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Pride, Prejudice, and College Bets

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College was stupid. Maybe Catra wasn’t supposed to think that, considering how much it cost and what a big deal it was supposed to be to further education, but… it was stupid.

Classes were stressful and the people were obnoxious and…. And Catra was being pessimistic as ever. In her defense, she had class with that pompous know-it-all again, and that class always left her frustrated and sulking.

It was nothing a nice iced chai couldn’t fix though.

Catra made her way to the cafe and ordered her drink. As she walked to find a seat where she could settle with homework and wait, she felt something hit the back of her head. She turned and saw two of her close friends sitting at a table together. Her only friends really…. Best friends, if Catra didn’t think that label carried too much weight and too much affection for her liking. Best friends never worked out for her, and it felt like every time she felt she could use the term, something would happen and the person would be out of her life. And maybe a smaller part of her thought that maybe no one really wanted to be her best friend. So it was easier to just say they were friends. Normal level friends.

“What the hell, Entrapta?” Beside her, Scorpia smiled innocently.

Those weren’t their actual names. The two of them had adopted their own little nicknames when they found out how self-conscious Catra was about her own. She’d been teased for it before, constantly compared to a cat or on the laughing end of shitty puns, so she’d begun to introduce herself as Cat. Her friends really liked her name, said it was unique and fun. And they’d picked out names for each other after it so they could all have quirky names. At this point, Catra often forgot their real ones.

Entrapta’s was Christine, but she had a habit of trapping them into long-winded discussions about her ideas and latest “inventions” and couldn’t be stopped until she was satisfied with her explanation. Catra and Scorpia had learned early on that trying to interrupt or deter her only frustrated Entrapta and made her go into even longer rants and explanations. So they let her talk and tried to understand as much as possible of what she was saying.

Scorpia’s was Lauren, but because she was a Scorpio and tended to have the Scorpio trait of always saying whatever was on her mind- something Catra had to admire despite how often it was done to call her out- they gave her that nickname. She also had a scorpion tattoo on the back of her neck, always visible because of her short bleached-blond hair.

Entrapta fixed her glasses, wide circular things that Catra had no idea how anyone managed to make work. “Why do you look so grumpy?” she asked.

“I had to go to that culf history class today. The one with the chatty blonde.” She caught Scorpia’s smile and rolled her eyes. “You read too many romance novels, Scorpia. I’m not kidding when I say I’d pay to claw her freaking face-”

“Down, girl,” Scorpia said with a laugh. Catra glared, a warning about the cat jokes. But Scorpia just kept smiling. “I have that girl in my math class. I think her name’s Adora, right? She’s really nice, and everyone seems to like her.”

“Not everyone; Catra doesn’t. It’s also statistically impossible for anyone to be liked by everyone-”

“It was a hyperbole, Entrapta,” Scorpia said, putting a hand on her shoulder. She turned back to Catra and shrugged. “I’m just saying, she seems like she’s a cool person. Just give her a chance and, I don’t know say hi, maybe?”

“Why would I do that? It’s not like I’m just judging her by how she looks.” Catra began counting off on her fingers. “She never lets anyone else answer, and if someone else is talking, she interrupts. She’s done it to me. She’s practically a teacher’s pet. She’s always got this snooty tone when she talks, like she’s better than everyone. It’s so annoying, and the last thing I want is to say hi.” She heard her drink get called out at the counter and dropped her bag into a chair before going to get it.

When she got back to the table and sat down, Scorpia gestured with a jut of her chin. “Look, it’s your best friend.” Catra raised an eyebrow and turned around to see Adora sitting at a table with one of her friends. Her hair was up in that painful looking ponytail, and Catra couldn’t help run her fingers through her own frizzy hair.

Suddenly her eyes were on Catra and she immediately turned back around. Before she could say anything, she saw Scorpia waving and gesturing her over. “What the fuck are you-?”

“Hey. Lauren, right? I have you in my stats class.” Catra grimaced at the use of the real name, keeping her head down, extremely focused on her own drink. “Oh, I have you in my global processes class. Cat, right?”

Catra looked up and gave an insincere smile. “Yep.”

“Whoa, you do have cool eyes,” her friend piped beside her. She was shorter, wearing a sparkly floral shirt, her hair in a short curly bob. “You have heterochromia?”

“No, they’re just contacts,” Catra answered flatly. She felt someone kick her under the table. “Yeah. I do.”

“It’s the only hetero thing about her,” Scorpia joked, making Catra roll her eyes. She made that joke any time someone commented on her eyes.

“Who told you about her eyes?” Entrapta asked suddenly. Catra raised an eyebrow and looked over at her. “She said ‘you do have cool eyes’ like it was mentioned before and she didn’t believe it.”

“Hey, so where’d you get those gloves? I’ve always wanted a pair, but I never find them in stores,” the short friend interrupted. Catra noticed that Entrapta shifted uncomfortably, miffed by the fact that her question and observation went unanswered. Scorpia put a hand on her shoulder, trying to soothe her.

Catra looked down her hands, the fingerless leather gloves now well worn with how often she used them. “Uh, online.”

“We should go, Bo’s waiting on us,” Adora said, grabbing her friend and tugging her away. Her face was red, and she was practically shoving her friend out the door with a wave.

“I think someone has a crush on you, Catra,” Scorpia said with an even cockier smirk. Catra’s eyes widened and she looked at the wide windowed wall Adora and her friend were walking past, talking over each other. Her eyes flitted over to where Catra was with her friends, widening before she sped up and kept walking until they were out of sight. “How cute!”

“Gross,” Catra muttered. “I never even talked to her, why would she be into me?”

Oh, so Adora told the other girl about Catra’s eyes. And that’s why they didn’t answer me.” Scorpia nodded, and Entrapta seemed content with that. But Catra shifted uncomfortably, not liking that she was possibly a topic of discussion without knowing it.

“You should ask her out. I’d bet she’d say yes.”

Catra stared at Scorpia and sipped her drink. She set it down and placed her hands firmly on the table. “Hell. No.”

“She would definitely say yes,” Entrapta said.

“She can’t say yes, because I’m not asking.” Catra shook her head. “Why would I wanna go on a date with someone who is a pretentious, know-it-all, teacher’s pet, goody-two-shoes, annoying-”

“Because you’ll get fifty bucks out of it,” Scorpia interrupted. She clasped her hands together and raised an eyebrow, challenging Catra. Catra stared at her, narrowing her eyebrows. “You go on a date with Adora and come out of it still hating her guts then I’ll give you fifty bucks. Either you realize she’s pretty cool and you gain a girlfriend or you keep hating her but you’re fifty bucks richer.”

“Isn’t that insensitive to Adora’s feelings?” Entrapta asked. “What if she thinks Catra is really interested and then they don’t go on a second date?”

“If Catra doesn’t like her at least a little after one date, then I’ll pay her another fifty for a second.”

“A hundred bucks for two dates?” Catra asked, raising an eyebrow. “Don’t worry, Entrapta, she won’t like me anymore after two dates anyway.” Entrapta grumbled, but didn’t oppose further. “You’ve got a deal. A hundred bucks is a small price to pay for spending an hour with Adora.”

