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Don't Stop Trying to Find Me

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“Adora!”

Adora wakes up in cold sweat, sitting up on her bed, her breathing shallow and fast. She looks around the room frantically—jacket haphazardly thrown over a desk chair, the alarm clock on her desk that reads 3:00 a.m., her journal, the blanket she’s gripping way too tightly, the motivational poster of a unicorn she hasn’t had the heart to get rid of just yet. As she lists every item she finds, her breathing gradually normalizes, and she tries to take deeper breaths.

She screws her eyes shut and lets herself fall back onto her pillows. She runs a hand over fleece blanket, trying to get her bearings. When she feels a weight lifted off her chest, she opens her eyes again, staring up at her ceiling that’s filled with glow-in-the-dark stars.

It’s the fifth night in a row. She’s almost used to it by now. The fifth night she wakes up from a nightmare that she forgets as soon as she wakes up, only remembering the sound of that voice. It’s a girl’s voice, she knows, something about it so incredibly familiar; but she can’t figure out why that is.

She sighs, heavy, and settles more into her bed, trying to keep that voice out of her head.


It doesn’t work, of course. But she finds that running does. It’s 6:00 a.m. the next day, and she’s grateful for being able to concentrate on getting through the laps their soccer coach makes them run every practice. She’s leading by a mile—because she’s the captain and also because her teammates just don’t have the energy for this this early in the morning.

She should be tired too; she hadn’t slept after the rude awakening. But there’s something about running and exercise that just calms her, as always. It’s part of why she’s been the captain of the team for two years running even though she’s just a junior.

She takes a look back and takes in her team: Frosta, the new recruit who’s so eager to please, almost catching up to her in speed; Perfuma and the others keeping a steady pace; and Mermista bringing up the rear, walking, not even trying to look like she’s trying. But even that’s better than Entrapta, who she spies disappearing behind the bleachers.

Adora huffs and turns back, heading toward Entrapta.

“Great work, guys! Keep going!” she shouts to her teammates as she passes them by, and she grins at Bow and Seahawk, who are power walking alongside Mermista. They smile and wave at her before continuing to talk to a bored-looking Mermista.

“Entrapta!” she calls out, rounding the back of the bleachers. “What are you—”

“Hey, Adora,” a voice purrs out.

Adora takes in the sight before her. Catra, the new transfer student and Entrapta’s friend, is leaning against a pole, her arms crossed as she tilts her head and smirks at her. Entrapta, standing beside her, is cheerfully waving.

She shakes her head and focuses on her teammate. “Entrapta, what are you doing here? We’re supposed to be doing laps.”

“Oh, I just got a text from Catra! She told me she needed to see me.”

Adora’s brows furrow. “Wait, do you have your phone on you? We’re not supposed to have phones during practice.”

“I don’t have my phone on me.”

“Then how—” She’s cut off when Entrapta simply points at her watch, remembering how she excitedly demonstrated her invention in the locker room the other day. She wasn’t about to let Apple get any more of her money when she could just make things herself. “Oh, well, we’re supposed to be running, remember?”

“Chill out, princess,” Catra speaks up, taking a step toward her. “I just wanted to show her something, and then you can go back to bossing her around.”

“Don’t call me princess.” Adora huffs and crosses her arms. “Just show her what she needs to see and go.”

Catra holds her hands up, still smirking. “Okay, okay.” She takes off her backpack and rummages through it before holding something up.

Entrapta lets out a huge gasp, and her eyes widen. “Where did you get that!”

Catra’s holding out a diamond-shaped purple object that doesn’t look like anything a highschooler should have. There even seems to be a glow emitting from it. “It’s better if you don’t know.”

Entrapta, ignoring the ominous comment, makes a grab for the object, expertly handling it. “This is am-a-zing!” she exclaims.

Catra shrugs. “No big deal. I remembered you had robotics after homeroom, so I just got here early for it.”

“Oh, all the things I could do with this.” There’s a glint in her eyes that Adora has seen a million times before. It usually ends up with someone hurt, and Adora winces at the thought. She’s gonna have to warn the robotics teacher after practice is done.

