Catra took in a deep breath as she opened the steely glass doors of the Horde Daily tower. In front of her stood a narrow lobby with a distracted guard laughing at a TV behind the desk. He grumbled at the sight of her and shoved a sign-in sheet across the counter, gruffly asking her designation and pointing her towards the elevator around the corner, all while barely taking his eyes off the show.
The elevator was ancient, smelling of musty carpet and bearing huge buttons that clicked in place when you pressed them. Even better, the 4th floor button was stuck and she had to press it three times until the doors finally slid shut.
When she stepped off, she noticed that everything looked eerily sterile—stripped of color, full of varying gray tones against white. The only sounds were the dings of the elevator, the clacking of keyboards inside cubicles, and muffled monotone conversations behind closed doors. When she found her way to the waiting room, it was filled with hard, uncomfortable chairs.
At precisely 3:15 pm a middle-aged, willowy woman stepped out from her office. She was wearing a drab red blazer with outdated shoulder pads and a long, woolen black skirt, her skin an almost sickly pale shade against her dark hair.
“Catra, I presume? Hordak’s newest novice recommendation?” she said, scoffing haughtily, clearly aggravated by Catra’s mere existence.
“Uh, hi—Yes. Ms. Weaver?” Catra’s raspy voice shook as she extended her hand, but her new—potential—boss was already turning away, snubbing the shake and waving over her shoulder for her to follow, leaving Catra to awkwardly drop her arm in confusion.
This was clearly Sharron Weaver, though, editor-in-chief at Horde Daily. Hordak had tried to warn Catra that she didn’t have the warmest personality, but she wasn’t prepared for just how brusk this introduction had been so far and how deeply intimidated she felt by this odd woman. However, she was determined to make a good impression, even if it killed her. She needed this job.
It wasn't her dream to work here, by any means. Ideally, she wanted to be exploring her photojournalism future somewhere progressive, maybe even artsy. Horde Daily was not that. The semi-conservative company had been producing newspapers for over a century and only recently had begun switching to digital articles. However, this was the only place that had been even willing to consider employing her, so she wasn’t about to turn them down. Not with her history.
Upon entering the office, Ms. Weaver sat behind a large, cold metal desk with an aging monitor and perfectly arranged pens lined on the right side. As she settled, she looked Catra up and down with narrow eyes, her nostrils flaring—a gaze filled with contempt as she gestured Catra into the chair before her. Catra’s seat was lower than hers in a way that made Ms. Weaver practically tower over her once she was seated.
Ms. Weaver dove right in with zero niceties, looking through papers on her desk and loudly clicking her mouse as she perused something clearly more interesting on her computer, occasionally glancing at Catra with clear disapproval. “I’m told you’re wanting to be a new addition to our Online Journalism department. We have a dismal amount of space for any new positions right now, but my hands are tied as it seems I’m required to give you a chance due to Hordak’s sway with upper management. Apparently, he has taken quite some pity on your case.” Her nostrils flared once more as she shot a piercing look towards Catra. Her voice never strayed from its sandpapery contempt.
“I’m actually a photog—” Catra began to say but was quickly cut off. Had there been some sort of mistake? There was clearly no room to interject, but at least that didn’t sound like a “no” to her employment.
“I am aware. However, what we need is someone capable of both writing and photography. Is that going to be an issue?”
Catra wasn’t prepared for this possibility and balled her fists anxiously under the desk until her knuckles turned white. I need this job. You’ve got this, Catra, she thought, repeating Scorpia’s mantra from her pep talk the day before. “Of course not,” she replied with shaky confidence.
“Excellent. We’ve recently been trying to increase our youth readership through fluff articles that might engage the ‘modern gen-z reader,’ while of course keeping the pieces somewhat interesting. I personally find the endeavor laughable, but our numbers are down and it seems being relevant’ is all that matters these days,” Ms. Weaver spat, muttering as she continued. “No one has respect any more for pieces that actually make you bother to use some brainpower… A product of your generation no doubt.” Ms. Weaver sneered in Catra’s direction yet again.
