“Sure, whatever you say.”
Adora’s heart sank as the woman she’d been dancing with turned to leave. Panicking, she reached for the other’s wrist without actually registering what she was doing. Oh no, that was probably too far, she thought with dread. But Catra merely stared down at her restrained arm, where Adora’s hand had frozen instead of letting go. She needed to say something now that she’d already come this far.
“Please,” she tried tentatively. “Let’s talk about something else.”
The other woman just continued to stare blankly. Adora had no idea what was running through her mind, but she hadn’t left, right?
“Or– or less talking, if you want,” she sputtered on, unsure which option would suit her companion best.
Catra sighed deeply, and Adora thought she heard her mumble, “Whatever.” But the attractive woman turned back toward her and resumed their dance posture.
Wow, that actually worked. Some of the hope that had threatened to be crushed entirely just moments ago began to grow inside her again. Maybe her instincts regarding this mysterious acquaintance weren’t completely wrong.
Adora kept her mouth shut, worried she might accidentally say the wrong thing again, and that she wouldn’t be able to persuade the short-tempered woman to stay a second time. To her surprise, however, the Horde representative seemed to relax quite a bit as they danced. Admittedly she did seem a bit drunk, and Adora wondered how much of any of her behavior tonight was a result of that. It made her uncomfortable, considering her only other verbal exchange with Catra had gone so poorly. How could she know if Catra actually wanted to be here, standing this close to her? Actually, had she gotten closer? The taller girl felt the heat rise in her cheeks once she made that realization. There was definitely more surface area of their bodies touching than before.
“You smell nice,” the other slurred, and her leather jacket skritched as she leaned her face in towards Adora’s neck.
Okay, it was definitely getting extremely warm in this room. “Uh, thank you,” she replied, finding it difficult to hide how flustered she felt.
Catra reached up a hand, her nails painted a prominent black, and brushed aside a few strands of hair that had escaped from Adora’s ponytail and fallen against her cheek. The gesture was surprisingly tender, and she felt her ear burn red from the touch as the yellow whisps were tucked behind it. The blonde was completely overstimulated at this point. Her heart raced a million miles per second. The placid expression on the other girl’s face was only intensifying her buzzing feelings, but she also couldn’t bring herself to break away their eye contact.
An eternity or possibly only a few seconds later, an idea occurred to her. She wanted to be able to communicate with Catra when she was sober again. The Alliance skater edged them both closer to one of the snack tables, where she grabbed a napkin and a pen from a Historian mailing list sign-up sheet. Quickly scrawling the digits to her mobile number, she slid the napkin into a pocket of the other girl’s jacket with a silent wish.
That was when a much larger woman approached them, saying something to Catra about having to leave. The smaller girl made up a few ridiculous arguments intermingled with some escaping giggles. Her friend seemed embarrassed, which confirmed for the Bright Moon employee that this was probably uncharacteristic behavior for her.
“You’ll get her home okay?” Adora asked with concern.
This elicited a smile from the burly woman. “Don’t worry,” she belted with a laugh. “This isn’t my first round with a drunk Wildcat.”
The blonde managed a tight grin in return. “Alright. Take care, both of you.”
“You’re so sweet,” Scorpia beamed.
“YEAH she is,” Catra slurred from her friend’s shoulder which was now supporting her.
“See you soon, I hope!” the friend called while dragging the other girl away.
The jammer shyly made her way back to her friends but found they were dancing very intimately near the stage. She waited from a distance until the song finished before she cut into their time together. When Glimmer spotted her, she raised a questioning eyebrow.
“That was unexpected.”
Adora looked down at her own feet and hoped her cheeks didn’t appear too red in the dim lighting.
“It was…nice,” she replied.
Her friend’s expression softened a bit. “That’s good,” she said sincerely. “Did she apologize for the other night?”
The blonde fidgeted her fingers around the bottom seam of her dress. “Actually, no. But the children’s center did come up. I guess that’s giving her a really hard time at work…”
Glimmer tried to be more tactful than she’d been about the Fright Zone captain the last time. However it’d happened, her friend obviously seemed to care about her. “Well, you can’t really control that, right? Don’t blame yourself for how a company like that treats their employees.”
Adora’s expression said that she wasn’t completely convinced, but she responded, “Yea, I guess you’re right. I tried to explain why it was so important, but she didn’t really want to talk about that tonight.”
“It could be a sensitive topic,” the pink-haired girl assented.
The set came to an end, and the Best Friend Squad worked together with a few of Bow’s employees to clear up after. While her body was set to task with idle cleaning, Adora’s mind wandered back to the more exciting part of the night. Catra had actually said more than one complimentary thing about her. Was she like that around anyone when she was that drunk, or were those words reserved specifically for Adora? She was anxious for an opportunity to find out after the rival jammer recovered. It was getting much harder to deny how attractive she found her. The ripped leggings she had on tonight highlighted the curves of her hips and hinted at what she might see underneath. Flustered, she swept that section of floor more furiously as if to banish the thought from her mind.
