Adora woke up early again.
The sunrise was peaking through the front windows. She forced her eyes open to stare at the light to make herself not fall back asleep. The heat from outside was already seeping into the cabin, Adora could feel a gross and thick layer of sweat already on her body.
She threw her blankets off and walked to the bathroom, wincing a bit at how badly her limbs hurt from the night before.
Looking in the mirror made her break out into laughter, she still looked wrecked. There was dirt in her hair, and she couldn’t tell if all of the scratches on her were from Catra or from the twigs and branches she had been laying on in the forest.
She didn’t know if the lie the two of them would be telling to everyone would hold up. Getting lost in the woods doesn’t necessarily mean you are covered in things from the forest floor.
Adora stumbled back into the bedroom. Bow and Glimmer were still sound asleep, but Catra’s bed was neat and made up, there wasn’t a trace of her.
Since she had passed out the second she fell into her bed, she didn’t even know if Catra had slept there last night at all. She had assumed as much, but staring at the emptiness made her think otherwise.
Adora didn’t want to think about it.
Think about whatever else she could have been doing.
It wasn’t any of her business.
She changed into some workout clothes and took two painkillers to ease the soreness of her limbs before lacing up her running shoes and walking outside.
The heat was even worse when she stepped out, even with how early in the morning it was.
Ten minutes into her run and she already regretted skipping putting on sunscreen, but she just wanted to clear her head a bit.
The campers were coming tomorrow, and everything still needed to be perfect. There were only a couple of more things she would have to do during the day, but she felt good about it. She would be able to focus on work, and not anything else.
Not about Catra.
But she was just in her head.
They were just seeing each other more often, that was it. Every other year they only see each other once a week at most. And the only reason they’d hang out was for one specific reason only, instead of being forced to see each other every waking moment.
But, seeing Catra open up for a brief moment was nice, maybe they could dip their toe into the water that spelled ‘friends’ in rocks at the bottom.
Nothing made sense about the whole thing, so she just kept running.
Running until she got halfway around the lake and back to the docks at camp. Hoping she’d be able to jump in quickly to get the sweat off before she had to shower for real back at the cabin.
But then, she saw her.
Holding something with her hands and kicking her feet in the water. A mug and a backpack next to her while she rocked back and forth to whatever music she was listening to in her headphones.
Adora almost didn’t want to disturb her. She looked completely peaceful, enjoying a moment in her own little world. And clearly got up early enough to do it alone. Or, again, maybe she never went to bed.
But she still didn’t want to think about that.
Adora stepped on a branch, wincing at the sound as Catra turned around to look at her. She shoved whatever she was holding into her backpack and made eye contact with her.
“Are you stalking me?” Catra asked, crossing her arms as Adora walked toward her.
“No,” Adora rolled her eyes and sat far enough away from Catra so that there was no chance for an accidental touch. “I go on a run every morning and you’re never here.”
“Yeah,” Catra stretched her arms in the air and took a sip from her mug. “I got up really early, I couldn’t sleep.”
“What were you doing?” Adora pointed to Catra’s backpack and was about to reach out before Catra grabbed her wrist.
“Adora,” Catra tightened her grip and locked eyes with her. “I literally will shove you into the lake.”
“Woah,” Adora broke out into a smile, even with the grip on her wrist. “How is that even fair? I just want to know-”
“No, nope,” Catra said, and Adora only smiled more when she saw the corners of Catra’s mouth slowly turning up into a grin.
“Fine,” Adora laughed and pulled her hand back, “What did you even do last night?”
Catra tilted her head to the side and looked at her before poking her on the forehead. “You are so sweaty,” She said, scrunching up her nose. “Jump in, or I’ll push you in.”
Adora scoffed, “I was going to do that anyway until you told me to.”
“Oh, yeah?” Catra smirked, pushing a piece of loose hair behind Adora’s ear before cupping her face. “Jump in.”
Adora scoffed, leaning into the touch anyway. “I don’t think so.”
Catra stood up, pulling Adora up with her.
“Very funny, Catra,” Adora said. Catra was holding her over the edge of the dock, if she let go Adora would fall in. “You know I’ll just pull you in with me, right?”
Catra’s eyes went wide, “I’m scared of the water.” She said it so gently that Adora wasn’t even sure she heard her right.
“Let go, I won’t pull you in.”
Catra’s eyes perked back up, followed by another grin. She let go instantly, dropping Adora into the water.
Adora came up for air and squeezed the water out of her ponytail. She swam over to rest her arms on the edge of the dock to look back up at Catra. “Show me what you were working on?” She asked, just as gently as Catra spoke before.
Catra cracked her knuckles and sat back down, pulling her backpack in her lap. “Fine, but only because you didn’t pull me in.”
Adora smiled and watched eagerly as Catra pulled out some yarn and a knitting loom, along with other craft items.
“Don’t laugh,” Catra warned.
“I won’t, I promise.”
“I was knitting a hat,” Catra held up her work to Adora. “There’s this one camper that comes every year, and they don’t really have much. Whenever we go down by the lake at night they get cold, so, yeah. I’m making them a hat, maybe a scarf. I know it’s summer, or whatever, but they never even have sweatpants.”
Adora felt every bone, every muscle, everything she had, soften a bit. If for some reason a huge wave washed over her she might float away. “That’s really sweet of you.”
“Nah,” Catra shrugged, stuffing everything back away into her bag. “Sometimes I feel like it’s the bare minimum that I could be doing.”
“No,” Adora shook her head, pulling herself back up on the dock so she could sit closer. “It’s more than most people would even think of doing."
A blush quickly spread over Catra’s face that Adora got to see and take in for a moment before Catra turned her head away. “You really go on a run this early every morning?”
Adora cackled and laid down on her back to look up at the sky. There wasn’t a cloud in sight, just the calming colors floating in the air. “Yeah,” She breathed, letting the sun soak in. “I mean, I try to. You know... You could always come with me if you wanted.”
Catra slowly turned her head around and looked down at Adora. “Are you sure that wouldn’t be suspicious? Inviting your mortal enemy to your peaceful morning run?”
“No one else is awake,” Adora smiled, “They wouldn’t know.”
