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Three Makes Two

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Catra wakes up to Mara whimpering in her sleep. Blearily, Catra reaches out, finding her kitten’s scruff and lifting her middle child up, pulling her close and dropping her back down again tucked into her chest. Mara quiets immediately, beginning to knead against Catra’s side. Catra purrs, warm and content despite the early hour. Milo is draped over her hip, while Cyra is tangled up in her legs.

All three of her kittens are sound asleep at the same time for once. Unfortunately, Catra has work. She’s a single mom and she can’t really afford any repercussions from not clocking in on time. It’s not like she even has to leave her cuddle pile for that long to go get her laptop, but she doesn’t want to disturb any of the kittens. It’s rare that all three are asleep at once, and they’re hard to wrangle.

Besides, nothing makes Catra happier than when she has all three sleeping soundly in her bed with her. It still feels like a shock some days how much love the kittens have brought into her life. It seems impossible that something so important, so utterly lifechanging, could be an accident. Catra can’t believe there was a time when she considered not going through with this.

She can, though. She and Adora were idiots and their shitty foster home never gave them much in the way of sex ed. It was one ill-advised hookup. Adora had never bought condoms because she had never needed them before and she was terrified of the cashier looking at her and knowing they were for her. She didn’t see the point in outing herself to a stranger when she wasn’t sexually active anyway.

Catra thought there was no way that Adora, three years on HRT and a human, could get her pregnant. She was wrong. The moment that Catra realized, she felt like the world had ended. At that moment, she couldn’t even contemplate keeping it. When she went to the doctor and got the ultrasound though – when she saw the heartbeat and three of them – everything changed. She had told Adora she was getting an abortion, but she couldn’t go through with it.

As Catra sits up, looking down at Cyra sprawled over her hip, she can’t help but see her best friend in her. Cyra turned out blonde, her eyes the same steely blue as Adora’s. Milo got them too. Mara has Catra’s mismatched pair, but Catra sees Adora in all of them regardless of their eyes and tabby colouring. She is grateful for it.

She misses Adora with every inch of her body, but she can’t see her. The instant Adora found out, she told Catra she would drop out so she could get a job and support Catra through it. Catra assured her she had no intention of keeping it. They were in their senior year, so close to their degrees and everything they had dreamed about. Once Catra realized that she was going to keep the kittens, she couldn’t risk walking back into their old apartment and letting Adora throw away her own life over a mistake.

Catra’s old dreams are shit now. She doesn’t care about financial independence, or freedom, or traveling the world anymore. Everything she cares about is in this bed with her. She never thought that she would be a mother or want to, but now she can’t imagine a life without her kittens. She misses Adora – she thinks about trying to reach out to her again often, but what would she fucking say – but the kittens are her whole world.

Catra tries to silently lift the kittens off of her. She manages to get Cyra and Mara curled up together, but the instant she tries to put Milo down, he wakes and starts mewling. Catra quickly tucks him against her chest, petting his little tuft of fur and hoping to quiet him. The kittens are only a year old, but Milo is already a mama’s boy. He’s the runt, happy to cling to Catra as Cyra and Mara tumble around together. Catra sighs, tucking him in against her chest as he blinks up at her with Adora’s eyes.

“Hi there, darling. Sleep well?” she asks him, her voice soft as she carefully scratches beneath his chin. Milo chirrups happily, cuddling up against her chest and laying his tiny ear over her heart. Catra resigns herself to a morning with the baby sling. It hurts her back, but not nearly as bad as carrying all three of them had by the end.

She slips from the bed, heading into the bathroom after she has arranged Milo in the sling. She keeps the door open so she can keep an eye on the girls, but they sleep soundly. Catra is able to settle down into her corner office and log into work without rousing any of the kittens. Milo fell back asleep while she was brushing her teeth. She’ll need to feed them all soon, but she is going to take advantage of the quiet while she can.

 

--

 

Adora checks her phone and groans. Late – again. It isn’t her fault there isn’t an alarm clock in the world that she can’t sleep through. She is used to someone else shaking her awake to turn it off. It doesn’t matter how long it has been since Catra walked out of her life, Adora spent her entire life sleeping and waking up with her, and she can’t adjust to life without her.

She doesn’t blame Catra for leaving, even if it caused her to have a full-scale breakdown at the time. She barely managed to make it through her final year of college, but she doesn’t know if Catra even managed that. Adora’s idiocy and personal discomfort over a one-time interaction with a stranger left them with no condoms when, after a lifetime of tension between them that Adora never knew if it was real or imagined, they broke and hooked up.

A single hookup and Catra could never talk to her again. She couldn’t look Adora in the eye after she decided to get an abortion. Adora knows how hard the choice must have been and she understands that she must remind Catra of what almost was and could never be, but fuck, she still wakes up every morning thinking about her ex-best friend.

She hauls herself out of bed and finds Glimmer already in the bathroom. Adora slumps against the wall, too tired to stand upright on her own despite getting too much sleep. Bow says the exhaustion is the depression. Adora isn’t depressed – at least, not most days, not anymore – she has just always overslept like this. Glimmer and Bow don’t know, though. Adora only moved into their apartment after Catra split during senior year. They met freshmen year, but they were never witness to Adora being woken up by Catra every day.

“Up and at ‘em,” Glimmer says, sarcastically, when she opens the bathroom door to find Adora slumped against the wall. Adora waves her off. She’ll start waking up on her drive to work. “I swear, you’re going to fall asleep brushing your teeth one day and choke,” Glimmer tells her, rolling her eyes. That actually makes Adora snort as she heads into the bathroom.

“I don’t have a gag reflex,” she returns. After a moment of silence, she registers what she said. She cringes, glancing to Glimmer and finding her face an interesting shade of red. Well. Her roommate has that information now.

“Thanks for sharing,” Glimmer tells her, voice a bit strangled, before she turns on her heel and heads down the hall. Adora sighs, closing the bathroom door behind her. She really needs to find an alarm clock that will slap her awake. She was always wake and ready to face the day when she slept with Catra in her arms.

 

--

 

“Are you sure you have everything you need?” Catra asks, despite how there has never been a problem with Scorpia watching the kittens. Scorpia is fantastic babysitter. The kittens all love her and, despite her pincers, she is gentle. Catra knows what it is like to be discriminated against for being a hybrid. Growing up in the system, no one wanted to adopt a magicat with claws. Many people are equally cautious of a scorpioni babysitter.

“Yep! All ready to spend the day with my three favourite kittens,” Scorpia assures her, steadying Cyra with one pincer as she digs in her tiny claws and climbs up Scorpia’s clothes. Milo is curled up in Catra’s arms, clingy and reluctant to part. Catra used to be like that as a kitten too, only she never knew her mother. She clung to Adora, unwilling to be separated from her pack.

“I’ll be back by seven,” Catra promises, despite how Scorpia knows that. Catra can work from home three days a week, her company allowing flexible hours, but she has to come into the office two days a week. It’s Thursday, so she is going to run errands afterwards. She’ll be back late, like always.

She doesn’t know what she would do if it wasn’t for Scorpia. She found her through a care service. She couldn’t help but notice Scorpia only had two reviews. Both were five stars, from families who had hired her long term. No one else was willing to give her a chance, not even for a date-night outing.

Milo starts crying when Catra tries to put him down. He always does. Of all the kittens, Catra swears he’s the one who knows that there’s something missing. He clings to Catra like he’s afraid she’ll vanish, like he knows he is supposed to be getting double the love. Catra will give him everything she has, but she can’t give him that. She can only give him what she has, not what his other parent should be providing.

She hasn’t seen Adora in almost two years. As she is forced to leave Scorpia to shush a crying Milo, she can’t help but wonder for the hundredth time: What would she think?

 

--

 

“Perfuma, nothing has helped me destress in my life. Yoga isn’t a solution for everybody,” Adora sighs, rolling her shoulders and wincing. Perfuma looks vaguely offended by her statement. Adora did therapy – she had to, after Catra and her potential kid were gone – and even the psychiatrist didn’t think there was much that could help her outside of medication and a long-term therapy plan. Adora could afford neither.

“Adora, I’m not trying to treat the root cause of your stress, just release the muscle tension it causes in your body,” Perfuma tells her, gesturing her fork in the air. They’re in the breakroom. Perfuma doesn’t have any appointments until this afternoon and the therapy center’s social media can go an hour without Adora around. She is their one and only social media manager and PR personnel, but she doesn’t make posts in the middle of her lunch break.

Adora’s shoulders ache from tension, but she sits at a computer for a living. They’re just going to be like that. Adora has already resigned herself to it. She pointedly ignores Perfuma, stabbing her fork into her tofu and taking a bite with a raised eyebrow.

“You’ll release it for an hour before it’s back,” she responds. Perfuma gives her a look – it’s the I’m begging you to go back to therapy look. Tough luck. Perfuma doesn’t know what Adora’s issue is and Adora isn’t sharing. It hurts way too much to talk about. All she ever wanted for her entire life was to be with Catra. Sometimes she would fantasize about calling them a family together.

She almost had that, but it was the wrong time, wrong place. Now she has an Instagram following. It has to be enough to fill the hole in her heart. It isn’t. She is lucky that Perfuma gets distracted by her phone chiming. Adora watches a smile spread across Perfuma’s face and knows that it is a text from her girlfriend. Adora could have had that. Instead she has a tofu salad and florescent breakroom lighting.

“Scorpia working today?” Adora asks, changing the subject as Perfuma texts back. Perfuma glances up, beaming, and nods. Adora has never been able to figure out Scorpia’s work schedule. She knows she is split between two families and works two full days and two half days a week, but remembering which days are which is difficult.

“She just sent me a photo of all the kids sleeping together,” Perfuma replies, putting her phone back down on the table. Adora hums. Scorpia does that a lot. Adora likes kids – obviously, you kind of have to working at a pediatric center – but she never asks to see the pictures. It feels weird when it’s someone else’s kids, and it always makes her think about what could have been.

Perfuma’s phone rings again. Adora finishes her lunch as Perfuma picks it up. She is just about to stand when she registers purring. Her heart stops as she blinks across the table the table at Perfuma, happily smiling down at the video she is watching on her phone. Adora swallows, her mouth suddenly feeling dry.

“Are they kittens?” she asks before she can stop herself. She is so fucking lucky that a magicat family has never come through the center. They’re rare around here and it would break her. Perfuma startles, blinking across at her. She nods hesitantly, no doubt confused by the way that Adora has suddenly gone misty-eyed. “Can I see?” she asks, her voice soft. Perfuma looks confused, but she turns her phone screen around and presses play again.

