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No Hard Feelings

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Catra hates the Whispering Woods.

Growing up, the woods were fuel on the kindling of her nightmares. Whenever she and Adora got into trouble, Shadow Weaver would threaten to abandon her there. The forest, which was but a smudge of purple on the horizon if viewed from the highest building in the Fright Zone, would loom large and foreboding in her dreams. Full of every horror Shadow Weaver had promised would befall her for her failures.

That hatred had only worsened as she aged. The endless training exercises cadets were put through were often staged inside a holo-reproduction of the woods, and never failed to leave her rattled. Catra had learned to hide the cold sweats and shaking hands that caused her; if Adora knew she’d offer comfort, but that made her feel weak. Inadequate. Second best.

And the other cadets - Lonnie in particular - were always watching for a misstep. It was the way of the Horde, and while Catra understood it, she couldn’t say she liked it. Especially when she became the target.

Her hate, however, is now quickly turning to unease.

The woods are dead.

She pauses by the trunk of a tree that before Entrapta’s tinkering with the Black Garnet, had towered well above the rest. The top has broken off and crashed to the ground, and the unnatural cold fogging her breath has split open what part of it still stands. Catra has heard that lightning can do that to a tree, and the storm they unleashed on the woods was violent enough. The sky above her head is clearing up, but a new wave of clouds is amassing over the Fright Zone and lightning still occasionally rips through the new storm front.

However, it was no lightning that damaged this tree or the ones surrounding it.

Peering at the trunk more closely, Catra notices that the sap within is frozen solid. 

The forest between her and Brightmoon looks much the same, resin turned icy by the chill shining from the gashes in the wood.

A few roots and branches are entirely encased in thick layers of ice. The overall effect is almost pretty, the forks of lightning flashing through the cloud cover reflected off of the frost-covered surfaces, but Catra finds the stillness that reigns among the undergrowth deeply unsettling.

Before Entrapta’s “experiment” the forest had been in constant motion. As soon as you weren’t paying attention trees would shift, blocking one path just to open another, and animals scurried everywhere in search of food - a part fulfilled by unwilling Horde patrols on more than one occasion.

Then, there was the ceaseless whispering from which the woods took their name. It was the sigh of wind among the canopy of trees and yet, if one listened closely enough, they would discover words beneath the quiet rustle. The effect had played havoc with Catra’s hypersensitive hearing but, now that it’s gone, the void it left behind is somehow worse.

Now there’s nothing blotting out the sound of her own thoughts.  

Suppressing a shiver, Catra claws her way up the damaged tree, bits of bark showering the ground in her wake. Halfway up she stops, and directs her attention toward Bright Moon.

Without the forest’s magical protection the fortress is laughably easy to find, and the Moonstone, which had been a beacon of hope for its people, now doubles as a target for the Horde. The way to the rebel base of operations has been revealed, and eventually, the Horde will conquer the castle. Adora may have won the day, but Catra will win this war. Next time she’ll bring the Runestone back to Hordak and then...

“Oh, crap.”

One of the Horde’s robots comes crashing through the undergrowth. It’s massive - possibly the biggest Entrapta managed to build thus far - and whenever one of its spindly legs strikes the ground a vibration travels through the tree trunk. Bluish arcs of electricity spark off of the tan colored metal plating and the red lens at its front - which functions as an eye – is shattered beyond repair, having been pierced through by an arrow.

Slow in recognizing the danger, Catra springs from her perch a split second too late; with a shriek that sounds surprisingly organic, the robot barrels into “her” tree, and finishing the job the storm had started, tips it over for good.

“Oh, CRAP !”

It’s a short drop to the ground, but a painful one. Catra tries to twist around mid-air, but the contraption struck the tree at an angle and she meets the forest-floor shoulder first. Something sharp – a fallen branch perhaps – digs into her side, drawing blood.

Senses jarred, Catra rolls onto her back, her mouth full of grit and fallen leaves. It takes several moments before she can blink through the veil of tears obscuring her vision, and some more to breathe with a semblance of normalcy again.

The time she needs to regain her bearings almost costs Catra her life.

Blinded and enraged, the Horde robot lashes out, the close quarters flamethrower mounted beneath its shattered eye coming to life with a belch of bubbling fuel.

