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the Greys

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Things change after – as Catra begins to call it – the Great Escape. Security at the base is increased, and Spinnerella just happens to mention that there are additional people assigned to watching the security cameras. Catra can read between the lines. At least there aren’t any cameras in their room, the space their one safe haven despite everything.

They lose a lot of privileges, at least temporarily. Adora’s fourteenth birthday passes with nothing more than some sweet treats for Adora and fishcakes for Catra, the usual birthday outing banned. Adora asks if they can visit Mom and Pop at least, and Spinnerella shakes her head with a stressed expression and her mouth pressed in a thin line.

At first their clearance is downgraded so they can’t leave the main building, only the fenced-in box of their old yard available to them. Catra’s nature runs and Adora’s hikes are suspended indefinitely, but after a month their clearance gets upgraded to allow them out in the yard again at least.

They were both going stir crazy, locked up in the main building after being used to so much more nature. Catra goes tearing at full speed through the yard for fifteen minutes the first day they let them out again, Adora alternating between chasing after her laughing with delight and hunching over to try to catch her breath. Catra practically bounces off the base’s walls, but she was going insane without the tree canopy stretching above her.

Which leads them to now, three months post-running away. Spring has set in, thawing the winter frost and springing up new weeds through the yard despite the footfalls that trample them and the cars that drive over the growth. She and Adora are sprawled out on their backs beside each other, their shoulders pressed together as they stare up at the darkened canopy of the forest stretching about them, leaves rustling in the wind. It is late enough for the evening calls of the unique frog species that gave the Whispering Woods their name to be heard, echoing and garbled like distant words on the wind.

“What do you think he’ll be like?” Adora asks, quietly, after they have been silent for a long time. They aren’t stargazing – the tree branches are too dense for much more than the occasional twinkle to make it through, dappled moonlight spilling into the yard in thin shafts of light – but they have been quiet as they just absorb the nature around them. They both desperately miss their trips out in the woods. This is one of the solutions they have come up with to get a little bit of that back, even if it is far from the same.

They have been getting privileges back – mostly thanks to Spinnerella arguing for them, and their psychologists apparently deciding the trauma from the runaway attempt and resulting fallout is enough to keep them from attempting it again – but even if they are no longer deemed flight risks, there is punishment. Worse, there is their own safety from the public. It is easier to ensure inside the complex.

Catra scowls at Adora’s question, shifting her arm to take Adora’s hand in her own and squeeze. New people are coming into the complex – which isn’t unheard of, but it also doesn’t happen all that often. The brand-new factor is the son moving in with them. A year older than Adora, but the first other kid they will ever meet. Adora has seen a few kids on her outings, but she has never even spoken to them. It was a risk before, but now they are outed, they no longer have to worry that a child will spill a secret they don’t know the importance of keeping.

“I don’t care,” Catra says, a bit more bitterly than she intends to. Adora frowns, turning her head to look at Catra, but Catra continues to stare resolutely at the darkened treetops.

“Don’t you want to meet someone our age for once?” Adora asks her, quietly. She sounds unsure - probably because Catra is outright scowling, fixing her glare on the leaves overhead. The tip of her tail is twitching beside her in the weeds.

“I don’t need someone new. Haven’t they taken enough from us already?” Catra asks, her voice low and a little cracked. She hates the show of weakness, but her heart is hammering. Beside her, Adora turns over onto her side and props her head up on her hand, looking down at Catra with an expression of pinched concern. Catra pins her ears back, not meeting Adora’s eyes even as she reaches out with her free hand to softly brush Catra’s mane away from her face.

“What do you think he is going to take, Catra?” Adora asks, softly. Catra wants to growl, but instead she just leans into Adora's touch, nudging into the affection as she tries to calm her heart. She needs it, even if there is bitter fear in her heart.

“… You,” she finally admits, her voice quiet. Adora draws in a breath and Catra’s heart goes right back to hammering. “It happens all the time, Adora. It's on all our shows. They meet someone new, someone better, and suddenly you aren’t friends anymore. It is the backstory between half the lead characters and their bullies,” Catra rants, finally looking Adora in the eye as her fur bristles and tail thuds uncertainly.

