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Catra has been in love with Adora since they were eight years old, standing up for each other in that terrible group home. She still loved Adora even when the home was finally shut down their freshmen year of high school and they were both sent their separate ways in the foster system. She thought no matter what, one day she would find Adora again, and they would at least still be friends even if Adora did not feel the same.

And then by some miracle near the end of sophomore year, a lesbian couple decides to foster a kid with unique challenges, because they and their daughter are scorpioni and they understand that being born rare doesn’t necessarily make you bad. And by virtue of ending up in that uncomfortably sweet and loving home, she enters her new school’s cafeteria and loses her ability to walk as she catches sight of Adora, laughing with her new foster sister. She stares at Adora for a long moment before Adora sees her, but when she finally finishes laughing about whatever, she opens her eyes and meets Catra with an awestruck gaze.

The way Adora had looked back at her in that moment, the way she had vaulted the lunch table to come running towards Catra so they could sweep each other in a crushing hug, already crying and laughing with joy – it always gave Catra hope.

Too much hope, apparently.

The rightful fear had been there, too. Adora may like girls, but Catra is Catra. A disappointment to one and all. Teachers, temporary guardians, even classmates in group projects. She was a C student at best all her life, until she was dropped into the same school as Adora and suddenly gave a shit so her new family wouldn’t send her back – back away from Adora. She was always a troublemaker, called delinquent because she rejected the busywork and discipline school tried to throw at her. Even if she turned things around junior year, everybody knew Catra was nothing – that the whole reason she did was Adora. No one said it to her, not now they were out of that home, but she can see all her teachers and counselors thinking it when they look at her record.

She never gave a shit what they thought. Adora didn’t think of her that way, and that was all that mattered. She was actually worth something to Adora, wanted by Adora.

Just not in the same way that she wants Adora, she thinks bitterly, as she draws her arms tighter around herself. Scorpia’s house is only a few blocks away from the celebratory, end-of-high-school house party, but it feels like an eternity without Adora by her side – knowing Adora is even now back at the party and making excuses to her teammates who don’t even matter anymore, not now they are supposed they are moving on to college. But of course what they think matters and what Catra feels doesn’t.

Catra had finally worked up the nerve, no small part fueled by the soft buzz of alcohol and the adrenaline of the party, to pull Adora aside to a corner of the room and kiss her, pressing forward clumsily, insistently, desperately. Adora had been frozen against the wall, stiff beneath her for a long moment before there was a cautious slide of their lips, all of Catra’s body lighting up with a chorus of yes and more. She had tried to deepen the kiss, like she has seen in movies, and for a moment it was perfect as Adora met her eagerly.

The high that had started coursing through her body came to a crashing halt as a voice hovered over Catra’s shoulder, one of Adora’s softball teammates asking “Whoa, you two are together?”

Adora had pulled back, staring down at Catra in blatant shock for a moment, shame already creeping into her eyes as she realized who she was kissing. Then she seemed to register the words and her eyes had gotten wider, somehow, but she was not even looking at Catra anymore, despite the way Catra was still pressed against her. She looked over to her teammate instead, regret blatant on her face. She cringes away from Catra. “No. Catra is, um, a little d-“ Adora had started to justify, and Catra’s blood had turned to ice.

She had stormed away from the party before she could hear the rest of that sentence. Desperate, probably. Drunk, if Adora was feeling generous, and why would she be when Catra had practically shoved her against a wall, taken what she wanted and Adora didn’t - never could. Selfish, just like Shadow always said.

Shadow had always told her no one could ever love her. Catra had always comforted herself with the thought Adora does. Guess she was wrong.

It was so stupid of her. Why would she think Adora could love her back, even want her back. Adora was the golden child all their lives. Not an A student, not usually, but close, because she tried too hard despite it not coming naturally. A budding athlete from an early age, and kind on top of it all. Loving, caring, the exact kind of person you want in your life because she just makes it better. Madam Weaver had always trotted Adora out as the show pony that proved her group home was perfectly healthy for the children subjected to it.

It does not matter if they are free of that place – Catra is never going to be free of who she is. She is never going to be good enough to deserve Adora. She had wanted to confess to her before going away on vacation for the summer. They would not see each other in person again until they were moving into their college dorms. If Adora did not feel the same, the distance of summer might have been enough for Catra to shove her feelings back into the cage where she had been hiding them, and maybe would even be enough for Adora to be comfortable being friends with her again.

She can feel her phone blowing up in her pocket, but she ignores it, drawing her arms tighter against the storm of emotions in her chest. She should have just told her – then she could have downplayed it, at least. Then Adora could have let her down gently and trusted Catra wouldn’t throw herself at her. But that is exactly what Catra had done, too afraid and too eager at the same time.

She has already lost Adora before. Then, they both knew they would be desperately searching for the other. Now, Catra wonders if Adora will let her down gently or just want her out of her life completely.

She doesn’t love her.

 

--

 

Adora feels her heart skip a beat when Catra places a hand on her chest, stepping forward into her space. They have been this close before – many times, probably – but it has never felt like this before. Adora cannot explain it, the charge in the air, the buzz in her body as Catra presses forward, and then their lips are connecting.

Adora’s brain short circuits, her mind buzzing with an electric current but no coherent thoughts. Catra’s lips are insistent against hers, pressing in, and Adora has thought about doing this, but she never thought Catra would want her to. She always tried to bury those thoughts when they came, angry at herself for being so greedy and wanting more from her best friend after she was so lucky to have her in her life again.

And now here she is, offering it to her.

Adora has no idea what she is doing, but she should be doing something, she knows. No girl has ever held a candle to Catra, not really, so she has never tried this before. She kind of regrets it, eighteen and no idea how to treat Catra right, but she tries to meet her in kind.

Then Catra slips her mouth open, and Adora follows her lead, but the taste of Catra’s rum and coke hits her tongue immediately. Adora is not sober, definitely, her limbs are filled with the liquid heat of alcohol, and her face is just a bit flushed – but she has not had nearly as much as Catra has.

Catra has gone hard, waving off Adora’s warnings by insisting she wants to have one rager like in the movies before they have to go off and be responsible on their own. They had so little that was normal growing up, she wants this one quintessential experience. So Adora had put her worries in the backseat, letting Catra down several mixed drinks. Adora does not know how drunk Catra is right now, truthfully, but she knows she can’t be sober, can’t even be in the lightly buzzed state Adora is enjoying.

She should stop this, definitely. She does not know how to do this even without rum-flavoured guilt heavy on her tongue. She still can’t make herself pull away – can’t stop greedily drinking in every second Catra gives her, pressing closer, wanting even more. There is a part of her that could cry, because this is everything she has ever wanted, but Catra does not even know what she is doing. Adora knows she should pull away, but she can’t stop kissing Catra back.

“Whoa, you two are together?”

The familiar voice startles Adora, the final jolt to her senses that reminds her she shouldn’t be doing this and causes her to pull back, but her eyes never find who spoke. No, she is too busy watching Catra’s face. Adora can see the cold realization of what she has done hitting Catra and she can’t look at it anymore – can’t watch her realize that she made the mistake of kissing her, can’t watch her realize that Adora took advantage of the opening to take what Catra was willing to give her, however briefly.

She tears her eyes away to find the interruption that thankfully stopped them before she went even further – before she took this to a place their friendship could never recover from. She finds one of her teammates standing a few feet behind Catra, eyeing them both. Adora feels the guilt choke at her throat because no, they’re not, Catra does not even know what she is doing, much less how this is so much more than just a kiss to Adora.

“No. Catra is, um, a little drunk,” Adora starts to say, cringing a little because how could she let this happen, let it get this far-

Catra yanks herself back away from Adora as if stung, and their eyes lock for a moment before she flees the party. Catra’s eyes are dark; it looks like loathing in the moment before she bolts. Adora is left clinging to the wall, staring at the empty space Catra had left. Her teammate tries to say something else to her, but she cannot hear it over the pounding in her ears.

She tries to call Catra, when she manages to choke down her guilt enough to realize she just let Catra run away into the night, alone and intoxicated. When Catra does not answer she tries texting her, running out of the party and scanning the front lawn. Catra is nowhere in sight. She keeps trying her phone as she sets off down the street, walking just below a run as she desperately hopes Catra will pick up this time.

She still is shocked when she eventually does.

Stop, Adora. Stop calling me. I don’t want to hear it,” Catra hisses down the line, voice choked and angry. Adora pulls to a halt, feeling tears sting at her eyes as she stares out into the night, clutching tightly to her only lifeline to Catra.

“I’m sorry, Catra, I-“ Adora starts, but Catra cuts her off with a hiss.

“I said I don’t want to hear it. Go home, Adora. You aren’t that drunk, you can make it,” her voice has more raw emotion than Adora has heard in it since the Shadow Weaver days, twisted and upset. Adora’s gut feels like lead.

“Where are you, Catra? I’m not abandoning you while you’re drunk,” Adora tells her, trying to keep her voice even and calm, because clearly apologies are not going to help right now. She has never been great with her words anyway – action she is better at. Catra’s laugh at that is bitter.

“I’m almost home. And when I get there, you are already going to be back at your house. Maybe by the end of the summer we can- be okay again,” Catra tells her. She sounds upset, still, but there is an almost wistful tilt to the end of her speech. Like she wants to forgive Adora but does not know if she can – if she will even be able to by then. Tears are pouring down Adora’s cheeks now, but she makes no sound. She is almost grateful for all the practice she got in crying silently while in the group home, now.

“I- Okay,” she manages, voice small. She can’t fuck this up worse, not now, not when Catra is still willing to give her a chance. “Just – please text me when you get home? So I know you’re okay,” she begs, legs still frozen beneath her. There is a long beat of silence on the other end of the line.

“Okay. You too,” Catra agrees, voice rough, and then the line goes dead.

Adora jogs the whole way back to her house, only two blocks away from the party, but further by virtue of her chasing after Catra in the other direction. All she knows is that she might have ruined everything she and Catra ever had by being too damn greedy. Catra gave her instructions, a roadmap to repentance, and she is going to follow them.

She is sneaking back in the window to Glimmer’s room, such a long-practiced maneuver she can do it without even waking her foster sister, when she feels her phone buzz once in her pocket. She slips out of the room, making her way upstairs to her own room and shutting the door before she risks pulling it out to check.

Catra apparently cannot even manage words to her right now, but she sent a dark and blurry picture of her bedroom to Adora, no caption provided or necessary. Adora is almost grateful she can’t stand to speak to her, because she knows a part of her would have been worried even if Catra had sent her a message confirming she had gotten home. The picture is irrefutable, even to her anxiety.

With shaking hands, she takes a picture of her own darkened room and sends it back. It is the last contact they have for the entire summer.

 

--

 

Catra spirals.

Like she always has, but Adora is not there to catch her this time. She spends all of the summer road trip making questionable decisions, the first of which is cutting all her hair off in a gas station bathroom barely a few hours into the trip. She makes it work, makes it into a purposefully messy dyke haircut despite doing it with her claws and shaking hands – but she also knows she is going to spend years growing it out again after giving in to a one-second impulse.

When they spend a week in the Valley of the Lost, supposed to be visiting cultural sites, she finds her way into the city’s night life. She posts videos of her dancing in dark, dangerous clubs, a random girl with her each time. She ends up in club bathrooms, messy kisses and rough thighs between legs, trying to work Adora out her system. It might work, if Adora was just a lust thing.

She has been in love with her for over half her life. The random, nameless girls do nothing to ease the ache in her chest, but she soothes her broken heart with the vindictive thrill she gets whenever she sees Adora has viewed her story posts of the meaningless, neon-lit kisses. She can’t let Adora know how special she is to her – how heartbroken she is without her. Adora watches Catra’s stories religiously, but she doesn’t reach out all summer and Catra feels bitter resentment in her throat that she had been right, that first night. Adora can’t stand to talk to her, not now. Catra never watches Adora’s stories or even likes her posts in return. She doesn’t know what she can’t admit, not now Adora knows, but she knows she just can’t give Adora that.

Scorpia notices her sneaking out of the RV at night despite being blocked from viewing her stories. She sends Catra sad looks and tries to corner her to have heartfelt conversations whenever her moms are out of earshot. Catra does not want to hear any of it. The best thing she ever had in her life is gone, what is the point of decorum now? Scorpia knows something happened, even if Catra will never say what. She knows something Adora-based happened, because Catra’s claws snap out and she hisses every time someone mentions her name. Her glaring absence from Catra’s phone and the dramatic gas station haircut are also good indicators.

After a few days, weeks maybe, of spiraling on her own as they drive across the country, Scorpia’s hushed attempts at conversation when they are alone start actually working their way through her ears. “I know Adora was the only good thing in your life for a long time. But clearly she is not good for you now, and you have us. You have me. There is more to life than Adora, Catra,” Scorpia tells her, pleading and a little desperate when she catches Catra sneaking out again. Catra goes anyway, but the words worm their way into her heart. Scorpia is both wrong and right – there may be more to life than Adora, but Catra hates the idea of living without her.

Adora has always been her golden light, the one person who got her through. Catra knows Scorpia’s point is that she should look beyond Adora, but she can’t make herself do that. Instead, she looks towards Adora. Catra has always prided herself on being the only person who really sees Adora. Even now Adora is best friends with her foster sister and Glimmer’s not-quite boy toy, they have never understood Adora down in her core the way Catra does. They cannot when they were not there, when they don’t even know why Catra and Adora call their old home the Fright Zone. They have guessed and extrapolated, but the closest they can come is knowing glances at the scars on Catra’s back.

Even ignoring all that shared past, no one sees Adora for what she is now the way Catra does. Everybody always sees the dedicated student, the natural-born athlete, the girl that radiates kindness with ease. Adora is none of those things, not really. Who knows if Adora was born with those super-athlete genes, but she has had to work for every point, every win, every flexing muscle in her body. Adora is kind and radiates warmth, she always has, but maintaining that warmth is hard, and it comes at a cost to Adora. Adora gives every part of herself away, and Catra is always the one who picks her back up – the one who Adora is comfortable crying silently into the shoulder of about all the ways she still feels like she has failed.

Adora gives and works and burns herself to the ground. The one thing Catra could always do was be there for her.

They all knew college was going to be different. They knew there would be new pressures, that things would not work the same. At the end of June, Catra and Scorpia get the email telling them their roommates request was approved and they will be sharing a room in the women’s dorm together. Catra looks at the email and tries to think of all the ways she could make things up to Adora, the ways she could help her now.

Unfortunately, she only comes up with one.

 

--

 

It took every ounce of Adora’s willpower to not reach out all summer long, to not apologize. Truthfully, she did not even make it.

When they were reunited sophomore year, they both set up secret email accounts. They have never used them, but they have their logins memorized anyway. If they ever get separated again, they can use them to reach out to the other even if the circumstances take away their phones and physical access to each other. As long as they can get access to a computer, even just one at the public library, they can find each other again.

They haven’t used them since the initial message they passed back and forth as a test. They never had need to – they had not been separated. Not until Adora’s stupid self-control broke and in turn she broke them. It takes her awhile to even realize how badly she has fucked up. It isn’t until she is watching Catra’s seventh story with a stranger in some darkened club, her heart twisted and painful, that she realizes she had been wrong that night.

Catra had kissed her because she was drunk and apparently that is just what she does drunk. The party had been their first time drinking, neither one of them wanting to risk fucking anything up in their final school year and losing their scholarships, even after they turned eighteen. Some people get sad, or angry, or even cuddly when drunk – apparently Catra just gets horny. It is a magicat thing, maybe, but Adora can’t bring herself to google it and find out it is just a Catra thing.

Catra kissed her, meaninglessly and happily. Clearly, she does not mind her actions the next day when the story is still there, posted hours later – at least not when she does it with strangers. Adora had thought she was mad at her that night for letting her, but that does not make sense with how the rest of the summer has gone. No, Catra had kissed her because why not - and the why had reared its head.

Adora had been so eager, drinking her in happily, pressing for more. Adora had been sober – (essentially) - and Catra had realized it wasn’t just a drunken kiss for Adora like it was for her. If the kiss itself was not enough, the way Adora panicked afterwards would have done it. Catra had realized how Adora felt about her.

The loathing in Catra’s eyes as she pulled away is forever stamped on the back of Adora’s eyelids. She had realized the secret Adora had been keeping from her all of high school – had been keeping from herself even longer. She had realized the underlying current in all those plans for the future together – what Adora had really meant before they realized they would be going to different universities and they talked about sharing a dorm. Maybe she even realized that when their eyes met across the cafeteria sophomore year, Adora almost kissed her as she ran up to her, would have if they both were not already crying when she reached her.

It does not matter how many of the little secrets Catra has realized – she knows the main one, and she hates Adora for it. For lying to her, for letting her do things that were innocent to her but so much more to Adora.

That realization is the one that breaks Adora, makes her pull up their shared email. It makes her type a message, the best apology and explanation she can manage. How she feels, but swearing she will never act on it, never do anything to make Catra uncomfortable again. Promising her just about anything if she will forgive her.

She nearly promises her she never would have done anything about it if Catra had not kissed her first, but, well – she is pretty sure that is true, but she also has come too close before to know that, and there is no point to this letter if there are lies in it.

She wants to reread it, filter it and water it down. Instead, she sends it and sets up the secret email to forward to her main one. If Catra does miss her before summer’s end – if Catra also wants to reach out without actually having to - then it is there for her to have. A list of Adora’s promises to never put her in that situation again.

She does not get a reply, but she does not expect to. All she can do is cling onto Catra’s words that night – that maybe she will be ready to talk to her again come fall semester.

 

--

 

There was a conversation she and Adora had during senior year – a conversation that formed her resolve when she reflected on it as they drove into Bright Moon to take Catra and Scorpia to their dorm for move-in. It was several conversations, actually, scattered over the course of a few months, but it all summarized to one point.

It started when Adora texted Catra asking what she wanted to do for her birthday, and Catra froze. She texted Adora back in panic, and then Adora called her, and they had a whispered discussion that was entirely fear-based until the second Catra was called down from her room for dinner.

Catra walked into the dining room shaking. Lisa and Scorpia immediately rushed to her, asking if she was okay. They were joined by Rose a moment later when she came out from the kitchen. Catra broke under the weight of their concern, their hugs, their seeming love.

“My eighteenth birthday is next month and I – wanted to know if it would be okay for me to keep staying here until the end of the school year. I wanted to go to college, but - if I can at least get my high school diploma, I will have a lot more opportunities,” she asked, voice thin and scared.

She and Adora had always dreamed of going to college together. They weren’t fools; scholarships and aid were always lurking in the back of those dreams, but they were obscured by hopeful whispers about earning degrees and thus freedom, jobs that let them live without being dependent on someone who could hurt them. As it had drawn closer, college had been a demon in the back of her mind, but the complicating factor of the time between eighteen and graduation and fall semester had never sunk in until now.

Her fear was misplaced, it turned out. The plan had always been to send her and Scorpia to college together. They had never brought up adopting her, but that did not mean they didn’t want her. Adoption was complicated with their stupid family heritage, but they still wanted her – they assured her they still loved her even.

That conversation spurred the other half of it – Adora’s half. They realized that Adora would be having the same problem in seven months’ time. Adora spent a full week planning an ambush that included a PowerPoint presentation by the end of it. Maybe Catra was going soft – she told Adora to scrap it and just ask what they intended to do when she turned eighteen. Adora - ever optimistic and seeing the best in people, but with a severe anxiety problem - had laughed and started to list off the dozens of way that could go wrong. As she was listing them off, Glimmer walked in the room.

“If I don’t give them a good enough reason, why should they support me? We’re so close, Catra. I can’t lose everything in the last few months because of when my birthday falls. I just need a roof over my head through the end of high school. No distractions, keep my scholarship, and then I can make the summer work however I have to and pay them back when I graduate,” Adora listed, rattling off points on her fingers as if she had any.

Catra was too busy staring over Adora’s shoulder at the tears welling in Glimmer’s eyes from where she stood in the doorway to correct her.

“Adora-“ she tried, reaching out. Adora did not give her the chance to warn her.

“They’ve done too much for me, Catra. I can’t just ask them to keep-“ Adora started to protest. Catra smacked her in the face with her tail to shut her up. Adora startled, blinking at her with wide eyes, and then noticed the way Catra’s eyes were fixed over her shoulder. Adora paled without even turning around, knowing they were caught.

“Adora, we aren’t abandoning you,” Glimmer choked. Catra watched as Glimmer pulled Adora into a hug, and then downstairs to sit her in front of her parents and ask them to explain how Adora’s college was going to work.

That answer was the same as Catra’s: they were going to support her, and they were hoping she and Glimmer would go to the same school. Micah made eye contact with Catra from where she hovered a room away – outside of eavesdropping distance, but only for a human – said he hoped Catra would be able to go to the same school, too, so they could all be together. Catra’s heart had sank to the pit of her stomach at the insinuation that he knew, but it flew over Adora’s head as she burst into grateful tears.

Adora’s scholarship offer was from Bright Moon University. Catra’s grades were not good enough to get into BMU and she knew it. She was just lucky that was not the only option to stay with Adora. Bright Moon was a little college town near the coast – one with two rival universities. Greater Etheria University was not as prestigious as BMU, more of a party school, but it was only ten minutes away, and Catra’s scores gave her a chance at acceptance there. They had contingencies, but it didn’t matter. Adora got offered her athletic scholarship, Catra got into GEU, and she got a full ride of need-based scholarship.

The summary of all those conversations was simple: it could go away at any second. If they stepped out of line, their ex-foster families could always just drop them, regardless of promises. If Catra’s grades slipped too much, she lost her aid and Scorpia’s moms would not be able to afford to send both her and Scorpia to GEU much longer. If Adora’s grades slipped, if her performance on the field fell, if she got an injury – her scholarship was gone, and so was her chance at a future where she was free and could provide for herself.

They both wanted nothing more than to be able to stand on their own two feet – they both felt they needed degrees to get there. Neither of them could afford to fail, and Adora especially, with so many more requirements and extra pressure, could not afford any distractions.

After an entire summer of spiraling, Catra walks into her and Scorpia’s new dorm with all this knowledge buzzing in her head and just feels tired. She spent so long trying to figure out what to do, but she had known all summer what she should.

She pulls out her phone, bringing up Adora’s contact and staring at it. She almost hits call. Instead she blocks her.

She can tell herself all the pretty lies she wants. She can try all day long. She knows Adora does not love her, and worse, she knows Adora is better off without her. She also knows Adora cares too much, making sure Catra was okay even after she had thrown herself at her. She knows that eventually, Adora would reach out, even if she could not bring herself to do it all summer.

Catra wants nothing more than Adora, however she is willing to have her, but she knows that deep down, they are both still those little kids in that group home, protecting each other however they can. Catra could never protect Adora, not really. Adora did not need it like she did. Catra can protect her now, help her. She can be useful, worth something. She can keep herself out of Adora’s life, stop being a distraction, and maybe Adora will eventually thank her. Maybe Adora can eventually forgive her for loving her the way she does. She can already see herself in a year or two, when they are used to this, adjusted to their new lives and Adora has had time and space from her, pulling up their secret email and hoping any part of Adora still gives a shit about her.

 

--

 

Maybe, maybe Adora can admit her obsessive behaviour got out of hand the moment Catra kissed her. Maybe she clung to Catra’s drunken promise – that wasn’t even a promise, really, just a vague acknowledgement of there still being a chance between them one day – too tightly. Maybe she did nothing but throw herself into softball training all summer long, because what the hell else was she supposed to do with Catra gone?

Glimmer and Bow tried to get her to take breaks, to go on excursions with them. Even when they succeeded, Adora’s mental presence was often questionable. She managed to have good moments, but they were rare. She already knew it was going to be a hard summer with Catra gone on Lisa and Rose's cross-country, our babies are growing up vacation, but she did not realize how unbearable it would be without a single word of contact from her.

Even freshmen year could not prepare her for this. Then she had at least known Catra was missing her too – looking for her too. Now she watches Catra kiss a different girl on Instagram every week, acutely aware Catra has never once viewed even her dumb posts of her terrible attempts to learn to cook before living on her own. If she and Catra were talking, Catra would have mocked her mercilessly for it, and both of them would have been laughing.

Adora stops posting, just so she can stop knowing Catra is avoiding her. Plausible deniability at its finest.

She doesn’t know what she expected during general move-in. As a student athlete she moved in early, but she still spends the day helping Glimmer and Bow get their dorms set up. She knows exactly what she wanted – to return to her dorm apartment after helping her friends and lay back on her bed, tired from the hard work and ready for a nap, only to be interrupted by the only ringtone she has thought about hearing for the last three months.

Her phone stays silent, not even a text lighting up its screen. Adora knows today was Catra’s move-in date as well. She doesn’t know where her dorm is, or if she had gotten to be roommates with Scorpia like they had requested – that decision was supposed to come back on June 26th, and how badly has she fucked up that she can list off details like that, but she isn’t in Catra’s life to actually find out what happened?

Catra knows Adora got a single student apartment as one of the perks of being a student athlete, but her floor and room number were not decided. As much as she wants to show up at Catra’s door, or have her do the same here and now, it is not possible.

Adora lies still on her bed for a long moment and gives up on restraint. She is not a patient person – everyone who knows her knows this, and Catra knows her better than anyone. The only reason her restraint has lasted this long was because it was so monumentally important to do everything she could to make Catra comfortable with her again, trust her again.

She promised her that she would wait until the end of the summer – Catra had said maybe she would be ready then. Adora does not give a shit about the official date the summer ends. It ended the moment they set foot in a school setting again and anyone still going to school knows that.

Adora pulls out her phone and spends twenty minutes deliberating an appropriate first message after the mess that she made has festered for three months.

She settles on hey. She stares at the screen, waiting for the typing bubble to pop up and fearing it won’t.

It doesn’t, but within a minute a response pops up anyway.

The number you have entered is not in service or has been blocked.

Chapter Text

To Catra’s shock, the first week of fall semester is easier than every day of the summer. That is not to say it is easy - but easier? Definitely. Her and Scorpia’s dorm room is the same size if not bigger than the RV they spent all summer sharing with Scorpia’s equally tall and buff moms. Catra spent half the summer ducking under arms or dodging swinging tails. Not only is it the same size, it is laid out in a square rather than a thin rectangle, so it feels far bigger even while Lisa and Rose are there to help them unpack, crying about their girls growing up the entire time

It is weird, still, to hear someone refer to her like that – parentally. None of her homes did before she ended up here, and even Lisa and Rose refrained from such loaded phrasing until Catra’s breakdown about her eighteenth birthday.

The space helps, gives her room to breathe again. They arrive on Friday and get two days to wander the campus and establish a map of the territory. Catra quickly realizes there are plenty of hidden nooks that soothe some primal part of her to tuck away into, relative quiet and safety soothing her frayed nerves and jagged heart. She usually tries not to give in to her instincts – but she also finds fighting them makes her irritable, combative, tired.

She is trying to be better, responsible. Sometimes that means giving in so she does not blow up from bottling things up. They all knew they would need to be more responsible, living on their own – although it is not like she and Adora have not done that in all practicality in the past. She has a plan – that she hates, but a plan – and she intends to stick to it. To duck down, do what must be done and work her way back to Adora one day. Maybe by then she will be less of a distraction. Maybe by then Adora will actually want to talk to her again.

She goes to her classes and she does what little homework and reading is assigned as soon as she gets back to their dorm. Scorpia blatantly stares at her when she does it on the first day. Catra just flicks an annoyed ear in her direction and continues to glare at her textbook, tail lashing in an obvious don’t talk about it signal. Homework was always her downfall, in high school. There is so much less of it now, it does not feel like a big deal to take care of it and shove it aside. It at least isn’t busywork.

When she is not doing her schoolwork or taking care of her basic needs – she hates the communal showers here with a passion - Catra wanders the campus. She takes random shots from around campus and posts them on her stories. The feeling she gets whenever she sees Adora has viewed those stories is so different from that summer. Small, warm, hopeful that she still cares despite the radio silence.

Catra just has too much time on her hands, without Adora. She knows the school semester will pick up, but she does not know what to do with herself if she is not walking the seven blocks over to Adora’s house and climbing into Glimmer’s window without warning just to hear her annoyed protests. They would lay on the floor of Adora’s room, talking about nothing, or she would stretch out on a lounge by the pool while Adora, Glimmer, and Bow splash around inside. She and Scorpia spend plenty of time together still, but there is a glaring hole not only in her heart, but in her time.

Maybe that is why she drags Scorpia to the student organizations fair at the end of the first week. She has no homework – not that she has not already done, anyway – but Scorpia does. The thought of spending an entire weekend in their dorm doing nothing while she watches Scorpia work-

Well, it might just break her resolve and make her call Adora. She always sneered at extracurriculars before, even if she went to every single one of Adora’s softball games, but she could use any distraction there is now.

Most of the organizations look even more mind-numbingly boring than nothing. Despite being a math major, she refuses to have anything to do with the math and STEM groups. She would be a humanities major if she could, but those jobs do not tend to pay as well. Besides, no matter how she feels about it, she has always been natural at her analytical classes. A life spent crunching numbers is boring, but it gives her financial freedom to do whatever the hell she and Adora- whatever the hell she wants off the clock.

Some of the organizations just look weird. The baking club – and why do they even have that – has a robot at its table for some reason. All it can do is pick up the sample tray and extend it, but why it is even there in the first place is a question Catra decides is better left unanswered as she grabs Scorpia’s arm to steer her away before she can spot the frosting. She has a chronic sweet tooth, but Catra is not letting it trap them in conversation this time.

“I don’t get why you wanted to come if you aren’t going to stop at any of the tables,” Scorpia tells her after rejoining Catra where she waits, tapping her foot impatiently, after Scorpia stops at a sixth table.

“There is nothing interesting so far,” Catra scoffs in reply.

She eats her words as they turn the corner at the end of the table row and are faced with the sports section. “Lonnie?!” Catra demands, voice high with shock. The fur on her shoulders is standing on end and she does not even know why. Lonnie startles, turning from where she is standing in front of one of the tables to stare at Catra in shock.

“No shit, Catra? Never would have recognized you without hair, eyes be damned. What the hell you doing here, cat?” Lonnie asks, unfolding her arms and holding one hand out for a first bump as Catra approaches, slightly dazed. Catra returns the gesture as Scorpia trails behind her, confusion evident.

“I go here. You do-“ Catra bends around Lonnie to read the sign on the table, “-roller derby now?”

Lonnie nods, shoulders straightening out with a proud grin. “Picked it up in high school. Way to get the aggression out, you know? The team is local, but most of our members are from one of the universities, and since I go here now they let me set up a spot this year,” Lonnie explains, clapping Catra on the shoulder as she talks. She eyes Scorpia over Catra’s shoulder, having to crane her head a little to look up at her. “You gonna introduce me to your friend?” she asks, making pointed eye contact with Catra and raising an eyebrow.

It may have been years, but back at the Fright Zone that look always meant what is safe to say. Catra thinks she gets Lonnie’s meaning. She reaches back, putting a hand on Scorpia’s arm to encourage her to step forward. Scorpia waves, shyly. She is not used to Catra being the social one.

“This is Scorpia, my foster sister. Or ex-foster sister, technically now. Scorpia, this is Lonnie. We used to run together in one of my old homes,” Catra settles on saying. She does not know how much Lonnie wants known - they went through some shit. That was vague enough Lonnie could have been another foster, or one of her sisters, or even just someone she knew in the neighbourhood before moving in with Scorpia.

“Oh! Nice to meet you! Did you know Adora and Catra, then?” Scorpia asks, reaching out a claw for Lonnie to shake. Catra does a valiant job of suppressing her reaction down to her claws sliding out. Two weeks ago, she still couldn’t hear Adora’s name unexpectedly without hissing and lashing her tail.

Lonnie startles at the mention of Adora and then eyes Catra suspiciously based on her reaction. “Alright, break – what does she know, and what the hell has happened to you since middle school?” Lonnie asks, deciding to cut to the chase. She makes an obvious time out hand gesture as she speaks.

Catra sighs, eyeing the tables surrounding them in the crowded gym to try to judge who could be listening. It looks like no one, because other people are not as paranoid as Catra is. Lonnie notices, though – they all had the same instincts drilled into them to get by. She steps around to the back of the table, distanced from the flow of people making their way through the table rows. She does not have to motion for Catra to follow – she does so immediately. Lonnie turns back around to face her bodily, crossing her arms and raising an eyebrow at her.

Catra sighs, glancing back at where Scorpia is trying to fit behind the table but can’t quite make it due to her bulk. Still, she is close enough to listen while Catra talks at a low volume. “She knows we were at Shadow’s place and that it got shutdown. Don’t worry about that,” Catra starts, motioning over her shoulder to Scorpia. Lonnie nods, uncrossing her arms but still clearly waiting for more. Right, Adora. She is not letting it go. Thanks, Scorpia.

Catra glares indistinctly over Lonnie’s shoulder. “Adora and I ended up in the same high school eventually. We were friends,” she says.

“Were,” Lonnie echoes. Catra meets her eyes and finds them judgmental. Lonnie has already assumed it was Catra’s fault. And, well, it was, but what a bitch. Lonnie was always a bitch, though. It was the one thing Catra had admired about her.

Catra crosses her arms, sighing as she gives in to the truth. “We got in a fight at the end of senior year. Haven’t spoken since. She goes to BMU with her foster sister and friend, now,” Catra explains, shrugging in defeat. Lonnie’s gaze softens, a little, the way it always did when she realized one of the other kids had been hurt.

“Your fault?” she asks. Catra scowls, but she nods. “And let me guess: too much pride to say sorry? You haven’t changed a bit,” Lonnie tells her, rolling her eyes. It would be cruel, maybe, from anyone but one of Shadow’s kids. Catra just laughs in response. They have been through too much shit to sugarcoat things, at least with each other. Lonnie is not right – but Catra would be lying if she said it was not a factor.

“Hey, I’m considering an extracurricular. I never would have done that in high school,” Catra defends, but the humour is still in her voice. She didn’t realize she missed Lonnie’s affectionate bullying. They had always hated each other in the home – or at least, Catra had always acted like she hated Lonnie, and Lonnie had retaliated appropriately. Catra was just jealous of her friendship with Adora, but she has come further on that. She puts up with Glimmer and Bow, after all. She was even friends with them, too – before.

“Well, can’t recommend any better outlet than Bright Moon’s local lesbian roller gang. Now I've started her, all the members right now are from here or BMU. Entrapta’s on the team, if you spot a girl with purple pigtails, but she is over running with the robotics club right now,” Lonnie tells her. Catra eyes the leaflets laying out on the table. No way she is putting on a pair of skates, but-

She turns, glancing over her shoulder to Scorpia. Scorpia is practically making heart eyes at her. “I don’t know how to skate at all but this sounds so cool,” Scorpia tells her. Catra rolls her eyes. She gestures towards the table.

“Have at it if you want. I’m not putting on shoes,” she tells Scorpia. Scorpia looks towards Lonnie, unsure. Lonnie hands her a pen from the table, pushing the sign-up sheet towards her.

“We get newbies every semester, we can teach you. If you take to it, that bulk you got will make you a useful blocker. Besides, probably the only way to nail Catra down consistently is to drag one of her friends into something,” Lonnie tells Scorpia. Scorpia actually squeals in delight. Lonnie and Catra roll their eyes in unison, Catra turning back to Lonnie as Scorpia fills out the information sheet.

“How the hell did you end up on a roller derby team in Bright Moon?” Catra asks, finally, because she told Lonnie her story, but she has yet to reciprocate, which is frankly rude. Catra usually does not just give things out – especially not personal things.

Lonnie smiles, easy and free. “After Fright Zone got shut down, Rogelio’s parents were able to get him back. They live outside of town. Rogelio had them put in requests for us. Went looking for Kyle first, but he had already been placed in a home. They were gearing up to have another kid around anyway, so they requested me next. I’ve been living with them since. Rogelio got Kyle’s contact, at least, and they have been long distance ever since. They started here this semester, too,” Lonnie explains as Scorpia finishes writing and hands her back the sheet.

Catra straightens, ears and tails twitching in surprise. “Shit, they finally got over themselves? Kyle has been yearning since third grade,” Catra tells her, because she does not know how the hell to comment on the rest of that. Lonnie laughs, and it is mean.

“Hell no. They have been long distance friends. I had to watch them meet at the airport when Kyle got in last weekend and hug. It’s infuriating,” Lonnie complains. Catra cackles at that herself.

“That’s closer to what I expected. Would be nice to catch up with them again, though,” Catra tells Lonnie. Lonnie eyes her and then holds out her hand.

“Give me your phone. I’ll give you all our numbers. We can have an old Fright Zone-style lunch or something, even if you don’t join the team,” Lonnie tells her. Catra digs into her pocket to pull her cracked cellphone out.

“I’m not wearing shoes,” she reiterates.

 

--

 

Adora’s first week of school goes even worse than she was anticipating. Likely because no part of her mind could let her anticipate going through it without Catra. Even though she had only said maybe they could talk again by the end of summer, Adora had clung to that maybe, denying all other possibilities.

“Adora, no,” Glimmer says, already putting her hand over Adora’s phone to lower it back under the edge of the table. Adora pouts, but Glimmer just raises an eyebrow at her. “You checked last night. I doubt anything has happened in the last twelve hours to change her mind. This is not healthy,” Glimmer points out. Adora sighs, shooting a glare in Glimmer’s direction, but she puts her phone back in her pocket.

“You don’t know that. If- If she is having as stressful of a first week as I am-“ Adora tries. Bow sighs from across the table at them. Adora has been sending Catra a message daily since she realized her number was blocked. She thinks that is a remarkable show of restraint already. Catra would not get the message unless she unblocked her. It is the perfect way to reach out only once Catra is ready. Her friends do not agree. Adora could send Catra a message on Instagram, but she knows that Catra never checks her DMs after one too many unsolicited messages from straight guys. The fact that Adora has not given in anyway is frankly award worthy.

“Then she would probably call you, rather than unblocking you and hoping you just notice,” Bow points out, waving his fork in her direction. Adora pouts again. Bow is completely unfazed – and wrong. That is the exact kind of thing Catra would do, making her prove she was thinking about her.

“Aren’t you the one always saying friendships take work? That you have to put in effort?” Adora accuses him, hunching over her own cafeteria food. It is nothing like Micah’s cooking, but it is at least nothing like Angella’s cooking either. And it is better than anything Adora has managed to make her tiny dorm kitchenette.

“She is putting active work into avoiding you,” Bow counters. Adora gives a full-body flinch, hunching further down in her seat and blinking her eyes rapidly against the sting. She does not want to see the knowing looks between her friends, instead fixing her gaze on her food determinedly. She can see Bow shifting uncomfortably in his seat across from her out of her periphery. He definitely realizes he went too far, but no one seems to know what to say now.

“Adora… what happened?” Glimmer asks, for the hundredth time since the party. Adora squares her shoulders and continues to stare at her food. At the beginning of the summer, she never would have told them the story. She admitted that it was her fault, and Catra said they could maybe talk again when she got back. Now, she would tell them out of desperation if she could actually answer the question.

She thought Catra was mad at her for taking advantage of her. Then she thought Catra was mad at her for how she felt – specifically, for lying about it. Catra has a mean streak and is a bit of a bitch, sure, but she is not cruel. She is calculating and can be shrewd, but she would not hate Adora for how she felt. For keeping secrets, hiding things from her, letting her do things that are more for Adora than her? That Adora can see her hating her for. That might explain this whole summer. It still does not feel right – like quite enough to explain Catra just not talking to her anymore. Even right afterwards, Catra had spoken to her, however reluctantly.

It was always supposed to be them. They had always planned every step of the way together, even putting in their contingencies. The email accounts, the backpacks they each had hidden at the other’s place, the backpack Adora still has in the bottom of her dorm closet even now - they always had a plan to be together, regardless of what the world around them did. Adora can’t accept that Catra just does not want that, anymore. Not without hearing her say it first.

It is too much to explain. Too many secrets just for her and Catra interlaced inside. Adora sighs.

“I don’t know, okay? I fucked up bad, but I don’t know why she still won’t talk to me. I just want to-“ she cuts off. She was about to completely lie. She does not just want to talk to her again. She wants to take Catra’s hand and be with her forever – she just knows that is not happening. “I need to see her,” Adora settles on, because that much is true.

Bow and Glimmer are silent. She can feel them sending significant glances back and forth over her head, but she ignores them. Despite the food quality, this lunch is far worse than any she has had back in her dorm.

The next week is not better. Adora has never lived on her own, not really. Glimmer and Bow live – separately - in the co-ed dorm, not even in the same building as Adora. Adora finds she somehow has too much free time and not enough time for schoolwork. She does her homework in bursts, cranking out all the work she has piled up, but in between bursts of concentration she is left just thinking, consumed by her thoughts and what ifs. The team takes up some time, as does her training outside of official practices, but the off-season time commitment is low, and it can’t take up the space in her head dedicated to Catra regardless.

It sucks. She spends a lot of time in Glimmer’s dorm, befriending her roommate and letting her gush excitedly about plants and weather just to have something to do. Perfuma is a sophomore, the president of the BMU garden club and leader to the community garden. Adora likes her well enough, but when she tries to turn Adora’s listlessness into a role in the garden, Adora stops hanging out in Glimmer’s dorm quite so much. She does not need to keep her mind occupied. She needs to hear something from Catra.

Adora makes it until Tuesday in the second week before her determination to wait Catra out breaks. What breaks her will is Catra’s Instagram story. She posts a collective three minutes of Scorpia trying to open the light fixture in their dorm to change the burnt-out bulb, lit only by the small square window and light from the hallway. Catra is gasping with laughter in the background at Scorpia’s utter failing to change a light bulb, and then turns the camera on herself, trying to stifle her snorting laughter in her hand as Scorpia gives up and calls maintenance in the background. She has tears in her eyes, her recently-short hair in disarray and cheeks obviously flushed with joy, even half-covered by her hand.

Adora wants to kiss that smile off her face. She wants to cry because she misses that – misses Catra looking like that, misses being the one who caused it, misses just getting to see it. It has been four months – she is no closer to dulling the intensity of her feelings than she was the night of the party.

Adora needs to see her, and she has one real option left she has not tried. She manages to wait until Wednesday morning, but only because she remembers Catra having back-to-back classes then that will take her away from her dorm for a while. Adora lays out on the bed in her dorm apartment and takes a deep breath before pulling up Scorpia’s contact and hitting call.

The line rings, a sound filled with anxiety. Adora holds her breath as she stares up at her ceiling. She does not expect Scorpia to pick up, not really. She still hopes.

“Hello?” Scorpia’s voice is small and cautious. Adora feels her breath leave her in a rush of air.

“I know she doesn’t want to talk to me, but can you at least tell me if she is okay?” Adora rushes out, afraid if she delays with hellos and pleasantries Scorpia will decide it is best to end the call.

She can hear Scorpia shifting uncomfortably on the other end of the line. “She is doing okay, right now,” Scorpia replies. Adora feels the tears welling in her eyes, a weird mixture of relief and disappointment flooding through her. Catra is okay – Catra is okay without her.

“Right now?” Adora echoes, brain finally catching up with Scorpia’s words. Scorpia sighs.

“I don’t want to talk to you behind her back. She is just focusing on school right now,” Scorpia says. Adora closes her eyes, head feeling a bit like it is spinning still from the relief and anguish inside of her.

“Please take care of her,” Adora asks, not caring how desperate her voice sounds. She knows she does not have to ask Scorpia that, but she needs to say it. To know someone is looking out for Catra, since she can’t right now. The other end of the line is silent.

“What happened?” Scorpia asks, almost in a whisper. Adora shakes her head despite the fact that Scorpia can’t see it, feeling the tears finally falling as she does so.

“If she didn’t tell you, I can’t either,” she tells her, voice strained. Scorpia sighs, but it sounds resigned. Like she understands, but she hates it.

“Don’t call me again, okay? I won’t tell her. I know you’re just worried, and I don’t want to upset her,” Scorpia tells her. Adora’s chest pounds. She can’t agree to that, but she does not need to, because Scorpia hangs up.

It turns out Adora feels even worse than before. Knowing more has not helped her feel any less. She continues checking Catra’s Instagram, lingering on the daily shot from around campus. She wonders to herself what Catra is thinking, when she decides to take these photos and post them. She wonders what doing okay means.

After the hang up, Adora knows calling Scorpia again would be useless. She doesn’t want Scorpia to block her number, too. She has to have some kind of lifeline to Catra if there is an emergency. She settles for her daily – blocked – text and checking Catra’s Instagram religiously.

Adora is hanging on, but it is only barely. Maybe that is what breaks her resolve when on Friday night she views a classmate’s story on Instagram and sees they are at a house party run by one of the sororities at GEU. Adora glares at her phone, and makes a terrible decision.

She leaves her dorm, getting in the car that Angella and Micah had bought for her and Glimmer to share – in theory, if Glimmer could drive for shit – with the money they had put aside for Adora’s tuition once her full-ride was guaranteed. Adora looks up the sorority before she leaves, driving the few minutes over to GEU.

She has absolutely no reason to think Catra will be at this party. She was in clubs for the first few weeks of the summer, but she could have just been working it out of her system before the school year. Even if Adora did have a reason to think Catra was coming, this is a terrible idea. Catra does not want to talk to her, and she is the one who betrayed Catra’s trust in the first place. But she was not lying last week when she told Glimmer and Bow that she needed to see Catra. She needs to know Catra is okay, because Adora– is not.

She squares her shoulders and makes her way up to the sorority house, alight and faintly rumbling with music even out on the lawn.

She searches the party for a familiar face for an hour before she gives up. She asks around, cautiously and probably far too obviously, and comes up with nothing on Catra. She does get several Instagram usernames from the sorority members when she talks to them, and added to a group chat completely dedicated to staying plugged into the party scene at GEU titled “where to be any night of the week.” She never tells them she is not even a student there.

 

--

 

Catra falls into a rhythm, eventually. She goes to class, gets out, does her homework, and then spends the rest of the day doing whatever she can to keep busy. She settles into a friendship with Lonnie’s roller derby team easily, even if she has to endure Scorpia driving them to her practices in her shitty beater of a car. Scorpia struggles to find her balance, at first, but Lonnie is convinced she will get the hang of it. The team can’t fill the very specific gap in her heart, but they help her spend the time of day.

It is through the team she gets introduced to GEU’s party scene. She is hardly a party girl, despite the evidence of the last summer. It was exhausting, the only way to run her mind and body down enough to quiet the turmoil in her heart. It was performative, trying to prove to Adora she wasn’t special when they both knew she was. Now, she just wants to spend some of her time doing something, anything new. She also misses the exhilaration of dancing, the only way she got much in the way of endorphins all summer.

The roller derby team may not officially be associated with the university, but six of the members live in a house in the neighbourhood that surrounds campus. It is, essentially, an unofficial sorority of lesbianism. They don’t host parties often, they are just renters after all, but they are plugged into the scene enough from the ones they do host to get Catra a list to keep up with if she ever needs something to do on a Friday night.

She is trying to be responsible. She is trying to turn herself around. If she wants to not be a burden to Adora when she tries to come back into her life, she needs to do better. She avoids giving in to the urge – until the first round of midterms.

Scorpia looks at her not with judgment but sadness when Catra leaves their dorm on a Friday night to fuck around at some random sorority’s house for a few hours. Exams are killing her – because she already finished, but everybody else she knows still has at least one left and is cramming. She has nothing to do, so she gives in to her old, life-without-Adora default: partying.

She doesn’t get drunk, and she doesn’t do more than dance with a few girls. She even comes home before midnight. Scorpia still looks sad.

“You were making such good progress, Wildcat,” she says sadly as Catra slips off her torn jeans and switches into an over-sized shirt she stole from Scorpia junior year. Catra flicks her tail in irritation at her and crawls into her bed.

She still feels bad, even if she did not do anything wrong. She made Scorpia upset, and Scorpia has been unreasonably patient with her through this whole thing. She has nothing to apologize for, not really, but she does want to do something to make Scorpia feel better.

Catra’s wanderings around campus the next day take her to one of the school’s unofficial noticeboards, the side of a storm shelter over a bike rack that is covered in fliers. Some are for clubs or university events. Some are local and others, boldly, are for BMU events. The flier from the gardening club catches her eye, if only because it has the word free on it, and she is a broke ass college student.

The free thing turns out to be a houseplant for anyone who shows up to help the gardening club build a new raised bed in their community garden that Sunday. Scorpia has been complaining about how barren and lifeless their dorm room is, like a cinderblock prison cell with barely any natural light. The plant will probably die, but – Catra has no problem with trading some physical labour for bringing a smile back to her face.

Catra has a firm policy of avoiding anything related to BMU like the plague. Adora makes acquaintances as easy as breathing, and she could easily be outed without Adora ever setting foot at an event just through word of mouth. However, the chances of Adora or anybody she knows getting involved in the gardening club is nearly laughable – somehow she and Glimmer both killed the cactus they shared, and it was not even from overwatering. Catra decides to shove her fears down to do something nice for Scorpia, if only so she will stop looking at her like that.

The next day, Catra rides her bike over to BMU’s campus, careful to stay on the outskirts as she makes her way to the greenhouse. She donned a hoodie despite the heat, pulling it over her ears to help hide herself in case Adora happens to glance across campus at the right moment. She doesn’t know if Adora would even recognize her in person with her new hair, especially from a distance, but she has yet to see another magicat at GEU, and she doubts BMU is hiding a secret concentration of them either.