“Tell us when you ask her out, and we want every little detail about these dates.” Scorpia laughed and cooed, pinching Catra’s cheek. “You’re gonna thank me after this.”

“Fuck off,” she grumbled, swiping her hand away. “Can we go get food? I’m starving.”

The following hour was filled with annoying questions from both her friends. Where are you gonna take her? How are you gonna ask her? Are you gonna hold her hand? Are you gonna kiss her? Will you pay, or split it?

It was driving her nuts. She wasn’t even taking this date seriously, why did she have to think about all of that? Wouldn’t it be better if she made it a shitty date so Adora wouldn’t be hurt when Catra stopped asking her out?

Then again, if she wanted the hundred dollars, she’d have to make the first date good enough to get Adora to agree to a second. The thing was, she didn’t know anything about Adora. How was she supposed to make it a good date if she didn’t even know what the girl liked?

Another problem was… what if Adora said no?

They were basing this bet off pure circumstantial evidence that Adora had a crush on Catra. An observation Scorpia came up with. For all they knew, she was wrong and Adora wasn’t interested at all. That would leave Catra looking like an idiot, and frankly her ego wouldn’t be able to take that.

She decided to take Scorpia’s advice- she decided to say hi.

The next time they had class together, Catra waved meekly. Adora looked confused for a moment before smiling and waving back as she sat down in her seat across the room. The time after that, Catra added a smile, and mouth a hello as she waved. Adora’s smile was coupled with a very prominent blush that honestly surprised Catra. The time after that, Catra figured actually talking would be a good idea.

“Hey, Adora.”

Adora froze as she walked, turning back around to look at Catra. “Hey,” she answered with a smile. Then Adora kept talking, which Catra was most definitely not ready for. “Think Dr. Hawke will give us another quiz today?”

“I sure hope not, because I didn’t do the reading.” Adora laughed and shrugged. “Um, so who was that friend that was with you the other day?”

“Glimmer?” Catra raised an eyebrow, forcing herself not to laugh. “Yeah, she kind of hates the name, but her mom really liked sparkles, and figured Glimmer was better than naming her after a jewel, or, you know something you’d name a pet hamster like Sparkles or something. She always says she’s just glad her mom didn’t name her Princess.” Catra smirked at that. “But yeah, she’s been my best friend since orientation- oh, sorry, I’m… rambling. I didn’t mean to do that, you didn’t ask for all that information- um. Yeah.”

Catra chuckled and shrugged. “It’s kinda cute.” The speed at which Adora turned fully red made her bite back another laugh. So Scorpia was right. That made things easier. “Hey, can I catch you after class?”

“U-uh, yeah, s-sure. Um. I’m gonna…. I’m gonna go sit down.” Catra nodded and waved as she went to go sit. She was so flustered, her ears were bright red, not helped by the light blonde shade of her hair. Catra smiled to herself. She had this bet in the bag. Those hundred dollars were practically already hers.

When class ended, Catra was waiting by the door for Adora who kept tucking runaway strands of hair behind her ear. That flush was creeping back into her face, and Catra wondered how or why or when the hell this girl had become so interested in her. She’d spent the semester hating her, and this girl had the complete opposite reaction to Catra. There was a part of her that felt guilty about the bet, but then she was certain Adora would get over her after a couple dates.

“What’s up?” Adora asked, as Catra fell in step with her.

“Well, I was just…. The thing is, my friend thinks you kinda like me, and… if that was true, I was… wondering if you might wanna go out sometime? Something simple or whatever you’d like.” Adora’s blue eyes went wide, her face pink as she stared at Catra. She didn’t say anything for a while and Catra started to panic. “Um…. You can say no.”

“No! I mean, yeah! I- Crap. Um, yes to the going out. No to the saying no….” Catra had to laugh at that. She was so flustered. Adora laughed nervously and shook her head. “Sorry, I… I don’t know how this works. I’ve never… gone on a date.”

Catra felt her stomach twist. She suddenly wanted to pull out of the bet. She didn’t really like this girl, but taking her first date for a bet didn’t sit right with her. It wouldn’t have made a difference, though. It wasn’t like she could tell Adora, oh, nevermind, I take back the date offer. That would make her feel worse. Besides, what she didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her. Catra would just have to make it a really good date.

“Well. I don’t think I’ve ever asked anyone out on one, so… it’s a first for us both.” Adora’s body lost some of its tension as she let out a breath. “You wanna go for coffee here? Or out to eat? Or… I don’t know. What would you like to do?”

Adora bit her lip and thought for a moment. “Well, a coffee date would be nice. But maybe we could go somewhere off campus. I feel like I spend way too much time on this campus.”

Catra laughed and nodded. “Okay. Off campus for coffee. How does tomorrow around five sound?”

The smile on Adora’s face was so genuine, Catra wondered what exactly she’d done for her to be so excited about getting coffee together. “That sounds perfect. I can drive us. We can meet by the bookstore.”

Catra smiled and nodded. “Okay. Cool. So I’ll… see you tomorrow?” Adora nodded and Catra suddenly didn’t know what to do next. She hadn’t really planned this far ahead. “Ah, okay. I… I need to go… catch up with Sc- uh, Lauren and Christine. Uh, bye!” She turned away quickly and started for her dorm hall.

She sent Scorpia and Entrapta a message to let them know the bet was a go. They didn't answer, but within a few minutes of reaching her room, there were knocks on her door. They were just a courtesy seeing as both girls burst through the door anyway.

“You have a date!” Entrapta yelled. “What are you wearing?”

“Where are you going?”

Catra looked at her own clothes. Basic jeans, a black shirt, her maroon jacket. She gestured to herself, figuring she wore a similar outfit every day and that would probably be good enough for a simple date.

“You're supposed to dress differently for a date. It helps with the impression that it's different than just a meet up,” Entrapta said. “You can't wear what you always wear.”

“It's just coffee; it’s not that big a deal,” she protested as they scoured her closet.

“Leather jacket. Use the leather jacket,” Scorpia said, flinging it toward her. Catra huffed as her friends picked through her clothes, commenting on them without actually asking for her opinion.

“They’re your clothes, of course you like them,” Entrapta had pointed out when Catra complained. And that logic was hard to argue with.Within a half hour, they’d both picked out Catra’s outfit for the next day- black skinny jeans, her boots with a small bit of heel, a long sleeved burgundy shirt with yellow accents, and her black leather jacket. And of course her gloves.

Then they decided to give her tips.

“Open the door for her, but don’t make it seem like you’re undermining her.”

“Let her have the option of paying for her own stuff if that’s what she wants, but let her know you won’t mind covering it.”

“Ask her a lot of questions, and cut back on the sarcasm.”

“Be sure to compliment her when you see her!”

Catra started throwing pillows at them. “Both of you stop it!” she hissed. “Jeez, I know how to be a decent human. I’ll be fine. It’ll be a good date, I’ll get a second, and Scorpia will owe me a hundred dollars.” Scorpia only smiled at that, shrugging.

