Plans change . Unexpected things happen . Those are facts that Adora has quickly grown used to -- change is good, most of the time, and she’s learned to roll with them for the most part. It’s the change back to something familiar, though, that catches her out the most. The feeling of Catra, back to her typical sleeping position of curled up lower down on Adora’s bed, is one that aches of nostalgia -- it feels like old times, before all of this, when everything seemed simpler. When this had been a nightly occurrence. It feels too much like a dream now. Before sleeping, Adora had spent a good few minutes simply staring at her, afraid that, if she closed her eyes, Catra would be gone when she woke up.
It had taken a while of staying still, of feeling her weighted presence on the bed, of listening to the light sounds of her breathing, for Adora to remind herself that Catra was real -- that she was real, that she had joined her and was going to stay . She had been content to sleep, after that, reassured by the occasional feeling of the others’ form nudging against her legs.
She jolts awake, however, from her dreamless and peaceful sleep, when she feels the mattress moving, shifting under her. Adora cracks an eye open, confused, before blinking her eyelids, adjusting to the sudden awakening.
Then she hears it -- sniffling, followed by heavy breaths.
Adora sits up quickly after that, raising her hands to rub at her eyes, trying to see what’s happening, to follow the source of the noise. She squints through the darkness, gaze focusing on the form of Catra -- awake, upright, movements quick, her back to her. As Adora adjusts more and allows her mind to fully catch up with the situation, she realises that Catra is rather desperately shoving the feathers of the mattress back inside it. And when she looks down, she sees why.
Claw-marks, as if from a frantic fight, litter the area of the bed that Catra had been sleeping on, tearing it up as if it had been mauled. A night-terror, perhaps? Adora can’t think of anything else that may have caughted Catra to lash at the area around her so much in her sleep. True, her wildest dreams may have caused a few scratches sometimes -- most often delivered to Adora’s legs -- but never to this extent. For a while, Adora says nothing; she just watches the other girl, unsure, watching her bad as she shudders and continues to stuff the feathers back under with little success.
Finally, she summons back her ability to speak. She reaches out, carefully, to place a hand on her shoulder.
Adora cringes and the jolt that shoots through Catra at her touch and promptly pulls back as if scalded. Catra turns her head, quick, to look at her over her shoulder, the fur on her ears and tail bristled. Startled. Catra seems to calm once she realises it’s Adora, though. Though her tail still twitches behind her, curling and uncurling anxiously. Ansty, as if she's waiting for some attack to come.
“How long have you been awake?” She asks -- and the worry is thinly veiled, despite how casual it’s clearly supposed to sound.
“I could ask you the same question.” Adora replies, resting her hands in her lap to resist reaching out to touch her again. She doesn’t want to be too overwhelming. Now Catra is facing her, she can see the shimmer of wetness in her eyes, a sign regardless of how hard the other is trying to steady her breathing. “Are you alright?”
“Just a… really realistic dream.” Catra says, through gritted teeth. “I’m fine.”
“You don’t sound fine…” Adora says, tenderly. “You know you can tell me if-”
“I’m not a kid .” Catra bites out, jerking her head back forward to face away from her. “Don’t patronize me.”
“Catra, I’m not. I just- I just want to help…”
“I don’t need your help .” Catra says, firmly, wrapping her tail around herself. “Like I said, I’m fine.” But you’re not. “I just scratched up your bed and tried to fix it to make it more comfortable, that’s all. I didn’t realise I’d get interrogated about it, sorry I woke you up.”
“Catra, I’m not trying to interrogate you. I just- you seem upset. If you’re struggling, if you’re scared-”
Catra twists, suddenly, glaring back at her. “I’m not struggling . I’m not scared . I’m not weak-”
“I’m not saying you’re weak !” Adora cuts in. She sighs, then, contemplating what she should say. The last thing she wants is for Catra to retreat inwards now. “I… I just worried, that was all. Please… can you at least tell me what’s going on?”