When she reaches the event, it is pretty small. A dozen or so people are unloading cement blocks from a truck, soil and plant trays set out near the edge of the roped off gardening area. Catra ducks under the edge of the rope, sweeping her gaze over the people present to try to guess who is in charge. It is not hard – only one person was cocky enough they would not be doing physical labour to wear a dress. The woman, a willowy blonde in sandals and a pink sun dress, is crouching over the trays of plants, seeming to be taking catalogue of them – another sign she is the person to talk to. Catra edges around the group, circling to where the woman crouches. As soon as Catra’s shadow enters her field of view the woman looks up, squinting against the sun towards her.

“I, uh, I’m here to help, I guess?”  Catra tells her, forcing her tail still. There is a reason she does not go to these events. She does not know what to do in these types of situations, unfamiliar and thus dangerous, at least according to her body’s instincts. At least her fur is not prickling.

“Ah, new to the gardening club?” she asks, straightening up to stand over Catra and extending a hand. Catra takes a half-second to be sure her claws are retracted despite her nerves and shakes the woman’s hand, blinking up at her. “I’m Perfuma, the president and leader here at the community garden. We are just building a simple cinderblock bed today. Our spider plants have been very prolific, so we have some seedling pups available for anyone who helps! Care instructions come with them, though they are very easy plants,” Perfuma introduces, bowing slightly and smiling brightly down at her.

“Yeah, I thought a plant might help brighten up my dorm. I don’t mind doing some work. I’m strong enough to handle a few cinderblocks,” Catra responds, shrugging a little with her tail swishing behind her. She is unsure, but the nerves are gone at least.

“Of course! We will be building a simple rectangle bed, so we just need help moving things around. After we add in the soil, the gardening club will take care of transplanting everything in. Let me get the sign-in sheet for you!” Perfuma tells her brightly. Catra feels her ear twitch as she bends down to fetch a clipboard from among the soil bags and seedlings. The flier was at GEU, so-

When Perfuma hands her the sign-in sheet, a pen decorated by a fake sunflower clipped to it, Catra feels her ears twitch again when she sees it asks for a name and student email.

“I’m not a BMU student,” she admits, eyeing Perfuma cautiously. Perfuma shakes her head, still smiling.

“Then just leave the email blank! I assume you saw one of the fliers? We just need to log how many people come to our events for our school funding requirements,” Perfuma assures and Catra releases a breath of relief. She writes down her name – not her legal name, but the one she actually uses, anyway, and immediately feels herself stiffen when Perfuma blinks at the clipboard after she hands it back.

“Catra D’Ream?” she reads, looking up at Catra almost cautiously. Of course, Catra should have known- “I don’t suppose you are Adora’s Catra?” she asks. Catra’s ears flatten, her tail lashing and claws itching, but she manages to keep her fur from bristling.

Catra considers bolting right there, if her face was not heating so thoroughly at the idea of anyone referring to her as Adora’s. She is not and she never will be.

She considers bolting, but instead she says, “She is not coming, is she?” Her voice sounds anxious even to her own ears. She plasters them back to the sides of her head, cringing away despite how her feet stay firm on the ground.

Perfuma actually laughs, small and amused. It eases Catra enough to look at her again. “No, when I mentioned trying to use the garden to distract herself, she bolted. She- misses you. A lot,” Perfuma says, voice turning bittersweet and gaze searching. Catra shies back, but she manages not to run. That is news to her.

“Look- I just came because my sister has been complaining about how sad our dorm is, okay? Me and Adora, we aren’t-“ she cuts off, not sure what she was going to say, not to this stranger who she does not even know, who Adora cannot know that well only a few weeks into school. Luckily Perfuma doesn’t press it – not the Adora part, anyway.

“Scorpia, right?” Perfuma asks. Catra’s ears flatten to her head, but she does not hiss. How well has Adora befriended this woman? How many of their secrets does she know? Catra just nods, her answer already obvious anyway.

“I’ve seen her on your Instagram. Adora pulls it up all the time,” Perfuma explains, and Catra is going to be thinking about that for the next month, even if she kind of knew it from how Adora always views her stories, “Tell you what: give me Scorpia’s number, and I won’t tell Adora you came until you’re long gone. I’m not going to hide something from my friend, but you won’t have to worry about running into each other,” Perfuma proposes, smiling warmly but looking nervous. Catra stills, eyeing the woman cautiously. She certainly does not look dangerous, but looks can be deceiving. She must be decent enough friends with Adora for her to be comfortable letting her physically close enough to look at her phone. Adora is a decent judge of character, most of the time.

Catra takes too long considering it, apparently. “I know it may be bold, but I am the type of person who knows what she wants and goes after it. I will be a perfect lady to her if she agrees to anything, I promise,” Perfuma assures her. Catra snorts, sweeping her gaze aside to think. Her tail waves uncertainly behind her. Scorpia has never even been on a date, and it is not for lack of crushes. Some blonde gardener Adora is friends with might be exactly her type. Catra sighs.

“Let me ask her first,” she tells Perfuma, pulling her phone out of her pocket.

Perfuma claps her hands together. “Perfect!” she says, happily. Catra raises an eyebrow at her but she sends off a text to Scorpia explaining she bumped into one of Adora’s new friends and the woman wants her number. She does not get a response for a long moment, so she sends a follow up adding the woman runs the community garden. That is the kind of shit Scorpia will eat up.

Scorpia responds with a string of short, flustered texts that obviously – to Catra, at least – mean she should do it.

“Alright, but if you hurt her, I will claw your eyes out and tear this entire garden to shreds, you hear me? That is my fucking sister,” Catra threatens, sliding her phone back into her pocket and fixing Perfuma with a hard look. She half expects for Perfuma to shy away or backpedal, not wanting to deal with all that. Instead, Perfuma blushes and nods, extending her phone to Catra. Catra holds her gaze for another long moment before she snatches it, entering in Scorpia’s contact details.

Perfuma accepts her phone back with a delighted squeal, which tells Catra all she needs to know that she made the right call there. “Let’s get building!” she declares, happy and bright. Catra’s tail sways nervously, but she nods, following Perfuma as she leads her towards the rest of the small gathering.

Perfuma is true to her word, it turns out. Neither Adora nor any of her friends show up while they work. Catra can admit she enjoys the time spent outside, building something worthwhile. Adora used to drag her on community service trips back in high school, convincing her she needed the padding to her college applications, but Catra had always found those events depressing given all the context of suffering they were designed to alleviate. This is just nice, a small group working together to build something new.

“Adora would love this, actually,” Catra tells Perfuma when they are almost done. Her voice sounds wistful even to her own ears and she flushes, looking away from where she was watching Perfuma transplant the seedlings into the bed. Catra does not help with that part – she is not expected to and she sure as shit is not getting dirt under her claws. Perfuma blinks at her in surprise.

“I tried to get her involved, just to give her something to focus on. She has not been coming to mine and Glimmer’s dorm really ever since. I assumed she was avoiding me,” Perfuma tells her, eyeing Catra curiously. Catra frowns at that.

“Adora has enough going on,” she settles on saying, turning away. It still is shocking to hear her turning someone down – although the guilt of doing so being strong enough to keep her away from even Glimmer does track. “Don’t take it personally,” she adds, feeling a need to defend Adora when Perfuma does not respond. There is another long moment of silence.

“Catra?” Perfuma says, and Catra knows that tone of voice. That tone of voice always opens conversations she does not want to have.

“Thanks for the plant, and thanks in advance for treating Scorpia right,” Catra tells her, standing from where she is crouched and brushing off her hands. She picks up the seedling Perfuma gave her and walks off to where her bike is propped up against the greenhouse without another word. She feels kind of bad, shoving the small plant in her bag for the journey home, but she just needs to get out of there. It does not matter if Perfuma is in Adora’s life now, she does not know her like Catra does. What Catra is doing is the right thing for her.

She repeats that to herself the whole way home. She can’t stop hearing she misses you a lot. She can’t stop wondering why Adora needs something to focus on. She can’t stop worrying about the fact that Adora turned someone down.

Chapter Text

Adora knows she is being lured into an ambush the second Glimmer texts her to come over to her dorm. She knows, even, that this is going to be another attempt at a Catra intervention. She still goes, because she knows nothing they say is really going to change her mind anyway, and she has nothing better to do on a Sunday night than get yelled at by Glimmer and Bow for an hour. She has been hopping over to GEU parties regularly, searching the gathered students for a familiar set of ears before returning home empty-handed, but she just is not up to the disappointment tonight.

She is not expecting Glimmer and Bow to be flanking Perfuma when she enters. Perfuma looks downright apologetic, motioning for Adora to sit on Glimmer’s bed.

“I already sent my daily text,” Adora tells them as she sits, eyeing Glimmer and Bow suspiciously. They aren’t going to dissuade her, even if they are looping Glimmer’s roommate into this now. A psych minor is not going to convince her any more than her sister is.

“I spoke with Catra today,” Perfuma says, and Adora’s brain shuts down. If she were not so desperate, she would give a shit about the way she white-knuckles her fists in her lap and stares at Perfuma pleadingly. Glimmer and Bow exchange a knowing look and move to sit on either side of her, wrapping their arms around her shoulders.

“How is she?” Adora asks, voice small, even though Scorpia already told her a week ago. A lot can change in eleven days. Perfuma still looks apologetic, like she does not want to be doing this to Adora. Adora has never wanted to hear anyone talk more.

“She seemed okay. She came to my community garden event today. We were giving out houseplants in exchange for helping, and she wanted to get one for her sister,” Perfuma explains. Adora blinks, a little surprised Catra would come all the way out to BMU for a houseplant, but – Catra was always a secret softie inside. It makes sense she would cross into enemy territory for Scorpia.

Adora looks at Perfuma, still pleading. Perfuma sighs, turning away towards her desk and grabbing the back of her desk chair. She pulls it over to center it in front of Adora, sitting to look her in the eye now. “She was very defensive when I brought you up. But- when she brought you up, she was smiling,” Perfuma tells her, ducking her head a little to maintain eye contact. Adora feels all her breath leave her in a rush.

“What did she say?” she still manages to get out, terrified of the answer. Perfuma smiles almost wistfully, like the memory brings her joy.

“It was sweet, actually. I told her at the beginning that she did not have to worry about running into you as you had no interest in the garden. Near the end, she got a smile on her face and she told me you would have loved it if you came,” Perfuma tells her. Adora feels her heart pound in her chest. Catra was thinking about her, thinking about what she would enjoy doing and getting happy from the thought of Adora happy.

“I- is there anything else?” she asks, because she needs to go back to her dorm and either cry or get dressed for a night of hopping around GEU parties, hoping.

Perfuma pauses, shaking her head. “Not about Catra, anyway. I asked her for Scorpia’s number so I could take her on a date and she threatened to kill me if I hurt her, but she gave it to me,” Perfuma adds. Adora blinks, processing that information, but-

“She did not just threaten to kill you,” she says, because she knows Catra. Perfuma smiles awkwardly, flushing a bit.

“She threatened to tear apart my garden and scratch my eyes out,” she clarifies. Adora nods, because that sounds more like Catra.

“Adora?” Glimmer prompts. Adora looks to her left, blinking in surprise at Glimmer. Her entire world had narrowed to her one point of contact with Catra. “How do you feel?” Glimmer asks her, gaze searching. Adora pauses, because she is not sure, not really. Still, there are a few things she knows.

“Like I need to see her more than ever, but - better. Happier, even if it hurts,” Adora tells her. She is not sure that makes sense, but it is true. Her heart feels so warm knowing Catra is still thinking about her, caring about her. It hurts so bad to know Catra is still hiding from her. To know that Adora hurt her bad enough that despite missing her, Catra is still avoiding her.

“I need to see her,” Adora repeats.

 

--

 

Catra thought Friday was a temporary slip. She just needed something to do.

This is far worse. At least on Friday she had been responsible, not drinking and coming home early. Now, leaning against the back wall of some sorority house with her fifth drink of whatever nearly empty, she knows that it was the start of her downfall.

Well, really it was Sunday, she muses, staring down into her cup and swirling it. That is the real reason she is here, after all. To drown out the thoughts of Adora. Alcohol is banned in the dorms, but the Greek houses have plenty of it, and if there is a party going on it is usually free. Catra does not even want to dance tonight. She just wants to stop thinking about how damn lonely she is without Adora, about how Adora is missing her too, about how Adora-

Is here.

Even drunk, Catra catches her scent immediately. She straightens, still leaned against the wall but searching the room for the swing of a blonde ponytail. She can’t pinpoint the direction, not while standing still and having to fight over the scents of all these other people, alcohol, and sweat.

She spots Adora at the same time as Adora spots her.

Adora freezes, stepping out of the kitchen to her right with a drink in her hand, blatantly staring at Catra. Catra feels herself getting lightheaded from lack of oxygen, holding her breath as she stares back as if that will purge the thoughts and images already forming in her mind from picking up Adora’s scent again.

Someone shoves Adora’s shoulder from inside the kitchen. Lightly, but she stumbles forward in her shocked state. Catra vaguely picks up an admonishment about blocking the way. She does not pay attention to it, not when the shove seems to be all the push Adora needs to finally start walking towards her.

Catra kind of feels like she might have a panic attack. Vaguely, in the back of her mind, she is aware of a part of her screaming about her plan and how she is about to ruin everything. As Adora grows closer, her scent grows stronger, and Catra’s plan is suddenly nothing against her instincts.

She barely manages to wait until Adora is within arms’ reach, the blonde still staring at her wide-eyed but with less shock and more hope now. Catra’s hand snatches forward, grabbing Adora’s wrist. She catches a glimpse of naked surprise on Adora’s face before Catra is pushing off the wall, leading her away toward the back door of the house. She should not be doing this – she needs to be doing this. She needs to get Adora away from these strangers and their conflicting scents. Catra yanks the back door open harshly, ignoring the few people drinking on the porch and the couple blatantly making out where they are laid out on the quad behind the house.

Catra pulls Adora along behind her, the other woman voicing no protests as Catra steers them down the back-porch steps. Excitement is coming off Adora in a nervous energy and Catra is not even sure which of her senses is picking that up. She pulls Adora around the side of the house, alone, nothing but them and the night. She realizes she still has her half-empty drink in her hand and chucks it aside, uncaring as she yanks Adora forward in front of her.

She does not look at her face – she can’t risk being drawn into her eyes. She just needs to- She needs to-

Catra crowds Adora against the wall, ducking her head so she can nudge under Adora’s chin and press her nose to her pulse point, breathing deeply.

Adora,” she breathes, without ever intending to. To her surprise, Adora gasps beneath her, suddenly-empty hands coming up to rest on Catra’s hips. Catra is fine with that – she has no intention of moving. Not away, at least. She presses closer, feeling a purr rumble in her chest as she drapes herself against Adora and is surrounded by nothing but her.

“Catra?” Adora questions, voice high and unsure. Her grip tightens on Catra’s hips, making her shiver just a little as she nudges in closer.

“Smell nice,” is the best explanation she can give, because she is not totally sure of her actions either. Normally she has better control of her instincts than this. It was harder on the few occasions she got enough free drinks to get buzzed over the summer, but it never felt impossible to fight like this. Like Adora is a riptide, pulling her out to unknown waters.

Adora releases a shaking breath beneath her, tilting her chin back just a bit. Catra’s purr becomes a roar, never this loud usually, but – Adora is letting her have this. Have her. She is definitely drunk, too – Catra can smell the alcohol on her breath where it puffs against her hair – but last time they were this close she was drunk as well, and she pulled away then. Maybe here, now, the alcohol is enough she is willing to put aside Catra’s feelings, just appreciate having her friend with her again. It has been so long. Adora missed her.

Catra feels her purr start to falter. No, that is not right. She wants it back, but the instant relief she got from pressing into Adora is fading. She feels more hunger rising, more need. She should just take what Adora is willing to give her – instead she takes more, raising from where she is tucked beneath Adora’s jaw to kiss her. She knows Adora will pull back, but she still can’t stop herself, not now Adora knows. She can’t keep herself away from Adora no matter how she tries, how she knows she should.

Adora does not pull away. Adora kisses her back, eager and hungry.

 

--

 

When Catra tossed her drink aside, Adora almost admonished her. Instead she mirrored her actions with her own cup, just a moment before Catra pushed her against the wall. Adora had half been expecting growling – Catra’s tail was lashing as she led her out of the party, after all - instead she is met with Catra’s flushed face, a small smile pulling at the corner of her mouth as she fixes her gaze on Adora’s jaw a moment before leaning in and burying her nose underneath it.

Adora,” Catra breathes, her voice dripping with relief. Adora can’t hide her reaction, gasping and reaching for Catra in turn. Her hands land somewhere around Catra’s hips, only barely managing to restrain herself from clutching her. Catra just presses closer, purring as her body sags with relief and she nudges against her neck.

“Catra?” she questions, because she was imagining a lot of things when she finally caught up to Catra, but this is none of them. She feels her restraint failing, outright clutching at Catra now, but she can’t stop it. She regrets the shameful drinking she had given in to earlier in the night when she needed to drown out the disappointment after she thought she had determined Catra was not here. She is not drunk, not really – she is aware enough to know she still has to drive home – but she feels like the alcohol is leaving her several steps behind.

“Smell nice,” is all Catra says in return. It clicks for Adora then, the way Catra is pressing in, trying to get closer to the source of a scent she has always said she ties to comfort. Adora releases the breath she was holding, tilting her chin back to give Catra better access. Catra purrs loudly, pressing in closer as Adora’s mind slips away from her a bit, her body lighting up dangerously at the feeling of Catra pressed in against her like this, purring against her neck.

She really wishes she had searched the party more carefully before she gave in to picking up a drink and drowning the part of her just crying out for Catra. She didn’t drown it, it seems – she fed it, her entire body sparking where Catra’s fur brushes her skin. She has not seen Catra in four months and her body is almost shaking from the relief of her presence.

Catra pulls her head back and Adora feels a cold plunge of panic, her throat dropping into her stomach for a brief moment, before Catra tilts her chin up and presses in. She kisses Adora, hungrily and readily. If Adora was not already having to fight her body’s instinct for more when it came to Catra, she would have frozen. She can’t though, not with Catra here and against her, ostensibly happy to be there. She kisses back as eagerly as she can, feeling clumsy against Catra as she leads them. As long as she is happy to keep kissing Adora, Adora’s logic and reasoning are not going to return her.

She knows this is okay for Catra when she does it with strangers. She can only hope that after an entire summer it is okay with her, too. She realizes she may not really know what she is doing, following Catra’s lead as her tongue slips forward, but she can do more than just kiss her back. Adora flexes her hands on Catra’s hips, sliding one around her lower back and the other between her shoulder blades to pull her closer, going from contact to pressure.

She releases a gasp against Catra’s lips at the sensation, brain stuttering out in the face of the heat from Catra’s body. Catra takes advantage of her gasp, nipping at her bottom lip and tugging. Catra growls against her, low and dangerous, and Adora wishes that sound did not make her thighs clench, but – she has always been weak for Catra. Adora’s knees almost go out from beneath her, a loud moan spilling forward before she can hope to catch it. Catra growls again in response – the same growl she used to give when Adora would try to steal some of her fries, possessive. It makes Adora release another needy gasp even as Catra presses in again, kissing her hungrily, claiming her mouth for her own.

Catra can have her. Adora vaguely wonders if any of those unknown girls from over the summer got kisses like this. She really hopes they didn’t, but if they did – damn is she glad for what they taught Catra. The thought should be sobering, and maybe it would be if alcohol was the problem. But no, she hasn't even finished her second drink. Catra is what is intoxicating her now, making Adora lose all her senses.

Catra tastes like whiskey as she kisses Adora. She worries how much she has had as Catra’s hands pull off the wall and find her waist. The new contact thoroughly shorts out her mental train of thought. Adora moans again, feeling herself arch a little into the touch. She needs Catra closer, even if she can’t be. The arm she has wrapped around Catra’s waist tightens as she slides her other hand up, burying it in Catra’s short hair. It is the first time she is touching it, unfamiliar beneath her hands. It still feels soft to the touch, like her mane had. Softer, maybe, because there are no tangles in it.

Adora scratches lightly at Catra’s scalp and gets a sharp pant against her mouth in return. Feeling bold, she twists her fingers into the short hair and tugs, angling back Catra’s mouth so she can claim it in return. Catra whines against her, body shifting restlessly as she presses in seeking more, something Adora is more than happy to give her. She pulls on her hair again, less gentle this time as Catra lets out a sharp keen now-

A sharp ringtone echoes into the night.

 

--

 

Catra is going to kill Scorpia. She can go fuck herself, fuck her concern.

She tried to ignore her familiar ringtone as it went off in her jeans pocket. She tried to press closer, drinking in how eager and open Adora was for her, but Adora had to use their next breath of air to pant, “Scorpia, Catra.” Her foster sister – not her sister, dead to her now, thankshas always had the same ringtone in Catra’s phone, and Adora recognizes it instantly. Adora’s hand in her hair falls down to her shoulder and Catra feels a flood of disappointment at the loss. She growls, again, because she has not been able to control a single one of her animal instincts since she caught Adora’s scent, and rips her hands off Adora. One hand she slams against the wall beside Adora’s head, soothing her annoyance with the slight jump Adora gives as she digs her claws straight into the siding of the house. The clawing helps her anger, too.

Her other hand she shoves into her pocket, having some difficulty retrieving her still-ringing phone from her pocket due to the way she remains pressed against Adora. She leans back just enough so Scorpia will not be able to pick up Adora’s heavy breathing before answering.

What?” she demands, voice dripping with disdain and anger. There is a second of silence where she imagines Scorpia winces, or maybe just stares sadly at Catra’s empty bed.

“It’s past midnight, Catra,” Scorpia says, and yep, that is definite sadness. Catra glares forward, which is to say, directly at Adora’s mouth. Which is still panting just a little, lips parted and swollen, a single blood spot welling up beneath her skin on her bottom lip where Catra’s fang had caught her. Catra’s mouth grows dry at the sight, her tail lashing furiously behind her as she feels heat blooming between her thighs. Not that she was not turned on already, but seeing Adora like this-

She is going to kill, Scorpia.

“So?” she demands in a hiss. Adora shifts uncomfortably beneath her. There has been an electric energy between them, mutual desperation fueling the slide of their bodies as Adora gave into her. Now she can tell Adora is sobering beneath her, realizing what they have done. Realizing Catra took advantage of her again.

“You have an eight AM class,” Scorpia reminds her. Catra hisses, ears flattening as Adora ducks her head to make eye contact and give her an admonishing look, close enough to overhear Catra’s irresponsibility.

The anger, the frustration, the disappointment – it is too much. She forces herself to pull back from Adora, her body flush with endorphins, anger, arousal, frustration. She takes two steps back, tail lashing in irritation now as she levels Adora with a glare. Adora looks upset, maybe, and Catra does not have the mental energy to unpack that. She turns her head away, staring out into the darkness of the quad.

“I don’t need you to babysit me, Scorpia,” Catra growls. She hears Scorpia draw in a sharp breath on the other end of the line. She can’t deal with this, not now Adora is slumped against the wall and starting to look at her with guilt again. She doesn’t know why she thought this time would be different, that Adora would want her-

Okay, Adora had definitely wanted, her needy gasps and grabbing hands were plenty of proof of that. She just didn’t want Catra. Catra was just there, convenient and desperate like always.

Catra hangs up on Scorpia, cursing herself under her breath as she shoves her phone back in her pocket. Adora opens her mouth, a strange mix of guilt and hope on her face.

Don’t. Just- just leave, Adora. We both know what this was,” Catra grinds out, turning away with her tail lashing. Everything to me, absolutely nothing to you. Adora remains silent behind her, breathing unsteady as if she is still winded from kiss, despite the fact she is a top athlete and Catra knows that can’t be true. She does not say anything, but she does not leave either. “I don’t-“ Catra starts to say.

She means to say want to hear it, denial strong despite knowing Adora doesn’t love her. She is interrupted. Her phone rings again and she hisses, glaring down at the grass as she pulls it out to silence Scorpia’s second attempt to reach her. Distracted, she does not notice Adora moving until it is too late. Adora’s arms come wrapping around her waist, pulling her flush back against Adora’s chest. To her shame she moans at the feeling of Adora pressed up against her again, holding her in place despite the way she isn’t fighting.

“Catra, please, talk to me,” Adora begs, her breath hot against the side of Catra’s neck. Talking is the last thing on Catra’s mind with Adora against her like this, her body still buzzing with alcohol. Her body is suddenly alight with the need to run.

“Go home, Adora,” Catra manages to grit out before she shoves off Adora’s hands, taking off at a run towards the dorms. She barely exits the yard of the house before she is on all fours.

Adora does not chase her, but even an athlete like her would have trouble keeping up with Catra on all fours, forget about how drunk Adora is. The alcohol is not slowing Catra down at all, not as she finally reaches the dorms and straightens up, suddenly feeling exhausted.

She manages to stumble up to her and Scorpia’s dorm. She sends a glare to Scorpia as she sits up hurriedly when Catra opens the door. Scorpia can’t see it, not in the dark dorm lit only by the light of the hall, but it feels good to do anyway.

“Catra-“

“Go the fuck to sleep, Scorpia. You don’t know what you interrupted,” Catra hisses at her, voice raw with exhaustion and alcohol, her mouth completely dry with Adora’s no longer against it. Catra kicks the door closed behind her, yanking off her clothes and not bothering to do anything but crawl into her bed in only her underwear.

It feels so much like the first night where she ruined her own life – ruined them – she half expects a text from Adora asking her if she got home. Then she remembers Adora can’t, actually, text her to ask that.

She should not do it, for her own sake, but-

She needs to, for Adora. Catra sighs and sits up in bed. Scorpia lifts her head, almost eagerly despite the way Catra is just about ready to bite her head off. Maybe she thinks Catra is going to apologize. Fat fucking chance.

Even in the near pitch black, Catra’s vision is good enough to find where her jeans are crumpled on the floor beside her bed. She reaches down, pulling her phone out of the pocket, and then settles back in her bed with her back pointedly turned to Scorpia. Not that Scorpia can see it without Catra’s night vision, but her back at least protects her screen from view when it lights up. She opens her phone’s settings and begrudgingly unblocks Adora’s number.

She sends Adora a one-word text. Home. There is no point in sending a picture - it would be pure black, anyway. She waits. As much as she wants to re-block Adora’s number and be done with it, she needs that reciprocation back. She did this for Adora, but – she needs to know just as badly.

The typing bubble appears, and then a message.

Thank you. I’ll be back in 15.

Catra stares at her screen and wonders what Adora is thinking right now. Vaguely, she wonders what she is thinking right now, too tired and drained to really feel much of anything or make coherent decisions. She felt so much, so alive under Adora’s attention, surrounded by her scent. Now she just feels spent.

She keeps staring at the phone screen, tapping on it occasionally to keep it from dimming as she watches the clock tick up minute-by-minute.

After sixteen minutes, she gets a picture message. It is a wooden door, tinged yellow by terrible hallway lighting. On the door are the brass numbers “312” and a paper cutout of a baseball with “Adora Grayskull” written on it in a loopy style of handwriting she does not recognize. Probably an RA’s work or something to greet the new player.

Catra feels her body sag with that final piece of relief, struggling to keep her eyes open as she enters the conversation’s contact details and re-blocks Adora’s number. She drops her phone on the bed beside her, too tired to do anything more than let her eyes slip closed as sleep finally takes her.

 

--

 

Adora woke up feeling hopeful, if like utter shit. That hope dies when she sends Catra an are you okay? text and it bounces back with the old, familiar refusal message. She tells herself to be grateful that Catra was willing to text her last night. She is, unbelievably so, but-

She wants more. It is all she has ever wanted, with Catra.

We both know what this was. Yeah, unfortunately. Catra was drunk, Adora was safe, Adora was there and far too eager for anything Catra was willing to give her. Then Catra got the call, and the moment was gone. She wanted nothing to do with Adora. She cares about her, knows her well enough to know she would be worried and texted her, waited until Adora was home too to shut her out again, but she wants nothing to do with Adora.

Sober, at least.

Adora goes to her late morning class with a dry throat, scratchy eyes, and a pounding head. The eyes are definitely the alcohol. The other two, well – she didn't drink much. Those could very easily be the results of last night in a totally different way. She sits in her usual seat near the front, a hoodie pulled up over her hair she hasn’t even bothered to put up or wash. It is torture, it turns out, to sit through calculus with even a mild hangover. She regrets her sports medicine major, requiring her to take these math classes that Catra would have breezed through, hungover or no.

She wonders if Catra even is hungover, if magicats get the same effects. She bites her lip and feels the pinprick bruise in the center of her lip, a small thrill shooting through her at the reminder. Fuck, she is a disaster today - and every day since Catra left, but this one is up there with those first few days of the summer, or maybe even the first day Catra posted a video of her kissing another girl on her Instagram story.

Adora makes it through class, dragging herself back to her dorm and stretching out on her bed with a groan. She pulls out her phone, fully intending to send an email to her afternoon professor that she is feeling sick and won’t be coming to class. Instead, she gets distracted by a notification on Instagram. Because yes, she has notification alerts set for anything Catra posts, now.

She opens Catra’s page and expects to find another shot from around campus, a tacit confirmation of her continued life. The story she posts today is not that. It is a photo of a stretch of grass leading up to the foundation of a house, familiar white siding Adora can still feel pressing into her back just visible at the top of the picture. If the camera tilted up a few inches there would be claw marks in the wood.

The photo is actually of the two red solo cups laying in the lawn beside the house’s foundation, a few feet apart and one with dark whiskey still spilling out of it. Adora stares at the image for a long moment, entire body thrumming with the unknown implications of it before her eyes catch the caption at the very bottom.

Ugh cleaning up sorority littering. Hope they had fun at least.

Adora drops her damn phone.

 

--

 

Catra is sitting at her desk, doing her best damn effort to ignore Scorpia. Scorpia practically hovers around her, anxious and bursting with words. She doesn’t say them, just staring at Catra with baleful eyes and hoping Catra will make eye contact back, but Catra can hear her thinking from across the room. They haven’t spoken – or rather, Catra has not spoken to her, not in more than affirmative or dismissive grunts – since Catra passed out last night.

It is too much to deal with Scorpia’s hovering on top of her rioting feelings. She gathers her shower bag with a hiss and storms out of the room. Part of her just needs to get away – part of her needs to wash off Adora’s scent still clinging to her skin. She is acutely aware Adora has viewed her story. She hopes it does not come off as too desperate, even though she had already been that plenty last night. She hopes Adora understands it as the genuine statement that it is: that Catra hopes her damn greed has not hurt her, again.

Catra glares at the communal shower stalls when she gets to the bathroom. How badly has she fucked up her life trying to do right by Adora and failing that she would rather be here. She resists the urge to growl as she steps into one of the little changing rooms, barely big enough for her to yank off the pajamas she had put on to wallow in after her morning class.

These showers are her nightmare. They take as long to warm up as the one back at Lisa’s and Rose’s house, but they are tiny tin cans rather than the bathtub shower that at least gave her room to breathe. The drain in them is terrible, often clogged by the time Catra leaves, because they apparently are not built with anyone but humans and lizardfolk in mind and can’t keep up with her fur. Carrying her fur products and especially her two different brushes in always makes her feel seen by everyone she passes in a very bad way.

Despite there being other hybrids, even ones with fur, she is the only magicat in the entire university, she found out from her advisor. The showers make it very obvious they did not intend for her to be here, either.

When Catra is dealing with the horrible, alienating showers, she is always grateful that she gave into the tearing impulse to cut all her hair off. Bringing in the supplies she had used for her mane would have doubled the product count and upped the brush count to three.

She thinks back to the feeling of Adora’s fingers running through her hair, unconsciously following the path Adora had taken as she washes her hair. At the memory alone a purr threatens to rise in her throat. She grimaces when she realizes what she is doing, quickly finishing her hair so it can dry while she takes care of her fur.

The traces of Adora are there, too, however. Catra is trying to wash Adora’s scent off her. It should not be that hard – Adora only touched her over her clothes after all. For some reason, her scent still clings to Catra, and her carefully scentless products, designed to not irritate her nose, can only dull the edge. It does not help that as she washes and brushes her fur she is faced with the ghost of Adora’s hands on her.

When they kissed before, at least it was just a kiss. Deep, sure, but their hands had not gotten involved.

Adora started that. Adora touched you first, her mind helpfully supplies. She finds herself shivering despite the warmth of the water. This was a terrible idea, it turns out. Why she thought she could just wash Adora off, she does not know. She has not managed to go a single day without thinking about her since she could form memories. She posts on her Instagram near daily just to see Adora’s username on the list of viewers. Catra is ruined for her and she knows it.

Catra makes her way out of the shower, shaking herself off and reveling in the way it lifts literal weight off her shoulders. She really does not need to be carrying physical burdens along with her mental ones. She grimaces as she wraps her robe around her still-wet fur, gathering her supplies and carrying them back to her room, leaving a trail of water in the hallway. Some days she feels shame over it – today she cannot be bothered to care. They should give her enough room to towel off if they want her to be dry by the time she emerges.

When she gets back to the room Scorpia does not hover like she had before. She has settled in on doing homework at her desk, and she knows better than to interrupt Catra during her drying process. It takes fifteen minutes and is exhausting, even without her mane. She flops back on her bed in just a pair of underwear and an oversized shirt she realizes far too late is one of Adora’s. She does not even know when she stole it, but definitely some time during senior year. She glares down at her shirt and reaches for her phone.

She pulls up Instagram, intending to just check her story views again and comfort herself that Adora got the message, regardless of how she feels about it. She freezes, ears perking and tail twitching in curiosity, as she sees Adora has made a post on her own story.

Adora has not posted in nearly three months. Catra does not know why, really, because she used to post about every other week, usually a photo with or of friends. Catra, Glimmer, Bow, and her old softball team are all over Adora’s Instagram. Her story posts were always sporadic, but they fell away early on in the summer. The posts continued for longer, but they have been gone for a while now, too.

Catra knows she had a rule against checking Adora’s story. She is not sure why. Definitely a pride thing, probably something about not wanting Adora to know she still cared – still loved her – even though that is blatantly obvious. Still, she had posted her message to Adora, and now here is Adora posting something. Catra is terrified to click on the story and see some veiled rejection, some message about having the worst night of her life. It should make it easier to resist, but her thumb moves of its own accord anyway.

She releases a soft breath of surprise at what she does see. A photo of a polaroid, clearly hanging off a string with other photos even if the shot is too close to see the others. The white wall in the background provides no further context than the photo itself, but Catra recognizes it as being halfway down the string that Adora had hung across her bedroom window back at Glimmer’s house.

The polaroid is a photo of a sunset, nothing damning about it if you did not know the story behind it, the not-date they had gone on while Catra hoped for no goddamn reason and failed to say anything. It was taken at the beginning of senior year, when Catra started thinking maybe she actually had a chance from the way Adora’s eyes lingered on her.

The caption is even more damning to her than the photo.

Missing Home <3

Chapter Text

Catra almost breaks all her rules and calls Adora when Sunday rolls around. She watches Scorpia get ready for her date with narrowed eyes. She and Scorpia are talking again – as long as Scorpia does not mention Tuesday night – but she does not want to voice her concerns to Scorpia.

Scorpia and Perfuma have been texting over the last week. They had a phone call on Thursday that Scorpia sighed dreamily about when she recapped it to Catra. Catra does not get the attraction, frankly, but everything Scorpia has told her makes Perfuma seem perfectly nice.

Catra doesn’t trust people. She makes a judgement call, and then steps out of their dorm to make an actual call while Scorpia does her makeup. She settles in the lounge at the end of the hallway, a clear line of sight to their doorway as she pulls up Glimmer’s contact details.

Glimmer picks up almost instantly. “Catra?” she questions, incredulously. Catra has to fight an irritated twitch of her tail at the same time as her ears perk up. She didn’t realize how much she missed Glimmer too, until she heard her voice.

“Where are you right now?” Catra asks. If she was with Adora, she doubts Glimmer would have started with her name, but she could be helping her roommate prepare for her date as well.

“I’m getting lunch with Bow,” Glimmer responds, almost cautious. There is a beat of silence as Catra waits. “Just Bow,” Glimmers clarifies, and Catra nods to herself, relieved.

“Perfuma,” she states, not really a question. She hears a snort from the other end of the phone, a weird mix of amused and annoyed.

“You do realize that Scorpia could break her in half just shaking her hand, right? Scorpia will be fine,” Glimmer assures her, definitely fond and annoyed. Catra does not know why – Glimmer would do the same thing for Bow. Actually, she would have a total meltdown about Bow going on a date with someone, but that is not something Catra is touching with a ten-foot pole. Glimmer would do the same thing for Adora.

“Scorpia can take care of herself physically. I’m not worried about that. But she is fragile. Perfuma seemed nice enough, but you know her,” Catra says, still watching her dorm door through narrowed eyes. She doesn't want Scorpia to come out an overhear that she is worried. Glimmer pauses on the other end of the line. Catra makes out a deep tone that is too far from the mic to be picked up, but she does not doubt it is Bow speaking.

Glimmer speaks again. “Perfuma starts every morning by meditating on the quad outside our dorm and listing her daily affirmations to get her day started with ‘positive energy’. Then she makes herself a cup of tea from the plants she has grown herself, and always offers to make me a cup, too. Sometimes I take her up on it, and it is always good,” Glimmer says. Catra lets out a breath, thinking of Scorpia’s morning checklist and family tea recipe. She feels her tail untense from its stiff coil.

“Thanks,” she says, quietly, because she knows Glimmer did not have to do this. Glimmer is clearly pissed at her, but she cares about Scorpia too. She can understand Catra’s worry, at least.

There is a moment of silence on the other end of the line. “You can thank me by not being a bitch to Adora. She is falling apart without you,” Glimmer tells her, and then she hangs up.

 

--

 

Adora has not stopped thinking about Tuesday night since it happened. She has not been able to stop thinking about Wednesday morning, seeing Catra’s story and then seeing Catra actually viewed hers in return. Something she has not done in four damn months.

Even with her number blocked again, Adora has hope. Which is probably stupid, because it has been a week and she has not heard any word from Catra. Still, she ran into her on accident before – okay, she was seeking her out, but still – and they seemed to make progress. She just hopes she can do it again.

Despite having her own morning class the next day, Adora goes trolling through the GEU parties group when Tuesday night rolls around again. Adora has gone over to GEU every weekend since getting added to it, usually popping into a party just long enough to confirm Catra is not there and then leaving, but clearly Catra does not limit herself to Friday through Sunday. It had been the pure desperation after talking to Perfuma on Sunday that lead to her going out that Tuesday, but it worked.

Maybe it is stupid to just hope that Catra goes out on Tuesdays. She still hopes it, especially when she sees a roller derby team pop up on the list of parties happening that night. If there was ever a chance, that seems far more Catra’s scene than some random sorority. The house party is off campus – but only by a few hundred feet. She parks her car on the street with all the others and makes her way to the one-story house, faded blue with garish yellow trimming. The paint job looks as old as the house itself, which is probably not young given the way the porch creeks as she makes her way inside.

The interior is in better shape, wooden floors scuffed but solid. This party is much more relaxed than what she has seen the local Greek life throw, music at an actually reasonable volume – although that could be due to the neighbours – and a lot more people standing around, just talking and drinking. There is an almost threateningly-competitive – and that is coming from Adora – air hockey tournament happening in the corner of the living room.

Catra is not in the main room of the house, however, so Adora goes wandering down one of the hallways. She pauses when she reaches the backdoor, open but only one person outside. Cautiously, she takes a step onto the back porch and is immediately given away by loud creaking. The person – a woman with purple pigtails – startles from where she is hunched over the railing and blinks at Adora in surprise.

“Uh, hi. Are you okay?” Adora asks, awkwardly. The woman does not look drunk, but alone on the back porch of a relatively chill party usually is not a good sign.

Pigtails stares at Adora for a long moment. “Do I not look okay?” she asks, confusion evident. Adora pauses.

“You’re alone at a party,” Adora settles on saying. She regrets saying anything – she kind of regrets coming at all, but she knows she would have spent all night wondering if this party was the one if she had not come.

Pigtails lets out a soft exclamation of understanding, an easy smile blossoming on her face. “I live here, but I tend to not do well at parties. All the sound inside can be very overwhelming,” she explains, moving her hands as she talks.

“Oh, sorry for interrupting you, then,” Adora settles on saying, because she is far too awkward to be talking to someone who is also awkward. They are never going to get anywhere.

“Oh, no, I don’t mind interruptions! I know you were probably just-“ the woman’s train of thought seems to completely halt as she turns to look at Adora curiously, “What were you doing?” she asks.

Adora takes a breath. No better opening. “Sorry, I was just looking for my friend, Catra. I don’t suppose you have seen a magicat around?” Adora asks her. Pigtails looks apologetic and Adora feels her shoulders fall before she even speaks.

“Sorry, Catra doesn’t come to these things. She says there is too much talking for her. She prefers the sororities for dancing,” Pigtails tells her, and Adora’s entire brain comes crashing to a halt.

“You- know Catra?” she asks, unable to hide the hopeful strain in her voice. Pigtails blinks at her.

“I already told you I am on the team, did I not? I suppose I only said I live here, and if you were uninformed only team members live here that could have been ambiguous, but – yes, I am on the team with Scorpia. Do Scorpia and Catra not go everywhere together? That is what I have observed,” Pigtails clarifies, looking at Adora a bit curiously. Probably because Adora does not know what her face is doing right now, but it certainly cannot be normal.

Pigtails knows Catra. Pigtails is on a roller derby team with Scorpia.

“No, I mean – they don’t go everywhere together, but- sorry, what was your name?” Adora asks, holding out a hand to offer it to the woman.

“Oh, right! I am Entrapta,” Pigtails – Entrapta – responds, taking Adora’s hand and shaking it firmly up and down once, smiling easily as she does so.

“Adora. Do you know if Scorpia is going to be coming out tonight? I just assumed,” Adora bold-faced lies. She usually sucks at it, but she must pass it off because Entrapta just shakes her head.

“Scorpia has an essay she is focusing on,” Entrapta informs her. Adora sighs, but she is a little grateful, also. She has leads on Catra – multiple, actually, if Entrapta’s sororities comment was correct – and she would rather run into Catra than find Scorpia and have her warn her. She can look up the roller derby team to find a match, and in the meantime narrow her focus to the sorority parties. If Entrapta thinks Catra and Scorpia go everywhere together, then she likely goes to their rallies too. Adora might be able to hunt her down when she is sober, even.

“Thanks for your help, Entrapta. Have a nice night,” Adora thanks her earnestly, sending her a grateful smile. Entrapta gives her a beaming smile in response.

“You’re welcome!” she declares as Adora makes her way back through the house.

 

--

 

Catra can’t stop thinking about what Glimmer said on Sunday. She is not being a bitch to Adora, she is doing what is right for her – even if her resolve crumbled to dust when she actually got in a room with her. She can see why Glimmer thinks that, though, so it does not bother her so much.

No, she can’t stop thinking about she is falling apart without you. It does not make sense. Adora was always the steady one between the two of them. The one who tried and fought with every last breath until she climbed her way to the top of the pack. Catra pulling away, giving her space – it should make her better. Less distracted, less distraught. Adora’s life should be better without Catra’s volatile presence.

But Adora is hanging on, for some reason, despite knowing how Catra feels. Despite how Catra throws herself at her every time they meet, they touch. Catra has no idea what Adora’s game is here, likely because she does not have one. Adora does not play games like that – she just follows her heart like she is in a goddamn movie.

Catra hates how warm it makes her chest to think that all their past, all their memories, all their future plans even, are not tainted for Adora by what she knows now. She hates how it makes love for the other woman blossom despite what she knows now. Adora does not love her – and yet she keeps coming back for her.

Catra should not do this, but Friday night finds her at Sorority Row. She has to know, she tells herself.

She already knows.

 

--

 

Adora gets the notification that Catra has posted on her story for the second time that day and quickly abandons the homework she never wanted to do anyway, opening up the app. The post is only a six second video, shot out on a lawn with a house in the background, streaming forth light and music. A gaggle of three girls, obviously drunk, laughing loudly enough to be picked up by the camera from where it films. The caption is just a beer bottle emoji.

In the background, the sorority’s letters are clearly painted on the side of the house. Adora is grabbing her keys before she even has time to think about it. Not that she would make a different decision if she had, but she might have at least changed out of her slouchy black tank top and boyfriend jeans first.

When she gets to GEU, it is not hard to find the sorority house. The group of drunk girls is gone from the lawn, but the letters are boldly painted. Adora makes her way inside, vaguely remembering this house as one of the first she had visited looking for Catra before. Their living room is essentially set up as a dance floor, and she recalls Entrapta’s comment about Catra preferring the sororities for dancing.

It only takes her a moment of sweeping her gaze over the room before she spots her. Catra is already watching her, a smug smirk playing at her lips where she lounges – against nothing, but somehow still making it obvious she is lounging – near the speakers at the edge of the impromptu dance floor. She is dressed in a black crop top and red leggings, a blue solo cup dangling from one of her hands. Her short hair is tousled like she has been running her hands through it. Her eyes practically burn when they meet Adora’s, delight dancing in them.

Adora feels frozen in place, her breath not coming quite right in the face of Catra happy to see her. She finds her feet moving of their own accord, Catra’s small smile drawing her in through the crowded party. She pulls up just short when she reaches Catra, unsure of an appropriate greeting, unsure of anything except how happy she is to see Catra and that Catra is happy to see her, too. That Catra invited her here, if cryptically.

Catra doesn’t say anything to her, just raises an eyebrow at Adora and extends the drink she is holding. Adora knows she should say something, knows she certainly should not do this, but-

But she knows what the invitation is, and she can’t resist, not really. Not when she knows Catra planned this, wanted it when she was sober, too. Adora takes the drink and, meeting Catra’s gaze in a challenge, throws her head back and downs it. It burns like hell, the definite taste of whiskey cut by whatever the hell Catra mixed it with, but she leaves the cup empty. Meeting Catra’s gaze again, she raises an eyebrow in an obvious well? and tosses the empty cup aside. They are indoors and this place is already going to be trashed enough as it is, anyway. She does not give a shit about the cup – she has a distinct feeling she is going to want her hands free.

Catra meets her challenge with a grin, eyes dancing as she reaches for Adora and pulls her in. Adora half-expects a kiss, but it turns out to be wishful thinking. Catra stretches up on her toes, breath smelling like straight whiskey when it ghosts across Adora’s face on Catra’s path to her ear.

“Dance with me?” she purrs into Adora’s ear, voice hopeful and breathy.

Does Adora want to kiss that smile off her face? Absolutely. Is she losing her mind even more at the idea of dancing with Catra, just the two of them without all this tension – angry or sexual – between them? Yes.

Adora’s hands come up to find Catra’s waist and she nods, flushing as Catra pulls back just enough to grin up at her before she sways them deeper into the crowd of dancers. The music is too loud to talk really, and Adora suspects that is purposeful. Catra may have invited her here, but if she really wanted to talk she would have unblocked her and texted at the very least. She is playing some kind of game, but Adora does not know what.

Nothing about the last four months makes sense to her, really. She just knows she needs Catra, and she is starting to suspect that Catra has found she needs her back. Maybe that is what this is – a careful dance to find where they can be them again with the elephant of Adora’s feelings known in the room. Catra is obviously not sober, the alcohol on her breath is enough to confirm that, but her cheeks are only slightly flushed and she is coordinated and composed as she pulls Adora in. Like maybe she wanted them both aware, if with the edge taken off, for this.

Adora does not know how to dance, and she is clumsy and awkward as Catra leads them. Catra practically guides her, wrapping her tail around Adora’s wrist or leg to steer them into the position they should be, her hands smoothing along Adora’s body to draw her closer in as they move. Adora is still terrible, in no way helped by the electric slide of Catra pressed against her with bright eyes, but Adora’s awkward movements make Catra giggle, snickering with no ill intent as she corrects Adora wordlessly, face flushed in delight.

It makes Adora flush far more than the heat the whiskey is pouring through her. It is worth every mistake she makes, every song that plays as she loses herself in being with Catra, having Catra. Her hands are on Catra’s waist now, and Catra may be actually steering them, but she is letting Adora be the one in the lead now she has some clue what she is doing, even if she is still terrible at it. Clearly Catra doesn’t mind, nuzzling in close under her jaw with a contented purr.

Adora tilts her head back, lets Catra have what she wants. She had been so desperate to be in Adora’s scent last week, Adora can’t help but suspect this, like the kissing, is another Drunk Catra quirk. A lack of control, maybe, making her more willing to seek out comfort. Catra sighs in contentment against her neck when Adora tilts her chin back, and the puff of breath against her skin makes the hair on Adora’s arms stand on end.

Maybe Catra notices. Maybe she is just done dancing. Maybe she needs more.

Catra pulls back, touch sliding down Adora’s arms to take her hands in her own and pull her away from the dance floor. Catra fixes her with a smoldering look before turning and continuing on, leading Adora by just one hand now into a nearby, darkened hallway. She only takes a few steps inside before she is turning again, this time leaning with her back against the wall. She bites her lip and shoots Adora a hopeful look, heat blatant in her eyes.

The music is quieter here. As Adora approaches, hands coming up to brace herself against the wall on either side of Catra, she hears the thought well up in the back of her mind that they should talk. Catra’s breath hitches as Adora takes her invitation and crowds her against the wall. Adora could still bring it up, could still ask questions, especially now she has Catra boxed in-

But Catra tilts her chin back, making eye contact in a blatant request, and Adora presses in to kiss her.