The air leaves Adora’s lungs at the sight before her. Two tabby kittens and one solid blonde, all curled together in the traditional pillow mattress that kittens stay in with their mom when they are little. Purring and soft breaths filter through the phone speaker, with the occasional gentle sound from sleep mixed in, as the paler tabby twitches their hands in their sleep, their little pink-and-black claws flexing as they grab at nothing.

What utterly undoes Adora, pushing her from misty-eyed to crying, is when they release a soft mrrp and twitch, their eyes rolling open and revealing blue eyes.

 

--

 

Catra gets a text from Perfuma asking if she can come over to see the kittens at five. Catra agrees and goes about her errands. Perfuma always comes over to pick up her girlfriend at the end of the day, but sometimes she doesn’t feel like going home between work and picking Scorpia up, so she just comes and plays with the kittens. She and Scorpia both want kids, but they aren’t in the place to have them financially.

Neither is Catra, really, but she’s making it work. She isn’t struggling to put food on the table or anything, but she has no idea what she is going to do once they get older and all want their own rooms. She is just doing her best to provide her kittens with everything she is able to. If she had the choice to go back in time and stop it, she doesn’t think she would, not when it would mean losing what she cares most about in the world, but she certainly would never have decided to have kids.

Catra picks out enough food at the grocery store to keep her little zoo going – the kittens inherited Adora’s appetite, it seems – and heads back home to find Perfuma helping Scorpia disentangle Cyra from the TV wires. The TV is a piece of shit that Catra got from a thrift store and she doesn’t really care if the cord gets damaged. She just smiles at her most adventurous child, wrapped up and blinking slowly at her before she chirrups for attention.

“Have fun, darling?” Catra asks, reaching down and carefully lifting Cyra out of the wires. Cyra chirrups again, happy and content as she grabs onto Catra and digs in with her tiny but sharp claws. Milo is already wrapped around Catra’s ankle. She’s used to it. It makes her heart burst when her kittens cling to her. Sometimes she still marvels at how these tiny, vulnerable creatures love her. They trust her to take care of them. Before all this, Catra could hardly be trusted to keep herself going.

Out of the corner of her eye, Catra watches Scorpia and Perfuma exchange a glance. It is loaded. Catra frowns as Scorpia stands, clearing her throat.

“I got caught up with Perfuma and forgot to take them for their walk. You mind if Perfuma sticks around while I take them? No extra charge for the time, it’s on me,” Scorpia says. She is a terrible liar, fidgeting and glancing around the room. The stroller is already set up, waiting by the front door. Catra narrows her eyes at Scorpia.

“If it were anyone else, I’d accuse you of trying to steal my kid,” Catra tells her. It’s supposed to be a joke, but her tail is twitching and she tightens her arms around Cyra. She trusts Scorpia, she really does, but these are her kittens. None of Catra’s emotions run low when it comes it them. She loves them with all her heart and she protects them fiercely. Scorpia blows out a breath it seems like she has been holding for several minutes and looks to Perfuma a bit desperately. Perfuma sighs, turning to Catra.

“Something happened at work today that I wanted to talk about with you. I was telling Scorpia about it and she didn’t get the chance to take the kids for their stroll,” Perfuma explains. Catra frowns, but she nods. It’s concerning – Catra would guess that Perfuma got laid off and Scorpia may need to change jobs to support them, which would kind of fuck Catra when it comes to a sitter – but the honesty eases her paranoia.

Catra helps Scorpia put the kids in their stroller, but Milo refuses to let go. Catra gives up, carrying him and settling at the kitchen table across from Perfuma. Scorpia waves a nervous goodbye to them and heads out the front door of the apartment. Catra settles Milo into her lap as Perfuma sips from her tea-infuser bottle for a moment, looking trepidatious.

“I would never poke into business like this if it weren’t a friend. I’ve never asked about the kittens’ father and I won’t again after this,” Perfuma tells her. Catra feels her heart stop, staring at the woman across her. Perfuma must see the anger rising in her expression because she leans forward, scrambling to continue. “Adora,” she says.

The anger dies as Catra’s heart stops. A tiny spark of warmth lights in her chest and then is buried in an avalanche of ice. Catra wraps her arms around Milo, happy to have one of their kittens in her arms at least. She hugs him tight, her chest feeling raw and ripped open. Perfuma blows out a breath, her expression softening as she watches Catra.

“She doesn’t know. I showed her a picture of the kittens that Scorpia sent me and she started crying. She told me that there used to be a magicat in her life who she almost started a family with - and that the kittens looked how she always imagined her and Catra’s kid would have,” Perfuma says. Catra’s heart restarts, but she still can’t breathe.

She lied to Adora’s face, even if she didn’t know it then. If Adora knew that Catra actually went through with the pregnancy, Catra knows there is no way in hell she wouldn’t be knocking down her door right now. Catra squeezes Milo close, her chest painfully tight. Something happened at work, Perfuma said. Which means Adora has a job. Which means she graduated – probably.

It at least means that Adora’s entire future isn’t going to be any more ruined than it already is if Catra tells her the truth now. She has thought about unblocking Adora’s old number so many times. Her logic was sound back when they were in school. Adora was so ready to drop everything to support Catra and their theoretical kid that Catra didn’t even think she wanted back then. Catra couldn’t let her do that.

Adora was the product of a teen pregnancy. Her mom wrote her a letter for when she was older and wondering why she had been given away. It didn’t include much of the details, just assurances that her mother loved her and would have kept her if she were older and able to support a baby. That’s how Adora ended up in the foster system, flung into the shitty group home that she and Catra were raised in.

Her life was already ruined by an unplanned pregnancy once. Adora deserved to have a family who loved and could take care of her, but instead she got verbal abuse. Catra wasn’t about to be the one to ruin Adora’s shot at happiness with a baby neither of them wanted or planned. Getting an abortion just seemed right until the moment that Catra was watching the ultrasound through tears, finally connecting with the three kittens growing in her stomach.

She didn’t set out to lie to Adora and hide the kids from her, but she couldn’t go back to her then either. She had already decided that she would deal with this on her own and the next time Adora saw her, the pregnancy would be nothing more than a dark spot in her past. Changing her mind on the kittens didn’t change her mind on that. She hated ducking around campus for the rest of the year, avoiding any flash of blonde, but she felt like she had to. She cut her hair short just to be less recognizable.

She went into labor during her last final. She was already planning to skip graduation just in case Adora was there, but it turns out that she had three newborns to hold her back from it. Catra was wildly unstable throughout her pregnancy, but having the kittens – and having her hormones start regulate some again as a result – changed everything.

Over the last year, she has thought a lot about reaching out to Adora. Sometimes it is from guilt. She looks into Milo’s blue eyes, or brushes through Cyra’s blonde hair, or just feels her heart drop at the way Milo clings to her, and she thinks Adora should be here. Adora would be here if Catra hadn’t been so determined not to ruin her life. The kittens made her life better in the end, but there was no guarantee that it would be the same for Adora.

Catra’s hand shakes as she reaches down into her pocket. Perfuma watches curiously as Catra pulls out her phone. Catra has Adora’s number blocked just in case, but she also knows it by heart. She used to have to call Adora from the payphone outside her part-time job to be picked up. Catra swallows, staring down at the numbers. This isn’t a phone call she can take back. This isn’t something she can undo.

She just has to hope she never wants to.

 

--

 

It’s Best Friend Squad movie night, by which Adora means that Glimmer and Bow threw a pity party for her when she came home depressed. It took minimal prodding for Adora to mutter out the words magicat kittens and her two friends to descend on her. She didn’t tell Perfuma much. She and Perfuma have bonded over conspicuously being the only able-bodied staff to always use the handicap – and gender neutral – bathroom, but at the end of the day, they are just coworkers.

Adora isn’t about to say the words I accidentally knocked up my best friend who I was in love with and she couldn’t stand the sight of me after the abortion. It’s a bit much for the workplace. She had to say something when she burst into tears at the sight of kittens with blue eyes, but she kept it as brief as she could. Bow and Glimmer know the full story. They were there.

They all settle on the couch together, watching shitty horror movies together as a distraction. Adora already knows she is going to stay up late and miss her alarm tomorrow. Luckily it’s a Friday and she likely won’t be the only one a few minutes late. They are well into what might very well be the worst horror movie Adora has ever seen – there have been three killers so far, and every time one kills a few people it then falls victim to the next, newer villain – when Adora’s phone rings.

Adora frowns, pulling it out and staring at the unknown number. It’s a local area code, so she unfortunately has to answer it, but she isn’t really thinking about it when she hits accept and raises it to her ear. She expects a robo call, but it could be a call actually intended for her. She doesn’t say anything – mostly because she is certain it is spam – and to her surprise she just hears breathing on the other end for a long moment. A prank call, probably-

“Adora?” a voice on the other end asks, small and unsure. Adora’s chest clenches like her lungs have imploded as she shoots up from the couch, startling Glimmer and Bow. Glimmer squawks and Bow has to scramble for the remote so he can pause the movie.

“Catra?” Adora returns, her voice wobbling. It can’t be. It can’t. Has Catra finally healed enough from what Adora put her through to talk again? Everything is deadly quiet for a moment as Bow pauses the TV, neither him nor Glimmer daring to say a word. Catra’s breathing is a bit unsteady on the other end of the line.

“I- uh, shit, the phone isn’t the way to do this,” Catra stutters out. Adora’s heart is in her throat.

“No! I mean, it could be. Don’t hang up. However you’re ready to do this, I’m okay with,” Adora rushes to assure her, reaching out with her hand like Catra is there to physically stop from walking away. On the other end of the line, Catra hiccups slightly.

“No, I mean- I want to meet. We need to- talk,” Catra manages to get out. Adora’s entire body is flushed – she’s pretty sure she is sweating – as her hands shake. She drops down to the floor a bit too fast, but if she doesn’t sit, she is going to pass out. She has been trying to pick her life up for nearly two years, trying to find meaning again without the one person she considered family.

She has been happy. She has had friends, and a decent job, but she hasn’t had purpose. Adora’s purpose was always Catra. Making sure she was happy, supported, safe. Adora’s mouth is dry as she nods numbly. She has been happy, but it is nothing compared to the way her heart used to feel when she and Catra were curled up together on their shitty shared mattress in their one-bedroom apartment.

“Please,” she breathes. Catra releases a soft sound on the other end of the line. Adora vaguely registers a strong hand on her shoulder, Bow squeezing and offering her some support. Adora doesn’t doubt that he and Glimmer are exchanging looks behind her head, but she doesn’t care. Nothing matters except that Catra wants to come back.

