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She shouldn’t be doing this.

 

There are exactly eighteen reasons she can think of, off the top of her head, and they’re all marked as being 23w ago.

 

20w ago is casual lurking with a creepy streak. 23w ago means the CIA are going to knock her door down for cyberstalking. She’s a criminal in the eyes of the law and a sinner in the eyes of God.

 

She can see it now:

 

Reasons for Going to Hell: Being Gay, Unironically Watching Naruto For Three Years, Cyberstalking Most Popular Girl in School (Yikes, Man).

 

If she likes a picture, by accident, now, it’s game over for her.

 

Catra’s only been doing this for, like, ten minutes, though. She’d only found out Adora had Instagram yesterday, when she had liked one of Scorpia’s group selfies of her, Catra and Entrapta.

 

She’d originally clicked on her account to hate-read a few of the girl’s inspirational quotes she has in swirly, aesthetic letters on a few of her pictures:

 

"The wound is where the light gets in."

 

"Tomorrow is always a better day."

 

"Good times with better people."

 

And her captions, dear God:

 

“Sometimes the best caption, is no caption at all.”

 

“Then don’t put a caption, you prep,” she hisses at her phone screen, attracting more than a few weird stares from the kids getting ready for class. She glares right back at them, hiding her phone screen from view in the crook of her elbow.

 

She’s sitting at the back, naturally, and Adora is already seated in the front row, looking way too chipper to be doing calculus on a Monday morning, and is already talking avidly with Ms Shadow Weaver. Total and complete kiss ass.

 

Still, really cute though.

 

She keeps scrolling.

 

*

 

(Catra is pretty sure Adora has exactly zero idea that she’s the hottest girl in school.

 

She’s not entirely sure when it happened. She doesn’t really remember paying much attention to her until the start of the year, and they’ve never talked - not really.

 

She sees her, though, leant up against a locker, chatting with her obnoxiously loud friends and laughing with those shining, blue-blue eyes. It starts like that, with a few passing glances turning into outright staring, because God, she is beautiful.

 

She sees her, pressed up against the wall of the school at break times, laughing or smiling or just talking, as the sunlight makes a home on her skin, and she just—shuts down, a little bit.

 

She sees her, practically jumping at the chance to help the teacher hand back the chemistry tests, and resolutely not looking at anyone else’s result. Her hand lingers (for just a moment, just a second) on the table, as she slides Catra’s back to her. When Catra looks up, elbow propped on table and cheek propped on hand, she finds Adora looking back at her. And she thinks—very, very briefly—that she sees… something, there, before the girl is averting her eyes and moving on.

 

Adora is, like, entirely too gorgeous. Entirely too everything.

 

And, it’s so, so unfortunate. Because she is exactly the type of girl Catra cannot stand.)

 

*

 

“Good morning, class,” Ms Shadow Weaver calls. The class makes a noise like a dying whoopee-cushion in greeting, and they begin.

 

Her name isn’t really Shadow Weaver. If Catra’s honest, she doesn’t really know what her name is. She’s pretty sure it’s something German, or Russian, maybe, but it sounds like Shadow Weaver, and that’s pretty much all anyone calls her, anymore.

 

Catra doesn’t look up from her phone, as she tucks it under the table, still scrolling – up, this time.

 

She checks Adora’s follower count. 12.5k.

 

Jesus fucking Christ. Following: 22.

 

What the fuck.

 

It’s not even that her photos are that good. Well, they are good, in a completely instagrammy, post-modern way – sunsets and calligraphy and fitness videos and very clearly posed photographs with friends.

 

But, they’re not really anything more than that.

 

There’s one that’s pretty obviously modelled. She’s perched on some bust-up old sedan, with her friends – Row and Swimmer, or whatever the fuck their names are - and they look… cool, she’ll admit. Sort of. But they also look like they belong on the Pride Month copy of Vogue Magazine.

 

And she’s pretty sure they’re all straight. So, that’s… weird.

 

She scrolls, finds a picture from two weeks ago. This one’s just of her, sitting on the beach, looking sun-kissed and windswept, hair mussed, smile on her lips, and she’s like… perfect. Totally, and utterly perfect.

