Best Friend Squad.”

“I don’t know, she didn’t seem all that enthusiastic about it before,” Adora laughs. She replays Catra’s reaction in her head; an eye roll and a scoff, but a little smile she’s trying to hide.

After a gruelling double period of geometry, it’s time for her Monday tutoring session with Catra. As she makes her way there with a skip in her step, she can’t believe there was a time where she used to dread this. Now, she values any time she gets with her.

Adora still doesn’t particularly want to study, but she does want to see her girlfriend. She pushes through the crowds in A block, and when she passes Huntara, they share an awkward but friendly smile. She’s glad there aren’t any hard feelings there. There probably would’ve been, if she’d let Catra make out with her to prove a point. As tempting as it was just for the make out session, Adora knows it would’ve been wrong.

She hums the melody of the song Catra wrote for her as she walks across the lawn to B block. It still makes her stomach flutter to think about that. She ducks past a few other students and rounds the corner to their usual room.

Like every Monday, Catra is already there. Leaning against the classroom door, scrolling through her phone as she waits for Adora to arrive. She looks so beautiful that Adora actually stops walking to appreciate her. She’s standing there in a beam of sunlight from a nearby window, one hand stuffed in the pocket of Adora’s jacket, and Adora can’t believe that someone so beautiful is hers.

Then she realises she’d rather appreciate her up close, so she makes herself move. “Catra!”

Catra looks up from her phone and slides the device into the pocket of Adora’s letter jacket. She smirks, a hand reaching out to cup her jaw, ready to pull her down for a kiss. “Hey, Adora.”

“Hey, Catra,” Adora practically whispers as they inch closer to each other. Her phone buzzes in her pocket, but she ignores it. “I can’t get over how good my jacket looks on you.”

“Thank you,” Catra leans in like she’s going to kiss her but pauses millimetres from Adora’s mouth, “…and you’re late.”

Adora laughs and closes the space between them. Against Catra’s lips, she murmurs, “You’re never going to not comment on that, are you?”

“I will if you’re ever on time,” Catra says as she pulls away. She winds their fingers together and then nods to the classroom door. “Come on. Let’s get this over with and then we can go home and snuggle.”

Really wish I recorded you saying that.”

“Shut up and get your work out, dummy.”

Adora smiles and follows her girlfriend into the classroom. If this is going to be her life from now on… she knows she’ll be happy.

Her phone buzzes again, and she pulls it out as she sits down, assuming it’s Mara telling her she’s going to be working later than expected. Instead, it’s something she never thought she’d see pop up on her phone screen ever again.

Gmail – 1 new email from cyraofdriluth@gmail.com

“Wait, what?” Adora looks up at Catra, and she’s already looking at her, a gentle, knowing smile on her face. She remembers Catra leaning against the classroom door, typing something on her phone, and she grins. “What did you send me?”

Catra shrugs like she doesn’t know at all but reaches out and takes Adora’s hand. “Guess you’ll have to read it and find out.”

Adora reads the words on the screen, hand in hand with the girl who wrote them. With each sentence, the flutter rises in her chest, until there’s a full swarm of butterflies in her stomach. She meets Catra’s gaze, lets out a dorky little laugh, and then presses a soft kiss to her cheek.

“Give me a minute,” Adora says, “just got a really important email.”

“Oh, really?” Catra hums in response, “well, you better reply, then.”

Adora can’t help herself. She pauses, putting her phone down on the desk in favour of gently cupping Catra’s jaw and guiding her in for a kiss. It says everything she wants it to, but when she pulls away, she picks up her phone again, and starts typing out her response.

-

From: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

To: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

Subject: the most beautiful, amazing, perfect girl in the entire world

Jan 4, 3:32PM

adora

if you tell anyone that i wrote an email this fucking cheesy i will block you on all platforms and break up with you. don’t think i’m kidding. i’ll do it.

anyway. obviously, the subject line refers to you. i know you’ll probably email back arguing once you see this because you’re annoying like that but i’m right and i’ll fight you to the grave on that one.

you are an idiot. and you’re annoying. and you’re so fucking corny. you’re the prettiest person i’ve ever seen, and everybody – literally EVERYBODY – on the fucking planet seems to love you. but nobody as much as me. your dad jokes, your beautiful, hopeful smile, the way nothing ever seems to get you down no matter what. the way you’re so fucking smart and you don’t even know it. you’re the most resilient, beautiful, intelligent girl i’ve ever met.

i’m so proud of you. i know this is probably going to come off as weird and totally unprompted, but i’ve been thinking about this since you showed me your report card, and now i’m waiting for you before our tutoring session (because you’re ALWAYS LATE) and i figured this is the place i should say it.

you worked your fucking ass off last semester. studied harder than i’ve ever seen anyone study. i know there were times when it was so hard for you, and there were times when i was the one making it hard. for that i really am sorry and i’ll spend forever making it up to you. but you didn’t let my dumb ass stop you. you worked so hard for everything you achieved and you deserve every single good thing. and i am so goddamn proud of you and your 3 a grades. especially the one in literature, because i know what that meant to you.

basically, what i’m trying to say in this long-winded, rambled, completely unnecessary email is…

i love you, adora. so fucking much.

love, catra

-

From: <princessofpower@gmail.com>

To: <cyraofdriluth@gmail.com>

Subject: Re: the most beautiful, amazing, perfect girl in the entire world

Jan 4, 3:41PM

Catra,

Not going to lie, my heart actually skipped a beat when I saw the notification from you. Kinda thought I’d never see 1 new email – cyraofdriluth@gmail.com ever again. Maybe we should keep this thing going. After all, it’s basically where we fell for each other.

ACTUALLY, the subject line is about you. And you’re totally right, I will fight you on that. You know I’m definitely screenshotting every single thing you said in that last email and sending it to everyone, too. I might print it out and frame it. ;)

Anyway. You might be proud of me, but I’m proud of you too. I know how scared you were, and I know you’re still a little scared now. But I promise you, I’m not leaving. You are none of the things your bitch of a foster mother said you were. You’re so amazing. So smart. So funny. So kind, even if you do disguise it with sarcasm and those adorable, perfectly timed little eye rolls of yours. You love so hard, and you deserve exactly the same thing back.

You’re so brave, too. The way you stood up to her about everything, even when she was right there trying to break you down. You stood your ground and I know it’s only the start of your recovery, but you’re trying. And that’s what matters. You’re doing your best to push aside your doubts and I love that for you. You’re so deserving of everything good in this world, and I can’t wait to be right by your side while you’re off being a badass musician.

(No, I won’t say the L word because you won’t be one of those)

(And NO, the L word is NOT lesbian before you make a joke about that)

Anyway. I AM going to say this L word.

I love you too, Catra.

I fell for your words and your heart and your soul before I saw your face and knew your name. Maybe other people will think that’s impossible, but I don’t care. I know what I feel and I know what my heart’s telling me, and it’s telling me it belongs to you. And it always will.

Love, Adora.