 

--

 

Catra has had one whiskey and a few sips of a mixed drink. She is not drunk, not even buzzed really, but she is sure she is flushing more easily even if her actions are not inebriated. She made the mixed drink weak as hell, well aware Adora’s human tolerance would not be able to take it like she can. She wanted to know they were on an even playing field for once, even if that field is not sober. It is not like Adora would ever touch her like this sober, anyway. Clearly she does not regret it - not badly at least, her instant guilt is always obvious - but Catra knows it must bother Adora to give in like this because she wants and Catra is offering, her feelings blatant between them but shoved aside in the heat of the moment.

What hurts Adora is thinking she is hurting Catra. She isn’t – every inch Adora gives Catra will take happily. Adora would not be able to do this, to kiss the person she loves knowing it means nothing to them, but Catra can. Catra does, readily, because it is so much better than any other girl or the nothing she had been getting from Adora before all this.

She does not even know if Adora will come, truthfully. She has viewed her story – her username popped up in the view list almost immediately – but if she got the hint or would even want to take it is a matter for debate. If she does, whether or not she will take the drink, knowing what the offer really is, is still up-in-the-air. Whether she will be able to go through with touching Catra, kissing Catra, with so little in her system is another question she really does not want to think about. She does not want to acknowledge that she would do this sober in a second, and Adora would never let herself fall down to this level without the buzz of alcohol in her system.

If she takes the drink, they both know it is consent to what comes next. That is what Catra tells herself when she catches Adora’s scent, gaze sweeping towards the entrance to the living room immediately and spotting her standing there, searching the room for her.

Adora takes the drink – takes it like a challenge. It tells Catra a lot. That she is not as bothered by Catra’s feelings for her as she thought, that she had truly enjoyed all the times before – that despite all that she still needs the drink to go through with this, and they both know it.

Catra wants Adora, but not in the way it was the other nights. She wants to be close to her, to feel her, talk to her even, but she knows that is a dangerous path to start down. She is supposed to be keeping herself away from Adora, for her own good.

She is falling apart without you.

In the heat of the moment, she can’t remember why she should. She asks Adora to dance, just wanting to be close again. She wants Adora like she always has, but she is not used to wanting her as a friend too. That was always a given between them before Catra’s fuckup – before Catra let herself finally acknowledge the truth about herself that Shadow had been trying to tell her since childhood. Distraction.

Dancing with Adora is its own kind of intoxicating, just being so near her again and seeing all her old clumsy mannerisms. She dances like a dork and it makes Catra’s heart warm, makes her purr and press in closer because she has fallen for an idiot with perfect form on the field and no idea how to dance. She doesn’t mind teaching her, even if she still dances like Adora, which is to say, badly. It makes her feel more than any skilled dance partner she had over the summer.

Adora’s scent grows strong with the exertion as they dance, and Catra thought she had little enough in her system to fight her instincts, but she presses in anyway. Adora lets her, because why would she agree to all this and pull back over this. It is weird, but Catra is into weirder and she can’t very well fight this deeply-ingrained instinct to want to be close and then closer.

Nerves rise in her as she pulls away from Adora, fixes her with a look brimming with her intent as she leads them into a relatively quiet hallway. It is the moment of truth if Adora can go through with this. She knows she is offering Adora a dozen different opportunities to pull away, to leave, to call her out and make demands. She half expects her to ask why are you doing this to yourself as Catra pulls to a stop and slowly leans back against the wall.

Because you let me, and I will take anything you will give me. Adora was always a giver, though.

Adora does not make demands. Her eyes search Catra for a long moment, roaming and careful. Catra’s tail twitches with nerves, anticipation, waiting for Adora to say or do anything. Catra has been plenty desperate setting this whole thing up – she does not need to throw herself at Adora now. Besides, it is not what she wants. She wants Adora to want her. Even if it is not her, even if it is just the touch.

It is the final test, really. Finding out if Adora is still mad at her. Catra does not think she was ever mad at her, though. She did not reach out all summer, but Catra now suspects it was regret and guilt that kept her away. This is Catra’s offering, her peace treaty: Don’t feel bad you don’t love me. Just let yourself want this.

Adora crowds against her and kisses her softly. Catra sighs with relief into the kiss, her entire body giving way as she untenses beneath the rush of Adora kissing her this time, instead of all the times Catra just took. Adora takes the openness as the invitation it is, pressing in against her body and kissing her deeply.

She lets Adora lead. It is what she wants, after all. Adora’s kisses are slower, careful and thorough. So very Adora it makes her gasp softly against her mouth. She happily accepts it when Adora takes the opportunity to explore her mouth, cautious and unsure even after how long they kissed last time. It is all the proof Catra needs that she is the only one who knows what Adora tastes like, and that thought makes her thighs clench.

She is not worked up like she has been previously, though. Neither is Adora, only lightly buzzed – according to the shot-to-intoxication chart for humans Catra had looked up, anyway – and just luxuriating in the touch of another. Catra’s touch, whether that matters to her or not. It matters to Catra.

They kiss slow and languid, Adora making mistakes, pressing forward too fast, moving awkwardly, but also correcting when Catra redirects her, shows her how to do it right. Adora’s hands slide down from the wall at one point, hands finding her waist for awhile before they start to roam over Catra. There is no blatant intent in the touch, just cautious exploring, but it makes Catra’s body light up regardless. She shivers beneath Adora’s touch, panting lightly in her mouth and letting her own hands travel from where they were draped around Adora’s neck. She finally, after years of wanting to but holding back for fear of outing herself, feels along Adora’s arms, squeezing at Adora’s biceps and reveling in the feeling when she flexes beneath her. Purposefully showing off, maybe, but damn if it does not work on Catra.

Adora’s kiss is deep, purposeful, but sweet and slow. Contented sighs spill forth between them, each happily drinking in the others air, her sounds. Adora is a fucking gentleman to her. Her hands travel along Catra’s body but avoid anywhere important, anywhere Catra would really like them to be. She wraps them around Catra’s waist to encourage her to arch forward; she travels her hands down Catra’s hips to smooth them over her thighs and cause her to shiver; she moves one hand to the back of Catra’s neck and squeezes lightly to encourage Catra to tilt her head back, let Adora angle into her mouth more.

Catra gives it all to her, body nearly shaking and muscles occasionally twitching and flexing beneath Adora’s touch. It is so purposeful, so exploratory – like she intends to map the shape of Catra in her hands. It makes Catra forget entirely that she is just a body to Adora, someone she trusts and maybe finds attractive enough to do this with. Adora loves – likely even fucks – the same way she does everything else: with care, with purpose, with intensity. She makes Catra feel like there is nothing else but this contact between them. Catra wants to get used to this.

How the hell did she ever think she could keep herself away from Adora? From this?

The answer to that is easy, actually. She thought she had already lost it. That she would need to redeem herself somehow to get it back even as just a friendship. Adora cares too much about everyone; she would never take this from Catra.

Even if she should.

Catra does not notice when the music stops. She does not even notice when someone enters the hallway with them. All she knows is Adora’s touch, one hand gripping her thigh now, one on her lower back pressing them together. It takes her mind a second to catch up when Adora pulls back, looking to the right.

“Party is over,” a high, prim voice says. Catra blinks up at Adora’s flushed face, lips swollen and eyes bright, as she finally registers the shadow spilling down the hallway from the living room.

“Sorry about that. Got caught up,” Adora says, sheepishly, still looking at the intruder Catra has not been able to turn her eyes towards yet. Adora’s grip on her back flexes even as she releases her thigh, pulling Catra with her as she steps away from the wall. Keeping Catra close, pressed against her side now. Without thinking about it, Catra lets her arms come up to wrap around Adora in return.

The first time they got interrupted is stark in Catra’s mind – she suspects it is on Adora’s, too, if the way she clutches her close is any indication as she apologizes to the sorority girl again and starts to lead them from the house. Adora gives no signal that she intends to let go as they make their way out onto the lawn, the crowd dispersing around them. When they reach the sidewalk, Adora’s other arm comes up around her and she pulls Catra forward, their chests flush against each other. Catra feels her breath stutter into the cooling night air, eyes going wide as she meets Adora’s gaze. She was sure they were done, but apparently not.

Adora’s eyes are soft, questioning. “Let me walk you home?” she asks, voice struggling for neutrality and failing, her hope obvious. Catra feels herself flush, ears twitching back and tail swaying anxiously. She darts her gaze aside, not used to meeting Adora’s eyes anymore. She does not protest, she does not even pull away, but she does not say yes. Instead, she bites her lip and presses in, nudging under Adora’s jaw.

Adora lets out a small sigh, content to let Catra nuzzle close and take her in. It is supposed to be one last time. She is supposed to say no.

Instead, when she pulls back, Adora’s arms shift around her and she pulls Catra against her left side, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and grinning at her as she begins to walk them in the direction of the dorms’ quad.

“I missed you,” she says, conversationally, as they walk. Catra’s tail sways behind her, ears staying dropped down, but she knows she is flushing.

She should say it back. She shouldn’t say it back. She– says it back.

“I missed you, too,” she whispers, voice soft and eyes downcast. She flinches a little at the way Adora’s gaze snaps to her at that, noticeable even from the corner of her eye. She bites her lip but says nothing as they walk. She is not even looking where they are going – Adora could be leading them to her car for all she knows. Catra would be okay with that.

Adora’s voice is soft, scared. “Why won’t you talk to me?” she asks, barely above a whisper. Her arm around Catra tightens, as if expecting her to run.

Catra runs.

 

--

 

Adora lets Catra go, watching her run and biting down on the choking feeling in her throat. She tries to soothe herself with Catra’s words. She knew, logically, that Catra missed her. It was the only thing that began to explain her behaviour.

She was still shocked to hear her say it. She had said it herself because she wanted Catra to hear it from her, not just Perfuma or Glimmer. She did not think Catra would admit weakness like that, even to her. It gave her too much hope, clearly, that they could finally talk about this.

She half-expects it, but she is still relieved when her phone goes off as she reaches her car. All Catra sends is a picture of a little square window, moonlight spilling through to illuminate a grassy plant on the sill that is clearly doing its best to survive. Time will only tell if it succeeds.

She texts Catra back to give her 15 minutes and drives home. She waits until she gets inside this time, sending her a photo of her bedroom despite the mess. She had only sent that photo of her door last time so Catra would know, could find her apartment if she wanted to.

She is not surprised when she wakes up in the morning to find her number blocked again. She is still worried, a clawing dread in her stomach that she ruined what had in a lot of other ways been a perfect night. They may have both buzzed, but they both knew what they were doing. They had both had fun dancing. Catra’s breathy sighs and soft moans had more than proved she had enjoyed afterwards, despite how Adora was still unsure in this territory, especially unsure with Catra beneath her.

They had pushed so many of the weird boundaries that suddenly appeared between them four months ago, and Adora pushed one more - one too many.

She checks her Instagram notifications with trepidation. Catra has posted, despite it being fairly early in the day for her. The post only went up five minutes ago.

It’s a selfie, a very rare thing for Catra to post even on her story. Catra is sat in her desk chair, only the side of her face in view as the camera surreptitiously points over her shoulder at Scorpia appearing to make some kind of conspiracy theory board using magnets on their mirror. The caption reads less work went into the JFK commission than determining a second date location apparently.

Adora is not sure what to do with that caption at all. She suspects it is in no way the point of the post – it is kind of funny to see Scorpia pouring over post-it notes and photos that are too blurry to make out from this distance, so it seems a worthy post on its own. The message Adora needs is not in the body of the shot or even the caption – it is the way the photo is taken from over Catra’s shoulder as if that hides the camera at all. Adora knows why she actually did it, though. The loose shirt Catra wears over her shoulders is not hers – she stole it from Adora during a cramming-session-turned-sleepover at the end of senior year.

Adora feels the coil of worry in her chest loosen. Catra is definitely not mad at her, the ruined end of the night apparently forgivable. Catra is wearing her shirt, which is a level of missing her she did not think Catra would have hit, even with her confession last night. It is a good sign.

Adora almost turns to her string of polaroids again. There are plenty of easy memories there she can pull out, but she does not want to get repetitive. If there is one thing Catra does not like, it is boring.

She goes digging in her drawers, pulling out the dumb friendship bracelet she and Catra made together in fifth grade. It is itchy as hell, hence why Adora never wears it, and Catra's matching one pinched at her fur, but neither of them could bring themselves to throw them away. At least Glimmer and Bow won't be able to decode this message - Glimmer roasted her for being desperate on Instagram for an hour after her last post, and Adora could not even defend herself to explain it. She did tell her that Catra viewed it, which seemed to help her finally drop it.

Adora doesn't change out from last night's clothes. That is part of the message. She stands in front of her window and takes a grinning selfie, letting Catra see how she feels about her message. She throws the casual peace sign Catra used to always make fun of her for doing. It puts her wrist in frame. There is no way paranoid, attentive Catra will not pick up on the accessory, not when Adora never wears them.

She can't come up with a caption that sends a message without it sounding vain, and the ones that don't send a message she worries Catra will focus too much on. Paranoid. She posts the photo on its own and waits. When she checks half an hour later, Catra’s username is among the list of viewers.

Chapter Text

“I still can’t believe you told her I’m a mess without her,” Adora complains over lunch, despite it having been a week. Glimmer rolls her eyes.

“It worked, didn’t it? Don’t think I didn’t see that post of her wearing your shirt over the weekend. And I know you did,” Glimmer tells her, eyeing Adora as she steals her shitty cafeteria fries off her plate. Glimmer is a freak and likes them soft for some reason. Adora only got them as an included side because she went to the gym that morning and needed a protein refill.

Glimmer does not know the half of it, but Adora keeps her mouth shut. She is not lying to Glimmer, not exactly. She just has no idea how to explain the situation between them, and knows Catra would not want her to.

It has been a few days since the party. Catra has not reached out again, but it took her a week and a half last time. Adora is hopeful when this weekend rolls around there will be a new post on Catra’s story, especially with it being a big party weekend for BMU. Catra is not posting as often now, only every other day at best, but the campus scenery shots have not changed. Adora is not worried – yet. She will decide where she falls on that come the weekend.

She is not just waiting, anyway. It is Wednesday, and the local rink is going to be having a derby rally. She already checked the team’s lineup and found Scorpia on the list as a blocker, whatever the hell that is. Adora knows Catra will be there. She can only hope she is willing to have anything to do with her sober.

“Have you heard anything from her?” Bow asks. The question is almost apologetic, like he knows the answer is no because Adora would have come bursting into Glimmer’s door cheering. He probably is not wrong that is what she would do if Catra started talking to her again, but heard anything encompasses a lot more behaviour that he is currently unaware of.

“Since the Instagram post? No,” Adora tells him, honestly. There is the implicit night before she does not mention, but Bow shoots her an almost pitying look and returns to his own food.

“Look, I gave her a push, alright? Either it works or you need to let it go,” Glimmer says, exasperated as she sends Adora a pleading look.

“I am absolutely never letting it go,” Adora replies, sending Glimmer a firm look. One of her intense looks, probably, but she cannot be bothered to care. That idea is ridiculous.

Glimmer sighs.

 

--

 

Catra was standing right by the edge of the team staging area as the bout started. It had a good view but was darkly lit so she would not have to worry about distracting Scorpia during her first official match, finally steady enough on her skates. She had abandoned her spot the second the scent hit her over the baked-in musk of sweat, soda, and dried blood.

She narrows her eyes at the crowd, eyes finally landing on Adora where she stands near the back, blinking and wide-eyed. Her cheeks are a bit flushed with excitement, watching the rink, but there is no way this is a goddamn accident, not showing up looking like that.

Her hair is up in its usual ponytail, her high school softball jacket thrown over her shoulders and unzipped to reveal she has opted for just a black sports bra beneath it. She is wearing the dark skinny jeans that make Catra lose her mind, the ones that she scratched up the thighs of in high school and claimed she was giving them a more distressed look. She wanted Adora to never wear them again – she wanted her to be claimed if she did put them back on. Unfortunately, Adora seemed to enjoy the distressing and only wore them more after that.

Adora is not even looking at her, bouncing up on the toes of her white tennis shoes to get a good look at the rink. She looks entertained, excited, and all Catra can think is what a dork and rail me.

She is so fucked.

She works her way directly to the back wall and moves along it to come up behind Adora. If she thinks she can ambush Catra with her dumb human senses she is wrong. Catra approaches from behind, slipping an arm under Adora’s jacket as she startles at the sudden contact. Catra does not look at her, eyes fixed forward on the rink as Adora turns her head to look at her. Her body relaxes despite the way Catra wraps her arm around her back, hand on her waist, claws out and pricking against her skin.

“What do you think you’re doing here?” Catra asks, voice caught between annoyance and amusement. She is kind of pissed that Adora has managed to catch up to her without warning, especially with them both sober and no chance of that changing. They have no room to deny any of their actions tonight. Not that they were really even buzzed last time, but there was the plausible deniability of alcohol’s presence at least.

Despite her annoyance, Catra also wants nothing more than to stay there with her, arm around her, drinking her in, just enjoying time together as they watch the bout. The kind of shit they used to do in high school, when they were allowed to actually talk.

(It’s Catra’s dumb rules stopping them now).

“Honestly? I came to see you, but - is that Lonnie?” Adora questions, voice incredulous. Her face is still turned, head tilted down, to look at Catra as Catra looks determinedly forward.

She is falling apart without you.

All this careful distance she has put between them, and for what? For it to hurt Adora as much as it is hurting her? For it to make Adora worse? She wants her back. She wants to do right by Adora, and she thought she was, but here is Adora going to all these lengths to find her again, coming the second Catra hints she wants to see her.

She also wants to never have to confront her feelings, not really. She never wants to hear Adora say does not love her back. She knows it, Catra is not in denial about that, she just cannot take having to actually hear it.

Lonnie was right, that first week. Catra told herself she was doing this for Adora. She believed it was best for her at the time, and she had good reason to. Every moment of their shared past, at least up to senior year when they buckled down, should have indicated clearly that Adora was better off without her. But she wasn’t, apparently, and Catra does not want to face the consequences of what she did at the start of the summer any more than those of every single thing she has done since.

Her fucking pride has always come between them as much as her feelings for Adora.

Catra sighs, feeling her chin drop a little and retracts her claws. She watches Adora startle out of the corner of her eye as she drops her arm, taking Adora’s hand in her own instead.

“Come on,” she instructs, pulling Adora down the path along the wall she had taken back to her darkened spot near the rink. Adora follows wordlessly until they reach the spot, Catra leaning up against the wall into the staging area for the teams. She slides her gaze to the left, catching Adora staring with blatant excitement at her.

Catra can’t handle that. She points towards the rink, directing Adora’s gaze to where Lonnie is. “Yes, that is Lonnie. She goes to GEU now, along with Rogelio and Kyle. I’ll… add you to the Fright Zone group chat,” Catra concedes. She can feel Adora staring at her, but she refuses to look away from the rink. “At least pretend to care about the bout, Adora,” she scoffs, turning her face away, because she cannot handle this kind of attention, not fearing what the next words out of Adora’s mouth will be.

Adora actually listens to her, to her shock, turning to face the rink. She uses the action to scoot closer to Catra, like a nerd, but Catra’s fur stops standing on end now Adora’s attention is not focused singularly on her.

“You would have to unblock my number to do that,” Adora says, conversationally. Her faux-casual air is a terrible impression, really. She has her hands clasped behind her back, bouncing a little on her feet again as she faces dutifully forward. Catra flicks her ear in Adora’s direction.

“It’s on Instagram. I rarely check it,” she deflects. She can smell Adora’s disappointment as she stops bouncing in place. Her hands stay locked behind her back.

Catra hates it. Hates hurting Adora like that, but does not know how to stop aside from doing what she already tried and leaving. It did not work before and she doubts it would work now. Taking a deep breath, she flicks her tail to the side, loosely brushing it over Adora’s hands. She feels Adora’s fingers twitch as she pulls it away, touch brief and faux-accidental. She sways her tail again, brushing over Adora’s hands and wrapping around them this time. Her ears swivel towards Adora as she hears her breath catch. On the next sway Adora releases her grip on her own wrist and wraps her fingers around Catra’s tail, applying no pressure in a silent request.

Catra does not sway her tail away again. She continues to stare forward at the rink, right shoulder leaned against the non-permanent wall, Adora just to her left. Adora stays facing forward despite how her fingers are playing along Catra’s tail now, touch soft and playful as she twines it between her fingers. It makes Catra’s fur stand on end, ears twitching at the gentle touch, somehow feeling more intimate than anything they have done before despite the innocence with which Adora twirls her fingers. Catra can hear her humming to herself even over the pounding music of the bout, the announcer calling points as Lonnie whips Entrapta forward.

“Soo… Fright Zone group chat? How long has that been going on?” Adora asks, as unsubtle as a dump truck. She does not sound annoyed, which Catra honestly thought she might be. She would have been pissed if Adora had not mentioned something like that to her, but, well, they have not exactly been talking when they do run into each other.

“Since the second week of school. I met Lonnie when I went with Scorpia to the student org fair. She has not changed a bit, by the way. Less angry, maybe,” Catra tells her. Adora scoots closer to her, nudging her with her shoulder like an actual child. She is such a dork. If Catra did not already know it, the affection that blossoms in her at the touch would have told her she is in fucking love.

Catra turns her head to look at her finally, raising an eyebrow. Adora is bouncing again, a broad grin on her face as Catra turns to her. “Tell me about it?” she asks, voice breathless. Despite the grin, her eyes are uncertain, hopeful. It makes Catra’s chest clench painfully. She flicks an ear, hoping for dismissive, but her blush probably brings it to flustered.

She hates how obvious she is with her feelings, but it is not like they are a secret anymore. She looks back towards the rink, but she pushes off the wall slightly so she and Adora are standing side-by-side, their shoulders brushing. Adora follows her lead again, turning to look forward again as Catra launches into the story of how she and Lonnie met – glossing over the part where they discussed Adora – and catching Adora up on what Lonnie and Rogelio have been up to. She would update her on Kyle, but the answer is nothing. He hasn’t even declared a major, just fighting along in his gen ed classes and hoping to find purpose.

Adora just listens to her talk, commenting and making snippy comments just like they always used to - like this is not the first real conversation they have had in nearly five months. It is easy as breathing, letting herself fall into Adora again, letting herself poke Adora’s side with a claw and snickering to herself when Adora gives her a shove in retaliation.

She explains the bout to Adora, when the first period ends. Adora asks if she wants to go talk to Scorpia during the break, but Catra just shakes her head, swaying her tail to wrap it loosely around Adora’s left leg. She wants to stay here, in this moment, where they are talking and friendly, Adora not bringing up the last five months of bullshit. She has missed spending time with Adora like this so desperately. Not that she does not enjoy the time she spends with her tongue down Adora’s throat, but – she enjoys spending time with her other ways, too. She needs it, misses it - craves these moments.

Adora does not bring up Catra running last time. She does not bring up her blocked number – again, at least – or even the fact that Catra did not tell her about the old trio from the Fright Zone being down the street. She does not bring up either of the times Catra shoved her against a wall, or her stupid, unrequited crush. She just lets them have the moment, the two of them talking and laughing like nothing ever happened.

There is nothing she could have done to crumble Catra’s resolve more. She wonders if Adora even knows that or if she is just being Adora.

When the second period is done and the bout is over, she sends Adora a pointed look. “I’m not introducing you to the entire team. Not tonight,” she tells her. She does not miss the way Adora’s eyes go wide and hopeful, drawing in a sharp breath, at not tonight. The implication is there, and Catra hates herself for being so weak but-

Maybe she was actually being weak before. Maybe this is what they both need. She does not want to admit shit, but - she wants Adora back. Adora shouldn’t want her back, but Adora has never cared about what was good for her.

“Okay,” Adora agrees, biting her lip and glancing toward the crowd to their left as it begins to disperse, abuzz with chatter and energy. Adora seems to steel herself, and then she raises both her arms and looks at Catra questioningly.

She knows what Adora tastes like. Adora is still asking her for a hug. Things are absolutely fucked between them. Catra sighs, rolling her eyes and stepping forward. Adora actually squeaks in delight, wrapping her arms around Catra and drawing her in a crushing embrace. Catra practically melts into it, sighing as she lets her arms come up around Adora. She nuzzles into Adora’s neck without thinking about. When she realizes, she flushes, arms dropping and hastily stepping back, looking anywhere but at Adora.

“Goodnight, Adora,” she says, softly, barely loud enough for Adora’s dumb human hearing to even pick up over the music still playing.

“Goodnight,” Adora responds, voice stupidly hopeful. Catra flushes more, fixing her gaze determinedly out on the rink until she sees Adora leave out of her periphery. She releases a breath of relief, shoulders sagging and running a hand through her hair.

She is a fucking mess.

 

--

 

“Okay,” Adora declares, voice barely below a shout as she bursts into Glimmer’s dorm. She has been desperately holding herself back all day, waiting until Glimmer’s final class of the day gets out and she knows Bow will be over in Glimmer’s dorm as they prepare to walk over to the Commons Cafeteria for dinner.

Perfuma nearly falls off her bed with how badly she startles, but neither Bow nor Glimmer even jump, merely startling a little from where they are sat shoulder-to-shoulder on Glimmer’s bed, both hunched around Bow’s phone as it plays some video that is completely pointless in the face of Adora’s crisis.

Glimmer and Bow blink at her as she kicks the door closed and crosses the room in a purposeful stride, sitting cross-legged in the middle of the floor and fixing her gaze on both her friends as Perfuma hopelessly suggests things like knocking and calm energies behind her. Adora is so obviously not listening to her it is almost funny she is even bothering.

“I talked to her,” Adora declares, not bothering to hide the pride in her voice. Glimmer startles more at the news than she had at the slamming door. Bow perks up, sitting straighter.

“That is great, Adora! It went – well, then?” he asks, eyeing her. She is clearly not upset, but she knows she is in one of her intense fits, energy rolling off her in waves.

“It went well, but we did not talk about it. We just – sorta hung out,” Adora explains. She can’t hide the disappointment and fondness in her voice. Last night was fantastic, the way Catra actually opened up again, even if they avoided the topic. It was fun, chatting and roughhousing with her again.Touching Catra with just casual affection. Not that she has not enjoyed their contact recently, but she missed just brushing her hand along her tail and nudging her shoulder.

Bow looks thoughtful at the same time as Glimmer raises an eyebrow judgmentally. “She might need a steppingstone. To figure out how she feels now before you address what happened between you,” Bow posits. Glimmer snorts.

“Bullshit. She knows she hurt you too and she is hiding. Catra runs,” Glimmer counters, narrowing her eyes at Bow.

“Both could be true,” Perfuma helpfully adds from behind Adora. Adora turns to shoot a look at Perfuma, who looks appropriately cowed. “Sorry, right, third party. I will refrain from offering my opinion unless I think you truly need it,” Perfuma corrects.

“Isn’t that just… a conversation?” Glimmer asks, squinting at her.

Focus, guys. I’m not worried that we haven’t talked about it. Well, I am, but there are more important things,” Adora cuts in, turning back to Glimmer and Bow.

“Like what?” Bow asks, voice curious as he eyes Adora like he thinks she has a secret. She does, but that really is not what she was trying to get at.

“This happened last night. I waited to tell you because this was not a text discussion. She kind of implied we were talking again, but I haven’t heard from her all day, she has not posted on Instagram, and I checked three different times but my number is still blocked,” Adora lists off, glaring at her hands.

There is a moment of silence. “Okay, point of favour to Glimmer’s argument,” Bow concedes.

Thank you!

 

--

 

Catra wakes up on Thursday in turmoil.

They had been all over each other yesterday, even if it was just the old friendly touches they were used to. Adora’s scent is all over her and no part of her wants to submit to the ordeal of the communal, human showers to merely dull it. It will cling to her no matter what, dominating her thoughts and crumbling her willpower.

What her willpower is even trying to accomplish right now is a valid question. She is trying to resist the urge to call Adora. She thinks she should call Adora – that she was wrong all along and that is the right thing to do. She also does not want to give in and hear Adora turn her down. She is internally at war, and all the while, Adora’s scent ghosts over her skin as she goes through the motions of attending classes and caring for her body, resting and eating as evening approaches and she knows what she is going to do, regardless of what the right call is.

She should call Adora. Instead she wanders over to Sorority Row and, while mixing a drink in the kitchen, takes a video of three of the sororities girls with their letters proudly emblazoned on their shirts, desperately trying to work the icemaker while far too drunk to do so. It is hilarious, and she posts it with the comment that this is definitely the most worthwhile sorority.

Adora checks it instantly, like she always does. Catra finishes her own whiskey while she waits, refilling it and saying fuck it to upping the intensity of Adora’s mixed drink. She wants them even, at least.

If Adora takes it.

The whole reason Catra gets herself a second is she is pretty sure Adora won’t. Not after yesterday. They made progress towards friends and she does not think Adora will want to do this with her, not now Catra is willing to talk to her.

Well, semi-willing. She still has her number blocked. She still has not decided really. Oddly, the alcohol seems to give her a moment of clarity as she leans against the wall of the kitchen, idly watching as the sorority girls give up on fighting the icemaker and start making warm cocktails.

She is so fucking afraid. So afraid of being the one to reach out and being rejected again she has blocked off every point of contact that is not convoluted and requires Adora to seek her out. She does not know why, except for that utter feeling of self-loathing and bitter defeat on the first night, after the first rejection, as Adora pulled away and dismissed her feelings.

She had every right to with the way Catra threw herself at her, but Catra has never been enough for anyone but Adora. Even Scorpia, friends as they are, sisters as they are, Catra is not kind enough for, not stable enough for. And now she knows she is not enough for Adora to love her like that. It devastated her all summer. Now-

Now she catches Adora’s scent and comes wandering out of the kitchen, her breath stuttering when she catches sight of her. Now she knows it does not matter if Adora does not love her back – she will always keep coming back to Adora, and it seems Adora is willing to do the same, Catra’s feelings be damned. Catra’s fur is itching for her, the traces of Adora lingering on her having steadily driven her crazy all day.

She breaks into a grin when Adora meets her eyes. Adora lights up, jogging like a fucking dork across the room to her. She flashes Catra a cocky grin when she reaches her, the kind that makes her breath catch, and looks questioningly at the two drinks in Catra’s hand.

Catra bites her lip, knowing this is the moment of truth. She raises the drink she made for Adora, not quite handing it to her, but offering. “It’s stronger. If you want it, don’t down it, okay?” she says, eyes searching. Adora meets her gaze. She looks conflicted, and it makes Catra wince back, a little. The reaction seems to be all Adora needs to take the drink from her, look her in the eye, and knock it back. She coughs half of it back up.

Catra’s momentary panic is replaced with laughter as Adora hunches over, sputtering. “I told you not to down it!” she snorts, absorbing the glare Adora sends her way as she finally straightens.

“Why did you make it so much stronger?” she asks, accusing with very little heat.

Catra’s ears and tail flick with amusement as she sips her own drink, a smile curling at her lip. “It was double. I’m on my second and I wanted us even,” she explains, rolling her eyes as she reaches out and takes Adora’s arm. She can’t help how she squeezes it as she leads Adora closer to the speakers. When she turns back around, stepping closer to Adora, she is surprised to find Adora looking down at her questioningly. She feels herself flush, gaze darting away and tail waving uncertainly.

Truth is, she really is not in a dancing mood. She just wanted to see Adora, to come to some kind of resolve. She also kind of wants to pin her against a wall, but-

That is not really the point of this. She reaches for Adora, pulling her close against her and taking the lead. Adora is still just as clumsy at this as she was last time, and it is certainly harder to lead when she is still carrying her own drink, sipping it occasionally and fighting off Adora’s attempts to sip it.

“I didn’t get to drink mine!” Adora protests when Catra stretches her cup out of Adora’s reach. It is a challenge considering Adora is taller than her. She really can’t let Adora have it – not straight, she can’t handle it.

“And whose fault it that?” Catra challenges, but she is laughing, pressing closer and nuzzling against Adora. Adora pouts, and Catra knows they have their whole stupid give-and-take they are supposed to do – but she kisses Adora softly right there in the middle of the living room. Adora does not hesitate to kiss her back, pressing in close and humming lightly. Catra answers the sound with a purr of her own, and Adora pulls back laughing.

“Okay, that tickles,” she giggles, her eyes bright and cheeks flushed. Catra wants to pin her against a wall and kiss her, purring and nuzzling against her face, until she is crying with laughter. Instead, she snorts and knocks back the rest of her drink, only a few sips left. She pulls out of Adora’s arms, handing her the empty cup and pointing in the direction of the kitchen when Adora looks at her questioningly.

“Trash can is over there, star player. What have you got?” she challenges. She watches Adora’s face light up with competition, turning to follow the direction of Catra’s point and eyes landing on the trash can all the way in the next room.

She takes a few steps away, and Catra almost admonishes her for closing the distance, but she realizes she is merely stepping away from the crowd of people around them so as not to hit anyone. She watches Adora’s muscles flex, body winding up and arm winding back, before she sends the cup flying. It should not be impressive, not really, but Catra has spent to time with Adora while she is training and researching to not be impressed at the strength it takes to send such a light object flying at the velocity. Air resistance on its broad surface and the lightness of the plastic add up to it taking one hell of a flex to send the cup flying into the kitchen, landing directly into the trash can.

Adora turns back to her, grinning and cocky, and Catra gives in to the heat that has been pouring through her body from the moment Adora got close enough to touch. She grabs Adora’s wrist, rough and not caring as she blatantly leads Adora to the stairs up to the house’s second story. Adora’s own breathing picks up behind her as she tries the first door, finds it locked, and hits luck on the second one.

She barely gets Adora through the door before she is turning to push her against the wall, kissing her insistently, hungrily in the dark room. Adora pants against her mouth and Catra nips at her bottom lip, the image of that perfect pinprick that had been in Adora’s bottom lip clear in her mind. Adora groans against her when she tugs on it, releasing Adora’s lip while it is still pulled away.

Catra,” Adora pants, and it makes Catra shiver, makes her tail lash, makes her clutch harshly at Adora’s hips, because that was her name. Because she knows she is just a body to Adora, but now she knows Adora does not lie to herself about who is against her, touching her.

Catra’s hands roam, needy and possessive, following Adora’s lead from last time and avoiding anywhere too important as she presses in for another biting kiss, tongue pushing forward to claim Adora’s mouth for her own. Adora moans beneath her, her own hands coming up to bury in Catra’s hair and tug her closer.

Catra feels feral with her need to have Adora. She was worried earlier in the evening this was done, and she is still fairly confident this is the last time Adora will let her have this. She needs to take whatever Adora will give her now, before Adora pulls back for fear of ruining their fragile new friendship.

Catra growls, hands finding the edges of Adora’s shirt and slipping beneath the hem. Adora gasps loudly against her, and Catra realizes her claws are out, but she can’t retract them as she roams over Adora’s skin. From the way Adora trembles beneath her, those abs that fucking kill Catra flexing beneath her, Catra suspects Adora does not want her to. Every one of Adora’s breaths is laced with a high whine now, her body trying to arch off the wall but Catra crowding her far too close for her to do anything more than shift restlessly, sliding their bodies together.

Catra pulls back from the kiss, bodies still flush together, merely intending to bite at Adora’s lower lip again, to earn that needy groan again. Instead, Adora chases her, desperately sealing their mouths together in another kiss as she tugs on Catra’s hair to coax her back in.

The blatant desperation lights a fire in her. Catra presses a thigh between Adora’s own, a practiced maneuver from club bathrooms over the summer, and feels the loud moan Adora releases shoot straight to her core. She growls, rocking her thigh forward now as Adora releases a soft cry, clearly trying to hold back the noise and failing.

Every part of Catra’s body is alight with the need to take Adora, but the tiny, logical part of her brain that is still present tells her no further.

She withdraws her thigh and shivers at the whine of absolute loss Adora releases beneath her. “Are you secretly a bottom, Adora? Or is this all for me?” she teases, pulling back from the kiss and nuzzling down Adora’s jaw, pressing open-mouth kisses as she goes. Sure, she is not trying to actually get them there, but – she really, really wants to, and she has always been good at running her mouth.

Adora whines with her next breath, chest heaving, but she runs her hands down from Catra’s hair, grabs her waist, and-

“No,” Adora intones, and that is all the warning Catra gets before Adora is flipping them. Catra gasps in shock, Adora taking the opportunity to press in to claim her mouth, kiss just as possessive as the ones Catra has been giving her. Apparently she was paying attention, studying up, and that is the most fucking Adora thing-

That trail of thought dies when Adora’s hands drop to Catra’s thighs and she suddenly finds herself being lifted, Adora guiding her to wrap her legs around her waist as she pins her against the wall. Catra mewls, body arching into Adora’s touch, into this sudden switch of dominance, but Catra certainly is not complaining.

Adora’s hands grip her tightly, making her thighs shake as she keens into the kiss. Her entire body is alight, and suddenly the no further does not sound so reasonable. Adora pulls back from the kiss, ducking her head and kissing along her neck like Catra had done. Suddenly, Catra is free to run her mouth again.

“You think you can have me, Adora? You think you can handle me?” she challenges, because Adora is nothing if not competitive and her skin is itching for either a fight or a fuck now. Adora is the one who growls this time – or maybe it is a groan, but the point is very much the same.

Catra gasps as Adora bites her neck, sucking to make a mark despite the thin fur scattered there. None of the club girls ever put their mouths on any part of Catra but her lips, despite their own requests for biting, and she finds herself moaning against the new sensation, almost painful but so good still.

“Adora,” she manages to pant out, body arching again seeking friction.

The door flings open and they both freeze. They turn their heads in unison, Catra likely the only one who can make out the expression of the girl standing in the doorway, staring at them aghast.

“Get out!” the girl manages to hiss. Adora holds Catra back as she prepares to launch herself at the girl, growling and snarling. The girl almost screams, taking off back out the doorway with an appropriate level of fear for her life. Catra fights Adora for a moment longer, straining against her hold with the need to retaliate against the girl who just ruined the one time she would ever have this.

It only lasts a moment before the adrenaline leaves her. Catra feels herself go limp in Adora’s arms as Adora, cautiously, sets her down from her pin against the wall. All the desperate energy, all the brimming need-

Catra is still very much turned on, but she just does not have the energy anymore. Regardless, the interruption has reawakened the part of her brain that reminds her there are lines they should not cross, not while drunk. Adora would never cross this line with her sober. She cannot let her do it drunk.

“Come on, we should get out of here before she gets reinforcements,” Adora nudges her. Catra releases a small noise of agreement, almost a trill, and smirks with satisfaction at the way it makes Adora’s face flush with delight. Yes, she hates Bow’s insistence on calling her cute, but Adora’s reactions are cute, so she can endure it.

She wraps her arms around Adora’s shoulders, letting the taller woman lead them out of the room and back down the stairs. They exit the house quickly, Adora practically dragging Catra as she glances side to side. Normally Catra is the paranoid one, but – she trusts Adora to take care of them.

Adora seems to breathe easier once they make it out to the lawn and down to the sidewalk. She turns to Catra, gathering her against her chest like she had the last time they did this. Catra desperately hopes the rest of the night is not a repeat.

To her surprise, Adora leans forward and presses a kiss to her temple, right near the base of her ear. It makes her ear quiver as she fights the urge not to twitch it away, but it feels sweet.

“Are you okay? You kind of went limp there,” Adora questions, ducking her head down to make eye contact. Catra blinks at her.

“Tired now,” she manages. Adora frowns, concern creasing her brow.

“Catra – how much did you have?” Adora asks her, real fear entering her voice now. Catra shakes her head, tucking in under her jaw and nuzzling against Adora’s pulse.

“It’s different, for magicats. I measured your drink. I looked up a chart and everything,” she mumbles, nuzzling in and breathing deeply. She wonders how obvious her denial is to Adora. If she can tell that some part of Catra has managed to convince the rest of her that if she and Adora are the same level of intoxicated, it is almost like she wants it sober as much as Catra does.

Adora pauses against her, grip flexing before some of the tension in her releases. “Okay. Let me get you home,” she says, a tacit agreement to let it go. Catra purrs in satisfaction, letting Adora rearrange her so she is draped over her shoulder limply, nuzzling the side of her neck as they go.

“Tell me how it’s different,” Adora prompts, softly, as they walk. Catra whines. Talking takes so much energy. Adora just nudges her, squeezing her side just short of pinching in an obvious sign she is not letting this go.

Talking is probably the only thing that will keep her awake on the way home, anyway. “I can’t control my instincts, or whatever,” she breathes, nosing against Adora’s neck.

“I noticed,” Adora smirks down at her. Catra tries to hiss, but she ends up with a vaguely displeased mewl that makes Adora laugh, pulling her closer into her side. The extra contact makes Catra sigh happily.

“I get this – energy building. That’s why I pin you. I also get bitey, sometimes. And then I get a burst or two of the energy, and it is all gone. I just need to sleep. I’ll be fine when I wake up. No hangover, usually. It would take a lot,” Catra mumbles, embarrassed and cheeks blazing despite the fact she just did it, just had Adora against the wall, but-

It feels like breaking their tenuous truce to verbally acknowledge it. Adora flexes her grip on Catra, letting out a soft noise of acknowledgement as they reach the quad in front of the dorms and she pulls to a halt.

“Which one is yours?” Adora asks. Right. Adora still doesn’t know where she lives. Catra releases a rough gripe of displeasure at being forced to pull a hand away from Adora, but she points a hand at the women-only dorm. There are two co-eds she could be housed at, but she and Scorpia had been assigned to the fully separated dorm like most lowerclassmen were. Adora readjusts her grip on her and then leads them towards the glass doors inside.

It takes a monumental effort for Adora to wrestle Catra’s keycard out of her jeans pocket, mostly because Catra is completely limp against her and lazily twitching her hips as Adora’s hands brush so close against her, but she frees it eventually and swipes open the door.

“You are impossible drunk,” Adora admonishes her, despite the way she is flushed from having to deal with all of that. Catra giggles against her shoulder as Adora takes her in through the lobby.

“I’m impossible always,” she corrects, proudly. To prove her point she leans in and licks a stripe up the side of Adora’s neck. Adora gasps, face darkening as she screws her eyes shut to regather her concentration.

“Room number?” she asks. Catra hums with delight.

“You’re never going to believe this,” she says, conversationally, as she flicks her tail towards the elevator. Adora gets the hint and leads them towards it. She sighs, a little dramatic, a little begrudging, but mostly fond.

“Room number, Catra?” Adora prompts again. Catra scowls. She is not so drunk she does not know her room number, she wanted Adora to guess.

“420,” she replies, watching Adora pause. Adora blinks, turning her head to look at Catra to determine if she is kidding. Catra purrs, and Adora just starts laughing.

How did you not call me the moment you got assigned?” Adora questions, a little breathless as she selects the fourth floor.

“You wouldn’t talk to me,” Catra mumbles, turning her head into Adora’s neck. She feels Adora stiffen beneath her. Her heart drops into the pit of her stomach, admonishing herself for ruining what had been a fun moment, a fun night, but she is too tired to feel much more than disappointment.

“I thought you didn’t want me to,” Adora whispers, voice quiet as the elevator halts and the doors slide open. Catra kind of wants to laugh at that, thinking of all the hours on the road she spent staring at her phone’s dark screen hoping Adora would find it in her to forgive Catra for her desperation – hoping that Adora’s contact would light up her phone screen and they would be okay again.

Adora steers them out of the elevator, probably down the hallway, but Catra’s face has not left her neck. Her feet move as Adora drags them along, but she cannot lift her head. “I waited all summer for you to call. For you to-“ she cuts off. She doesn’t want to say forgive me. She does not want to address it. She does not want Adora to say she has, because she does not want to open up the rest of that conversation.

Adora moves her until there is something against her back, and then Adora is pulling away to peer down at her and leave Catra slumping against the wall. Catra almost collapses and a flash of panic crosses Adora’s face as she is forced to press in again, arms coming around Catra and practically pinning her there to keep her upright. Catra drops her head to Adora’s shoulder, going fully limp against her, not wanting her to try leaving again.

“I think I maybe misunderstood something, that first night,” Adora tells her, softly. Catra tries to respond, to make any sound, but she can’t manage it. Adora sighs against her unresponsiveness.

“But now is not the time to talk about it. I- I care about you, Catra, okay? I worried about you all summer long,” Adora promises her. The next thing she knows she is being moved again, arms coming under her until she is being lifted. Adora carries her down the length of the hall as Catra flicks her tail happily, purring in contentment. She likes being in Adora’s arms. She likes hearing Adora cares about her, even if the word is care and not love.

“Do you always get this limp after you leave me?” Adora asks, voice soft as they halt. Catra is jostled a bit and then she hears the familiar beep of her door’s card-reader.

Catra hums as the door swings open. “Not until I get back. Body won’t let me unless I’m safe,” she murmurs. They are not full sentences, or wholly accurate, but it is close enough. As much as she can manage right now.

She feels Adora’s heartbeat pick up at that. “Oh,” she says, soft as she turns them sideways to make her way through the door.

“What?” Catra hears Scorpia mumble. Catra has her eyes closed, nuzzling into Adora’s neck – it is not her problem.

“Uh, hi, Scorpia,” she hears Adora say, sheepishly. There is the sound of the door closing, of bedsprings squeaking as Scorpia’s weight leaves them.

“Is she okay?” Scorpia’s voice is hushed, concerned. Catra frowns at that, curling into Adora and away from the concerned energy. It is too much. She likes Adora’s calm presence better.

“Just drunk,” Adora assures above her. They are moving again. Adora lowers her and Catra feels the fabric of her sheets beneath her. She lets herself sprawl out, sighing in contentment and slitting her eyes open.

The room is only lit by the moonlight from the window and faint glow from beneath the door. Adora hovers above her, peering down at her questioningly. Scorpia stands near the center of the room, still hovering with that concerned whiff to her.

Catra wrinkles her nose. “You smell, Scorpia,” is what she says. Stop worrying, is what she means. She hates the smell of concern. Adora snorts at that as the same time as Scorpia makes an offended protest. It seems to ease her concern, though, because the air gets a bit easier to breathe and she moves back to sit on the edge of her own bed.

“What happened?” Scorpia asks, directing a pointed question at Adora. Catra does not want Scorpia to know that, though, so she speaks before Adora can.

“Adora, take off my pants,” she instructs. Her voice sounds far less commanding than she would like, but Adora just about chokes, so she does not mind so much. Scorpia squawks. Catra wriggles her hips to reiterate her point. “Off,” she repeats. Catra cannot see Adora’s blush in the near-darkness, but she knows it is there as she hovers her hands awkwardly.

“Uh-“

Off,” Catra repeats, insistent. Adora sighs, and then her hands are on Catra’s hips. Catra releases a purr of satisfaction as Scorpia sputters from the other side of the room. Adora undoes her fly, helping her fight off the skinny jeans. Catra releases a sigh of relief when they are finally gone, pawing blindly at her sheets and yanking them over herself.

“Phone,” she requests now. Adora nods to her, ducking down to retrieve her discarded jeans, and extracts her phone from the pocket. Catra lets out a satisfied trill when Adora hands it to her, taking it with grabbing hands and happily unlocking it. Adora moves to peer down at her screen as she goes to her settings and unblocks her.

Catra drops the phone to her chest, reaching up for Adora’s face now. Adora blinks down at her in surprise as Catra cradles her cheeks.

“Text me when you’re home,” she whispers. Adora nods against her hands. Finally satisfied, Catra goes limp back against her sheets. After a long moment, Adora’s scent grows faint. Catra balls herself up beneath her sheets, curling around her phone as she waits. She tucks her nose into her arms, burying it in the lingering traces of Adora’s scent against her. She knows she is purring, but if Scorpia calls her out on it, she certainly never processes it.

Despite her concern, she has almost drifted asleep when her phone finally buzzes. She uncurls just enough to peer at the lockscreen, seeing the picture thumbnail from Adora of a darkened room. She doesn’t even bother to unlock it, curling back into her ball in satisfaction and breathing deeply as, the final edge of worry gone, she falls into sleep.

Chapter Text

Friday is rough for Adora. She wakes up, not hungover but not feeling peachy, only a few minutes before her morning class is set to start. She has to run to it still in the clothes she passed out in last night. She doesn’t reek of alcohol, but she knows the hybrids in her class can pick it up. She does not care. No part of her is worried about her classmates or calculus in general.

You didn’t want to talk to me.

Adora has fucked up on a monumental level. She thought Catra had wanted her to wait, had wanted the distance of summer to get over what had happened. She did not realize Catra wanted to use the summer to make things okay between them again. She had been waiting for Adora to call, and when Adora never did, clearly it hurt her. Enough for her to block her number, give up on them despite missing her.

The fall semester is making a lot more sense, now. Why Catra has avoided her at every turn despite still caring. How Catra suddenly seems so okay with touching her like this. Catra was definitely mad at her that first night, but clearly she is past that. When Adora never apologized, that was what did it. She was probably hurt – to her, Adora did not even bother to say sorry. Adora had thought she was the one to hurt Catra, and so she should wait until Catra was ready to talk to her again to apologize. Distantly, she wonders when exactly Catra gave up and blocked her number.

Adora absorbs none of the calculus and hurries back to her dorm, no room in her head to interact with other people today. She was so late, so busy, she did not even get to check Catra’s Instagram. When she does, she feels her heart stutter painfully to see she has not posted yet. She could still be asleep, drunken ramblings about magicat hangovers be damned, but it is nearly noon now. She has always posted the day after they – do whatever the hell it is they are doing. She knows Catra does not mind this arrangement, since she keeps doing it, but she doesn't know why.

I wanted us even. Catra has a weird rule about them being on the even footing when they do this. Maybe she just knows Adora can’t take advantage of her – that she can only give in knowing she has been drinking too and that Catra planned it sober. Catra trusts Adora, despite everything; that was made clear between the way she nuzzled into her and the comment about her body knowing she is safe. Adora has never really been sure what happened between them that first night, every explanation she comes up with dismissed as feasible by Catra's later actions, but she is sure that Catra still cares about her and misses her. It might be that she just knows this contact is a way they can see each other without having to talk about what happened. Catra has always hated talking things out.