The three of them dropped the topic of the date and Adora and settled in to watch some new horror-mystery series on the smart TV. Meanwhile, Catra tried to ignore the nervous feeling building up in her at the sight of the clothes folded neatly on her desk or the memory of Adora’s excited face when she asked her out.

--

The next day, Catra had forgotten about the date for a better half of the morning. But she remembered when she saw Adora walking with a guy toward the cafe. It sent her into a panic.

She was under pressure. She had to make it a good date to make up for it being a bet, and she didn’t even like Adora, but she still felt jitters and anxiety settle in her stomach, making it hard to think properly. Scorpia misinterpreted, teasing Catra for her new crush and claiming she wouldn’t pay up if she was already fawning over Adora.

They went with her when she went to change into her date clothes, immediately pouncing to help with her hair, her makeup, and any last touches. Entrapta had incredible skill for eyeliner wings and they made Catra’s eyes stand out more than usual. Scorpia tamed her hair enough so it wouldn’t frizz out like a lion mane. They added a studded bracelet, ring with her birthstone, and finally a spritz of perfume.

“This is a little overdoing it, don’t you think?” Catra asked, looking at herself in the mirror. Even she didn’t believe her words. She still looked like herself. Just a little sharper, a little cleaner. Her eyes popped, her hair looked a little more stylized than its usual unruly mess, and her outfit went well together. Just the right amount of trying without looking like a different person. “Okay. What time is it?”

“Five minutes to five,” Entrapta said, positioning a runaway hair back in place. “You should get going if you don’t want to be late.”

“We’ll walk you halfway,” Scorpia offered. “You got this.”

Catra didn’t like the nervousness spreading through her limbs or the soft way her friends were looking at her. This was just a bet. She pushed her shoulders back and smirked. “Of course I do.”

--

Catra leaned against the pillar outside the bookstore, trying not to fidget too much as she waited. How long after five would be too long? It was only 5:03, but Catra kept shifting her weight, scrolling through her phone as she pretended not to note the passing time.

“Hey,” she heard. She looked up and saw Adora in a red flannel with torn white jeans. Her hair was half down, half up, allowing some of the curls to cascade around her shoulders. Apparently, she’d also undergone a touch of liner and a touch of gloss. Catra smelled something sweet and stopped herself from leaning in to smell. “Sorry I’m late. My friends… were being a little overbearing.”

“Trust me, I can relate,” Catra muttered. Adora smiled and took a breath. God how has there been generations of people doing this their whole lives? This one encounter made Catra want to go hide under her covers in PJs and binge comedies with her favorite sour candy. “Are you ready to go?” she asked instead. She had fifty dollars to win.

Adora nodded and jingled her keys. “I’m over here.” She started walking toward the parking lot, leading Catra to a white Nissan Sentra. It was awkwardly quiet as they got into the car and Adora messed with the radio so it would connect to her phone. “I listen to a lot of music, but I’ve got my indie playlist up right now. If you have anything you wanna listen to-”

“Indie’s cool,” Catra said, pretending to feel calm so she could at least have an upper hand in this stranger’s car. “So, Starbucks or the Coffee Bean?”

“Which is better? I’ve never been to Coffee Bean.”

“Mm, I like the vibes at Coffee Bean. Homey. But if you like Starbucks, that’s cool too.”

Adora hummed and turned on her GPS. “I like trying new things. Let’s do Coffee Bean.” She smiled at Catra and Catra couldn’t help the automatic smile back.

It was hard to read her. Catra was usually good at reading people, so much so that she always knew how to present herself best to have the upper hand. Always knew what to say and how to say it to get what she wanted. But with Adora, she was struggling a little more. Maybe it’s because she didn’t want to stare, or maybe it was because there was a part of her riddled with guilt that wouldn’t let her focus.

She heard a gentle voice singing along to the soothing tune of the music, a soft and fluttery sound that filled the car despite the low volume. Adora sang as though she didn’t even realize she was singing, her gaze focused on the road and the GPS directions.

“Sorry, I’m not talking,” she said suddenly, startling Catra. “I’ve never been here, so I get nervous about driving. I’ll be a little more conversational on the way back.”

“It’s cool. Your singing is keeping me entertained.” Adora flushed rapidly, making Catra smirk. It was fascinating to have this much of an effect on someone else.

Once they got to the cafe, they found a seat near a window where they could bask in the remaining sunlight before the sun set. Catra offered to pay for her, but Adora refused and paid for her own drink.

When they sat down, Catra tried to think of things to talk about, but in reality, there was one major thing clawing at the forefront of her mind. “This might be a bit forward,” she started. “But… we haven’t really talked at all even though we have class together. How did you… become interested in me?”

Catra could feel the heat fill her cheeks even as she spoke. It matched Adora’s blush, and Catra momentarily wished she hadn’t asked. But the curiosity was killing her. She wanted to know how they’d both managed to get such different perceptions of the other.

Adora tucked her hair behind her ears and bit her lip as her summer sky eyes flitted along the table. “Oh. Well…. I noticed you the first day of class. I saw your eyes when I was figuring out where I wanted to sit, but you were on your phone. The professor said your name, and it was… Catra, right?” Catra winced. “You sounded so mad when you told him to just call you Cat. I don’t know, I figured it wouldn’t really amount to anything. Pretty eyes, a cool name, so what?” Catra felt her ears burn at the compliment of her eyes. “But I also noticed how you walked with this… confidence. It was like you never cared what people thought of you, and you were so sure of yourself, people moved for you. If you came in and a group was huddled by the door, they split for you to walk past, and if someone was in your way, they just moved, and I don’t even think they noticed.”

Catra swallowed and chuckled nervously. “Seriously?”

Adora laughed and nodded. “And that’s the other thing. I don’t think you noticed either. It’s just you. It was kind of fascinating. I was so intimidated by you, you just seemed… unreachable.” Adora circled her finger around the lid of her drink, looking out the window. The sunlight made her eyes sparkle. “Also.. it’s really cool to hear you talk when we have group discussions. You talk when you have something to say, and when you talk, you… you get really passionate like you just gotta get what you have to say out in the open. Remember when that guy that sits near the front tried to refute what you were saying?” Catra nodded, though she wasn’t really recalling anything specific. “You shot him down so fast. Talked so surely, pointing out the flaws in his argument, and when you were done, no one could even try to argue back.”

Catra chuckled and ran her hand through her hair. “So… you like me because I’ve got an attitude and I have cool eyes?”

“No, no, no.” Adora shook her head, her voice steadier. “See, those moments reflect you. They told me that you know how to claim a room. Your arguments told me that you’re really smart, well-spoken, opinionated, assertive. But you’re also pretty closed off. You never talked to anyone who didn’t talk to you first. You come into class with headphones and you put them back on as soon as it’s over. So you’re probably introverted too. And most introverts are also observant.”

Catra tilted her head, amused by Adora’s analysis of her. “Well you’re pretty observant. But you don’t strike me as an introvert. You answer a lot of the professor’s questions in class. And you don’t seem shy or anything.”

