Chapter 1: Welcome
I pleaded with Mara to let me stay at her apartment. She wouldn’t waste any money on dorm expenses for me and Swifty, and we could help out.
Mara just laughed. “You two would just make a mess, Adora.” She ruffled my hair - despite me being taller - and went back to cooking. “Besides, I want you to have fun! Go, live your life without your big sister always around!”
“Just Swifty?” I clarfied, clearly annoyed.
“Hey, hey, that’s my brother you’re talking about.” But even when she said it, Mara was cringing. “And he’ll be in a different dorm anyways.”
“Adora, calm down.”
“B-but…new people, Mara!”
“When did you become so unadventurous, Adora?” Mara froze, acutely aware she’d said the wrong thing. “I just mean, you know…it’ll be fun. Get out there, make friends.” She turned from the stove, pulling me into a hug. “But if you really can’t handle it…you can always come home.”
I sighed against her hair. “I’ll…I’ll try.”
“That’s my girl.”
I stared up at the door in horror. I wasn’t…against meeting new people, per se, but the expenses, and being away from Mara, and -
The door suddenly flew open. I leapt back in terror. A short but dominating presence loomed in the doorway, her puffy pink hair and colour-contact-filled eyes making me think I’d walked into a cartoon.
“Hi! You must be Adora Firstone! Come in! I’m Glimmer!”
I was being tugged into the room faster than I could refuse. When I was finally allowed my arm again, I got a chance to look around. It was actually a pretty nice space: the bunk beds set up in the corner looked leagues ahead of my bed at home, really.
Water ran from the next room. Then out strolled a tall dark stranger.
“Are there three of us sharing a room?” I asked, looking at the lonely two beds. Suddenly I caught sight of all the clothes strewn around, and - ah, yep, that was a bra. I blanched. “Oh my god, you two are - I just interupted something, didn’t I?”
Glimmer gave me a quizzical look. “Um…Bow, this is Adora, my new roomate. Adora, this is Bow, my best friend. His dorm is just down the hall.”
“Hey, Adora, was it?” Bow held out his hand.
I shook his hand, still feeling incredibly embarrased. “Should I l-leave till you two finish, um, whatever you were - ”
“We were just hanging out.” Glimmer still looked confused.
“Oh.” I hesitated, then clarified, “So you two weren’t like, hooking up, then?”
Glimmer made a terrible sound that I could never try to replicate. “AH! Oh my god. No.”
Bow chuckled awkardly. “We’re just friends. And, uh, hopefully, we’ll be friends, too! Tell us everything about yourself!”
Bow sat down and Glimmer sat next to him, so close they’re touching. Bow - almost absentmindedly - tucked the loose hair out of Glimmer’s face. She didn’t react. Are they sure they’re not dating? I wondered.
I cleared my throat as I sat down on the other end of the bed. “Well…um, I’m Adora. My cousin Mara used to go to this school - uh, very breifly - but we live real close, so she decided I should go. She payed tution for me and her brother Spirit, actually.”
“Spirit?” Glimmer echoed. “That’s…that’s actually his name?”
“Ah, well, their parents were kinda… ‘new-aged?’ Let’s go with that. He goes by Swift Wind, usually.”
“That’s…much better,” Glimmer said carefully.
“Well, no, it’s not. But whatever. It’s his name.” I wasn’t even going to get into the names “Bow” and “Glimmer.”
“So you live with your cousins?” Bow leaned forward, looking at my intently.
It really caught me off guard. He hadn’t even tried to pry into my family life, like literally everybody else did whenever I said that. I was insanely grateful. Hell, maybe I even would tell him, in that case!
“What about you guys?” I asked quickly.
Glimmer sighed. “Well, I’m here cause my parents are teachers here. My mom’s the head of the business department, and my dad teaches music theory. They were all, ‘Glimmer, you should go! It’ll be fun!’” She sighed again. “Sorry, I sounded really bitter. I love my parents, really.”
“I’m here because of my parents, too,” Bow said. “My dads went here, and so I’m studying history, just like they did!” His smile twitched uncomfortably, though in the moment I barely noticed.
Glimmer stood up and pulled out her phone. “So, hey, Adora, are you hungry? It’s practically dinner time.”
“Um, sure, I could eat.”
“Bet you could, with that physique.” Glimmer stiffened at her statement just as I started to choke on literally nothing.
“Don’t mind Glimmer, she just likes muscles,” Bow said casually.
I blushed and tugged at my sleeves. “Ah…ha…well, yeah, I got those.”
Glimmer laughed tightly. “S-sorry. Just slipped out. Er, ah…right! Supper! You down for Korean? There’s a great little place just off campus. We can hop over there and pick up an order. I don’t feel like going to a restuarant.”
I nodded enthusiastically. “I’m so down for that!”
Bow stood up, too, now, patting his pockets. “Sounds good. I’m buying, though. Glim, have you seen my wallet?”
“How the fuck should I know?”
“Because you wanted to look at my new school ID, that’s how the fuck.” Bow tapped the side of Glimmer’s head. “I swear, I think sometimes you have short-term memory loss.”
“Shut up, dummy.” Glimmer elbowed him, sticking out her tongue. “Check my purse.”
As Bow started searching, Glimmer sat next to me and held her phone out in front of us. “What looks good to you?”
I scanned through the items, mouth watering, while Bow and Glimmer snapped cheerfully back and forth about the wallet until Bow found it underneath a pile of papers. Then we were ordering and walking down the street. The wind was bitter, but it somehow didn’t feel that cold. Glimmer and Bow were quipping like the old friends they were, and still adding me in. It was the wierdest feeling in the world. By the time we got back to the dorm, it was like I’d known these two my whole life.
Bow was many things, as I’d came to learn, and one of those was an excellent tour-guide. He showed me through the univeristy like he had a map in his brain.
When we got to the gym, I felt like he could see my eyes light up. “Gee, no wonder you’re so buff,” he teased.