Catra laid down next to her, taking her by surprise. Close enough so their hands and ankles were touching. “Uh,” She wiggled a bit, turning her head so Adora could see her eyes. “Are you okay after last night? We didn’t get to do much aftercare because of the… Interruption.”
Adora felt frozen, like time stopped just for a second, even in the blistering heat. “Oh,” She said, sitting up a bit, trying to unfreeze to be able to act cool, aloof, anything else besides what she actually felt. “I’m good, thank you for asking.”
Which was the truth.
Catra’s expression relaxed, “Of course,” Was all she said before squeezing her eyes shut.
Adora was going to say something else before her mouth clamped shut as she saw Scorpia start to walk down the hill toward the dock. “Catra,” She said, shoving her arm, hiding the panic on her face. “Scorpia is-”
Catra bolted upright, and almost like it was pure instinct, pushed Adora back into the lake.
Adora came up from the water instantly, coughing some up and trying to keep quiet. “What the fuck?” She whispered, trying to get back up, but Catra just pushed her in again.
“If you weren’t scared of the water you’d be so dead right now,” Adora said, accepting the fact she was stuck there until Scorpia left.
“Hey, guys!” Scorpia beamed and sat down next to Catra, holding two tiny muffins in her hand. “I brought you a tiny muffin,” She handed one to Catra and stuffed the other one in her mouth. “They aren’t that great, but Glimmer and Entrapta made like, gosh, one hundred of them?”
“They did what?” Adora’s mouth dropped open in shock.
Scorpia glanced at Adora, almost looking annoyed that she spoke at all. “What are you guys doing down here?”
“I was just jumping in the lake after my morning run.” Adora turned to look at Catra to see what her explanation would be, but her whole body was unreadable. “I’m going to take a shower.”
Adora could feel Scorpia and Catra’s eyes on her as she walked away, hating that the sand from the beach stuck to her feet as she left.
Catra finished the hat she was knitting around the time breakfast was officially going to start. Scorpia had left her alone after she talked her way out of hanging out with everyone else before the day started.
She wanted to be alone, just for a little bit.
Just in the morning so she could maybe watch the sunrise, steady her breathing, and tell herself everything was going to be okay.
It felt like everyone else seemed to be getting along while she sat on the sidelines and watched it happen.
But, that’s why the whole day was apparently set aside for team bonding.
Adora clearly wasn’t aware of that fact this morning, because she wasn’t freaking out.
While they were lost in the woods the night before, the rest of the counselors finished setting everything up. That would definitely freak Adora out, and it would probably take a whole team of people to stop her from checking up on things.
Catra walked back to the cabin, letting the fresh air fill her lungs and the sun warm her skin. She almost felt content, like she could handle a whole day doing activities she found pointless.
“There you are,” A familiar voice sneered.
Catra plastered on a smirk before turning around. “Did you come all the way here to find me, Sparkles? I didn’t know you cared about me that much.”
“Oh, fuck off,” Glimmer snapped. “I made french toast, go eat it.”
“Fuck,” Catra held her hands up in defense, “Maybe you should get some coffee in you, you’re acting like a bigger asshole than usual.”
“Whatever,” Glimmer snorted, “Right, I made a conscious decision to come fuck with you. I never have any real reason behind my actions.”
“Just spit it out, Glimmer. What do you want?”
“Did you do something to Adora last night?” Glimmer took a step closer, being surprisingly intimidating.
“What do you mean?” Catra choked out, trying to keep a straight face.
“She’s acting weird this morning.”
Catra laughed, a little too much, Glimmer looked like she was ready to start physically fighting.
Catra almost wanted to tell her the truth, just to wipe that taunting look off Glimmer’s face.
Instead, she said, “Ask Adora.” Patting Glimmer on the head and opening the front door. “I’ll see you at breakfast.”
Catra walked toward the picnic tables out in the sun where everyone else was sitting. Trying to ignore the way Glimmer marched right past her, bumping her shoulder as she did so.
Scorpia waved Catra over to sit by her, sliding a paper plate full of breakfast food and a coffee mug in her direction.
Catra smiled, taking a sip of coffee and trying not to make a face when it burned the roof of her mouth.
Even though she had already seen Adora that morning, sweaty and then soaked with water from the lake, she still had to force down a smile when she looked at her.
Adora, who had freckles starting to spread on her face from the sun, who somehow looked like she was glowing even so early in the morning. Shorts on so Catra could see how good her thighs always looked.
Adora looked back up at her, and Catra wanted to sprint away when she caught the smile she threw her way.
Bow stood up in front of the group and cleared his throat, getting everyone's attention. “So, today we’re spending the whole day doing team bonding. Remember that this is important for all of us. So, please, try to take it a little bit seriously.”
Catra held in a groan, she could get through this.
“I’m going to put you all into groups,” Bow grabbed Adora’s clipboard, and Catra had to hold in a laugh at the squeaking noise that came out of her mouth when it was taken away from her. “I’m with Kyle and Perfuma, Mermista is with Scorpia, Sea Hawk with Entrapta, Glimmer and DT, then Catra and Adora.”
They all went quiet and looked around at each other, all Catra could hear besides breathing was an annoying bird song a couple of feet away.
“I tried to pair you with someone you don’t know that well, or,” His voice went up an octave as he spoke his next words. “People you really should become at least a little bit friendly with.”
Catra felt nauseous. She looked at Adora again, who looked like she was one moment away from panicking.
“So, go pack a bag. We’ll be staying in the woods overnight. Not in a place without a compass in the dark.”
A slight chuckle spread throughout the group as they looked between Catra and Adora.
Catra felt more than uneasy, she chewed on her lip and looked at some of the uneaten food on her plate.
If anyone knew anything, they didn’t say it.
Catra made her way back to the cabin without looking back, even though she could faintly hear and feel Adora trying to catch up with her.
She stopped as she put her hand on the door handle to look back. “Hey, Adora,” She grinned as Adora looked up from the ground just in time to bump into her.
