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Episodic Nightmares

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Catra found herself held in a room bathed in darkness. No matter where she looked it was cold and dark. The sound of her breathing was deafening compared to the silence. Her ear twitched as she heard footsteps coming from the pitch. They got louder as they got closer but Catra never saw a person connected to them. She heard a faint buzz before red sparks of electricity flickered in the distance. It sparked once, twice, thrice, circling her as if she was its prey. The sparking stopped and the room went dead silent. All she heard was her breathing. She spun around in circles looking for where it hid in the darkness.

She heard a small 'pop' from behind her. Catra barely had enough time to turn before a trail of electricity bolted towards her. The charge struck her body, coiled around her like a snake trying to squeeze the life out of its prey.

Catra grit her teeth and let out an agonized groan; she was forced to her knees due to the pain, her back still straight up like a rod. Electricity was coursing through her veins, arcing all over her body and twisting around her muscles. Her fur was standing on end and the pain wouldn't stop. It took all of her willpower to keep herself from wailing in agony.

The feline cracked open one of her eyes. She slowly scanned the room and was struck with familiarity. It was not the first time she had found herself kneeling on the floors of the Black Garnet chamber. She had done something again, or she was being blamed for something at least, and now she was facing the consequences. But whether or not she was right or wrong, she refused to give Shadow Weaver the satisfaction of her screams.

"Now, will you admit to what you have done?" Shadow Weaver appeared before her from smoke. She spoke a tone so sickly sweet that Catra wanted to throw up.

Catra squinted up at her and grit her teeth. "I didn't do anything—"

"Lies!"

The electricity seemed to spike around her. An involuntary scream ripped out of her throat as her spine seemed to jolt. The strain of her muscles was almost impossibly painful. The sorceress advanced onto her, kneeling down and grabbing her chin roughly.

"I know you were the one who stole from the infirmary," she dug her nails into the younger girl's fur. "Just admit to it, and this could all be over."

It wasn't true. Catra hadn't done anything of the sort. Any time something bad happened — it didn't matter whether Catra was responsible or not — Shadow Weaver would blame her. It was always Catra's fault. If something went missing, if a battle sim didn't go as planned, even if Adora was the one who messed up, it was always Catra's fault.

"I didn't—" Catra held back a shriek. "I didn't do anything! I swear!"

Shadow Weaver glared at her. She sighed as she gently stroked Catra's cheek. Her hand would have been soothing if she were anybody else, but Catra knew from experience it just meant something worse was coming. She stood up and turned her back to the magicat. "I didn't want to have to do this, but you leave me no choice."

There was a pause.

Then the world around her seemed to glitch. The electricity from the Black Garnet loosened its hold on her and faded from excruciating pain to a dull hum. Catra gasped for air, relieved. She slumped forward with her palms on the cold floor; her arms were trembling and barely strong enough to keep her from face-planting. Suddenly the red tones in the room shifted on the spectrum, giving the room more of a green hue. A sick feeling settled in her stomach as Shadow Weaver spoke again.

"You are so impure." Her voice sounded distorted. The silhouette glitched again, more and more until a new, familiar silhouette took its place. The cracks in the ground started to ooze a strange green liquid and flood the room. The figure turned to face her. His expression was of disdain, as if he were staring down at a bug.

"But do not worry, little sister," Horde Prime said. His tone carried false pity. "Your suffering will end soon."

As the liquid rose up further, Catra's breathing only got heavier and faster. She was paralyzed with fear. The liquid kept rising higher and higher and she was shaking so much. She could hear chanting coming from all around her. A spark of electricity jumped across the pool. Panic was setting in as the green substance got closer to covering her mouth, her nose, her eyes—

She couldn't see. She couldn't breathe. She couldn't—

"All beings must suffer to become pure."

 


Catra woke up with a scream leaving her lips. She shot up and jumped off the bed in fright and unsheathed her claws out of reflex. She was panting, gasping for air, trying to get enough oxygen into her lungs. Sweat clung to her fur uncomfortably. Her ears muffled any noises so she just heard garbled nonsense when somebody was trying to speak to her. Her eyes were unfocused and all she can see is green.

The sudden pressure on her shoulder made her fur stand on end. Shadow Weaver was touching her. Prime was touching her—

She didnt so much as hear the strangled shriek came out of her mouth as much as she felt it come out of her throat. Catra swiped her claws blindly in front of her and stumbled back, tripping over her own feet and crashed onto the floor. Her breathing was quick and shallow and the world seemed to be getting darker. She barely had the strength in her arms to keep her sitting up. After so many minutes the ringing in her ears began to subside.

"-kay. You're okay, just breathe. You're okay, baby."

Air seemed to catch in her throat and she started coughing, choking, but the soothing tone she heard helped keep her calm. Her breathing began to slow down. She was able to control herself again and forced herself to breathe slower and deeper. Her eyes begun to focus properly and she could finally start seeing her girlfriend kneeling in front of her. She looked like she was anxious to touch her in her current head-space.

