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just a summer thing

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Catra stood in the living room with her arms crossed over her body as her roommate tried to fix her tie for her. She was not in charge of what she was currently wearing, it was picked out for her and laid out on her bed as a surprise. Her first instinct was to protest and cancel the plans made for the evening all together, but to appease Scorpia she slid herself into the suit anyway.

“Can we just leave it untied?” Catra grumbled and pulled away from her roommate, “I like it better that way.”

Scorpia persisted nevertheless, her hands were usually shaky and clumsy, which was clearly evident when you tried to decipher her handwriting. Catra had spent long nights struggling to help her roommate decipher her own notes from class. So, trying to figure out the tie around Catra’s neck did not seem like something she would be able to manage.

“Scorpia, please.” Catra tried again.

“Okay, fine.” Scorpia sighed and stepped away to evaluate Catra’s appearance. “You look good!” She clapped her hands together and pulled out her phone. “Picture time!”

“Oh, absolutely not.” Catra hid her face behind her hands and turned away. This whole experience would be shameful enough, there was no reason to document it.

Scorpia had approached her a couple of nights ago in the living room, Catra could tell immediately that she was trying to ask her something verging on uncomfortable. There was a twinkle in her eye that only Scorpia would get when she’d ask her for a favor, usually if she put on her usual puppy dog face Catra would fold and help her out. But this was the last thing she had expected.

Apparently, one of Scorpia’s friends was going through a miserable breakup. Her ex had completely shattered her heart and had seemed to move on pretty quickly. Even though it was allegedly civil, their friend was having a much harder time with it. 

Plus, they still were working at the same restaurant. Ouch .

One of Scorpia’s friends from high school had called her and asked if Catra would be willing to go through with a small plan to get revenge on the ex in question. They wanted Catra to show up to the restaurant where they both worked, and go on a ‘fake date’ so that her friend's ex would become jealous.

Catra had, obviously, promptly refused. She stated that it was a dumb idea, and also she didn’t want to get in the middle of the mess that already was present. When she asked Scorpia why, out of everyone they could ask, they would ask Catra - To which Socrpia responded with, “You’re hot, you’re a lesbian, and they need someone who is a polar opposite of Lonnie.” Lonnie, as in, the ex. They didn’t need to actually do any ‘date’ stuff, they just needed to pretend so that it looked as if she had moved on.

Scorpia had told her it was more of a mission to help their friend move on rather than to just upset the ex. But it still felt idotic in Catra’s mind. There were a million other options she could think of before she would come to that conclusion. Whatever, though, she’d do it to make Scorpia happy.

“What is her name anyway?” Catra asked as she slid on her combat boots. She acted as if she didn’t see the new dress shoes that had been set next to them, Scorpia was not good at being inconspicuous. There was no way she was going to wear those, it was already out of her comfort zone enough that she was wearing a suit to dinner.

“It’s Adora. Catra, please wear the nice shoes.”

“Can I just have one thing?”

“Fine, but can I please take a picture to send to Bow and Glimmer? Adora needs to know who to look for when you’re there.”

Catra threw her hands up in frustration but decided to give in, there was no point in protesting. “Fine. But I’m not going to smile.”

Scorpia squealed as she captured the photos and shouted encouraging words to Catra, who was not even attempting to pose. “Sent!” Scorpia pulled Catra into a hug, which she urgently tried to escape from.

“You better get going, don’t want to be late.” Scorpia opened their front door and ushered Catra out.

Catra ran her hands over her face before she got the courage to walk to her car. This was going to be interesting, to say the least. There was no reason for her to be nervous, this wasn’t a real date, afterall. She didn’t have to impress anyone, she just needed to show up and that would be enough. Hopefully she would never need to see Adora in the same room ever again.

--

Adora was in her car staring into the camera on her phone as she attempted to fix her hair. She never wore it down, it was stressful, but Glimmer had insisted. As she was attentively focusing on her reflection, a message from their group chat popped up, it was Bow typing in all caps.

 

BFF SQUAD   - (Bow had obviously named the group chat)

 

Bow: WE HAVE A PICTURE FOR REFERENCE

 

A picture was attached to his message, and Adora felt the panic that was already present in her body flood to her stomach. They refused to show her a picture of Catra before she had left, Adora was forbidden from looking her up on social media. This was supposed to be low-key, transactional, even. There was no reason for her to get attached beforehand, maybe entertain herself by making up daydreams about the two of them in her head. She had a tendency to become invested a little too quickly, and she understood now why they hid her from this.

The gaze that was previously fixated on her own face was now pointed heavily on the picture of Catra, she had never seen someone look that incredible in a suit, even with the tie undone.

 

Adora: That definitely didn’t help my nerves uhh

 

Glimmer: You’ll be great!! Just go in

 

Glimmer: And don’t you dare put your hair back up in a ponytail

 

Adora ran her hands through her hair one last time before she opened the car door. She quite literally thought she was about to pass out. She hadn’t left the house to go anywhere besides work in weeks, which was never productive because the reason she couldn’t get off the couch was also there at work with her everyday. She swore that Lonnie purposefully made sure their schedules matched up just to torture her a little bit more. Or she was trying to push the, “We can still be friends.” narrative.

They hadn’t dated long, maybe eight months, but the breakup had hit Adora hard. They had just moved in together, but less than a week later it felt like Lonnie had already checked out. She came into their bedroom with a tear stained face and choked out the words, “I thought this is what I wanted, but it’s not. You’re not who I want, I’m sorry.”

Adora swore those words would be tattooed on her body for eternity, when she tried to sleep they were on a loop in her mind like a song she hated but couldn’t stop listening to, stuck in her head and cracking her heart more each time. Lonnie had been so kind about it, but it didn’t change anything. She was done with her, she did not want her, Adora was left alone.

The whole thing made Adora feel so naive and heartsick, she had no idea how to navigate going through her days like this. Heavy, teary eyed, anxious, forcing herself to get up to eat and use the bathroom. Most of the time she would just stare up at the ceiling, praying for her mind to stop wandering, torturing herself by thinking of Lonnie being with someone else, sharing the same moments that were once only for her.

Tonight was the one night that they didn’t have a shift together, and Adora had been whisked out the door anyway and provoked into a fake date with someone she did not know. It was Glimmer’s idea to get Adora out of bed and actually to go out somewhere. She wasn’t a petty person, but she had hoped deep down maybe this whole ordeal might bring her some form of peace. Maybe Lonnie would become jealous, or ask for her back, or feel the same hurt Adora had been feeling for weeks.

She didn’t want to hurt her, truthfully, the main reason was to see if Lonnie would change her mind. Ask Adora to move back in with her and just start over. There was no way she would have admitted that out loud, though, she’d then have to admit how shattered her heartbroken mind had become. If she didn’t keep her mouth shut every word that fell out would be her name.

Adora had faith she could change her mind. Everything is heavy.

She could still fix this.  

Adora was also getting a little sick of sleeping at Bow and Glimmer’s house, she loved them, but she missed sleeping with the person she loved. She was never that good at sleeping alone, anyway. Especially when it was on their pullout couch they had gotten for free on the side of the road.

Adora couldn’t bring herself to walk into the building, everything in that moment felt like a huge mistake, she fought the overwhelming urge to turn around and sprint back to her car. She’d send a text back to her friends as an excuse and hide by herself until she regained her dignity. This was a stupid, dumb, ridiculous, idea, she was going to murder Glimmer when she got home. This was childish, it wasn’t going to work, it wasn’t-

“Hey,”

Adora whipped her head around to find Catra standing behind her with her hands in her pockets. She looked so much more calm and collected than Adora felt in that moment, she was in awe at how someone could truly look so nonchalant.

“Adora, right?” Catra said, not making a move toward the door, the numb feeling started to fade from her body as they kept eye contact for a little too long.

Adora shook herself out of her own trance to regain consciousness, the mix of debilitating anxiety and staring at someone as good looking at Catra was making her extremely dizzy.

“Um, yeah.” Adora reached her hand out for a handshake, which she promptly regretted. She heard Catra chuckle as their hands made contact. “Was that weird?” She said choking on her own words as she retracted her hand back to her side.

“The handshake?”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah, it was weird.” Catra laughed.

Adora felt like a dumbass until she gazed up and saw the blush spread over Catra’s cheeks. Adora let herself laugh back, hoping that the awkward tension between them would start to melt away soon. This wasn’t supposed to be a big deal, it was casual.

“I think we should establish a plan.” Adora motioned for Catra to follow her to the side of the building so they would be out of sight. It was almost pitch black outside and no one else was around, if Catra was a secret serial killer this would give her a perfect opportunity. Adora didn’t know if she should process the fact later that she didn’t care, because if Catra killed her in that suit, well...

“You don’t already have one?” Catra said, interrupting Adora’s wishful train of thought.

“Not fully, but I have an idea.”

“Okay, princess, go ahead.”

“Wait, what did you just call me?” Adora stuttered over her words as her eyes went wide. She looked up to meet Catra’s eyes, and, oh , she had nice eyes. There was not another single person she knew who had two different colored eyes, did everything about Catra have to be so damn enticing?

“I thought it fit.” Catra chuckled and pointed toward Adora’s outfit.

Adora’s mind flashed back to the heated argument that broke out between her and Glimmer earlier in the evening. Adora had refused to get out of her baggy sweater and sweatpants that she had been wearing for a week straight, she had declared that she wasn’t changing before going on her ‘date.’

She had never seen Glimmer be as furious as she was in that moment, her whole face and neck went beet red. Bow had shouted from the next room for her to ‘breathe’ but Glimmer spit out nasty words back to him to make him back down.

“Adora, I swear to god. Get off your ass, I’m giving you a dress to wear and you cannot do anything about it.”

Without saying anything, Glimmer had turned on the shower water and laid out a full outfit for Adora on the bed. She pushed Adroa into the bathroom and locked the door, “Shower.” She snapped before walking away. Adora had been failing to keep up with some personal hygiene things because of the breakup, having your friend remind you to shower would be something she’d love to forget.

It was a silk blue dress that flowed down to her ankles, the mesh of the top was sheer showing off a little more skin than Adora would normally be comfortable with. It was strangely difficult to get on, too many weird layers and not being able to zip herself up on her own. If this whole ordeal wasn’t already too far out of her comfort zone, wearing a dress had almost sent her over the edge. But, she did it for Glimmer. Who had been making sure to take care of Adora these past couple of weeks as her life was falling apart.

“Fair enough.” Adora smiled back at Catra. “I don’t usually dress like this.”

“Ditto.”

“Let’s just get to the plan.” Adora sighed as she took in Catra’s reaction. She was not into this and it was painfully obvious. Her heart clenched as a wave of anxiety washed over her for the thousandth time that night. The numb feeling started seeping back in, she forced herself to blink a couple of times and take a deep breath to ground herself once again. 

She already felt like an idiot for the high hopes she had earlier in the night, she thought it would be at least fun to be with Catra. But apparently they were on the same page, this was just transactional.

“Okay, I guess, we just walk in and act like we are a couple.” Adora said sheepishly looking down at her feet so she wouldn’t get distracted by Catra’s freckles. She was an idiot .

But Catra laughed again, it came out so affectionately that Adora was shocked at the lack of cruelty that was held in her voice. With Adora herself feeling so idiotic, it was a pleasant surprise to hear a sound that comforting. There was a layer of tenderness there that she could tell wouldn’t come out without some prodding and poking. She was holding back a little, maybe she was just as flustered as Adora was.

Or maybe Adora was just romanticizing her already, that was probably it. She really needed to cut that out.

She made a mental note to keep embarrassing herself all night just to hear Catra laugh again, it was most definitely worth it.

Adora clenched her fists together when she realized where her mind had spiraled to. She was not going down this road again, she wasn’t falling for someone too quickly just because they had nice eyes and a sweet laugh. The point of this was for it to be a fake date, there could be no feelings involved.

Without saying anything Catra reached out her hand toward her, a slight smirk appeared on her face in the process. She was definitely cocky, which was probably why her friends had picked her out. 

Adora’s eyes fluttered between her eyes and her hand, the mental gymnastics her mind were currently processing to figure out if Catra -

“Adora?” Catra said, cutting off Adora’s spiraling thoughts once again. “We are supposed to act like we’re dating, right?”

Adora gulped as she acknowledged her, Catra’s hand was still reached out, it had become a painful amount of time that Adora had not made a move. The nerves had started eating away at her stomach, she felt so stupid .

Instead, Catra closed the gap between them herself and intertwined their hands. Adora stifled a gasp but kept her words to herself. There were two possibilities if she opened her mouth, she would cry or she would humiliate herself. And crying would also lead to humiliation at the same time.

“Hey,” Catra said softly. “Let’s just go in, no pressure. I can always kick her ass and we can go.”

That caused a small chuckle to fall off Adora’s lips, out of reflex she squeezed Catra’s hand. “I’m not a great actor.”

Adora was once again shocked by the tenderness in Catra’s voice, there was no way she actually cared about this, she was most likely just being kind because Adora came off as a blubbering mess. A great first impression .

  “All we have to do is pretend we’re on a date, I’m guessing you’ve been on one.”

Adora rolled her eyes but nodded. “Lonnie was my only real girlfriend, I don’t know how to be with anyone beside her.” She hated how painstakingly honest that was, she didn’t know Catra well enough to drag her into her own turmoil.

“Good thing this is just pretend.” Catra said as she tightened the grip on Adora’s hand and walked toward the entrance of the restaurant once again. Through the glass doors it looked busy enough that maybe Lonnie wouldn’t even notice them. Maybe that was for the better, Adora thought, she was never going to do this again.

--

Catra had not expected for Adora to look that good . She had yet to see what she looked like until she arrived in the parking lot and got a text from Scorpia with a picture attached. It was just a normal picture, Adora had her hair up and was wearing a white short-sleeved shirt. Catra thought it was completely unfair how she managed to make a regular shirt look that incredible, especially with her defined muscles filling out the sleeves.

But when Catra saw Adora in that dress, she almost turned around to drive home. Get you a girl who can do both . Except Adora was not ‘her girl,’ and never would be. They’d part ways after the night and Catra knew if they ever had to hang out again she would avoid her to spare her own dismantled feelings.

The pressure had started to eat away at her while she was on the drive over, spacing out so much that she missed the exit twice. It felt good at first to be the one chosen for this stupid plan, but now it was settling in her bones making her feel like a token being used as pawn in a game. Worthless, the ‘opposite’ of Lonnie, whatever that meant. Probably that Lonnie was the best person to form a relationship with, because Catra knew she’d be the worst.

She never had an official relationship before, she always ran before things had gotten serious. The justification was that she was doing them a favor, no one deserved to be dragged into her mess. She couldn’t even stand it there herself.

It was for the best that this meant nothing to Adora, Catra wasn’t someone to fall too quickly, at least that’s the lie she told herself. Knowing that this was just a game should have made her feel better, but instead it made her stomach twist into knots making it hard to breath steadily. Of course she would be the one to go on this date, she could never actually be with someone who looked as amazing as Adora did standing under the moonlight by the front doors. No one was supposed to look that good doing absolutely nothing, just existing not knowing anyone was watching. 

That was the reason she was here, right? Because everyone knew something between them would never actually happen, it was a joke. She was nowhere near the same league as Adora was, everyone knew that. 

As she got up the courage to finally unlock her car doors and make her way outside, her phone beeped lighting up in her pocket.

 

SCORPIA: You got this, Wildcat!! Have a great time

 

Catra rolled her eyes and made the split decision to turn her phone completely off, she was not in the mood to send her any update texts. She just wanted to get this over with.

--

Adora felt like she was gripping onto Catra’s hand like it was the only thing keeping her up, and it probably was. The thought of Lonnie seeing her like this , in a dress on the arm of another woman, was sending her into complete panic mode.

She didn’t want to make her feel bad, she just wanted her back. There were many hours spent mulling over if this was manipulative or unfair or all around awful. She tried to keep reminding herself that this was Glimmer’s idea, if Catra was a secret serial killer maybe she’d send her over to her friends house after this.

Catra held the door open for Adora as they walked into the building, the excessive overhead lighting made her eyes burn from the contrast of the darkness outside. She purposefully kept her eyes strictly on the tiled floor beneath them hoping Catra would be the one to lead them forward.

“Adora!”

Adora had forgotten in the split moment before they walked in that she actually worked here, and had for multiple years, silently cursing herself out in her mind for not taking her coworkers into account. Even if she didn't see Lonnie, they were going to talk.

Perfuma was standing at the hostess stand, her bright smile was spread across her face as she waved to the two of them. If anyone had to be the one to see Adora there first, she was glad it was her. She’d been the one supporting Adora at work through all of this, always coming to the back room with her to talk her down from a panic attack and help her breathe.

“Hi, Perfuma.” Adora tried to hide the nerves in her voice but they came out shaky and agitated.

Perfuma’s smile didn’t drop as she eyed Catra up and down, she’d be the last person to ask or put her on the spot. Everyone who worked with her made it very clear they wouldn’t be taking sides on Adora and Lonnie’s breakup. They all had been working there far too long, and their work environment was usually pretty uplifting. Adora would have quit if it wasn’t for the friends she had made.

“Table for two?” Perfuma asked them.

Adora stood frozen in place, still not making eye contact with anything except the floor.

“Yeah.” Catra responded, the sound made Adora jump a little snapping her back to reality. Catra squeezed her hand, actually squeezed it, almost like she was trying to send a signal of reassurance her way. 

“Adora?” Perfuma asked again, this time with a more urgent tone.

Adora let out a breath before finally making the decision to look up and meet eyes with her coworker. She felt like she was falling apart slowly in front of anyone who could see her, Catra still being the only thing keeping her together, and she didn’t even know her .

“I can make sure you’re not…” Perfuma whispered and motioned for Adora to come closer to the podium. Adora knew what she was going to ask, but sulked over anyway.

She didn’t let go of Catra’s hand as she made her way over to the blonde girl who still did not drop her smile. She lowered her voice even more, “I can make sure you’re not in Lonnie’s section.”

Adora darted her eyes up at Catra to try to read her reaction, Catra shrugged not giving her anything to go off of. Of course she wouldn’t know what to do, she didn’t know anything about her. 

On one hand, not seeing Lonnie the whole night would make this whole ordeal go a lot smoother. Adora wasn’t one who was able to hold back tears when something upset her, in the process she would freak out not just Lonnie, but also Catra. If she did see her, she’d cry, if she didn’t see her, she would cry. (Just at home alone and not in front of all her coworkers and a stranger.) She really needed to stop crying so much.

“You know what,” Perfuma reached out a hand to gently touch Adora’s shoulder. “I’ll seat you on the opposite side. Follow me.”

Adora did not drop Catra’s hand as Perfuma seated them at a booth in the corner of the restaurant. The lighting was more dim in the corner and it was definitely out of the way. Adora knew what section Lonnie usually worked at, she made a mental note to avoid her gaze from falling to that area for the rest of the night. They’d be safe for now.

“So, I’m confused.” Catra said, breaking the silence, they were awkwardly sitting on different sides of the booth, purposefully not touching again.

“Hm?” Adora hummed as she hid her face behind her menu.

“The plan was for her, Lonnie, to see you here, right?”

Adora twitched when she heard her ex's name fall off of Catra’s lips, there was not enough time to discern why hearing Catra say that bothered her. “I guess.” She whispered into her menu, she focused her eyes on the nutritional information for a caesar salad as if she hadn’t memorized it two years ago when she started working here.

“Why am I here if you don’t want her to see you?”

Adora tried to casually bring her menu down from her face to meet Catra’s eyes. Even if the plan was falling apart, it was still nice to have her there. Someone who didn’t previously know the whole backstory, who hadn’t seen Adora’s dead eyes and puffy face everyday as she crawled off the couch. Who didn't know the length of days she went without showering.

“I think I’m chickening out.” Adora admitted.

She half expected Catra to get up and leave the restaurant, leaving her behind and defenseless in an itchy dress that made it hard to sit comfortably in any position.

But she didn’t.

Catra reached her hand out across the table and squeezed Adora’s, another signal of reassurance that she had no obligation to give her. “I don’t think we are acting very well.” Catra snorted.

“I thought this would be a good idea, but I don’t want to hurt her feelings.” Adora revealed timidly, she stopped her immediate instinct to casually rub her thumb over Catra’s fingers intertwined with her own.

“Which one is she?”

Adora forced herself to turn her head to look for Lonnie in the crowd, it physically hurt knowing she'd be there in front of her, knowing that she’d be able to spot her anywhere.

It was shameful how quickly she located her, they didn’t have a specific uniform at work, just ‘business casual.’ Lonnie was in dark black skinny jeans and a low cut black button up to match. Adora had told her multiple times that it was her favorite outfit that she wore, she wondered if she remembered that and if it was purposeful, or if she threw it on without a second thought, her mind not spiraling every time she did something that involved their past.  Adora’s mind raced purposefully trying to find meaning in the small details, trying to piece things together in her favor. Maybe she wanted her back, she could still fix everything.

“She’s over there.” Adora pointed and forced herself to look away. She didn’t want to see Catra’s reaction, didn’t want to hear anything about how sorry she was that Adora managed to lose someone as incredible as Lonnie.

Catra turned to Adora with an almost devious look on her face, it was a complete shift from their previous apprehension from each other a moment ago. “We have options.” Catra whispered, leaning close enough toward Adora so that she could feel the warmth of her breath set across her face.

Adora couldn’t produce a sound, the only thing that came out was a slight grunt, but it was all Catra needed.

“Either we just sit and have a good time, I’ll still pretend to be your girlfriend.” Adora almost recoiled back at the use of the word, still only associating Lonnie with it, too foreign on someone else's lips. “Or, I can go talk to her.”

Adora shot herself backwards at Catra’s second suggestion, she looked so confident in her statement, easily not as bothered as Adora was by the whole ordeal. She still struggled to be able to speak on her own, enough to say, “What would you even say?”

“Act like I don’t know her, say my girlfriend tried to point me in the direction of the bathroom, but I’m having trouble finding it. Then, I’d look back to you, point, and say something like, doesn’t she look good in that dress? Subtle, but completely effective.”

Adora snorted as she regained the courage to look back up at Catra again, the confidence had yet to fade from the grin on her face. “You’d stay here with me even if she didn’t see us?”

She decided not to draw attention to the fact that Catra had indirectly complimented her, she probably didn't mean it like that anyway.

“The meal is on Scorpia, so I wouldn’t pass this up.”

Adora tried to scan her face, for a slight moment she had hoped that there was an underlying message in all of Catra’s actions. Hoping for a second that maybe she was into her, it wouldn’t be terrible for someone else to find her interesting enough to form a small crush on her. It didn’t have to be a thing , just some subtle glances and hopefully more hand holding. Just for the night.

Her mind came to halt when the memory of Bow and Glimmer shouting at her flooded back in, reminding her to not constantly be searching to find out what someone else was feeling. Find someone who will actually just tell you, not make you guess. This wasn’t a real date, Catra wasn’t feeling anything. She was being cordial, if anything. There was no reason to look into anything, she needed to take things in at face value.

After all, Catra was a stranger.

She was extremely attractive, and did seem nice enough to deal with Adora’s meltdown as it quickly unraveled. But just because she was seemingly nice (and nice to look at) did not mean she wanted to be here. She was here for a free meal, and probably to have something to look back on to laugh at later.

This didn’t matter to her, and Adora knew it shouldn’t matter to her either.

--

Catra knew the moment Adora stood frozen in her tracks in front of the entrance to the building that she’d need to help out a little more than she had planned.

All she was told was that she’d have to act like her girlfriend, they didn’t say a good girlfriend. She wouldn’t even know what that would look like if she tried.

Her first instinct wasn’t usually to be nice to people, but Adora seemed to really need the extra reassurance to calm herself down. Catra knew the solid grip Adora had on her hand was going to hurt in the morning, the girl had muscles and apparently she didn’t always realize when she was using them.

Catra could see the dark circles under her eyes, the red puffy skin surrounding them which shyly peaked out under her makeup. Just by glancing at her you could tell she was going through it. She needed this, so she would be nice, just this once.

When Catra squeezed Adora’s hand for the first time, the other girl's body seemed to instantly relax. She chided herself for thinking it was cute, the realization of why she was here kept hitting her like a punch to the gut.

She was a back-up plan.

Adora was basically losing it in their booth, her whole body was shaking and Catra had no idea how to comfort her. She tried the hand squeeze again but it didn’t seem as effective as the first time. Plus, Adora had thrown herself away from Catra and buried herself away behind the absurdly large menus placed at their table.

Catra examined her own as she tried to find the most expensive item on the menu to secretly spite Scorpia for forcing her to do this. 

The last words Adora had said were ringing in her ears, “You’d stay here with me even if she didn’t see us?”

The look on her face had been so hopeful, obviously longing for some form of comfort. It was the first time that night where her anxiety seemed to die down, even if it was only for a split second. Catra thought that was probably what Adora looked like on a regular basis when she wasn’t losing her shit.

“Um,” Adora said behind her menu as she cleared her throat, “I think people who are dating, like talk.”

Catra stifled a laugh as she set her menu back down on the table, she knew what she was going to eat about twenty minutes ago. “I thought you were the one who was the relationship guru.”

“Ha,” Adora smirked, “Very funny.”

“What do you want to talk about?”

Adora’s face quickly turned red as she pulled out her phone, her hands were shaking as she tried to unlock it. “Don’t laugh at me.”

“No promises.”

“I have a list of great first date questions that I wrote down earlier today.”

Catra stared back at her with a blank face, What did she just say?

This was not a first date, this was their only date, it was literally fake. She could not fathom an explanation to why Adora would plan out something for this, maybe this was just how Adora was . Way too considerate, and really cute when she got nervous.

Adora didn’t seem to realize the weight of the words she had spoken, she just scrolled on her phone looking for a good question to start off with. Her nose scrunched up as she silently read through the long list, from where Catra was sitting she could tell the list went on for a good while, long enough that it took Adora a little too long to scroll through it. 

Catra counted on her fingers the number of times Adora had laughed to herself while she was reading through her own list. (Eight Times)

The overwhelming awkward tension seemed to slowly deteriorate as they swapped questions back and forth. Adora couldn’t stop giggling every time she read one of them off her list. “What makes you unique?” Adora said biting her pointer finger to hold back the wave of laughter.

“That’s a dumb one.” Catra rolled her eyes as she played with the straw from her glass of water in her mouth. “Next one.”

“You’ve been saying that about all of them.” Adora snorted. “Answer it.”

Catra was mildly impressed that Adora had pulled answers out of her that verged away from small talk and into something slightly deeper. It helped that Catra knew she would never want to see her again after this, might as well be honest.

“What is the most beautiful sight you have ever seen?” Adora asked, still physically forcing herself to hold back her laughter.

You .

The thought alone made Catra fumble to stand up quickly out of the booth. “I have to go to the bathroom.” She said as she walked away, not waiting for Adora to help point her in the right direction.

She heard Adora call her name in confusion, but she kept walking. The heat from the building started to hit her as she made her way around the tables. She had no idea how she kept her suit jacket on that long, the rush of the people around her and all of their bodies made Catra feel incredibly small.

That was the worst thought she ever had, probably.

Sure, Adora was a great sight to look at, but the thought of being that sappy made her feel physically ill. She needed to walk away, needed to take off her jacket and hope that the bathroom was empty so she could splash cold water on her face.

This whole night felt like a whirlwind, Catra checked the time on her phone and realized two hours had gone by. She barely remembered ordering or doing any other task besides listening to Adora talk. 

Catra would have been okay sitting in silence and eating a free meal, but of course Adora had to come out with her first date questions.

She barged into the bathroom door, not caring if there were people in there at all. She just needed to calm down, needed to remind herself the real reason she was here. There was no need to entertain the first-date-type of feelings, they weren’t supposed to exist in the first place.

Besides, she was still the complete opposite of the girl Adora was currently heartbroken over.

But, there she was.

Standing in the bathroom washing her hands, Lonnie.

Catra was a lot of things, and petty happened to be high on the list.

Adora would never even need to know they ran into each other, Catra wouldn’t be able to speak to her tomorrow, anyway.

She quite literally knew next to nothing about Adora, but she did know that the heartache she was feeling dripped off of every word she spoke. That even when she laughed she was holding something back, Catra had been there before, she knew.

“Do you work here?” She stood next to Lonnie at the sink, pretending to fix her tie while she looked in the mirror.

“Yes?” Lonnie cautiously answered as she moved away to pull down a paper towel to dry her hands.

“Cool, I’m here with my girlfriend, Adora. We just started dating, so it’s cool to meet one of her coworkers.”

Catra drank in Lonnie’s expression for a moment before she walked out the bathroom door, she didn’t want to stay long enough to actually feel bad. It may have been childish, but she didn’t care. She’d never have to see either of them again.


--

Adora forgot, even just for a split second, that her original plan was to get Lonnie back. For a moment she forgot about all of it, and maybe it actually felt good.

Chapter Text

When Adora woke up that morning her whole body was sore, she sat up and her shoulders physically dropped from being so tense, the pain had radiated throughout all of her muscles, causing a low groan to fall from her lips. The pullout couch would literally be the death of her, and apparently the stress from the night before had translated into her body.

The promising sound of the expensive espresso machine Glimmer had bought gave her enough motivation to make her way to the kitchen. The only way she was going to be able to face everyone at work that day was if she was caffeinated enough to make her brain turn on autopilot.

“Look who’s awake!” Bow smiled from the kitchen table. 

They had already set a plate for Adora paired with the biggest coffee mug they had in their cupboard, exactly what she had needed. She had hoped she’d be able to avoid any conversation about what had happened the night before, but Glimmer and Bow didn’t usually prepare food for her in the morning. 

Adora knew it was a trap, but she also really needed coffee. Even if it usually made her anxiety ten times worse than usual.

“So,” Glimmer started, attempting to be nonchalant, “What happened last night?”

“That is a great question.” Adora groaned as she brought the mug up to her lips.

Catra and Adora had stayed at their booth for so long the night before that Perfuma had to come over and politely ask them to leave. It took a moment for Adora to come to her senses after she realized they’d both completely lost track of time. They had spent hours mulling over Adora’s excessively long list of first date questions. Adora had been pleasantly surprised at how much Catra seemed to enjoy them, even though she was clearly trying to act like she didn’t. (She failed). 

It was a strange feeling to know small snippets of someone's personality and how they intricately viewed the world, and not be able to see them again. Maybe they’d run into each other again, but Adora didn’t see that happening anytime soon. She just had to sit with specifically personal information about Catra without the gratification of ever being able to know more.

Last night Adora had checked their surroundings for about ten minutes before it felt safe to leave without running into Lonnie. It was the first time in weeks that she went more than an hour without thinking about her. She had yet to decide if that was rewarding, or if it made her situation even more disheartening. Feeling low as long as she had, finding a small form of release felt good, but when she quickly snapped back to reality it seemed to hit harder than if she never stopped thinking about it at all. Added on to that, the person who had brought her a sliver of happiness was Catra, who didn’t want anything to do with her.

When they left the table, she had reached out to grab Catra’s hand again as they walked away, but Catra drew back and seemed to make a point of sliding it into her pocket instead. Adora didn’t know what she had expected, Lonnie clearly wasn’t around, so apparently there was no point in keeping up the act. Just because the night had verged on a first date, didn’t mean it was one. Catra made that clear, and Adora tried her best to remind herself of the same. 

She had to keep reminding herself the whole way home, while she brushed her teeth before bed, and while she was falling asleep. The painfully prominent thought in her mind was, that was fake, Adora. Get over it . She couldn’t shake it.

Adora walked Catra to her car, accidentally. She hadn’t realized she was following behind her until she watched her open the driver side door. She forced a smile and a wave, disappointment creeping in as Catra made no move to say goodbye.

“It was nice to meet you.” Adora awkwardly called out as she hoped for one piece of validation.

“You too.” Catra half-smiled before she slammed her car door shut, not glancing up at Adora again before she drove off, leaving Adora in the dark.

It took a moment to realize that Glimmer and Bow were asking about how it went with Lonnie and not Catra.

“I basically hid in a booth and couldn’t bring myself to look at her for more than a couple of seconds.” Adora admitted to her friends as she stared down into her mug.  

She peeked up long enough to watch as Glimmer’s face shifted to one of disappointment, Bow tried to keep his composure but it was clear how both of them felt.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t really go through it.” Adora groaned, she could not muster the courage to look at either of them.

“Adora-” Her name slipped angrily from Glimmer’s mouth causing Adora to slightly jump in her chair.

“Glimmer, don’t.” Bow said, obviously trying to keep the peace, but Adora knew what was coming.

“You need to get out of the house more, I swear to god. How long are you going to be moping around like this?”

Adora tightened her grip on the mug in her hands, she tried to release the tension in her shoulders that were still sore from how stressed she was the night before. She knew Glimmer was right, but she didn’t have to say it like that .

“I have to get ready for work.” Adora shoved her untouched breakfast plate away before she walked out of the room, not bothering to look back at either of them.

--

“Scorpia, have you seen my phone?” Catra called from the living room as she threw a cushion off the couch to continue her thirty minute long search for it.

“No, where did you last have it?” Scorpia called back from her bedroom, where she always kept her door open, in case Catra ever wanted to hang out. (Scorpia’s words).

 It was rare that she took her up on it, but Catra made her way into her roommate's room, sulking as she shuffled in. It was always much cleaner than Catra’s room, Scorpia usually was the one to remind her to actually clean. She prided herself in keeping their communal living spaces clean, but not having the energy to deal with her own mess. Literally and metaphorically. 

“If I knew that, Scorpia, I would have it in my hands.”

“Excuse me, it was a valid question.” Scorpia laughed from her desk where she was typing away on her laptop.

“I don’t think I’ve seen it since last night,” Catra admitted, “I crashed right away when I got home.”

Catra had made it very clear the moment she stepped through the door last night that she did not want to talk about it. There was no point, whatever was going on between Adora and Lonnie was no longer something she had to think about it.

When she had returned to the table after the incident in the bathroom, she made a conscious decision not to tell Adora what had transpired a couple of minutes before. She figured she’d end up finding out anyway, but Catra didn’t want to wash away the stupid grin plastered on her face in that moment.

As they were finally leaving, the embarrassment of feeling like she had revealed too much about herself made her mind completely shut down. Catra would pride herself on being someone who does not grossly overshare, after everything she had been through some people just needed to work for it. She was okay with having that wall up, and was also okay with knowing no one would ever be able to break it down.

The questions Adora came prepared with weren’t insanely personal, but it was more than Catra would have usually shared with someone she had just met, someone who would become a stranger when they walked out the door.

She could barely bring herself to look at Adora again as they were leaving, knowing that she had stepped over the line of whatever they were doing, You can’t overshare on a first date if you’re not on one, trying to untangle that mess in her head would not happen anytime soon. 

So naturally, she was never going to talk about it again.

Scorpia tried, but the second she said Adora’s name Catra plugged her ears and stomped off to her own room to go to bed.

Scorpia slowly shut her laptop and swiveled in her chair so she was facing Catra head on. “Is it possible you left it at the restaurant last night?”

Catra felt her body tense, an empty cold feeling flooded her heart. She had made it most of the morning without thinking about it, but the overwhelming sense of embarrassment was not lost on her.

“Scorpia,” Catra groaned into her hands, “I can’t go back there.”

“Uh,” Scorpia said, glancing down at her own phone, “Maybe you won’t have to? I just got a text from your number.”

--

Adora had not said another word to Bow and Glimmer before she left for work that day. She heard Glimmer try to reach out for her, but she shut the door before she could comprehend anything she had been saying. She knew she was a mess, everyone knew. It was starting to verge on pity from everyone, and that feeling was far too uncomfortable for her to handle any longer. She appreciated the empathy, but not the pity, not the feeling sorry for her.

For the last couple of weeks she had been consciously wearing all of the outfits Lonnie had said were her favorite for Adora to wear, today she opted into something completely different.

Well, just normal work clothes, just not something Lonnie was ever attached to.

Instead of driving to work in silence like she had been doing recently, she turned on a podcast to listen to on the way. Songs were too difficult to listen to when you’re grieving, she discovered that the hard way. She did not want to walk into work visibly crying for the millionth day in a row. It wasn’t a huge step forward, but she was trying.

Adora quickly checked her phone before she left her car, hoping to see an apology from Glimmer, but instead,

 

Lonnie: We need to talk when you get to work.

 

Adora felt her whole body go numb as she stared at the text, Lonnie hadn’t texted her since they had broken up. She had said it would be ‘easier’ if they weren’t in contact, and even if she was right, they still saw each other basically everyday. She hadn’t noticed that she still had a heart emoji next to her contact name, but she would deal with the weirdly heartbreaking moment of removing it later.

She had half a mind to call in sick and leave the parking lot, maybe she could rent a hotel and not tell anyone where she had gone so they could just leave her alone. Let her mope in peace.

The news had obviously spread to Lonnie, Adora’s bold choice to bring her ‘date’ to the place where they both worked. Adora could make the excuse that they went because she got an employee discount, but she already knew that would convince absolutely no one.

She had no idea what Lonnie would have to say about the whole ordeal, but she decided to not entertain the thought that this was her trying to reconcile their relationship. She was not going to get her hopes up now, maybe later, but not now.

She hoped that if she didn’t open the text, she could walk in and play it off like nothing had happened. That was the idea Adora settled on that brought her enough peace to be able to drag her feet through the front doors that she had stood frozen in front of the night before.

She weakly greeted Perfuma and Mermista who were standing near the hostess podium, Perfuma smiled back and there was a prominent smirk on Mermista’s face.

Mermista grabbed Adora’s hand before she had a chance to walk away and pulled her over to them, Adora stumbled as her feet caught up to the rest of her.  

“Okay, spill.” Mermista said as she crossed her arms, her expression was mixed with curiosity and also clearly a bit of judgement.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Adora’s fingers found the extra hair tie on her wrist to start to fiddle with as she averted her gaze from the both of them.

“You have a girlfriend? And you brought her here?”

That made Adora snap her head up to meet both of them at eye level, girlfriend? The only coworker she had talked to last night was Perfuma, and she was not one to gossip. And she also had not introduced her to Catra as such.

“Please, you thought it wouldn’t get around? But dude, that’s great that you’re moving on.”

Adora had most definitely, not thought about this far enough in advance to prepare for any interrogation. Sure, she thought she’d be able to act smug and talk a little too loudly about the ‘date’ she went on last night just enough for someone to overhear.

But fake girlfriend? She had not prepared for a fake girlfriend.

As she walked to the backroom to grab her apron and put her things away, she spotted Lonnie out of the corner of her eye standing next to Kyle near the back of the room. Her vision started to become spotty as she hung up her coat, her weak hands reached for her phone to send a text to Perfuma to come to the back because she was having, yet another, anxiety attack at work. At least she was getting better at recognizing when they were happening, a silver lining.

Before she could hit send she felt a hand touch her shoulder, she didn’t need to turn around. She knew. She had memorized the feeling of Lonnie’s reassuring hands on her body a long time ago.

Lonnie was the one who physically turned Adora toward her so they were facing each other. “Are you okay?” Her tone was sincere, which made it so much worse.

They had dated for eight months, Lonnie knew when Adora was about to spiral into an anxiety attack, and she also knew the exact way to talk her down from one.

As Adora started to lose more of her vision she had to physically grip onto Lonnie’s arms to keep herself standing.

Lonnie did what she always had done, count through breathing exercises with Adora. “Breathe in for four, hold for six, release for eight.” Lonnie whispered as she breathed with Adora long enough until she started to regain some sense of her surroundings again.

Usually, she would have kissed Adora’s forehead, brought her in for a hug, then found her a glass of water. But she pulled away, the places where her fingers had just been burned on Adora’s skin.

“We still need to talk, but we don’t have to until you’re okay.” Lonnie whispered, still painfully sincere.

“I’m fine.” Adora stepped back to force more distance between them, they had not touched since they had broken up, had not interacted this much at all. The exact day she decided to work on moving on was the day Lonnie had to go and touch her again, and also step back into girlfriend mode to help her out. It was embarrassing and also made her heart physically ache as she slowly started to process everything that had just happened.

“I can cover for you if you need a moment to chill, I can bring you water, or something.”

“Stop acting like we still do this.” Adora snapped, she hadn’t expected for it to come off so sharply, the words made Lonnie step back even further.

“Seriously, Adora? I was just trying to help you.”

“Well you did, now you can leave me alone.” Adora felt her breath catch as she forced out her words, she really was not capable of holding back tears.

“You brought your girlfriend here last night, to what? Hurt me? Now you’re asking me to leave you alone?”

Adora gasped as she watched Lonnie’s face fall, there it was again, girlfriend . It was painful enough hearing someone refer to Adora as having one and having that person not be her, but hearing Lonnie say it was almost sickening. She had wanted her back just last night, she thought she still did even then as Lonnie stared at her with so much pain in her eyes. Also, Catra wasn’t even her girlfriend.

“I didn’t bring her here to hurt you.” Adora said weakly, but it was true. At least, that was what it was supposed to be initially, but clearly it had spiraled a little out of control. The guilt started to seep into her body as she studied Lonnie’s face, she felt utterly stupid.

“You could have at least told me you were seeing someone else.” Lonnie’s voice had started to crack, leaving edges in the confrontational demeanor she had before. Adora could not handle it. She saw Kyle slowly make his way out of the backroom and back onto the floor, she hoped he would warn everyone else to not enter. 

Apparently, it was evident things were going to get nasty.

“We weren’t talking.” Adora could feel the tears start to roll down her cheeks, so much for not crying at work today , she thought.

“Well, I’m glad you have a rebound.” Lonnie snapped, Adora met her eyes almost appalled at the cruel tone in her voice. Instantly, a look of regret spread across Lonnie’s face, but the damage had been done. The word rebound rang painfully in Adora’s ears.

“Fuck off.” Adora turned her back toward her and tried to act busy putting her stuff away, she dropped her phone in the process scrambling to distract herself enough to stop the crying.

Adora wasn’t an ‘angrily shout your feelings’, type of person when she fought with anyone. She was a sit down and listen patiently, make a plan together to work things out type of person. From the sound of Lonnie’s faint crying behind her, she could tell the hostilities in her statement had crossed a line. It was foreign territory to the both of them.

They had ended so civilly , Lonnie had been so kind through the whole thing. She had helped Adora pack up her things in silence, carefully placing everything into boxes like she’d break anything she was about to touch. Adora didn’t notice until she had unpacked everything that Lonnie had folded Adora’s favorite sweatshirt of hers neatly on top of a pile of clothes. It was excruciating, it had even still smelt like her. 

They never fought about it, they just let it be. Maybe it would have been better if they had just fought and been separated by their parting words to each other instead of Adora ruining the gentle ending that she had found solace in. Solace in the feeling that Lonnie did not hate her, just didn’t want her, and now it was unraveling into both.

She wiped her tears away before she turned back around once again. Lonnie was noiselessly crying into her hands, it was almost more heart wrenching than the last time she saw her cry. Which was when Adora had finally gotten her stuff packed and Lonnie had walked her out to her car, they had hugged one last time. Adora tried to stay long enough to memorize the feeling on her body to store away, but there would never be enough time for that. Sure, they had fought in their relationship, but she had never been the literal cause for Lonnie’s tears.

“I’m sorry, you were just trying to be nice.” Adora sighed, she couldn’t bring herself to look at her, the guilt was forcing her eyes down to the floor. Lonnie didn’t respond, and Adora hated herself for the curiosity, but the thought was too heavy to keep in. “Who told you?”

That seemed to snap Lonnie out of it, she wiped her tears away and wrapped her arms over herself. “You didn’t even tell her who I was.”

“What?” Adora asked, genuinely confused. She had very explicitly told Catra who Lonnie was, sure their conversation that night wasn’t fully about her, but she still knew . If Catra did not know, she wouldn’t have even entered the building, literally.

“You want to know who told me?” Lonnie asked, almost taunting. Adora cautiously nodded her head, because, yes, obviously. She had not introduced Catra to anyone, she assumed her coworkers had seen them together, but even their waiter that night was someone who was new there anyway.

“She did.”

“Wait, Catra told you?” Adora could tell her confusion only hurt Lonnie more.

“Yes Catra told me.” Lonnie’s voice cracked again at the mention of her name. “Also, she left her phone here.” She pulled it out of her back pocket and handed it to Adora. “It was left at your table.”

Lonnie walked out of the backroom, tightening her apron around her back as she walked out without another word. 

Adora slid down onto the floor with Catra’s phone in her hands, it didn’t have a case on it which made it nerve wracking to hold out of fear of breaking the glass backing, but also the fact that it was Catra’s, and she was holding it.

It felt like a violation of her privacy just to be looking at it, if Adora didn’t have such a damn guilty conscience she would look through it. Try to drink in a little more about Catra before she eventually would have to find a way to get it back to her.

She knew her shift probably had started ten minutes ago at that point, but she could not fathom a reality in which she was able to face customers and actually act completely normal. If one person were to speak to her in even a slightly cruel way she’d fall apart again.

Adora was trying to plan a way to get Catra’s phone back to her, she’d have to bring it home to Glimmer who would have to call her roommate, it would be for the best if the two of them specifically did not have to face each other again.

The thought crossed Adora’s mind, which made her audibly laugh. In her slew of questions the night before, Catra had rolled her eyes and told her what her favorite number was. Adora laughed even harder when the phone actually unlocked after she entered the passcode.

She kept her free hand over her eyes, peeking through her fingers just enough so she could find Scorpia’s name in the phone to send her a text. She didn’t want to accidentally look at anything she wasn’t supposed to see, in theory, it was a stranger’s phone.

--

“Tell her not to come here.” Catra protested as she tried to grab Scorpia’s phone from her.

“She said she wants to come drop it off!” They had been chasing each other around their small apartment for the good part of ten minutes ever since Adora had sent Scorpia a text from Catra’s phone.

Catra had been so dumbfounded by the concept that she hadn’t been able to stop Scorpia before she shot a text back to her.

Adora/Catra: Hey Scorpia - Sorry if this is weird but Catra left her phone at my work and I have it, I can drop it off after my shift?

Scorpia: Sure thing! I’ll text you the address when you’re ready

“I could have just driven there and grabbed it.” Catra growled as she tried to stand on the couch to make up for their height difference, but Scorpia held her phone up in the air high enough so Catra had no chance of reaching it.

“You should clean your room, we have a guest coming over.”

Catra groaned and fell back onto the couch, “She will drop it off and leave. You can answer the door, I don’t want to see her.”

Scorpia’s facial expression shifted which caused Catra to drop the act of trying to grab the phone. She had made it explicitly clear she did not want to talk about it, but she knew after this her roommate was not going to let it go.

“What happened?” Scorpia asked the concern in her voice made Catra cringe.

The thought of having to look Adora in the eyes again made Catra feel momentarily paralyzed, the deal was that last night would be the end of it. Seeing her again would drag her into a whirlwind of unknown territory, it was against the rules .

The line between Adora flirting last night or being cordial had become so blurry that it had caused an ache throughout her whole body. It would be easier to end it there, end it with Catra driving off in a frenzy and never having to look at her again, because if she did see her then she would actually need to claw through the haze enough to figure it out.

“Hold on, uh, she’s calling me?” Scorpia looked down at her phone and briskly walked back into her room, carefully closing the door behind her.

 

Catra hadn’t been able to get off the couch since Scorpia took the call with Adora about twenty minutes earlier. Usually, her reaction was to flee in stressful situations, but in her small breakdown she decided it would be easier to see Adora once more for a weird moment of closure. It would be reassurance that everything had been an act, and then Catra could avoid her for the rest of her life.

She knew too much about her, too much for a stranger to have the right to possess. She had half a mind to let her know if she ever told anyone what they had talked about it she’d claw her eyes out. But her blue eyes were far too entrancing for Catra to hold true to that threat.

Again, nothing they talked about was crossing a line of something incredibly personal. But they talked about the little things , that you only find out after you’ve been with someone for a long enough time.

The way Adora took her coffee, how she was in a foster home growing up and had not talked to her foster mom since she left, that she had a hard time sleeping in her room alone.

Adora now knew that Catra was secretly good at math but never told anyone, that Valentine's day was her favorite holiday but if Adora ever brought that up again she would deny it until she was dead.

They had learned enough about each other for Catra to go out on a limb and talk to Lonnie in the bathroom, it was enough for her to feel momentarily protective over Adora to help her see through the plan before they left for the night.

Scorpia dragged her feet out of her room flashing Catra a sheepish grin. “She’s here.” She muttered apologetically

“Already?”

“She said she was able to leave work early.”

Catra hid her face in her hands as Scorpia unlocked and opened the door. She was barely able to make out the sounds of the small talk being exchanged between the two of them. It had dawned upon her way too late that she had forgotten to put on real clothes. Adora had last seen her in a suit and now she was in stained baggy sweatpants and a sports bra, a great second impression. It was fine though, because was the last time she was going to see her.

“I’ll leave you two to talk.” Scorpia said awkwardly and almost bolted back into her room, leaving the two of them alone. Catra’s eyes desperately followed her hoping that she’d turn around and be able to read Catra’s mind, and realize she did not want to be alone with her.

“Hey.” Adora did the same awkward wave and smile she had done when Catra was driving off, her voice was as shaky as it had been at the beginning of the night.

“You’re in my apartment.”

“Yep.” Her lips smacked together popping the p at the end of the word. Adora scratched her head and looked up at Catra with desperation, plainly just as uncomfortable to be there as Catra was having her there.

Catra despised it, but the sight of her looking anxiety ridden once again forced her to lighten up the mood. She rolled her eyes and stood up off the couch, “You don’t need to stay, you can just leave the phone, it won’t hurt my feelings.”

Adora rolled her eyes back at Catra, it was physically evident when she let the tension breathe out of her shoulders. “We, uh, actually we need to talk about something.”

“Are you here to break up with me?” She teased, a frantic attempt to lighten the mood of whatever was about to transpire. 

Adora looked like she was about to pass out, she also looked really good. She was in khaki joggers with a blue button up shirt, Catra did her best not to blatantly stare, another instance of getting you a girl who can do both. If she was allowed to be jealous she would be of every customer who got to see Adora somehow look that good in her work clothes.

Adora snorted and walked in, she basically threw herself down on the couch face first. Catra did not remember inviting her in, but that was fine, for now. “What did you say to Lonnie?” Her voice was muffled from the couch cushion.

Catra let out a laugh, that’s why she was here? A knot of sadness tugged on her heart that she tried to wipe away before answering. It was truly idiotic that she thought Adora had maybe come over to see her, but she was there to talk about Lonnie.

“In the bathroom? I just told her my girlfriend, you, worked there. Asked if she also did, I don’t know.”

Adora whined into the pillow, “You owe me now.”

Catra decided to cautiously make her way over to sit on the floor next to the couch, just far enough so she wouldn’t have the temptation to reach out and touch her. “Owe you for what? I did what I was there to do.”

Adora lifted her face to meet her eyes, “You called yourself my girlfriend. Literally everyone at work today asked me about you, including her. My boss let me leave because of the panic attack and fight with my ex that ensued.”

“I’m not gonna apologize for what I did.” Catra spat out a little too defensively, but it was true. She was sorry that it had caused Adora stress, but not for saying it to Lonnie.

“I’m not asking for that.” Adora’s eyed Catra pointedly, she looked agitated but seemingly not at Catra. “As they say, you made your bed now lie in it.”

Catra let out a laugh, “What the fuck does that mean?”

“I think it’s a metaphor.”

“Adora, oh my god. Just spit it out. And I don’t think that’s a metaphor.”

“I need you to pretend to be my girlfriend, just for a little bit.”

“Oh, absolutely not.” Catra looked at her, completely dumbfounded. She was waiting for Adora to break character, tell her it was a joke and then leave without another word. That was an even more idiotic idea than the one last night, and Catra was the only one who was able to go through with it. She was not going to be left as the only one making an effort for something fabricated.