Adora snorted and took a gulp of her drink, before answering. “Well…. I think Professor Hawke tries really hard to make the class bearable and no one really plays along, so I feel bad. I try to participate because no one else does.” Catra raised an eyebrow, surprised by that. No wonder Adora was constantly talking in that class. It was true; if she didn’t, then half the class would be awkward silence. “I can be both introverted and extroverted. Just depends who I’m with.” Catra nodded, mulling over the information. “So what about you? What made you take such a sudden interest in me?”

The way Adora asked that made something twist in Catra’s stomach. It was probably just her guilt, but it almost sounded like she knew it was bullshit.

She let out a humorless chuckle and shrugged. “Well, you….” Catra gulped and looked at her. Her big blue eyes were watching her steadily. The sunset made it look like her hair was glowing. Her cheeks still had a light rosy blush. She looked… really cute in that flannel shirt. It was different from her usual basic shirt and pullover sweater that Catra had noticed the past few days. But it still seemed to be her style, not like she was trying to impress or be someone she wasn’t.

A golden eyebrow quirked up in question.

“You’re really beautiful,” Catra breathed out, her heart hammering in her chest. Because she was. Catra could admit that even when she swore she hated her personality. She’d thought Adora spoke the way she did because she knew she could wrap anyone around her finger with the way she looked. But she came off as genuine. She came off as modest. Catra took a breath, forcing the heat in her body to calm down a bit. “And, you know, I noticed you would always answer things in class, so I knew you were smart. And when you came up to me and my friends, they thought you liked me, and….” Catra bit her lip, shrugging. “I kind of liked the idea of that.” Another truth. Catra did like the way it felt to know someone was interested in her. Especially someone as pretty as Adora. It just didn’t seem possible and yet, it was. It boosted her ego. “I figured I didn’t have much to lose if I asked you out.” Also true.

At least the date wasn’t filled with lies.

Catra shifted, still being watched steadily by piercing eyes. “I’m sorry that’s not as verbose as your reasons, but….” She shrugged helplessly, ducking her head so her hair could sheild her eyes.

“It’s interesting to see you like this,” Adora said softly. “I had this image of you always being so sure of yourself, and now you’re… well, a little shy.” Catra felt her body begin to tense, ready to build a wall that would keep Adora from reading her further. “It’s sweet. I’m glad you’re letting me see you like this. It’s also a relief. Makes you more human to me.” She laughed softly and looked out the window again.

She was so… honest? Open? Catra wasn’t sure how to describe it. But Adora was nothing like she’d expected, like she’d painted her out to be. At least the last half hour didn’t seem to fit with the image of her that Catra had built up over the semester.

“So you don’t like your name?” Adora asked after a moment.

Catra grimaced. “Nah. I think my parents hated me giving me a name like that.”

“Well, I think my parents adored me too much.” Catra laughed at that. “I like your name. It’s kind of exotic, but simple, you know? Still, if you’d rather I call you Cat, I will.”

Catra stared at her for a moment. Her voice was gentle as she said that. She had no idea why she was trusting this girl so much so quickly, but he next thing she said was, “If it’s just us, I don’t mind.”

Adora’s smile brightened her entire face. Her eyes softened and she looked a Catra in a way that made her have to consciously take a breath. “Got it. Catra between us. Cat around anyone else.”

Then, taking Entrapta’s advice about asking questions, Catra asked about Adora’s friends. About her major, about how she liked her classes or the school. She didn’t expect Adora to reciprocate and ask her things too. Only Adora’s were a little more inquisitive, asking about her hobbies and her favorite song at the moment or her favorite thing to eat if she was sad, her favorite flowers.

It was like playing an endless game of 20 questions, bouncing back and forth, not quite giving their full backstories, both of them shying away from too many details. Adora had a way of storytelling that made Catra mirror whatever she felt. If Adora was happy, Catra was laughing and smiling. If Adora was ranting, Catra could feel her own brow furrowed, her body tense.

She also had a way of listening. Like she was enraptured by anything Catra said whether it was a simple comment about the crappiness of school food or the complicated no-best-friend labels concept she had. Catra never doubted or wondered if Adora was listening or if she’d gotten bored at some point, because she reacted to everything in subtle ways. Her eyes would widen, her eyebrows would furrow or raise, she’d bite her lips or purse them.

Before long, it was dark out, their drinks having been empty for hours. The only reason they ended up leaving was because the cafe was closing soon. As they walked out, they were still laughing, having some petty argument about whether Twilight was worth a read or not to someone who hadn’t read them. On the drive back, they abandoned their argument and instead began singing along to the songs of their childhood, laughing as they rolled the windows down and let the music blare out to the night sky.

When they got to their campus, Adora parked and waited by the hood of the car for Catra. She kicked at the ground and tucked her hair behind her ear. “Can I walk you home?” she asked.

Catra blinked in surprise. “I live on the other side of campus. You don’t have to do that.”

“I want to. I like hanging out with you, and if I get to be with you a little longer… I don’t mind the walk.” Adora shrugged and smiled sheepishly.

The words made a burst of butterflies erupt in Catra’s chest. She gulped as she tried to stay calm. “I asked you out. Shouldn’t I be the one walking you home?”

Adora hummed, mulling that over. “Mm, no. It’s different with us. Since you asked me out, I walk you home. Next time, I’ll ask you out and you can walk me home.”

Catra raised an eyebrow, her heartbeat picking up. “There’s gonna be a next time?” she asked in a soft whisper, the words nearly swallowed by the night wind.

“If you’d like.” Catra nodded, a laugh bubbling up in her so suddenly she couldn’t stop it from slipping from her lips. “Good. Then let me walk you home.”

With a roll of her eyes, Catra nodded and started walking. Adora fell into step beside her.

The back of their hands brushed and Catra felt her breath catch. In the corner of her eye, she saw Adora tense. Biting her lip, Catra let her pinky stick out, almost hooking with Adora’s. She felt Adora’s hand twitch towards her. Both of them were too quiet to even pretend they didn’t know what was happening. Both were blushing furiously, trying to figure out if the other really wanted this. Until their fingers slowly wove together.

Their nervous giggles filled the night. They didn’t comment on the hand-holding. It was easier that way. Easier to just let it happen and keep walking, keep talking. They talked about nothing in particular, too nervous to really talk in depth about anything like they had all evening.

Catra looked at their shadows as they walked, and she couldn’t help but wonder what others thought they looked like together. Catra with her dark colors, wild hair, and steady glare for any strangers that passed. Adora with her yellow hair, bright eyes, and kind smile, much friendlier.

It wasn’t until they reached her dorm room door that the nervous jitters spiked again. Wasn’t there usually a kiss at the end of dates? Did she want to do that? Did Adora? Would it be her first kiss too? A slew of curses rang through Catra’s head.

“I know the date wasn’t all that eventful-”

“Hey, no,” Adora interrupted. “I loved it. It was a perfect first date. I’m glad you asked me.” She smiled and squeezed Catra’s hand slightly. “If I’m honest, I never thought this would happen.”

Catra hummed and looked at Adora, taking in the way sleepiness was creeping into her eyes, making them somehow a softer shade of blue, the way her voice dropped to a whisper in the quiet hallway. “Well, I had a good time too,” she answered. “And I look forward to next time.”