 

But, she’s wearing some baggy flannel. And she’s silhouetted by a rainbow.

 

And, it’s like, come on.

 

Catra can’t resist. Actually, she can. She resists typing what she really wants to say several times over:

 

oh my god there’s literally no way that someone like you exists

a smile like that should be made illegal

literally please have my babies even though it’s biologically impossible

 

Finally, she finds the words to sum it all up, settles for:

 

catwithabat u think ur so hipster but u just look like a lesbian

 

She wonders, very briefly, if this constitutes as a hate crime. But, she’s gay. She’s allowed to say it. She thinks that’s how it works. She hits send. A few minutes go by.

 

And then, what she’s just done hits her with the force of a pickup truck on a highway.

 

Oh shit.

 

She should delete it. She should definitely delete it. She just told an honours roll student that she looked gay. As an insult. Kind of. In 2018.

 

Shadow Weaver’s still going at it, as if she doesn’t realise Catra’s world is currently ending. “So, in order to deduce the x factor…”

 

Catra drums her hands on her thighs. If she deletes it now, that will seem… weird. Like she’s rude and an absolute coward. Maybe she can pass it off as a joke. It was a joke. But she’s never spoken to Adora before.

 

Maybe Adora will cry.

 

Oh no.

 

She should definitely delete it. She checks her phone. How many comments did that picture have? 123. Most of them were thirst-comments from weird guys - the price you pay for not having your account on private. Adora hasn’t responded to any of them, so far.

 

So, maybe she’s just decided not to read comments; it’s an old picture, really, maybe—

 

In the front of the class, Adora gives an unholy snort. Ms Shadow Weaver stops speaking.

 

“Adora, dear, are you alright?” she asks. Adora looks like she’s having a hard time not keeling over. Her face is the colour of beetroot.

 

“Yes,” she chokes out, nodding, furiously. “Yes, yes. Sorry—sorry, Miss. I have a—um, cold?” Her voice sounds strained. “Please, continue.”

 

But, when Shadow Weaver turns to write something on the board, Adora twists around in her seat. She looks around for a couple seconds. Then, she catches sight of Catra. She throws her a grin. Then, very slowly and deliberately, she raises a middle finger.

 

Catra gapes.

 

When Shadow Weaver turns around, Adora is the only person doing the equations on the board.

 

“Well? What are you all doing? Get on with your work!”

 

The class is completely silent, stunned.

 

“Did that just happen?” Rogelio whispers, “did Adora just…?” Catra’s jaw is threatening to dislocate itself. She clamps it shut, says only:

 

“I didn’t know she used her phone in class.”

 

*

 

When she gets out of first period, her phone is vibrating (a touch too aggressively) in her hand. The first texts are from Scorpia and Entrapta, about leaving school early to pick something up. The next…

 

she_ra @catwithabat bc… i’m a lesbian. lmao

just now

 

Oh. Oh no. Catra shuts her eyes. She wants—well. She wants to cheer. She wants to write a couple love poems, maybe. But—she also wants to curl up in a ball and cry for the next fifty years (or at the very least until today’s classes end). This was not how she wanted to find out that Adora, of all people, was gay. Finally, forcing herself to stay calm, she replies:

 

catwithabat oh. cool. me too.

just now

 

Translation: Please don’t report me to Principal Hordak for homophobic cyberbullying.

 

Adora doesn’t reply. Catra doesn’t expect her to.

 

*

 

She tries to ignore the feeling of Adora’s eyes on her for the rest of the day.

 

She’s probably glaring at her, or something.

 

*

Scorpia

 

Hey! Come over.

why

We bought scented candles ;)

what

why

It’s a surprise ;)

fine

Seen 5:28PM

*

 

Scorpia’s mom lets her in when she arrives.

 

Entrapta’s already in her room when she gets there. She can hear the pair of them talking as soon as she gets onto the second floor. She knocks, tentatively.

 

“Hey, it’s me. Are you guys decent?” She does not want a repeat of last time.

 

It’s silent for a moment, before Entrapta calls out, “I guess that depends on your moral perspective on—”

 

“Are you wearing clothes?”

 

Entrapta pauses. “Oh. Yeah.”