I blushed. “I…things were rough at home for a while. I got it out by excersing,” I explained as simply as I could. There was a whole menagerie of explanation more, but I didn’t have a beer to help spill my guts out.
Bow furrowed his brow. “Oh…geez, that’s too bad.”
“Not really.” I flexed a bicep and Bow laughed.
“Anyways, here we are! The gym!” Bow made jazz hands excitedly. He opened the doors like some bourgeoise introducing me to his prized collection of antiques. And honestly, I was probably more impressed by the gym than I would have been by any antiques - the entire place was filled with amazing equiptment. And ripped girls, but I tried not to notice the dark-skinned beauty running on the treadmill.
Said beauty suddenly looked over and waved.
“Hey, Mermista!” Bow waved back. Bow elbowed me, whispering, “She’s low-key dating somebody.”
“I didn’t ask!” I defended in a squeaky voice.
“You didn’t have to. Everybody thinks Mermista’s hot. Same with her low-key boyfriend.” A subtle blush rose on Bow’s cheeks. “Anyways.”
Mermista hopped off of the treadmill and walked towards us. “Bow, who’s the new chick?” She winked again. Ah, god, she was gonna kill me.
“This is Glimmer’s dormmate, Adora. Adora, Mermista.”
Mermista looked me up and down. “Whoah…you sure your dorm’s not the gym?” She nudged Bow. “By the way, did you get your dormmate yet, Mr. Early Register?”
“Barely. When I got back from dinner with Glimmer and Adora, she was asleep on the top bunk. This morning, she left a note saying she was going to have coffee with a friend of hers.”
Unintrested, I began to scan the gym. There were so many people in here, so many new faces…
“Know her name?”
And a singluar familiar one. I spat it out like a curse: “Catra Weaver.”
Bow elbowed me again, looking surprised. “Yeah, how’d you know?”
Chapter 2: Betrayal
Catra sees Adora again, and has to sit through living hell having coffee with her mother.
I legit thought I posted this chapter a month ago...oh well, double chapter day sorry it's been so long :P
It’d been six months since the figure left. A dark, shadowed figure: Betrayal in all her glory. I, at first, was obviously blinded by blonde hair, sparkling blue-grey eyes, and friendship that wore a disguise of forever. But when she dropped the keys in the bowl, her suitcase tugged close behind her, the disguise fell.
“You’re just going to leave me here?”
The dungeon walls were closing all around me.
Betrayal turned around for a single second. “Come with me if you want.” She poured the poison into the wine glass. “But I can’t stay here.” She offered it out.
I swatted the dreaded glass away, and it shattered on the floor. The red wine bled from my heart and pooled at my feet. “Fine! THEN LEAVE!”
Betrayal shook her head and sighed, like it was my fault. Then she opened the door of the dungeon and dissappeared into the night - the bitch even took the door with her. If it hadn’t been for the keys and deep-rooted memories, I might have believed she was a figment. But Betrayal was all too real. Of course, the rest of the world called her “Adora.”
I had not gone to the gym - hell, to this school - expecting to see Adora with the guy I really hoped I’d mis-seen as my dormmate. But there she was, dressed in red like the devil himself.
“Adora Firstone.” It was a curse on my lips.
“That’s Adora?” Scorpia asked in a whisper beside me.
“Yeah, that blonde chick over there.” I gestured to her as subtly as I could. It was obvious she’d seen me, too, by the way she was staring daggers at me.
“Catra!” The walking crop-top waved his hand enthusiastically. “Catra! It’s me, Bow! Your dorm-mate!”
Fuck. I seethed under my breath and started to walk over, caucious. “Later, Scorpia.” I reached them with anger almost radiating off me. “Hey.”
“Hey! Nice to officially meet you!” Bow held out his hand.
I regarded it with distrust, then looked up at Adora. “Long time no see.”
“I was hoping it would stay that way,” Adora growled.
Bow seemed confused as he glanced between us. “Ah…what did we miss?”
“We used to know each other,” I said. I didn’t miss the hurt in Adora’s eyes. Served the bitch right. “So you’re friends with my dorm-mate, little miss princess?”
Adora’s hands curled into fists. “Yeah. Unlike you, he’s a good friend, and I’ve only known him a day.”
I pretended like that didn’t hurt me. But she knew. Adora always knew. “Fuck off.” I snapped my fingers. “Oh, wait - you already did that.”
“Wow, Adora, profanity? What has leaving done to you?” I mocked. I looked square at Bow and smiled with false pleasure. “Like you said, nice to officially meet you.”
Then I walked out of the gym, and took the door with me.
The gym incident was awful, to say the least. But now I tried to stay away from her. I’d been doing fantastic until the fateful Saturday that I let my guard down and cuaght sight of Adora in the library.
“Fucking hell! What you doing here?” I hissed.
Adora looked up from her book, glowering. “Oh. Hi, Catra. I’m studying. What are you doing here?”
Adora arched an eyebrow. “Really? You can be a good student? Colour me surprised.”
“Bitch,” I mumbled under my breath. I shoved past her.
“I don’t know why you’re so…so angry at me, Catra! Were you always such a jerk!?”
I froze, the anger crawling up my spine and licking me up like fire. “I have every right to be mad at you. You left me.”
“I left Shadow. Not you.”
I whirled on her with the flames as my witness. “You left me, Adora. Accept that.”
“You could’ve come with me.”
“Oh, yeah? And what, live with your cousins who hate me? Imancipate from my own mother and have her chase after me? Fuck that.”
Adora’s eyes softened, and I wanted to punch the look of her face. “Catra…” She reached out. I smacked away the wine glass again.
“Leave me alone.”
I stormed out of the building, Adora hot on my tail. “Catra, will you just listen to me!?”
“Go away, Adora!”
A car appeared from around the corner, and my phone beeped. My blood ran cold, but there was no way I was getting out of this, was there?
She walked out of the Honda like it was a limosine. Always graceful, poised, powerful. She held her head like she’d taught me to when she wasn’t scolding me. Shadow Weaver nodded to me as she came up.
“Catra. Are you ready to go?”