Yeah, Adora has no idea what they are doing, just that today Catra has posted no reassurance that she is okay with it all in the cold light of day. Whatever Catra had been drinking last night, it smelled strongly of whiskey. She said she measured, but worry gnaws at Adora. They had gone further than ever before. Even without the interruption, Adora is confident she would not have gone through with it – but she is really afraid Catra is unsure of that. Catra does not trust people, not without them earning it first. Adora fears it was too far, too much. A violation of the trust between them.

The fear builds in Adora, staring at Catra's blank Instagram. She does something useless, and she texts Catra.

Are you okay?

It is the same text she tried to send after that first night, and she knows she will get the same response.

Except she gets no response – not even the automatic bounced message warning. She stares at her phone screen, mind buzzing. It- it could be that Catra really has not woken up to fix it again yet.

Her phone chimes.

Give me Perfuma’s number pops up on her screen, and sorry, what?

Catra has not re-blocked her number. Catra is avoiding the question. Catra wants Perfuma’s phone number?

Trust me.

Adora does, so she forwards the contact details and waits, confusion only building.

 

--

 

“Is the gardening club doing anything this Sunday?” Catra asks, without greeting or preamble the moment Perfuma picks up her phone. Catra hates formalities.

“I’m sorry, who is this?” Perfuma asks, and yeah, that is a fair question. They have only met once, and Catra knows the phone distorts her vocalizations.

“Your girlfriend’s sister. Is there any event in the community garden this Sunday?” Catra repeats. There is a beat of silence on the other end of the line.

“Catra?” Perfuma asks, unsure, and Catra definitely hears Glimmer’s familiar squawk in the background. It is the same noise she makes when Adora picks her up and throws her in the pool, back home.

“Do you have another girlfriend I should know about? I just want to know if there will be other people there,” Catra continues. She is on a mission, staring determinedly out across the quad.

She is sitting on the quad behind Sorority Row because it is, quite frankly, the last place Scorpia will look for her. Her morning classes, followed by Scorpia’s morning class, have saved her from having the Adora conversation thus far, but she wants to delay it longer. At least until she comes up with any kind of explanation that makes sense.

“Stop being a bitch!” she hears Glimmer call in the background.

I’m trying,” she shoots back, raising her volume as if that will help Glimmer hear her.

“Uh, she says she is trying,” Perfuma relays, voice getting distant. “No, the gardening club and community garden are not having any events this weekend. It is a community garden, so anyone can go any time, but there will not be a crowd there, especially not with the parties going on,” Perfuma adds, voice growing strong again as she addresses Catra.

Catra hums and ends the call. She really hates formalities.

She pulls back up her conversation with Adora. She almost texts her, but-

Apparently Adora misunderstood something, before, and she has no idea whatever the hell that means, but she is pretty sure she and Adora both spent the summer staring at their phones and hoping for the other to call. The hope that thought causes to surge on her is almost enough to make her lightheaded.

So she calls Adora. She picks up before the first ring even finishes.

“Catra?” Adora asks, like it is somehow going to be someone else.

“Brilliant deductive reasoning. Was it the contact explicitly saying my name or the conversation we were in the middle of that gave me away?” Catra responds, because she cannot contain her snark when she is in a great mood, and the sunlight on the quad is making her head hurt. She may not get hungover, at least not in the traditional sense, but that does not mean there are not effects. She had ended up having more than Adora, since she coughed half of hers back up, and light and sound are just a bit much today.

Her voice is still filled with humour as she speaks. It is nice to just talk to Adora. Adora huffs a laugh with a tinge of relief.

“No, it was psychic premonition. Why did you need Perfuma’s number to answer the question of if you are okay?” Adora responds. Catra huffs, flopping back against the lawn and immediately regretting it with a hiss when it puts her face-to-face with the bright sky. “Catra?” Adora asks, and her voice sounds concerned now.

“Ugh, bright light is just – not great the next day. I’m out in the sun, because going back to my dorm means trying to explain to Scorpia what happened last night,” Catra explains, waving her hand dismissively in the air despite how Adora cannot see it. “I’m fine, aversion to light and need for a shower aside,” she adds. She distinctly remembers Adora being concerned about the way she went limp last night. It surprised her that Adora did not already know how differently her body reacts to alcohol, but it was thoroughly unsurprising that without that knowledge Adora would be scared by seeing it.

“Okay,” Adora responds, apparently deciding to believe her that she really is fine. “Why did you need Perfuma’s number?” she questions again. Catra sighs.

Nosy,” she huffs, but she is smiling. Adora snorts on the other end of the line. Why Catra finds that sound cute she has no goddamn clue. “The community garden. This Sunday. I was just checking we would have some privacy. I want to show you what we built,” Catra settles on saying. She doesn’t say it’s a date because they both know that is not really a joke between them, now. She doesn’t say that’s where it all started again, even though it is true. If she wants to, she can tell her Sunday.

Adora pauses for a moment. “What time?” she asks, excitement blatant. Catra’s chest clenches. Adora may not love her back, but she was missing Catra just the same as Catra was missing her.

“Noon. We can get lunch after, maybe. I haven’t planned that far ahead,” Catra admits.

“Okay,” Adora agrees, and Catra can hear the smile in her voice. It makes her chest squeeze painfully. She missed this so badly. She is only letting herself realize how much now she is getting it back. There is a pause on the other end of the line. “Am I allowed to talk to you before then?” Adora asks, voice unsure. Catra bites her lip, screwing her eyes shut and cursing herself for her idiocy.

“Yes, just- not about anything important, okay? I think we already fuck that up enough in person,” Catra responds. Adora laughs, and Catra feels her tail swishing happily in the grass beneath her.

“Yeah, I think we do,” Adora agrees.

 

--

 

The Best Friends Squad group chat died over the summer, when Adora and Catra both – mutually, idiotically – stopped talking to each other. It was replaced by the Bright Moon U Squad once the school year started. Adora drops a simple lunch? in the group chat, giddy with excitement as Glimmer sends back a demand they go to the student café today. It is not all-you-can-eat, so Adora tends to not prefer it, but the food is distinctly better. With her training she often has calorie and macro requirements she needs to hit that are more easily met at the Commons Cafeteria, but she is not actually calling this lunch to eat.

She will, but Adora can always eat.

Within half an hour of Catra finally sighing and saying she has to go brainstorm excuses to give Scorpia, Adora is seated in a beanbag chair in the café, Bow and Glimmer sunk in the two other bags around her. Their meals are balanced on their laps as Adora cannot help but smile to herself.

“So, what happened with Catra?” Glimmer asks between bites.

“I have not said anything about Catra,” Adora defends, because she has to pretend. Glimmer rolls her eyes and Bow raises an eyebrow.

“One, that smile, and two, Perfuma,” Glimmer points out. Adora shoots her a glare, but there is no heat behind it and Glimmer just smiles unapologetically.

“She invited me over and we talked, last night. She was dead on her feet, but I think that was good? Because we were just honest with each other. And I may have realized exactly how bad I fucked up. Things make more sense now, anyway,” Adora explains, circumstances heavily edited as she motions with her hands.

“You cannot have fucked up that bad,” Glimmer argues, pointing her shitty plastic fork at her.

“I’m pretty sure I fucked up even worse, actually, but that is not the point. We haven’t really talked about it, yet. But I think we are going to. She invited me to come visit the garden on Sunday and see the bed she helped Perfuma build,” Adora explains. Glimmer does not look fully convinced, but she drops it at least. Bow looks sympathetically towards her.

“Well, hopefully she has pulled her head out of her ass,” Glimmer agrees. Adora throws one of her zucchini chips at her.

 

--

 

Catra edges into her dorm warily. She can smell Scorpia inside before she even opens the door, and when she does, she is greeted by Scorpia whipping around in her seat to look at her.

They stare at each other for a long moment. Catra had left for her early class before Scorpia woke up and she has been shouldering her backpack as she bounces around campus ever since. Scorpia looks a strange mix of concerned, hopeful, and admonishing. Catra sighs, stepping into the room and closing the door behind her. She drops her bag on the floor, moving to sit cross-legged on the edge of her bed.

“I went to Sorority Row last night. I posted a video of the girls being idiots. Adora saw it and figured out which house it was based on their shirts,” Catra explains, with a shrug. That was all completely by design and purposeful, but admitting that to Scorpia means admitting their entire dance, which Catra can hardly admit to herself.

Scorpia looks oddly relieved. “She came to see you,” she finishes. Catra shrugs again, tail swishing.

“We danced until I hit the pass-out phase and then she dragged my ass home and woke you up,” Catra finishes, running a hand through her hair. Scorpia eyes her, oddly knowing.

“You’re talking again?” she asks. Catra takes a breath and nods.

“I’m trying to, at least. And she has been trying for a while now, too,” Catra explains. Scorpia nods, settling back in her seat. She eyes Catra cautiously.

“Are you done?” she asks. Catra actually scowls at that.

No,” she corrects. Being done means giving up the one time Adora wants her. She knows it is probably gone anyway, but – she can’t admit it quite yet. She does not give a shit about partying really. She may like dancing, but it has always been about Adora for her. “But I’ll... be responsible,” she concedes, gaze darting over to Scorpia. Scorpia looks disappointed, but she nods, seeming unwilling to push it and lose the ground Catra has given her. It is true whether or not Scorpia believes her. She had gone harder than she would have liked last night just from nerves, but when she does this with Adora, she wants them both mostly sober. It is easier to fool herself Adora wants it too that way.

Catra sighs, standing from her bed and making her way over to Scorpia’s desk. After a brief pause, she hops up to sit on it, ears flat to her head and gaze fixed determinedly on her closet door. Her tail sways back and forth where it drapes over the desk edge, brushing Scorpia’s leg, and the other woman finally realizes the permission that it is.

She stands and wraps Catra in one of her crushing hugs. They'll be okay, regardless of drunken comments on Scorpia's scent.

 

--

 

“We’re going out tonight,” Glimmer declares, near the end of lunch. Adora groans.

“I was up late last night with Catra, Glimmer,” Adora dissuades, sending Bow a pleading look for support. Glimmer raises an eyebrow, sticking out her tongue and raising two fingers-

Adora flushes bright red. “Stop it,” she huffs, looking determinedly out the window. She knows how it sounds – probably because that is almost what it was – but Glimmer is really just making one of her jokes. Adora does not have the bandwidth for Glimmer’s dirty humour that is too close to the truth today.

“I want to celebrate the end of you being a kicked puppy. And anyway, it’s Raving Weekend. It is like a BMU right of passage to get absolutely blasted at the bottom of the Cliffs all weekend,” Glimmer points out. Adora cringes.

She has heard a lot of Raving Weekend stories from upperclassmen since coming to BMU. GEU is the real party school, but for students not willing to cross school boundaries, all that pent-up energy has to be released somehow, hence the birth of Raving Weekend. All the Greek houses work together to throw a massive beach party at the base of the cliffs. According to one of Adora’s classmates, only ten percent of students at BMU avoid it all four years, and over half of GEU students attend it once.

Adora has about zero interest in going. She isn’t into parties anyway, not if Catra is not there, and she really does not want to ruin whatever progress they have made by inviting her along with all the implications that could hold. Regardless, she really had been up late with Catra last night, and even if she didn’t drink enough to really feel ill effects today, she knows she should let herself rest.

“Alright, here’s the deal: you need to come because you’re a square,” Glimmer levels her. Adora blinks at her.

“I have an arrest record,” she points out. She is not really offended, Glimmer is not totally wrong, but she sure is one to talk. Yes, Glimmer may have had delinquent aspirations in high school, but her family was way too proper for her to get anywhere with it.

“You were a teenager, and it got wiped,” Glimmer argues.

“They could have charged me with a felony. I am not more of a square than you,” Adora responds, getting to her real issue. She may be a bit straight-laced – ha – but even aside from cherry bombs in empty parking lots, Glimmer has no leg to stand on when Adora has been getting drunk to hook up with her best friend every weekend while Glimmer has been complaining about having to listen to her neighbours have sex and then fight afterwards.

“You have never even been drunk,” Glimmer shoots back.

“Guys, do we have to do this?” Bow interrupts, thankfully, because Adora was about to correct her, and she is not spilling that secret when she is so close to getting Catra back. She knows that Catra wants all of this to stay between them, even without having to ask her.

Glimmer huffs, but she turns back to Adora and looks pleading now. “Please? I talked to upperclassmen and they said you need to arrange your own ride because rideshares are in too high demand. I don’t want to get stranded drunk on the beach. Besides, you know I can’t drive for shit even if I stayed sober, which I am not,” Glimmer argues. Bow flicks his gaze between them, like he is nervous they will start sniping at each other again.

Unfortunately, that argument is kind of bulletproof. Adora is not just going to abandon her sister to the wolves, and Bow doesn’t have a car. Adora glances over to him. “Are you going and are you drinking?” she asks. Bow hesitates before nodding. Adora sighs.

“Alright, I’ll be your driver. But when I make the call to cut you off or go home, we do it. You can whine about it if you want, but we go home,” Adora declares, leveling Glimmer with a firm look. Glimmer looks mildly offended at the whining comment, but Adora is right and they both know it. Glimmer breaks into a thankful smile.

“You’re the best not-sister,” she promises Adora, flinging herself out of her own beanbag to bodily tackle Adora in hers for a hug. Adora feels a rush of air leave her at the same time as she mentally kisses her Saturday morning goodbye.

“Yeah, I know,” she responds, wrapping her arms around Glimmer’s shoulders and hugging her back. Bow squeals in delight, clearly relieved the conflict is over.

 

--

 

Catra has not been to a party for the purpose of actually partying since the beginning of the semester. She does not really want to now, even. She is just going to help Entrapta, as the designated van driver, wrangle the rest of the team after they get wasted.

Raving Weekend might be a BMU tradition, but BMU and GEU are far more intertwined than anyone in charge of either school wants to admit. Almost the entire roller derby team is going, and one person is not enough to wrangle that many brash, drunk lesbians. Not that Catra has guaranteed anyone she will stay sober, but after the night before she has no interest in drinking, really. Drinking is always a means to an end with her – drowning out Adora, or drowning in her. Neither is happening, tonight, so when Lonnie shoves a shot in her hand she takes it as a hair of the dog more than anything else. It burns an unusual amount with her not-hangover, despite not being enough to even register in her system.

She is still a little oversensitive to light, but at least the sun set before they arrived. The flood lights up on the cliff help to keep ankles from twisting on driftwood and that is about it. With her night vision Catra can make things out fine, but she highly suspects the humans and lizardfolk do not have any clue who the bodies pressing against them belong to. Catra is almost certain that is the point. The noise is still brutal on her sensitive ears, but she is pretty sure that would have been true regardless.

The party kind of sucks. If she had Adora there to dance with, maybe it would be okay. A couple guys try to dance with her and she has to deck one in the shoulder to get him to fuck off. A few girls approach her and Catra twists away or politely turns them down. She does not want them – she already tried other girls, and no one came close to Adora. It only left her feeling more empty and broken inside. Besides, it almost feels like cheating despite the fact they aren’t anything and never will be.

For the most part, Catra just sticks close to Entrapta as she hovers around the team. The team does its best to stay together, though they have a designated meet spot near the parking lot for when it is time to go home. Groups inevitably get separated at the Cliffs – it is a known fact, even to freshmen. Catra would almost consider leaving if Entrapta were not her ride too. She knows the wait times for a rideshare on Raving Weekend are upwards of an hour, and she hopes that by then the team will be drunk enough to be wrangled to the car.

Lonnie hands Catra another shot, chanting something nowhere close to approaching words, and Catra takes it just to get her to shut up. The noise of the party is too much. She really wishes she had not agreed to this at the rally on Wednesday night, but she had not known how Thursday would end up. She was still in denial that she was going to do anything at that point – and fairly certain Adora would not even if she did.

Catra feels a body press in close behind her – not that unusual given how tightly-packed the people on the beach are, at least until she realizes the person is molding themselves to her back and she picks up their scent over the sea salt and sweat all around them.

“Adora,” she gasps in surprise, turning her head to the side and only able to catch a glimpse of blonde hair as arms wrap around her.

“Catra,” Adora greets in her ear, downright smug. “Did I actually get the drop on all your superior senses?” she teases. Currently every single one of her senses is attuned to the way Adora’s arms are wrapped around her, pinning her arms to her sides, Adora’s breath puffing against the fur on her ear, but Catra still feels the need to defend herself despite the purr rising in her chest at Adora’s mere presence.

“It's loud as shit and you’re downwind, asshole,” she points out, twisting around in Adora’s grip. As Catra meets Adora’s gaze, dancing with smug amusement at her perceived victory, Catra lifts her arms and wraps them around Adora’s shoulders. “What are you doing here?” she questions, feeling her brows draw in confusion. Adora raises an eyebrow at her.

“I could ask you the same. I’m driving Glimmer,” she adds. Catra huffs, jerking her head back over her shoulder to indicate the crowd of assholes she came to corral.

“I’m helping Entrapta with this lot,” she explains. Lonnie chooses that moment to turn around.

“Yo, Catra, you want more shots?” she calls, despite the fact they are feet away. The party really is just that loud. Catra glances over her shoulder to scowl at Lonnie, but apparently it is too dark for Lonnie to recognize Adora, because she makes no reaction to the woman she is hanging off of. “Fuck off, Lonnie,” Catra replies. She turns back to Adora to find her raising an eyebrow at her.

“Staying responsible, I see,” Adora teases. Catra rolls her eyes. She has barely had enough to taste it.

“I’m not drunk,” she argues, despite the way she presses in closer and nuzzles under Adora’s jaw. Adora pauses for a moment and then tilts her chin back a little, letting Catra in. Catra purrs in satisfaction, the sound inaudible for the party raging around them, but the vibrations run through both their chests. The party is so much. It almost feels like a storm shelter in Adora’s arms, protection and safety wrapping around her. She can do nothing against the onslaught of noise, but she still helps Catra to feel calm.

“Who’s your girlfriend?” Lonnie calls behind them again, voice teasing and snide. It is just the way she is, but Adora stiffens beneath Catra. Catra growls in warning to Lonnie.

“None of your damn business,” she snaps out, turning her head to send Lonnie a pointed glare. Lonnie raises a brow at her, despite the fact that no one but Catra has good enough vision to pick it up and Lonnie is nowhere near sober enough to remember that. Catra turns back to Adora, tugging her in closer and tilting her chin up to seal their mouths together with a sigh. It’s not like Lonnie can tell who Adora is from this distance, anyway. They are safe.

Adora does not kiss her back. Adora stiffens even more beneath her and Catra feels panic grip her chest as Adora pulls back. Her arms are still firm on Catra’s waist, holding her in place, but the familiarity of the situation echoes loudly through her.

Adora’s arms are tight around her, almost crushing. She can feel Catra stiffening in return. “I’m sober, Catra,” she tells her, words as soft as they can be and remain audible over the music. Right – Catra forgot she is not actually allowed to do this. Catra forgot no one has ever wanted her sober, ever would.

Catra tilts her chin up, meeting Adora’s eyes in a challenge, because she does not know how else to handle her panic. “So?” she asks, despite how she knows she shouldn’t. She was so close to getting her back, but one little rejection she already knew was coming and suddenly she is burning her bridges. She knew last night was the last time, dammit. She knew Adora would not be able to keep letting her in once they were friends again.

She almost wants to burn down every tenuous truce they have built if it just means she gets to taste her again. She knows she would regret that, though. That she would rather never have Adora like this again than lose her in her life. It still hurts, twisting a knife in the open wound Adora left in her five months ago.

Adora’s gaze is pained. Her arms have not loosened around Catra. “I’m not taking advantage of you, Catra,” Adora tells her. Catra stares at her.

She could laugh. Probably should. It might be the stupidest excuse Adora has ever come up with. There is no physical or emotional or intoxicated state, no moment in time when Catra does not want Adora. She has made that blatantly obvious, throwing herself at Adora the way she has. She has been desperate just to smell her, much less touch and kiss her.

“Next time you don’t want me, Adora, just say it,” Catra hisses, and the shock of her sudden anger is enough for her to twist herself out of Adora’s arms. Adora’s eyes are wide as she grabs for her, but Catra dodges away. She hears Adora call after her, chase after her, but she loses Adora the moment she slips away into the crowd.

Then she loses herself.

 

--

 

Even drunk Catra is too damn fast and agile to be caught. Adora can’t even chase her far without losing sight of Glimmer and Bow. Catra is gone before she can even hope to correct her.

It takes her a minute, but she understands why Catra would not believe her. Adora has purposefully gotten drunk with the express purpose of being with Catra while she was drunk twice now. Those times she knew Catra had planned it sober, at least. The other times, she had been far from sober herself. Still, Adora knows those are excuses she told herself at best. She does not know where the hell Catra got the conclusion that Adora did not want her from, but she does not know how great her logic is drunk.

She tries calling Catra’s phone, the echoes of that first night making her stomach churn, but it is turned off and goes straight to voicemail. She circles back to where she and Catra parted, looking for either Lonnie or a girl with purple hair. She spots them both with a breath of relief.

“Entrapta?” she asks, coming up to her side. Entrapta blinks at her for a long moment before she smiles.

“Adora! Catra’s friend!” Entrapta remembers, beaming almost with pride at her correct identification. Luckily, Lonnie is too busy getting wasted to notice. Not that Adora does not want to catch up with Lonnie eventually, but definitely not right now.

“Catra ran off. Can I give you my number so if you find her again you can text me to let me know? I can’t leave without knowing she got a ride from someone,” Adora explains.

Entrapta agrees and assures her she understands. Adora breathes a little easier as they swap contact details. Her heart still feels like it is somewhere down in her stomach, but she can only hope that when Catra sobers up she is willing to listen to her. If not – Adora has ways now. She knows where her dorm is, she knows how to contact her friends.

Adora turns back to where she left Glimmer and Bow, praying that Catra will make her way back to her group, and finds her two friends gone as well.

Great. Because this night could not get any worse.

 

--

 

Catra is pretty sure she is wasted. She has never been this drunk before, certainly, and she is a mess right now. When she finds herself no longer able to stand up in the mass of bodies, she drops down to all fours and manages to work her way up the sand dunes of the beach. She reaches the large boulder, fallen from the cliffs near the edge of the parking lot, that they had all agreed to meet at by the end of the night and curls up in a ball against its base. Her head pounds almost as bad as her chest.

She was crying at one point, and her face is definitely still wet at least, but now she feels the pass out phase approaching with no safety to let her body turn off its instincts. It is going to hurt, all her nerves becoming frayed as she shuts down while straining for any danger. Sometimes being a magicat fucking sucks.

Being Catra sucks, stupidly in love with her best friend. Adora cares about her, that is obvious, but for some reason Catra is not good enough for love. Adora will laugh with her, joke with her, kiss her even – when alcohol brings her low enough – but there is enough wrong with Catra she just can’t love or even want her.

Catra thought she had come to terms with that. She has, really, but Adora was willing to give Catra another part of herself – for a while, at least – and Catra was not ready to lose that, despite knowing it was coming. Despite knowing Adora never really wanted her in the first place, just did not mind who the body was in the cold light of day. Catra was a convenient way to deal with her desires – until they were actually friends again. Adora had always been skittish about this kind of stuff, before. Catra was offering, someone she trusted, and a safe way to explore it - until doing so put them at risk.

Catra should apologize for getting angry about it, probably. Adora is trying to do the right thing. It is not her fault she does not love Catra. That blame firmly rests on Catra for just being her. She cannot do it tonight, and it would not mean shit from her drunken lips anyway.

She hears people approaching her where she is balled up and growls, as loud and threatening as she can without moving. Her face is tucked into her knees, tail curled tightly around her as she leans her side against the boulder. The snarling seems to work, because the voices fade again. She wonders who they were. No one who smelled familiar, at least. They were upwind from her and wrong. Every scent is wrong but the one she wants to find her again.

She ruined them. Again. Right when they were finally becoming a them again. Adora came to terms with how Catra felt about her over the summer, clearly, if she has been willing to do all this with her – but she might have ruined that, lashing out the second Adora does not want her.

She never did.

The wind picks up again, causing her to shiver and ball herself up tighter. A fresh wave of college party stink comes sweeping in with it, strangers’ scents, vomit, alcohol, and sweat all mixing in with-

Her.

Adora is nearby. Who knows how close with the scent carried by the wind. Catra can’t really move on her own at this point. She does the only thing she can and mewls, loud and pathetic, hoping Adora catches it.

She can smell her now even without the breeze. She calls out again, voice a bit weaker this time, but Adora’s scent is growing stronger, strong.

“Catra? Are you okay?” she hears Adora calling, voice rising.

She trills, relief flooding through her body. Adora is close enough Catra hears her relieved sigh. She smells like concern, and normally Catra hates that smell, but it is Adora, and it is for her, so she lets it go. She feels Adora’s body drop down next to her and nudges closer, nosing along her shoulder until she finds her neck. The instant comfort might as well be a drug.

“I’ve got you,” Adora assures her, voice strained. Catra manages a small rumble. She feels Adora hesitate and then arms are coming around her, moving and arranging her. Catra lets herself be repositioned limply. Now Adora is here, all her alertness is gone. She just nudges weakly into Adora’s touch. She will keep her safe.

She ends up straddled across Adora’s lap as Adora leans back against the boulder, her head on Adora’s shoulder, looking up at her, and her arms tucked between their chests. Adora’s arms are around her, surrounding her, supporting her, and Catra finds enough energy in herself to purr in relief. The safety from when she was wrapped in Adora’s arms is back. She does not want to lose it again.

“I’m sorry. For everything,” she manages to mumble against Adora’s shoulder. She watches through slit eyes as Adora startles, looking down at her with wide-eyed shock. That is fair. Catra has completely destroyed everything between them and failed to apologize for it so far.

Adora’s gaze softens, one hand coming up to stroking her cheek. “It’s okay. I’m sorry too,” she returns. “You’re safe,” she adds. The way Catra’s body sags at the words must be obvious, because Adora actually manages a small laugh.

“Why are you here?” Catra mumbles, turning to nose into her collarbone. Adora’s arms tighten around her.

“I lost Glimmer and Bow. This is our meetup spot,” she explains. Catra manages to make a vaguely affirmative sound she hopes comes across as me too. It does not really matter if Adora gets it or not. She is tired. She noses into Adora’s neck again, licking it weakly. Mine. Adora gasps in surprise. It makes Catra let out a soft noise of amusement as she drops her head back to her shoulder. Sure, Adora might not be hers – but she never minded Catra’s claims before at least, and this one does not linger beyond the moment that passes between them.

“Catra? I’m going to take you home with me, okay? I don’t want you alone like this,” Adora tells her. Catra nods against her shoulder. Adora does not want her running and they both know it, but – Catra does not want to keep running, either. She just wants to be with Adora. The problem is she keeps fucking that up and trying to avoid the consequences.

“Don’t let me leave again,” she mumbles. She feels Adora draw in a sharp breath beneath her.

“I won’t,” she promises, bending down to press a kiss against the top of Catra’s hair. It feels nice, with her short hair. She can actually feel it, at least. Adora jostles her a bit until their chests are completely slumped together, Catra’s chin on her shoulder, and it frees her hands so she can run them up and down Catra’s back, soothing her. Catra purrs in a response, her eyes slipping closed and nuzzling into Adora’s hair.

 

--

 

For a while, they are quiet, just waiting for Glimmer and Bow. Catra is further gone than Adora has ever seen her, and already in her pass out phase if the way she weakly slumps against Adora is any indication. Adora is just glad to have found her again – grateful for the way Catra had called out to her as she approached so Adora would know she was still alive.

Catra purrs, on and off, occasionally nudging closer in to her neck and even more rarely licking it. Adora is not sure if it is supposed to be like the kind of licks she used to use to claim things as hers when they were kids, or if it is far less innocent. She does not stop her, regardless. She does not think a few licks are something Catra will regret in the morning, and if she is marking her then Adora needs to let her continue – let her know she does want her. Why Catra thought otherwise she does not know, not unless she truly did not believe Adora would not want to take advantage of her. Following that line or thinking is all kinds of fucked up, though, so Adora abandons reasoning and just lets Catra cuddle into her how she wants. It is nice to have her in her arms, at least.

Adora pulls out her phone and tries texting Glimmer and Bow around Catra’s back, but the party is loud down on the beach and she gets no response. She shoots a message to Entrapta that she found Catra and was going to take her home herself, getting a quick affirmative response, and then she puts her phone away again. The motion requires her to jostle Catra a bit, rousing her. She pulls back just a little, apparently able to support the weight of her own torso now as she blinks at Adora with unfocused eyes.

Adora places her hands on Catra’s waist, holding her firmly in place so she does not tip backward when her strength eventually gives out. Catra flushes and trills, eyes unfocused and happy. The sound makes Adora bite her lip, but she does not look away. She does not want Catra to think she is pulling back again. She had meant the touch innocently, not matter how horny Catra is drunk. She does a valiant effort of trying to not file that reaction away for later use but – she definitely fails.

She needs to get her thoughts back on track. She ducks her head to make eye contact with Catra. “We are going to talk in the morning,” she tells Catra, seriously. Catra blinks at her, clearly trying to make her vision focus and failing.

“I don’t want to,” she mumbles, almost childlike. “Don’t want to ruin us again. Just got you back,” she explains, pitching forward and nuzzling against Adora’s cheek. For a moment Adora is afraid she is going to kiss her, but instead Catra turns her face and drags her cheek along Adora’s jaw. Adora feels herself flush, well aware of the mark Catra is leaving on her, even if only a few of their classmates will even have good enough senses to detect it.

“We won’t. We need to fix us, still,” Adora promises her, grip tightening as she tilts her jaw to give Catra more room. She can’t stop thinking about how Catra thought Adora did not want her. After all this, all these months and all these times, how could she even think that?

That first night, did she think-

“Promise you won’t leave me?” Catra asks, voice small. Adora feels her chest clench as her train of thought is cut off.

Great, an all-new fear that Catra has only done what she did for fear Adora would abandon her otherwise. Adora shoves it down. She needs to stop jumping to conclusions based on things Catra says drunk. That was what led to the loneliest summer of her life.

“I’m never leaving you, Catra,” Adora promises her, squeezing her close in a crushing hug.

“… The summer. You left me all summer,” Catra whispers, voice raw. Adora squeezes her eyes shut.

“Remember our emails?” she asks, voice quiet. She feels Catra still against her, then nod. “And our backpacks?” she adds. Catra nods again. Adora raises a hand to the back of her neck, squeezing lightly. After a moment of gathering her strength, Catra raises her head to look Adora in the eye. She looks scared.

“I still have your backpack in my apartment closet, Catra. I’m not leaving you, no matter what. I’ve been texting you every day since school started, just in case you were ready to talk again,” Adora promises her. She watches tears well up in Catra’s eyes, but she is pretty sure they are good ones. Catra bites her lip and nods, slumping forward against Adora’s chest.

She is fine with that. She can breathe easier, knowing they have cleared the air of that at least. If Catra remembers this.

She just feels it when Catra slips into sleep, despite the raging party not that far down the beach. She lets her sleep, holding her close and just comforting herself in Catra’s presence. She doesn’t know how long they have been at the Cliffs, and she certainly does not know how long she has had Catra in her arms after she gave up looking for her, Glimmer, or Bow and just came to their meetup location, but eventually she spots Glimmer’s pink hair emerging from the crowd, Bow dragging behind her.

At least she and Bow stuck together. Adora struggles to rearrange Catra’s limbs in her arms as Glimmer and Bow make their way up the dunes. She eventually manages it, staggering to her feet despite having very little in the way of leverage to stand. Catra barely stirs, nudging her nose a bit closer into Adora’s neck and flicking her tail slightly.

Glimmer blatantly stares as she and Bow pull close. She is flushed and sweating, eyes unfocused and hair frizzed, but she seems steady on her feet at least. Adora starts walking towards the car before she can start asking questions.

She does, of course, speech a little slurred and loud enough Adora worries it will wake Catra, but aside from flicking her ear occasionally Catra gives no indications of life. They make their way to the car eventually, Adora directing Bow and Glimmer into the backseat and then, after some deliberation, settling Catra’s curled form on the floorboards between them. She is not in any shape to sit upright, and Adora worries Catra would go flying if she had to slam on the brakes while she was just curled up on the bench. This way, at least, she is boxed in by the car or her friends on all sides.

Glimmer runs out of steam by the time they pull out of the beach parking lot, falling mercifully quiet for the drive back. Bow is a quiet drunk, which is honestly surprising to Adora, but before all this she never would have imagined Catra to be a horny drunk either.

Adora had been planning to walk Bow and Glimmer in to their dorms when she dropped them off, but Catra is still unconscious on the floor, so she merely pulls up outside of the co-ed dorm and insists they both text her photos of their rooms when they get back to them.

She idles in the parking lot, watching her phone screen, until she gets a darkened photo of Bow’s roommate Sea Hawk passed out on Bow’s bed for some reason, and a fully lit photo of Glimmer’s room as Perfuma squints at the camera, tired and confused. Clearly Glimmer is drunk enough Adora should have clarified, but hearing Glimmer complain about the consequences of that in the morning will be funny at least. She puts her phone away, turning in her seat to assure herself that Catra is still fine, curled in a tight ball against the floorboards, dead asleep.

She takes Catra home. Gathering her up from the car is difficult, as is carrying her in as she keys into her building and has to fight her front door key, but she eventually manages it. Her body strains as she finally rests Catra on her bed, leaning over it to breathe deeply for a minute before she pulls away.

She plugs her phone in to charge, taking the time to change into sleep clothes only because she is aware of the sand on her jeans. She is already sleeping on the couch, she does not need to be sleeping in jeans and sand, too.

She intends to sleep on the couch, anyway. The second she leaves the room she hears Catra make a weak sound and rushes back in. Catra’s eyes are open, barely slits in the darkness but still clearly panicked – at least until they land on Adora.

“’Dora. Need you,” she murmurs, reaching out weakly in the bed. Adora feels her breath catch, making her way over to the side of the bed and running her hands through Catra’s hair. Catra purrs happily, grabbing at her and tugging extremely weakly. “Sleep with me,” she murmurs. Adora feels herself flush.

“I’m just in the next room,” she tries to assure her. Catra actually growls at that. Her eyes are closed again, but the noise is low and dangerous.

“I need you,” she repeats.

Adora hesitates. They used to share a bed all the time – almost every night, actually, until the Fright Zone got shut down. Once they were reunited, they still ended up sleeping over at each other’s houses half the time. Their foster families had tried to set them up with sleeping bags and the like, but it became quickly obvious they were just going to share the bed regardless. Sharing a bed is nothing new or even rare between them.

It just never had this loaded background before. Catra makes a soft, pitiful sound as her hand falls back to the bed, apparently too tired to keep supporting it. “Missed this,” she murmurs. That is what breaks Adora’s resolve – because yeah, she fucking did too.

Adora carefully crawls over Catra in the bed, putting herself in the position against the wall. Usually Catra prefers to be on the outside, and Adora wants to give her plenty of room should she freak out when she wakes up in the morning. Hopefully waking up like this won’t cause her to want to run.

Don’t let me leave again. She won’t. She settles down on the bed, curling one arm around Catra. She nuzzles into Adora’s sheets, purring with contentment, apparently finally able to fall properly asleep now Adora is with her, a soft smile on her face.

Adora might have a heart attack just watching it. She is so fucked.

Chapter Text

Catra wakes up slowly. It is unusual for her, natural instincts usually warning her to check her surroundings as soon as she is aware enough to do so. Today, she becomes aware of one piece of her existence at a time. The bed is soft, warm. The sun is unusually bright. She is surrounded by the comforting smell of safety.

She is in Adora’s arms.

Catra shifts when her body finally responds to her commands, curling in closer. It takes her a moment to worry if they are clothed, but a twitch of her hand confirms jeans are somewhere in the bed with them, probably on one of them.

Adora is humming softly above her. Catra is draped across her chest, face tucked against her bare collarbones with Adora’s arms loosely wrapped around them, flexing occasionally. Catra’s ear twitches, swiveling down, and she hears the soft sound of the pads of Adora’s fingers on her phone screen – just killing time while she waits for Catra to wake up.

The golden warmth in Catra’s chest would be suffocating if it were not breathing so much life into her. “Adora,” she mumbles, rubbing her cheek against her chest, just above the collar of her nightshirt. She sounds stupidly in love even to her own ears, but isn’t like Adora doesn’t know. And yes, okay, she is marking Adora’s collarbones, but she does not want them to be anyone else’s. It is first thing in the morning; she decides to let herself have this as long as Adora willing to give it to her.

“Are you awake?” Adora asks, softly, shifting slightly to look down. Her hands are still, now. Catra manages a small grunt.

Adora lifts her arms away, causing Catra to whine at the loss. Adora laughs, but a moment later her hands return, now empty. “How do you feel?” Adora asks her. She does not smell like concern, at least.

“Tired. Warm. Good,” Catra lists, nuzzling in. Adora lets out a soft breath beneath her, arms squeezing her close.

“So I finally googled magicats and alcohol,” Adora says, conversationally. Catra lets out a small noise, flicking an ear. She already told Adora firsthand on Wednesday, but she does not have the energy to say that yet. “You don’t have to talk. I know you’re waking up. But I finally googled it,” Adora adds. Catra lets out a breath of relief against Adora’s chest. It makes Adora snort.

“What, talking to me is that unbearable?” she teases, pulling Catra a bit closer despite her words.

“Always,” Catra mumbles. Adora does not respond and Catra thinks shit. “Tell me about google,” she adds. Adora squeezes her in response, petting softly down her back, over her shirt.

“Did you know there’s a term for that energy you were talking about? The internet calls it zoomies when it releases,” Adora explains. Catra lets out a derisive snort, flicking her ear in displeasure. “Hey, you did run three times,” Adora adds.

Alright, fine, point.

“Shut it,” Catra grumbles, but she nudges in a bit closer – uselessly, because she is already laying on top of her. She really is pathetically needy. Adora laughs at her again.

“I was looking up to see if you would get blackout or whatever. It said that it should come back to you slowly? I’m not sure what that means, but at least we don’t have to have that conversation twice,” Adora tells her, hands petting along the lengths of Catra’s bare arms now.

I’m never leaving you, Catra. A purr rises, unbidden. She feels Adora tilt her chin to look down at her, but she makes no move to acknowledge her beyond a flick of her ear.

“Give me an hour. I have to sort it out,” Catra tells her, even though she is sure that is the conversation Adora is referring to. She is fucked if there was somehow a bigger one that is not springing forward. There could be, though. Her life has always been fucked up and everything from last night feels a bit blurry.

“Alright,” Adora agrees, shifting her hands to run them through Catra’s hair now. Catra shivers at the feeling of Adora’s fingers on her scalp. Even after it being short the last few months, she is not used to it being touched, not when it has been hidden behind the mass of her mane all her life. Her fur is standing on end, her tail starting to sway happily behind her. Adora’s movements cease and the disappointment almost makes her limp, tail dropping still against their legs.

Adora laughs, the asshole, but she makes up for it by resuming her ministrations. “You like this?” she teases, voice soft. Catra tries to growl, but it just comes out as a raspy purr instead as her tail sweeps over their intertwined legs again. “Is that why you cut it? Because you realized you liked it to be touched?” Adora asks, question genuine in her voice.

Catra sighs. Time to have a capital C Conversation. “I cut it off with my claws in a gas station bathroom. I needed to tear at something. And I promised I would stop,” she tells Adora, voice soft. They both know what she is referring to. One of Adora’s hands drops from her hair, and Catra would complain at the loss but – Adora slips her hand beneath the collar of Catra’s shirt and traces the lines on her shoulders by feel alone. Catra won’t stop her, not when she needs the assurance there is not a new mark among them.

It always hurt Adora more than it hurt her. She has been good, the last few years. Ever since getting out of that home that left its own marks, anyway. She did not want to break her streak, even if she thought Adora didn’t want to talk to her. Part of her was convinced she would want to even less if she found out Catra gave in again.

“Sorry for bringing it up,” Adora murmurs. She does not sound upset, at least. A little relieved, maybe.

“I like it short,” Catra assures her. She is still going to grow it out again, she knows, but it is true for the moment. “Like when you touch it,” she adds, hint completely unsubtle. Adora laughs, soft and quiet, but she brings her other hand back up to scratch lightly behind both of Catra’s ears now.

Catra does not even purr. The sound that releases from her is akin to an eighteen-wheeler barreling down a highway at ninety miles an hour. Adora laughs loudly, bright and delighted, and the corresponding movement makes Catra bounce against her chest. She really wishes they could never leave this moment, but the movement jostles her and alerts her to her own needs.

“I drank at least a bottle worth of vodka last night. Where’s your bathroom?” Catra questions, reluctantly raising her head. Adora’s hands fall away and she almost succeeds in not whining at the loss. Adora raises an eyebrow at the sound, all too smug.

It is the first time Catra is actually looking at Adora this morning. Her face is a little flushed from her laughter, eyes bright and happy, hair an absolute mess against the pillow. Catra has never wanted to kiss her more in her goddamn life. She doesn’t. That is over between them, now.

“It’s a student apartment, Catra. There are three doors and two of them are open,” Adora points out. Catra stares down at her, ears twitching.

“I haven’t looked at anything but you yet,” she defends. Adora flushes dark, to Catra’s amusement.

Adora is right, though. When Catra casts around the room, she finds the bedroom only slightly smaller than the one she shares with Scorpia. A bed, desk, and wardrobe are the main furniture inside. When she slips out of the bed, fighting down her disappointment at the loss of Adora’s warmth against her, the door to her right is open and clearly leading into the combination living room and kitchenette, the second room appearing to be the same size. The door to the closet in the far-right corner is also open, clothes spilling out of it in a mess.

The door in the wall opposite the bed is closed. Catra pads around Adora’s dropped clothes silently, leaving Adora behind in the bed. It only takes her a few minutes, but as she is washing her hands she glances up in the mirror and really registers what is reflected in the background behind it.

“What the fuck, Adora,” she complains, loudly, knowing Adora can hear her through the door.

“Are you… okay?” she hears Adora ask through the door, voice growing louder as she approaches. Catra yanks the bathroom door open and levels Adora with a glare where she stands on the other side of it. Wordlessly, she points to Adora’s shower.

Adora follows the line of her point and looks no less confused. “I cleaned it last week?” she tries. Catra levels her with her best you fucking idiot look. It is a fantastic one.

“It’s bigger than the one at Glimmer’s house,” Catra complains, ears dropping in her distress. “Do you know how shitty the communal showers are at GEU? They are so small I bang my elbow on the metal walls that don’t even go all the way down every day I use them. Which is not every day, by the way, because they suck so bad,” Catra complains, turning around to glare at Adora’s shower now. Adora laughs behind her, amusement at Catra’s righteous fury evident.

Adora steps into the bathroom, slipping up behind Catra and wrapping her arms around her waist. Catra feels herself flush, heat flooding her body as Adora presses in behind her. “You can use mine if you really want? That is the reason they guarantee student athletes these rooms, by the way. Helps to wash off a game, and it has room for a seat if you get an injury,” Adora explains. Her breath is puffing over Catra’s ear, her arms wrapped around her, and Catra is losing her mind.

She realizes too late that her tail has wrapped itself around Adora’s thigh. She only realizes when Adora lets out a soft breath and looks down.

Catra hates herself, a little. Heat is flooding between her legs at Adora’s proximity, at Adora’s touch, and she knows better than to think Adora even wants this. She is just trying to tease her, keep her close to keep her from running, and here is Catra, desperate for her again.

Adora pulls back, arms dropping away. Catra swallows the disappointment in her throat. She should apologize, definitely, because this is the exact kind of moment she knows Adora was probably afraid of happening that first night when she realized Catra had feelings for her. Adora has given her too much, however, and she can’t stop taking now.

Adora’s hands are on her shoulders, turning Catra around. She almost flinches, looking determinedly anywhere but at Adora’s face even as her grip flexes in a silent request. Catra knows her ears are pinned back, cheeks flushed, and without Adora’s thigh to wrap around her tail is lashing now. Everything about her displays her thoughts clear as day.

It is not like Adora doesn’t know, right? That is the only justification Catra can come up with as she draws a deep breath in, preparing to apologize.

That thought dies when Adora’s hands drop from her shoulders to her waist. Catra’s entire body stands at attention, her gaze snapping to Adora’s against her will. Adora’s eyes are bright, blue and intense in a way that steals Catra’s breath right out of her throat. She can’t tear her eyes away, not until Adora’s gaze lets her go first, but she does not seem inclined to do so. The only time Adora has ever looked at her like this is when she is-

The hands on her waist flex, and then they are directing her, Adora turning her and backing her against the bathroom wall. Catra’s body is on fire as Adora presses her against the wall, hands gripping her firmly and breath ghosting hot against her face. She still has not looked away and Catra feels useless beneath her, higher thought processes shutting down as her entire body strains forward, willing Adora to close the gap.

She is sober. Catra knows better than to hope for something that won’t happen.

“Is this okay?” Adora asks, voice low. She still has not broken eye contact, that intense gaze narrowed in on Catra like a laser focus.

Catra wants to laugh. Is this okay? It is only everything she has been dreaming about since middle school, but never gotten to have without the burn of alcohol on Adora’s tongue drowning out the guilt she feels. Catra is lost. Even drunk Adora can sometimes hardly stand to touch her, knowing how Catra feels and being unable to return it. Adora was always such a fucking giver.

“Are you sure you can do this?” Catra manages to ask, because part of her just wants to snap and take it, but she can’t, not when Adora does not really want her to have it. Not when Adora does not really want her.

For once, Adora’s gaze does not falter. “Yes. I want to. I want you,” Adora tells her. It sounds practiced, like she has been thinking about this. Catra is never going to think about anything again but Adora saying I want you. Not just want, but you.

“But why me?” she manages. Her voice sounds small, even to her own ears. She can see Adora’s brow drawing together in confusion. She still has not broken eye contact. She hates that she can’t look away, that she has to watch the realization dawn in Adora’s face.

“Fuck, Catra, what do you think we have been doing?” Adora asks. She sounds distraught – she definitely looks it, but her eyes are still boring into Catra. Catra wants to look away. She can’t. Her ears flatten to her head. Adora’s breath is still hot on her face, her body is still pressed against her, her hands still in a death grip on Catra’s waist. She could not flee if she wanted to – she really wants to, but her body is still crying out for Adora, straining for her.

“I’ve been taking. Anything you will give me,” Catra confesses. Adora knows, she was there, but Catra still hates herself for it. Adora’s expression is pained.

“Catra, everything we did I wanted. I was afraid you didn’t want me sober,” Adora tells her. Catra feels her eyes go wide, feels the way her heart trips.

Everything they did she wanted. The guilt-

Fuck, Catra is an idiot. It is not love, but it does not have to be. And maybe- maybe Adora’s guilt was really the elephant in the room between them the whole time. “You’re the only person I’ve ever wanted like this, Adora,” Catra returns, voice shaking, because she thought Catra didn’t want her sober.

She has never wanted another person as much as she wants Adora, but she has never wanted another person the way she wants Adora, either. Never wanted to both have and give, never felt safe enough to be had. Never felt comforted by another’s touch, word, presence the way Adora brings her calm – and works her body into a fever.

Adora groans at her words, pressing in and claiming Catra’s mouth. Catra whines against her, entire body shaking at finally having Adora against her, aware and in control. At being Adora’s, as Adora pins her to the wall with her hands, mouth, body. “I want you,” Adora pants against her mouth. Catra whimpers, arching into the touch.

She– is an idiot. Adora may have felt guilty for taking advantage of her or whatever else she thought she was doing, but the way Adora - dominate, bossy Adora - had fallen apart under the brush of her claws should have given her a hint. It could be that Catra is the only damn magicat in a hundred miles. She will take it if she gets to have this still. If Adora will still kiss her, touch her, fuck her-

Catra turns away from the kiss, gasping for air. Adora does not give her a chance to recover, diving down into her neck to kiss and bite in a way that makes Catra’s legs shake. Another sign she should have noticed, if she was not so sure. No one else has ever kissed her, bit her like Adora is willing to. Like Adora seems to enjoy to.

“You want me,” she reiterates, breathless and reveling in the words, the touch, the feeling of Adora against her.

Yes,” Adora’s voice is barely above a growl against her neck. Catra feels a flood of heat between her legs.

“Fuck me, Adora. Please,” she begs, not caring how desperate she sounds, not when Adora grabs her with bruising pressure and pulls her back towards the bedroom.

 

--

 

Adora needs to stop making assumptions. Last night proved that to her. So when she wakes up with Catra curled in her arms, still fast asleep, she decides she needs to know what playing field they are on. Catra does not even stir as Adora retrieves her phone from the nightstand, rearranging their position so she can browse her phone as Catra continues to rumble contentedly in her arms.

Catra is asleep, and Adora cannot resist pressing a few kisses against her soft hair. She likes it short, likes feeling the heat of Catra’s body through it as she tugs on it-

Not morning thoughts. Right.

She sends a good morning text to Glimmer and Bow, reminding them to drink lots of water. She shoots another to Scorpia, letting her know Catra is at her place in case Entrapta did not tell her last night. Errands fulfilled, she pulls up google. It is always difficult, finding information on magicats – a lot of articles tend to be pretty damn presumptive she has found – but she has experience doing it from years of trying to help her best friend figure herself out.

