When I was really little, I used to get sick a lot. Me and Catra both, actually, probably because of all the crazy stuff we did. But we grew out of the habit quickly, most of our troubles coming from hangovers. I hadn’t been sick since I first moved in with Mara. That all changed a week or so after Thanksgiving. With the coming cold, came a flu.
I was half-way out the door when Glimmer grabbed the collar of my shirt and threw me back, locking the door shut.
“You’re sick, Adora, you’re not going anywhere! I emailed our professors, and said we’re not coming to class. You are going to rest, and I am going to look after you.”
“But Glimmer - ”
“Shut up, change into your pyjamas, and get in bed. I’m going to make you soup.”
I sighed. “You don’t have to mother me.”
“Did I say I was mothering you? Now get into your pjs, young lady!”
Disgruntled but feeling, admittedly, like absolute shit, I got dressed back into my pyjamas and crawled back into bed. By the time the blanket was up around my chin, Glimmer had brought out a bowl of soup as promised. She handed it to me on a tray with a spoon and napkin.
“Drink, get better,” she commanded.
“No problem.” Glimmer reached out a ruffled my hair. “And after soup, you should sleep.”
“Okay. I’m going to catch up on homework, let me know if you need anything.” With that, Glimmer grabbed her laptop and set up across the room on her beanbag.
I took out my phone, pulled up a stupid cat video, and began eating as instructed.
At some point I must have fallen asleep, because I was being shaken away.
“Morning, sleepyhead,” was my wake-up call, followed by a familiar laugh.
“Mmmm, Catra.” I reached out blindly. Her hand landed on mine.
Beautiful? That was new. Or was it? What was new at all anymore? I just revelled in the feeling.
“I missed you.” I couldn’t remember why, though.
“Missed me?” Catra purred. I felt the bed shift and opened my eyes to have her beside me, staring into my eyes sweetly with her stunning gaze.
“Yeah. Missed you.”
Catra laughed. “You’re wierd.” Her warm arms wound around my waist and pulled me to her. I huddled closer, but her body turned to blankets beneath my fingers. I looked around, desperate, but she wasn’t coming back.
Adora had fallen asleep almost two hours ago, and it was good to see her getting some actual rest. I would swear that sometimes that idiot would work-out non-stop on the days we had off of classes.
I glanced over. “Hey, Adora. Nice sleep?”
“Uh…yeah, I guess.”
“I’m glad.” I looked back at my paper.
“I used to live with Catra.”
“Um…yeah, Adora. You told me.”
“We used to live together…can you believe that?”
Oh no, her voice was sounding really delirious. I immediately slammed shut my laptop and strode over to her bedside. “Adora? Are you okay?”
“Not anymore.” Adora frowned deeply, her gaze fixed on the bottom of my bunk. “I was okay when we were together…I loved her, Glimmer. I mean, I really really loved her.” Adora finally looked back at me, her eyes wide. “I loved her so much.”
“Ummmm, okay? Adora, I don’t think you should keep talking, you’re clearly delirious - ”
“With love.” Adora sighed and shut her eyes. “She’s so pretty. Her hair. Her face. Her torso. Her legs. Her arms. Her hands, feet.” Adora’s eyes snapped open. “Oh, and her ass.”
“Adora, I really don’t want to discuss Catra’s ass.” While this conversation definitely explained a lot of the animosity between Adora and Catra on Adora’s part, I had a feeling that regular Adora wouldn’t want me hearing any of this.
“It was Valentine’s Day when I realized it,” Adora murmured. “Someone asked me out, and I just knew that I didn’t want to spend Valentine’s with anybody but Catra. And I wanted to kiss her. I really wanted to kiss her. Want to, honestly. I mean, have you seen her lips?”
“Adora - ”
“I feel bad for leaving. But I couldn’t stay. Still, maybe I should have told Catra to come with me. I offered, but that’s not really the same. I should have fucking demanded she get out of Shadow’s grasp.” Sudden tears sprang to her eyes. “I…sometimes I wonder what Shadow did to Catra if she did what she did to me.”
Adora didn’t talk much about Shadow, aside from saying she was Catra’s mom, and that she raised Adora, too. I tried to interrupt again, but Adora grabbed my hand.
“Glimmer…she hit me.”
Her words fell like an avalanche to bury us in our dorm room. I’d always known something was up with her family, but…
“It was only once,” Adora mumbled. “It’s why I left. I asked Catra to come with me…Catra…she told me to leave, screamed at me to leave.” Adora shut her eyes as tears leaked from the corners and down her face. “Why didn’t she just come with me, Glimmer?” The grip on my hand tightened. I placed my other hand on top of hers, still trying to unravel what she’d said.