Shadow’s eyes snapped up to Adora. “Ah…Adora…it’s been a long time.”
“Ms. Weaver,” Adora said, jaw clenched.
“How is your…living arragement? We miss you dearly at the house.” Had she been a sorcerer, she would have drawn Adora nearer with trails of deep dark smoke.
“It’s fine, Ms. Weaver. I’m living in the dorms now.”
“Ah. I see. Well, then. We were just about to have coffee. Would you like to join us?”
“No. Thank you.” Adora was sounding farther away. I would have turned to look, but I didn’t dare glance away from Shadow.
“See you around, then, Adora, dear.”
“Right.” She might as well have been a thousand years away.
Shadow finally put her attention back to me. Her eyes darkened, dulling in their curiousity. “Shall we?”
“After you.” I gestured to the car.
The ride to the café was quiet. I don’t know what I expected. It had only been a week since I moved into the dorms, anyways. Though when Shadow texted me, I was surprised she wanted to actually keep in touch with me after I was out of her house. God knows I didn’t want that.
A few minutes later we were in a booth with two black coffees and heavy tension between us.
“So…Catra. How are your academics doing?”
I snorted. “My grades, mom? It’s been a week. I’m sure they’re fine. I was just studying my for my Econ class earlier today.”
“I didn’t mean your grades. I meant your academics. Are you enjoying your classes?”
“Why do you care?”
The tension got heavier. It wrapped around us with a practice of many years.
“Hordak wanted to know,” Shadow continued after little while. “He is paying for your tution, so he wants to make sure you’re doing well. And that he’s not wasting his money.” She added the last part pointedly.
I hummed, not a full denial or agreement. It shut her up as usual. She was really easy to shut up when we talked about Hordak. Well, when Shadow talked about Hordak. I had so many questions about him that I never dared ask.
Maybe somebody had slipped something into my coffee or maybe I was just still rattled from my run in with Adora. Either way, my inhibitions were lower than usual. “Mom…about Hordak - ”
“…Have you two…ever…you know?”
Shadow huffed. “That’s not a thing to ask your mother.”
I sighed. It was a thing if they’d slept together some ninteen years ago.
Another long, sad car ride back. I’d thought serveral times throughout it that I should’ve just told Shadow to drop me off somewhere and let me walk back or hitchhike. She wouldn’t care, anyways.
I got to Scorpia’s dorm with Shadow’s poison all over me, weighing me down.
“Thanks for letting me crash here.” I thew my bag down on her empty bunk-bed.
“No problem!” Scorpia closed the door behind me. “Still don’t want to stay at your dorm, huh?”
“I’m not real kean on sleeping in the same room as Adora’s new BFF.”
“Maybe you should just ask to change dorm-rooms? N-not that I don’t love having you here, wildcat, but it’s been a week.”
“Yeah, maybe. Whatever.”
Scorpia looked like she was about to say something again. I glared at her. She shut her mouth. I sighed in relief. Just like usual.
I came back to my dorm in the morning to get a textbook I’d forgoten. For the past week Bow had been out of the dorm by nine. I didn’t catch that break today.
“Oh, hey.” Bow looked up from his book. “Uh…long time no see.” He flashed a smile, like it would help.
I snorted and headed towards the general area of my textbook.
“So…where have you been sleeping?”
“None of your business.” I found it, finally, and headed back towards the door. As I reached it, I glanced back over at my roommate. “Listen, I’m not Adora - I don’t want any more friends. Especially not hers. So if you know what’s good for you, don’t talk to me unless you absolutely have to, got it? Stay the fuck away from me, and keep Adora away from me to.”
I slammed the door behind me with Betrayal’s hand on mine.
Chapter 3: Community, Nightclubs, and Frosta
After starting a Spanish study group, Bow wants to introduce Adora to a show he and Glimmer have been referencing, but she has other plans - or rather, her cousin, Swift Wind, has other plans.
Meanwhile, Mermista is dealing with long-term 'babysitting.'
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
“Donda està la bibliotequa?” Bow had been reciting the same question under his breath since we left class.
“Bow, it’s only our fourth Spanish class. Calm down, you don’t have to memorize stuff yet.” I punched his shoulder playfully. “Besides, how often will you need to ask where the library is in Spain?”
Bow frowned. “You might have a point.”
“Spanish is wierd,” Adora remarked beside us. She had been in her own world since class ended.
“I’m used to English and Portuguese,” Adora explained nonchalantly. “Spanish is…it’s similar but it’s gonna take some getting used to. In fact, I think that’s making it harder to learn. I mean, I’m already loosing my Portuguese.”
“I didn’t know you spoke Portuguese!” Bow’s eyes lit up in amazement.
“Catra and Shadow speak it,” Adora said.
“Catra?” Bow and I stopped in our tracks in unison.
Adora paused, turning. “Oh my god. I didn’t say that aloud.”
“You did. Why does it matter that Catra speaks Portuguese?” If I had glasses I would have pushed them up menacingly.
“I…” Adora looked away. “Usedtolivewithher.”
Adora was turning redder by the second. Voice hushed and looking around conspiratorially, Adora hissed, “I used to live with her!”
“Gah!” I jumped back into Bow’s arms, horrified. “You lived with Catra?!”
“What? When? How? WHAT?” Bow scooted us forward towards Adora.
“I-it’s not a big deal!” Adora said. “When…when my mom died…Shadow took me in, and Catra’s her daughter. I was only like three, so - ”
“YOU LIVED WITH CATRA SINCE YOU WERE THREE!?” Bow’s voice cracked as he asked it.
“Yes! Now can we drop it, please? It’s not a big deal.”
“So were you like sisters?” I leaned forward, whispering.
Adora hesitated, then started walking again. “No. Not sisters.”
“This is a great idea!” Bow was spinning around the library study room excitedly.
“I can’t believe we’re actually forming a Spanish study group.” I slumped down in a chair and grinned. “Can I be Jeff?”
“Who’s Jeff?” Adora slapped her textbook onto the table.