Catra throws herself to the side, screaming when the motion pulls at her torn flesh. Bright orange flames fill the spot she’d been laying on, and more destruction is visited upon the already ravaged forest. The hot stink of exhaust fumes replaces the lung-freezing cold, and the robot lumbers forward, its damaged sensors having tagged Catra as an enemy.

“Stop!” She picks up a rock and throws it at the thing in fury. The robot lets out another bellow and brings the flamethrower to bear. “I order you to stop!”

Viscous fluids leak from its underbelly where the plating has been shorn off, and a tangle of cables trails in its wake, slicked by motor oil like so much viscera.

The robot, Catra realizes, is in its death throes. Normally, she’d go in for the kill, using her speed to dart between its spidery legs and tear the rest of the cabling out, but wounded as she is, that would be suicide.

She picks up a second rock, but before she can aim properly another bout of flames forces Catra to jump back. Her throw is wild, uncoordinated, and the rock sails harmlessly into the trees, missing its intended target by several meters.

The comm-bead in her ear crackles to life, the feed so laced with static that only scattered reports get through. Everyone reports encounters similar to hers, but the words are so garbled Catra can’t make sense of what’s going on.

There’s no time to find out anyway. Whether it’s their own machines gone rogue, or fresh Brightmoon forces they knew nothing of; the robot Catra faces is closing in, and nobody is coming to her rescue. 

Not that she’d expect it. The Horde doesn’t care much for casualties. 

It chafes her to admit it, but her only option is to run.

She sprints for cover, but her retreat is more of a haphazard stumble. Bones grind inside her chest whenever she moves – a broken rib or two – and her uniform is wet with blood.

The Horde’s attack may have gravely injured the forest, but that doesn’t make for easy going. Panting, Catra forges on, feet slipping on the ice covered ground, toes bruised by jagged rocks and gnarled roots. Before long, new cuts have opened on her arms and face where brambles lashed her skin. Behind her, she can hear the construct gaining ground, trees crashing left and right as it forces its bulk through them.

She puts on one last burst of speed and then, stupidly, risks a glance over her shoulder.

Next thing she knows she’s flying, one of the robot’s front legs spearing forward to pin her down by her tattered tunic when she hits the ground.

“Catra!”

A form clad in red and gold bolts in her direction from a copse of nearby trees, so fast it’s almost impossible to track it. Her. Track her . She-Ra.  

Catra pushes up on one elbow, staring sourly as She-Ra makes short work of the robot. She supposes she should be grateful, but seeing the ease with which She-Ra defeats her foe sparks only resentment.

“Are you okay?”

She-Ra is moving closer, close enough that Catra can see the concern pulling at her face. Those bright blue eyes, so much like Adora’s and yet so unlike her. It’s striking, really, how closely She-Ra resembles her old friend, like a distant cousin.

She-Ra’s jaw is more angular, her eyes a hard, paler blue but when her expression softens – as it’s doing now – Adora’s countenance shines through.

They remain different enough, however, that it’s easy for Catra to hate the one and miss the other.

Catra ignores She-Ra’s outstretched hand, eyes narrowed into slits and ears flattened against the sides of her head. Trying to mask the tremor in her thighs, she climbs to her feet without assistance.

“Nobody asked you to help,” she snarls, flashing her teeth. “You can leave now.”

“You’re welcome.”

She-Ra lets her hand drop, but before before anger has a chance to darken her eyes, she spots the blood staining Catra’s uniform a darker red.

“Catra, you’re bleeding!”

Golden light suffuses the clearing and She-Ra shrinks out of existence, Adora stepping forward in her place.

“Let me see.” Adora’s touch on her arm is gentle, as though she fears Catra will otherwise break.

Overcome by sensory memory, Catra staggers back, out of Adora’s reach. The woods around them disappear, replaced with the oppressive atmosphere of the barracks, deep in the Fright Zone. Despite her attempts to shut away the past, the image lingers. 

Shadow Weaver’s angered voice fills Catra’s ears, along with the sound of her own desperate sobs. She’s always crying in her past, or so it feels to her, and always hurting from the black lightning Shadow Weaver can conjure forth to punish her. Scour her skin until she howls, until she’s curled into a ball at the sorceress’ feet. Aching from head to toe, but without a bruise to show for it, to confirm it’s not all just a trick of the mind.