Adora smiled brightly, swinging their hands together playfully. “I guess I should get home. Um. Sleep tight, Catra.” She leaned forward, making Catra panic for a moment. But her lips only pressed softly to the tip of her nose. The she let go of her hand and started to walk down the hall.

Meanwhile, Catra felt her thoughts short-circuit. The tip of her nose buzzed lightly. She fumbled for the door handle and stumbled over her feet to get inside. The flash of Adora’s smile and the way her eyes sparkled when she laughed and the ghost of her hand and the light press of her lips on her nose were swirling through Catra’s head.

Even as she stared at herself in the mirror, she could tell she was totally dazed. She just didn’t mind it.

She stripped down and put on a loose shirt for bed, wiped her makeup off with lotion and toilet paper, brushed her teeth, and settled into her bed, bringing the covers around her tightly. She had a giddy feeling in her bones. She already couldn’t wait to see Adora again.

--

Catra woke up to her phone ringing. She let her hand fumble around her bed, looking for it. When her hands came across the smooth surface of her screen, she swiped blindly and pulled her phone to her ear.

“What?” she grumbled, refusing to open her eyes.

“How are you so bad at math that you can’t even tell the length of an hour?” Scorpia.

“What?”

A full laugh resonated on the other end. “What time did you get home yesterday?”

She made a noncommittal sound, equivalent to a barely mumbled I dunno. “The cafe was closing when we left so it was probably close to midnight.”

“I take it I can keep my money then?”

Catra’s eyes flew open. The memories of the night before flood her brain. Smiles, laughter, giggling, handholding, a kiss on the nose, jitters, the flirting over the table, the conversations. She gulped and turned to face her ceiling. “Absolutely not!” She was talking, but it her brain wasn’t processing it. “I didn’t come out of that date liking her!” God she’d looked so pretty, Catra had no idea how she managed to keep from sounding like a bumbling idiot last night. “I want my damn money, Scorpia!”

“Oh please!”

Okay. So not getting fifty dollars wasn’t a big deal. And realizing Adora was actually pretty cool and funny and pretty wasn’t a bad thing either. Especially with the way Catra’s heart fluttered thinking of a second date.

But it was the smugness of Scorpia’s voice. It was the fact that she was so hellbent on proving Catra wrong. Catra wanted to win, wanted to believe she knew herself better than her friends, and if that meant bullshitting them about who she liked or didn’t like, then so be it.

“She’s annoying! She’s chatty and she’s….” Catra couldn’t even remember the negative things she’d said before because none of it fit her. Adora was kind and observant and honest and genuine. The silence on the phone was broken by Scorpia’s snort. “I mean it!” Catra growled. “You owe me fifty bucks for enduring so many hours of one on one with her.”

“Did you get another date?”

“Yeah. Because I want another fifty. You lost, Scorpia.”

“Sure, sure. Are we meeting up for homework today? You know Entrapta hates when we're late.”

Catra checked the time and figured she had enough time to shower, change, and still be punctual enough for Entrapta. “Yeah, I'll meet you guys there.” She hung up and flopped back on her bed staring at the ceiling. “I hate Adora,” she muttered as she began to smile. “She shouldn't have been able to make me like her so fast.” She shut her eyes and sighed as last night's memories flooded over her.

She touched a finger to her nose, feeling herself blush in the empty room.

So maybe Scorpia was right. And yeah, Adora was fun to be with. The way she saw Catra was like… like she was seeing the best parts, parts Catra herself hadn't even known existed. Catra wanted to live up to Adora's view of her. She wanted Adora to keep liking her. Even though Catra hadn't really known her before, after their date, it felt like they'd been friends forever.

She had no idea if she was girlfriend material, but she wanted to keep seeing her. She wanted another date.

Even once she'd showered and left her dorm, she noticed she half expected to run into Adora. Every blonde ponytail, every red shirt or sweater made her do a double take, only to chide herself for it when it wasn't her.

Once she was at the cafe with her homework out along with her friends, Entrapta regarded her and said, “Interesting.”

Catra raised an eyebrow. “What?”

“You’re not telling us about the date.”

Catra rolled her eyes. “Correct. Because I didn’t enjoy it, and I don’t like her. Speaking of, pay up, Scorpia.”

As Scorpia pulled her phone out to Venmo the money, Entrapta twirled the end of one of her ponytails around her fingers. She looked at Catra like someone decoding an encryption. “Right, but if that were the case, you would’ve been ranting to us about how annoying she is like you do every time you get out of the class you have with her.” Catra stared at her wordlessly. “Typically if it went well, you’d also be rambling about what a great time you had. But you’re not doing either. Considering how well we know you and the bet, it’s like you’re keeping something to yourself.” She pushed her glasses up her nose and tilted her head. “Which makes me all the more curious. What happened last night?”

“Nothing. We went for coffee, talked, I kept it nice enough to get another date for the money. Scorpia was wrong and I was right.” Catra ducked her head to keep doing her homework. She wondered if her friends would tease her for getting a crush so quickly. Or how badly Scorpia would rub it in her face if she knew she’d been right.

It was Adora’s fault. She was ridiculously cute, and that just wasn’t fair.

“Well, look who it is,” Scorpia said.

Catra’s head snapped up and her eyes immediately locked on that head of long blonde waves bunched up in a ponytail. She was wearing a hoodie and jeans as she walked with some guy- Bo, if it was the friend she’d mentioned last night- and Glimmer. Two of her closest friends. When she talked about them, Catra noticed her eyes would brighten.

“Should we call her over?” Entrapta questioned.

“No!” Catra felt her heart begin to race and her face heat up. “She’ll come over here if she notices us, leave her alone, pretend we didn’t notice her.” Scorpia and Entrapta looked at Catra in shock, but at least did what she said. Catra couldn’t help but look up now and then to see if Adora would see them.

At one point, Glimmer was looking over and caught Catra’s glance. Caught, she had no choice but to meekly wave and try not to panic when Glimmer gestured and Adora turned. That pretty smile spread on her lips along with a cute little blush that triggered Catra’s own smile.

The trio walked over and Catra was very aware of her friends looking at her, but she chose to ignore it.

“Hey, Adora,” she greeted when they reached the table.

“Hey! I was just talking about you.”

“You were?” Catra asked in surprise.

“All. Morning. Long,” Glimmer added. Adora elbowed her hard enough to bump her into Bo, but Catra could only stifle a giggle and bite back a smile. When she looked up, Scorpia and Entrapta were staring at her with wide eyes.

“Anyway, I was hoping I’d run into you. I think it’d be easier to plan a second date if I had your number.” Adora was turning red up to her ears, but her words were steady.

Catra gulped and nervously ran her hand through her hair. “Okay, yeah! Um, here.” She handed Adora her phone and took hers to put her own number in.

Once they’d exchanged numbers, they smiled at each other like dorks until Scorpia cleared her throat. “Anyway, I’m Lauren.”

“I’m Christine,” Entrapta added with a slight wave. Bo and Glimmer introduced themselves.

“Hey, the movie is gonna start soon, so we should get going,” Bo said, giving Catra an apologetic smile.