“Have you never seen ‘Community?’” Bow leaned against the table, eyes wide. “Oh my god. Marathon night. Also - ” Bow snapped his fingers. “You can be Jeff, but I call Annie.”
“Fine, but don’t expect me to hit on you.”
The study room doors opened, Mermista and Perfuma coming in.
“Hiiii!” Perfuma waved, sitting down beside Bow. “Oooh, I’m so glad you decided to do this!” She held out her hand across the table. “Nice to officially meet you, Adora. I’m Perfuma! And this is Mermista!”
Adora blushed. “We’ve already met…”
“Adora’s got insane gains, she’s, like, suuuuuper ripped.” Mermista sat down next to Perfuma.
“So!” Adora cleared her throat. “How do you all know each other?”
“We went to highschool together!” Perfuma grabbed me and Bow by our shoulders and hugged us tightly. “I can’t believe we’re in the same Spanish class!”
“Yay, language credit,” Mermista drawled.
Somebody knocked on the door. All our eyes turned to it, surprised by the tall woman in its wake.
“Uh…hey, there! I’m Scorpia! Uh, um, I’m, uh, I’m in your Spanish class, too, and I was - well, I - uh, I was wondering if…I could join you?”
From my peripheral I could see Adora tense. Scorpia…that was the girl with Catra at the gym when they’d run into her last week, wasn’t it?
Adora stood. “Did Catra send you?”
“Catra…?” Perfuma looked around the table, confused.
“C-Catra’s my friend, and, um, she u-used to be friends with Adora,” Scorpia explained.
“There’s a bit more to it than that,” Adora mumbled. “But fine, you want to join? Parlez-vous espangol?”
“Adora,” Perfuma whispered. “That’s French.”
“I know! That was a test!”
“But she answered in Spanish…” Bow pointed out hesitantly.
Perfuma was suddenly out of her chair and pushing things around the table. “Come here, come here, sit! There’s room for one more! Now I don’t know what happened between you and this Catra girl, Adora, but Scorpia seems like a very nice study-buddy!”
I was about to explain that there was more between Catra and Adora than Perfuma realized, but Bow sent me a look, mouthing, “Scorpia does seem nice. We don’t have to associate with Catra if we associate with Scorpia.”
“But Adora doesn’t like Catra.”
“I know, and Adora’s great, but that doesn’t mean that Scorpia’s not great too. Their thing isn’t about Scorpia, it’s about Catra.”
“But they’re friends, Bow!”
“Adora and Catra were friends!”
“Do you know that they’re mouthing things behind your back?”
I leapt out of my seat at the voice. Behind us, lying on the floor and inspecting a book, was a woman with long purple hair, dressed in loose overalls.
“Oh my god.” Bow stood. “You’re - you’re Entrapta Dryll.”
“Yeah! How’d you know?” She lowered the book and quirked an eyebrow.
“You’re - you’re only the most famous alumni of the school, specifically in the STEM and innovation category!” Bow held out his hand, and when Entrapta took it, he looked like he was going to sob. “It’s such an honour.”
“What are you doing on the floor?” I asked, ignoring Bow’s freak out.
“Oh, I didn’t want to interrupt.” Entrapta stood up swiftly. “But I reserved this room.”
“Uh, no, we did.” Mermista presented her phone with the online sign-up sheet information.
“No, you reserved it for ten minutes from now!” Entrapta shrugged. “I have it for the next ten minutes.”
“Well…can’t you just let us stay for the next ten minutes while you do your thing and we do ours?” I suggested.
“Oh, sure!” Entrapta practically bounded over to the couch, resuming her reading there.
Adora thumped the table. “ANYWAYS! Spanish!”
After a long meeting of essentially no actual studying, Bow, Adora, and I all went back to my and Adora’s dorm.
“I’m thinking pizza tonight,” I suggested as I walked in, throwing my keys onto the table.
“Oooh! Good idea.” Bow slumped down onto my bed. “Pizza and ‘Community’ Marathon!”
“Uh, actually, guys…I’m gonna have to bail…”
Bow and I snapped our gaze up to Adora, aghast. “But…” Bow held up my laptop, where he’d somehow already cued up the first episode. “Marathon night…”
“Ah, I’m sorry, guys, but Swift Wind wants to take me out to this club he found.” Adora held up her phone in rebuttal.
“Well, we could always go with you, right?” Bow set down my laptop. “I’d love to meet your cousin!”
Adora hesitated. “It’s not that I wouldn’t love that, but…my cousin…he’s…a bit…well…”
Someone knocked at the door. I went to answer it but Adora shoved me down into a chair. “That’ll be Swifty. Just…just…gah, prepare yourselves.”
After sharing a confused look with Bow, we directed our attention to the door. Adora took a deep breath and threw it open.
“Adoraaaaaaa!” Standing outside was possibly the most flamboyant man I’d even seen. He was dressed head to toe in neon clothing (all the way down to bright pink unicorn socks that I figured someone could see from across the street), had on about ten different necklaces, and had long hair tied back in a rainbow ponytail.
“Oh my god.” Bow held his hands to his heart. “I was not prepared.”
“Nice to meet ya!” Swift Wind saluted us cheesily, lowering his sunglasses. “Swift Wind’s the name, revolution’s the game!”
“Revolution?” I repeated, looking up skeptically at Adora.
She just avoided my gaze sheepishly.
“Introduce me?” Swift Wind gestured to us.
“Swifty, this is Glimmer and Bow. Glimmer’s my roommate and Bow’s our friend. Guys, this is Swift Wind, my cousin.”
“Glitter, Bob. Got it. You ready to hit the club?”
“Uh, yeah, yeah, but is it okay if Glimmer and Bow come with us?” Adora looked at us nervously. “If you guys still want to come?”
“Sure thing!” Bow jumped up excitedly.
“Yeah, sounds fun.”
Adora graoned slightly. “Oooooookay. Let’s go, then!”
“Oh, fantastic! You’re gonna love this place, Adora!”