Catra reaches out to take the object back. “I’ll hold on to it for you. Until you’re done here.”

Entrapta pouts. “Can’t I just go to the lab with this now?”

Catra darts her eyes to Adora. “I don’t think Adora would like that very much.”

Adora uncrosses her arms and says, “No, uh, we should get back.” Entrapta pouts further. “But look, if we get through practice now, Coach won’t make us run any more laps after school and you can spend more time in the lab after classes.”

Entrapta brightens up at that and nods, already heading back to the field. “Okay!”

When she turns back, Catra is shoving the thing into her bag, closing it, slinging it over her shoulder, and turning to walk away. Inexplicably, her heart clenches at the sight of leaving, suddenly wanting her to stay here. Which makes no sense at all.

And this is where Adora’s body betrays her.

Before her brain can stop it, her hand reaches out to grab Catra’s, effectively stopping them both in their tracks. Catra stares wide-eyed, looking back and forth between their joined hands and Adora’s rapidly coloring face. She hastily lets go. Why did she do that? She doesn’t even know this girl!

Blushing and ducking her head, she asks, suddenly shy, “Are you leaving?”

Catra’s face is carefully blank. And after an agonizing minute, she replies slowly, “Nah. I think I’ll just hang out here.” She points up to the bleachers.

Adora nods and turns on her heel toward the field as Catra settles on a seat, leaning back with her arms on the next level’s seat and stretching her legs out. She closes her eyes and throws her head back, seemingly basking in the sun’s heat, a small smile gracing her lips. Adora feels her cheeks color once again, and she forces herself to look away.

For the rest of the practice, she feels Catra’s gaze on her the entire time.

Chapter Text

The next time she sees Catra is just a few hours after practice ends. Lunchtime finds them alone in a bathroom. Adora had walked in to find Catra with one hand on the sink, supporting her weight, and the other hand brought up to her mouth. She’s slowly licking blood off of her knuckles. She’s disheveled and looking worse for wear (Adora’s pretty sure she’s missing a button or two on her button down, considering how much skin is being exposed right now).

Adora stares at a pink tongue darting out and shudders. It’s that movement that catches Catra’s attention. She turns toward Adora, a smirk spreading over her lips. “Hey, Adora,” she greets.

“I—” Adora’s mouth is suddenly dry, and she swallows before speaking again. “What happened?”

“Oh, this?” Catra holds up the injured hand. “It’s nothing. You should see the other guy.”

Adora rolls her eyes and moves to stand directly in front of her. “I’m pretty sure licking it is incredibly unsanitary.”

“Really? I didn’t know,” Catra says, her voice dripping with sarcasm. She places her hand on the sink, facing away from Adora and into her reflection in the mirror.

Adora takes a look at her hand and  lightly runs a finger over Catra’s knuckles, making her gasp a little. “You’re gonna have to clean this properly. Can I?”

Catra nods, still not looking at her; and Adora picks up her hand and guides it to the sink, effectively pressing herself against this girl she knows nothing about.

She 100 percent doesn’t need to do this, but it’s what her gut is telling her to do and she’s never gone wrong with following that before.

She’s aware of the gaze the girl beside her is directing at her, can feel the weight of it boring into the side of her skull, but she concentrates on carefully cleaning the dried blood off Catra’s hand—the hand she’s touched twice now today. There’s some bruising already, and some surface wounds she’s gentle with.

Catra doesn’t even make a sound.

When she’s done, she turns off the tap and reaches across the sink to grab some paper towels. After patting it dry, she finally levels a look at Catra, whose gaze is intense and whose eyes are clouded with … something. She suddenly decides they are way too close now. She wads up the paper towels, throws them away, and lets go of Catra’s hand.

Stepping away, she clears her throat. “Um, does it hurt?” she asks.

Catra hums. “I’ve had worse.”

“That’s not what I asked though.”

There’s a smile playing on Catra’s lips when she replies, “No. Not really.”

“You should go see the nurse for that.”

Catra shakes her head. “I don’t know if you noticed, but a pretty girl already fixed me up.”