“Okay, yeah, we should go. I’ll text you?” Catra nodded and Adora smiled. She left with her friends and Catra followed with her eyes until they were out of sight.

Suddenly a hand being slapped against the table made her jump and she let out a surprised shriek. Scorpia raised an eyebrow. “You fucking giggled.” Catra stared at her, frozen. “You never giggle. You pride yourself on the fact that you don’t giggle.”

“You look different when you look at her,” Entrapta said.

Catra gulped and felt her urge to build a defense spike. “You two are just seeing things you want to see. As for the giggle, I’m just good at pretending, okay?”

“You’re shit at pretending!” Scorpia exclaimed.

Entrapta nodded. “You couldn’t even bother to spare my feelings when I tried making cookies from scratch. You don’t pretend very well.” Catra scowled, but didn’t say anything. “You do like her, don’t you?”

“It’s been one date! That’s not gonna erase all the dislike I had for her all semester.”

“That was past tense,” Entrapta noted. Catra scowled again. She hated how well Entrapta could read her and catch onto absolutely anything.

“I don’t like her.” Catra took a breath and looked at them both. “Look, I’ll go on one more date and this whole thing will be over, okay? It’s a stupid bet, and that’s all. Now can we focus? I have a test in my philosophy class that I really can’t fail.” She didn’t wait for their answers before she refocused on her homework.

One more date and it would all be over.

--

Catra and Adora couldn’t find free time until the following weekend. So the week was spent texting each other constantly, sneaking smiles and waves during class, taking the long way around to be able to walk together after their class, and the occasional meet up before their class together.

Being around Adora felt like it gave Catra a moment to relax. She wasn’t closing herself off to strangers walking by, she wasn’t trying to remind herself not to let her too close, she wasn’t waiting on Adora to suddenly turn on her and strike. She could just… be. Similar to what she felt around Scorpia and Entrapta, but with butterflies and hand holding added to the mix.

By their next date, Catra felt even more nervous than she had on the first. Because this one would be… real in a way. This one… Catra was well aware of the fact that she did like Adora. This would be a serious date, not just a bet.

That guilty voice was back in her brain and it made it even harder to focus.

She took a deep breath and stared at herself in the mirror. She hadn’t told Entrapta and Scorpia that her second date was today. She didn’t want them to try helping like they had for the first one and realizing how much more weight this date had. At this point, it wasn’t even so much that she didn’t want to be wrong it was… that she was embarrassed about how insistent she’d been about not liking Adora. She didn’t want I told you so or teasing. She was too deep in her own lie, and now she was scared to find a way out.

She made her way downstairs when Adora texted her that she was parked by the entrance of the dorm hall. She slid into the passenger seat and tried to calm her nerves. Adora’s smile helped a bit.

It wasn’t supposed to be anything fancy. They were just going to take a walk at a park downtown that was already decorated with Christmas lights and tinsel. With the way the sun set so early, the lights would be on by six.

Catra liked that about Adora. She found excitement in simple things like walks in a park and coffee. And as they started walking, she saw the wonder on her face, the pure joy at the various lights and the feeling of the holidays nearing in the air. The cold wind made her cheeks and the tip of her nose red within a few minutes of walking.

Similar to before, their hands found each other in a slow, tentative way that had them both stammering and laughing before their hands clasped together certainly.

Adora took a lot of pictures on her phone, of the scenery, of Catra, of them both. They sat at a bench with a cup of hot chocolate from a little stand once they got too cold to keep walking.

“So how long have you know Christine and Lauren for? They’re your best friends, right?”

Catra sipped her chocolate. “I call them Entrapta and Scorpia,” she said. Adora furrowed her eyebrows, so Catra started explaining their little pact about weird names. “But yeah I've known them since my first semester freshman year. About halfway through. As for best friends… I don’t know, I guess.” Adora raised an eyebrow. Catra sighed. “I just… I just call them my friends. I don’t know about best friends. In the past, any time I got that close to someone, something would happen and they’d go away. We’d have a fall out or I’d realize they were toxic or something.” She tapped her finger against the side of the cup and shrugged. “It’s happened so often I’ve started to wonder if I’m the toxic one.”

“Catra….” The way Adora said her name sent chills down her spine. “Hey, you can’t always be scared to let people in. I mean, taking them as an example, you might not call them best friends, but the way you guys act together- based off what stories you’ve told me- that’s what they are. I mean, come on you guys have a nickname pact,” she said with a light laugh. “And even if you just call them friends, if anything were ever to happen, it would have the effect it would if you did label them as best friends. The term is just that- a label. The actions and trust is what matters most.” Adora placed a hand over Catra’s, stopping the tapping. “As for being toxic, I don’t think that’s true. You’re not a bad person. You’re not toxic. But as people, we grow, and sometimes that means we grow out of relationships with other people. It’s a good thing, usually. For example, if you hadn’t lost those people before, do you think Lauren and Christine would have the roles they have in your life now?”

Catra thought about that and shook her head. “No, probably not.” She smiled at Adora and scoffed. “How do you always see the good things?” Adora simply smiled back, making butterflies burst in her stomach. But then her words echoed.

You’re not a bad person.

A bad person. A person who takes a bet on someone else’s feelings. A person who continues the bet out of pride and a need to be right. A person who lied. To Adora, to her friends, to herself. Wasn’t that a bad person?

“What are you thinking?” Adora asked.

Catra clenched her jaw and shook her head. “Nothin’ just… thinking about what you said.” She knew she had to tell Adora. She didn’t want this date to be the end of everything. She owed it to Adora. She just didn’t know when…. “Come on, I think they’re having performances at that stage over there.” She took Adora’s hand and led her to a grassy hill with a crowd of people waiting for whatever event would start on the small stage.

Sure enough, a variety of dances were performed on the stage, captivating Adora’s interest almost immediately. Catra scooted closer to her, taking a risk as she leaned her head against Adora’s shoulder. She felt Adora’s grip tighten on her hand, the gentle press of her cheek against the crown of her head as she leaned onto Catra.

They left halfway through the performances because the park would close soon, which meant traffic, and the wind was getting colder which wouldn’t help their walk back to the car.

It was quiet as they returned to the car. But before Catra could get in, Adora pulled her aside and looked her in the eyes.

“You okay?” Catra nodded. “It’s okay if you’re not.” Catra clenched her jaw and scoffed, forcing a smile on her face. “Catra?”

“I’m alright. Or, I will be.”

“Did I upset you?”

“No! No, no, no, not at all, Adora. I….” She sighed and leaned her head against Adora’s. “It’s complicated.”

“Okay. If you don’t want to talk about it right now, that’s okay. But hey.” Catra pulled back and looked at her. “Did you have fun today at least?”

Catra smiled and nodded, stepping closer to wrap her arms around Adora’s waist and hide her face in the crook her neck. She probably didn’t have a right to do this, not until she told Adora the truth. But she wanted to enjoy it while she could. “I like being with you,” Catra admitted. Adora laughed softly and wrapped her arms around her too. “Also, it’s my turn to walk you, so don’t even think about dropping me off at my dorm.”