“There is no way I can go back into work and say it was fake, and I also can’t say that we broke up already. That’s humiliating.”

“That is not my problem.” Catra pushed herself off of the ground as she scrambled to get up, Adora could find her own way out, she knew where the door was.

But Adora grabbed her hand before she could make her way out of the room, Catra froze in place once again. The grip had already become familiar, the feeling had not been lost on her. Half because it still hurt from Adora using her hand as a crutch to stand, and the other half was that she really liked holding her hand. Adora squeezed it gently, the same reassuring gesture that Catra sent her the night before, which meant she remembered and noticed the fact that she had done that for her.

“Catra please, I really need this. I know you don’t owe me anything, but I’ll buy you dinner every time we have to hang out. That was the only reason you stayed last night, so I figured it was a fair trade.”

It was almost laughable that Adora thought the only reason Catra had stayed last night was because of the food. Her first instinct was to run to her room and slam her door, make a clear point that she was not to be used as a fake rebound. Adora didn’t want her , she wanted someone to make her ex jealous. But Adora had still not let go of her hand.

“You really think free food is a fair trade in this situation?” It was, but Catra wasn’t going to let in that easily.

“You won't even have to do anything, really.” Adora was almost begging, “We just have to make it look like we’re dating.”

Catra made the mistake of turning around to look at her, her stupid pretty blue eyes were brimming with tears, and she was once again holding onto her like her life depended on it. Even with her contempt toward the situation, she couldn’t say no to her. As long as she didn’t get emotionally invested, and she wouldn’t, then this would end up being no big deal. And she’d get free dinner.

--

Adora truly did not expect Catra to agree, but when she did a wave of relief poured over her. Catra had stared at her for a long time before she gave her an answer, Adora was sure she’d pass out just by looking into her eyes for so long. She knew in order to have this go smoothly, and for Adora not to over romanticize everything that would come their way, they’d have to make rules.

“If we are going to sit here and make rules, you owe me food.” Was Catra’s response to the suggestion.

Adora laughed at the fact that she was already banking on the food rule, “I guess that is the first rule then.” She opened her phone to scroll through nearby places that delivered while Catra grabbed them two drinks from the kitchen.

“You said you don’t like vodka, so it’s rum.” Catra said as she handed Adora the glass. It was dangerously close to spilling over the edge, Adora looked at her quizzically as she eyed the drink. “Don’t make a big deal about it, you said it last night. I just remembered.”

The second the mixed drink hit her throat she started coughing. “That’s so strong, Catra.” All she could hear aside from her own noises was Catra cackling on the floor across from her.

Adora ended up ordering from an All Day Breakfast type of place, which Catra argued was not technically dinner, and also weird to drink alcohol with. She didn’t care, she didn’t get to eat the breakfast that Bow and Glimmer had prepared for her that morning, and she had been craving it all day anyway.

She had asked for a pen and paper to write the rules on, Catra laughed at her once again, “You can’t use your phone?” But she got up to get it anyway, all Adora could think about were more ways to make Catra laugh again. It really was just too cute .

“Okay,” Adora sighed and tightened her ponytail, “Let’s discuss.”

“Question, how many people can know that this is fake?”

“No one.” Adora said quickly, it would make sense to tell Glimmer and Bow, but after their pitying looks and Glimmer’s passive aggressiveness the past couple of weeks, Adora could not deal with any more shit from either of them.

“So everyone is just supposed to believe that we went on one date then made it official?”

“Catra, please don’t make this harder than it has to be.”

“Fine, whatever.” She laughed again, hearing it each time was better than the last, the sound was bordering on enchanting.

Adora wrote on the paper in front of her in all caps

CATRA AND ADORA’S RELATIONSHIP RULES

“You should have put ‘fake’ before ‘relationship’, dummy.”

Adora ignored her, but felt butterflies flock to her stomach at the use of the word that she was deciding at that moment was a pet name and not an insult.


RULE #1: Adora buys Catra food every time they hang out

“Wait hold on.” Adora put down her pen and pulled out her phone, holding it up to Catra to take a picture. “Act like you don’t know I’m taking this.”

“I am not going to do that.”

Adora glared at her long enough until she complied, it was adorable how she immediately turned to the side to show off her jawline as she held up her fork to her mouth. Adora snapped more than one picture, Catra didn’t need to know that.

She quickly grabbed Catra’s phone off the table trying to be discreet (and failing), she entered the passcode again as Catra tried to reach for it back. Adora fell back giggling as she pushed Catra away with her hand. “I’m following myself on instagram.”

“How do you know my password?” Catra asked, she slowly brought her fingers down to Adora’s hips, which almost caused Adora to drop the phone on her face. She had not known what she expected, but the last thing on her mind was that Catra was actually going to tickle her.

Adora jumped back in a fit of laughter, pushing Catra away with her feet so she could stay far enough away. “I remembered your favorite number.” She said wiping the happy tears away from her eyes. “We’re just making it instagram official, okay?”

As the night went on, they got a little too drunk, to the point Adora needed to sleep on the couch because she was in no state to be able to drive. Catra had not touched her again for the rest of the night, which was probably in both of their best interests. Drunk Adora was handsy, and she couldn’t break any of their rules.

 

Catra and Adora’s official ‘fake’ relationship rules 

(Adora had gotten a new piece of paper to fix it for Catra’s request)

 

#1 - Adora buys Catra food

#2 - Weekly instagram post or story post

#3 - The only touching that is okay is fake PDA

#4 - Things allowed in public, hand holding, slight cuddling, maybe a forehead kiss (will expand on later probably)

#5 - Catra must come to events with Adora but we must plan it in advance

#6 - We can’t date anyone else during this time, too messy

#7 - Catra needs to be a little nicer to Lonnie, Adora needs to shut up a little about Lonnie

#8 - We don’t hang out outside of this ‘business relationship’ no sleepovers

#9 - If either of us actually need to end this, no questions asked it’ll be over (but this is a for sure two month long contract)

#10 - Tell no one

 

They signed both of their names at the bottom, and Adora folded up the paper small enough to slide into her pocket.

“You’re breaking rule number eight, Adora.” Catra teased and threw Adora a sweatshirt and sweatpants after she had asked, her work clothes grew far too uncomfortable to be able to sleep in.

“They start officially in the morning.” Adora laughed, she almost fell over from her drunken state as she attempted to put on Catra’s sweatpants. 

Catra had been covering her eyes with her hands as Adora changed into her temporary pajamas. Adora had slightly hoped she would just watch anyway, if the rules started in the morning they could break rule number three.

But the rules were good, Adora thought. They set clear boundaries so nothing would get messy in the process, so that they could keep up a charade together without anything getting weird.

They could totally keep this casual.

Chapter Text

Adora fucked up, she knew that, but she really had not prepared herself for Glimmer’s wrath so early in the morning.

Catra had violently shaken her awake just an hour prior, it would have been cute to see Catra’s sleepy eyes and messy hair if she hadn’t been shoved out of the door to prevent Scorpia from seeing her on the couch. Adora could tell that she was definitely not a morning person. But she had made Adora coffee and put it in a thermos so she could take it with her. She shut down Adora’s attempt at saying thank you by dragging her out of the apartment without a goodbye.

She was still in Catra’s clothes that she had slept in, and she had already planned to lie to her and say she forgot to change out of them before she left, even though she had grabbed her own on the way out. It also was a viable excuse because again, she was dragged out the door

Adora had also justified it to herself that it would make the whole story more believable if she was in her ‘girlfriend’s’ clothes.

Her hangover wasn’t doing her any favors as she tried to hide her expression behind her hands in the middle of Glimmer and Bow’s interrogation. The only reason she had been able to grab a granola bar to snack on before it had started was Bow’s pleading to get Glimmer to quiet down as Adora walked in the front door.

For the most part, Glimmer was mainly upset by the fact that Adora had not let them know she wasn’t going to come home the night prior. Realistically in their minds, the only other place she could have been was Lonnie’s place (previously known as their place), but when Glimmer saw Adora’s instagram post she had spiraled, allegedly. At least that’s the basis of the argument she could grasp from Glimmer’s stream of consciousness rambling.

“Glimmer, why don’t we just let Adora explain her side?” Bow cautiously chimed in from beside her, he tried to reach out to grab her hand but Glimmer swatted it away, still furious.

If it was anyone besides Glimmer, Adora would have been more than slightly annoyed, but she knew she’d feel the same if Glimmer had disappeared and did not answer her phone for a whole night. They had been taking care of each other and looking out for each other for the better part of their entire lives. Even if Adora thought at times Glimmer would overreact to certain moments between them, to say the least, Glimmer and Bow were still her home and safety.

Bow’s words seemed to catch up with her as Glimmer took a deep breath and went silent for the first time in around twelve minutes. Adora took a sip of the coffee that Catra had made for her that morning, which she had somehow made in the perfect way which, in theory, wasn’t too hard to do, but it still made Adora’s heart swell. She had remembered how she liked it from when she told her on their ‘first date.’ She had to care just a little bit if she had gotten up early enough to make it and make sure that Adora was out the door before Scorpia could come in with any questions.

Glimmer took another deep breath before she said, “So, explain.”

Adora then did her best to brush over what had transpired at work the day before, she preferred not to go into detail about her conversation with Lonnie. The memory of her snapping and also falling apart in front of her was still too agonizing to process the day after. 

The night before, Catra and Adora had done their best to drunkenly come up with a story convincing enough to make people believe that they had decided to be together so unbelievably soon, since it had been exactly two days. Adora had argued that the person who would be the most difficult to convince would be in fact, Glimmer.

But Catra had reminded her that they had the best excuse in a situation like this: They’re lesbians.

“So you’re telling me that the two of you hit it off so well that you decided to make it official last night ?”

Glimmer was accepting it a little more than Adora had expected, but Adora had also been known to fall way too quickly in real life situations. It wasn’t outside the realm of possibilities that she’d fall so hard in two days that she’d completely step into a new relationship. It had only taken four days with Lonnie, so it was on brand. 

It didn’t seem to be a question of if her relationship with Catra was real, but more of a concern directed at Adora’s decision making. And that, she could work with.

“Weren’t you just upset yesterday that I was still moping? You should be happy for me.” Adora countered Glimmer’s accusations, trying to keep her tone steady. Even if the original plan was to save Adora from embarrassment and make her ex jealous, getting Glimmer and Bow off her back was a great added bonus.

“It’s just fast , Adora. Especially since you were just moping.” 

“Well, I’m happy for you.” Bow chimed in, his face was genuine until Glimmer shot him a look of disapproval.

“You were the one who set me up with her in the first place.” Adora tried again and Glimmer’s demeanor shifted slightly.

“Fine.” Glimmer snapped as she stood up off the couch. “Even if you are already official, it’s not valid until we meet her first.”

 

--

 

Scorpia was, thankfully, not a person who was hard to convince. The conversation was way more painful for Catra than it was for her roommate. She decided to corner her early in the morning before Scorpia ran off to class so she wouldn’t have to deal with it later.

“That’s great! Wow, I’m so happy for you.” She had crushed Catra into a hug and ran out the door with a bagel hanging out of her mouth. Catra didn’t think she’d actually comprehend what she had said until she was halfway gone.

The word “Girlfriend” still felt sour on Catra’s tongue long after Scorpia made her way out. Catra had never said that word out loud to refer to literally anyone, the self-loathing tugged at her heart reminding her that the first time she used that word was to refer to Adora, her fake girlfriend. The only person she could convince to be in a relationship with her was only in it to make her ex girlfriend jealous, it was fake, and Catra was the opposite of Lonnie. 

The only thing worse than being a rebound was not even being good enough to be one, just one to clutch onto when you’ve fucked up and need an out.

Catra had a habit of pushing things to the back of her mind and not processing them until it was absolutely necessary, and that’s exactly what she had planned to do with the Adora Situation. It was just stupid, she should just have fun with it, labeling her as her ‘girlfriend’ didn’t technically count anyway.

She dragged herself out of her self loathing session long enough to get ready for work and eat the leftovers from the food they had ordered last night. 

Catra had decided not to go to college and take a couple of years off to save money, since she did not have parents or any family support it made sense. She worked at the bookstore around the corner from their place, it was quiet and she barely had to interact with customers, which made it perfect.

What wasn’t perfect was during her short walk over all she could think about was how this was another thing she had in common with Adora. They had both taken some time off of school to work because they had no family support in the slightest. They both had roommates who were in school, who always made them feel like they were ten steps behind in the real world. They both grew up in foster homes, which was something she didn’t even think Scorpia knew.

Catra believed that if Adora hadn’t come prepared with her first date questions, she would not be in this position to begin with. She wouldn’t have cared enough to do anything if Adora hadn’t been so herself . She had been quick to notice from the night before that Adora was just like this . Always considerate, always wanting to know more, always flirting a little bit. Even if she didn’t know that she was doing it.

But that’s just how Adora was with everyone, she thought. Since they were nothing more than friends, (Catra had decided to refer to them as ‘colleagues’) she wasn’t giving Catra any extra care that she wouldn’t be giving to anyone else.

Barely any time into her shift had passed before Catra got a text from Adora. Initially, she was going to choose to ignore it, but that was before two more messages popped up, and also a missed call that she made a conscious decision to ignore.

They technically didn’t have a rule against texting throughout the day, but Catra had assumed it was implied.

 

Adora: Hey! I need to talk to you

 

Adora: It’s a little important

 

Adora: Glimmer wants to meet you tonight… haha.. so.. can you come over later?

 

Catra groaned as she stared down at the texts on her screen, extra annoyance toward the fact that Adora had added emojis next to her own name in Catra’s phone. She was going to choose not to answer until she got off work but Adora kept going,

 

Adora: There will be food! Obviously, haha… 

 

Adora: I said she should invite Scorpia but she wants it just to be us so it can be a double date with her and Bow…. So… Please text me back…. :)

 

Catra was going to have to let her know that there was now a new rule stating that if she didn’t text back right away, to leave her alone. She was just glad that it was actually about something she needed help with and not just her trying to talk casually.

 

Catra: sure

 

Catra: also please dont call me im at work

 

She didn’t care if it was cold, she was under no obligation to be nice outside of what they were doing.

Even if she kind of wanted to be, secretly.

 

Catra was going to make the choice to purposefully be late, but she knew that Adora’s main source of anxiety around the two of them was how Glimmer would handle everything. So she was on time, even if she hated it.  

The weight of Adora’s worry had seemed to translate itself into Catra’s body as she was now more nervous than she had been before she stepped into Adora’s view the first night they had met. Meeting your girlfriends best friends would already be nerve wracking enough, this was on a whole new level.

Adora had only told her small tidbits about who Glimmer was as a person, and by those alone, the night did not seem promising.

She had barely stepped out of her car before Adora came out the front door, almost running to meet Catra. She pulled her into a hug the moment she stepped foot on the ground, catching her completely off guard.

“Hug me back, they’re watching.” She whispered quietly with a laugh. Catra nervously looked toward who she assumed were Bow and Glimmer standing in the doorway, clearly analyzing every move the two of them were about to make.

The height difference between them hadn’t been too apparent until Catra’s head was nuzzled into Adora’s chest. Her arms were wrapped tightly around her, and Catra weakly returned the gesture.

She was going to pull away first until Adora kissed her on the forehead, it was quick, but it still left Catra in a momentary state of shock, leaving Adora to pull away and glance at her with a puzzled expression on her face.

“Guys, please go inside.” She called to Bow and Glimmer with a pleading tone. Bow had to seemingly drag Glimmer back inside before he softly shut the door, giving them a wave before he disappeared.

“Hey.” Adora smiled down at her, Catra was still having an issue forming words. “Are you okay?” Adora asked, genuinely concerned.

And she was going to say yes until she actually looked at Adora. She wasn’t in a dress or in her work clothes, but in Catra’s clothes. Her hair was still up, but it was more messy, some strands of hair falling in front of her face. She even smelled good, which indicated she most likely showered and then put Catra’s sweatshirt back on .

This is how Adora would actually look if this was real and they were hanging out alone on a weeknight, changing out of her work clothes to wear Catra’s before she would pull up to her house and fall asleep in her bed. It was so painstakingly normal and comforting.

She didn’t know how Lonnie would regularly be able to see Adora like this, effortlessly charming and loving her enough to wear her clothes on a random day of the week, and still be able to walk away from her. It was another little thing that she did.

It bordered an agonizing knowing that Adora wasn’t doing anything to impress her, that the forehead kiss and hug that still made it difficult for her to breathe was just because Bow and Glimmer were staring them down from the front door. It was tender, it was almost nice , but it wasn’t real.

It’s not like she was already attached, she would die before getting attached too quickly. There was just something specific that hurt , and she couldn’t place it. Maybe it was the fact that all of the girls she had been with briefly were never as gentle with her as Adora was in that swift moment, the moment that probably lasted five seconds but felt like a year ago at this point.

Catra made a mental note to try to flirt with another girl over a dating app or slide into an instagram DM later so she could fucking shake whatever that feeling was. It didn’t actually break a rule if she didn’t go out with anyone, even if it was borderline shitty.

Also, Catra thought Adora was now officially the only person who could look better in joggers and a hoodie than in anything else. She chose to ignore the prominent thought in her head telling her that she had thought the exact same thing every time she had seen Adora in a new pair of clothes.

Otherwise known as every time she had seen her.

“I’m good.” She finally managed to get out, the forehead kiss still lingering on her skin. They had talked about that being okay, so she should be okay. “I’m nervous, I guess.”

Adora just smiled and grabbed her hand, intertwining their fingers and slowly leading them up to the front door. “Glimmer and Bow made dinner, and I got you some extra snacks to take home. You know, as.. Payment?”

“Please don’t call it that.” Catra intended for the statement to be snarky but it elicited a giggle from both of them.

Their home seemed comforting, pictures of the three of them were hung all over the walls. There were candles lit sending a smell of cinnamon and pumpkin toward Catra, a bleak difference from her own place with shitty overhead lighting that reminded her of a hospital waiting room.

Glimmer hadn’t moved far from the front door, standing directly in front of the two girls with her arms crossed, a determined look spread across her face. Bow was cowering behind her, he threw Catra another awkward wave of his hand.

“Glimmer,” Adora’s voice was wavering, “Be nice.”

“I plan on it.” Glimmer scoffed, her short-temper already shining through.

Adora squeezed Catra’s hand, she didn’t know if it was to send reassurance her way or if it was more of a please help me type of gesture.

“Nice to meet you.” Catra said cooly, she reached out her free hand for a handshake that was promptly denied. They all stood stiffly facing each other, but Catra wasn’t one to back down, and she could already tell Adora was starting to get worked up.

“I’m ready for you to interrogate me if that’s what you’re trying to do.” Catra forced herself not to roll her eyes as she met Glimmer’s, matching the same intense look that she was being sent.

“Perfect, let’s eat then.”

 

--

 

Adora was not okay.

They had decided to eat in the living room, Catra was on the floor with Adora sitting just above her on the couch. They were slightly touching, Adora’s legs near Catra’s shoulders. Adora wished that she had the ability to move down to sit next to her to grasp onto her hand once again, the lack of touch was making her head spin. Watching Bow sit silently while Glimmer was firing off questions toward Catra about their ‘relationship,’ was incredibly anxiety inducing.

Catra didn’t seem to be faltering, though. Adora had actually been surprised at how well she was handling everything. She seemed to be able to match Glimmer’s attitude with her own, almost balancing each other out in a weird way.

“You know she just got out of a long-term relationship, right?” Glimmer said as she took a bite of her food. Adora’s stomach was in knots, she couldn’t see Catra’s expression from where she was sitting which made everything worse.

“Yes, I am obviously aware.” Catra said back, again matching Glimmer’s snarky attempts at throwing her off guard.

“So you don’t think it’s a little weird then? Is it not concerning to you that you would willingly be in a relationship with someone right after they were dumped?”

“Ouch.” Adora said from the couch, she sent Glimmer a look to tone it down

Glimmer and Bow knew her all too well, even if it was typical for Adora to fall fast they would easily be able to spot cracks in her facade. In that moment, she didn’t know what would be more mortifying, Lonnie finding out if it was fake or Glimmer. Bow would probably laugh it off and send her a reassuring glance if Glimmer ever brought it up again afterwards. But Glimmer? Glimmer would never let her live it down, and she’d be furious for weeks on end.

“Even if it was concerning that’s something Adora and I have talked about. It’s up to me to trust her.” Catra shrugged, a surprisingly good answer. And obviously a lie, but that was the point.

“So, what do you do then? Are you in school?” Glimmer said ready again with another question.

“I work at a bookstore, I’m saving money for school.”

“Interesting, do you make a good income?”

“Glimmer-” Adora tried to butt in but Glimmer, once again, cut her off.

“Did you graduate highschool? Do you know what you want to do when you go to college?”

Catra was silent for a moment and Adora almost threw up from the painful silence.

“Yes, Glimmer.” Catra said over-enunciating her name. “I did graduate highschool, I do make a good enough income, and I want to be an English teacher.”

“You do?” Adora felt her voice crack at the adorable image of Catra teaching that entered her mind.

Glimmer, of course, picked up on the obvious shock in Adora’s voice. “You didn’t even know that?” She scoffeed, her gaze still did not falter from Catra’s.

Catra didn’t have to go there, Adora should have expected it, it was a great deterrent for conversation but, it made Adora choke on her own food.

“We were kind of busy , doing other things, Sparkles.”

Adora choked again at the nickname, she coughed loudly causing Catra to turn to her with concern but also a smirk.

They had been doing probably the complete opposite of what Catra had insinuated in that moment, except for when she touched Adora’s hips for a split second, but Adora chose to not think about that.

If there was anything in the world that could get Glimmer to drop something it would be openly talking about sex in front of her. 

Adora had once hung out with the two of them after she had clearly hooked up with Lonnie a few minutes prior, Glimmer literally sent her home and told her to shower and change before she came back. 

It was not a case of judgement but rather of hearing about someone who was as close as a sister doing anything that wasn’t Teen Rated. Adora assumed she’d act the same if Glimmer ever tried to mention anything about Bow, the thought alone sent a shiver down her spine.

Glimmer’s face was still beet red after Catra’s words, Adora could tell Bow was doing his absolute best not to break out into laughter. There was not usually someone who could match Glimmer when she was in this type of mood. It would be entertaining to watch under different circumstances.

Glimmer cleared her throat, “So what you’re saying is that you hooked up once and that was good enough?”

“Glimmer! Please-”

“Adora.” She met her eyes, Adora’s stomach twisted. “It’s valid for me to be concerned.”

“Who said it was once?”

That sent Glimmer into another state of shock, the nauseous feeling creeped back into Adora’s stomach. 

What Catra was doing was surprisingly working and also weirdly perfect. It was like she had immediately read Glimmer and knew how to get the conversation off track so no plot holes would be discovered in their story. But if they were going to get Glimmer off Adora’s back about this , instead of just being on it because of Lonnie, Adora needed to make things a tad more wholesome.

Also, due to seeing Catra in the suit she wore the first night the statement would most likely be true in an alternate reality. 

“Maybe we should play a game or something.” Bow chimed in like he had read Adora’s mind from across the room.

Catra glanced back up at Adora, her eyes softened when she met hers. It sent Adora into her own state of shock when Catra reached up and squeezed her hand. “I’m sorry,” She whispered, “I’ll tone it down.”

When Glimmer gathered everyone's plates and walked toward the kitchen, Bow scooted over to the two of them. “Well I for one already like her, no one usually survives Glimmer’s interrogations without any tears.” 

Adora momentarily brought Catra’s hand near her, wanting to kiss the top of it but awkwardly dropping it instead. Gentle hand kissing was not allowed. Even if she was grateful Catra was somehow making it through this whole thing.

But there was still a pit in Adora’s stomach, she was almost positive that after this night Catra would want nothing to do with her. It was her own mistake allowing Glimmer to meet her so early on, and the food was definitely not good enough for it to be a valid exchange. 

She knew Catra was just keeping her composure because of their agreement, but she also knew without a doubt she’d run after this.

As Bow stood up to help Glimmer in the kitchen, who was making a lot of crashing noises with the pots and pans, Catra joined Adora on the couch.

“Hey.” Catra whispered looking at Adora head on. “You good?”

Adora didn’t know how to answer, her body started to go numb with all of the overwhelming tension still hanging in the room. All she could do was shake her head and divert her gaze.

She could feel Catra’s body physically soften across from her as she grabbed both of her hands. Adora’s eyes snapped up as Catra intertwined their fingers and whispered, “Just breathe, it’ll be okay.” 

Catra didn’t drop her gaze as they breathed deeply together on the couch, Catra rubbing her thumb softly on Adora’s hand until Adora was able to concentrate long enough to feel everything again.

For a moment, Adora wanted to mention that they were alone in that moment, and Catra did not have to do that. But that was before she saw Glimmer hovering near the living room, the temporary bubble of happiness escaped Adora when she made eye contact with her.

Catra was clearly doing that for show, but it did seem to make Glimmer back down. Adora wanted to feel grateful for the gesture but a bitter taste spread across her tongue. Helping someone calm down before an anxiety attack was intimate , her feelings at that moment mimicked the way she felt the other day with Lonnie. It felt like a strange violation of trust.

“I need to go to the bathroom.” She dropped Catra’s hands and ran off without looking back.

 

--

 

Catra’s worst fear had come true, she was alone in a room with Glimmer.

Adora had been gone for a little too long, and Catra truly did not know what to do with herself. She had already gone out on a limb to help Adora before, and even if she was trying not to break any rules she still wasn’t a dick. She wasn’t going to watch Adora spiral without at least attempting to help.

But apparently she had gone too far.

“That was nice of you,” Glimmer said, an actual genuine look on her face. “To help her out. Her anxiety has gotten a lot worse since her breakup, I’ve been pretty worried.”

Catra didn’t know how to respond so she let out a quiet, “Whatever.”

“Look,” Glimmer groaned, “I’m sorry about all of the questions but Adora is fragile. Especially now, she’s been a mess recently and I don’t know how she’ll handle it if she gets hurt again. Just… Just promise you have good intentions, okay?”

The genuine look of concern on Glimmer’s face brought her physical pain. This felt too far, this felt like it was breaking all of the rules that they had placed the night prior. This was intimate , a side conversation with her best friend about Adora’s struggle with her own anxiety and a promise not to hurt her.

It felt wrong .

Catra never broke a promise. Too many people in her life had broken them without a second thought, and she never wanted to pass that agony along to anyone else. 

An aching feeling spread across her chest dragging her back into a state of self loathing as she watched Glimmer’s face start to twist with confusion. Even if every part of her wanted to run out the door, she had promised Adora she’d stay with her for a minimum of two months, she wasn’t going to go back on that.

She quickly tried to rationalize the thoughts spinning in her head, she did theoretically have good intentions, she was helping Adora out because of their agreement, which was what Adora had wanted. She wasn’t going to break the promise to Glimmer because she technically couldn’t.

But it still felt so fucked up. 

“Yeah, I promise.”

She wasn’t going to get hurt again, not with Catra, because what they had wasn’t real.

 

When Adora finally came out of the bathroom, Catra let out a sigh of relief just from seeing her presence. She looked more distant, but Catra assumed it was just from all of the nerves and stress the night had brought upon the two of them.

She sat back down next to Catra, and seemed to make a point of sitting far enough away so they were no longer touching. It sent a surprising sting to Catra’s heart as Adora made no move to close the gap between them.

Catra had already drained her best efforts from this whole double date situation, she was in no mood to try again if Adora wasn’t going to give her anything back. This was her plan afterall, and Catra had already promised herself she wasn’t going to be the only one trying.

But it was also their first time doing this, so she did anyway. Reluctantly, but she still did it.

She scooted closer and slid her arm over Adora’s shoulders, gently bringing her in closer. 

To Catra’s surprise, Adora softened under her touch and slumped down to put her head on Catra’s chest and her arm over her stomach. She was quite literally curled up in Catra’s arms. 

Catra tried to steady her breath as she looked down at Adora, How do people breathe normally when they’re cuddling anyway? She did not know.

She had been with quite a few people in her lifetime, never anything serious, usually just sex and Catra’s unrequieted pining as they left her house without wanting to sleepover. The word ‘intimate’ was still ringing in Catra’s ears, that’s what this was. The gentleness of Adora’s touches were debilitating, the care she put into each touch seemed calculated. Like she knew what she was doing, knew that with each touch Catra got more and more choked up.

Or, she was just acting. Like she was supposed to be doing.

The rest of the night seemed like a blur, Adora didn’t move from her spot the rest of the night as the four of them continued talking. Glimmer had seemed to back down and actually let Bow start up the conversation instead.

He asked genuine questions for Catra to answer, without any secret intention like Glimmer previously had been doing.

It only happened once, but before Catra was able to answer one of them, Adora chimed in with the answer instead, paired with a slight giggle muffled by her face on Catra’s chest.

Catra tried to pretend that didn’t melt her heart on the spot, but Bow seemed actually enchanted that Adora knew the answer to such a throwaway question.

It got to a point in the night where everyone was visibly tired, Catra didn’t know how long she had been there at this point. Time always seemed to speed up whenever Adora was touching her anyway. She swore that Adora had dozed off a couple of times in her arms, but Catra preferred not to think about that.

“I’d ask if you wanted to stay,” Bow laughed, “But Adora sleeps on the couch.”

“No worries,” Catra said quickly, “My roommate is probably wondering where I am anyway.” There was no way she was breaking rule number eight on their first official day.

“Scorpia, we love her.” Glimmer sighed as she leaned back to rest her head on Bow’s shoulder.

Catra almost cringed at the couple across from them, how they were actually together and most likely actually in love.

Adora seemed to wake up enough to walk Catra back out to her car. The only time of the night Catra literally almost ran was when Glimmer and Bow brought her into a hug.

“Thank you.” Glimmer whispered low enough so only Catra could hear.

It almost broke her heart.

 

--

 

Adora wasn’t great at staying angry, which is why she decided to fall into Catra’s touch the moment she got back from the bathroom. She had spent way too long kneeling over the toilet in a panic feeling like she was going to throw up. The only thing that sent her back to the living room was the thought of Glimmer and Catra alone which only brought on a thicker layer of worry.

Most of her time in the bathroom she spent trying to process all of the thoughts swirling in her head that were adding to the already present nausea. She didn’t know how to differentiate between missing Lonnie’s touch and also seemingly enjoying Catra’s. They were both so strikingly different.

She missed the familiarity of Lonnie, the way that they had learned each other backwards and forwards. She knew instantly if Adora was lying or if she hadn’t eaten that day. If Adora was having a bad anxiety day Lonnie would bring home a new candle or a stuffed animal or something cute just so she would smile. She missed that, missed not having to tell someone what you were feeling and having them just know. She didn’t have to put on an act or be someone else in her presence, Lonnie had loved her for who she was to her core. 

But it wasn’t enough.

Catra was new, but it didn’t feel new. Adora thought it would feel foreign, thought it would make her miss Lonnie even more than she did when she was alone. But it felt like walking into the arms of your best friend after you hadn’t seen them in a while, like someone welcoming you home and sleeping in your bed for the first time after you had been away for a bit. Just easy, like she always was meant to touch her.

Thinking about Catra so deeply almost felt like she was cheating on Lonnie, but missing Lonnie made her feel like she was cheating on Catra, even though neither of those situations were possible.

Catra was the only person who had made her laugh or feel comfortable since her breakup, she was the only one who had taken her mind off of it even just for a little bit. It was like a breath of fresh air, or just a beautiful distraction.

Which, of course, just made everything so much worse.

Catra, without ever asking or without any prodding, jumped up on the couch and helped Adora breathe. Like she knew , knew that Adora’s biggest anchor when she was panicking was having someone breathe with her. Without her ever having to say it.

But, it didn’t matter.

Adora knew she wasn’t really ready for a new relationship so soon after everything, not for real. She knew Catra was still basically classified as a stranger, and Adora was in the room when Catra emphasized the no sleepovers, no touching, and no contact rules.

Catra was just being kind, and even if she did know how to comfort Adora, she still only had done so because she knew Glimmer was watching. 

That was the arrangement that they had, and Adora wasn’t going to let herself ruin anything else.

She needed this, needed people to think she had moved on so everyone would stop with the pity. Needed to stop seeing Lonnie’s look of sympathy from across the floor at work, needed Glimmer to stop yelling at her just so she could take care of her basic hygiene. She needed a distraction, and it was fun, if anything, to be around Catra.

Even just introducing her to Glimmer and Bow had dug her even deeper into the pit of lies she had created. She couldn’t turn back at this point. She wasn’t someone to admit defeat, and Catra didn’t seem like it either.

She just needed to keep it fun , so that Catra would stay.

Adora felt all of her fears from the night come true as she walked Catra to the car, the small feeling of hope that told her some of this was genuine faded before her eyes.

The warmth and comfort Catra had been radiating just two steps inside the house seemed to completely come to a halt when they were out of the view of Bow and Glimmer. Catra almost immediately dropped her hand before she got into the car. It was the same coldness from the first night when she drove off without a goodbye.

“I don’t even get a kiss goodbye?” Adora said, trying her best to make it sound like a joke.

Catra cocked her head, a look of confusion briefly brushed itself across her face before quickly turning back to coldness. “They’re not watching.” Was the last thing she said.

Great .

 

--

 

Catra deleted the only dating app she had installed on her phone when she got home, even though she hadn’t used it in months.

Instead she posted the secret picture she had taken of Adora half asleep on her lap on instagram, which Adora liked three seconds after it was posted. 

Chapter Text

Catra was still trying to process the events that had transpired when she met Bow and Glimmer a couple nights prior. It had become a cloudy haze in her mind, fogging any other thoughts that came her way. Even though she was doing her best to not think about it .

She had come home that night to Scorpia patiently waiting in the living room with alcohol and food, eager to ask her about what had happened. Catra had just muttered “not tonight,” and grabbed a drink to have alone in her room. There was no way she could look Scorpia in the eye that night and lie. 

But, Scorpia had then taken it upon herself to start hanging out with Bow and Glimmer more often than usual. They had been close enough before, but now that Catra and Adora were ‘together,’ they wanted the five of them to hang out more often. It was excruciating.

It had crossed Catra’s mind that it may have been easier just to tell them the truth in the beginning, but that possibility was long gone, and also it would have been too embarrassing to admit up front anyway.

The main thing on her mind was the weight of Glimmer’s words from that night, the desperation in her voice as she looked at Catra. It had started to chip away at the ability for this to be fun. But maybe it was never supposed to be .

She had decided that the best way to keep her promise to Glimmer was to keep her own feelings at bay, to stick to all of the rules and act as colleagues .

If she got her real feelings involved she knew it would be a sure way to actually hurt Adora. That’s what would happen if she involved her in her own mess, if she let herself get too close. She’d ruin it.

She just needed to find a way to make it fun again, she wasn’t supposed to be an emotional support crutch, she was just supposed to act as if . That’s what she was telling herself, at least. She didn’t mind being there for Adora when she was having a difficult moment, but she wasn’t there to take everything on by herself. That was real girlfriend stuff.

So she was giving Adora space, no contact until she needed something again. It was becoming close to one week since any Instagram bullshit (It was Catra’s least favorite rule.), so she knew that they’d have to see each other for at least a couple minutes soon enough. That would be fine, they wouldn’t have to talk about anything else.

Whenever she had free time, she would spend it reading a book so she wouldn’t have to think about Adora anymore. In that short week she had gone through six novels, it was one of her only healthy coping mechanisms. She’d been staying up later than usual and waking up before the sun rose, just to put her headphones in and read. She just wanted to think about something else

The haze still had not cleared.

Catra was at work, finding her seventh book to read for the week, purposefully steering clear of the romance section, when the bell for the front door went off. She turned to greet the customer, but when she saw who it was she almost tripped and knocked over a table.

“Hey.” Adora stood in the doorway awkwardly with her hands behind her back.

First of all, she was sweaty . Her cheeks were flushed and she was panting heavily, she was in a sports bra and running shorts and looked like she was halfway to passing out.

Catra also felt like she was going to pass out.

She stared for a little too long before she choked out, “Hey?” In return.

“I was in the neighborhood?” Adora smiled, not moving from her spot in the doorway.

Catra cleared her throat, “Okay, and?”

“Um,” Adora laughed nervously as she played with a hair tie on her wrist. “I haven’t seen or talked to you since the other night, and I just wanted to check in and make sure you were okay.”

“I’m fine.” Catra said, pushing down an urge to scream.

“Okay.” Adora was chewing at her lip, and still unable to make direct eye contact. 

Catra felt the tug at her heart that always appeared when Adora looked uncomfortable or anxious, the feeling that made her want to wrap her in a hug and tell her things were okay. The feeling that always made her lighten the mood so Adora could feel just a little better.

It was not real girlfriend stuff, she was just being kind .

“So,” Catra almost laughed “You, what? Jogged all the way here to ask me if I’m okay?”

Adora flushed a darker shade of red, “I mean, yeah.”

“You are such an idiot.” Catra genuinely laughed.  “You could have just texted me.”

Adora let out a laugh, her body physically relaxed. “Yeah, I know. So, are we okay?”

Catra’s brows furrowed in confusion as she stared at her, “Why wouldn’t we be?” If anything, Adora would be the one questioning if they should keep going or not, it was not on her.

“Right, sorry.”

“Do you like, need some water, or something?”

Adora nodded sheepishly, so Catra motioned for her to follow her into the backroom. Adora followed a few steps behind her, still breathing heavily.

“Here.” Catra smirked as she handed Adora her reusable water bottle from off a shelf. “How did you even remember where I worked?”

“Uh,” Adora took a long drink of water before answering, “I don’t want to answer that.”

“So you’re stalking me.” Catra was teasing but Adora just blushed again .

“Okay, no. Scorpia was at my house and said you were at work, so I ran into like three other bookstores near here until I found this one, I guess.”

Catra’s gaze widened as she stared at her, feeling momentarily speechless at what she had just said. She tried to quickly rationalize the gesture in her mind, that Adora must need something now, that she did not just run across town and into three different stores just to ask Catra if she was okay. In person. 

“Do you still consider that stalking?” Adora laughed.

Catra cleared her throat, trying to find something witty to say in the back of her mind, but she only felt dizzy. “I mean, a little bit.” She forced out a laugh and grabbed her water bottle from Adora, ignoring the fact that their hands brushed as she reached for it.

She took a long sip of water, trying to cool herself down, and also buy herself time to think of more things to say, “Um,” she said while coughing, “Did you need something?”

“Why would I need something?”

“You, uh, you came here?” Catra hated how flustered she sounded.

“Oh.” Adora’s face dropped slightly, “No, I mean I could take a picture of you. I like the overalls over sweater combination.”

“Shut up.” Catra laughed hiding her face in her hands. “Make it quick, I have to go back to work.”

 

--

 

Adora wanted to give Catra space .

That was technically what she was supposed to be doing unless she needed something anyway, but after the night with Glimmer and Bow, Adora’s ache for validation that she hadn’t completely fucked things up was getting in the way of normalcy.

Which is why she ran all of the way to Catra’s work to make sure everything was okay. A great judgement call when it comes to wanting to give someone space.

Everything seemed fine , Catra didn’t seem too phased by anything that happened, and she was still going along with their plan. So that was good, at least.

Adora always felt like her anxiety ruined things, she had come on a little strong with it, to say the least. Her head was still stuck on Catra comforting her in front of Glimmer, she had spent a good couple of hours staring at the ceiling trying to tell if it was genuine or not. It was a constant battle trying to figure out if her anxiety was making up the worst case scenario in her head or if her anxiety was reacting to the real worst case scenario.

She hadn't figured that out yet. Catra didn’t seem cruel , but she was there to play a part, and she couldn’t tell the difference.

So, it was now Friday night, and she was home alone eating snacks on the couch when Glimmer got home. The only time she’d seen Catra since they all hung out together was two days beforehand when she showed up at her work. At first she was brushing it off to her friends by saying that the reason they hadn’t been hanging out much that week was because they were both busy with work, which was technically true. 

But as Friday rolled around Adora knew that there would be speculation.

“You’re alone on a Friday night?” Glimmer teased as she plopped herself down next to Adora on the couch with a sigh.

“Yep.” Adora said as she shoved more popcorn in her mouth.

“Is Catra busy again?”

“Yep.” She said again, even though she had no clue.

“Are you guys already fighting?” Glimmer’s voice got low as she turned to Adora to examine her face. “Seriously, are you?”

“No, we’re not.” Adora snorted, it was almost genuinely funny.

Before Adora could give her a second glance, Glimmer snatched Adora’s phone from the coffee table and ran into the kitchen.

“Glimmer, what the hell?” Adora pushed her popcorn bowl aside and attempted to run after her, but Glimmer was already on Adora’s phone, calling someone.

Adora’s stomach dropped as she watched Glimmer’s face light up when the person on the other end of the line picked up.

“Catra!” Glimmer squealed, running around and ducking behind the kitchen table so Adora couldn’t reach her.

“Your girlfriend is sitting on the couch alone, come get her.”

Adora yelped as her efforts to get her phone back resulted in Glimmer pushing her backwards. Her friend held a finger up to her lips signaling for her to be quiet. “Adora,” she smiled, “Be quiet, I’m on the phone.”

“No, I don’t care if you’re busy. Adora’s back is going to break from sleeping on the couch.” Glimmer’s face was red with laughter, and Adora felt like she might throw up.

Her mind was racing trying to think of ways to apologize to Catra after this and also how to explain to Glimmer she wasn’t going to go over to Catra’s place. It was late in the night, and Catra was pretty adamant about the no sleepovers rule.

“I think Adora is losing her mind being away from you for so long, I interrupted her viewing of Glee … That’s how you know she’s lost it.”

“Glimmer!” Adora objected but Glimmer shushed her once again. Whatever , Catra knew Adora had an unhealthy relationship with that show, anyway. Not that it made that any less embarrassing.

Glimmer sighed heavily and finally handed the phone back to Adora, a teasing smile spread across her face and she poked her tongue out at her. “She wants to talk to you, if I see you here later tonight I’m driving you over there myself.”

Adora’s hands shook as she reached out to grab her phone, a terrifying feeling had set in making her worry about how Catra was going to react. She’d already pushed it with her meeting Glimmer so early on, this was too much. She was always too much .

“Hi.” She whispered into the phone, cringing at how weak it sounded.

“Hey.” Catra laughed, she laughed . Adora almost cried from relief as Catra kept laughing on the other end of the phone.

“I am really sorry about that.” Adora said back, her whole body still felt weighed down by the mess Glimmer just had created.

“It’s okay, don’t worry about it. You don’t have to come here. Just tell her I’m busy or sick, or whatever.”

Adora took a deep breath before finding the words to answer, “I mean, I’m alone and you’re alone. We could just hang out?”

“No,” Catra said it so quickly that Adora tensed up. “That’s a hard rule break.”

Adora fell silent, Catra was right, obviously. They weren’t supposed to hang out outside of Adora needing to bring her somewhere, and again the sleepover rule. “Okay, but” Adora bit her lip, her eyes darted around making sure Glimmer was gone before she spoke again. “She’s going to be really suspicious if I don’t come over.”

“Ugh,” Catra groaned, “You have a point, but…” she was silent for a moment before she whispered, “That’s a sleepover.”

“Just as friends , Catra. I’ll sleep on your floor?” Adora felt like she was basically begging, Glimmer had started to actually like Catra, which had already started to help with her not nagging Adora as much. The pitying looks from her friends had started to turn into interest and genuine questions about her day, instead of just asking because they were worried about her.

Catra was silent again on the other end, Adora could hear her shuffling around, the nauseous feeling was creeping back into her body as she waited.

“Okay,” Catra grumbled, “We need to talk about it more when you get here.” She hung up the phone, leaving Adora breathless.

She was relieved she wouldn’t have to face Glimmer’s wrath once again, weirdly excited she’d get to hang out with Catra, and also panicked at the thought of seeing her at the same time.

 

--

 

Catra had almost hung up when Adora said ‘ as friends ’ to her on the phone, it was a startling reality check that apparently she needed. It confirmed everything she had been thinking about up to that moment, this is just how Adora is with everyone. It was nothing special with Catra, they were clearly just playing a part with each other. They were friends, if anything.

Maybe it was a good reminder to have.

When she hung up the phone she sprinted into Scorpia’s room not bothering to knock. “Hey, please help me clean my room.”

Scorpia gleefully clapped and went with her without any question. “So, Adora must be coming over, huh? I haven’t met her yet.”

Catra was screaming internally as she started to pick up clothes off of her floor to shove into her closet. On top of Adora having to sleep in her room, she also had to meet Scorpia, wonderful.

“Didn’t you technically meet and also talk on the phone?” Catra said, trying to prevent any possibility of the three of them hanging out together in any way possible.

“You know that doesn’t count. Plus, you met her best friends and she needs to meet yours.”

“Can we make it quick? We can all hang out a different time, I haven’t gotten to see her alone in a while.” Catra said through gritted teeth, hiding her expression behind the clothes in her arms.

Scorpia blushed, “Oh, uh, yeah I know what you mean.”

“Oh my god, Scorpia. Not like that , just like, quality alone time.”

“Hey, I am not judging. I can put in headphones.”

“Oh my god.” Catra groaned, “Let’s never talk about this again, please.”

Catra finished piling the clothes into her closet even as Scorpia tried to pick them up and fold or hang them. She picked up the last couple of dishes on her bedside table and brought them to the sink when her phone beeped with a text.

 

Adora: Hey :) here

 

Catra took a deep breath before she shouted to Scorpia to let her know Adora was there before she opened the front door.

Adora was standing there with a stupid (cute) smirk on her face with a backpack over her shoulders, and she was wearing a beanie . Catra could barely mutter a hello when she looked at her, she always had to look so fucking good .

“Adora’s here!” Scorpia cheered as she pushed in front of Catra to bring Adora into a hug. Catra was momentarily horrified until she saw Adora was actually smiling and hugging her back.

“She’s a hugger.” Catra said while letting out a laugh. “You guys have met already, you know.”

“That was before you were officially girlfriends.” Scorpia wrapped an arm over Adora’s shoulders as she led her into their apartment. “I’m just happy that Catra finally has someone making her happy.”

“Yep.” Catra grumbled, she looked to Adora to send her a I’m sorry glance, but Adora’s smile had not faded, the stupid smirk on her face had only grown wider.

The two of them continued talking with each other on the couch as Catra watched them from behind the kitchen counter. It was so weird seeing them interact, Catra always knew Scorpia would become a little overbearing if she ever brought a girl home, but she never expected to have a girl over who didn’t mind it . Any brief fling Catra had in the past didn’t really speak to her roommate if they ever came over, they seemed annoyed at most that someone else was there.

She quickly chided herself for comparing those two things in her mind, this was clearly just Catra bringing a friend home, who was her fake girlfriend. Adora was just being herself, she would have been nice to Scorpia no matter what, friends were nice to each other's friends.

“Okay, okay.” Scorpia laughed and Catra snapped herself out of her quick daydream to look over at the two of them again. “Catra said she wants alone time with you, so I’ll leave you guys alone.”

Catra felt her whole body get hot as Adora turned to face her, that stupid fucking smirk . “Well,” she cleared her throat, “Adora is going to order me food so text me if you want anything.”

Scorpia hugged Adora one more time before she made her way into her room, Catra didn’t move from her spot until she heard the door shut and lock.

“Alone time with me?” She laughed.

Catra scrunched up her face and walked over to the couch to sit next to her. “Shut up, order me food.”

“It’s late, can I buy you breakfast?”

Catra studied her face for a little bit, carefully not trying to read into anything she was saying and doing her best to take it at face value. She was just being nice , that’s all. She wasn’t trying to hang out with her more, she was just completing the food buying rule.

“Fine, but just know that I’ll be hungry the whole night.” She poked her tongue out at her and Adora just shoved her away with a laugh.

Catra awkwardly led Adora into her room and closed the door behind them. They both stood at opposite sides of the room, Adora still with her backpack on, Catra unable to make eye contact again.

They had been alone a couple of times but never in just one of their rooms with the door closed, it had created a weird energy that felt thick all around them. The weight of the energy made it hard for Catra to move, she felt frozen in place just making the awkwardness worse.It made it feel like the two of them were strangers all over again. 

The aloneness felt like it created a new precedent, it was different from all of the other times they saw each other, even from the night they made the rules because at least they were drunk then.

“You can, uh, put your stuff down wherever.” Catra muttered, the words felt heavy on her tongue.

Adora shot her a soft grin before placing her stuff on the ground and sitting next to it. They kept looking at each other and looking away, Catra felt herself start to say something a thousand times but her brain kept short-circuiting. She blamed it on the beanie.

“So,” Adora started, Catra could hear the caution in her voice and it was happening again. The feeling from the bookstore and the feeling everytime Adora was nervous, where she started almost feeling guilty for not being softer. “Thanks for letting me come over.”

“It’s whatever, I feel like we may need to edit rule number eight. Us not seeing each other unless necessary has already failed.”

“Yeah we didn’t plan that well, I guess.”

Catra tried to force down the grin spreading across her face until she made eye contact with Adora who was also smiling across from her. “This would be easier if we both lived alone.”

“Yeah, well, Lonnie lives in the place we got together… and I felt bad so I still help her with rent.. A little bit, so-”

“Wait, what?”

“What?”

“You help Lonnie pay rent after she broke up with you?”

“It’s not a big deal.”

“It is definitely a big deal, you have to stop that shit.”

“I feel bad!”

“Oh my god, that is so like you .”

“Is not! I’m technically on the lease.”

“Well hopefully she’ll get jealous enough seeing me that she takes you back, so you can actually live at the place you pay rent for.” The words came out of Catra like they were deep in her gut, like she had been holding them in for a while wanting to get them out purposefully to gauge Adora’s reaction. So she could have a quick reminder that that’s what Catra was there for. So her own mind could slow down for a minute and they could really just be friends. It was a twisted need for validation, validation that they meant nothing to one another besides the expected, so Catra could remind herself that she was nothing. She knew it sounded snarky coming out but she did nothing to correct it.

Adora’s face dropped almost instantly and her posture softened, the silence was even more deafening than earlier. Catra was vividly aware of her breathing and the sound of Adora sighing slowly letting out a big gulp of air. The aching feeling that screamed please give Adora a hug was pressing on her brain so much that it could form a headache.

“Yeah,” Adora said softly as she stared at the ground, “You’re right.”

Catra wasn’t sure if that made it better or worse.

They decided to put on a movie for the rest of the night since neither of them were tired, Catra sat on her bed with Adora on the floor. She wasn’t sure if she was supposed to invite her on the bed so it was easier to see the TV sitting up on her dresser. So she didn’t say anything and just curled up on her own, Adora took the hint.

Even an hour in Catra was agonizing over her own words, it wasn’t a mean thing to say but knowing Adora as little as did she knew it was at least harsh . Her tone hadn’t helped, and neither did her intent. All Adora did it seemed was agnozie over Lonnie, throwing it into her face was petty and unwarranted, even if Adora was the one choosing to break a rule which had erupted into this extremely painful experience.

“Adora.” Catra paused the movie, the blonde snapped her head over to her quickly with an almost startled expression. “I’m sorry about the Lonnie comment, I just don’t think you should be paying rent, that’s stupid.” The words felt painful on her dry throat, it reminded her of how long they had not exchanged a word for.

A smile spread over Adora’s lips, “Yeah, it is a little stupid.”

Catra unpaused the movie without another word and the silence started to lift during funny moments or when Adora would make an unnecessary comment about what she thought was going to happen. “You’re going to ruin the movie for yourself.” Catra laughed.

Adora just shrugged, her face flushed from laughing, “I just like to know what’s happening.”