“Hey, Catra,” Adora said, stumbling over her words, reaching over to open the door so they could walk inside. “Ready for, um-”
“No,” Catra cut her off, already starting to pack when she got in the door. “Not even a little, it’s going to be so-”
“Awkward,” Adora’s face flushed red as she grabbed her backpack and slung it over her shoulders. “But, I mean,” She walked over to Catra, wrapping an arm around her waist. “We’re paired together, it won’t be too terrible.”
“Oh, fuck off, Grayskull,” Catra turned around, but Adora kept her arms around her. “You’re not a good actor, if you act even a little suspicious, I’ll push you in the lake again.”
“Oh, deal,” She smiled back at Catra, “Naked?”
Catra raised her eyebrows and leaned closer, “Yeah, naked.”
The sun freckles on Adora’s face were so much better up close, her breath smelled like maple syrup and somehow even that was cute.
“Okay, okay,” Catra forced herself to step back and finish packing. “Let’s go, dumbass. Glimmer and Bow will be back soon so get away from me.” It came off playful, which she almost regretted when a giggle escaped that pretty mouth.
“Adora,” Glimmer’s shrill voice entered the cabin almost if on cue, “Let’s get going. It’s a pretty big hike, I want you to be on call in case Bow needs help to carry me.”
Catra watched as Adora laughed and nodded, pink flushing across the bridge of her nose. “You coming?” She looked back at her, pointing toward the door.
“I’ll catch up,” Catra said, monotone. “I’m gonna meet up with, uh, other people.”
“Sounds good,” Adora whispered, and Catra thought just for a moment she looked disappointed.
Everything was fine.
Catra grabbed her backpack and walked out without another word.
She walked until she found the rest of the Horde crew, Double Trouble in front of all of them with an exasperated look.
“Oh, hey,” They smirked, looking at Catra and reaching out a hand.
Catra grabbed it with a laugh and let them twirl her around. “Ready for a day jam-packed with fun?” She stuck her tongue out, playfully.
“For sure,” They rolled their eyes and looked back at everyone else. “Scorpia is freaking out, though. She’s worried about sunscreen.”
Catra pinched the bridge of her nose, “Stay here, we can walk together. I’ll go help.”
Scorpia’s whole backpack was on display on the grass, she was crouched down next to the mess with her head in her hands.
“Scorp, how many times do we have to go over the fact that you have a million bottles of sunscreen. I packed some, let’s go.”
Scorpia looked up, bashfully. “All right,” She breathed, “I’m just nervous. Help me up?”
Catra helped her off the ground, grunting in pain at the strength of her grip. “Let’s get it over with.”
It was awkward as the Horde counselors caught up with Bright Moon, who were all already by the trail waiting.
Bow grimaced as they all walked up, he dropped his arm off of Sea Hawk’s shoulder and walked up to them. “Okay,” He smiled and clapped his hands, “You know what? Everyone is walking side by side with their buddies. Let’s start mingling, talk about where you want to be in five years and all of the pets you’ve ever wanted.”
Catra turned to look at her friends, everyone looking like they were in pain besides Scorpia.
Double Trouble intertwined their hands with Catra’s and dragged her over to everyone else. She wanted to dig her heels into the gravel beneath her so she could put everything off for just another moment.
“Glimmer,” DT clapped their hands and shoved Catra’s shoulder with their own. “I think we should take the lead, let everyone follow us.”
Catra watched as Glimmer huffed and started up the trail with her arms crossed.
“Rules!” Bow shouted after the two of them, “There are rules! We have to be talking at all times!”
Catra turned to look at Adora who looked like she was stuck in a movie that was paused right before a jump scare. Anticipating the worst.
“Hello, colleague,” Catra said, kicking Adora’s foot with her own. “Let’s get walking?”
Adora kept her eyes ahead on everyone else, “Let’s walk in the back?” She whispered, rocking back and forth on her feet and staring down at her fingers.
“Good with me,” Catra said, waving at her friends as they walked away.
She waited for Adora’s approval, but she started walking down the trail without saying anything.
“Excuse you,” Catra snorted, catching up. “We have to be talking the whole time.”
“Fine,” Adora shrugged, kicking every rock that was in her path like she was a ten-year-old at the playground. “Why did DT get here a day late?”
“Uh,” Catra looked at Adora, stone-cold and far away, “I’m not sure. They’re not the best at being on time, but they usually have a reason.”
“Yep,” Catra reached out to kick a rock away before Adora had the chance to.
“That was my rock,” Adora replied like she was speaking to a wall.
“Adora,” Catra said, a bit of worry filling her voice, “What’s up with you?”
“Nothing,” Adora frowned, walking a couple of steps ahead.
“Well, alright,” Catra pursed her lips. “Since we’re far enough away, I can so elegantly describe to you how I’ll fuck you later and what will happen if you don’t keep quiet.”
Adora whipped her head around, and Catra was glad she finally got her to smile.
“Well,” She grinned, nudging Catra’s shoulder with her own. “If you insist.”
“Catra,” Adora ran her thumb across Catra’s sweat-stained forehead and looked at her with concern. “You look so sleepy.”
Catra looked at her with a scowl, even though her body felt like it was one moment away from failing her. “I am so sleepy, Adora. We have walked up so many hills. I am dangerously close to dying.”
“Again, I don’t think you like hiking.”
“Maybe I just don’t like hiking with you .”
“Sure,” Adora's body shook with laughter, “And the raccoons.”
“Raccoons are scary, they are!” Catra hated that every laugh Adora let out made her smile just a bit more.
“Some people keep them as pets.”
“That is disgusting,” Catra shivered just thinking about it, stopping in her tracks when her head went dizzy.
“Woah,” Adora was on her instantly, placing a hand on her forehead and grabbing her water bottle. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” Catra swatted her away, “Just keep walking.”
“You’re two seconds away from passing out, Catra.”
“We probably have only like ten minutes left, just let me walk.”
Adora stopped her, placing her hands on Catra’s shoulders, and narrowing her eyes. “We have at least fifteen to twenty. Let me carry you? That way you can drink water and eat something on the way.”
“Carry me?” Catra rubbed her eyes, trying to back away without drawing attention from everyone else. “I can handle myself, just keep walking.”
“Hm,” Adora placed a hand on Catra’s chest to keep her from going any further, pretending to be deep in thought. “Remember all those things you just said? How the second we’re alone you want me on your face? When you whispered to me-”
“Okay, okay,” Catra covered her ears, “What’s your point?”
