Adora, former Horde Lord, highly skilled combat master and tactician… thwarted by a bed?
Catra finds it almost impossible to contain her laughter. She's practically doubled over trying to keep it in, because wow , some things never change.
Then again, some things do.
The contrast is stark. Catra's done with her amusement. She's done because Adora is panting, frustrated and angry. She's seemingly on the verge of tears when she realizes Catra is in the room with her.
"I don't get it!" she half yells, half cries before glaring back down at the torn bed. Its feathers are strewn everywhere. In fact, some are still in the air.
Adora presents nothing like the woman who always had it together. She's not placing first in training. She's not leading the Horde. She's not even saving Catra right now. Instead, she's about to break, again, and all over this tiniest of things.
Catra rushes forward in a way she's only ever done for Adora, a hand finding her shoulder. "Hey, hey, calm down. It's okay."
"I tore it open. It's just a stupid bed, but I don't- I-"
"I ripped mine when I first got here, too," Catra holds up her other hand to prove her point.
Adora pauses. Her glistening eyes remain slightly suspicious as they watch Catra unsheathe her claws. It's an amusing enough demonstration as to how simple it had been to ruin the bed.
"See?" Catra grins. "It was pretty embarrassing. I almost left the Rebellion that night. You should've seen Sparkles' face."
It almost works, actually rewards Catra with a small smile, but then Adora slips again.
"... I don't have those," she mutters. "I don't have an excuse."
Catra knows her own face must have fallen too. She also knows after all this time, they're still mirrors of each other; so, she pulls Adora into a hug in an attempt to remedy the situation. "I'll tell them it was me."
Before Adora can speak, Catra kisses her. She runs her hands up to Adora's face, cradling it in between her palms as tenderly as possible. She's never known how to do these sorts of things softly, but God is she trying. She only pulls away to breathe, and as soon as she does, she finds that Adora really is crying.
… It's almost a relief.
Catra remembers how she used to wonder whether Adora had beat crying out of herself. Almost a relief is all, though, because tears are still tears. They're pain.
"I don't understand anything here, Catra." Adora finally croaks.
Catra embraces her again, this time stroking the back of her head. She lets the tears fall. She'll do this every morning if she has to. "You'll get the hang of it. I did. Besides… we all start somewhere."
And if she's being honest, Catra starts off rough. She's always had trouble socializing. This prom thing is no different, so she slips through people, winding this way and that. She's actually looking for an out, for Glimmer, but finds everyone else instead. It's not a mistake. They're looking for her, always are. They always catch her, too. She's She-Ra. She can't escape the spotlight for long. Part of her likes it. Part of her even loves it. But no one, no one catches her like Adora.
"Aw, Adora. I didn't know you could dance." Catra teases with the slightest edge on her tongue. A hurt. "You learn just for me?"
"Please, Catra." For once, Adora sounds almost desperate, yet there's a roughness to her voice that wasn't there before Catra left. The indoctrination is unnerving. "I don't want to do this. Come with me. I know we can figure this out."
If Catra weren't so frustrated, she'd be laughing. "No," she says firmly, and she means it. "I'm staying."
"I'm making it a better place. Hordak listens to me. Someday I might even take over…! We're- we're bringing stability to Etheria. I want you to see what we can do."
"The only people who have ever treated me like I'm not second best are here." Catra hisses. She's not even sure if she believes it, but that's not the point. "They didn't stand by while I was getting screwed over by Shadow Weaver. That was you."
The point is to hurt.
Adora's expression instantly hardens. The music swells at that very moment; she holds Catra tight, almost too tight, then dips her low. Something dulls in those blue eyes. It's like Adora is gone, whisked away by something unsettlingly dark.
"I'm trying to help you, Catra," she whispers, face millimeters away, every feature taut. Catra can't decide if it's rage. "And I will. I'm not giving up on you, I promise."
If it is, it only lasts for a second.
"I don't break promises." Adora continues on cooly, now totally back in control of herself. She even smiles. "You'll see."
"... Yeah, right."
They switch partners not long after.
Catra glances back as soon as they do. Adora is still wearing that red suit far too well, although Catra wonders if she keeps her hair down to try and hide the scar. She's with someone else now, laughing like the ghost of the woman Catra swears she used to love. It's like Adora has all the makings of a good person, but all the pieces were put together without a manual. Maybe they came together twisted and upsetting on accident.
Or maybe they just came together wrong.
"Hey, idiot. Have I told you how much like your hair?" Catra grins and ruffles the top of Adora's head as she enters the meeting. She's following Perfuma's advice. It's worked miracles so far. "It's like a whole new you."
The moment the contact breaks, Adora's patting down where Catra just touched. She's smiling, blushing, even. "A new me, huh?"