She finds herself struggling to breathe against the emotional rush hitting her. She tugs at her shirt, presses into her aching chest, tries to stop the waves of panic that threaten to overtake her. Everything feels far away all at once, her body numb and tingly, something like bells ringing in her ears.

Horrified, Catra registers tears dampening her cheeks. When her eyes fly open Adora is touching her again, trying to pull her into a hug.

Fuck.

“Let go of me!”

Unseeing, unthinking, Catra lashes out. Her claws open shallow lines of blood on Adora’s cheek.

“Catra wait!” Adora calls, voice thickened by anguish. 

But Catra ignores her and leaps for a gap between the trees. She doesn’t look back once, knowing she’ll find pity on Adora’s face. Catra can’t deal with it, not while she’s hurt. Not ever

Behind her, Adora yells something about her going the wrong way or something, but Catra ignores that too, and soon enough, Adora’s voice is lost in the wind.

She doesn’t need pity. 

I don’t need help . Catra bares her teeth, only partially in pain.

She doesn’t need anyone .

*****************

This part of the forest is different. 

Older, and it doesn’t want her here. 

Brightmoon has vanished from view, hidden by a wall of shifting trees, and the sounds of battle have dwindled to faint echoes. Catra has been running for hours - if the way her muscles are burning is any indication - the ground under her feet slippery with moss. 

Now, however, her pace slows. She’s completely lost. 

Under the luxuriant canopy it’s already dusk, and while her eyes have no trouble adapting, Catra is unsettled. The atmosphere is too similar to that of her childhood nightmares, the forest slowly coming awake around her. 

Small animals slither in the underbrush, disturbed by her passing. That’s lucky. Things live this deep inside the woods that could eat her whole. Most upsetting of all is the growing feeling that she’s being watched. That there’s something stalking her, just out of sight. 

Catra starts to miss the desolate emptiness of the Fright Zone. 

The waste surrounding the Horde base have their own air of wrongness about them, as though the desert and the rest of Etheria exista on planes that barely touch. But the squat, utilitarian buildings she’s lived in all her life - while fraught with danger - don’t feel so suffocating. 

Not so hot, either.

That’s strange. The air that was icy cold not long ago feels damp against her cheek, heavy with a sweltering sort of humidity. Catra smells rain in the wind, and the clouds she can glimpse overhead appear bloated with it. Great. As if getting lost wasn’t bad enough.

Still, as the first, fat drops begin to fall, she welcomes them, hoping it will cool her down. She finds a small clearing and, tilting her head up, she soaks the rain in, sniffing at the wind for some sense of direction. The heat, however, grows worse. Sparks of electricity thrum along her spine, and her blood sizzles with it. Just underneath her skin an itch is building, weird gooseflesh that races up her arms like ants and the raindrops bring only momentary reprieve. 

Her chest feels heavy, her heart beating a crazy rhythm, pumping blood through her veins as though she were still running for her life. But Catra isn’t running anymore. She’s stopped, and is leaning against a tree - completely out of breath. 

A low hanging branch snaps off to her right, and she straightens with a hiss. 

“Having fun Adora?” She spits into the shifting shadows. 

Any minute now, Adora will waltz into view with that earnest smile of hers, offering to lead her out of the woods. Catra quietly seethes at the humiliation, unwilling to admit that Adora’d be a welcome sight right about now. Her side is throbbing and sticky with congealing blood, and the strange heat makes her twitchy with nerves.  

“Rubbing it in, uh.” Crossing her arms over her breasts, Catra lounges against the tree, trying to appear nonchalant. “Isn’t that beneath you?” 

There’s no answer, but paces from where she is standing, bushes move. 

“Adora?” 

Catra edges forward, brows lowered in a frown. Sulking has always been her thing - this isn’t like her. Something’s wrong.

“Come on, Adora, I’m really tired of-” 

The bushes explode in a shower of scattered leaves and something big and fast streaks toward her.

It isn’t Adora at all.

The thing lunging across the clearing isn’t one of the Horde’s robot either. Those idiots. Can’t even tell a robot apart from whatever this is. Figures. Catra sneers contemptuously. The creature looks organic - a beetle or a spider - but it moves so fast that Catra can’t track it long enough to be sure. 

