Adora’s had heartburn for about two weeks now. She’s taken everything under the sun for it; the amount of Gaviscon she’s consumed in the last 24 hours alone would make grown men weep and fall to their knees. She’s already heavily medicated and, until a fortnight ago, that was just enough to keep her functioning. However, in the past week she’s had maybe ten hours of sleep total - and she can’t even have caffeine, because that makes it worse.
“Adora, will you please just go to a doctor?” This isn’t the first time Glimmer’s asked this question. It’s not even the first time today. Adora, who heard her but is ignoring her completely, picks morosely at the limp salad she’d chosen out of desperation. She’s avoiding the tomatoes - too much acid. Unfortunately this salad has more tomatoes than a family-sized portion of salsa, so she gives up and pushes it away.
Meaning there’s room for her to put her head on the table. Which she does.
“Seriously, Adora, you’re obviously uncomfortable! They can probably give you something,” Bow says encouragingly, patting her shoulder consolingly. She hiccups out a laugh.
“They gave me omeprazole already and it’s stopped working,” she says miserably, a little muffled against the Formica. “They even tried doubling the dosage. It worked for a while. Now I’m dying. I don’t wanna die.” She’s wailing a little bit now, but she’s just so freaking tired. Glimmer clucks like the mother hen she is and starts to rub her back softly. It feels so nice that Adora nearly starts crying. She just wants to sleep, and maybe eat something that doesn’t taste like sadness.
“You’re not dying, sweetie - but maybe you should at least take the afternoon off? I’m sure dad would understand.” Adora turns her face so her cheek is resting on the table and she can look glumly at her friends.
“I can’t just ditch Micah’s class every time I feel like crap - even if he is your dad,” she argues pathetically, face probably looking like a half-deflated rugby ball. Her entire body feels like a half-deflated rugby ball.
“Adora, you’re already acing the class,” Bow says with a shrug, finishing off the last of his fries and pulling a delicious looking strawberry milkshake towards him. The swine. “And Micah’s seen first-hand what this is doing to you, so he’ll totally get it.” Glimmer’s nodding encouragingly, still rubbing Adora’s back. A tear slides down Adora’s cheek and pools beneath her face.
“Fine,” she whispers, biting her cheek against a sigh she has no doubt would turn into a sob.
“And you’ll rest?” Glimmer asks sternly, eyebrows raised. Adora glares at her.
“Yes.” She’s lying, of course. Glimmer and Bow both know it too, but there’s nothing they can do about it, because trying to stop her working is like trying to stop a freight train that doesn’t have any brakes. A disapproving ‘hm’ is all Glimmer manages in response, but they dutifully force her up and out of her chair and escort her back to her room. By the time they get there, Adora is leaning on Bow for support more than she’ll admit.
(Glimmer’s a bit too short for that but usually her head makes a good armrest.)
“Can you at least pretend you’re going to get some sleep?” Glimmer pleads with her as they unlock the door to her room and manoeuvre her inside. Adora flops gratefully onto her bed, being careful to stay as upright as possible (because the acid in her stomach does not care for anything horizontal) and nods.
“I will pretend,” she says with a sleepy grin.
“You’re insufferable,” Glimmer says ruefully, but she’s smiling as she ruffles Adora’s hair. Bow hands her a small shopping bag she hadn’t even noticed he was carrying, and she nearly starts crying when she looks inside.
“I was going to give this to you in the cafeteria, but you were kind of-” Bow mimes having his face flattened against a tabletop; Adora fears it is a very accurate impression. The bag she’s been handed is full of the kind of stuff Adora is able to force down at the moment: a wholewheat sandwich with chicken and no mayo, a low sugar protein flapjack, and a bunch of bananas - among other bland, unbearably thoughtful things. She feels herself welling up.
“You guys are the best,” she says with a watery smile, and then she’s being gently piled on for a patented Best Friend Squad group hug, which really opens the floodgates. Adora’s pretty sure she gets snot on Glimmer’s jumper, but nobody says anything. She has the greatest friends in the universe.
“Rest,” Bow says with an accusatory finger as they leave the room.
“What he said,” Glimmer agrees, pointing at her with equal ferocity. She softens as she takes in the no doubt pathetic picture Adora’s rumpled, snotty self paints. “I’ll text my dad - it’ll be totally fine. Just… rest. And call the doctor.” Adora waves as they leave, shutting the door behind them with a click.
“Yeah, no,” she says thickly, pulling the sandwich out of the bag with a sigh. “No doctors. Too much to do.”
Adora wakes up with a crick in her neck, half slumped over her unopened sandwich, and immediately knows something’s wrong. The burning, prickling pain in her chest that’s been coming without fail after eating for the last fortnight, and which has left her drained and unable to sleep, is gone. That would be a great and magical thing, of course, if it hadn’t been replaced by a different, even worse pain.
It radiates out from her chest and round her back, tightening every second like an elastic band; it’s white hot and unending, and she finds herself cycling through all the options in her sleep-addled mind with increasing panic.
Option 1: it’s a heart attack.
Option 2: it’s a freaking heart attack.
Option 3: no other options, she is definitely having a heart attack.
She forces herself to move, slumping into the only position that’s ever given her even the slightest bit of relief. She rolls onto her front, pulling her knees under her chest and resting her forehead on the cool sheets, trying to breathe against the pain and panic fighting for control over all logical thought. She’s crying, but she barely even notices; it’s not the first time it’s been bad enough for tears, but it’s the first time she’s worried about actually dying.
It’s probably not a heart attack, she tries to tell herself. She is a healthy twenty year old. She does sports. She eats vegetables and protein and can bench press both of her best friends. Those kinds of people don’t usually get heart attacks. Usually.
She scrambles for her phone, her movements shaky and uncoordinated, but she manages to grab it and pull it into the little cocoon created by the arch of her body. Eyes almost too close to the screen, semi-blinded by the light in contrast with the darkness of early evening, she finds Glimmer’s number and dials.
“Adora? What’s happened?” Glimmer answers almost immediately, sounding anxious. Adora doesn’t really do phone calls.
“Something’s wrong,” she manages to gasp out, somehow feeling worse for having opened her mouth. She screws her eyes shut. “It hurts. More than before.”
“Bow and I will be there in five minutes, don’t move,” Glimmer orders, and while the pain doesn’t lessen, the tension in Adora’s shoulders does. They’ll be here soon. They’ll do something.
“Okay,” she says. “Thanks. I love you.”
“Love you too sweetie, let me just grab the spare key.” And Adora knows she’s about to hang up but the thought makes the panic rise in her throat and she lets out an involuntary whimper.
“Don’t go,” she whispers, and she knows she sounds pathetic, but her ribs ache and she feels like she wants to pass out. She probably would pass out if she could, because maybe then it wouldn’t hurt so much.
“Of course - Bow, Bow, come on, let’s go,” Glimmer’s hurrying Bow out the door on the other end of the phone and Adora can hear his confused “what the-” and then the slam and click that tells Adora they’ve left their shared house. They’ll be here soon. It’s going to be okay.
The jangle of keys in the door has Adora biting back a fresh wave of grateful tears, and seconds later Glimmer and Bow are bursting through the door with all the elegance and grace that two years on the cheerleading squad has most definitely not given them.
“Adora, what happened?” Bow breathes, and suddenly there are two concerned faces trying to muscle their way into her line of sight. She turns her head slightly and Glimmer sucks in a sharp breath.
“Bow, turn on the light,” she says sharply, ignoring Adora’s whispered ‘noooo’ and shooing Bow over to the light switch. He turns it on and Adora whimpers, turning her face away from the light. “I’m sorry, I know this hurts, but I’m gonna need you to turn a little for me, sweetie.” Adora’s the muscle in the friendship group, usually; however, while Bow and Glimmer save their coordination and grace for human pyramids, their arm muscles are definitely a match for hers when she’s this weak. She tries to resist as they push her onto her side, but the most she can do is keep her knees to her chest, desperately curling in on herself.
She wishes she could find the source of the pain and just… punch it. She’s good at punching things.
“Bow, is it just me or does Adora look… yellow?” Bow sighs in response, and it isn’t a good sound.
“She looks… really freaking yellow.”
“I was afraid you’d say that.”
“Yellow’s bad?” Adora rasps, then whines as the pain ramps up a notch; she folds in on herself a little more and her friends take pity on her, rolling her back into her original position. The pain eases off just slightly, but it’s still everywhere all at once and she’s struggling for breath. She doesn’t know if it’s the anxiety or the maybe-a-heart-attack she’s having, but it’s not getting better.
“Yeah buddy,” Bow says solemnly. “Yellow’s kinda bad. We’re gonna have to call you an ambulance, okay?” By this point, Adora doesn’t really care, but she nods against the sheets and then inches her hand across the bed, palm up. Glimmer grips her hand and Adora starts crying again. She hears some shuffling and the sound of pages being turned with one inexpert hand, and then Glimmer starts speaking quietly to her.
“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much…”
She can distantly hear Bow on the phone with the emergency services, giving symptoms and her address details, but she’s concentrating on the low, regular rhythm of Glimmer’s voice as she reads to her. It’s soothing, and even though it doesn’t lessen the constant, constricting band around her chest, it gives her something else to focus on.
She doesn’t know how long they stay like that - Bow perched on the bed and gently stroking her back, Glimmer holding her hand and reading to her without pause - but eventually there’s a knock at her room door and Bow jumps up to open it, Glimmer shutting the book with an air of grave finality. Out the corner of her eye, Adora sees two paramedics come into her line of sight, and she squeezes Glimmer’s hand; Glimmer squeezes back before reluctantly letting go and moving out of the way for the paramedics.