The intensity of the thick uncomfortable air had seemed to fade slightly as the movie ended and they both decided to go to bed. Catra made a point to turn her face away and hide it in her pillow as Adora changed into her pajamas, and Catra just jumped out of her own clothes quickly when Adora ran to the bathroom.

“Ready for bed.” Adora cringed at her own comment as she came back into Catra’s room. They both just stared at each other for a little before both bursting into laughter. “I’m sorry that this is so weird.” Adora wiped her happy tears away as she stared at Catra. “My anxiety makes it hard for me to not be socially inept.”

“Shut up,” Catra scoffed, “Don’t say that.” She looked up at Adora to see she was blushing once again and fidgeting with her hair tie like she seemed to do whenever she was nervous. “You’re great, okay? Let’s go to bed.”

It was only two minutes into Adora trying to get comfortable on the floor before Catra stood up to turn the lights back on. Adora looked up at her with a puzzled expression on her face but Catra just shook her head.

“Okay, no. My floor is cold. You can sleep in my bed... I’ll just sleep at the end of it.” Adora didn’t move from her spot, the second her face started to turn into a smirk Catra shut her eyes and pointed at the bed. “Don’t make a big deal out of it or whatever, you already sleep on that shitty couch.”

Catra opened her eyes when she heard the bed creak from the weight of Adora’s body. “Thanks.” Adora whispered, her face was eager, clearly thankful to have a bed to sleep in for the first time in a while. 

Catra just shrugged, she grabbed a throw blanket from the top of her closet shelf (carefully maneuvering her body so Adora wouldn’t see the pile of clothes stacked inside) and positioned herself at the end of the bed to sleep.

She felt like she was holding her breath the whole time before she was able to get comfortable enough to sleep. Even though it felt uncomfortable it had started to settle as a familiar form of uncomfortable that seemed to keep transpiring whenever Adora was around.

Adora was just being a (cute) idiot . They had touched each other in certain ways already, the not-even-close-to-being-forgotten forehead kiss, and the gentle cuddling at Bow and Glimmer’s house. Those things were fake, they were calculated, they were for show. But they still happened . They had still touched . Catra decided it was okay in that moment that Adora was becoming familiar, solely based on the fact that it would just make their ‘relationship,’ more believable.

 

Catra gasped as she woke up panting for breath and cold sweat clinging to her clothes, she darted her eyes open to see Adora concerned and holding both of her hands.

“Catra, it's okay! It’s just me. I think you were having a nightmare.” Adora’s voice was as panicked as Catra felt. She squeezed the other girls hands tight to try to center herself and slow down her breathing.

“I’m sorry.” Catra gasped, “I’m sorry.” She couldn’t think of any other words to say, as the terror in her body was starting to subdue, the embarrassment came in to replace it.

“Don’t apologize.” Adora quickly walked away to turn on the lights in the room and came back to hold Catra’s hands again. “What can I do for you?”

“You don’t have to do anything,” Catra slowly slid her hands away to use them to bury her face in. “I usually just listen to an audiobook and drink some water. I don’t want to keep you up.”

Adora’s eyes searched the room and she stood up to walk over to Catra’s bookshelf. “What book?”

Catra just shook her head, “Adora, just go to bed. You don’t have to help.”

Adora seemingly ignored her and kept searching the bookshelf. “Here.” She grabbed a book off the shelf and pointed to the head of the bed, “Get cozy for real, I’ll go make you tea.”

Catra decided to give in, she was exhausted and still shaking from her nightmare. There was no point in getting Adora to give up when she had that determined look on her face. She moved herself from the end of the bed and laid down on the opposite side of the bed that Adora had been sleeping in. She pulled the covers over her face until Adora brought her tea. She turned on the bedside lamp and sat down on the bed next to her.

“I’ll read to you,” Adora smiled, “Just close your eyes, okay? If you have another one I’ll be awake.”

“You don’t have to do this.” Catra groaned under the covers.

“I know I don’t have to, but I want to. Plus, I haven’t slept in a real bed in so long, I feel beyond rested already. It’s okay, I promise.”

 

--

 

They had edited rule number eight into, sleepovers have to happen at least once a week (just to make it more believable)

Adora got off a late work shift and in the middle of her drive home turned around to go to Catra’s. 

She knocked on the door when a confused Catra opened the door basically half-naked. Adora gulped and fought the urge to stare, forcing herself to keep eye contact. She held up a bag of leftovers she had taken from work and said, “I brought food?”

She told herself it was just because the bed was comfortable, and they had compiled a list of movies to watch together during these nights anyway, so it was just a fun thing to do. Just hanging out with a friend. 

Catra still always slept at the end of the bed, but they had started to stretch the once a week part of it. 

It was creeping up onto becoming a routine, Adora still slept at Bow and Glimmer’s most nights, but it made more sense some nights to sleep at Catra’s. It was a shorter drive to get there from work than it was to get home, and also she had a bed.

Catra kept having nightmares so Adora would make her tea and read for her every night until that also became part of the routine. Adora had gotten Catra to stop protesting as much every time it happened, she felt bad about how terrified and also embarrassed Catra looked whenever she woke up in a panic, but she didn’t mind. She was letting her sleepover, so it was the least she could do.

At first they didn’t talk about much besides how their days were, but as the nights went on and as they got longer the conversation started to deepen until they’d fall silent just to talk about whatever movie was on.

And Catra didn’t seem to mind because Adora always brought her food from the end of her shift.

It was just comfortable

“You have to come, you can bring Catra!”

Adora was at work in the backroom with Mermista, they were both on break which they usually spent together. “I’m not going, you know exactly why.”

“It’s Perfuma’s birthday, you cannot miss her birthday party because of your Lonnie drama.”

“It’s not just drama , Mermista.”

“Just avoid her and make out with your girlfriend. You’re coming.”

Adora knew she was right, but that didn’t make it any better. If it was anyone else's birthday her anxiety would have made her steer completely clear of the event, but since it was Perfuma who had ended up becoming one of her best friends especially since the Lonnie thing happened, she knew she couldn’t miss it.

There was also no way she would survive it without Catra. Like Catra had said the other night, she was there to make Lonnie jealous anyway. Braving the party alone was not an option, she knew what Lonnie would be thinking if Adora didn’t show up with Catra, that she had messed up already or was too scared to bring her since the first night she brought her to the restaurant.

So she texted Catra, who responded immediately.

 

Catra: yeah of course i’ll come, meet you there

 

Adora was waiting by her car nervously pretending to be on her phone as she stood outside of Perfuma’s house. The party would be mostly outdoors; she sported a green crewneck and a pair of jeans with black vans. 

Glimmer had eyed her with one eyebrow raised before she left the house that night. “Isn’t that Lonnie’s sweater?” She asked with a smirk.

Adora stopped in her tracks to look down at the sweater. “Fuck.” She groaned, “I didn’t know I still had any of hers.” Which was true, besides that one sweatshirt, but that was still in the box it was originally packed up in, untouched.

“I mean it looks great.”

Adora would have changed if she didn’t get a text from Catra letting her know she was leaving soon, so she sprinted out the door just hoping that Lonnie wouldn’t notice, it would be dark anyway.

She almost fell over when she saw Catra, naturally. Even though it was cold she was in  a crop top and a flannel. Adora had seen her enough times in her own home to know she didn’t usually wear a bra, but fuck it was obvious now.

Everything would be fine.

 

--

 

Adora looked like she was about to pass out, like usual. Catra had learned to accept that most days Adora would be brimming with anxiety whenever they were met face to face, she didn’t mind. She knew that tonight would be a little more on the hard side for her.

Catra was also nervous to have to meet more of Adora’s friends, they hadn’t really gone out as a couple since the first night they met. The only thing she was banking on was that this would be easier than meeting Glimmer.

The one thing she wasn’t nervous about was seeing Lonnie. She almost looked forward to it. As the time went on and Adora came over more, the original deep sadness that overcame Adora at every breath she took seemed to start to disappear. That didn’t mean that Catra wasn’t excited to make her jealous, and give her a hard time if things came to that.

“You ready?” Catra asked Adora as they intertwined their hands together before they walked into the party.

Adora nodded without a word and Catra held in a laugh, it was almost cute that she was so nervous. 

It was very clear to her when they walked into the backyard that the party was being held that everyone was shitfaced . There was a garage open with a couple of tables full of food and copious amounts of alcohol, a bonfire was going on with a couple of people sitting around it. Catra internally groaned when she saw a man with a guitar in his lap, there was always that one boy with a guitar at every party.

“Adora! You came!” A blonde girl who Catra recognized as Perfuma from the first night came to wrap her arms around Adora’s neck. She stumbled a little before pulling away, “I’m so happy you brought Catra. We’ve all wanted to meet her.”

“Uh, yes.” Adora almost shoved Catra forward to be engulfed into one of Perfuma’s hugs. “This is.. M-my girlfriend.”

Catra rolled her eyes at the cringe worthiness of Adora’s words, “Yeah.” Her words were muffled by Perfuma’s hair in her face. 

“So good to meet you, Catra. Mermista is making everyone take shots, and that includes you.” She poked Catra’s nose which Catra audibly laughed at before stepping away to hold hands with Adora again.

“Shots?” Catra smiled deviously at Adora who just gulped and nodded in response. “Do you want me to go all out tonight?”

“All out?” A smile spread over Adora’s face as she squeezed Catra’s hand once it was back in her own.

“Yeah babe , all out.”

“Oh, you’re calling me babe now?” There was a gleam in Adora’s eyes as she looked down at Catra, making their height difference feel extremely obvious once again.

“Hey,” Catra shrugged, “I’m just going all out.”

They walked into the open garage, Catra felt like her arm was going to break from the pressure Adora was putting on her hand once again. The girl Catra assumed was Mermista had two handles of alcohol in her arms, she beamed when the two of them walked in.

“Fuck yes, I got you to come.” She cheered, without asking them she handed them both a shot glass before picking up her own. “I am getting everyone drunk. That’s my job tonight.” 

Catra clinked her glass with Adora’s before downing her shot, she almost spit it back up to hold back in her laugh at the trouble Adora had with drinking hers. She coughed for almost a minute straight before turning to Catra sheepishly.

“It was vodka, I don’t like it.” She poked her tongue out and Catra just rolled her eyes again.

“Whatever, babe.” She said sticking her tongue back out at her.

Catra denied the next two Mermista offered them, she wasn’t going to let anyone at the party know she was a lightweight. But Adora took them, Catra laughed the whole time. She decided to grab a beer off the table to drink as Adora took her around the party to introduce her to everyone who was there. She didn’t like beer, but she liked people to think she did.

The awkwardness of Adora introducing her didn’t fade even as they made their rounds. She still stumbled over the word girlfriend and looked like she was cringing at her own words each time. Catra was basically working double time to compensate for Adora’s lack of lying skills.

They giggled over each other, Adora had whispered in Catra’s ear she wanted the two of them to take a picture. She basically picked Catra up to place her on her lap, asking Adora’s friend Kyle to take a picture of them. Catra had let it happen, the alcohol was making her feel good, and she didn’t mind acting like that gross couple at a party who couldn’t take their hands off of each other. It was just part of the act.

It almost felt too good . Catra was surprised that she was actually having a good time, it might just be the alcohol in her talking but she was enjoying herself. She got separated from Adora when she ran to the bathroom, and Catra found herself making her way back to Mermista to talk with her on her own.

The cloudy drunk thoughts never let her have fun, though. After she took a second shot the next time she caught herself enjoying things the nagging voice at the back of her head told her, “ They won't be your friends when this ends .” And it was true. They wouldn’t.

Whenever she was having a good time that thought came back, that everything was fake. Adora reading her to sleep after she had a nightmare was not fake, though.

The second night Adora tried to come over to sleepover again, Catra tried to turn her away. But Adora went on this long rant about how much better her back felt and how she hadn’t slept well in so long, and also that it was fun to hang out with Catra, always adding “as friends.” At the end of whatever she said.

Catra was trying to compartmentalize her thoughts, it would make their fake relationship more believable if they were a little bit closer, and that was the only reason she let her come in the apartment. Adora’s pleading blue eyes were hard to say no to. 

When she woke up for real the first night after Adora read her to sleep, Catra wanted to die of embarrassment. But Adora didn’t mention it once as they went to breakfast together at the diner around the corner. Catra was sure she’d run and reinstate the no sleepovers thing for sure. But she kept doing it, each night Catra had a nightmare.

She hadn’t slept over that many times, maybe four. But it still made Catra feel weirdly comfortable . It wasn’t like her to have someone else see her be that kind of vulnerable, but it ended up being inevitable in that moment, and it wasn’t all bad.

“Adora seems to really like you.” Mermista said after taking another drink of whatever was in her cup.

Catra almost dropped her own as she looked up at her, “Uh, I’d hope so?” She managed to get out.

“No, but for real. I never thought she’d get out of the Lonnie funk.” Mermista laughed, Catra didn’t know why her heart started to beat so heavily in her chest. “She looks at you the same way she used to look at her, but with a different spin on it. Like she’s relieved she has you next to her”

Catra felt like her body had frozen, preventing any witty comeback she could think of to make this conversation less real . Mermista just laughed, “You’re blushing.”

“I am not!” Catra sputtered, as she tried to fan herself with her hand to cool her face down. “You’re just drunk, which is why you’d say something as mushy as that.” Catra said as she forced a laugh out. 

“I’m not a lightweight like you.” Mermista shrugged with a laugh.

“So, you’re a lightweight?”

Catra felt her bones go cold as she turned to look at Lonnie, she was standing there with her arms crossed. Catra could tell she was drunk, she was barely able to stand without teetering back and forth on her feet.

“Not really.” She said coldly, tilting her head to the side. “Looks like you might be.”

“It’s really brave of you to come here like this with Adora.”

“Not going to get in the middle of whatever this is.” Mermista waved a goodbye to the both of them leaving them alone.

“Brave?” Catra clenched her hands into a fist, she wasn’t against kicking her ass still.

“Let me let you in on something.” Lonnie stepped closer to her and leaned in close enough so her mouth was near Catra’s ear. “Adora is wearing my sweater.”

“You’re lying.” Catra pushed Lonnie backwards, not hard enough so she would fall over but hard enough so she’d get the fuck away from her.

“Ask her then.” Lonnie was smiling and Catra absolutely hated it.

Adora wouldn’t do that . She wouldn’t be so dumb to wear Lonnie’s clothes to the party she brought Catra to.

Unless she meant to do it.

Catra’s ears were ringing with the words she said to Adora a couple nights ago, about how she hoped Lonnie would get jealous enough of the two of them. She wanted to punch the smug look off of Lonnie’s face as she realized Catra had no idea.

So Adora just wore everyone's clothes, apparently. And apparently, her mind still was always on Lonnie.

Her mind was spinning, trying to pinpoint why this hurt so bad . Lonnie walked away laughing, calling to her friends by the bonfire leaving Catra alone in the garage. She felt tears start to well in her eyes that she instantly wiped away and stormed out to go to her car.

How many times did she need to remind herself that Adora felt nothing toward her? That they were just friends like they both had said so many times. Catra was there to make Lonnie jealous, and hopefully for Adora that worked.

Catra needed to go back to keeping her own feelings in check, so she wouldn’t confuse Adora.

Adora clearly knew what she wanted, Catra wasn’t going to be the one to ruin it.

 

--

 

Adora was drunk , to say the absolute least.

She had stumbled into the bathroom with Perfuma, she could barely remember what they were laughing about when they finally gathered themselves up enough to leave and head back to the party.

Adora’s drunken state had made her mind calm down enough for her to not be so anxious that she couldn’t enjoy Perfuma’s birthday. “Have you seen Lonnie at all?” The words came out of her before she could register what she was saying, they made Perfuma’s face twist in confusion.

“I think she’s outside… Adora…”

“I’m not going to talk to her or anything.”

“Maybe you should go find Catra.” Perfuma offered with a gentle smile, she squeezed Adora’s shoulder before making her own way outside.

Adora made her way back to the garage, barely able to hold herself up on her own, but Catra wasn’t where she had said she’d wait for her. She walked out to the bonfire to scan the group of people but she still couldn’t find her.

“Hey.”

Adora turned slowly toward the voice she knew all too well. “Lonnie.” She forced a smile, the sight of her before her made her heart hurt.

“I talked to Catra.”

Adora felt her blood go cold, “What? Why?”

“Ask her.”

Adora barely recognized the timbre of her voice, it was far from the familiar softness that she usually spoke to her with. She sounded angry and hurt , Adora felt tears start to flood her eyes as she stared at her ex. The alcohol was making everything way more intense to process in her body than usual, the anxiety that had faded for the night came back in full force. “Are you jealous?” She said as she wiped tears away on her sleeve.

Lonnie looked taken aback but she drew her expression back in, “Go find your girlfriend.”

“Can you guys please not fight at my party?” Adora heard Perfuma say but she was already walking away.

She felt herself start to sob as she made her way over to where she had parked, there was no way she could drive that night, but hopefully Catra was sober enough. Her eyes took a moment to focus as she saw Catra getting into her own car, she could hear the door slam even as she was a bit away.

“Catra!” She called out through her tears, Catra looked in her direction but didn’t move from her car. “Catra!” She tried again, she felt her nose start to run from the amount of crying she was doing.

She made her way to Catra’s car and knocked on the window, her arms were crossed in determination.

Adora didn’t know what was happening , they were just okay until she had run to the bathroom. There was nothing Lonnie could have said that Catra didn’t most likely know about anyway. 

Adora wondered if this is just what the two of them were always going to do, just like at Bow and Glimmer’s. Catra would be amazing all night then leave in a cold frenzy without a proper goodbye, just keeping up her end of the deal enough until she had to go. 

Adora heard the doors unlock so she opened the passenger side door and climbed in. “You were just going to leave?”

Catra cocked her head to the side and was silent for a moment, “I have to work early.” She muttered without making eye contact. “Why are you crying?” Her voice seemed to soften as she took a moment to study Adora’s face.

“Lonnie upset me.” Adora sniffled, “And I’m a drunk crier, I guess.”

Catra sighed heavily and moved to put her hand on Adora’s thigh. “Hey,” she whispered, “Wipe your tears and go back out there. If us fake being together is just hurting things more-”

“No.” Adora cut her off, “I’m just drunk, she’s jealous. It’s.. It’s uh, working.”

She felt Catra’s hand tense on her thigh and she looked up to meet her eyes. “I’m glad.” Catra said cooly, making Adora’s heart clench.

Adora moved her hand to Catra’s face, Catra seemed to pull away for a moment but settle back in cautiously to the touch. “Uh,” Adora whispered, “Thanks for coming.”

“Of course.” Catra said slowly, Adora could see her gaze flickering between her hand on her face and back to her. “You should go back. Tell her we’re okay.”

Adora didn’t know if it was the alcohol or all of the nights Catra had been there for her, or the nights she spent sleeping over, or if it was everything . But she had the biggest urge to kiss her, just to see what would happen. If she’d push her out of the car or if she’d kiss her back.

Without even thinking, she could feel herself leaning in until Catra put a hand on her chest and held her in place. She could feel Catra move her hand off of her face, Adora let it fall to her side.

“I could come over?” Adora tried, she could hear the desperation in her own voice, the stupid need for validation flooding her thoughts.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea, is someone able to drive you home?”

Everything hurt, “I’ll figure it out.”

“Okay.” Catra leaned over her to open the passenger side door on her own, Adora gasped slightly at the brush of contact. She leaned close to Adora and brought her thumb up to wipe a tear off of her face. “She’s not going to be jealous if you look miserable, she will be if you look happy.”

Adora forced a smile, “Okay.” She said back. “Thanks for being there for me.”

“What are friends for?” Catra smiled before she slammed her car door again after Adora made her way out.

Adora felt a wave of guilt wash over her as Catra drove away, what are friends for? Perfect.

She had brought Catra as her fake girlfriend and still had managed to start to fuck up their relationship. It was clear where Catra stood, she was just in this to help out Adora. And Adora knew she needed that reminder, it was good that it was making Lonnie jealous. Maybe there was a part of her that still wanted Lonnie back, even with her cold words from earlier. Even if she didn’t, a small part (or maybe a big part) of her knew it still felt extremely good to see her jealous.

Maybe that was enough for now. 

Her friends would be off her back, her ex was jealous, and she had a new friend to hang out with.

Adora decided to write off the kissing urge as her being handsy and emotional when drunk, and just go to try to enjoy herself. 

The plan was working, that should be enough. She wasn’t supposed to want more. She was going to stop herself from wanting more.

What are friends for? Replayed in her mind the rest of the night.

Chapter Text

Catra was breathless when she walked into her apartment, what the fuck just happened?

She had driven home in silence, barely blinking as she focused on the road ahead so she wouldn’t have to think about Adora

The Adora Situation ™

She slammed the door shut, not bothering if it woke Scorpia up, she didn’t have the patience to control the unnamed feeling bubbling in her chest. Adora had put her hand on her face, Adora had tried to lean in close to her. 

And Catra had stopped her.

She knew what it was like to be the girl someone went to when they were drunk and sad, and that was definitely what had just happened. It was something that used to make her feel wanted, but now felt like a slap in the face. Adora didn’t have feelings for her, she was confused and just left a fight with her ex girlfriend before climbing into Catra’s car. Which made everything that had just happened between them void.

It was not a big deal, it was nothing

So why did it hurt so badly?

Catra had been so strangely happy when Adora had worn her sweatshirt, it was something that had made her feel special. Like Adora had put it on thinking of her, wanting to smell like her or feel comforted in clothing that was hers . But apparently it really was just for the act. Catra should have known better.

It was clear when Adora had so blatantly signaled to Lonnie that she was, indeed, still in love with her.

Catra felt like an idiot for ever taking that sentiment to heart.

She was mostly embarrassed, which is something she rarely admitted to feeling. Embarrassed that Lonnie had sauntered over to her just to taunt her and tell her that her ‘girlfriend,’ was still hung up on her. And Catra knew that , but she had let herself forget about it for one day so she could live in her twisted fantasy that had been unraveling in her mind.

The worst part was, she knew exactly why something that small would bother her so horribly.

Catra sulked into her room, closing the door softly this time, and took the book Adora was reading off her nightstand and put it back onto the bookshelf. It was going to be an audiobook night.

 

--

 

Adora was laying sprawled out on the floor on her stomach with an icepack on her back, sleeping on the couch again was torturous. All of her limbs ached as if she hadn’t moved her body in a year. Painfully betraying her every time she tried to move.

Glimmer had set out a cup of coffee and an Advil on the coffee table, she took one look at Adora before she grabbed them and slowly backed away. She chimed in with, “Let me know if you need anything!” Before running back to her room.

She was hungover, and the happenings of last night were sinking into her body, more painful than the physical side effects. The guilt of feeling like she had ruined Perfuma’s party had followed her all the way home.

After she left Catra’s car, she sat next to Perfuma at the bonfire who just held her hand and stayed by her without any questions. She didn’t talk to Lonnie the rest of the night, she didn’t need to. The smile on her face burned with disingenuity but she kept it plastered on as long as she could.

When she finally got the courage to sit up to take a sip of the coffee Glimmer left for her, she heard Glimmer’s shrill voice come bellowing back into the living room. “The carnival!” She gasped, her hands were in her hair with a look of frenzy on her face.

“Is that tonight?” Adora sighed, Glimmer had been planning a kissing booth with her improv troupe at school for the past month. After Adora’s breakup, Glimmer thought it’d be a great idea to ask Adora to help run it. To, ‘take her mind off things,’ and maybe ‘meet a cute girl.’ She had begrudgingly agreed, just to keep the peace.

“You were supposed to help run it, but now you’re with Catra.” Glimmer looked like she was on the verge of tears.

“So? Oh, oh.”

“Yes Adora, oh. I don’t think your girlfriend is going to be okay with you kissing strangers.”

Adora held in a cynical chuckle, knowing Catra wouldn’t even bat an eye at the thought.

“You know what? Let me just ask her. I promised you a while ago, I’m sure she won’t mind.”

Glimmer stared at her like she had just admitted to a heinous crime. “What?” She gasped while gawking at her.

“Glimmer, just,” Adora put her hand on her forehead, she could feel another headache forming, “Just let me figure it out.”

Glimmer huffed and walked out of the room, Adora could hear her start to yell at Bow who she imagined was freaking out just as much as she was.

Adora didn’t know why but a small feeling of hope sprouted in her mind as she went to find her phone, she hadn't checked it since Mermista dropped her off at home last night. It was growing toward the anticipation that maybe Catra had decided to text her when she got home. There would be a clear message that Adora had not messed things up, and that everything was okay.

Every time Adora’s mind drifted to the fact she tried to kiss Catra, she did whatever it would take in that moment to distract herself. It was too painfully embarrassing to think about, and the feeling that came along with it was also too complicated to untangle. Along with the hangover pain, her anxiety coursed through her body adding another layer of physical sickness.

There was no text from Catra.

She knew she fucked up, once again.

Adora took a deep breath, trying to do breathing exercises on the floor to center herself enough to be able to call her. She was going to wait as long as she could and put it off, but Glimmer came back into the room like she was on the edge of a breakdown. So she had to bite the bullet.

Catra didn’t pick up the first time, and Adora felt bile rise in her throat as she dialed her number again.

“Hello?” Catra’s voice sounded rough on the other end and Adora felt her heart melt.

“Hey, sorry if it’s early. I have to talk to you about something.” She hesitantly threw on Lonnie’s sweater that she had promptly stripped out of the moment she got home so she could step outside.

“Um, okay, go ahead.” Catra’s scratchy voice rang through again.

Adora went on to explain the kissing booth situation to Catra, she was out of breath by the time she got done explaining everything, she felt as if she sounded like a bumbling idiot on the other end.

“Are you asking me if it’s okay for you to kiss other people?” The teasing tone in Catra’s voice caused Adora to let out a sigh of relief.

“I mean, yeah.” Adora held in a giggle, “Rule number six says we aren’t supposed to date other people right now, I feel like kissing other people falls subtly into that category.”

“Go for it.” There was a small break in Catra’s voice that made Adora’s stomach twist, she didn’t know how to pinpoint the quiet tone switch.

“I won’t be working it all night, do you want to come with me?”

Catra paused for a moment before she replied, “Of course. I’ll meet you there.”


Adora’s anxiety was overwhelming as she parked her car in the lot with Bow and Glimmer as passengers. She hadn’t even had a full day away from Catra after she almost kissed her. Now she had to face her, and act like things were okay in front of everyone. She knew if she acted off at all, Glimmer would pick up on it. If she tried to brush it off and say they had just had a fight, Glimmer would then be offended she hadn’t told her about it.

No pressure.

That was the worst part, that she couldn’t go to Bow and Glimmer to express how she felt. She had to keep it locked up on her own, the possibility of Catra trying to bring it up made her feel nauseous. She just needed to see Catra in person and fulfil her daily validation quota that always ransacked her anxious mind.

“I’m so happy Catra agreed.” Glimmer sighed happily as they all got out of the car. “Everyday I start to like her more.”

Adora felt a twinge of guilt tug at her heart, it was unexpected to say the least. The whole lying part of her relationship with Catra had so far felt like a bonus to her personal life. She hadn’t expected that Glimmer would start to like her so early on, and for some reason it created a haze of guilt that clouded her mind.

“I’m happy she’s bringing Scorpia.” Bow chimed in from behind them, he was tasked with carrying the heavy stuff along with Adora. Glimmer held a clipboard in her hand with a bunch of notes and other tasks to be completed by the people in her improv troupe.

Adora had thought it was hilarious when Glimmer came home and declared she joined them. It didn’t really seem like her thing, but she was happy enough that Adora let go of all of the jokes she could have made at Glimmer’s expense.

Her phone buzzed with a text, her shaking hands pulled it out of her coat pocket to check who it was, even though she knew.

 

Catra: hey we just got here - will meet you by the booth?

 

Adora: Hey! Yeah, I’ll see you then :)

 

She shoved her phone back away, the nervous butterflies took control of her stomach as she helped set up the booth with Bow. Glimmer just shouted orders at them from a couple feet away.

“Glimmer! Bow! Adora!” Adora turned her head to see Scorpia jogging toward them with Catra a couple of steps behind.

Scorpia individually gave each of them a hug, Bow abandoned his duties when they started engaging in a side conversation.

Adora gulped and kept her eyes on her task until Catra walked up behind her. The other girl crouched down next to her, out of the corner of her eye she could see a taunting smile on her face.

“Hey.” She whispered in Adora’s ear. Adora turned to her, she could feel her face get hot when they made eye contact. Catra simply pointed back up at her friends, Adora didn’t need to look, she knew their eyes were on them.

Without thinking, Adora wrapped her arms around Catra’s neck, her face softly nuzzled into the side of her neck. She could feel Catra’s body let out a sigh before she wrapped her arms around Adora’s backside to return the hug.

They hadn’t really hugged often, never let their bodies get that close. Even though it felt calculated and obviously for show, there was a feeling of geunity that seeped in when it lasted longer than it should have.

The words overtook her as soon as the hug ended, “Um,” Adora bit her lip, she tried to hold eye contact with Catra but failed. “I’m genuinely sorry for the other night.” She whispered low enough so the others couldn’t hear.

A look of confusion brushed across Catra’s face, she turned to double check the other three were engaged in conversation before she spoke. “Look, it’s not a big deal. Alcohol heightens emotions, you were there for me with my… nightmares.. Or whatever. I’ll be there for you. That’s what girlfriends,” Catra’s mouth twitched with a smile when she said the word, “Are for.” She ended the sentence with a wink before she joined Adora in setting up.

Adora knew the over-enunciation of the word girlfriend was a tease at the word ‘friends,’ which was not able to be used in such close proximity to everyone. But she was just glad Catra was letting the intensity of last night go for now.

“We have a little time before it has to start if we all want to do something?” Glimmer said from behind them. “Play a game, ride the ferris wheel, fun stuff?” She clapped her hands and Scorpia and Bow cheered with excitement.

She watched as Catra rolled her eyes which elicited a smirk from Adora. “That sounds like fun.” Adora said as she stood up, she tried to offer a hand to Catra to help her stand, but it was denied.

The group all made their way over to the heart of the carnival, the smell of fried food and the sound of games lit up all of Adora’s senses. She walked next to Catra, their shoulders were close but their hands stayed still at their sides.

Even after Catra’s assurance, Adora could still sense a hint of hesitation in the other girls actions. She didn’t blame her, but it didn’t stop her mind from spinning. The almost kiss was too much .

She could blame the alcohol all she wanted but it had still happened , Adora didn’t know if she wanted to take Catra aside and give her a thirteen minute speech about how sorry she was for crossing a line, or if she just never wanted to talk about it again.

Adora couldn’t quite place the reason she did it, even if she did want to explain it away to Catra, she was worried that it would turn in an unexpected direction in which she wouldn’t know what words could make up for her actions.

The only reason she could come up with is it just felt right

She didn’t think, “I just wanted to see what would happen?” Would be an appropriate thing to say to someone who saw her as a friend, and who was helping her out solely out of the kindness of her heart. (And for free food).

She was romanticizing the situation, like she always had done. The thing that always got her into hot water, and how she ended up breaking her own heart more often than not. She needed to keep her own feelings in check, and not get upset every time Catra pulled away. As if that was not literally expected of her, but things had just felt different since Adora had started comforting her through her nightmares. The casualness around the two of them had grown easier and the awkwardness that followed Adora everywhere she went had started to disappear.

But she ruined it, she was too much. She had been too hopeful, too eager, too drunk.

Glimmer dragged them all the way to the ferris wheel, but Adora slowly backed away from the ride when she surveyed how high up it went. “Oh god no.” She laughed, shaking her head. “No way, I am not going on that.”

“What!” Glimmer protested, she took Adora by the shoulders and stared deeply in her eyes. “It would be so romantic.” She turned to Catra with a smirk, Adora couldn’t see her reaction but she could guess what it was.

“Heights, I do not like heights.”

“You guys go on the ferris wheel, I’ll go beat Adora’s ass in that throwing darts at a balloon game.” Catra stepped in, gently taking Glimmer’s hands off of Adora’s shoulders. “Sound good, baby?”

Adora almost choked, she turned to Catra, barely able to keep a straight face with Glimmer standing directly in her line of vision. Catra just cocked her head, a smile tugged at her lips. She knew exactly what she did. 

They needed to add a pet name clause to the rules, even though Adora guiltily loved it, it always threw her off guard, which was something Catra seemed to enjoy.

“Fine.” Glimmer smiled, “But we are all doing something together later.”

The two of them waved goodbye to the group, Catra wrapped her arm around Adora’s shoulders, quickly moving the two of them far enough away before she dropped the contact. Because, of course, they didn’t need to be touching if others weren’t directly watching.

“Oh, so it’s ‘baby’ now?” Was the only thing she could manage.

Catra threw her head back in a laugh, “It’s funny seeing you try to act normal.”

“What!? I can act normal.”

Catra just laughed again, “Hearing you try to introduce me as your girlfriend last night made it clear you’re bad at acting. It’s good that everyone was drunk.”

“So you’re just going to try to throw me off every time?” Adora had finally started to relax, Catra didn’t seem mad about last night. She seemed fine, it was fine. Adora was drinking in every small switch of Catra’s emotions to fill that stupid validation void, to figure out if everything was okay.

“It’s more fun that way.” Catra shrugged, “Now come on, I want to beat you at a game.”

 

--

 

Catra had been internally screaming ever since Adora wrapped her in a hug. 

The whole way to the Carnival her grip had been so tight on the steering wheel that her knuckles turned white. 

She listened to Scorpia tell a story about how her and Bow went thrift shopping together, and how he had gotten her to buy a crop top. It was apparently a really big deal, so Catra threw in the occasional hum and nod to get by. She would usually focus more of her attention on her, she was her best friend even if Catra hated to admit it on most days. But Catra had other things on her mind.

She did love that Scorpia was becoming closer with some of her friends, but she simultaneously hated that it was Adora’s friends. The feeling that their friendship somewhat relied on Catra’s fake relationship with Adora, only valid by a slip of paper, made Catra’s stomach churn.

Catra had not expected Adora to say anything about last night, she was honestly hoping that she had forgotten about the whole thing, too drunk to remember the details.

But she did, which was when Catra started to spiral.

It took every ounce of strength she had to plaster a smile on her face, take a deep breath, and tell her it was okay.

Because it was supposed to be okay, there was supposed to be no feelings involved. It was supposed to now become a silly mishap, something they could laugh about if they ever talked after this ended.

It was definitely not something she would scream into a pillow about, not something she’d been on the verge of tears about. That wasn’t allowed, her feelings were too messy, and she had made a promise. A promise to not hurt Adora, and if she locked eyes with her and said, “Actually, you made me feel special and such a small detail of you wearing a sweater hurt me so badly that I couldn’t sleep.” That was definitely crossing a line, and definitely hurting Adora territory.

Adora was supposed to make her feel special in public, that was a girlfriend thing to do, Catra just hadn’t anticipated it would actually make her feel something.

So, for the sake of being in front of Adora’s friends, and Adora always looking like a kicked puppy, she held down the scream forming in her throat and decided to have a good night with her anyway.

Even if it felt like that was verging on masochism at this point.

Tacked on was the fact Adora was working a kissing booth , which for one was super cringey, in Catra’s opinion. But of course she had to say yes, if she said no that might make Adora catch on that Catra was, maybe, jealous.

Scorpia was kind enough to check in to make sure Catra was actually okay with what Adora was doing. She was almost able to tell her what she was actually thinking, but she just had asked for the two of them to spend time together far away from where it was happening, and Scorpia agreed without any questions.

The only thing she knew how to do was to repeat the rules they had made together over and over in her head until she could almost visibly see them in the clouds of her vision. She needed to stop being so lenient, stop letting herself want . Because even if Adora had tried to kiss her, Catra knew this was not what she wanted.

“Okay, balloon darts or the basketball hoop things?” Catra asked as her and Adora walked around, surveying all of the booths available.

It was mostly college kids running things for their own clubs at the school, Scorpia was going to check in with her rowing team later, which was one of the things Catra was praying was far away from the now infamous kissing booth.

“Basketball!” Adora said, the gleam in her eyes was enhanced by the moonlight starting to fall over them.

“Don’t cry when I kick your ass.” Catra teased as they walked over.

“I’ll win you a stuffed animal.” Adora playfully shoved Catra as they reached the game booth.

“I’m paying.” Catra said quickly, putting her body in front of Adora before she could reach for her own change.

“Only if I get the next one.”

Catra nodded, even though she knew she wouldn’t let that happen.

Adora turned out to actually be good at the inherently unfair carnival game, they were tied basically the whole round, until Catra missed at the last second. They laughed the whole time, both shouting over each other so much that she could see people stare out of the corner of her eye.

Catra’s body was warm with laughter, Adora placed a hand on her shoulder which made her eyes quickly dart to where the weight of the touch was.

“Which one do you want?” She stuck her tongue out at her and pointed to the row of stuffed animals on the wall.

“No, no way.” Catra laughed, she moved Adora’s hand off of her, have to remember the rules , “You pick one.”

“When you try to beat me at the next game, then I’ll pick.”

“Fine.” Catra grumbled as she surveyed the wall of cheap toys, “I want the purple tiger.”

Adora was beaming as she handed the prize over to Catra, Catra just rolled her eyes and pointed in the direction of another game. “I’m for real kicking your ass this time.”

After one too many games, they came to a tie of three wins for the both of them. They both held ridiculously large stuffed animals of different colors and sizes in their arms.

Catra didn’t think she had stopped laughing or smiling the whole time, her mouth started to twitch from how long it had been upright. “Okay,” She said, “We have to put these in my car. I am not lugging them around.”

“Wait!” Adora grabbed her shoulder, again. “There’s a photo booth. I’ll pay so don’t you dare complain.”

She decided not to protest, but she did remove Adora’s hand as they walked over together, settling themselves in on the tiny seat and closing the curtain.

“Remind me again why we’re doing this?”

“It’s fun.” Was Adora’s response, “And uh, it’ll be a nice memory.”

Catra stopped her mouth from falling open in surprise, “You can also fulfill your instagram quota.”

Adora’s face fell, but only for a moment. “And yours , you’re slacking.”

The first snap of the photo was normal, they posed with their tongues poking out, Catra held up a peace sign while Adora gave a thumbs up.

“We have to do something a little romantic.” Adora whispered, it sounded tentative, throwing Catra off guard.

“I’m not kissing you.”

Adora snorted, “Not what I asked, genius.”

The word rules repeated in Catra’s mind, but Adora was seemingly leaving them open ended. Adora slid her hand up to Catra’s jaw and cupped her cheek, Catra heard her breath hitch, it was the same exact gesture as the night before.

“Just look at me like you're actually into me.” Adora laughed, Catra returned one weakly. That wasn’t going to be difficult.

They took one more, Adora’s arms over Catra’s shoulders with Catra’s face buried in her neck.  Adora grabbed the roll of photos that printed out from the outside of the booth and handed one of the strips to Catra.

“Oh, please let me take a picture?” Adora giggled as she stared at Catra, somehow her eyes had gotten more blue and more hard to say no to.

“Whatever.” Catra smiled in return. Adora took a photo holding the photo strips up in front of Catra’s face, Catra hid her face under her hands but Adora took it anyway.

The two of them decided to get food before heading back, obviously needing to fulfill rule number one. They settled on sharing mini donuts and cotton candy while sitting on a bench near the river, behind all of the festivities that were happening. 

“You know,” Adora started, “In hindsight, this would be pretty romantic.”

Catra almost choked on the food in her mouth, she cleared her throat struggling for air. “Yeah, in hindsight.”

“What would you do if you had brought your real girlfriend here?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean like, what would a real date be like for you?”

Catra took an extremely slow bite of her food, trying to wrack her brain for an answer and buy herself some time. That was a great question .

The word ‘real,’ stung, it sent a wave of pain to her heart, grasping it in its clutches. She couldn’t give her an honest answer, because she would have done this . She would have paid for everything and let her date do whatever ridiculous things she wanted, win each other stuffed animals like they were still in high school. Sit together by the river to eat and talk.

“You know,” Catra coughed, “I guess I don’t know. I haven’t been on too many real dates.”

Which was almost truthful, she had never been on a date that had led to something real, even if she had tried to make it work afterwards. It was such an innocent question, that still dumped a bucket of cold reality over Catra’s head. That whenever this ended she’d be left alone to find a ‘real girlfriend,’ which didn’t seem like something in the cards for her, at least not in the near future.

So, she swallowed her pride and shrugged. “What about you?”

“Well, I’d probably come alone with her, and also not work a kissing booth.” She laughed, Catra resisted the urge to scream once again.

They walked back to Catra’s car together, shoulders bumping but not holding hands. Catra had barely started to register that she was cold before Adora said, “Take my jacket.” It was off her body before Catra could reject the offer.

“You’re acting like a top.” Catra scoffed, but accepted the jacket anyway. She could see Adora physically stop in her tracks.

“You..”

Catra turned back to look at her, the shock on her face was truly priceless. “You, you, what? Think you’re a bottom?”

“I am not a bottom.” Adora crossed her arms, her mouth would have formed into a pout if she wasn’t so obviously trying to bite back a smile. “ You are wearing my jacket.”

“I paid for the carnival games.” Catra was laughing over every syllable. “I’ve also met Lonnie. She’s a top.”

Adora had looked at her like she had just punched her in the gut. “She’s not.” She smirked. “You know what-”

“Adora!” In the very few times Catra had met Glimmer, she would still be able to recognize the shrill of her voice anywhere.

Adora basically threw herself at Catra when the sound of Glimmer’s voice registered to her. She hastily grabbed the underside of Catra’s thighs and hoisted her up so her legs were wrapped around her waist. Catra gasped at the sudden force of contact and tried to bury her expression of shock at being lifted in the air. She had dropped everything she was holding in the process, Adora’s hands clearly in a new place they hadn’t been before.

“Hey.” She whispered, looking up at Catra. “I actually had a really good time tonight.”

“Yeah, I’m pretty fun.” Catra said, not able to make eye contact.

“Put your girlfriend down, you’re needed at the booth.”

Adora slowly put Catra back onto the ground, Catra’s gaze quickly darted her eyes to meet Adora, who had apparently not stopped looking at her. She could also feel Glimmer’s eyes on them without having to look.

The precedent was there, Adora had made it seem like they were clearly in the middle of something. And now she was leaving to kiss strangers for the rest of the night, it would have looked almost questionable if Catra didn’t kiss her before she left.

“Hurry, please.” Glimmer again.

She could tell Adora wasn’t going to do it, the wound from the previous night was too fresh. Catra leaned in so her mouth was close to Adora’s ear, she could feel Adora shiver, and she hoped it was just from the cold. “Rule number four.” She breathed into her ear, before kissing her on the cheek.

Technically, only forehead kisses were mentioned in that rule, but Catra was not going to let their height difference become even more apparent than it already was, with her just having been lifted off the ground. 

Even in the darkness she could see Adora blush, her face lit up by the liveliness of the Carnival behind them. “I told you,” Adora said as she started to walk away, “I’m a good actor.”

Right, acting .


Catra followed a couple of steps behind Scorpia and Bow as they walked over to Scorpia’s rowing team, they were working a stand that was selling unusual deep fried food. Catra wondered who the fuck would want deep fried jelly beans or watermelon, but Scorpia seemed excited, so she let it go.

Bow had given her a hug when he saw her, which threw her off guard but she decided to accept it. At most, it helped her realize she was clenching her fists a little too tightly.

“This must be weird, huh?” He smiled, vaguely gesturing behind them to where they had left Adora and Glimmer.

Catra forced a smile, “Yeah, it’s whatever.”

She wasn’t supposed to be feeling jealous, but only Adora knew that. Everyone else simply assumed she would be, which was fine.

What was not fine was that she was actually jealous. When Adora had initially asked her, Catra did her best to play it off and act like it wasn’t a big deal, mostly for her own sake. Catra wasn’t going to let her mind run with why Adora felt the need to ask, it was at most a formality.

But now they had just spent real time together, not drunk, not in front of other people, not silent in Catra’s room. She felt like she could feel her mind physically try to swim through the mess of emotions she had made.

Bow kept trying to make her laugh the whole time, also he kept gushing about how cute her and Adora were, which didn’t help the situation. Catra was close to snapping and yelling at him, but Bow was the last person on Earth tied with Scorpia who’d she’d actually yell at.

The whole situation was making her feel strangely guilty. She was fine with Scorpia comforting her through this, that was something she was used to. Having Bow join in was on a different level. 

Catra figured she’d have to be nice to and get along with Adora’s friends, but she didn’t enjoy the idea of or anticipate getting close to them.

Not because she didn’t like them, but because she’d have to leave them when the time came.

Another layer of guilt was tacked on because they thought they were comforting her as Adora’s girlfriend, but in reality they were comforting Catra so she didn’t crawl into a pit of her own self loathing. She also hated the pity in their voices, it was not helping her already agitated state.

But it was amusing to watch Scorpia and Bow play off of each other, they were high fiving and playfully shoving each other every other minute. That’s what Catra tried to focus on instead of the images forming in her mind of Adora kissing other people.

It wasn’t supposed to be a big deal.

“Catra, do you want any food?” Scorpia asked, she was already holding deep fried watermelon in her hands.

Catra decided to politely decline, but Scorpia’s reaction to trying it was priceless, along with watching her pretend she liked it to appease her friends who were working.

“Hey, Catra.”

Catra felt her blood go cold, a new wave of panic washed over her as she turned to face the voice.

She may have had a little bit of a stint where she slept with most of the rowing team, it was definitely a phase that she went through. It was also a more recent phase than she’d like to admit, but it had ended at least a couple of months ago.

She usually didn’t mind seeing any of them, she had agreed afterall to be there with Scorpia. She’d even gone to a couple of parties that they threw whenever she felt like it, mostly in the past to get laid, but she had been avoiding them ever since she ended things with Theo.

They didn’t officially date, it was not even close to that, just Catra pining and then getting her heart broken. She was completely over her, that wasn’t even a question. But it still made her heart hurt to see her standing in front of her, mostly because the memory of Catra’s pain wasn’t something she liked to be reminded of.

“Hey, Theo.” Catra returned the gesture but avoided eye contact.

“So!” Scorpia said nervously as she threw an arm over Catra’s shoulders. The terrible smell of deep fried watermelon filled her nostrils. “I might have told Theo and a couple of the other girls they could hang out with us. I really wanted them to meet Bow.”

Bow went in for a handshake with Theo and the two other girls who trailed behind her. Catra rolled her eyes at his formality, but it was also charming.

“Scorpia,” Catra hissed and took her aside, “Why in the world would this be okay?”

“You’re with Adora now, I didn’t think it would be a problem. Plus, Bow’s a great guy. They’ll love meeting him.”

The internal screaming was back again, even if she truly was with Adora, she still wouldn’t want to be around Theo and most of all, have her meet Bow?

So for the millionth time that night, she had to shrug and plaster on a smile and act like everything was alright.

They all walked around together, Catra tried her best to keep her distance from the rest of the group. She didn’t care if it made her look bitchy, even if Bow was there. Every time she wanted to throw something into the group's conversation, her mind flashed to Adora kissing other people, which made her swallow her words and go quiet once again.

“Hey.” Bow stood back for a little bit until Catra caught up to him, he threw his arm over her shoulders and gave her a light squeeze. “Is everything alright? We can go see Adora?”

“No-” Catra said obviously too quickly, “That’s okay. It’s just,” She looked ahead to make sure the rest of the group was out of earshot. “I used to have a thing with Theo. I honestly just don’t want to talk to her.”

“Oh.” It was clear that the air between the two of them became awkward, Bow didn’t know Catra enough to know the depths of it. He was also her ‘girlfriends’ best friend, which Catra knew put him in an uncomfortable position if he was chatting with and befriending her.

“It’s not a big deal.” Catra said, her voice was pleading. “I really don’t want to talk about it.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know.” His tone was so sincere that Catra almost laughed.

“Again, not a big deal.”

Bow seemed to let it go, making Catra let out a sigh of relief. It really wasn’t a big deal, she just didn’t want to swap small talk without someone who had fucked her over.

So she stayed behind the group, trying everything she could think of to stop thinking about Adora.

If Adora also touched the faces of the people she was kissing, if she looked at them with her blue eyes long enough that someone would promptly fall in love with her. It was not outside the realm of possibilities, especially since Adora was so accommodating to literally every person she met. The first time Catra saw her she was floored, she could only imagine that’s how literally every other person felt.

But it was fine , because she wasn’t supposed to care. She agreed to it, even. Verbally trying to let Adora know that she didn’t care.

It was fine until Catra heard Theo’s voice point out that there was a kissing booth on the other side of the carnival and she thought it would be a fun thing to do.

Catra stopped in her tracks, both Bow and Scorpia whipped their heads around to look at her in a panic.

She laughed bitterly, “No fucking way.”

“Aw, Catra.” Theo taunted, “Are you jealous?”

Catra marched up to her, close enough so that their noses were almost touching. She felt Scorpia grab her arm from behind her, holding her back just far enough. “Oh, please.” She scoffed, “Don’t flatter yourself.”

“I know what you look like when you’re jealous.”

Catra wouldn’t be against fighting her if there weren’t hundreds of people walking around. “Actually, Theo. My girlfriend is working the kissing booth, and maybe in your own twisted way that would be fun for you, but no fucking way is that happening.”

The confident look on Theo’s face dropped and her jaw fell open for a moment before she pushed Catra lightly backwards. “Oh.” For a moment it actually looked like she felt bad. “I guess that’s off the table then.”

Catra took one look at the rest of the group before she walked away from all of them. “I’ll meet up with you guys later.” She shouted as she walked away, just to appease Scorpia.

If everyone else got to kiss Adora, Catra was going to kiss Adora.

It was to support Glimmer’s dumbass improv troupe, so it wouldn’t matter.

Besides, it was probably expected of her anyway. She could already hear Glimmer filling Adora’s mind with worry while she wondered why Catra never came over to see them.

She was doing it to support the cause, and to keep up the act.

That was all.

 

--

 

Glimmer was lucky that Adora loved her so much, because the kissing booth was just as awful as she had imagined.

There was someone else working at it with her, so she could stick to just kissing other girls, but that didn’t make it any easier. Glimmer was basically keeping guard, making sure no one did anything sketchy and if Adora truly did not want to kiss someone they’d be booted out of the line.

There was actually a line , which was flattering but also embarrassing. When Glimmer had first asked her to do this, she had begged for a long time. Insisting that, “Adora was hot.” Which would make more people want to come. Adora didn’t want to argue with that fact, even if she didn’t completely agree.

Kissing people felt weird, she tried to make it fun for herself but it only lasted through the first couple of people. She started rating their kissing skills in her head on a scale of one to ten just to pass the time and keep herself distracted.

Distracted because she felt bad .

At first, she thought it was Lonnie. She thought she missed the familiarity of knowing what she felt like. The uncomfortable awareness where it felt like she was still somehow cheating on her even after they had broken up.

Adora had been in and out of therapy enough to have some weak knowledge on how to pinpoint what she was feeling. When she tried to give herself that explanation in her head, that she just missed Lonnie, the puzzle piece didn’t fit.

The unease in her chest didn’t subside, it just sat there spreading through her body with every breath she took.

Until,

She saw Catra, a couple of people behind in the line.

Adora turned to Glimmer immediately, “Uh, can you, can you kick a couple of people out of line or send them to the other side?”

Glimmer looked concerned until she eyed the crowd, she turned back with a huge grin on her face before swiftly ushering people away until Catra was standing there blushing in front of her.

Adora felt herself fall into a daze as she stared at her, every other person she had seen that night didn’t even matter. She had no idea why she was here, she didn’t need to come over, she was supposed to be with her friends.

“You know,” Catra walked a couple of steps closer to her. “You didn’t need to have me cut in the line.”