The idea of fluff pieces sounded terrible to Catra. She wanted to point her lens towards people in strife, capture real emotions, political movements, life in every bit of its rawness. She eagerly began to argue her case. “I actually would enjoy doing any sort of article; I have lots of interes—”
“I’m sure you do,” Ms. Weaver said through her teeth. “As I was saying—before your little interruption—your first assignment will be on working for the ‘elite’ through the lens of a young woman who ‘walks dogs for the stars.’ Complete drivel if you ask me, but it’s what the higher-ups want so I’m stuck monitoring your progress and editing whatever mess you come up with. We will need your images and write-up by next Monday, 9 am, no later. Understood?”
Catra gulped. That gave her one week exactly—was she serious? Everything in her wanted to rebel against this mistreatment, but she had to keep it together and pretend this was okay. “Uh, yeah. Sounds great. Where—”
“I’ve arranged for you to meet her in 30 minutes at Elberon Park.”
Catra just stared in shock at Ms. Weaver. Considering traffic and parking there was no way she’d be on time without speeding the whole way.
“Oh, uh sure. Where in the—”
“The details are in your email. Now, why are you still here? Better hurry or you’ll be late.” Catra swore she saw an almost vindictive sparkle behind her thick red-framed glasses.
Catra jumped out of her seat and grabbed her bag. “Of course. Thank you for meeting with me and I’ll get you my work-up soon.”
Ms. Weaver glanced away from her computer monitor and glared at her, saying “Mhhmm,” before gesturing her out of her office.
After weaving through traffic, running two lights, and almost taking out an elderly woman with a chihuahua in a crosswalk, Catra finally made it to the park. She was fairly sure this was the right spot too, having checked her email three times now, but there was no one in sight.
She pulled out her phone to—yet again—check the email Ms. Weaver had sent her, refreshing as if somehow it might magically change. Yep. South entrance 4pm. Okay, Adora Grayskull, where the fuck are you? Ms. Weaver of course hadn’t even given her a number to call. Cranky bitch, Catra thought.
Grumbling, she stepped out of her car to try and get a better view of the area and was immediately slapped with a chill breeze. You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me. Apparently, Ms. Weaver decided the best way to fire her would just be killing her with hypothermia.
As Catra pulled her camera out from the trunk, looping it around her neck, she realized she was starting to shiver. Shrugging in resignation, she grabbed her weathered, dark maroon leather jacket to go over the new, itchy black button-up she’d put on in attempts to look professional for Ms. Weaver. Screw it. Photographers are allowed to look casual, right? At least her jacket made her feel more confident, too. She’d probably need that for her first time interviewing someone professionally, even if it was with some fame-hunting dog walker. She was seriously questioning her life choices right now.
After waiting impatiently for a few minutes, Catra decided to start exploring and spotted a chain-link fence and a sign with a faded red lettering reading Please Close Quickly. It seemed strange to her considering there was no one around, but almost as soon as she opened the scraping metal latch, she discovered its purpose. A giant dog, seemingly made of pure cream-colored fluff, was bounding towards her at full speed and, to Catra’s absolute horror, started jumping up and down her legs, covering her new slacks in mud.
“Holy fuck! Off! Off!” she demanded as she scrambled backward, heart-pounding and trying to push the dog off of her as it refused to listen to her stern commands. “Where the fuck is your owner? Down!”
As she looked around wildly, she heard distant yelling that was getting closer and closer in a very panicked voice. “Juno!! Juno! Come! Come back!!”
The source of the voice was basically a speck in the distance, way too far away by Catra’s standards, as each second more meant jumping and weaving to avoid both the hefty paws of the fluffy beast that still refused to listen and its highly invasive nose that was repeatedly ramming into her crotch.
As she continued swerving away from the goliath of a dog, she looked up, desperate for the yelling speck who was meant to supposedly wrangle this persistent, clearly untrained menace. Then she finally saw her—a notably muscular but completely flailing blonde was running top speed their way. Or, well, she was, until she stopped 30 yards away and panted, her hands on her thighs, whining loudly with zero authority, “Why!? Off!! Get down!”