“Carry me and you can do anything you want to me, if you don’t let me, you just get to watch.”
Catra raised her eyebrows. She took a second to sit down on the earth beneath her. “Are you trying to act like a top?”
Adora sat down next to her and double-checked on the group ahead of them. “I give them maybe thirty seconds until they realize we’re all the way back here. Come on, jump on my back.”
“Fine,” Catra mumbled, jumping up on Adora’s back and wrapping her legs around her waist and arms around her neck. “Only because you promised you’d feed me as you do this.”
Adora laughed, walking forward toward the group again and unwrapping a granola bar. “Whatever you say. Here you go, loser.” She held it up high enough so Catra could eat it.
Then they walked in silence for a little bit. Even though it was against the rules.
Catra was trying to listen to Scorpia and Mermista’s conversation that they were having in front of them. They actually seemed to be laughing a bit, albeit a little awkwardly, but still.
Catra rested her head on Adora’s shoulder, taking in a deep breath. She still slightly smelt like maple syrup but mixed in with just her. Just Adora. It was nice, sunscreen, deodorant, breakfast foods, the lake, Adora, Adora, Adora.
It was weird, Catra didn’t mind hanging out with her as much as she thought she would. It was almost calming, like she was at an old friend's house.
But Catra almost didn’t want to enjoy her company, she didn’t want to spend her days swaying as she walked, twirling her hair, and thinking about the rosiness of Adora’s pretty mouth.
“We’re almost there,” Adora said, interrupting Catra’s thoughts.
Catra lifted her head to see everyone looking back down at them, making her jump off Adora’s back quickly. She brushed herself off and fixed her hair before walking in front of Adora up the last part of a hill.
“I was overheating,” Catra announced to the group, “Adora was just-”
“Making sure she didn’t faint,” Adora finished, nudging Catra with her shoulder. “Not a big deal.”
Bow clapped his hands together and walked over to high-five the two of them. “That’s team bonding,” He smiled, “See,” He pointed to them, “This is what we should all be doing.”
“Uh,” Catra crossed her arms, “I don’t know about that.” She walked away from Adora, finding Entrapta who was sitting near the back
“Well,” Bow’s voice cracked and he looked at her with disdain, “If Catra feels rested enough, then we can start some games.”
“Hm,” Catra tapped her finger on her lips, “Let me think.” She looked around to all of her friends who looked bored out of their minds already. Entrapta was scribbling something in her notebook, sitting far away and deep in thought.
She was, she really was going to make it just a bit harder for them.
Until she saw two things.
She saw Scorpia, giving her a pleading and heartfelt look. She had also been the one helping Bow plan, it would mean a lot to her.
And Adora, of course, it was Adora. Who looked annoyed out of her mind. Her face was flushed completely red, most likely a mixture of the sun and frustration.
At that moment, Catra wanted to shove her playfully and shake her head, she wanted to say, “ Sorry, I’m just teasing .” To get her to smile.
Because she really did care about making her smile.
“Yeah,” Catra stretched her arms in the air, looking away from Adora. “I feel better, we can start.”
Adora applied sunblock to her arms as she watched Bow and Scorpia set up some sort of obstacle course. Glimmer kept bumping into Bow, feigning innocence each time. She laughed to herself, if anyone was going to get caught breaking the rules she had a suspicion it would be them.
Even Mermista and Seahawk who were actually together were good about not acting too romantic or obvious at camp. They had already signed a waiver years ago since they’d been together for a while.
Adora knew why there was the rule, she was told it often and yearly.
“There doesn’t need to be any drama between anyone that gets in the way of being able to do your job.” Angella had always said, which was almost charming, considering how much drama was happening now. It was that, and many other things.
And Adora was in charge of keeping things together.
What she had with Catra now definitely had not always been drama-free, but they didn’t work together before.
Looking at all of the counselors trying to mingle with each other was making her incredibly anxious. She was sitting in the corner biting at her thumb and watching everything unravel.
This felt like a test like if she and Catra could make it through this without suspicion they would be okay.
The Horde counselors might not see Adora when camp was over, but all of the Bright Moon counselors did. They all saw each other at least monthly, Adora, Bow, and Glimmer hung out at least once a week.
They knew the things Adora would do for the people she liked, or whoever she had a crush on, or anything along those lines. To go from enemies who couldn’t even be left in the woods together to carrying Catra up a hill looked like a shift in something.
Adora hadn’t thought about it until she saw Glimmer’s face.
She hoped she was just confused about how friendly they were with each other.
“Everyone,” Bow cupped his hands around his mouth to yell, “We are starting, come join us at the starting point with your partner.”
Everyone grabbed their partner, Adora waited for Catra in the back. Almost glaring at her as she walked over, keeping distance in between them.
“Geesh,” Catra kicked Adora’s foot. “You’re gonna be like this today, princess?”
“You know what,” Adora snapped, taking another step back from her. “Yeah, I am.”
Catra’s face faltered and Adora immediately broke character. “We have to,” She whispered, staring at the ground.
She wasn’t sure if that made it better or worse. Catra grabbed a blindfold from Bow and didn’t look back at her.
“Pick someone to be blindfolded, then we’ll start.”
Catra smirked, and Adora rolled her eyes. “I guess that’s going to be you, huh?”
“Why me?” Adora crossed her arms, trying to keep up her defensive and cool act.
“You know why,” Catra teased, motioning for Adora to move closer. She tied it tight enough, making sure Adora’s eyes were covered. Leaning in close enough so that only the two of them would hear that she said, “You always look so good like this.”
Adora felt butterflies and nerves fill her stomach, “Stop,” She whined, lightly. Itching to know what Catra’s facial expression looked like and how many people were looking in their direction.
“Okay,” Catra chuckled, and Adora could tell she had taken a couple of steps away from her.
“You will be leading your partner through the obstacle course while they are blindfolded. You can’t touch them, you can only use your words to tell them what they should be doing,” Scorpia explained.
Adora tried her best to look in the direction of her voice.