Dark, beady eyes stare at her with malice, then the monster is upon her, an enormous set of pincers snapping inches from her face. Catra swipes back, her claws meeting a moment of resistance before they pierce through the creature’s carapace, getting stuck there.

Next thing she knows, she’s being flung high into the air. She flies through the rain and the dark, the forest a shadowy blur around her. Catra can almost believe she’ll never meet the ground again, and when she does, the shock of the impact cuts the breath out of her lungs.  

She rolls head over heels through the underbrush, and only the training exercises that were drilled into her mind by her instructors save Catra from a shattered spine.  Her teeth clip her lower lip, and hot, coppery blood fills her mouth.

She’s sliding down a hill and the ground under her body – runny with mud and slicked by the downpour – offers little in the way of handholds. In the end, her tumble is stopped by jutting rock, and Catra throws her arms around it, face pressed into the scratchy surface, gasping for breath. The gun holster at her side is empty and her comm-device was lost somewhere in the high grass.

There’s only the night around her. The rain and the dark. Severed from her unit, unable to communicate with the Horde, Catra is completely alone.

Just like you wanted.

*****************

When she comes to, Catra is somewhere dry.

Her body is entirely made of pain: an indefinite number of scratches and bruises added to the steady throbbing of the gash along her side. The fiery heat she’d experienced before her run in with the creature is back too and with a vengeance. A weight somewhere in her lower belly, like molten lead. The sensation is not entirely displeasing. Still, Catra can’t figure out what caused it in the first place, so she takes her mind off of it for the time being, focusing on her injuries instead. They’re more of a pressing issue anyway.

Moving her limbs one at a time, she checks for fractures, and with full awareness comes the realization she is not alone. The pain is worse along her ribs, but when she palms her side, her fingers meet a length of cloth, tightly wound around her midriff. It smells of herbs and something else. Something painfully familiar.

A jacket has been folded as a cushion under her head, and now Catra recognizes the scent. Adora. She grimaces. Adora saved me again. How humiliating.

“You’re awake.” A voice says, from the blackness, confirming her suspicions. Catra squints into the murk, her eyes going to slits as they adjust. Normally, the process is fast and as natural as breathing, but the fall has jarred her senses. It takes a few minutes but, finally, her night vision returns, and the place Adora took her to resolves into a monochrome of grey.  

A cavern or something of the like, the entrance gaping into the night a few meters from where Catra has been resting.

“How do you feel?” There’s a rustle and Adora steps closer. She’s frowning in worry and her eyes are soft, a muted, ashen color in the gloom. Catra is annoyed by her concern. It rankles to be constantly treated like a weakling, to be underestimated by Adora and everyone else. She’s the opposite of that, thank you very much.

“I’m fine.” Before Adora can lend a helping hand she’s sitting up, grateful that Adora’s eyesight isn’t as good as hers - that way she cannot see her wince. “That thing, not so much.” Catra hates how petulant she sounds, but it’s too late to take the words back now. 

“That thing could have killed you.” Adora crouches next to her and presses a hand to her forehead. Where she touches, Catra’s skin begins to tingle. “You’re burning up, still. The cut on your side isn’t infected, you shouldn’t have a fever.”

“I said I’m fine,” Catra mumbles, strangely unwilling to break contact. “What was it anyway?” 

“I don’t know.” Adora cups her cheeks, peering into her eyes. She’s so close now that Catra can scent her directly. She half-expects a sugary fragrance - the way she imagines a princess must smell, all clean and glittery - but her nose picks the scent of exertion and oiled leather and the woods. It’s enticing, and her nostrils flare. “Many creatures live deep in the forest. Your attack must have unsettled them.” 

Her voice grows hard with reproach and Catra feels compelled to apologize. She holds back - barely.

“We were just following orders.” 

Adora pulls back, shaking her head, and Catra almost whimpers at the loss of contact. 

“You could have refused to.”

“Oh, yeah,” Catra snaps, suddenly defensive. “Next time I’ll just walk up to Hordak and tell him I don’t feel like doing what he says. I’m sure it’ll work out for me.” 