“Hey - Adora, is it?” one of them says softly, bringing herself down to eye level. She seems about their age, which she probably is, and her face is extraordinarily kind. Adora nods. “My name is Perfuma. I need to get you onto your back so we can try and see what’s going on - I understand you’re in a lot of pain, but we’ve got some very good painkillers and oxygen for you, okay?” Adora feels herself starting to cry again but she manages a whispered word of consent, and allows Perfuma to roll her onto her back. The other paramedic, who looks like she wrestles bears for a living, gives her a warm smile and starts pulling out equipment from her bag.
“This is Scorpia,” Perfuma continues, gently moving Adora’s arm so she can slide a blood pressure monitor onto her arm.
“Hiya,” Scorpia says brightly, waving at Adora, who smiles weakly back at her.
“Okay, we’re just going to take your blood pressure, and then I’m afraid I’m going to have to poke and prod you just a little bit - I’ll try to be quick, alright?” Adora nods, finding it more difficult to speak now that she’s on her back. She was uncomfortable before, but this is something else. The Velcro band on her arm tightens uncomfortably for a moment, before gently releasing, and she bites her lip against a sob she almost can’t help making. When she opens her eyes, Perfuma and Scorpia are exchanging worried glances.
“What’s wrong?” Bow asks urgently, noticing the looks and peering at the monitor himself as though he knows what he’s looking for.
“Adora, I’m not sure about this reading so I’m just going to have to do that again, okay? You’re doing so well,” Perfuma says with another smile, and well - there’s nothing Adora can really do to stop her, is there? So the band tightens again, and this time Adora must make some kind of noise because Glimmer shuffles closer to the end of the bed to rest a hand on her ankle. The contact is soothing, and Adora takes another shaky breath as the pressure on her arm eases.
“Adora buddy, you got a history of high blood pressure?” Scorpia asks as Perfuma takes off the monitor. Adora shakes her head. “Huh. ‘Fuma?” They share another look and Perfuma nods, turning back to Adora.
“Can you tell me where the pain is?” Adora weakly lifts her arms and pulls up her vest top to indicate her ribs and chest.
“Radiating,” she rasps, then closes her mouth and eyes against a wave of nausea.
“Can you feel it in your back?” Perfuma asks, and Adora nods. “Okay, I’m going to touch your stomach now, and I just need you to tell me where it hurts, alright? You don’t have to use words, of course.” Adora doesn’t think that’s going to be a problem. Perfuma starts by pressing around her stomach, and Adora shakes her head weakly - not much going on there. Perfuma moves up just slightly and Adora hisses in pain, nodding. “Okay, how about here?” Perfuma’s now pressing down in an area near her ribs and Adora lets out a small sob and opens her eyes as wide as they’ll go, which seems to answer her question; Perfuma gently covers Adora back up again and nods at Scorpia.
“Well, we’re gonna have to take you to the hospital, alright champ?” Scorpia says gently. “It probably hurts a whole bunch right now but we’re gonna give you some gas and air and you’ll feel pretty floaty in a hot second.” Adora’s crying again - it’s pretty much constant now, with occasional hiccupping dry spells - but she nods, and a moment later she’s being handed a mouthpiece.
“Bite down on this and breathe in and out as deeply as you can,” Perfuma instructs, and Adora does as she’s told. Breathing deeply hurts like hell, but she gives it her best shot and a few minutes later she feels noticeably better.
“You’re looking a bit less shaky, buddy,” Scorpia says with an enthusiastic double thumbs up, and Adora grins weakly around the mouthpiece. “Perfuma and I are gonna help you down to the ambulance, but I’m afraid your friends are gonna have to stay here, okay?” Adora’s already protesting weakly, Bow and Glimmer looking furious.
“I’m her sister,” Glimmer says importantly - which earns her a pair of raised eyebrows. Adora wants to laugh because yeah, Glimmer’s down as her next of kin and they may as well be sisters but… Adora is painfully white. She’s like paper in the sun. Her skin could burn through several layers of lead. Glimmer’s ancestry is a mix of South Korean, Japanese, and - broadly - Indian. She is perpetually sunkissed, even in the harsh depths of winter. Glimmer could not burn if she tried.
They do not, in short, look like they could be siblings.
“Adopted?” Bow offers, looking innocent. Scorpia narrows her eyes but Perfuma, clearly a bleeding heart, gives in pretty quickly.
“Alright, there’s enough room in the back for a family member,” she relents, and the second the paramedics look back at Adora, Glimmer very quickly and triumphantly punches the air.
It takes them a while to get down the stairs. Adora manages to walk, but she’s wobbly and slow; Perfuma stands on one side holding the canister that’s feeding what Adora now thinks of as her lifeline, while Scorpia easily supports her from the other. Bow waves from the top of the stairs, and a few other students in these halls have come out of their rooms to watch with some interest, but Adora concentrates on putting one foot in front of the other and… y’know. Not falling over.
Glimmer follows behind and lingers at the open doors of the ambulance while they get Adora settled. They move her from the mobile supply of gas and air (“Entonox,” Perfuma tells her softly as they pass her a new tube to breathe through - if Adora ever has children, she’s naming one Entonox) to the one inside the vehicle, and get her propped up on a truly amazing bed that moves at the push of a button. Adora takes the mouthpiece off for a moment so she can point at the way her knees are rising slightly with the bed.
“Glimmer look,” she says, and - yeah. Yeah, maybe she’s a little high. This stuff is amazing. Glimmer’s laughing at her from outside the ambulance, but Adora knows she’s mostly just pleased to see the pain receding from her friend’s face.
“Yeah, Adora - swanky stuff,” she says, grinning. Perfuma and Scorpia are chuckling quietly as they press lots of important looking buttons, which is nice. They’re nice.
“You guys are nice,” Adora says brightly, then puts the mouthpiece back on. Because this mouthpiece is her new best friend, oh yes indeed. Her blood pressure gets taken again by the on-board machine, and Perfuma’s lips press into a thin, worried line. Adora doesn’t think they should be worried, because she’s totally fine now.
“Okay, Adora,” Perfuma says eventually, strapping her in and showing Glimmer to a seat so she can do the same for herself. “Scorpia’s going to be up front driving, and Glimmer and I are going to be back here with you. It’s about half an hour to the nearest hospital, so we’ll be there before you know it.”
“Awesome,” Adora says, a little muffled. Oh right - mouthpiece.
The journey really doesn’t take long after that; it’s actually pretty fun, to Adora’s mind. The radio is playing quietly throughout the ambulance, but then a great song comes on, and Adora sloppily begs them to turn it up; they oblige, and Glimmer is definitely trying not to laugh at her now. She can’t believe they’re sisters now, that’s so cool.
“We’re here!” Perfuma says brightly as they pull up to the back of the hospital, in one of the many spots reserved for emergency vehicles. “We’re just going to get you back onto the canister, then we’ll wheel you in, okay?” Adora nods, eyelids drooping slightly with fatigue; this is the first time the pain’s receded enough for her to feel like she could just drift off - but there’s so much going on and she wants to see it all. They hook her back up to the canister, which they then give to her to hold. She cradles it like a child and sighs happily, because this canister is her best friend.
“This canister is my best friend,” she says aloud, having stopped sucking up Entonox long enough to make this important announcement. She’s a little weepy, actually. Glimmer pats her on the shoulder and climbs out of the ambulance so they can sort out a ramp; soon enough, they’re wheeling her out of the vehicle and in through a pair of automatic doors. The corridors are all very white and filled with people who look either very busy or very unwell. Adora supposes that’s pretty much the two kinds of people who would be in hospital; the very busy and the very unwell. She thinks, in a brief period of lucidity, that she’s probably in the latter category.
They eventually end up in A&E and Adora is duly signed in - still cradling the Entonox - so she can join the queue. It is blessedly short, and Perfuma, Scorpia and Glimmer stay with her the whole time. Adora learns that Scorpia brews her own craft beer, and that Perfuma is the Chair of the local horticultural society, which is just - so nice.
“You guys are so nice, and you have such nice hobbies,” she says soppily, beaming up at them both with watery eyes. “All I do is sports. I should do more things. Bonsai trees! I could do bonsai trees.” Glimmer is already shaking her head furiously.
“No, you couldn’t. You can’t even keep a cactus alive, Adora.”
“William,” Adora moans dramatically, throwing an arm over her face with a hiccupping sob.
“Who’s William?” Scorpia asks, sounding utterly perplexed.
“She had a cactus named William. She said his spines made him look a little bit like Shakespeare? Anyway, she overwatered him and he died like, a month after she got him,” Glimmer explains. A harsh but accurate representation of what happened, Adora thinks through her haze of medication and plant-based grief. She goes back to the Entonox but is devastated to find the canister is entirely depleted.
“Oh no,” she says morosely. “The Entonox… betrayed me?” Perfuma’s trying not to giggle again, which is unfair. “Is the pain going to come back now?” Something of the desperate concern in Adora’s voice must come across because Perfuma takes her hand and shakes her head fondly.
“That should last you for a good ten or twenty minutes, and they’re nearly ready to see you,” she says, indicating the front of the queue. Where they are. “They’ll give you something more robust intravenously and try to figure out what’s making you yellow.” Adora giggles.
“Is it Coldplay? Did they do this?” She snorts. “Chris Martin made me all yellow. I knew I couldn’t trust the… whiny whining people.” Perfuma looks mildly affronted by this, even though it is an objectively bad insult.
“Chris Martin would never do such a thing!” Scorpia puts a comforting hand on Perfuma’s arm.
“‘Fuma, she’s high as a kite right now.”
“It’s only Entonox!” Perfuma argues, but she looks mollified. “It’s not even that strong.”
“Oh, Adora has literally never done drugs,” Glimmer says conspiratorially. Like Adora can’t hear her. “She’s very pure.”
“Your face is pure,” Adora says petulantly. Glimmer pats her arm.
Before Adora can make a case for why Chris Martin is a very bad man who is to blame for her being yellow, an orderly is coming to take her through to a curtained-off area and she’s having to say goodbye to Scorpia and Perfuma.
