Locking the door of the bathroom behind her, breath coming in ragged gasps, she rested her head on the wood and ground her teeth in frustration. She wanted to lash out, drive her fist into the wood over and over until the skin on her knuckles split to feel something other than this fear. She didn’t though, the noise would wake Adora and the other woman needed as much sleep as she could get.
Turning, the magicat rested her back against the door and slid down until the cold tile of the floor was biting into her through her shorts. She drew up her knees and rested her forehead against them as she bit back the sob that wanted to come out. The nightmare had been a bad one. They didn’t come often anymore, not like they had two years ago. Back then, after her rescue she had barely slept, seeing his face each time she closed her eyes. Hearing the chants and feeling powerless to ignore his words. They crawled under her skin and made her feel dirty and hateful. Then there had been the dreams where rather than tearing him apart, she hurt the woman who slept peacefully in her bed.
Tonight was one of those nights.
She’d jerked up in bed, claws extended and eyes wild, lashing out at something that wasn’t there. It was a miracle that she hadn’t torn the flesh of the other woman. The second that her eyes cleared she flew out of bed, her considerable grace ensuring that the mattress didn’t dip as she moved. The only sign that Adora even knew she was missing was her rolling on her side, grumbling a little in that cute way she did when she was over tired and disgruntled, drawing Catra’s empty pillow to her chest and burying her face in it. She’s stood watching the human sleep for a while in the dim light of the bedroom, reassuring herself that she was all right and that Catra had not hurt her. Then she’d run away, like a coward.
There was no way of knowing what would stir up her mind. Yesterday had been a normal day, she wasn’t working on a project at the moment so had been able to spend the day with her family. Javier was getting bigger by the day. He wasn’t even ten yet and already he was as tall as she was and almost as fast. They had run the woods, racing as Adora took pictures and laid out a picnic, laughing at their antics. Catra had got ahead of him, still more wily than her Beastie. She waited for him to be below her and pounced down from the trees, whisking his gangly limbs up and twirling him around as his affronted young face went from pout to grin. Laughter spilled out of him and soon the two of them were whooping with delight.
Javier had clambered onto her back as he had since he was big enough to climb, legs almost wrapped completely around her waist now. He rested his pointy chin on her head as she had run back to join the two blond’s who were sprawled out on the tartan blanket in the moss. It had been a beautiful day, the likes of which her younger self could never have imagined as she cowered in fear in a place that was never home.
It was as though when things were too good her mind liked to remind her how quickly they could be torn down to dust. Her breath finally evening out, even as she checked her hands just to her certain that they were not stained red, she dragged herself to her feet and ran the tap over the sink, washing her hands just in case, before splashing some water on her face. Fully awake, and no chance of sleep in sight, she patted her fur dry and quietly snuck out of the bedroom.
In the hallway, she pulled the door to the bedroom closed. Usually they kept it open, Javier had started to sleepwalk in the last few months and it was easier to hear him wandering around. Then there were the other sounds that they had to keep an ear out for. Slapping her forehead, she crept back into the bedroom, walking around to Adora’s side of the bed, and snatched up the small white speaker that sat there, unable to resist the desire to press a featherlight kiss to the sleepers hair. Finally done, she was back in the hallway again, the light snick of the door latching breaking up the sounds of soft breaths and little snores.
Making the familiar journey to her son’s room, her mismatched eyes not needing any light to navigate the path, she let a small smile cover her face as she heard the buzz-saw snore that rippled up from his chest. She crossed the threshold to his room, it was starting to go through the metamorphosis from child to tween and she wasn’t sure how she felt about that. Her little boy was not so little anymore. On soft feet she carefully moved until she was sitting on the edge of his bed.
He’d always been a restless sleeper, even as a tiny infant. She’d told him he had a busy brain when he was big enough to wonder why he always woke up with his blankets rolled in a ball and sometimes even topsy turvy in the bed. He wasn’t so busy anymore, but his blankets were still mostly kicked off to his waist. She looked at him with the scrutiny of all mothers, checking for anything out of the ordinary, just in case.