“I, uh, I’m really not sure I’m ready for this, but- this weekend?” Catra asks. She is fighting back tears, Adora can tell. Adora’s heart hammers. She can’t let Catra slip through her fingers, not again. She’s so scared of her changing her mind.

“Tomorrow?” she asks instead. Glimmer’s hand lands on her other shoulder, squeezing as well. There’s a moment of silence.

“Let me check,” Catra whispers, and then the line goes silent. Catra must have put her on mute. Her labored breath was coming through clearly a moment ago. Adora’s hands shake as she waits, every inch of her just hoping that Catra will come back. After what feels like minutes, the background sound of the call cuts back in. “Seven tomorrow? I- have work,” Catra stutters out. Adora nods, feeling breathless.

“Okay. Where, uh, where do you want to meet?” Adora asks. Catra blows out a slow breath. Adora knows that sound. She heard it through the bathroom door of their old apartment one morning. It’s reality sinking in as Catra goes through a fundamental shift. Back then, Adora just thought she wasn’t feeling well.

“Is yours okay? This is- a lot,” Catra asks her. Adora nods empathetically.

“Whatever’s easiest,” Adora promises her. On the other end of the line, Catra actually chuckles, though it is rueful and dark.

“None of this is easy. I- I have to go. Give me five minutes, then text the address. I’ll be there,” Catra promises her. Adora’s heart falls out of her chest.

“Wait,” she begs. On the other end of the line, she hears Catra hold her breath. Adora is panicking. She wants to say everything, so afraid she may go another two years without hearing from Catra again. At the same time, she doesn’t want to scare her away if she really is coming tomorrow. The silent stretches for a long moment as Adora searches for words.

A commotion in the background cuts her off, the sound of movement and a voice. She hears Catra startle a little and a weird, hiccupping noise.

“I have to go. Send me the address. I’ll be there,” Catra promises, her voice hurried, and then the line goes dead.

Chapter Text

Catra crawls into bed with all three of her kittens. Her limbs are shaking. The kittens seem to realize that their mama needs them. They all curl in close, Mara tucking beneath her chin and purring. Cyra is kneading against her back. Milo is distressed by her distress, curled in a tight ball against her stomach as she curls on her side.

She wishes she hadn’t made the phone call in front of Perfuma. Her babysitter’s girlfriend didn’t need to see her like that, but at least Perfuma could assure her that Scorpia could take an emergency job in the evening on Friday. She told Catra that she didn’t know the details and didn’t need them, and that she would stay out of things going forward.

It didn’t calm Catra much considering everything else. She cradles her kittens close, purring to sooth both them and herself. Before they were born, everything was scary. She didn’t know how she would feel about it – her doctor called her a prime candidate for post-natal depression to her face, which didn’t help Catra’s conflict about going through with this – and she was terrified of being able to provide for them.

It took her a few months to start feeling like she could do this. She became absolutely smitten with her kittens by the time they were born, and though she was unsure how she would provide for them, running numbers for a living makes good money. Now that she has a job and has been providing for them for a year, she feels more stable.

She doesn’t know if she’s ready to face Adora and admit what she kept from her – really she just wants to keep running no matter how she knows it’s wrong – but she knows that even if Adora hates her for it, she’ll have her kittens. They are already all she has right now. The worst thing that can come from this is that it continues to be true and she knows no happy ending is waiting for her and Adora.

She tries to calm herself with that thought, but it doesn’t help.

 

--

 

“I haven’t settled on not killing her, you know,” Glimmer tells Adora. Adora is lying on the floor of her bedroom in just her bra and jogging shorts, blinking hazily at the ceiling. She sweated through her hoodie. Nothing feels real at the moment.

Catra called her.

“We’ve had this talk,” Bow tells her, his voice gentle. Adora can picture the quiet-yet-intense look that he is giving Glimmer right now, even if she isn’t looking at anything but the acoustic tiles of their apartment. They have had this talk. Glimmer was so mad at Catra for ditching Adora and leaving her in the state she did, but after an intervention from her own mother about how hard it is to carry a child and how monumental it feels to make a decision on what you know could be a life, Glimmer seemed to finally get it.

Adora always got it. She fucked up. Her selfish discomfort and idiocy led to Catra being put in that position. For almost two years now, Adora has wondered if Catra hates her for it. If she has struggled with depression over their lost child, or if she is doing well overall but seeing Adora again would bring back up that hurt. Given what she sounded like on the phone, Adora would guess the latter.

“She’d still better apologize,” Glimmer mutters. Adora can hear her crossing her arms. Even though Glimmer came to understand, she got bitter the longer Catra stayed away. Adora, after a few months, realized that Catra was never coming back. She realized that being in the same room with her would hurt Catra too much. Sometimes, in her darker moments, Adora worried that Catra had died. She’s heard a few surgery horror stories, and Catra has always struggled with her mental health. The likelihood of it all sending her into a spiral was high, even if the operation went fine.

“Glimmer, I don’t want you saying a word to her,” Adora rasps. There’s a long moment of silence. “It isn’t yours to be mad about,” Adora adds, quietly. That makes Glimmer sigh, resigned. They’ve also had this talk about how Glimmer’s anger only hurts Adora more.

“Sorry,” she responds. She is sorry. Not that she’s mad – that isn’t magically stopping – but that she is causing Adora pain. Adora just blinks up at the ceiling. She can’t move much, strung out from the panic attack or whatever that was that happened while she was on the phone with Catra.

Tomorrow Catra is going to be in her room. Tomorrow, Adora is going to finally know.

 

--

 

Catra stands outside Adora’s door for ten minutes before it just opens. Catra startles back, her heart pounding and tail lashing as she blinks at a stunned Adora. She never even knocked. She was going to, but she hadn’t worked up the courage yet. Catra swallows, staring at Adora as Adora stares back.

She’s changed. Her face has softened a little, and she has gained back some of the muscle she lost when she first started transitioning and it was causing her dysphoria. She has leaner muscle now, more fitting to her frame and the Adora that Catra has always known in her heart. Adora was never meant to be a ripped wall of muscle with a torso like a superhero. She was meant to be this, soft but defined, her biceps clear as she wordlessly holds a hand out to Catra.

Catra bypasses the hand, throwing herself directly into Adora’s arms. Adora gasps out, hugging her back almost painfully. She clutches Catra tightly as Catra buries her face in Adora’s neck. Her tail lashes as Adora pulls her through the front door and into the apartment. Catra hasn’t had a hug like this in two years. Her kittens make her heart feel full, but she is always the one to gather them up and hug them.

Adora almost lifts her off the ground, pulling her in and nudging the door shut behind her. Adora’s scent is soaked with anxiety covered by relief. Catra realizes she is purring as she hides her face against Adora’s pulse point, breathing in deeply. There is no drug in the world like Adora’s scent. Vaguely, Catra is aware of Glimmer and Bow nearby, lurking in the apartment hallway, but she can’t pull herself away to greet her old friends.

Catra’s arm twinges with pain from the “bracelets” pushed high up it. They pinch her fur, not meant to be on this tight, but she needed to keep her accessories hidden for the time being, so she pushed them high up to hide them beneath the sleeve of the jacket it is too hot for her to be wearing. Swallowing, she forces herself to pull back and make eye contact with Adora.

Adora’s gaze is desperate, darting all over her face as if to drink in the details. Catra takes a steadying breath.

“Your room?” she asks, her voice a bit raw with anticipation. Relief hits Adora all over again as she nods.

 

--

 

Catra has changed. She is softer now, having gained a bit of weight. Adora wants to bury her face in Catra’s stomach like she used to, but she just takes her hand and leads her into the bedroom. The short hair is a surprise – Catra was always proud of her mane – but it makes sense that she might have wanted to do something to reclaim her body afterwards.

Her hair seems, oddly, curlier now. Maybe it was just weighed down by its own weight before. The pixie cut curls around her ears as Catra sits heavily on the edge of Adora’s bed, her tail wrapped around herself. Her gaze is fixed on the floor as Adora cautiously sits beside her and reaches for her hand. Catra startles. For a terrible moment, Adora is afraid she has made a mistake, but then Catra shifts her hand to twine their fingers together, clinging back to her.

“I’m sorry,” Catra breathes, still looking down at their intertwined hands. Adora’s heart is in her throat, threatening to choke her. Catra doesn’t apologize. She just doesn’t.

“It’s okay,” she whispers to her. Catra shakes her head.

“It isn’t, but we’ll get to that. Just- tell me about you. For the last year. Please. I want to hear it,” Catra asks, her voice quiet and seemingly scared. Adora doesn’t know if she can even speak, but if this is what Catra needs, she’s happy to provide it.

She glosses over senior year. She was depressed and barely graduated. Glimmer and Bow had to pick her back up. Adora was trying her fucking hardest, just like she always had, but her world had collapsed overnight. She tells Catra about her job at the trauma recovery center. She stutters over the word pediatric, watching Catra’s eyes go a bit misty, but she just nods for Adora to continue. She bulldozes on ahead, trying to talk about the events they put on for the kids, but it all involves, well, kids.

Adora doesn’t have a life outside of work, really. When Adora's words stammer out, Catra finally looks up from her lap. She doesn’t look sad, just scared.

“It’s okay, Adora. I’m glad you like your work,” Catra assures, her voice soft. Adora bites her lip, just nodding. She has so much she wants to ask Catra. She also doesn’t want to say a word. Catra looks away again, her tail thudding anxiously and her ear flicking. After a moment, she clears her throat. “Want to hear about mine?” she asks, a bit awkwardly. Adora nods eagerly. That’s kind of all she wants to know. Catra takes a deep breath.

“I graduated. Managed to get a position at an insurance company with a flexible workplace policy. I hate the company I work for, but I make decent money and work from home three days a week. It’s good enough,” Catra tells her, gaze fixed determinedly on Adora’s calendar on the wall. Adora swallows, nodding.

It isn’t what Adora really wants to know about, but she understands if Catra can’t stand to talk about it. It tells her that Catra has been doing okay, at least. Adora was worried where she went after she packed her bags and left their tiny apartment. Catra’s hands are shaking in her lap. Adora squeezes them, trying to assure her, as Catra takes a few steadying breaths.

“I- I went to get an abortion, Adora,” Catra says, like it’s news. Adora winces, but she nods.

“I told you I would support your choice,” she reminds her. She isn’t mad. She knew this whole time. Catra drops her head, letting go of Adora’s hands to run her hands up and down her arms.

