The end of show wrap party takes place in the same pub they always go to. In the four years Adora has been doing plays with SWTT, the pub has changed ownership and changed names three different times, but the inside is always the same: slightly dim, slightly grungy, and just unpopular enough of a local venue that they don’t care that the annoying theatre group takes it over and drives away all normal patrons for an evening every couple months.
Tonight as their Lyft pulls into the strip mall parking lot, Adora idly notes that the painted-over signage declares it to be The Crimson Wastes. Last time she was here it was The Garnet Chamber, but all the long term community theatre people refer to it as The Velvet Glove, which apparently was its original name like twenty years ago when it had higher ambitions of being a classy joint. You can still see the lingering vestiges of that first version of the bar, beneath all the grime and the years of neglect - the beautiful leather upholstery on the bench seats, the elaborate patterning of the interior carpet, the big, solid wooden pool table and the stately, sweeping bar that runs the length of the establishment.
Catra is grinning as Adora leads her inside with an arm around her shoulders.
“What are you so happy about?” Adora teases, as Catra’s eyes take in the place everybody calls The Old Glove.
“There’s a karaoke machine in the corner and this place smells like stale beer and Old Spice deodorant,” Catra says, sounding triumphant. “This is either going to be the worst cast party I’ve ever been to, or the best one.”
“Well, it’s going to be the best one for me for sure,” she says in a low voice, leaning her face towards Catra’s with a conspiratorial smile.
“Oh my god,” Catra mutters, still grinning, “you’re going to be just aggressively sappy from now on, aren’t you?” Despite the fact that this could be interpreted as a complaint, Catra closes the distance between their faces and kisses Adora, and it’s honestly the best goddamn thing in the world.
“Hey, lovebirds,” Glimmer calls, “Over here! We’re claiming this booth!”
Adora returns to reality with a laughing smile.
“Be right there!” Adora yells giddily across the bar with more volume than is strictly necessary. She feels a bit bad for the pub’s employees, because that’s kind of going to be the theme for the evening. Adora’s eyes catch on Sea Hawk and Mermista approaching the bar, and she gives Catra’s shoulder a quick squeeze. “I’ll be right back!”
“Sure,” Catra says, with a smile; as Adora slides her arm off of Catra’s shoulders, their hands meet, entangle briefly, and then they part. Adora heads for the bar, and Catra makes her way to the booth with Bow and Glimmer. Adora works her wallet out of the pocket of her jeans as she hurries to intercept the transaction she sees happening.
Nuh-uh, absolutely not, Sea Hawk. Not on her watch.
“This man,” Adora announces, cutting him off in his conversation with the bartender and sliding her credit card across the bar towards the bemused looking employee, “is absolutely not to be allowed to pay for any of his own drinks tonight. Open a tab with that card; whatever he orders is on me.”
“Adora, are you hitting on my boyfriend?” Mermista asks with absolutely zero sincerity.
“No,” she says, grinning and slinging an arm around his shoulders, “I’m thanking him for saving my dumb ass from spending what probably would have been at least another two weeks in a state of idiotic confusion about why Catra was so upset, and from probably saying even more stupid things than I already did.”
“Oh my god,” Mermisa says, fixing Sea Hawk with a look. “I knew it, you did tell her.”
Sea Hawk squeaks in terror, and rapidly turns to the bartender.
“Quickly, my friend, a shot of something strong and pain-numbing,” he stage-whispers.
“Re- lax,” Mermista says, rolling her eyes and hopping into a bar stool, crossing her legs regally. “It’s fine. I guess it’s like, one of your good qualities or something that your moral compass does actually work when it’s to do with anything unrelated to property damage.”
Sea Hawk brightens considerably, but he still accepts the shot glass of something golden-brown that the bartender sets down in front of him. He picks it up and raises it in a toast towards Adora.
“To your new relationship! May it be filled with the endless and terrifying adventure that is love,” he says, a sincere smile under his truly terrible facial hair. He downs the shot, and then coughs and shudders. “Ye Gods,” he hisses; Adora thinks she sees the bartender suppress a laugh at his discomfort.
She orders a beer for herself and a hard lemonade for Catra; most of the town’s bars carry the local brand that Catra likes, and the Old Glove is no exception. When she slides into the booth beside Catra and wordlessly presents the offering, Catra smiles that wonderful, soft, surprised little smile of hers.