Adora looks, maybe, horrified. Catra swallows, turning her head to look away, but Adora catches her cheek in her hand and gently turns her face back to meet her gaze again. Catra swallows, her ears pinned back as she stares up at Adora’s face, marked with determination and concern.

“Catra. I’m always going to be your friend. I want to meet other people, but no one could ever be my best friend like you are. We have years together they just can’t hope to keep up with,” Adora promises her, eyes wide and voice sincere. Catra stares back up at Adora, her heart hammering as Adora gently strokes her cheek, worry still clear in her face. “Some human could never understand me like you do,” Adora adds, her voice soft.

Catra swallows, drawing unsteady breaths for a moment before she cranes her neck up. Adora’s hand falls away from her cheek, her expression unsure, but it clears as Catra tucks beneath her jaw and rubs a long scent mark there.

Adora is hers. From the hum Adora gives in response, Adora agrees.

 

--

 

Adora watches Catra stare down at the entrance of the hanger, her eyes wide and tail twitching.

The documentary crew is supposed to arrive today. Apparently they will be a fixture of their lives now. The government will be filming a few documentaries on them as they grow up. It is much needed – it didn’t take long for those in opposition to aliens being allowed to live amongst them to organize online. They call themselves the Horde as if it proves that they are echoing public opinion.

Spinnerella assures them that they are not, but it is hard not to feel threatened and unwanted when the Horde has such an effective PR representative. Spinnerella assures them it is more of a funded Facebook group than anything else, but Catra has relayed rants she overheard Spinnerella going on to Netossa about the vile things that woman will say about children in the media. No matter how small and informal the group is, they are getting airtime, and it is terrifying.

So the documentary crew is here to film and humanize them to the public – to acclimate the public to their presence. Catra and Adora are still hiding up in the rafters. New people have come into the facility before, but they were always government employees, carefully vetted and sworn to secrecy. This feels different, like outsiders sent to spy on them.

“Catra!” Spinnerella calls from the floor. Catra immediately scoots back on the beam, plastering her ears back so they won’t stick out and curling her tail around herself.

“They’re here,” she tells Adora, unnecessarily, as she tries to make herself invisible from the ground level. Adora is already laid down on the top of the beam. She did it to keep her balance, but it also helps to hide her.

“Adora, I see you both up there!” Spinerella calls. Adora sighs, shooting Catra an apologetic look. Catra huffs in response as Adora sits up and carefully looks down over the edge of the beam. Spinnerella is standing several meters away – and about two stories down – craning her neck up to look at them. She is being filmed by an older man as another hangs back with his hand on a young boy’s shoulder.

“How did you get up there, Adora?” Spinnerella asks, raising an eyebrow and glancing around the room as the camera man pans up to film Adora on the beam. Adora glances over to Catra. Catra smirks a little and shrugs.

“I used the Catra Ladder,” Adora calls back. Everyone knows the Catra Ladder. It has to be used every few weeks to retrieve Catra from somewhere high up. It used to be because she got stuck and not just because she is a shit, but the ladder gets use either way. More often than not, Adora just wants it in order to join Catra wherever she is stowed away. Spinnerella sighs.

“And where is the Catra Ladder now?” she asks. Catra pops her head up from beside Adora, her tail waving with her excitement.

“I hid it so you couldn’t get us down,” she responds. Catra and Adora both burst into giggles as Spinnerella sighs.

 

--

 

As much as Catra hates the two men following them around with cameras, she does like their son well enough. Apparently documentary crews can be any size, but to keep them unobtrusive and to minimize access to top secret research, the couple was hired with the expectations they would use a single cameraman to capture their subjects.

For the first week, they are followed around near-constantly, even if the crew isn’t allowed access to their room. Catra hisses and growls whenever they try to follow them into it and they quickly back off. There are no longer guards posted outside their door – base security has been increased and tightened in general following their escape, and Catra just has to hope, for once, that it is to keep them in rather than keep anything out.

Spinnerella has promised they will get to go out in public a bit eventually, but that the public needs to calm down first. She also pointedly added that the documentary will help them do that. Catra immediately turned and gave the camera the finger while Spinnerella gasped and asked where she learned that. The answer was her wife, but Spinnerella didn’t seem to like knowing that.