When the blond caught her breath, she started running over again with a forced apologetic smile on her face before snapping and straining, “Come here,” through her teeth. Juno finally sauntered over with a loud yawn and the woman quickly, although ungracefully, clasped on her leash. Catra glared at her while she waited, arms tightly crossed, looking around the park for Adora. This can’t be her. Please let it not be her.
However, to Catra’s utter annoyance, the muscular woman glanced at her and widened her eyes when she saw the camera hanging around Catra’s neck. “Oh, GOD. You’re Catra aren’t you? Of course, you are!” She groaned and smacked her hand on her face—hard, and then whispered “ow,” almost imperceptibly.
Catra pursed her lips, fuck, but relaxed the glare that had been painted on her face. She was still frazzled and irritated at the complete invasion of her space by the out-of-control dog, but Adora’s—almost—endearing pitifulness managed to slightly disarm her. Even if it hadn’t, it was time to put on a friendly face and act like she had any idea what the fuck she was doing. Holding back an annoyed chuckle, she extended her hand and cleared her throat. “Yeah. Hi, that’s me. Catra. Which would make you Adora?”
Adora sheepishly took Catra’s hand, her voice shaking as she replied, “Uh, huh. Uh, yeah.” She stared at Catra a bit too long before quickly snapping her hand away when Catra raised a brow. “And uh, you met Juno.” She shot out an arm at the dog who was currently peeing in the grass.
Catra looked at the dog with some disdain. “Sure did,” she said dryly as she wiped off her pants, but tried to add a polite smile as she dug her nails into her palm.
Adora winced. “Yeah. So, so sorry about that. Are you okay? I think I might have some wet wipes or something—”
Catra cut her off with a raised palm. “I’m fine. Although kinda cold. Maybe let’s get going with this whole thing? I’m sure you don’t have all day—” Please let this be over soon. Just get some quotes and shots and get out, Catra thought. She was so ready to be out of here and didn’t trust that Juno wasn’t gonna pounce again. Adora was holding the leash completely wrong, and Juno was already stepping closer and starting to sniff her again now that she was done relieving herself.
“I’m actually super free,” Adora said with oblivious enthusiasm. “I made my whole day open to really give you the full experience.” Adora cheekily winked in a way that looked like more of a facial tic and then widened her eyes, clearly questioning her words.
Catra raised her eyebrows once more. Why was this girl being so awkward? Sure being interviewed is weird but she wanted to be done with this and Adora was just staring at her. “Sooo—” Catra started, attempting to break the unnecessary tension.
A ball flew between them out of nowhere and some dude off in the distance yelled ‘sorry’. Catra officially hated this place. Even worse, Juno lunged forward after it, jolting Adora off balance as the leash yanked out of her hand. She stumbled and almost fell but Catra was able to grab her by the arm—her very muscular arm—to steady her, as some of Adora’s soft blond hair whipped under her nose. It smelled amazing.
Catra cleared her throat and they both quickly looked away as their faces became close. Adora managed to regain her posture and awkwardly hugged herself with one arm, her other one waving as she spoke. “I, uh, don’t really know how that happened. I’m usually great with her, but she’s just not listening today. She almost never jumps on people…”
Juno started promenading back and dropped the ball at Catra’s feet proudly, wagging her tail, and Catra quickly pulled her foot away, looking at the slobbery ball in disgust. “Uh. It’s fine. I just don’t really like dogs. Do you mind?” She pointed at the ball but Adora was just staring at her, jaw agape.
“I’m sorry, say again? You don’t like dogs?? Why??” She reached down, messing Juno’s fur, speaking directly to her in a sing-song voice, “They’re so snuggly, and nuzzley, and friendly!”
“—and smelly, and needy, and dirty,” Catra said scowling, slightly playfully. She didn’t want to alienate her writing subject, but she still wasn’t gonna be convinced to like the slobbering, disobedient furball. She continued to eye Juno intently, ready to jump at any sudden moves. Her body was still aching in some of the spots where she’d been pummeled by her hefty paws.
Cautiously looking away, she glanced back at Adora. “I don’t mind them as much when they’re clean and obedient.” She darted her eyes back at Juno judgmentally. ”I’m more of a cat person, anyways. I guess since you love dogs so much you probably don’t care about their clear superiors?” She grinned and Adora rolled her eyes, smiling hugely.