 

“OK, good.” She opens the door, and— “Holy shit.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“You weren’t kidding about the scented candles.”

 

“I’m pretty sure we’re Bath and Body Works’ favourite customer now,” Scorpia smiles, from the floor.

 

It stinks. That’s the first thing. Every surface is choked with the flickering glow of scented candles. It smells like wood smoke and lavender and oranges and it’s probably-definitely going to trigger Catra's asthma. Scorpia sits in the middle of the room, sketching chalk symbols into the hardwood of her bedroom floor.

 

At Catra’s look, she shrugs. “Entrapta found a Ouija board in her mom’s closet. I found some healing crystals in my mom’s desk. One thing led to another…”

 

“Right.” Right. “I brought Pepsi.”

 

Entrapta’s head perks up. Scorpia gives a little whoop. “This is why I love you, buddy.”

 

They get about ten minutes into whatever the fuck it is they’re doing, before it comes up:

 

“So, I heard about what happened with Adora,” Scorpia begins, almost casually, but not quite. They’re setting up the Ouija board, and Catra only rolls her eyes.

 

“Nothing happened with Adora.” Not quite true, but, “It was a joke.”

 

“A straight A-student, and literal embodiment of sunshine, flipped you off in calculus class,” Entrapta snorts. “Something happened with Adora.”

 

Straight A-student? More like— “Just, drop it, OK? I want to talk to some demons.” Catra most definitely doesn’t want to talk to some demons, but she places her fingers on the planchette anyway, looking up at the two of them expectantly. Scorpia eyes her, suspiciously, before at last she seems content to let it drop. She shrugs. Entrapta grins. Then, they clasp their hands together, and the ritual begins.

 

Scorpia speaks first. “OK, demons, are you there?”

 

NO

 

“Catra, stop moving the planchette.” Catra groans, and Scorpia continues, “Demons, this is my mom’s house, so I know you’re there. What is your name?”

 

The planchette moves, and this time:

 

S-H-A-D-O

 

“Catra, stop moving the planchette!” Scorpia says again, but there’s a touch of real fear in her voice.

 

“I’m not!”

 

-W-W-E-A-V-E-R

 

Silence stretches. Finally, Catra summons the courage to speak:

 

“I fucking knew calculus was cursed.”

 

Entrapta snorts.

 

*

 

The next day, she’s cornered by about twenty people before first period.

 

“What’d you do?”

 

“What’s your secret?”

 

“I had no idea you were friends with her.”

 

“What the fuck are you guys talking about?” she asks, when as usual nobody bothers to explain anything to her.

 

Lonnie steps forward into the ring of kids, pointing an accusatory finger at her, “Why the hell is Adora following you on Instagram?”

 

Catra stares at her, blankly. “She’s not,” she says, finally. “She’s not. It’s a glitch, probably, or—”

 

“It’s not. I asked her,” Kyle pipes up, “she says it wasn’t a mistake.” Catra stares at him, too.

 

“Well, then, she’s glitching—I don’t know!”  What the hell? She checks her notifications. Instagram is muted, since the trauma of yesterday, but – she opens it up, checks her feed – she’s had a huge swell of notifications since yesterday.

 

It starts:

 

18h ago she_ra started following you!

18h ago b.o.w started following you!

17h ago glitter_glim started following you!

 

But in those eighteen hours, she’s gained 50 followers. 64 new likes. 12 new comments.

 

“Adora’s only following, like, 20 people. And one of them is Vice Principal Angella,” Seahawk tells her, looking thunderstruck.

 

“That’s only because they do Pilates together on Tuesdays,” someone pipes up, “and plus she’s Glimmer’s mom—”

 

“Another one is just the fan account she made for her horse—”

 

“It’s swift, underscore, wind. It’s kind of funny—she keeps posting about horse revolutions—”

 

Lonnie cuts them all off with a wave of the hand. “Look, if she meant to follow you, why are you so surprised? Aren’t you guys friends, or something?”

 

Catra is too stunned to say anything – only shakes her head, mutely.

 

*

 

She doesn’t get the chance to corner Adora that day. Or the next.