“They did an ultrasound. It was three kittens,” Catra adds in a whisper, her hands pausing to squeeze her own arms as if to brace herself. Adora’s heart pounds in her chest. She wishes she didn’t know that. She thought she wanted to know everything, to be there with Catra every step of the way, holding her hand and supporting her, but that is two more what ifs. Catra’s hands slide down now, shaking as she reaches up her jacket sleeve on her right arm. She keeps talking despite how she is having to pet herself to keep calm.

“Two girls and a boy,” she elaborates, more details that Adora doesn’t want. She reaches down to take Catra’s hand, hoping to comfort her, but Catra jerks her hand away. Adora blinks down at the wrist she was covering.

Catra is wearing bracelets. Catra doesn’t wear jewelry. They are fabric, so they probably don’t catch in her fur, but-

Oh.

They’re collars.

In an instant, Adora’s temporary distraction becomes what she was avoiding thinking about.

 

--

 

Adora stares at the three little collars stacked up around Catra’s wrist. It’s a tradition for most hybrids to put bells on their young ones when they first start crawling. Turning the collars for those bells into bracelets once the kids have outgrown them is popular enough that Catra was able to find another hybrid mom who could do it for just a few dollars. Catra took off the bells to keep her wrist from jingling, and she only wears them occasionally, but the collars help her keep a piece of the kittens with her.

Catra swallows, holding her wrist steady and in Adora’s view as she awkwardly reaches for her phone and pulls it out of her pocket. She doesn’t have to even unlock it. Her lockscreen is all three kittens sleeping together. It’s so rare that it happens, she had to immortalize it. Adora’s stunned expression doesn’t shift except for her eyes growing wider as she stares. Catra’s hand is shaking. She drops it to her lap, but Adora’s hand shoots out, grabbing her hand and holding it up for her so she can keep looking at the three kittens.

Catra’s phone goes to sleep, breaking the spell. Adora almost startles, looking up to meeting Catra’s eyes.

“You kept them?” Adora asks in a whisper. Catra nods, a bit wordless.

“I had to, after I found out,” she manages, though her voice is laced with tears. She expects anger. Adora isn’t an angry person, but anyone would have a right to be angry about this. Instead, Adora throws her arms around Catra and hauls her close, beginning to cry. Catra breaks, unable to hold the tears back any longer as she clutches back to Adora.

She’s so afraid. She can’t help the tears, unsure if it is relief or hysteria. Adora just clutches her, sobbing into her shoulder. Catra can’t make herself ask if these are good tears, she just holds Adora through it, burying her face in Adora’s hair and breathing deeply. It might be her last chance to experience this again. She has to cling to it. It is hard to force herself to let go of Adora when Adora is all cried out, pulling back to look Catra in the eye with a deadly serious expression.

“I want to see them,” she breathes. Catra nods. If Adora wanted to have any part in their lives, then that was never a question.

 

--

 

Catra took public transit to get here, but that just means that Adora can drive her back to her place. Catra promises her that she can come see them, she just needs to be stable enough to drive first. Adora feels the farthest thing from stable. They talk about it while they wait. Adora isn’t angry, but after the initial wave of joy passes, she isn’t happy either.

“It was your choice whether to keep them, Catra. But I deserved to know,” Adora tells her. Catra winces, her ears pinning back as she shrinks down.

“I know,” she whispers, staring down at the floor. “I couldn’t- I wasn’t doing well then, Adora. I just couldn’t let me be the reason you dropped out and threw away your future. I’ve wanted to call every day since they were born, but I’ve been too afraid of this conversation. I’m not asking you not to be angry, just don't-” Catra cuts off, looking away again and shrinking in further.

“I’m not going to hurt you with it,” Adora finishes, in a whisper. From the way Catra’s shoulders shake, she knows she hit the nail on the head. She can’t yell at Catra, not after the way they were raised by their abusive foster guardian. She doesn’t want to either. Her heart hurts, and Catra did that to her, but Adora never wants to turn her pain outward. She still isn't sure what she is feeling, the tirade of good and bad and change too overwhelming to decipher.

Adora blows out a long breath, slowly reaching out to cross the gap between them. Catra watches her approach, but she doesn’t flinch away as Adora carefully grabs her and tugs her closer. Catra curls into her arms cautiously. Adora is still working on getting her heartrate down. She doesn’t know if she can get much calmer until she can see the kittens. Not that seeing them will calm her down, but she needs pet them and verify that they are real. Her body will be at war until then.

“I want joint custody. I want to raise them too,” she settles on saying. It is demanding, but she needs this. Legally, she is allowed it. This is how her anger manifests. From this moment forward, she needs to be a part of their lives. Against her shoulder, Catra nods. Adora feels some of the tightness in her chest unwind. Some of the anger – or whatever the emotion in her heart is – fades at the knowledge that Catra is going to let her in now.

“If- If you want to, I want them to have two mothers,” Catra whispers. Adora’s heart stutters. She never thought anyone would call her a mom for a lot of reasons. She squeezes Catra tight against her chest.

“I want to take them to school. I want to play with them. I want to have kids, Catra. I’ve been thinking about it for two years,” Adora tells her.

Catra is the one to break this time, crying into her shoulder.

 

--

 

Catra tells Adora the terrible truth: that she was afraid Adora would hate her. Her mind ran in circles, finding every way for Adora to despise her. If she got an abortion, Adora would hate her for being selfish. If she kept it, Adora would hate her for ruining her life. Even though Adora had seemed supportive, she would grow to hate Catra over time as she worked a shitty dead-end job just so they could scrape by. In all the scenarios, Adora left her one day when it was just too much.

It was easier to always be a single mother. It was easier to avoid that pain entirely, even if it caused them both a different kind. She told herself she was doing the right thing by keeping it from Adora. Adora tells her that, if Catra had told her all that two years ago, then she would have stayed in school and they would have made it work. She tells her that it wasn’t her call to make, but that they can be friends again now.

They can raise the kids together. Catra thought she was just nervous about Adora’s reaction going into this. She didn’t realize how badly she needed to be told that Adora wouldn’t hate her. It still seems kind of impossible that she doesn’t, especially since she is clearly upset by Catra’s decision, but Adora holds her as she cries and recovers. She promises her, over and over again, that they’ll raise the kids together. She promises her that she always wanted to be a mother. She chokes on the word mother and Catra squeezes her close, fighting through her own tears and tight throat to assure her.

“You’ll be a great mother, Adora. I managed to figure it out. I can show you the ropes,” Catra promises her.

It takes them another half hour to get calm enough to leave. Catra curls up in the passenger seat of their old car, breathing in deep the lingering smell of cigarettes from its first owner and Adora’s scent soaked into the space. She purrs as she balls up and, quietly, tells Adora about the kids on the drive over.

She tells Adora how Cyra is the most rambunctious, always ready to go on an adventure, even if said adventure is crawling into a trash can. She talks about how Mara is more quiet and reserved, but loves to wrestle. She talks about how clingy Milo is, but her voice betrays how fond she is. When they reach her apartment building, she turns to undo her seatbelt and finds Adora looking at her with sparkling eyes.

“What?” she asks, her cheeks flushing and tail thudding against the seat. She isn’t used to Adora looking at her like that anymore. Adora has been upset all evening. She wasn’t excepting Adora to look at her like that so soon – or ever again, if she’s honest. Adora shrugs, looking fond and a bit lost.

“I never thought I would see you like this. I never thought you would want kids. The few times I wondered if you went through with it, I imagined you were miserable,” Adora admits in a quiet voice. Catra blinks at her, her tail thudding against her seat. It sounds insane that her kittens could make her sad, they are the only thing keeping her going sometimes, but she understands. She thought the exact same thing until she saw the ultrasound. Catra glances down at the bracelets on her wrist.

“Come meet them. You’ll understand,” Catra replies. Adora’s breath stutters.

 

--

 

Adora could kiss Perfuma. When Adora calmed down enough to realize she knows those kittens, Catra explained that Perfuma gave her a push in the right direction after she realized. Perfuma isn’t here, though. Adora fidgets nervously as Catra opens her front door and sweeps inside with her arms open. She doesn’t know why she is worried about making a good first impression when they are so little and won’t remember this, but she is afraid of them disliking her.

There’s my kittens,” Catra croons. Adora never thought Catra would coo, but she watches, a bit stunned, as Catra sweeps over to the couch and scoops up the two tabbies in Scorpia’s lap. Adora’s heart pounds as she steps inside the apartment, absently closing the door behind her. Catra is beaming down at her kids, turning around to show them off proudly to Adora.

There isn’t a name for the emotion in her chest. It’s too real, too raw, too profound. Milo nuzzles against his mom, chirruping happily as Mara seems happy just nestling in her arms. She is the spitting image of Catra at that age, right down to her eyes. Adora watches breathlessly as Catra sits down on the couch, smiling down at the kittens she has in her lap. Catra kisses the top of each of their heads in turn before looking up to Scorpia.

“Is Cyra down for a nap?” she asks. Scorpia is smiling, apparently happy just to see Catra happy despite how Adora is standing awkwardly a few feet away, dumbstruck. Scorpia shakes her head.

“No, she’s-“ Scorpia starts, but Adora stops listening when she hears a soft prrbt? at her feet. “Ah, crawling,” Scorpia finishes as Adora blinks down at Cyra. She’s the largest, blonde with only the faintest stripes in lighter colour. She blinks up at Adora with wide, blue eyes, her blonde hair flopping in her eyes. There is no denying it – that’s her kid.

Adora squats down, her heart hammering, and cautiously holds out her hand. Cyra’s tail, a stubby little cone just starting to take shape, wiggles a little with curiosity as she sniffs her hand experimentally. Adora’s entire world shifts on its axis when Cyra stretches up and rubs her head into Adora’s hand.

She begins to cry again as she pets her kitten.

 

--

 

Adora cries, and holds Cyra, and then gives Cyra to Catra because she’s crying so much that she’s worried about crushing her in a hug. Adora has never even met Scorpia in person, but she wraps her in a crushing hug because her emotions are too strong and she doesn’t know what else to do with them. Catra gets it. The kittens are so cute that they have caused a similar reaction in her before.

The truly profound moment is when Catra cautiously places Milo in Adora’s lap and he doesn’t start crying. Scorpia gasps. Adora would be crying if she had any tears left in her, Catra knows, but instead she just watches with awe as Milo latches onto her shirt with tiny claws and nuzzles into her arms. Scorpia leaves for the night as Catra settles on the floor, sweeping her tail back and forth for Cyra to chase while she cuddles Mara in her lap. Mara is watching her tail movements attentively, but she seems content in her lap for now.