All too soon, however, the smile begins to fade. It's been doing that for a while now. Catra isn't stupid. She circles away from the seat she was headed for so she can kiss Adora, breathe some new light into her. Adora squeaks in that much too cute way that tells Catra that Adora is indeed still there .
This is the Adora Catra knows.
This is pure wonder.
"That's- mm, right," Catra murmurs between breaths. "New and-" she growls playfully too, eliciting even more delightful sounds from Adora. " -mine ."
It lasts a touch too long.
"Uh, you two?" Glimmer rolls her eyes. "Are we going to talk about what to do with the Fright Zone today or not?"
"Shut up, Sparkles."
Actually, it lasts way too long.
It lasts because Catra doesn't let anything stop her. She can't. She can't because she knows all too well what this kind of meeting will do to her girlfriend, so instead, she keeps kissing Adora, slipping her tongue inside Adora's mouth until they're both audibly moaning. Oh yes , she'll do this every day if she has to. Her hands roam down, down, down , because of course-
"O-kay, guys. I'm serious now. If you have sex in here, I'll literally never forgive you."
"I'll NEVER forgive you if you activate that portal!!!" Catra struggles against her bindings to no avail. It's useless. It's so, so useless. Catra… failed. "Listen to me for once in your stupid life, Adora!" She never thought she'd care so much about being She-Ra. Maybe she still doesn't, but she does care about Adora destroying everything. "You don't understand what you're doing! You don't get it!!!"
"I know that I'm doing this for your own good." Adora's hair is whipping around her. She exudes a terrifying confidence, one only pure power and an unwavering belief in her own righteousness could possibly give. She's not herself. She's deluded, corrupted, and unrecognizably worse. "I'm protecting you, Catra."
The idiot. The coward. The absolute traitor. It should break Catra's heart, but that's already been done a thousand times over.
"You never protected me from anything!!!" she roars right back, writhing against her restraints once more. It's real rage.
Full of terror.
Terror because it's too late.
Adora just shakes her head, God, like she's disappointed in Catra. Disappointed in all Catra's become. Indeed, she is. "Why can't you just listen to me…?"
It's a swift movement.
The lever drops.
Adora is straight up in bed, chest heaving. She's trying to keep Catra at an arm's length, hurrying to wipe away all evidence of her dream.
"I-I'm fine…! I swear I'm fine!"
Which… is not going to happen. It's impossible to hide the cold sweats she's been waking up in. Besides, Catra can smell it. There's no hiding reality from someone like her.
She tries to get an arm around Adora. It doesn't work, doesn't work , but then, suddenly does. Adora finally gives in to Catra's touch, although not without flinching. This too, has happened before. Three times. Three times Catra knows about, anyway.
"You're not fine." Catra says quietly. She's still getting accustomed to this. After all, Adora used to comfort her. Now, they've swapped. Now, it's Adora trembling. "You and me both have a shitty time with this stuff, I know. But can you please talk to me? Please? I'm even saying please, Adora."
It doesn't seem like the plea is going to go anywhere. Not at first, at least. Not until Adora lets out a weak sob, fresh tears threatening to spill down her cheeks. She turns to look at Catra, lip quivering.
"... It was the nightmare. The same one I keep having. I keep replaying it in my head… and…" Her voice begins to shake like her body, "and when I do…"
Catra pulls her closer. "You shouldn't have to go through that."
"If I lost you-" Adora begins to outright cry.
"You didn't, Adora."
"-but if I did-"
"But you didn't ."
"-I'd never forgive myself…! I don't deserve you. I-I don't deserve any- any of this." She's fully leaning into Catra's comfort now, almost as if she's hoping it will wash away her guilt.
Catra certainly hopes it will, although it probably won't.
She tightens her embrace.
She'll do this every night if she has to.
After all, better is not a decision.
Better is an action they both must take.
"I know that's how it feels. Trust me, I know. But it's not real, Adora," she says. "We're here. We're together. And I love you."
Truthfully, Catra wasn't sure if loving Adora again was possible until this moment. She'd retained that level of bitterness and didn't think she could forgive being made to be so afraid, so hurt. Up until now, she had even begun to consider the painful possibility of growing and moving on without Adora. But this? This truly is the woman she loved all those years ago; she's sure of it. Adora just delivered Glimmer to her. Adora did that, her Adora , her Adora with unending remorse clutched close to her chest - ready to die like a hero.
It's not even a question.
The love hasn't ever stopped, has it?
Drawing upon both the power of She-Ra and her own sheer willpower, she brings life back to Adora's limp body. She's desperate like she's never been. All she wants is for those beautiful blue eyes to return to her. To look at her like they used to. To tell her that everything is going to be okay.
Everything is light; then, everything is dark.
… Everything is life again.
Everything is right.
"I've got you," Catra whispers, voice broken as she cradles a now gasping Adora in her arms. She'll do this forever if she has to. "I've got you… I'm not letting go."