By the time I’d found my tongue to form some sort of comforting sentence, Adora had slipped back out of consiousness.
It was around ten when Bow dropped by.
“Hey,” he said, voice quiet, as he walked in and placed the take-out I’d asked for on my desk. “How’s our sleeping beauty?”
“Good.” I probably said something like that, anyways. I was still reeling from my one-sided conversation with Adora earlier.
“You okay?” Bow asked.
“F-fine. It’s just…Adora was really bad earlier, and she was talking…she told me some stuff she shouldn’t have.”
Bow frowned. He took out the fried chicken from the plastic bag and handed some to me.
“Thanks.” I took a bite and tried to absorb the flavours instead of the information Adora had spilled.
“What did she talk about?”
“Shadow. Catra. A lot about Catra. That family…is messed up.” I sighed into the chicken leg currently against my mouth. “Thanks for the food, by the way. This really eases my nerves.”
“Probably should’ve asked for something more healthy, though - I’m never gonna get these thighs under control with more fried shit.”
Bow chuckled. “Don’t. Your thighs are great.” His voice was still really soft, trying to be quiet for Adora.
“Weird compliment, but thanks.”
“I - yeah, no, no problem.”
We fell into silence, looking at Adora.
I was usually asleep by eleven, but after getting home late from Glimmer and Adora’s, I was still awake when Catra came in at two. She was a strange creature at night - or rather, morning - looking ragged and drained. I wondered if she’d been with Shadow. Glimmer didn’t give me any details of Adora’s ramblings, but I guessed it was nothing good. If Shadow was awful to Adora, I imagined it would be no different for Catra.
Catra got onto the lower bunk, mumbling unhappily. I thought about saying something, but eventually decided against it. This was the one of the first nights Catra had slept in our dorm all year, and I didn’t walk to rock the fragile boat.
Catra woke up loudly, almost screaming in her yawn. I stared at her over my phone screen. “Morning.”
Catra blinked at me. “Uh…morning.”
“Want breakfast?” I nudged forward the plate of pancakes I had made an hour ago when I got up.
“Um…sure.” Catra slid out of her bed, carrying her blanket with her around her shoulder. She slumped into the chair across from mine. My eyes stayed with her, entranced by this almost alien life-form as she picked up a pancake and shovelled it into her mouth. “What?” She snapped when her gaze met mine.
“Nothing! It’s just interesting to meet you, like, for real.” I offered her a smile, but Catra rejected it with a scowl.
“Uh-huh? Same, I guess.”
“So…how was your day yesterday?”
“Fine.” Catra picked up another pancake between her fingers and dropped into into her mouth, which had unhinged impressively to fit most of it. “These are good.” At least I assume she said that. It was kind of muffled.
“Glad you like them. We should do this more often.”
Catra froze mid-chew. “…Um, no. No. No, I’m good. Like I said, I don’t want friends, Arrows.”
“Whatever.” Catra slurped down the rest of the pancake and stood, the blanket falling unceremoniously from her shoulders.
“So,” I tried as she headed towards the kitchen sink. “You and Adora grew up together, right? What was she like as a kid?”
Catra’s fingers curled around the tap angrily. Her knuckles had turned white by the time she turned around. “Don’t. Fucking. Start with me, Arrows. I mean it.” Her hand slipped towards the cutlery drawer. “I will fillet you like a goddamn mackerel, understand?”
“I was just - ”
“I’m late for class.”
“But it’s only - ”
“Whatever.” Catra grappled with her backpack, a couple of textbooks, and her jacket, storming out the door with her things towered in her arms.
“I can help you with those, if you - ”
“No.” The door slammed shut.
Glimmer groaned. “Is it really?”
“Yep!” I poured the rest of the pancake mix into our non-stick pan. “Thanks for yesterday, by the way, I feel so much better!” Whatever had torn me down was beaten back with Glimmer’s love and care. I still felt crappy, but a much more manageable crappy than before. “Hope I wasn’t too much trouble.”
Dragging herself out of bed, Glimmer reminded me of someone I wouldn’t put my finger on. “Nah,” Glimmer said through a yawn. “You were fine…”
I had just turned back around to continue cooking when Glimmer asked, “So, do you remember what you told me yesterday?”
“I don’t remember yesterday much at all, if I’m being honest. Well, except that there was a lot of soup, and I told you I was fine. Then I fell asleep and the rest of the day faded into chicken noodles. Why, what’d I tell you?”
“I…you don’t want to know, I don’t think.”