“You guys are great,” she says with two wobbly thumbs up. “You saved my… my life. Fighting the good fight. Against Chris Martin!” Even Perfuma’s laughing a little now, and soon their smiles and waves are out of sight. “They were lovely,” Adora says to nobody in particular. The orderly, who is obviously used to dealing with people who are off their mammaries on drugs, huffs out a laugh as they round the corner, Glimmer following just behind. Behind the curtain there’s a corridor with more curtains on either side. It looks kind of like a whole bunch of shower stalls, which she says to the orderly.
“Not quite, my love,” he says, thickly accented and lyrical. “But I see your thinking.” He wheels her into one of these smaller, curtained rooms, and gets her set up against one wall. Glimmer takes a seat on the other side of the room - they could hold hands over the distance, it really is a small room - and the orderly eventually leaves with the promise of someone seeing them shortly.
“I’m just gonna text Bow,” Glimmer says, pulling out her phone - like she hadn’t been texting him every couple of minutes since they left him behind. The nice, fuzzy feeling Adora’s been privileged to have since she got in the ambulance is starting to fade; the pain isn’t back in full force yet, but she’s aware of her ribs again, and of how the movement of her lungs against them is perhaps not quite as right as it should be.
“Tell him he can eat the fried rice I left in the fridge,” Adora says magnanimously. She suspects she isn’t going to be home for a while.
A senior-looking nurse comes into the room a few minutes later to do a few checks and advise that Adora’s going to be given some fluids and painkillers; she asks about allergies, which Adora manages to confirm amount to “nothing except avocado,” and a little plastic bracelet with her details is fastened to her wrist confirming her name, date of birth, and blood type.
“How do they know your blood type?” Glimmer asks curiously once the nurse has left.
“It’s on the system if you’ve ever given blood,” Adora explains. Glimmer shudders; she isn’t a fan of needles. Or like… anything medical really. The fact that she’s here at all is actually lovely, and Adora’s mouth tugs up at the corners just a little.
It’s half an hour before anyone else comes into the room; it’s a young nurse this time, with very high cheekbones and an air of efficiency, and he’s wheeling an IV stand behind him. He smiles and Adora can’t help but smile back, even though it hurts her to do it by this point.
“I’ve got some painkillers for you - the doctor’s on her way but from the look of you, you’re probably struggling a bit.” Adora nods, not really wanting to open her mouth. The earlier relief from the pain has only made its comeback more notable. “Okay, I’m going to put in a cannula, which might suck a bit - how are you with needles?” Adora shrugs and Glimmer answers for her.
“As long as you don’t put clowns anywhere near her, she’s not really scared of much.” Adora glares half-heartedly at her while the nurse laughs.
“Well, no clowns here - unless you count some of the people in that waiting room,” he says with a grin, hanging up a bag of fluids alongside another bag of clear fluid. “Now, can you tell me your full name and date of birth please?” Adora dutifully answers and after a check against her wristband she’s very quickly hooked up to a supply of fluids and liquid paracetamol. “That should help, but if anything crops up before the doc gets here, just press your emergency buzzer,” he says, pointing at the button on the wall next to Adora’s head.
Then he’s gone, leaving her with the promise of relief, like a beautiful, chiselled God of painkillers.
“He was pretty cute,” Glimmer says in a stage whisper, and Adora snorts. The pain is already dying down a little; she wonders how much of that is psychological.
“Thirsty much,” she says with an eyebrow wiggle - Glimmer sticks her tongue out. “Not giving in to your deep, passionate feelings of love for our dear Bow?”
“You know, I think I preferred it when you were too uncomfortable to speak,” Glimmer says tartly, red faced and refusing to make eye contact. Adora laughs again but it hurts, so she stops.
When the doctor arrives, they’ve been there for nearly an hour in total, and Adora is almost falling asleep. The drugs are doing wonders, and Glimmer’s been obsessively playing Candy Crush on her phone since she decided to start ignoring Adora; the distant sounds of medical machinery and people chatting in the waiting room has almost sent her off, but she’s startled into the present by someone whipping back the curtain to step inside.
“Adora!” She blinks and stares at the newcomer with dawning realisation.
“Entrapta?” The other woman beams at her.
“You remember me! That’s so nice!”
“Um, yeah,” Adora says, a little blindsided. “How could I forget? Um, Glimmer - Entrapta and I went to high school together before she got fast-tracked for a medical programme. Which… I guess is why you’re here?” Entrapta has her hands clasped together in front of her, grin still wide and excited.
“Exactly! Youngest doctor here, if you can believe it,” she says brightly - Adora can’t help but smile at her enthusiasm. The thing about Entrapta is that she’s always been insanely smart, but she was never full of herself; she was often excluded, but she’d never push anyone else away or discount them just because their abilities were different to hers. She always wanted to know more - not more than other people, but more than yesterday’s Entrapta.
When she says she’s the youngest doctor here, she’s genuinely surprised; she’s obviously so passionate about this that she can’t imagine anyone else not being.
“That’s great, Entrapta,” Adora says with a smile. “You gonna tell me why I’m yellow?” Entrapta snaps on a fresh pair of gloves and waggles her eyebrows.
“Gallstones,” Adora repeats back to Entrapta, trying to make sure she’s understanding correctly. Fortunately, the paracetamol isn’t quite as brain-soup-making as the Entonox.
“Yep,” Entrapta says with a grin, disposing of her gloves and scribbling on a clipboard. “I’m 99.9% sure. Essentially your gallbladder - which is amazing, by the way - stores the bile made by your liver so you can digest things that the stomach would struggle to digest by itself. Fatty foods, alcohol, caffeine - your body needs help from bile to get those things properly chewed up in there.”
“A little gross, but okay,” Adora nods along.
“So gross!” Entrapta enthuses, her eyes almost sparkling. Glimmer seems a little overwhelmed by this but Adora’s finding it startlingly easy to fall back into Entrapta Land so she just nods along. “The bile being stored up in your gallbladder in particular is higher in cholesterol than normal - although about 10% of the population has that problem too - and the excess cholesterol gets made into tiny stones. When you eat, your gallbladder gets smaller, so any stones in there can cause a lotta pain after eating. And judging from the jaundice in your skin and eyes, I’d say a couple of them have probably escaped into a bile duct.”
Adora blinks. “Okay?”
“Yeah, so,” Entrapta continues, still scribbling on her clipboard. “We’re going to have to keep you in for a while. I’m sending you for an MRI - just the best machine, honestly, I’ve named her Emily - and we’ll get you an ERCP if I’m right about the stones. Which I probably am.” Entrapta stops scribbling and stands up suddenly with her clipboard. “Any questions?” Adora looks at Glimmer, who seems completely overwhelmed.
“Great!” Entrapta practically shrieks, and then she’s pulling the high cheekboned nurse from earlier out from behind the curtain and thrusting the clipboard at him. “Ramone! Gallstones!” He looks at Adora, then back to Entrapta.
“Why are you always so excited about gallstones?” he asks with a long-suffering sigh, taking the proffered clipboard. “And how did you even know I was walking past?”
“Science,” she says in response, as though that explains it; and it’s obviously enough for Ramone because he just shrugs and rolls his eyes, then goes off to do whatever it is high cheekboned nurses do with clipboards. Entrapta turns back to Adora, still beaming. “Okay, so! One of the orderlies will be through to take you to a ward soon, but in the meantime just relax and enjoy the drugs.” She delivers a double thumbs up, waves to Glimmer, and then disappears out the room.
After a couple of minutes, Glimmer seems to find herself capable of speech again.
“She seemed… nice?” Adora snorts and closes her eyes.
“Entrapta’s the smartest person you’ll ever meet,” she says drowsily, suddenly wanting nothing more than to let sleep drag her away. “She’s also completely nuts.”
“Yeah, I’m kinda getting that.”
Adora’s out like a light.
When she wakes up she isn’t sure how long it’s been, but she’s being wheeled down a long, white corridor, and from the glimpses of outside she catches through the windows, it’s completely dark now. There hadn’t been any windows, before, so that doesn’t really help much. Adora can’t see who’s wheeling her, but whoever’s driving this thing is chatting in low tones to Glimmer, by the sounds of it. She notices the bags of fluid have been laid on her legs, which are effectively pinned to the bed by the judicious application of hospital blankets. It’s all quite soothing really.
She’s steered into a ward with four beds; three of them are unoccupied and one of them is obscured by a curtain, so she can only hear the sound of a nurse explaining something, and the odd caustic reply.
“Here we go,” says the orderly brightly, obviously seeing that Adora’s awake. “We’ll get this bed out of the way so we don’t have to move you for the moment - alright?” Adora nods and smiles, and soon she’s being wheeled into the empty space left by the old bed, the bags of fluid being reattached to an IV stand by yet another nurse in fairly short order.
Once she’s set up and they’re alone again, Glimmer sits down in a chair by her bedside and sighs.
“Bow’s coming to pick me up in ten minutes,” she says glumly. Adora smiles encouragingly even as she feels the bottom of her stomach drop out. “Visiting hours are like, way over. But I’ll come back tomorrow - Bow will come too. We’ll make sure your tutors know what’s happening.”
“It’s okay, Glimmer,” Adora says with more conviction than she feels. “I’m fine! I’ve had worse than this in foster care.” She has, is the thing. They don’t talk about it much but compared to some of the places she got sent as a kid…
Anyway, she can deal with this, is the point. She’s a tough cookie.
“Okay well… it’s a bit of a trek back to the entrance so I’ve gotta go - but we’ll bring you some clothes and stuff tomorrow. Your favourite jammies?” Adora nods. She hopes the person opposite doesn’t end up being some old bigot. She loves her pride pyjamas.
“Go on - I’ll be okay,” she says, plastering an encouraging smile onto her face. Glimmer hugs her somewhat awkwardly around all the wires and tubes and then, eventually… she’s gone. Adora’s alone with an unknown roommate, with nothing but some increasingly annoyed hissing to go on.