Milo has already entered cling-mode. Catra suspects it is because she so-subtly scent marked Adora while they were cuddling back during all the crying, but she doesn’t say it. She told Adora before she handed him over that Milo has never been silent when Catra handed him off to someone else before. She can see the love bursting in Adora’s eyes as she stares down at the kitten in her lap.

This is the way that Catra always wanted to imagine them – holding the three kids between them, both equally smitten with the kittens. Part of her is mad for ever doubting Adora. The rest of her still does. Her doubts don’t matter anymore, though. She called her. She told her. Adora wants to be part of the kittens’ lives.

From now on, Catra isn’t a single mother anymore. She just has to find out what that means.

Chapter Text

The first time Adora watches Catra crawl into her bed, the kittens surrounding her, she thinks she might pop a blood vessel from the effort to contain her squeal. Catra grins, satisfied and lazy, as she curls up in the bed and adjusts the kittens curled around her. Hearing about the cuddle pile and seeing it are two entirely different things.

“You want to join?” she asks. Adora has never wanted anything more. She climbs into the bed beside Catra, carefully curling around the kittens so they are framed by their parents on both sides. The kittens are already drifting off, rumbling softly in their sleep.

It’s been a week, but Adora’s breath hasn’t stopped catching in her chest. She comes straight here from work. She spent all weekend here too, only going home reluctantly at the end of the day. She doesn’t want to be without her kittens, not now she knows what they’re like. Sure, she has acquired dozens of bloody pinpricks over the last few days from their razor-sharp claws, but she doesn’t care.

Catra is purring. So are the kittens, though their sounds are closer to snores. Adora pets them softly, careful to spread her attention across all three, even if they are asleep and won’t know of any favoritism. Two weeks ago, she never could have imagined the happiness in her chest now. She still has strong issues with the choices that Catra made, but they have talked about that at length over the week.

Adora gets to have this now. She gets to have the family she has spent the last two years missing, all while thinking she was pining for a dream that couldn’t be. A year seems like so much to miss, so many moments gone by, but Adora knows she can’t change it, and more importantly, she knows the kittens won’t remember it. As far as they’ll be concerned, they always had two moms.

They have accepted her quickly. Catra scent marks her aggressively every time she comes in just to be sure. Catra says Milo seems happier now that he has to share his mom less. Not that he actually does, but he has two moms now, which means double the opportunity for attention. He is a bit clingier with Catra, but considering that Scorpia has been babysitting him for a year and he still cries with her, Adora will take it. It makes her feel like he knows that she is his mom.

Adora glances up from where she had her eyes glued on the kittens to find Catra watching her, the corner of her mouth twitched up.

“It’s one of those moments, right? Where you’re like, ‘I can’t believe they’re here and I get to have them for the rest of my life’? I used to get them all the time. Still do, sometimes,” Catra tells her. Adora nods, looking back down to the three littermates all curled together. Before she met Catra again, the idea of her being a smitten mother would have been laughable.

Now it feels right. Catra has gone through a lot in their time apart, but deep down she is still the same. She is, however, undoubtedly happier. More mature, too. The Catra that Adora knew senior year never would have apologized like she did. Catra said it herself, though, when Adora pointed out how different she seemed with the kittens.

“My purpose has changed, but I haven’t. I just had to give up some of my selfishness for them.”

 

--

 

When Adora gets home on Wednesday night, Catra is relieved. She is trying to lay down with Mara for a nap, but Milo got jealous and Cyra is rambunctious, clawing at the curtains. Catra’s ears twitch at the sound of Adora trying to open the front door silently to avoid waking the kittens – yeah, as if they’ll sleep – and she breathes a sigh of relief, cuddling Mara tight against her chest and peppering her little ears with kisses. Adora slits the bedroom door cautiously.

“Cyra and Milo want their Mom,” Catra mumbles to Adora. She can practically feel Adora lighting up, even with her eyes closed. The door closes softly and then Adora crosses the room, lifting Milo off of Catra. He was perched on top of her, trying to tug on her ears for attention. He mewls when Adora lifts him up, but he doesn’t complain further as Adora cradles him.

“And what about Mara?” Adora asks, her tone teasing. Over by the curtains, the movement stops as Cyra seems to realize that Adora’s home. A moment later, the excitable kitten comes skittering over. Catra’s lips twitch at the soft oof Adora lets out as she picks up the large kitten, doubling her passengers.

“Mara is a good girl and knows when her Mama needs a nap,” Catra replies. They already agreed that Adora will be Mom and Catra will be Mama. That was Milo’s first word. Magicat kittens start getting active – crawling, climbing, and walking – long before human ones, but they don’t start speaking until later. Until then, it’s mostly vocalizations. They are words of their own, clear communication to any magicat, but it’s not sentences or anything.

Cyra’s first word was no, which seemed very fitting. Mara still hasn’t spoken yet. She hasn’t even tried, just making some nonsense sounds occasionally and sticking to her vocalizations. Catra isn’t worried. It isn’t that weird for a magicat kitten to stay silent this long. Mara is the easiest to handle of all the kittens, mostly because she loves sleep. She wakes up, wrestles with her siblings, and then crawls into bed and passes back out. When she’s on, she goes full steam, but Cyra can more than match her in energy, and Milo likes to play with her because she’s gentler than Cyra.

Adora settles on the side of the bed, causing the mattress to dip. Catra can feel and hear Cyra’s shifting movements as she does something – probably plays with Adora’s ponytail, she loves that – but she doesn’t worry about it. Adora will take care of her kittens. Catra can safely doze off with Mara in her arms knowing Milo and Cyra will be okay.

 

--

 

Adora spends every day at Catra’s apartment, but she never stays the night. They have talked about a lot, but only what happened after the moment that Catra began to suspect that she was pregnant. They still haven’t addressed that night or how Catra feels about it. It was almost an accident, except for how Adora had been dreaming about it since the day she came out and Catra just accepted her for who she was.

It felt wrong before then, knowing Catra was a lesbian and Adora’s feelings for her were wrong, but her feelings were fine it turned out, it was the rest of her that needed adjusting. Adora felt like there was a tension between them from that moment on. She swore Catra’s eyes lingered on her afterwards, but she was worried that she was confusing what she wanted for what actually was.

They didn’t really talk about it before they did it. It just kind of happened. Adora doesn’t even remember who kissed who first, just that they were lying in bed and suddenly they were kissing. Despite not remembering, she is certain that Catra kissed her. She wouldn’t have had the guts to do it first. Things escalated quickly.

They both laughed a little about the weirdness of them needing a condom, but they were both certain it would be fine. They were idiots. Over the next few weeks, as Catra started to feel odd, they flirted some, but they didn’t outright address it. Adora was still scared to ruin everything, despite how it seemed like Catra had fun.

Now, Adora is scared to ruin things in a different way. She is afraid of Catra fleeing her life again, even though she knows logically that Catra won’t do it. After over a year alone, the fear is still there. Why Catra made the choices she did is one of the things they have talked about at length. Though Adora will never agree with what Catra did, it isn’t healthy to hold onto it. That’s one of the things she did manage to learn in her brief time in therapy: acceptance.

There are things she can’t change, things that should have turned out differently but can’t. She has to keep moving forward. What she can do is be a part of her kittens’ lives now, even if her and Catra are still a giant question mark. She knows that Catra understands how important that is to Adora now. She was always apologetic, clearly knowing what she had done was wrong, but Adora watched its full impact click for her during one of their discussions with the kittens spread out around them on the couch.

“Catra, even if they weren’t mine, even if it had been a hook up with some random woman, I still would have wanted to help you. I still would have offered to get a job and wanted to be there with you at the hospital. I still would have helped you raise them because they’re kittens and they’re yours and that’s enough of a reason,” Adora told her. Catra had been nowhere close to tears before that moment, but her eyes went wide as she stared at Adora with a mixture of horror and awe. A second later, she broke down.

Adora may not know where they stand on their feelings with each other – after such a long gap and the high emotions surrounding it, they kind of need to take time to figure out where those stand for themselves anyway – but she knows this: she’s Mom, and Catra’s Mama, and nothing else matters at the end of the day if she gets to come home to this.

 

--

 

Adora is exhausted. She was documenting a community event at the center, apparently. Catra hates to ask more of her when she already drove all the way here instead of going home where she could get some real rest, but Catra really needs to get in a shower. Milo had an accident earlier and Catra can still smell traces of it on her fur. She would wait until tomorrow – it’s Saturday, after all, Adora will be here all day – but she just can’t sleep with the scent.

Adora promises her that she can watch the kittens alone for fifteen minutes while Catra gets clean. She is already sprawled out in the bed with all three of them balled up against her. Things seem calm enough that it should be fine for Catra to take her shower. She disappears into the bathroom and does her best to rid herself of the lingering traces quickly.

When she walks back out, Adora and all three kittens are fast asleep. The kittens are rumbling – or at least, Mara is, she has the loudest purr despite generally being the quietest – but Adora is snoring lightly. Catra can’t look away from the last sight that she ever thought she would see. Adora is at ease and relaxed in her bed, covered in their kittens.

Adora seems so different than she was when Catra last saw her. She was two years on HRT then, but she was still working on being comfortable with herself. She has gotten there now. Adora is at ease in her body – probably because it seems the fat and muscle redistribution has finally gotten there – and it shows in the way that she carries herself. Even exhausted from working, she has an energy to her, a spark, that was missing before.

Things were tense for those first few days, but Catra has watched her open up over the last three weeks. Catra still slips in those little affirmations that she knows always helped Adora – using her name, adding in the gendered terms that actually feel right, and the new addition of Mom – but she can tell that Adora just appreciates them now. They used to be the air that she breathed, the shining lights that showed her other people understood her.

Now, they make her glimmer with warmth, but she doesn’t need them like she used to. She is already who she wants to be. She is beautiful. Catra doesn’t know if it is because she is a massive lesbian or just because she likes seeing her friend happy, but she can hardly tear her gaze away as she climbs into the bed beside Adora with still-wet hair and lays down, curling around her small family.

Adora needs the rest. The kittens need their mom. Catra does too. It’s already late. Adora will wake up and leave, or she won’t. It’s the weekend anyway.

 

--

 

Adora wakes up surrounded by purring, softness, and fur. The kittens are curled around her – as is Catra, also purring happily as she nuzzles against Adora. It’s too early to cry, but Adora certainly is at risk of it. She has missed waking up with Catra in her arms so much. She truly didn’t think it would happen again. Carefully, she shifts her arm so she can pet down Catra’s side. There are the kittens to contend with, but everybody seems to be sleepy.