All Adora could do was stare, everything stopped. Her mind stopped spinning, the feeling from the night before came back searing through her heart, if she didn’t have something to hold onto, her knees might have buckled underneath her. 

She felt her whole body start to get hot, it felt like a shock juxtaposed against the cool air around them. She knew her whole face must have turned red as Catra stepped close enough so that she could feel her breath on her face. They locked eyes, Catra’s usual cocky demeanor wasn’t there, she looked soft, she looked hesitant.

Catra put her elbow down on the front of the booth, Adora could see that her hands were shaking slightly.

“So,” Catra whispered, Adora had never heard her sound so quiet or more unsure. “I’m thinking that, maybe we could..”

Adora just nodded, the nervous rambling she usually found herself flooded with was stuck in the back of her throat. “I mean, we don’t have to.” Which felt like a ridiculous thing to say, she could see Glimmer funneling people to the other side of the line still. Adora didn’t really care at that moment, all she could do was stare at Catra.

“I just thought, like. I wanted to support.. Glimmer.”

“That’s really.. That’s really nice of you.”

“Yeah, um,” Catra laughed, not her usual laugh, the laugh Adora always strived to hear. It was in her lower register, deeper, like she was trying to hold herself together. 

Adora didn’t think she had blinked the whole time Catra had been there “I’m..” Her usual instinct to divert her eyes or hide was blocked by the way Catra’s eyes looked. “I’m okay with it.” She finally got the words out, Catra’s eyes perked up.

She heard Glimmer in the background exclaim with joy that Bow had walked over, there was a moment where she could hear his voice along with Scorpia’s but that was also promptly whisked away.

Adora wasn’t sure if multiple minutes had passed or if it was only a few seconds, she didn’t care if anyone else was watching them. “We could,” Catra leaned in a little closer, Adora could almost feel her mouth against hers when Catra spoke. “Break.. Rule number four? Just this once.”

“Yeah,” Adora brought her hands up to Catra’s face, this time Catra didn’t pull her hands off her, “Just this once.” She didn’t care if it was eager or if she rushed in too fast, Adora leaned in first until their lips were actually pressed together. All of the background noise faded out, all Adora could feel was the softness of Catra’s lips on hers. She suppressed the urge to shudder when Catra’s hand reached up to touch her.

Something felt like it clicked in her brain, that the puzzle piece fell into place, like all she needed to do was check under the table and she would have found it there clear as day. The thought didn’t seem to startle her until Catra pulled away, Adora let her hands fall a couple of seconds after they had actually parted.

That was a ten .

When Catra did pull away, that same puzzle piece felt like it was now burning a hole in her mind. She felt bad because of Catra .

Catra cleared her throat and stepped to the side, Adora finally let her eyes fall back onto the rest of the people behind them, breaking the tension between the two of them in half. Everyone looked mildly uncomfortable, like they had just witnessed something that they weren’t supposed to.

“Glimmer?” Adora whispered urgently, she walked over immediately. “Am I good to dip out?”

Glimmer looked up to where Catra was standing, her face fell into another knowing smirk before she shrugged. “You know what, that’s okay with me.” She winked before playfully shoving Adora away.

Adora almost tripped over her own two feet when she walked over to the group of people with Catra. She slipped her hand into Catra’s intertwining their fingers and squeezing it gently. Catra snapped her head to meet her eyes, a look of shock on her face, clearly surprised that Adora was there standing next to her.

“Glimmer said I’m good to go.” She smiled sheepishly before turning to greet everyone. There were a couple of people she didn’t recognize, but they all seemed to be chatty enough with her friends that she let herself relax.

“This is Adora.” Catra introduced her, and only one person didn’t say anything back.

“Your girlfriend.” The same girl said dryly, Adora turned to look at Catra with confusion, the color drained out of Catra’s face so quickly, like she had just seen a ghost.

“Yeah, that’s me.” The usual falter of her voice when she was introduced as such was completely gone as she stared at the person in front of her.

Adora instantly tightened her grip on Catra’s hand when the other girl’s lips turned up into a smirk. She could see the way she was looking just at Catra and right through Adora as if she wasn’t there at all. Her head turned slowly back and forth between the two of them, her throat went dry as Catra continued to stay silent.

The rest of the group seemed to pick up on whatever was happening, Adora looked up to Bow for some form of reassurance but even he had an unknowing look on his face, almost apologetic when he met her eyes.

“I’m sorry,” Adora spat out, “What’s going on?”

Catra still was quiet, Adora felt her heart fall to her stomach, the high from the kiss wore off in an instant. “Catra?” She tried again, she didn’t care how needy it sounded, anxiety was coursing through her veins making her start to subtly shake.

“Hi,” The girl finally broke the silence, Adora wanted to wipe the smirk off her face. She still was only staring at Catra, it wouldn’t take a lot of effort to realize that she was into her. It made Adora’s blood boil, her stomach was twisted into a million knots.

Catra finally turned to face her, she looked almost mortified, Adora was just glad the other girl couldn’t look at her straight on anymore. “These are Scorpia’s friends, from her rowing team.”

“I got that part.”

“Oh my god, Catra.” The other girl snorted and Adora whipped around to face her, her gaze could have cut through glass. “Just tell her.”

Adora felt like she was watching herself from outside of her body, she had no idea what was happening but she could feel it, feel that something must have happened between the two of them.

Adora pulled Catra closer by the belt loops of her pants so that their bodies were pressed together. Catra looked at her like she was momentarily insane, but the expression was wiped away when Adora quickly kissed her again, she didn’t care, didn’t care if the overt expression of PDA made everyone else uncomfortable. It wasn’t as soft as the first one, more rough induced by the jealous rage Adora felt in her chest.

There was no way she was letting whoever that was, talk to her like that or look at Catra like that.

Catra’s eyes were wide when she pulled away, but Adora just turned away with a deadpan expression on her face to look back at the group. “Tell me what?” It didn’t come out as cocky as she had planned, but again, she did not care.

Catra finally opened her mouth to speak, “I used to-”

“She’s my ex.” The other girl laughed, she saw Scorpia turn to look at her, looking just as taken aback as Adora felt.

Catra had told her that she never had a girlfriend before.

Adora slowly backed away from Catra, not wanting to cause a scene, but also feeling completely out of control of her movements.

“Adora,” Catra’s tone was so earnest, but all Adora could hear was the static in her mind. “It’s not like that. We didn’t even-”

“Stop.” Adora felt like she had just been slapped in the face.

Everything clicked, the kiss really was just to support Glimmer, but more than that.

Apparently, Catra had a girlfriend before her. Recent enough that she still couldn’t even properly talk about it.

It was just to make her jealous, just to make her ex jealous.

The hypocrisy was not lost on her in that moment, she tried to play it off, tried to let it roll off her shoulders, but she couldn’t.

“What happened?” It was Glimmer, Adora knew she was starting to panic. Her vision was growing spotty and her breathing started to pick up faster and faster.

“Adora.” Catra sounded closer to her than before, but Adora couldn’t see. “It’s not like that-”

“Stop.” Adora choked out, humiliated, she let Glimmer walk her back to the car leaving Catra behind.

Chapter Text

“What the fuck is your problem?” Catra snarled as she threw herself in Theo’s direction, adrenaline was coursing throughout her body, the only thing that stopped her was Scorpia tugging on her arm to hold her back.

“I didn’t know she was going to react like that.” Theo seemed genuinely apologetic, but it didn’t matter, not to Catra.

Catra felt like her eyes were on fire with the sole purpose of burning a hole through Theo’s skull.

“Catra, please.” Scorpia’s voice was pleading from behind her, she sounded slightly terrified. She had known her long enough to know Catra wasn’t against fighting, she hadn’t physically done anything for a couple of years, trying to be a real adult, and everything. But at that moment, she didn’t care.

It wasn’t until Bow stepped in the middle of them and placed his hands on Catra’s shoulders, a determined look on his face. “Catra, just go talk to her.”

Catra shoved his hands off, the touch burning her skin as she turned in the other direction without another word. The only thing that kept her running instead of sinking to the ground was the rage bubbling in her chest.

She slowed her pace when she saw Glimmer, when their eyes met Catra’s heart dropped to her stomach as she saw the painfully grim expression directed toward her.

“Maybe you shouldn’t be here right now.” Glimmer said through gritted teeth.

Catra pushed her out of the way, not caring about her reaction when she spotted Adora sitting alone in her car.

She opened the passenger side door, quickly locking it so no one else could get in.

“Adora,” She grabbed the other girls hands, sending her a reassuring squeeze when she looked up at her. “Are you okay?”

Adora was still shaking with her eyes closed, her cheeks were tear strained and flushed with color. “I’m sorry.” She whispered, her hands were weak in Catra’s.

“Don’t apologize.” Catra said back. Without thinking, she reached up to wipe a tear from the corner of Adora’s eye, the rules could go to hell. Catra did not let anyone fuck with the people that she… cared about.

Adora softened under the touch, “That was so stupid, I’m sorry.”

“It is not your fault, she was being an absolute bitch.”

“No, it’s stupid-”

“Adora.” Catra reached up to touch her face, Adora opened her eyes slightly to meet her gaze. “You have nothing to apologize for, I promise.”

Catra reached over to unbuckle Adora’s seat belt, and pulled her close to her. It wasn’t something they did, really, except that one time at Glimmer and Bow’s house, that Catra pretended she didn’t think about. But it just felt like a reflex.

Adora melted into the touch and gently rested her head on Catra’s chest, Catra wrapped her arms around her body. Even if it was uncomfortable over the middle console, she didn’t move.

“You can’t control panic attacks, let’s just breathe, okay?”

Adora nodded, they sat for a couple of minutes, Catra counting through breathing exercises until Adora’s breathing patterns started to return to normal and slow down.

“You don’t have to do this.” Adora breathed softly, Catra almost cried from how small she sounded.

She knew in her rational mind that this wasn’t her fault, but it still felt like it was. Still felt the shame fall over her as she replayed the event in her mind. She should have said something, should have grabbed Adora sooner, should have just kissed her again. Kissed her again to prove that they were ‘dating,’ obviously.

“I know I don’t have to.” Catra said back, she ran a hand slowly through Adora’s hair, lightly combing through a knot whenever it hit her fingers. She didn’t have time to think about her actions, she could take them all back later.

“Glimmer could have done this.”

“I’m doing it, so deal with it.” She said it affectionately enough that it evoked a weak laugh from Adora, still muffled by her head on Catra’s chest.

They sat there like that, curled up, until Bow knocked on the car window. He shot Catra a weak smile when they made eye contact before he slowly opened the door. “Hey, I think we should head home.”

Catra softly pulled away, once the moment was gone. She knew she would have to apologize for being so forward with the touches later. They could work it out tomorrow, it was just her protective instinct, it had nothing to do with feelings. Well-

“Catra?” Adora whispered, her voice cracking.

Catra was already preparing her, “ I would do this for any friend. ” Speech in her mind, which was half-true. She’d fight someone for Scorpia, help her calm down, but probably not hold her in her arms… But again, that was for future Catra to figure out.

“Can I come over? I just don’t want to sleep on the couch alone.”

“Uh,” Was all Catra could get out, Bow and Glimmer were both looking at her expectantly. Catra did not know what made Adora start to panic, and she didn’t want to ask for the sake of not wanting to pry. But from the outside it clearly looked like they just got into a fight, were they fighting?

The line between fake girlfriend and real girlfriend was a little muddy in their current situation. From a real girlfriend stance they would probably go home and make up, Catra assumed. From a friends standpoint, who had a clear rule about sleepovers, that was broken a little too often, she did not know what to do.

But Catra could not bring that up with Bow and Glimmer looking at them, and she was sure Glimmer hated her enough in that moment as it was. “Uh,” She said again, “Are you sure?”

Catra watched as Glimmer shook her head slowly back and forth, still shooting daggers in her direction. “Hold on.” She said before climbing over Adora to get out of the car. She grabbed Glimmer’s wrist and pulled her away.

“What is your problem?” Catra said, with a little too much bite.

“My problem? Were you flirting with your ex all night?”

“Glimmer, oh my god.” Catra rested her head in her hands, “She’s not even, jesus christ. Okay, no. First of all, no. You can ask Bow, he was there the whole time.”

“Did this not all happen because of what you did?” Catra could tell Glimmer regretted the words after she spoke them, but that didn’t make them hurt any less.

The irrational part of her mind started to drag her back down, Catra’s mess had done this.

“I’m sorry,” Glimmer groaned, “Look, fine. Take her home, but I swear if Bow tells me a different story I am coming to get her.”

Catra walked away without another word, Adora was cradled in Bow’s arms when she turned back around. “Okay,” She breathed out shakily, “You can uh, come home with me.”

She tried to ignore the look of relief that washed over Adora’s face after she spoke, “Really?”

“Yes, idiot, really. Let’s go.”

Adora perked up again and grabbed Catra’s hand as they walked to her car. Adora seemed to look at Glimmer to make sure she had the okay to go. Catra wasn’t going to get into whatever that was, the whole ‘Glimmer trying to act like she had a say in what Adora did’. She knew she was just protective, but fuck. 

Bow let her know he would drive Adora’s car home and Catra could drop her off in the morning. She decided to hold back a comment insinuating it felt like Adora was the child of Catra and Glimmer’s divorce, she’d save that for a different time.

Adora had seemed to relax enough by the time they got in the car. “So,” Adora started, Catra held her breath waiting for her to point out the obvious of what had just happened. “It’s ‘baby’ to embarrass me, and ‘idiot’ to comfort me?”

Catra snorted, “Shut up.”



They didn’t talk the whole ride home, Catra let Adora choose the music to play so she didn’t have to ask what she was in the mood for. She sat in her own uncomfortable silence, trying to calm herself down as they approached her place.

Catra was thankful Scorpia had not yet returned home when they got back. It was probably for the best, Catra still had to think out an apology, and she also assumed there was another lecture waiting for her in the morning.

Adora stood frozen in the doorway, her gaze was hesitantly directed toward Catra’s room. “You don’t have to ask if you can come in, I’ve already agreed.” Catra motioned for Adora to follow her and she shut the door behind them.

Adora, still cautious, sat at the end of the bed while she stared at the ground. She played with her hair tie on her wrist before bringing her hair back up into a ponytail. The silence between them was as loud as it was the first time they were in this situation, alone. The uncomfortable tension lingered between them as they both stayed silent.

Catra decided to break it by shuffling in her closet, she pulled out a sweatshirt and athletic shorts before handing them to Adora.

Adora looked up at her, seemingly surprised at the gesture.

“You want to sleep in your jeans?” Catra asked, she turned her face away so she was staring at the wall.

“No, I just.. Thank you. That’s nice of you.”

They did their nightly awkward dance of Adora changing in the bathroom and Catra scrambling to get dressed before she came back. Catra put on a movie after she changed and turned the lights off so the TV was the only light in the room.

Catra’s personal nightly dance was trying to not to stare at Adora’s thighs when she walked back into the room, now was definitely not the time for that.

“Can I ask you something?” Adora said as she folded her clothes and set them on the ground. Catra thought that Adora was the only person who would change out of her regular clothes and immediately fold them instead of throwing them on the floor.

“Can I stop you?” She meant it as a joke, but Adora’s face faltered. “Sorry, bad joke.”

“Say no if you want to, obviously. But uh, sometimes after a bad panic attack I just need physical touch.”

Catra felt her heart rate pick up, “What are you asking?”

“Could you possibly…” Adora cleared her throat, her face quickly turning a light shade of red. “Could you possibly, hold.. Me? Like, just for a little bit?”

“What-”

“Only if you want-”

“No, I-”

“That was stupid-”

“No, it’s not, just-”

“I can go home-”

“Adora.” Catra hastily put her hand over the other girl's mouth to stop the back and forth. She pulled it back just as quick, like she had touched a hot iron. “Just,” She ran a hand through her hair with a sigh, “Sure. Yes, that’s okay.”

“I know, it’s technically against the rules.” Adora whispered, she seemed actually embarrassed for asking.

“Well we can reinstate it tomorrow.” Catra laughed, trying to lighten the mood as she joined Adora on the bed. “How, uh, how do you want to be held?” She didn’t want to cross any lines on her own accord, just let Adora lead so everything was comfortable for her. Since this definitely wouldn’t be benefiting Catra. Definitely…

Adora scooted up towards the head of the bed, Catra cautiously crawled over next to her. She looked just as apprehensive as Catra felt. “Can I just-? Here, lay down?”

Catra laid down on her back, Adora shifted so she was laying on her side pressed up against her. She looked at Catra again, “Is this okay?” She whispered, Catra just nodded.

Adora moved a little closer before wrapping an arm around Catra’s chest, her hand near her collarbone, and gently wrapped her leg over Catra’s waist. Catra wrapped her arm around Adora’s back, pushing back the urge to pull her closer.

“If you want, you can get up when I fall asleep?”

“Sure.”

“Catra?”

“Yeah?”

“Thank you.”

Catra waited, mindlessly watching the movie playing, but not comprehending anything that was happening. She waited until Adora’s breathing turned into a slower and more relaxed rhythm. Carefully, she wrapped her free arm over Adora’s body so she was holding all of her. Everything in her body ached as she watched the rise and fall of Adora’s chest so closely pressed up against her.

She knew Adora just had troubles sleeping by herself without people there, she just needed comfort, it wasn’t anything to her. Just a friend thing. She did her best to block out the urges to kiss her forehead, knowing that this was all just an exception to the rules for one night. That things would be different when they woke up.

 

--

 

When Adora woke up, there was a small moment of peace present in her body before she remembered where she was. The light hurt her eyes when she opened them, but what was worse than that pain was that she was pressed up against Catra with her arm around her.

The wave of embarrassment from last night flooded her thoughts as she shot up in a panic, a tight feeling spread in her chest as she looked at the other girl sleeping. The wound of last night felt like it was bleeding all over her, and it felt like she went through the five stages of grief in a matter of a couple seconds.

It was an understatement to say that she was mortified.

Adora scrambled out of bed, Catra had said she was going to get up when Adora fell asleep, but apparently that hadn’t ended up happening. She didn’t want to be there when she realized that they were cuddling

There was no way she could face her this morning and try to explain herself. She knew Catra would see right through her lie. If she knew that they fell asleep that way, the floodgates would open, she’d figure out that Adora was feeling something . Even if she didn’t know how to put the words together herself, she didn’t want Catra to be the one to do it for her.

Adora didn’t change out of Catra’s clothes when she tiptoed out of her bedroom, but she left the jacket she let Catra wear the night before on her dresser, just in case. If anything, she could smell like her for a little bit throughout the day while she worked on clearing her head.

She really was going to leave without a word, until she remembered that she didn’t have her car. Panic settled in again, the brief moment of peace that you have when you wake up, when you forget everything from the day before, was completely obliterated.

She didn’t want to wake Catra, because she knew if she did, she wouldn’t be able to stop herself from asking about the ex-girlfriend thing.

So she decided to walk home.



Glimmer and Bow seemed to be actually waiting for Adora to get home, they ran to her as she stepped through the front door and brought her into a group hug.

“You’re so sweaty.” Glimmer pulled away observing Adora’s face.

“I walked home.” Adora tried to play it off with a laugh, act like it wasn’t a big deal, act like nothing had happened.

“What!?” Glimmer gasped, the concern on her face growing. “Bow, go make Adora some waffles.”

Bow turned to her with his arms crossed until Glimmer added, “Please.”

Glimmer dragged her by the wrist over to the couch, wrapping her in another hug once they sat down. “Is everything okay with Catra?”

Adora didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, of course things were okay with Catra, because they technically couldn’t not be . They didn’t have the ability to fight like real couples do, they couldn’t kiss and make up. Adora was not allowed to be upset by last night's events, because what she had with Catra wasn’t real.

“Yeah,” Adora tried her best to keep her voice steady, “We talked about it. Not a big deal.”

It hurt to lie, as Catra had pointed out, she wasn’t very good at it. Lying to Bow and Glimmer was the absolute worst, but it still was better than handling the amount of pity that was laid on her before she was ‘with’ Catra.

She was in too deep, but maybe things were changing, maybe the original plans were fading, maybe she just wanted to be around-

“Waffles!” Bow shouted from the kitchen.

Glimmer didn’t let go of Adora’s hand as they walked into the kitchen. She let herself breathe a sigh of relief as they all ate breakfast together.

If anything, at least she still had the two of them.



Adora and Catra didn’t talk for three days, Adora was still drowning in her own embarrassment enough that she didn’t have the courage to talk to her. 

She still couldn’t stand the thought of having to piece together her own feelings, and if Catra figured out where Adora’s head was at, she might want to stop being ‘together,’ and that was much worse of a thought.

They always seemed to have fun together, they got along well, fit well, but Adora was always being, well, herself . Ruining things and being too much was basically the core of her personality.

She had been incessantly checking her phone those past seventy two hours, refreshing instagram to see if Catra had posted anything, or at least if she liked the photo Adora had posted of them at the carnival. But there was complete radio silence.

Even though she knew they had made a rule against talking unless Adora needed her for something, she had felt like they had moved past that at least a little bit.  Adora had literally been reading Catra to sleep, and she still couldn’t receive an instagram like, which was the bare minimum in her eyes.

But Adora was still a fixing things , type of person. Someone who needed to sit down and talk things out, even if it got messy. She’d rather it be out in the open instead of eating her up inside. She could push her feelings away enough to check in with Catra, she could be easygoing if she tried hard enough.

She hit call on her phone without a second thought and waited until Catra picked up on the other end.

It rang way too long for Adora’s liking until, “Hello?”

“Hey!” Adora said, in definitely not an easygoing tone, “Want to get lunch?”

Catra was silent for a moment, “Uh, really?”

“Yeah, I have to work later but I’m free until then.”

“Sure…” The other girl's voice trailed off, Adora held her breath hoping she wouldn’t change her mind. “Where?”

Adora was fifteen minutes early to the place that they had decided to eat. She sat there, tapping her foot and obsessively checking the time on her phone screen.

Her stomach flipped when she saw Catra walk through the door, she was three minutes late. Not that Adora had noticed . They made eye contact the second she appeared, Adora forced a smile and waved her over.

“Hi,” Adora said eagerly. Even though her stomach was in knots, she still felt a sense of relief when she looked at her.

“Hey.” Catra slid into the booth across from her, her face lacked any expression, stone cold.

Adora decided to ignore it, because she could still fix this.

“Thanks for coming.”

“Do you need something?”

Adora should have expected her to ask that question, and it was a genuine one by the looks of it. That didn’t mean it didn’t hurt, that even after a couple of weeks and cuddling in bed , that she still had to ask that question every time.

“No,” Adora cleared her throat, desperately trying to cling onto any form of poise, “I just wanted to see you.”

Catra’s expression faltered for a brief moment, her eyes widened as she looked at Adora, but it faded away as quickly as it had come. Silence surrounded them once again as they looked through their menus without a word.

They ordered their food, Adora’s throat burned with all of the things she wanted to say. She had made a mental note of her apology and a weak explanation of everything that happened on her end. She just wanted to talk , but instead she blurted out, “Can you stop?”

Catra slowly put her mug of coffee she had ordered back onto the table. “What?”

“You always do this.”

“Do what?” Catra actually looked concerned, but Adora had decided she was upset, even if she wasn’t supposed to be.

“We have a good time together and then you’re completely cold the next time I see you.”

Catra didn’t respond, just stared at her with a startled look on her face.

“Why are you acting like this?” She couldn’t stop the words coming out of her mouth, every time she spoke it looked like Catra was taken down a peg.

Another long moment of silence, “I’m not sure what you’re trying to ask me.”

Catra’s lack of communication skills were blatant and spread out all over the table, Adora didn’t have that much of a leg up on her in that department, but at least she was trying.

Friends ,” The world fell out of her mouth dripping with sarcasm, “Don’t do this to each other. We had a good time together the other night despite what happened, and now you’re acting like you hate me.”

Catra shook her head in confusion, “What?” She looked genuinely hurt, “Adora... I do not hate you.”

“Yeah, well.” Adora stared down at the food on her plate. “I don’t know if I believe you.” It was half truthful, she didn’t think Catra despised her, but her constant changing of moods was not helping. Holding her while she fell asleep and then acting like she couldn’t care less the next time they saw each other, it was excruciating.

“Adora…” Catra’s voice had softened so much.

Adora didn’t know why she wasn’t backing down from the conversation, but she was angry . Angry that Catra was now acting like they didn’t even have a semblance of friendship, angry about the ex situation.

“I didn’t mean to upset you.” Catra said more urgently, Adora couldn’t bring herself to meet her eyes.

But the need for validation kept pushing, even if it wasn’t fair, “You don’t have to see me after this is done, but maybe we can at least make the rest of the time enjoyable.”

“Okay,” Catra breathed, “If that’s what you want.”

None of the words were the words she wanted to hear, Catra wasn’t laughing, she wasn’t jumping over the table to assure Adora everything was okay. It wasn’t good communication, Adora was fucking up again. She pulled cash out of her wallet and handed it to Catra, “There, I bought you food.”

She tried to walk away as fast as she could, she needed to clear her mind, needed to figure out a new plan, but Catra grabbed her wrist.

“Adora, please stay, okay? I’m not… not good at this type of conversation, I don’t know-”

“I get that I’m being too much, you could at least admit it.”

“Woah,” Catra’s grip tightened around her wrist, “No you’re not.”

“Then I don’t understand.”

“Please, just sit down.”

“I have to get ready for work.”

Catra stood up so she was level with Adora, “Adora, don’t leave like this, I’m not sure what’s happening right now.”

“You upset me.” Adora felt her eyes brim with tears, the night of the carnival looming over her rational mind.

Catra looked so small in that moment, she slowly sat back down and turned her face away. Adora counted to ten, waiting for her to say something, before she decided to leave. “Actions speak louder than words.” She said before she walked out.

Fuck .



Adora had been at work for a couple of hours, she was doing her absolute best to not think about anything that had just happened. The adrenaline of the argument died the second she sat in her car, she definitely did not fix anything, she did not even come close to it.

She slouched over a counter in the backroom as she took a sip of water, when she checked her phone her stomach dropped.

 

Catra: what time is your break today?

 

Adora stared, she stared for so long, double checking that it was actually Catra who had sent that.

 

Adora: It’s in thirty minutes, why?

 

She didn’t have time to wait for a response, she had to go back to check on her tables. She left the backroom in a frenzy, nerves filling her whole body as she walked back to the floor.

It was the longest thirty minutes of her life, she made her way as fast as she could to the backroom, checking her phone the second she walked in.

 

Catra: ok cool

 

What the fuck did that mean? She sat on the floor feeling numb, she was endlessly scrolling on social media to distract herself with absolutely anything else.

Perfuma walked into the back, she sent her a soft smile the moment they made eye contact. “Catra is here, she wanted me to tell you.”

Adora felt her heart rate pick up, “Uh,” She stumbled over her words, trying to hide the bewilderment on her face the best she could. “Catra is here?”

Perfuma cocked her head, “Yes? She’s at the front.”

Adora pushed past the other coworkers in the backroom and walked as fast as she could without tripping over herself.

Catra was at the front, she looked stiff with tension as Adora walked up to her. She was in Adora’s jacket that she had left in her room.

“Hey, Adora.” Catra said, her usual cocky demeanor was nowhere to be found, she looked nervous .

Adora tried to move her mouth, but no words came out.

“You didn’t finish your lunch, so I uh, brought it for you.”

“You came to my work?” Was all that she could get out.

Catra ran a hand through her short hair, taking a deep breath before answering, “You did this for me that one time, to make sure we were okay. So, I am, uh, doing it for you now.”

“Really?”

“Yes.” Catra turned her head away as she held out the to-go box Adora’s food was in for her. “Like you said, actions speak louder than words, so I came here.”

Adora took a moment before she grabbed it, she felt like she was in a complete daze.

“So, are we okay?”

Adora blinked a couple of times, trying to center herself. “Yeah, we are.” She couldn’t help the smile that formed on her lips.

“Our…friendship means a lot to me. So, I’m sorry I upset you earlier, and I’m sorry I was cold.”

“Really?”

Catra’s lips turned up in a smirk, “Yes, dumbass, really.”

“Wait,” Adora narrowed her eyes in a teasing manner as she looked at Catra, “Do you… Care about me?”

“Shut up.” Catra laughed, obviously blushing as she turned her face away. “Maybe I do.”

“You do.” Adora said, still teasing.

“Whatever.”

Adora knew that was a yes.

“This is not because I like you, okay?”

“Whatever you say.”

 

--

 

“Scorpia, you have to be fucking kidding me.”

“Theo said she wants to apologize! She said you could bring Adora.”

Catra and Scorpia had been in a back and forth yelling match for the better part of ten minutes. Catra had resorted to pacing around the room with her head in her hands as Scorpia sat on the couch trying to calm down the situation.

“That’s fucked, I’m not going.”

“Catra, please, for me?”

“She has a hidden agenda, she always does.”

“She’s not that evil.”

Catra scoffed, sinking down onto the floor up against the wall. “Scorpia, you didn’t date her, I did. She’s a piece of shit.”

“But she wants to apologize .”

Scorpia had gently knocked on her bedroom door, she had brought Catra a bag of chips before shifting uncomfortably and asking her if she would come to a rowing team party. Catra had lost it immediately, refusing the snack and getting up to argue. 

Now they were here.

“Please Catra, these people are my friends and I see them basically everyday. I don’t want there to be any weird tension.”

“It is not my fault there is tension.” Catra crossed her arms

“You slept with basically all -”

“Scorpia!”

“I’m not judging.” Scorpia threw her hands in the air in defense, “But some people may say it’s partially your fault. It takes two to tango.”

“Oh, please never say that again.” She took a deep breath, “I swear to god, if I go, you owe me.”

“I can live with that.” Scorpia walked over to her and picked her up into a hug.

“Let me down!”

“At least say you love me.”

“Fine, I love you. Put me down.”

The second she hit the ground she ran to her room and closed the door. She sat down on her bed before she dialed Adora’s phone number.

“Catra?” Adora said on the other end.

“Hey,” Catra cleared her throat, “Strange turn of events, I need you for something.”



Adora came over later that night, she hugged Catra the moment she opened the door. She hoisted the underside of Catra’s thighs up so they were wrapped around Adora’s waist as she walked into the apartment.

“So she gets to pick you up and I don’t, huh?” Scorpia was already tipsy in the kitchen, Catra wiggled her way out of Adora’s grasp before Scorpia took Adora over with a hug.

Catra walked to the kitchen cupboards and pulled out every kind of alcohol besides vodka for Adora. “Just so you know, I am going to have to be drunk to make it through this.”

Adora giggled and sauntered over to Catra, she wrapped her arms over Catra’s waist and rested her chin on her shoulder. “Yeah, me too.”

Catra wasn’t sure what had happened to make their physical touches so much more intimate , but she wasn’t going to say anything in front of Scorpia, and possibly not at all. She was still thinking that one over.

The three of them took a shot together, Catra laughed at how hard Adora coughed after she drank it. It was funny every time, even if she had witnessed it multiple times.

“You look really good, by the way.” Adora giggled again , and tugged on the end of Catra’s shirt.

“Shut up.” Catra swatted at her hand and turned her face away in case the unfortunate situation of her blushing would arise.

Catra was honestly not sure why Adora agreed to come that night, contractually she didn’t have to, and after the elephant in the room that had not been discussed, she didn’t think she’d ever want to be in the same room as the rowing team again.

They called an uber to take them to the party, it was on the college campus in one of those really old houses that is rented out to students for way more than it’s actually worth.

Catra could tell Adora was already a little too tipsy, and it was… Pretty cute, but she wasn’t going to say anything about that. She was also a lot more touchy-feely when she was tipsy, Catra already knew that. But it seemed intensified , Catra also wasn’t going to say anything about that as well.

It was one of those stupid parties, with people out on the front lawn and the LED lights in the windows that were flashing different colors. Catra always pretended to hate parties like this, but would begrudgingly admit she, at one point, found them fun.

When they stepped out of the car, Adora draped herself over Catra, wrapping her arm around her waist and leading them inside behind Scorpia.

“You know, we don’t have to talk to anyone.” Catra said as they walked in.

“I think it’d be fun.”

“What?” Catra looked at her as if she had momentarily lost her mind, “You’re kidding, right?”

The music was incredibly loud, sweaty people were moving all around them. Adora stopped Catra from walking any further, and took her face in her hands.

She placed one hand on Catra’s lower back to pull her in closer before she kissed her, it only lasted a couple of seconds, but it was still so gentle and slow. Catra was momentarily breathless when she pulled away.

“Uh?” Was all she could say, but Adora just pointed in the other direction, while still staring into her eyes.

Catra turned her head to see the group of girls that Adora had… Briefly met the other night. 

Oh , the kiss suddenly made sense for a brief minute, but then, Catra took a step back. She cocked her head to the side and stared at Adora, the other girl looked confused but Catra’s mind was spinning.

“Are you,” Catra started, “Are you jealous-?”

Adora stepped a little closer, “I can’t hear you over the music,” She laughed, “What did you say?”

Catra just shook her head, “Let’s just dance?”

“No, let me talk to her.” Adora’s expression hardened as she looked in the direction of Theo. Catra didn’t even want to risk looking at her, she had told Scorpia she’d let her apologize, but if by the grace of whatever higher power made that not happen, she’d be okay with it.

“What?” Catra was completely lost, her brain was not comprehending anything fast enough to allow her to speak.

Adora just shrugged, Catra actually laughed from how shocked she was. “Is this you trying to act like a top again?” Catra playfully pushed Adora away, who blushed in return.

You said I’m a bad actor, so if you believe it then what?” Adora shrugged once more before she waltzed over to Scorpia’s friends.

Catra swore she was going to have a fucking heart attack.

 

--

 

When Catra had asked if Adora would come to the party with her that night, her heart dropped to her stomach. She had been overly apologetic on the phone about it, insisting that it was Scorpia’s idea and she didn’t actually want to go.

It was the only acknowledgement that something had happened between them since the night of the carnival. Adora decided to say yes, she had put Catra in quite a number of uncomfortable situations before, she might as well return the favor.

Ever since Catra had apologized, and actually recognized her sudden mood changes, Adora had been feeling lighter . The touches she placed on Catra’s body didn’t feel as restricted, they had crossed rule number four a multiple of times without talking about it again.

Maybe they should have had a deeper conversation on what was okay, but it seemed like any PDA was good PDA, at least for tonight.

When Adora walked over to Scorpia’s friends, she felt Catra’s hand try to pull her back. “What?” Adora asked again, even though she knew what Catra was trying to do.

Adora wasn’t really a petty person, her fake relationship with Catra was questionable on that spectrum, but Adora didn’t do these types of things usually, unless she was standing up for someone else.

Which was why she was face to face with Theo in a dimly lit kitchen.

“You’re here.” Theo smiled, she reached out a hand for a handshake, Adora didn’t return the gesture.

“Is there something you’d like to say to Catra?”

“Adora.” Catra pleaded from behind her, “We don’t have to do this.”

Catra wasn’t someone to back down, Adora knew that. Adora didn’t think there was one person in the entire universe Catra wouldn’t stand up to, but apparently it was her . The girl staring at her, which meant she must have done something pretty fucked up to make Catra feel so small. Even through the anxiety surging in her chest, she was going to do this.

“You have your big bad girlfriend stand up for you, Catra?”

“Don’t talk to her like that.” Adora cut in, she felt Catra’s hand go limp in hers.

The words were slow when they fell out of Theo’s mouth, “Is this really your downgrade?” The second they registered, Catra pushed Adora out of the way and pushed Theo backwards so her back hit the fridge.

“What the fuck did you just say to her?”

Adora whipped her head around to look at Scorpia, her face was derived of all color. Adora couldn’t think fast enough to stop what was about to happen.

Theo pushed Catra back, and Catra swung, hitting her jaw.



“Ow.” Catra mumbled as Adora took a wet paper towel to clean up the blood under her nose.

They were out on the back porch, Adora had stopped enough of the yelling so that they didn’t get kicked out , after Catra’s brief brawl.

“Your lip is busted.” Adora sighed, she ran a finger over Catra’s lip, there were small cuts on it which were also bleeding.

“You have to admit,” Catra winced when she smiled, “It was a little hot that I got into a fight for you.”

Adora rolled her eyes as she continued to wipe off Catra’s face. “You didn’t have to do that.”

“I did.” Catra said, very matter of factly,

“Scorpia’s going to kill you.” Adora shook her head, she wasn’t going to outright admit it was hot.

They sat like that for a while, Catra grimacing in pain whenever Adora touched her in a new place. She was inspecting her hand, trying to figure out if she needed to wrap it up in something, when the thought pushed itself out of her mouth without her being able to check it. “Why did you not tell me about her? Like, before or anything.” Adora didn’t expect it to come off as weak as it did.

“What?” Catra looked at her in surprise. “Theo?”

“Yeah.” Adora bit her lip, she knew how desperate it sounded, knew that if Catra took a second to think she’d realize why Adora had lost it at the carnival. “She’s your ex. You told me you never had a girlfriend before.”

Catra seemed to have a revelation in that moment, her expression turned into something Adora couldn’t read. 

Adora mentally crossed her fingers hoping she wouldn’t fully understand. 

“Adora,” She laughed warmly, “She’s not my ex . We didn’t officially date, we literally had a brief fling. She is one of the worst people I’ve met, and she’s crazy manipulative. I also did tell you about her, like the first night we hung out. I told you that the last person I saw before.. You.. was the worst. I didn’t mention her name because she literally,” Catra grabbed Adora’s hand and squeezed it, “ Literally means nothing to me. She just knows what buttons to push, it’s fun for her to be an ass. She’s probably pissed I didn’t let her continue to manipulate me, and that I… Seem to… Be with.. Someone who I care about.”

“Then why did it bother you so much when she was talking to you?”

Catra squeezed her hands again and scooted herself closer. “Don’t ever remind me that I said this, but she was being a dick to you . That’s why. I froze the night of the carnival, but I yelled at her when you left.”

“Wow, huh.” Adora grinned, “So you really did get into a fight for me?”

“Don’t ruin it.” Catra rolled her eyes, “What are the chances we could find an ice pack? I’m not in pain, but it might help the swelling.”

“Oh, I’m sure you’re not.” Adora teased.

“Was that why you were upset at lunch?” Catra looked up at her, Adora made a mental note to figure out what to do when Catra’s obvious black eye would be ever more present in the morning.

“Uh,” It wasn’t the carnival, it wasn’t the kiss, so it was fine. “I mean, yeah. I thought you lied to me.”

Catra wrapped Adora’s body in a hug, a hug, when no one else was around. That’s a rule break , even though ‘the holding Adora while she slept’ thing was also one, this one was different. But Adora didn’t care if Catra didn’t. “No, I wouldn’t do that.”

Adora let herself sink into the hug for a little too long, she only pulled away to stop herself from doing anything stupid. “Why would you even be with someone like that?”

Catra seemed to get cold again, but instead of pushing away she let out a sigh. Without thinking, Adora wiped a tear from Catra’s face as it began to fall.

“It’s embarrassing.” Catra whispered, “Like, really embarrassing. People always use me, and…” Her voice trailed off, “It’s just embarrassing.”

That brought Adora’s mind to a halt, people always use Catra . She was using Catra

Not in the way the past people she had been with were, not to get close to her for ulterior motives or to hurt her. But for something selfish, that had no promise of benefiting Catra, until tonight at least. 

Guilt was ripping away at her vocal chords, “I don’t think it’s embarrassing.” She whispered. “I think it reflects more on them than it does you.” And that was true, even pointed at herself.

Catra looked genuinely floored, like no one had ever reassured her that she wasn’t the problem before. “You know what you said earlier about making this enjoyable?”

Adora nodded, trying to keep her face neutral.

“I suck at communication, but maybe more hurt feelings could be prevented if we like… Talked more. I don’t… Want to hurt you.”

Warmth rushed through Adora’s body, “Yeah. We can do that.”

Catra gave her another hug even as she winced in pain once again. “I really need that ice pack.”

“Catra?” Adora said weakly, “I don’t want to hurt you, either.”

It was maybe the most truthful thing she had said to her all week, but she knew what that meant. 

If Catra found out that Adora was feeling something besides friendship, but still was wanting her to be in their agreement , she would be just as terrible as the rest of them.

Even if the need for their ‘relationship’ to continue started to falter into Adora, maybe, just wanting to be around Catra.

It was so utterly selfish, and she hadn’t fully realized it before. Which made her only feel worse.

Which was why Catra could never know, then at least when their two month window ended, they could maybe have some form of friendship left at the end. Adora didn’t even know what she felt fully, there was no way she could even begin to say something.

“Come on, idiot.” Catra grabbed Adora’s hand to help her stand. “Let’s go home.”

Chapter Text

Catra was half-asleep and sprawled out on the couch in her living room, a notebook in one hand and a handful of chips in the other. “Can we stop now?” She groaned before she shoved more chips into her mouth.

“Catra, you said you would do this.” Adora crossed her arms and her lips turned into a pout. “We barely did anything.”

They were reworking the rules, or at least trying to. Adora had shown up unannounced at Catra’s apartment with a bag of take-out food and snacks, then made her way in without a word.

When Catra had asked her why she didn’t at least text her, Adora said, “It’s just easier this way.” Which Catra decided to unpack whatever that meant later.

She had a feeling that it was Adora trying to ambush her with communication like it was a sad surprise birthday party. Knowing that Catra would talk to her, but she’d try to avoid it as much as possible.

Adora was right, for the most part.

Catra did want to communicate but had no clue how to do so effectively, also it was painfully uncomfortable. Adora was so open and eager about it, and she wanted to do her best to reciprocate her energy back to her, but again, it was painful.

Mostly because she couldn’t be fully honest in their conversation, so she did her best to tiptoe around the worst questions Adora asked, like:

“So, we’ve touched at other times besides doing it publicly? Should we talk about that?”

“We have gone far beyond just forehead kisses, well not, not far… Not far beyond, but uh, what should we do?”

Painful.

Catra’s answers had consistently been, “Whatever you want, Adora.”

Which, apparently, was not helpful.

“It’s not just about what I want, Catra. It’s you, too.”

But it wasn’t about what Catra wanted, because she didn’t know. She was fine with however Adora wanted to touch her, fine with whatever Adora deemed acceptable. You cannot greedily ask for more without knowing your true intentions.

It was again, the Adora Situation™ - Which were the only words she could put to her feelings.

She had been jealous, hurt, scared, vulnerable, and so many other things around Adora. But there was always the same familiar ache that spread throughout her body when she remembered everything was fake. When she remembered that at most they had become friends, at least in Adora’s eyes. And Catra tried to conform it to that same standard in her head, but it was increasingly getting more difficult to lie to herself.

Even if she had a sliver of hope that Adora herself would be able to spot what Catra was feeling, Catra was still the opposite of Lonnie. The reason that Adora had started ‘dating’ her in the first place. Otherwise known as, the opposite of the type of girl Adora would fall in love with.

So she didn’t have to figure out what she was feeling herself, she didn’t even need to acknowledge them, because she knew whatever she did there was still that barrier. 

Also, Adora had just been through the wringer with her breakup, she shouldn’t have to go through Catra’s mess as well.

So, anyway, they were communicating.

Kind of.

“It is about what you want, Adora. I told you I’m okay with anything.”

“That cannot be true.”

“Okay, ugh.” Catra sat up and put her face in her hands. “If we are alone, sure, let’s just ask before a touch happens. It’s a case by case situation.”

Catra could just feel Adora smiling. “And you stand by your statement that anything goes in public?”

“If you do.”

Catra.”

“That is my real answer, Adora.”

“So, I can just like straddle you in public, you know, do absolutely whatever. You wouldn’t bat an eye? Jump on you, kiss your neck-”

Stop,” Catra said, a little too loudly. “jesus christ, fine. Teen rated touches, like PG-13 touches.”

“See, that wasn’t that hard.”

Oh no, it was definitely still painful.

But communication was apparently necessary. Otherwise, as Adora had said, they wouldn’t even have a friendship after this. 

And if Catra knew anything, she knew it would hurt a little too much if they didn’t even have that. 

“Can I crash here?” Adora yawned as she stood up, teetering a bit on her feet.

“Scorpia’s not going to be home tonight, so I can take the couch.” Catra started to clean up the food remnants, and only looked up when she realized Adora hadn’t responded.

“The couch?”

“Uh, yeah? I didn’t think you’d want it, you already have to sleep on one at home.”

“We can’t just sleep in the same bed?”

Catra felt her brain short-circuit, “Uh, I thought we just did that because of Scorpia?” She was being genuine, but it looked like her words were cracking Adora’s skull, breaking some unknown part of her.

“Well, uh,” Adora cleared her throat, “You know if you have like... A nightmare, then you’ll be alone. And I don’t… Don’t want you to sleep out here just for me.”

“I thought this would be what you wanted?”

“It’s not.”

They stared at each other for a long time before Catra responded, “Okay... Use your words.” She smirked, Adora had said that to her so much over the last couple of hours trying to get Catra to talk.

“I hate sleeping alone, Catra. Okay? And I’d feel too terrible if you took the couch, that’s all.”

“Okay,” Catra shifted on the couch, “I’ll just sleep at the end of the bed.”

“If you want.” Adora twiddled with her thumbs.

“If you want.”

“Catra.”

“Adora.”

“You don’t need to sleep at the end of it.”

“You don’t have to feel bad about it, Adora. It’s not that big of a deal.”

They stared silently at each other for a long time again, “Okay.” Adora sighed as she turned toward Catra’s room. “I’m going to go change.”

She did not know what to make of the sharp turn Adora made to the bedroom, her shoulders visibly tensed up to her ears when she walked away.

Adora didn’t need to feel bad, Catra made herself pretty cozy anyway, and she didn’t want to risk the chance of making her uncomfortable.

Maybe they had slept closer that one night, but that was an exception .

 

--

 

Adora felt terrible when she woke up the next morning. Her whole body ached as she tried to sit up, and the room quickly started to look like it was spinning all around her.

She checked her phone before she crawled out, it was noon . Adora never slept that late, even Catra had gotten out of bed before her.

Before she left the room, she grabbed one of Catra’s sweatshirts crumpled in the corner of her room, she was absolutely freezing.

Her feet padded out of the room, and she heard the shower going in the bathroom. She’d usually wait to see Catra before she left, but Adora worked in an hour and she already felt awful.

Adora grabbed a piece of paper from one of the notebooks left out from last night and wrote, ‘Hey! I had to leave for work, but I hope you have a good day :), Love Adora ’ 

She immediately regretted writing ‘love’ but it would look even worse if she scribbled it out, so she left it on the counter and slouched as she left the apartment.



Work was incredibly awful, they were extra busy that day because there was an event going on across the street. So all of the loud families who tipped badly were filling the seats. Adora felt like she was on the urge of passing out all night.

The room was still occasionally spinning, she was doing her best to push through by eating the granola bars Perfuma kept sneaking to her and drinking as much water as humanly possible.

She didn’t think things could get worse, but of course, they did.

“Am I closing with you?”

Lonnie .

Adora snapped her head in the direction of her, mouth half full of a granola bar. “Uh,” She said before swallowing, “Yeah, I guess. I thought I was closing with Mermista?”

“She’s wedding dress shopping, I said I’d cover.”

“Oh.” Adora did her best not to stare, “That is, um, very nice of you.”

“Are you still going to the wedding?”

Adora could not get her brain to process anything fast enough to be able to produce words coherently, “Um-”

“What? We can’t have a normal conversation?”

Adora could see the tension rise in Lonnie’s body, “No! We totally, totally can.” She swallowed harshly, “I’m a bridesmaid, so I technically have to go.”

“Right.” Lonnie put her stuff away and wrapped her apron around her body. “Well, I’ll see you there.”

“Yeah, that’ll be great. Weddings are so fun, you know? So fun.” Adora was gripping the corner so tightly in an effort not to topple over.

Lonnie gave her an all too knowing glance, “Whatever you say, Adora.”

They got through the rest of the dinner rush, Lonnie seemed to purposefully stay out of her way unless necessary. Adora pretended she didn’t notice the forced space.

Every minute Adora started to feel physically worse. The only good thing she could cling to was the fact that that was one of the only conversations she had with Lonnie since their breakup that she didn’t end up crying or panicking.

Well, she was panicking a little , but it was under control enough for her to function.

When the night ended, it was just the two of them there to close.

Something they did a pretty good job of avoiding.

Sure, they worked together a lot through their relationship and breakup, but they never were alone .

Adora didn’t know if she should try to make conversation or stay silent and didn’t know which one would be worse.

But, she wasn’t good at staying silent, “What have you been up to?” She asked as she started to mop.

“What have I been up to?” Lonnie said in a mocking tone.

“Yeah, you know.” Adora coughed to clear her throat.

“Work, I guess.”

“Me too.” Adora nodded, mind racing trying to think of other things to say. The silence hurt her ears. She made a mental note trying to figure out how she could do all of her tasks quicker than usual so they could get out early.

They had finally gotten to the end of finishing their closing tasks when Lonnie gently touched her shoulder. Adora turned around quickly, startled by the touch.

“I’m sorry about the night of the party.”

“What?” Adora almost dropped the trash bag she was holding in her hands.

“The night you brought Catra to Perfuma’s birthday? I’m sorry.”

“Oh…” Adora’s voice trailed off, if the room wasn’t spinning enough before, it was consuming her now.

“We’ve always been direct with each other,” Lonnie said, Adora could swear she sounded like she was on the verge of tears. “I’m hurt, hurt that you moved on so quickly. I acted out, I am sorry about that”

“Lonnie,” Adora choked out. Not now, do not do this now.

“Look, Adora, you don’t have to say anything. It’s none of my business.”

Adora felt any semblance of composure fall to her feet, broken in half like a knife had sliced through her heart.

For so long, everything was about Lonnie. Everything she had been doing with Catra had started because of Lonnie. Everything she wore, every breath she took after the breakup was rough and broken.

But she didn’t feel like that right now, she felt shameful that she had caused such a huge mess, but not everything was for her, not right now.

“You parade her around everywhere, it hurts.”

Adora felt her eyes glaze over with tears, her words were still stuck in her throat, with no hope of anyone being able to claw them out. She just stared at the ground, noticing that she missed places from when she was mopping earlier.

But an overwhelming sense of dizziness washed over her, she wasn’t sure if it was anxiety or something else, but she felt sick.

 

--

 

Catra had just gotten home from work, she had made herself a cup of tea and was curled up on the couch reading. She had the note Adora had left earlier in the day plastered at the back of the book to use as a bookmark later. For no particular reason, obviously.

Just as she had quickly gotten lost in the book, calming herself down further with the pages, her phone rang.

Catra rolled her eyes (affectionately) when she saw that it was Adora who was calling. “Hey, what’s up?”

“Hey….” Adora sounded almost ashamed on the other end, Catra immediately tensed.

“What’s wrong?”

“Okay, so it’s really not a big deal. But I passed out at work, and, well…” Her voice trailed off again.

“Are you okay?” Catra sat up, pushing the blanket she had on her to the floor.

“No! Don’t worry, I am okay, it’s just, okay.” Adora laughed on the other end, sounding blatantly uneasy. “I was closing with Lonnie, and since she was the only one there, she drove me to her house.”

Catra felt her nerves grow cold, she fell silent, any chance of uttering even a sound back was lost on her in that moment.

“Catra?” Adora said again.

“Why are you telling me this?” It came off a little more spiteful than Catra planned.

“Are you upset?”

“No, I just don’t know why you’re calling to tell me.”

“Can you come get me?”

Catra felt dizzy, she tried to ration with her body to stop making her physically upset “Yeah.” She hung up without thinking, just stood up to grab her keys.

She texted Adora for the address and left.



Catra walked up to the front door, trying not to look at the surroundings, trying not to assume anything about the house. If it looked nice from the outside, even if there was an ample amount of street parking. Nothing.