She’s almost fallen asleep again when the curtain across from hers is pulled back and a stormy-faced nurse comes out, leaving the stranger opposite completely open to assessment.
Frankly, Adora would have preferred an old bigot.
“What’re you looking at, blondie?” Adora closes her eyes, because that means she’s looking at nothing.
“Nothing,” she says. There - a factually correct response.
She had, before she closed her eyes, been looking at the most attractive person she’d ever seen in her life; but now her eyes are closed, so she isn’t. The glimpse had been enough, really. She probably shouldn’t open her eyes again, because if she gets a good look she might not stop staring.
“Confrontation-averse, huh?” says the woman opposite, her tone of voice suggesting she’s angling for a fight. Adora opens her eyes.
“More so than you, apparently,” she says, indicating the seriously impressive, mottled bruise marring one of the woman’s eyes. The yellow one. Heterochromia, her brain provides - which is nice and all, but it doesn’t help her with the fact that the woman now looks exceedingly pissed off.
(It especially doesn’t help that ‘exceedingly pissed off’ seems to be a good look on her. Adora can’t think of many things that would be a bad look on her, at first glance. Or second. Or third.)
“And what are you in for?” the woman asks snidely, crossing her arms (with some difficulty, owing to her injuries) and sneering. “Frat party gone wrong? Drunk driving? No wait - embarrassing sexual escapades.” Adora’s kind of glad that whatever’s wrong with her at the moment seems to make her completely incapable of blushing.
“I am completely yellow,” she says with a raised eyebrow. “What the hell kind of sexual escapades would turn me yellow?” the other woman snorts.
“Embarrassing ones, obviously.” Adora rolls her eyes and there’s silence for a moment.
“I’m Adora,” she tries. The other woman stares at her.
“Okay. Good for you.” Adora groans frustratedly and resists the urge to throw something at her. She’s very attractive and very annoying, and unfortunately that second part doesn’t make the first part less appealing. The silence continues for a minute or two, Adora staring at the ceiling just to stop herself from looking anywhere else.
“Catra.” Adora’s eyes snap to the woman across from her.
“Not very bright, are you?” she drawls, and Adora just knows her face would be flushing right now if only she had the colour to spare. “My name,” she enunciates slowly, “is Catra. Dummy.” Okay. Well. That’s a step in the right direction, right?
“Oh my god, have I offended you in some way?”
“Not yet,” Catra says, one immaculate eyebrow raised. “But I’m pretty sure it’s going to happen sooner or later. I’d rather piss you off before you can piss me off.” Adora gapes at her.
“That makes absolutely no sense.”
“Says the girl in here after an embarrassing sexual escapade.”
“Stop saying that!” Adora yells, throwing one arm up in the air, and then immediately regretting it. There goes literally all her remaining energy. She pales, sinking back into the bed and breathing hard through her nose. Catra doesn’t say anything for a while, which is probably a blessing; Adora’s busy trying to get the wave of sickness and pain under control and she probably shouldn’t do any more screaming at strangers.
“So, princess. If it’s not embarrassing sexual escapades - which I’m not ruling out, by the way - what is it?” Catra’s voice is a little quieter, like maybe this is some sort of weird olive branch. Adora’s happy to take it - especially if it’ll stop these freaky sex allegations.
“Jaundice,” she says quietly, keeping her breathing steady. “Gallstones where they shouldn’t be or something. I’ve got an MRI to confirm but it all sounds… y’know. Plausible.” Catra snorts.
“Well, shit. Knew a kid who had that a few years ago.”
“Catra,” Adora gasps, horrified. Catra laughs, and it’s a little mean, but it’s also frustratingly sexy, which is just so not ideal.
“Oh man, your face! Nah, he was fine. I dunno, Kyle was always ill, so who knows. He could be dead now.”
“Nice thought,” says Adora dryly. Catra fixes her with a look.
“It could be. You didn’t know Kyle. Maybe he became a mass murderer.”
“I am so lost right now,” Adora admits, and she’s feeling a bit dizzy now actually. She takes another deep breath in through her nose and out through her mouth. It helps a bit. “So, did you get hit by a truck or something?” Now Adora’s allowing herself to look a bit harder, it looks like Catra’s got her arm in a sling, and possibly something binding her left leg as well. The truck doesn’t seem too implausible.
“Got into a fight with a bear,” Catra says with a feral grin that, unfortunately, does things to Adora she isn’t even a little bit qualified to deal with right now. She rolls her eyes, since she has some control over that part of her body at least.
“Come on. There aren’t any bears around here.”
“Bear expert, huh? Alright. It was 30-50 feral hogs.” Adora laughs out loud at that one, and while she’s surprised by the sound, she’s nowhere near as surprised as her body is. She gasps in a breath and closes her eyes again, fighting back tears. “Don’t hurt yourself, princess,” Catra says from the other side of the room, sounding - if the pain isn’t making Adora totally loopy - a little concerned. Adora doesn’t answer; she’s not sure she can. Distantly, she hears a buzzer go off somewhere outside the room. She focuses on it, on the forced regularity of her own breathing - on anything except the discomfort in her chest.
“Yes?” The terse voice of Catra’s nurse from earlier enters Adora’s soundscape, quickly followed by Catra’s own voice.
“Don’t get your undies in a twist, I don’t need anything… Blondie over there might though.” She sounds bored, almost, and there are some shuffling sounds as the nurse makes her way over to Adora’s bed.
“You alright there, sweetheart?” she asks softly, and Adora doesn’t open her eyes; she shakes her head and breathes very slowly and deliberately to avoid throwing up. “The doctor’s already written you up for pain meds as regular as you can have them.” There’s the familiar sound of a clipboard, and of papers being flipped through. “You haven’t had any morphine yet, Adora, so I’ll get you some of that straight away. Entrapta’s also put you down for anti-sickness meds if you need them?” Adora opens her eyes on an outward breath, directing a grateful nod at the nurse. She looks kind, Adora thinks; then again, maybe that’s just because she’s offering to give her the good drugs. A final smile, a hand on her arm, and she’s off again.
“Thanks,” Adora says quietly, eyes still closed, lungs still struggling slightly against the discomfort caused by every inward breath.
“Whatever,” Catra says, and Adora can almost hear her full-body shrug. “It gets pretty boring in here. Don’t want you passing out on me.”
“Might be a problem,” Adora whispers, trying not to upset the fragile peace she’s made with her body. “Morphine. Low tolerance for… everything.” Catra snorts.
“Oh princess, I really didn’t need you to tell me that. I’m pretty sure I know ten year olds who could drink you under the table.”
It’s around this point that Adora realises what she must look like to this woman. She’s pretty well tucked up under the blankets - even her arms are covered up to the crook of her elbows by some kind of… sparkly shawl she’s pretty sure belongs to Glimmer. She’d obviously been worried Adora would get cold.
The thing is - yeah, a ten year old could very well drink Adora under the table. They shouldn’t, obviously… because children shouldn’t drink. But if they did drink (which is bad), they would be better at it than Adora.
But also, Adora’s like - pretty jacked? That’s where she’s going with this train of thought. She knows what she looks like at first glance; she’s got these massive blue eyes, dirty blond hair… her sickly complexion probably isn’t helping matters at the moment either. But under these blankets? Big ol’ rugby playing lesbian.
Before she can think about precisely why this matters, the nurse is back with a tray of various lovely things that are probably going to make Adora much happier for a short period of time. Or at least more comfortable.
“Anti-sickness first, then morphine,” the nurse says, like Adora is going to be administering this herself.
“Okay,” she replies, smiling tiredly - because it seems polite. Catra mutters something from across the room that sounds a lot like ‘kiss ass’. So she has her anti-sickness passed through the IV, and then the morphine. It is, at first, just cold; she feels it as it goes in, which is a little weird, and she wonders how far she’ll feel it travel.
Then it hits her in the face like a goddamn brick.
“Ah,” she says, either very loudly or very quietly. She isn’t sure which. The nurse looks like she’s trying not to laugh, but that doesn’t give her much of a clue, frankly.
“Is that a little better?” Adora nods enthusiastically, then stops, because her head feels like it’s about to fall off. But in a good way? Morphine is fantastic.
“Yes,” she decides. “Better. Thank you!” She smiles brightly, and the nurse chuckles and pats her hand before taking her lovely, lovely tray away with her to some beautiful place where they keep morphine and other delightful things. Probably.
“Such a lightweight,” Catra says from the other side of the room, and Adora grins at her because she’s happy.
“I play rugby,” Adora replies. It isn’t relevant, but she’s been thinking about it, and she thinks Catra needs to know. Catra raises her eyebrows.
“That’s great, princess,” she drawls, and her voice is nice even though she’s mean. Suddenly Adora is very hot, and she struggles against the blankets but her limbs feel kind of heavy, which is… problematic.
“It’s hot,” she says petulantly. Catra’s eyebrows, if possible, move even further up her head.
“You think the fact that you play rugby is hot?” Adora stops struggling and frowns at her.
“You just said ‘I play rugby’ then ‘it’s hot’,” Catra explains slowly, with the air of someone talking to a very small child. “Then you started having some sort of seizure. You know what? I’ll get the nurse again. Maybe she can knock you out or something.”
“Too many blankets,” Adora says quickly, fighting through what feels like miles of brain fog to stop Catra from reaching for her buzzer. “They tucked me in like… like a burrito.” Catra stares at her then lets out a bark of laughter, ripping off her own blanket and hopping to her feet. She lands annoyingly gracefully, given that her leg is in a cast, and she doesn’t even wince as her bandaged foot hits the floor. She looks around furtively, then darts across the room to Adora’s bed. With a long-suffering sigh and an eye roll, she untucks the blankets from under Adora’s legs with her good arm, then gives her a mock pitying look.