Saturday dragged by, and Adora continuously checked her phone, only to find there were no new notifications. Every time she made the same discovery yet again, she groaned in frustration with herself for imagining what she wanted but didn’t actually exist.
Later in the day she went with her friends to a cookout hosted by one of the Alliance teammates. They lived on a quiet cul-de-sac near the suburbs, and everyone brought their skates to take advantage of the freshly laid asphalt and lack of parked cars in the road. Someone set up a stereo with music, creating a private outdoor roller rink for the partygoers. The jammer was finally able to keep her mind busy for a while during the festivities; but as the evening wore on, she found herself checking the lifeless mobile device again.
“Are you like expecting a call or something?” a monotone voice interrupted her brooding.
Mermista and her boyfriend had wandered over to discover the blonde fixated with her phone. They were a few years older and seemed way more laid back in comparison to Adora’s restless intensity. She admired that and felt a little envious. They had always been polite towards her, which she appreciated.
Biting her lip, Adora answered, “Not exactly. I tried giving somebody my number yesterday, but I’m not sure they actually want to talk to me.”
“How debonair!” Sea Hawk (his actual name was Jordan, but he always preferred to go by his derby name because it matched his girlfriend) exclaimed. “Is this a love interest?”
Her cheeks instantly caught fire, spreading all the way out to her ears. “Uh, probably not.”
“Sea Hawk,” the older girl groaned. “You’re totally embarrassing her. Ignore him, Adora. He’s an idiot.”
“I beg your pardon, dearest,” he protested dramatically. “I was only supporting Adora’s romantic overtures! That’s what good friends do.”
She dragged her fingers through her dark bangs. “How are you so annoying? You don’t just put somebody on the spot like that.”
Adora chuckled sheepishly as the center of their argument. “It’s no big deal, really.”
Mermista paused from mussing Sea Hawk’s hair into his face. “Well, whoever it is must be pretty lame because anyone would die to talk to you. You’re like, super cool.”
The younger woman’s heart swelled to receive such a compliment from somebody she respected. “Aw, thanks Mermista. Sea Hawk, you too. I probably just need to give up while I’m ahead.”
“Come play this game with us,” the muscular girl encouraged. “We actually needed one more on our team.”
“To ADVENTURE!” her boyfriend chimed in as they each took one of Adora’s arms and led her away.
Sunday was as excruciatingly long as Saturday had been – only without any events in the evening to distract Adora from her wild speculations. She slept fitfully that night.
“You’re such a spoiled Princess. Are you trying to get me fired?”
“Adora! Why didn’t you come?”
“You can’t blame yourself.”
“She was waiting outside for her friend, and that’s when they attacked her.”
“I needed you!”
I didn’t mean it. I would have never let that happen if I’d known. How could I have known? I should have known. I should have known.
Adora jumped out of her nightmares, drenched in sweat. She panted in pace with her frantic heartbeat. It had been a while since she dreamed about that day; although it was never far from her thoughts while she was awake. She cradled her head in her hands and sobbed quietly. How could she ever erase guilt that great? She would be atoning for that day the rest of her life. She had to do everything in her power to make up for her devastating failure. Even then, she’d likely never forgive herself.
“Adora, thank goodness you’re here,” Glimmer rushed towards her when she arrived at Bright Moon’s main office.
“What’s going on?” She had a bad feeling, as if her nightmares had been foreshadowing whatever unpleasant news her friend was about to reveal.
“The Horde’s legal team just faxed us a pile of paperwork. They’re fighting back against your petition.”
That was the bomb she’d been waiting to drop all weekend long. With a pang, she couldn’t help wondering whether Catra had been involved or if this move was out of her hands.
Glimmer nudged her shoulder, and she realized guiltily that her friend had transitioned from disconcerted about the situation to worried for her. “Adora, hey. We’re gonna be okay. The next thing I was going to say is that you should give Netossa a call. See if she can help us out.”
That’s right. Their teammate ran a law firm with her wife. They both played for the Alliance; although Netossa socialized with the Best Friend Squad a little more often.
“Good idea,” the taller friend gulped, trying to recover some composure. “I’ll do that now.”
“Yea, send me a copy of their fax. I’m sure I can represent you guys. We’ll get started on a rebuttal today.”
“You have no idea how grateful we are,” Adora breathed into the mouthpiece of the phone.
“Don’t sweat it, kid. We deal with this all the time. Leave it to me.”
After she scanned all the paperwork to Netossa’s business email, she leaned back in her wheeled desk chair with a sigh. What a way to start the week. She thought submitting a petition in only two days had been stressful, but this was ten times worse. The only bright spot during that period was the concert at the Historian, but Adora couldn’t be sure if that wasn’t actually going to be another wound her heart would need to heal from. If Catra was behind this attack against her mission for the community, that more than canceled out a random night of intoxicated flirting. Considering the cagey woman hadn’t responded to her note all weekend, she didn’t feel very hopeful that her feelings were reciprocated.