Adora tilts her head at that, and busies herself with Catra’s bandages. Her hands are warm, even through the cloth, and it dawns on Catra that she’s basically half naked. It shouldn’t fluster her at all - the barracks have communal showers and she’s been naked in Adora’s presence other times - but it does. Butterflies the size of the creature she fought with flutter in her stomach. 

“You could defect.” Adora is so quiet Catra think she’s misheard. “You could come with me to Brightmoon.” 

“And what?” Catra closes her eyes with a shudder. The tender way Adora’s touching her is tearing her apart at the seams. “Beg your new friends to let me stay?”

“You wouldn’t have to beg.” Adora’s eyes are blue again, and Catra drowns. “I would vouch for you.” 

“Why? Why would you do that? After...” Catra trails off, and mutely points at the cavern’s mouth and the night beyond.

“Because I know you, Catra. And I know you’re good.”

“You know nothing about me!”

Catra pulls away so quickly she loses her balance and falls on her back, sprawling on the rocky ground. She can’t stand the way Adora makes her feel. Dull-witted and tongue-tied, tight in the chest. So very hot.

Wait.

All at once a puzzle she’s been staring at since she got lost in the Whispering Woods falls into place. The inexplicable heat, the fluttery feeling in her chest. The wetness that even now is dripping down the inside of her thighs. The energy that originated where Adora touched, still humming through her bones.

Fuck.

It’s her heat. 

Catra knows nothing about her people - save for the fact that she’s the only one left - but there are archives stored on the Horde’s mainframe, files Shadow Weaver mentioned to her whenever she had need to motivate her. She’d dangle the chance to learn about her origins in front of Catra’s face - much like a carrot - but never actually kept the promise to grant her access. 

But, having been promoted to Force Captain, Catra didn’t need her for it anymore. As it turned out, Shadow Weaver had lied to her, and the information was nothing more than meager scraps. The encrypted folder on her species’ heats had been the only thing of note, and the words she’d scrolled through on screen don’t do the actual thing any justice. 

Catra crosses her arms across her chest, feeling despondent.

They haven’t prepared her at all.

“Catra?” Adora’s voice is the soft tone she used to lull Catra to sleep. Once upon a time, Catra had loved it. It had made her feel safe. She hates it now, with every fiber of her being. “What’s going on? Are you hurting? Let me help.” 

“You can’t help.” Catra laughs the words out, right in her face. She injects as much venom as she can into her voice, but the sound is brittle. Forced. “You can’t help me with my heat , dumbass.” 

Oh, fuck.

Catra watches horrified while the words she spat so carelessly hang in the air between them. The night has stilled, even the sounds of the rain and the distant thunder are thinned as though by distance. Her own breathing is haggard. Far too loud.

“Your...heat…?” Adora’s brows scrunch up in confusion, and Catra hates her all the more. She has no right to look this cute. This kissable. “As in…” She cuts herself off, but wiggles her fingers suggestively.

Face on fire, Catra scrambles to her knees and backs away, until she’s pressing her spine into the rock wall, at the far end of the cave. The coolness of the stone is pleasant, but not enough to douse the fires burning deep inside her. 

“I could help.” When Adora edges closer, Catra hisses, but there’s no force behind her fierce display. Just the attempt to hide the chain reaction that Adora’s suggestion has set off inside her. She tries to force it down, to bury it under her hate, but the flames of her desire consume that hastily erected barrier in an instant.

Images flood her every thought: Adora kissing her, Adora’s hands squeezing her breasts, Adora’s fingers curling against her front wall. 

She bites her lower lip bloody, but a whimper still escapes. 

“Let me help.” Adora is right in front of her, has her hands on Catra’s shoulders. Pulling her close. “I want to.” That’s what she says - what Catra hears is: I want you.

“You can’t!” She tries to shove Adora back but finds, much to her chagrin, that her fists have fastened to the front of the princess’ shirt. What’s left of it, anyway - Catra hadn’t noticed until now where her bandages come from.

She swallows, hard. 

“Why?”

Because I love you .

Catra wants to snarl at the longing in her chest. Her jaw locks stubbornly, her teeth grinding themselves into an early grave. She won’t give in. She won’t.

“Because I hate you!” 

“You don’t.” Adora’s smile is glowing faintly in the half-dark. “But you hate She-Ra. Maybe she should help.” 