“Actually, I love cats! They just take a little more time to bring out of their shell. And trust. Earning that trust is so rewarding.” Adora looked smug and wistful, clearly a bit cocky at her skills. She flickered her eyes up and down somewhat obviously over Catra, then widened them and looked away quickly.
Wait, was that an innuendo? Because my name is Catra? Or because I like cats? Is she flirting with me? If so, she’s seriously doing a bad job. But, hmm. She’s actually pretty cute if you look past how much she sucks at this.
Adora was internally slapping herself. Did they have to send someone so hot to interview her? Why did she even agree to this? Catra seemed so cool and all Adora could do was keeping saying things that sounded like fucking awkward come-ons. Was this because she was gonna be interviewed? Maybe because Catra somehow radiated confidence? Or maybe it was just the obvious: Catra was a babe. Short and cute with two-tone eyes, a diagonal undercut, geometric gold earrings, and matte black nail polish on her perfectly trimmed nails. Adora could not stop staring.
Oh crap, she’s biting her lip. Fuck that’s sexy.
Catra cleared her throat loudly, snapping Adora out from her gawking, and started talking to her in extremely enunciated words, like there was a possibility Adora forgot how to speak English. “So is there somewhere we can go sit and talk? Maybe not here? Like a cafe or something? Can Juno maybe go...away?”
As much as Adora felt ready to do literally anything for Catra, abandoning Juno was off the table. However, she did have another idea with absolutely zero ulterior motives. None at all. Nope.
“Well, I can’t just leave her, but how about her place? I’m pet-sitting so her owners are out of town and she can hang out in the yard while we talk. She likes it out there and it’s not too far. Maybe you can tail me there?”
Catra ended up cautiously agreeing to the trip—anywhere indoors sounded better, even if they were going to be driving into the hills of Brightmoon Summit, an elite gated community full of mansions where she felt like they might kick her out on the spot upon seeing her beat-up sedan. However, getting there turned out to be even more harrowing than her fears of getting inside the gates. It seemed as if Adora had completely forgotten Catra was following her as she wove speedily up the winding roads in her red mini cooper, her blond hair whipping out the window when she made each sharp turn.
When they finally arrived, the hair on Catra’s arms was sticking up from the adrenaline of the chase. Adora had to speak with the guards, repeatedly pointing towards Catra while nodding and smiling more than Catra thought was humanly possible until they eventually waved her in, still looking at her with suspicion. Catra’s car was one thing, but she was sure they were also eying her skin tone, stereotypes abound. I’m not here to steal their shit, you racial profiling assholes, she thought while waving back in faux politeness, a tight-lipped smile on her face.
They drove for another ten minutes, this time Adora driving at a much more courteous pace. Nearby, my ass, Catra thought as they passed mansion after mansion. They explored for so long that she hardly believed they’d actually arrived when Adora parked. Her jaw dropped when she looked out the window.
Besides being unquestionably ginormous, the mansion in front of them was downright ethereal. It was painted a gleaming ocean blue with iridescent pearly-white accents around the windows and victorian style moldings. Flanked on each side of the front facade were two intricately detailed mermaids—also iridescent in a wide spectrum of shades—that were reminiscent of figureheads from the bow of a ship. Beneath the front windows, spanned pool-sized fountains casting rippled reflections across every smooth surface in sight.
Catra stepped out of her car, about to comment on the mindblowing display, but was quickly distracted by Juno leaping out of Adora’s car and running circles around her. Adora kept thrusting the clasp of the leash towards her and hiss-whispering, “Sit! C’mon, Juno, sit!”
Juno never sat, but Adora managed to grasp her harness and finally click the clasp in place. She looked up at Catra with a frazzled smile, her hair now frizzy and messed with wisps falling messily around her face.
This time Catra couldn’t help but burst out laughing. Adora was terrible at this. She cleared her throat. “So sorry. That was unprofessional. But… I’m really sorry, just, people actually pay you to do this? People this rich? How? Why you?”
