Catra woke up to a bed far softer than it should be, opened her eyes to a room far brighter than she’d ever been in before, and came to the obvious conclusion – she’d been captured. How she’d been captured, from the middle of the fright zone at that, when the princesses still ought to be reeling from the attack on Brightmoon, she had no idea.
She sat up carefully and inspected the room around her. Painted walls, gem encrusted furniture, not a single colour that couldn’t be described as “pastel” – it was so… bright. Appropriate, she supposed, albeit nauseating – but on the upside, there didn’t appear to be any security measures whatsoever. Typical. The window was large enough that she could definitely climb out, and she could see the whispering woods below her – and that was the first thing that was really wrong.
The woods should be ruined, but they were – god, they were more vibrant than she’d ever seen them. What the fuck happened?
The second thing that went wrong was the door slamming open to reveal –
To reveal someone that looked far too much like her.
Catra’s body decided that this was all a bit much, and promptly passed back out.
When she woke up again, it was to concerned voices above her. This, she realised, could be an amazing opportunity to get some intel without them realising it (and maybe figure out what the fuck was going on), so she did her best to appear to still be asleep.
“There’s all kinds of magic running through her body – that’s why she passed out, I think. I have no clue how she arrived here, though.” This voice was deep, and slightly raspy – an old man, perhaps? Definitely not Adora’s little arrow boy, but she wasn’t aware of any other prominent male members of the rebellion.
“I’m not getting any readings off of her either – although that does mean she’s not a projection or a clone! Wow, this is probably real time travel – do you have any idea what this could mean if we could harness the technology behind it?” That was – Entrapta? That was definitely Entrapta. What the fuck was Entrapta doing here?
“God, she’s got that exact same crowny masky thing Catra always used to wear – where did that even go, anyway?” And that sounded like Scorpia – had they betrayed her? Taken her to the rebellion?
“Too many bad memories. I chucked it. Oh, and she’s awake, by the way – sneaky little brat.” That – she – that couldn’t be who it sounded like. She’d only ever heard that voice on, on recordings of herself from training or on mission, played back to her by Shadow Weaver or Hordak. She had to –
“Oh, and she’s gonna try and bolt now.” Fuck. She leapt up as fast as she could, straight into the waiting arms of Scorpia.
“Yeah, I knew that Catra – I knew you pretty well back then too, you know!”
“Ooooh, I think I still have my files on you from back then! I did all kinds of experiments to see how you’d react to various social stimuli, I should go see if I can dig them up, they would be particularly useful in this situation…” Entrapta’s voice echoed down the corridor, leaving her staring directly into the eyes of – of herself. Older, a few new scars, hair done differently, but absolutely still her.
“Where the HELL am I?” None of this made any sense – god, was this one of Adora’s first one bullshit hologram things, or – or one of Shadow Weaver’s messed up magic games! It had to be something, there was no way in hell that this was actually –
“Welcome to the future, little brat. Want some tuna?” Catra – not-Catra – old-Catra – imposter-Catra held out a can of some kind of weird princess food to her.
She passed out. Again.
When she woke up, it had just been Scorpia there this time, since she’d been put in charge of looking after Catra – apparently on the grounds that she “had always been the best at putting up with her like this,” which, she frankly would’ve found quite offensive if any of this were real, which it definitely absolutely was not.
Scorpia had brought her down to the kitchens, asking her questions to try and work out exactly when she was from – she, of course, refused to give away confidential horde intel to someone who was clearly both an imposter and a traitor. Scorpia had unfortunately managed to recognise a specific injury as one she got at the Battle of Brightmoon, which both gave the game away and put a few holes in her “none of this is real” theory.
“So, you probably haven’t had like any good food yet, right! I mean we got out of the Fright Zone a fair bit that first year, but we never really stopped for food – oh my god, I get to introduce you to your favourite food all over again! Come here, come here, you’re gonna love this oh my god-“
“Stop!” she shrieked, and Scorpia froze, giving her that same old pathetic look. Some things never change, she supposed. “I’m not gonna eat any food you assholes give me, it’s probably – it’s probably poisoned, or it’s magic and it’s gonna make me tell you horde secrets or something!”
Scorpia remained frozen, before letting out a snort of laughter. “God, I forgot how paranoid you were! Look, I get this must all seem completely unbelievable, but I promise, I’m not gonna feed you poison or anything – we’re working on getting you back to when you came from, but for now you gotta stay fed – whatever brought you here really messed with your body, you need to look after yourself.”
Ugh. She knew this was probably a trap, but – well, she couldn’t actually think how this could be a trap. It definitely wasn’t real, but – if it wasn’t real, it wasn’t like she could get hurt, right? This was definitely longer than one of those simulations in the First One’s temple, so she was leaning towards magic nonsense from Shadow Weaver, and that meant this was probably a dream, and that meant she should be fine.
Also, the pink meaty stuff Scorpia had started cooking whilst she stared into the void trying to work out what to do smelled really good.
It was apparently called Salmon, and it tasted even better than it smelled.