Javier was laying on his side, one arm tucked under his chin and the other flung out to the side. He was facing away from her but she could still see the squareness of his jar and his ear jutting out, long and elegant. The older he grew, the less like her he looked, if not for the fur that had started to sprout on his shoulders, coming to a V and travelling down his spine to meet his tail, he would not have looked feline at all. She remembered when the fur started to grow, how pleased and excited he’d been, though he had wished for claws that never came.
A louder snore tore from him and he jerked, flopping over onto his back and flinging his arms overhead. In the dim light through the slighted parted curtains, the outline of his ribs showed that he had recently had another growth spurt. She would have to give him bigger portions at meal times, though where he would put it was anyones guess as he was already eating the groceries almost as fast as they could buy them.
A different set of sounds came from down the hall, higher and sweeter than Javier’s and her smile broadened. She leaned down and pressed a kiss to his ear, stroking along the plains of his face as he breathed deeper. She moved to head to the next room before the sweet snuffles became something more, pausing to look back.
“I love you Beastie.” She whispered, seeing his ears twitch at the words.
The next room was a wonder to her. It had always been a guest room, Adora had even slept there a few times when the nights were rough. Now it had a different purpose. She walked in, setting the switched off receiver onto the chest of drawers and made her way over to the crib that sat in the centre of the room. She rested her arms on the edge of the wood and looked down at the big blue eyes that blinked back at her in the light of the softly growing nightlight.
She flicked her ears and saw the little one track their movements. As the baby watched her, she studied the infant. Her softly rounded little cheeks and large eyes made her look like a baby from a cartoon. Topped with the thick blond curls on her head and she was possibly the second cutest baby she had ever seen, maybe even tied for first with Javi when he was small.
Soon just looking at each other wasn’t enough for the baby who reached up small hands and made grabbing motions. It was a new development for the little one, and it had made them all excited. It was just as exciting to be the one being reached for. She leaned down and scooped her up, nestling the small body against her chest and looking down to see her nuzzle into the soft fur of her neck. Catra walked over to the rocking chair in the corner and rocked with the baby for a while, looking around at the room with its soft lilac walls with little yellow duckies painted all over them. The dresser, crib and chest of drawers were all clearly white, but brightly coloured blankets and stuffed toys filled the place. It was a far cry from Javier’s humbler beginnings.
She laid the little girl onto her lap, small feet kicking into her bare stomach as the child gurgled. Catra held her fingers out and the baby grabbed them, pulling one to her mouth to gum at it. It was impossible not to fall in love with the baby, Javier in particular was completely smitten with his little sister. So was she. When Adora had first suggested that they have another child, she had been terrified at the prospect. It had been selfish, but there was a lot caught up in pregnancy for the magicat and Adora had backed off but she had been able to feel the longing from the other woman. They had gone through a lot, it had been a bumpy road to sitting here with this little girl, but it was worth it when she looked down at the miniature copy of the woman she loved.
“Hey Lia, I’m your mama. Can you say mama? Can you?” It was the type of silly talk you say to infants too small to answer back, but she shook her head over the baby, her lengthening hair tickling at the little ones face and getting a delightful giggle out of her.
Sitting with the baby after having visited with her son, Catra felt more calm and centred. The nightmare pushed far away. As a child who had grown up with only Adora as any kind of family, the balm having one of her own gave her was breathtaking. It wasn’t a solution to her problems, and come morning she would need to call her therapist, but for now she was with the sweetest distraction possible.
Her nose wrinkled in time with Lia’s face scrunching up in a prelude to wailing. Catra didn’t need her feline senses to know that she had just been gifted with a little present by the baby. An old hand at nappy changing, she stood up and took Lia over to the changing area that hooked over the end of the crib, making short work of whisking away the soiled diaper before powdering and redressing the child. She lifted her up to her face, now much sweeter smelling, and let the baby tug at the fur on her cheeks and gurgle at her.
“Come on Mouse, let’s go and get you a bottle, let mommy sleep in today.” She tucked Lia back into her chest and made her way to the kitchen.