“Thanks, princess,” she murmurs, craning her head up to kiss Adora’s cheek. Adora thinks she must be blushing from hairline to navel, but that doesn’t stop her from grinning fit to crack her face in half. She barely even hears Glimmer choking on her drink or Bow keening with delight. Barely.
With almost the entire cast and crew assembled and rowdy, Netossa claims ownership of the karaoke machine microphone to get all of their attention. She gives a beautiful speech and makes a point to thank all of the tech crew, stage hands, and miscellaneous other volunteers that often go neglected - the large turnout for the party is a good indication of how well Netossa has done in fostering a culture where they don’t feel like they’re treated as second class contributors next to the cast. Netossa is, as always, an excellent and powerful speaker, but Adora is distracted by the butterflies of nerves she feels, knowing what comes next. Netossa always asks the leads to get up and give a little speech at the wrap party.
Sure enough, once she’s done and the applause has died down, she says:
“Catra! The woman of the hour. Get on up here.” Catra stiffens next to Adora in the booth.
“What, do I give a speech too?” She croaks, smiling bashfully. The raucous crowd answers this with a loud chanting of SPEECH, SPEECH, SPEECH, banging on tables, and Adora notices a couple in the corner of the bar who looked like they were on a date quietly pay their tab and slip away. Woops. She returns her attention to the moment at hand, gives Catra’s shoulder a reassuring little squeeze.
“Get up there,” she whispers. “They all like you.”
Catra wiggles out of the bench seat and goes bashfully to the little three-inch-tall riser that the karaoke machine is on, where Netossa hands her the mic and then leans in to whisper something in her ear that makes her brighten and blush. Adora smiles. She really likes Netossa.
“Uh, hey, everybody,” Catra starts awkwardly, speaking into the microphone, and it’s so strange to see her looking unsure with it as if she doesn’t make her living as a performer in front of strange crowds. Maybe that’s what’s got her so nervous - the fact that this crowd isn’t one of strangers. A cheer goes up from the group, whistles and hollers of encouragement; Adora determinedly ensures she’s the loudest person there. Catra laughs, stands a little taller and more sure. “You guys are gonna make me cry, quit that,” she says, a sweet, honest smile blooming across her face. “Thank you. Really.”
She takes a breath, looks around the bar at all the scattered theatre people grinning up at her expectantly.
“When I first moved here, I had no idea what to expect. I definitely didn’t expect everybody to be so incredible, and welcoming, and supportive.” There are a few people who shout AWW from the tables, but for the most part they settle into listening. Adora can already tell she’s going to cry, and she’s not even buzzed yet. “I haven’t done theatre since I was a kid, and honestly, I only stuck with it back then because my best friend was really into it.” Her eyes sparkle with something and she flicks her gaze to Adora. Adora didn’t know that; she swallows heavily and presses a fist to her mouth - yep, definitely already crying. “So when I came back to it after moving here, I sort of thought it would just sort of be something to do, and maybe a way to meet new people. I definitely didn’t expect to fall in love with it again.” Bow sniffles loudly; Adora is relieved she’s not the only one crying.
“But I did, and it wasn’t because anything about theatre had changed. It was all you guys.” Catra blinks and then wipes her eyes. “Fuck, okay, here we go, I’m totally crying.” Everybody laughs sympathetically, and she laughs along with them. She takes a shuddering breath and continues. “I had no idea there were directors out there like Netossa who bring so much passion and thoughtfulness to their craft and still treat everybody with kindness and respect while doing it.” Adora - and several others - glance at Netossa to see how she reacts to this. At her table, she and her wife clutch at each other as they listen to Catra with adoring smiles. Adora has never seen Netossa cry before, but there is a glisten in her eyes tonight. “I had no idea that a cast of people pretending to be a family could become like a family to me.”
“We love you Catra!!” Bow yells. She laughs, a shaky, joyous burst of air.
“You guys really are all something special. Thank you for letting me be your Francesca. Thank you for having my back when I couldn’t do one of the show nights. Thank you for showing me what it’s like to be part of a group that makes a rehearsal space feel like a home.”
She puts the mic back in the stand, and everybody claps and cheers and bangs tables and stamps their feet. Sea Hawk does this with such vigor that only DT’s quick reflexes save his full pint of beer from ending up in Mermista’s lap; instead it just slops a third of the glass onto the table and into the carpet. Ah well. Nothing this nasty old place hasn’t soaked up before.