Lonnie opened the door slowly, she had a gentle smile on her face which threw Catra off guard. “Hey, come in.”

Catra hoped for the dramatics of this event that Adora would not be able to walk on her own, that or something else terrible for her to feel the urge to have Catra come over, come over here .

Adora was sitting on the couch, her coat still around her body, drinking something out of a cup. She sheepishly smiled up at Catra and waved at her, Catra didn’t feel like she could move.

“I think she has the flu, Glimmer gets really weird when people are sick so I brought her here.” Lonnie said, still standing near the door.

Catra’s stomach churned hearing the familiarity of which she spoke about Glimmer. “You didn’t bring her to my place?” Her voice was completely monotone.

“I panicked, I just wanted to make sure she was okay.”

Catra just blinked still at a loss for words. She could see Adora was growing uncomfortable at the shifting dynamic in the room. That stupid casual feeling of wanting to soften for Adora washed over her when she finally made eye contact with her.

“Are you okay?” Catra whispered as she stared at her, focusing her eyes on one place.

She didn’t even want to look around, didn’t want to see if any part of the house had any semblance of looking like Adora had lived there.

Adora nodded, still looking embarrassed. Catra walked over to her and sat down on the arm of the couch and kissed her on the top of her head. It was PDA, which was the only reason she did it, not because of anyone else that was in the room, for sure.

“Want me to take you home?” Catra asked, her voice cracked a little.

Adora, to Catra’s surprise, lifted her hand gently and placed it on Catra’s face, softly moving her thumb across her cheek. “Yes, please.”

“Okay, um,” Catra said, trying to act like the touch didn’t fluster her. “Need help up?”

“I’m okay.” Adora gave her a dopey smile, “I’m just gonna go to the bathroom first.”

Catra mentally cursed Adora in her head for leaving her alone with Lonnie in the living room, their previous living room. Catra, definitely, totally, did not care about that. Not even a little bit.

“So,” Lonnie said, “Thanks for coming to get her.”

Catra took a deep breath in and held it for a moment to calm herself. Through gritted teeth, she said, “Thanks for… Bringing her, making sure she was okay.”

“I didn’t mean anything weird by it, Adora hates when people try to take care of her, especially when she’s sick. I didn’t trust her to let herself rest. She would have slept in her car or something, I swear. Just to not bother Glimmer.”

Catra left her expression blank, it wasn’t even a competition between the two of them. Lonnie would always know more.

“Anyway.” Lonnie smiled softly again, as she shrugged. 

Catra did not know why she was choosing to be so nice. Since the only interactions they had previously were charged with pettiness. 

“You know,” Lonnie started, “You’re lucky to have her.”

“Excuse me?” Catra responded almost immediately.

Lonnie faltered a bit, “You’re lucky to have her. She’s amazing and I don’t think enough people know that.”

Catra felt her mouth grow dry, “I know that she is.”

“She just deserves the same amount of love that she gives everyone else.”

“That’s,” Catra laughed bitterly, “That’s rich coming from you, is all I have to say.”

“Woah,” Lonnie lifted her hands in defense, “I don’t mean anything by that. I’m not trying to fight with you.”

Somehow that just made everything worse.

Everything was too much, the house, the talk, Lonnie taking care of Adora even though that was what Catra… was supposed to do.

“Look,” Catra clenched her fists, “I know that’s what she deserves. Anyone in a fifty-mile radius could recognize that Adora is amazing. I want ,” Catra’s voice choked on the word, packed with things Lonnie couldn’t comprehend, “I want, to give her that. And if I do say so myself, I hate talking about this with you. So, let’s just shut up.”

Lonnie looked taken aback, but Catra couldn’t even pretend to care.

Adora came out of the bathroom looking pale and obviously feverish, she struggled to make her way over to Catra and held out her hand.

Catra grabbed it as she stood up. “You okay?”

“I just definitely have the flu.” Adora laughed weakly.

“Let me know… when you guys get home safe?” Lonnie said quietly. Adora sent her a nod, and Catra’s heart hurt for a brief moment at the gesture.

They walked out hand in hand, Catra resisted the urge to slam the front door.

She opened the passenger side door for Adora and made sure she got in.

“Hey… Catra?” Adora said after Catra started the car.

“Yeah?”

“Did you mean that?”

Catra felt her words stuck in her throat, hoping she didn’t mean-

“What you said to Lonnie?”

Catra gripped the steering wheel tighter, “Uh, I was just… Responding how I thought I should... You know. Making her jealous, or whatever”

“Oh.”

She was going to let it go, but she could practically feel the disappointed energy coming off Adora.

“Of course I meant it.”

“Really?”

“Yes, idiot.”

Adora smiled, “Well, no one has ever said anything that nice about me… Really.” 

“Well then, everyone else is an idiot as well.”

Catra could see Adora move her hand to touch Catra’s leg but quickly brought it back into her lap. “Thanks.” She said quietly.

“If your other friends haven’t said anything that nice about you, then again, they’re just idiots.”

“Yeah,” Adora laughed in a tone Catra didn’t quite understand, “I’ll talk to my other friends about that.”



Adora went on a long rambly rant on the drive home about how she didn’t want to burden Catra, how she could find somewhere else to stay while sick, quickly becoming a wreck.

“Glimmer has her improv troupe things, and if she gets sick she’ll kill me,” Adora said, on the verge of tears.

“Adora, like I said. I don’t mind, it’s not a big deal. You can stay with me for a little bit.”

“Okay, but,” She said, still rambling, “Scorpia is going to be there. We’re going to be there. I’ll literally just be a burden.”

“No.” Catra grabbed her hands after she had parked. “You won’t. We can figure something out with Scorpia. She loves you, and if we aren’t being all coupley while you have the flu , it’ll be fine.”

“I’m a bad actor.”

“You’ve done fine so far.” Catra squeezed her hands again and Adora blushed.

“Having to worry about her and then also just worrying about-”

“Adora.” Catra instinctually touched her face. “Let me worry about it.”

Adora melted into the touch and nodded as she unbuckled her seatbelt. “If I bother you just tell me, and I'll leave.”

“Where would you go?” Catra laughed.

“I could figure something out.”

“Not while you have the flu, are you kidding me?” Catra laughed again at Adora’s absurdity, “I promise, I’ll tell you if you bother me, but I doubt that will happen.”

 

--

 

Adora did hate when people tried to take care of her, she accepted it at moments like when she would have anxiety attacks, only because of the scolding of many therapists.

Sure, then she could ask for help because that was okay, it was warranted.

It was clear Catra didn’t really know what to do with her. Adora never had a friend help take care of her while she was sick, and maybe that was just because Glimmer was the most squeamish person alive when it came to sickness. But there was a weird air around them that just screamed ‘ this is a major rule break

They had just discussed the rules, and they had come to a good conclusion, in Adora’s eyes. And even though she would never ask for it, and would feel completely terrible about it, she wanted to be held or taken care of.

But now there was this , Adora staying at Catra’s for multiple days.

Like, some would say, a couple.

Adora was in Catra’s clothes curled up in a blanket on her bed. Catra brought her a glass of water and saltine crackers from the cupboard. She sat nervously at the end of the bed staring at Adora like she was waiting for a command.

There was no discussion of where anyone was sleeping this time, just a silent agreement.

“Are you sleepy?” Catra asked.

“Very sleepy.” Adora sighed and rubbed her eyes. “I feel terrible.”

“Want me…” Catra’s voice trailed off, and Adora’s stomach pinged with anticipation. Knowing she’d probably say yes to anything. “I can read you to sleep? The book we’re reading?”

We’re reading.

It was heartwarming that Catra didn’t read the book Adora read to her unless they were together.

“Sure.” Adora smiled weakly and dug herself under Catra’s comforter.

Catra grabbed something from the book on her nightstand then stood up to grab their book from her bookshelf.

She settled in next to Adora, instead of curling up on the end of the bed. Looking apprehensive and awkward with every subtle movement.

“Catra.” Adora started, “I’m... You know.” She sighed deeply, preparing her words and hoping they wouldn’t be shot down. “I’m cool with just… Calling this an exception. Things can go… Back to normal? After?”

A look of confusion flashed in Catra’s eyes, and she was silent a little too long. Adora felt a light veil of anxiety fall over her before Catra whispered. “Are you sure?”

Was Adora sure?

“Yes, fully.” She cringed at her own words, not liking how obvious they sounded.

Catra scooted a little closer to her, a bit of the awkwardness had faded away.

When Adora looked over, Catra had the note she wrote earlier in the day and placed it in the book as a bookmark. Adora almost cried at the simple gesture but pretended not to notice.



Adora woke up probably a thousand times throughout the night. Either too hot or too cold, thrashing around in the blankets even though her limbs ached.

She spent most of the time making her way to and from the bathroom until she collapsed in tears on the bed.

Catra woke up with a slight gasp at the sound of Adora crying.

She turned on the lamp on her bedside table and reached out for Adora. “Hey,” She said soothingly, “Come here.” Her speech was slurred from sleepiness.

“It’s okay,” Adora said sounding small, curling up on her own.

Catra shook her head and grabbed Adora’s hand to pull her into her chest. Without thinking, Adora wrapped herself around her and continued to let the tears spill over her.

“Wake me up next time,” Catra whispered into her hair, as she tentatively started running her hands through it.

Every touch coming from her was so unsure, but still somehow felt familiar.

Adora tried to make breakfast the next morning but ended up feeling too nauseous looking at scrambled eggs.

Catra laughed and finished things for her, making her a piece of toast and a cup of tea.

“I have to go to work today,” Catra said after she took a bite of her food. “You good with being here without me?”

Adora shifted nervously, “I guess so.” 

In theory, it was fine, but she didn’t mind feeling like she could get affection from Catra without having to explain why to anyone, even herself.

“I can come to check on you during my break?”

Adora smiled at the thought, “I can make you lunch?”

Catra rolled her eyes, “Don’t be a dumbass, you couldn’t even look at eggs.”

“I just want to be helpful.”

Catra stood up to get ready and patted Adora on the head. “You don’t need to be. Just rest.”

Adora huffed and stared down at her bland piece of toast that she couldn’t even get herself to put butter on.

She really hated being sick.



Catra had been gone for a couple of hours and Adora was doing absolutely anything to keep herself busy, but she was numbingly bored with no active things to do, or no ways to help .

Adora had bombarded her with texts telling her, please, do not come home to check on her. It had barely been a day and she already had an overwhelming feeling of guilt following her around.

 

Catra: ok - if youre not gonna let me come to my own home lmao, i left you a book to read that i really like on the nightstand if you wanna read it

 

Adora picked up the book, cradling it to her chest like she was holding something precious. Catra was purposefully sharing something she liked with Adora to hopefully bring her comfort, that thought made her more flustered than she had thought.

In her effort to retaliate against her own mind, she was putting off trying to figure out how she felt about everything . She told herself since she was sick, she basically had a ‘day pass’ the whole week to shove everything down.

She slowly made her way back to the living room, struggling to stand as she did so. The book almost fell out of her hands when she saw Scorpia. They had not planned on what to do if the two of them were alone.

“Adora! Hey! I am so sorry you aren’t feeling well.” Scorpia set her backpack down by the door and made her way to the couch. “Catra is making me send her updates, but don’t tell her I told you.”

“You really don’t have to do that, she’s worrying too much.”

“She won’t admit it outright,” Scorpia chuckled to herself, “But she is extremely protective over the people that she…” She looked Adora up and down like she was surveying her, “Likes? Loves? I don’t know where you guys are at with that.” She laughed.

“Uh,” Adora felt herself flush. “We, uh, well… We… Um... ” She walked into the kitchen to avoid answering the question, her body felt like it was on fire.

She grabbed herself a glass of water before returning, to be able to sip on mindlessly to find more time to think of words to say. “Has she...said anything... Like that?” Adora muttered into her cup, just loud enough for Scorpia to hear.

“That she loves you?”

Adora took another long sip of water to distract herself from the many different nerve endings jumping around in her body. “Yes, or just that, you know. That she likes me.”

Scorpia’s brows furrowed in confusion. “You’re... Asking me if she likes you?”

Adora nodded, planning on explaining the conversation away later and blaming it on her fever. “Yeah, like, does she tell you that she likes me?”

Scorpia’s face, thankfully, turned into a gentle smile. “I mean, why would she be with you otherwise? Catra maybe has made some questionable relationship decisions, but she wouldn’t stay if she didn’t want to.”

Adora wanted to pry more because that answer didn’t give her anything. Just more worry, because she knew the two months they had planned were going to close soon. “Yeah, her... Ex? Her ex-fling? That was definitely questionable.”

Scorpia blushed, “I’m sorry about that, by the way. Not what I had planned.”

“Not your fault,” Adora reassured her before joining her on the couch. “Is it okay that I sit here? I can go to Catra’s room.”

“Nah, it’s okay. I’d hug you, but I do have a test soon. I have a great immune system though.”

“So,” Adora bit her lip, “Catra talks about me?”

“I mean, yeah?” Scorpia gave her another confused look. “If you’re wanting to know if she loves you,” Scorpia said the word with such casualness and ease, but Adora’s stomach flipped. “I would just ask.”

“Maybe… Maybe not love.” Adora took another deep breath, wracking her mind for words. If there was a time to process things, maybe she could get Scorpia talking so she could at least know if Catra felt anything toward her.

“If Catra didn’t like you, you wouldn’t be here. That, I know.”

“Well, being in a… Relationship doesn’t always secure that fact.”

“No, I mean. Here . In our house? While you’re sick? That’s at least leaning toward love. Don’t tell her I said anything.” Scorpia winked.

Love was maybe not the right word. Love was a heavy word. One that sat in the bottom of Adora’s stomach and weighed her down. Recently, all it had done was hurt her, make her kneel over in pain.

So, it didn’t exactly feel good.

Partly because that word stung, another part because she was hopeful, but not an idiot. Even if Catra did affectionately call her that once in a while.

Adora decided to hole herself away in Catra’s room the rest of the night to read until she got home from work.

Catra’s face lit up when she walked in and saw Adora in bed, “You’re reading it?”

“Of course.” Adora smiled, she shut the book and set it down when Catra came over.

“You doing okay?”

“I’ve felt better, but I’m okay.”

“Okay.” Catra sighed before turning on the TV in her room. “I made a list of movies in my head that we can watch while you’re here.”

“Can we…” Adora’s voice trailed off, and she looked up at Catra hoping she could read her mind.

“What do you need?” She said it so gently and earnestly like she did actually care about the answer.

“Cuddles?”

Catra laughed and hid her smile behind her hand. “Let me pick a movie first.”

“I can big spoon?” Adora asked, still trying to at least help out somehow and not be completely useless.

“Shut up.” Catra rolled her eyes as she got in bed. “No.”



Adora got worse before she got better. Nightly routines of crying from frustration followed by Catra soothing her until she was able to sleep happened for a couple of days to follow.

And lines started to become… Blurry , to say the least.

Adora stopped asking for cuddles, they just started happening throughout the day, not even just at night.

Just sitting on the couch, Catra would rest her head on her shoulder. Or sitting closer to each other in bed with their arms touching. It started to become more habitual instead of a question each time. Just another unspoken answer.

Or they’d brush their teeth in the bathroom together. Adora had to actually shower at Catra’s, so Catra would turn on the water for her and rub her back so she had the motivation to get in.

Then there was the unspoken time Adora felt too weak to get her sweatshirt off over her head. So Catra laughed, closed her eyes, and helped Adora out of it.

Adora noted every detail of every single interaction, so she could analyze them while bored. Trying not to think too much about Scorpia’s loose expression of the word love.

That terrifying word.

Since she had so much time to think, she brought herself back to her roots. Which was Glimmer yelling at her that she over-romanticized everything or anyone she came into contact with. So that was what Adora was going with.

She didn’t like Catra, she didn’t love Catra, she was just simply in a happy space because… Maybe, being taken care of sometimes felt okay.

She was just in her head about it, it was nothing.

That thought, though, didn’t last long.

Adora had been there about a week. The whole time she kept trying to do things for Catra, kept trying to at least clean her room, or wash her sheets, or do the dishes. Which was always met with annoyance from Catra, since Adora was not resting.

Catra had gotten home from work to find Adora rearranging her sock drawer. Socks everywhere in separate piles scattered out all around the floor.

“I just can’t sit still and not do anything.” Adora crossed her arms in defiance as Catra stepped in, already knowing she would be scolded.

“Are you lining them up by color?”

“Catra, I just need something to do.”

“Okay, let’s go play a video game or something?”

“No.” Adora sighed and laid down on her back. “I don’t mean like that.”

Catra sat next to her head and brushed a piece of hair away from Adora’s mouth. “Then what do you mean?”

“I don’t even make you dinner.” Adora groaned and threw her hands over her eyes to stop tears from forming.

“I don’t understand.” Catra laughed, but there was a hint of worry.

“Catra, rule number one. I am not even getting you food.”

Catra cackled, which didn’t help. Adora was serious , but Catra just kept laughing. “Are you worried about that, right now?”

“Not just that.” Adora sat up and faced the wall so she didn’t have to look at her. “I keep taking. Taking from you, not giving you anything back. You keep doing all of these things for me, and I have nothing to offer you. At this point, I am just becoming more of a burden.”

Catra touched Adora’s shoulder, Adora moved her hand off of her, (but not before she gently ran her fingers over it).

“Adora, I said you could stay here. I told you if I got annoyed I’d throw you out.”

“But you can’t, so I am here by default.”

Catra crawled over and sat in Adora’s view so they could make eye contact. She grabbed Adora’s hands, and said, “Breathe with me?”

Adora nodded, not realizing how much she had been shaking until now.

After a few moments she cut back in, “But, I’m serious, Catra.”

Catra looked annoyed, and Adora almost threw up, her heart rate picked up again. She mentally prepared for the worst.

“Adora,” Catra placed a hand on her cheek. “You don’t need to give things to me, or do things for me, to show me that you care, or that you are grateful.”

“But-”

“No, listen, please?”

Adora gave in and nodded.

“Sometimes people can just be there for you. Without you feeling like you’ve taken too much. You don’t need to prove anything to me. You’re good as you are. I promise, if I didn’t want you here, I would make Glimmer deal with it.”

“Catra…”

“No, keep listening. You’re enough as you are, okay? And you do do things for me, they’re just other things. Like you make me laugh, or read my favorite book. The fact that you keep trying to do all of these things for me, like, rearrange my sock drawer.” Catra snorted, “Shows the same amount of care as actually doing them. I’m telling you, you don’t have to.”

Adora felt like she was naked and on display, the words cutting deep into a vulnerable part of her that no one ever addressed. She just stared at Catra, barely knowing how to respond.

“You promise?” Adora whispered.

“I promise. Let me make you another piece of dry toast unless you’re feeling up to having butter.”

Adora gave in again, and let herself be led to the kitchen. Making sure to intertwine their fingers as they walked.

Catra left to take a shower while Adora ate, and all she could do was spiral. Her mind didn’t feel like it was connected to the rest of her body, the thoughts in her head became a separate being standing before her.

You can over-romanticize a lot of things, small gestures that may mean nothing. The way someone laughs, the way an eyelash falls onto your cheek and, maybe, they reach up to brush it off. 

The silly little things, like still remembering Catra secretly loved Valentine's day. Or how she always purposefully made sure Adora didn’t have to drink vodka.

Maybe the way Catra was always there for her without a question. Would let her guard down and let Adora know that, no, she did mean what she said to Lonnie.

Putting up with her friends, or thinking of movies for them to watch.

When does the line get crossed, when do small meaningless gestures turn into something that reflects compassion, or true affection?

The jealous feeling Adora felt knowing Catra had touched someone else, thinking it had been a lot more recent than it turned out to be. The panic she felt, feeling like she had been lied to, the disaster she turned into when she felt like she had let Catra down.

The pull she felt whenever she was in the room, trying her best to keep her distance for the sake of the rules, but always needing to at least touch her hand.

Catra had shrugged it off multiple times, let her fall asleep in her arms just because she wasn’t feeling well, not even needing something in return. They had mutually agreed out loud consistently that they were friends. Catra was just there to help Adora out, but that had turned into a mutually agreeable friendship.

One that Adora worried about losing every time the thought occurred to her. A friendship in which Adora knew that if she lost it, she wouldn’t know what to do with herself.

Maybe, at first, Catra felt like a distraction from Lonnie. Fun at first, even though it ached.

But it wasn’t like that, not anymore.

If anything, Adora needed a distraction from Catra, because most of the day she just thought about her.

And when Catra came out of the bathroom, her short hair messy, just in a sports bra and boxers, grinning when Adora was stomaching more than dry toast, Adora knew.

Maybe it was a friendship for Catra.

But Adora knew if things were different, she would have kissed her right then.

The painful word of love hung over her head, all of the events between them replaying in her mind.

Adora didn’t think, you could over-romanticize something, that was inherently, and pretty blatantly, romantic.

The thing she put off trying to figure out was wrecked just by a playful grin.

Adora knew.

Knew she was absolutely fucked.

Chapter Text

Two months, they had decided on two months. 

That’s how long for sure they would keep their ‘arrangement’ going.

They had decided on that about one month and twenty-nine days ago.

Catra knew that the date was approaching, she wished she was more blissfully ignorant about the passage of time, but she woke up that morning with a deep feeling of knowing in her stomach.

Neither of them had brought it up, not directly. Catra had half a mind to just pretend to forget about the date and hope that Adora had forgotten too. Maybe then they could just stay in it longer, just play pretend for a couple of more days.

They always had the word friends that kept them afloat, a mutual check-in to make sure they were on the same page. Even if it was somewhat of a lie on Catra’s part, it was more of a reassurance that Adora would still want her around after.

That word had now turned into exception , which was far more confusing. Catra was stuck on that word because it never formed into a decision to strike the rules altogether. It kept being an exception, a silent mutual decision.

Catra knew that the reason they were in this ‘relationship’ in the first place was for Adora’s benefit, so she should be the one to decide.

She had to bite back any of the hundreds of words swirling around her mind at all times whenever she was with Adora. If Adora asked if they could keep going, she would say yes in a heartbeat. She wouldn’t have to explain her reason for wanting it, so she could keep it casual.

That would be a lot better than Catra blurting out, “I want you, for real.” With a high chance of making a fool of herself.

So now, Catra was sitting on her bed trying to distract herself by reading while she waited for Adora to come over. 

Adora had texted her earlier in the day and asked if she could come over so they could hang out alone. Catra was trying to prepare herself for losing the one part of Adora that someone could so easily take away from her after today. Even if it was fake, she still had it, she could still fool herself if she wanted to.

She heard a knock at the door and looked down at her phone, Adora was two hours early which didn’t help the nerves in Catra’s body. She was burdened with the thought that Adora probably just wanted to get it over with.

Catra dragged herself to the front door, she took a deep breath and plastered on a smile before she opened it.

Adora was standing there looking more bright than usual, a huge dopey smile on her face with a backpack slung over her shoulders.

“You’re really early.” Catra laughed as she saw her, the sight of her happiness calmed her down.

“Can I hug you?” Adora said, still smiling when she looked at Catra.

Catra rolled her eyes but closed the gap for them. She did her best not to linger, keeping it as friendly as possible. She had gotten a little too used to the comfort of Adora’s arms the past couple of weeks.

“So, I had an idea.” Adora walked in with a playful bounce in her step. Those stupid pretty blue eyes were shining as she spoke.

Catra did not know if that was a good sign or a bad sign, but she tried her best to keep herself steady. “Okay, and?”

Adora situated herself on the armrest of the couch and took a deep breath. “The night of the carnival, we talked about what we would do on a real date.”

“I remember,” Catra said arching an eyebrow in confusion, trying not to think about the ache that conversation had caused her.

“Okay, well,” Adora took the backpack off her shoulders and started to shuffle through it. “That’s… that’s what is happening. I want to take you on…. Like, not a real date, but like a real… I’m taking you on what I would do for a real date. As like, a last hoorah? Type of thing?”

Catra held back a laugh at how quickly Adora had become flustered. “So, you want to go on a real fake date?”

“Yes, exactly. I mean, if that’s okay with you?”

“So,” Catra cocked her head to the side, “You’re trying to act like a top again?”

Adora rolled her eyes and got up with the sole purpose of playfully shoving her, “Shut up, I am a - you know what, never mind. Are you in?

“Duh, that sounds fun.”

Adora’s smile grew so wide that Catra had to look away for a brief moment so she wouldn’t end up kissing her. 

“I was going to bring you flowers, but I thought you’d hate that.” 

“You’re correct, I do like gifts though.”

“Exactly!” Adora went back to her backpack and pulled out a box. “Okay, it’s stupid, but I got you something.”

Adora, like usual, looked like she was about to pass out. Her face was flushed completely red as she held the box out for Catra. There had been something different about her recently that Catra couldn’t place. She just knew she was more of a giggling idiot than usual but in a good way.

Catra opened the box, Adora had her eyes glued to the floor while she inspected it.

She held in a gasp and also the urge to sit down due to the overwhelming feeling of warmth spreading throughout her. Adora really had to be the cutest fucking person.

“I just thought like, it would be funny or cute because… food, and dates,” Adora said, stumbling over her words.

It was simple, but really fucking cute, a candy bracelet and a laminated picture of the two of them made into a keychain. It wasn’t about what it was, just the fact that Adora had clearly put so much thought into it.

“It’s really stupid, I know-”

“No,” Catra cut her off, she walked over to put her hand on Adora’s shoulder. “Not stupid at all.”

“A candy bracelet because, you know, the me buying you food thing. So now it’s like… a food bracelet which you can either keep or eat. Not sure if it gets gross after a while though. And… yeah I just liked that picture of us.”

“Thank you.”

“Seriously, if it’s dumb just give it back to me-”

Adora,” Catra gently squeezed her shoulder and shook her head. “No, thank you for real. It’s really sweet of you.”

“You can eat it if you don’t like it.”

Catra laughed, she ran her hand up Adora’s neck to place a hand on her jaw. “Shut up, I’ll keep it till it gets gross. I love it, okay? I promise.”

Adora glanced back up at her, her panic subdued, and when her eyes met Catra’s, she had to step back so they were no longer touching. There were many stupid things she could have done; the only safe answer was physical distance.

Adora smirked and grabbed Catra’s hand and pulled her back toward her, Catra almost dropped the gift in her hands when Adora pulled her into another hug. 

Physical distance never really did seem like an option.

Catra let herself linger just a bit longer this time, Adora rubbed her back slowly and Catra let herself rest her face in the crook of her neck. Catra loved that Adora always seemed to let out a little sigh of relief every time they hugged, even if it was dumb it made her feel special.

At least she could have Adora like this for one more day.

 

--

 

“Would you like to hear the itinerary?” Adora asked after they had gotten into her car.

“You made an itinerary for the date?” Catra giggled from the passenger seat.

Adora pulled it from her backpack and cleared her throat dramatically. “Yes, of course I did. If you don’t want to do any of these, let me know. I have back up options.”

Catra looked up at her with such a look of tenderness that Adora had to permanently fix her gaze on the piece of paper in front of her.

“Um, okay,” She cleared her throat again. “Hike and a picnic, arcade, then game night at Bow and Glimmer’s.”

“That sounds fun.”

“I do have a reasoning behind all of them,” Adora said, still not moving her eyes from the page.

Catra had said it herself, Adora was a bad actor. 

She had spent most of the time on her own just repeating the words “I love Catra” into the mirror until it sounded less terrifying. Now that she was aware of her feelings, per se, she was struggling a lot more to keep them under wraps.

So, naturally, she planned an over-the-top date that would give Catra the idea that she loved her, without Adora having to say anything. 

The tentative plan was that hopefully, Catra would pick up on it, and only say something if she felt the same way. 

Otherwise, she could play it off like the date really was just a fun last thing to do as a ‘couple.’

With the pain of her recent heartbreak still so fresh, she needed to be at least ninety-five percent sure Catra felt the same way back. Then there was minimal risk of losing her completely. 

Having Catra in her life as a friend was a million times better than not having her at all.

“Okay, tell me your reasoning.” Catra laughed again as she scrolled through her phone looking for music to play.

“Oh, before I forget, I made a playlist for the drive.” Adora opened the playlist on her phone and handed it to Catra.

“So, the drive is that long, huh?”

“Maybe,” Adora stuck her tongue out playfully. “Okay, hike because… I like hikes? And you’ll see why when we get there. Arcade because you love to think you can beat me at games. Plus, they serve alcohol, and drunk Catra is one of my favorite versions of you. You get… you get… cute, and then Bow and Glimmer’s because they invited us.”

“You think I’m cute when I’m drunk?” Catra said amusingly. 

“Yeah, you… you are.” Adora reached to start the car so she could turn on the AC to compensate for the blush she knew was spreading over her face.

Adora started driving when Catra put on the music, grateful for the noise filling the awkward void she had created.

She had also spent an embarrassing amount of time curating the perfect playlist that gave off the vibe, “It would be cool if you loved me back, so here are some vague love songs that I’ve disguised as happier upbeat songs fit for the summer.”

The drive ended up being around forty-five minutes, Adora usually hated longer car rides with other people. The silence that came along with them usually made her start to feel uneasy, but not with Catra. She was maybe the only person that Adora could sit in silence with.

It was hard to keep her eyes on the road with Catra absentmindedly singing along paired with the fact that she was wearing one of Adora’s shirts which she looked sinfully good in.

Adora wished she could stay in that simple moment with her forever.

She pulled into the parking lot of the state park and looked over at Catra who looked half asleep.

“Sleepy?” Adora asked, reaching out to run her thumb over Catra’s cheek.

Catra stirred a bit and leaned into Adora’s hand before she stretched her arms. “No, I am one hundred percent awake.” She said through a yawn.

Adora chuckled and jumped out of the car before opening the passenger side for Catra.

“You know, I can carry you up the trail if you want.”

“Okay, show off, that’s not happening. I’m perfectly fine.”

“Whatever you say.” Adora laughed and grabbed Catra’s hand as they walked toward the trail. She realized her mistake a few seconds too late, but the urge to drop it passed quickly when Catra didn’t let go.

Physical touch had become so habitual between the two of them that she wasn’t even sure Catra noticed.

She led them up the trail, so focused on the fact that they were holding hands that she almost missed the restricted area of the trail she always snuck onto. Adora helped Catra step over the chain that held a sign saying, ‘Do Not Enter,’ Catra didn’t ask any questions.

“I come to this spot alone, just to clear my head,” Adora said when she found a good spot to sit. “It’s a place I feel safe, just kinda love it here.”

“Are you planning on murdering me?” Catra smiled and squeezed her hand before dropping it.

“You caught me,” Adora rolled her eyes. “I packed some food if you want to eat and watch the sunset.”

She watched breathlessly as Catra blushed and scrunched her nose up. “Okay,” Catra said, reaching to hide her face in her hands.

She got the food out of her backpack along with a bunch of different juices since she didn’t know which one would be Catra’s favorite. Catra laughed more each time she pulled out another one.

“Seriously, how the fuck did you fit that many bottles of juice in your bag?”

Adora grinned, cheeks burning with how long the smile had been on her face. “I wanted to make sure you liked it.”

They had a competition of throwing grapes into each other's mouth to see who caught more. Catra won only by cheating and making Adora laugh every time it was her turn.

They were sitting side by side, arms touching, staring at the view in front of them. They were high enough up to see the tops of some trees as the sun started to set. The sky was a beautiful blue with cotton candy-like pink clouds that made the whole experience even better.

Adora really could have sat there forever just touching Catra’s arm.

At least she could have her like this for one more day.

“Oh! I forgot,” Adora gasped and turned to grab her backpack, she turned back around to see she had placed a hand on Catra’s thigh absentmindedly. She did her best not to linger but enjoyed every breath between them before she removed it to look through her bag. “Okay, don’t laugh.”

Catra was silent for a second before she cleared her throat, “Um, okay.”

“Are you okay?” Adora asked hurriedly, looking into her eyes for confirmation.

Catra just stared at her for a moment with wide eyes before shaking her head, “Yeah, um… yeah, what did you forget?”

Adora decided to let it go but still felt a small sense of nerves fill her stomach. The stakes were higher than usual, and she wanted everything to be perfect.

“Okay, again, don’t laugh.”

“I won’t laugh!” Catra said, while already laughing.

“Do you remember our first official fake date?”

“How could I forget it?” Catra said so softly that Adora almost wanted to risk the whole night and kiss her for real. She really needed to start keeping a tally in her mind at how many times she wanted to kiss her throughout the night.

“Okay, I brought… first date questions.” Adora pulled out a small mason jar with slips of paper tucked into it.

How can you fit that much in that backpack?”

Adora hoped that the sinking of the sun would hide the blush she knew was spreading. “Oh, you know, I don’t know-”

“Did you need to get a backpack big enough for-”

“Catra, please, please, I’m going to stop you there. I’m asking you questions first.”

 

--

 

Catra decided not to say anything when they decided to leave and Adora reached out to hold her hand again.

“So,” Catra sighed, trying to ease her own nerves. “You’d… do this for any girl, huh?” She wanted it to come off as a joke, but it was something that could so easily be cracked open to show a twisted ache for Adora to say otherwise.

Adora cocked her head to the side and her head fell slightly to look at the ground for a moment before she got into the car. She was silent for a little too long before she whispered, “No, not for… Just anyone.”

Catra decided not to push more. She didn’t want to ask who , didn’t want to know how much Adora would have to like someone to plan a whole day for a date. Any girl would have to be completely idiotic not to realize how wonderful she was.

Because Adora was… Well, she was Adora.

She was everything, she would do anything to make sure you were comfortable. Would easily put your feelings first even if she was having a terrible day. All she would have to do was look at you with her stupid pretty blue eyes, and she could get anyone to fall in love with her.

Adora deserved to find someone like that.

Catra had to dig her nails into her palm to stop herself from self-destructing in the car. Everything was perfect, too perfect. And all too confusing, if Adora wouldn’t do this for just anyone, why would she do it for Catra?

She didn’t want to get her hopes up, so she decided to wait for the rest of the night to unfold.

“Are you okay?” Adora asked after she had started driving again. She reached over to put her hand on Catra’s thigh again, instantly making Catra just as flustered as the time before.

“Yeah, I’m just thinking.” Catra kept her gaze out the window to force herself not to look at the placement of Adora’s hand any longer.

“About what?”

Catra could hear the nervous tone of Adora’s voice, she held in a groan, “Um, just about this. I guess.”

Adora pulled her hand away like she had touched a hot iron, “Am I doing too much?”

Catra reached out her hand this time to place it in the same place Adora’s had been on her, “With you, it could never be too much.”



“Okay, I’m really excited about this one.” Adora giggled as they got out of the car again at the arcade parking lot. “I did so much googling to find this, but it’s like an adults-only arcade because they serve alcohol. Also, Glimmer is on call to drive us to her house if we get too drunk.”

Catra honestly couldn’t stop herself, “You’re really fucking cute, you know that?”

Adora beamed at her before she stared down at her shoes, Catra could see her smiling even in the darkness.

“I’m also… really good at arcade games. So, prepare to lose.”

Catra scoffed, “Okay, princess. Put your money where your mouth is.”

Catra was the one who ordered them drinks since Adora always got a little nervous to order things for herself.

When she finally found Adora sitting at a table near the back next to a couple of game machines, her steps halted when she saw a random girl at the table. She watched for a moment at the two of them. Adora seemed more reserved toward her but the other girl was obviously flirting.

Catra felt her throat burn as she took a sip of her drink. Even if Adora didn’t seem to be flirting back, she was too far away to hear their conversation. 

She finally decided to walk over a couple of moments later, forcing a smile as she set the drinks down on the table.

“Hey, Catra.” Adora smiled placing a hand on her face, Catra stepped away instantly looking at the other girl.

“My bad, is this your girlfriend?”

Catra and Adora stared at each other for a brief uncomfortable moment, both waiting for the other person to respond.

“Yeah,” Adora finally said. “Nice to see you, though.”

The random girl walked off with a wave, and Catra forced herself to meet Adora with the fake smile still on.

“Sorry about that.” Adora laughed, reaching for Catra’s hand on the table. “I matched with her on tinder like so long ago.”

“Why would you be sorry?” Catra choked out, staring down at the table.

“Oh,” Adora’s smile fell for a moment, “I mean… I’m here with you.”

Catra forced herself not to say, as friends, right? The jealousy was eating away at a sense of normalcy, “It’s okay if you flirt with other girls.”

Adora’s frown deepened, “I don’t want to.”

Catra took another deep breath, centering herself to ease away her defensiveness. She couldn’t ask why, because there were two answers. Either Adora was just trying to be polite, or Adora wanted to be with Catra.

Or, there was always Lonnie.

But, Catra had a sense that Lonnie wasn’t really in the picture anymore, Adora hadn’t spoken about her in a while, not since she had been at her house when she was sick. With all of the rules they had broken, she didn’t think Adora was just obliging with the, “Adora needs to shut up a little about Lonnie,” rule.

And if Lonnie wasn’t in the picture, either Adora wouldn’t need to stay with Catra anymore, or she was staying because she wanted to.

“Okay,” Catra took a moment to catch her breath. “We should play some games, or something.”

“Catra…” Adora’s voice trailed off, she looked at her with guilty glazed over eyes. “I really wasn’t… flirting with her.”

Catra reached out to squeeze Adora’s hand, “I believe you, okay? I just meant, it’s okay if you were.”

Catra always pushed, she knew that she did it, but there was some part of her that made it uncontrollable. Pushed someone and kept seeking for validation, she wanted to keep going. Keep telling Adora to flirt with other people so maybe she could finally hear the right answer.

“You’re doing it again.” Adora crossed her arms.

“What?”

“Pulling away again, getting cold.”

Catra fell silent, she took a sip of her drink again. The alcohol to soda proportion was way off, leaving a bitter taste in her mouth.

Adora walked over from the other side of the table and put both of her hands on Catra’s shoulders. “Catra,” She said, shaking her head slowly. “No matter what, I’m not leaving you.”

Catra was silent again, but now for a completely different reason. Adora really said fuck you to Catra’s walls and found a way to get over them anyway.

She forced herself not to cry, at the one thing she always needed to hear like Adora cracked her secret code. 

She took a moment, the strength of the vulnerability in her words almost was agonizing. “You promise?” She said weakly, not able to meet Adora’s gaze.

Adora held up her hand holding her pinky out, “I pinky promise.”

There were many times Catra tried to push Adora away, but she always seemed to come back more defiant than the times before.

They both shook off the small moment that they had and made the most of the rest of the time at the arcade. Adora kept sending Catra reassuring glances and hand squeezes throughout the night.

 After a couple of drinks, Adora had just won a game of Pac-Man, which Catra scoffed at and said it didn’t count, since it was an easy game. 

Adora turned to her with maybe the cockiest grin Catra had ever seen on her face and placed a hand on Catra’s side. Adora had bunched up the side of Catra’s shirt just enough so she had three fingers on her skin and two on her shirt, slowly moving the three back and forth across her skin.

“Aw,” Adora stuck her bottom lip out in a pout, “Are you upset that you lost?”

Catra wanted nothing more than to pull her by the edges of her shirt to meet her in a kiss, mostly to wipe that stupid grin off of her face.

No,” Catra choked out, not moving away. “You just keep winning on the easy games. It’s unfair.”

Adora said Catra got cute when she was drunk, but in her defense, Adora was even cuter. And very handsy.

Every time one of them won a game, Adora would go in for a high five but then intertwine her fingers with Catra’s for a moment before letting go.

It seemed like a mutual unspoken decision that drunkenness was also grounds for making things an exception. The word was blurred in the back of Catra’s mind every time she remembered Adora’s fingers on her skin again.



They did end up being too drunk to drive home. They both broke out into a laughing fit, falling over each other when Adora had to make the call to Glimmer to come to get them.

As they were waiting outside for Glimmer, Adora was swaying back and forth on her feet, looking a little dizzy.

“How are we supposed to make it through game night?” Catra cackled, holding onto Adora’s arm so she didn’t fall over.

“We can always lie and say we need to leave.” Adora shrugged with a toothy grin.

“We can’t drive, and where would we even go?”

“Your place,” Adora said like it was the most normal thing in the world, “A lot of my stuff is there.”

Catra pondered it for a moment, but her drunk mind didn’t have the capacity to process what that meant in its fullness.

Glimmer finally pulled up with an amused grin on her face that Catra could spot even from outside the car.

Adora grabbed Catra’s hand and pulled her into the backseat, she took the middle seat so that they were sitting closer together.

Catra had touched Adora so many times at this point, but it felt like she remembered each individual time so clearly. The novelty never felt lost on her, even when they were just arm to arm

Glimmer and Adora were in a back and forth conversation that Catra had drowned out ever since Adora had her hand on her thigh, again. She must have no idea the effect it had on Catra for her to be doing that for the third time that night.

She thought back to the first time Adora brought her into a hug and kissed her forehead, how soft and simple it all was, and the way it made her feel. Even though she hadn’t admitted it to herself fully then, she knew she was fucked. She still was, with Adora drawing circles on her inner thigh.

But it still came down to the fact that it was Adora’s decision in the end.

At least she could for sure have one last night with Bow and Glimmer, who she didn’t expect to like as much as she did. (Well, not Bow. She always liked Bow. Glimmer on the other hand…)

Adora kissed the side of her head before they got out of the car, Catra decided at that moment she wouldn’t question the affection for the rest of the night.

She could have Adora like this, for sure, for just a couple more hours.

Even though Catra stumbled a bit she still was able to hug Bow and Glimmer when she got inside. Catra surveyed her surroundings, at least fifteen games were out in a pile on a separate table along with an abundance of snacks. It made her heart feel warm as she observed the details.

“Catra!”

Catra turned in surprise to see Scorpia sitting on the couch, waving at her like an excited child.

“Scorpia,” Catra chuckled, making her way over to her. “I didn’t know you were coming.”

“Adora made us keep it a secret that we were doing this, so she could surprise you on your date.”

Catra nodded, remembering the amount of detail and care Adora had put into their day. That she wouldn’t do that for just anyone.

“Yeah, it was a really great day, actually.” Catra smiled turning toward Adora, who was looking at her with nothing but pure affection.

 

--

 

When Adora’s drunken state started to lessen over the night, reality started to seep in like a slap in the face.

She looked down at Catra, who was tucked under her arm with her head on Adora’s chest. They had just won a game of Pictionary, which ended up being a real nail biter. They may have a competitive bit back and forth between the two of them, but there was no denying how well they worked as a team.

Adora had told herself she needed to be ninety-five percent sure, but as her perception of Catra's feelings started to turn more in her favor, she caught herself writing them off as not enough.

She needed to be sure.

There was no way to plan a civil breakup, that much was clear. As Adora looked around at all of her friends, faces all red with laughter and bliss, the only thing she could focus on was the anxiety building in her stomach.

If Adora explained the breakup in the wrong way, there was a chance Glimmer would do the most to make sure she had explicit space away from Catra. Even if Adora insisted it was fine, Glimmer would think she would be doing what was best. In a normal scenario, she would be.

“Baby?”

Adora snapped herself out of her daze and looked down at Catra and then at everyone else.

“You okay?” Catra looked up at her, her concern was clearly genuine.

Adora knew Catra only used that term to embarrass her, so if she was concerned-

“Earth to Adora?” Glimmer laughed from the other side of the room. “Do you need some water?”

“I’m good.” Adora rubbed her eyes, “What were we talking about?”

“Oh!” Bow piped up as he looked up from his phone. “Mermista just texted me that she’s been trying to reach you all night.” He said to Adora.

“Oh, shit. I… Wasn’t really on my phone.” Adora said guilty but still smiled down at Catra again.

“Text her back, it seems urgent. About your bridesmaid's dress.”

Adora’s head perked up at the same time as Catra’s.

“Mermista is getting married?” Catra asked, looking around at the whole group.

Adora could see the confusion in the expressions of everyone as they looked between the two of them.

Adora was supposed to go with Lonnie, which meant it was something she had pushed to the back of her mind and forgotten about to ease the pain.

It was also outside the realm of their two-month plan, which meant she had also forgotten to ask Catra.

“Um,” Adora cleared her throat, trying to think of a way to save face. The dynamic grew awkward really quickly when they realized Catra didn’t know about it all. “Yeah,” She turned to Catra, hoping she would pick up on the context clues. “I was actually going to ask Catra if she’d come with me at the end of the night.”

Catra’s expression turned into understanding when she caught Adora’s panicked eyes. “Oh,” she laughed, “When is it?”

Adora knew that question was more loaded than it came off, she chewed on her bottom lip, “It’s in… It’s in two weeks?”

They stared at each other a bit, Catra cocked her head to the side like she was asking if the extended time was okay.

Adora nodded and kissed her on the forehead for good measure. “It’s up to you.”

“Yeah, of course. I’d love to go.”

Adora let out a sigh of relief before turning to the rest of the group. The tension had eased in the room, jokes started flying around again after the awkward blip had been resolved.

The rest of the group started to clean up the cups and the plates, and when Catra stood up to help, Adora grabbed her arm.

“Can you… stay here for a second?”

Catra brought herself back down, she sat a little further away than she had been when the group was around. 

“You know,” Catra whispered, double-checking they were out of earshot. “If you don’t want me to come… I don’t have to.”

“No!” Adora grabbed her hands, “I honestly forgot about it.” She smiled sheepishly, “But I really would love it if you came. It’d be a lot more fun with you there.”

“So… we’re…”

“Not ending it at two months.” Adora finished for her. “We made the rule for at least two months… After that, it ends when you want it to.”

“When you want it to,” Catra said as if she was correcting her.

Adora raised an eyebrow at her, “You think… it’s up to me?” She laughed, which caused another confused look from Catra.

“Yes?” Catra said tentatively.

With such simple words, something fell into place. They were both so clearly not on the same page, that it felt comical, almost.

Catra was willing to stay as long as Adora wanted her, Adora was ninety-five percent sure of that.

“You’re an idiot,” Adora said with a grin.

Catra playfully scoffed, “Woah, woah, woah. That’s my thing to say.”

Adora grabbed Catra by the hips and scooted her closer to her. She slid her fingers slightly under her shirt before she looked back up at her.

Catra’s eyes had widened and her jaw had dropped slightly. Her breathing immediately got louder the more time Adora spent silent.

“Can…” Adora breathed through a nervous grin, she released one hand to brush her thumb over Catra’s face. “Can I kiss you?”

Catra’s mouth fell open further, Adora pushed away the nerves forming in her stomach. She knew she could play it off if she said no, but her nerves weren’t around Catra denying her.

Catra moved even closer and put her hands on Adora’s face. She leaned her head forward so their lips were almost touching, just close enough so she could feel her breath on her face. Catra nodded slightly before she closed the gap between them.

They had only kissed twice, really. Both ended in something strangely dramatic happening after. With at least one person in the room that needed to be watching.

Adora didn’t need to look to see if anyone was watching, she almost didn’t want them to.

Catra’s lips were so delicate against hers at first, they started off soft and slow against each other. Adora kept her arms around Catra’s waist and tried to pull her closer as much as she could.

She tried to bring Catra’s legs over her to wrap around her waist, longing for every bit of contact she could get.  Catra broke apart to look behind them toward the kitchen. “It’s okay.” Adora breathed, “Don’t worry.”

Adora tugged at her again and Catra complied, wrapping her legs around her. Adora sighed back into the kiss, her breath shaking for an entirely different reason.

She felt Catra start to deepen the kiss and pick up the pace a bit, Adora placed a hand on her face and whispered, “Slow.” Against her lips. Which elicited a small gasp on Catra's end.

Adora felt warmth spread throughout her body, every breath Catra let out made her feel dizzy. Time felt like it had sped up two times the speed, before it was even over Adora already missed it.

“Break it up lovebirds.” Glimmer’s voice came from the kitchen.

Catra snapped her head up with an embarrassed look on her face, almost knocking her head into Adora’s in the process. She slowly pulled her legs back, so she was sitting on her own, lips still slightly red and breath unsteady. She looked just as dazed as Adora felt.

“Adora,” Catra ran a hand through her hair and fell silent.

Glimmer waltzed in with a glass of wine in her hand, Bow and Scorpia not far behind her.

“Catra, when are you free to go shopping for your wedding outfit?” Glimmer giggled over her glass.

“Whenever.” Catra choked out with a smile.

“You will be wearing a tux.” Adora chimed in from beside her, wrapping her arm over her shoulder.

“Oh, is that so?” Catra rolled her eyes and rested her head on Adora’s shoulder.



Catra had decided to go home with Scorpia, which Adora secretly hated but accepted it as much as she could without panicking.

“Can I walk you to the car?” Adora asked quietly.

“I’ll hang back for a bit.” Scorpia winked at the two of them and continued her conversation with Bow and Glimmer.

“Adora,” Catra said again in the same tone as before.

For a moment, Adora felt like her worst fear was about to transpire before her, that the other five percent was winning over everything else, that Catra didn’t even begin to feel the same way back.

“You don’t have to say anything.” But it would be really great if you did.

“Okay, um,” Catra sighed heavily, “I’ll just head home?”

“If you want to.”

“Okay… Okay.”

Adora almost went in to kiss her again, but Catra diverted her gaze to the ground.

“I’m okay.” Catra said like she had read Adora’s mind, “I’m just...Okay, I guess I’ll go home.”

Scorpia came outside and Adora stood in the doorway and watched as they drove off, keeping her gaze on Catra’s face the whole time.

At that moment as she watched her leave, Adora knew she had two options, act like nothing happened and play it off, or go all out.

Since she was already fucked from the beginning, she decided to go all out for the millionth time that day.

She ran back inside and grabbed her phone, she locked herself in the bathroom so she could be alone for a quick minute, feeling like she needed to move quickly before the moment ended.

It was either her anxiety or her adrenaline making her hands shake, but she sat on the edge of the bathtub counting herself through breathing exercises. The whole day, she had been inadvertently telling Catra she loved her, hoping she’d notice.

If the kiss wasn’t enough, she was going to have to be a little more direct.

Not fully direct, there was still a five percent chance of unsureness left standing.

But she knew, or hoped,  that Catra would get it anyway.

Adora scrolled through her photos until she found the picture she took earlier on their hike. Catra’s face looked more beautiful than usual, if that was even possible. The sunset that was reflected on her face made her eyes look hypnotizing.

She opened instagram and went to post the photo, she sat as she stared at her keyboard, counting her breaths a couple of more times.

There was one way, for sure, that she could send the message of what she was feeling. One way that she could pretend that it was all for show, or lead Catra to her true feelings. Even if it was absolutely idiotic, but Catra always liked that about her.

She had gone all out all day, she had kissed her when no one was watching, but if that wasn’t enough, there was still more she could do for now.

She was not giving up on Catra.

 

--

 

Catra drowned out most of Scorpia’s light conversation on the way home. Her mind was stuck on the obvious.

She kept brushing her thumb over her lips to try and remember what it felt like when Adora’s were on hers. If things were confusing before, they had increased tenfold, all she knew was that she needed a clear head to process it all.

In the middle of the car ride, Catra heard a notification on her phone ping in her pocket.

Catra furrowed her brows when she saw Adora had tagged her in a photo. She didn’t know what kind of communication she had expected, but she thought it would be silent for a while.

She fumbled her phone open to see that Adora had posted a photo of her earlier in the same day, the caption read, “Got to spend the whole day with my favorite person, I love you.

Catra quickly dropped her phone in her lap, staring at the caption with wide eyes. Her heartbeat picked up quickly as she read it over and over again.

She looked over to Scorpia who was still in the middle of a sentence, not aware of anything that had just happened.

“Scorpia.” Catra cut in, looking down at her phone. “I need… I need to tell you something.”

“What’s up?” Scorpia asked, with genuine concern.

“It’s about me and Adora.”

Chapter Text

After Catra had spilled her guts out to Scorpia on the ride home, they sat in their car parked down the street from their apartment building in silence.