Most of the information she finds is similar to what Catra has already told her, but eventually she finds what she actually wanted: they don’t get blackout, not really, no matter how much they drink. The memories come back up eventually. She sighs in relief – not only that Catra will remember last night, but that she really does remember every other.

Then she scrolls further down the page and nearly chokes. It is an inebriation-to-drinks chart, showing how much various species have to drink to reach the same level of intoxication. The spike for magicats is far beyond the human range.

Enough to send Adora to the grave should only get Catra drunk. Adora stares at it, sudden realization hitting that every goddamn time she and Catra have drank together she had no idea how aware Catra was, actually. Times she thought Catra was gone and she was – drunk, at best, if not just buzzed.

Those last two times – Catra measured. She looked up a chart, maybe even the one Adora is looking at now. No wonder Catra had talked about even footing. No wonder Catra’s drink of choice is straight whiskey.

No wonder Catra had not believed her when Adora said she did not want to take advantage of her. Adora remembers driving home after that first time Catra invited her, feeling perfectly aware and alert, the buzz of alcohol having already faded from her system. She thought Catra had been aware she still had to drive and mixed it light on purpose. Now she knows Catra was in the same space she was. That all those times she thought the alcohol was making Catra want her-

Catra just wanted her.

(Probably).

Adora knows Catra’s desires do not mean she feels the same way as her. Love and want are two separate things for most people. Adora might not be one of them, but she knows that plenty of people desire someone without loving them. Adora does not know how to do that. She loves Catra just like she wants Catra. She has never thought of someone else the way she thinks of Catra. But if Catra is like most people and willing to give her everything but that one piece of intent, Adora can be more than okay with that.

If Adora is right, anyway. When Catra does wake up, she pushes it aside for the moment. Lets them just enjoy their time together – enjoy time with Catra in her arms, content to be there. Getting to touch Catra without all this loaded context, feeling her friend happy and relaxed against her.

Then Catra gets up. Adora is already preparing for the conversation they need to have, standing and fighting the urge to pace, when Catra gets offended by her shower of all things. Then Catra’s tail wraps around Adora’s leg and there has never been a better opening. Adora feels a heat between them, a need, desire rolling off Catra in waves that causes something deep within Adora to light up.

She places her hands on Catra’s waist and Catra meets her gaze, surprised. Carefully, she steers Catra back against the wall. Catra’s eyes go wide as she realizes what Adora is doing, breath hitching as she willingly follows. Adora presses in, barely a few inches from kissing her and finally tasting just Catra, not whiskey. Catra’s gaze does not waver, holding Adora’s own as she waits, leaning forward just a little.

“Is this okay?” Adora asks, because she has to. She has to know, to stop making assumptions – to finally believe that Catra wants this, has always wanted it. Catra blatantly stares at her, but her eyes are dark, hunger evident. That still does not mean it is okay.

“Are you sure you can do this?” Catra asks, voice laced with trepidation, but excitement quivering within. Excitement, because she wants this. Adora was right. She does not know how Catra actually feels about her. She does not know if she loves her or, if she does not now, maybe one day she could. Even if she does not, fuck is Adora okay with that if they can talk about it and be friends again, especially if Catra still wants all this. Adora does not need the word, not when Catra is in her life and in her bed. Not if Catra still wants all their plans together.

She just wants Catra in her life every single way she is willing to be there. “Yes. I want to. I want you,” Adora tells her. She needs to say it explicitly, after what happened last night. She has been thinking about this, planning this, all morning. She will take whatever Catra is comfortable giving her.

She expects a yes, or a no, or even a stop. What she does not expect is for Catra’s eyes to go wide, her breath to quiver. “But why me?” Catra asks. Adora stares at her, confused. Catra does not look away, swallowing thickly. Adora feels like she has been hit by a truck when it hits her, and Catra’s ears pin back to her head when she sees it.

Catra really thinks Adora does not want her. Adora can see it, see the dark loathing – self-loathing – in her eyes. She expects Adora to turn away from her, as if she ever could. Adora always knew the inside of Catra’s head was a fucked-up space. She can’t blame her, not coming out of that place and not when Adora is the same way – but she never knew how low Catra thought of herself. That she thought it was possible for Adora to find her unattractive. Was that what she was doing all summer? Assuring herself that someone wanted her?

“Fuck, Catra, what do you think we have been doing?” Adora has to ask. Every time Catra pinned her, handed her a drink – did she really think Adora didn’t want that? That she was only touching her because Catra asked?

“I’ve been taking. Anything you will give me,” Catra confesses. Her voice is small, ashamed. She has not looked away, her body is still tense like a wire, but the guilt is obvious.

Taking advantage. It is back again. They have been in the same headspace, this whole time. Catra thought Adora did not want her, not really. Taking advantage of her feelings or her kindness, maybe.

“Catra, everything we did I wanted. I was afraid you didn’t want me sober,” Adora tells her, open and honest. No more fucking assumptions. Speak the truth – Catra needs it.

Catra’s eyes go wide in shock. Her entire body blatantly strains forward despite how she stays back against the wall. Adora’s chest squeezes painfully at the sight.

“You’re the only person I’ve ever wanted like this, Adora,” Catra returns, voice shaking.

Adora’s brain shuts down. There is no room for any thoughts but this, but Catra, but finally having her and giving her what she actually wants. She presses in, kissing Catra possessively, not really giving her a choice in opening her mouth beneath her and letting Adora in. It does not bother Catra. She whines, the sound shooting straight to Adora’s core, making her press in closer despite the way their bodies are already flush together, pinning Catra to the wall as she shakes with desire. “I want you, Catra,” Adora assures, barely pausing between kisses to breathe the words against her lips. Catra whimpers, straining forward, closer, looking for more.

Catra makes a soft sound against her mouth before turning her face away, chest heaving as she tries to catch her breath in the face of Adora’s onslaught. Not a single one of her signals indicates stop, so Adora ducks down to kiss along her neck, remembering how Catra had fallen apart the last time she did it. She bites, enough pressure for Catra to feel, and her muscles shake beneath her. Her next breath is nearly a soft cry.

“You want me,” Catra echoes, like she is luxuriating in the words. Adora is so fucking stupid.

Yes,” she assures, not caring how needy and possessive she sounds, voice rough with desire. This- they are actually doing this. They came close on Thursday, but Adora is relieved they got interrupted then. If they had done this, Catra thinking she was just some warm body to Adora, Adora certain that it was only the alcohol making her want this with her-

This is right. This is waking up with her best friend in her arms, knowing they are on the same page, knowing they both want even if the question of their feelings lingers in the background.

“Fuck me, Adora. Please,” Catra pleads. A flood of heat pours through Adora, sending a shiver of desire through her at hearing Catra say that, say it to her. Adora is not quite able to hold back the strength of her grip as she pulls Catra away from the wall, steering her back into the bedroom. Catra lets Adora back her against the bed, tilting her head back with a soft, needy sound. Adora does not need further encouragement to claim her mouth again, pressing in hungrily as Catra’s knees hit the bed.

Catra’s hands grab at the edge of her night shirt and Adora takes the hint, finally letting go of Catra’s waist to take a half step back and pull it off over her head. When she meets Catra’s eyes again she has frozen, hands tugging the hem of her own shirt but eyes hungrily roaming over Adora’s bare chest. Adora cannot help but smirk as Catra unconsciously licks her lips, tail lashing and ears twitching. She reaches forward, her own hands finding the edge of Catra’s shirt now. Catra startles, flushing, but she raises her arms so Adora can pull her top off for her.

Catra is still in her clothes from the night before, but it does not matter – she never wears a bra anyway. The high school locker room and changing together before going swimming left Adora well aware of this fact. It might have been the most traumatizing part of high school. Adora was trying so hard to not want Catra, to not even think of her that way despite knowing by then she loved her. When Catra kissed her, despite running afterwards, she opened the floodgates. Adora has thought about this a lot since, especially since Catra kissed her the second time.

Adora steps forward to press their bodies together again, feeling Catra bare against her. She has to suppress a shiver at the sensation. Her eyes lock on Catra’s face as her gaze is finally able to meet Adora’s again. Catra flushes as Adora sends her a smirk she actually sees this time. Her hands find Catra’s hips as she presses in for another deep kiss, sliding down to take her thighs in her hands, lifting her up onto the bed. Catra gasps against her lips but lets Adora place a knee on the bed, guiding them until Catra is laying back and she is above her, one forearm dug into the mattress to prop herself up and her free hand coming up to bury in Catra’s hair. Catra whines against her mouth, coherent words long gone. She likes this, likes when Adora pulls on her hair as much as Adora revels in the answering moans she receives.

As much as Adora wants, as much as she wants to show Catra she wants, she slows down for a moment. She kisses Catra slow and purposeful, like that first night Catra had invited her. Catra had slowly and steadily fallen apart beneath the attention, and it feels like the right kind of affection for this moment. She grips her hair, firm but not quite pulling as she tilts Catra’s head back, exploring her mouth slowly, far more confident in her actions now as Catra begins to gasp softly between every kiss. Catra tilts her head down, kissing back with a bit more need, and Adora pulls her hair to angle her head back again. Catra whines as Adora resumes the slow kiss, shifting her hips restlessly beneath her.

“Adora,” Catra pants against her mouth, barely a full word but a clear request from the way she arches beneath her. Reluctantly, Adora pulls her hand from Catra’s hair, running it down the side of her neck, chest, torso, finally exploring the planes of her body, squeezing at her chest lightly as she goes. Catra shifts beneath her, body straining forward into her hand wherever it roams. “More,” Catra breathes, voice slightly tinged with embarrassment, but blatantly needy. Maybe Adora has drawn this out enough. Maybe.

Adora reluctantly pulls away from the kiss, biting her own lip as she readjusts her position so she can take in the sight of Catra beneath her. Cautiously, she straddles over Catra’s hips so she can drop both hands to her waist. Catra almost sighs in relief, arching her back and fluttering her eyes shut. Adora remembers Catra's reaction to her holding her steady last night and flexes her grip, reveling in the way it makes Catra’s breath stutter. Slowly, she rubs her thumbs in circles against her fur as she drinks her in.

Catra’s chest is rising and falling quickly now, fur a mess from the slide of Adora’s body and hand against it. Adora lets herself actually look, take in her bitten lips parted with her heavy breathing, hair ruffled and messy, ears twitching. Adora watches the shift of her muscles beneath her fur, eyes tracing the scars and stripes that are familiar to her and the entirely new way her flushed chest stands at attention. Just the sight of her is making heat flood through Adora.

Adora must spend too long admiring, because Catra’s eyes flutter open again with an anxious huff, but when she meets Adora’s gaze and realizes what she was doing, Catra flushes. Her own line of sight drops, as if given permission, and she blatantly stares. “Fuck, Adora, you know how your tits have haunted me since puberty?” she asks, voice a bit breathless as she raises a hand. Adora leans forward encouragingly, huffing a laugh as Catra palms her, squeezes her.

“They’re inconvenient,” she argues. Her voice is breathless. Catra lucked out in that department. Adora, as an athlete, was resigned to a life of straining sports bras. Catra looks away from her chest to make eye contact and flick a claw over her nipple. Adora gasps, a jolt shooting through her, and Catra smirks in response.

“Beautiful,” is her response to that, shorting out Adora’s brain as Catra leans up and kisses her hungrily. Adora cannot leave those words, those ministrations unanswered. She drops her hands to Catra’s sides again, running along the length of her just to muss her fur on her path to her chest. She palms her, reveling in the way Catra arches into her touch, squeezing with pressure now and pinching at one of her nipples. That makes Catra gasp against her mouth, breaking the kiss, but Adora is happy to drink in the sound. She doesn’t need more encouragement than that to repeat the motion on the other side, earning a soft groan in response.

She presses in to kiss her slow again even as she massages against her chest. She loves the feeling of Catra’s mouth pliant against her even as her body keys up with tension and desire. It seems to be working Catra up even further than the touches, and she suspects it is the intent behind it, given her insecurities. Catra’s hands are roaming over her back now, squeezing, feeling along the planes of her muscles. Adora distinctly remembers Catra making moves to feel up her arms long before she ever tried to touch her chest and flexes her shoulders. Catra whines, grip spasming.

Please, Adora, I want us naked,” Catra begs, voice rough as she makes no move to stop feeling Adora up. Adora squeezes her chest one last time, enjoying the way it makes her breath stutter, before she slides her hands down to Catra’s waistband. She pulls back to make eye contact as she shifts down and reaches her fly. Catra is flushed, eyes blown out and desire evident. Adora is not worried about that, not anymore.

She voices her concern as she undoes her fly. “Have you done this before?” she asks, voice neutral and hoping her gaze is too as she hooks her fingers into Catra’s waistbands. She said she never wanted anyone like she wanted her – but Adora struggles to believe Catra really thought she was that unattractive all on her own. Catra flushes and looks away, shaking her head as she arches her hips so Adora can pull down her jeans. Adora tries to bite down on the possessive part of her that stirs to life at that revelation. Her subconscious jealousy is not why she needed to know.

Catra props herself up on her elbows, finally looking towards Adora again as she helps Adora remove her jeans and underwear by kicking them free. Adora hesitates, about to ask, but Catra already asked for naked, and she doesn’t want her to think she has doubts - because she has never been more sure of anything in her fucking life - so she just hooks her fingers into her own shorts and underwear to pull them free before she returns to straddle Catra again, no fabric between them.

It is so different, feeling Catra’s fur directly against her, seeing Catra and feeling her. Adora shivers at the same time that Catra gasps. Adora lets her gaze trail up Catra’s body slowly, drinking in the sight of her hungrily. She would be embarrassed by how blatant she is being in her desire if she did not think Catra wanted her to look just as much as she wants to do it. Adora’s eyes find hers again, seeing the blatant heat there as she watches in return. Catra bites her lip, a bit of regret tinging her gaze.

“I haven’t done this, but - I know how to take care of you. I’ve done it over clothes a few times, at least,” Catra admits, flushed and looking a bit ashamed. The heat is still there, even if she is clearly struggling to maintain eye contact while she speaks. “I got tested at the beginning of the semester in case. Don’t worry,” she adds. She seems to let the thought go as soon as she says it, pushing it aside. The shame is gone, regret too. Now there is only heat, anticipation, and trepidation.

Adora shakes her head, leaning forward to kiss her once, letting her feel that heat between them as she flicks her tongue against one of her fangs. Catra squirms beneath her, and oh does that feel different when it is just bare skin and fur. “That wasn’t why I was asking, Catra,” Adora corrects her. She pulls back, threading both her hands in Catra’s hair and tugging to tilt her head back. Catra sighs, eyes falling closed and a soft purr rolling through her chest. Her lips part, expecting a kiss, inviting it. “Was that by choice? Not getting back?” Adora asks instead, because she is pretty sure she just found the source of this whole issue between them the last few weeks.

Catra’s purr dies, like Adora expected it to. She does not say anything, just tilts her head back a little again in Adora’s grip, a silent request. Adora sighs, but it is fond. She would not deny her - she leans in, kissing Catra slow and deep, taking as much care in her movements as she can. Trying to show as much care in her movements as she can. When the kiss finishes, she does not pull back really, lips still brushing against Catra and waiting.

It takes a moment. It takes Catra tilting her chin up to try to seal their mouths together again and whining when Adora shifts back to stop her, but she gives in. “They didn’t offer. I didn’t ask,” Catra admits. Adora tightens her grip in Catra’s hair in reward for giving her answer and Catra lets out a sigh of contentment as she kisses her again. Catra gasps softly against her as she keeps going, barely pausing for air. She deserves it, admitting things for Adora. She deserves to have kisses like she wants.

Adora remembers every club girl she had seen on Catra’s Instagram over the summer. She hates every single one of them individually. For taking advantage of the fragile state Adora put her in, for not showing her the care she deserved, for letting her think even while they were touching and kissing that she was unwanted.

“I… I wouldn’t have trusted anyone else with this, anyway,” Catra whispers when they pull apart for breath again. Adora should have a response to that other than growling and claiming Catra’s mouth with a possessive, greedy kiss, but she can’t hold herself back as her hands move without her commanding them to, feeling along the length of Catra’s body, skating all the way down bare hips and thighs.

Adora is going to fuck her through the mattress. Catra is trusting her, just her, with this.

“I haven’t done this, but I want to take care of you. To make you feel good. Wanted,” Adora tells her, honestly. Her voice is ragged, her hands greedy and possessive as she grips Catra’s thighs. She held herself back, kissing and touching her slowly, but now Adora needs her. Catra moans beneath her, eyes flying open to make eye contact again. The heat there is undeniable, but there is softness there, too. Touched caring. It makes Adora’s breath catch. “I want to make you come apart for me,” Adora adds, because it is pretty much the only thing she thinks about when she is getting herself off. Catra’s breath stutters out as her hips twitch.

Please,” Catra begs, and Adora slides her body down, angling herself so she can press open kisses along Catra’s neck as her hands slide together. She cards her fingers through the thick fur above where Catra actually wants her touch. Catra whines, like Adora suspected she would, and Adora grins against her neck, nipping there lightly, as her fingers finally trace down to explore her.

Adora is only just touching her, but she can tell Catra is soaked just from her cautious exploration. Catra whimpers a little as Adora begins to work on sucking a dark mark into the side of her neck. It will be hard to see, but Adora is determined for her to feel it. She brushes her fingers against Catra’s clit as she explores and she hears a sharp gasp, hips twitching up seeking more. Adora obliges, rubbing careful strokes over her that have the whimper returning, Catra grinding her hips down into Adora’s touch. Her muscles are twitching beneath her, and Adora is unsure if she is just worked up or if she is already close. She was already turned on before they even started talking, and she does not know how long it takes Catra to get there.

Adora releases the spot on her neck she was working on, moving down to kiss along her collarbones now. She switches her movements, tensing her fingers and placing them over her clit, working them up and down her in a rocking motion now, giving Catra something she can grind against, since she seems incapable of keeping her hips still as Adora touches her. Catra lets out open moans, head throwing back as Adora works her.

“Please, I- if you want to, I want you to fuck me. I’m going to get off before you touch me at this rate,” Catra asks, her voice rough with desire. Adora smirks against her skin, sliding down to kneel properly between Catra’s legs now, hopefully giving her a better angle for this. She will find out. If not, she will correct. She wants to do this right.

“Pretty sure I’ve already touched you quite a bit. What was it you said the other day? Are you sure you can handle me?” Adora teases, despite how she slides her hand lower down, stroking along Catra’s folds to reach her center. Catra whines beneath her, legs shifting wider apart as she huffs a sound that is probably supposed to be annoyed, but just comes out desperate when Adora brushes her fingers over her.

“When you showed up at the rally without a fucking shirt on I wanted you to rail me against the wall,” Catra responds, and Adora spasms just a bit. Catra laughs at her, the asshole, but Adora looks up from her position between her legs to greedily drink in the sight of Catra, hair and fur wrecked, pupils blown out and cheeks flushed, laughing with easy delight. Her eyes dance with lust and amusement as she meets Adora’s gaze in a challenge. “Well?” she asks, using Adora’s competitiveness against her.

All her bravado falters when Adora heeds her request and rubs a finger against her entrance, purposeful and not enough. Her eyes go wide, breath and muscles shivering with anticipation. Adora grins at her as she presses a finger in, greedily drinking in the way Catra throws her head back and moans. Adora strokes in slow, carefully pressing forward before pulling back and repeating the motion, deeper this time.

“For fuck’s sake, Adora, you’re going to fuck me with one?” Catra demands, but her voice is needy. Catra is open for her, worked up plenty to take more. Adora pretends to consider it as she gently rocks her finger forward, just exploring for a few strokes. The angle is new, better for this, actually, but it does not feel that different to do than when she has done this on herself, if a bit unfamiliar. She strokes into her a few times, trying to get used to the shape of her and feeling a bit blind compared to being able to feel her own responses as she does this. Catra glares at her, no malice in it but some of that heat died down from when Adora was touching her, because it really is not enough.

Adora adds a second finger and rocks her this time. Catra releases a relieved breath, some of the tension immediately easing out of her body. Adora presses into her faster and watches Catra relax beneath her, sinking back into the sheets like Adora’s fingers are bringing her peace. It makes her breath catch, watching Catra give herself over with trust like this.

It is not hard to figure out what Catra wants. Not between her words or how she goes limp back against the bed, thighs trembling as Adora amps up the pace, pushing into her hard. Catra was not exaggerating – she takes all of Adora, all of the length of her fingers and all of her strength, rolling her hips down into it and releasing breathy pants of “Yes” and “Adora” and “More.” Adora gives it all to her, fucking her at a pace that would be near-brutal to her but Catra takes happily, peace gone now as she writhes under her and releases a filthy stream of praises.

“Fuck, your muscles flexing as you strain for me. Harder, Adora – work for me,” Catra pants out, moans tinging nearly every word. Adora can’t resist that, can’t stop giving her more until every one of Catra’s breaths is a thin whine. Adora is soaked herself, walls twitching down on nothing just watching Catra fall apart beneath her, trying to take more of her, anything she will give. Adora fucks her hard, a way she never has done it on herself, but Catra begs her for it. This is what Catra wants, what she needs right now. Adora is more than happy to give it to her.

Adora has been using her other arm to brace herself so she can give Catra what she wants, what she asked for, but she knows she is close now, there is no way she is not. Adora shifts, keeping the arm she is using to thrust steady as she engages her core so she can raise her other hand to touch Catra again, bracing her hand in her thick fur and working her thumb against her clit. She does not quite have the dexterity to time it with her thrusts, but she suspects it does not matter. She would not have been able to keep this up the whole time, but she thinks Catra needs that push.

Catra cries out, and distantly Adora is aware of things like bedsprings and neighbours, but despite being aware of them she does not give a shit, not as Catra’s body tenses around her, eyes slamming shut and mouth opening in a silent scream, muscles clenching as her entire body arches off the bed, nearly off Adora’s fingers entirely, and then her walls are rolling down in waves around her fingers.

Adora is panting from exertion as Catra goes limp against the sheets, but it is the best damn workout she has ever had, heat and endorphins flooding through her as she carefully slides out, wiping her hand off on the sheets. Catra is panting, eyes closed and body limp, flush spilling down her slack face. She looks like she is unconscious, completely spent and fucked out.

Fuck, I killed her, Adora thinks, shifting to crawl up the bed and lay on her back beside Catra, her own arms shaking as she cradles Catra in against her chest like they had been when she first woke up that morning.

Catra is purring, at least, as Adora pulls her limp form close against her, resting Catra’s head against her chest. Whether she is conscious is another question. Distantly, Adora remembers Catra has not had anything to drink yet this morning.

“You okay down there?” Adora asks, because she is not sure if she should be flattered or worried.

Catra’s purr grows louder for a moment as she weakly nudges against Adora’s chest, the edges of a trill contained within it. Adora lets out a breath of relief, settling on flattered. Catra is too blissed out to move, even speak apparently, and Adora’s competitive spirit warms in pride at that. Now she knows she is okay, Adora lets herself drink in the sight of Catra gone just from her touch with greedy eyes. Her own need is there, pulsing between her legs at the sight of seeing Catra like that, but it is almost stronger seeing Catra like this, so she luxuriates in it.

 

--

 

It is not that Catra passed out, or anything. She just could not really work her body, did not want to. Did not want anything but the feeling of Adora against her. It takes her some time, the measurement unknown, to come back to herself, breathing finally evening out from the desperate panting Adora had worked her to.

She lets out a mrpph as she finally manages to lift her head and blink at Adora slowly, dazed and thoroughly satiated, ears twitching. Her purr is still going, but she really is not sure she can stop that. Adora is smirking at her, smug and self-satisfied.

“I- How long was that?” Catra asks, ignoring the look on Adora’s face. She can have it. Fuck, she can have it. That felt better than Catra had ever imagined it would, better than anything she had managed with her own two hands. Then again, it was Adora. No matter how desperately Catra fucked herself, imagining, just getting to actually see Adora’s muscles flexing as she worked to make Catra feel good might have been able to get her there.

“How long were you incoherent? A few minutes,” Adora tells her, still smug but clearly trying to assure her as she reaches out, running a hand through Catra’s hair that she butts into happily. Her purr is still going, although the way Adora is petting through her hair does not incline it to stop.

“I- don’t usually get like that. I would have warned you. If I knew,” Catra admits, ducking her head so she does not have to see Adora’s satisfaction at that. She marks along Adora’s jaw to give her a reason to hide from her infuriating face. Adora hums her satisfaction now that Catra can’t see it, the absolute asshole, and Catra huffs but goes limp back against her, nuzzling into her shoulder.

Lazily, she flexes her left hand until it comes back under her command so she can run it over Adora’s body, purring and content as she feels her shift up into her touch. “It was hot, that I could make you lose yourself like that,” Adora assures her, once she realizes Catra really is not going to look at her smirk.

Catra could huff, and be annoyed, and tease her back – because that really is what Adora is doing, intent blatant – but she also does not want Adora to misunderstand again, so she gives in to honesty. She cannot actually say it – she is not that honest – but she lets out an embarrassed, contented trill and buries her face in the comforting expanse of Adora’s skin.

Speaking of Adora’s skin though – Catra traces her hand over the lines of Adora’s arms, squeezing and absolutely reveling in how weak the flex Adora gives in response is, how spent she is for Catra. Catra shivers against her, hand roaming back up to her shoulder and then down to her chest.

“You don’t want it hard like that,” Catra asks, observes, questions as she kneads against Adora’s chest, bringing her to attention. Adora arches into her touch a little, but Catra can feel her pausing, considering. It is not like they have talked about this before at all, but Catra has known roughly where Adora falls in her alignments since before Adora did probably, and she can extrapolate from there.

“I like it rough, but not like that. Not unless you wanted to,” Adora tells her. Catra frowns against her from her spot still cradled against her chest, feeling her ears turn down as she lifts her head, hand stilling against Adora.

“You shouldn’t let me if you wouldn’t ask for it,” Catra tells her, almost glaring at Adora, because Catra being afraid of that was kind of the whole conflict between them these last few weeks – thinking Adora would never want her but was letting her.

Adora shakes her head, meeting her gaze confidently. “It’s not like that – for me, anyway. What I like is seeing you turned on, blissed out. I’m almost there, right now. If it got you off, it would get me off too,” Adora tells her. Catra stares at her, ears twitching. She knows what this is, she has heard of it, she really should not be surprised considering it is fucking Adora

But she is, still. That touching her was able to do so much for Adora. Adora bites her lip, looking a bit nervous now as Catra looks down at her, processing all that. “Let’s find the things that work for both of us, okay?” Catra settles on saying. Adora flushes, the darkness spilling all the way down her shoulders - a sight Catra is familiar with - and then gracing the tops of her breasts. Catra feels her mind go blank at the thought of how many of her previous blushes have spilled this far with her shirts to hide them.

She pinches Adora’s nipple - harder than she would do it herself, but she did say rough – and watches the way it stiffens while her chest is dusted with the colour pouring down. Her purr was starting to finally fade, but it is back now, watching Adora’s body react to her like this. Adora lets out a small gasp, thighs shifting. “I just want you to touch me, right now. I just need a push,” Adora tells her. Catra narrows her eyes, running her hand down, kneading a little at Adora’s abs as she goes.

A push. How close is she?

Adora gasps as Catra reaches the thatch of hair between her legs. She has not even touched her, not in the slightest, but Catra realizes she can smell her now. “Spread your legs, Adora,” Catra instructs. Adora lets out a soft breath, dutifully following orders so Catra can touch her without needing the strength to get up from where she lays curled into her side. After a moment, Catra lays her head back down on Adora’s chest. She is spent and tired, but it also just feels so intimate to look up at Adora like this, feeling her heartbeat against her cheek as her fingers trace down.

Adora is soaked when Catra touches her, tracing along her slit as Adora whimpers despite how Catra is purposefully avoiding her clit. Catra wants to tease, to draw this out a little, give Adora something half as good as she gave her, but-

That scent is unlocking some primal part of her brain. Adora made a request and Catra wants to fulfill it. Adora is already spent for her, she has already had that drawn out experience just from giving it to Catra, and Catra just wants to release the tension for her now.

“You were so good to me, Adora,” she praises, a little breathless from the realization of just how turned on Adora is as she finally touches Adora where she wants her, setting a steady, pressured rhythm. They may have never talked about it, but Catra called her good girl as a throwaway joke once during high school and they both saw her reaction then. Adora gasps, a whine laced inside as her eyes fly open. Catra knows her gaze must be hungry now as Adora looks down and they lock eyes.

She completely changes techniques, switching to light circling that has Adora immediately rolling her hips up for more pressure again. Catra smirks at her as she lets out a high, indignant noise and twitches down. That does not do it for her, clearly. “How do you like it?” she asks. Adora bites her lip, flushing.

“What you were doing before? But indirect, so it can be harder,” Adora offers, fluster apparent. This Catra knows, can follow along easily. The angle she is using, draped across Adora’s chest, is almost the same she uses when she takes care of herself. She goes back to steady pressure, pressing in a little rough now she is off-center, and revels in the pleasured hiss Adora releases, already spent muscles twitching. Her head goes limp back against the pillow, breaking eye contact as she squeezes her eyes shut, but Catra is more than happy to watch from her spot on her chest as her fingers work Adora over in the same amount of time it took Catra to regain coherency. Catra turns her head, lifting it a little to gently kiss and nip at Adora’s shoulder as her breathing becomes ragged.

When Adora comes, she is already so spent it is almost peaceful. There are none of the dramatics of the orgasm she had ripped from Catra. Catra always was the drama queen of them, though, even if Adora is the attention whore. Adora’s muscles twitch, she lets out a series of high, breathy moans, and then she goes limp against the sheets, breathing heavily and blinking up at the ceiling rapidly.

Catra drinks in the sight, sounds, smell, determined to memorize every second of Adora’s pleasure. She is also determined to get to work that near-screaming orgasm out of her one day, but for now she takes this one in happily. Catra purrs in delight, nuzzling in against Adora’s chest as she limply twitches her arms closer around Catra.

“I am going to need to work out more if you can wear out my stamina like this,” is what Adora thinks is appropriate post-sex talk.

It totally is. Catra trills at the image of Adora in the gym not for her stupid team or shiny trophies but so she can fuck Catra longer. “You’re a dork,” is what Catra thinks is an appropriate response. A dork with abs, but still – a total fucking dork. Catra palms at said abs, absently, and Adora hums, apparently in proper control of herself again as she hugs Catra close despite the way she is already using her as a pillow.

“We- we are doing this again, right?” Adora asks, clearly fighting to keep her voice neutral. She is failing.

“Adora, don’t be a moron,” Catra huffs, finally finding the strength in herself to prop up on her elbow and narrow her eyes down at Adora. Adora’s eyes slide down to her chest for a moment as it becomes visible again– she quickly snaps her gaze back up to Catra’s eyes and flushes. At least she is not panicking; she caught Catra’s meaning.

Catra hesitates, though. “I want to do this again. I just don’t know where that leaves us,” she admits. The flush on Adora’s face fades a bit as her expression softens. She raises a hand, cupping Catra’s cheek and stroking along under her jaw in a way that makes her melt into the touch, purring softly. She has to fight to keep her eyes from slipping closed.

“I’ve wanted you a long time, Catra. And this was kind of amazing. So if you enjoyed it – and obviously you did,” Catra rolls her eyes and huffs a laugh at the smugness, but continues to purr, “then I want to keep doing this with you. And I want us to be us again. Actually talk and hang out and hopefully discuss our issues,” Adora finishes.

“Mm, low blow, you know I hate talking,” Catra responds, almost breathing a sigh of relief that for once they are on the same page. There are stupid feelings caught up in the background, but for the moment, Catra does not care. Not when she gets Adora touching her, looking at her, talking to her like this. Adora just made her feel a way she has never known before, not just physically. The blatant care she had poured into every touch had left Catra shaking.

Adora levels her with a look. Catra huffs, an exaggerated show of annoyance, but she nudges in closer. “Everything sounds good except the talking part, though,” she concedes, humour in her voice as it is now Adora’s turn to roll her eyes.

“Too bad, that is the entry fee to my bed. And my shower,” Adora responds. Catra stills, ears and tail twitching.

Fuck, okay,” she concedes, images of actual calm, roomy showers already on her mind. Adora laughs, but she does not mind, just presses in closer to her touch.

Chapter Text

They don’t get out of bed. Adora fetches them each a water – and then Catra a second - but for the most part they lay there together. Not that they do anything more – although Catra’s hands definitely roam, and Adora spends awhile petting along the ridge of her spine now she can with her back exposed – but neither of them seems inclined to get up.

Adora has so many things she wants to say, words practically bursting in her chest, but with Catra draped across her, purring softly as she idly scratches behind her ears, she cannot bring herself to speak and ruin the moment. Occasionally Catra will let out a small, contented sigh, but for the most part they just lay together and soak in the other’s presence.

They used to do this in high school. Just sprawl across the floor, or couch, or one of their beds, sometimes touching and sometimes feet apart, just carrying on with whatever they each wanted to do. They might not speak, but it was better just because the other was there. A comfortable silence rather than a loud one. This is just getting to be them again, with this new, intimate layer added to it.

And fuck, is it a good addition. Adora has never felt like this. There are endorphins, definitely, a high her body is somehow still riding, but her heart is full in a way she is not used to, especially after the constant anxiety of the last few months. She never let herself accept the thought when it came, but the wriggling doubt that she had lost Catra would surface, sometimes, especially in that first month of the semester when she had heard nothing of her. Now Catra is here, happy with her again, happy with her in a brand-new way. The absolute trust she has placed in Adora makes her heart stutter painfully. She wonders if that is a physical reaction or just an emotional one – she wonders if Catra can hear it.

Even if trust is the only real reason Catra is in her bed, even if this is just about feeling safe with her and not love, that trust is enough for Adora. It is enough to know Catra cares about her and trusts her like this, wants to be like this with her. Adora may be capable of trusting someone else with this, but she does not want to. She has only ever wanted Catra like this, and apparently Catra feels the same. She is not worried, not about Catra running from this. From love, she might, but this is something they both want and can do. Besides, isn’t trust supposed to be a big part of love?

Catra does not trust people. It is a rule she has lived her life by. She will trust people with things, with secrets or truths or tasks or even her friendship, but she does not just blindly trust. Not like she trusted Adora just now, letting go and giving herself over, assured not only Adora would not hurt her, but that she would make her feel good. Adora understands without ever having to ask a question what Catra had meant when she said she would not have trusted anyone else with this – that she has never wanted anyone else like this. After everything they have been through together, this is something just for them. She is sure if any of those club girls had actually offered Catra would have turned them down.

They still should have fucking offered, just using Catra like that, but Adora digresses. The thought sparks annoyance in her. She bends down to press a kiss to the soft fur at the base of Catra’s ear, just to reassure both herself and Catra, but Catra flicks her ear away, letting out a soft grunt. Adora frowns at the top of her head, laying back against the pillow. Maybe she doesn’t like that. Maybe random kisses are not on the table? She really hopes random kisses are on the table. For the moment, she settles for scratching along Catra’s scalp, which earns her a satisfied rumbling. She didn’t push too much, at least. Not if the way Catra begins to absently knead at the sheet is any indication.

Adora’s thoughts are running in circles, so she gently prompts Catra to talk. She does not want to ruin this moment asking the big questions, but there are other things they can talk about. Catra does not lift her head from her chest, but she turns her face out from her neck so they can talk, just catching up on their semesters so far and which classes they regret ever registering for. They don’t address the reason they don’t know these details about each other’s lives – it is not post-sex talk, and certainly not a post-whatever-they-just-agreed-to talk.

Catra keeps turning into her neck when its Adora's turn to speak, and Adora keeps scratching along the base of her ears and reveling in the purr it earns her. She pulled the sheet over them after they were done, but the new level of intimacy in just having Catra laid against her like this is constantly hovering in the back of her mind as Catra idly chats about how she gets along with her professor.

“She does research projects every summer. She hinted she would like to have me on next year. She told me she never has freshmen on but if one were to apply this year she would consider it. It was very pointed,” Catra tells her, leaning back into Adora’s hand as she scratches through her hair. Catra obviously can’t get enough of Adora’s hands in her hair in any context, and Adora is more than happy to oblige. When it was long, she never wanted anyone to touch it. Even Adora had to be careful how she did it. She gets it, it always tangled and frizzed easily, and Catra’s scalp is sensitive, but getting to do this now still warms her heart.

“I still can’t believe you’re an A student and friends with your professors. What happened to rebel Catra?” Adora asks, teasing. Catra looks up to shoot her a glare, which is often just playful with them, but there is a tension in her body suddenly. She is not leaning into Adora’s hand anymore, at least.

“I don’t need to fight them if they aren’t trying to discipline me,” Catra says, defensive. Adora frowns and Catra looks away quickly, shoulders hunching a little and tail sweeping under the sheets uncertainly. “High school just sucked, okay? Perfect grades weren’t my concern,” she adds, reluctantly.

Adora blinks at her for a long moment. She is not sure what Catra’s problem is right now, but almost always the answer is insecurity, and that felt like a clear hint. “Catra, you have always been smart as hell. Way smarter than me. That was not what I was saying. You just never wanted anything to do with school before,” Adora tells her.

The tension in Catra’s shoulder releases. She snorts, but she makes eye contact with Adora again, and her tail curls loosely around Adora’s knee. Apparently Adora got it right. “I needed something to do without you. I was already bored as hell as it was. And I wanted to be – responsible, when we were talking again,” Catra explains, ducking into Adora’s neck again. She is hiding this time and Adora is well aware of it.

“You… wanted to be responsible?” Adora asks, blinking down at Catra’s absolute mess of a haircut, completely wrecked between the hard sex and Adora’s explorations since. Catra makes a low noise approaching a growl against her neck, a clear drop it. Adora is way too confused to listen. “Catra, I know we’re pretending it didn’t happen right now, but can you at least tell me what has been going on in your head since school started? I’m lost,” Adora begs, placing her hands on Catra’s shoulders and squeezing lightly. Catra lays still against her for a moment before, to Adora’s horror, she pulls away. Adora makes a desperate grab for her that has Catra blinking down at her in surprise, ears twitching, before she smirks at her.

“Relax, dork, it’s a few inches,” she assures, rolling her eyes, but her cheeks flush. She shifts off where she had come to lay on Adora, stretching out on the bed beside her instead, still watching Adora with that flustered amusement. Adora can see the sheets move as her tail twitches. The amusement fades after a moment. Catra’s gaze is searching and conflicted for a few beats of silence before she sighs and rolls over, laying on her side facing out into Adora’s room and away from her. Adora wants to be mad at herself for bringing it up and ruining the moment, but she deserves to know, too. She knows she is not blameless, but she at least deserves an explanation of what she should be apologizing for at least.

“Catra, I need to know,” she tries. There really is no chance of them actually fixing this rather than avoiding it if they do not understand what went wrong. Catra’s tail sweeps back in response, curling over her wrist and pulling it forward, towards her.

“Oh,” Adora releases as she scoots in closer, draping an arm over Catra’s side. After a cautious moment where Catra lies still, her tail unfurls and she wraps it around Adora’s leg before pulling forward again. Adora gets it now – she spoons behind Catra and pulls her close to her chest. After a pause, she curls the arm she has laid over Catra up so she can splay her hand in the soft fur over her heart. It is beating way too fast for the sedentary activity they have been doing.

“It’s easier if I don’t have to see you realize how much I hate myself,” Catra explains, voice low. Adora feels her throat tighten and squeezes Catra closer in response. Catra lets out a soft breath. “I can tell you what actually happened, or I can tell you what I thought was happening in my head,” Catra offers, voice rough and reluctant.

“I mean, both, ideally, but- since you hate talking so much, let’s try what was actually happening?” Adora asks, hoping it comes out playful. The tension in Catra’s shoulders releases a little, at least. Adora takes a risk on moving her hand to slowly stroke up and down Catra’s sternum, hoping to help soothe her. It seems to work. She relaxes further into Adora’s arms, at least.

“I thought I had pushed you away already. The only way my dumb ass could think to make it up to you was to keep myself out of your life so you could focus on school without me distracting you. But I was just terrified of hearing you say it. I thought I was trying to do the right thing for you, but I really just couldn’t hear you tell me you did not want me around anymore. I cut off every way I could for you to say you didn’t need me,” Catra admits, voice low. She draws in a shuddering breath, waiting.

I need you. She kept saying it, drunk and half-asleep last night as she tried to get Adora to hold her. Adora feels like she can’t breathe.

“You- you thought I would leave you, Catra? Over that?” Adora asks, knowing her struggle to bite back tears is obvious in her voice, but she has to say it, to assure Catra. She still is not sure, really, what happened that night. Adora knows, now, without having to make assumptions that the loathing in her eyes that night was directed at herself. Why it was there is still a question, but one she is working towards. It almost hurts how low Catra thought of her, that she would leave her over a kiss, or any drunken action at all, but Adora knows that really is how low Catra thought of herself.

Catra’s voice is small when she responds. “… You left me all summer. I did so much stupid shit, trying to get your attention, trying to prove someone wanted-”

Catra cuts off, turning her face into the pillow as her shoulders quiver with restrained tears. She does not need to finish. Someone wanted me. Adora was right, and she wants to cry about it. The best she can do is curl her body around Catra, squeezing her in against her chest and stroking her hands through any part of her fur she can reach.

Catra’s shoulders do not shake again, so Adora takes a risk on pressing kisses against the back of her neck. She turned away before, and Adora worries it may be against the rules of whatever new thing it is that they are doing now, but they have not actually set those rules yet, and Adora needs her to know she is wanted. Catra does not lift her head from the pillow. She turns her whole body back to face Adora, waiting until the last second to lift her head and duck it down into the safety of Adora’s neck. Despite not being able to see her, Adora can feel the dampness of tears against her neck.

“I’m sorry. For all the stupid shit I pulled trying to get your attention, or get back at you, or make things up to you,” Catra whispers.

She already said it, while she was drunk last night. Adora even knew she meant it then, too. It still hits her harder than she expected. “I’m sorry for ever making you feel like you were unwanted. For putting you in the state where you did those things,” Adora returns, bending her head down to press kisses into Catra’s hair now. Catra lets out a breath. Maybe this is against the rules normally, but right now it is allowed. Right now it is what they both need.

“Why didn’t you call?” she asks, voice so small Adora can’t help but suspect she is still worried Adora will say she didn’t want to.

“You said maybe we could be okay by the end of the summer. I thought you were saying you might be able to forgive me by then – that you were telling me we might not be totally over,” Adora says. Catra stills in her arms. It is a dangerous stillness, a tense one, one that Adora knows from experience usually proceeds claws coming out. She takes a quick inventory of Catra’s hands and realizes she has both arms curled between their chests. Fuck, this is going to hurt.

Her claws don’t come out. Catra pulls back, out of her arms, putting inches between them, and stares at Adora with wide eyes, tears still clinging to her lashes. “Adora, what the fuck do you think happened that night?” she asks, voice raw. Adora winces.

Now, she knows she never knew that answer. Now, she is afraid of telling Catra the one that became her predominate theory for so long. If Catra does not know how she feels already, telling her after they have done all this may lose her Catra. Catra will not be mad at her for her feelings – Adora was never afraid that she would be, anyway, just the hiding it part – but she is distinctly aware of what Catra told her, when she was asking what she wanted. You shouldn’t let me. Catra might not keep doing this with her, knowing how Adora feels, if she does not return it. Adora is fine with this, overjoyed by it. She does not know if Catra would believe her about that, though. She does not want to drive a wedge between them now, regardless. Not when she just got her back.

Adora can still tell her what she thought was happening at the time. She can ease into it, and she can still tell her the truth. They need to be honest with each other now, if they are going to make this work. As honest as they can be.

She does not want Catra to see the lingering theories she is holding back. She rolls over onto her back, moving one arm to reach across the gap between them to hold Catra’s hand. She stares determinedly at the ceiling as she begins.

 

--

 

Adora did nothing that needs to be forgiven, but she still looks guilty. The doubt had begun when she said she was afraid Catra did not want her sober, but Catra wasn’t even really drunk that night. Adora is still Adora. Even kissing Catra buzzed she might have felt bad about, but it was not some big, unforgivable thing. She cannot begin to fathom what was happening in Adora’s head that night.

“So, remember when I said I googled magicats and alcohol this morning?” Adora asks, staring up at the ceiling. Catra nods, mutely. Adora can see it out of the corner of her eye, regardless of where her gaze is. “I had no idea your alcohol tolerance was different than mine. I thought you were wasted that night, Catra,” Adora explains.

Catra blinks at her in shock. “I drank jaeger straight. Right in front of you,” she says, because what. Adora used to always google dumb shit about Catra. She had taught Catra things about magicats she did not even know, just accepted as weird aberrations of hers when Shadow told her to control herself. How had Adora missed this?

“Hence why I thought you were wasted. When you kissed me, I panicked because I thought you couldn’t consent and didn’t know what you were doing. And then you ran. I thought you came to your senses or something and realized I took advantage of you,” Adora explains, gesturing with her free hand. The one she has on Catra is in a death grip. Catra is glad Adora is looking at the ceiling now, because she knows her eyes are wide and her ears are plastered to the sides of her head.

She was right. Adora really does not know she loves her. She thinks this is just an attraction and trust. It is that, but Catra feels so much for her, and she can’t say it. Not that she knows the words for it anyway, but she cannot risk telling Adora and destroying this new thing between them. It feels so good, so right, so close, Catra could not stand to tell her and have Adora pull away. They have already fallen apart from Adora trying to do the noble thing before. Catra is happy right now, here in Adora’s arms and her bed. She does not need to say it and take this from herself. If Adora wants this casual thing between them, just between them, then that is enough for Catra.

She can still Adora the truth, even if it is not all of it. She needs to tell Adora the truth, after all the confusion and incorrect assumptions between them. She already admitted it, anyway, when Adora said she thought she did not want her. She said it again when she got entranced by Adora’s tits.

“I wasn’t drunk. Not really, anyway. I mean, I wasn’t scenting you or anything,” Catra clarifies for her, just in case, because fuck, Adora, really? She really thought that? Adora nods at the ceiling, biting her bottom lip, a tension gathering in her body as she waits. It makes Catra stiffen in turn, but-

She reminds herself of the way Adora kissed her, so slow and caring. She had been worried, before, that this was just a kink for her. That was all Catra has ever been to the other girls. Adora made it very clear when she kissed her like that, touched her like that, fucked her like that, that she wanted her, claws and fur neither a cause nor a deterrent to overcome.

It is trust, when it comes down to it. It has always been the two of them from the first damn moment of their lives. They trust each other with everything – they trust each other with this. If Catra could not imagine doing this with someone else before, she sure as hell can’t now. She always feels safe with Adora, but the amount of herself she had given over and Adora still handled with so much damn care had been like a revelation.

Adora wants her. She can say it.

“I had wanted you for a long time and I couldn’t imagine doing this with anyone but you. I thought, if you weren’t interested in me like that, then the distance of summer might let us be okay again. That is why I said that. I was hoping you would agree, agree to call when you weren’t- uncomfortable with me anymore,” Catra tells her, swallowing thickly and watching Adora’s reaction. It is not saying love – it is not lying that she was not ass-over-heels for her, either.

Adora’s head snaps to the side, staring at her with a wide-eyed intensity. Like she is going to suddenly gain x-ray vision and see Catra’s thoughts through her skull. Catra flushes, her tail thumping against the bed uncertainly.

“That is what I meant, when I said I have never wanted anyone like you. I never– there is no one else I would trust above me, Adora. Then or now,” Catra explains.

When did Adora gain the ability to hypnotize with her eyes, Catra would really like to know. She knew that first night they were drunk at the sorority house that she could not risk getting trapped in her gaze, but today has been at a whole other level. Her eyes are hard, just a bit searching and hungry again, but there is a light there Catra just cannot fight. Adora still is not responding though, so she keeps going to avoid dying inside, despite the fact they just had the best sex she ever imagined and agreed to do it again. Adora wants her back, she knows this.

Catra sits up, suddenly, casting her gaze around the room to find the string of photos she is looking for. She finds it on the wall near the bathroom door and points towards it, ignoring how Adora has hastily sat up behind her, looping an arm around her waist loosely – for the moment. Catra knows she is preparing to grab her if she bolts. She did make her promise not to let her leave again. It maybe should not make her chest warm the way it does, but it is a continued confirmation that Adora wants her to stay here with her.

“The sunset. You remember that day?” Catra asks, eyes fixed on the polaroid as her hand falls back down by her side. Adora presses a little closer, apparently satisfied it is safe to hold her now she knows she is not running, and nods against her shoulder. Catra draws in a shaking breath, sinking back into her arms. “I was supposed to tell you, then. I had this whole idea about asking you to be my first, even if you weren’t interested in anything more. That is why I set that whole day up. But I got scared, because it was just such a fun day, and I didn’t want to destroy our friendship with my stupid plan,” Catra explains.

She really did not mean to admit that first part, but it slipped out. It shows how desperate she was for Adora, maybe, willing to take any inch she would have given her, hoping to turn it into a mile. Adora turns her head, pressing a light kiss against Catra’s neck, and Catra relaxes at the affection, satisfied Adora is not upset at least.

“I was too afraid to say it that night. So I thought I could just kiss you and show you, but then you pulled back and clearly regretted it. I was so mad at myself for throwing myself at you like that. That night and every time after. You always kissed me back but looked so guilty. I thought you were regretting that it was me,” Catra admits, feeling light-headed with emotion. This conversation has been so much.

She knows she probably said too much, gave too much away, but Adora either didn’t notice or doesn’t care. She cradles Catra close at her words. “Catra, I could never regret you. I was upset with myself. I always wanted you,” Adora tells her, voice soft in her ear. Almost insecure. Catra feels herself swallow, body tingling at the confirmation. This isn’t just some attraction or fetish for Adora. This is about her.