Catra’s speech is so beautiful that Adora manages to completely forget that she hasn’t been let off the hook. As soon as Catra steps down from the riser, Glimmer yells ADOOOORAAAAA and everybody else takes up the howl. With sheepish reluctance, she gets to her feet and makes her way to the mic; as Catra passes her, still smiling, their hands touch fondly, instinctively. Then she releases Catra and hops up onto the riser.
“Frankly, I have no idea how I’m supposed to follow that,” Adora starts, and everybody laughs. “I guess I’m gonna echo everything she and Netossa said. You all make this so much more than just a hobby. I don’t think I’d be the same person without this group. I’m just so grateful that I’ve been able to spend so many years with you all, and get to be part of making these stories come to life on stage with you. Everybody works so hard. I feel like I’m always racing to keep up with how much you all put into every single performance, but at the same time, it’s always so fun. These last four months have just raced by. Um.” She grins nervously. “I’m not very good at this. Sure wish I had a script right now. Somebody feed me my line?” The group chuckles indulgently.
“Your line is ‘Love you nerds, peace out’!” Glimmer yells from their booth. Adora laughs and shakes her head. She leans into the mic, and then as sincerely and fondly as she possibly can, she says,
“Love you nerds. Peace out.”
It’s nowhere near as stirring of a speech as Catra’s but, well, she was never going to be able to compete with that.
They all get wonderfully, riotously drunk.
The bar staff won’t allow them to turn the karaoke machine on one second before ten o’clock, so they’re already quite boisterous by the time the singing starts.
At one point in the evening, just about the entire cast and crew end up singing Summer Lovin’ with Adora playing Danny and Catra playing Sandy. They swing each other around on the riser, noses just a breath apart, while the pub rocks with the force of two dozen voices screaming tell me more, tell me more!
Afterwards, Adora remembers breathlessly making out with Catra in their booth while Bow and Glimmer croon Breaking Free at each other.
Later they make a return to their Grease roles and take the stage for a rendition of You’re The One That I Want, and Adora screeches herself raw with pure, unfiltered joy as she sings I better shape up, if I’m gonna prove -
You better prove - Catra sings, smiling more than Adora’s ever seen her smile in her life - that my faith is justified!
From there, Adora’s memories of the evening get muddier, if still full of rollicking happiness.
“That’s my girlfriend,” she tells the bartender, leaning against the bar and getting another pint, watching Catra with awe.
“That’s my girlfriend,” she whispers giddily to Glimmer, leaning in like this is a secret, pointing with her finger behind one hand to where Catra is literally right next to her.
“That’s - “
“Yeah, your girlfriend, we know,” Mermista interrupts, rolling her eyes goodnaturedly.
Catra continues to call her princess in front of other people.
Adora continues to love it.
In the Lyft on the way home, Catra snuggles into her arms. Glimmer has fallen asleep on Catra’s other side; Bow valiantly took the front passenger seat so that Adora and Catra could cuddle.
“Hey,” Adora whispers into Catra’s ear. “Did you know… you’re my girlfriend.”
Catra giggles, the sound warm and ruddy with her own drunkenness.
“No, you’re my girlfriend,” she says, rubbing her face against Adora’s like she’s claiming her. Adora really, truly does not mind.
“Hell yeah,” Adora mumbles.
She doesn’t remember getting home, but she wakes up the next morning in her own bed with all her clothes on. She has a splitting headache and her mouth feels like she’s been trying to go down on one of those dentist spit vacuums for the last twelve hours, but Catra is beside her, so really, all in all, she thinks this can’t be that terrible of a morning.
Two Months After Bridges
Warm, comforting steam fills the bathroom.
Adora closes her eyes, breathes in. It’s nice.
Catra’s fingers trail softly down her arms. That’s nice too.
“Are you ready?” Catra asks gently.
“Yeah,” Adora says, smiling, keeping her eyes closed a moment longer before she opens them to meet Catra’s. “Ready as I’ll ever be, I think.”
Catra places a gentle kiss to her bare chest. Mm. That. That’s nice too.
Adora reaches down to the button of her own jeans, tries not to notice the way her heart rate picks up against her wishes when she pops it open.
Catra touches another delicate kiss to her shoulder. Another soft, soothing counterbalance to the panic doing its best to assert itself in Adora’s chest.