 

Or, yes, she has the chance, she has numerous chances, but she… doesn’t. It just feels like such a weird thing to corner someone about – what’s Catra going to say? “How dare you follow me when I never even liked any of your posts - when we’ve never spoken before in our lives”?

 

It still feels weird, though. Catra thinks she’s probably going to keep feeling weird no matter what she does about it.

 

So finally, she shrugs, says fuck it, and does the unthinkable.

 

She follows Adora back.

 

*

 

It happens two days later.

 

*

she_ra

 

hey :)

 

*

 

Catra gives herself a minute to stare at the message flashing in white on her phone screen, before she remembers who she is and what her name is and that fingers can type.

 

*

 

hi

*

 

Smooth.

 

*

 

They go from there.

 

They talk, like, a lot. Like, a lot a lot.

 

It’s weird, really, because they don’t talk offline. Sure, there’s the occasional secretive smile here and there, usually when someone references something they’ve joked about. But, it’s mostly just, awkward, for lack of a better word.

 

Because, they get to the point online of sending each other cat memes and stock images and venting a little at 3AM, but their only communication in the real world is… Adora giving her the middle finger. Once.

 

And, for the record, it’s not like Catra doesn’t try. She totally tries. She’s trying all the damn time. Sometimes, she’ll catch Adora’s eye without even thinking about it. Or, she’ll pass her table at the beginning of class and stop – think about opening her mouth and saying something funny, something clever, something special. But then Adora will glance up at her, wide-eyed, and Catra will shut her mouth, think better of it, offer up a tight-lipped smile and walk away. Because—well, at the end of the day, what if it’s just better like this? What if it’s better if they don’t talk? What if she opens her mouth, and just—well—

 

Anyway.  

 

*

she_ra

 

lmao

so anyway

wuu2

…do people still say that lmao

im in paris

righttt

 

am i sensing some doubt rn?

r u doubting me?

nope

i think u r

i can send proof

brb

[img.snt]

pics ^^

that’s just a picture of the eiffel tower

yeah that’s where im at rn

it’s watermarked

yeah?? whats ur point

hello???

 

*

 

It only takes a few days for people to find the comments.

 

When it comes out, Rogelio can’t contain his laughter. “If I’d known calling Adora gay online would get her to follow me back, I would have done it years ago.”

 

Catra can only shrug. “Guess I’ve cracked the code, then.”

 

*

 

The closest they come to communicating like normal people is the Monday two weeks after their first, disaster communication.

 

They arrive at school early – Scorpia and Catra – hopped up on coffee and chatting away about nothing. Adora is there, because of course she is, but she’s on her own, busy shovel-driving books into her own locker, and in the near-deserted corridor, Scorpia’s voice echoes loud enough to have Catra convinced she’d be audible in space.

 

“Hey, so, can we try that thing we did two weeks ago again?” Catra’s caught up rooting around for her calc textbook, barely paying attention, but she hears Adora slow whatever it is she’s doing as Scorpia continues. “Look, I’ve been—well, I’ve been thinking about it, and I don’t think we tried hard enough to connect with it, last time—”

 

It suddenly occurs to Catra how weird this would sound to someone who didn’t know they were trying to talk to ghosts. She glances, reflexively, at Adora, and finds that she’s already looking at her. Adora’s brows are furrowed, lips pursed, and there’s that flash of something again, before she turns, quickly, away.

 

“—And I mean,” Scorpia carries on, oblivious, “listen, I know you hated the scented candles last time, but I sort of think it adds to the mood of it, so—”

 

Catra wheels around, cutting her off, quickly. “Scorpia, I’m not going to try and summon demons with you again.” Summon demons. Nothing else. She determinately does not look back around.

 

“Aw. But it’s not as fun when it’s me and Entrapta,” Scorpia pouts. “Or, no, it is. But, there’s nobody to tell us to stop pissing our pants or that we’re crying like babies or that it’s not real, dumbasses. So, it’s, like, terrifying. Plus, you’re, like, 80% of our impulse control.”

 

Catra rolls her eyes, but she smiles as she leans back against her locker. 

 

“You guys have a Ouija board?” Adora asks, from the other side of the corridor. Scorpia pauses, eyes going wide.