Catra’s glare softens slightly at that, and she stares for a while longer before letting out a huff, before scooting her body around so she’s positioned facing Adora fully.
“It was just a… stupid dream.” She says, finally, trying and failing for a nonchalant shrug. “Guess things felt a little too real so… I must have scratched up the bed.”
Adora nods, tries for a reassuring smile -- something non-judgemental while also refraining from anything condescending. She reaches then, watching Catra’s gaze for any hint of opposition or a sign of being uncomfortable, resting a hand on her shoulder.
“Was it… Shadow Weaver?” Adora prompts, still keeping her voice gentle. She waits for the small, stiff nod before continuing. “You don’t have to tell me the details-”
“Good, because I won’t.” Catra retorts, drawing her knees up to her chest and wrapping her arms around them. “It was just a stupid dream. I wasn’t even that scared.”
But you’re crying. Adora wants to say. You were shaking. But she doesn’t, she knows it will only place Catra on the defensive -- and from there, conversation will never get anywhere and will likely just become a minefield of arguments.
“Well, okay.” Adora says, deciding it’s better than trying to push her any further. “But… You’re shivering. You must be, uh , cold, so-” she lifts up the blanket, shuffles herself to the side. “You should come under- so- so you’re warm.” She tries to keep the offer casual, flippant. “That and it’s better than sleeping on the scratched part.”
“It is… sort of cold.” Catra says with a hum, as if she’s considering even though she’s already crawling up the bed to make her way under the blanket. “I guess I could. Just for the warmth, though.”
And Catra is startling cold as she slips in next to her, cool skin brushing against Adora’s. But at least she’s closer now, at least Adora will be able to feel and wake up if she begins to panic again. She won’t have to be alone through it if it happens again.
She expects to feel Catra squirming to get comfortable, to find a way to curl up in her favourite positions without knocking the blanket off of herself.
What Adora doesn’t expect, however, is for the other girl to tuck herself close to her, nuzzling under her arm.
Her breath catches in her throat, heart stuttering -- unsure of how to properly even react. She stammers, tries to get her tongue to co-operate.
“Don’t.” Catra murmurs, gruffly. “Don’t say anything . You’re just… warm, okay?” She feels the light brush of her nails -- claws, really -- against her shoulder as Catra rests her arm over her and gets more comfortable. “That’s all this is about.”
Adora swallows, thickly, but remains still -- what else can she do? She’s not about to reject Catra, especially since she’s chosen to be this close now. And she can’t say anything because Catra would almost certainly take it as mockery.
“Okay.” She settles with, eventually, closing her eyes. The cold feeling of the others skin fades eventually into comfortable warmth; and, this close, she can feel her heartbeat, distantly, slowly steadying against her. She’s moved her hand almost instinctively, fingers scratching behind one of the large, furry ears.
She only realises once she’s done it, and readies herself for Catra to snap away, or to otherwise spit out a venomous comment about not needing to be pet .
Instead, Catra tilts her head into the movement with a content sound that sounds suspiciously like a purr. Not that Adora would ever be stupid enough to call it that to Catra’s face. It’s enough to cause a smile to tug at her lips.
“Sorry I messed up your bed.” Catra mutters, so low that Adora almost doesn’t catch it at first.
“Don’t worry, we can get it fixed.” Adora says with a shrug, still smoothing thingers absently through her fur. “I broke it too, on my first night here. And I don’t even have claws.”
She feels the light chuckle, rumbling against her. The sound and feeling is enough to send her heart soaring in her chest.
“I missed you, you know that right, Catra?” She says, closing her eyes, allowing a moment to take in the feeling -- because now they’re back together. They’re together and Adora won’t ever let them be apart again.
“Adora,” Catra scoffs -- and Adora swears she can practically hear the eyeroll. “You get somehow even more sentimental when you’re tired.” But despite her words, the softness of the tone betrays some fondness. Catra always has seemed something of an open book to Adora, at least.
So she takes the unspoken words for what they are -- she knows what Catra means anyway.
I missed you too.