“We’ll have two rounds, so we can switch off who’s blindfolded. The team with the best completion time will win this round.” She was sitting out with Mermista so they could keep track of everyone's times.
“Let’s get lined up!” Bow cheered, “Grab your teammate and go to the starting position.”
“I’m not gonna grab your hand,” Catra said to Adora, “Just follow my voice.”
“Wow,” Adora said, cynically. “That's so kind of you after I carried you for almost a mile earlier.”
“Thank you,” Catra said, mocking her. She grabbed Adora’s shoulders and moved her into position. “We’re here, just listen to me, okay?”
Adora felt overly conscious of everyone around them, she didn’t know what to say, what would be calculated enough. She didn’t know how to be around Catra, if she should hate her or care about her, be her friend, or just a colleague.
She chose colleague at that moment, knowing that Glimmer’s eyes were burning into her.
“Thanks, already knew that,” Adora said back to Catra, who tightened her grip on Adora’s shoulders.
“Alright, Grayskull. If you trip over a rock I won’t catch you.”
“I’m the one who does the carrying.”
“Oh, as if,” Catra cackled, Adora knew it was going to draw attention. She did have an amazingly captivating laugh.
“Just, be quiet, Horde Scum. Let’s just try to win.”
Scorpia yelled for them to start, and Adora took off, knowing that Catra would be going at the same pace.
Adora didn’t trip over any rocks, maybe a branch or two, but she didn’t fall on her face. She was able to tune out everyone else yelling and just listen to Catra, her voice was loud, clear, and direct.
Catra took off Adora’s blindfold when they finished and grinned when they made eye contact. “We finished first,” She shrugged, taking a step back. “Nice job, Grayskull. You really know how to listen to me.”
Adora rolled her eyes, holding back a smile. “You know,” She said, catching up to Catra. “If you want to win the second round, you’ll have to listen to me .”
“ Oh, Adora,” Catra smirked, she leaned in close, looking at everyone else still on the obstacle course. “Even when you think you’re topping me, I’m still topping you. Tell me what to do, I dare you.”
“That’s part of the game, Catra.”
“I know,” Catra said, curtly. “Exactly.”
The rest of the counselors finished at least two or three minutes after Catra and Adora. Most of them had their mouths open gaping at the two of them, Adora did her best to avoid eye contact.
“Next round,” Scorpia yelled at all of them, clearly proud.
“Remember,” Catra whispered, looking at Adora before the blindfold was around her eyes. “Remember what I said.”
“You’re such an asshole,” Adora scoffed, making Glimmer turn to look at her.
Glimmer mouthed, Are you okay? Looking anxiously between the two of them.
Adora swallowed hard, nodding toward Glimmer and throwing on a smile.
They won, again.
It took a bit longer the second time, Scorpia had rearranged most of the course so it wouldn’t be as easy.
But they still won, far ahead of everyone else.
Adora tensed up, watching Double Trouble walk toward them as they took their blindfold off. “You two are really good at working together.” They shrugged, throwing their arm over Catra’s shoulder and walking her away.
“Ugh,” Glimmer walked toward Adora and sat on the grass. “We lost, again. We’re a terrible team.”
“It wasn’t that bad.” Bow chimed in, ruffling Glimmer’s hair.
“Even your team of three beat us,” Glimmer said, “How is that even possible?”
Adora glanced over to Sea Hawk and Entrapta who were actually engaged in a deep conversation, even Perfuma and Kyle were laughing so hard together they had to sit down.
“See,” Bow pointed to everyone, the biggest grin on his face. “Everyone is having fun.”
“I’m not,” Adora said, hoping it sounded genuine. Even with Catra teasing her and shoving her, it was still nice to be around her in a weird way. “Catra is way too competitive.”
“And so are you,” Glimmer poked Adora’s nose. “Maybe you’re perfect together.”
“What?” Adora said hastily, “That is ridiculous, we clearly are awful together. Just fighting and- it’s stupid. Stupid, so stupid-”
“I was kidding, Adora.” Glimmer nudged her shoulder, “Let’s go.”
The next activity was trust falls.
“You really think I’d drop you?” Catra said, almost looking insulted. “Seriously? I don’t want your pretty head to hit the ground.”
“You know what-”
“Are you planning on dropping me?” Catra said, stepping closer.
“No,” Adora said, taking a deep breath to try to stay calm. “I do think you’d drop me, though. To make a point.”
“Oh,” Catra grinned, “Maybe that is a good idea. Don’t want anyone to think that we actually like each other, huh?”
“You like me? That is so embarrassing for you.”
“Fuck off, Grayskull.”
Adora bit back a smile when she saw the flustered look on Catra’s face. “ I am teasing you .” She winked, “Drop me, see what happens.”
“Contrary to your popular belief, I actually don’t enjoy it when people hate me. I may think this is stupid, but I’m still going to try .”
“That’s not what I meant.” Adora looked at her, Catra’s face was twisted up, looking unsettled.
“Whatever, let’s go.”
Catra was up on a ledge, not high enough to get hurt if she dropped completely, but high enough to not be able to catch herself.
Adora looked pissed beneath her, standing with her arms crossed and a scowl on her face. “Catra, I am not going to drop you.”
“If we weren’t in front of everyone, you’d drop me,” Catra said, gesturing to everyone else a couple of feet back. The only person who looked amused was DT, smirking in the back.
“Do you not trust me?” Adora said, sounding genuinely hurt for a brief moment.
Catra looked down at her, keeping her expression neutral even though the words pierced through her skull.
And what was she even supposed to say to that?
Because she didn’t know.
She couldn’t walk up to her and take her face in her hands, look her deep in the eyes and reassure her. She couldn’t tell her the truth, More than anyone else here. She wanted to say, Sometimes more than my friends here, more than most people, but not enough.
She fell, Adora caught her.
And she walked away to the back without a word.
She was too spaced out to watch anyone else, for some reason Adora’s words were still with her.
“What the fuck?” Glimmer’s bright pink hair lifted from the ground, dirt on her face.
Double Trouble stepped away from her with their hands in the air, “My hands slipped, are you alright?”
Glimmer stood up and Catra swore that anyone within a ten-mile radius of her would drop dead if she looked at them the way she was looking at DT.