Scorpia didn’t seem mad, more shocked than anything, maybe a little disappointed.

Catra had been expecting a blown up situation with a lot of yelling, but she should have known better when it came to her best friend.

They decided to wait to speak about it until the morning, Catra was still in a little bit of a daze that was mixed with new terrifying information and a couple too many drinks.

When she stepped into her bedroom, she laid flat on her back to stare at the ceiling, counting how many breaths she took as time ticked by.

She had realized at that moment that there were only two or three rules they had not yet broken. Something she was so sure about and wanted to stand by so strictly had withered away into nothing, and she didn’t know how to feel.

All they had left to break was rule number two, a stupid one, in Catra’s opinion, about posting on instagram. And rule number six, not dating anyone else. Those were the two, (along with not talking about Lonnie), that Catra didn’t think would ever be broken.

She contemplated texting Adora, wondering if she should let her know that she saw the post, ask her if she meant it, or just let it be. She had yet to even like it, just stared at the caption until the words started to look funny.

Scorpia ended up waking her with a knock on Catra’s bedroom door. Two cups of coffee and a bag of muffins were in her hands from the shop down the street. She looked hesitant as she sat on the end of her bed, like one wrong move and Catra would shatter.

“Do you want to talk now?” Scorpia said, her voice low.

“Coffee first.” Catra groaned, making grabby hands for the cup that Scorpia handed her. She wasn’t hungover, but that didn’t mean she didn’t have the most agonizing headache pounding in her head.

The fact that Scorpia had stayed silent and wasn’t rambling to fill the silence made Catra’s stomach flip. She didn’t think Scorpia felt betrayed , but there was definitely a feeling of discontent in the air.

“So,” Scorpia sighed after she took a sip of coffee, making a face afterward seemingly from the bitter taste. “Why didn’t you just tell me? That everything was… you know.”

Catra took a deep breath, she felt incredibly guilty that she couldn’t even meet her eyes when she spoke. “We made kind of a contract, we promised each other we wouldn’t tell anyone. It’s a little stupid to look back on now.”

Scorpia nodded, “Okay, that seems… Fair. So, everything was fake?”

“I mean,” Catra started tearing apart her muffin, “I’m not really sure anymore. If some of it was or wasn’t.”

“So, you love her back?”

Catra winced, “Love her back? Also… Love, I don’t-”

“Catra, let me blunt since sometimes I’m the only one you listen to,” Scorpia said with a gentle laugh. “She made it very clear how she feels about you, at least in my opinion. You cannot tell me that you were faking it while she stayed here with the flu. You weren’t around anyone besides me, and I’d come home to you cuddling on the couch.”

“Some things… may have gotten confusing.”

“Catra, please listen.” Scorpia placed a hand on Catra’s shoulder and shook her head. “I can’t tell you how you feel, only you can do that. Sure, I think you can fake a relationship, pretend that you’re in love, but she doesn’t just say she loves you when people are around. She shows you while you’re alone as well. The way she looks at you? Gosh, I… I think a lot of people would kill to have someone look at you the way she does.”



“I think you would look good in this!” Glimmer said as she held up maybe the ugliest dress Catra had ever seen.

“You’d have to murder me before I wore a dress, especially that one.” Catra scrunched up her nose, before sending her a cheesy grin.

Glimmer and Scorpia had taken her to a more fancy-like store to shop for a wedding outfit. Catra had waited till the last minute which apparently sent Glimmer into a frenzy and a dedicated hunt to find something for her to wear.

Catra tapped her fingers on the back of her phone while she checked the time every other minute, there was someone who she was waiting for to arrive. They had only spoken over text a couple of times, sending each other funny posts or just a goodnight or good morning text. 

“Do you want to color coordinate with Adora? Her bridesmaid’s dress is gold, she finally picked it out.”

“I think I would look terrible in gold.”

Glimmer pursed her lips together as she shook her head, “You’re killing me over here, Catra. You’ve said no to everything.”

“What about these ones?” Scorpia beamed from the other side of the store, holding up a couple of different options.

Catra gave in, she gave her a half-smile before grabbing them and heading to the dressing room. She heard Glimmer and Scorpia chatting from outside the curtain as she changed. There really is nothing worse than dressing rooms with easily opened curtains instead of a door that locks.

The first suit she tried on was navy blue with a velvet texture, it was itchy on her skin as she slid it on. She held in her own laughter as she looked at herself in the mirror, it was almost three sizes too big, and she also just hated it.

Clothes shopping wasn’t her favorite thing in the world, at least not with other people.

“Scorpia, can you help me?” Catra said, holding up the back of her pants as she stepped out, needing help with the zipper in the back.

She stepped out to see Adora had joined the other two, she was still in her work clothes from earlier in the day, a messy ponytail with strands of hair falling that framed her face. She looked up at Catra slowly with her arms wrapped around her body.

Catra felt rooted in place when she looked at her, not realizing how much she missed her until they made eye contact.

Adora slightly pushed past the other two and reached around Catra’s waist to zip up the back of her pants.

“You look, like really good in this,” Adora whispered in her ear, straightening out the arms of the jacket.

“Thanks, I kind of hate it,” Catra said, forcing out a laugh.

Scorpia gave her a knowing look, saying “I told you so,” with her eyes. She gestured for Glimmer to follow her, leaving Adora alone with her. Catra was surprised at how nonchalant Scorpia seemed, composure not breaking in the slightest from the heavy weight of the secret she had divulged earlier.

“Hey, um…” Catra said, looking down at her feet. “I missed you.”

“You did?” Adora raised an eyebrow, looking a little breathless.

“Yeah, dumbass I did. Help me pick out an outfit? Glimmer is trying to get me to go all out, but I think you know me a bit better.”

“You think so?”

“I know so.”



“Did you tell her?” Scorpia said eagerly, basically bouncing up and down as they got back home.

“I can’t confess my feelings in a changing room. Plus, I don’t know what I’d say to her.” Catra scoffed as she placed the shopping bags at her feet.

“Catra, let me put it this way. Would you be as touchy-feely with me as you are with her? Would you help me get into the shower if I had the flu?”

Catra cringed, “No offense, Scorp, but no. Also, I closed my eyes when she got in.”

“You are one of the least touchy-feely people I’ve ever met, watching you with her, you seem like a different person.”

“Ugh,” Catra groaned, “That’s so cheesy.”

“It’s true, though. You can’t deny it.” Scorpia grinned as she sat down on the couch. Pulling her laptop over to her to do some last-minute homework.

“Saying it out loud makes it real, and that’s…” Catra ran a hand through hair, “That’s a lot to handle. I’ve never said it to anyone besides Lonnie.”

Scorpia whipped her head around, “What? Like... Lonnie? That Lonnie?”

Catra rubbed her temples, “That’s a weird story. I told her that I wanted her, I guess.”

“Did you see Adora's dress? Glimmer showed me a picture, Mermista let them pick out their own.”

“No,” Catra whispered, she was on edge just thinking about it. The only other time she saw her in a dress she looked painstakingly incredible, three words and eight letters would fall out of her mouth in an instant.

Catra sorted through her clothes in her room, hanging up everything while the sound of a show played in the background. Adora had convinced her to get more than one outfit so she could surprise her the next day.

She reached for her phone, eyes flickering down at a text notification on her lock screen.

 

Adora: I missed you too just so you know :) goodnight

 

Catra sighed before texting her goodnight back, throwing her phone onto the bed so she wouldn’t have to look at it anymore. She still hadn’t liked the instagram post. In her mind, it was the equivalent of saying her feelings out loud.

 

--

 

Adora wasn’t a big fan of being in a dress, she tolerated it at most. Except the one she was in now was the most beautiful thing she had ever laid eyes on. It was gold and shimmery just long enough so Adora wouldn’t trip over her own feet.

Perfuma also looked stunning, flowers covered the top of her pink dress. She gasped with excitement when they stepped out of different rooms to show each other what they had picked out.

Seahawk was apparently a trust fund baby, something Adora found out when she arrived. They had enough money between the two of them to go all out and include everything they wanted to do.

Mermista’s dad and aunt were the only two family members she had, along with her cousin Frosta. She had invited all of her close friends to a found family celebration before the ceremony happening later in the day.

Adora and Perfuma had met Mermista’s aunt for the first time the other day while they sat with her while she was getting her bridal mehndi done for the ceremony. Everything felt so warm, like that feeling after a great time with your friends that feels like a high. Lasting for multiple days at a time as they celebrated together.

It almost took Adora’s mind away from the Catra Situation™.

Frosta was trying to let them play her own playlist, which was filled with the soundtrack of Teen Beach Movie. (Which Adora secretly loved).

Perfuma tried to teach Adora how to properly spin around in a dress like in the movies, holding her hand and spinning her around as fast as she could without Adora toppling over. Mermista rolled her eyes at them, but there was still a smile tugging at her lips.

“Maybe you can set Perfuma up with Scorpia,” Mermista stuck her tongue out playfully as she watched them. “Seeing you all over Catra might make her feel left out.”

Adora bit her lip and stared down at the grass beneath her, “I won’t be all over her, I have some dignity.”

“Well, you usually are.” Perfuma giggled before squeezing Adora’s hand. “We love that for you, though.”

Adora made an effort to push away any aching part of her that was longing for Catra to finally bring up their kiss in the living room, or if she was lucky, the stupid instagram post. She didn’t regret it, but she still felt a little silly.

“Yeah, well.” Adora combed her fingers through her hair, still reconciling with the fact she’d have to wear it down all day. “I’ll talk to Scorpia about that.”

“Everyone gets horny at weddings.” Mermista shrugged, nonchalant as usual.

Adora burst out laughing at Perfuma’s flustered expression and engulfed her in a hug. “I’m really happy we’re all here.”

She wasn’t surprised at the calmness in Mermista’s demeanor, she was usually more reserved with everyone besides the two of them. The three of them seemed to balance each other out well, which was incredibly beneficial when they had their collective breakdowns in the freezer at work.

Perfuma was the one who sat Mermista down and sternly told her to tell Seahawk her true feelings. They had a thing going on for maybe two years before Mermista finally admitted it. The first time Adora saw Mermista panic was when they were watching The Notebook and she had a life-changing realization about wanting to marry Seahawk in the first place.

“I think Kyle might be more nervous being a groomsman than you are as the bride.” Perfuma chuckled in her hand before spinning around Frosta while they were dancing.



The ceremony was more casual, everyone had the option to either stand up and mingle around or sit if they wanted to. The weather was beautiful, having a wedding outside was always risky, but Mermista wasn’t going to budge on that decision.

Adora chewed on the side of her thumb nervously while she searched the crowd waiting for Catra to arrive. Her phone was in a bag back in Mermista’s dressing room, so she wouldn’t be able to know if she was there. Per their agreement, Catra hadn’t told her what outfit she had decided on wearing, and Adora was more excited to see that than she had anticipated.

She looked upwards when she felt a strong hand on her shoulder, Scorpia was standing before her beaming.

“You look beautiful,” Scorpia said, gesturing to her dress. “Catra might pass out.”

Adora twisted some of her hair in her fingers and glanced down at the ground, thankful Mermista let her wear flats instead of heels. “I don’t know about that.”

Scorpia’s face fell into a determined look, still some friendless behind her eyes. “Adora,” She looked around quickly to check her surroundings, “Don’t tell her I said this, I know I shouldn’t be nosey, but I think you need to tell her. If you love her… and I think you do, just tell her. I don’t think she’ll believe you unless you like, shake her by the shoulders.”

Adora’s mouth fell open slightly, “What...I don’t understand?”

“I won’t tell anyone what she told me, about the two of you?” Scorpia made a gesture of pretending to zip her lips shut. “I promise. Catra can usually stand up for herself, but… this is different. There’s probably a good reason Glimmer has never found out.”

"What-?"

"If Glimmer hasn't found out," Scorpia placed her hand back on Adora's shoulder. "Maybe it's because it doesn't look like you're just acting."

Adora’s eyes were wide as she watched her walk away, feeling her heart rate start to pick up, the heat of the sun on her face was not helping the heat flooding to her face and neck. 

Catra had told Scorpia, but she had no idea why.

“You’re blushing and I haven’t even spoken yet.”

She felt the familiar hand grab hers and Catra kissed her gently on the knuckles. In her defense, Catra was also flushed completely red when she looked Adora up and down.

“You, uh,” Catra ran a hand through her hair, it looked like she had tried to keep her short hair neat but strands of it were already falling in front of her face. “You look amazing, princess.” Catra laughed, easing the tension.

Adora swayed back and forth with Catra’s hands in hers, smiling thinking of the first time Catra called her that when she was wearing a dress the first time they met. The nickname made her lightly scoff, but also brought a gentle grin to her face.

She ran her thumb over Catra’s cheek, so entranced by her words that she had barely even noticed what she was wearing for a moment.

Catra had gone with the black blazer and matching pants, a white shirt underneath that had a deeper v-neck. A belt was tightened around her waist that held the beginning of a chain that ran back to clip on her pants pocket. The smell of cologne lingered off of her which made Adora want to literally drool.

She ran her hands over the arms of the blazer, trying to look anywhere besides the plunging v-neck part of the outfit.

Catra looked at her amusedly when it was clear Adora had become speechless for a moment.

“I, um, wow,” Adora stuttered, thinking of the things she could do to get Catra to wear this every day. “You look, really, um,” She laughed nervously, Catra’s grin turned cockier the longer Adora rambled. “You look so good.”

“Thanks,” Catra smirked, squeezing her hand. “Sorry we didn’t color coordinate, how will people even tell we’re together?” She teased, allowing Adora to pull her close enough so their bodies were almost touching.

“I have some ideas.” Adora tilted her head to the side, matching Catra’s smirk with her own, loving the flash of wonder that took over her eyes for a moment.

“Let me know them later,” Catra said, wrapping her arms over Adora’s neck. “I’ll see you after your bridesmaid duties are done.”

Adora made sure to kiss Catra’s forehead before letting her walk away. She watched as she found her way to Scorpia in the crowd. Another anxious tug at her heart brought her back to reality for a moment.

She didn’t know how to bring up the fact that she knew that Scorpia knew, without having to explain anything about their brief conversation. So, she was going to let it be for now.

Adora thought Scorpia was right, though. She might have to shake Catra by the shoulders and have it written out in the sky for her to fully realize that she loved her. She wasn’t sure how many times she’d have to let her know, but she was okay saying it a million times if she needed her to.



Perfuma started quietly sobbing during the ceremony, grabbing Adora’s hand for support. Adora was a little better at hiding her tears, but seeing her friends emotional or sappy always got to her.

She tried her best to focus on the ceremony happening before her, and not on Catra. The clear love between Mermista and Seahawk felt addicting, but Catra still grabbed her eye more often than not. Especially since she was so clearly staring back at Adora.

Her mind flashed back to all of the times Mermista would rant about Seahawk, how she’d always downplay their relationship until it became impossible to hide. They always had the little things together, even with Mermista’s usual chill expression, it was regularly cracked when he did something funny. Adora always used to watch them in awe, it wasn’t a pair she had expected. But she loved it.

Adora allowed herself to smirk here and there back to Catra, even through her happy tears spilling out of her eyes. She almost felt envious of the woman sitting next to her, who had ever so slightly brushed her shoulder once.

Not that Adora noticed, of course.

When the now-married couple kissed, through the clapping and more crying, Adora let her eyes drift back to Catra again, who was still only looking at her. Adora swore she fell more in love every time she looked at her.

“You even look good when you cry,” Catra said as everyone started to clear out. She wiped away a stray tear that rested on Adora’s cheek.

“You’ve seen me cry many times.” Adora snorted before grabbing her hand.

“It’s different when you’re happy crying, I like that better.” Catra tilted her head, “Not that you aren’t pretty when you sad cry, too.”

“You think I’m pretty?” Adora’s voice rang a little higher when she asked the question.

“What?” Catra’s head tilted further, “Of course I do.”

“I’m not sure if you’ve ever said it.”

“I’ll tell you that you’re beautiful too, but you’ll have to wait till later.”

 

--

 

“Bow,” Glimmer slurred, already tipsy somehow. Adora and Catra decided she must have at least taken a shot or two before the reception. “If you don’t propose to me soon, I’ll lose my mind.”

Catra choked on her water with a laugh, Adora rubbed her back and held in her own giggle with the back of her hand.

“After we graduate, my love.” Bow said as he slid her a glass of water, holding it up to her until she drank from it.

“Glim, the reception started like twenty minutes ago.” Catra teased, watching Glimmer give her a fake look of annoyance back.

“Catra,” Glimmer cleared her throat after taking a sip of water, “We’ve never been drunk together.” She said like it was sinful that it hadn’t yet happened.

“Hit me up later,” Catra chuckled as she leaned her head onto Adora’s shoulder. “We’ll make it happen.”

“That’s something I’d die to see.” Bow said as he stretched his arms in the air. Catra cherished the fact that under his purple suit (matching Glimmer’s dress) he still had a crop top on underneath the jacket.

“Please,” Adora rested her head down so it was on top of Catra’s, “You’d both try to outdo each other until you passed out.”

“I’d win,” Glimmer and Catra said at the same time, meeting each other's eyes from across the table with another giggle.

Scorpia found her way over to them, sitting in the chair next to Catra. Catra saw Adora stiffen out of the corner of her eye, she turned her head slightly to kiss her shoulder before sitting up.

“Wow,” Scorpia breathed, “There is so much food. I love it so much.”

“Wait till you see my moves on the dance floor.” Glimmer crossed her arms with a smirk. “I’ll out dance literally all of you.”

Catra watched as Bow looked at her with literal heart eyes, it was almost so intimate that she had to look away.

Scorpia’s words from the other day rang loud in her ears, how apparently you could tell the way Adora felt just by the way she looked at her. Catra thought that was a silly accusation until she saw it in front of her with Bow and Glimmer.

She wanted to lock away the image of those blue eyes that sometimes looked at her filled with such care and devotion. She’d be able to mull it over every night to try to reason with herself about reality, double-checking that they were directed at her, and not the way she looked at everyone. She was not sure if she was just seeing what she wanted to see in her version of a perfect world.

She tried to peak at Adora out of the corner of her eye, wanting to look at her in her dress some more without being caught.

They hadn’t spoken about what had happened between the two of them, Catra didn’t know if that made everything better or worse. A wedding wasn’t a good place to make a fool of herself if they spoke, she suspected they’d both cry no matter what.

The food was being served buffet style, tipsy Glimmer dragged Catra over to the decorated tables so she could get something to snack on.

“You look amazing, by the way.” Glimmer shoved her playfully, grabbing a fruit cup that Catra’s hand had hovered over.

“You’re so drunk that you’re hitting on me, Sparkles?”

“Oh, shut up.” Glimmer stuck her tongue out at her. “Adora would literally slice me in half. She’s hilarious when she gets jealous, but yeah, she’d kill me.”

They continued to battle each other trying to grab different servings of food before the other one, knocking into a couple of guests surrounding them.

Catra wasn’t sure she had ever seen a wedding as big as this one, it almost felt a little cramped if she thought about it for too long. Somehow, everyone seemed like they knew each other. It was a nice thought, that if Adora did have feelings for her, that out of the hundreds of people she seemed to know, she’d still pick her.

But she didn’t want to think about that one much.

Catra watched in awe as Glimmer confidently ordered another drink, drunk Glimmer seemed like something that should be held in an art gallery.

“I swear, if we don’t dance soon, I’ll go out alone, I don't care.” She shook her head as she sat back down at the table.

Catra kissed the side of Adora’s head while she sat down, pulling away from her a little too quick when she saw Adora’s eyes light up.

Scorpia patted her shoulder and she forced herself not to look at her, knowing the same “I told you so,” look was on her face.

“So,” Bow chuckled, “Mermista just came over to tell us to set Perfuma up with Scorpia. Scorpia is now having a bit of a gay panic moment.”

“What- I am, I am not.” Scorpia’s face turned beet red, she grabbed the water in front of her and started chugging it.

“Oh, please. This needs to happen.” Catra cackled, placing her elbows on the table and resting her chin on her hands. “Scorpia, you’re like, fifth wheeling right now. We will not stand for this.”

“She’s just… Is she out of my league?”

The table collectively gasped, all shouting at her with compliments.

“Don’t talk about my best friend like that.” Catra shook her head.

“Scorpia, you’re hot as fuck.” Glimmer threw in with a giggle.

“Also, the kindest person. You two are perfect.” Bow said as he tossed a napkin at her.

“Anyone is lucky to have you in their life,” Adora said, placing her arm over Catra’s shoulder. “When there’s a slow song, we will be your wingmen.”

Scorpia covered her face with her hands but nodded. “Okay, okay, I think I’d like that.”

Catra relished in the fact that she found out a couple of minutes later that Adora was a terrible dancer. She swayed awkwardly back and forth on her feet, watching Glimmer and Bow do something like a planned routine on the dance floor.

Catra snuck up behind her and squeezed her sides, tickling her until she squirmed away with a laugh.

“Dance with me?” She smiled reaching out for Adora’s hand.

Adora took it and pulled her in so their bodies were touching. “I will not be making a fool of myself.” She shook her head, “You’d leave me in an instant.”

“I-” Catra stopped herself from saying that she would never. “That is untrue, I’ll help you.”

Adora diverted her gaze and turned her head away as Catra hauled her further on the dance floor.

Catra tried to be as ridiculous as possible with her movements just to get Adora to loosen up and not care so much about the other people around them. She grabbed her wrists and pulled her close to her and pushed her away, spinning her around in circles until she got dizzy on her feet.

“Don’t look at everyone else, look at me.” Catra laughed, placing her arms around Adora’s neck.

Adora bit her lip, looking around her one last time before locking eyes again with Catra. She placed her hands on her hips, under the blazer, tracing her fingers slowly up her shirt.

There was a dramatic announcement by the singer of the band playing that they were about to start to play some more slow songs. A couple of the guests headed off the dance floor, Adora pulled away for a moment but Catra drew her back in.

“Let Bow and Glimmer find Perfuma for Scorpia,” Catra whispered in her ear. “Stay here with me?”

Adora looked at her with a mix of shock and fondness, she brought her hands back to Catra’s waist as the band slowed down the music.

There wasn’t much room in between the two of them, Adora always seemed to be pulling her a little bit closer.

“Do you ever want to get married?” Adora said, very dreamlike.

Catra pondered it for a moment, it wasn’t something she thought about often. Nothing ever seemed permanent, people seemed to leave her without a second thought. Every time she had thought about staying with someone for the rest of her life, it had brought more of a painful feeling than anything else.

“I think so, I don’t know.”

“We could always get fake married like you know how people always make those marriage pacts? If we’re single at forty we could get married for the tax benefits.”

Catra snorted, she ran her fingers lightly up the nape of Adora’s neck. “Okay, we can get married then.”

“Or you know, if you’re single in three years.”

Catra snorted but couldn’t help the grin that formed on her face. “I won’t be able to afford a ring on my English teacher salary.”

“I’ll make you one with twigs from the forest, or paper rings.”

“Just don’t propose in public, I’d hate that.”

“I’ll take you to the spot from the hike.”

“Perfect.”

Adora pulled her closer again, Catra rested her face in the crook of her neck while they continued to dance.

“It’s later,” Adora whispered, Catra straightened her head out to look at her.

“What do you mean?”

“You said you’d tell me I was beautiful later.”

Catra glanced at her for a moment, the colorful lights from above them were highlighting all of the features on her face that she adored. The softness of her eyes, the corners of her mouth, every little detail made her heart flood with warmth. 

Her mind flashed quickly to Adora wearing her sweatshirt the first night she met her friends, the way she held herself, the way she looked so simple but always so perfect.

“You look beautiful.” Catra attempted to roll her eyes again to brush away the intensity of the words but stopped to hide her face away back in the crook of Adora’s neck.

Adora tipped her chin up so she was looking at her again, her eyes flickered between her lips and back up to her eyes. She ran her thumb slowly over Catra’s lips before pulling her hand back to her face. 

“People are looking,” Adora said, tilting her head so their foreheads were touching.

“Well, we both look hot, so-”

“No,” Adora giggled, “I mean, people are looking. If you want to kiss me.”

Catra didn’t wait, she slid her hands to Adora’s face and leaned in so their lips were touching, Adora’s hands tightened against her waist.

She let it be slow, let Adora pull her closer like she always did every time they touched, even when there was no space between them. 

Catra wanted Adora to know, tried to show her in the only way that she could at that moment, even if she couldn’t say it. Three words, eight letters. Pouring out all of the affection she could give and drinking in every moment Adora gave back to her. She didn’t need anyone to be watching, she almost didn’t want them to.

Catra had a habit of never realizing how much she missed something Adora did until Adora came back and did it again. They’d hug and she’d realized how much she missed the feeling of her arms, how she memorized the shape of her hands when they were on her, how whenever she woke up in a panic they lulled her back to sleep.

That was like kissing her, it wasn’t something like fireworks. It was like waking up early to make your partner a cup of coffee before they go to work, sending someone something because it reminded you of them. Silent looks of longing that last until you’re old together, not speaking in the same room but still appreciating their presence so much. More than anything it was comforting like she was supposed to be doing it her whole life. She realized she had been missing it ever since they had the first time.

They pulled away from each other, Catra let herself meet Adora’s eyes for a second, wanting to try to tell her how she felt again, with a flick of her eyes. 

Adora kissed her gently on the forehead again, and they danced with each other for a little while longer. Swaying in perfect time with the music. People started to fade away from Catra’s vision. She let herself linger, something she rarely let herself do, let her lips stay close to Adora’s neck the whole time. Reminding herself every so often not to kiss her there.

It was almost bittersweet to think about the fact that if they had kissed like that sooner, Catra would have told her how she felt a while ago.

If the possibility ever came around, where she would love someone enough to want to be with them for her whole life, Catra only pictured one person that she'd be with.



Catra walked back over to one of the buffet tables to grab a champagne flute for her and Adora. She had become a little sweaty after dancing for too long. So, she made sure to stack a plate of food pretty high so she wouldn’t be drinking on an empty stomach.

“Hey,” A distant but familiar voice made Catra whip her head around while she almost choked on a strawberry.

Catra dug her nails into her palm as she clenched her hands into a fist, “Hey?”

Lonnie walked up to her and clinked her glass of champagne to Catra’s. “You look nice.”

Catra’s jaw dropped open and she couldn’t help the laugh that fell out of her mouth, “Are you good?”

“I’m just being cordial.” Lonnie shrugged as she played with the buttons on the cuffs of her suit jacket. “I was going to head over to your table to chat with everyone. Didn’t want to take you by surprise.”

“Uh,” Catra said, forcing herself not to burst into a laughing fit, incapable of forming a sentence. “That’s kind, I guess.”

Lonnie waved goodbye without another word before walking over to Catra’s table.

Catra sipped on champagne and carefully watched everyone's expression. Glimmer seemed to light up a little bit and gave her a smile which quickly dimmed. She could feel the weight of the tension from a couple of feet away.

Adora had her back to Catra, so she couldn’t see whatever look she had on. She held in a breath and tapped her foot, counting the seconds that she stood there at the table.

Lonnie squeezed Adora’s shoulder before walking away, which caused Catra to almost run back over to the table. Set on a mission to touch her in the same place and then some.

She set the glasses of champagne on the table, Adora beamed at her and placed a hand on her face in thanks.

“Was that, uh-”

“She just came over to say hi to everyone.” Adora gave her a warm reassuring smile which calmed her down slightly.

“It was weird.” Glimmer snorted, “But I appreciate the effort.”

Catra relaxed her shoulders as she observed Adora’s face, her eyes didn’t follow Lonnie as she walked away, they stayed glued on Catra.That was the calmest she had ever seen Adora after an interaction with her ex.

“Want to know something?” Adora whispered in Catra’s ear.

Catra looked up at her before crossing her arms, still feeling a little hesitant. “Sure.”

“I think you are the most beautiful person in the room.”

Catra’s eyes widened, before she squeezed them shut and turned away. “Shut up.” She giggled as she hid her face in her hands.

The moment Glimmer and Bow started engaging in conversation with the rest of them, Adora placed her hand on Catra’s thigh. Up higher than usual, with a little more pressure behind it.

Catra resisted the urge to squirm in her seat, she focused her gaze on the hair falling over Adora’s collarbone. She rarely wore her hair down, and Catra craved for her to do it more often.

She wasn’t even sure if Adora knew where her hand was, she was speaking so casually with her friends that Catra assumed it was just out of habit. 

That was until she started tracing circles on Catra’s inner thigh, and turned to her with a suggestive glance on her face.

Catra met her gaze back and narrowed her stare before matching the expression on Adora’s face.

When Adora turned back to keep talking, Catra placed her hand over Adora’s to move it up slightly. She saw her freeze for a brief moment, but she kept herself engaged in the conversation.

Catra had to take many deep breaths to keep her face straight as she watched everyone, she couldn’t find it in herself to form a thought that wasn't about Adora's hand.

She stood up quickly after Adora was no longer just resting her hand on her thigh, but grabbing it. Adora looked at her with an eyebrow raised and a puzzled expression.

Catra leaned in to kiss her quickly on the lips before whispering to tell her she was going to the bathroom. She stared at Adora’s flustered expression just long enough to remember it while she walked away.

She needed a little bit of air and needed to give herself a slight pep talk in the mirror, before being able to come back to face everyone.

There was a small line for the bathroom, she ran her hands through her hair a couple of times, gripping onto a table near her to hold herself up.

When Catra grabbed the door handle and was about to go in before a hand grabbed her arm. She turned around prepared to tell someone to fuck off before she realized it was Adora.

“What are you-?”

Adora reached around her and opened the door for them, shoving Catra in gently. She locked the door behind them and leaned against it.

“Adora, I have to pee,” Catra lied, a little baffled at her presence.

Adora walked up to her and grabbed under her thighs to hoist her up onto the bathroom counter.

“What are you doing?” Catra said, her heart felt like it was in her throat.

“Fucking you,” Adora said, not breaking eye contact. “I mean, uh, if that’s okay with you?”

Chapter Text

Adora had flinched when Lonnie put a hand on her shoulder, there were two people whose touch she had memorized, and that was not the one she had expected.

She stiffened as she watched the rest of the group's confused expressions when Lonnie started talking to them. The memory of them all being so close had long since faded from Adora’s memory, she hadn’t thought of the good things between them in a while.

Lonnie was in the suit that Adora picked out for her a couple of months ago when they were still planning on coming together. Which was just the tip of the iceberg for the whole interaction. The whole thing felt a little intentional.

The anxious feeling in her stomach wasn’t there, there was no urge to flee, just something that resembled acceptance, and also an annoyance.

Lonnie was a nice person, but that didn’t mean she wanted her to act this casual around her or her friends.

That’s something a breakup tends to cut off. She felt strangely guilty at the feeling, knowing Lonnie was trying to be friendly, but she took a brief moment while Bow engaged with her to accept that her feelings about the situation were valid.

It was weird, looking at the person who you used to love so dearly, knowing you still know so much about them but now seeing them in a completely different light.

“You look really great,” Lonnie squeezed Adora’s shoulder with a grin.

“Thanks,” Adora raised an eyebrow, “You do, too.”

It’s two different things, wanting to be friends with your ex because you desperately want them back, and being friendly with your ex out of courtesy.

Maybe they could be real friends in the future, but it wasn't something she was clinging to that much these days.

Adora felt a different hand on her shoulder moments later and breathed a sigh of relief when she realized it was Catra.

She could tell that Catra was trying to keep a neutral expression, so she sent her a reassuring smile.

She wouldn’t really call it an ‘aha’ moment, but something momentarily clicked when she could tell Catra was jealous beyond any reasonable doubt, or at least exasperated.

She remembered the night she was sick, and Lonnie brought her to her house, the conversation she overheard in the bathroom, the way Catra said, “I want.” It had come flooding back into her memory, Catra had said she meant it, but not that she meant that , that she wanted her, but Adora realized that there was a chance she was truthful about that as well.

So, she left the table after Catra did, making the excuse that she needed some air. Knowing it would work since Adora often got worked up in crowds and could play it off that she needed some alone time. It was basically half-true.

She made a very elaborate last-minute plan to zigzag around to avoid her friends seeing her, dodging behind random other guests who got in her way.

And she was still able to grab Catra’s hand in time.

Adora didn’t really know what she was planning on doing until she got Catra up onto the bathroom counter.

Catra looked at her with wide eyes, “Wait, really?”

Adora pulled back a bit, surprised at her own forwardness. “I mean, like, yes? That was the plan… If you want me to?”

Catra wrapped her legs around Adora’s waist and used them to pull her back. “No, I do want you to. I’m just surprised.”

“Oh, okay, cool.” Adora grinned, she brought her hands back to Catra’s waist and trailed her fingers up her shirt a little higher than usual. “Uh, so, what are you cool with me doing?”

Catra laughed, covering her mouth with her wrist. “I think we need to be a little more quick if we’re going to do it in a bathroom. I’m good with anything, if I don’t like something, I’ll tell you to stop, okay?”

“Sounds good, I was just checking.”

“I appreciate it.” Catra said as she pulled a hair tie off of her wrist, “Come here.” She ran her hands through Adora’s hair and gathered it up into a ponytail, patting her on the head after she tied it up.

Adora bit her bottom lip as Catra pulled her hands away and brought them back to her side.

“So, are you going to prove your point that you’re a top or-?”

 

**********

 

Adora pulled her by the hips and brought her closer, stopping Catra in the middle of her sentence. “Yeah, I am.” She leaned in so her lips were hovering over Catra’s neck. She picked up Catra’s hand and placed it over her own mouth, “I’m going to need you to be quiet, though.”

Catra instantly let out a whimper and kept her hand in place, her other one reaching out to Adora’s waist to pull her in closer.

Adora grabbed her waist again, greedily running her hands up Catra’s shirt and placing them on her ribcage. She wanted more than anything to fully undress, to fully see her. Maybe that was a mistake on her part, being in a public bathroom didn’t give her the option or enough time.

She planted gentle kisses on Catra’s jaw, moving down slowly on her neck to her collarbone. She slid her blazer down so it was near her elbows, giving her easier access. Her fingers curled inward on her skin, trying to touch her as much as she could.

“Adora,” Catra whispered, "I love that you’re taking your time, but-”

“If you talk, I’ll slow down,” Adora smirked, bringing her kisses down to where the v-neck stopped on Catra’s shirt. “I mean unless you tell me to stop. Then I will.” She said quickly, looking up for confirmation, and only beginning again when Catra laughed under her hand and nodded.

Catra groaned as she continued, rocking her hips forward and grabbing onto Adora’s arm, digging her nails in slightly.

Adora stopped, locking eyes with her, “See, I’d love to hear you, but remember what I said?”

Catra let out a soft whine, but nodded again, pursing her lips shut before reaching out so both hands were on Adora’s back, running them over the parts that her dress didn’t cover.

Adora brought her kisses back to Catra’s neck, breathing in her scent before she pulled her back into a kiss. Breathing the word, “Slow,” against her lips and muffling the sound of every noise she made.

She maneuvered her legs, so she had one thigh pressed against her, rocking it slowly and grabbing her waist again, which elicited a small gasp from the both of them, drowned out by their lips touching.

It was truly a terrible idea, especially knowing that she wouldn’t be able to fully hear her. But the need for wanting her now outweighed any other rational thought that tried to make its way in. 

Seeing Catra already start to fall apart with just the pressure of her thigh was way more important than thinking about anything else for too long.

Adora let out a moan when Catra dug her nails into her back, dragging them down slowly.

“Excuse me,” Catra said, “If I have to be quiet then so do you.”

“Fair point,” Adora giggled, moving one hand down to undo the belt around Catra’s pants. Her hands fumbled a bit at the angle, shifting so her leg was back in place when they fell to her ankles.

“Are you really not wearing underwear at a wedding?” Adora said, looking down and then back up at her.

Catra simply shrugged with a self-satisfied grin, “I don’t usually.”

Adora closed her eyes and nodded, “Alright, um, noted.” She held in another moan by kissing her again after she felt how wet Catra was up against her. She knew there was no chance Catra would be able to touch her, there was not a probable scenario in which she could keep quiet.

Catra leaned forward again, rolling her hips and picking up the pace a bit, greedily seeking more friction. “Please,” She whispered, running her tongue up slowly on Adora’s neck and grazing her teeth back down. “If you’re really trying to top me, shut up a little. Not that I wouldn’t love to hear you, too.” Her hands found their way to Adora’s shoulders, sliding the straps of the dress off her arms which made it fall to the ground.

“Catra, that dress is so expensive-”

“This was your idea,” Catra hummed, not breaking her mouth away from Adora’s neck. She stopped when the dress fell, looking back up at her with wide eyes.

“What?” Adora asked, stepping back a little.

Catra pulled her back in instantly, running her hands up her back. “You, um,” She sighed, voice rough. “You’re really beautiful, that’s all.” Her eyes were in a daze staring at Adora’s chest. “Also, you felt the need to comment on me not wearing underwear when you don’t have a bra on?”

Adora felt heat rise to her cheeks, she really would never grow tired of hearing that word on Catra’s lips. Strangely, it was almost just as much of a turn on as seeing her flushed face with her mouth slightly parted.

“Those are two totally different things, those straps on the dress are too tiny.”

She pushed her back so her body hit the tile of the wall behind her, there was still a small point that she needed to prove.

Adora kissed her again as she helped her hips continue to grind up against her. “Okay, for real this time, be quiet for me.”  

She placed her own hand over Catra’s mouth before dipping the other one down between Catra’s thighs. Carefully using her index fingers to find her clit and draw circles around it using the slightest pressure, tracing the shape of her with her fingers.

Catra’s moans were muffled under her hand, body instantly moving forward to press herself more into the touch.

“My fingers or my mouth first?” Adora whispered in her ear, pressing a kiss near her jaw before pulling away. She let up the pressure of her hand to give Catra the ability to answer.

“Mouth,” Catra pleaded, her eyes filled with longing.

“Say please,” Adora smirked, picking up the pace of her fingers.

“Mouth, please,” Catra said, she was in the middle of rolling her eyes before they fluttered shut.

Adora traced a few more circles before dropping to her knees, not caring about how cold the floor was beneath her. She scooted Catra forward by her hips so that her legs were wrapped around her neck, tossing her pants to the side.

Catra’s thighs were the reason Adora followed her into the bathroom in the first place. Also, the outfit… Mostly the outfit.

Her mind started to spin as she placed kisses on her inner thigh and let her hands roam free over them. Trying to remind herself that this was Catra and knowing that there was definitely no chance of being able to explain this one away.

But Catra was letting her, so hopefully, she wouldn’t need to.

She was coming up on ninety-eight percent sure that she wouldn’t need to. 

There was also a small chance she might need to do some personal reflection on thinking things through more before she did them.

Catra’s hands found their way into Adora’s hair, messing up the ponytail that she had created. Adora reveled in the sound of her muffled moans, how they were just for her, how needy they sounded. She mentally scolded herself once more for doing this in a place where Catra couldn’t be as loud as she wanted her to.

In a perfect world, Adora would have teased her longer, just to pull more desperate sounds out of her mouth. But even in that scenario, it would have been incredibly hard to hold back when Catra was whispering please over and over again under her own hand.

She hovered her mouth over Catra’s clit, letting the warmth of her breath make Catra squirm. “Be quiet,” She reminded her, “But if you want me to stop, please say so.”

“I will, but please-” Catra’s voice was cut off by her own stifled moan as Adora brought her mouth to her.

Adora wanted to go slow, so badly, but there was still some rational thought left in her brain of how embarrassing it would be if they got caught. Hopefully, Catra would want to do this again later so she could properly take her time.

She used her tongue to mimic what her fingers were doing moments earlier with added pressure. She kept her hands planted on Catra’s waist, while Catra used hers to pull at her hair and keep her head in place.

Adora stopped, moving her head away as Catra’s movements became jerkier and the stifled sounds got a little too loud. She stood up to look at her, running her thumb over her lips. “Fingers?” She breathed, voice low.

Catra eyes widened again, she nodded profusely, grabbing Adora and pulling her into a rough kiss. “Please,” she whispered against her lips, moving them over to kiss Adora’s neck.

“Catra, you cannot give me a hickey right now.”

She felt Catra smile against her neck, “Like, actually no, or it’s inconvenient but you still want me to?”

Adora gripped the bathroom counter, throwing her head back. “Okay, like yes I do want them, but try to make sure my hair covers them?”

“I’ll do my best.” Catra laughed, “People should know that you’re…” Her voice trailed off, Adora felt her go slightly limp.

“I’m what?” She said, tilting Catra’s chin up.

Adora,” Catra scrunched her nose up, “That I’m the one that gave them to you?”

“Try again,” Adora smiled, keeping her chin in place.

“Mine,” Catra whispered, pushing herself closer, biting and licking at Adora’s next.

Adora tried to push down the longing bubbling in her chest, “Mm, one more time.”

“No,” Catra giggled, “Fingers.” Her hands flew to Adora’s wrist, trying to pull her in. (They’d talk about that one later, Adora thought).

“Ask nicely,” Adora said, letting Catra place her hand near her thigh.

“Fingers, please.”

Adora could tell she was trying to act annoyed, but there was so much desperation in her tone that she completely failed.

She rubbed one finger gently against her entrance, squeezing her eyes shut to hold back a moan as Catra continued to mark her neck.

“Adora,” Catra whined, worked up from the teasing. “Just, please, seriously, I will be quiet, please, I need you.”

Adora slid one finger in gently, she used her other hand to pull Catra’s face away from her neck so she could watch the expression unfold on her face. The word need made a feeling of possessiveness wash over her, not wanting Catra to sound like this for anyone else.

“You’re beautiful like this,” Adora mumbled, curling one finger up and upping the pace ever so gently.

Catra’s face was flushed red, sweat starting to form on her cheeks. Adora could feel more warmth seep into her core as she watched how quickly she got worked up.

“Two?” Catra whispered, sounding so needy that Adora didn’t wait for her to ask again.

Adora no longer had the patience to tease as Catra rocked her hips back on forth, creating her own pace. She barely moved her fingers, just curled them up slightly, and watched in awe as Catra got off on her own.

Catra pulled Adora into a kiss, moaning against her lips to continue to muffle the sounds. “Harder, please.”

Adora did her best to hide the fact that she was just as worked up as Catra was by just touching and watching her. Letting herself gasp as she picked up the pace and continued to watch her face.

“You’re being so good, being quiet for me.” Adora whispered, “Wish I could hear your pretty noises.”

Catra moaned so loudly that Adora giggled, placing her free hand over her mouth. “Did you not just hear me?”

Catra laughed back, “Sorry, but please don’t stop.”

Adora continued to watch her, picking up the pace every time she quietly begged. Trying her best not to squeeze her eyes shut to hold back her own noises as Catra started to unravel on her fingers.

“Do you want to come for me?” Adora whispered, removing her hand to run it over Catra’s thigh which was shaking beneath her.

Yes, but I swear to god, do not make me beg for it.”

“Hm,” Adora smiled, digging her nails slightly into her thigh, “I won’t make you this time.”

Catra did her best to muffle her noises against Adora’s shoulder as she worked her over, shaking and grasping onto her as she came around her fingers.

Catra stayed there for a moment, letting Adora hold her while she panted against her. She felt like she was in a complete daze as she wrapped her arms around her.

That was either the worst idea ever, or the best idea, and she assumed she would know which one soon enough.

Adora moved her hand away and reached around to the bathroom sink to turn on the water but Catra grabbed her wrist.

“Gonna wash my hand?” Adora said, raising an eyebrow, they definitely did not have time to do that again.

“Don’t bother,” Catra said, raising Adora’s fingers and sliding them into her mouth, wrapping her lips against her fingers before parting them and pulling away.

Adora watched with wide eyes, Catra looked back up at her and chuckled. “So,” She breathed, her voice shook slightly, “Points were definitely made.”

“I’ll hold back from saying I told you so.”

Catra reached out, pulling Adora by the waist and dipping her hand down, moving her fingers around the damp fabric of her underwear.

“We,” Adora gasped, “Do not have time for that.”

“Mm, just teasing you,” Catra bit her lip, “But we can… uh, we can do that later?”

Adora nodded a little too eagerly, “Yes, for sure, yes.”

 

**********

 

They stared at each other for a moment, giggling as they both separately put their clothes back. Doing their best to clean up and also wipe off the surfaces with wet paper towels.

Adora groaned when she looked in the mirror, “Catra, you did not even try to make sure my hair covered these.” She pointed to her neck with a pout, “Oh my god.”

“Whoops,” Catra shrugged, clearly not apologetic.

Any chance of her acting like she was outside getting air had completely dwindled away.

Adora stared at the door handle, looking back up at Catra with a sheepish grin. “What if people are like… Waiting outside?”

“They probably are.” Catra laughed, she straightened out the arms of her blazer before grabbing Adora’s hands. “But let’s just book it back to the table.”

 

--

 

Catra didn’t think she had ever laughed as hard as she did when Adora’s expression changed when they left the bathroom. The grip on her wrist was tight as she pulled her over the bar that was serving drinks.

“Okay, what are we going to tell Bow and Glimmer?” Adora asked after she ordered drinks for the two of them.

“Adora, they think we’ve already been fucking for two months. They don’t see us as friends who just hooked up for the first time.”

Adora’s hand flew over her mouth, “Oh my god,” She cracked a smile, “You’re right.”

Catra reached out, running her fingers over some of the bruises on Adora’s neck. “Um,” She bit her lip as she took the drink from Adora’s hand, “Should we like…”

“Talk?” Adora finished for her.

Catra diverted her eyes to the ground, rocking back and forth on her feet. “Yeah, that.”

Adora quickly kissed her forehead, “Yeah, that’s probably a good idea. When we get home?”

“Okay,” Catra responded weakly, forcing a smile on her face. Even after recent events, her mind had quickly gone into overdrive needing that extra push of validation.

Though she was pretty sure that she was no longer imagining things, she needed her to say it. The thought of needing to wait a couple of more hours felt agonizing.

Adora laced their fingers together as they walked back to the table, even after they tried their best to look presentable, it was still fairly obvious.

Adora,” Glimmer gasped the instant they sat down, her head turned to Catra as her jaw dropped. “Jesus christ, I think I have concealer in my bag if you want it.”

Bow covered his mouth with his hands as he laughed, Catra did not have it in herself to look at Scorpia. She knew exactly which expression would be on her face, another I told you so look, but this time with more intensity. 

“While you were gone, there was cake, I saved you some.” Scorpia pushed a plate over to her, Catra smiled and said thank you, still not looking at her.

“Listen,” Catra said, speaking for Adora who looked mortified, “I think we should just get drunk and dance.”

The event of their obvious bathroom hookup cleared up pretty quickly as they all headed to the dance floor. Catra wasn’t shocked, considering, again they all thought they were truly together for a while now.

Glimmer was trying to teach Adora the routine that she and Bow had carefully constructed, apparently, they had come up with a few just for the wedding.

Scorpia grabbed her hands, spinning her around. “So,” She said, voice low, “I’m assuming you talked about it?”

Catra cringed, “I mean, we have a plan to talk about it.”

“Oh, you have to be kidding me.” She was sure she had never seen Scorpia look more annoyed.

“I can’t confess my feelings post-sex in a bathroom, Scorpia.”

“And you can’t keep making excuses for why you aren’t doing it. It’s clearly going to be an easy conversation to have.” Scorpia crossed her arms as she shook her head.

Catra stood stock-still, knowing that she was right. She was pushing it away, she was avoiding it, maybe because she still couldn’t fathom a world in which she didn’t mess it up. Even with everything being so clear in front of her, fear still somehow weighed her down.

“May I cut in?” Perfuma giggled from behind them.

Catra smirked, “Oh, please do.” She waved as Scorpia blushed completely red and walked away to dance with her. Her heart felt happy for a moment as she watched the two of them, they were unsurprisingly cute together.

She turned around when she felt a tap on her shoulder, expecting Adora. “Glimmer?” She tilted her head, “Done with your dance routine?”

Glimmer placed Catra’s hands on her hips and wrapped her own over Catra’s shoulders. “Before you freak out, Adora said I could do this.” She said, keeping a calculated distance between them.

“She didn’t threaten to slice you in half?”

“Not this time,” Glimmer snickered, “Bow’s trying to teach her to dance again. I just wanted to talk to you.”

“Oh?” Catra felt her heart rate pick up, worried that Scorpia didn’t keep her mouth shut about the truth of everything, that it was about to come crashing down around her.

“Yeah, I think I just wanted to say thank you. And before you say anything this is not because I am drunk.”

“Okay, go ahead.” Catra’s let out a small sigh of relief, it was most likely because she was drunk, but she wasn’t going to say it.

“Adora is happy,” Glimmer exhaled, “I was worried when you two got together so quickly, which you know.”

Catra swallowed hard, “I do know, yeah.”

“It’s different with you, which may sound dumb. But I’m happy that she has you, is all I wanted to say.” Glimmer sighed dramatically, “I’m protective over her because I know she wears her heart on her sleeve, but you… You take care of each other. It’s clear you love her, so thank you, for being so great to her.”

Catra felt like there was lead weighing down her stomach as she tried to find the right words to say, apparently it was clear to everyone besides Adora that Catra had feelings for her. Three words, eight letters, that she kept putting off.

“Don’t feel the need to get all mushy with me back,” Glimmer cackled, “I can tell that’s not really your thing.”

Catra forced out a laugh, “Hey can you,” She looked around to see Adora was busy with something else before she spoke again, “Can you let Adora know I needed to step outside for a bit? It’s just getting hot in here.”

She didn’t wait for a response before she broke away from Glimmer and made her way out the doors of the building. She tore her blazer off her arms, not caring that it hit the ground. Her hands gripped tightly on the railing of the deck, trying to keep herself standing.

She really just needed to breathe, she needed to try her best to separate everything real from what was fake.

Catra had promised Glimmer that she wouldn’t hurt Adora, but now she was at a crossroads. It was a promise under false pretenses, and she knew that, but she had still expected to keep it. She still planned on keeping it, no matter what.

But she didn’t know if telling her how she felt and being with her fully would hurt her more than not saying anything. She still didn’t have all of Catra, she didn’t know every dark twisty path that her mind dragged her down.

“Hey,” She felt a hand on her shoulder and whipped around. Adora had brought her a drink and picked up her blazer off the ground. “You okay?”

Catra genuinely smiled when she saw, feeling bittersweet at how quickly the nasty thoughts got washed away. “Yeah, needed some air.” She grabbed the drink and took a short sip, before running her thumb over the ridges of the glass.

“I mean,” Adora took in a sharp breath of air, “Like are you okay, after everything?”

Catra wrapped her free arm over her own body, sending her a reassuring nod. “Of course, I am more than okay about that.”

“Okay,” Adora planted a kiss on her cheek, “I got a little anxious when I saw you disappeared.”

“Sorry,” Catra squeezed her eyes shut, the cool air wasn’t doing enough to calm her down.

“I learned Bow and Glimmer’s dance routine,” Adora giggled, Catra could still sense hesitance in her voice. “They really go all out.”

“Yeah,” Catra took another sip, choosing to open her eyes to look at the stars above their heads.

“Please don’t,” Adora whispered next to her, “Don’t… Don’t.”

Catra turned her head again quickly and placed a hand on Adora’s face, “No, I’m not pulling away. Don’t worry.” It was mostly true, that wasn’t what she wanted to do. She didn't have enough self-control to keep away from her. She was just worried about Adora, what would happen to Adora if they got together for real.

“Okay,” Adora sighed, Catra could see tears prick the corners of her eyes, highlighted by the moonlight. “You’re scaring me being this quiet.”

“I’m sorry,” Catra rubbed her thumb over Adora’s cheekbone, “I’m just in my head. Ask me first date questions or something, I’ll ramble.”

“Sir, I don’t usually fuck on the first date. Think we’re past that.”