 

Catra turns slowly to look at her again. She nods. “Yeah. Entrapta found one in her mom’s closet.” Adora snorts, and—Jesus, that is such a cute sound, is that even legal?

 

“Well,” she says, “good luck with that.”

 

Catra smiles. She can feel herself going red. Adora’s still looking at her, curiously. “Thanks.”

 

A second or two passes. Finally, Scorpia claps her hands. “Well!” she says, and it echoes too loud in the empty halls. The pair of them blink, turning to look at her. She winces, before offering up a half-grin which is only slightly more smile than grimace. “We should really be getting going to... yeah."

 

Catra nods, face flushed and eyes fixed furiously on the floor. “Yeah.” She tries to shake herself— what is the matter with you? — as she turns away. “Bye, Adora,” she calls over her shoulder. She doesn’t look back. To Scorpia, she says, “Let’s go.”

 

*

she_ra

so…

how was demon hunting

the demon’s name is chelsea, now, apparently

nice

and we’re not

like

hunting it

just… befriending it

you guys should get featured on

buzzfeed unsolved – supernatural

i don’t know if that’s a

compliment or not but i would

literally rather eat glass

than get featured on buzzfeed

fair enough tbh lmao

 

*

“OK.” Scorpia begins, “OK.” Her chest is puffed out in a way that informs all occupants of the pickup truck that she’s about to thoroughly piss off at least one person in the next thirty seconds. Catra takes one look at her, and thinks, oh boy. Entrapta seems to have cottoned on, too, eyes fixed determinately on her work.  “Unpopular opinion, but…” (the truck holds its breath) “you could literally just ask her out.”

 

Catra groans.

 

So, it’s Sunday, and they’re parked out in some forest just off the SH 11, with Entrapta’s new prototype satellite twitching in the cargo bed. It’s open sky above them, stars dripping into each other in the inky black. Catra’s phone sits, unlocked, next to her, Hello Kitty keychain dangling off the edge of the car seat, glinting occasionally in the moonlight.

 

“Catra?”

 

Catra, steadfastly ignoring her, leans forward in the backseat to fiddle with the satellite’s remote. “Maybe move it slightly to the right,” she suggests. Entrapta complies, and a corresponding shriek of muted static echoes from the radio’s speakers. Entrapta yanks her glasses further up the bridge of her nose, looking fascinated.

 

 

Scorpia’s chest is still puffed. “Catra.”

 

 

“No— maybe try a bit further up? — I’m not going to ask her out.”

 

Catra, still bent over the remote, has the sneaking suspicion that Scorpia is giving her a look. Which, you know, is really unfortunate. For Scorpia, that is. Because she’s wasting a really good, really disapproving look on the back of Catra’s head. And it’s not like Catra cares, she doesn’t care; she’s busy, actually, with her really important, really interesting satellite control system—

 

“Catra.”

 

Catra snaps, rolling her eyes as she leans back, hard. “Entrapta,” she says, “can you please get your girlfriend to leave off me for like, five minutes?”

 

Entrapta shakes her head, half-smiling. “Not getting involved.” But her hand – the hand not holding the control system – reaches surreptitiously for Scorpia’s.

 

Catra narrows her eyes. “Oh, see how it is.”

 

“Do you?” Entrapta says, managing to somehow sound disinterested and reproachful, all without looking up from her scrawled calculations.

 

“Fine.” Catra frowns, before beginning again, “Look, I get that you guys are—“ she glances over at the pair of them, nestled in the front seats, hand in hand now, “—domesticated, but can’t you just—let me be bitter and single?” This revolutionary pitch is somewhat dampened by the buzzing of Catra’s phone. Reaching for it instinctively, she breaks out into a full-blown grin when she sees who it’s from, biting her lip as she quickly types back a reply: that’s so not funny i’m not even laughing. 

 

Scorpia is still busy coming up with counter-arguments, which Catra is half-listening to. “We could, when you were, like, twelve,” she’s saying, "and hated everyone and everything that wasn’t Chipotle. But… it’s obvious she likes you. And I’m talking obvious-obvious. And you—you…” There’s a pause. “You’re texting her right now, aren’t you?”