Adora blushes and stutters out, “I-idiot, it needs more than just cleaning.”

Catra smiles and says, “It’s okay. Scorpia carries around a fully stocked med kit all the time. I’ll just go look for her after.” Scorpia was Catra’s foster sister, a fact she only knew because Scorpia was telling everyone last school year that her ultracool foster sister was finally coming to the same school as her.

“Or,” Adora says, “you could go to the person actually qualified to fix that up. I mean, it could be broken or something.”

Catra flicks her wrist. “It doesn’t really feel like I’ve broken anything.”

Adora sighs. It doesn’t seem like anything she’d say would change her mind, but she tries one last time though. “What if I offered to take you there?”

Catra shakes her head. “I’d get in trouble again. And I’d really rather not be. It definitely wouldn’t help the stellar image your foster mom has of me.”

“Oh.” Angella, Adora’s foster mom, was the school counsellor. “You’ve talked to my mom?”

Catra bites her lip, drawing Adora’s eyes to that. “I’ve had some sessions with her or whatever.”

“Why?”

“I—” Catra hesitates. “My foster parents, they … they thought it would help my ‘anger management issues.’”

Adora chuckles. “Well, it doesn’t look like it’s working.” She gestures to her hand.

Catra scoffs lightheartedly. “Yeah, I guess not.”

Adora cocks her head and regards her. “Seriously, what happened? You don’t seem to be the type to go around punching people.”

Catra’s expression hardens. “You don’t know anything about me.”

Adora is visibly taken aback, and she takes a literal step back. She’s right. Adora knows nothing about her, yet she’s here talking to her and touching her like she’s known her forever. The problem is, every time she so much as looks at Catra, she feels like she’s always known her. She’s known her even before she met her somehow. But…

“You’re right. I should get out of your hair.” She turns on her heel and goes to the door. But as her hand reaches the door’s handle, a voice calls out to stop her.

“Wait,” Catra says.

Adora turns around and sees Catra looking down and twiddling her thumbs. When she looks back up, she says, “You know, your mom talks about you a lot.”

Adora tilts her head in confusion. “Why?”

“She’s convinced you’d be good for me.”

“…What?”

Catra blushes. “I mean, like a good influence or something, I don’t know.”

“Oh, well … maybe she has a point.”

Catra looks at her pointedly. “What do you mean?”

“I … I don’t know anything about you”—Catra’s face falls—“but I want to.” Hope fills Catra’s eyes, and Adora continues, “Maybe we could start being friends?” Adora sticks out her hand for a handshake.

Catra laughs softly at the offered hand. “You’re such a nerd.” But she grips it with her hand, giving it a firm shake.

Adora smiles wide at her, but it slips from her face when she feels Catra’s thumb lightly stroking her hand back and forth.

Adora glances at their linked hands before staring back at Catra. They stare intensely at each other. Adora searches her eyes, wanting nothing more than to pull at her hand and—

The bell rings, signaling the end of lunch, making them jump apart.

“Um, I guess I gotta go. Get that hand checked! Even by Scorpia!”

“Okay.” Catra chuckles.

“Bye,” Adora throws behind her as she heads out the door.

“Bye, princess.” Adora hears Catra say. The smile Adora wears after that stays on her face the rest of the day, even when she has to ask for a hall pass because she completely forgot to do what she came into the bathroom to do in the first place. 


“And then the thing blew up when Entrapta flicked a switch, but thank God Ms. Razz was literally standing beside her the entire time with a fire extinguisher.” Glimmer laughs loudly. “You should have seen Bow’s face! He was so freaked out!” Glimmer proceeds to imitate Bow’s freaked-out face, which Adora has to admit is a pretty solid impersonation. The whole family dissolves into giggles at that.

She, Angella, Glimmer, and Micah always had dinner together; and they usually took this time to catch up on one another’s day. Today Micah was caught up in work and told them to eat without him.

“Adora?” Angella says when their laughter dies down. “What about you? Anything exciting happen today?”

“Yeah.” Adora smiles, thinking about Catra. “I made a friend.”

"Oh?" Angella inquires. "Do I know them?"