Much like Swift Wind, the club was insanely loud. Music blared from every corner and there were so many strobe-lights I felt like I might have a seizure. After twenty minutes of sweaty people and the bitter smell of alcohol, I stumbled over to where Adora was, leaning against the bar.
“Fucking hell, this place is crazy.”
Adora snorted. “Yeah, I kind figured it would be. This is Swifty’s sort of place.”
“Jesus christ, why?” I searched through my purse for my painkillers. “I’m getting a headache and I haven’t even drunk anything yet.”
Adora shrugged one shoulder, sighing. “Swift Wind had a lot of trouble in high school making friends. I mean, we all did, but him especially. He’s always so eager to please everyone.” Adora chuckled. “Then, one year, Mara dragged us to a pride parade. Suddenly, Swifty was making friends with every drag queen he could find. And, I mean, the drag queens I know are chill, but Swift Wind took the extreme aspects of the lifestyle and ran with them.”
I popped my painkiller quickly. “Shit, man…I feel sorry for the guy, now.”
Adora’s face fell. “Yeah…me, too.” She let out a long breath. “But, he’s found his people. I’m so glad he has.”
I nudged Adora’s side. “Hey. I like to think you’ve found your people, too, now.”
Instantly her eyes lit up like the neon lights all around the club. “Yeah?”
“Yeah. Bow was my first person, but…I mean…he’s also pretty much the only real friend I had besides Mermista and Perfuma. And that’s only because my parents are friends with their parents, I think. I’d like another person.”
Before I could react, Adora was hugging me tightly. “Aw, Glimmer!”
I giggled, hugging her back. “And if that means we have to go to crazy clubs with your cousin sometimes, that’s okay, too.”
Adora set me down. Suddenly, she was all serious again. “You sure?”
“Yeah! This is hardly the worst thing I’ve been to. I much prefer this to the boring-ass dinner parties my parents used to throw.” Adora laughed and I started to laugh, too. “Hey…if you don’t mind me asking…why were you so nervous about us meeting Swift Wind?”
Adora’s laughter ceased quickly. “I…I trust you guys, but…well…Swift Wind is the whole ‘stereotypical’ gay, ya know? And…a-and I know a lot of people who are okay with people being gay, but only if they’re…normal. L-like me.”
All at once I wanted to burst out laughing and sob. “Fuck, Adora - you’ve met us, right? Bow wears crop-tops and has ten million boyband posters on his walls, and I wear chokers, coloured contacts, and have pink hair. Also, I literally hit on you the first day we met.”
Adora shuffled awkwardly. “I-I know, but…what if…it’s not like it hasn’t happened before.”
“A-and, besides, you guys practically act like you’re…you’re married or something!”
“Me and Bow?” I shuddered. “I mean, I love him, but…” Dating - fuck, marrying Bow…what a crazy thought! Although… I shook my head. “Anyways, you got nothing to worry about. Also, Mermista and Perfuma? Gay. So fucking gay.”
Adora cocked her head. “But…Mermista has a kinda-sort-a boyfriend.”
“Still: pansexual. So fucking pansexual.”
Adora’s eyes widened. “Whoah…did you guys go to an arts highschool or something?”
I snickered. “Nah. We were just the weird crew.”
“Ah, well, that explains it, too.”
Bow came stumbling over, laughing his head off. “GUYS! This place is sooooo much fun!” He hiccuped and nearly fell over when he reached us.
“Are you drunk?” I ducked my head, trying to see his eyes.
“Nah!” Bow waved his hand. “I had, like, two drinks. Then I danced. A lot. Unrelated: do you know where the bathroom is?”
Adora nudged her thumb in its direction. Bow sent her finger-guns and left. Adora watched him go and clucked her tongue. “Finger-guns: I should have known.”
Frosta’s hand tightened its grip on mine. “I can’t wait to meet your friends!” But she was shaking.
I murmured, “They’re nice, don’t worry,” as care-free as I could.
Frosta nodded. “I know!”
The study group was in our usual spot in the library study room. Perfuma stood up and started waving like she filled with cafine. “Hi! Now that you’re here we can get started!”
Adora smiled when she saw Frosta. “Aw, who’s this?”
“Don’t patronize me,” Frosta spat, her tone suddenly icy. “I’m eleven and three-quarters, thank you very much.”
“I - uh - sorry.” Adora bowed, for some reason, and sat down sheepishly.
“This is Frosta.” I sat down and pulled out the chair next to me for Frosta to sit. “I’m kinda, like, babysitting. She’s staying with us while we study. Frosta, this is Glimmer, Bow, Perfuma, Scorpia, Ado - why is weird chick on the couch again?”
The stranger with the purple hair waved her hand above her book. “Hello!”
Bow shrugged. “She wanted to read.” He said it like that made sense, but I didn’t question him.
“It’s nice to meet you, Frosta.” Perfuma passed out multi-coloured pencils. “Let’s get to work!”
I examined lazily the turquoise pencil she’d directed my way. “Greeeeeat. Spanish.”
“Oh, I love Spanish!” Scorpia fumbled with the red pencil in her huge hands. “It’s so much fun!”
I was about to say something along the lines of, “whatever,” when I noticed that Frosta wasn’t beside me anymore.
“I like your hair.”
I snapped my attention towards the voice. Frosta was standing next to Glimmer, pointing at her bed-head.
“It’s super cool. I wish my hair was like that.” Frosta glanced at me expectantly.
I groaned and rolled my eyes. “Salon day next week, promise.”
“Yay! I’m gonna get cool pink hair, like Glimmer!”
Again, I groaned. “Suuuuuure.” Not that she wouldn’t look rock’n with pink hair, but I knew that her mom would kill me if we died it. Or worse, kill Frosta.
The night was cold and sucky. I held Frosta’s hand in mine like a vice, but stared at my phone to pretend I didn’t care.
“That was fun!” Frosta chirped. “Thanks for letting me hang out with your friends!”
“Yeah, whatever, no problem.”
“Why does that guy keep staring at us?”
I drew her to my side instantly and looked around frantically. When I spotted Sea Hawk I sighed. “Oh godddddd. It’s no one, Frosta, keep walking.”