“Your hands slipped?” Glimmer walked up to them, looking ridiculously short in comparison.
Catra walked up behind DT, putting an arm over their shoulder. “Take a step back, Sparkles. They said it was an accident.”
“Oh, fuck off, Catra. I’m going to have bruises for weeks.”
“Don’t be so dramatic,” DT chimed in. “That was barely a fall. It’s like if you missed one step of stairs.”
“I cannot believe you two,” Glimmer cried, moving closer.
“Glimmer,” Adora walked forward, placing a hand on her friend's shoulder. “Let’s cool off for a bit. We can eat lunch?”
Catra made eye contact with Adora and glared, “Great idea.” She said, shortly. “We’ll keep our distance.”
Adora’s mouth dropped open slightly, looking like she was trying to conceal her hurt but failing. “Fine by me,” She said, her voice cracking.
Catra grabbed DT by the wrist and pulled them away, walking toward Entrapta, Kyle, and Scorpia. “I don’t want to be near any of them,” Catra said to DT. Keeping them away from everything else. “I’m sick of this manufactured friendship bullshit.”
“Wildcat,” Scorpia stepped forward. “Let’s cool down, they did technically drop Glimmer.”
Catra clenched her fists, “Hey, Double Trouble, did Glimmer at any time today try to befriend you or be kind to you?”
DT tapped their foot and gave Catra a smirk, “No, not at all.”
Catra looked at all of them and sat down in the grass. “I’ve been your head counselor for four years. No one gets to fuck with any of you.”
Scorpia’s face softened, “And you know we all appreciate that, Catra. This just means a lot to me.”
Catra groaned, putting her face in her hands. “Let’s just eat, okay? We still have the rest of the night. Maybe we can figure things out.”
Catra took one bite out of her sandwich and one sip of a juice box before she was tapped on the shoulder.
“Hey, Catra,” Adora stood behind her with her arms crossed. “Can we go talk? Head counselor, to head counselor?”
Catra looked at all of her friends, all consumed with their food. “Yeah, whatever.”
Adora started walking away without looking back, Catra caught up with her.
There was a small building with bathrooms, a fireplace, and tables. It looked like a small and cozy log cabin which was meant for campers who were up on the hill.
“What was that?” Adora said, sitting down on a chair next to the unlit fireplace.
“What do you mean?” Catra said, standing behind a chair, trying to keep her distance.
“You know they meant to drop Glimmer. There’s no way you don’t know that. You’re supposed to step in and talk to them, not brush it off like you’re a high school bully.”
“Oh,” Catra cackled, sitting down. “That.”
“What happened to, ‘I’m still going to try?’ Was that just some lie?”
“Oh my gods,” Catra shook her head, “Trying goes both ways. I’m not going to keep trying when it feels like I’m talking to a brick wall.”
“I’m sick of this,” Adora pinched the bridge of her nose, standing up and kneeling in front of Catra’s chair. “Maybe you need to, um, let some tension out or something? Maybe you’d feel better, less defensive .”
“I’m defensive? Did you have this same talk with Glimmer?”
“No,” Adora grinned, “But I don’t do this with Glimmer.” She ran her hand up Catra’s thigh, stopping at the edge of her shorts.
“What do you want, Adora?” Catra sighed, looking down at her.
“What did you say before?” Adora cocked her head to the side, her grin spreading wider. “Even when I think I'm topping you, you're still topping me?”
“That is what I said,” Catra sat up straight, running her hand through the loose end of Adora’s ponytail, undoing it and putting the hair tie around her wrist. “Why?”
“I’d like to test that theory.”
“Everyone is outside.” Catra pointed to the doors and the windows. “Even if they saw you kneeling in front of me, they’d lose it.”
“There are bathrooms? And they know not to bother us, I told them we should talk business alone. To get everything back on track. Because it’s our job, right?”
“Right,” Catra rolled her eyes, tightening her grip on Adora’s hair. “You’re needy.”
“Needy?” Adora pouted, looking up at her. “Why?”
Catra leaned down, keeping her lips just above Adora’s, pulling her head back further so she could look directly at her. “I barely tease you, and you’re ready to drop to your knees for me?”
“I’m just trying to make you feel better,” Adora gasped, throwing her hand to her heart dramatically. “What happened to my punishment if I told you what to do?”
“Oh,” Catra cackled again, pulling Adora by the hair closer to her. “That’s what you want? Right now?”
“Yeah,” Adora nodded, keeping her eyes on Catra. “Let me make you feel better. So the rest of the day isn’t as bad.”
“Fuck,” Catra bit her lip before letting a grin spread across her face. She pulled Adora by the hair again but brought her into a kiss. A little too hard, knowing it might bruise.
Adora pulled back, gasping, pretty blue eyes filled with longing. “Please, can I?”
“Here? Really? You’re seriously not worried about everyone outside? We’d be seriously fucked if they found out.”
“Isn’t that part of the fun?”
“Fuck, Adora,” Catra leaned back, taking in all of her. “Yeah, okay. Please do.”
“You have to be quiet, remember?”
“You know, you will seriously be fucked if you keep telling me what to do.”
“I’ll keep pushing my luck,” Adora smirked, pulling down Catra’s shorts.
“Where did this cockiness come from?” Catra asked, leaning back in the chair.
“Do you like it?” Adora grinned again, biting lightly on the inside of Catra’s thigh.
Adora looked up toward Catra’s hand that was back at her side, and Catra threaded it back through her hair. Pulling again, closer toward her, not dropping eye contact until her mouth was hovering over her.
“We’re not leaving until I come, so you better be good.”
“You know I’m always good for you.”
“Fuck,” Catra ran a hand through her hair. “Yeah, you are.” She pulled Adora closer until her mouth was fully on her. She held back a moan, briefly remembering that literally, everyone was outside, a couple of feet away.
Catra let herself watch, how Adora’s cheeks flushed pink, over time when sweat was dripping from her forehead from the heat and also from how hard she was trying. She usually didn’t have a hard time keeping quiet, but something between a mixture of Adora’s newfound cockiness in situations like these, and just how good her mouth felt made it more difficult than usual.