“Can ya do the rest yourself, blondie?” Adora nods, mouth dry, and Catra quickly climbs back into her own bed, this time not bothering to cover herself up. She’s wearing extremely short shorts and has very nice legs. Well… leg. Adora can only see one. The other one’s probably very nice too.
“Thanks,” she manages, pushing the blankets out the way with shaking hands, and somehow pulling together enough coordination to push off the shawl as well. She sighs happily as the cool air hits her heated skin, and sinks into the bed a little more.
“So - rugby,” Catra says after a moment, and it isn’t really a question, but it sounds like a conversation starter, at least. “All that running around getting sweaty, rolling around in the mud together, communal showering…” She’s grinning now and it’s almost a leer, like she’s trying to throw Adora off-balance. “Sounds pretty gay to me.” Adora just smiles, her brain still a little soup-y.
“Yeah, I guess it’s pretty gay.” Catra stares at her, seemingly thrown off by this response, and Adora just keeps on smiling until the other woman looks away, spots of colour blooming on her cheeks beneath the bruising.
They don’t talk much after that, and Adora eventually drifts off, lulled by the chatter of nurses and healthcare assistants, and the rolling rumble of wheels on linoleum.
Adora wakes up to a nurse sweeping shut the curtain around her bed; it’s darker in the room now, the main lights having been turned off, but there’s light spilling in from the corridor. It’s quieter, but the sounds of activity ebb and flow as people pass the open door. The nurse is wheeling a BP monitor along behind her and has a very small paper cup in her hand. It’s like those little sauce cups you get at McDonald’s, Adora thinks as the nurse pops it on the table by her bed - is it barbecue sauce? That would be weird. Her stomach growls.
“Hello love - my name’s Cynthia,” she says kindly, and suddenly the growling in Adora’s stomach becomes something else entirely.
“Oh god,” she whispers, and the nurse - clearly well-versed in precisely that brand of ‘oh god’ - quickly and expertly manoeuvres her into a seated position and passes Adora a weird cardboard hat.
Into which she promptly throws up.
Cynthia rubs her back gently and says “there we go, it’s alright duck,” and other soothing phrases as Adora gets rid of what little food she managed to consume before her surprise hospitalisation. When it’s over she slumps back weakly and accepts the plastic cup of water Cynthia immediately presses into her shaking hands.
“Looks like you might need some more anti-sickness,” she murmurs as Adora takes a few small sips of water, fussing with the machine and indicating the cup on the side table. “I know you’re not going to want to swallow much after that, love, but there’s some Codeine and Cyclazine in there.” At Adora’s questioning look, she clarifies - “Cyclazine’s for nausea.”
“Thank you,” Adora whispers, and she forces herself to take the tablets with a swig of water, closing her eyes against the uncomfortable sensation of unwanted pressure in her throat. It subsides and Cynthia gets to work taking her blood pressure - which has its own problems.
“Do you usually have high blood pressure, duck?” she asks, sounding mildly alarmed. She’s checking charts and her face is growing stormier by the second.
“Since yesterday,” Adora confirms, her voice still raspy even after her water. She takes a few more sips.
“Right,” Cynthia says dangerously, taking the band off Adora’s arm and unclipping some kind of weird peg thing from her finger. That’s new. “I’m just going to go and have a chat with that mad bloody doctor of yours.” She opens the curtain a little as she goes and Adora distantly notes that Catra’s still awake, her curtain open as well. Even in the dim light of the room her blue and yellow eyes seem to glow slightly.
“Catra,” Adora replies, nodding in greeting. “You’re still up?”
“You throw up real loud,” Catra says matter of factly. Adora huffs out a weak laugh; she’s not in a huge amount of pain right now but the morphine has definitely worn off a bit.
“Sorry - didn’t exactly plan to blow chunks into a cardboard hat but here I am.” She lifts her arms to briefly indicate her sad self, then lets them fall back onto the bed. She actually feels a lot better after that particular upheaval; she’s kind of enjoying being able to speak in full sentences.
“Fortunately for you, princess, I was already awake,” Catra continues as though Adora hasn’t even spoken. Adora narrows her eyes.
“Oh, how blessed I am,” she bites back; Catra bares her teeth in a menacing smile.
“Careful now,” she says, voice low and a little threatening. “I hear you have high blood pressure. Wouldn’t want you to have a stroke.” Adora really wishes she hadn’t used that word. She takes a sip of water - because she’s not on fluids right now and she should hydrate, not because Catra’s voice is doing anything to her - and coughs to clear her throat.
“Has anyone ever told you you’re kind of a dick?” Adora asks, raising her eyebrows. Catra stares at her for a second then bursts out laughing, which is… surprising. It’s a good laugh; rough, a little squeaky, and horribly endearing.
“Oh my god, blondie, literally everyone I’ve ever met,” she says eventually, laughter dying down to a quiet chuckle. Adora can feel herself smiling goofily - she’ll blame it on the drugs.
“Anyone ever told you you’ve got a nice laugh?”
She’ll also be blaming that one on the drugs. Catra goes quiet, staring at her with an unreadable expression from across the room.
“Nope,” she says eventually, and she doesn’t sound angry or anything… just curious. “That’s a new one on me.” And then Cynthia’s back with blood pressure medication and a muttered rant about how Adora could have a heart attack and how doctors can be so useless sometimes -- so Adora doesn’t really have time to say anything else.
“Thank you,” Adora says quietly, accepting the additional tablet and taking it quickly to avoid causing any further issues. Like heart attacks. And making Cynthia mad.
By the time she leaves, Catra’s closed the curtain around her bed, and Adora has absolutely no idea what to make of that.
Other than being woken up every few hours to be given medication and have her blood pressure taken (seriously, it’s near constant) Adora sleeps right through. At 7.30am she’s woken up by a lady in an apron taking her breakfast order - which is a yoghurt, because she really isn’t sure what her body would do with Weetabix - and half an hour later it’s brought to her, along with a carton of apple juice. Her curtain is open now; Catra’s is notably not.
By 8.30am she’s bored out of her mind, and painfully aware that her phone is still back at her dorm room. She can’t text Glimmer to remember to bring her phone because… Well. Anyway.
She also has to pee. She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath, then opens them again. The cannula in her arm isn’t hooked up to anything at the moment - they’ve added a fun cocktail of antibiotics into the mix but those are tablets too - so she should technically be able to go by herself. She’s still fully dressed except for her shoes, which some brave soul must have sacrificed their sanity to remove, so she’s good to go, really.
It takes Adora a couple of minutes just to get out of bed, stopping to steady herself with her arms braced against the edge of the mattress when she finally gets her feet on the floor. The nearby swish of a curtain catches her attention and she looks up to see Catra standing at the end of her bed, cast now removed, looking distinctly unimpressed.
“You know you have a call button for a reason, right Adora?” she says, the hand of her uninjured arm resting on one cocked hip. Adora was right about her legs, unfortunately; they’re both equally nice. Adora has been given compression stockings, which are the least sexy thing on the planet, and they barely fit under her jeans. Catra doesn’t appear to have been subjected to this misery.
“I’m sure the nurses have better things to do than help me get to the toilet,” Adora retorts, but she’s feeling drained and a little sick already to be honest. She closes her eyes again and breathes in and out through her nose.
“You are such a dumbass,” Catra sighs, and a second later she’s by Adora’s side, pointedly pressing her call button before marching back to her own bed. Adora glares at her but Catra looks entirely unaffected as she flops back onto her mattress, grabbing a worn book of crosswords and a pen from her side table. A minute or so later a healthcare assistant putters in, and Adora has to admit it’s miles easier getting around with someone to steady her, even if she hates it. She’s not really used to leaning on other people, physically or otherwise; she’s a leanee, not a leaner.
She gets to and from the toilet without incident, even managing to wrangle some soap, a toothbrush, and a tiny tube of toothpaste out of the HCA. When she gets back to her bed, she feels physically exhausted, but much fresher, and she manages to haul herself onto the mattress without any help. The HCA leaves and something immediately hits Adora in the chest.
“Um, ow?” she says dumbly, rubbing her sternum and looking at the item that’s fallen into her lap. She looks up at Catra with a frown. “Why are you throwing fruit at me?” Catra rolls her eyes and bites into an apple. She chews, swallows, and grins.
“Okay, so, I’m here a lot-” Yeah, Adora’s gonna need to know more about that some time because why?? “You’re waiting for an MRI. Today is Monday - they do a whole bunch of ‘em on Mondays, and you look like shit so it stands to reason you’d be pretty high up the list. They haven’t told you about it yet which means they’ll probably schedule you in for early afternoon, and you’ve gotta be nil by mouth for like… six hours before that. So that means no lunch and I bet you had something pathetic like a yoghurt for breakfast.”
Catra takes another bite of her apple, looking smug. Adora stares at her for a second, then looks down at her own apple.
“Right. Thanks - I think,” she says slowly, picking up the apple and taking an experimental bite. Can’t knock a piece of free fruit, really.
“You’re welcome, princess.” They continue to eat their apples in relative silence, Catra pausing every so often to scrawl something in her crossword book before taking another bite. Adora places her apple core carefully inside her stack of paper medicine cups and wipes her hands on a napkin leftover from breakfast. She isn’t sure why they brought her a napkin with her yoghurt, but she supposes some people might need one. Maybe she looks like she has trouble eating yoghurt.
“Okay so how come you’re here so often?” Adora asks, unable to keep the question to herself any longer. Catra looks up from her crossword book with a grin; she’d obviously been expecting it.
“I regularly save infants from the path of speeding cars.”
“Catra, come on.”
“Timmy just keeps falling down that well, Adora, I don’t know what to tell you.” Adora’s giggling now - she can’t help it, this is so stupid.
“I misunderstood the ‘downward facing dog’ position in a yoga class and upset a vicious Jack Russell terrier?” Adora’s still giggling and there’s a reluctant smile on Catra’s face when they’re interrupted by Entrapta and a veritable gaggle of what look to be medical students.