The tiny crew follows them constantly as they, and Catra is quoting here, get a feel for their subjects. Catra scratches one of their lenses when they get too close to her, but apparently that was anticipated, and they brought multiple backups.

“I don’t like being watched,” Catra grits out, turning to glare at George head on. George sends her what Adora has labeled as his soft dad smile. Spinnerella raises an eyebrow at her.

“You were always being watched. We realized you were gone about three minutes after you left. The entire Greys channel is dedicated to your whereabouts,” she points out, unusually pragmatic. Catra scowls at her. Realism is supposed to be Netossa’s thing. Besides, it isn’t true – the channel is as much for complaining about their antics and sharing blurry photos of Catra sleeping in weird locations as it is for tracking them. Adora wrinkles her face up.

“That was different. It was word of mouth and security cameras, not someone following us while we play. The only way we get alone time is by hiding in our room, and now you want us to let them in there,” Adora responds, shaking her head. Catra preens at Adora backing her up.

“It would only be for an afternoon. I know you still want to be a part of the larger world, Adora. Letting people see who you are is how you do that,” Spinnerella cajoles. Catra snarls at her. Spinnerella is unphased by it after dealing with Catra for the better part of a decade.

They still end up doing it, standing in the middle of their room while Catra glares at Lance tracking his camera along their shelves. George asks them questions about where they got their knickknacks and plants – the answer is the same for every item, with either Catra finding it on a hunt or Adora bringing it back on a hike, plus the occasional response of “it was a gift” – and Bow holds a tablet monitoring the sound levels. He isn’t really an official part of the crew, but he helps his fathers work.

“Do you share the bed? Is it starting to get crowded?” George asks. Catra scowls at the same time that Adora laughs.

“Nothing is too crowded with us. Netossa says we would occupy the same air space if we could. Catra likes to sleep on top of me anyway,” Adora replies while Catra sniffs, crossing her arms and not looking at the man. That is true, but it isn’t his business.

“The giant bean bag is cool,” Bow pipes up. Catra’s ears twitch as she side-eyes the poof that is basically their second bed.

“I guess,” she mutters, shrugging and trying to seem dismissive, but she can’t help how her tail waves behind her. Bow has been all over the world working with his dads, meeting celebrities, politicians, business leaders, and incredible activists – and yet he thinks something she has is cool.

“Where’d you get it?” George prompts. Adora perks up a little. As much as she is also unsure of the documentary crew, she seems to love telling them about Catra, sharing her business with the whole world.

“The scientists got it to be like a giant cat bed for Catra! It surrounds us when we lay in it, so it feels safe,” she explains eagerly. With some gentle prompting from the film crew, they end up cuddled together in the bean bag, to demonstrate or something while Adora happily chatters at a million miles a minute with stories about them together.

Catra lets her. She is getting a cuddle out of it after all.

 

--

 

After George gets a feel for his subjects, they get followed around less. Apparently George implements nature documentary techniques and sets up cameras all around the facility – at least in their spaces, like the yard and the playroom and the rafters. The facility doesn’t let them film just anything, and no footage is allowed to leave without first being approved.

The cameras are still around plenty, but Adora finds the small size of the crew makes it easy to adjust to them, and pretty soon she and Catra are playing with Bow. His parents wince at Catra’s claws occasionally, but Catra does a good job of holding them back from Bow. They have known for a long time that Catra’s claws pierce human skin easily. They can pierce Adora’s too, but she can take more, and Catra doesn’t have to be as careful with her.

It is still nice to play with someone else their age. They have involved the researchers in their games for a long time, but they have never gotten to play with another kid. Having a human their age who is nice and eager to be friends feels like a revelation, even if Catra gets jealous sometimes. She doesn’t like when Adora directs attention away from her. Adora doesn’t really get it, but she knows about Catra’s worries, so she tries to assure her.

“You know I’m with you every second of the day,” Adora points out when they are brushing their teeth one night. Catra narrows her eyes at Adora’s reflection and bends to spit out her toothpaste.

“Not true and not relevant. You’re mine,” she returns, dumping her toothbrush in the cup and immediately turning to crowd Adora back towards their bed. Adora feels her brows draw together as she lets herself be pushed down onto the mattress.

