“Really? You’re talking kids?” Scorpia breathed, wide-eyed with delight.
Catra grimaced, because she just knew Scorpia and Entrapta were going to blow this out of proportion. “Can we just focus on hunting the bandits?” she grumbled, already regretting saying a word. It wasn’t like she and Adora even had plans or anything, they’d just...sort of agreed that maybe, one day, far in the future, they might try being. Well. You know. Moms.
Entrapta’s eyes gleamed. Scorpia’s entire self gleamed.
“Bandits,” Catra repeated emphatically, and almost bowled over a small figure huddled in the long grass.
It was a girl, maybe five or six, with dark hair and dark eyes and bronze skin and a fierce frown. She scrambled to her feet, and Catra winced at the sight of her scraped knees and ragged dress. “I’ll—I’ll fight you,” she said, even as she sniffled and wiped her nose with a sleeve.
“FATE,” Scorpia gasped.
Catra whirled to point at Scorpia and snap, “Absolutely not!”
“Small child, where are your caretakers?” Entrapta asked, peeking around Catra with a terrifying grin.
The kid’s frown deepened and her chin lifted as she said, “Gone.” Her face crumpled a little as she added, “I-I couldn’t do anything." Then she forced herself to straighten up, all the weight of the world on her tiny little shoulders, and this was so very not good.
Oh noooo, Catra thought, feeling a terrible sense of premonition—made so much worse by the way Entrapta slowly turned to her, eyebrows raised, and stared.
Nope, Catra decided. They were gonna get the little brat somewhere safe, go kick some bandit butt, and be done with it all by the end of the day. “Look, kid—what’s your name?”
Catra stared at her door, then down at the kid. She repeated the process a few times, just to be, you know, thorough. She wasn’t stalling. Catra only stalled when it was part of a diabolical scheme.
“Well,” she finally sighed. “Here goes nothing, Mara.” She lifted the kid by the back of her dress, slammed the door open, and announced, “Heyyyyy, Adora, guess what I found!”
She was presenting Mara—children were a gift and all that nonsense. She absolutely wasn’t using her as a shield. Obviously.
Aaaand of course Adora wasn't there.
Three doors later, Catra finally hit gold. She just kicked this one in, because it was the Princess' old War Council Room and she might have certain unresolved feelings, then hefted Mara and said, “Hey, Adora, I got us a kid!”
Adora gaped. Glimmer looked horrified. Bow clutched at his abs and wheezed.
Swift Wind cried, “I’M AN UNCLE!”
“Look, Mara, there’s your weird Uncle Horsey,” Catra told the kid. “You’ll like Melog waaaay better, trust me on this.”
Despite being dangled in midair, Mara still contrived to look unimpressed with life in general and princesses in particular. The kid was really growing on her.
“...Mara?” Adora repeated, blinking rapidly, like if she could just clear her vision reality would change around her. Aww, Adora. Catra in no way melted a little.
Mara crossed her arms and scowled at the room. “That’s my name. Duh.”
“Oh. It’s fate,” Bow whispered, clasping his hands over his heart. The one on his shirt, not his actual heart. Catra sometimes thought about telling him it was like he was wearing a target, but that was probably just inviting a snide comment about how it wasn’t like the Horde could aim anyway.
Unresolved feelings. Deep breaths. Perfuma would be proud.
“You can’t just...decide a kid is yours,” Glimmer said, staring.
Catra shrugged delicately. “And yet here we are.”
“I’m fine on my own,” the tiny tiny child insisted, looking away and pretending her eyes hadn’t started to water a little. Her bottom lip quivered.
“WE LOVE YOU,” Adora shouted, rocketing to her feet so forcefully her chair would probably never fully recover. “STAY WITH US FOREVER.”
Mara’s jaw dropped and she twisted to stare at Adora in wonder. Catra kind of understood the feeling, but come on, she was the one who’d nabbed the kid in the first place. That had to count for something, right? Yet all she was getting from the kid was sass.
“Oh boy,” Glimmer sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose.