“Whaaaatttt?” Adora said in a high pitch, drawing out the word and flapping her hand dismissively, way too self-assured for her own good. “You don’t think I’m good at this?” she retorted in a way that would’ve seemed defensive if it wasn't so endearingly jovial. This girl was a goddamn golden retriever even when she was trying to be stern.
Catra pressed her lips together and snorted. “Not in the least. You do?”
“Hey! I am! I am so good at this! I am really trustworthy! The dogs come home safely and tired. That’s what they care about.” She crossed her arms in defiance and let out a ‘hmph.’
“Okay, okay. I guess so, but you have zero control over her. Don’t you want to? Have you even tried to train her?”
“Uh well, sure. I guess. Err..” Adora sighed with defeat. “No… I mean honestly, it’s kinda exhausting. I just wanna run around and have fun but I also want them to listen, but they’re dogs! They just wanna play! I don’t want them to think I’m a meanie. I’m their friend!” Adora slapped her hand over her mouth in horror. “Oh no, is that on the record? Please, please don’t make that on the record!” she begged, grabbing Catra by the arm, gripping her leather, until Catra swallowed. Adora’s hands felt good.
Catra laughed and tensed her arm, keenly aware of the way Adora’s fingers shook against her leather when she pulled back her hand. “I dunno," she teased, delighting in Adora's desperate plea. "I mean so far you have given me lots to work with if I write about what a total disaster you are at this, and that's pretty tempting.” She smirked at Adora and rolled her wrist in the air. “Who knows, maybe I'll change my mind if you actually take me inside and show me all about this mansion life?” Yes, it was a disgusting display of money, but she still wanted to see it.
Adora looked utterly relieved and quickly sprang to action, pulling out a keyring that looked absolutely janitorial, and fiddled through the collection till finding the correct set. “Right this way!” she said way too loudly, throwing an arm towards the door and practically dragging Juno away from the flower she was sniffing.
The inside of the mansion was even more impressive than the outside—wide open floor plans with somehow tasteful nautical themes, a kitchen fit for preparing a banquet, and an actual banquet hall. That was just what Catra could see as they walked towards the back, where Adora let Juno out a door to a large gated area full of toys.
Catra was glancing up a winding staircase, the vaulted ceilings leading it up to three, maybe four floors, when Adora startled her, suddenly at her side, making her yelp. “You want a tour?” Adora asked eagerly, practically shaking a non-existent tail. How could Catra say no?
It was absolutely the longest tour of Catra’s life and that included the Mystacor Mystery Mansion she’d visited as a middle school field trip years before. There were an almost comical number of rooms just on the second floor alone and Adora opened each one as they went, revealing different, perfectly organized layouts, themes, uses, and entirely too many bathrooms. After half an hour of twists and turns, Catra started to question whether Adora even knew her way back, or if they’d get lost and somehow she would just die here, trapped until starving in these luxurious surroundings. But Adora clearly knew her way around and finally concluded the tour in an immaculate garden, full of fountains and an entire small lake with a freaking canoe.
Catra just stared in awe and confusion, blurting out with irritation, “Why would anyone ever need this much space? It’s beautiful, yeah. But, this money and land could go to so many important things and they chose all this?” She started biting one of her nails as she stared at all the superfluous extravagance.
Adora shrugged. “I know, huh? Isn’t it cool, though?” she asked obliviously.
Catra side-eyed her and avoided the question. “So you’re just staying here? With all this. All by yourself?”
Adora rubbed her arms as a chill breeze kicked in. “Yep, and I get to all the time. The owners travel tons. They own a whole cruise line and are always flying around the world to find locations for new stops. Seamista Cruises.” She dramatically swept her palm through the air as if painting the name in the sky, and looked at Catra for recognition, but only got a shrug. Adora pouted. “Can we go inside now, though? It’s so chilly.”
Catra realized she hadn’t taken a single photo and was wasting a perfect opportunity. “Uh, yeah, sure. But can you stand just a few minutes more out here for some shots?” She attempted her best persuasive smile. “You’ll look so nice with this view,” she emphasized, amping up her charm by adding some sultriness to her already sexy, raspy voice. If she needed to flirt to get these photos, then flirt she would.