Before Catra can think of a scathing reply, a familiar, golden light fills up the cave. She wants to turn her eyes away, but can’t. Adora’s transformation should be old news to her by now, but it isn’t.

It’s a pocket of sunlight that’s found its way between dense, snow-burdened pines. Maybe the untenable warmth isn’t so much a by product of her heat as it is caused by Adora’s nearness. After all, Adora had always been the best of them, she’d always shone the brightest. Catra just wishes she could have kept that sliver of light for herself. 

Without it, without Adora, it is so very dark. 

The otherworldly light dims and She-Ra steps into her space. Fleeing to the back of the cave hadn’t been her best idea - Catra is cornered. 

The heat in her belly has coalesced into a wound-up coil, ready to be let loose. Catra wils it to go away, even though she instinctively knows it won’t - not without help. 

She-ra grasps her shoulders firmly, and where she touches her skin prickles. She feels scalded on the inside, betrayed by her own body. Her pulse pounds between her thighs. 

“Tell me you don’t want this,” She-Ra whispers in her ear, low with authority. “Tell me you don’t want me and I’ll back off.”

“I…” Catra fumbles for denial, but the words elude her. She-Ra’s calloused hands feel so good on her. So strong. She’s wet enough that a puddle ought to be forming on the floor at her feet. “I…” 

Fine. Part of her acquiesces. But I don’t have to admit it. Even if I let her help, it doesn’t mean anything.

“I do.” Her voice comes out a croak. “I do want it.” She-Ra is taller than her and it’s easy to bury her face into the crook of the hero’s neck. It’s as much of the truth as she’s willing to admit. She would not say anything at all if she didn’t feel so tired. So alone. 

The loneliness is suffocating. It’s festered inside her and now it’s suppurating, veering to gangrene. At all hours, that undertone is her companion, like a ringing on the edge of being heard. In the shower, during training, when she’s bossing her squad around. Lonely like netting in her diaphragm, and achy like a rotten tooth. Everything she does that should bring her satisfaction - being Force Captain for instance - is numbing and unfulfilling. Catra is just going through the motions, and wondering what went to bed inside her and never woke again.

Wishing it was her, so that the torture of existing without Adora would come to an end. 

“I want you, Catra.” 

She-Ra’s fingers push under her chin, tilting her head for a kiss. Catra doesn’t know who’s speaking to her - if She-Ra or Adora. It’s easier to think of them separately anyhow. She can allow She-Ra to fuck her and hate her after that. 

Adora, she’s not so sure about. 

She doesn’t reply, arching into She-Ra’s body for an answer. Letting her hands roam - feeling the muscle’s ripple underneath them - and enjoying the way She-Ra touches her in turn.

In her strong arms, Catra discovers, she doesn’t have to think. She can live in the moment , and when it’s done, pretend it never happened.

The quiet is broken only by their sighs, and the rustle of their clothing as it is thrown onto the ground.

She-Ra’s lips are soft and full against hers, her mouth opening readily to let Catra’s tongue inside. She tastes just the way she looks - sunrays playing on the surface of a pond in summer. Catra reaches for that light and - for the first time since Adora abandoned her in the Fright Zone - she feels warm.

She is alive.

Her own lips are parched, but the kiss is wet enough to make up for that, and messy too. It’s teeth clicking against teeth, tongues sliding against each other. Hair tugged and nails raked upon sweaty skin whenever they have to part for a ragged breath. 

When one of She-Ra’s knees pushes up between her thighs, Catra gasps. 

“No.” She digs her claws into the princess’ shoulders, drawing beads of blood. “Get on the floor. I want to ride you.” 

“So bossy.” She-Ra smirks against her cheek, but does as she is told. She’s not surrendering however, and Catra briefly wonders wherever shy, flushing Adora picked up this much confidence. 

Not that it matters. She just cares about being on top. That way, she can at least pretend she’s in control.

  Pretend is the key-word there.

“Well?” She-Ra beckons from where she’s half-sitting, half laying on the stony ground. “What are you waiting for?” 

Unable to resist her need any longer, Catra stumbles forward and practically falls on her. 

She-Ra yanks her down by her hair the rest of the way, panting harshly into her collarbone.

“So wet.” Her tongue leaves a wet trail up Catra’s bobbing throat. “A wet kitten.” 