For awhile, Adora just pets Catra, her eyes closed as she sinks into the warmth and gentle rumbling. Eventually, she feels Catra stir beneath her hands, but she still doesn’t stop petting her. Catra releases a gentle mrrp, not dissimilar to the noises the kittens make, as she shifts a little closer, still purring. Mara has begun kneading, half against Adora’s back and half against the bed, and though it is a bit painful, Adora still isn’t moving.

“Sleep well?” Catra mumbles in her arms. Her voice is laced with sleep and content. It makes Adora’s heart feel like it is bursting in her chest.

“Yeah. Thanks for letting me stay,” Adora returns, shifting her hand up to scratch lightly at the back of her head. Catra purrs loudly, scent marking Adora’s neck before pushing her head back into the attention. Adora really is grateful. She didn’t know how Catra would feel about Adora doing it, despite how much time she spends over. It feels like crossing a line. To her surprise, Catra trills.

“You don’t have to thank me for that, Adora. It’s ridiculous to send you back to Glimmer and Bow’s when you’re just going to come over here first thing in the morning anyway,” Catra points out, her words rumbling as she happily pushes into Adora’s hands. Adora swallows, finally opening her eyes to find Catra watching her lazily. Her eyes are half-lidded and her body is relaxed despite how she just dropped a bomb on Adora.

“I can stay?” she asks. Catra chuckles, leaning forward to rub their cheeks together. Milo, draped over Adora’s shoulder, squeaks and tumbles off, but he never stops purring and Adora suspects he hasn’t even woken up.

“Yes, Adora. You can stay,” Catra tells her, her voice soft. Adora’s breath stutters as a fundamental rule, a requirement to them making this work, falls away.

 

--

 

It takes Adora another week to move in for real. The apartment is small, but with their combined income they can move somewhere bigger when the lease is up. Catra was going to wait until the date was approaching or Adora brought it up first, but she took her opening when she saw it. She wants Adora around for her own sake as much as for the kittens.

The last twenty-one months, going through the pregnancy and then scrambling to figure out parenthood on her own, has been the hardest time of Catra’s life. She invites Adora back in and everything just falls into place. The kittens are easier to care for when they are splitting the responsibility between the two of them and Catra is less worried about the future knowing that if anything does go wrong, the kittens will have their other mom to rely on.

She is still used to thinking of herself as a single parent. It’s weird when she takes the kittens to the park, Adora in tow, and greets the other parents there. She has Milo in his sling and she settles on a bench as Adora leads Mara and Cyra by the hand to the climbing structure. Actually, Cyra leads Adora, and by extension Mara, over to the climbing structure.

Going out was always hard. Looking after three kittens in a public space on her own was difficult enough that she didn’t come to the park nearly as often as she would like. A few of the other parents still recognize her – she recognizes them too, vaguely – but its so much easier now Adora is here. Catra watches with a smile on her face as Adora lifts Cyra up onto the playscape and then bends to do the same for Mara.

The other moms know she is a single parent, so Catra quickly finds herself being teased about her new partner. She just shrugs and smiles to herself, cradling Milo close. They think that she’s in a relationship, but that’s fine. Adora can’t overhear, and she wouldn’t correct them if she could. Explaining the actual nature of their relationship would mean outing herself. Adora will just have to be her girlfriend for the afternoon.

Adora comes wandering over with the kids when Mara gets tired. Catra happily shifts so Mara can clamber up onto the bench with her, curling into her side. Adora kisses the top of Milo’s head, and then the top of Catra’s head, before she returns to the playground with Cyra.

“Where’d you find her? For future reference,” one of the other single moms asks her, leaning over to whisper conspiratorially. Her child is old enough to be set loose on the playground as long as she keeps a watchful eye. Catra snorts, wrapping an arm around the already-sleeping Mara.

“Sorry, she’s all mine,” she returns. The other moms chuckle, but it isn’t a joke. Catra was right about one thing in her reason for running: it was easier to never know Adora as a parent than it would be to lose her afterwards. Catra can’t imagine raising the kittens alone now.

 

--

 

Cyra is in a vicious battle with the drapes, but they were already half-shredded anyway. Neither Adora nor Catra interferes as Catra carefully wipes off Adora’s little pinprick scratches. She fought a play battle with the kittens, but the kittens legitimately won. Mara is now playing happily in the corner, nomming on a teething toy, while Milo is curled up fast asleep in her lap.

“I’m surprised someone at work hasn’t asked if you’re being abused,” Catra comments dryly, smirking a little as she places a Hello Kitty band aid over the deepest of Adora’s scratches. Adora just shrugs, dropping her arm to pet Milo.

“It’s not like I ever shut up about my roommate’s kids. Anyone I’ve shown pictures to knows where the scratches come from,” Adora tells her. They had a talk after the trip to the park. Adora realized the other parents all assumed they were dating. It made her nervous, but Catra hadn’t really seemed to care. They managed to talk about it while dancing around the subject of them.

The discussion quickly became about how Adora was comfortable with being known. Adora doesn’t want to out herself to strangers and Catra knows that. Adora also considers the kittens hers as much as they are Catra’s, however – because they are – so just saying that she is a friend who helps look after them doesn’t really make sense with the way she dotes on them.

They settled on calling each other roommates around those that they know but still don’t want to explain the full situation to. Strangers might as well think that Catra is a single mom and Adora is her girlfriend who basically adopted the kids. The nuance doesn’t matter, not as long as Adora can be with her little family. Their story isn’t for anyone else.

Adora glances up, surprised to find Catra staring at the band aid on her arm. Catra flushes upon being caught, quickly looking away as her ears pin back. Catra actually turns away so she can keep an eye on Mara, as if Mara is doing anything that needs careful watching. She is just curled up on her side, happily chewing at the circle toy that she has carefully gripped in her little claws.

“Who goes with you to your HRT appointments now?” Catra asks, her voice soft. Adora blinks in surprise. She actually has one coming up in a few weeks, though they are infrequent now. Catra went with her to all of them before, holding Adora’s other hand to comfort her. Once Adora decided she wanted HRT, her biggest obstacle to starting it was facing her fear of needles.

“Bow, if he can. I’ve had to go alone to one,” Adora admits. Bow is actually the one who recommended Adora’s doctor to her, since he gets his testosterone from Dr. Hope too. Adora kind of needs someone to go with her since she gets fainty afterwards, but sometimes her friends just can’t make the time to tag along. Catra frowns in Mara’s direction.

“You don’t have to,” is all she offers in reply. It is more than enough for Adora to know her intent. She cradles Milo close to her chest. Her heart is bursting and she just needs to hug.

 

--

 

Milo mews in Catra’s face. He’s worried, but Catra is far from hurt. She’s laughing so hard that she can hardly breathe, lying on the floor as Adora, flustered and sputtering, tries to coax Cyra down from on top of the cabinets. The task is not helped by the fact that Cyra just took a swipe at Adora and got her claws stuck in her ponytail.

The situation is ridiculous, and Catra can’t stop laughing despite how Milo has climbed on her chest and is gently batting at her cheeks, as if to check that she’s alive. Mara has her claws dug into Adora’s hoodie, her little arms wrapped around Adora’s shoulder as she clings on despite her mom being yanked around by the ponytail.

“Mama’s okay, darling,” Catra manages to assure Milo through gasping breaths, raising a hand to pet him. From in the kitchen, Adora releases an indignant sound.

“Well, Mom’s not,” Adora returns as she reaches up and manages to dislodge Cyra’s claws without sending Mara tumbling down. Cyra, once freed, immediately sets to batting at Adora’s fingers instead. She seems no more inclined to climb down. The words set Catra off again. She wraps her arms around Milo to keep him tucked close against her chest as she rolls onto her side and starts laughing again.

 

--

 

Glimmer and Catra take awhile to reach an understanding. Adora knows that Glimmer is mad on her behalf, but she really is working on the acceptance thing for herself, and it isn’t made easier by her friend not letting it go. Glimmer loves kids almost as much as Adora does, though. The kittens are the way to her heart.

It takes one afternoon of playing Auntie Glimmer for Glimmer to melt. She adores the kittens, even if the claws are a bit too much for her to handle. Adora gets battle damage all the time, but she grew up with Catra’s claws kneading into her. She is pretty sure the adage love hurts wasn’t originally meant to be about interspecies relationships with magicats, but it certainly applies.

“Hey, Milf, can I get a band aid? I don’t want to bleed on my shirt,” Glimmer asks, reaching her hand out vaguely in Catra’s direction. Adora snorts so hard she chokes a little as Bow and Catra both gape at Glimmer in equal measure.

“If the kittens weren’t here, I would murder you,” Catra informs Glimmer as she stands to go fetch the band aids. Taking steps to prevent Glimmer’s shirt from getting stained seems a bit counterintuitive to that kind of hatred, but Adora is still coughing for air.

“What? It’s been weeks and Adora hasn’t said it yet. Someone has to pick up the slack,” Glimmer responds, like a little shit. Cyra hauls herself up Adora’s chest, digging her claws in so she can stare her in the face and sniff her breath to make sure that she’s okay as Adora works on getting a hold of herself again. She hasn’t said it and it hadn’t even occurred to her to do so. Glimmer isn’t wrong that the term applies to Catra, but still.

“Just for that you’re getting one of Adora’s ugly white-people-skin band aids,” Catra informs her as she opens up the cabinet. Glimmer pouts.

“I wanted Hot Wheels,” she mutters.

 

--

 

Catra goes to sleep every night surrounded by the kittens – and Adora. All three recognize Adora as their other mom at this point. At first they just seemed happy with her, like they are with Scorpia, but they use the same vocalizations to call out to Adora now that they have always used with Catra. Adora can’t hear all the layers to the sound that Catra can, but she is overjoyed when Catra tells her.

She talks about wishing that she had the ability to hear every sound her kids make, but Catra assures her that she’s doing a great job even without it. Adora is, truthfully, doing a fantastic job. Catra knew she always liked kids, but she didn’t know how badly Adora wanted to be a parent. She really couldn’t have – even Adora didn’t realize until she almost got a chance at it and then thought that she lost it.

She adores the kittens, playing with them all the time and buying them toys. Seeing Adora with the kittens now, it is hard to justify the vision that she had of Adora being pushed to her breaking point and storming out on them one day. It had nothing to do with the kittens, though.

Catra was so convinced that no one could truly love her, she thought no one could love her children either. If they did, she thought the kids wouldn’t outweigh her own flaws and that Adora would end up leaving one day anyway. She kind of always thought like that, but it got worse when she got pregnant. It started to get better again once the kittens were a few months old.