Adora, who seemed completely unaffected by the flirtation, took a deep breath and put on a huge fake smile, flexing her muscles and looking Catra fiercely in the eyes. “Yes. Game face!”
Catra chucked. “It’s not a sport. Just relax. Maybe check out the view of the freaking lake?” I want you to look natural in the pretend nature.” She cracked a huge smile and winked—successfully, unlike Adora.
Adora playfully scowled but did as told and leaned on a luxurious railing, looking out across the lush, pristine landscape.
Catra signed a bit with relief. She preferred to take shots of her subjects when they weren’t “on.” She wanted to gather as much authenticity as she could and pull it into the frame. That wasn’t something that came easily when someone looked at her. People felt exposed with a lens in their face, seeing a person behind it attempting to capture those slivers of their soul into one perfect moment. The true version of them disappeared in favor of a false facade.
There was nothing in the world like photography for Catra. It put her in an almost meditative state, completely in the moment, taking in the world like it was a painting only pulled together by the brushstrokes of her lens. Whenever she peered through her viewfinder, something magical happened. She could see people in this whole new way, and Adora was no exception. She studied the way the light hit her skin, the nervousness radiating off of her, the tightness of her shoulders, each strand of hair as it flicked through the air.
She spoke soothingly, hoping to calm Adora enough to catch some shots, regardless of the impacts of the cold wind. “Adora, I want you to take a small breath and imagine your shoulders relaxing, okay? Think of warm water pouring down your spine. Take in the view.”
Catra studied her meticulously, but Adora’s shoulders barely budged; in fact, she tensed slightly more. Catra still snapped a shot, checking the light and composition, and watching Adora even closer.
Part of the work of capturing this kind of portrait was making your subject feel safe. While sometimes that was a chore with people Catra found boring, from this view, Adora was beginning to fascinate her, and the idea of soothing her felt almost compulsory. She tried again, truly wanting to see who Adora was underneath the nerves and clutsiness—who was hiding behind the status of her clients’ fame. “Deep breaths, Adora. You’ve got this. Try to look a little bit more to your right towards the view.” Her fingers itched to reach out and touch her, to move her exactly where she wanted, to tame her hyperactive mind and body in her grip.
Adora glanced at her, giving a small, shy smile and momentarily digging her teeth into her lower lip while she squeezed her eyes shut and took in a deep, shaky breath. When she opened them, she looked off into the distance as instructed and her shoulders slid down as she exhaled.
Catra began taking some burst shots as Adora’s hair flew back and forth. Most of them were terrible. The light kept shifting, her hair kept smacking her in her face, but Adora continued to be a champ, holding in place as Catra watched her chest rise and fall with deep breaths. Catra almost gave up, ready to accept the cold and stop torturing Adora with the conditions.
But, then it happened. She caught that one lucky shot where Adora’s hair whipped behind her, her face profiled with the horizon, perfectly smooth lighting dispersed from the clouds falling just right in the sky, the shady light warmed by the sun as it was beginning to set. Catra’s breath hitched when the shutter released.
Adora was stunning.
She quickly checked her display and confirmed what she already knew. It was perfect. “You wanna see?” she softly asked Adora.
Adora hugged herself, shooting her eyes towards the door in the distance. “Sure, but inside?”
“Oh shit!” Catra said, flinching back to reality. She had totally forgotten about the cold, lost while tracing her eyes over how revealed Adora looked in the frame. “Yes. Uh, here.” She started to pull off her leather jacket, ready to wrap it around Adora if she’d let her, but her gorgeous subject was already running full speed towards the door.
“I’m fine! C’mon!” she yelled behind her. So Catra secured her lens cap in place, shrugged the jacked back onto her shoulders, and slowly jogged to catch up with her.
Keep it professional, Catra. Keep it fucking professional.
Adora was shaking when she got inside and steadied herself against the wall. It would be easy to play her unsteadiness off as just from the cold, but having Catra’s eyes on her like that out there, having listened to her sultry voice tell her what to do, especially how exactly to relax, was making her head spin. Then Catra had even tried to warm her with her jacket? She wasn’t sure she could take this. It made her want to drop to her knees at Catra’s feet.