“Baby,” Catra shifted her body so she was closer to her. She lifted her chin with her finger, “Kiss me.”
“Kiss me,” She said again, because it was all she wanted, for some fucking reason.
Adora stood up quickly, grabbing Catra’s face in her hands before kissing her. Softer than before but faster, both of them gasping for air.
“Come here,” Catra pulled Adora so she was sitting on her lap instead of standing. She ran her hands up under Adora’s shirt to grab her waist.
“Want me to-”
“Just kiss me,” Catra whispered against her lips, they were so warm, they were so soft. Her head was spinning and her senses were flooded with how good she felt.
“Catra,” Adora pulled away, keeping her face in her hands as she looked down at her slightly. “It’s been a while, we’ll need to go back... If you still want-”
“Touch me like this,” Catra moved Adora’s hand to her clit, moving her fingers in a direction and pace for her to follow.
Catra nodded, barely able to form words. Keeping her mouth on Adora’s through shaky breaths, pulling her in, wanting more.
She had Adora in a lot of ways before, but, somehow, not like this.
For some reason, it felt more authentic.
“Listen to me one last time?” Adora smiled against Catra’s lips.
Catra let out a laugh, “Whatever you want, Princess.”
“Kiss me when you come.”
Catra let out a moan, using both of her hands to grab Adora’s face and tug her closer.
Her breathing picked up, her grip tightened on Adora’s face, keeping her close as Adora brought her over the edge.
So that they were still kissing.
They lingered that way for a second after, lips almost on each other but just far enough away so they both could breathe.
“We need to go back,” Catra whispered, handing Adora back her hair tie.
Adora stood up, hurriedly tying her hair back up before she walked to the bathroom. “I have to, um,” She turned back to Catra with a grin, “Wash off my face?”
“Yeah,” Catra smiled back, “Yeah.”
Catra sat in the chair, running her hands over her face and through her hair, trying to wrap her mind around what had just happened.
“Should we walk out of here, like, fighting or something?” Adora said, coming back out and sitting in the chair across from Catra. “We were out… For a bit.”
“Yeah.” Catra nodded, finding it hard to think of a word besides that. “I’ll walk out looking mad or something, wait for a couple of seconds after I leave before you do.”
“Do you want to… Um,” Adora stood up and ran a hand through Catra’s hair. “You look-”
“Oh, for sure, always.”
“It’s fine, it’s hot out.” Catra moved away from her touch and ignored whatever facial expression it would elicit from Adora.
Catra stood in front of the door, almost nervous to go back to the real world. Barely ready to explain or make up anything else that could have just happened.
But, she had to.
There was no way anyone would expect anything that just happened. She was almost sure of it.
She looked back at Adora and gave her a thumbs-up before doing her best to storm out of the cabin and walk directly toward her friends, staring directly at the ground. Sitting down with manufactured rage, and grabbing a bag of chips so she could avoid talking.
She didn’t look back when she heard the door open, she just focused on her food, on her friends laughing.
“Are you guys okay?” Scorpia asked, placing a hand on Catra’s knee. “You were gone a while.”
Catra’s stomach churned, “I’m fine,” She said, brushing it off. “Both of us were just arguing. I don’t think we even came to a conclusion.”
She could feel Double Trouble’s eyes on her as she continued to eat, she decided not to look at them.
Everyone finished eating and Scorpia and Bow called them all into a group. Catra stood by Entrapta and Kyle, still avoiding everything.
“We still have a bit until the sun goes down,” Bow announced, checking his watch. “But we’re going to walk a little farther to the campground and set up for the night. Per multiple people's requests,” He looked at Adora and Glimmer with a blank expression, “You can choose who you share a tent with.”
Catra wanted to believe that it was Glimmer who made the request and Adora backed her up for the sake of staying in character or whatever.
Maybe sleeping together in a tent was too much, she should know that, she should remember that, she should enforce that.
They had never had a sleepover before.
“Want to share a tent?” Double Trouble asked, shoving Catra playfully with their shoulder.
Catra looked to Adora who was walking away hand in hand with Bow and Glimmer.
“Duh,” Catra smiled at them.
She made sure they were walking behind everyone because she knew what was coming.
When everyone was out of reach DT leaned down to her, “Don’t worry, I’m still not going to say anything.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Catra crossed her arms, focusing on a tree ahead of her.
“Please,” DT laughed and shook their head. “I remember what happened last year. After your weird run-in with Adora? When you called me a week later after we were all back home.”
“I don’t recall.”
“Hey,” DT smirked, “If you want to share a tent with the girl you have a crush on, don’t let me stop you.”
“What?” Catra stopped in her tracks and stared at them. “You know that’s not true.”
“I’ve never seen you cry before,” They tapped their lips, thinking. “Not even last year when your volleyball team lost to Bright Moon during the last game.”
“Really? That’s your bar for things I’d cry over?”
“You reached out to me to tell me, I didn’t figure it out. You’re good at hiding it.”
“I’m not hiding anything,” Catra snapped, “I’m over her, clearly. It was just some dumb crush, and nothing happened.”
“Sure, sure,” DT walked ahead of her, turning back to smile again. “You know, I’m kind of rooting for you. Imagine how scandalous it would be if you guys started seeing each other.”
Catra took a deep breath, held it in for eight counts, then let it out. “Can we change the subject?”
"I'm just saying, even when you look like you're about to kill each other, you can tell there's a real bond."
It was all bullshit.
It wasn’t a crush.
Double Trouble just interpreted the call differently than Catra meant.
Sure, she did cry, but only a little bit.
She just felt bad.
They didn’t know the whole truth. They didn’t know about the three years, about secret nights, about being alone together.
Catra had called them last year, a week after they left camp.
When she was still thinking about Adora.
She had said she felt like she fucked something up, and admitted it was with Adora.
They didn’t know they were sleeping together, but they knew that they had at least talked one on one. And that was too much, they knew too much.
And if Double Trouble ever admitted to knowing anything, Catra would be the one who was seriously fucked.
Adora helped Glimmer set up their tent, or, Adora set up the tent while Glimmer sat on the ground and told her what to do.
She dropped one of the poles when Catra and Double Trouble walked into the campground a couple of minutes after everyone else.