“I know, now. You made it very clear when you fucked me like that. I just- shit, I need to lie down,” Catra manages, breath coming unsteady now. She does not know how it happens, but she ends up cradled in Adora’s arms again, against her chest and tucked into her shoulder. Adora pets through her hair and strokes over her ears as Catra nuzzles into her pulse point, just breathing and focusing on the fact that Adora is here, Adora wants her, and she may not know, but-

That hope has not died in Catra’s chest. She may not love her now. Most people aren’t in love with someone before they even kiss them. It could still be possible. She has spent too long assuming she knows the end-all-be-all of Adora’s emotions.

(She still isn’t going to say shit).

“I care about you. I need you,” Adora assures her, stroking along her ears. She can’t feel it very well, not nearly like she can feel it when Adora scratches at the base, but the repetitive motion is soothing.

Catra swallows, face heating. It could still be possible. And does it fucking matter? If Adora wants her, wants this with her? It feels like love already. It feels like everything she has ever wanted.

“You are going to kill me,” is the response she manages against Adora’s neck. She laughs, like the absolute shit she is, but she just keeps holding Catra close. “I need to be done with emotions for the day,” Catra adds, because despite the relief and honest joy today has had – all of this has contained so much anxiety. Adora hums.

“Fair. You want to lie here a little longer and then get food? It is like noon and we haven’t had shit to eat,” Adora responds.

Oh. Maybe that is why she is passing out.

 

--

 

Adora drives Catra home just after sunset. They got the day to themselves, despite Bow and Glimmer reviving the Best Friends Squad group chat to send a series of loud demands for answers about the night before, and to try to cajole them out to a group meal. Catra had turned her phone off to save battery in case she needed it in an emergency, and she refuses to turn it back on now.

“I’m not leaving this fucking apartment. I can’t talk to anyone but you today,” had been Catra’s response to the request, which Adora had relayed merely the intent of rather than the words. The second half she kept to herself, chest bubbling with warmth. Catra’s resolve had almost crumbled when she saw the pathetic selection in Adora’s kitchenette. She had mocked her mercilessly for having a kitchen and no idea how to cook. Adora had absorbed it readily, remembering how she had missed Catra’s mocking over the summer while she was failing to learn. She showed Catra some old photos of her ruined attempts and Catra laughed at her.

Adora walks Catra back up to her dorm, both of them glancing at each other and snickering just at the ridiculousness of it when they stop in front of her door’s number plate. “It’s the only good thing about this entire dorm. Sometimes people leave me post-its congratulating me on it,” Catra tells her as she swipes her keycard and lets them in. Scorpia is there, but she is sat with her back to them at her desk, headphones on despite the fact she had been alone. Adora can hear her music all the way from the doorway still, so maybe there was a neighbour complaint. She does not notice them, regardless.

“Okay, I don’t know how you stand this either. It is like a prison cell,” Adora observes, casting a glance around the spackled walls of the small room, small window doing nothing to make it seem bigger. Catra hums as she turns to go digging in her closet.

“I hardly ever spend time here. I have a thousand little nooks around campus. Though-“ Catra pauses, glancing over her shoulder to throw Adora a smile, “-I suspect I will be spending my time at BMU now,” she tells her, returning to shuffling things around. Adora feels a little breathless, bouncing on her toes a bit and humming an affirmation when words fail her. She missed Catra’s small, cocky smiles with just a flash of fangs.

Catra steps aside from her closet, not quite looking at Adora despite the way she turns towards her. Adora tries to send her a questioning look, but when Catra doesn’t return it she turns towards Catra’s closet instead. She has pushed aside the suitcase and hamper inside, as well as a mesh bag Adora recognizes the contents inside as being Catra’s furcare supplies. It leaves the back right corner visible, despite how it is nearly enveloped in darkness.

Adora’s backpack from ninth grade sits there, bungee cable still wrapped around it. If Adora were to open it, she knows it would still have the exact same emergency supplies and clothes in it that they had placed inside the last time they refreshed the contents to keep it current and useful. Just in case they got sent to a new home, or their foster families dropped them, or started to hurt them the way Shadow had.

Adora draws in a sharp breath, stepping closer to Catra and ducking her head, forcing her to make eye contact now. Catra looks oddly embarrassed despite how Adora has already told her she has her backpack in her closet too. “Just- so you know,” Catra says, with a shrug, clearly trying to downplay it.

Adora glances over her shoulder, sees Scorpia still absorbed in jazz and homework, and takes a step closer to Catra, nearly crowding against her as she runs a hand under her jaw, pressing in for a quick kiss. Catra’s eyes go wide and she lets out a surprised trill, but she blushes and makes no move to pull away as Adora steps back again, throwing her a quick grin.

“Just so you know,” she responds, despite the way the words are in no way part of the comeback. She just needed to assure Catra, really, and kisses seemed to work when they were finally talking about it all. She still has not asked if completely random kisses are on the table yet, but Catra does not seem bothered. Her tail thuds against the closet door as she flushes, and apparently the noise is finally loud enough to break through the jazz music because it grows louder for a second as Scorpia takes her headphones off and then pauses completely.

“Adora! Catra! You’re- in here! Wow!” is Scorpia’s flustered attempt at a greeting. Catra’s eyes go a little wide with clear panic as she turns back towards her closet again. From the lashing of her tail, Adora can tell she is trying to keep her flustered state hidden.

Adora turns back to Scorpia, throwing her a greeting smile to distract from Catra. “The neighbours complain about jazz classics?” Adora asks her. Scorpia rolls her eyes, standing from her desk to walk over.

“Oh, you know, not everyone appreciates the sound,” she brushes it off, raising her arms and pulling Adora into an absolutely crushing hug. “Wildcat has been a disaster without you. I’m glad you’re back,” Scorpia tells her. Adora blinks as Scorpia puts her down, because she distinctly remembers Scorpia telling her Catra was okay that second week of school, and clearly her grades are fine – but there is also a lot more to life than just that. Scorpia was clearly worried about Catra when Adora brought her in on Thursday.

Catra huffs, annoyed and directly behind her. Adora starts to startle, turning back towards Catra, before Catra reaches around her and shoves something into her hands.

“You’d better keep your fucking promise. I talked about feelings and everything,” Catra tells her, but despite her words she does not sound annoyed. Adora blinks down at the mesh bag in her hands before it clicks. She looks back up, turning to Catra and smiling.

“You can come over everyday if you need to,” she promises, bright and too much over a shower. Catra rolls her eyes, but her blush still has not fully receded as she crosses her arms.

“You know I don’t,” she huffs. Adora does her best to not visibly dim. She must not succeed because Catra’s ears drop a little and she gives her a side-long glance. “That does not mean I won’t, though,” she concedes. Adora knows she lights up again, but she does not care. Not when it makes Catra’s ears perk back up and the light return to her eyes. She still rolls her eyes as she crosses over to her own desk, flinging herself backwards into the chair there.

“Go home, dork. I need to do homework and actually get some sleep if I’m going to bike over to BMU in time for the garden tomorrow,” Catra tells her, trying for dismissive. Her tail is curling and uncurling, and she is still visibly flustered. Adora frowns at her.

“I wanted to stay,” she tells Catra. Catra’s ears twitch and her eyes visibly widen a little before she quickly turns away to hide her reaction. She clears her throat.

“Rule number one is that you do your fucking homework,” Catra tells her. Adora blinks at Catra’s back. So this new thing does have rules. She really did not expect rule one to be school related.

“I don’t like rule number one,” she decides. Catra laughs, tossing a glance over her shoulder. Her eyes are dancing with amusement. It makes Adora’s chest warm.

“Too bad. That is the entry fee into my life,” Catra tells her, fangs at the edge of her smirk.

Adora flushes and nods. Scorpia looks between the two of them like they are in a tennis match, completely lost. Adora is not going to explain it to her.

There turn out to be more rules, when Sunday does roll around. Catra meets her outside her apartment building, leading her across campus to the greenhouse she had not even known was there. They end up in the center of the outdoor garden, Adora sat on the ground with her back against the cinderblock wall Catra helped build, while Catra sits on top of it and drapes her tail over Adora’s shoulder. She steals Adora’s ponytail holder the moment they sit down, but Adora lets her keep it for the moment as she cards her hands through her hair. Adora returns the affection by slowly petting down the length of her tail where it drapes over her. She always loved playing with Catra’s tail, largely because Catra let very few people freely touch it. She might be the only one, actually, even if Catra permits Glimmer and Bow’s touches on occasion.

“So, I wasn’t kidding about the homework thing,” Catra tells her. Adora blinks towards the green house. She would turn to look up at her, but she doesn’t want her to stop playing with her hair, either.

“Alright, A student. I’ll do my homework,” Adora agrees, going for snarky. She lands it. Catra huffs.

“This is important, okay? I want to spend time with you, you know how important that is to me, but I want… our plans, you know? And that means doing well in school, for now,” Catra tells her. Adora’s chest pounds. She wonders if Catra can hear it.

They have not said what they are doing. Adora is not sure Catra really knows, either, and if she does, if she even knows how to do it. They want each other, they trust each other, and right now that is enough. Catra didn’t know this whole time, didn’t run from Adora’s feelings or even her own. Her insecurities and Adora’s guilt led to a colossal failure of a summer, but Adora has hope. Hope that words and meanings aside, this can be what they both want.

It still brings her a pounding, joyful relief to hear Catra still wants all those plans. “Okay. My grades went down without you, anyway,” Adora agrees, nodding slightly, but not enough to pull her hair out of Catra’s hands. Catra snorts.

“That’s gay, Adora,” she tells her. Adora does look up now, if only to throw Catra a cocky smile.

“Tell me again about how you wanted me to rail you on Wednesday?” she asks. Catra bristles, but she is flustered and blushing. She smacks Adora’s head with her tail anyway, and Adora laughs as she settles back against the wall.

“Okay, rule number two is you can’t say shit like that in public or I’m going to rail you in a random bathroom,” Catra adds. Adora goes bright red, staring at nothing. “No, stop it,” Catra hisses, fluster still quite obvious as she tries to cut off Adora's thoughts far too late.

“Can I add a rule?” Adora asks to distract herself from those thoughts. It is going to be all she can think about when they go back to her apartment, probably, but she is allowed to do that now.

Catra lightly cuffs her over the side of the head. “Yes, Adora,” she admonishes, exasperated.

“We be honest with each other. And we don’t make assumptions,” she adds. Catra’s fingers begin to card through her hair again and she leans into it with a hum.

“Yeah, okay. I don’t want to go another four months without you,” Catra agrees. Adora grins to herself.

“That’s gay, Catra,” she responds. She expects Catra to smack her again, and she does, grumbling to herself about cocky, dumbass jocks.

They are silent, for a while. Adora just basks in the feeling of Catra’s claws running through her hair, the softness of her tail, and the pleasant smell of the garden all around them.

“This is kind of where it all started again, for me. That is why I wanted to meet you here. I was so determined to do right by you and stay away – and then Perfuma said you missed me,” Catra tells her, voice soft.

“I’m going to kiss Perfuma next time I see her,” Adora decides. Catra actually hisses, which makes Adora laugh until her fingers twist in her hair to pull her head back to look at her and Adora’s breath stutters out in a soft oh.

“Rule number four is that you’re mine. This is just us,” Catra growls, and Adora openly moans. She flushes, staring at Catra with wide eyes. She didn’t know possessive did things for her, but she probably should have. A few moments in high school, when she and Catra had only just reunited and thus Catra was very defensive of her, are suddenly starting to make more sense.

“That didn’t need to be a rule,” Adora manages, a little breathless, but damn is she glad Catra said it. Catra blinks in surprise at her and purrs, grip releasing to resume the gentle stroking she had been doing before. Adora takes a moment to blink rapidly out at the garden, trying to gather her thoughts and stamp down the heat inside of her. She does not do a great job.

“And I think that was a violation of rule number two,” she adds. Catra laughs.

Chapter Text

Adora stares at her when she opens the front door, almost as if she is surprised to see her, despite having texted Catra her student ID number to key into her building only three minutes ago. Catra shifts a bit uncomfortably, tail starting to sway with nerves.

“Hey, Adora?” she tries, unsure. It is the first time they are seeing each other since she left Adora’s apartment on Sunday night, later than planned but not quite up to biking home yet. Sunday had not been intense like Saturday had, but it had certainly been longer for both of them, and while everything had seemed fine during and even after when they were cuddling and coming back to themselves, Adora had seemed unsure when she was leaving.

The greeting seems to snap Adora out of her reverie as she reaches out for her. Catra watches her hand as she reaches for her waist, hooking her hand behind her and gently tugging, encouraging her to step forward inside the apartment. She could have just stepped aside, but Catra follows, still confused. Adora pulls her in against her, closing the door behind her with a kick of her foot. Adora’s eyes are doing that intense thing they do again as Adora wraps both her arms around Catra’s waist.

Catra flushes at the attention, unsure what is going on with Adora. It is only Monday evening, both of them now done with their classes for the day. It is not like they have been apart that long. Not that Catra is complaining, mind you, but she has always been the needy one in this relationship – friendship, whatever. They are fucking now and relationship can be a neutral term anyway. She can refer to it how she wants in her head.

Adora watches her carefully as she pulls her in. “Can I kiss you?” she asks, gaze unwavering. Catra feels her ears twitch, nodding mutely. Adora can always kiss her, but that sounds a little too desperate to admit. Adora smiles, lighting up bright and easy as she leans in. Catra meets her, kissing her back long and slow. Gradually, her bag falls from her shoulder as her arms come up to wrap around Adora’s shoulders, her chest rumbling just a little as she presses in.

Adora pulls back, giggling. Right. She told her on Thursday it tickles to kiss her while purring. Catra rolls her eyes to try and cut her flush a bit, even if she knows it probably does not work.

“Why did you stare at me like that?” she asks, making no move to pull away. Adora flushes now, gaze darting aside.

“Just- wanted to kiss you. I wasn’t sure if that would be okay,” Adora explains, shrugging. Her thumb is tracing small circles on Catra’s lower back. Catra rolls her eyes and nudges in. She has no response that does not reveal just how desperate she always is for Adora’s attention, so she just purrs softly and leans in to mark along Adora’s jaw. She has showered since they parted on Sunday night, and she doesn’t really smell like Catra anymore. Tea tree oil and coconut and Adora, mostly. She has used mostly scentless products for the last few years, a consideration of Catra’s sensitive nose that has always made her heart warm.

But speaking of Adora’s products-

“Not that I don’t want to make out, but I need a shower, first,” Catra tells her, pressing a cautious kiss against the side of Adora’s neck. She feels Adora’s breath hitch before she nods. Catra does not explain herself. She does not need Adora to know she wants to get clean first so she can keep Adora’s scent on her when she gets home tonight. If she does go home tonight. She has hopes, alright. She does not have a morning class on Tuesdays. She could do it easily, if Adora gives her the opportunity.

Adora takes her back into the bathroom, showing her how to work the shower because every single one has to be so damn different. She has already taken out Catra’s products she gave her Saturday and arranged them, almost in the exact order they had been in back home. It makes Catra purr, resolutely not meeting Adora’s eyes despite the audible cue to her pleasure. Adora just squeezes her hand on her shoulder before leaving to empty out the bag Catra had brought. It is just practical, if she is going to be showering here, for her to have clothes here. That is what she told Scorpia, anyway, when she was packing the bag.

“Aren’t you moving a little fast, Wildcat?” Scorpia had asked. Catra had to fight to keep her fur from standing on end. Scorpia did not know how close she was to the truth. She was just worried about them putting too much strain on their rebuilt friendship. She didn’t get it. There was never a too fast with Adora. There was never even a fight between them, anyway, just distance and stupidity. Catra had ignored her. Scorpia could deal with those tiny showers that can’t be any better for her bulk than they were for Catra’s fur.

Catra has never found showers particularly relaxing, natural aversion to water and the long care process making them a bit of a chore. It is still the most calming shower she has ever had in her life, in an open space without any strangers’ scents, with just her and Adora’s scents, with no one to judge her but Adora who never would. She takes her time in a way she has not in weeks. Even over the summer she was in a shitty RV shower, even back home the bathtub shower was smaller than this, trapping her in there with the water. Here she has space, a glass wall to feel aware of her surroundings even over the noise of the water. She perks her ears, listening to the deep roll of Adora opening and closing drawers in her dresser as she puts Catra’s things amongst her own, the background noise of Adora moving about the apartment soothing her.

The bathroom is plenty large enough for Catra to do her drying process inside. She drops her dirty clothes in Adora’s hamper, trying to suppress the thrill in her that they are going to smell the same as Adora’s once they are washed. Adora’s presence left the bedroom when Catra turned off the shower, and she steps out of the bathroom to find it empty and the door closed. To her surprise, there is a change of clothes set on the bed for her. She feels herself flush, tail twitching out from the bottom of her robe, at the realization that Adora has picked out an outfit for her. She hasn’t, really – Catra is sure that in Adora’s mind she just set something aside while she was putting things away so Catra would not have to go digging around right when she got out.

Catra still feels weird about it. Not upset, but it makes something in her chest buzz as she pulls on the torn skinny jeans she thinks Adora said were burgundy when she bought them and the black tank top from junior year that is just a bit too tight now, but she has kept wearing because her tits look fantastic in it. She wonders if that is why Adora chose it, or maybe because of the memories in it, or if she was even thinking anything more detailed than shirt and pants.

She left a pair of Catra’s toeless, heelless stirrup socks folded next to the stack, like she was not sure if Catra would want to wear them today. She usually pulls them on when she is going to spend time outside, if only to mediate the heat of pavement in summer and the cool of concrete in winter, but it is a mild autumn. Catra picks them up and carries them over to the dresser, leaving them on top to be put away later when Adora shows her where she put everything.

She enters the living room to find Adora sitting on the couch, on her phone. Adora looks up, blinking at her, a light flush blossoming on her cheeks. Alright, maybe she was thinking more than just shirt and pants. Catra smirks at her, sauntering over to throw herself on the couch beside her.

“Best Friends Squad?” she asks, curling herself into Adora’s space, into her lap, ostensibly to look down at her phone screen. Adora takes a moment to recover, swallowing thickly. Was she always like this? Always having these reactions but suppressing them? Catra certainly has never seen her react like this to her mere presence before.

“Glimmer’s study group is running late. She is asking if we can meet for dinner at eight instead,” Adora tells her, despite Catra being actively reading the annoyed texts already. She can feel Adora’s heart pounding, can sense a change in the air around her.

She turns her head toward Adora, smiling at her a bit wickedly. “Such a shame to have more time to ourselves,” she says, no traces of disappointment in her voice.

Adora does not have to ask this time. She kisses her, practically tossing her phone aside so she can grab her waist and pull her properly into her lap. Catra can’t help her small laugh of amusement as Adora pulls her to straddle over her thighs, humming in satisfaction when it makes Adora duck her head and bite at her neck.

“Careful. I can’t exactly wear concealer,” Catra points out, despite how the action makes her breath hitch, her words just a bit unsteady. Adora pulls away immediately, biting her lip and shooting her a worried, apologetic look. Catra rolls her eyes, wrapping her tail around Adora’s arm. “I like it, Adora. I just can’t hide it until sweater season comes,” she points out. Adora lets out a breath, nodding before leaning in to kiss gently against the spot. Catra tries to keep her breath from hitching and does a terrible job of it.

Her hands find Adora’s shoulders, pushing her back against the couch. She sees a flash of panic in Adora’s eyes before she catches the leer on Catra’s face. “It’s my turn this time,” Catra promises her, dangerously. Adora swallows, eyes going wide and blush spilling down her neck as she nods.

Permission granted, Catra descends on her. They switched on Sunday, both taking care of each other, but she knows Adora prefers to be on top. They both prefer for Adora to be on top, and yet she lets Catra have her like this too. Just because it is not her usual preference does not mean she does not enjoy it. It still soothes Catra, knowing that Adora is giving her the same trust Catra has given her, even if that comes more naturally to her.

Catra is careful not to leave bruises, kissing her way up to Adora’s jaw. She will, eventually if not when they get back tonight, but she does not want to cut into their time before dinner with having to cover up what she has done – and she wants to explain this to Glimmer and Bow even less. Right now, she just wants to enjoy Adora while she has her, before they have to go out and then come back and do their stupid homework.

She hates rule number one as much as Adora does. That does not mean she will not enforce it. Adora lets out a soft, encouraging sound when she finally reaches her mouth, and Catra forces down her purr so she can keep kissing her. Except, now that she thinks about it, she has definitely purred while they were kissing before without it tickling Adora enough to pull back. It tickled her earlier when the kiss was light, but maybe-

She nips at Adora’s bottom lip, purposefully catching it with a fang and feeling the small jolt Adora gives, gasping into her mouth. Entrance to her mouth granted, she kisses her hard and deep, taking control. Adora whines softly beneath her, the sound shooting a bolt of heat through Catra, but it also causes a rise of satisfaction within her. She purrs, tracing her tongue into Adora’s mouth, and Adora moans this time, hands on her waist spasming and then drawing her in closer until their bodies are pressed together.

The reaction is more than enough to keep her purr going, their tongues and chests meeting in unison. Adora shifts a bit beneath her, her legs moving until she crosses them, pulling Catra down to grind against her raised thigh. Catra growls in frustration at Adora turning the tables on her, despite the way she rolls her hips down. She can feel Adora fighting a smirk so they can keep kissing. She has not let go of her waist, either, pulling her down a little with every grind down, acting as if she is helping and not torturing her. They can’t do this, not really – not until after dinner and homework.

As much as she does not want to go to dinner with her fresh underwear ruined, she can’t stop rolling her hips either. She can feel how smug Adora is, satisfaction rolling off her in waves. She cannot let that lie. She raises one hand from Adora’s shoulder, sliding the other down to squeeze her chest through her shirt and distract her. Adora gasps lightly as Catra pinches her on the next grind of her hips. Catra takes the opening to slip the claws of her free hand beneath Adora’s ponytail holder and snap it.

Adora makes a soft, indignant sound as her hair falls around her shoulders. Catra bites at her bottom lip, tugging it between her fangs as she threads her hand through Adora’s loose hair and yanks to angle her head back. The motion pulls Adora’s lip out from under her fangs, but the way Adora gasps tells her that her point was made. Catra makes heated eye contact with her as she continues to ride her thigh, her own breathing growing a bit unsteady at the contact, at the sight of Adora beneath her, flush spilling down the collar of her shirt, hair in disarray, eyes a bit fogged over with lust, and lip bitten – not enough to bruise, thankfully, hopefully.

Catra may be riding Adora’s thigh right now, but she wants there to be no doubt about who is in control. Her gaze must get that across, because Adora closes her mouth and whines softly, throat flexing. The temptation to mark there is strong, but Catra reminds herself it would not matter since she would cover it up, anyway. The thought annoys her, though, so she leans in for a harsh kiss, pinching at Adora’s chest hard now and earning a moan.

Adora shifts her legs beneath her, uncrossing them and taking her thigh away. It is supposed to be a punishment, maybe – a powerplay, if nothing else. As disappointed as she is, as much as she has to suppress a growl at the loss, she is grateful. They may have some time before dinner, but if she wanted to be presentable enough for public that could not have gone on much longer.

One of Adora’s hands raises from her waist, threading into her hair. Catra pulls back long enough to growl dangerously before leaning in for another biting kiss. As much as she likes how Adora touches her hair, she just washed it, and if Adora gets going on it again she is going to turn it into an absolute wreck. Adora seems to get the discouragement, making a soft noise of disappointment before dropping her hand to the back of Catra’s neck instead, pulling her in closer.

Catra sighs into the next kiss, happily following to press in against her. It is not about being obedient in the slightest – it is just about being close to Adora, having Adora want her there. It is still a thrill every time she realizes it. That she gets to not only kiss and touch Adora like this, but that Adora just wants her here, close and in her arms.

She is purring into the kiss again, she realizes, but she is not bothered enough to stop. Adora is kissing her deep, holding her close, and she is just content. Content, that is, until Adora’s phone goes off from somewhere beside them in the couch cushions. Catra growls, pulling back and glaring down at Adora as she gives her a sheepish shrug. Catra sighs, but she climbs off Adora, flinging herself back into her initial spot beside her as Adora goes searching for her phone. Catra can hear it clearly, in the gap between the cushion and the sofa arm, but she watches as Adora feels around, blind with her dumb human hearing and having to push her loose hair out of her face in frustration as she searches.

She is purring again, but this time with amusement as Adora finally feels the gap just on a guess and finds her phone. Catra watches her glare at it, typing out a message no doubt to the BMU group chat before turning back to her with narrowed eyes.

“I’m going to get another hair tie,” she tells her, raising an eyebrow. Catra grins at her with no shame or remorse. Adora huffs and rolls her eyes, but Catra can see a small smile playing at her lips as she stands and turns away to go to the bathroom. She has a least a dozen of the things scattered on the counter – Catra does not feel bad in the slightest.

As soon as Adora disappears into the bedroom, Catra crawls to the end of the couch, crouching over the sofa arm and lying in wait. Her tail twitches in anticipation as she hears the bathroom door close, Adora’s footsteps approaching the mostly-closed bedroom door. Closed enough she cannot see Catra’s trap, at least.

Her tail lashes as the door opens and she launches herself at Adora, grabbing at her shoulders and sending them sprawling as Adora tries to catch her, letting out a shrieking laugh. They end up rolling across the floor, play fighting and wrestling for some unspoken dominance just like they used to, until it is time for them to leave for dinner.

 

--

 

They walk to the student café side-by-side, shoulders and hands brushing, but neither of them closing the gap. Adora does not know if it is okay to, but hand holding does not seem to fall under any category that has been included in this thing between them so far. She wishes it was, but having Catra’s presence next to her side is enough, at least for now.

She is pretty sure that what they are doing is supposed to stay just between them, at least if Catra’s comments about concealer and hiding marks are anything to go by. Public handholding does not really mesh with that idea. She wishes she was allowed to kiss Catra in public when they say goodbye, but last night she was not sure if she was even allowed to do that in private, hovering and hoping for some kind of sign. Catra had just eyed her with an obvious you’re being weird look, which is fair since she was, but it was still a little disappointing.

Regardless, they are not parting now, so the question of goodbye kisses can wait. They join Bow at a corner table at the student café, Glimmer still on her way. Bow asks Catra about Raving Weekend, and Catra rolls her eyes.

“I got roped into babysitting some of Scorpia's friends. It didn’t last long. At least it was only vodka. I spent most of Saturday just lying in Adora’s bed trying to recover,” she tells him, casually. Adora feels herself flush and dutifully keeps her eyes locked on the door, looking for signs of her foster sister. Beneath the table, she feels Catra wrapping her tail around her wrist. If it would not give away what Catra actually meant, she is sure she would be smirking.

With her free hand, Adora drums two fingers on the table. Catra uncoils her tail, to her disappointment. Still, that was a definite violation of rule number two. It told Adora a lot, though. That this whole thing might kill her, but also that they definitely aren’t telling people about the change.

“I can’t believe there are people who go to that all three nights. I barely drank and just Friday was enough for me. Half my engineering class was missing or half-dead today,” Bow responds, shaking his head, totally unaware of Adora’s internal crisis. Adora releases a breath when she catches sight of Glimmer approaching the door, finally turning her gaze back to the rest of the table.

“I wouldn’t think engineering students would be big partiers,” she responds, finally confident in her voice sounding normal now. Bow shrugs.

“It’s just a freshmen level course. They could be non-majors,” he points out. Catra snorts beside her as Glimmer approaches their table.

“I’m pretty sure I would rather stab myself with a fork than take an engineering class as a general elective, but maybe that is why they were at the Cliffs all weekend,” Catra responds. Glimmer groans as she drops down next to Bow.

“Don’t mention that place to me ever again. I threw up twice. Despite all her talk about calm energies and negative vibes, I’m pretty sure Perfuma is still annoyed at having to deal with my drunk ass when I got home. Not to mention the hangover,” Glimmer complains, slumping down in the bench seat. Catra laughs at her pain. Glimmer shoots her a glare, but it is not heated.

“Perfuma was supposed to have a date with Scorpia on Saturday. Scorpia had to cancel because she was still struggling with an essay. Pretty sure her annoyance has nothing to do with you,” Catra assures her, but her eyes are dancing a little. Glimmer does look a little soothed by her words, some of the tension easing out of her shoulders again. Glimmer eyes Catra from across the table.

“So,” she says. Adora feels Catra tense beside her, even if she cannot see a difference outside of Catra stilling.

“So,” Catra returns, leveling her with a look that she is clearly trying to not make challenging, but failing. Glimmer narrows her eyes.

“Are you done being a bitch?” she asks. Adora startles, frowning.

“Glimmer-“ she starts. Catra smacks her in the chest with her tail, startling her as she looks down. Catra’s tail falls down to rest in her lap as Glimmer snorts.

To her surprise, Catra just sighs. “Yes,” she responds, evenly. Adora blinks at her in shock at the same time that Bow smiles, a bit relieved. Glimmer sniffs, leaning back in her seat a bit.

“Why did you jerk Adora around like that?” she asks. Adora bites her lip, wrinkling her brow as she exchanges a look with Catra. They decided on Sunday evening to keep the details of what happened private. They still needed to give some kind of explanation to their mutual friends. Catra sighs, turning to look out at the rest of the café while she speaks.

“We had a big, stupid misunderstanding, and then we both spent the summer waiting for the other to call because we didn’t want to push them before they were ready. I kept running from Adora after school started because I couldn’t take her telling me she hadn’t forgiven me for my part. We talked it out. We’re fine now,” Catra says. It is true, if thoroughly misleading. Adora nods, shrugging a bit to indicate she is unbothered. Glimmer narrows her eyes again, considering Catra slowly.

Before we reinstate you into the Best Friends Squad, you need to make me a promise,” Glimmer tells Catra. Catra pauses, turning to look at Glimmer again. She looks conflicted. A little touched, maybe at being accepted again, but clearly nervous, too. She just flicks an ear questioningly. Glimmer does not seem to take the hint, but eventually takes her silence for acceptance. “Don’t hurt my fucking sister again,” Glimmer says.

Catra releases a breath, tension easing out of her shoulders as, to Adora’s surprise, she slumps over against her shoulder. Adora raises an arm, wrapping it around her shoulder and pulling her close in a sideways hug.

“I won’t. I thought staying away was the only way I could keep from hurting her again,” Glimmer snorts, “Yeah, I know now that didn’t work,” Catra agrees, rolling her eyes. She leans into Adora for a moment more before pulling away, sitting up straight again. Adora tries to fight down her disappointment. She had wanted to sit with her arm around Catra’s shoulders. Still, if Catra is not comfortable with the attention, especially under Glimmer’s scrutiny, she can satisfy herself with gently petting along Catra’s tail in her lap.

Glimmer seems to accept her words, nodding and slumping down in her seat again, all the fight gone out of her now her threat is complete. “Alright, group chat is back on,” she decides. Bow cheers.

 

--

 

Catra does stay the night, it turns out. She stays a lot of nights. It takes her, at most, two weeks to move into Adora’s apartment.

It is the shower, really. That is what she tells their friends, anyway, when they ask. And to be honest, it is true. The shower is the reason all her clothes end up there. It is part of the reason she sleeps there every day she does not have her eight AM class.

The rest of the reason is waking up in Adora’s arms every morning, usually with a greeting of soft, slow kisses. It took exactly two morning afters for Adora to start kissing her good morning like she can’t breathe until she has tasted her. Catra cannot tell people that though, so she usually points out Adora’s place is twice the size of the one she was sharing with Scorpia, and that she spent fourteen years sharing a room and bed with Adora before being bounced around and then spending the last three at Scorpia’s. Even then, they ended up sleeping over together half the time. Glimmer does not seem very convinced, and neither is Bow, but he is at least nicer about it.

Glimmer corners her at the end of the second week, lying in wait for her on her route into campus. She spots the shock of sparkling hair ahead and sighs to herself as she slows her pedaling, cruising to halt in front of the low wall Glimmer is sitting on. She does not want to have whatever conversation this is going to be ever, but especially not with her backpack currently loaded with more things to take to Adora’s, a gift hidden inside.

“You could, I don’t know, text me if you want to talk?” Catra asks, looking her directly in the eye thanks to her seat on her bike bringing them to the same height. Glimmer actually laughs at that.

“I told Adora two weeks ago, and I’ll say it again: you run,” Glimmer rebukes, narrowing her eyes at Catra. Catra glares back, tail lashing, but she does not say anything because it is true. Even she won’t tell that blatant of a lie.

Glimmer is in a combative mood, she can tell. It makes her fur itch, but she fights it down. She and Glimmer have always had a strange relationship. When she first got Adora back, she wanted Glimmer and Bow gone. She wanted it to be just them again. But Adora had befriended them, because of course she had, and now she was living with Glimmer instead of Catra. It had been a rough time on both of them, and Catra and Glimmer were nowhere near friends.

They got there eventually, but Catra still will never let her live down the hatecrush Glimmer had on her those first few months. Glimmer still holds her blackmail of all the times she caught Catra sneaking in the window over her head. There is no ill intent between them now, they are even friends, but they will never be the sweet kind. When two stubborn assholes collide, sparks are inevitable. With Adora around, they have managed to avoid a forest fire.

Catra has no doubt that this conversation is about Adora, though, so her presence probably is not preferable. She sighs, locking her bike’s stand and leaning back from the handlebars.

“Adora is expecting me. If you don’t want her to know, get on with it,” she says, waving dismissively as if her entire body is not coiling with tension. Glimmer looks at her appraisingly, mouth twisted in consideration.

“Adora was really upset this summer,” Glimmer tells her, like she expects it to be news. Catra flinches, looking away as she feels her ears plaster back.

“We talked about it. We don’t have to tell you everything,” she defends. When she looks back at Glimmer, she is watching her with narrowed eyes. The jealous part of her she never managed to quite kill would point out their relationship is none of Glimmer’s business, given she is a recent addition to Adora’s life in comparison to Catra’s almost two decades, but she pushes it down. Glimmer wants what is best for Adora, even if she does not know what that is like Catra does.

“She was not just upset that you didn’t call. I get you both thought the other should be allowed to make the first move, or whatever you were doing, but she was really worried about all the Instagram shit,” Glimmer says. Catra pauses, looking at Glimmer in confusion. A spark of victory lights in Glimmer’s eyes, but what she thinks she has won, Catra does not know.

“You know why Adora has not posted since July?” Glimmer asks. Catra hesitates. She doesn’t, actually. Adora told her she threw herself into training over the summer just to keep herself occupied, so Catra had assumed that she just did not have much to post about. Before that, she really did not know why. Catra is pretty sure the only thing she has posted since July has been their two morning after story posts to each other.

Catra shakes her head, looking at Glimmer curiously. Glimmer’s eyes are just a touch vindictive as she speaks. “It hurt her too much to see you never even viewed the posts. She spent all summer watching you party in clubs while she was broken-hearted,” Glimmer tells her. Her voice is not cruel, but it is not soft either.

Catra glares at her feet, swallowing thickly. “Fuck off,” she mutters. Out of the corner of her eye she sees Glimmer startle. It is enough for her to look up and make eye contact with her again. “I was not partying. I was trying to fill the fucking void with anything but her. You- You don’t know,” she grinds out. She does not manage to maintain eye contact through the whole thing, not once she sees the first spark of remorse in Glimmer’s eyes.

Her claws are out. She grips the handles of her bike just to keep her hands from shaking, glaring indistinctly out as she hunches forward. She makes no move the raise the kickstand. She is not running. Glimmer is silent beside her. Good. She went too far. She couldn’t have known that, but the memories of the summer are back and Catra does not want them to be.

“I’ve decided you are both idiots,” Glimmer says. It startles her enough for her to laugh, looking up and meeting Glimmer’s gaze. The accusation is gone from it. She looks a bit sad, a bit exasperated, a bit remorseful, and overall conflicted. There is some kind of light of realization there, like she is only just now figuring out the summer sucked for Catra too.

Catra sighs, trying to release the tension in her shoulders with it. It works, a little. She turns her head, ducking her nose against her shoulder and just taking a second to breathe. Her clothes pretty much all smell like Adora at this point. At least the ones she is keeping at Adora’s place do. She lets it steady her before she turns back to look at Glimmer.

“What do you actually want? What is your point to all of this aside from making me feel bad?” she asks. She wants to add or is that it, but she doesn’t. Glimmer is an asshole, but she is not cruel. Glimmer sighs, looking at her for a long moment. There is a spark in the back of her eyes, gears turning in her head, but Catra could not give a shit about what.

“Just that she was miserable without you. Clearly your fight was stupid and mutual, but you need to be careful. I don’t want to see her heart break again,” Glimmer tells her, voice much softer now. Catra stares at her.

“I’m not leaving. I already promised her that,” she settles on saying. She knows now that even if it all comes out in the light of day, even if Adora finds out she loves her and ends all this between them, as long as Adora lets her in her life then she will be there. She has no intention of living without Adora if she can help it.

“I believe you aren’t. That isn’t what I’m worried about,” Glimmer tells her, finally hopping off the wall. She eyes Catra for a moment before shaking her head. “Adora is going to be worried. You should get going,” she tells her, before turning and walking away without offering even a shred of a real explanation. Catra glares at her retreating back, going in the opposite direction of Adora’s apartment on purpose, before she kicks up her stand and sets off again.

She worries, as she pulls up to the bike rack, that Glimmer knows. There is no way Glimmer would be able to process Adora doing the things they get up to, but she might be picking up something. She may be blind when it comes to her own relationships, but she knows both of them well. They aren’t actually acting different, though, so she does not know how she would have guessed. They are just them. More intimate, yes, but only in private. Glimmer shouldn’t be able to tell unless Adora drops the ball on her concealer. Catra lets herself into Adora’s apartment with a sigh. She should be home, but Catra has the spare key now and she just needs a few minutes to think.

 

--

 

Adora doesn’t look up from her desk when she hears the front door. She would have to spin around in her chair, and her bedroom door is half-closed anyway. She just wants to get this homework done so she can spend time with Catra. Catra had told her she was bringing a surprise, and when Adora had pressed for any further elaboration she had merely hummed and said she had not decided who it was a surprise for yet. It told her enough to know she wants to get this done.

Catra does not say anything when she comes in, but Adora hears the sound of the deadbolt scraping and movement in the kitchen. She does her best to tune it out. She is almost done. It takes Catra a few minutes to wander into the bedroom. Adora frowns down at her scratch paper when she realizes Catra still has not said anything, just set to work emptying her backpack. She turns in her seat, seeing Catra leaned over the dresser and putting things inside as she pulls them from her backpack. She glances up when Adora’s eyes land on her.

She looks tense, her tail twitching in jerky movements, and her ears a bit limp. Her eyes are soft when they land on Adora, but a bit distant. “Are you okay?” she asks, watching her carefully. A small smile tugs at the corner of Catra’s mouth, and bit of the tenseness in her shoulders releases as she turns back to the drawers.

“Yeah. Just ran into Glimmer. She threatened me about hurting you again,” Catra tells her. Her movements are still stiff. Adora narrows her eyes, scowling a bit.

“I’ll talk to her. It was not your fault,” Adora assures her. Catra pauses, not looking up. The half of her face Adora can see from this angle looks almost searching as she stares down at the clothes. What answers she thinks the drawer holds, Adora does not know.

“I don’t think she is going to bother us about it again. It just- brought up memories from this summer,” she explains. She lets out a breath and resumes putting her things away. “Finish your homework,” she adds, again.

Adora hesitates. She wants to reassure Catra, and she is almost done anyway-

“I have plans. Finish your fucking homework,” Catra adds, sending her a heated glare. Adora feels herself flush, dutifully spinning around in her chair again. Behind her, she hears Catra laugh. It should be proper motivation, but unfortunately it is also a distraction, especially with Catra moving around the bedroom behind her. Eventually she finishes with her things, curling up on the bed and purring softly. Adora has to fight the urge to turn around to look. As much as she wants to see Catra no doubt burrowing into their sheets, she knows once she sees that she won’t be able to stay in her seat. It always makes her chest warm how safe their bed has become to Catra.

She manages to finish. It takes longer than it should, but eventually calculus is dead to her and she staples the papers together, turning them over so she does not have to look at math again. You would think having a math major basically move into her apartment with her would help her understand it even a little bit more, but Catra is not exactly a stunning teacher.

She finally turns from her chair and nearly trips standing up. Catra is lying in the bed nearly naked, nothing left but her underwear, facedown in the sheets and purring softly as she nuzzles into the bed. She raises her head when she hears Adora’s stumble, blinking at her in surprise. She catches Adora’s expression and immediately smirks. Catra slowly stretches her arms out, arching her back in a stretch that leaves her muscles quivering and Adora’s mouth dry as she watches. Catra sits up, raising an eyebrow at her in an obvious challenge. Adora valiantly keeps her gaze locked on Catra’s face, despite how she knows she wants her to look.

“Go get us water,” Catra instructs when Adora does not give in. Adora curses under her breath and hurries to fulfill her request. As she leaves the bedroom, she hears Catra laughing behind her. She is fine with that. She knows what that means, and she is all too happy to speed things along. Catra seems to have relaxed since she got home, but she still wants to take care of her, and this is a way only she can take care of her. She brings two glasses of water, not so much because she cares about sharing a glass with Catra - it seems a pointless line to draw now - but she doesn’t know if they will both need it. She still has no idea what Catra has planned.

She has a bit more of an idea when she walks back into the bedroom and notices a black drawstring bag at the foot of the bed. Catra has not moved, so it was definitely there before, but Adora was a bit distracted. Catra sees her spot it, a satisfied grin breaking out on her face as her tail begins to sweep back and forth playfully. Adora ducks her head, making her way to the nightstand. She gives Catra one of the glasses and sets the other down. Catra takes it, which tells her something at least, watching Adora carefully as she takes her drink. She doesn’t speak until she has handed the glass back off and Adora has put it with the other.

“First, I’m going to show you what I bought. And then we’re going to talk about it, and if you want, we’ll make out for awhile and then use it,” Catra tells her, still kneeling near the head of the bed from when she first sat up. Adora feels herself flush and nods. They have done this nearly every night since they started two weeks ago. They have experimented, but just with each other’s bodies. Adora is pretty sure she knows what this is, anyway. Catra has not been secretive about any of her desires, and when she implied this one while riding Adora’s fingers over the weekend, Adora had not been able to hide her own reaction.

Catra glances down at her t-shirt. “But you’re a bit overdressed,” she adds. Adora is pulling her shirt off nearly before she finishes speaking. It makes Catra laugh as she undresses, but she doesn’t mind. She likes when Catra laughs while they are in bed – or on their way to be. She likes when Catra laughs in general, but the fact she is comfortable enough to find things funny and genuinely laugh with her like this always makes Adora’s chest feel warm.

She intends to follow Catra’s lead and strip to just her underwear, but Catra reaches out to stop her when she goes to remove her sports bra. “Not that I don’t love watching your tits bounce, but you may want to leave that on. Might be uncomfortable otherwise,” Catra warns her. Adora pauses, blinking at her. Catra rolls her eyes, but she is smiling. “You know I’m going to make you work for it, Adora,” Catra tells her.

She does know that, fuck does she know that, so she just nods. She climbs onto the bed beside Catra, sitting and looking at her expectantly. Catra flushes a little, reaching down to the end of the bed for the bag and hooking it by the drawstring, dragging it up and putting it on the bed between them. She ducks her head, a little nervous, or embarrassed maybe, as she opens it and pulls out the harness.

It is simple, a standard belt style. There are elastic bands attached on garters to help anchor it to the thighs, but aside from that it is unassuming – and, Adora would guess, unintimidating. The strap itself is not very big, but it definitely will be more than Adora’s fingers have been, if only by a bit. Catra likely picked it for the smaller size. Catra usually likes her to go hard; she would not want something too big that she has to ease into.

Adora feels herself lick her lips, glancing up to make eye contact with Catra. Catra’s nerves seem to be gone as she watches Adora with a heated gaze, clearly confident in the reaction she has elicited. Adora’s thoughts are spiraling out, though, so she says the first dumb thing that comes to her mind.

“Do you know it is red?” she asks. Catra snorts, a grin breaking across her face as she reaches down to actually pick the harness up.

“It was labeled. I hoped it wasn’t lying. It was that or purple, and you know how I feel about that,” Catra tells her, rolling her eyes a little as she actually holds the toy up. Catra hates purple. It just looks like a washed out blue to her, and she never knows if something is just drab or an entirely different colour. “I wanted this one because it has a ridging inside for you,” Catra tells her, turning it to show her the texturing positioned to give stimulation. Adora’s thoughts are pretty much dead now, at least when it comes to anything but this.

“Not that you will necessarily need it,” Catra adds, grinning a bit wickedly. Adora has already gotten off without Catra actually touching her once, just from the rush of taking care of her. “But if it is not enough, I will be happy to take care of you. Are you interested?” Catra asks, smirking at her. The question is idiotic given the way Adora’s body is already tensing, but she rolls her eyes. She is not giving Catra the satisfaction of acknowledging her own reaction, not when she can already see her tail twitching with amusement.

“Yes, Catra, I’m interested,” Adora tells her, throwing her an obviously-annoyed look. Catra’s grin just grows broader as she reaches over to put the toy down on the edge of the bed by the wall, out of the way until they are ready. She turns back to Adora, noticing the bag still on the bed and smacking it away with a decisive swipe of her tail. It barely makes it off the edge of the bed, fabric too light to be sent flying, but as soon as it is out of her sight it seems to be dead to Catra. She reaches out for Adora, her eyes sparking. Adora lets herself be pulled in gladly, shifting to sit in the center of the bed and pull Catra into her lap.

Catra frames her jaw with both hands, pulling her in for a long, slow kiss. She feels Catra sigh into it, tension slipping out from her body. It makes Adora shiver, feeling Catra already starting to let herself go. She slips both her arms around Catra’s back, pulling her in closer against her. She kind of mourns leaving on her bra when she has to feel the slide of Catra’s body through fabric, but she can still feel the softness of her against her everywhere else. Catra is probably right. If she wants her to do this with the pacing she uses with her fingers, the bra is necessary.

Catra’s hands slip down from her face, finding her shoulders and gently pushing her backwards. Adora lets herself be pushed down into the bed, flushing at the sight of Catra above her, heat blatant in her eyes as she sweeps her gaze over Adora’s body. Adora flexes, almost absently if it were not how thoroughly intentional it is, and watches the instant reaction of Catra’s eyes dilating and her ears twitching. Catra has a thing for her muscles, that was clear from the very first time. Adora is big enough to admit to herself how that strokes her ego – it certainly fuels her when she is training in the gym.

Catra’s eyes don’t find her face again. They stay fixed on her torso as Adora sees an idea forming in her mind. “Stop me if this is weird,” she says, not looking up to Adora’s eyes still. She is blushing a little, embarrassment evident. Adora reaches down, placing a hand on her thigh and squeezing encouragingly. It is enough for Catra to look up to meet her eyes, still clearly nervous, but a blatant heat contained in her gaze. “Can I grind on your abs?” she asks, ears pinning back in her embarrassment.

She has nothing to be embarrassed about. Adora knows she is staring, and flushing, and automatically tensing her stomach just at the thought, but she struggles to find words for a few long moments. Some of the anxiety seems to leak out of Catra anyway as she takes in Adora’s reaction. Adora manages to nod, still thoroughly mute. Catra smirks at that, shifting up to straddle across Adora’s abdomen. She is still wearing her underwear, but Adora can feel that it is damp against her skin. The realization makes her shiver.

“Have you thought about this before?” she asks, because she wants to know, as her hands come up to find Catra’s waist. Catra looks away, ears pinning back again, and nods. Adora feels her breath leave her in a rush and she tenses her stomach beneath Catra. Catra feels it, if the way she flushes is any indication. Catra makes eye contact with her again and then slowly, purposefully, rolls her hips down once.

The eye contact lasts maybe two seconds. Catra lets out a shuddering breath, eyes falling closed, and then starts working her hips up and down, grinding down on Adora’s abs desperately. Adora has to fight to stay tensed, to keep all her breath from leaving her, to maintain any semblance of control as she watches Catra desperately fuck herself down on the planes of her stomach, small moans spilling forth with her needy breaths now. Adora flexes her grip on Catra’s waist, pulling Catra down with every roll, upping the pressure. Catra throws her head back, motion of her hips unrelenting as she pants.

“Adora,” she groans, eyes squeezing shut now as she works herself hard against Adora. The sound of Catra saying her name like that loses Adora the battle with holding her breath in and she releases, momentarily untensing beneath Catra. Catra slits her eyes open, smirking down at her with smug victory that lights the competitive fire in Adora and has her tensing again.

It is what Catra wants, actually. Her smirk only grows wider, fangs flashing at the edge of her smile as she rolls down hard. All her bravado slips away at the contact as she gasps out, her rhythm becoming unsteady as she works herself down. Adora can feel how wet she is now against her stomach, can feel the slick that is soaking through her underwear to paint across her abs. She draws in a sharp breath, watching the sight of Catra starting to shake as she gasps and rolls above her.

Adora needs her. “Catra,” she requests, pulling Catra down on the next roll and not letting her go, holding her against her stomach. Catra whines in complaint, heated gaze finding hers as she settles for rubbing herself up and down across her abs, not allowed to rise to properly grind now. “Can I fuck you now?” Adora asks, voice just a bit breathless and plenty desperate. She can’t help it, not seeing Catra like this, equally desperate for her.