"Yeah, you told her I'd be good for her."

Angella's brightens at that. "And do you think I was right?"

Adora's grin stretches over her face. "Yeah, yeah, I think you were."


When she’s settled in bed and closes her eyes, Catra’s smirking face swims behind her eyelids. This time, she doesn’t wake up until the morning comes.

Chapter Text

Adora knows she’s staring. She’s been doing it the entire period. But she can’t help it, not when Catra’s right in front of her. Even from behind Adora can see that she’s bored, her head propped up with her hand. Beside her, Scorpia is paying close attention and taking copious notes.

She also knows that Catra can tell that she’s staring, but she’s doing a good job of ignoring it. She’s been doing a good job of ignoring her this whole week. Every time they pass each other in the hallway, Catra always somehow disappears before she can say hi. And even when she manages to say hi, Catra always just looks down at her phone or talks to Scorpia or Entrapta or, at one point, straight-up pretended not to see her and kept walking.

Adora’s getting tired of it honestly. But she isn’t the type to give up that easily, so when she pulls away from her thoughts enough to hear the teacher say the words project and partner, she immediately reaches over and taps Catra on the shoulder.

“Do you want to be partners?” she blurts out before she has a chance to chicken out.

Catra just stares at her, incredulous.

A flush creeps up from the base of Adora’s neck. “I-I mean, just that, maybe you’d want to work on the project with me?”

At this point, Scorpia is also just staring at her, a concerned look on her face.

Catra sighs and turns to Scorpia. “If that’s okay with you?”

Scorpia blinks at Catra twice. “Oh, what, yeah of course!” Scorpia says, overly bright. “I’ll just partner up with Entrapta.” Scorpia flashes them both a brilliant smile before standing up, seemingly headed toward the back, where Entrapta is fiddling with a device on her desk.

“Entrapta! We’re partners now!” she yells as she walks toward the girl.

Entrapta barely spares Scorpia a glance before saying “’Kay” and turning back to the device and wires on the desk.

Adora turns back to Catra to see that she has, once again, disappeared on her.

“What the fork,” Adora says under her breath before she sees a flash of movement near the doorway.

Without a thought, Adora gets up and chases after it.

“Ms. Grayskull! You need a hall pass!”

“Sorry, Ms. Netossa!” Adora yells back even as she’s running through the hallways. She looks around frantically but finds the entire place deserted. She stops, groans, and massages her temples. How the heck did Catra move that fast?

With a sigh, she finally gives up, resigned to knowing that Catra probably hates her and never wants to talk to her again.

For lack of anything better to do and because she doesn’t want to face Ms. Netossa, she heads to the bathroom.

Where she runs straight into Catra, who’s gripping the sink tightly, head bent down and eyes closed.

Adora takes a breath and drops her tense shoulders, attempting to seem chill, before saying, “We have to stop meeting like this.”

Catra startles, head snapping toward the door. Then she relaxes, and her lips slowly curl into a smirk. “Hey, Adora.”

Adora takes a tentative step toward her. “So …”

Catra stares, her arms crossed. “So …” she mimics.

 “Is there … any reason … you’re avoiding me?” Adora asks, getting closer with every word.

Catra stiffens. “I don’t know what to tell you, princess.”

“I thought I told you not to call me that.”

A genuine smile blossoms on Catra’s face. “Yeah, well, I’ve never been good at taking orders.”

Adora chuckles. “I can tell.”

Catra lets out a little laugh before clearing her throat. “Look, um, I’m not really … good at the whole friendship thing. I—”

Adora waits for Catra to continue, but after she turns her head away and focuses on literally anything other than Adora, she takes the hint.

“Hey.” Adora reaches out and places a gentle hand on Catra’s arm, making Catra look up at her. “Can’t we at least try?”

Catra bites her lip, apprehensive. “I don’t know.”

Adora sighs, letting her hand drop and moving to lean against the counter. “You know, if I were anyone else, I’d have given up by now.”

“Why haven’t you?” Catra asks, her voice so small that Adora has to strain to hear it.

Adora shrugs and shoots Catra a small smile. “I guess I’m not just anyone.”