“I always have been. We’ve also always wanted to be around people, Catra,” Adora points out. Catra growls and nips the side of her neck in response. Adora just waits – it wasn’t even harsh enough to leave a mark.

“And what if you like him better than me?” she asks, her voice small. Adora outright frowns now, but Catra is tucked into her neck and can’t see it. They have had this conversation a few times, but Adora is willing to repeat it as many times as she needs to until Catra believes her.

“He’s a boy. And I could never like anyone better than you,” Adora tells her, raising her hands up to pet Catra’s mane. Against her neck, Catra begins purring.

 

--

 

“And this is the door the scientists couldn’t get open, so I had to pry it open for them,” Catra declares proudly, climbing up the side of her spaceship. Adora is hot on her heels, scrambling up the wing of the craft as Lance follows them with a camera drone. They are both wearing small mics clipped onto their clothes.

“Please don’t claw the wreckage, girls. We are still analyzing it,” Netossa reminds from the ground, arching her brow at them in a skeptical look. Adora shakes her head, sending Netossa a wide smile.

“I don’t have claws, only Catra could do that!” she points out proudly, like Netossa’s girls” could only refer to both of them. Adora is like that, though – very literal. Adora’s eyes go wide and she turns to Catra with dawning excitement on her face. “Wait, Catra, do you think I’ll get claws? Like in puberty or something? It’s not too late?” Adora asks, rapid fire, her eyes wide. Catra scowls, shrugging. Puberty has been a topic lately because the scientists have finally committed to the theory that Catra is going through her equivalent.

“I don’t know, dummy. We don’t even know if you will have one,” she points out. Adora looks crestfallen, pouting a bit.

“I want to do it with you! I don’t want you to be alone,” Adora returns, reaching out and waving her hand in the air. Catra shoves down the warm feeling in her chest as she hops down from the top of the ship to land on the wing beside Adora, walking over to take her hand.

“I’ll do it with you, Catra!” Bow helpfully adds from down on the ground. Catra doesn’t bother to respond to him. She likes him, but she mostly wants to do things with Adora.

 

--

 

Adora does have a puberty – she has it in a matter of weeks. Like the polar opposite of Catra, she wakes up one day feeling taller, her limbs aching with growing pains. She doesn’t grow body hair all over, which she has heard about, but she grows it in one specific place while her limbs groan in protest and constant hunger takes her over. Weirdly, her brows thicken and darken, and her hair glows more frequently, any hammering emotion eliciting a fleeting shine.

She outgrows every shirt she owns in weeks, not only due to her height, but also because her chest is filling out. One moment she is getting training bras, and in the next she is getting very real bras, even if they are sports bras for practicality. They fit for a bit longer than traditional bras would, which is necessary considering how quickly she is growing. Besides, underwire made her wince when she tried real bras.

“No one said how painful it would be,” Adora complains as she pulls her bra off one night to get ready for bed with Catra. Catra laughs at her, but once Adora has pulled on a t-shirt – oversized now, but she doesn’t doubt it will be tight in a few weeks more – she tugs Adora into the bed with her and happily lays down, pillowing her head on Adora’s chest.

“I like them. They’re soft. Makes you an even better pillow,” Catra tells her, wiggling her head a little to get comfortable on her. Adora huffs, but she is smiling as she wraps her arms around Catra. Catra has always been touchy, but leading up to their excursion she had gotten a bit distant. This, Catra curled on her chest at night and purring, just feels right. Adora is in pain, and Catra wants to comfort her.

Catra kneads against Adora’s chest, which makes Adora hiss, so she quickly shifts to knead at Adora’s arms instead. It feels amazing, causing her to groan with pleasure as the sore muscles get massaged. Even the pinpricks of Catra’s claws can’t cut through the relief.

“Please never stop,” Adora manages, groaning again as Catra shifts her hands a little lower down to work a part of her arm that hasn’t been soothed yet. Catra snorts, but she keeps kneading as she tucks her face down into Adora’s chest.

“You’re so needy,” Catra says, a laugh tickling at the edges of her voice. It takes a moment for Adora to process what she is finding so funny.

“You’re terrible!” she finally laughs when the pun makes it into her brain, swatting at Catra’s back. Catra just cackles in response.