“You’re always allowed to change your mind,” Catra reminds her. Adora’s hands at her fly go still, but not because she’s having doubts.
She lifts her hands to Catra’s face, holds it between both of them.
“I love you,” she murmurs. It’s the first time she’s said it out loud quite this explicitly. Catra reacts to the words with a smile that says she’s known, and has been patiently waiting for Adora to work up the courage to say it. Catra is so patient with her. It makes her even more sure that she’s ready to try this.
“I love you too,” Catra says, and leans in and rises up on her tiptoes so that their foreheads are pressing together. Adora holds that position for two steadying breaths and then kisses her, slow and tender and full of her thousands of feelings for this one wonderful woman.
Catra smiles when they part.
Adora takes her hands away from Catra’s face, down again to her own pants. With a confident movement - fluid and certain, but not quick, not frantic - she unzips the jeans and pushes them and her boxer shorts down, past her knees, past her ankles. She steps out of them without taking her eyes from Catra’s face.
It’s easier if she doesn’t look.
She swallows, and Catra chases the movement of her throat with more soft, fluttering kisses.
“Is it okay if I look?” Catra murmurs. They’ve already had the discussion before reaching this point; it makes Adora love her all the more that she’s double-checking in the moment.
“Yeah,” Adora says, stroking her cheek, running her other hand down Catra’s neck, splaying her fingers across her naked collarbone.
“Okay if I touch?” She confirms.
“Yeah,” Adora says, a little more shakily. She swallows. “I just might not be able to watch while you do.”
Catra kisses her; it starts soft, but Adora kisses back with intensity, with a sharper, gaspier energy as her complex feelings about her injury start to get closer to the surface. Catra answers the fire of Adora’s kiss with only a moment of surprised hesitation, pressing her fingertips blissfully hard into Adora’s bare hips.
Damn if Adora isn’t actually managing to get a little turned on in spite of all the stress this moment is wrapped up in.
They kiss for a while, but Adora knows she can't delay the inevitable forever. Catra smiles at her when they eventually part, brushes her knuckles across Adora’s stomach so lightly that it tickles and Adora laughs and flinches a little. Catra's eyes flick down meaningfully, and then back up to Adora’s face. Asking permission, checking one final time.
Wordlessly, Adora gives a short, nervous nod.
Catra begins to kiss her way down Adora’s body.
Adora closes her eyes, tries to exist in the moment and not let her trauma hijack the experience.
She thinks about the soft caress of Catra’s lips against her skin, about the way an indulgent exhalation follows each slow, barely-there kiss.
She thinks about the pleasant warmth of the steam that has turned the air of the bathroom into a cozy blanket of moisture, about the way the shower will be the perfect temperature once they get in and the heat of it will soothe and relax all her muscles.
She thinks about the sounds, too, that are wrapped around her so gently; the relaxing white noise of the shower, the soft sound of Catra’s kisses as they travel lower and lower.
Adora puts her hand in Catra’s hair, and that gives her another nice sensation to focus on. Catra looks up at the touch, checking in, and Adora smiles down at her. Everything’s okay. She’s okay.
Catra continues downwards, kissing Adora’s hips, down her thighs, to her knees.
Adora wants to relax, but it’s hard. She’s trying. She’s doing the best that she can, doing a damn sight better than she’d have been just two or three years ago.
Catra has stilled; Adora risks a glance down. Catra is looking. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
Adora manages to keep herself from wrenching away by focusing very deliberately on her breathing and staring up at the ceiling.
“Hey,” Catra murmurs, kissing just above Adora’s knee, “it’s just me.”
Adora takes a few more careful breaths; she’s not sure she can talk right now, but she strokes her fingers through Catra’s hair, wanting to reassure her that she isn’t doing anything wrong.
Catra’s hands curl around Adora’s ankles, touching them both at the same time.
“And it’s just you,” Catra says, so, so fucking gently that Adora has to fight down sudden tears. She isn’t worthy of this tenderness, this care, this patience.
Catra’s hands move up, warm and enveloping, up the backs of Adora’s calves, and finally the hand on Adora’s left leg is irrevocably in contact with the worst of the injury, the part of Adora’s calf muscle that she still privately thinks of as mangled even though her therapist doesn’t like that word.
She’s breathing hard, but she’s keeping the panic contained.
“It’s just you,” Catra says again, kissing her knee, kissing her shin, kissing her ankle.