 

Catra glances up, guiltily, feeling more than a little like a kid caught with her hand in the cookie jar. She plonks the phone back down like a hot potato. “I was playing Candy Crush,” she says, defensively. Said phone chooses that exact second to buzz, happily. “New high score." It buzzes again. And a third time for good measure. Traitor. 

 

Scorpia smiles in spite of herself, but her eyes are still uncomfortably earnest in the rear-view mirror. “I don’t get it, Catra,” she says. “I mean, this is good—great, even!” As she talks, Catra ducks her head, leaning forward for a second time - this time, edging the volume of the static up and down as Scorpia continues. “I mean, come on.” Catra continues to spin the dial. “I just don’t see,” a little faster, “what the problem—” Catra spins the dial of the radio just a little too hard. Crunchy static roars with an alarming crackle throughout the vehicle. Scorpia jumps. Entrapta winces. Catra immediately twists the dial back down again. The car is silent.

 

After a moment, she speaks. “Sorry.” Her ears are still ringing. “That was an accident.” She leans back, but, catching Scorpia’s baleful eye again, she finally bites out, “I didn’t mean to, OK? It hurt my ears too.” And then she goes back to examining her hands – the lines of her palms, the pink of her acrylics. In the ensuing pause, she tries again. “I’m sorry,” she says, genuinely apologetic this time.

 

Scorpia seems to be weighing her words carefully, before she sighs. “Yeah, well, I’m sorry too. I didn’t mean to—well. I guess I thought—I thought it’d help. To talk it out. Or something.” She runs a hand through her hair. “Look, I don’t want to beat around the bush. Can I ask?” Then, she adds, “You can say no.”

 

Catra doesn’t look up from her hands, but she says, finally, “You can ask.”

 

So Scorpia turns to look at her. “You do like her, don’t you?”

 

Catra chews her lip. “Yes,” she says. “Yes.” And then, because she’s an idiot, because she can’t help herself, because it hurts to say it but she’s got to say it anyway, she’s just got to say it to someone, she adds: “So, so much.”

 

“Alright.” She nods. And then, “Then I guess, I just didn’t—or, I don’t— see what the problem is.”

 

Catra folds her arms, burrowing further into her hoodie. She glances out the window. Above them, an owl hoots, encouragingly. “There’s no problem,” she says, at last. “There’s just no point.” When she catches Scorpia’s eye again, she shrugs, nonchalant. “What? You know I’m right. She’s an honours roll student. She’s probably going to fuck off to Harvard the first chance she gets.” And the words are harsh, but the tone isn’t. It’s bland, almost bored – the way it should be. Because she really is just being honest. It’s not like Catra would blame her.

 

Scorpia frowns, opening her mouth as if to say something, but just then Entrapta jerks the remote just the right way, and a man is talking lowly against the hum of static.

 

“Oh,” Entrapta murmurs. She glances at the pair of them, eyes wide, before she whispers, excitedly, “Do you think it’s aliens? Or the CIA? Or a ghost?”

 

The moment’s gone. Scorpia snorts. Leaning forward, she presses her mouth to the car radio. “Chelsea? Is that you?”

 

Catra snickers, leaning in to listen as well. After a moment, she shakes her head. “No— I’m pretty sure it’s CBS.”

 

“Aw,” Entrapta groans. “I hate that station.”

  

*

 

The breakthrough happens in slow motion.

 

It’s Saturday, and she’s lying on the wall of Scorpia’s backyard, arching her back like a cat in the sun. “She’s amazing, though. She’s like—” Catra stretches out her arms, falls silent. She can’t think of a simile that would even come close to describing Adora.

 

Entrapta’s playing with the screws of a mechanical hand she’s attempting to build. Scorpia leans back against a workbench, taking a cautious sip of her lemonade as she does so. “You know,” she says, conversationally, “I am happy for you. But—didn’t you literally say she was the most basic person to ever walk the face of the earth, like, two months ago?”

 

Catra doesn’t even bother denying it. “Yeah, I did.”

 

She hadn’t been… wrong, exactly. Adora still likes trashy quotes and The Breakfast Club; she still hangs fairy lights in her room and takes artsy photographs; she still collects enamel pins like dads collect coins or stamps. She was still a horse girl in middle school.