Now that , has Catra’s blood flash to its boiling point.

Things get frantic. Sort of blurry and - if possible - even more heated. Catra’s hands are on She-Ra’s hips, holding on as she rubs herself towards her climax on the princess’ sculpted abs.

“Not so fast.” She-Ra throws one arm around her waist, slowing her down. Laughing when Catra - spitting, and angry, and so fucking wet - tries to rip free and pick up the pace again.

“Here, let me.” 

She-Ra’s fingers find a path between their shifting bodies, among all the flowing slick. She parts Catra’s labia, expertly thumbs her clit. Pinches it, till Catra throws her head back and howls. Begs, just the way she’d sworn to herself she’d never do. 

Then, She-Ra thrusts two fingers deep inside of her, and all she can do is buck her hips, desperate for more. She-Ra’s face is blurred by her own tears, but Catra can hear her softening beneath her. Gentle words and tender shushing noises drip into her ear, and when she collapses on She-Ra’s ample chest, hips stuttering off rhythm, she’s closely held. 

The loneliness recedes, but part of Catra knows it’s simply laying in wait. As soon as she gives in to the climax she feels building at the base of her spine, the moment She-Ra’s finger withdraw, it will come back. Flood every crevice of her soul. 

“I’ve got you.” 

She-Ra nips her ear, fingers curled encouragingly against the spongy spot on Catra’s front wall. 

“Let go.” 

The two fingers inside her become three, filling her to bursting. She-Ra’s tempo is slightly off - Catra’s jerking too wildly in her grasp - but there is no trace of clumsiness. Again, it makes Catra blink in surprise. How She-Ra and Adora are so different, but much alike. 

“Let go for me, Catra.” Her tone is rough now, sharp with command.

With a savage scream and a shiver that starts at the crown of her head and curls her toes, Catra does. 

She doesn’t know whether she’s calling She-Ra’s name - or Adora’s for that matter. She doesn’t care. Fire is racing up her veins, burning her to cinders, and when it abates, she can only crumble in She-Ra’s waiting arms. 

All the while, She-Ra is kissing her, pumping her fingers in and out of Catra’s sex with an ever slowing pace. There’s so much slick between them - Adora’s belly and thighs are glistening with it. 

Catra comes again - how many times she is not sure - but, finally, she closes weak fingers around She-Ra’s wrist, stilling her. 

“No more,” she curls up against her chest, eyes droopy, bones heavy with a satisfactory fatigue. “Can’t.” 

“Sleep then, kitten.” The last thing she feels is She-Ra’s lips skimming her jaw. “I’ll keep you safe, I promise.”

“I’m not a kitten.” In a burst of pride, Catra lifts her head up and glares. The effect is somewhat ruined by the yawn that near splits her face in two. “I could kick your ass right now.”

“Of course you could.” The way She-Ra looks at her crushes her chest. Catra never wants to see that look again. She can’t get enough of it. 

She has no time to examine the feeling, however, as sleep closes around her and drags her under.

*****************

The next morning, Catra wakes with the sun. The sky is free of clouds and turning pink around the edges, the air crisp with the after-scent of rain. 

At her side, Adora is still deeply asleep and snoring softly, jacket tucked up to her chin. The fever of Catra’s heat is gone, and as the warmth that had gathered between their bodies dissipates, she feels the bite of the morning chill more keenly. Most of her clothing lies in a nearby pile, and she stands, pulling everything on in a hurry. 

Part of her wants to curl up at Adora’s side and go back to sleep like they used to when they were little and she had nightmares - and then, when they wake, maybe she could leave the Horde as well, go on to Brightmoon together. But that would be admitting that Adora and her sparkle pals are right and she - wrong. 

Catra is sickened by her weakness, so unlike anything Shadow Weaver ever taught. Not that she taught me much, in hindsight. Adora had always been the “teacher’s pet”. The most important thing she’d ever learned from Shadow Weaver was that needing others is a weakness. A liability.

I don’t need anybody. And she’s a princess now, She doesn’t need me either. 

Catra crushes down the longing, ruthlessly, and after throwing one last look at Adora’s sleeping form, she picks her way to the cavern entrance. 

By the time Adora wakes, she’ll be long gone.