A few hours later, she was sitting in a room with various people, only some of whom she knew. Adora, Bow, and Glimmer, were apparently away on a “Spa Day” or something, which, at least she didn’t have to deal with the “Best Friends Squad” (blegh). She had vocalised this to imposter-Catra, and the woman had burst out into laughter – Scorpia had had to inform her that Catra’s future self had apparently been inducted into the squad herself.
Yet another indication that this definitely, 100%, wasn’t real. She would never.
Sitting in the room with her were Scorpia, Entrapta, imposter-Catra, an old man that was apparently Sparkles’ not-dead-after-all Dad, and that flower princess she couldn’t remember the name of. Apparently they were waiting on one more person to try and work out what to do, and she’d been interrogating the people there on this fake “future” in the mean-time.
Also, imposter-Catra had a big magical cat that had licked her face. She had to admit, the big magical cat was cool. She kinda wanted one.
“So, what, you all just like, gave up and joined the rebellion? Adora spewed so much rubbish about peace and love that you guys finally succumbed? I don’t get it.” This was directed mostly at imposter-Catra, since honestly she could see Entrapta and Scorpia ditching the Horde – people she cared about had a habit of abandoning her to go hang out with princesses.
It was Scorpia, however, that answered.
“I mean, kind of? But I don’t think any of us ever really officially switched sides, or anything – but Horde-Prime showed up, and he was like, way more dangerous than any of us and he totally wanted to destroy the entire universe, and by that point both sides were kinda falling apart anyway, and we all kinda just really wanted Horde Prime to not destroy the entire universe you know?” That made some kind of sense. At least for the others.
“And what, they just forgave you all? Hardly seems likely.”
“They forgave others of far worse, child.” That voice – that voice sent a chill down her spine. She span around and sure enough, that was Hordak.
She sprang backwards, latching onto the far wall with her claws.
“What is HE doing here?” she snarled, feeling her body instinctively panicking. This wasn’t – this didn’t make any sense, if this was a test from Hordak or something he’d never put himself in it in some dumb, princess outfit, god who would even come up with this – it didn’t make any sense, this wasn’t right –
“I am here to try my best to ascertain how you have arrived here, and how we can put things right. I apologise if I have scared you – in this time, you and I have come to empathise with each other’s plights,” imposter-Catra snorts at this, although it doesn’t seem nearly as unfriendly as it should, “but I realise that in the time you are from I am hardly a friendly face.”
God, she had no clue what was going on, but she hated this. She hated all of this.
“This doesn’t make any sense!” she screamed, claws dragging down the wall. “Scorpia and Entrapta I can just about buy, but this – and you!” she pointed a jagged claw at imposter-Catra. “I’d never – I’d never buy into Adora’s crap! I’m going to keep fighting till I run the Horde, and then I’m gonna rule the whole world – and then, when this “Horde Prime” or whoever shows up, I’ll do the exact same thing with him! You, you’re just – you’re pathetic! What happened to you?!”
Everyone else in the room was frozen, looks of shock and pity on their faces, but imposter-Catra – she should be angry, if they wanted her to believe this she should be furious, but she was just – calm. Still sitting legs crossed on the sofa, just, looking at her. Like she understood. Her cat, Molag or whatever, paced over to Catra and curled up at her feet, staring up at her sadly.
“You wanna know what happened to me? To you? You won. You got everything you ever wanted, even if you had to betray everyone who ever cared about you to do it. The rebellion was falling apart, you more or less gained control of the Horde for yourself, you beat Hordak – you won. And it fucking sucked. And Horde Prime came, and you tried – you tried to worm your way up the ranks again, and he would have let you, all you had to do – “ her voice cracked, “all you had to do was betray Adora to Horde Prime. Let him have her. Let her die. And, you nearly didn’t, but for the first time in your life you did something right – you saved Adora’s friend, you saved Adora, you sacrificed yourself for her – and despite everything you did, all the times you hurt her, she still came back for you, and you – “
Catra – imposter-Catra – had tears sliding down her face now, but it still wasn’t – she still wasn’t angry, just – she just looked so sad.
“You wanna know what happened to you, Catra? You grew. You grew up.”
She sprints out of the room and doesn’t look back.
She’s hiding among the rafters in the main hall when she sees the doors open to the outside, and in walks someone who is unmistakeably an older Adora. She looks beautiful. And from the other end of the room, softer and kinder than she had ever spoken it herself, comes –
“Hey, Adora.” The smile on Adora’s face as future-Catra approaches her is so, so warm, so familiar. It really is her.
“Hey,” Adora replies, putting her arms around future-Catra and drawing her into a hug. “I came as soon as I heard – Glimmer and Bow stayed at Mystacor, something about this being their day off from our bullshit or something.” Future-Catra giggled, and god, was she purring? Before pulling back a little and drawing Adora into a kiss.
Whatever brain cells she had left fizzled out, and all she could do was stare.
“How are you doing?” Adora asked after the kiss finally ended, resting her forehead on future-Catra’s.
“I, uh – I don’t really know? Seeing her, it’s just…”
“Too much of a reminder?” future-Catra gave a little snort.