“No,” Catra confirms, “no, you’re not.”

They stay like that for a while, just kind of staring at each other. Adora marvels at how she’s completely at ease like this, here in this school bathroom with this resistant stranger she just can’t give up on. They could keep being like this for a while, and Adora wouldn’t mind. No, she doesn’t think she would mind at all.

But of course, it’s not to last.

The door opens and hits the wall with a bang at the same time that a voice yells out, “Wildcat!”

Adora and Catra jump and look at the source of the noise, seeing Scorpia looking worried.

“Oh thank God!” Scorpia barrels through the space, nearly knocking Adora down in her quest to get to Catra. She sweeps her up in a hug, lifting Catra off her feet. “AP Lit is over, and you weren’t there. I just got so worried.”

“Scorpia,” Catra says through gritted teeth all the while struggling to get out of the bigger girl’s grasp. “Put. Me. Down!”

“Oh!” Scorpia gasps before putting a harried-looking Catra down. “Personal space, right! Sorry! I was just really worried!”

“Yeah,” Catra says, rubbing her arms. “You’ve said that. And I’m fine, Scorpia. No need to have an aneurysm.”

“Okay!” Scorpia beams. “Well, we better get going! My moms are making lasagna for dinner!”

Adora chimes in, “That sounds so good! I wish we had lasagna, but the only thing Angella knows how to cook is eggs.” Adora makes a face at that. “We usually order take out.”

“Oh.” Scorpia looks at her, shock evident in her face, seemingly only noticing her presence at that moment. “Hi, Adora.”

Adora give her a smile and a small wave.

“Um, I’m catch up with you at the parking lot, okay?” Catra says.

“What, why—” Scorpia starts but is cut off by Catra’s shifting her gaze to Adora for a second. Scorpia takes a glance at Adora before she turns back to Catra and places her hands on her shoulders. “I’ll make you some tea when we get home,” she says this intensely.

Catra sighs and gently takes Scorpia’s hands off her. “Okay, just go ahead. I’ll catch up.”

Scorpia says, “If you’re sure.” And when Catra nods, Scorpia leaves, sparing them both one last look.

When they’re alone again, Adora first breaks the silence Scorpia left them with. “So … what was that about?”

“She’s just … concerned, I guess.”

“About me?”

Catra shrugs, dismissive. “I told you I’m not good at this friendship thing.”

Adora nods. “Well, we should probably get our stuff from Ms. Netossa’s room, huh?”

Catra takes a breath and heads out first, not even bothering to see if Adora was following, because of course she was.

They get their things from the now-empty classroom and make their way outside, silent.

They get to the parking lot, and Adora shifts her weight between her feet. “Well, bye,” she says, awkward.

“Bye,” Catra says and turns on her heel.

Before she can get very far though, Adora blurts out, “Come over to my house!”

Catra stops midstep, and turns to stare at Adora. “Uh, I can’t. You heard Scorpia, her moms are making lasagna. And I can’t miss that.”

“No, I-I mean, not now. Like, just whenever. You know. For the project. Or whatever.”

“For the project,” Catra repeats.

“Or whatever!”

Catra smirks. “Yeah, of course. Just, text me?”

Adora pulls out her phone, and Catra does the same. When Catra gives Adora her number, Adora calls her phone. Amused, Catra answers and puts the phone to her ear. “Hey, Adora,” she purrs into the phone while looking straight at Adora.

“Hey,” Adora says brightly. Adora pauses and worries her lip between her teeth. “You-you’re not gonna ignore me again, are you?”

Catra freezes. She bites her lip, contemplating the question. “No … I don’t think so.”

Adora gives her an encouraging smile and tilts her head. “That’s good enough for me.”

Catra chuckles. “I’m gonna hang up now, dork.”

Adora laughs and does exactly that, Catra following suit. “Bye for real this time,” Adora says.

“Okay, bye,” Catra says before walking over the Scorpia car, which is already running. She opens the door and pauses, taking another look at Adora.

Adora waves at her, and Catra waves back before getting into the car.

Adora walks away feeling warm.