Catra pulled the door closed behind her with a whoosh when she got inside and smiled so warmly at Adora that she almost slipped down the wall, sending Catra rushing towards her.
“Fuck, are you okay, Adora?” She peeled her jacket off in a quick motion and threw it around Adora’s shoulders, pulling her in tight and stroking her thumb in a firm, grounding motion over Adora’s now leatherbound arm. “Fuck, I’m so sorry; I shouldn’t have asked you to stay out there so long.”
Adora couldn’t deal. The jacket smelled amazing. Catra smelled amazing, like earth, cloves, and a pure sense of protection. Not to mention, she was being so fucking nice and sensual all of sudden. Catra’s touch was making her almost feral. If Adora stayed here any longer she was gonna slam this unsuspecting babe against the wall and kiss her something fierce, but she felt positive Catra was only helping her warm up and nothing more.
Everything just felt so confusing, like her mind was flying in fast-forward and she had no idea how to press play. Catra was giving her some serious top vibes and it had been so long since she’d been just taken and fuck did she want this babe to just destroy her. However, she also needed to remain professional and she was already utterly failing at that. Catra was definitely gonna write the worst article about her ever after everything she’d seen. And everyone was going to know how terrible she was at her job. And she was gonna lose all her clients and be chased out of the business. And there was so much more on the line than just her job. And now was not the time to get in her head and maybe mess up this opportunity, and...and...and...
It was just too much and she was freaking overloading.
Having zero idea what to do, Adora followed her only instinct and propelled herself out of both the jacket and Catra’s arms and stumbled across the room. When she turned around she was in a position so awkward it looked like she’d been frozen in place breakdancing while simultaneously realizing she was about to be hit by a car.
Catra just rapidly blinked at her in confusion, jaw agape, jacket fallen to the ground, her arm still frozen at her side, holding the empty space where Adora had just been.
Adora had no idea what to say. What just happened? What did I just do? Why am I like this!? she wailed internally in exasperation.
“So… Well… I....” Adora attempted to explain while trying to shake her body to a shape that would pass as normal. “Oh shit, um. Well… That was weird, huh?” She tried to say it casually as if she was commenting on a loud noise in the distance and not her own completely absurd behavior.
Catra just nodded and looked at her with a baffled expression.
Adora started speedily blabbering, “Crap, so, here’s the thing. You are really hot and of course, you know that, I mean you have to, of course, and I think maybe you just need to stay over there and I just need to stay over here. HERE.” She stiffened like a board and pointed her index fingers sharply towards her feet, looking at Catra as if desperate for a response.
Catra’s eyes widened, her freckled cheeks staining a bright red, the corners of her mouth quickly lifting then falling as she shot her eyes back and forth across the hardwood floor. She looked up, voice shaking. “Adora… I think you are really attractive,” she started cautiously.
“Oh god, stop right there. This is already embarrassing enough! You don’t have to tell me you don’t like me—I know that!” she whined pitifully, flopping onto an armchair behind her and hiding her face behind her hands. “Great, as if I couldn’t have made this any worse,” she muttered into her palms.
An ultra-soft touch settled onto her shoulder.
When she looked up, she found Catra warmly smiling at her once again and letting out a gentle, kind laugh. “What I was gonna say, dummy, is that I am really attracted to you, too, but I’m doing an article about you, so you’re totally right that we should try not to act on that…” She smirked and looked off to the side, continuing saucily with a shrug, “I mean, what if you’re just trying to persuade me to write a good article about you with your feminine wiles?” She squeezed Adora’s shoulder and playfully chuckled.
Adora scoffed loudly in offense and slapped Catra’s hand away. “Excuse me! My wha—I am not that vain! Hmph!” She glanced sideways at Catra and momentarily considered the idea. “But would it help?” she asked with a cheesy grin.
“I knew it!” Catra exclaimed with a laugh. “Way to make a girl feel special.” She crossed her arms and stared down at Adora with amused judgment.
“I’m sorry! I’m just a mess and like, kill two birds with one stone?”
“Wow. That’s definitely my ideal hook-up,” Catra teased. “Efficiency and all,” she winked.