Catra snorted, “Oh, I see. Also, sir? Kinda like that.”

Adora shoved Catra with a laugh, “Stop, no chance of that happening.”

“Okay, we’ll see.” Catra shrugged sticking her tongue out, “Just throwing it out there.”

“See, there’s that smile I love.” Adora grabbed her hips and pulled her close so their bodies were touching. “What’s on your mind, baby?” She set her drink on the railing so she could run her hands up and down Catra’s arms.

You, always you. “Um,” She took a deep breath, needing to steady herself a bit after being called baby. Her head was pounding with the word communicate, “Can you just talk for a bit? I’m feeling stuck in my head, there’s like a wall between me and words.”

“Okay,” Adora smiled softly, “Let me think.” She trailed her hands up so she was rubbing Catra’s back. “I finished reading one of the books you gave me. I annotated it like you asked me to so you can see all my thoughts.”

Catra’s lips twitched up in a smile, people reading her favorite books had turned into her love language. That and copious amounts of words of validation.

“If you wanted to go home right now, I wouldn’t say no,” Adora assured her with more forehead kisses.

“All of your friends are here,” Catra mumbled, she felt too guilty to take her away from everything.

“I can see them anytime. I want you to be feeling good first.”

“Can you just,” Catra stared up into the sky, “Keep rubbing my back? Then we can dance a little more. I’ll be okay.”

“Of course.” Another forehead kiss, then a delicate but fast one on her lips. “Whenever you’re ready.”

“Thank you,” Catra sighed, leaning in to rest her head on Adora’s shoulder.

“Always.”

 

--

 

For all of the times that Catra had said Adora wasn’t a good actor, apparently, she had stepped up her game because no one could seem to tell she was freaking the fuck out.

When she saw Catra was no longer on the dance floor, even with Glimmer’s reassurance, she still had rushed outside. Her nerves grew cold at the thought of Catra leaving altogether.

Life really was hard when everyone thought the two of them had been together all this time, and no one knew the true reason why she felt like she was stepping on glass.

Catra had seemed to calm down enough to go back out on the dance floor. The night was dwindling away, more and more people kept leaving as time ticked around them.

Adora checked every other minute to make sure Catra was still smiling, even when Glimmer made an attempt to teach her the intricate dance routine.

She knew she was putting it off, putting off telling her that she loved her. But Catra looked so freaked out when they were standing outside that she had choked on her own words.

The group said goodbye to Mermista and Seahawk who were headed off on their honeymoon. Adora made her promise to send a ridiculous number of pictures of the ocean before they walked off.

“Do you think Perfuma and Scorpia are going to hook up?” Glimmer said into her ear, she knew she meant it as a whisper, but it rang surprisingly loud.

“They seem to like each other so far.” Adora shrugged, it was a lie. She had barely noticed them the whole night, not that she didn’t care , but she was preoccupied.

“Well, tell me if you see her tomorrow morning.”

Adora shoved Glimmer away with a laugh, “I will do no such thing.”

She turned to check on Catra again, breathing a sigh of relief when she noticed she stilled looked content as she danced with Bow.

“Can I ask you something?” Adora lowered her voice, “And be honest with me?”

Glimmer’s brows furrowed and her expression quickly turned around with worry, “Of course.” She grabbed her by the arm and pulled her away. “Are you okay?”

“Do you think Catra loves me?” Adora blurted out as she placed her hands over her face to hide her own embarrassment.

“You’re joking right?” Glimmer said, she pulled Adora’s hands off so she could look at her. “Are you just having a moment right now? Like, anxious thought, or did something happen?”

“Maybe both?”

“Has she… Not said it back?” Glimmer’s face twisted more with worry the longer Adora was silent.

Adora held in a bitter laugh, “No, but,” She sighed, wanting to keep it as vague as possible, “It’s complicated.”

“It’s complicated? You haven’t mentioned anything about it!” Glimmer squeezed her hands tightly, “What’s going on?”

“I don’t know, you’re right. Probably just an anxious thought.” Adora rubbed her eyes with a yawn, “Maybe I just need sleep.”

“Adora,” Glimmer said, using her voice that indicated she was about to get a long lecture. “You told me, that your old therapist told you, that you need to acknowledge your anxious thoughts.”

Adora ran her hands through her hair, finding Catra on the dance floor once again. She had discarded her blazer and was just in the white t-shirt. “So, you think that she loves me?”

“Uh, I know so.” Glimmer squinted her eyes, she physically shook Adora by the shoulders. “Tell her how you’re feeling, that you’re worried.”

That really would be the best solution, even with Glimmer not knowing the full story, she still was right. Adora stood up, almost tripping on her dress as she did so. “You’re right, I will.”

She made her way back to Catra, coming up behind her and wrapping her arms around her. “Ready to go?”

“Dance with me one more time?” Catra said, she spun herself back around so she could wrap her arms behind Adora’s neck.

Adora nodded, sliding her hands back to their place on her hips. “Still think I’m beautiful?” She did her best to mimic a teasing tone, not letting her ache for validation shine through.

“Of course, princess,” Catra said, placing her head back in the crook of Adora’s neck as they continued to dance.



“Are you tired?” Was the first thing Adora said when they walked into Catra’s bedroom.

“A little,” Catra stretched her arms in the air before undressing herself. Adora almost turned her back to her like usual but stopped. “Want clothes?” She said softly, handing Adora a sweatshirt and athletic shorts.

“We can go to bed if you want.” Adora ducked her head down to look at the floor, hoping Catra would read between the lines.

“Yeah, if you want,” Catra said as she pulled on a pair of sweatpants. “Cool if I sleep topless?”

Adora looked back up at Catra, then down at her chest, then back up at her, hoping her mouth hadn’t dropped open. “Oh.” She nodded slowly, “Yes, for sure, yeah.”

“You’re such a lesbian.” Catra rolled her eyes, throwing the shirt she took off in Adora’s face.

Adora shimmied out of her dress and grabbed a hanger out of Catra’s closet to hang it up before throwing on her makeshift pajamas.

She curled up next to Catra, shifting under the weight of the blankets. “Wanna little spoon tonight?”

Catra sighed, changing her position so her back was pressed against Adora’s chest. “Yeah,” She said, intertwining her fingers with Adora’s after she wrapped her arms around her.

Adora placed multiple kisses on the side of her head as she rubbed her thumb slowly over Catra’s knuckles.

“In the morning?” Adora asked, again hoping Catra would get the hint.

“Yes,” Catra kissed her hand, “I promise.”



They seemed to wake up at the same time, Catra grabbed Adora’s arm when she tried to get up to use the bathroom and pulled her back down.

“Stop, you’re warm.”

“You’re silly,” Adora said as she complied with being dragged back down onto the bed. “I’ll make you breakfast?”

“M’kay,” Catra sighed into Adora’s body, “I have to work later today.”

“Oh,” Adora felt like her heart stopped, “I can leave?”

“No, idiot,” Catra wrapped her arms tighter around her, “You can stay , I was just letting you know.”

“Okay,” Adora breathed, she ran her hands through Catra’s hair as she tried to calm herself down from thinking of every worst-case scenario.  

She wanted everything to be perfect, wanted to have the perfect conversation, wanted to make sure they had enough time, and she could let Catra know how much she loved her. The timing of it, the delivery, whatever she said after. Knowing she was on a time limit made her stomach flip, she tried to calm down by breathing in Catra’s scent.

Catra finally decided to get up, Adora watched as she put on a shirt and gave her a sleepy smile. “You’re allowed to pee now,” She teased before walking out of the room.

Adora rushed to the bathroom, she splashed water over her face before looking in the mirror. Maybe they could just talk about it after Catra went to work, but then she might be too tired, and Adora would just put it off again.

She fixed her ponytail that was messed up from sleeping before she tiptoed to the kitchen.

Catra slid a coffee cup over to her with a grin, “It’s hot, be careful.”

Adora picked it up to drink and immediately burned her tongue. But she kept drinking it so her mouth was busy, insuring she wouldn't say anything stupid.

Catra put on light music while they made breakfast together, spinning Adora around with her hand and dancing like they did the night before.

Adora wanted so badly to enjoy it, but the knot in her chest spread to her stomach.

Catra clearly liked her, at least. Adora decided she was ninety-nine percent sure of that one, but if she didn’t love her back then she could scare her off, embarrass herself, get laughed at, or all of the above.

Catra started talking about something a few feet away, Adora could barely hear her as she zoned out staring at the kitchen counter. There was a pressure in her chest that resembled anxiety but with extra force.

“Hey,” Catra’s voice became clearer, Adora felt a hand on her shoulder.

She looked up at her, remembering the first time she felt absolutely dizzy by the sight of her eyes. The look on her face resembled the one she saw the night Adora knew she loved her for the first time, her cheeks were still flushed from dancing in the kitchen.

Not everything can be perfect, she could have planned it out all she wanted to. And she had, she had multiple notes in her phone detailing what to say, long declarations of love that she mulled over for hours.

But every small moment with Catra felt perfect anyway, even if she tried her absolute best to plan and nitpick and stress, she knew at that moment that all she would really have to do was say it when she felt it, even if that was all the time. She didn't need a long monologue prepared, she just needed Catra.

It wasn’t always the big moments where you realize you’re in love, sometimes it’s dancing in the kitchen and seeing how much someone cares about making sure you’re okay. 

It was always the little things that meant more. And she knew it in every little moment, every time Catra sneezed or laughed, the way she’d always melt into Adora’s touch. The way that they both memorized every silly little thing about each other.

“Are you okay?” Catra squeezed her hand, concern flashed over her eyes. “If you’re… If you’re worried about talking-”

“I love you,” Adora breathed, she stepped back a bit away from Catra’s touch. “I love you,” She repeated, staring down at the kitchen floor. “And, okay,” She took in a deep breath, centering herself quickly before she continued. “I love you, and that’s scary, I know. I’m sorry if it is, but I know how you’re feeling by just the way you’re breathing or the look in your eyes, and,” Another deep breath, “I am so, one hundred percent in love with you.”

Catra fell silent, Adora watched as her outreached hand dropped to her side, she still couldn’t bring herself to look up.

Adora wanted to scream at Catra’s lack of words, but she wasn’t able to produce any more words that wouldn’t come off as begging.

She opened her eyes when she felt Catra tip her chin up to look at her. Her eyes were wide, “Like, for real?” She whispered, looking like she was worried loud sounds would scare Adora away.

“Yes, I love you for real.”

“Like, deadass? You mean it?”

“What?” Adora laughed a little at the casualness in her tone, “You think I don’t mean it? I am a mess right now.”

“No, I mean, I-”

“You don’t have to say anything back, I mean, I’d love it if you would, but-”

Catra placed her hand over Adora’s mouth, “Stop, don’t freak out, okay? I just… Need a second.”

Adora hesitated before she pulled away, she finally gathered the courage to look her in the eyes as she spoke. “I don’t want to mess up what we have… You know, whatever that is.”

“You aren’t,” Catra shook her head, “I’ve never said that to someone before? I want you… So badly, I promise, I really do.” She stumbled over her words, “But I would be the one fucking this up. I just need some time to process, if that’s okay?”

“Is that just your nice way of letting me down?” Adora’s voice quivered.

“Oh my god, no,” Catra grabbed Adora’s hands to squeeze them again, “Here,” 

Adora’s mouth dropped open when Catra picked her up underneath her thighs so she was holding her, that was kind of her move, but nonetheless.

“Let me show you?”

Adora agreed breathlessly as Catra carried her to the bathroom, not putting her down as she turned on the water to the shower.

“I did not know you were that strong,” Adora giggled after Catra set her down. “Also, don’t you have to work?”

“I have an hour to spare,” Catra smirked, reaching over to pull Adora’s sweatshirt off, “Shower?”

After around forty-five minutes in the shower, and coming twice, she was 99.8% sure, all Catra had to do was say it.

Chapter Text

Adora didn’t know how she could feel so secure yet so simultaneously terrified at the same time.

She had basically moved in with Catra over the last couple of days, she only left to go to work and then would come back immediately after. They fell asleep together, ate every meal together, and Adora remembered every day she only loved to sit in silence if it was with Catra.

Even if it had become slightly inconvenient, Adora was wearing Catra’s clothes at all times and she didn’t even make an attempt to go back to Bow and Glimmer’s house to grab her stuff. Adora had a slight worry that if she left for too long, Catra would realize she didn’t want her to come back.

Whenever Catra had to work, Adora definitely did not count down the hours until she got home. She definitely did not make sure to be sitting on the couch so she was close enough to the door to see her the instant she walked in.

But she did usually run to hug Catra before she could even set her stuff down the moment she got home.

“You’re an idiot,” Catra laughed into Adora’s neck after she reciprocated the hug.

“I missed you,” Adora placed a kiss on the top of her head before letting her out to breathe. “And I’m your idiot.”

Catra tilted her head with a smirk, Adora made a squeaking noise when her words caught up with her. “You are, and I missed you, too.”

Through the full five days they had spent together, they hadn't addressed what they officially were to each other. Adora had felt drained in the emotional vulnerability department after all of the bold moves she had made recently, the thought of trying to bring up that felt like pulling teeth.

“Want me to make dinner?” Catra asked as she shut the front door and set her keys down on the counter.

“We can do it together?” Adora grabbed Catra’s hand the second it was free. Now that she knew she could touch her whenever she wanted, it was physically painful not to. She spent so long trying to force herself not to want her, so letting herself express that fully and see it reciprocated and appreciated was otherworldly.

“Oh, you mean I’ll do all the work and you’ll sit on the counter and watch?” Catra teased as she intertwined their fingers and dragged Adora into the kitchen.

“I’ll turn on the stove!” Adora made a big dramatic gesture as she did so, “I contributed.”

Catra pulled Adora by the edges of her shirt so they were pressed up together. She ran her hands slowly up her arms and kissed the side of her nose. “Thanks, princess. Get out of my way.”

Adora grabbed her more firmly by the hips so she could kiss her more purposefully, to once again show that she missed her, and with no intention of letting her move past to start cooking. For too short of a moment, Catra gave in and wrapped her arms over the back of Adora’s neck.

“You’re distracting,” Catra whispered against her lips before playfully shoving her back. “But I can hear your stomach growling, so let me be responsible.”

Adora grabbed a carton of raspberries from the fridge before she hopped up onto the counter to pretend to help Catra cook. She had tried to help one night but ended up burning something so badly that they had to open the front door and all of the windows. 

She could sit in silence, she could find peace in the way Catra hummed whatever song was stuck in her head at that moment while she did mundane tasks. She could and she tried, but loving moments of silence quickly turned sour when Adora’s thoughts weren’t preoccupied.

Their usual preoccupation was taking inventory of every little move Catra made recently to make sure that everything was okay between them. That she hadn’t ruined everything, that she wasn’t being too much.

If Catra breathed wrong, if she moved away from Adora in the middle of the night while they were sleeping, if she responded to a question with a tone that wasn’t favorable, Adora’s peaceful silence became loud and it rang harshly in her own ears.

She didn’t regret telling Catra that she loved her, it was more than a weight lifted off of her shoulders, it felt like she was finally able to be seen by her. But as the days ticked by with no response, every movement felt blurry.

Catra exhaled loudly from the other side of the kitchen, which prompted Adora to ask, “Are you okay?” She quickly swallowed a raspberry before locking eyes with her.

“Yeah?” Catra tilted her head, her expression was still soft and open. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“I was just checking,” She popped another raspberry in, “How was work?”

Another heavy sigh, “It was fine, a really annoying couple of old people came. This man tried to explain the significance of Hemingway to me and I wanted to throw up.”

“Hemingway? I don’t think I’ve heard of that.”

Catra whipped her head around, she shook her head with a fond smile. “Wow, I-” She pressed her lips together quickly. “He’s not important. Did you take any English classes?”

“I was better at history and math,” Adora smiled, she threw a raspberry which Catra, somehow, caught in her mouth.

“I feel like he’s like the Pulp Fiction of writers. Cisgender men seem to love him while everyone else thinks he’s just okay. Hence, the old man at work.”

“Do you get a lot of weird people that come in?”

Catra laughed instantly, “Sometimes, but it’s usually chill. I like talking with some of them, having long book conversations is cool.”

Adora swallowed thickly, she counted to ten in her mind to cool down. “Like cute people?”

Catra turned to look at her again, still wearing that soft grin. “Cute people? What do you mean?”

“Like,” Adora cleared her throat, “You know.”

Catra’s lips twitched up into a smirk, “So, you’re asking if I talk to people who I think are cute? Appearance-wise?”

Adora nodded, she tried to fake a scowl when Catra’s smirk didn’t disappear.

“You’re really cute like this, but I’m not understanding your question.” Catra stirred something in the pot in front of her once more before walking toward Adora. She stood in between her legs and looked up at her, “What’s up?”

“I’m asking if people like... Flirt with you at work, I don’t know. And you have long book conversations with them, which is romantic.”

Catra lifted herself up on her tiptoes to kiss her, “You’re being silly.” She said before kissing her again. “If they do, I don’t care.”

Adora studied her face, “Okay,” She pouted a bit as she mulled it over. “Sorry if that was annoying.”

“What?” Catra chuckled, she cupped Adora’s cheek in her hand. “You never annoy me, baby.”

Adora felt her cheeks get warm, she didn’t regret revealing to Catra the other night that literally any argument or any emotion Adora felt could be swayed by being called baby. It was like kryptonite while simultaneously being her favorite thing. She’d said it before but now that she knew the effect that it had on Adora she had doubled down on her usage of it.

She took another deep breath, “I don’t want to bring some things up because I don’t want to upset you.”

Adora watched closely as Catra tensed but didn’t back away from her. “You can bring up anything that you want to.” Her voice seemed like it had dropped an octave.

“We had a rule that we don’t date other people,” Adora bit her lip. “But, like, it’s pretty clear we aren’t following those anymore. I don’t know…. I don’t know.”

“Are you planning on dating other people?” Catra’s grin returned, Adora hated it, only a little.

“No, clearly. You know that…” Adora kissed her on the forehead, “You know that I love you.” She waited seven seconds for a response before continuing. “But am I technically still your fake girlfriend?”

“Are you asking to be my not fake girlfriend?”

Adora flew her own hand over Catra’s mouth and narrowed her gaze. “No, I’m asking that in the possible scenario of me asking you in the future, would you want to stop being my fake girlfriend.”

“I would like to shake things up, yeah.” Catra rolled her eyes, Adora could still see her smirk even with her hand covering it. “We could do that.”

“But I have to ask you first,” Adora crossed her arms and tried to match the look on Catra’s first.

“I mean I could be the one to ask.” Catra shrugged smugly and walked back to tending to the pot on the stove.

“Let me do my thing, Catra.” Adora threw another raspberry, it landed on the floor which elicited a faux look of disappointment from Catra.

“Whatever you say,” Catra chuckled, she scratched the back of her neck before turning her face away. “But uh, I’m… Yours... you know, if you want me.”



They had managed to avoid Scorpia since she had been at her moms' house most of the week. She had gone over there because they were having a family reunion of sorts, so Catra and Adora had been alone so far.

Adora hadn’t mentioned to Catra that she knew that she told Scorpia, or she had at least found out somehow, and Catra also hadn’t mentioned anything.

But Scorpia ended up coming home early.

When Adora heard the front door close she jolted awake from the nap she had taken on the couch with her head in Catra’s lap. After the nap fog cleared, she became aware of Catra running her fingers through her hair, which she had apparently taken out of her ponytail.

“Catra!” Scorpia beamed as she set her bag down. “Oh, Adora, too!” She came over to sit on the edge of the couch that was not occupied, Adora could feel Catra tense next to her.

Adora sat up enough so she could put her arm around Catra’s shoulders, leaning back a bit so she could still somewhat see Scorpia.

“So,” Scorpia sighed, smile still as big as ever, “Did you guys…?” She pointed back and forth between the two of them before she shrugged. “You know.”

Catra shifted under Adora’s arm so she was no longer under it, Adora held in a noise of disappointment when they were no longer touching.

“Can we talk about that later Scorpia? I think Adora and I were gonna go out somewhere.”

“Talk about what?” Adora’s voice was rough from her nap and also with an itch to just know why Catra told her. It wasn’t a big deal, but it still made a weird feeling tangle up inside her.

“Alrighty,” Scorpia clapped her hands together, Adora swore she saw a bead of sweat roll down from her forehead. “I’ll head out. Or, if you guys go out, I could ask Perfuma to come with?”

“No,” Adora forced herself to smile, “What were you going to say?”

“Adora,” Catra looked at her before shaking her head. “Can we drop it, please?”

The change of tone made Adora feel like a ton of bricks were dropped onto her head, the look of unease and determined frustration in Catra’s eyes sent a shock to her heart. Like ice was injected into her veins and made her words freeze in the back of her throat. The tiniest switch of anything other than affection moved her more than it should have, which she knew, but couldn’t stop.

“Oh,” Adora felt her shoulders slouch. “No worries, I’ll just go get changed.” She tried to wait to see if Catra would shift her tone and tell her to come back, but she ended up walking into their bedroom without another word.

She tried to listen with her ear against the door, but Scorpia was just rambling about the flirty text conversations that she’d been having with Perfuma since the wedding.

Adora had left everything out on the table for Catra to decide what she wanted to do with it. Her heart was completely open and left unguarded, but she didn’t expect every moment that wasn’t perfect to feel like a knife was grazing against her chest.

She changed out of her comfy clothes to put on jeans and a loose button-up top, leaving the top three buttons undone before sitting on the edge of the bed. She tried counting out her breaths, tried looking around the room to identify things she could see, hear, touch.

But nothing seemed to help the fear of being too much.

And she felt terrible that the only thing that would help, would be Catra saying she loved her back.

“You look good,” Catra said when she finally walked into the room. “We could go eat somewhere, or just go get drinks-”

“Are you mad at me?” Adora asked, wringing her hands back and forth.

“What?” Catra’s voice grew soft, she walked over to her and pushed a piece of loose hair behind Adora's ear. “Of course not.”

“Alright,” Adora sighed, she felt incredibly small. “Sure, let’s get dinner.”

Catra kneeled down so she was in between Adora’s legs looking up at her. “Tell me what’s wrong?”

Adora took a deep breath, holding it in for five counts before letting it out. “You seemed mad about the Scorpia thing.”

“No,” Catra ran her hands against Adora’s thighs. “Not mad, there’s just… Something I need to talk to her about privately.”

That certainly did not help, “Can you just tell me it? Please?”

Catra furrowed her brows and took her hands away from Adora’s thighs. “No,” She pushed herself back so she was sitting on the ground. “I… Can’t really.”

Heat instead of ice washed through her this time, “Do you not trust me?”

“Adora, what?” Catra stood up and placed her hands on Adora’s face. “Of course I do, why are you getting so upset about this?”

Because Adora knew, Adora knew she told Scorpia. She just wanted to know why, she hadn’t assumed it was because of her, but now the creeping feeling in her chest was telling her she did something to cause it.

“I know you told her,” Adora climbed onto the bed with her arms crossed. “I don’t understand why you haven't mentioned it.”

Catra let out a small gasp then a huff, “What? Why didn’t you say anything? Is that why you’re upset?”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

Catra crawled onto the bed, Adora couldn’t decipher her expression completely but she could tell she was at least frustrated. “So, you just? Sat here upset with me about something you could have told me? I don’t understand.” 

“You’re hiding it from me,” Adora stared down at the comforter on the bed. “That doesn’t make me feel good.”

“I’m sorry for hiding it from you, you're right that was shitty of me. But you also hid from me the fact that you knew. How did… you find out? What happened?” All of the colors seemed to drain from Catra’s face when she talked, the panic in Adora’s stomach started to rise even more.

Adora curled her hands into a fist and stared down at her thumbs, “She… Told me, I guess. I think she said she was sticking up for you.”

Catra swung her legs off the bed and stood up, she started pacing back and forth the second her feet hit the ground. “I think I just need to go get some air.”

“You’re really not going to tell me why you told her? It was our rule, you broke it and didn’t say anything.”

“And I’m sorry for that,” Catra breathed, “But this is stressing me out too much, and I just need to step away.”

“I deserve an explanation?”

“You’re right, but I just can’t give that to you right now.” Catra pulled off her sweatshirt and threw on a crop top and a flannel before turning around to face Adora again. “Just let me go, okay? I’ll see you later.”

“Catra, please stay.” Adora stood up to grab her hands, guilt washing over her quickly for trying to push. “You’re freaking me out.”

“I’ll see you in a little bit.” Catra pulled away from her hands before walking out of the room, Adora felt tears fall out of her eyes instantly.

She really could not stop fucking things up.



Adora waited for about an hour on Catra’s bed staring dizzily at the wall in front of her. Panic keeping her rooted in place as she silently counted the seconds that drifted by. She tried to text Catra about eight times with no response, every minute they were left unanswered weighed her down even more.

She wiped the remaining tears off of her face before getting up, she brought herself to leave the room and walk back into the living room, Scorpia was scrolling through her phone in the dark.

“Do you know where Catra went?” Adora whispered, keeping her eyes glued to the floor.

“When she’s upset, she usually goes to the bar down the street,” Scorpia said looking up from her phone. “Not to drink or do anything...Anything weird.” She rambled off quickly, “They just play classical music, and she likes to people watch.”

Adora nodded before heading out the door, walking as quickly as she could to the bar down the street. She tapped her foot as she waited in line, and her skin felt itchy as she walked in. The air inside felt heavy and had an old feeling to it.

She saw Catra spaced out on a stool by the bar, with a full drink on the counter that looked untouched.

“Hey, Catra.” Adora smiled grimly as she stood in front of her.

She let out a sigh of relief when Catra smiled at her. “Hey, dummy.” She said reaching out to squeeze Adora’s hand.

“I’m sorry,” Adora said weakly, staring down at their hands intertwined. “I shouldn’t have pushed you to say anything.”

“It’s okay,” Catra said reassuringly, “I know it… is unfair that I didn’t tell you.”

“Did I do something wrong? To make you tell her?”

Catra stood up and grabbed the side of her face before kissing her, Adora placed her hands on her waist and pulled her in closer. She let her hands roam around the skin Catra’s shirt didn’t cover, grabbing greedily and deepening the kiss, relishing in the fact she could feel Catra smile against her lips.

“It was not because you did something wrong,” Catra whispered as she broke the kiss. “I promise.”

“Then why?” It came out as more of a whine than Adora wanted it to be.

“Because I…” Catra shook her head before kissing her again. “Let’s just go back home? We’ll order in and just watch a movie.”

Adora decided to let herself accept it, but stopped her before they walked out the door. “We have cute clothes on though, maybe we should stay out?”

“You’d look better out of them,” Catra shrugged, “And by that, I mean in my sweatshirt again.”



Adora did her best to drop it, they had ended up just going home and cuddling the rest of the night. Catra singing soft praises into her ear as Adora rested her face in the crook of her neck.

All of the things Catra did to show her how she was feeling didn’t feel like they were enough, they didn’t outweigh the pit in Adora’s stomach that she was being too much, and that Catra did not love her back.

It was unfair, and it was terrible.

Her biggest fear was that Catra was just being kind and knew Adora was too fragile to handle rejection. It made her feel sick to her stomach and brought her back to the early stages of her breakup with Lonnie. The way she always felt like she was taking up too much space, or that she was putting too much responsibility on people to care about her when she couldn't do it herself.

She woke up the next morning with Catra basically sprawled on top of her, her breathing rhythm slow from sleep. The familiar flood of embarrassment hitting the second she remembered the night before.

Adora watched Catra as she slept, humming quietly to herself as she rubbed her back and ran her fingers through her hair. Catra hadn’t left yet , so maybe they were okay. She also knew this quest for validation was adding too much strain on herself and on them.

Catra stirred a bit, curling her hands around the loose parts of Adora’s sweatshirt before fluttering her eyes open and making a ‘hmph’ noise. “Loser,” She whispered, placing kisses around Adora’s collarbone. “Watching me sleep.”

“You’re just so pretty, baby.” Adora smiled, trying to pull her closer.

Catra did the work for her, shifting so she was straddling Adora’s hips and laid down on her chest. Adora took the liberty to reach down to Catra’s hips and curled her fingers in so she was grabbing her just a little bit more.

 

********** 

 

Catra rolled her hips down slowly and brought her face up and placed slow and lazy kisses against her neck. Adora let out a small gasp and shifted her leg so it was pressed up against her.

Catra moaned, voice rough from sleep, grinding down on Adora’s leg slowly while she continued pressing kisses around her neck and jawline. She clutched the top of Adora’s sweatshirt and breathed happily.

Adora brought a hand up to tilt Catra’s face toward her so she could bring her into a kiss, slow and soft, but purposeful, deepening it with every moan either of them let out. Kisses that quickly grew needy, more whines spilling from Catra’s mouth. Catra let her fingers find their way into Adora’s hair, slightly pulling, just hard enough to make Adora whimper. 

She could feel how wet Catra already was through her thin athletic shorts pressed up against her, she brought her hands back down to Catra’s hips so she could press her down closer and faster.

“Do you want to get off on my thigh baby, or do you want my mouth?”

“Mouth, please.” Catra sighed, pressing more kisses along Adora’s jaw.

“Good girl, saying please for me.” Adora kissed the tip of Catra’s nose before helping her roll off of her. “Let me take care of you.”

Adora helped Catra take her sweatshirt off and pull it off over her head. She let out a gasp like she did every time she got to see Catra naked. Taking a moment to look at her beneath her, smirking when Catra shuddered under her hands. 

She ran her hands over her ribcage then up to her breasts, rolling one nipple between her fingers before bringing her mouth down and lightly sucking. Smiling at every soft and sleepy moan that was continuously falling off of Catra’s lips.

 Adora moved around, placing kisses everywhere along Catra’s torso and chest, her collarbones, her neck. Biting and sucking at some parts to mark her other times just to appreciate all of her.

“This okay?” She whispered before running a finger over Catra’s cheekbone.

“Yes,” Catra smiled as she leaned up to kiss her.

Adora nodded drowsily before sitting up and tying her hair into a tighter ponytail, knowing Catra would probably ruin it by pulling at her hair anyway. She kissed near Catra’s hip bones, grinning when heard the pace of her breathing pick up. 

She made sure to take her time running her hands over Catra’s thighs and kissing her clit over the thin fabric of her athletic shorts just to make her squirm. She pulled her shorts off of her delicately, before tossing them a bit so they were near the end of the bed.

Adora ran two fingers up from Catra’s entrance to her clit before removing them to place in Catra’s mouth. She watched smugly as Catra’s eyes fluttered shut as she sucked on them slowly.

“Good girl,” Adora smiled as she took her fingers out, almost in a daze at the sight of Catra’s parted lips and heavy breathing.

“Please,” Catra whispered, looking up at her with pleading eyes.

“Please what?” Adora returned to running her hands over Catra’s thighs.

Catra whined and rolled her hips down, trying to find friction back near Adora’s thighs. Adora smirked and leaned forward so their foreheads were touching and her mouth was hovering just above Catra’s.

“Ask for what you want, baby,” Adora said before placing kisses on the corners of her mouth.

“You get so cocky when you top.” Catra rolled her eyes. Adora smirked again as Catra tried to tease but ended up still looking flushed and needy.

“Thought you wanted my mouth?” Adora jutted out her bottom lip and tilted her head to the side. “We can always go back to sleep-”

Adora, not fair. Stop teasing.”

“Ask,” Adora said as ran her thumb over Catra’s lips.

Catra whined again, she squeezed her eyes shut, “Please eat me out.”

“See, that wasn’t so hard.” Adora moved herself down in between Catra’s thighs. She intertwined her fingers with Catra’s before bringing her mouth down to her. Laying her tongue flat and licking from her entrance back up to her clit. A moan slipped out of her the moment she actually got to taste her.

Adora loved to take her time, to drink in every movement and sound Catra made as she slowly became undone, squeezing Adora’s hands tighter and tighter as time went on. She felt incredibly thankful at that moment they weren’t in a bathroom with the line out the door anymore, just the two of them with the whole day left open. Soft, sleepy, loving, lazy moving together through bedsheets and comfy clothes.

Adora, that’s so good,” Catra whined, grip growing tighter in Adora’s hands. Her hips bucked up slightly to increase friction onto Adora’s tongue.

Adora hummed, creating a small vibration that made Catra squirm again. Adora’s name fell off of Catra’s mouth repeatedly as her legs started to shake.

She learned quickly that when they weren’t fucking in public Catra was loud, and she was loud, crying out Adora’s name and moaning so much that Adora momentarily worried that other people would hear. But she usually just didn’t care , not with how needy and pretty every noise she made was.

Catra’s legs were shaking even more after she came, her hands fell limp in Adora’s. Adora placed more kisses around her clit and inner thighs before moving up to kiss her.

“Your turn,” Catra giggled against her lips, propping herself up on her elbows so she had better access to Adora’s neck.

“You don’t have to,” Adora shrugged, kissing Catra’s forehead.

“I want to, as long as you want me to.”

“You just...Took care of me so much last night it feels unfair.”

“We’re not keeping score?” Catra said softly, “You don’t have to give everything to receive love-” She quickly cleared her throat, “You don’t have to,” Another cough, “Okay, I want to give you things and take care of you, too. It’s mutual, you are valuable because of who you are, not because of what you give to me.”

Adora didn’t know why tears pricked the corners of her eyes, she chewed on her bottom lip, “I love you,” She whispered, hoping, pleading that she could hear it back, just once , just this time.

Catra’s eyes grew wide but she nodded, for a fleeting moment she looked almost scared.

“What are you thinking?” Adora squeaked out, distracting herself by counting how many hickeys she left on Catra’s chest.

“I’m thinking, you’re beautiful and also that… You’re everything.” The last part came out so softly that Adora wasn’t sure she heard it correctly until she waited a moment and Catra seemed to be holding her breath.

“So,” Adora smiled, she pushed Catra gently, so she was laying down on her back. “Can I sit on your face?”

Catra cackled, “Yeah.” She grabbed Adora’s thighs to scoot her closer. “Idiot.”

 

**********

 

Adora pretended to be annoyed the next day as Catra sat in the bathroom and watched her apply concealer to most of her neck. “I hate you,” Adora stuck her tongue out as she continued.

“Hey,” Catra put her hands up in defense, “At least they won’t be able to see the ones on your thighs.”

“Whatever,” Adora kissed the side of Catra’s head before letting out a deep breath. “I really don’t want to work today. I actually need to stay at Bow and Glimmer’s tonight.” She pouted and scrunched her nose up.

“I know,” Catra stood up and ran her hands up and down Adora’s arms. “Call me if you need to, but I will see you again literally tomorrow.”

“Okay,” Adora smiled before kissing her quickly on the lips. “Also,” She wiggled her eyebrows and smirked, “I have a thing planned for you.”

“Oh, is it that thing where I’m not allowed to ask you to be my not fake girlfriend because you’re doing an unnecessary grand romantic gesture?”

“Yes,” Adora’s grin grew wider, “We can do it tomorrow?”

“Perfect,” Catra rolled her eyes, “Hm, I wonder what my response will be?”

“Yeah, uh-huh, I wonder.” Adora kissed her again, deeper and more purposeful, slowly leading Catra so her back was pinned against the wall. “More kisses before work?”

Catra nodded, wrapping her arms around Adora’s neck, “Hey,” She whispered softly against her lips, “I um…” She looked up into Adora’s eyes like she was about to say something but let out a heavy sigh instead. “I hope you have a good day.”



Adora was late for work, but only by a couple of minutes. Thankfully not getting in trouble because she was usually always twenty minutes early. She had a strong unnerving feeling that the concealer was not working its magic or she was at least sweating it off.

The day was slow and boring, and her feet hurt more than usual after she finally clocked out. She gave Perfuma a long and tight hug filled with a couple of giggles as she teased her about Scorpia before she left.

She dialed Catra’s number on her phone as she fiddled with her car keys to try and unlock her door, Catra had just picked up and said hello when someone grabbed Adora’s wrist.

“Excuse… me?” Was all she could get out when she saw Lonnie with tears in her eyes behind her, Adora could physically see the anxiety in her body as she stared back at her.

“What?” Catra said on the other end of the phone.

“Can we talk?” Lonnie shifted back and forth on her feet.

“Uh,” Adora froze, her mouth fell open a bit as she tried to process what was happening. “Right now?”

“Adora?” Catra’s voice had quickly grown worried, “Who are you talking to?”

“Right now,” Lonnie nodded, “If that’s cool?”

“Uh,” Adora took a deep breath, “Hey, Catra? I have to do something quick, I’ll call you back later.”

 

--

 

To say Catra felt like a mess was a bit of an understatement, she was far past easy to clean up mess, and long into one that had made all of her insides feel dirty.

Adora had looked her in the eyes and told her she loved her, and for just a couple of hours after, Catra felt so secure. She let herself be wanted for a brief moment in time and decided to push away all of the terrible what-ifs that she could have come up with.

But of course, the glass shattered. Of course, she felt like one wrong move and she’d bleed. Because she had never felt more secure yet so terrified in her life.

She had something so beautiful, someone so beautiful who was able to give her a part of her closed off to everyone else. Like Catra had earned it somehow, like she had somehow beat out all of the other people that Adora could have had her eyes on.

She felt special, and maybe the worst part was that she did actually feel loved.

The words weren’t a lie, they were so painstakingly true that she could see Adora’s face light up every time she said them to Catra.

But she didn’t think she deserved that beautiful, special, only for her type of love. Not the type of love radiating off of Adora’s fingertips every time she grazed them over her body. Not the real type of love that most people receive.

She was not the type of person who people wanted to be with for the long haul, she was the spare time that people wasted when they were looking for the real thing. And it was almost a matter of time before Adora noticed.

There had been so many times the last couple of days that Catra had almost said it, almost on accident . In the kitchen, or at the bar, or before Adora left for work. But she couldn’t, she couldn’t get herself to do it.

Catra still felt sick to her stomach the day after the Scorpia incident, Adora had gotten so worked up and Catra couldn’t do anything to stop it. Because the truth was that Catra needed help sorting out her own feelings. The mess that lay beneath it all was the possibility of Scorpia telling Adora that Catra…

That Catra had real, deep, raw feelings for her.

She wanted her, she wanted her so badly, but she couldn’t fathom what she would do in the extremely likely event that she would leave.

Catra had been watching, she could just see how on edge Adora was since she had declared she loved her. She could tell that in every passing moment she was holding her breath waiting for a response.

So, Catra was a mess.

Because all she could do was try, try to comfort her and show her how deeply she cared for her and wanted her to be okay, try to at least show her. But she knew that they both knew Adora was upset by it.

Catra would reassure her and validate her at any capacity all of the time if she needed to, but she couldn’t bring herself to do the one thing that Adora needed.

She hadn’t realized that she was afraid.

She just knew she’d hurt her more if she said it.

There was an incredibly loud knock on the door that made Catra jump even from all of the ways in her room. She knew it couldn’t be Adora since she just got hung up on for whatever reason. Adora had sent her a text to reassure her that she was physically fine, at least.

She felt her heart fall to her throat as she opened the door.

“Glimmer?” Catra tried to sound happy but Glimmer looked like she was about to cut her in half just with the daggers in her eyes.

“Catra,” Glimmer pushed past her and let herself into the apartment. She clutched a piece of paper in her hand and looked down at it and then back at Catra. “Maybe you should leave Adora alone.”

“What?” Catra shook her head in surprise, she slammed the door shut partly on accident but mostly from confusion and the anger churning in her from those words alone.

“Adora came to me at the wedding, worried that you didn’t love her back because you hadn’t said it.”

Catra tensed a bit at that reveal, but stood her ground, “Okay? You can’t really… Tell me to leave her alone… For that?”

“I know your relationship is fake.” Glimmer said, so matter-of-factly that Catra laughed. Glimmer handed the piece of paper in her hands to Catra. “I found that in Adora’s things, she hasn’t been home for days and needed me to bring her clean pants for work today.”

Catra didn’t need to look at the piece of paper to know what it was, the list of rules that they had made. She had a million questions swirling in her mind to ask Adora why in the world she had made them that easy to find.

“Do you know how fucking hurtful that is, Catra? That you both lied to our faces? I trusted you, and you promised me that you wouldn’t hurt her.”

Catra scratched her nose, she felt like she was watching all of this unfold from a mile away. “I still won’t.” She muttered.

“She is head over heels for you and your relationship is fake, do you hear how that sounds?” Glimmer’s voice had gradually gotten louder and louder, Catra swore she could see the walls around her shake. “You lied, and you’re still lying. But now to her and not just us.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.” Catra laughed bitterly, “You don’t at all.” She felt heat rise to her chest, the urge to slam her fists down on the countertop was prodding at her resolve.

“Adora’s been through enough,” Glimmer walked closer so there was only a foot between them. “We set you up with her as a distraction, you get that right?”

“Shut up,” Catra scoffed, she turned her face away. “You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.”

“I think I do.” Glimmer crossed her arms. “You’re playing her, right? Letting her give you all that attention and love but under the pretense that you’ll be able to leave whenever you two decide to end whatever this is?”

“That’s really what you think?” Catra cringed at the fact her voice cracked. “You really haven’t seen us together? At all?”

“All I know is how distraught she was the other night, and that for the first time ever she feels the need to hide the truth from us.”

“Well, that’s not on me, Sparkles. I’m not the reason she’s hiding things.”

“Aren’t you?” Glimmer shook her head, “I say, you’re a distraction. Adora thinks she loves you because you distracted her from her pain, but the second you leave, it’ll all come tumbling down on her. She needs to heal alone, or at least with someone who tries half as hard as she does.”

“I think you should go,” Catra gritted her teeth and forced herself to look into Glimmer’s eyes. “Leave,” She shouted a bit louder when the other girl hadn’t moved.

Glimmer gave her one more death stare, “I can’t believe I trusted you.” She said before slamming the door.

 

--

 

“If I’m being honest…” Adora scratched the back of her neck, “I’m not sure why you’re talking to me?” She didn't feel anxious per se, that she was sitting a few feet away from her ex, but it still was weird.

Lonnie cracked her knuckles and stared down at her coffee cup. They had gone to a coffee shop around the street to talk, but there had been no talking yet. Just silence filled with the sound of Adora bouncing her leg up and down.

“I wanted to ask if... Maybe we should try again? Like, go on a couple of dates to see if we can work things out? Glimmer told me everything and... I'm willing to work through it."

Adora choked on the drink in her mouth, coughing and sputtering for an embarrassingly long amount of time. “Excuse me?” She wanted to look around to see if she was being pranked. “Where is this even coming from? I’m with Catra.”

“Adora…” Lonnie grimaced a bit, “I know that… I know that you aren’t with her, really. I get why you, you know, acted like you were, but-”

Adora held a hand up to stop her, “What did you just say?”

“I’m not trying to make you feel uncomfortable? But I know that… You aren’t actually together, Glimmer told me. She seemed really upset but she said I should talk to you firsthand. I saw you at the wedding and-”

“Stop,” Adora shook her head, she stood up instantly and checked her phone, there were two missed calls from Bow, three from Glimmer, and one from Catra. “I am with Catra, I’m in love with Catra. I’m… Sorry for the confusion, I have to go.”

Adora ran out of the coffee shop with her phone already pressed to her ear waiting for Catra to pick up on the other end.

“Fuck,” Adora groaned when the call went to voicemail. She slammed her car door shut and rested her forehead on the steering wheel.

If she knew Glimmer at all, she knew she must have already blown up. Even if the first initial fake date was Glimmer's idea, if she knew everything, that would only lead to disaster.

Adora wasn’t worried about what that meant for her, she was ready for the year-long lectures that were about to happen. She was even ready to get on her knees and beg Bow and Glimmer to forgive her for lying, but also let them know that she wasn’t lying anymore, neither of them were.

She was just worried about Catra.

Chapter Text

Adora called Catra eight times on her drive to Bow and Glimmer’s house, she stopped when they started going directly to voicemail. She did her best to calm herself down by focusing on the road, gripping the steering wheel so hard her knuckles hurt.

When she got out of the car she almost tripped over herself, scrambling to get inside and talk to Glimmer as quickly as she could. There still could be a chance she could put a stop to everything, as long as she hurried.

She slammed the front door of the house as she walked in. Rage was building up inside her chest spreading to every limb, making every action just a bit more sporadic and forceful.

“Oh, Adora.” Bow made a squeaking noise the second they made eye contact. His face was covered in guilt as he rocked back and forth on his feet. “You’re here.”

“What the fuck? What happened?” Adora already felt tears start to form in her eyes. The adrenaline of everything was finally starting to catch up to her, making every emotion hit harder.

“Glimmer… She had a bit of a… a moment.” Bow tried to step closer to Adora, but Adora took two steps back.

“Fuck,” Adora rubbed her eyes before making her way to the couch, if she stood up for any minute longer she knew she’d pass out. “I don’t understand.”

“She’s on her way home now, I think.” Bow said as he sat on the floor across from her. “So, that’ll be fun.” He gave her a thumbs-up, making Adora laugh cynically.

“Wait, way home from where?”

“Oh,” Bow’s jaw dropped slightly, “From… Catra’s.”

Adora felt like her mouth was sewed shut as she stared at him, trying to process what he had said. “Why did she tell Lonnie?” She said ripping at her own seams.

“Oh,” Bow looked like he was moments away from being sick. “I… I really don’t know.”

They sat in silence until Glimmer walked through the door, Adora could feel the anger radiating off of her.

Adora locked eyes with her immediately, forcing herself to stand up and cross her arms. “What is your problem?”

My problem? Are you kidding?”

Adora took a deep breath, “I understand you being upset about this, but to tell Lonnie? To go to Catra? That’s one step away from ruining so many things for me. In what world would that be okay?”

Glimmer scoffed, “You’ve lied to us for months.”

“That’s incredibly selfish,” Adora huffed, “I am not lying anymore. I am in love with her now, there was no point to bring them into this.”

“Adora, please think critically about this, maybe. How do you think Lonnie felt seeing you move on so quickly? It’s one thing to make her jealous, it’s a whole other thing to break her.”

“Glimmer, that’s still none of your business,” Adora yelled as she felt tears stream down her face. “Just because I was falling for someone else doesn’t mean I didn’t grieve the relationship and move on.”

“She doesn’t love you,” Glimmer said slowly, her eyes darkened as she stared at Adora. “Someone needs to tell you that, so you can stop living in your own fantasy world. See the truth for what it is."

“So,” Adora scoffed. “You’re the good guy in all of this then? You don’t know anything about me and Catra.”

“Cleary,” Glimmer pushed past her, bumping their shoulders together as she started to storm away.

“Why didn’t you just come to me?” Adora let out a sob, turning so she could follow her.

Bow tried to step between the two of them, rambling words to try to get either of them to calm down, but all Adora could hear was buzzing in her ears.

“I lost respect for you and this situation, that’s why. Someone needs to set everything straight and have things go back to normal. You never took time to get over Lonnie, Catra distracted you for months, and Lonnie is miserable that you moved on so quickly. So now she can find peace, maybe you guys can-”

“Glimmer,” Adora put one hand up and the other she used to pinch the bridge of her nose. “No, no .” She shook her head before taking two steps closer to her. “I understand your frustration, but you should have left other people out of it. Drag me down your road of bullshit, lecture me even, but fuck, leave Catra and Lonnie out of it.”

“Sometimes someone needs to let you know you’re making bad decisions, Adora.”

Bow was still trying to push them apart, and Adora finally gave in and turned away. “There is a good chance I’ll move in with Catra, or at least sleep at Perfuma’s from now on.” Adora gently moved Bow out of the way to make her way back to the front door.

“You’re overreacting, Adora,” Glimmer shouted.

“Yeah, well people do that sometimes. And so are you.”



Adora drove in silence on the way back to Catra’s apartment, too emotionally drained to even turn on the radio.

Catra still hadn’t even texted her back. Adora was trying not to cycle through the five stages of grief within a twenty-minute drive. She was doing her best to combat the thoughts, wanting to rationalize them as much as she could, but nothing helped.

She just needed to see her, then everything would be okay.

Adora mustered enough energy to get herself out of her car and walk to the front door, she was hesitant to knock but finally gathered the courage.

When there was no answer right away, her throat dropped to her stomach, she knocked about five times, waiting what seemed like ages in between each one.

“Catra?” Adora shouted, she checked her phone again for a message but saw nothing.

About twelve more minutes passed by until Catra did open the door.

Her hair was wet, she was only in sweatpants and a sports bra, and she looked like hell. Even with the shower that she must have taken, her face was puffy and her eyes were dark. “What?” She choked out, voice shaking.

“What do you mean, ‘what?’ Are you okay?” Adora tried to reach out for her but Catra flinched backward.

“Adora, I really just need time alone right now,” Catra muttered, she tried to shut the door but Adora jutted her foot in.

“Babe, can you please just talk to me for a second? I want to respect your space but I’m worried and want to make sure you’re okay.”

Adora could hear Catra let out a groan before she opened the door fully to let her in. She tried to wrap Catra into a hug but was met with no reciprocation, so she let go.

“What happened?” Adora whispered, trying her absolute best to keep it together. “What’s wrong?”

Catra was silent for a moment, she looked like she was frozen in place. “Maybe ask Glimmer,” She sighed.

“Catra,” Adora cringed at how desperate her voice sounded. “Let’s just talk about this. I can make you some tea or a grilled cheese and we can just sit down.”

“Adora…” Catra rubbed her eyes. “I don’t know, I think she just said what needed to be said.”

“Well, what did she say?” Adora said, grabbing Catra’s hands. “Did she tell you about Lonnie?”

Adora felt Catra’s hands go limp in hers, she looked up at her with wide eyes. “What about Lonnie?”

 

--

 

Catra could only place a couple of words to represent what she was feeling, the one that stood out the most was, ‘overwhelming dread.’

After Glimmer left, Catra dragged her feet over to the shower and sat on the floor of it for the good part of an hour. Trying to rinse off all of the shame in her body. She closed her eyes tighter every time she heard her phone ring, but she knew she was just postponing the inevitable conversation that was spiraling out of her control.

It was one thing to think something, but it was a new and terrible feeling to have someone else spit the words back into your face.

“What about Lonnie?” Catra choked out again as she stared at Adora. She looked completely wrecked and Catra assumed she looked just about the same. Everything felt like a nail in a coffin that she had accidentally stumbled into.

“Um,” Adora laughed nervously. “If you don’t know, then it doesn’t really matter. I told her no, I walked away. Not a big deal.”

“You wouldn’t have said anything if it wasn’t a big deal,” Catra narrowed her eyes and slowly tore her hands away. “You told her no, to what?”

“She kind of,” Another nervous laugh, “Vaguely asked if we could get back together. Apparently, Glimmer-”

“Oh my god,” Catra laughed cynically and ran a hand through her wet hair. “How fantastic.”

Adora put her hands on Catra’s shoulders and locked eyes with her. “I told her no, I told her that I am in love with you, just you.”

“I just feel like,” Catra said as she felt the rest of her body start to go numb. “I am in the middle of everything. I just happen to be here, it feels like I am… Ruining every good thing that could be happening without me here.”

Adora cupped Catra’s cheek, “You are the only good thing, Catra.”

“Okay,” Catra felt a bitter taste in her mouth, words falling out faster than she could process them. “Did you not start seeing me to make her jealous? Did you not just come to me to pretend to be with me? Choices which mostly revolved around Glimmer and Lonnie?”

“You also agreed to those things, Catra.” Adora scoffed, “Don’t act like those things haven’t changed.”

“I don’t know,” Catra felt tears start to prick the corners of her eyes. “I really need to be alone, I just have to… Mull over all of this, I’m sorry.”

“What did Glimmer say?” Adora whispered. She sounded like she was trying to be soft or understanding, but it was clear she was begging at this point.