“Aw, come on, was it embarrassing? I’m nothing if not self-deprecating!” I held up the pan, the pancake turned almost black within it despite my watchful eye. “See, I’m a god-awful cook.”
“Christ alive, Adora!” Glimmer grabbed the pan and poured water onto it, her shoulders only dropping when the sizzling stopped.
“Anyways…” I sat down slowly. “What’d I say?”
Glimmer remained silent. After a while, she began tapping her fingers against the countertop. “You told me,” she started, voice tight. “About…Catra.” Shit. “About Shadow.” Double shit.
Glimmer finally turned around. “You told me what Shadow did to you…you told me how you feel…felt about Catra. I don’t know if you really feel that way still. You seemed convinced, though - ”
“That I hate her?”
Glimmer’s frown deepened. “No, Adora.” She slowly sat down across from me. “That you’re in love with her.”
It was only when Glimmer’s eyes flickered up that I realized I was standing. “No…no, I didn’t say that.”
“You did, Adora.”
She was getting smaller and smaller. “No…I didn’t. I didn’t say that. I don’t love her.”
“Maybe you don’t, but you said - ”
“No…no.” There was a door between us now, I didn’t have to see her.
“Adora? What are you doing here?”
I stared at Mara, without an answer to her question. Or the question of exactly how I’d got here either. I probably ran. It would explain why my legs hurt so much.
I licked my lips, salt water hitting my tongue as it dripped down my face, beyond my control. “I told someone something…I said…I can’t believe I told them everything…”
“Come inside, Adora.” Mara wrapped her arm around me and lead me onto the couch. “Do you want some hot chocolate?”
Mara left me alone with only my mind and the awful thoughts running around inside of it. Catra…in love with…I’m not…I am. Vomit built up in my throat, half-flu half-fear. I told Glimmer everything…she thinks I’m wierd…she knows I love Catra. She knows I’m fucking insane because I’m in love with Catra.
The only thing that stopped me from falling to the ground and crying my eyes out was the insistent buzzing of my phone. I cursed myself for not turning it to silent. My gaze met the text messages, urgent and pleading.
Glitterbomb *sparkle emoji* (Best_Friend_Squad_Chat) - Adora?
Glitterbomb *sparkle emoji* (Best_Friend_Squad_Chat) - Adora?
Glitterbomb *sparkle emoji* (Best_Friend_Squad_Chat) - Adora? R u ok? Where r u?
Bow *sparkle emoji* *arrow emoji* (: (Best_Friend_Squad_Chat) - ADORA WHERE R U ARE U HURT!?!?
Glitterbomb *sparkle emoji* (Best_Friend_Squad_Chat) - I’m sorry I freaked u out earlier! I’ll come pick u up! Send me address
Glitterbomb *sparkle emoji* (Best_Friend_Squad_Chat) - We’ll get icecream
Bow *sparkle emoji* *arrow emoji* (: (Best_Friend_Squad_Chat) - Adora r u okay!?
I picked a quick, automated response.
Adora-ble (Best_Friend_Squad_Chat) - I can’t come to the phone right now.
I didn’t see the texts until the next morning. I got Bow and he came over with all the necessary ingredients.
Adora-ble (Best_Friend_Squad_Chat) - Sorry I ran off. I’m with Mara.
Adora-ble (Best_Friend_Squad_Chat) - I’ll be back tomorrow. Love u guys <3
Adora came in at ten thirty. She stared wide and teary-eyed at the blanket fort we sat in.
“You probably did some TLC with Mara,” I said. “But we figured you could use some more. And it is a Saturday.”
“I brought your homework from yesterday for physics, Spanish, and English,” Bow continued. “And we’ll go for lunch wherever you want - or we could order in. Either way.”
“We got video games and Netflix - ”
“Community Marathon!” Bow interjected excitedly. “Um, if you want, of course.”
“And a deck of regular cards and one for Uno.”
“We’ve got about a hundred pillows and blankets, as well as some flashlights for spooky stories.”
“And the most important ingredient - ” I grabbed a carton and waggled it at Adora’s dumbstruck face. “Six cartons of the finest icecream this town can buy.”
Adora smiled slowly. “Guys…”
“Come on, come on, before I eat all of this.” I gestured at Bow for a spoon, which he gladly handed over.
Adora snorted, put down her stuff, and shuffled on her hands and knees into the blanket fort. “I thought you were lactose intolerant?”
“So? Sugar’s bad for people too, doesn’t mean we stop eating it, now does it?”
Adora just laughed. “Thanks, you guys.”
Bow nudged her with his elbow and shrugged. “Hey, anything for a member of the Best Friend Squad.”