“I mean, efficiency can be good, right?” Adora batted her eyelashes in a way that was almost sexy, but mostly awkward. “Maybe you just kiss me and tell me you’re gonna write something nice?” she enthusiastically pleaded in her best attempt at flirting.
Catra sighed and, to Adora’s utter surprise and joy, flopped into her lap, tucking loose blond strands behind her ear and looking her intently in the eyes as she held her cheek. “You are seriously reaching, and so inappropriate, but don’t worry, I’m gonna write something nice. This is a fluff piece. I have no reason to write it like some exposé on the worst, and to be clear worst,” she added giggling, “dog walker ‘to the stars’ ever.”
“Really?” Adora exclaimed excitedly.
Catra looked at her quizzically and laughed. “Yes, you are really bad at—”
“No! I mean, you’re really gonna write something good about me? You mean it?” Adora was practically vibrating.
“God, you’re eager, but yes. Really.”
Adora grabbed Catra by the face and pulled her in for a tight, grateful kiss. However, Catra just froze rather than kissing her back. “Oh fuck,” Adora sputtered. “I am so sorry! I should’ve made sure, I just got so excited, and fuck. I misread that. Uhg, I’m useless!” she groaned, thunking her head onto the back of the chair.
Catra placed a finger on Adora’s lips, coaxing her gaze back to hers, and spoke in a smooth and silky tone. “Shush, silly. You just surprised me. I would prefer having gotten to say yes, but it’s okay. Just ask next time, okay?”
Adora gave her hopefully puppy dog eyes. “Next time?”
Catra laughed scratchily and hopped out of Adora’s lap, grabbing her hand and yanking her up. “Simmer down, Casanova. We’ll see.”
Adora kissing her—with her permission—was a very tempting idea, but Catra wanted to draw this out, at least a little, especially so Adora could learn some restraint. It also probably still made the most sense to wait until after she published her article. Probably. Couldn’t hurt meanwhile to make her sweat a bit, though, right?
Adora pouted as Catra looked at her with teasing bedroom eyes, grazing her fingertips across Adora’s as she let go of her hand, continuing the tease by swaying her hips as she walked across the room to bend over slowly and pluck her jacket off the floor. She swung it over her shoulder as she turned back and chortled boastfully when she saw Adora’s face—she looked almost offended at Catra’s bold, seductive moves. “We’ll see,” Catra said again, winking and slipping her arms back into her jacket one at a time, emboldened with confidence as she watched Adora squirm. “But you gotta behave. You gonna ask next time?”
Adora nodded absurdly fast, licking her lips. “I’m so sorry about that, Catra. I promise I will,” she said, eagerly, eyes full of allegiance, locked with Catra’s as she bit her lip.
Catra unraveled on the spot at Adora’s obedient reply and demeanor, every bit of professional restraint in her chrisping away to ash.
Oh, fuck responsibility. Catra thought impulsively. It was just a fluff piece. She’d make it work. Sharron Weaver be damned. Adora was a terrible dog walker and Catra was desperate to show her what it meant to really be in charge. It wasn’t like her to be this forward with someone so soon, but something in Adora was making her just want. She breathed in deeply, feeling her shoulders expand into her leather like it was an armor that was unleashing her all-too-suppressed, dominant wings.
“I’ll forgive the transgression for now.” Catra ventured, piercing the air with boldness and silk, deliberately tracing her eyes over Adora as she thoughtfully tapped her fingertips against her lips. “But maybe we should work on your manners, Adora?” she said with a taunting pout, rolling the name around her mouth like the sweetest candy. “You’re more eager than Juno to get all over me and that’s just not gonna work for me.”
Adora glanced down and snorted discreetly but looked back at Catra pleadingly, pressing her lips together hard into a wanton line.
Catra felt like she was walking on fucking air but paused, preserving her tone softy, to check Adora’s features and make sure they were on the same page. “What do you think, Adora? Are you up for that?”
Adora’s jaw was slackened, her breathing turned shallow and fast, and she was looking at Catra like she was somehow both intimidated and hungry. Her lower lip trembled when she finally spoke. “Yes, please.”