"A..." Catra swallowed. "Adora?"

Adora smiled weakly at her. Her eyes seemed to light up a bit after seeing Catra begin to focus on the present again. Adora was sitting on the floor in front of her, eyebrows still scrunched up with worry. "What happened? Do you wanna talk about it?"

Catra took a few more deep breaths. Her eyes finally focused on Adora's face and her eyes scanned over every detail. She noticed something.

"A... Y-Your face, I—" She stutters out. Her claws dug deeply into the wooden floor. "I hurt you again... I-I'm so sorry—"

Adora just shushed her. "Catra don't worry. I'm fine. Plus," she pointed to the small, single scratch on her cheekbone and smirked at her. "You just barely grazed me. I'm getting quicker!"

Tears formed in Catra's eyes. "You shouldn't have to be getting quicker. I shouldn't be attacking you at all! I—"

"No, I'm sorry," Adora winced at her own choice of words. "You were scared and you didn't know it was me."

"But—"

"No buts," Adora scooched forward until she was sitting at her side facing her. Her eyes asked silent permission. Catra nodded her head ever so slightly so Adora pulled her close and wrapped her in her arms. She cradled her head as the magicat let herself cry. "It was just a nightmare. It wasn't real."

Catra wrapped her arms around Adora and balled the back of the other girl's shirt in her hands. She allowed the warmth to calm her. "It was real, though," her voice was hoarse. "Kind of. It was like memories mashed together."

Adora ran her fingers through her hair and occasionally scratching her head. She gently rocked Catra to try and sooth her. "Do you want to talk about it?" She asked again. This time, Catra nodded.

"It was... I was in the Black Garnet chamber again, with Shadow Weaver. She was using her magic on me because I—" her voice started to shake again and tears fell from her eyes. "I didn't do anything wrong."

It had been a common occurrence for Catra to have been roped into punishment for something she didn't do. Shadow Weaver was always unnecessarily harsh towards her. It was like she hoped something happened so she could torture her. Adora took a deep breath and gently scratched behind Catra's ear to try and help her calm down.

Catra swallowed. "Then Prime took her place and the world started turning green and - and he was—"

She felt the panic seizing her again. Her breathing got faster again and Adora's soothing wasn't helping calm her down. Catra grabbed the back of her neck; her claws scratched at her skin harshly. She almost revelled in the pain.

Foolish little sister.

"He's still in my head," she whimpered. She dug into her neck, enough to draw blood. "He's still in there messing with me — I want him out of my head!"

"He's not in your head anymore Catra!" Adora pulled away from the hug and her hands shot out to grab Catra around her wrists. She held them in front of her face to stop her. "You're safe and Prime is gone."

She couldn't stop shaking. She couldn't get enough oxygen; eyes weren't focusing and she felt sick. Her heart rate was getting faster and her chest held this sharp pain that wasn't going away. He was going to take over her mind again, he was going to use her again. "No! No no no, he's—"

"Catra." Adora spoke slowly but firmly. Her head leaned down to lock eyes with her girlfriend; to make sure she was looking at her and could hear her. "I need you to look at me, okay? Look at me, baby."

After a moment, blue and amber eyes locked with the pair of blue. "Horde Prime is gone. We got you out; the chip is destroyed. Prime was destroyed. He's never coming back. And neither is Shadow Weaver." She gently brushed Catra's hair back from her sweaty forehead. "You're okay. You're safe."

Catra took a moment to process her words. Hands left her wrists and she felt Adora rubbing up and down her arms calmingly and heard her quiet encouragements to breathe in and out slowly. She had to admit it helped ground her. She eventually stopped shaking and her breathing evened out, though it felt like it took ages. She slumped forward into Adora's embrace and loosely wrapped her arms around her waist. Catra buried her face into the crook of her neck with a sigh.

She was unbelievably exhausted.

"'M sorry," Catra mumbled.

Adora lightly scratched her behind her ear, and Catra couldn't stop the content purr from escaping her throat. "Don't be. I'm happy you're feeling better. Do you want to go back to bed?"

The feline nuzzled further into her neck. "I'm comfy."

Adora checked the back of Catra's neck to make sure the scratches were deep, and thankfully they weren't. She let out a relieved sigh. Adora repositioned Catra in her arms; she hooked one arm under her legs and the other around her waist, leaving Catra's head by her neck. She stood up and took her girlfriend back to bed. Lying Catra down on the far side of the bed, she sat next to her and allowed the magicat to cuddle into her. Catra rested her head on Adora's chest, just over her heart, and draped an arm over her abdomen. Adora wrapped her arms around her as Catra tangled their legs together.

"Comfier?"

A satisfied hum reached her ears.

Adora kissed the top of her head and rested her cheek against the top of the feline's head. Catra smiled as she nuzzled against her. In minutes they were both lulled back to sleep by the sound of each other's breathing. Catra slept soundly for the rest of the night; no more nightmares plagued her mind, and it was probably the best she's slept in a while.