“Mermista, dearest!” He came jogging up to us, eyes alight like his last four cars.
“I was wondering if you had plans! It’s such a fine evening, and I was about to go to the bar with a few of my friends!” He twirled his moustache alluringly.
I rolled my eyes. “No. I’m, like, babysitting, doorknob.” I gestured to the girl attached to my arm.
“Oh! Yes, hello, young miss Frosta.” Sea Hawk bowed cheesily.
Frosta groaned. “Oh god.”
Sea Hawk, looking dejected, stood straight and cleared his throat. “Right…well…sorry to bother you! Good night!”
“Night,” I agreed in a grumble.
When we got to my apartment, Frosta asked, “So are you and Sea Hawk still dating?” She got onto the barstool of the small kitchen island, leaning her elbows against the counter-top.
“We don’t date,” I said.
“You do…you know?” Frosta’s eyes went wide.
I contained my blush and glared at her. “How do you even know about ‘you know?’”
Frosta crossed her arms. “I’m practically a grownup, Mermista.”
“Suuuuure, yeah, sorry.” I shook my head and started unpacking my backpack. “It’s almost ten, you should be in, like, bed, right?”
Frosta sighed. “Yeah. Loooong day.”
“Ugh, tell me about it.”
Shortly after, Frosta got to sleep and I was alone staring out the window, watching the city move beneath me. It hurt every time I remembered that my parents bought me this apartment. Frosta’s parents wouldn’t even buy her new shoes. Mall trip along with salon day, I mentally noted.
I’d thought about letting Frosta stay with my full-time. But that would involve legal adoption papers and all that. Or emancipation - a word I only knew because of how much I’d thought about her situation. For now it was probably for the best that she just do what she already does. We were practically roommates already, and hopefully that could continue until she’d be old enough to get her own place. She shouldn’t have to grow up with her dickwad parents.
I got up and turned off the lights.
Can you tell I've been rewatching Community lately?
Hope you enjoyed this chapter folks (:
Chapter 4: Thanksgiving
It's Thanksgiving! And everyone spends in it a different way...
The house protruded from the orchard, majestic and proud, and staring me down. I hesitantly raised a hand and rang the doorbell. I waited in silence, foot tapping against the ground in a rhythm as unsteady as my heartbeat.
The double-doors fell back, in their wake the face of perfection, every part as majestic and proud as his home. “Brother. Please, come in.”
I bowed my head. “Thank you, Prime.” One shaky step into my brother’s mansion, and the doors snapped behind us with a boom. Prime’s hand landed on my shoulder roughly.
“Hordak, do tell me why you look so on edge? You weren’t dreading our meeting, were you?” His voice became that sickly sweet tone I knew all too well.
“Not at all, brother. It’s been too long,” I admitted, smiling shakily. “It’s only…”
“Only…?” Prime prompted. He walked around to stand in front of me. He was taller than myself, standing a clean six feet and five inches to my pitiful six one. Like usual his shadow engulfed me.
“Nothing. I was invested in my experiments, Prime. That’s all.”
Prime nodded. “Mmm. Of course, I understand. You do understand, though, don’t you, Hordak, that family business comes before all else?” He placed his hand on my shoulder again.
I nodded back fervently. “Of course, Prime. I would never think of crossing family.”
“I would think not, brother.” Prime clapped his hands, the sound echoing through the immaculately white hall. “Now, come along, we shall dine! After all, a family reunion is a cause for celebration!”
My family was not religious in any manner. That being said, traditions were more important than breathing. I hadn’t even been connected to my birth family much until I was fifteen, but Mara basically forced me to get indicated into everything.
Before I could even knock, Mara swung open the door. “Happy thanksgiving!”
“Happy thanksgiving!” Swift Wind agreed. “Ahhhh, thank god we’re home! Mara, school was such a drag, you don’t even know!” He lumbered into the apartment and slammed down his bags. “When’s dinner?”
Mara snorted. “Good to see you, too, Swifty.” She walked over and ruffled his hair, at which Swift Wind laughed. Mara switched her attention to me. “Come on, get in here!”
“Right, right, coming.” I dragged in my duffle bag, then preceded to fall onto the couch. “Gah, Swifty’s right - it’s been a hell of a school year so far.”
“Well, hey, it’s almost over! It’s only been, what, two months?” Mara gave us a lop-sided grin. It quickly faded. “You guys are doing okay, though? With your dorm-mates and classes and everything?”
“Ugh, it’s fiiiiine, Mara, stop worrying.” Swift Wind flopped down next to me.
Mara shot him a look, more disappointed than annoyed. “Adora?”
“I’m fine, Mara. Promise. I really like my new friends, actually.”
“Yeah! Her roommate and her roommate’s boyfriend are so cool!”
“They’re not dating,” I reminded him.
“Sure, and you like boys. Anyways, what was I saying? Oh, yeah, they’re awesome. Glimmer lets me borrow her chokers whenever I want, and Bow listens to BlackPink religiously. They’re phenomenal.”
“Glimmer and Bow…” Mara mused. “Interesting names…”
“Despite that, they really are great,” I said. “And I have other friends, too - Mermista, Perfuma, Entrapta - er, well, kind of - and…well, that’s basically it, I guess.”
Swift Wind nudged me with his elbow. “What about whats-her-face ripped clumsy girl?”
“Scorpia,” I said, trying to leave the distain out of my voice. “She’s…um…I wouldn’t call her a friend. She, uh, knows…you know…”
Swift Wind grimaced. “Ah, sorry.”
“Who? What?” Mara sat down next to us, her eyes wide and expectant.
“It’s nothing, Mara,” I lied. I didn’t need her to worry.
Mara frowned. “Adora, you’re not keeping secrets from me are you? I mean, big secrets? Is there someone at school making you uncomfortable?”
“Mara, no, it’s fine. It’s a big school, and this person is…no one. It doesn’t matter, really.” But Mara still frowned. “I promise, it’s fine. We haven’t even seen each other since, like, the second week of school.”