Adora gives a strangled little whimper, nearly at her limit. Catra slowly withdraws her hands - slow enough that Adora’s insecurities can’t make her believe that she’s pulling them away in disgust - and then rises back to standing, wraps her arms around Adora.
Adora quickly holds Catra to her, pressing her face into Catra’s hair and taking big, gulping breaths of the reassuring smell of her. She’s shaking, but - but she’s okay. She’s okay.
They’re both naked - Adora is naked - and they’re okay.
Catra loves her. Catra doesn’t think she’s a failure. Catra doesn’t think she’s pathetic. Catra doesn’t think she’s unworthy.
“Ready to get clean?” Catra suggests, eventually, and Adora is appreciative even of that tiny detail, the way Catra frames it as an action with a purpose, a deliberate reason for showering that Adora can use to propel herself forward.
“Yeah,” Adora says, and then, for the second time, “I love you.”
“I love you,” Catra affirms, and they kiss again, and this time it feels like a sweet, blissful sigh of a relief.
Three Months After Bridges
Catra doesn’t like surprises, so Adora doesn’t try to surprise her. They plan the birthday bonfire together, even though Catra says she feels silly to have anybody make a big deal out of the day. They set up at the beach in the same spot as that first bonfire back in May, and this time Catra brings her guitar.
Adora watches, smiling, as Catra and Rogelio engage in a series of instrumental duets. Catra seems so openly joyful, so comfortable and so relaxed.
Scorpia brings her girlfriend, Perfuma, who it turns out already knows like half the musical theatre group from a shared elective in Queer History at BMU.
They talk animatedly about the next show Netossa has hinted she’s trying to secure the rights for. They sing. They swap stories.
Adora admires Catra and her guitar and her growing network of friends, quietly in awe of the person she’s become in spite of every obstacle put in her path, and she turns to Glimmer and says, “I think I want to marry her someday.”
One Year After Bridges
Catra emerges from the bedroom looking like she’s seen a ghost.
“Everything okay, babe?” Adora asks, rising immediately from her seat on the couch and fumbling for the controller to pause the competitive baking show she put on to distract herself.
“Yeah,” Catra says, frowning at her phone like it’s betrayed her somehow. Unhappy? Confused?
“Was the call really weird or something?” Adora bristles. She’d kind of worried that the guy who’d showed up at the end of their last show and pressed his business card into Catra’s palm was just trying to pick her up or something. “He wasn’t actually a talent agent, was he?”
“No, no, he was,” Catra says, coming the rest of the way into the living room and flopping down on the couch. Adora sits back down again and Catra immediately slots their bodies together. “He offered me representation. He thinks I could go pro.”
“I - Catra, that’s great!” Adora starts to smile, but Catra isn’t looking happy at all about this news. “Isn’t it?”
“He wants me to move to New York.”
“Oh,” Adora says. And then, “Fuck.”
They’re silent for a while.
Adora looks around their apartment, thinking about the life they’ve started building here in this quiet little oceanside town. She loves their apartment, loves the wall of guitars above their sofa and the framed promotional poster for The Bridges of Madison County hanging in the hallway between the bathroom and the bedroom. She loves the little balcony and its growing collection of greenery - Catra wants to try growing peppers next year, the kinds that she can never find at the local grocery store - and she loves the big gray cat they accidentally adopted six months ago, intending to only keep it until they could find someone to take him in and then inevitably becoming too attached to let him go.
She can’t imagine leaving.
But if this is what Catra wants…
“I can find a job as a physiotherapist in New York,” Adora says, gently. “If you want to take a shot at it, we can make it work.” She kisses the back of Catra’s neck. “I love you, and I’m going to be right by your side no matter what you decide to do.”
Catra sighs and softens against her, turning in Adora’s arms to kiss her once and then look at her.
“The thing that keeps running around in my head,” Catra confesses, “Is that it would be such an incredible fuck you to old Weaver, if I managed to end up on Broadway. I just. I think about the look on her face when she sees me on the news, or in a newspaper, or something, and for like half a second I feel like maybe I could win, for once, I could prove to her that I was better than she thought I was.”
Adora nods, understandingly, but doesn’t interrupt. She can feel a ‘but’ coming.
“But,” Catra sighs, and there it is, “then when I keep trying to picture it, I can just feel it in my bones that she’d immediately turn around and start telling people she raised me, that she’s the only reason I managed to be successful. And the whole fucking fantasy just turns right back into a nightmare.”