Catra’s breath leaves her in a shaky exhale, her cheeks flushing. She does not stop rubbing herself across Adora’s stomach, but she nods. “How do you want to do this?” she asks, her voice rough with desire and exertion. Adora pauses, considering it. She knows how she imagined this, but she is not sure if that would work for Catra.

“Is the edge of the bed okay? So I can stand and have room to move,” she asks, finally untensing her stomach with the words. Catra releases a small noise of complaint, but a smile quirks at the edge of her lips as she leans down, shifting so she can drape across Adora’s chest. It lays her over the wet streak she has made. Adora is sure she feels it from how she flushes. Adora is sure she is never going to recover from this.

“Works for me. I trust you, however you need to do it,” Catra tells her. Adora fights not to groan and clearly fails from the way Catra smirks. The way Catra just trusts her, is willing to say she trusts her like this, lights a fire in Adora, knowing how hard it has always been for her. Knowing just how much trust that admittance actually takes. It ignites a need for Catra in her, causing her hands raise to grab Catra’s hips so she can lift her. Catra lets out an indignant squeak as Adora lifts her off of her and drops her back on the bed. Adora sits up, throwing her a cocky smirk that earns her an eyeroll despite how the manhandling has left Catra flushed, her tail lashing behind her. Adora slips off the bed.

She stands near the middle of the bed, leaning over to fetch the harness from where Catra left it. Catra watches her pick it up with a blatantly hungry gaze. “I want to put it on you,” she tells Adora. If she was not already flushing, Adora is sure she would at the words. Adora just nods, a touch too eager maybe, but she is always like that when they do this. A smile breaks out across Catra’s face at the permission. “Get naked, then,” she tells Adora as she scoots over to sit in front of her near the edge of the bed.

Adora does not need more encouragement to strip out of her underwear, still leaving her bra on. When she straightens, Catra has slipped her own underwear off, tossing it aside carelessly. Adora feels herself lick her lips but she does not care. She steps forward, hands finding Catra’s thighs to spread them over the edge of the bed as she steps between them. Catra shudders beneath her, hands finding the mattress behind her to brace herself.

“I still need to put it on you,” she points out, but she does not stop Adora as Adora leans down for a hungry kiss. Adora licks into her mouth, kissing her with purpose, firm and a little aggressive. Conveying a message, an expectation: this is how she wants to fuck her. Catra moans beneath her, drinking her in readily. Adora threads a hand in her hair, pulling her head back slowly, making the tension in her scalp build in a way that has Catra whining and tilting her head forward just to get more pressure. Adora hums, bending down to kiss along her neck for a moment so Catra can breathe. She is already starting to gasp, breathing becoming uneven. Adora can’t blame her really, not knowing what is coming next.

She knows, as long as the strap is not too much, that Catra is going to love it. She can already feel heat pooling in her own gut, between the grinding and just imagining Catra like this. She bites a bit more harshly at Catra’s lips when she leans in again, but the answering gasp certainly is not a complaint. “Adora,” Catra gasps out, shifting a bit restlessly beneath her. Adora pulls back enough to look down at her appraisingly.

Catra is looking up at her with a soft expression, heat in her eyes blatant. Her chest is rising and falling a little fast, her breasts hard, her fingers twisted in the sheets where she is supporting herself. With her legs spread like this, Adora can smell her arousal even standing, and she can see how ready she is. Adora meets her eyes, nodding her permission. Catra releases a shaky breath of relief, sitting up properly on the bed so she can grab the harness.

She helps Adora into it as she steps into the garters, pulling it up and letting Catra do the straps just a little harshly. Catra throws her a cocky smile when she does it. “So the ridging can work,” she explains – teases – as she finally lays back on the bed, hips at the edge, feet braced off the side of the bedframe so Adora can stand between her spread thighs. Adora lets out a breath, just watching Catra for a moment as she runs her hands over her soft thighs. Catra lets her eyes flutter closed, some of the tension releasing from her body as Adora’s hand meets her. She works her thumb over her clit as she raises her other hand, carefully feeling along her entrance.

She knows with all the build up Catra is probably ready for more, but she needs to be sure. She earns soft sighs and gasps as she works her clit with one hand, pressing one finger in steadily and finding absolutely no resistance, just wet heat. Catra lets out a soft noise, not quite a moan and not quite a complaint. Adora knows she needs more regardless. She slips a second finger in, rocking her purposefully this time. Between the earlier stimulation, the anticipation, and then pressure against her clit, Catra takes her easily.

Adora takes a breath, adding a third. Catra moans now, her eyes opening to meet Adora’s in a heated gaze as her breathing goes ragged. Adora pumps into her slowly, steadily ramping up in speed, trying not to go too hard. She knows Catra can take it, but she wants to relax her and make sure she is ready for the strap, not make her sore already.

“Adora, I can take it. Let me take it,” Catra tells her, not quite begging, but not enough of her usual bravado to be a command. Adora bites her lip, amping up the speed to work her hard for a few moments that have her panting and gasping. Adora slows down, pulling out gently. Catra’s gaze is heated as it meets hers, her breath caught as she waits. Her thighs are quivering with anticipation.

Adora lines up carefully. “Tell me to stop or slow if you need it, okay?” Adora tells her, even if she knows she does not have to. Catra is never quiet about her needs in bed – she would not have asked to grind on her abs if she was. She still wants to say it, to offer that reassurance. Catra nods, breath still held now she can feel the toy pressing against her.

Adora eases in slowly, watching Catra carefully. Catra inhales sharply but makes no move to stop her as she presses in gently. The toy is not that much longer than Adora’s fingers, gently curved to deliver the right pressure. It doesn’t seem to bother Catra as she carefully pushes in. She holds it there as she finally bottoms out, keeping her gaze steady on Catra.

“Okay?” she asks, checking in because Catra has been incredibly still. Catra lets out her breath, uneven and relieved.

“Yeah. Didn’t want to move and find it too much. Go slow at first, okay? Then- well, you know how I like it,” she tells her, throwing her a smirk at the end. Adora is well aware how Catra likes it. She nods, slowly pulling back before pressing in again. Now she is not so focused on watching Catra, she can actually register the stimulation of the texturing pressing back against her, making her draw in a breath as the pressure builds with the slow press of her hips.

Yeah, Catra is definitely not going to have to take care of her after this. Adora pulls back and begins to thrust properly, slow and careful but rhythmic now. As she ramps up the speed, she is grateful Catra thought to tell her to keep her bra on - it is already straining with every thrust as it is. She watches the tension seep out of Catra’s body as she relaxes back into the sheets, relaxing into the pleasure. It is all she needs to keep ramping up the speed, the intensity, until she is pressing into Catra with purposeful strokes. Not hard, not quite how she likes it, but she does not want to go too fast.

Catra seems to disagree. “Harder, Adora. Fuck me like you mean it,” Catra tells her, voice needy and frustrated. The tension – the good kind – is starting to slip into her body now. She openly moans when Adora presses in harder, one hand finding her hip while the other grips her thigh to keep them spread. Despite her bravado, she does not roll her hips down to meet Adora like she usually does. Still, the stiff intrusion of the toy warrants the caution. Adora might be fool enough to believe she is compensating by being so mouthy if she was not always like this.

Adora doesn’t mean to open her mouth, but Catra’s goading always gets to her. “You know I always mean it, kitten,” she tells her, leaning forward to bare a bit of weight on Catra's hip and hold her still as she fucks her hips forward properly now. She does not have time to register her own words before Catra flushes and mewls. Her expression is almost shocked as she stares up at Adora, ears pricked forward. Adora halts, an apology already on her lips.

“Adora, if you ever call me that outside of bed, I will claw your fucking eyes out, you hear me?” Catra rushes out, still staring at her with wide eyes.

“I’m sorry, it just slip-“

“Now do it again,” Catra cuts in, flush deepening somehow. It is Adora’s turn to look shocked, staring down at Catra in surprise. The word has been in her dirty fantasies for as long as she has been having them. Catra used to hate that word when they were young. People who used it to try to belittle her. She didn’t want Adora to say it, either - not in public at least. She told Adora once that it was okay because she knew she still meant it the same way she did when they were actually kids: affectionately. The type of affection may have changed, and Adora may have not said it even once since they were reunited, but she has never forgotten it.

Catra’s gaze darts away, ears plastering back in embarrassment. “And start fucking me again, Christ, Adora,” she adds, all bravado. Adora realizes her hips have stilled in her shock over the slip.

“Catra, wait – was that really okay?” she asks, squeezing her hip gently. Catra’s ears twitch back before she releases a breath, relaxing against the sheets with the strap still buried in her. When her gaze finds Adora’s the embarrassment is evident, but her eyes are soft.

“Yeah, it was okay. You can do it again. In bed,” she adds, narrowing her eyes in an implied threat. She is still flushed, but her ears are up again, and now Adora knows that flush is not just from embarrassment. Still, she hesitates a moment more. “I liked it, okay? Move again,” Catra hisses, all frustration and need. The embarrassment has faded fast in the face of her unfulfilled desire.

Adora does not need any further encouragement than that. She strokes her hand on Catra’s thigh in what she hopes is a soothing motion before she begins to rock her hips forward again, quickly ramping up beyond where she was before, using her hand to support herself so she can properly thrust, not too fast but hard, rocking Catra back into the sheets.

The instant relief and desire that pours through her is evident as she throws her head back, flexing her hip uselessly in Adora’s grip as she thrusts into her. Catra’s breathing becomes as equally ragged as Adora’s as she pushes into Catra with hard purpose. Catra moans, each breath becoming a small whine or gasp as Adora works her. It is different, not feeling all her body’s reactions around her fingers, but she can see the twitch of her muscles, the tension gathering in her as she moans and whines beneath her.

“You’re so beautiful like this, kitten,” Adora tells her, voice breathy from exertion, but honest. Catra mewls beneath her again, body writhing a bit as she tries to work herself down onto the strap. Adora keeps holding her in place, but she feels her own pace quicken without even intending it. “Hold still for me. I don’t want to hurt you. I just want to make you feel good, okay, kitten?” Adora tells her. Catra keens but she goes limp back against the sheets, her eyes screwing shut with the sound.

“Please,” she gasps out. Adora does not what she is begging for aside from release, but it will be a bit hard to touch her while using the strap. Adora’s own thoughts are growing hazy between the constant rhythm of the pressure pushing back on her clit and the sight of Catra beneath her like this, trembling and close.

Adora manages to lean off the arm on Catra’s hips, taking her thighs in her hands and pulling her down to meet her with each thrust. Catra cries out, back arching, at the same time as Adora groans as she drives into her. She can’t make herself let go, make herself stop, but she needs to make Catra come.

“Touch yourself, kitten,” she tells her, voice ragged. Catra whimpers, her hand untangling from the sheets and falling between her legs obediently. She moans as soon as her fingers meet herself. Adora drinks in the sight of Catra touching herself as Adora’s hips press her back into the mattress, whines and moans spilling forward every second. Some of them are coming from herself, she knows, but she can’t be bothered to care, not with this heat and haze of lust building around them. She is soaked through, desperate for Catra’s release, for that wave of satisfaction that will push her over.

Catra's back arches, she cries out loudly, and then she is tensing and falling back beneath Adora, her orgasm rolling through her. Adora doesn’t stop, can’t stop, so close herself until she spills over with one more jolting thrust.

She finds herself gasping for breath, staring down at Catra spent and panting, moaning weakly as the aftershocks rock through her, no doubt squeezing down on the toy with each one. Adora feels a bit dazed with the force of her orgasm, but she carefully places her hands on Catra’s hips, holding her still as she pulls out slowly and carefully. Catra whines as she does so, hips twitching, but she stays collapsed back on the sheets as Adora stumbles to sit on the bed beside her.

She struggles with the straps of the harness with shaking hands as they both struggle to find breath again. Eventually she manages to get it undone, pushing it down her hips and tossing it to the foot of the bed. She will clean it later, after they have both rested. She reaches for the nightstand, taking a long drink of water before turning back to Catra.

Catra is still collapsed back against the bed, but her body is relaxed as she works to get her breathing under control. She looks wrecked in the absolute best way, blissed out and flushed. Adora reaches for her, running a soothing hand over her shoulder and tugging lightly. “Can you sit up for me? I have water,” Adora prompts. Catra opens her eyes, blinking at her with an annoyed groan. She still lets Adora coax her into a sitting position, taking the water gratefully and draining what is left of it.

“Bed now,” she says, still a little breathless, as Adora puts the empty glass back. Adora is all too happy to reach out for her and pull her into her arms, arranging them facing each other on the pillow. A low purr rumbles through the air, a sign Adora did it right, as Catra cuddles in closer against her chest. Adora lets herself relax, endorphins running through her as Catra curls into her.

“I loved that as much as I thought I would,” Catra tells her. Adora tries to contain her spasm at the word. She does not know how good of a job she does, but hopefully Catra writes it off as an aftershock if she picks up on it. Adora squeezes her close, because she wants to, but also to cover up the movement.

“I am definitely up for that again. That was amazing,” Adora agrees, turning her head down to press a kiss into her hair. She likes to press kisses into the softness. She had been worried they were not allowed, at first, but Catra has yet to actually pull away from one of her touches. Adora is still cautious in what she tries, but even when Catra seems neutral to a touch she usually allows it, as long as they are in private. Adora is a lot more judicious about what she tries in public, but Catra usually allows the touches for a few moments at least, if she does not just openly accept them.

Catra’s purr rumbles louder as she nuzzles in under her neck, letting out a contented sigh against her skin. If Adora’s entire body was not already spent, it might have stood alert at the sensation. As it is, she lets herself just relax, Catra equally spent and content in her arms.

It is everything she has ever wanted, really, her and Catra close like they have always been, close in new ways they have never been, relaxed and happy in a bed that is steadily becoming theirs.

It takes a monumental amount of restraint for her to swallow the words down. She doesn’t want to lose this – not now and not ever. Everything in the last two weeks has shown her they work, they could work if Catra loves her back in that same way. She will need to say it eventually, but this soon, in this already-perfect moment, is not the time. Not when they have not even said what they are yet.

She ducks her head down into Catra’s hair, curling herself around her shorter bedmate. She just wants to keep having this, exactly as it is. A word isn’t important – not more important than how this makes her feel, anyway. She kisses the top of Catra’s head softly. This is everything she wants.

Chapter Text

After three weeks, Catra realizes she has lost any semblance of control over the situation. Not that she was ever in control, but she realizes what this relationship includes has expanded rapidly and she has no idea where the lines are anymore. Adora has been testing boundaries like a misbehaving puppy since day one, and Catra has been happy to let her take the lead and offer what she is comfortable with.

Catra can’t name a line anymore. Not in private, at least. Adora rarely tries things in public. That might be why people do not notice the change, despite how monumental it feels. She is grateful they don’t notice so she does not have to answer the question of what are you with I don’t know – but sometimes she wishes that when they run into one of Adora’s classmates they would ask are you dating just so she can know what Adora thinks the answer to that is.

She sure as hell does not know the answer. Neither of them have ever been in a relationship. Catra never wanted one if it was not with Adora. They certainly have never been on a date – together, or with anyone else. They see each other as much as possible outside of their classes and commitments, they do their homework side-by-side in Adora’s living room, and they joke and tease and roughhouse like they always did. It is like their relationship senior year, in a lot of ways. They spend time with Glimmer and Bow and sometimes some of their other classmates when they are at BMU, and when they are at GEU they spend time with Scorpia and her friends.

They just also pin each other against walls, kiss long and slow on Adora’s couch, and sigh and pant each other’s names near-daily in the bed that is Adora’s only in theory for how much Catra lives in it too. Adora doesn’t hold her hand as they walk, but she sometimes throws an arm around Catra’s shoulders. She puts concealer over the bruises on her neck, which Catra can admit she is grateful for when it comes to their friends finding out what they do, but she still secretly wishes she didn’t. Adora always lets Catra scent-mark her happily and Catra knows that some of the other students can pick it up, she sees them glancing at them as they walk or get dinner together, but none of them are Adora’s friends and no one asks.

Adora makes her feel wanted daily. She strokes through her hair and offers assurances. She kisses her like she is the only damn thing on the planet and fucks her like she never wants to see anything but Catra writhing beneath her. She falls apart under Catra’s touch like her fingers, claws, and fangs are aphrodisiacs. Adora goes seeking for what Catra wants and then gives it to her. It is almost too much damn near every time. It is almost sex as therapy for all those years of feeling unwanted.

In the apartment, they build their own world. They don’t agree to hide it from their friends, not like they agree to keep the fight a secret, anyway. They settled on saying it was a big, dumb misunderstanding they made while drunk and leave it at that. When Glimmer hears that last part, she is aghast to learn Adora has ever been drunk, which sends Catra cackling so bad she falls off her seat on Perfuma’s bed, but eventually people stop pushing it. 

Despite not agreeing to hide their relationship – neither of them say it. They both lie about it when they meet Glimmer and Bow for lunch and Glimmer asks what they did last night – although Catra does not exactly expect or want Adora to tell her foster sister she had been on her knees while Catra shredded another one of her ponytail holders.

(She will get all of them eventually).

So they keep being them, being friends, and yet they do all this. It is everything Catra hoped a relationship with Adora would be – except it is not a relationship, and Adora never calls Catra hers outside of the bedroom. Sure, she could do with a bit more open affection, but she would not admit that even if Adora did say they were dating. Adora seems perfectly happy, if unsure at times, and Catra is happy despite her doubts – happier than she has ever been, truthfully.

She is so fucking scared to ask and lose it.

 

--

 

Bow corners her outside of her class near the end of the third week.

“I managed to convince Glimmer not to intervene by volunteering myself as the sacrifice,” he tells her. Adora blinks at him in surprise.

“What did I do?” she asks. He actually sighs with pity. He ends up directing them out to a solitary bench on the quad outside the building. Adora watches with trepidation as he sits down across from her.

“Catra has moved in with you,” he points out, like Adora doesn’t know. Technically they both have their own places, but Catra asked if she could bring clothes over because of the shower, and then Adora said she would probably need to bring over her other stuff so they can do their schoolwork together like they used to, and after that more didn’t really need to be said as they slowly moved most of Catra’s things over. Catra still sleeps at GEU two nights a week so she does not have to bike over before her morning class, and she still hangs out in her old dorm during the day between her classes, but she spends most of her time in Adora’s apartment.

Their apartment.

“She did that like two weeks ago,” Adora returns, crossing her arms and waiting. They have had this discussion and made these jokes already, usually between the four of them as they all hang out and heckle each other. Bow and Glimmer know how long she and Catra have spent sleeping together, how they both can sometimes struggle with flashback nightmares when they sleep apart. It just makes sense to sleep together, their weird, undefined relationship aside.

“Adora, you’re in love with her,” Bow returns. Adora feels herself freeze, drawing in a sharp breath and staring at Bow. Bow just looks at her calmly, looking a bit exasperated.

“Psh, where did you even get that idea from? I never said that. Why would-“

“Adora, you have been in love with her as long as I have known you,” Bow cuts in to Adora’s stunning defense. Adora glares at him before sending a glance around them. There is no one else nearby, but BMU has a rampant gossip problem. If Mermista spent absolutely any time in her apartment, the knowledge that the resident of apartment 312 is regularly having sex would have reached its way to at least one of her friends by now. Adora sends a silent thank you, not for the first time, for how dedicated her only direct neighbour is to the swim team.

“And it has never been a problem before,” Adora rebukes, sulking where she sits a little. There really is no point in denying it. There never was, but she was hoping to deter Bow. Clearly not. She pauses. “I don’t want to have this conversation, but thanks for taking the Glimmer bullet for me,” she concedes. He is going to relay every word she says back to her sister, but he will be nicer about asking than her at least. Bow is a real bro. He nods, taking the thank you graciously despite how they both know they are about to start arguing.

“I’m not saying it is a problem, I am saying you need to tell her,” Bow says. Adora snorts.

“Absolutely not,” she dismisses, drumming her fingers on the table with nervous energy. She can’t. She can’t risk ruining this new thing they have built. Not at least until she figures out if they are dating.

Bow looks exasperated. “She is going to find out eventually. Would you rather have an awkward conversation or another fight?” Bow asks. Adora flinches, far too obviously. Now she wishes it was Glimmer, because Glimmer would have just absorbed that as an appropriate reaction. Bow is too observant, too in-tune with emotions. He blatantly stares at her. “Adora, what was the fight about?” he asks, an edge of realization in his voice.

Adora looks down at the beat her fingers are drumming on the table. “It really was a big misunderstanding. We both did dumb things while drunk and I thought- I thought I did something too obvious. That she realized and was hurt I had hidden it from her,” Adora tells him, shrugging. She looks up to meet his gaze. He looks a bit pitying, but still determined. He can see why her fears are there, after the summer – but he still is going to keep pushing this, Adora knows.

“You aren’t going to lose her over this, Adora. Not if you just tell her. Like you said, that whole thing was a misunderstanding. But she is going to figure it out eventually now you are living together,” Bow tells her. Adora flinches. Her next words are quiet.

“I’m not afraid of losing her. I know I won’t, not completely. But I’m afraid of losing what I have with her,” Adora admits. Maybe it is saying too much, but it could just refer to a comfortable, platonic friendship becoming stilted and awkward. It could also refer to a casual romance ending because they wanted different things from it.

The statement is like their relationship: walking that line she can’t quite tell if they have crossed yet.

Bow is silent for a long moment. “I don’t think you are going to lose her. I think you are going to get her,” he tells her, a cautious endorsement.

That is where Bow is wrong, even if he doesn’t know it. Adora already has her. Has her in every way, at least in private. The only thing she could want is to get to be the same in public and in front of their friends. She is happy with Catra. She can’t lose this now.

“Adora, do you think she feels the same?” Bow prompts when she remains silent.

Adora pauses. She does not know the answer to that question, not really. Before Raving Weekend, her answer would have been a firm no and I’m not in love with her anyway. Now-

Now Adora is pretty sure she wakes up every day a little bit more in love with Catra, and it might just be killing her. Sure, she is the happiest she has ever been, but the heart palpitations can’t be good for her in the long run. There just is no denying it on her part anymore. As for Catra - well, they wake up nearly every morning together. They kiss each other every morning, wrapped up in each other’s arms. After the first few days they started kissing each other in greeting, and after a week Adora started kissing Catra goodbye. Now Catra returns the gesture.

Adora is cautious in the new things she tries, the new forms of affection she offers, but Catra never turns them down or turns them away. She often returns them back, and she reaches out in her own unique ways. Catra lays in her arms as they soak in the afterglow, purring with contentment and nuzzling into her as they lay in silence or idly chat. She wraps her tail around Adora's leg under the table when they eat together. Catra has already trusted her with things – with power and control – Adora was not sure if she could be comfortable with. Adora has trusted her with the same. Adora was worried about what was allowed at first, but it seems the answer to that is everything, at least while they are in the apartment.

It feels like love. It feels like all her dreams. But she can’t bring herself to ask, to say it. Because in the big picture, it is not important. She doesn't need a word, not really, when she has Catra in every way she has ever wanted. Adora lays in their bed listening to Catra softly sing to herself in the shower and thinks I want this for the rest of my life. She can't lose that.

Bow watches her patiently while she has a crisis he cannot begin to know the depths of. Adora gives up with a sigh. “I don’t know. But if she doesn’t right now, I think she could. I think she is open to it. It hasn’t even been a month yet and I am not going to pressure her for it before she is ready,” Adora tells him, open and honest. She doesn’t need to tell him her reasons – she doesn’t need to tell him how much time she put into that conclusion. She certainly does not need to say that she is talking about saying I love you too early in a relationship - a relationship that is a secret, anyway.

Bow looks at her long and considering while he mulls that over. Adora thinks that is a fair stance to have – it is certainly a healthier one than any she has had previously. She always blocked off the possibility in her mind. Now she has all this, she can’t deny the only thing missing is the intent.

“I still think you should tell her you have feelings for her, even if you don’t say you love her. Ask her on a date. If she is open to it, won’t telling her help her decide?” he asks. Adora glares down at the tabletop.

The problem is he might be right, but he doesn’t know about this added layer to it she can’t even ask him about without betraying Catra’s trust. The problem is he is referring to raising their relationship to the level it already is in private, even if Adora wishes she could do the same things in public. She is too afraid to without getting permission from Catra for people to know - and she can't ask if she can tell people they are dating when she doesn't even know that they are.

“I’m not- denying it anymore, okay?” she tries. Bow raises an eyebrow at her.

“We started this conversation with you denying it,” he points out. She huffs, rolling her eyes.

“I’m not denying it to myself. Or to her, if she asks. But she hasn’t. I have been… trying things, okay? Seeing what she could be comfortable with. I need to do this slow. I don’t want to scare her away again,” Adora settles on telling him. He doesn’t need to know those things are which part of Catra’s body she is allowed to touch with casual affection, if she can call her pet names, or new things in their bed, but she is not just sitting completely idle and yearning anymore. Not when Catra has accepted every inch she has tried to take, and offered a few herself without prompting.

Bow raises an eyebrow. Shit. That was too much. He is suspicious.

“I’m testing boundaries to see if she feels the same. Just give me time, okay? I’m trying,” Adora tries instead. Bow sighs, but the look he gives is conceding.

“As long as you’re actually working on it and not just pining for her anymore,” he agrees. Adora releases a sigh of relief. “I’ll tell Glimmer to back off and give you some time to sort it out yourselves,” he adds.

That gets Adora’s attention.

Thank you.

 

--

 

Rule number two is being violated and Catra has no clue what to do about it. Yes, the letter of the rule is Adora cannot say filthy shit in a public, but-

But the way she is stroking up and down the bare fur of Catra’s thigh, exposed by her jogging shorts, as they sit in the Commons getting dinner with Glimmer and Bow is a definite violation of the rule. Catra is doing her best to keep eating, to keep her fur from standing on end, or her tail from lashing, but all she can think about is the heat of Adora’s palm on her leg as she idly traces small ovals on her thigh from under the edge of the table.

Adora, for her part, is eating her food and listening to Glimmer rant about the kid in her literature class who keeps talking over her. Her eyes are bright and alert, her demeanor casual, nothing about her giving away the fact she is two seconds away from making Catra snap. Adora is a terrible actress and often reluctant to touch her in public – Catra is sure she does not even know she is doing it.

This may be the proof they are having sex too much, but Catra never had any reason to complain before now. Still would not, if it were not for the public location that is making her lose her mind and their friends sitting across from them. Catra pulls her phone out of her pocket to text Adora, because she needs this torture to end, and as she pulls up the conversation Adora glances over her shoulder and blinks down at it.

That’s what I’m in your phone as?” she asks, surprise blatant. She sounds torn between flattered and offended. Her fingers still have not ceased their movements. Catra blinks down at her screen, forcing herself to focus her eyes on it despite how her mind is anywhere but on her phone.

She stares at the word Asshole at the top of their conversation. “In my defense, I think I did that sometime during senior year. It’s in the same letter section in my contacts, so I kind of forgot about it,” Catra points out, but she opens Adora’s contact details as she says it.

“What did I do?” Adora asks as she takes another bite of her food.

Probably something like you are doing right now, Catra does not say, though she is sure it is true. Some casual affection that made Catra lose her shit, but unable to say anything without outing herself. She does not respond, because she can’t say that without outing them to Glimmer and Bow, who are watching the exchange with curiosity.

“There, is that better?” Catra asks, turning to show Adora the new contact name.

Fingers.

Adora chokes on her food, turning away as Catra grins wickedly. “Change it back,” she gasps before she dives in for a drink of water. She has flushed a dark shade.

“Oh, come on, now I have to see,” Glimmer demands, making grabby hands for the phone from across the table. Catra just shakes her heads, changing Adora’s name again, because she has to be so damn picky.

“No. You’re ‘A Shower Owner’ and you have to live with it,” Catra says, finally putting her phone away. At least Adora stopped her movements when she choked. The fingers hint had not been subtle, but Adora is so oblivious Catra had seriously considered she would miss it.

And apparently she did, because once Adora has recovered she resumes the dragging movements. Catra feels her eye twitch, and she sees the questioning look Glimmer throws her. Heat and annoyance are pouring through her now.

“That’s it,” Catra growls, throwing her legs off the bench seat and out from under Adora’s touch. Adora startles as Catra reaches down and grabs her arm harshly. “Excuse us,” she tells the table, thoroughly sarcastic and uncaring as she drags Adora out of the room with her.

 

--

 

It is not like Adora was totally unaware of what she was doing. She just did not realize what it was doing to Catra. It started unconsciously, and when she stopped, she realized she had started in the first place. The immediate loss of the contact made her resume, thinking maybe she could add this to her carefully expanding list of okay touches since Catra seemed fine, joking beside her. That was until Catra grabbed her arm in a bruising grip, claws out, and dragged her from the cafeteria with her tail lashing.

Heat is rolling off her so blatantly several hybrids in the cafeteria send knowing or even scandalized looks their way. Adora would not give a shit if they stood up on the table and shouted it to all the humans and fae around too. It is not like it is subtle when Catra hauls her across the hallway outside and into one of the gender-neutral, single-stall bathrooms and locks the door. Adora is pressed against it by a bruising kiss before she has time to apologize.

Apologizing quickly becomes the last thing on her mind as Catra’s hands grab her with that bruising intensity again, forcing her back where she started to arch off the door while Catra claims her mouth.

“You- asshole,” she pants against Adora’s mouth between kisses. Adora huffs a poor attempt at a laugh that becomes a low moan when Catra forces a thigh between her own, already rocking it. Adora rolls her hips down, unsure how this is punishment exactly.

“Rule number two, Adora,” Catra tells her, before she bites on her lip hard, hard enough to form a bruise if not draw blood. Adora lets out a soft cry against her mouth that has Catra pulling back and fixing her with a narrow-eyed glare. Adora dutifully closes her mouth, throat working with the effort to contain herself.

Distantly, she remembers Catra’s threat when she instated the rule. I’m going to rail you in a random bathroom.

Adora swallows, staring at the blatant intent in Catra’s eyes, but she also knows there is no way she can keep anywhere near quiet enough for them to do this. Adora finally raises her arms, grabbing Catra’s waist and forcing her back, turning them so her back hits the wall. Catra’s eyes go wide in the moment before Adora dives in.

She pins Catra to the wall with a thigh between her own and a greedy kiss. She had not, actually, intended for anything like this to happen, but she also cannot resist the sight of Catra worked up like this. Getting to see her fall apart for her is almost as good as getting off herself, and though Catra makes noise, she is far quieter than Adora, and she has managed to be silent before – with the proper motivation. She also deserves it, putting up with Adora’s teasing, however accidental.

Adora rocks her thigh, reveling in the – small, quiet – groan Catra gives in response as she begins to steadily roll her hips down, seeking rhythm. Adora can feel how wet she is through her shorts and, despite everything, only just now realizes how worked up Catra is. She firmly moves that touch to the okay in private list and quietly determines that the end of their next study session together is going to be fun.

But maybe, actually, not as much fun as this- as Catra arching off the tile wall, rolling her hips down, greedily seeking friction as she grits her teeth and bares her fangs to keep her noises down to just soft hisses of air. Her eyes are screwed shut with her effort at silence, flush heating her face as she trembles beneath Adora. The effort she is putting into this so she can have it, so Adora can have her, is enough to make Adora clench down on nothing.

This is a terrible idea on both their parts, but a series of terrible ideas is how this whole thing between them started, and it is the best damn thing Adora has ever had in her life. They are going back to their roots, or something. Adora does not really care - not about anything but getting Catra off right now.

She drops her hands to Catra’s hips, forcing them back against the wall and still. Catra whines softly, eyes opening so she can stare pleadingly at Adora. Adora feels the wave of heat that floods through her at that. She has to recover from that look somehow, because that look usually makes her want to do absolutely anything Catra asks, and they are still in public.

She throws Catra a cocky grin as she takes back her thigh from between her legs, watching the annoyed heat that sparks in her eyes at that. “You know what you’re in my phone as?” Adora asks, one hand trailing down Catra’s front to rub along the length of the wet spot on her shorts. Catra’s eyes go just a little wide as she jerks her hips down, trying to get anything more than what Adora is giving her.

The shorts she is wearing are indecently small. She had thrown Adora a heated look when she put them on before their run, making it clear she was putting them on just to torture her, likely in response to Adora torturing her by asking her to join her on her evening jog. She could have said no – she did not. Instead she did this, and now Adora is going to do her, without ever taking them off.

Adora presses their bodies together, leaning down to whisper in Catra’s ear as her fingers trail up Catra’s inner thigh and slip inside the leg of her shorts to trace her directly, shoving the fabric aside. She is not wearing underwear and they both know it. It had been another of her blatant choices this afternoon. Now, it means the shorts never stood a chance of hiding how turned on Adora has made her.

Kitten,” she informs her as she finally works her fingers over Catra’s center. She does not need preamble, not worked up like this. Catra whimpers at the name, quiet, pathetic, and needy. She tries to roll her hips down, tries to take Adora’s fingers, but Adora’s other hand keeps her pinned to the wall.

“You want me to fuck you? Here, in public?” Adora breathes into her ear. It is dirty talk – it is a genuine question. This is dangerous what they are doing. If they get caught, they would be lucky should the people catching them just be Glimmer and Bow. Catra whines at the words, rolling her hips down again.

“Yes,” she pants. Adora still does not let her fingers dip in, continuing to rub them back and forth against her entrance, waiting. “I’ll be good. I’ll be quiet,” Catra pleads, trying to convince Adora. Adora shudders a little against her at the words. Catra is mouthy during sex in every way. She bites, she licks, she moans, and she streams filthy phrases constantly. She bosses, or begs, or promises. The things she has said in the heat of the moment have led to discussions afterwards, usually that start with do you really want that, that have propelled them forward quickly in the short time they have been doing this.

It still drives Adora a bit crazy to hear Catra promising to be good for her. “Okay, I’ll take care of you,” Adora promises her, and Catra sighs in relief. Her body relaxes some as she stops fighting to roll her hips down, trusting Adora will give her what she needs. It makes something possessive light up deep inside Adora that has her rocking forward with two fingers, taking her.

Catra begins to whine immediately, and Adora forces herself to pull out. Catra bites down on her own lip hard, screwing her eyes shut and shaking her head as if that will assure Adora she will be quiet this time. Adora looks down at her appraisingly, considering, as she returns to rubbing along her entrance.

“Bite me,” Adora decides. Catra is always quieter when she is digging her fangs in to Adora. Hopefully it will be enough to keep her silent this time. Catra’s eyes fly open and she releases a soft gasp, eyes locking onto Adora.

“They’ll see,” she reminds her, but her eyes are pleading for permission regardless.

If Catra’s words in the heat of the moment can propel them forward, maybe hers can, too.

She leans into Catra’s ear again. “They can see I’m yours. But Kitten?” she prompts, letting the tips of her fingers dip in before pulling back. Catra gasps beneath her, nosing down to the side of her neck but not biting, not yet. “No one gets to hear you like this but me,” Adora finishes, finally sliding in again.

Catra bites down hard, hard enough that Adora has to bite her lip to contain her own moan as she begins to work her, fucking her against the wall at a steady pace. Not too fast, to keep things as quiet as they can, but hard as she pushes into her, the way Catra likes it. Catra’s fangs dig in painfully to her neck, right at the base of where it meets her shoulder, sending a shooting thrill through Adora every time Catra’s bite flexes down on a thrust. Catra pants heavily through her nose, but she makes no sound other than the laboured breathing and filthy noises of Adora working her over.

Adora drops the hand that had been pinning her hip, trusting she will keep herself still if she needs to – and also not really caring if she does, not when she can already feel the tension building in her. Part of not getting caught is doing this fast, so Adora uses her other hand to rub against the front of Catra’s shorts, working her clit through the fabric bunched to the side, as Catra’s breathing becomes ragged.

She makes no sound as Adora works her over, dutifully silent despite the way she shakes and comes apart, hips twitching as her walls begin to roll down in waves, arms shaking as she clutches Adora. Her breathing becomes erratic and unsteady where it puffs against the back of Adora’s neck, but the tension in her body releases and she slumps against Adora’s chest as she finally lets go of her neck, an unsteady purr rising in her throat.

Catra pants against her as Adora pulls out and readjusts her shorts as if that does anything to hide what happened. Adora raises her hand to Catra face, using her thumb to tilt her chin back. Catra’s eyes fly open as she catches the scent and she makes eye contact with Adora. Adora raises her fingers to her lips, not touching, waiting. There is a sink only a few feet from them. She could easily go wash her hand. It is up to Catra. They both know Adora likes seeing Catra like this, so rarely pliant.

Catra wraps her lips around Adora’s fingers, making heated eye contact as she dutifully licks and sucks them clean, the vibration of her purr rolling up Adora’s hand. Adora’s own underwear is ruined now, but at least she is wearing some.

When Adora pulls her fingers from Catra’s mouth, knowing how badly she must be blushing, Catra smirks at her.

“Adora? When we get home, I am going to fuck you against the wall,” Catra purrs to her.

At least the whine Adora gives in return is quiet from how weak it is.

 

--

 

They clean themselves up afterwards, as best they can. At least it was a bathroom and not an empty classroom. Catra takes one look at herself in the mirror and says fuck it to trying to salvage anything. There is not a hybrid in the building who couldn’t pick up the smell of sex, and any human will be able to tell just as well from the afterglow on her. She opts to drape herself over Adora’s shoulder as she tries to make them presentable, clinging to her and purring as she nuzzles into her neck.

She broke skin with one of her fangs. She would feel bad if Adora did not flush so instantly at the sight of the bruises already darkening on her skin. Adora tries to clean it off with a wet paper towel and only succeeds in smearing off the trace of blood and some of the concealer she is wearing over an old love bite. She gives up quickly on hiding the marks and opts to wrap her arms around Catra’s waist, holding her close while she fights to get the rumble in her throat under control. She manages to get it largely inaudible, at least. It has to be good enough, considering how long they have been in here already.

When Adora opens the door, she glances around and immediately grimaces. She steps out as Catra raises an eyebrow, following behind her. She catches sight of what Adora spotted instantly. Glimmer and Bow, with all four of their backpacks, standing at the exit to the cafeteria and whispering to each other in hushed voices. A clear debate is taking place down the hall.

Glimmer spots them first, face falling slack and eyes going wide as she takes them both in. Adora cringes as Bow’s head turns to find them too. At least their surprise makes it clear they didn’t see them go in together – or overhear what happened inside.

Adora sends a pleading look to Catra. It is a good look on her, especially with the fang impressions on her neck. Catra just crosses her arms and raises an eyebrow at her. “She is your sister,” she points out. Every one of her words rumbles just a touch. Adora groans, looking up towards the ceiling as Glimmer’s shocked expression slowly changes colours.

“It’s your rule,” Adora points out, obviously clutching at straws. When she makes eye contact with Catra again she throws a challenging smirk back at her.

“That you broke. You knew the penalty,” Catra refutes. It is true that Adora probably should be the one to explain this to Glimmer and Bow – it is also true that Catra sure as hell does not want to be the one to do it. It is her opening, too. Her chance. For someone to ask what are you and for her to hear Adora’s answer.

“Fuck,” Adora curses as Glimmer starts to stalk towards them. Catra hums to herself.

“Yeah, that is the problem, isn’t it?”

Chapter Text

Catra, seemingly without realizing she is doing it, starts growling as Glimmer draws closer. Adora makes an executive decision to wrap an arm around her waist in case she needs to hold her back, and turns them around, walking quickly away.

“What are you doing?” Catra asks, but her words are rough. Adora honestly cannot tell if the low rumble is her post-orgasm purr or whatever instinctual defensive instinct is welling up now. Catra has never come into contact with another person within half an hour of them having sex, but when they were interrupted before while they were only on their way, she nearly tore the sorority girl apart.

“Getting us outside. Glimmer is going to cause a scene if other people are around,” Adora tells her, because it is also true, steering them out the glass doors to the quad and glancing desperately around. She spots a fairly secluded tree that no one else seems to be within earshot of and leads them towards it. In her arms, Catra’s purr seems to return once they hit the open air. Her ears flick back behind them as they walk.

“They are following,” she informs Adora. Good and bad news. At least they will have the guise of privacy for this conversation – unfortunately, that means having this conversation. Adora takes them to the tree, pulling Catra firmly down with her as she settles with her back against the trunk. After a moment’s hesitation, she arranges Catra in her lap, arms wrapped firmly around her. Catra is always cuddly after sex, but if that growl returns Adora also needs to be ready to hold her back.

Adora watches Glimmer approach, face bright red and clearly still in mild shock, Bow trailing behind her with a sheepish, cringing look. Glimmer pulls to a halt a few feet from them. Catra narrows her eyes, tail flicking in warning, but she makes no move to free herself from Adora’s arms.

“You didn’t,” is Glimmer’s – utterly hopeless – opening.

Catra broke skin with one of her fangs on Adora’s neck. There is a small bead of blood welled up there, plus bruises outlining the shape of her other teeth. Adora’s bottom lip has a clearly bitten bruise on it. Catra’s afterglow might as well be a golden sun, even ignoring her satisfied purr. Both of them are flushed. There is absolutely no denying what happened in that bathroom.

Catra trills with delight in Adora’s arms, nudging back into her embrace a bit, apparently all too happy with the fact they did. Adora squeezes her arms and sends Glimmer a pleading look. She doesn’t listen to it.

“I can’t believe you just did that,” Glimmer hisses, clearly still processing. Catra actually snorts, shooting Adora a look. It is totally and completely believable they just did that. Maybe Adora wants to rub it in. Maybe she wants to distract Glimmer from asking the question she doesn’t have an answer to.

“Yeah, given our track record? Not that surprising. Remember when you called me a square over Raving Weekend?” she asks Glimmer. The realization dawns and Glimmer looks mildly horrified.

“You were doing this then? You were fighting!” Glimmer gasps out. Glimmer clearly cannot even bring herself to say the word sex when it involves the two of them. Adora is kind of grateful. This is not how she wanted to have the conversation about her and Catra.

“Well, we weren’t doing all this-“ Adora starts to defend. They were not having sex in bathrooms at that point, anyway. Glimmer turns away before she can really defend herself, clearly pinching the bridge of her nose and trying to collect herself. Bow shoots them both a pleading look.

“You know you can get charged with public indecency if you get caught, right? Just- keep it in the apartment,” he tries, focusing on responsibility and all the things Adora had not concerned herself with in the slightest when she had Catra desperate beneath her. Adora cringes a little at the same time that Catra flicks an ear and looks away.

“Yeah, okay. Heat of the moment, sorry,” she agrees. Catra looks a mix of relieved and disappointed. Adora gets it. The tension in that bathroom had been intense, but they also cannot risk something like that again.

Glimmer turns back around. She seems to have collected herself, no longer flustered and blushing. She looks annoyed, for sure, but Adora can already see the gears turning in her head that tell her she is never going to live this down.

“We have been trying to get you together for the last month. We had interventions with both of you. And you said nothing,” Glimmer lists off with the fury of the god – which she half is, if you want to get technical about the demi-mortal thing.

Adora blinks at her, sending a glance to Catra at the same time that Catra stills and throws a glance her way. Catra narrows her eyes.

“You cornered me on my bike route and told me Adora missed me over the summer. That isn’t an intervention,” Catra grumbles, sulking back against Adora’s chest. There is a clear tenseness in her body as she does so, tail flicking hard against Adora’s leg. She gets the message: I explained, now what was yours?

Adora takes a deep breath. Fuck.

“We hadn’t decided what we were telling people. I wasn’t going to say something that betrayed Catra’s trust. And all you told me to do was talk to her, which we already had,” Adora defends. Bow told her to talk to her about the fact she was in love and not about sex, but – she doesn’t need to say that. At least not in front of Glimmer and Bow. They are definitely going to need to have this conversation – maybe even tonight – but any amount of time she can delay it towards taking place in private she will take.

Bow raises an eyebrow at her. He sees through her bullshit, but he doesn’t say anything. She knows he is viewing their conversation in an all-new light, well aware that she still has not said it, but Adora is telling the truth, too. Glimmer is too busy openly staring at them to call her out. At least on purpose. She really hopes she does not do it on accident. This conversation is dangerous. So was fucking in the bathroom, but as much as she hates the consequences of it – she does not regret the action itself one bit.

Glimmer actually looks kind of hurt. “Why didn’t you tell us?” she asks and yep, definitely hurt. She is clearly trying to hide it, but Adora had not expected this reaction. She shifts uncomfortably. Catra says nothing. Adora is supposed to be the one explaining, but she does not have an explanation for that that she wants Catra to hear or is not the truly honest I don’t know what I can say we are. Catra would definitely be uncomfortable with her starting that conversation in front of Glimmer and Bow.

But speaking of Glimmer and Bow-

“Maybe because I don’t want to discuss my sex life with my sister and male best friend?” she comes up with. It is brilliant. Absolutely true, if in no way a factor she had considered before, but she is definitely considering it now as she has this awkward conversation.

The word sex seems to trigger something in Glimmer. Her gaze gets distant. “Adora, how long have you been together?” Glimmer asks, her voice falsely calm. Adora pauses, blinking. Together is a vague word. Vague enough she thinks she can get away with it, but she also does not know that answer, really. She looks towards Catra, but Catra just shrugs, blushing and flicking her tail as she looks away.

“Raving weekend?” Adora tries. “At least – how we are now,” she adds. Catra nods at that, tail stilling. Glimmer lets out a breath.

“I just need to know you have never had sex at my parents’ house,” Glimmer tells them. Catra perks up a little, grinning at her.

“Wait until winter break.”

 

--

 

Catra is kind of annoyed how Adora managed to dodge addressing what this thing between them is. The problem is she would have done the same damn thing if it had been her having to explain to Scorpia, so she gets it. After Catra – admittedly – goads Glimmer, Bow and Adora both share a look and decide everyone needs to go home and cool off after the shock. It is what Catra wanted, to be honest. Despite her bravado, she was intensely uncomfortable with the conversation, feeling raw and exposed.

Neither of them mentions it when they get back to the apartment, despite Glimmer blowing up the group chat about why they never said they were together. Neither of them acknowledges the word she has introduced, or the tacit agreement to it Adora had given. Together does not mean much beyond what Catra was already certain of.

Catra wants an answer herself, but as soon as she and Adora are alone together, she can’t bring herself to bring it up. Not when she was briefly afraid this was all going to come crashing down. She needs to assure herself, to just spend time with Adora, and it seems Adora is the same way with how quickly she suggests they watch a movie, cuddling and prodding each other until it is over and they go to bed, curling in close together. Catra does not follow through on her promise to get Adora against a wall, but after the realization had set in at just how risky that was and everything that happened after, neither of them are exactly in the mood.

Despite really wishing Adora had just said it and this thing between them was resolved, Catra feels peaceful when she wakes up to Adora softly kissing the side of her neck, cuddling her close from behind. She purrs softly, a gentle acknowledgement to keep going.

“You awake?” Adora asks, voice soft and breath warm against Catra’s neck. She shudders slightly at the sensation. Adora always checks before she properly kisses her. Catra makes sounds in her sleep, but never full words. Not coherent ones, anyway.

“I am now,” she responds, purr still rolling. If Adora misinterprets her words as annoyed she will deserve to beat herself up just for being an idiot. Adora hums softly and returns to kissing her neck, traveling along the length of it as her kisses steadily become filthy. Adora is often handsy in the morning, taking the time in bed as an open invitation to touch in any way she likes. She seems to be extra touchy this morning, wrapping herself around Catra and kissing along her neck long and slow as her hands pet down her. Catra can’t really blame her, not after yesterday and knowing they still have to talk about it.

Catra lets out a soft sigh beneath the attention, just soaking it in. She needs to drink it in, with the lingering fears still in the back of her mind. This is what she thought she would never have – this is the only thing she has ever wanted, really. Adora around her, loving her, even if the word is not there between them. The action is, regardless of her intent.

Adora’s leg is thrown over Catra’s hips, utterly wrapping around her as she holds her close. “Mm, someone is needy this morning,” Catra yawns, titling her head back with the motion. It moves her neck out from beneath Adora’s kisses. She feels Adora pause, suddenly nervous and considering. She rolls her eyes to herself. Such an idiot. “That did not mean stop,” she clarifies. Adora lets out a small sound of delight, diving back in to press kisses along Catra’s jaw now the yawn has shifted her back into a better angle for it. What an absolute dork, so excited just to be kissing Catra, petting her hands along her arms and sides.

It is an absolutely perfect start to a Saturday morning, lingering doubts aside – and she has to ruin it. Catra turns her head, nudging against Adora until she gets the idea to come up for air from the underside of her jaw. Adora smiles at her, soft and warm, before she leans in to properly kiss her, long and slow. When they pull apart, Catra sighs with her contentment – and regret at what comes next.

“I have to take a shower. I have that meeting with my professor to discuss her research program, and I still smell like sex,” Catra tells Adora, nuzzling up under her chin and marking her along the cluster of bruises she had left there two days ago. She really hopes Adora is not going to keep covering them up now, but she won’t say anything if she does. She gets why Adora would not want people to look at her and immediately know she is having sex, especially so obviously with a hybrid thanks to the fangmarks. It is a lot of personal information to display. She still likes seeing the marks, the claim she leaves over her.

Adora groans in displeasure, wrapping herself more tightly around Catra as if to keep her there. It makes a purr rise in her chest, nudging in closer to Adora’s warm safety. “It’s a paid position, and will look great on my resume. I have to go, Adora,” Catra reminds her. Adora whines this time, just clutching Catra closer.

“But I love mornings like this,” she complains, bending down to press kisses into Catra’s hair. Catra does her damn hardest to not react. She flushes, but her face is hidden in Adora’s neck. Her ears definitely twitch, but that could mean damn near anything.