 

--

 

Catra knew puberty was going to suck. Media prepared her for that. Her own has been okay though – probably because she doesn’t think she really has one. The scientists are calling it that, for lack of a better word, but her body is changing slowly ever since she was eleven. Sure, her mood is unstable, but she has always been volatile and she has been under a lot of stress lately. Adora’s puberty, however, has been torture for her.

Adora fills out and Catra’s heart drops to the bottom of her stomach. She always knew, okay, there was never going to be anyone for her but Adora, but now there is a whole new layer of lust she isn’t used to. She has had years to slowly develop and shove down her feelings, but this is just too much. Adora groans with pain, making Catra’s fur stand on end, and then when Catra tries to help her by massaging out the aches, Adora groans with pleasure, Catra’s hands still on her sore body.

It is torture, showering with Adora, drying off with her, climbing into bed with her. Catra wants in a way she never has before, and despite how she doesn’t want to be away from Adora for a second, she finds herself retreating to high places just to breathe. She always comes down quickly when she spots Adora if she is being trailed by Bow and the rest of the film crew, even though she knows the jealousy is unwarranted, at least in that way.

“Girls, yeah?” Catra asks one day while they are watching TV together, thankfully free of the film crew. She gestures vaguely at the character on the screen as she says it, the girl in tears after coming out to her mother. Adora blinks in surprise, turning her head to look at Catra, expression a bit blank for a minute before she shifts and nods.

“Yeah,” she agrees, blushing for some reason. Catra tries to shove down her purr and fails, so she turns back to the TV and tucks into Adora’s side, grabbing one of her hands and directing it to her ears. Adora immediately begins scratching and Catra has an excuse for her auditory satisfaction, even if she started purring before Adora even touched her. Adora can be idiot about social stuff – Catra is sure she won’t put it together.

Even knowing Adora likes girls, Catra is worried. Adora doesn’t seem to be awakening with her puberty quite the same way Catra is. She is perfectly content to cuddle and interact like they always have, like nothing had changed, but even the position of those cuddles has to change to accommodate Adora’s new chest. Not that Catra does not love pillowing her head on Adora’s tits, kneading at her when Adora isn’t too sore and just seems to enjoy it, but it is another constant reminder that every day it is getting harder for Catra to call Adora just her best friend.

Adora doesn’t seem bothered, declaring it proudly whenever they do interviews for the documentary crew.

 

--

 

“I didn’t get claws,” Adora says, with a bit of disappointment, when she gets measured by their health team and for the first time in several weeks she hasn’t grown an inch in the few days since the last measurement. Her growth seems to finally be slowing down.

“Most people don’t get those with puberty,” Catra comments dryly, cutting off with a cough as Adora hops off the doctor’s table. Adora sends her a pout as Catra flushes from the cough. “You got tits, Adora. That’s what usually comes with puberty,” Catra points out. Adora frowns, looking down at her shirt. It is straining again. The doctors have been amazed she didn’t get stretch marks on her breasts or hips, but apparently her skin is different enough that despite the accelerated speed at which she grew, it didn’t leave any traces behind.

“I wanted to be able to climb stuff with you!” Adora complains, moving to drop down on top of Catra in her seat. Catra squeaks at being crushed as their physician rolls her eyes.

“Get your wide ass off me!” Catra complains, shoving at her back. Adora just laughs, going limp and draping over her friend.

“Watch your language,” the doctor remarks, but she sounds uninterested, likely not up for actually arguing with Catra. Catra manages to wiggle around under Adora to poke her head out from behind her back and stick her tongue out at the woman.

 

--

 

“Turn the camera off,” Catra growls, slumping down in her seat and folding her arms. She should have known when she got called into Spinnerella’s office. The meeting is private, so the documentary crew hasn’t followed her inside – they are probably following Adora around right now – but Catra knows they have a camera in here, in addition to the security footage. Spinnerella sighs, but she stands and goes over to her shelf, picking up a small camera nestled in her potted plant and pointedly turning it off completely. Spinnerella returns to sit at the desk with a raised eyebrow.

“I’m still not talking about it,” Catra returns. Spinnerella levels her with a flat look.