Glimmer comes over in secret on a Friday, when Catra is working from home and Adora is going to be working late, and manages to keep a level head while telling her just how depressed Adora got at times. Catra already figured it out, but she knows that Glimmer is just making sure that she understands, as well as trying to explain the source of her waning anger. Catra was, truthfully, just as bad if not worse during that time, but she had her kittens to worry about. Putting them first helped pull her out of it.

She and Adora have finally reached somewhere comfortable with each other. Catra makes peace with their old friends, and now Glimmer and Bow come over often to play with the kittens. They’ve both caught the baby fever, which amuses Catra to no end. Still, the looming thought of the source of all this is hanging over her head. She can accept that Adora wants to be a parent. She can even accept that Adora cares about her. It is more than care that gets risky.

They share an apartment, a bed, and children. They are comfortable right now. What if Catra brings it up and it pushes them in the direction of splitting again? What if they even try for a relationship, but they just don’t work out and the kids end up split between their two moms, living separate lives from each other like they’re divorced? It would still be more support than they had before, but-

Catra is going down the exact same logic circles that stopped her from reaching out to Adora for a year. It’s the fear and uncertainty and insecurity that lead to Adora missing her children’s first steps, and two of their first words. The only thing on the line this time is them and not their kids, but Adora made it clear when they reunited – they should have made that decision together. Catra had no right to make it on her own.

Catra sighs. She stands, carefully lying Milo back down in the bed, and heads into the living room to talk to Adora.

Chapter Text

Adora looks up from cooing to Mara – she’s never going to get tired of doing it – to find Catra standing in the bedroom doorway, staring at her with a cryptic expression on her face. Adora swallows. She doesn’t like that look. There is a storm of emotions being locked away behind it. Catra’s tail flicks as she starts forward, glancing over to where Cyra has crammed herself onto the bottom shelf of the TV stand and is playing with her own foot.

Adora carefully scoops Mara up and sits up on the couch. She draws Mara into her lap, certain she’ll need to hold onto something for whatever this is. Mara is facing away from Catra, but her little ears flick back and she mews, so she must have picked up that her mama is here. Catra’s expression softens a little as she settles down beside Adora on the couch, reaching out to pet Mara and tame her already-impressive mane.

“Right here, darling. I’m always right here,” Catra promises her in a soft voice. The words aren’t meant for Adora, but they make her heart stutter anyway as she looks down at Mara. She watches Catra’s hand leave her mane, but she is shocked when Catra reaches up and pets Adora’s head instead. Adora looks up, blinking at her as Catra smirks a little.

“You seemed jealous,” she says, despite how Adora definitely wasn’t. She doesn’t dislike it, but not much can distract her from her anxiety right now. Catra’s smirk falls as she leans back, putting a few inches between them. Adora swallows, waiting for the other shoe to drop. After a moment, Catra clears her throat and makes a trilling purr.

Both Cyra and Mara turn to look at her, but Cyra ends up rolling off the bottom shelf and across the floor from the sudden movement, chuffing a little. Mara slow blinks at Catra for a moment before tucking into Adora’s arms again. Cyra, on the other hand, comes crawling across the floor and then digs her claws into the side of the couch so she can scale it.

Catra reaches for her, pulling her into her lap and wrapping her tail around so Cyra can play with it. Catra needs to hold something too, Adora realizes. She pulls Mara in just a little tighter, careful not to squish her too much. Catra looks down at her lap for a long moment, flicking the tip of her tail as Cyra bats at it.

“I wanted to talk about- us, I guess. That night,” Catra whispers, reluctantly. She doesn’t sound like she actually wants to talk about it, but she forces the words out. Adora draws in a sharp breath, watching as the flicking of Catra’s tail changes. She isn’t doing it for Cyra to play with anymore – now its anxiety. Adora’s heart pounds in her chest.

“We don’t have to, if you aren’t ready,” she says in a whisper. She just doesn’t want to ruin this, not when Catra is so clearly reluctant, but Catra just shakes her head, still looking down at Cyra.

“Is there anything I can say that’s going to make you leave?” she asks, her voice a bit strangled. Adora’s breath leaves her. No, there really isn’t. Catra can tell her that she didn’t mean it and that she never wants to do it again and Adora would still be in her bed every night. That’s where their kids are. She can be happy with what they have right now. She is happy.

“No. I’m not leaving you or the kids,” Adora tells her, her voice hard with conviction. Catra swallows, nodding and reaching down to gently detangle Cyra’s claws from her tail. She holds Cyra’s little hand in her own, clearly needing the support.

“Okay. I love you,” she breathes out.

 

--

 

Catra watches Adora’s eyes go wide, all the air leaving her lungs as she stares across the couch at her. Catra pins her ears back, ducking her head to stare down at Cyra, slowly rubbing her thumb back and forth over Cyra’s tiny palm.

Adora said there was nothing she could say, but Catra still doesn’t believe it. She stares down at their daughter, reminding herself that she has this no matter what. She’ll always have the happiness that the kittens bring, even if Adora wants joint custody and takes them away half the time. Maybe Adora won’t even want to leave like that. Maybe she’ll move back into Glimmer and Bow’s but still come to hang out with the kids in the evening and-

“Catra,” Adora breathes, her voice soft. Catra doesn’t mean to, but she shrinks, hunching down around Cyra. Adora’s voice was so quiet, so tremulous, it made fear pound in her heart. Catra drops Cyra’s hand, wrapping her arms around her kitten, just hoping, hoping, hoping.

“I always did. As soon as you came out I wanted to-“ Catra cuts off, her words choking her. She ducks her head down, burying her face in Cyra’s mane. She can’t do this. She doesn’t know why she ever thought she could. Adora is already stuck with her because of the kids, and now she’s putting her in an unfair position-

Adora kisses the top of her head. Catra draws in a shaking breath as Cyra mews in protest over being crushed in her arms. Catra is actually being very careful with her, but she is totally curled around Cyra and crowding her in as her heart pounds. Her kitten can pick up on her anxiety as Adora shifts to kiss each of Catra’s ears, still pinned back to her head.

“Shh,” Adora assures her, reaching up with one hand to pet down the back of Catra’s head as she shifts closer, careful to accommodate the two kittens between them. “Me too, okay? I just didn’t know if you would be okay with it,” Adora says, her voice rough and a bit wavering. Catra draws in a sharp breath, raising her head to look at Adora with watery eyes.

Her face is only a few centimeters away. Adora gives her a wobbling but hopeful smile. Her eyes are shining, her breath coming laboured and heavy. Catra watches with some measure of awe as Adora’s eyes flick down to her lips. This is how it happened before, Adora looking and Catra taking a chance. This time, she doesn’t take a chance. This time, Adora leans across the gap and does it for her.

Adora’s lips are softer than they were last time. They were both running on a college schedule of very little sleep and not enough food or even hydration. Now, Adora kisses her softly, sweetly as Catra unfurls from her hunch and kisses her back with just as much optimistic hesitance as Adora meets her with.

In the bedroom, Milo begins to wail. Apparently he woke up from his nap and realized that neither of his moms were there. They pull apart, but despite the kitten’s cries, they are both grinning.

 

--

 

Scorpia still comes over and watches the kittens twice a week when both Catra and Adora have work on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She also comes over on the weekend on occasion. Catra hasn’t left the kids with a sitter unless absolutely necessary in a year. She hasn’t even gone to see a movie. Adora is happy to take her out on dates.

They go to a few of their old haunts. They see movies, holding hands and curling into each other around the armrests. Catra deserves treats – she deserves the entire world – after struggling through being a single mother for a year. Adora finds them restaurants and buys her little gifts when she can, though they have to be careful with their spending.

They also go out with the kids in tow. It used to give Catra terrible anxiety to take the kids out, apparently, but she is at ease now there are two of them to watch the kittens. Catra walks holding Cyra’s hand as Adora pushes the stroller with Mara and Milo. Both the kittens have their little hands pressed against the sunshade, watching the seagulls flying around the boardwalk intently.

“How long before she gets tired and I’m carrying her, do you think?” Catra asks Adora. Adora hums, glancing down at the kitten darting her gaze all over, distracted by any and every movement. Adora drove them an hour to reach the beach almost entirely because she wanted to see the kittens react to sand. Cyra and Milo love it, it turns out, but Mara started crying the moment it touched her. She was quickly tucked away in the stroller, where she seems much happier.

This is the exact kind of thing that Adora would have loved to do as a kid. It isn’t exactly a movie date, but she knows weekends like this are just as important to her girlfriend, if not more so, for the same reason that Adora loves them. Catra has made no secret of her desire to give her kids the life that she never got. There are a few rides and games on the boardwalk that the kids are too young for right now, but they can come back when they’re older too.

Adora just wanted to spend a day out as a family. They were able to bring the stroller onto the Ferris wheel at least. Catra clung to her and hissed as they rose up in the air, but Cyra loved it. Adora can already tell that she’s going to be the parent going on rollercoasters with her kids while Catra hangs back with any of the kittens who don’t end up liking rides.

“I bet she goes full steam until the moment we start heading back and then you have to pick her up before she falls asleep standing up,” Adora returns. Catra snorts, glancing down fondly at Cyra.

“You’d better sleep like the dead after this, you hear me? Mama’s going to be tired,” Catra tells Cyra, in the tone of voice she reserves especially for her kittens. It is fond, just short of a coo, giving away how absolutely smitten Catra is. Cyra turns her head to blink up at Catra, flicking her ears as she listens to her mom.

“No,” she squeaks, and then she tugs on Catra’s hand, trying to pull her towards a colourful cotton candy display. Adora melts, having to tighten her grip on the stroller handles just to deal with how cute she is. Catra beams down at Cyra, too fond to even scold her.

“That’s my girl,” she returns, letting Cyra steer her towards the spun sugar.

 

--

 

Adora insists on Catra going out on her own sometimes. Adora spends five days a week at work, but Catra is around the kittens almost all the time. Adora talks about healthy life balance and taking breaks and a bunch of other nonsense, but Catra eventually agrees to run errands in the evenings or on the weekends by herself.

She lets herself take time that she never did when Scorpia was babysitting, knowing that she isn’t leaving the kittens with a nanny, but with their mom. Catra comes back on one Thursday evening to find Adora’s energy levels through the roof.

“Mara spoke! Mara talked to me!” Adora gushes, practically jumping up and down as she grabs Catra’s hand and squeezes it. She is grinning, her excitement infectious as Cyra, apparently excited that her mom is excited, starts jumping up and down too. A terrible part of Catra is jealous she wasn’t there for it, but it is drowned out by how relieved she is that Adora was.