That made Adora laugh harder and she let go, nudging Catra playfully.

This time on the ride back, instead of singing at the top of their lungs, Catra just enjoyed listening to Adora sing along to the music. She felt melancholic, like she had to commit it all to memory. It was like Adora said. She hadn’t given this a label, but the prospect of losing whatever this was still made Catra feel like her heart was collapsing.

Once they parked and got out of the car, Catra took her hand and let Adora lead the way to her dorm. She wasn’t sure what to say if Adora asked for a third date. She wanted one, of course. But she would have to tell her the truth before it. Which made her wonder if she should even say yes in the first place.

“When I was a freshman,” Adora said, pulling Catra back to the present, “I used to go to the apartments on campus and climb up to the roofs to look at the stars. There’s not many, but I love watching the wisps of clouds, especially on a full moon.”

“I bet they’d look nicer away from the city,” Catra said softly. Adora nodded, looking wistfully up at the sky.

When they reached her dorm, Adora turned to her with a gentle smile and soothing blue eyes. “I had fun today,” she said. “I’ll send you the pictures I took once I charge my phone up a bit.” Catra nodded.

They stared at each other, neither wanting the moment to end. Catra wanted to hold onto this. She wanted to stay in this in-between moment with her where bets and teasing and secrets didn’t matter because it was just the two of them in a hallway, not wanting to say goodnight yet.

And then Adora’s eyes dropped to Catra’s lips. A blush dusted along her cheeks, no longer from the cold. Catra’s heart began to pound so loud she couldn’t think of anything else. She was drawn to her like a magnet, encouraged by the flutter of Adora’s eyes as she closed them and began to lean in.

But Catra had done enough damage. She pulled back before their lips could even brush and squeezed her eyes shut. “Adora….” Silence. She opened her eyes to see Adora staring at her with wide eyes and a beet-red face. Catra gulped and took a step back. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I… I have to tell you something.”

“Um. Okay?” Adora crossed her arms and stared at her expectantly, biting her lip anxiously. “What is it?”

Fuck.

Catra took a deep breath and forced herself to keep her eyes on Adora. She wouldn’t be a coward and look away. Adora deserved the truth, and Catra had no right to try and hide from it.

“Um. The thing is…. Okay. I kind of… hated you before we started talking. I… I thought all these things about you that weren’t even true at all, I mean I didn’t know you. And after our first date, I realized I was completely wrong, and that you’re actually amazing and-”

“Wait. If you didn’t like me until our date, then… why did you ask me out?” Catra stared at her, unable to form the words. Adora’s expression changed, her eyes icy and sharp. She stepped forward, and Catra stepped back. “Why did you ask me out?” she repeated in a low voice.

“Because Scorpia said she’d pay fifty dollars if I did and still didn’t like you by the end of it.” Adora’s anger melted. It turned into shock and then disbelief and then hurt. The emotions flickering across her face each felt like a slap in the face. “She said I would like you if I gave you a chance, and I didn’t think that could ever happen, and then Scorpia made it a bet, and I took it, but I was wrong, okay? And she was right, I’ve been ridiculously into you since our first date, and I-”

“Why did you drag this out?” Adora yelled, her voice echoing down the hall. “You got your stupid date, why have a second? Why did you-?” She scowled and raised her hands up as Catra started to speak. “I don’t want to know. I don’t want to hear what you have to say.” She turned to her door and flinched when Catra reached for her. “Leave me alone,” she snapped. She went into her dorm and slammed the door shut.

Catra felt like she was going to puke. She wanted to beg Adora to let her explain, to let her apologize. She would do anything to get Adora to believe her when she said she liked her. She wanted to talk through her door until Adora opened it and forgave her. But she knew Adora wouldn’t open the door, knew she wouldn’t want to listen to her at that moment. She knew being there would amount to nothing.

So she pulled herself away and held herself together long enough to make it to Entrapta’s dorm, one floor down. As soon as she opened the door, Catra collapsed into her arms.

“Oh! Oh God, what happened?” Entrapta walked her to the couch and let her curl up on her lap. “Let me get a hold of Scorpia. Do you want water? Are you hungry?” Catra shook her head and burrowed further into her, hating the silent tears falling down her face.

Within ten minutes, there was a knock on the door and Entrapta called that it was open. Scorpia came in, eyes wide, her entire body tense. “What happened? Are you hurt?”

“No, I’m not,” Catra mumbled. She pulled herself into a sitting position and took comfort in the way her friends encompassed her. “I told Adora about the bet.”

It was silent for a moment. Then Entrapta started stroking her hair. “She’ll forgive you, Catra.”

She shook her head, pressing her hands to her eyes to try and stop the tears. “She will,” Scorpia said. “Because you like her, and anyone with common sense could see that. Even if you didn’t admit it.”

“I did. Just not to you guys.”

Entrapta’s hand stopped. “Why?”

She sniffed and put a hand to her forehead. “Because I didn’t want you guys teasing me about how I was wrong and-”

“Wait, hey!” Scorpia tilted Catra’s face toward her. “Don’t get me wrong, I would’ve definitely relished the fact that I was right. But I wouldn’t have done it to the point where I’d make you feel bad. We’re your best friends, Catra. We’ve been excited for you.”

“We knew you like her. It was obvious with the way you acted when she was around. And you’d be all smiley when you met with us after talking or walking with her. We’re not dumb.” Catra rolled her eyes. “And I’m sure Adora knows that too.”

Catra felt a hard pinch on her arm and she yelped. “But you better not just give up!” Scorpia scolded. “Don’t just mope about her being mad at you. Get your ass up and apologize and find her and talk to her. Just don’t push boundaries, but you know, try. The good thing is you told her; she didn’t find out from someone else or something. You were honest with her.” Scorpia wiped her cheek and sighed. “If you like her so much, why did you bother telling her anyway?”

“She has a right to know. It didn’t feel right to keep it from her.” Catra groaned and leaned against Entrapta. “Do you really think she can forgive me for this? I placed a bet on her feelings.”

“Technically Scorpia placed the bet. You accepted it.” They both looked at her with a blank expression. “I’m just saying.”

“Yes, we both think she will forgive you. Maybe not easily, but she will,” Scorpia said. She hugged Catra tightly, and Entrapta kept running her hand through her hair, both of their presences soothing. It was a little easier to breathe.

--

Despite spending the entire weekend in the cafe, Catra never saw Adora. She tried her room, but her knocks went unanswered. As did her calls and her texts.

Even for their class together, Adora arrived at the last minute to keep from having to talk to Catra. But her eyes narrowed at the sight of a yellow lily on Catra’s desk.

By the end of class, Catra was chasing after her because she'd zipped out of class almost immediately.

“Adora, please-”

She turned around, her blue eyes filled with fury. “Leave me alone!”

“Two minutes. Two minutes to explain-” Adora rolled her eyes and kept walking. Catra followed after her. “Adora, I know what I did was wrong, okay, and I'm sorry that's how this started.” It was like Adora hadn't heard her. “I wouldn't take it back though.”