“Well, if you could take Weaver out of the equation,” Adora suggests, and she is careful with this suggestion because she knows Catra's abuse at the hands of that horrible woman is tied very inextricably with a lot of her insecurities and not-great habits, “how would you feel about the thought of going to New York and trying for Broadway?”
“Honestly?” Catra mutters, settling herself against Adora’s chest and talking to the couch cushions, “I don’t think I feel anything at all. I didn’t get back into theatre because I wanted to be famous or to rise to the top or even make money doing it. It’s not that I don’t love it, I just… I don’t think that’s actually what I want from it.” She frowns darkly. “The agent kind of implied that I had talent that was being wasted on doing community theatre in a little nowhere university town. Like, he didn’t explicitly say it, but he definitely tried to nudge me towards the idea that I owe it to myself, or whatever, to do more than this with theatre.”
“He sounds like a prick,” Adora blurts, before she can stop herself. Catra looks up at her in surprise and then bursts out laughing.
“He kind of was, yeah,” she concedes. She wraps her arms around Adora’s waist and cuddles in closer. “Do you think it’s selfish to be satisfied with just… doing this sort of stuff for fun, even if I could theoretically be going pro?”
“No,” Adora says gently but firmly, stroking her fingers through Catra’s hair. “It isn’t selfish to let yourself be happy.”
A week later, Catra signs up for the songwriting class Spinnerella is running that Rogelio has been pestering her to check out.
A month after that, Rogelio invites her to join the little jazz-folk guitar trio that he’s part of, since their third member had a baby and dropped out to focus on the kid.
“Original music doesn’t make as much money as cover work,” Catra reminds Adora worriedly.
“I make more than enough to handle the bills for a while,” Adora reassures her. “I’m coming up on my year-end review, and Castaspella has been promising me a pretty substantial raise. I think she’s worried I’ll accept that offer from the place on the other side of town. Even if the original music doesn’t end up making much money, we’re stable. You should just go for it - the worst case scenario is that it turns out it's not for you, and you go back to the cover music, or try something else. You came here to get out of a rut and reinvent yourself, remember? Besides - it makes you happy. That's what matters to me.”
Catra joins the guitar trio.
Adora’s never seen her so happy.
Two Years After Bridges
“Nervous?” Catra asks, reaching across the console to squeeze her hand.
“Yeah,” Adora admits, huffing anxiously.
“You’ll do fine,” Catra says, the steady certainty of her words smoothing out the worst ruffles of Adora’s fear. “You’ve put in so much work. You’ve come so far. I want you to go out there and just have fun, okay?”
Adora smiles at her, leans across to the passenger seat to kiss her.
“Okay,” she says, lingering in Catra’s space just to get a few more moments of that reassuring calm into her system.
“Come on,” Catra says, kissing her eyebrow. “You don’t want to miss the warm-up. I’ll be right there.”
“You know you don’t have to stay,” Adora says. “You could take the car and just pick me up when it’s done.”
“I brought my notebook,” Catra says, unwavering. “I’ll just hang out in the bleachers and fuck around with the lyrics I've been working on, and you’ll know I’m right there if you need me.”
“You’re amazing,” Adora sighs, “I love you so much.”
“I love you too,” Catra says wryly, popping open her door, “and you’re stalling. Come on, princess.”
Adora takes one last breath in, then opens her own door and steps out into the unpaved parking lot. She feels wind against her bare shins and looks down almost involuntarily. Below her long mesh shorts, the bold color of her vibrant leg sleeve is a reassuring sight. The tattoo has taken her four separate six-hour sessions and many months of healing to get to this point - not to mention the money, but, as Catra keeps reminding her, she can afford it with her salary and it’s absolutely worth it to hire the best artist in town - and this is only the third time she’s been out in public with it - and beneath it, her injured leg - visible.
It feels... good.
As they get closer to the soccer pitch, her senses start to pick up old familiar cues: the smell of cut grass, the thump of shoes against the ball, the shuffle of feet sliding for purchase against the ground. Her leg twinges - she knows her many twinges well enough by now to understand that this one is just her nerves anticipating and assuming pain, instead of actually experiencing it.
Catra slips her hand into Adora’s.
Adora relaxes her shoulders and unclenches her jaw. She hadn’t realized how tense she was letting herself get.