“You’d think, right? But no, I don’t – I don’t need any reminding of all the awful things I did. I just – I always think back to then and think about how much of a, of a monster I was, but I look at her and I don’t see a monster. I just see a scared little girl, who just needs someone to look after her – who just needs to let someone look after her. To let someone in.” Adora smiles at this, that same smile from before.
“I’m glad. I keep telling you to stop giving yourself such a hard time over it all." Future-Catra makes a non-committal noise, before burying her head in the crook of Adora’s neck. They stand there like that, for a beat or two, before Adora catches sight of her in the rafters and waves. Future-Catra turns to look at her too.
“Ugh, sneaky little brat.”
“Babe, I literally caught you eavesdropping on a council meeting like, last month. You’re on the council!” future-Catra gives Adora a little push, but she’s smiling, and this is all way, way too much.
Adora makes her way up to the rafters in her usual, awkward but determined way, and takes a seat next to her.
“So, I know you have no sense of direction whatsoever, but getting so lost you end up in the past is a bit much even for you.” She can’t help but laugh at that, but it comes out all wrong, all wet and croaky, and she realises she’s been crying. Adora puts an arm round her shoulder.
“Entrapta said in her message they think they’ve worked out what happened, and how to send you back – don’t worry, you don’t have to deal with princess-town much longer.” She really didn’t know how to feel about that.
“I – will I remember?” she asked Adora.
“I don’t think so. Time can’t be changed, and if you remembered, that would change things, so apparently it’ll all…fix itself, or something? I think that’s what Entrapta said, anyway.” Shit. Scratch that, she definitely knew how she felt about this. The dam broke, and she could feel the tears pouring down her face, the sobs racking her body.
“I don’t- I don’t wanna forget, Adora! I don’t wanna wait 5 years to have this, I don’t want us to have to keep hurting eachother when we could just – we could just stop! I can’t, I can’t take another 5 years of that, I can’t do it Adora, I-“ She tried to get down, to get out, but then she ran directly into future-Catra, who was hugging her now, and then Adora came up from behind and joined the hug, and she just. Gave up. This was all absolutely ridiculous, and she was done trying to fight it.
They stood there for a while, till she stopped sobbing into future-Catra’s shirt – it was a really cool shirt, her whole outfit was really cool, the shoulder cape and stuff? At least she kept her sense of fashion.
“I know how much this hurts, kid. I really do. But the good news is, Time can’t be changed – you’re gonna get here, sooner or later, and I promise you every second of awfulness will be worth it.”
And honestly, if this was real, if she really got to have this one day – she could believe that.
Catra is standing in some elaborate contraption Entrapta and Hordak have somehow put together in less than a day, parts whirring around her as they tried to configure it to send her exactly back to when she came from.
Adora and future-Catra are standing at the doorway, hand in hand, giving her reassuring smiles – or, well, Adora, was giving her a very reassuring smile, and future-Catra at least looked like she was trying her best. Scorpia was there too, leaning up against the console Entrapta was working at, looking like she desperately wanted to say something.
“Spit it out, Scorpia.” Just because she’d cried on her future self for a solid, like, half an hour, didn’t mean she was going to start being nice or anything.
“I, um – look, I know you’re gonna forget all this, but even if it’s just a feeling left or something, I want you to know that – that me and Entrapta, we really do care about you, back then. I know it’ll probably be a while till you get to have Adora back, and get to know everyone here, but where you’re going for now – we’re here for you, there.”
Was everyone trying to make her emotional today? Fuck.
“I – um. Thanks, Scorpia.”
“No problem!” Ugh.
“Alright, that’s everything sorted! It’s just getting warmed up, and in about 30 seconds, you’ll be home free!” Wait, what? Fuck! Adora and future-Catra rushed over to the machine.
“Remember, you just gotta keep going, okay?” said Adora, rushed and emotional.
“Oh, and don’t let Shadow Weaver get to you, she’s a bitch and everything she says is bullshit.”
“What, babe, you know it’s true.”
There was purple light swirling around her now, and their voices were growing fainter. Adora, future-Catra, Scorpia, Entrapta, they were all gathered round, smiling and telling her they loved her and – god, she didn’t want to go –
Catra woke up on her bed in the Fright zone, just as hard and uncomfortable as it should be, and took a second to wonder why that’s even a thought she’d have before getting up and starting her day.
The others had left, but Adora was still standing there with Catra, looking at the machine.
“What a day, huh?” Adora commented.
“Oh shut up, you still spent most of it in the spa.” She laughed, and threw an arm round Catra’s waist.
“You were pretty good with her.” Catra snorted at that.
“So were you, Adora. You know, I bet we’d make great parents. We should totally have a kid.” Adora’s face went bright red, and her jaw dropped.
“I – do you mean that? I can’t tell if you mean that.” Catra just grinned, slipped out of her grasp, and walked out the door.
“I – wait – Catra! Catra get back here! I swear to god Catra – “
She ran out into the corridor after Catra, and the ensuing chase lasted a whole hour.