Making a bottle took no time, they were already waiting in the fridge. She settled on the sofa in the dark, stretched out with the baby laying on her chest and let her suckle until the nipple slid out of Lia’s mouth as the baby fell asleep mid feed. Catra settled them both, placing the bottle beside her, and rested her head on the arm of the sofa, sure that Lia was safe and secure. There were still several hours till dawn and she let her own eyes start to close as she listened to the tiny breaths of the baby.
Adora woke up to sun streaming through the curtains in her room and an empty bed. Once that would have frightened her, and she would have gone on a frantic search for her mate, but she had a clearer head these days and a pillow clasped in her arms. Looking over at the nightstand she saw that the baby monitor was missing and knew what that meant.
Lately when Catra had a nightmare she would seek out the children, though usually she made her way back to bed before morning. Dragging herself out of bed, thankful for the luxury of an unbroken nights sleep, she made quick work of cleaning her teeth and throwing on her robe before opening the door and heading to Javier’s room. The boy was hanging half off of his bed, one hand touching the floor as he continued to snore. Smiling softly at the boy who was every bit as much her son as Catra’s, she pulled back the curtains, shedding bright light over him and heard him groan theatrically from the bed. Maybe they needed to let him spend less time with DT. The thought made her laugh as she sat beside him and ran her hand over his furry back as he blinked awake.
“Morning Javi.” She leaned down and kissed his forehead.
“Hey mom.” His words came out through a yawn that bared his sharp teeth.
“Would you like pancakes for breakfast?” His eyes lit up and he was sitting up, much more alert now.
“With bacon?” She could see him thinking about how fast he could get dressed.
“Of course. Go get washed and dressed and they’ll be ready when you are.” She kissed his cheek and watched him rush off to the bathroom across the hall.
Shaking her head she walked into the living room and froze. On the sofa, head thrown back and purring absently, was a soundly sleeping Catra, Lia nestled into her chest making her own snuffly little sleep sounds. The small golden head moving up and down with the movement of the magicats breaths. Quickly going back to their room, she grabbed her phone, heading back to the living room and snapping too many of the same picture, but they just looked so cute.
“You being weird again, Adora?” Catra’s voice almost made her drop her phone in shock, not expecting the words to be so clear.
“I thought you were asleep?” She kept her own voice low not to disturb the baby.
“I was, then I heard your feet when you went to get your phone.” Catra cupped the baby and spun to a sitting position on the sofa, looking over at the blond. “Morning love.”
Adora walked over to the sofa, leaning down to embrace both her mate and her child. Remembering that she had made a promise to her son, she moved to the kitchen, followed by Catra who placed the baby in the mosses basket that stood by the counter. She squirmed a little but remained fast asleep. Catra wrapped herself around Adora’s back as she started to cook and kissed the back of her neck.
“Whatcha’ makin’?” Her words were muffled in Adora’s shoulder but she heard her well enough.
“I promised Javi pancakes and bacon.” Catra’s stomach rumbled telling her the idea was a hit with all the felines in her life.
Starting to whisk the batter as Catra moved to get the bacon and put it in a pan, the two worked quietly around each other, just enjoying the togetherness. Adora didn’t want to spoil it but she had to ask. “Nightmare?”
“Yeah.” Catra’s word came out as a sigh. “I’ll call later and see if I can get a session. I’m fine right now though. Lia’s like a sedative apparently.”
The baby took that moment to open her eyes and let out a thin wail that led Adora to drop her spatula and lift up the baby, inhaling the smell of her hair and marvelling at this little thing that was a part of her. Catra took up the cooking as Adora sat to feed Lia. By the time Javier joined them, Lia was cuddled in her mother’s arms, gumming at her ponytail, while Adora was eating her pancakes laden in syrup one handed.
Catra watched her son sit beside her mate and her daughter. It hadn’t been a perfect life, there were still monsters out there in the world that could hurt them, Shadow Weaver had shown them that, but it had all led to this moment. It wasn’t perfect, but it was theirs.