 

But, the word basic has lost its edge. Adora likes the pretty, the positive, the softer things. And that’s nice. Catra would have to be the Grinch to fault someone for that.

 

“You could invite her, if you like,” Entrapta tells her, finally. At Catra’s questioning glance, she explains, “To Stargazing Sunday.”

 

Catra sits up. “You sure you’re OK with that?” The three of them – Entrapta, Scorpia, Catra - have things. Patterns. She doesn’t want to break that for Entrapta, even for—well, even for this.

 

Entrapta shrugs. “We could try it. If it’s not—too much, then, it might be fun. She could invite Bow and Glimmer. They’re—nice.” She smiles, nervously. “I’d like to. I’d like to see you happy.” It feels honest. Catra jumps off the wall, smiles at her.

 

“Thanks, Entrapta,” she says, softly. She takes a breath. “I’ll ask her. We’ll—we can try it.”

 

*

 

she_ra

 

hey

are you free on sunday

yh!! why??

my friends and i are meeting up

we’re going stargazing

at the beach

ohh

that sounds awesome

kinda

you could invite bow and glimmer

if you wanted to come, that is

yh, i’ll ask them xx

 

*

 

They’re free, as it turns out, and they agree to carpool on the trip there.

 

Bow says he’ll buy the drinks, Glimmer’s going to bring her speaker, and Adora will bring the snacks, naturally.

 

*

 

Entrapta

 

 Hey.

 Tell them not to bring weed, please.

ok dw

Seen 19:29

*

she_ra

 

hey

don’t know if you were going to

but don’t bring weed

haha obvi lol

dw i wasn’t gonna

wait brb

 

*

Glimmer

 

glimmer u werent gonna bring weed right

Seen 04:20am

glimmer don’t bring weed.

Seen 04:22am

glimmer istg

Seen 04:26am

GLIMMER

Seen 04:29am

 

*

 

They pick them up in the parking lot of some dodgy-looking 7/11. Bow’s carting bags of drinks; Glimmer’s texting, face lit by the white-blue glow of her phone. They’re dressed in more denim than Catra thinks she has in her closet altogether, but they look… good. Like, really good.

 

Damn models' genes.

 

Adora - they have to pick up from her house. Her sister, Perfuma, won’t let her out without seeing the people who she’s going “stargazing" with. She says the word “stargazing” like she won’t buy it in a million years, but she still is letting her go. So, Adora rolls her eyes and waits as a girl who looks like a California beach babe talks to Scorpia, asks the usual questions –what time will you guys be home; you’ll drive her, right; you get her home safe; oh, are you single - before letting her go.

 

“Sorry about that,” Adora says, as she slides in next to Catra, squeezing past Bow and Glimmer to do so.

 

Catra shrugs, makes room for her. “It makes sense.”

 

The drive there is mostly spent staring out the window, as the satellite dish picks up snatches of song and streams it onto the radio. It’s a tight fit, with four people in the backseats, and – at some point, Adora’s hand knocks into hers. And maybe it would have been awkward, if they had pulled apart – if one of them had jerked away like they’d been burnt in the typical, awkward-teen-thing.

 

But, (carefully, consciously) neither of them do that.

 

Instead, Adora rests her head on the dip in Catra’s shoulder, breathes soft into the crook of Catra’s neck, and takes her hand – tangles their fingers together.

 

Adora's fingers are calloused; they’re not baby soft or anything, but they’re—they’re nice, nice in a way that fills her chest up. She has freckles on the line of her knuckles; Catra runs a shaking thumb along them, and feels Adora still at the touch.

 

Catra rests her own head on Adora’s, presses her lips feather-light into her hair, and she feels Adora smile against her collar bone.

 

It’s a silent ride, after that.

 

*

 

The telescope is in the back of the pickup truck, and it takes a few of them to lift it up and out. They’re parked twenty feet or so away from the shore, from the place where the waves crash, meet the sand.

 

Adora has brought her camera, steals snapshots of everyone when their back is turned, before running her eyes through each of them – every single one.

 

They manage to get the satellite to play a single station, and it’s all eighties tunes that crackle through the cold air. Catra watches as Entrapta tells Glimmer and Bow all about the different constellations that live in the sky. They don’t seem to mind; they’re interested - nice.