“Oh look, it’s my two favourite patients!” Entrapta beams, throwing her hands in the air. “And you’re making friends! Oh, this is so nice.” Catra hisses at her and a couple of the students actually take a step back in surprise. Entrapta just smiles a little wider and beckons everyone over to Adora’s bed. Adora waves to Catra as the curtain obscures her from view, then lets her hand drop, feeling like a bit of an idiot.
“Hey, Entrapta,” she says politely - because she hasn’t actually done anything wrong. This is a hospital, not a dating agency. Not that she wants to date Catra, obviously. Except she does a bit.
“Adora! These are my medical students - I won’t tell you their names because I’ll be honest, there’s a lot of them and I don’t remember like any of them, but they’re here to observe. Okay?” Adora nods her consent, and notes that none of the students look particularly surprised by this revelation. “Great! Okay so you get to meet Emily later-” Entrapta’s eyes are shining with enthusiasm, and Adora vaguely remembers that this is what she’s named the MRI machine. “I’ve got you scheduled in for 3.30pm. So you can’t eat from…” She checks her watch, then beams at Adora. “Now! You can have water till 1.30pm. Got it?” Adora nods and Entrapta turns back to her students and starts expanding on Adora’s symptoms, the suspected diagnosis, and what the next few days are likely to look like for her. Adora tunes out a little, and a couple of minutes later the students - along with Entrapta - are filing out of the room and her curtain is once again open.
“Hey Entrapta - when are you letting me outta this place?” Catra says sharply as Entrapta makes for the door; Adora can see she’s sitting on the edge of her bed, recently-freed leg dangling down while she hugs the other knee to her chest. She looks restless. Entrapta grins at her.
“Oh, that depends - are you gonna tell me what happened this time?” Catra rolls her eyes and actually grins back. Jesus Christ, how often is she in here?
“I told you, Doc,” she drawls, leaning back on her hands now (and seriously, is the sling just for show?), leg still swinging back and forth, “I had a terrible accident while trying to execute a shoulder mount into a brass monkey at my weekly pole dancing class.” Entrapta laughs, but Adora nearly swallows her tongue.
“Not with a broken leg you didn’t,” she says patiently, smiling, before waving and hot footing it out the door. Adora is more confused than ever now.
“Hang on,” she says slowly, leaning forward a little. “You had a broken leg before you came in here?” Catra glances at her with a grin.
“Now blondie’s with the programme,” she says slyly, swinging herself around so she has both legs on the bed, crossing them beneath her. “Broke my leg ages ago - funny story, actually. You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to skateboard down the A46.” Adora snorts in spite of herself. “Then there was the more recent incident with that dangerous doomsday cult - they get very protective of their tin openers, apparently - which landed me with a dislocated shoulder and a few shiners. They decided to keep me in since my cast was due to come off anyway.”
“You are so full of shit,” Adora says, but she knows she sounds absolutely delighted, and she can’t bring herself to mind. “Doesn’t it hurt to do that?” she adds, pointing at where Catra’s crossing her legs. Catra looks down as if surprised to see her legs doing that, then looks back at Adora with a pensive expression.
“Alright, princess. You wanna hear a true story?”
“I’ve never wanted anything more in my life,” Adora responds instantly, even though she’s lying because come on.
“I have a congenital defect that means my pain receptors don’t fucking work. This,” she says, indicating her crossed legs, “doesn’t hurt, because it can’t.” Adora stares at her. Catra meets her gaze with a hint of defiance, and Adora’s afraid she’s very much being told the truth.
“Huh,” she says eventually, for lack of anything more intelligent or insightful. “Crazy.” Catra raises her eyebrows.
“Really? That’s what you’re going with?” Adora shrugs.
“I mean, it makes sense.” Catra narrows her eyes.
“What do you mean, ‘it makes sense’?” she asks, sounding almost annoyed.
“Well, if you can’t feel pain, you don’t experience consequences in the same way - hence the multiple accidents, I guess? So like… okay, I tackled that asshole Naomi in a match last week after she took down Huntara, and she went down so hard she bit through her own lip.” Most people wince when they hear stuff like that but Catra just looks vaguely intrigued. “Cause and effect, really. She screwed with our team, and it ended up hurting her. Consequences. So she probably won’t try to take out our second most consistent scorer again - at least until the stitches have healed.” Catra cocks her head to the side.
“Second most consistent scorer, huh,” she says dryly. Adora’s probably smirking just a little bit.
“The rest of that analogy was a heap of shit,” Catra says with a smirk of her own, uncrossing her legs so she can shuffle back against her pillows. “You definitely only told me that so you could imply that you’re the best player on your team.”
“I’m not the best player,” Adora argues. “I just scored the most points for our team this season.” She pauses. “And last season.”
“It’s cute how you’re showing off for me,” Catra says with a grin that would probably make Adora’s knees go weak if she was standing up.
“I am not,” she says hotly, except that she absolutely is.
“Whatever you say, princess.”
When Glimmer and Bow arrive it’s eleven on the dot - trust them to turn up the second visiting hours start, Adora thinks fondly.
“Hey, guys!” she says with a grin, pushing herself up a little in bed and beckoning them over. Bow flings his arms around her for the gentlest hug she thinks he’s capable of, then backs off so Glimmer can do the same.
“How’re you doing, tough guy?” Bow asks softly, settling into a chair while Glimmer starts pulling stuff out of bags. Adora shrugs.
“It’s not so bad!” She glances over at where Catra’s doing her crosswords and pretending not to be listening in on their conversation. “I feel like I’m really bonding with my roommate.”
“Not your roommate,” Catra calls over without looking over from her book. “Definitely not bonding.”
“You gave me an apple,” Adora shoots back. “We’re engaged now.”
“Shut up, idiot.” Adora beams, then turns back to Bow and Glimmer - who are looking at her with twin smirks. Ah, balls.
“Subtle as a brick,” Glimmer murmurs, going back to the bag she’s plonked down at the bottom of Adora’s bed. “Okay, so here’s your phone - it’s on full battery, but I brought you your charger too, since your dumb crime programmes really drain it.”
“They’re not dumb,” Adora retorts automatically. (They’re a bit dumb.)
“We brought your wash bag, a few pairs of jammies, and a whole bunch of your comfiest workout gear.” Glimmer pulls out a pair of slippers with a ‘ha!’ of triumph. “Also these!”
“I owe you both my life,” Adora says with feeling, and Glimmer’s cheeks go a bit pink. “I might have one last, huge favour to ask though.”
“Can you help me shower?”
Bow looks terrified. “Please tell me you’re just asking Glimmer.” Adora snorts.
“I’m just asking Glimmer. I do have some boundaries.” She gets another weird twin look from the both of them and rolls her eyes. “I do. Just because I’m okay showering with the team doesn’t mean I’m about to drag a fifth of the cheerleading squad into the bathroom.” Catra makes a weird noise from the other side of the room, but when Adora glances over at her she’s staring intensely at a crossword clue, pen tapping against her bottom lip. Adora clears her throat.
“Nothing I haven’t seen before,” Glimmer says bracingly, cracking her knuckles. “Let’s do this.”
It takes them a while but eventually Glimmer and Adora emerge from the bathroom victorious. Adora feels bone-tired after standing up for so long, but she’s completely clean now, and dressed in much more comfortable clothes - namely a fresh vest top and a pair of sleep-softened shorts. She doesn’t even care that everyone can see her stupid compression stockings.
When they get back onto the ward, Catra whistles, and Adora rolls her eyes - because maybe she cares a little that everyone can see her stupid compression stockings. Or at least one person in particular.
“Rugby, huh?” Catra says appreciatively, and Adora looks up to meet her eyes so fast that she almost gives herself whiplash. Catra’s grin is wide and sharp, and Adora honestly can’t think of a response. Because that’s a come-on, right?
“Fly-half,” she eventually manages as Glimmer dumps her onto her own bed. She swallows, and Catra shakes her head, still grinning.
“Yeah, that’s definitely what I was asking,” she says, voice dripping with sarcasm and something else as she goes back to her book of crosswords. Adora swallows and tries to ignore her best friends’ stifled laughter.
“Okay, we’ve gotta go because both of us have class in like… half an hour,” Glimmer says apologetically, leaning over to press a quick kiss to Adora’s cheek. “Text us updates. All the time. I wanna be sick of hearing from you.”
“I might be too drugged up,” Adora admits, remembering her introduction to morphine yesterday.
“No excuses,” says Bow, pointing at her firmly, before grinning and ruffling her still-wet hair. “Stay out of trouble. Don’t walk into anything. And don’t talk to strangers.”
“Too late,” Catra mutters from her bed. “She won’t leave me the fuck alone.”
“You gave me an apple,” Adora argues, honestly feeling a little lightheaded. This is banter and nothing Catra says can convince her otherwise.
“An apple is not a declaration, princess,” Catra hisses, looking up from her crossword to glare at her. Adora smiles at her dopily and Catra looks back down with a huff that does nothing to disguise the colour in her cheeks.
Bow and Glimmer are standing in identical positions when she looks back at them, hands on their hips and eyebrows raised. Adora just smiles a little wider.
“I’ll be fine, guys. Go learn some stuff. I’ll let you know how the MRI goes.”
They do leave, eventually, but not before glancing pointedly between her and Catra for a little while, occasionally waggling their eyebrows. Glimmer does something lewd with her tongue and Adora shrieks and smacks her on the shoulder; it’s a testament to how weak she is at the moment that the other girl doesn’t even flinch.
Several quiet minutes after they leave, Catra finally speaks.
“They seem… y’know. Nice.” Adora looks at her with raised eyebrows.
“You say that word like it’s a bad thing.” Catra shrugs, not meeting her eyes.
“Nice is fine.” Adora finds herself bristling.