With a sigh, Mara nodded. “Alright. But if something’s wrong, please tell me.”
“I will. I promise.”
Suddenly a loud clamber of noise came from outside the apartment, and a familiar voice started cussing out the door with made-up PG swears. Mara started laughing and headed to open the door.
“Adora! Your door is sticky again!”
Mara just shook her head and lead in our guest. “Razz, it’s me, Mara. You need your glasses, Adora’s over here.”
Razz had been a part of Mara’s family as long as her parents hadn’t been. They died when she was nineteen and Swift Wind was fourteen. Mara had to quit school to look after her brother, and Razz was the next door neighbour who once wandered in looking for sugar. Eventually she started teaching Mara how to cook and helped Swifty with his science projects. When I was welcomed into the family last year, Razz immediately took a liking to me.
Razz sighed as she sat down. “Sorry, Mara, dearie, you and Adora look so alike.”
Mara and I exchanged glances. The only thing that looked the same about us was our tendencies for ponytails.
The timer dinged in the next room. Mara grinned. “Super’s on, friends!”
Swift Wind jumped up. “Hell yeah!”
I helped Razz back up and walked her to the kitchen. “So, dearie, how is school?”
“It’s good, Razz. I’m doing well in my classes, and I’ve made a lot of freinds.”
“Oh, that’s very good, dearie! You’ll introduce them to Madame Razz, won’t you?”
I smiled. “Of course.”
The table was set out beautifully, with the special plates and everything. Regular salt and pepper shakers had been replaced with new glass ones, Mara had brought out the cloth napkins, and the food smelled spectacular. My second thanksgiving with my birth family was looking like it was going to be perfect.
“Happy thanksgiving!” Glimmer and I chorused when we arrived at the Brightmoon’s house.
Angella smiled warmly and gestured inside. “Come in, come in.” As soon as Glimmer was out of the door frame, Angella took her coat and started fussing over her. “Glimmer, dear, how often have you been brushing your hair?”
“Mom!” Glimmer swatted Angella’s hands away. “Could you not?”
“Right… Of course, sorry, dear.” Angella turned her attention to me. “Bow. You’re looking well.”
“Thank you, Ms. Brightmoon.”
“ ‘Aneglla,’ for the last time, young man.” Angella patted my shoulder and gestured past the foyer into the parlour. “Your fathers are already here, along with Sabre and Paris. I hear your other siblings will be along shortly with their families.”
“Great! Thanks again, so much, for inviting all of us over.” Twelve siblings, plus spouses, plus niblings…the house, as big as it was, would be overflowing by the time my whole family got here.
“Nonsense, Bow, it’s our pleasure. Your fathers have always been good business partners, and you and Glimmer have always been good friends.” She glanced between us expectantly. “It is still just friends, isn’t it?”
Glimmer nearly dropped her bag. “MOM!”
“Yes, Ms. Brightmoon - ah, Angella.” I smiled over nervously at Glimmer, who was huffing and trying to find a flaw on her dress to fixate on. Like she needed to fix anything, she always looked good. “Always friends.”
Glimmer nodded, finally inching closer to us. “Exactly. Anyways, here you go, mom.” She handed Angella the bag, which carried with it a bottle of wine and a box of crackers. “Where’s dad, by the way?”
“Your father is chatting it up with the other guests, as you should. Everyone is so eager to hear about your school, Glimmer. You’d be amazed.” Her eyes sparkled. “Oh, and Spinnerella and Netossa have some very exiting news.”
I gasped. “They’re getting married, finally!?”
“You’re very observant, Bow,” Angella laughed. “Now come along, we can’t stand in the foyer all evening.”
Glimmer saddled up to my side and murmured, “Can’t we?” She had that - what was that? That…mischievously cute look in her eyes.
I snickered and elbowed her. “Hey, come on, you love parties,” I whispered back.
“Correction, I love parties without my mother.”
Upon entering the sitting room, my dads got up from their places and walked towards us. “Bow! Glimmer!” Lance grabbed us both in a tight hug, George waiting his turn.
“Hey.” I could barely breathe after their embraces, but I couldn’t care less. It was rare that we got to spend time together, with me going to school so far away now.
My brother’s six foot three figure loomed over us suddenly. “Hello there.” Sabre ruffled my hair, somehow still keeping up his sophisticated demeanour. “Glimmer.” He nodded his head.
“Hi, Sabre.” Glimmer waved politely. “How are you?”
“Well, thank you.”
“Also well. She’s fixing her makeup at the moment, but I’m sure she’ll want to fawn over you two when she sees you. You know Paris - intent on getting her last single brother-in-law off and married.”
I could already feel my cheeks burning. Glimmer glanced between me and Sabre in confusion. “Married off?”
“Of course. She’s been planning your wedding since she met you, Glimmer.” And there it was. For some reason, my entire family - actually, no, both my and Glimmer’s entire families - had it in their minds that we had to get married.
Glimmer scoffed, narrowing her eyes. “So a guy and a girl can’t just be friends?”
Sabre’s eyebrows went up to his hairline. “Huh? Oh, no, no, of course, but - um - well - you - of course. You’re right. Excuse me.”
“Excused,” Glimmer sighed, half-jokingly, but Sabre didn’t seem to pick up on that.
Sabre took a big sip of his wine. “At any rate. How is school, you two?”
I had almost formed the word ‘good’ when Glimmer suddenly tugged on my sleeve. “Hey, sorry, I’ll have to give a rain-check to this conversation.” Then she made a beeline to her father, emerging from the stairwell.
As soon as Glimmer was gone, I glared at my present family. “Guys, what the actual hell?”
“I beg your pardon, young man?” George furrowed his brow and leaned forward.
“Why do you insist on trying to set me and Glimmer up!” I hissed. “Every year, every single family function!”
“If you ever brought a partner with you - ” Lance started, but I cut him off with a frustrated groan.
“You act married, Bow,” Sabre stated. “That is not friendship. That is courtship.”