 

She smiles, and – at one point or another – Adora and her think it’s safe enough to slip away. So, they do, quiet-like, hand-in-hand. They walk along the shore, searching for sea shells, feel the laughter from their camp become a faraway thing.

 

“Why do you always take photos, anyway?” Catra asks to the roar of waves. Because it seems like she does - her camera is with her, always; her Instagram is bursting with pictures.

 

Adora laughs, “What? Since when does a millennial need a reason to take photos?”

 

Catra rolls her eyes, half-smiles, “You’re not a millennial. Gen Z. C’mon, I wanna know.”

 

They sit, a little way’s away from where the sand becomes too damp, and their fingers aren’t quite touching, but it’s a close thing – a hair’s breadth away.

 

“I guess,” she says, finally, “I guess… so much of my life is good, right now. I want to catch hold of it any way I can, I want to see all the best things. I want to look for them.” She takes a breath, before continuing, “I was adopted. I never knew my parents. I just—“ she curls closer in on herself, hugs at her knees a little, “I don’t know.”

 

After a long while, Catra speaks, “I got bounced around for years, before I found my home here.” At Adora’s questioning glance, she smiles, wryly, “Foster bullshit. Not worth getting into.” They’re silent for a long time, and it feels like the worst is over, like it’s out there, confessions caught in sea foam, fizzing into sand.

 

“Do you want to go back?” Catra asks her, finally.

 

“No,” Adora says, softly, “not right away.”

 

So they don’t. They just—sit there, and sometimes they talk, and sometimes they don’t, and it’s lazy; they’ve got all night. They’ve got until the stars slip away. They have until tomorrow.

 

She learns things. She learns that Adora is a Capricorn, and she wants to study photography at college, but will probably wind up taking medicine. She learns she went to her first Pride parade when she was thirteen, that she came out when she was twelve. She learns other, weirder things, too:

 

“You’re going to laugh,” Adora says into the sand, face fire truck red.

 

“I won’t.” It’s a promise.

 

“I—” she stalls, pauses, drags a finger into the sand in an arching heart, “I’ve—kind-of-sort-of had a crush on you since middle school,” she says the words in one garbled exhale. It takes Catra a moment to hear them. Then, it takes her about ten more to process them. “It’s just—I really fucked up when I flipped you off, before, but I just—"

 

Catra’s mouth twitches. What. What. Adora looks outraged. “You said you wouldn’t laugh!” It’s the shock, really. It’s just that—what.

 

Catra opens her mouth to say anything— anything. But, what comes out is this… giggle. Catra does not giggle. Catra has never giggled in her life. Giggling is for straight girls with styled hair that they can wind around their fingers, with boys they think are so-totally-cute-or-whatever.

 

Still, she giggles. Adora looks more than a little put-out now, looks embarrassed. “I wasn’t—I just—“

 

Catra finally finds words, remembers how to use her mouth. “I’m not… I’m not laughing at you. It’s just—“ and she laughs again, as she pulls Adora down to her, kisses her and cradles her jaw with sandy hands, and she just can’t stop smiling against her mouth, as Adora’s hands wind up around her neck, into her hair, because this is the best thing, Adora is the best thing.

 

Catra learns that the worst way to fall for someone is like this – a slow, starry thing that will have her caught for a long time, maybe forever; she has no idea.

 

I wish you had stayed in my Instagram feed, she wants to think but doesn’t. Because it’s better when it’s real, when Adora’s hands are in her hair and it’s wordless and it’s soft and it’s warm and it’s constant and it’s not going anywhere, right now.

 

They have until morning.

 

*

 

she_ra

 

so

like

prom

prom

yeah

are you like

going with anyone?

no

i was thinking of tagging along

with entrapta and scorpia

oh

i was thinking of tagging along

w/ bow and glimmer

cool :)

 

*

 

Smiley Face. Fucking smiley-face? She regrets it as soon as she sends it. Her hands are shaking, just a little, now. Please go where I hope this is going, she silently begs.

 

*

she_ra

 

we could

like

not do that, though

yeah

we could.

we could?

we could.

 

*

 

They did.

 

fin