That made her stop. She turned to Catra, eyes narrowed into a scowl that didn't fit on her face. “What? You… you fuck with my feelings, you pretend to like me, and you're telling me to my face that you wouldn't take it back?” Her voice became stronger, louder as she talked, but Catra wasn't backing down.

“No, I wouldn't,” she answered, resolute. “Because if I hadn't taken that stupid bet, knowing me, I never would've gotten a chance to know you. To actually start liking you.” Adora stared at her, not as malicious, but still wary. “I thought I knew what you were like. I figured what the hell, it wouldn't hurt you to have a couple bad dates with me-”

“A couple?” Adora's eyes began to glisten. “The second one was a lie too?”

“No. And the first one…. This is my point, Adora. I didn't think we would become anything serious, I didn't think it would matter. But that changed on the first date. When you told me what you thought of me, like I was so much better than I see myself, and yeah, maybe you wanna take that all back now, but…. I do like you, Adora. Maybe not for as long as you've liked me, but I do. And I want to fix this, because…. I can't get you out of my head. From that first date, I was… I was head over heels for you. I didn't know how to tell you the truth, then we almost kissed and I couldn't…. I didn't want to do that to you, I… I knew I had to tell you.”

Adora's expression remained stoic, her jaw clenched as she stared Catra down. “How am I supposed to trust you, Catra?”

She felt her heart breaking further the longer she failed to have an answer to that question. She risked a step forward and took a deep breath, trying to get Adora to see how much she meant everything she said. “I don't know. Maybe you shouldn't. But I'll do whatever it takes to gain your trust back. I know it was stupid. I know I should have told you sooner, but I… I panicked, I don't know. It's no excuse, I know that. But if you give me another chance…. I promise I won't hurt you again. I won't lie to you or hide things, I won't make stupid bets. And I'll give Scoria her money back-”

“I don't care about the money,” Adora snapped. “I just….” She sighed and looked at the flower in Catra’s nervous hands. “I believe you. That you're sorry. But… I don't know about another chance. I… I have to think about it. Please just… give me some space.”

She turned and walked away, leaving Catra to stare after her. If she believed her… did that mean she forgave her? And if she didn't get another chance, did that mean they couldn't even be friends?

The more she thought about it, the less likely it seemed Adora would let her start over. Catra sure as hell wouldn't give someone a second glance much less a chance if someone did what she'd done to Adora to her.

Catra wasn't sure what she was supposed to do, except respect Adora's need for space. No texts, no calls, no dorm visits…. Just waiting.

--

She waited almost two weeks. Two weeks of her panicking and switching between this is so stupid to what if she never talks to me again again and again. Two weeks of her rambling and venting to Scorpia and Entrapta who listened, however tired they were of the repetition. Two weeks of fighting the urge to just go talk to Adora again.

And then, by some miracle, Adora went up to her after class on a Thursday. Her hair was up in her usual high ponytail, her face a soft scarlet, but most importantly, her eyes were a soft morning sky blue.

“Can we talk?” Catra nodded and followed her. It was silent for a long time. Catra wasn't sure if she was supposed to talk first or keep waiting. Finally, Adora had some pity on her. “Thanks for giving me time. I know you're not a patient person.” Catra responded with a pained smile. “Lauren- or, I guess Scorpia- talked to me.”

That information made Catra freeze and panic. “What? I didn't tell her to, I swear-”

“I know, I know!” Adora assured. “Easy. She told me she came on her own. She apologized for making the bet in the first place. And she told me that… you were different when you were with me. That I should just trust her when she said she knew you liked me and stuff.” Adora blushed deeper, but Catra couldn't even admire it. She was freaking out and her heart wouldn't slow down.

Adora gestured to a stone bench and they sat down, half facing each other. She took a breath and tucked a stray strand of golden hair behind her ear. “I believe you, Catra. When you say you do like me and that you're sorry. But it's kind of hard to get over the fact that I was a bet.”

“I know,” Catra said softly. “But if you don't want to try again, would it be okay if we were friends? I don't want to go back to being strangers….”

Adora looked at her, slightly surprised. Then her face softened into a smile. “I didn't say I didn't want to try again. I thought about it, and… I think it says something that you told me the truth, even though you didn't have to. And before I could kiss you. And it meant a lot that you gave me my space. I also knew a lot of the things we talked about on those dates couldn't be lies. I do still like you, Catra. It's just…. This is probably going to go a lot slower.”

“W- which means?”

Adora bit her lip and shrugged. “Maybe we can start with some group hangouts and walking to class together. Put a pause on the dates.” Catra felt the tension melt from her shoulders as she slouched, understanding what Adora wanted. “Bo, Glimmer, and I were going to have a movie night to watch some Marvel stuff. You could come and invite Scorpia and Entrapta. Uh, is it okay if I call them that?”

Catra chuckled and shrugged. “I don't mind. I'll tell them. We'll be there.” She reached forward to tuck that stubborn stray hair back again for her. “And I'll do things right this time, Adora.”

Adora blushed and smiled. There was a slight tension between them still, with that remnant of a fall out and alongside the magnetic pull that made them want to try again.

--

The most unexpected part of everything was that by spring semester, Catra’s friend group had doubled. There had been a few study groups and movie nights before winter break, and over the holidays, they all stayed in a group chat. It was a little frustrating that they could never all be on it at the same time, and sometime Catra had over 50 messages to catch up on, but by the time the spring semester started, their get togethers were natural.

It wasn’t so much “are we going to meet up today?” as it was more of “what are we doing tonight?” All the get togethers only made Catra fall for Adora more and more.

It was starting to drive their friends nuts, the game they were playing. They both liked each other, and they both knew it, they just… never did anything about it. Entrapta took it upon herself to point out any time they flirted which only made them blush, and Scorpia kept poking at Catra to ask Adora out. Catra was sure Adora was dealing with her own little encouragements from Bo and Glimmer.

One night, Glimmer hosted a movie night. Scorpia and Entrapta had already left and Bo was passed out on Glimmer’s couch. When Catra decided to leave, Adora offered to walk her home. Catra of course took her up on her offer.

She was careful to keep her hands to herself, and they filled the walk with idle comments about the change in weather, the professors they had this semester, the homework they had procrastinated. It wasn’t until they reach Catra’s dorm that Adora hesitated.

“You okay?” Catra asked.

“Yeah. It’s just… I guess….” She took a deep breath, her face turning the color of her jacket. Catra bit her lip and took her hand slowly. Adora smiled and looked at her nervously. “You know I like you, right?” Catra smiled, her own blush dusting its way along her cheeks. She nodded slowly. “Well… I’m gonna go on a limb here and assume you like me too?” Catra smile wider, nodding again. Adora stepped closer, twirling a strand of Catra’s unruly hair between her fingers. “Do you think you think we could try this dating thing? Preferably as girlfriends?”

Catra giggled and leaned in close enough for their noses to bump. “You really want to? You’re totally sure you want me as your girlfriend? I’m a leather-loving gay disaster.” Adora laughed and nodded, biting her lip nervously. “Then hell yeah.”

Adora beamed and took Catra’s chin in her hand, pulling her in for a kiss that was long overdue.