“She said,” Catra grimaced, “She said I’m your distraction. That I distracted you from your pain, basically that I’m making everything worse by being in your life.”

“What?” Adora gasped, “You know that is not true, right? You know that?”

“I don’t know, I guess... I don’t anymore.”

Adora laughed, causing Catra to take a step back and raise an eyebrow. 

“What the fuck?” Adora took her own step back. The air started to feel thick.

“Adora…”

“No,” Adora put her hand up. “That’s really fucking hilarious, you know? All of what we have can be so easily ruined because of Glimmer? Someone who doesn’t know us, how we are together?”

“She knows you."

“Not like you do,” Adora crossed her arms. Catra wished she couldn’t see right through her, she wished she couldn’t see how every second Catra didn’t just fall back into her arms broke her just a little bit more.

“Maybe we should take…” Catra glued her eyes to the floor beneath her, but it didn’t quite matter, everything felt like it was taking place outside of her body. “Just… I don’t know.”

“No,” Adora pleaded. “I don’t need time. I don’t need to take time away, I know that I want you.”

“I feel like a second choice,” Catra decided to let the tears fall, there wasn’t much left to lose. “Isn't this what you wanted... Her?"

“Maybe two months ago, but you have me now. I literally like an hour ago told her no. That stuff doesn’t matter to me anymore.”

Catra’s whole body felt heavy, she closed her eyes so she wouldn’t have to see the look of betrayal on Adora’s face anymore. “All I do is hurt people.” She squeezed her eyes so tight that they hurt, “Maybe you should just… I don’t know. This whole thing was for her, right?”

“It was at first.” Adora placed her hands on Catra’s face and she flinched. “You really think I would reject her if this was still all for her? Please look at me?”

“Your friends wanted me to go with you that first night because I am the opposite of Lonnie.”

“So?” Adora sounded so exasperated, Catra felt every word start to break her composure.

“I thought I was just being in my head about being a distraction or whatever, a rebound or something stupid. But to have… your best friend tell me that’s true. I’m sorry,” Catra shook her head.

Catra had only seen the look on Adora’s face one another time, the first night they were together. Heartbreak.

“Can you just say it then? Don’t dance around it, just say it.” Adora whispered.

“Someone else clearly knows what they want, someone else is ready to give you everything. Glimmer is… I think Glimmer is right. I’m your…” Catra swallowed hard, she didn’t want to say it. Not to admit it to herself out loud, and not to metaphorically slap Adora in the face.

“Shut up,” Adora scoffed, “I’m... sorry no, don’t shut up. But that is really cruel of you to say.”

“I don’t think you really love me, I think you just fell in love with the idea of someone who gave you comfort when you needed it the most.”

Catra’s words hung over both of them for about three minutes before Adora moved any part of her body. She put her fingers on Catra’s chin to tilt her head up.

“What the fuck?” Adora said. 

Catra felt unease at the new type of hurt that was forming on the surface of Adora’s face. 

“Why are you acting like this? I am telling you, multiple times that that’s not what this is. I’m telling you that I told Lonnie no and that Gimmer is acting out of anger, and you believe them over me?”

“I guess it takes an outside eye, or whatever.”

“No,” Adora shook her head and took her hand off Catra’s face. “I know you, and you knew about all of this before today. It was, what? A couple of hours earlier? When we talked about being an official couple, but one thing goes wrong and you’re ready to run? Without even hearing me out?”

“Be with someone who knows what they want,” Catra sobbed slightly, it physically hurt to say the words.

Adora took a second, then broke out into an almost eerie smile. “Oh, I see.” She shook her head again before another cynical laugh escaped her lips. “You’re doing what you always do.”

Always do?” Catra recoiled, “Really?”

“You’re pushing me away because you’re scared. Even after I’ve made it abundantly clear I want to be with you, you’re scared. Which is fine, you’re allowed to have doubts or be scared, but fuck, Catra. Either don’t take it out on me or at least talk about it with me.”

Catra felt stuck in place, she broke slightly when she saw Adora start to go pale and her hands start to shake.

“Adora, if you need to sit down, if you’re not okay-”

“I’m okay,” Adora’s voice barely quivered. “You know, I don’t want you to think I’m just, I don’t know… How did you put it? Asking you to give me comfort just because I need it?”

Catra pursed her lips together and stared at the floor. “Okay,” Was all she was able to get out for a moment. She waited to say more until Adora sat herself down on the couch and she heard her start to take a couple of deep breaths in.

She double-checked Adora was still upright before dashing into the kitchen and grabbing her a glass of water and saltine crackers from the cupboard. “Here… Just in case.” Catra mumbled, setting the items down on the coffee table.

Adora silently took a sip of water and stared down into her cup. “You know, Catra.” Adora sighed, and Catra could tell that the next words that would be spoken were going to sting. “Lashing out at people, saying things to hurt them so you can protect yourself… That’s really shitty. And, I love you, but… Fuck, I thought we were solid enough for you not to run this quickly.”

“I…” Catra’s voice trailed off, she clenched her fists and dug her nails into her skin. “When you feel better… Scorpia can probably drive you home when she gets back. Or… I can call Bow.”

“Oh,” Adora laughed again. “The funny thing is, I know you well enough to know that if you didn’t love me back… You would at least say it nicely. I know at least you’d let me down gently. Which is how I know that this is something else.”

“You don’t know,” Catra whispered. “I’m just going to go to my room.”

“Please, wait,” Adora grabbed her wrist. “At least listen to this.”

Catra nodded, “Okay.”

“I love you, so much. When I told you I wasn’t going to leave you, I was telling you the truth. And, you know, I still won’t. But at the same time, I don’t deserve to not be listened to or to be pushed away without a second thought. Stop telling me what I need or want as if I can not decide that on my own. Come find me when you stop self-destructing, and I’ll welcome you back with open arms. I love you either way.”

Catra forced herself not to look up at Adora when she dragged her feet back to her bedroom. Her thoughts felt too heavy to be able to form any semblance of words back to her, she just needed a long nap. 

She locked the door behind her, even though there was no point. Adora would not be following her after that, that much she knew.

Everything would have hurt a lot less if Adora wasn’t always so kind every time Catra was cruel. She was always stern, always said what she wanted, but never was anything but kind.

Catra’s words from the fight started to catch up with her the moment the heat of everything started to cool off. She started to feel slightly sick, the room spun just enough that she needed to slide down onto the floor.

She reached for Adora’s sweatshirt from the clothes pile next to her and pulled it over herself as she rested her head onto the side of the bed.

Catra was someone who would always stand her ground, at least she thought she was. She always thought she was defending her opinions, or defending herself. But a feeling twisted up inside of her telling her that Adora was right.

Everything had so easily crumbled not even within a full twenty-four hours, it fell apart so quickly that Catra had lost her footing. She started flailing and decided to dig in and lash out instead of letting herself fall and possibly even be happy.

Adora was right, she got defensive because she was faced with the possibility of everything being taken away from her.

The realizations kept falling down on top of her, so hard they made her chest heavy. She forced herself to stand up and cracked open the door.

Her heart sank when Adora was no longer sitting on the couch.

 

--

 

Adora called out of work the next day. Since she could barely get off the couch, she knew there was no way she could make it through an eight-hour shift. She had taken back her threat of moving out of Bow and Glimmer’s house, so she was in the same place as her last breakup.

The couch that really hurt her back.

Every bone in her body ached every time she went to text Catra. It was a reflex to text her throughout the day, but she was always met with the fact that Catra had also not reached out. 

She wanted to reach out, she wanted to fix things, and she wasn’t very good at letting people stay mad. But Bow had gently held her in his arms and said that, maybe, she just needed space.

Something Adora wasn’t the best at giving. But she was trying.

It didn’t feel like she was just giving her space though, it felt like she was just letting her leave.

“Okay, sleepyhead.” Bow stood in front of her with his arms crossed. “We need to do something about this.”

Adora groaned, squeezing her eyes shut. “What exactly do you have in mind?”

“You and Glimmer need to make up.”

“Yeah, I don’t think so.” Adora frowned, “She kind of ruined my relationship. Don’t know if I have forgiveness in me right now.”

“Well, let’s talk about this all together sometime, please.” He sighed, shaking his head. “It really is terrible living with both of you like this. You won’t even eat in the same room, and Glimmer is getting crumbs all over the bed.”

“I don’t care,” Adora pouted more. “Can you just let me be upset?”

“I will let you be upset,” Bow grabbed Adora’s hands and pulled her into a standing position. “But we can at least do something to take your mind off of everything.”

“And what would that be exactly?”

Bow grinned, “I have something planned.”

Adora gave in, it was extremely hard to say no to Bow. He didn’t protest when Adora decided not to change out of Catra’s clothes before he dragged her outside and into his car.

“I’m thinking, we throw a small friend get together type of thing. That way everyone… I mean… Everyone you love platonically can be together with you.”

“That kind of sounds terrible.”

“When’s the last time we all hung out, though? We don’t have to… Invite Scorpia if you don’t want to.”

“It’s whatever,” Adora sighed as she buckled her seatbelt. “I’ll show up, only because I live here. I don’t want to bring the mood down, I don’t know. I don’t want people to feel bad for me, I can handle it.”

Bow squeezed her hand lightly, “You don’t need to handle everything alone.”

Adora held in a sob as Bow started to drive, her emotions had been a little heightened the whole day. All her mind could do was replay everything that happened the day before. The look of betrayal spread out all over Catra’s face. How nothing Adora could say would change her mind.

How Catra had inadvertently said she did not love her back.

So, she let Bow bring her to the mall, of all places.

Bow knew Adora loved the mall for probably one reason, which was the amount of ridiculous food stands that they had. He also wanted to help Adora get some new clothes, so she could wear something that was maybe not Catra’s, and also something for whatever party was going to be happening.

Bow and Glimmer always helped Adora get clothes that were presentable or nice, without them she’d probably still be wearing her letterman jacket from high school.

Adora felt like she was moping around the whole time. At any random moment, tears would start to well up in her eyes at the slightest thought of the day before. This felt different from her other breakup, this was rawer, more earth-shattering. It wasn’t Catra falling out of love with her like Lonnie had said when she left.

It was Catra not even giving them a chance. At least, that’s what it felt like. A lack of trust, after everything. 

And Catra did not even seem to think twice.

But this wasn’t even technically a breakup, which hurt a bit more.

Bow kept stopping her in her tracks to make sure she was okay, and to hug her every once in a while. They stopped at three different food places throughout the mall after every time she got a little more upset.

Adora was eating a soft pretzel slowly bite by bite until they walked into another store. She pretended to look through the clothes on the rack, but she couldn’t even concentrate on a simple task.

“What about this?” Bow held up a pair of checkered pants and a shirt with way too deep of a v-neck. “The pants are cute.”

“Yeah, sure.” Adora shrugged, taking another bite to focus on chewing so her mind wouldn’t wander.

Bow grabbed a couple of more options and shoved them all into Adora’s arms.

“I’m not in the mood to try them on.” Adora sighed, wanting to just drop them all onto the floor.

“At least make sure they fit, I know you get a little anxious having to make returns at stores.”

Adora smiled a bit at the thoughtfulness and nodded her head. Bow helped her talk to the employee at the dressing rooms and gave her a thumbs-up before she walked in. 

She felt a tad guilty for not appreciating his effort during the time that they were there, and made a mental note to try to bake him a cake or do some form of reparations for the damage she had most likely caused.

It hurt to move her arms and her whole body to change in and out of the pile of clothes which she didn’t have the energy to hang. She did look good in most of them, which made her sigh with relief.

If anything, she could indulge one moment of pettiness and at least make sure Catra saw her looking good with just one, tiny, not at all targeted, instagram post. The thought stung a bit as it settled in her mind.

It felt shamefully good, but it hurt more knowing Catra probably would not care.

Adora decided to go with the first option, even with the v-neck being almost uncontrollable, she’d figure out a way to make it work. Or she’d just stay in Catra’s sweatshirt and match it with nice pants. Since she could barely get herself to strip out of it.

Bow hugged her again as she came out of the dressing room, grounding her a bit with the steadiness of his arms and the warmth radiating off of him. If no one else in the world were to ever love her again, at least she had Bow. And, Glimmer… At times.

She’d gone many nights anxiously pondering over the fact that love might not exist, or that it never was enough. But at least with Bow (and again… Sometimes Glimmer), Love was always just enough.

Every time she came back to that realization, a weight felt like it was lifted off of her.

They walked out of the store with their arms around each other's shoulders before stopping at just one more food stand before walking out. Adora really just needed more comfort food, and really who could say no to cheese curds?

Adora laid her head back on the passenger seat as they drove home, and let herself get lost in a story Bow was telling her. She did her best to force the tears down and let happiness find its way in instead.

After all, it might not even be the end with Catra. But even if it was… She wasn’t alone.

 

--

 

Catra had barely rested from the day before, she could not put her mind to rest for more than ten minutes at a time.

She had been pacing around her room for half an hour, trying her best to sort out her thoughts. She’d resorted to google, searching “How Do You Know If You’re in Love,” while taking quizzes and groaning when nothing was giving her a straight answer.

Catra knew she felt a lot, she knew that she cared for Adora more than anyone else, that she was a mess when she was away from her and especially now.

But she had yet to put the word love to whatever she had been feeling, she had specifically avoided even letting herself think it. 

Because that would make it extremely real.

She thought that it would be easier to protect herself this way, but that was clearly not true

Catra knew she had spent so much time inside of herself, worrying about what it would mean if she said those three words eight letters when she should have been opening her heart just a little bit more.

Search engines and random Cosmopolitan quizzes were getting her nowhere, and pacing around was making her feet hurt. She walked over to the annotated book Adora had left on her nightstand and ran her fingers over the cover. She took a few moments to turn through each of the pages, laughing a bit at whatever Adora had written.

Her mind drifted to the other day, and the way Adora’s whole expression had softened when Catra had said, “You’re everything.” She played those words over a couple of times and let her mind get stuck on the way Adora looked.

Maybe other words, other things, other actions meant the same as I Love You.

Catra felt like she was reliving a movie montage of sorts in her head, scrolling through every moment they had together that stayed with her, things that had basically become a part of her at this point.

Maybe love was not a straightforward answer, there was no definitive answer that she needed, no citations or proof. She just needed Adora.

Catra laughed bitterly at the fact that if she would have been more honest with herself things might be going okay.

She still felt heavy with the thought about being a distraction or whatever other words that weighed heavy on her mind, but just this one time, she wanted to believe Adora when she said otherwise.

She picked up the book again and laid on her side so she could keep flipping through it. Adora had not just annotated the passages she liked, but she wrote Catra small notes on the sides of the pages. She had recounted favorite memories between the two of them, or wrote random funny jokes.

Catra felt everything flow into her body and create a tugging feeling at her heart and stomach. She sat up, found the pictures of them that they had taken at the photo booth almost a month ago, and let out a heavy sigh.

Catra loved Adora, she knew that she did, she knew that she most likely always had.

It was always right there in front of her and she knew that, but she was so worried about involving Adora in her mess, that she failed to see that Adora was already willing to jump in. And jump in wholeheartedly, and stand beside her while Catra cleaned everything up, just wanting to love her through it.

It wasn’t a big realization like a slap in the face or something knocking the wind out of her, it was something she knew had been with her for a while, just without words to name it.

The understanding of it all made her start to cry, she hadn’t realized tears were spilling out of her eyes until she started sobbing. A knock on her door made her jump up in the air, she knew it was Scorpia, but in a perfect reality, it would be Adora coming back.

“Hey…” Scorpia said gently as she opened the door, looking at Catra who had plopped herself down on the floor. “You okay?”

Catra sniffled, wiping her eyes with her sweatshirt sleeve. “I hate when people see me cry.”

“Ah, come on,” Scorpia sat herself down next to Catra, “I’m not just people. It’s me.”

Catra leaned her head over so it was resting on Scorpia’s shoulder, “I think I really fucked up.”

“Don’t say that,” Scorpia shook her head. “You told me what she said, and she literally gave you an invitation to go get her.”

“I’m just,” Catra choked up a bit on her words, “I’m just worried I’ll hurt her, like, I’ve just been trying to protect her. It sounds so fucking stupid now, especially seeing how hurt she looked yesterday.”

“Well,” Scorpia leaned her head so it was resting on top of Catra’s before squeezing her hand. “Adora knows what she can and cannot handle, but you’re also not something to ‘handle.’ You’re a person deserving of love. People have pasts, they have ugly parts, you’re not the exception to the rule that everyone deserves to be loved.”

Catra squeezed her eyes shut in an attempt to make the tears finally go away, “Okay,” She stood up off the ground and dragged Scorpia up with her. “I need help planning like, a big romantic gesture, I guess.”

Scorpia held her hand over her mouth with a laugh, “Oh my gosh, really? Wow, I really never thought I’d hear those words come out of your mouth.”

Catra groaned, “Okay, well the big gestures are Adora’s thing, but we have a whole... We have a whole thing about actions speaking louder than words, it just. Okay, it doesn’t matter. Stop being so you, just help me think.”

“Gladly,” Scorpia patted her on the back. “I don’t know if this is the wrong time to share this, but Bow invited me to a party at their house in a couple of days.”

“Oh,” Catra’s voice cracked, “I was clearly not invited, I guess.”

“I’ve just become good friends with them,” Scorpia smiled sheepishly, running a hand through her hair.

Catra’s heart warmed momentarily and she smiled, remembering how worried she used to be that Scorpia’s friendship with Bow or Glimmer would fade if they found out the truth. She was glad that if one thing stayed solid after everything was over, at least Scorpia would be happy either way.

“So, what are we thinking.” Scorpia clapped her hands together and looked around the room. “You want to make a sign?”

“This isn’t a promposal, Scorpia. I just want to…. Uh,” Catra turned her whole body away and stared at the ground.

“To?”

“This sounds so stupid out loud.”

“You haven’t even said it out loud, just try.”

“I want… To ask her to be my, I guess, not fake girlfriend, uh…”

“And?”

Catra ran her hands over her face and took a deep breath, holding it in for a couple of counts before releasing it. “Fuck, I want to tell her that I love her.”

Scorpia made a face that made Catra want to throw up, “I am so proud of you for saying that, finally.”

“Shut up,” Catra tried to hold in a laugh but failed. “But seriously, help me think.”

Scorpia went through a long list, recounting all of the big cheesy romantic gestures she’d seen in movies to the point where Catra’s stomach hurt from listening to everything. Adora was just so good at planning these things, Catra did not feel like anything she could do would really live up to whatever Adora had planned for the other day.

“Wait, uh,” Catra paused Scorpia in the middle of her sentence. “I told her that I wouldn’t need a big romantic gesture,” Catra whispered and turned to Scorpia with a smile.

“Okay…And?”

“Maybe let’s throw big romantic gestures out the window, let me just do it my way. I think she’d appreciate that more.”

“I agree,” Scorpia smiled warmly and wrapped her into a side hug. “I’m proud of you.”

Catra groaned, “Shut up.”

“You love me,” Scorpia squeezed her tighter. “And, you love Adora.”

“Fuck off,” Catra cackled, “Yes to both.”

Chapter Text

 Adora would rather pull her own hair out than party plan with Bow and Glimmer. She would actually rather do absolutely anything else than sit in a room with Glimmer at all.

Glimmer was trying to act like everything was fine, she’d greet Adora when she came into the room or try to bring her food as if everything she had done no longer mattered.

Adora could deal with it as long as she did her best to be petty and do nothing to help party-wise and throw in every sarcastic remark that popped into her head.

“Why are we not just doing a small friend thing?” Adora groaned, she was laying on her stomach on the couch while Bow and Glimmer were spread out on the floor. Glimmer purposefully a couple feet farther away.

“With summer classes ending and fall semester starting in, what? Maybe three weeks?” Glimmer checked the date on her phone then let out a heavy sigh. “Some of us haven’t gotten time away from school in, like, eons.”

“Wow, how terrible.” Adora laughed cynically and placed a throw pillow over her head. “You know that this isn’t fair, right? I’m being forced to go to this simply by existing.”

Bow was nervously tapping his pencil up against his notepad. “Well,” He started hesitantly, “Maybe it will be good for you to… To see people you love… Platonically.”

“Can you please stop that?” Adora mumbled. 

Every time Bow used the word ‘love’ he now ended it with the word ‘platonically’ followed by an apologetic shrug and grimace. She would be furious if it wasn’t so endearing.

“It’ll be fun-”

Adora locked eyes with Glimmer who immediately clamped her mouth shut. 

Glimmer still hadn’t found even an inch of humbleness or remorse in her heart, and until then, Adora was okay with not speaking.

Barely three days had passed since Adora last saw Catra, and every time she breathed it became more unbearable. She wanted to reach out, but whenever she checked her phone and saw that Catra also hadn’t reached out, it hurt too bad to form any words.

Glimmer looked between Bow and Adora with her arms crossed before standing up with a huff and storming out of the room. Adora didn’t bother to watch her walk away.

“Okay, I hate this.” Bow sighed and moved Adora’s legs so he could sit on the couch next to her. “How are you feeling?” He rubbed her back and Adora flinched a bit at the contact.

“Terrible,” She said before sitting up and placing her face in her hands. “Everything is so out of my control right now.”

“I’ve been… Trying to talk to her. She’s still a little stuck, I think she’s… Hurt by what you did. And it’s making her think she’s in the right.”

Adora scooted away from the closeness and narrowed her eyes at him. “Do you think she is?”

Bow’s mouth dropped open and he shook his head, “Of course not,” His eyes quickly filled to the brim with an apologetic look. “I love her, and I love you. I don’t want to pick sides… But if I did,” He nudged Adora’s shoulder with his own. “I’d be on yours. The house just feels like a warzone.”

“Well,” Adora scoffed but leaned her head on his shoulder anyway. “I love you… Platonically.” She laughed a bit at the last part causing Bow to do the same and wrap her in a hug.

“I think things will work out,” He said, a bit too confidently.

Adora shifted uncomfortably before standing up and stretching, “Maybe I’ll go on a run.”

“It’s that bad, huh?” Bow shook his head.

“What?”

“You only go on a run when you’re upset about something otherwise you punch things.”

“I’ll do both.” Adora shrugged and sprinted away before Bow could do anything else to make her talk about how she was feeling.

Adora cringed when she looked at her reflection in the mirror, she looked beyond exhausted. She squeezed her eyes shut to stop the tears from forming in her eyes before changing into more athletic clothing. There was something about seeing herself look so broken that made it hurt more.

Bow was right, she didn’t go on runs that often. 

That last time she went on a run… Was to see Catra at work.

The thought traveled to her heart and she kept herself upright by gripping onto the bathroom sink.

“I am going to be okay,” She whispered to herself, using all of her inner strength not to throw Catra’s clothes back on and continue her Glee rewatch.

She opened the bathroom door so quickly it almost hit Glimmer’s face.

“Sorry,” Glimmer said hurriedly and moved her eyes to the floor. “Just, uh-”

Adora pushed past her without a word, there was maybe a hypothetical future where they could be friends again, but tonight was not the night.

She needed to be in control of something even if it was just the amount of miles she was going to choose to run. She just needed something, just for her mind to be on anything else that wasn’t Catra.

Even when she wanted to focus on being mad at Glimmer or making breakfast, it was always Catra. It was truly a miserable thought that Adora would let everything go if she just got one more chance to hug her.

So, she decided to run. So she could feel in control of just one thing.



Adora was halfway home when her watch alerted her she had a text. She wiped the sweat off of her forehead with the bottom of her shirt and collapsed into the grass. In actuality, she hadn’t run more than two miles, but she still felt like she was one moment away from dying. Cardio clearly was not a good friend to her.

She momentarily thanked her past self for deciding to go on a run so she had enough built-up anxiety dissolved that she didn’t panic on the ground in the middle of the trail.

 

Catra: hey

 

A bitter laugh rose in her throat, the pace quickened until she was in a full-blown laughing fit, tears streaming down her face, rocking back and forth on the grass with her arms wrapped around her knees. All she wanted was contact from her, anything, but of course, through everything, the first thing Catra had to say was, “Hey.”

She wiped away the tears from the corner of her eyes to open the message just to stare at it.

Bile rose in her throat when she saw the bubbles appear on the bottom of the screen indicating that Catra was typing. She could have at least called. Even though Adora wasn’t sure she would have answered.

She didn’t know how to explain it, the conflicting feelings of wanting but not feeling like anything was good enough at the same time. The anger inside of her had been eating away at every ounce of rational thinking recently. She didn’t want to be mad, she wanted to want to fix it. But that’s all she had done, try to fix it, try to figure it out, and she told Catra to come to her. Even if it was killing her. Even if she would walk through fire to be able to go home to her.

Adora thought Catra would wake up the next morning and regret everything from their fight, she thought it every night when she went to bed, tomorrow, tomorrow she’ll figure it out. But by the looks of things, that hadn’t happened yet.

 

Catra: can we talk?

 

Adora let out another laugh. The words everyone wants to hear, “Can we talk?”

She stared at her phone screen until the world around her became blurry. If she could, she’d avoid the conversation with Catra long enough so in small moments of ignorance she could pretend she was still hers.

 

Adora: About what

 

Catra: uhhh i guess about everything

 

Adora stood up and shoved her phone back into her pocket before starting to run again, she couldn’t ignore it forever, but she could for about another hour. And she’d just pretend that the hour was long enough to make it okay.

 

--

 

Catra had been pacing around her living room for almost an hour, biting at the edges of her thumb and staring at her phone screen until the light hurt her eyes.

“Can you guys like, not cuddle right now? I’m having a moment.” Catra growled at Scorpia and Perfuma who were seated on the couch.

“Well,” Perfuma sat up a bit, “I feel like… Maybe I shouldn’t intervene. Adora’s-”

“I know,” Catra put a hand up to stop her from speaking, “She’s your friend first.”

“You asked her to talk, that’s probably all you can do right now. We can’t make her respond faster or do anything that she isn’t willing to.”

Catra gave Scorpia a look that in her own way meant, Why is the girl you have a thing with trying to be my therapist?

Scorpia shrugged, a blush spread over her face which she quickly hid by ducking her face in the crook of Perfuma’s neck.

“Should I call her?”

“No,” Perfuma and Scorpia said at the same time. Catra almost gagged when they giggled and high-fived for saying something simultaneously.

“Are me and Adora this gross and annoying?”

“Yes,” They said together again.

Catra shuffled around so she was standing in front of them, not daring to look anywhere besides the wall behind the couch. She didn’t have the energy to be overwhelmed by their couple-like nature.

She usually wouldn’t be bothered, she liked to see Scorpia happy, but the time for that was really not now.

“And… You guys are just going to go to the party tomorrow without me?”

“Catra,” Scorpia said gently, “I mean… You weren’t invited.”

Catra scoffed and sat down on the floor, “Scorpia you’re my friend first.” She said, mocking Perfuma’s tone from earlier.

“Would you really even want to go? Glimmer will be there… It’s not just an Adora thing.” Scorpia stood up to sit by Catra on the floor and placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder.

“I don’t want-”

“I know,” Scorpia whispered, “Don’t want to talk about Glimmer. But let’s try to get you distracted at least so you can maybe get some rest. You got this, Wildcat. She’ll talk to you.”

Catra groaned, Adora talking to her wasn’t the thing she was most worried about. She knew that she’d probably speak to her, even if the words weren’t nice they’d still talk

Even if they were fighting at least she could hear her voice again.

More prominently, she was worried that Adora would laugh in her face, or declare that it would be the last time they would ever talk.

Scorpia wrapped her in a hug, and Catra let it happen, she’d been trying to accept more acts of affection in the last 48 hours, to see if that made any difference in her perception of things.

“If she doesn’t, we will take it from there.” Scorpia squeezed her, “Did you write down what you were going to say when you see her?”

Catra opened her notes app and handed her phone to Scorpia who made a squeaking noise, “This is really long-”

“Shut up,” Catra grabbed her phone back and started reading through what she had written down for the millionth time.

Perfuma had given her the idea of writing down what she wanted to say to Adora beforehand so she could keep everything on track and get everything out. Somehow it had turned into a small novel sitting in her notes app that she hadn’t stopped mulling over.

It felt like a very Adora Thing™ for her to do.

Through many awkward talks with Scorpia and Perfuma, Catra had been able to put more words to what she was feeling, instead of just angry bursts of emotion clawing to get out of her throat.

She realized a bit of an aching thought that she couldn’t quite grapple with. She realized she’d been open and vulnerable, showing Adora she loved her to the best of her ability without being able to say it.

But when she was able to put words to the feeling that she didn’t feel like she could be loved back, when she realized she wasn’t letting herself be loved, that had sent her spiraling, it was quite a messy thought.

Perfuma had tried to ask Catra where she thought that came from and Catra had to storm out of the room.

All she could do was sit there with it, the fact that she should open her heart to love, or whatever Perfuma had said.

Truthfully, it didn’t feel all the way there, it didn’t feel like she could fully believe that those words were true. Two thoughts coexisted where she thought she wouldn’t deserve that type of love from Adora but also knew she would be the only person Catra would want to love her that way.

But it also made her angry, angry that she had dug herself down so deep that everyone else had forced themselves to climb out.

Her perception of everything hadn’t done a complete flip the moment Adora had walked out of her apartment, but she had never felt the way she did when she saw she wasn’t there anymore.

Catra was going to make up for it, the best that she could. She was going to decide, even if it didn’t make sense, that maybe she also deserved to be loved.

She looked at her phone again, still no response. She double-checked Scorpia and Perfuma were caught up in conversation before she made a bold move, double texting.

 

Catra: please

 

Three seconds after she sent it the text bubbles popped back up indicating Adora was typing again, Catra gripped her phone with so much force she was convinced she could break it.

But the screen went blank again, and Catra’s stomach was back in knots.

 

--

 

Adora had put on the original outfit she had gotten at the mall with Bow, but after three seconds of being around people, she put Catra’s sweatshirt back on and sat far away from any other person in the room.

There was one person she was dreading seeing, Scorpia.

She knew they would make eye contact and Adora would be able to just know whatever Catra was feeling through the simple gesture. There would be a look of pity, or anger, or anything in between. She wanted to glue her eyes shut, but Bow was going to make them play charades and she wasn’t going to lose.

“Hey.”

Adora snapped her head up, her expression immediately darkened as she stared up at Glimmer.

“Hello,” Adora deadpanned back to her as she crossed her arms. “Why aren’t you entertaining your guests.”

“Oh, shut up,” Glimmer snorted and shoved Adora slightly so she could sit next to her. “Look-”

“Please don’t do this, Glim.” Adora cut her off. “There’s not one thing you could do right now to make up for what you did.”

Glimmer, surprisingly, went quiet. Adora could see out of the corner of her eye that she had glued her eyes up to the ceiling. She took a deep breath and turned to Adora with an almost desperate look on her face. “I don’t like when we fight.”

“I don’t either,” Adora admitted and wrung her hands together, “But I’m angry.”

“Okay,” Glimmer said, sighing heavily. “That’s okay.”

Adora almost whipped her head around in shock but kept her composure, “Whatever.” She huffed, standing up to go find Bow.

“Adora?” Glimmer called out, “I’m going to go to the store… To get ice.”

“Ice?” Adora furrowed her brows but Glimmer was gone before she could question her any further. Their refrigerator literally had an ice machine, but Adora assumed it was just an excuse to walk away.

Adora heard Scorpia’s voice right as she entered the room, her stomach twisted up inside of her and she kept her eyes plastered on the ground beneath her and gripped onto Bow’s hand. She counted to ten, just in case someone was with her who wasn’t Perfuma. 

She didn’t want to look up, so she could pretend Catra came there anyway to surprise her.

Before she could even blink, Perfuma was wrapping her in a hug. “Adora,” She smiled gently and squeezed her again. “How are you doing?”

Fantasy over, Catra wasn’t there.

Adora clenched her hands into a fist to prevent any tears from rising, “I’m great.” She smiled, and Bow let out a soft grunt of pain when she tightened her grip on him to keep herself standing. “Let’s play a game or something.” She steered her eyes away from Scorpia, ignoring the fact she could feel her eyes burning on her.

“Fuck,” Adora whispered under her breath and looked down at her clothes. You’d think after making the mistake of wearing one ex’s sweatshirt to a party you would refrain from doing it again when her roommate showed up.

She kept referring to Catra as her ex in her head, or soon to be ex, even if it wasn’t true. Pretending she had her fully was better than coming to the realization that apparently she never really did.

“Um,” She finally flashed her eyes to Scorpia, “I’m going to go change.” Adora was turning on her heels and walking to grab new clothes before she even finished her sentence. She wanted to keep it on, but her skin was starting to ache every time she pictured Catra in it, handing it to her, sleeping in it, and Adora stealing it.

 

--

 

Catra startled when there was a knock on the door, Scorpia had left maybe an hour ago and Catra had made her double-check she had her keys before she left. She took a moment to gently let her hopeful self down for thinking it was Adora before she opened the door.

“Hi.”

Catra stumbled a bit, holding herself up with the door frame. “Glimmer-”

“No,” Glimmer held a hand up and walked inside without invitation.

“You really should start asking people if you can enter their homes.”

“Get dressed,” Glimmer grabbed Catra’s hand and locked eyes with her. “Right now, get dressed.”

“Excuse me?” Catra pulled her hand away as if she had just touched a hot iron, “Why?”

“Look,” Glimmer took a deep breath but kept her eyes on Catra. “I said some things I regret, okay?”

Catra bit the inside of her cheek, trying to keep herself neutral. “Wow, self-awareness. Is that a new one?”

“I’m sorry, okay?”

“How convincing.”

“Adora is a wreck, and it’s my fault. I’m trying to make up for it, so if you could get dressed, I would appreciate it.”

“Adora...” Catra stared down at the floor, “She isn’t really talking to me. She’s avoiding my texts-”

“Yes,” Glimmer rolled her eyes and took a step closer to Catra. “She thinks you’re breaking up with her.”

“What-”

“Yeah,” Glimmer took another step closer, “I don’t think I trust you, fully.”

“Gee, thanks-”

“Catra-”

“Glimmer-”

“Stop-”

“Stop, cutting me off.” Catra hissed. “You are literally the last person I want to talk to right now.”

“Well, glad we are on the same page.” Glimmer huffed but grabbed Catra’s hand again.

“Why the sudden change of heart?” Catra looked down at their hands then back up at her.

“To be honest,” Glimmer laughed bitterly, “The only reason I’m here, is because I love Adora. This isn’t for you. She’s miserable, and I may have reacted irrationally. You both hurt my feelings.”

“So your solution was-”

“The one thing I can do to make up for it is to get your ass to our house.”

“What happened to, me being a distraction, Adora being miserable with me-”

“It’s your chance to prove me wrong.” Glimmer lowered her voice, “And… I’m sorry. I… Okay, I was wrong, because.... she’s more miserable without you.”

Catra looked deep into her eyes to check for any glimpse of if she was lying or not. “I don’t want this to benefit you.” She shrugged.

“It’s benefiting both of us,” Glimmer shrugged back, “But it’s not for me. It’s for Adora.”

Catra didn’t know why, but she decided to give in.

It was for Adora.

And she was taking a lot of risks recently.

“I don’t know,” Catra ran a hand through her hair and motioned for Glimmer to follow her into her bedroom. “I kind of have this…” She coughed into her hand to hide her embarrassment, “I have this like, speech, prepared?” Her voice cracked on the last word.

“Still say it,” Glimmer said like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “I think all you have to do is show up and say… Wait, you… You do love her right?”

“Seriously?” Catra cracked her knuckles, “Why is everyone so concerned with that? Is that the only thing that matters?”

Glimmer narrowed her eyes and Catra sighed dramatically on principle, “Yes, Glimmer. I love her.”

“Then,” Glimmer walked to Catra’s closet and started throwing clothes onto the bed for her to wear, “Get dressed."



Glimmer was a terrible driver, and Catra was one moment away from throwing up out the window. For more reasons than one.

Catra’s original plan was to wait for Adora to finally answer, to buy her food, take her on a picnic, try to do something cute, something original. She didn’t have the energy or time to discern if this was better or worse.

It was more action-based, which Adora would appreciate more. She was more of an 'acts of service; person than a 'words of affirmation' person, that much was clear.

(Perfuma had made her take the love language quiz)

She had wanted to do it her way, in her own style, but she knew the tiny part of her brain that was able to communicate with her at that moment was telling her there was a reason she was okay with this.

Because it was better than what she had planned, and it was also something she would have totally done on her own if she thought of it.

Glimmer and Catra were more similar than either of them would ever admit, but it also felt like a silent understanding. Which Catra wanted to shred up with her nails and dispose of it somewhere she’d never look again, but it was still there.

With Catra’s version of what she wanted to do, she would have at least been a little more prepared to be shot down. She hadn’t woken up that morning planning on getting her heartbroken, she was going to put it off, you know, at least one more day.

“Okay,” Glimmer parked the car in the driveway and clapped her hands together. “Want me to go get her?”

“Can you like,” Catra placed a hand on the back of her neck. “Give me a second? I’m… Worried about not having a solid plan.” She tried to make herself sound not as small as she felt.

“We do have a plan?” Glimmer shook her head, “I’ll go get her, and then you two can talk.”

“I don’t know,” Catra wrung her hands together and stared out the front window, she could see faint shadows of everyone inside.

“Even if she rejects you, don’t you want her to at least know?”

Catra took a deep breath, but nodded, “Yeah, I do.” She took a moment, “I don’t know why I’m telling you literally any of this.”

“You secretly love me.”

“Not even close.”

“I can live with that.” Glimmer cracked a smile, Catra just shook her head.

They sat in silence for a moment, Catra felt like she had finally caught her breath that had disappeared the moment Adora left. She was inside, she was going to see her, she was going to tell her.

It was literally a big romantic gesture.

One that she was okay with, one that was more her style, no surprise flash mob, or a bouquet of roses. Just showing up for her, like she always should have done, to tell her in her own words.

Everyone had been acting like Catra admitting her true feelings was as easy as saying “Hi,” to your best friend. They thought it was like riding a bike when in reality it was like stepping on nails. No one knew how hard it was for her.

Except for one person.

And, thank gods, that’s who she was telling her feelings to in the first place.

She just needed more time to-

“Glimmer? What are you-”

Catra jumped at the sound of Adora’s voice and hit her head on the roof of the car. Adora was standing in front of the driver's side door looking at the two of them. Her face went completely pale the moment they made eye contact.

“Adora… Hey,” Glimmer laughed awkwardly looking in between the two of them. “Why are you out here?”

“Glimmer, you went for... ice? And took my car, I came to see if you needed help. But, um...” Adora’s eyes didn’t leave Catra the whole time she was talking.

“Well, shoot.” Glimmer snapped her fingers and shook her head. “I forgot to get ice, maybe Catra can get out and I can go back to the store.”

“Glimmer,” Adora pinched the bridge of her nose, “Just go inside.”

Glimmer almost fell out of the car as she stumbled out, looking back to give Catra a thumbs up.

Catra could feel Adora’s stare on her, she took a deep breath before she was able to look back up at her.

“You’re in my car,” Adora said pointedly, her gaze falling to the seat behind Catra.

“I… Am,” Catra responded, she took another breath and cracked her knuckles before she opened the car door and got out. She reached to get her phone off the seat and unlocked it to find the notes app, she was so on edge that she could barely make out the words.

“Hey,” Catra said, Adora’s expression stayed cold. “Can we sit, maybe?” Catra tugged on the collar of her shirt and rocked back and forth on her feet.

“If Glimmer brought you over here to break up with me, that is really low for the both of you.”

Catra cackled, then threw her hand over her mouth. “Fuck, I didn’t mean to laugh.”

Adora crossed her arms and narrowed her gaze. “You can just-”

“That really is the complete opposite of what’s happening. Can we sit?”

Adora’s confrontational expression dropped and her mouth fell open, eyes wide, “What do you mean?”

Catra leaned up against the driver side door awkwardly, trying, and failing, to look at least a little cool and collected. “Okay, I kind of have a thing written to read.”

“Okay…” Adora said hesitantly, still looking like a deer caught in the headlights.

The nausea was back, Catra wrapped an arm around her stomach and took a couple of deep breaths as she squeezed her eyes shut. “This is hard for me to do,” She admitted, opening her eyes to look at Adora.

Adora’s whole demeanor seemed to soften, “I know.” She whispered.

Catra cleared her throat, “But, uh, also it’s not. It’s not hard, necessarily.” She glanced down at her notes app to try to keep herself on track, she wanted to make sure she said everything. In the hypothetical situation they never spoke again, she wanted nothing to be left unsaid.

“Okay, I’m sorry, first of all. You… You were right, I was being defensive. And, honestly, what I said to you was probably one of the worst things I’ve ever said. If you never forgive me for that, or if you hate me for that, I would understand.”

Adora started to reach out but stopped herself, her expression flickered to a bit of sadness. “I could never hate you.”

“Well, you have every right to. You didn’t deserve that.”

“I know.”

Catra’s whole body hurt when Adora didn’t try to reach out to touch her again, and she couldn’t bring herself to do it either without throwing up. “I’m sorry that I doubted your love for me after you showed it to me a million times.”

Adora’s expression changed again, she looked like she was preparing for the worst while simultaneously looking for any sign of hope. “Are you, um, just here to apologize?”

Catra knew what she was really asking, she chewed on the bottom of her lip so hard she could almost taste blood.

“Do you, um, remember how you told me you loved me?”

Adora nodded slowly, she took a short step forward and fully reached out to grab Catra’s hand. “Of course I do.”

Catra almost cried at the contact, she was always so gentle. “Well, maybe a month ago I did an internet deep dive on how to better care for your partner who has anxiety. I can barely fall asleep if you aren’t in my bed, I know how you’re feeling just by your breathing and the look in your eyes, too. The happiness I feel when you smile is unmatched, you are the best person that I know. I don’t care about what Lonnie said or what Glimmer said. I only care about making you happy and being with you.” It all came out in one breath, completely rambled to the point where Catra had to exhale and take a moment. The grip Adora had on her hand tightened.

“So-”

“I love you, so much.”

Adora took another step closer and placed a hand on Catra’s face. This time tears did form in Catra’s eyes when more of the familiarity and warmth took hold of her skin.

“And you never have to forgive me for what I said, you can leave, or find someone else. I would understand because I really hurt you, and I would do anything to make it up to you. I’m not just saying this to get you back, I’m saying it because I am an actual idiot for never telling you when I’ve felt it this whole fucking time.”

“You love me?” Adora whispered, glossing over everything else, her endearing gaze not fading even for a moment.

“Yes, idiot. I really do.”

“One hundred percent?”

“One hundred and ten percent.”

Catra had imagined saying the words for so long now, three words eight letters that she could never put a name to. She never imagined it would feel as good as it did, to say them, and have Adora’s big dumb blue eyes tell her the same thing back.

Before she could breathe again Adora pulled her in by the hips to kiss her, Catra moved her hands to her face, not fighting the smile that spread across her lips as it happened. 

A kiss that made everything feel okay again.

Catra wrapped her arms around Adora’s neck and Adora promptly hoisted Catra up by the underside of her thighs. They both giggled against each other's lips, Catra only breaking apart to whisper, “I love you,” One more time. 

  “I love you, too.” Adora giggled again before setting Catra down. “Uh, there’s kind of a ‘getting over Catra' party happening in there, we don’t have to go back in. But I’ll be there, and Scorpia’s inside, too.”

“As long as you’re there, I’m good,” Catra smiled. “And I think Glimmer is probably prepping them with the news anyway,” Catra chuckled and ran a hand through her hair.

“What?” Adora tilted her head to the side while running a thumb over Catra’s lips.

“She, um, came to get me. Clearly, as I was in your car.”

“Oh,” Adora furrowed her brows but smiled, “I’m not going to say that’s nice of her, but I’ll keep it in the back of my mind.”

Catra grabbed Adora’s hand and squeezed it gently, “I missed you.”

“Wow, gay, it’s barely been a week.” Adora shoved her playfully and stuck her tongue out. “Wait,” She stopped in her tracks and turned around right in front of the door.

“What?”

“Are you my not fake girlfriend now?”

“Wow, are you asking me out?” Catra put a hand to her chest dramatically, “I didn’t know you were a lesbian.”

“Oh, very funny.” Adora rolled her eyes and squeezed Catra’s hand, the absolute look of love brushing over her face made Catra instantly drop the act.

“Yes, you’re my not fake girlfriend, if you want to be.”

Adora kissed Catra on the tip of her nose. “Of course I do.”

 

--

 

ONE YEAR LATER

 

Adora sneezed from the dust forming in the air as she grabbed a box of her clothes out of the storage unit. She had left so many things in it after she had moved out of Lonnie’s house that hadn’t been touched in over a year.

“Babe, do you need help carrying those?”

“Excuse me,” Adora turned around to face Catra and blew a piece of hair out of her face. “I’m the one with the more prominent arm muscles and you’re the one with the muscular hot thighs.”

“Fuck you,” Catra cackled and threw a rolled-up piece of paper at the back of her head. “Hurry up, it’s hot outside.”

Adora carried the rest of the boxes and put them on the dolly that was holding the rest of her stuff and a few heavier furniture items. Catra did end up taking some of the boxes in her own arms, though Adora did protest.

“You didn’t lose the key?” Catra narrowed her eyes at Adora when they finally packed things into the trunk and got into the car.

“No… Wait,” Adora hurriedly looked through her backpack and held it up with a wide grin. “Duh, of course, I didn’t lose it.”

“Uh-huh, sure, just had a brief moment of panic when you didn’t remember where it was.”

Adora smiled and turned the keys to start the car, “Are you nervous?” She said as she leaned over to kiss Catra on the forehead.

“You basically live with me anyway.” Catra teased, rolling her eyes. “I’m nervous you’ll burn the apartment down with your attempt at cooking, but, otherwise, no. Just happy.”

Their new apartment was strategically located only three miles away from Bow and Glimmer’s house. Adora wanted to be close to them, but would also rather pass away than ever sleep on their couch again.

It took a long time for Adora to forgive Glimmer, but even a longer time for Catra. Glimmer had made them probably seventy-five baked goods, apologized profusely, even apologized to Lonnie, and had found Catra and Adora an apartment. After that, Catra and Glimmer got drunk together for the first official time, and everything fell a little bit back to normalcy.

“Are you nervous?” Catra asked as they carried more things into their new place. Bow and Glimmer had also helped to come to move them in. Adora just had so much stuff. It was surprising for someone who rotated between wearing the same four things.

“You mean because my track record of moving in with people has ended badly?” Adora grinned as they set down the chair they were carrying in.

“No,” Catra cackled, “I didn’t even think about that.”

“Well,” Adora moved a piece of hair away from Catra’s face, she had been letting it grow out long enough to put it up into a poor attempt at a ponytail. “This is different.”

“Gay.”

“What?”

“You’re gay,” Catra elbowed her with a smile, “Are you in love with me or something?”

“Or something,” Adora rolled her eyes and kissed Catra’s nose. “Glimmer will kill us if we stop helping them carry things in.”

Catra wrapped her arms around Adora’s neck, “I say, we take the risk. I got you… Something.”

Adora’s eyes widened, “I got you something.”

“Okay, dork, I’m going to go first.” Catra grabbed Adora’s hands and pulled her into their bedroom and sat down on the bed. “Close your eyes.”

Adora followed the instructions and squeezed them shut and held her hands out. She gripped what felt like a picture frame and tried to feel the edges of it to mentally guess what it was before opening her eyes.

“Don’t laugh,” Catra said, and Adora could just picture the look on her face. Nose scrunched up, slightly embarrassed about how cheesy and romantic whatever she had done was. She loved it.

“I won’t laugh.”

“You say that and then you always-

“I promise!” Adora giggled, throwing a hand over her mouth to stop any more from escaping.

“Okay, whatever, open it.”

“Catra, what, this is literally so cute.” Adora gasped when she finally opened her eyes, she would have cried if she wasn’t terribly dehydrated from the heat outside.

It was a picture frame with the list of rules they had made the second night they had ever hung out together. “Catra and Adora’s official ‘fake’ relationship rules.” At the top.

“Shut up,” Catra crossed her arms, “It’s cheesy.”

“You kept this?”

“Yes,” Catra groaned, “It’s dumb.”

Adora stood up and placed her hands on either side of Catra’s face. “You shut up,” She teased. “I love it.”

Things weren’t perfect, Adora still felt the familiar worry bubble up in her chest about being too much or whatever else her mind had concocted up. But it felt better, she felt safer, more at home with every new day. As long as they were working on it together, they were okay.

 

--

 

Catra switched positions with Adora so she was sitting on the end of the bed, every time she tried to peek Adora would hide the box behind her back with a pout. Catra kept doing it just to make her laugh over and over again.

“Okay, loser,” Catra stuck her tongue out, “Just give it to me.”

Adora sighed dramatically and put a box in her hands, “I have to do a bit of explaining for it.”

“Of course you do,” Catra chuckled, “Can I open my eyes?”

Adora kissed her eyelids before responding, “Yes.”

Catra looked down at the box and then back up at Adora, “What?”

“I’m not proposing,” Adora said hurriedly, grabbing Catra’s hand. “Oh, god.” She laughed, “I should have started with that.”

“Okay,” Catra breathed, “I mean…”

“You mean, what?” Adora smiled, big and dorky, “Are you in love with me? Do you want to marry me? Hold my hand until my last breath?”

“Fuck off,” Catra rolled her eyes and pulled Adora in by her waist. “All of the above.”

“So, once upon a time, I said I would make you a ring out of paper… Or twigs from the forest.”

“I remember.”

Adora’s eyes seemed to light up at that, “Well, I tried that. And it was really hard, I don’t think I am that crafty of a person if we’re being honest.”

“I’m shocked, she can’t cook, she can’t craft, what else can’t she do?”

Well, I can go to the store and get you a real promise ring, not made out of twigs or paper. Hopefully, you can actually wear this one and not have it break within seconds of using it.”

“Wait,” Catra looked down at the box again before slowly opening it, “For real?”

“Yes,” Adora kissed her quickly on the lips before kneeling in front of her. “For real.”

“Adora…” Catra’s voice trailed off as she looked at the ring in the box. Through a lot of tough nights, Catra learned that letting yourself be loved wasn’t a one-time choice you had to make, some days you had to remind yourself more consistently than others. But when she was met with patience and understanding, and all of the love she gave being reciprocated back to her, falling in the first place, even if she stumbled in, was worth all of it.

Even if Adora were to stop loving her randomly in the middle of the night, she knew she’d be content with the fact that she was able to be loved by her and vice versa. That was something that she had never had before.

It had only been a year, but they had multiple years in the future to continue to figure things out, together. It wasn’t perfect, but it was them. Working through every part that felt too hot to touch before.

Adora grabbed the ring out of Catra’s hands and slid it on her finger slowly. “Yes,” She cheered, “I had to guess your ring size. It seems like it fits.” She scrambled up quickly and grabbed a box with her own ring in it and put it on herself. “See,” She wiggled her hand, “Now you are promised to me.”

“Weird wording,” Catra laughed, “But I agree.”

“So,” Adora shuffled forward again and placed her hands on Catra’s face. “You know I want to be with you forever, too, right?”

Catra took a deep breath, she studied Adora’s face, fell apart in her eyes, kissed her on the side of her nose, “Yeah, I know.”

“You promise?” Adora asked, and Catra wasn’t sure what part she was referring to. Maybe all of it at all at once, wanting to be with Adora and only her, loving every part about her, appreciating every breath she took because she was just so lost in the fact that she was lucky enough to be loved by her. Believing that Adora felt the same way back.

“I promise.”

“I,” Adora held up her pinky and wrapped it around Catra’s, “Pinky promise.”

And Catra knew she meant it.

“Are you going to post a picture of the ring as your weekly instagram post?” Adora teased and shoved her playfully.

“Shut up,” Catra snorted before wrapping her in her arms to kiss her.