“I’m nice,” she says eventually, not sure whether or not she’s defending herself - and if she is, why she is. Nobody’s ever had to defend ‘niceness’ before.
Catra looks at her then, and when their eyes meet she feels a frisson of something hot and unfamiliar at the base of her spine.
“I hope there’s a bit more to you than ‘nice’, princess.”
And Adora’s not really sure what to make of that.
The MRI is largely uneventful. She just has to stay still for about forty-five minutes in a loud, buzzing tube, holding her breath when she’s instructed to do so through the over-large headphones clamped over her ears, all while trying not to move unless she’s told to do so. Oh yeah, and she’s strapped down. It’s fine.
(The thing is, Adora’s not only afraid of clowns; she’s also afraid of small spaces. And really, it’s not so much small spaces as it is being restricted within small spaces, if you wanna get technical. She had some good foster homes, and some less good foster homes, and unfortunately the less good ones weren’t so much ‘cupboard under the stairs’ as ‘talk back and we’ll lock you in the basement’.
Adora’s a people-pleaser, yes, but some people are not inclined to be pleased with anything.)
But it’s over, eventually, and she’s allowed out of the papery nightgown they’ve given her to wear and back into her sleep shorts and vest top. She hides her shaking hands under the blanket the orderly gives her when she’s guided back to her wheelchair, and keeps breathing those deep, measured breaths that she’s been told are meant to help with this sort of thing.
Honestly, Catra’s the last person Adora thought would notice.
“You look worse than when you left,” she says once the orderly’s gone, having helped Adora back into her bed. “Small spaces, huh?” She’s being a little gruff, eye contact brief at best, but Adora has the sneaking suspicion it’s because she cares; it makes her feel warm and a bit fluttery.
“Yeah,” she admits, worrying at the fraying edges of her blanket and smiling faintly. “Fine with needles, not so fine with being shoved into a weird tube for an hour.” Catra nods, tapping her pen against her lip again. Adora wishes she’d stop doing that, because it draws attention to her mouth; it’s becoming a problem, because Adora’s still yellow and on a lot of pain medication, and the buffer between her brain and her voice box is pretty poor at the best of times.
“Don’t let Entrapta hear you calling Emily ‘a weird tube’,” Catra warns with a smirk, finishing off a crossword with a flourish and turning the page to start the next one. “Her eyes’ll do that whole… big, shimmery thing. You’ll feel bad, probably.”
“Unlike you?” Adora asks, and she’s not shaking at all anymore.
“Yup,” Catra replies, popping the ‘p’ obnoxiously. It isn’t charming; Adora is not charmed.
They lapse back into silence and Adora’s settled enough now to shoot off a message to Bow and Glimmer in their group chat. Predictably, while she just wanted to give them an update on her MRI, the conversation quickly spirals out of her control.
!!!BEST FRIEND SQUAD!!!
Went into the big metal tube and got scanned. Very loud, kinda scary, but it’s over now. Will let you know when I have an update. Love you guys!
Omg was it really claustrophobic? Are you okay??
Bow, she’s fine. I bet CATRA made her feel better.
Good point, Glim… There were definitely SPARKS in the ward when we were there.
She seems like a horrible person tbh, but maybe you can convince her to change her ways with your feminine wiles.
Urgh no seriously stahp
Hey, maybe you can ask HER to help you shower next time?!
Can you get kicked out of hospital for inappropriate conduct? Asking for no reason at all.
She’s looking at me all weird now, I bet I look like a freaking tomato. STOP THIS AT ONCE
Glimmer packed you some snacks by the way.
Omg snacks where???
Holdall - side pocket. I don’t trust hospital food.
Update us later - now go flirt ineptly, then tell us all about it!
I’m not INEPT
Oh, sweetie. You beautiful, strong, complete moron.
And that’s enough of that.
“Snacks…” Adora mutters to herself, resisting the urge to throw her phone out the window and bury her face in her hands. She finds the stash of goodies exactly where Glimmer said they’d be and, even though she knows it’s entirely inadvisable, she immediately pulls out the bag of chilli heatwave tortilla chips.
“Are those Doritos?” Adora looks up at the bed across from hers to see Catra practically falling off the end of it with interest, staring with undisguised lust at the bag of crisps in Adora’s hands.
“Yeah,” Adora sighs with a reluctant smile. “Glimmer’s great when she’s not teasing me to death! I’m very lucky to have her, really.” Catra pulls a weird face at that and falls back onto her bed with a groan.
“Yeah, yeah. Sorry about the whole… flirting thing. That was probably inappropriate or… whatever.”
Adora blinks at her stupidly, snacks momentarily forgotten. She thinks back over their interactions over the last couple of days and just… comes up empty. Firstly: flirting? I mean, Adora’s definitely been flirting, but why would Catra be apologising to her for that? Secondly: the whole rest of that statement. What.
She has no idea what’s happening. While this isn’t unusual - ask literally any of her friends - right now she feels like she’s missed an entire, crucial chapter in a novel about her own life.
“What?” Catra props herself up on her elbows and narrows her eyes at Adora.
“I’m sorry for, like, flirting with you in front of your girlfriend,” she elaborates, grimacing a little. Adora stares at her.
“Catra,” she says slowly, setting aside the unopened bag of crisps and leaning forward intently. “Do you think Glimmer’s my girlfriend?” Now Catra’s staring back at her, and she looks uncertain.
“She helped you shower?” Adora’s grinning now, and Catra looks utterly trapped.
“Let me get this straight-”
“Nope, we really don’t need to go into this any further,” Catra says quickly, sitting up and shuffling all the way back to the top of her bed as though the extra inches of distance will stop Adora from talking. “I think we’ve established that there’s been a minor misunderstanding here, and I really don’t see why we need to talk about it right now. Or ever.”
“But you were flirting with me!” Adora argues delightedly. Catra looks like she wants to throw herself out the window.
“We all make mistakes.”
“You like me!” Catra actually scoffs at that, and the look of disgust on her face would be way more convincing if she wasn’t blushing furiously all the way down to her chest.
“I don’t like anyone,” she growls, picking up a book from her side table and opening it to a seemingly random page. “And we aren’t talking about this ever again.”
“Oh my god, the apple was totally a declaration,” Adora says breathlessly - and really, who needs painkillers? She’s never felt better. Catra closes the book with a frustrated groan and actually lobs it across the room at Adora, who catches it easily in her left hand. Why is she even still in hospital? She feels great. “You can’t just brain me with a copy of-” she pauses to check the title, then continues- “The Great Gatsby just because you wanna--” Catra makes a desperately embarrassed squeaking noise that is completely adorable, and then she’s getting up and pulling the curtain around her bed, obscuring herself from view. “You can’t hide from me forever!” Adora laughs, grinning stupidly at the closed curtain.
“I really really can,” Catra hisses back. Adora settles back into her pillows and doesn’t stop grinning for half an hour.
Entrapta visits in the evening to tell her she’s definitely got gallstones.
“I was totally right,” she says, sounding delighted at Adora’s misfortune; fortunately, she knows it isn’t personal. Adora’s internal organs are just fascinating to her. “Emily found a whole bunch of those little guys in your bile duct! So we’re gonna give you an endoscopy - that’s when we put a tube down your throat - and blast the suckers away.” Entrapta’s laugh is a little maniacal, but it’s actually kind of endearing; it was objectively terrifying when she was going through puberty. The laugh kind of works with the lab coat now.
(Adora hasn’t seen many other doctors in lab coats here, so she suspects it’s just a thing for Entrapta.)
“Okay, great - when can you do that?”
“We’ll take you down for it on Friday!” Adora’s heart sinks, but she gives Entrapta a weak smile and a ‘thank you’ before she bounces off to see other patients. That means Adora’s going to be here for the rest of the week, which is kind of not what she’d hoped for.
Then again… She looks at the closed curtain opposite hers and her smile widens into something more genuine. She guesses it could be worse.
When Catra’s curtain next opens it’s 8 o’clock the following morning and she’s grudgingly accepting a plate of toast from the trolley lady. Adora’s eating a yoghurt and staring at her, which Catra very pointedly ignores for at least five minutes before she eventually snaps.
“What’re you looking at, blondie?” Adora grins a little wider; she’s not backing down this time.
“You.” Catra rolls her eyes but she’s doing a truly awful job of hiding a smile.
“Well, stop it,” she says as seriously as the upturned corners of her mouth will allow. “Just… shut up and eat your curdled dairy product.” Adora salutes Catra with her spoon.
By lunchtime things are pretty much back to normal - or as normal as things get in hospital, Adora guesses. She doesn’t have a lot of experience. But Catra’s talking to her again, and the flirting is back (it was flirting all along!) so her new normal has been restored, at least.
In the evening Adora’s feeling well-balanced enough to shuffle to the end of her bed when it’s dinner time, and she and Catra talk over their surprisingly nice meals; Adora has beef stew and dumplings and it’s actually decent. She can only eat half of it, but she doesn’t mind, because honestly? Her attention is almost entirely on the woman opposite.
“Anyway, then I got fired because some child started crying at the burn on my arm, which I like… didn’t even notice was there,” she says, shrugging and taking a bite of her chicken. She chews, swallows, and continues. “I mean, technically it was pretty gross, but they pretended they were firing me for reckless behaviour.”
“Is spilling hot coffee on your arm classed as ‘reckless behaviour’?” Adora asks doubtfully, pushing away her plate and resting her chin on her hands with a frown. “Because, like… I do that all the time.” Catra sniggers.
“Oh man, I bet you do. For someone who plays sports, you have absolutely no coordination at all.” Adora bristles.
“Hey, that’s not true!” Catra raises her eyebrows and stares pointedly at the spot next to Adora’s bed where her slippers used to be. They aren’t there anymore, because earlier this afternoon, she’d tried to put them on and nearly brained herself on the table. Adora sighs. “It’s a little true.”