She didn’t realize what that was the start of. Magicat kittens don’t start talking for a while because they don’t need to. They have plenty of chirrups, growls, and mews that communicate all their basic needs to Catra. Adora, however, can’t understand the nuances in all of them like Catra can. She has learned some of the basics and broad strokes, but her hearing just isn’t capable of total differentiation.

So Mara has started speaking – but only to Adora. If Catra is home, Mara mews and chirrups and chuffs, apparently knowing that Catra can translate for her. When Catra leaves, Mara is almost capable of sentences. She just refuses to use them around Catra. It’s hilarious, even Catra can admit that, but she would like to hear what her middle child sounds like.

“This is karma,” Glimmer tells her when she finally stops laughing. Catra huffs, crossing her arms and glaring at her friend. It’s the weekend, but the trauma center is putting on a family event and Adora is there to document it for their social media. Glimmer and Bow have come over. They claim it’s to help Catra wrangle the kids, but she knows they just want to hang out with the kittens.

“She pointed at the cups and told Adora ‘I want green’ but she won’t say anything when I try!” Catra complains, throwing her hands up. Mara is, at the moment, in Catra’s lap and chewing on her fingers. Whenever she bites too hard, Catra squeaks. It’s the only way to really teach the kittens to control their fangs and claws.

Catra isn’t actually upset by this, but she still would like to hear Mara talk. Glimmer is probably right that it’s karma. They have both reached the point of acceptance with how things went down, largely at Adora’s insistence, but Adora missed a lot. Mara is now refusing to let Catra experience it. As if to prove a point, Mara pulls off her fingers and looks up at Catra with the wide eyes that make her melt.

She mews loudly. That noise means food. Mara is her spitting image and sometimes Catra can’t help but wonder how anyone, even their cold-hearted old foster guardian, could have looked at something as tiny and vulnerable and adorable as this and chosen to be cruel to it. Catra would bend her chest open just to ensure Mara’s comfort. What she won’t do is indulge this nonsense.

“Say ‘food’,” Catra replies. Mara blinks at her, slow and wide-eyed. She mews again. Technically, she is saying food, just in a different language. Catra flicks her tail, locking eyes with Mara and engaging in a battle of wills. “Food,” she repeats. She knows Mara can say it. She told Adora “Want food” yesterday. Mara, in response, mews again.

Catra crumbles like a Jenga tower. She sighs, scooping Mara up and standing to head for the kitchen. Mara trills, going limp in her arms and smooshing her face against Catra’s chest as she carries her. Behind her, Glimmer laughs.

 

--

 

A magicat family comes through the trauma recovery center. They were in a roll-over car accident. Their kitten’s injury is bad, and at such a young age, recovering her ability to walk is hard. Adora learns all this when she comes wandering through the playroom to take pictures and the kitten struggles over to her.

It’s a combination of crawling, rolling, and dragging herself by her arms. Adora squats down as her aid gasps, settling down on the floor and rubbing her fingers together above her lap. The movement always entices her kittens, and sure enough, the little kitten clambers into her lap and swipes at her fingers. Adora grins down at her as she lets herself be captured, tiny fangs nomming on her fingers.

Adora smells safe because of Catra’s marks and the kittens’ scent all over her. Little Alira takes to her immediately, so Adora finds herself popping in to help encourage her when her parents can’t be there. They both work full time, so for most of the work day she’s without them. Adora can’t help but think about how she used to fear a kitten ending up at the center. Alira does remind Adora of her kittens, but it's her real kittens and not some imagined possibility.

Alira’s parents are at least glad there is someone at the center, no matter how far removed from her treatment Adora is, who understands her. They spot Adora instantly upon meeting her for the first time between the scent marks and the three bracelets stacked on her wrist. Adora has taken to wearing them any day that Catra isn’t.

Neither she nor Catra likes jewelry, but they do like having their kittens with them. Adora likes other hybrid parents glancing at her wrist and smiling. She likes when she and Catra take the kittens to the playground and people ask her where her partner is. She likes telling people that her girlfriend has the rest of the kittens.

She knows the general view is that Catra is a single mom dating Adora, but that is kinda true, so Adora never corrects them that the kittens are hers. They would be hers regardless. They are Catra’s, and Catra is her girlfriend, and Adora is helping to raise the three little gremlins. She loves them, but that has less to do with the fact that they are hers and more the fact that they are.

She loves her kittens. She loves their gentle sounds and Mara’s quiet words. She likes Cyra’s loud, demanding exclamations and Milo’s babytalk. She loves watching their little tails wiggle and their tiny ears flick. Nothing about her love has anything to do with their DNA.

 

--

 

Catra is sprawled out in her bed, one kitten tucked under each arm and Mara scuffling beneath the bed, when Adora gets home from work. Catra is grateful that her job lets her work from home so much, but trying to get work done while also wrangling her kittens is hard. She’s exhausted at this point. She always feels herself perking up when Adora gets home, relieved for the help, but this time she can almost feel herself falling asleep at the sound of the door opening.

“Long day, beautiful?” Adora teases when she makes her way to the bedside, bending to kiss Catra’s forehead. Catra blushes, rumbling a touch, but she nods without ever opening her eyes. She feels shifting against her sides as Adora pets Cyra and Milo. The kittens aren’t synced up right now. Mara was sleeping earlier while Cyra and Milo played, but now they are both as tired as Catra is and Mara wants attention.

“Lay it on as thick as you want, Mara’s still your problem to deal with,” Catra mumbles, only half awake. Adora chuckles, petting through Catra’s hair again.

“She’s a tiny you. She isn’t a problem. Where is she?” Adora asks. Catra trills, turning her cheek to rub it against the pillow. Before she can reply, Adora gives a hiss of pain. Mara took a swipe at her ankle from under the bed, then. Catra purrs as she listens to Adora crouching down to look under the bed.

“Hi, sweetie. Wanna come out?” Adora coos, her hands patting against the floor. Catra relaxes into the bed, already half asleep as a moment of silence stretches before she hears Mara crawling across the floor. Adora hums softly as she picks the kitten up.

“Food,” a tiny voice asks, causing Catra to shoot her eyes open and blink, stunned, at where Adora is holding Mara in her arms and grinning down at the kitten.

“Okay, we’ll get food. Mama needs a nap,” Adora promises her, propping Mara against her hip before she grins down at Catra. Catra can’t help but grin back. It’s adorable. Mara has a tiny, polite voice, a bit deeper than the others. She speaks like she is using sentence, even if it is just one word. Cyra yells an exclamation and expects it met. Milo babbles words as he points at things.

Mara tucks into Adora’s side and waits for her food.

“She’s so precious,” Catra whispers, just looking at the little bundle of fur that makes her feel so much. Adora grins, bending to kiss Catra’s cheek before she hikes Mara up on her hip.

“Just like her mama,” Adora returns, grinning from ear to ear when Catra lets out an indignant noise. She turns and walks out the door before Catra can protest further. Mara does need to be fed, but Catra wanted to fight the proclamation.

It would have been pointless. It made her heart feel warm. For a year, she only imagined Adora hating her, but it turns out that Adora loving her is like a revelation. Catra forces her body to calm back down so she can take her opportunity for a nap while she has it. She can coo at Mara and be gay for Adora later. They aren’t going anywhere. Her other two children, however, are constantly at risk of waking up.

Catra drifts off with her kittens around her, the soft sounds of Adora’s movement in the kitchen helping to ease her into sleep.

 

--

 

Adora prods Catra one day about establishing parentage for the kittens. It hasn’t been important yet, but it will be. Adora needs to be legally recognized as their parent so she can take them to doctor’s appointments, or to school when the time comes. Catra floors her with her response.

“Let’s get married,” she responds. Adora gapes as Catra flushes, looking quickly away. Milo and Mara are both close enough to go skittering after Catra’s tail as it begins to lash. “I mean, I know a parentage form should give you the same rights, but we’d have to do all the same stuff for both, so we might as well, right? To make sure there’s no issues?” Catra adds on, flushed and defensive. Adora is pretty sure she hasn’t even noticed the claws batting at her tail.

Adora gapes at her for several minutes as Catra just shrinks further down. Eventually, Adora manages to close her hanging jaw.

“If we tell our friends that’s how you proposed to me, they will hunt you down and find out how many ways you can skin a cat,” Adora finally manages, her heart pounding in her chest. A laugh startles out of Catra. She looks up at Adora, hopeful and unsure. Adora’s mouth feels a bit dry as she reaches a hand out. Catra takes it gladly, seemingly happy for the lifeline.

“I’ll buy you a ring. If you’d want to,” Catra replies, her voice just above a whisper. She sounds terrified. Adora’s heart thunders in her chest as she leans forward, kissing Catra firmly.

“I want to,” she assures her, a whisper against her lips.

 

--

 

Catra actually does propose properly a few weeks later. They’re at the boardwalk again. Catra pulls out the ring at the end of the pier. Adora, despite clearly knowing it was coming, bursts into tears. Mara starts sympathy crying with her mom and its basically a disaster, but it’s still perfect. When they walk back to the car, Adora grins down at her hand holding Cyra’s. The ring is simple and plain. The diamond can’t compete with Adora’s thousand-watt smile.

Adora signs the declaration of parentage at the same time that she signs the marriage certificate. Glimmer and Bow are there, holding the kids for them as they are officially declared married. Adora’s heart bursts as she pulls Catra into a kiss. It’s quick to get married, sure, but Adora never had any doubts that they were in this for the long haul.

Even with their relationship being fairly new, they have been together, at least as friends, for two decades. Neither of them has any doubts. Adora can’t imagine a world where she wouldn’t want to crawl into bed with her kittens and wife every night. There is nowhere in the world that makes her happier than this apartment and this bed. She pulls Catra into her arms that night, kissing her breathless as the kittens curl around them.

“I love you. I love you so much,” Adora tells her, squeezing Catra tight. Catra purrs, wrapping around her happily even as Milo mews in protest that no one is paying attention to him.

“I can’t believe I get to call you my wife,” Catra whispers, nuzzling into her. Adora’s heart bursts. Yeah, she can’t either. Catra trills, nuzzling against Adora’s jaw as Adora struggles to find air for her lungs.

“I’m your wife. I’m yours,” she whispers back. The words feel profound. The way they make Catra gasp softly doesn’t lighten their weight, but the passion with which Catra kisses her takes any heaviness off her shoulders. It is profound, but it is in a good way.

This is one of those moments – one of those moments where she can’t believe she gets to have this for the rest of her life. She has Catra, she has her wife, and she has their kittens. Nothing else in the world could compare.