“You can talk about it with me, in private, or you discuss it with Netossa. You know she won’t pull any punches,” Spinnerella tells her. Catra bristles, baring her fangs. She likes Netossa, in general she gets on with her even better than with Spinnerella, but this is not a conversation she wants to have period, much less with Netossa. Spinnerella’s eyes spark with satisfaction.

“Adora,” Spinnerella prompts again, the initial question that made Catra demand the camera be turned off. Catra groans, slumping further down in her seat. “We have to talk about it, Catra. Do you want a repeat of the Hickey Incident?” Spinnerella questions. Catra flushes, her ears pinning back with her embarrassment. No, absolutely not, not while their lives are being filmed.

Catra hadn’t been embarrassed of it at the time, but she was nine and she didn’t know better. She just knew she felt things, and she wanted to be closer to Adora. She would bite her, not hard enough to hurt, just latching on while they cuddled. Adora never minded, but after three separate interventions regarding the marks on Adora’s neck, shoulders, and arms, Catra finally stopped.

Now the Hickey Incident is back in a very different way – theoretically, with Catra actually wanting to leave the marks, knowing what they mean this time. They have had the Talk – or rather, a series of talks - regarding how humans do this, how the scientists theorize Catra does this, and how they have no clue how Adora reproduces considering she doesn’t appear to have a uterus despite resembling a human female in most other ways.

Catra’s tail thuds between the side of her seat and Spinnerella’s desk, twitching with irritation.

“It doesn’t matter. I’m not going to do anything. You don’t have to worry about me seeming uncouth on TV,” Catra grumbles, curling her tail tightly around herself. She isn’t stupid enough to think Spinnerella hasn’t known for a while, but Catra has no idea why she is bringing it up now. Spinnerella pauses, considering Catra for a moment.

“And why won’t you?” she questions. Catra flinches, looking away from her. Spinnerella releases a gentle sound in response. “Catra, Adora’s puberty is different from yours, and though she isn’t thinking about this kind of thing yet, she cares deeply about you. She isn’t going to reject you,” Spinnerella prompts, gently. Catra scowls, glaring down at her feet as she flexes her claws to leave shallow scratches in the linoleum.

“I know,” she mutters, reluctantly. It is true. Adora wouldn’t leave her just because she didn’t feel the same. She doubts Adora would even ask for separate beds should she find out, though she probably wouldn’t let Catra knead on her tits anymore. How Adora thinks that is innocent Catra doesn’t know, but she seems willing to dismiss a lot of things as being because they are different species.

“Then why hide your feelings, Catra?” Spinnerella asks. Catra pins her ears back, dragging her feet a little to leave deep grooves in the floor. Spinnerella doesn’t chide her. Half the floors in the facility have clawmarks in them at this point – it is kind of too late to start caring. Part of Catra is hoping to wait Spinnerella out, but the woman just continues to watch her, her gaze making Catra’s fur crawl until she can’t take it anymore.

“Adora won’t stay here just for me. So what about when she turns eighteen and gets to go out in the world? She can meet someone else – someone normal - and meanwhile I’ll be stuck here, alone, waiting for her to call and tell me she’s not coming back,” Catra rants, gesturing with claws at nothing in particular, just scared. More than rejection, she fears acceptance but not true reciprocation of her feelings.

Adora wouldn’t use her on purpose, but Adora is still under the delusion they’ll get to leave together at eighteen. Catra isn’t that stupid. She hears the facility staff whispering about the things the Horde says about them – she is well aware there are people out there who find her vile, and unlike Adora, she can’t hide. Spinnerella lets out a long breath. Catra can hear the pity in it. She growls as she slumps back in her chair.

“I’m not letting myself have her to then lose her. I’m not telling her or doing whatever else you think it is ‘healthy’ for me to do,” Catra declares, crossing her arms again and glaring at Spinnerella across the desk. Spinnerella looks a bit pained.

“We will do our best to integrate you both into society, Catra, but I can promise you Adora wouldn’t leave without you if you can’t go,” Spinnerella tells her. Catra scoffs, looking away. That is what Spinnerella thinks. Adora wants to be part of the greater world more than anything – all Catra has ever wanted was Adora. She always knew her chances of getting more were slim, but she never needed anyone else. Adora never felt the same way about her.