Thirty minutes later, the room was considerably more crowded.
“And that’s your Uncle Sea Hawk,” Adora said, her impossibly blue eyes shining. But, like, Happy-Adora-shine, not Righteous-She-Ra-shine. “Catra said you already met Aunt Scorpia, and this is Aunt Mermista--”
“Auntie. Auntie Mermista. Obviously. Ugh.”
“Ugh,” Mara echoed, little face scrunched up in concentration.
Catra beamed at her proudly and said, “You nailed it, kid.” With these losers around, she was going to need that groan.
Mara smiled at Catra tentatively; Adora let out a squeak so high-pitched Catra was pretty sure no one else could hear it.
“Cool kid,” Mermista decided, lips curving in a faint smile. Catra always knew Mermista had good taste.
“This calls for a--”
...Selectively good taste.
Glimmer stood tall and proud at the head of the table, the very picture of regal determination. “Everyone, thanks for coming. I’ve called this Council because today...today, we face our greatest challenge since the final battle against Horde Prime. This isn’t just about saving the world—it’s about building our future.” She took a deep breath, squared her shoulders, and said, “Starting today, we co-parent.”
“She’s our kid,” Catra pointed out, leaning back in her chair, legs propped up on the table. Glimmer twitched every time she crossed or uncrossed her ankles. It was hilarious. “I called dibs.”
“That’s not how—you know what, never mind. It takes a village!” Glimmer declared.
“TO MARA,” Bow shouted, fist raised.
“TO MARA,” everyone echoed. Swift Wind reared, wings spreading dramatically, and got feathers in Sea Hawk’s mouth. Catra pointed and laughed.
“I can’t believe they’re having a kid before us,” Netossa muttered with a scowl.
“Darling, it’s not a competition--”
“Are we sure she’s okay?” Adora asked Catra in what she probably thought was a whisper, as Spinnerella blatantly lied to her wife. Like, come on, of course it was a competition. A competition Catra had already won. “I mean, we’ve only had her a couple of days and we’re already offloading her? And how well do we really know those guys? Are we sure they can take care of her properly? Did we even run background checks?”
“Adora, they’re my dads,” Bow said, actually looking mildly offended.
“What if they’re actually Double Trouble!”
“Adora. Chill,” Mermista said, rolling her eyes.
Catra snickered. “It’s like you don’t even know her at all.”
“First order of business,” Glimmer said twenty minutes later, once Adora worked most of the crazy out of her system and Spinnerella talked Netossa out of adopting the first twins she could find. “What do we know about parenting?”
“Ooh, ooh, I know,” Adora cried, sitting bolt upright. “An extra ration bar after successful missions!”
Catra perked up, pleased she could offer something as well. “But only with the kid you like most!”
Glimmer stared. Bow covered his eyes with one hand.
“Daily inspections of their bunk,” Scorpia added cheerfully. “But...maybe only light punishments if they have unauthorized personal objects on display?”
Perfuma burst into angry tears. “Defeat the Horde!”
“...Perfuma, we already—”
“Defeat the Horde!”
“Okay, now that we’ve covered what not to do,” Glimmer said, panting heavily after thirty minutes of angry ranting about Certain Evil Organizations And Shady Mother Figures Being The Actual Worst, “Let’s talk positive reinforcement!”
“I'll make her an ice mecha suit when she cleans her room!” Frosta cried, slamming her hands on the table.
“Oooh, is this the part where we experiment with behavior modification?” Entrapta gasped at the same time.
“To...Entrapta’s thing, or to the suits?” Frosta asked, nose scrunching.
Glimmer’s entire body was starting to twitch. Catra grinned and crossed her ankles.
“Parenting log, day 414! 413? 414! We’ve just experienced the phenomenon known as a 'child's birthday party'! Tiny food was had by all! Tiny food with tiny candles! …The resulting fires were quickly subdued with minimal structural damage.”
"Uhh, Uncle Sea Hawk..."
“My ship is ablaze! With the flames of ADVENTURE!”
“...Ahahaha. Parenting log, day 414. Correction—”