But, something looked off.
Catra looked upset, and Adora felt momentarily useless.
“Adora,” Glimmer broke Adora’s weird Catra trance, picking up the pole and handing it to her. “The sun is going down soon.”
“Then maybe you should help?” Adora gave the tent pole back to her and walked away. She could faintly hear Glimmer grumbling in annoyance as she sat on the top of the hill that looked down into the lake.
This was one of Adora’s favorite places to be.
She had brought Catra here, just once. It was at the end of the year prior.
It was a pretty big hill. She always felt peaceful there. The trees were taller than usual, and it was a great view of the lake. You could see the place where the Horde Camp used to be, you could see the docks at Bright Moon that looked so tiny from far away.
“Hey,” Bow’s voice came from behind her as he poked her with a stick. “You doing alright? You seem a little off.”
“I’m fine,” Adora said, pulling her knees close to her chest like a child hiding in the dark.
Bow sat down next to her and rested his head on her shoulder. “Is something going on with you and Catra?”
Adora pulled away quickly, almost making Bow fall to the ground. “Why would you say that?”
“It seems like you guys fought about something pretty big in the cabin, it just seems like it’s affecting you.”
“Nothing is going on,” Adora said, staring at him, keeping her breath steady.
“Not like that, Adora. It just seems like something happened.”
“I think we were both just defending our best friends, and we’re both super protective over them. It got nasty, I guess.” Adora barely knew what she was saying, just saying anything she could think of, still shaken by his initial comment.
“Well,” Bow sighed, grabbing her hand to squeeze. “I’m sure Glimmer appreciates you standing up for her, we all appreciate you. But we’re all a team now, it’s not us versus them anymore.”
“Yeah,” Adora said, staring at the sun as it started to set over the trees. “It’s hard for me and Catra to agree on things.” Which wasn’t even a lie.
“Glimmer looks like she’s about to cry setting up the tent, so I’m going to help her.” Bow side hugged her before standing up and walking away.
Adora didn’t know how long she sat there. Usually, she’d be standing up, walking over to each person, and making sure everything was on track. She hoped that Catra would fill in while she took a moment alone.
Some part of her wanted Catra to check on her, but the sun had set, Sea Hawk started a bonfire, and everyone sat around it before she was able to get up and walk over.
Adora looked around at all of them, most people smiling, even Catra.
“S’mores?” Adora asked, grabbing the ingredients out of her backpack.
“You are the best,” Mermista said, grabbing the bag of marshmallows from Adora’s hands.
“I think we should play another game,” Double Trouble smiled, looking at all of them with almost a mischievous glint in their eye.
“What game?” Perfuma asked, looking way too excited. She was also sitting notably close to Scorpia, making Adora silently chuckle to herself.
“Truth or dare?” DT shrugged, “I think that’d be fun.”
Adora made herself a s’more, adding an extra piece of chocolate before taking a bite. She burnt her mouth and did her best to stay neutral through the pain.
“You know,” Bow’s voice cracked, “Maybe we should do something else before that.” He ran to his tent and brought back a guitar, Adora could hear most of the people around the fire groan.
“I have a perfect dare,” DT pushed a piece of Catra’s hair behind her ear and Adora felt sick.
“Of course you do,” Catra said, even by just the glow of the fire Adora could see the massive eye roll.
“I think Bow should play his guitar, and we all dare Catra to sing a song. But, Catra also plays guitar.:
“Woah,” Catra scooted away from them, “No fucking way, I’m not doing that.”
“I, personally, would love to see that,” Mermista said, throwing a smirk her way.
“Me too,” Adora blurted out, her voice was rough, but she still didn’t look at her.
“If I do this,” Catra started, “Someone else has to do something embarrassing.”
“Deal,” DT said, shaking Catra’s hand. “Hand her the guitar?”
Bow looked at his guitar like he was about to send his metaphorical three-year-old child alone on a plane before handing it over.
“Anyone have any song requests?” DT asked, looking around at all of them. “Catra has written her own songs, too.”
“Double Trouble,” Catra hissed, “Let’s not tell everyone that information.”
“Sing one of your own,” Adora said, finally making eye contact. “I think that’d be, um, cool.”
Catra stared at her, mouth parted slightly, looking startled at the sound of her voice.
“Fine,” She cleared her throat, “It doesn’t seem like I’m getting out of this. If any of you laugh, I am pushing you in the lake.”
Everyone laughed, and Adora’s heart felt warm from the fire in front of her and from the genuine smiles Catra was pulling from everyone.
Catra took a deep breath before starting to play, she was looking straight at the ground.
Adora was impressed even by the first note.
Everyone quietly made s’mores while she sang, but Adora was focused completely on her.
“It's been days and weeks and months, feels like forever since I saw you. ”
Adora sat up straight, staring at Catra’s fingers strumming the guitar, trying not to look at her face.
“All I can imagine is being in your arms.”
Adora felt her eyes and ears melt, like she was not supposed to be doing anything else but listening to her. She almost wanted to yell at everyone who wasn’t fully paying attention. It was like no one else understood.
“I don’t need anything fancy, I just need me and you slow dancing,” Catra sang, finally looking up to meet Adora’s eyes.
Her voice was perfect, Adora didn’t know why she had never heard it before.
They both looked away from each other immediately, too close in proximity to do anything.
“Hell's bending keeping me captive, heaven's here it's right where you're standing, slow dancing with you.”
Adora was panicking, absolutely panicking as she watched her.
Even though they couldn’t look at each other, even though Adora could never let anyone know, even with Catra feeling nothing toward her, it felt like it was just them there. Like she was singing it to her.
Fuck, Fuck, Fuck.
Catra finished, and everyone stood up to clap, her face flushed with a smile, “Okay, okay,” She laughed, “It wasn’t that great.”
“It was,” Adora said, the last one to stand up. “It was great.”
Catra looked up at her, she pursed her lips and handed the guitar back to Bow. “Never make me do that again.”
But Adora was already thinking of a million things she could do to hear her voice again.
She handed Catra one of the s’mores she had made, and it seemed like Catra made a deliberate move to have their hands touch more than they needed to.
All Adora could think was,
She was the one who was seriously fucked.