“You’re a disaster,” Catra agrees, and Adora has to hide a grin in her glass of water because she sounds so reluctantly fond.
On Thursday morning, Glimmer and Bow visit again. It’s brief - they both have classes - but they’re there long enough.
“Any progress?” Bow asks, waggling his eyebrows lewdly at her.
“Yes, I have managed to get through several episodes of CSI, thank you for asking,” Adora responds calmly, baring her teeth just a little at him. He smiles back innocently and Glimmer coughs to cover her laughter.
“That is precisely what I was asking!” Bow says brightly, folding his arms and leaning back in one of the plastic chairs by her bed. “Totally. What else would I have been asking for progress on? Glimmer?” Glimmer rubs her chin in a parody of deep thought.
“Hm, let’s think… Other than dumb crime procedural shows, what else is Adora obsessed with?”
“Judging from her breakfast choices, it’s peach yoghurt,” Catra says dryly from the other side of the room, flicking disinterestedly through the lunch menu.
“Yeah, maybe it’s the yoghurt,” Glimmer says with a grin, turning back to Adora. “Is the yoghurt your favourite thing in the hospital, Adora?”
“I can tell you what my least favourite things in the hospital are right now,” she responds darkly, folding her arms crossly while Bow and Glimmer snigger and high-five each other.
“I changed my mind about your friends,” Catra says when the pair have finally left to get to their afternoon classes. “They’re not nice. They’re fucking weird.” Adora sighs.
“Yeah. As soon as I’m out of here I’m launching them both into the sun and getting new friends. Better ones. Ones who appreciate yoghurt.”
“Damn,” Catra says with a deep, dramatic sigh. “Guess that rules me out then. Let me know when you’re taking applications for non-yoghurt-enthusiasts again.” Adora flushes down to her toes.
Catra totally likes her.
On Thursday evening, Entrapta tells Catra that she’s going to have her sling taken off, and that she can be discharged. Adora, who is shamelessly eavesdropping while pretending to watch one of her (totally not dumb) crime shows, feels her heart drop into her stomach.
Catra’s leaving. She’s going to be stuck in here by herself, or someone new is going to come in, but either way it won’t matter because Catra won’t be there. They haven’t even exchanged phone numbers. Adora stares resolutely at her phone screen, even though she can’t really see it; her eyes might be a little misty.
“Actually, my arm still feels pretty uncomfortable,” Catra says casually, and Adora can’t help it - she looks up in surprise. Catra’s staring directly at her, and when their eyes meet, the corner of her mouth quirks up just a little; she turns back to Entrapta, who’s looking confused.
“But Catra, you can’t feel anything.”
“Oh, so I don’t know my own body now?” she argues, lounging back against her pillows and raising her eyebrows. “Because it definitely feels uncomfortable. Maybe all those trials you’re doing on me are working? Anyway, I don’t see myself being discharged until… tomorrow afternoon, probably.”
Adora has her endoscopy tomorrow morning. Catra’s staying for her. Adora feels like her heart’s going to burst.
“You are a very confusing person,” Entrapta says eventually, shrugging. When she leaves, Catra refuses to meet Adora’s eyes, but she’s smiling down at her book in a way that tells Adora she knows she’s being watched.
“Thank you,” she says quietly, and Catra’s smile gets a little more pronounced as she nods down at her book.
“Sure thing, princess.”
Adora goes down for her fancy endoscopy at 9am, after signing a bit of paper saying she accepts the risks of the procedure; as usual, the main one that sticks out is death.
“I could die?” Adora asks incredulously, staring down at the paper with no small amount of trepidation.
“Oh sure,” Entrapta says breezily, twirling a pen in her fingers. “But that’s a risk with everything! You’re more likely to get hit by a car, statistically speaking.”
“I’m not sure if that’s comforting or not.”
“Just sign the damn form, Adora,” Catra says from her bed, sighing and sitting up to glare at her. “Nothing’s gonna happen.”
“You don’t know that,” Adora argues, pen hovering over the empty space where her signature should be.
“Okay, how about this, princess?” Catra says with a grin. “If anything happens to you, I’ll tear the hospital down myself. Brick by brick. I haven’t signed anything.” Adora stares at her, mouth slightly open, and tries desperately to keep her heartbeat under control. She’s joking, obviously. She’s… They’ve known each other for a week. This is just how she is.
“Dramatic,” Adora murmurs finally, scribbling her name in the box and thrusting the form at Entrapta. “Okay, fine. Avenge me.” Catra’s grin dulls slightly and she leans further forward, looking weirdly intense.
“Only if you make me, Adora.” She’s never been threatened into surviving something before.
(It probably shouldn’t be this sexy.)
The time passes in a blur of pain medication, sedatives, and mild discomfort. They tell her afterwards that they couldn’t get the stones out, but they’ve managed to get a stent in there so stuff can drain again (gross); she should get less yellow over the next 24 hours. She can probably go home in a couple of days.
She takes all of this in with all the decorum and presence of mind of one who has been heavily medicated and then had a tube stuck down their throat. They have to repeat the information at least three times until she gets it, but they are remarkably patient; no doubt they’ve dealt with much spacier people than her.
It all goes fine really, all things considered. She didn’t die! She’s very excited about that part, because she kind of feels like there are things she’d like to do before she goes. Several of them involve Catra.
Adora really isn’t expecting to get yelled at when she gets back to the ward, but the second the orderlies leave the room, Catra’s out of her own bed and pointing accusingly at her from a scant few inches away.
“You were gone for like three hours,” she hisses, looking seriously pissed. Adora blinks at her.
“I couldn’t really tell them to go any faster,” she says dumbly. “There was a tube down my throat?” Catra deflates a little, crossing her arms across her chest; Adora distantly notes that she’s abandoned the pretence of needing a sling.
“Yeah well,” Catra says stiffly, now refusing to make eye contact. “I thought I’d have to make good on that whole… hospital destruction thing. Might’ve been a bit morally questionable.” Without thinking, Adora reaches out to wrap a hand around Catra’s wrist; she looks up sharply but doesn’t pull away.
“C’mere,” Adora says quietly, pulling gently enough that Catra can say no; that she can go back to her own bed and continue to be mad at Adora from a distance.
Instead, Catra clambers into bed beside her, wrapping scarred, bruised arms around her waist and resting her head on Adora’s chest. Distantly, Adora thinks this probably isn’t allowed; they’ll most likely get an earful the next time a nurse comes through, and Catra will be discharged because, really, she doesn’t need to be here anymore.
But for now, Adora just leans her head against Catra’s and breathes.
Catra gets discharged a few hours later.
Adora’s asleep when the formalities happen, because she’s exhausted all the time, but Catra wakes her up to say goodbye.
“I’ve put my number in your phone, so you can’t like… ignore me or anything,” she says quickly, eyes darting around like she’s done something wrong, and not like she’s given Adora what she’s been psyching herself up to ask for anyway. “So… text me, princess.”
“How did you know my password?” Adora says stupidly, instead of one of the five thousand other inappropriate things she wants to say. Catra huffs a dry laugh.
“You should maybe change it to something other than your birthday. You have to repeat that aloud every time they bring you medication, Adora - it really wasn’t difficult.”
“Right, yeah. Of course.” She doesn’t know what to say, except maybe don’t go or you make me feel something I don’t know how to categorise. Catra looks at her with an unreadable look for a moment, then leans forward and presses a kiss to her forehead.
Adora maybe cries herself to sleep. Just a bit.
Physically, Adora feels much better the next day. She manages some toast, and at around 10am she figures she can probably shower all by herself - a luxury, really, given how the last week has gone. She gets clean, brushes her teeth, and puts on fresh shorts and a t-shirt.
Mentally, she’s drained; she wonders how she’s managed to sleep in a room without Catra nearby for all these years. It’s weird.
She exits the hospital bathroom feeling physically refreshed, if nothing else, and makes her way back to her room. When she steps inside the breath very briefly leaves her body.
“Catra?” Because that’s who’s leaning against the wall by her bed. She’s wearing a slim-fitting t-shirt tucked into torn skinny jeans, hands shoved inside the pockets of a well-tailored bomber jacket that makes her look… Adora doesn’t know what the best phrase would be. ‘Dangerously attractive’ maybe? If Adora’d had real parents, she imagines they’d have warned her about girls like Catra.
She wants to eat her alive.
“Hey, princess,” Catra says softly, like it’s totally normal that she’s back here, before visiting hours, on a goddamn Saturday. Like she has nothing better to do than to turn up looking like that when it’s all Adora’s wanted since she left. Then Catra’s pulling something out of her pocket and holding it out to her.
It’s an apple.
Suddenly Adora can move. She takes the last few steps towards Catra, knocking her outstretched arm out of the way; the apple falls to the ground and rolls underneath the bed, but Adora is occupied in crowding Catra up against the wall, tangling a hand in her hair to bring their mouths together. The noise Catra makes in response is breathtaking; there’s a broken, desperate quality to it that settles deep in Adora’s stomach and molds itself against the contours of her heart. Catra presses back with her entire body, arms coming up to wrap around Adora’s neck and pull her impossibly closer.
When Adora reluctantly pulls back for breath, she rests her forehead against Catra’s, eyes closed and searching vainly for a time she’s ever felt this much for someone so new. She feels like her heart isn’t equipped for whatever this is, but also like she’d give absolutely anything to try anyway.
“I guess you’re not a total idiot,” Catra says eventually, still sounding a little breathless and shaky. That voice does things to Adora; she wonders what she’d have to do to take away Catra’s ability to speak entirely.
“Thanks,” she says with a slow grin, opening her eyes and drinking in the expression of almost-wonder on Catra’s face. “Anything in particular you’re thinking of there?” Now Catra’s grinning back, and her arms tighten almost imperceptibly behind Adora’s neck.
“Sometimes an apple is a declaration.”