Spinnerella is lying to herself. She got her love story with her childhood best friend, but she is also human. Adora might be an alien, but she isn’t a freak like Catra is. They are getting more and more online access now they are older and the word is out. Catra sees the things people say about her – either calling her cute and talking about her like a pet or calling her an unnatural abomination. After hearing everything people say about her, she understands why Adora has never even mentioned staying if Catra can’t, always defaulting to “Spinnerella promises we’ll get to go together, Catra.”

“She’ll find someone else. And when she does, I’m running into the wilderness and none of you will ever see me again. Just- leave us alone. Don’t ruin this,” Catra growls, standing abruptly. It hurts to even think about, though Catra knows it is an inevitability. She storms out of the room.

 

--

 

Catra’s puberty is slow, but at some point Adora wakes up and Catra has graduated from training bras to real bras – when she decides to wear them, which is almost never – and though Adora gained several inches on her initially, the gap is closing. Adora has stopped growing at sixteen, but Catra is still going, slow and steady. Adora jokes that Catra might surpass her just to distract herself while they warm up for their workouts together.

Adora never really got it when people kissed on TV – but she did when Spinnerella and Netossa did it, even though it was often just a brief moment of affection before they parted. It wasn’t hard to figure out the deciding factor was girls. She still never really thought about this kind of thing before – she kind of had a lot of other things to worry about, being an alien and all.

She can’t not think about it now. She and Catra have been naked together every day, all their lives between showering together and changing, and yet Adora suddenly finds herself making excuses about wet fur to not touch Catra in the shower. She can’t, it just feels wrong of her to do when she suddenly wants it.

Catra notices. Catra seems hurt, and Adora only realizes how bad that excuse was when Catra insists she wants to take her own showers now. Catra is going through a lot of scrutiny that Adora just isn’t, and pointing out her differences right now is a downright asshole thing for Adora to do. Adora tries to make it up to Catra, but Catra spends a lot of the next few days up in the rafters and avoiding the topic completely when she is on the ground.

Adora doesn’t know what to do and she is clutching at straws. Catra’s nature runs were banned for a while following their runaway attempt, but within a few months they were reinstated. Adora suspects it was because Catra was damn-near bouncing off the walls by then, but everything was different after the world knew. Catra only wears a single tracker now, and Adora doesn’t usually wait for her by the gate anymore. There is no need – Catra is coming back regardless. She doesn’t want to be out there alone.

Adora waits for her this time, just hoping the gesture will mean something. Catra doesn’t bring anything back, but she doesn’t always do that. She seems shocked to see Adora waiting for her, and she cautiously edges towards her once inside the gate again. Adora just holds still, waiting for Catra to approach. Catra likes to do things on her own terms when she has the opportunity to. When she does approach, Catra darts up to her side, tucking a bit cautiously beneath her arm.

The next time Adora goes to get in the shower, Catra hovers just over her shoulder as she undresses. Adora bites her lip.

“You want to join me?” she asks softly, turning to look at Catra and trying to not seem too hopeful. Catra looks largely impassive, but her eyes are blown out as she nods.

Catra joins her in the shower again, but she is careful not to touch her. Adora, in turn, avoids coming in contact with her except to help her with her fur like she always has. Somehow, the careful avoidance is worse than the contact that sent sparks through her.

 

--

 

Spinnerella noticed their near-week of avoiding each other – well, Catra avoiding Adora at least. Catra still isn’t happy about the shower situation, but at least Adora is willing to touch her again to help her wash, so she can’t be that repulsed by Catra’s fur, even if it is something she has just been putting up with for gods know how long. Spinnerella was already on Catra’s case about her feelings anyway, but apparently Catra’s time sulking up in the rafters was the final straw.

“Micah will be your new primary education coordinator for your final years of high school and transition into college. His daughter, Glimmer, is in your grade and will join you for your lessons,” Spinnerella explains, gesturing to the smiling man and the teenage girl beside him, who eyes them with curiosity despite how she looks far from normal herself with her dyed pink hair.

Catra does her best not to gape. When she said told Spinnerella she was Adora’s only option, this was not what she wanted as a solution.