“Hey, I get to say whether or not it’s courtship,” I snapped.
“You’re right,” George conceded, and sighed. “We’re sorry for speculating, Bow.”
I let my defensively raised shoulders slump. “It’s…fine. It’s fine.” I looked over to where Glimmer and Micah were talking. They were laughing, which is nice to see for once. Angella and Glimmer never really got along, so it was good to know that at least one parent made her smile. Glimmer deserves to smile, all the time.
Sabre huffed begrudgingly. I gave him an annoyed look. “What?”
“It’s just - ” George held up his hand, but Sabre shooed it away. “Dad, stop it!” Sabre took an almost menacing step forward. “Bow, do you not hear yourself?”
“You just said ‘Glimmer deserves to smile, all the time.’”
“No I didn’t. Did I?”
“Yes, you did. Do you not - ” Sabre groaned and sunk his fingers angrily into his hair. “Do you not hear how that sounds, in that lovesick tone of yours?”
“I did not have a lovesick tone!”
“Bow!” From a little ways away, Spinnerella came up to us. “Hello! Mr.’s Archer.” Spinnerella nodded to my family. “Did you hear the news?” She asked, directing her attention back to me. “Netossa finally proposed! And to think I was about to do it.”
“I did hear,” I said, glad to get onto another topic. “I’m so happy for you guys!”
“Oh, me too! But she proposed to me when I had my pyjamas on, of all things! It was hardly a fancy event. I felt like such a slob.”
Netossa came up behind her fiancée, laughing. “Babe, you look good in everything.”
Spinnerella sighed dramatically. “There she goes with the compliments.”
“Hey, just speaking the truth.” When Spinnerella shot her a look, Netossa just chuckled. “See, there she goes with that fake annoyance. You have a tell, hon, that little sparkle you get in your eyes.” She poked Spinnerella’s cheek. “So…what’s the word?”
“Mischievously cute?” I suggested.
“Yeah,” Netossa said. “How’d you come up with that?”
“I was thinking of what it when I was talking with Glimmer. She gets this really adorable sparkle in her eyes when she does something cheeky, it’s like the best feeling in the world when I see it - ” Oh. Oh no.
That’s about when I realized my family along with Spinnerella and Netossa are looking at me almost pitifully.
“Excuse me. I need to go to the bathroom.” I started pushing through the crowd of guests, desperate for a room where no one could see me panic.
I slammed the door of the bathroom once I found it, and locked it. I planted my palms into the sink and stared into the mirror. No, no, no, I was not into Glimmer. I loved her, sure, but I was not in love with her. Right. Right? Right? “Fuuuuuuuu - ”
“ - ck! I can’t believe this is how we’re spending Thanksgiving!”
Scorpia and Entrapta looked up form putting out the takeout.
“Well, Wildcat, there are worse ways, right?” Scorpia said, smiling.
I scowled. “You’re right, Scorpia. There are also worse ways to be murdered than being shot in the head.”
Scorpia pursed her lips. “I…it’s nice of Entrapta to invite us, though, right? Better than being at the dorm.”
I slid into a chair unceremoniously. “Again, gun shot. It’s still a gun shot. This is a batshit dumb holiday, infantilized by a racist story and made to get us to gorge on food and spend time with our abusive-ass families. Why do we have to celebrate it at all?”
“Social norms,” Entrapta replied. “But I enjoy it. There’s food, and friends…well, uh, now, anyways. I’m glad you’re here! I don’t usually spend Thanksgiving with people!” She unpacked a few more items.
“It’s great to be here!” Scorpia lied on my behalf. “I usually spend Thanksgiving with my family, but this is definitely a nice change of pace.”
I sighed. “Yeah, this is probably better than spending it with Shadow.”
“Shadow?” Entrapta asked as she passed me my pork-fried rice.
“Her mom,” Scorpia explained.
“Mother,” I corrected, sharply. “ ‘Mom’ implies we have a good relationship, or that she raised me, properly. I came out of her, that’s about it. She ‘raised me’ by letting me live in her house, giving me food, and yelling at me when I got in trouble. She’s a coldhearted bitch that can rot in Hell.”
Entrapta stuffed an egg-roll into her mouth. “Huh.”
“That about sums it up.” I stuck my chopsticks violently into my dinner.
My Thanksgiving usually wasn’t too bad at home, honestly. But that was when Adora was there. We’d sneak out in the middle of the night to hang out with our friends and do crazy shit. The last couple of years we’d added alcohol into the mix, making it all the more fun. Adora would do her best to help me hide my hangover from Shadow, and usually it didn’t work, but Shadow would be so busy looking after Adora’s own that she wouldn’t bother me. This year I wasn’t so sure Shadow would leave me alone if I got wasted.
“You okay?” Scorpia touched my arm.
I tore it away. “Personal space!” I hissed. “And yes.” I shovelled food into my mouth. “I’m fine.”
Scorpia pursed her lips. “You don’t seem fine.” It was a whisper, but I heard it, slamming down my rice.
“Scorpia! I’m fine! I’m just - just - ” Thinking about Adora. “Thinking about Shadow!” They both hated and betrayed me, so what was the difference, really?
A microwave timer dinged in the kitchen. Entrapta squealed excitedly, dashing away. When she came back, she was holding a plate of mini brownies. “Mini desert!” She placed them down on the table, biting into one with a contented sigh.
Scorpia grabbed a brownie. “Well, Happy Thanksgiving!” She moved it out like a glass waiting for a toast.
Begrudgingly, I joined in her make-believe just as Entrapta seemed to clue it, getting another brownie to join ours. “Happy Thanksgiving!” She chirped.
We used to have brownies sometimes at home. Adora would make them. They would be the awful store-bought mix shit, but they tasted like she poured her love into them. They tasted like she loved me. I took a bitter bite of my brownie. “Happy Thanksgiving.”
Chapter 5: Enemies, Lovers, and Best Friends
Adora gets a flu and a delirious spell leaves secrets to be spilled.
*TW brief mentions of parental abuse and physical abuse*
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.”