Her tail thudding loudly against the bed is a bit more obvious. She bites her lip. Mornings like this is a longshot from you, even if these mornings involve just the two of them. She tells herself to bite down on her stupid hope as she desperately searches for a distraction – both for her thoughts spiraling out, and to try and hide her reaction from Adora. It was a perfectly reasonable thing for her to say – it did not really mean anything. She does not want Adora seeing her reaction and figuring out why.

“Tell you what,” she promises, carefully extracting herself from Adora’s arms and slipping out of bed. She throws a smirk over her shoulder towards Adora. “If you really want more time together, I suppose you could join me for my shower,” she offers. She turns forward and walks into the bathroom without seeing Adora’s reaction to that. She does not need to see it – she can feel the instant excitement rolling off Adora as she enters the bathroom and starts the shower running to warm it up.

Adora follows, coming up behind her again to wrap her arms around her and kiss the back of her neck. Catra hums softly, letting herself arch into the touch, but-

But this is the first time they have gotten in the shower together. Catra used to have thoughts about this, when she was waiting in Adora’s locker room while she was in the showers after a game. She always imagined her being the one behind Adora, finally getting to touch her and feel her for once.

Catra twists in Adora’s arms, looping her arms over Adora’s neck and sending her a wicked smile. She watches the line of Adora’s throat bob as she visibly swallows at the look, well aware it has dirty implications, even if she does not know what Catra is thinking right now.

Catra leans forward, nipping lightly at her bottom lip and drawing her into a messy kiss, the only kind she really knew how to imagine in high school. “Get in the shower, Adora,” Catra instructs, dropping her arms and taking a step back. Adora looks at her questioningly, but when Catra does not drop her commanding air she bites her lip, flush rising, and follows Catra’s instructions.

Once she is under the spray, Catra follows, purring in satisfaction as she molds herself against Adora’s back, running her hands over wet skin this time.

It is not that Catra has never touched Adora while she was wet before. Glimmer’s parents had a pool, and the four of them would often spend summers in and around it. Catra usually stayed out of the water and splash range, but sometimes she would come into contact with Adora while she was still wet afterwards. Occasionally she would come into contact with Adora while actively in the water, although she always did her best to avoid it for how the contact made her feel.

The point is the sensation of bare, wet skin is not completely brand new to Catra – but it might as well be. Her purr rumbles loud in the tile shower, hands feeling and squeezing along Adora’s sides, abs, arms, incredible tits. It all feels brand-new, like skin she has never touched before, and it feels dirty to be doing as she wraps around Adora. Adora gasps and moans softly as she goes, shifting beneath her, legs shaking just a bit as Catra’s hands squeeze and claim every part of her.

“I always wanted to do this,” Catra confesses, voice rough in Adora’s ear. Adora moans, legs shifting to rub her thighs together. Catra drinks in the sight, breathing deeply to inhale the scent of sex already starting to mix with the shower’s steam. “Always thought about taking you during your post-game showers,” Catra adds, biting harshly at the side of Adora’s neck. Not enough to mark – but enough to show intent.

Adora lets out a loud gasp, hips shifting back against nothing. “Are you going to let me have you, Adora?” Catra asks, tone just a bit challenging as she slides one hand down to rub along the length of her, the other curling up to squeeze at her breast and pinch a nipple. Adora whines and nods beneath her, shifting down into her touch. Catra holds her hand in place so Adora can have the pressure she is seeking, but she still does not touch her where she wants.

“Think you can stay standing while I take you?” Catra asks, still purring right into Adora’s ear. Adora’s body trembles beneath her hands as she nods eagerly, sending water flying from her wet hair.

“I can. Please, Catra,” Adora begs, shifting down into her hand again. Catra turns her head to nuzzle into the side of her neck.

“Hands against the wall. Spread your legs,” Catra instructs, letting her hands fall away. Adora makes a soft noise at the disappointment of Catra’s hands pulling away, but she follows instructions quickly, bracing both hands against the wall beneath the showerhead and spreading her stance. “Good girl,” Catra praises as she wraps around Adora’s back again. Adora whines softly as Catra brings back the hand that was touching her, rubbing against her properly now.

Adora lets out soft gasps, staying dutifully still as Catra works against her clit, other hand roaming along her body to just luxuriate in the feeling of wet skin. Still, she has had plans for years, and she intends to go through with them. As Adora lets out gentle moans and breaths, Catra brings her other hand against her, rubbing against her entrance.

“I always got so fucking jealous, thinking of you in there with all your other teammates. Thinking about them getting to see you when I couldn’t even look. You’re mine, Adora,” Catra growls in her ear before she presses in. Adora lets out a soft cry at the words before Catra even rocks her finger, but the movement makes it stutter out into a moan. Catra started with one, unsure if Adora was ready yet, but she takes it easily, rolling down for more. Catra adds another, ramping up the speed of her movements against her clit as she finally takes Adora where she stands, water pouring down them.

It makes the possessive part of her that always wanted her like this purr in satisfaction. “Say it, Adora. Admit it,” Catra commands, fucking her with rough movements but keeping it slow, the way she likes it. Adora gasps as Catra works her.

“I’m yours,” she pants, needy and submissive. Catra’s purr grows louder, her own thighs clenching despite how they really don’t have time to take care of them both. Catra got her turn yesterday, anyway.

Good. You have always been mine, Adora. Don’t forget it,” Catra reminds her, voice sweet and dangerous. Adora lets out a moan approaching a sob at the words. “You make such pretty sounds for me,” Catra praises, drinking in the desperation readily. She releases some of her control over her hand so her thrusts can become erratic, rough. Adora very nearly does sob at that.

She begins to shake beneath her.

 

--

 

Adora promised she would stay standing. She very nearly doesn’t. Catra takes her roughly, and her hand against her clit never slowing its movements, unrelenting as she streams filthy praises. Adora’s arms and legs shake not from exertion, but from the building tension in her body. When the peak finally hits her, she nearly buckles, only barely managing to stay upright thanks to the wall. She cries out, the sound entirely too loudly for the tile bathroom.

Catra purrs against her back as she works her through the shaking intensity, walls clenching down on her fingers until finally her body relaxes and Catra withdraws. Adora’s breath is coming hard and fast, and she feels she is just as wet from sweat as the shower itself. She ends up leaning with her back against the tile wall, watching Catra through half-lidded eyes as she actually sets to work washing herself.

“Was that everything you imagined?” Adora asks her, when she finally gets her breath back. Catra shudders, eyes flashing dark when she meets Adora’s gaze before she returns to washing her fur.

Yes,” Catra promises her, not quite a growl, but not just a purr either. Adora is never going to stop thinking about the fact that even back in high school Catra was thinking of her this way. Catra told her she wanted Adora to be her first, but there is a big difference between you’re attractive and I trusted you and I have been having jealous fantasies about you for years.

Catra has a streak for dirty talk that reveals just a bit too much. Catra had ended up on her knees in front of the couch only their fourth time together because during their third her mouth started running about Adora’s scent and taste and, to Catra’s temporary horror, Adora had asked her about it afterwards. Apparently she can’t keep her mouth shut when there are two fingers buried in her. It might be the most blatantly honest she ever is if only because she is not ashamed of that honesty in the moment.

Adora is pretty sure this is just another slip – another truth that came pouring out from the dirty catalogue inside Catra’s head. It still tells her a lot. It tells her especially that even in high school, when Adora was fighting thinking about even just kissing her best friend, Catra thought of Adora as hers like this.

You have always been mine. Don’t forget it. As if Adora ever could. As if that is not all she is going to be thinking about for the rest of her life.

Adora rinses herself off quickly while Catra brushes out and dries her fur. Despite needing to drive Catra back to GEU, thanks to their shower delay cutting into the time the bike ride would take, it always takes Catra long enough to dry off that Adora still has time for a decent shower herself.

Adora feels the need to ask about it – not about the fantasy, but about the implications it holds, especially after yesterday. She doesn’t work up the nerve to do it before they have to head out the door. They are relatively silent for the short drive, Adora trying to talk herself into say anything. It is easy to convince herself to stay silent under the argument of not distracting Catra or worrying her before such an important meeting.

Apparently, she worries her anyway. Catra sighs from the passenger seat. “Adora, you’re freaking me out. Say it or let it go, whatever it is,” Catra says, staring out the window as her tail twitches nervously. Of course Catra picked up on her silent debate – she is practically white-knuckling the steering wheel at this point.

She really should not upset Catra before her meeting. Catra is not the only one who can play games – even if Adora is usually bad at them. “Glimmer can’t keep her mouth shut about gossip,” she leads, finally bringing up the day before. She does not need to take her eyes off the road to catch the anxious thud of Catra’s tail against the seat. “And that means Perfuma will find out eventually, if she does not already know now,” Adora adds.

Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Catra hunch in her seat. “And then she will tell Scorpia, and once Scorpia knows a secret, so does everybody else,” Catra finishes for her. Adora nods, not taking her eyes off the road. Catra is going back to her dorm after her meeting – it is very likely she will run into Scorpia and Perfuma. “You afraid of people knowing you’re a freak?” Catra asks after a beat of silence, clearly trying for teasing but far too nervous for it.

Adora snorts. “I’m not ashamed of it,” she dismisses. After a pause, she adds, “Or of you.” She hears Catra let out a soft breath. She really hopes it was not a sigh of relief, but at least she knows now if she did not before. “I don’t want you to worry during your meeting. Just brace yourself for Scorpia knowing. And we should probably decide what we are actually going to tell people, when you are up for it,” Adora finally gets to her point, her worry.

I still don’t know what we are, but damn did the shower give her a clue. Hope, at the very least.

Catra does not answer her as they finally arrive. When she does speak, it is merely to direct her to the nearest parking lot to her professor’s office. Adora parks the car, already reaching across to the passenger seat as Catra makes to unbuckle her seatbelt. They make eye contact over the center console. She was going to bolt before Adora could say anything more and they both know it. Her meeting does not start for another fifteen minutes.

“Catra, I’m not going to force you to say anything you aren’t comfortable with, but when you are ready: there isn’t a wrong answer, okay?” Adora tries. Tries, because she is so fucking scared of doing anything and ruining this, but she is even more worried about scaring Catra off and causing her to self-destruct, either them or herself. It has happened far too often in the past.

She just wants Catra to be her something. The what doesn’t really matter, not when it has always been the two of them through it all, until the end of it all. Catra blinks at her with wide eyes, ears quivering.

“What if my answer is different than yours?” she asks, voice barely above a whisper.

“Then we compromise. I’m not leaving you, Catra,” Adora promises her. As long as Catra is willing to stay, willing to have her, she is going to be here. It is the only place she wants to be. Catra bites her lip, gaze tinged hopeful.

“I’ll think about it, okay?” she answers. Adora lets out a breath of relief, leaning across the center console to frame her face with her hands.

“Okay. Whenever you’re ready,” she returns, leaning in to give her a goodbye kiss. Catra releases a soft sigh against her mouth, some of the tension leaking out of her body. When Catra pulls back, she pauses with her hand on the door handle.

“I’m not leaving you either, Adora. I want to be here,” she promises, softly, gaze fixed down. Adora lets out a breath. She has been silently terrified of saying a damn thing over the last month and scaring Catra away again. She never would have said anything if circumstances did not force them to. She did not realize how badly she needed that reassurance back until Catra offered it.

“I believe you,” Adora tells her, because that seems to be a thing for Catra, Adora actually taking her at her word. It means a lot that she is trying to just be honest now. Adora wants to show that she appreciates it back.

Catra smiles, small but genuine, and meets Adora’s eyes again. “Goodbye kiss?” she prompts, leaning back towards the center console. Adora already gave her one, but she certainly is not saying no. She rolls her eyes and huffs, but she knows she is smiling as she leans over, cupping Catra’s cheek once more and kissing her slow.

“Good luck with your meeting,” Adora tells her when they pull apart. Catra offers her another smile before she seems to take a breath to steady herself and gets out of the car, shouldering her backpack over her shoulder. Adora watches her go as she approaches the building.

She really hopes that conversation went as well as it seemed to. Catra is okay right now, she knows. She just hopes her does not spiral out during her meeting, or while she is in her dorm afterwards.

 

--

 

The meeting goes fantastic, despite Catra going into it with frayed nerves. When she gets back to Scorpia’s dorm – and hers, whatever, she always hated it – she stretches out in her sheets for twenty minutes, just letting herself breathe and process. She is grateful that Scorpia has not returned from her date with Perfuma. She needs time to unpack the mess she has backed herself up into.

She ran her mouth, again. Only this time it did not lead to her sitting on Adora’s face, but conversation. The conversation she has been terrified to have – and that they still haven’t. But Adora wants to. Yesterday is certainly a catalyst, but she knows she said too much in shower, regardless of how Adora loved it at the time.

There is no wrong answer. Catra kind of hates that Adora said that. Because yes, okay, there might not be a wrong one, but there certainly is one Catra considers right. Adora promised not to leave her, though, and they don’t fuck around with their promises. If Adora’s answer is different than hers, she can – deal with it, at least. She already thought Adora did not love her once. She already has more than she ever thought she would.

She is terrified thinking about it, so she pulls out her laptop and gets to work. She is supposed to be doing homework while she is free from Adora’s distracting everything. Adora is supposed to be going for her daily run and then doing her own homework without Catra there to tempt her into acting as a distraction. They really are hopelessly gay.

Instead of what she is supposed to, Catra pulls up the research application. It is not due until February, actually, but one point on it had been brought up in their meeting – she needs a letter of reference from a teacher who has known her at least a semester. Her obvious choice would be her math professor, but considering it is her research she is applying to, that is not an option. Her professor had promised to make an exception for her as a freshman and take a letter from a high school teacher, though.

Catra did not do well in high school, between the mountain of useless homework, dumbed down material, stupid rules and corresponding discipline, and asshole classmates begging for a scratch. She might have straightened out those last two years for Adora, even got decent grades senior year, but finding a high school teacher who liked her would be a challenge. She had one, though. Catra had done well in her class if only because the teacher took no shit from her students, so Catra did not have to take shit from classmates. They got on well and Catra had pulled out one of her miraculous As in that class.

Catra tries googling her name to find her ISD email address, but it was spelled crazy and she comes up with nothing. With a sigh, she resigns herself to ten minutes trying to remember her old high school email account’s password so she can pull up one of their old conversations.

It only takes her eight minutes, actually, and when she opens it she is surprised to find almost fifty unread emails. A quick glance tells her they are mostly college emails, schools she had explored as contingencies asking if she was ever going to apply or try again next year. Promotional junk, too. She almost dismisses the inbox completely to go digging for the information she is actually looking for before a forwarded message catches her eye.

It is automatically forwarded to her school inbox. The subject line is just I’m Sorry.

Catra frowns at the personal heading, opening the message, and hears herself release a gasp when she realizes what email it is from – which email it was sent to.

The date it was sent on is July thirteenth. It has been sitting here, waiting for her to open it, for three damn months. Adora might not have called her all summer, but she did still reach out.

Catra feels the tears start to run down her face as she reads the message.

Chapter Text

Catra startles, almost accidentally cutting her ear, when she hears the door start to open. She sits in silence, watching Scorpia and Perfuma enter the room through the mirror reflection, talking to each other in their happy, bubbling way. They are so wrapped up in each other it takes them a minute to notice Catra sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of their mirror, tufts of hair scattered across her shoulders and the floor.

She was almost done. She winces when Scorpia catches her eye in the reflection and fixes her gaze determinedly forward to resume her trimming. The last time she did this was at a gas station truck stop. They had stopped for lunch there. She went to the bathroom and, after a moment of debate, sliced at her hair to fight the itching under her skin. She kept having to go shorter, trying to satisfy her claws with more slicing. When she had returned, she had been despondent to questions about it, just saying she had given into the impulse of cutting it. It was something she had joked about doing before, but she never meant it and everyone knew that.

“Catra?” Scorpia calls, low and cautious behind her. If the blatant numbness in her actions was not apparent enough, the tear trails on her cheeks would give her away. They weren’t bad tears, but Scorpia does not know that. Scorpia has no idea about the source of some of the lines on Catra’s shoulders, but it was blatantly obvious what a mess she was the last time she did this.

“I’m almost done. I’ll clean up and call Adora. You can have the room back,” Catra tells her, fighting to keep her voice steady as she swipes at the edge of her bangs. She still does not look away from her reflection.

Scorpia knew she was coming today, but she probably had been planning to spend time alone with her girlfriend. Catra’s breakdown is not so far gone that she does not realize how thoroughly she has killed the mood. Despite knowing, she still is a bit numb to it as she fights to make the tufts around her ears even enough to look purposefully messy.

She realizes Scorpia has approached her far too late. She hisses when she feels the heat of the other woman’s presence behind her. Scorpia takes a quick step back, raising her claws in a placating motion. Catra watches it all happen in the mirror. Perfuma hovers awkwardly near the door, back turned as if to give them privacy.

“Catra? What happened?” Scorpia asks, expression pleading. Catra draws a deep breath and returns to her bangs.

“Mood swing. I’m fine now,” she says. Her voice is rough from crying earlier. It is kind of true, if undetailed. Scorpia looks pained. Catra bites her lip. “Can you call Adora?” she asks, voice soft enough she worries if Scorpia will even pick it up.

Perfuma’s reflection turns around, already holding up her phone and offering an encouraging smile as she carefully approaches. Scorpia shoots her a thankful smile and raises it to her ear. Catra returns to her haircut. She wants it to look presentable before she gives up, at least. It has grown a few inches in the months since she first did it, but now she fights to get it back to the dyke haircut she had before. She is close.

I’m on my way,” Catra picks up Adora’s voice saying as greeting. Perfuma was definitely texting her before Catra even said anything. She would be annoyed if she was not grateful.

“She is asking for you,” is Scorpia’s response. She hears Adora let out a breath.

It will take me ten minutes to get there. I’m almost to my car now,” Adora responds. Catra swallows as she stares at her reflection. She looks almost exactly the same as she did in that gas station mirror, except for how much more relaxed and open her face looks. The self-hatred had been a dark mask then. Now, she is blank. She just needed to steady herself.

“Can I talk to her?” Catra asks, still barely above a whisper. Scorpia nods, approaching cautiously again and reaching out the phone. Catra swallows as she takes it, hands shaking a bit and claws still out.

“Hey, Adora,” she greets. Her voice is still rough from crying earlier, but she hopes it does not come across as upset. She isn’t. She just is feeling far too much.

Adora lets out a shaking, relieved breath. “I’m on my way,” she assures. Catra snorts, the sound far too wet and disgusting, as she begins dusting hair off her shoulders. It clings to her an unreasonable amount.

“I heard. I’m okay,” Catra promises her. There is a moment of silence where the only thing that comes over the line is road noise.

“Perfuma said you were cutting your hair,” Adora says, cautiously. Catra lets out a shaky breath as she tries to sweep together the fallen hair with her one free hand. In the reflection of the mirror, she can see Scorpia and Perfuma moving about the room, but she does not look up from her focus on the floor.

“It is not like last time. I was just feeling too much. Overwhelmed. I thought it would help me calm down. I like it short, anyway,” she elaborates. It is true that she was growing it out again, but it is also true she never minded it like this. She likes it when Adora touches it, at least. She bites her lip and tries to breathe slowly to avoid the smell of concern filling the room.

“Okay. I believe you,” Adora promises her. Catra lets out a sigh of relief, feeling the shaking release of tension sweep through her. She didn’t want to worry Adora – she certainly does not want her to think she is upset. Just because she is feeling a lot does not mean it is bad. “If you want, we can go to the Cliffs instead of the apartment. No one will notice if you scratch them up. Whatever you need,” Adora tells her. Catra blinks at her reflection in surprise.

“The Cliffs?” she repeats, confused. Over the phone she hears a car horn – she is pretty sure it is Adora’s.

“After you told me last time, I tried to think of other options for when you need to tear. I know you prefer softer, but I don’t know of any public woods around here. The Cliffs is the best I could come up with,” Adora explains. Catra bites her lip. Back home, they would always go out to the woods when Catra felt like her only option was to tear. She would dig into tree trunks there to satisfy her urges. The planning Adora has put into this makes her heart clench – makes her think of that email – and she lets out a soft noise approaching a sob despite how joyful it really is.

“I just want to go home,” she says, softly. She hears Adora release a breath, but over the phone she cannot tell if it is relieved or not.

“Okay. I’m almost there, I can see campus,” Adora promises her. Catra looks up to make eye contact with Scorpia’s reflection. Scorpia sends her a concerned smile, broom and dustpan already in her hand to help clean up the mess Catra has made with her impromptu haircut.

“Okay, I’ll see you soon,” Catra returns, swallowing as she hangs up the phone. She turns to take the dustpan from Scorpia, setting it on the floor beside her and handing off the phone.

“Thanks. Can you let Adora in?” Catra asks, carefully standing from her spot and brushing herself off. Scorpia’s expression sets with determination, and without a word she pulls out her keycard and turns to hand it to Perfuma. Perfuma nods instantly, taking it and leaving the room.

Catra’s arms are shaking slightly from the raw emotions, but she nudges against Scorpia’s side when she stands. The woman immediately hugs her, seemingly relieved to be given an opening to do something to help.

“I really am okay. Good, even. It just got overwhelming,” Catra promises her. Scorpia’s hug grows a bit looser, trying not to be too much. It wasn’t, but the effort soothes her.

“Will you be okay with Adora?” Scorpia asks, worry evident. Catra nods against her chest.

“She has spent years taking care of me while I’m like this. She knows what to do,” Catra promises her.

“Okay, Wildcat. I trust you,” Scorpia agrees. She does not let go of her until the door card reader beeps again.

 

--

 

Adora hesitates only long enough to assure herself Catra wants to be held before she wraps her in a tight hug after Perfuma lets her in. Catra turns into her neck, burying her nose there and breathing deeply as Scorpia and Perfuma hover.

“It’s okay. You’re safe,” Adora promises her, bending her head to press kisses into her newly-shortened hair. Catra lets out a soft rumble, nudging in closer. “I’m here. I’m not letting you go,” Adora adds. She is terrified of what caused this breakdown. With no context the most likely candidate is their talk this morning. Catra had seemed fine when they parted. Despite Catra’s assurances this was not a relapse, it still is clearly not fine. “I’m here,” she echoes, again. She needs Catra to know it.

Catra huffs against her neck. “I know,” she returns, nudging in closer. To Adora’s surprise, she sounds trusting. Carefully, Adora rearranges her arms so one is wrapped around her back and the other is curled into her hair, scratching softly. Catra’s tail begins to sway, a clear indicator she is truly happy, and she purrs into Adora’s neck. “Calming,” Catra mutters into her neck. Adora understands. She knows that she means the scent, or the hug, or maybe just her presence is helping to control whatever rioting emotions Catra is dealing with. She pulls her just a little tighter.

“I’ve got you,” she assures, pressing another kiss into her hair. Distantly, she is aware of Scorpia packing up Catra’s backpack on the bed for her and Perfuma sweeping up the mess on the floor in front of the mirror. “Do you want to go home now? We can set up a blanket nest and order from that all-day breakfast place,” Adora offers. Catra nods into her neck.

The walk out to the car is slow, mostly because Catra stays curled against her the entire way. Perfuma and Scorpia escort them out, Scorpia carrying Catra’s bag for her. Adora sends them both grateful looks when they reach the car.

“Take care of her,” Scorpia makes her promise as she walks around to the driver’s seat, Catra already buckled and curled up on the passenger side. Adora nods to her, knowing her face says all it has to on that front.

She reaches out for Catra once she gets in the car, but Catra just balls herself up further. “Focus on driving, idiot. I’m fine,” she tells her, looking out the window. Adora bites her lip, but she follows instructions. It is a short drive, anyway. When they get there, she wraps her arm around Catra’s waist and holds her close as she leads her up to the apartment.

Catra starts shedding clothes as soon as Adora locks the front door. Adora blinks in surprise as Catra takes off the button down and slacks she wore for her meeting, making her way into the bedroom in just her underwear. Adora follows, finding Catra already curling up in their sheets. Catra watches her with slit eyes.

“You’re not getting in bed in those sweaty clothes,” Catra tells her. Adora blinks down at her running clothes. She had only just gotten back when Perfuma texted her that Catra was upset and cutting her hair off with her claws. Panic had fueled Adora towards GEU with no consideration other than making sure Catra was okay.

Adora pulls off her top and running shorts, a little unsure, and carefully slips into the bed with Catra. She reaches for Catra immediately, arranging the two of them the way they always used to cuddle when Catra got like this. Adora lays on her back, Catra’s arms curled around her hips as she rests her head on her stomach, nudging into Adora and purring softly. Adora arranges the sheets and blankets a bit around them, creating a fort of softness, before settling with one hand gently squeezing Catra’s shoulder and the other running through her hair. Catra is surrounded by safety – she also has ample freedom to run and not feel trapped. It is a fine line to walk with her, but this was the best compromise of the two instincts that they found.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Adora asks, keeping her voice gentle and neutral as she continues to pet her softly.

“Yes. But not yet. I need to calm down. This- is not because of our conversation this morning. Or yesterday,” Catra tells her, nuzzling against her navel in a way that would tickle if Adora could process anything but the relief flooding through her. It is good to know that Catra did not have a reaction like this to their relationship, whatever the state of it may be, but it still leaves the fact that something this upsetting happened.

Catra is quiet for several long moments as she nuzzles into Adora. Eventually, she speaks again. “Can I tell you about my meeting?” she asks. Adora agrees instantly. Anything to get Catra distracted and happy.

Catra tells her about the research project, about how her professor thinks Catra’s mind just works in the right ways for it. About how as department chair, she reviewed Catra’s application to GEU and is well aware of how fast Catra has improved since coming to college.

“She told me she guarantees me a spot on the team this summer if I put effort into my application. That she wants to foster improvement and learning, or some sappy bullshit,” Catra tells her, nuzzling closer. Adora encourages her, despite the fact it will likely mean another summer apart. It would be great for Catra, and great for all their future plans. They can manage ten weeks if they have to.

When Catra finishes telling her about the meeting and the program, she asks Adora about her promise of food. Adora calls in an order for one of the monstrous Belgian waffles, covered in cream cheese and fruit, and cuddles Catra while they wait for it to arrive. They don’t speak, but Catra has not stopped purring except to talk since Adora got her home. Adora had been panicked when she got the call, but despite being drained and a little strung out, Catra really does seem okay now.

She leaves Catra in the bed when their food arrives. She brings it back into the bedroom, encouraging Catra to sit up. She remakes the bed a bit so they can stay in it and eat over the top of the sheets. They split the waffle, because it really is unreasonably large for any person who does not have Adora’s appetite, especially with all the toppings. The food seems to breathe life back into Catra, her eyes starting to spark again as they sit in relative silence.

She is blatantly watching Catra, but to her surprise, Catra is watching her back. Not quite in the same way – Adora is trying to catalogue every movement to make sure Catra is still okay, while Catra seems to be tracking the movement of her hands and watching her expression – but she does so with a bright attentiveness.

Adora takes the empty takeout box away when they finish, returning to the bed to find Catra stretched out in it, purring softly and kneading at the sheets. She watches Adora enter the room again with calculating eyes, her ears moving to follow her. Adora pauses, unsure.

“What do you need, Catra?” she settles on asking. Catra rolls her eyes and jerks her head back, towards the bed. Adora rejoins her, pulling Catra in close against her chest when she settles in there. Catra burrows into her neck and purrs louder, claws flexing as she clearly fights the urge to knead against Adora now. She still nuzzles closer.

“I was really happy, but I was also so mad at myself,” Catra tells her, softly. It takes Adora a second to realize she is telling her. She squeezes Catra closer, bending to press an encouraging kiss into her hair. “And I was sad too, because we could have- It was just so much hurt that did not need to happen. It was just all so conflicting it made me breakdown a bit,” Catra tells her. Adora feels herself freeze at the word we. Whatever this was, it was about them.

Catra must feel her stiffen, because she whips her tail around and smacks at Adora’s hip with it. “Stop it, Adora. I told you, I was happy. I was just upset that we didn’t talk sooner,” Catra tells her. Adora lets out a slow breath.

“What brought this back up?” she asks, voice soft, even though she knows this probably is about the conversation this morning. Catra said it was not, but it clearly brought back up memories of how she had felt while they were apart.

Catra is quiet for a long moment. Carefully, she stirs from Adora’s neck, lifting her head to place it on the pillow beside her. Her eyes are soft, searching. She is clearly anxious, but there is a brimming hope evident in her eyes. She swallows thickly.

“I read your email,” she says. Adora feels her heart stop.

 

--

 

The panic on Adora’s face is instant and evident. Catra immediately curses herself for leading with that. She knows if she had been the one to send that email and Adora suddenly brought it up after a near-breakdown, she would be bolting. Adora would not have been able to catch her even with her car. She wants to have a conversation without adrenaline and panic. That is why she waited the two hours or whatever it has been to even bring it up. Trying to reach a state of calm before they fight through this conversation.

Catra cannot say any of that quickly enough to reassure Adora though, so she presses forward and closes the gap between them, kissing her softly even as Adora lays unresponsive beneath her. It is okay, she does not expect her to kiss back. She just needs her to know she is not upset with her, not leaving. Adora releases a shaking breath against her and Catra pulls back the few inches it takes to look her in the eye again.

“Can we talk without panicking for a few minutes? You didn’t scare me off. I’m here,” she begs, because as much as she just wants to say it – she is still afraid. Afraid of ruining this fragile thing they have built. Afraid Adora has changed her mind after everything that happened between them. Adora’s anxiety is evident in her eyes, but Catra watches her swallow, take a few steadying breaths, and then nod. Catra releases her own sigh of relief.

“Was everything in that email true? At least at the time?” Catra asks, softly.

“I don’t remember exactly what I wrote, but- yeah. There was no point in writing it if it was not. I already thought lying had pushed you away once,” Adora responds, her voice nervous. Catra lets out a breath.

I don’t know when I fell in love with you. I don’t even know when I realized. Maybe if I did, it would have been easier to tell you then.

There was a lot of bullshit in that email. Adora apologizing for taking advantage of her – something she never did – and claiming she would never do anything like that to Catra again. A blatant lie now, but of course Adora had believed it then. Apologies for hiding her feelings from Catra and explaining that she only did not tell her because she did not know how and was afraid of making Catra uncomfortable. No part of the email even considered that Catra might return her feelings.

“Looks like we both left things out of our confessions about that night, huh?” Catra tells her, softly. She watches Adora’s eyes go wide, blatant hope welling up there. It is the final push she needs. “Adora, I told the truth, it just- wasn’t about wanting. I was supposed to confess how I felt, but I panicked and kissed you instead. I thought a kiss would be just as clear as saying it,” Catra explains, eyes locked on Adora’s.

Her gaze is not hypnotic today. That seems to be a secret power she reserves for when they are in bed together – which they are now, but not in that way. Catra still can’t look away from the fading anxiety, the hope blossoming, the softness in her gaze she often directs at Catra in the mornings that she now recognizes as love.

“You- do you mean-“ Adora stutters out, because she is an idiot. Catra rolls her eyes.

“I think I fell in love with you when I was eight,” Catra responds. The next thing she knows, Adora is surging forward, kissing her desperately. Catra releases a breath that almost makes its way to a laugh and kisses her back. There is a wetness on her face, but she does not know which one of them it is coming from as Adora pushes her down on the mattress to crawl on top of her, kissing her relentlessly.

“I have,” kiss, “woken up more,” another kiss, “in love with you,” this time she bites, causing Catra to mewl, “every damn day,” Adora informs her, not giving her time to respond before she is kissing her again. Catra gasps for breath, feeling lightheaded as a purr rises in her chest. Adora might literally suffocate her with her love. Catra might be okay with that.

Adora’s hands are on her, clutching her close, nearly lifting her off the bed as she kisses her again, doesn’t stop. Catra pants desperately against her, trying to return the affection as best she can, but Adora is clearly riding some kind of high she can hardly keep up with. Catra gets it. If Adora had been there when she read the email, she might have tackled her instead of cutting her hair, but she was trying to calm herself before this conversation. Trying to temper her own emotions, in case Adora’s had changed.

As Adora makes her way to bite along her neck, it is very evident they haven’t. Catra mewls, gasping and fighting for air as Adora sets into making a dark mark beneath her fur, something not allowed until the recent cold spell. Despite the intensity with which Adora descends on her, Catra feels no intent in her touch. She just needs to show Catra how she feels, to release everything she has been holding back.

“I love you,” Catra gasps, when she starts to have enough air to speak again. She said it, but she did not say the exact words, not like Adora’s email had, and she needs her to know. Adora groans against her, biting down hard on the side of her neck. Catra whines, shifting beneath Adora and lifting her hands to clutch back at her. “Adora,” she groans, only halfway to an admonishment. She is light-headed, overwhelmed, but it still feels good.

Adora seems to understand her. She eases off a little, switching to soft, slow kisses. Her grip is just as strong on Catra, but she is no longer trying to lift her off the bed. Catra breathes deeply, tilting her head back with a gentle sigh as her body starts to catch up with the utter onslaught of affection she just went through. If she had any lingering doubts that Adora’s feelings had changed, they are dead and gone now.

“I love you,” Adora assures her, apparently realizing she has not said it out loud yet. She pulls back, blinking down at Catra in surprise. “I love you,” she repeats, voice tinged with an edge of awe. Her eyes are doing that thing now where they draw Catra in like a siren song. Catra feels herself blushing under the intensity, blinking up at Adora.

“I love you, too,” she returns, despite the fact she just said it. Adora seems to be having a moment, and quite frankly, so is she.

A broad grin breaks out across Adora’s face. “I love you. And I can say it now,” she says, leaning in and kissing Catra slow, purposeful and deep, as if she has not already memorized the shape of Catra’s mouth. Catra kisses her back just as determinedly, just as lovingly.

Adora’s touches have always been loving. Catra would always avoid the word even in her internal monologue due to fear. She did not want to grow used to that thought and lose it. Now, she gives in the gentle, loving way both of Adora’s hands come up to frame her face as they kiss. When they pull back Adora blinks down at her, still mid-realization.

“I can hold your hand. And kiss you. And say I love you in the morning instead of I love this. I can tell people you are mine. I can let people see I’m yours,” Adora lists off. Part of her still looks caught in awe. An edge of doubt in her eyes tells Catra a part of her is still expecting Catra to tell her no, you can’t.

Catra rolls her eyes, knowing her smile is stupidly fond. “Yes, Adora. You can do that. Just no more fucking in public bathrooms, alright?” she tells her, leaning forward to nuzzle in under her jaw and mark her as Adora lets out a breath at her words.

“I – bathrooms aside – you do want that, right? We’re dating, now?” Adora asks, voice only a tinge uncertain in the face of the happiness still there. Catra falls back against the pillow with an exaggerated huff.

“We have been for a few weeks, but yes,” Catra tells her, knowing how blatantly happy her own expression must be. Adora grins down at her again, swooping in to kiss her again, still sweet, but shorter than the last.

“Can I call you my girlfriend?” she asks this time when they pull apart. Her eyes are dancing now, uncertainty gone, just saying it because she can. Catra feels herself blush and her ears quiver. She turns her head to cough and cover the reaction.

“Yes, Adora, I’m your girlfriend,” she agrees, mostly because she wants to say it too.

“Sweet,” Adora breathes, leaning in to kiss her again. Catra laughs into the kiss.

“You dork,” is the best admonishment she can come up with in the moment, before Adora ducks her head down to her neck and she loses the ability to speak again.

She gasps, feeling happy and weightless from the force of Adora’s love washing over her. She knows she is purring, her arms wrapped around Adora’s back as she struggles to find her footing for a moment more before she gives in and lets Adora wash her away. She will carry her to safety when she is done. If not, they can drown together. Catra wouldn’t mind that.

If anything, the last few months have proved to her that no matter what happens, they will always come back together. They will always have each other. As Adora kisses along her neck, occasionally giggling just from her dorky joy, Catra lays back and actually lets herself feel Adora’s love without the fear of losing it.

 

--

 

Scorpia texts Catra come evening to ask how she is doing. By that point, Adora has finally managed to start breathing air without having to touch Catra. Not that she has stopped touching Catra, but she is physically capable of it now - probably.

“She won’t believe me that I’m fine. Or that I was fine even then. She is too stable to understand stuff like that,” Catra reasons as she reluctantly gets dressed. Adora gets it, even if she just wants to lie in bed with Catra for the rest of her life. Scorpia just does not have the background they have. When she feels things, she talks about it like a well-adjusted person. Adora hits the gym with a vengeance and then clings to any convoluted plan to fix things. Catra spirals out and burns everything she loves down. Cutting her hair because she was feeling too much to not do something is not a coping mechanism Scorpia can really understand. “Besides, she has to drive Perfuma back over here anyway,” Catra adds as she pulls a sweatshirt out of their shared closet and tosses it in Adora’s direction.

They agree to meet at the student café, mostly because it has a few tables that are isolated so you can actually have a private conversation. Adora blinks over at Catra as she pulls on her foot coverings. “It’s a double date,” she says, because the realization has just hit her, and she can. The corner of Catra’s mouth twitches in a fond smile as she comes over to press a kiss to Adora’s cheek.

“How long are you going to keep having these epiphanies?” she teases, tone playful as she hooks her arms around Adora’s neck. They really should be going, but Adora’s hands come up to her lower back, pulling her close as she leans down to kiss her softly, sweetly.

“I’ll let you know when I run out,” she promises. Catra rolls her eyes, but there is a light flush on her cheeks.

Adora hesitates for a moment when they leave the apartment. Catra looks at her questioningly as she turns away from locking their door. Adora pauses, sweeping a gaze over Catra and finding her standing fairly relaxed. She deems it safe and reaches out to wrap an arm around her waist. Catra’s eyes dance with amusement as she realizes what she is doing. Adora ducks her head, a little embarrassed, as they start to walk.

“I thought you wanted to hold my hand,” she says, raising a brow but flicking her tail playfully. Adora shakes her head, but she is smiling.

“I want to do this too. And it’s cold,” she reasons, as if she is not just trying to find a justification to touch Catra. Catra’s back rumbles softly, if only for a moment. Adora still holds her close as they walk. The café is not far from the apartments, only taking a few minutes to reach, and when they arrive Scorpia and Perfuma are already sitting together at one of the tables. They wave to them as they enter before going to order drinks, no need for proper food given how they have already eaten.

The (other!) couple eyes them as they sit across from them. Adora still has not dropped her arm. She doesn’t want to, and Catra has made no move to pull away. Catra basically said she could. The thought still makes her a little giddy.

“How are you doing, Catra?” Perfuma asks as greeting. Her voice is as warm as ever, but Adora does not miss the way her eyes dart to the mark on Catra’s neck before sending an almost-accusatory look Adora’s way. Adora does not know what that means. She thinks they are already being pretty obvious. In fact, given yesterday – she is sure Perfuma already knows. Adora’s current shirt may cover up her own bruising, but there is no way Glimmer has kept her mouth shut in front of her roommate for twenty-four hours.

“Great,” Catra says, honestly, brightly as she sips her ridiculous frappuccino concoction. Scorpia and Perfuma both blink in surprise at her. Catra shrugs, but she is smiling as she leans into Adora’s side. “I just had some old memories from the summer come up. It was too much to deal with alone. I’m fine now. Adora took care of me,” Catra says. She looks at Scorpia when she says the final part, and Adora does not miss the way it makes Scorpia’s shoulders relax a little bit. Adora blushes at her phrasing.

Catra notices, purring softly as she flicks her tail across her hip and takes another long sip, looking between Perfuma and Scorpia a bit questioningly. Adora can see words building up in Perfuma. She sighs.

“Glimmer told you?” she asks. Perfuma practically bursts with how quickly she nods. Scorpia looks extremely uncomfortable.

“I- was undetailed when I told Scorpia. At least compared to Glimmer’s description,” Perfuma says, apologetically, looking between all the parties at the table.

Catra sighs, setting down her drink. She looks at Scorpia a bit apologetically. “Listen, it was great sex and I’m not apologizing for that,” Adora is going to die on the spot, thanks, “but I’m sorry I never told you that we were together,” Catra admits.

Scorpia looks startled, first at hearing her sister say great sex, but then with surprise and confusion as Catra finishes. “You – didn’t tell me? Catra, you moved in together,” Scorpia points out. If Adora was not still blushing so hard from great sex, she would have flushed at Scorpia’s words. Yes, Catra did say they had been dating for a few weeks, but she did not think they were so obvious to the people around them. Glimmer and Bow at least had no clue.

Glimmer still has not figured out she is in love with Bow, though. Maybe she is not a great example. Adora at least knew about her own feelings, even if she denied them for a long time.

At least Catra seems flustered too, tail flicking back and forth as she turns away to cough into her hand. “Well, as long as you knew. I just want you to know I was not trying to hide it from you or anything. It just was private,” she says. Scorpia opens her mouth- “Yes, I know, sex in public bathrooms is not private. I maintain that was Adora’s fault,” Catra cuts her off, rolling her eyes but blushing furiously as her tail thuds into Adora’s hip.

This conversation is going to kill Adora. “Rule number two,” Adora gives up, looking down at Catra desperately. Catra snorts but she ducks her head and shuts up by sipping her drink. It probably does not technically fall under the rule, but Adora needs to make it out of this conversation alive, and that was looking increasingly unlikely. Scorpia looks lost, but Perfuma seems to pick up to not ask – the context is there, if Scorpia could make her thoughts dirty enough to find it.

“As long as you two are being safe. I know Bow already gave you this talk,” Perfuma cuts in. Catra raises her eyebrow, but she dutifully sips her drink and stays silent.

“We are. We will be,” Adora supplies for her, despite how it makes her blush to be talking about this with Scorpia within earshot. She is distinctly aware of the fact that her girlfriend’s sister is directly across from her right now. As excited as she is to be able to say Catra is hers now, Scorpia is not the person to explore that new freedom with. Adora had not put concealer on before they left the apartment, the collar of her sweatshirt mostly protecting her neck from view, but it would be a miracle if they get through this without Scorpia catching sight of the marks. That is more than enough details for Scorpia to have.

“Okay, thoroughly done talking about my sex life, now, thanks. Can we talk about literally anything else?” Catra requests, setting her drink back on the table. Adora lets out a sigh of relief and sends a please look across the table. They are met with chagrined looks.

“Don’t ask me how, because it was not from either of us, but the team found out,” Scorpia says, looking apologetic. Catra groans, turning to hide her face in Adora’s shoulder. Adora's arms come up immediately and hold Catra close.

“How bad is the group chat right now?” Catra asks, words muffled by Adora’s sweatshirt. Scorpia blushes.

“I muted it. I didn’t want to read that stuff,” she admits. Oh, so very bad then. Adora really wishes that Catra had introduced her to the entire team that night she came to the rink if only so this was not her first introduction to most of them.

“Let me guess, Lonnie?” Catra asks, finally turning her face out from Adora’s shoulder to glare in Scorpia’s general direction. Catra still makes no effort to extract herself from Adora’s arms, and she certainly is not going to encourage her girlfriend to leave.

Scorpia blushes more and nods. Catra grumbles under her breath and pulls out her phone. She has had it on silent ever since her meeting. From the angle Adora is holding her she can’t see her screen very well, but Catra’s fur starts bristling and her tail begins to lash as she reads it.

“Oh, like she’s one to talk. I’m going to slice her face off the next time I see her,” Catra grumbles. She definitely sounds annoyed, but not as angry as those words have been in the past. Not even as angry as those words have been while directed at Lonnie in the past. Catra always had big issues with her growing up, but clearly they have resolved that. No, now Lonnie has dug her own grave.

“I’m never going to another one of your matches again. I can’t deal with this,” Catra decides, glancing up at Scorpia as she finally puts her phone away. Scorpia looks appropriately sad but understanding as Catra leans back into Adora’s arms.

“I’m sure they will calm down eventually,” Perfuma placates. Catra and Adora make eye contact.

“Lonnie never calms down,” they say in unison. Perfuma sighs, but she seems to let it go for the moment. Adora is still basking in the joy of having Catra in her arms, in public, with people they know looking. Catra turns to look towards Scorpia, but her girlfriend makes no move to leave her arms.

“For the record, I really did move into the apartment for the shower. Adora is a side benefit,” Catra tells Scorpia. Absolutely no one at the table is fooled if the raised eyebrows are anything to go by. Catra is unbothered, taking a sip of her drink with a satisfied smirk. “Fine, don’t believe me. When was the last time you used one of the GEU communal showers, Scorpia?” Catra asks. Scorpia looks sheepish.

“I’ve been using Perfuma’s when I can,” she admits, looking away. Adora blinks.

How bad are they?” she asks, incredulous. Catra and Scorpia both shudder.

“Don’t ask,” they say in unison.

 

--

 

When they leave the apartment, Adora opens the door for her. Catra rolls her eyes, but she still offers Adora her arm with a blush and Adora practically lights up as she takes it. The walk to the campus library is short – there is absolutely no need for the dramatics, but they take part in them anyway. Catra is not technically allowed to use the library’s resources since she is not a student, but there is nothing to stop her from going and sprawling across a lounge with Adora in a nook on the second floor. Adora has to run around to fetch books for her stupid paper, but Catra enjoys getting to lounge and steal glances as she works on her own homework.

It has only been a week that everyone has known. Known that Adora is hers, that she loves Adora and Adora loves her back. It feels like a revelation to blatantly look and she cannot help herself anymore. When they go out to eat, she rarely sits in her own seat, at least not completely. They have always been touchy, but after holding back for a lifetime and then a month while she knew what Adora looks like flushed with her hair spread out on the pillow beneath her – it built up a constant need to be touching her girlfriend.

When Adora comes back to settle beside her, pouring through her pages of reference material, Catra stares. Not openly of course, Catra rarely does anything openly, but she watches her out of the corner of her eye, tracking the movements of her hands as she turns the pages or tucks her hair behind her ear. She watches the little frustrated pout she gets as her bangs immediately fall in her face again anyway.

Adora may be a total dork about the fact that they are openly dating, but Catra is just as excited, even if she is quieter about it. Glimmer calls them disgusting while Bow calls them cute, and they both call them morons when the four of them sit down and, for once, they all finally hear the full story from both sides with honesty – even if they gloss over the making out. Catra learns what Adora actually was thinking when Catra was making all her assumptions and worst conclusions, and Catra fights not to cry while hiding in Adora’s shoulder at the memories of the summer, but they make it through. They all, finally, understand each other.

In the last few days, their public displays of affection seem to have triggered Glimmer throwing Bow longing looks, but Catra is pretty sure that conversation is still a few horizons away. For now, she just lets herself soak in the happiness of having her friends, her girlfriend, and all this.

“Are you going to tell me why you’re staring at me, or am I supposed to guess?” Adora eventually asks her, tone playful and not looking up from the veritable tome she has in her lap. Catra would shoot her a look, but Adora is not looking back right now, so she whacks her on the thigh with her tail instead.

“I’m admiring, princess. Shut up and look handsome,” Catra admonishes, but she is smiling as she talks and she knows it is audible. Adora blushes, merely humming with her lack of a response as she turns another page. Catra picked up the pet name as a reference to her softball team's mascot two days ago and Adora is still struggling to act like a person whenever she hears Catra say it. Catra would call that mission accomplished. She is allowed to say shit like that now – say it to Adora, say it in public, say it in front of their friends.

Catra returns to her own work, but she lets her free hand fall on Adora’s knee. Adora jolts a little at the contact, blush returning with a vengeance as she turns to openly stare at Catra now. Catra raises an eyebrow but does not look up from her page of formulas.

Adora is undeterred by her lack of acknowledgement. “I love you,” she says, because she says it randomly all the time now. She doesn’t actually do it that often, but it always seems to be without any specific cause - unless the trigger is Catra merely breathing near her – so it certainly feels like it is blindsiding her constantly.

Despite her attempt at a cool façade, Catra feels herself blush and her ears twitch. “I love you too,” she returns, voice far too soft for such an unprompted statement. She clears her throat, glancing up to make eye contact with Adora and then quickly looking away because she is starting to do that thing with her eyes. “Do your fucking homework,” she adds, still furiously blushing as she stares down at her paper, completely unseeing.

Adora leans over and kisses her on the cheek, lingering when she does so. Catra gets more flustered, yelping and shoving her away with a small growl. Adora just laughs softly to herself as she sits upright again, turning back towards her books. After a moment’s pause, Catra shifts to nudge into her side. She knows Adora didn’t take her seriously – but she also wants to do nothing to deter Adora, not anymore. Adora just turns her head, pressing a soft kiss into her hair before returning to her book. Catra sits up to lean over her own workpage again, but she is smiling to herself, and her hand is still on Adora’s knee.

She can touch her girlfriend like this, casually and openly. Adora wants her to, that has become quite obvious since the fear of being unloved stopped holding Catra back. Every time she touches Adora, reaches out for her, Adora lights up and leans into it. Sometimes when Adora reaches in turn she lets out a small, breathy oh when Catra openly accepts the gesture. They are still getting used to being allowed after holding back for so long – Adora is still having small revelations daily, but at least not hourly anymore – but slowly things are shifting from monumental to just right. Just them, again but for the first time, like they always were and never before. Open, honest, and loving.

Sure, their friends will never let them live it down – the idiocy, or the bathroom sex – but they can live with that as long as they get to have each other like this. After a moment, Catra gives up on sitting properly entirely and shifts her work around so she can write while leaned against Adora side. Adora lets out one of her little ohs, but she raises her arm and wraps it tightly around Catra for a long moment before she returns to focusing on her page.

It is casual affection, offered and returned. It is the comfort of a loved one who knows they are loved and loving in return.

It is them.