“I am so proud of you,” Catra whispers to her, as they approach the field. “I’ll be right here. Take as many breaks as you need to. Be patient with yourself. Or I’ll kick your ass.”
Adora laughs halfheartedly at the threat, but she does feel better. Some of the people notice that she’s coming over. The head of the rec league, who she recognizes from the meetup last week, waves her over and smiles.
“Okay,” Catra says, slipping her hand out of Adora’s and grinning at her. “Go.”
Adora’s not sure she has the words to express the enormity of her gratitude, so she just smiles at Catra like a woman hopelessly in love and then turns to the field. She breaks into a light jog, pushing herself at last over that boundary line in her heart that has been uncrossable for so many years.
Three Years After Bridges
“I know you’re supposed to give these kinds of speeches at the actual wedding and not at the bridal shower,” Adora says, smiling shyly at the group of people set up at plastic tables in Glimmer’s parents’ beautiful backyard, “but honestly, we talked about it, and we’re going to keep the vows at the ceremony itself pretty simple, so. We figured if we’re going to be gross and demonstratively sappy we’d do it here with just our closest friends. Plus that way Catra can make me cry as much as she wants without losing the deposit on the suit rental.” The group laughs; it’s an intimate gathering, without much fussy traditional stuff besides early afternoon champagne and an abundance of tiny finger foods. She feels comfortable here, surrounded by the people who have become her family over the decade she’s lived in Brightmoon Harbor.
She looks at Catra and smiles. She feels like she should take a steadying breath, but for once she finds doesn’t need one.
Catra is sitting in a plastic lawn chair wearing a loose white blouse and a sexy little pair of skinny jeans, her hand curled over her mouth like she’s already suppressing the flood of emotions she expects to feel during Adora's speech. Her engagement ring stands out against her face in a piercing reminder that this is real.
“I think almost all of you know the story of how Catra and I met, and then went our separate ways, and then met again years later. In fact, I think most of you were there and got to witness first hand how painfully in love with each other we were.” There is a general chuckle and one wolf whistle that is unmistakably Glimmer. Adora grins, but softens her face to seriousness again and she turns to Catra.
Just like all those years ago when they were sharing the stage together and Roberta and Francesca, Adora only has eyes for Catra. Even in front of an audience her words are for Catra and Catra alone.
“Sometimes it feels like it was that show that brought us together - like Bridges is the reason I’m standing here today lucky enough to call you my fiancé, and soon, my wife. But the more I think about it, the more sure I am that even without that play, I’d have found my way back to you somehow. I used to be resentful of all those years we lost, of the time we were apart when we could have been together if we’d just been a little better at communicating, back then - but, for one thing, have you ever heard of a seventeen year old that’s good at communicating?” Everyone laughs, including Catra. “And secondly, I think I’ve learned to be grateful for the time we had apart, the time we had to see the world and grow on our own, and learn to be strong, because it meant that by the time I met you again, I was a better person for it, and I was ready to be your partner in every sense of the word.” Catra starts to cry, silently, but her smile doesn’t waver once.
“You probably still remember one time I - very stupidly, might I add - compared us to the characters in that play. It came out wrong at the time, but, if you'll let me, I want to try again. I know you and I identified with them for a lot of reasons, beyond just, you know, really liking to kiss each other.” Another giggle from the crowd. Catra is still smiling, watching, waiting for Adora to get to her point. Patient. Always so patient. “I think the thing that Roberta says that always sort of spoke to me is her line at the very end of the play, when Francesca asks her not to leave.” Adora holds Catra’s eyes, smiles for her like they’re the only people in the world. “And Roberta says: I’m not leaving you.” Tears trickle openly down Catra’s face, and Adora can feel a pricking in her own eyes. “I’m waiting for you. Catra - my heart never left you. It was always just waiting for you.”
There is a heartbeat of a pause, as everybody holds their breath to ensure Adora is finished with the speech, and then they all burst into loud clapping and louder wailing - their friends are, unsurprisingly, quite dramatic - and then Catra flings herself across the lawn and kisses Adora, and kisses her, and kisses her, and Adora thinks finally I got the words right and I am the luckiest person in the world and I can’t believe I’m allowed to be this happy.
“Get a room!” DT jeers playfully.
Catra pulls up breathlessly from kissing Adora senseless and then, with a smirk about a half a mile wide, announces: “Never have, never will!”
And then she kisses Adora again.
Artwork by 5hi0_art