Catra groggily tried to discern the yelling coming from down the hall. It wasn’t Scorpia or Entrapta. It was also uncharacteristically bright for her room. She cracked her eyes open; she couldn’t have been sleeping long, considering how difficult that was. The first thing she saw was the purple fabric her head was laying across. It was warm against her cheek, and a moment later she noticed it was rising and falling evenly. The words “Alliance” were printed across the jersey. The pieces started falling into place.
Adora. The hospital. Staying the night.
“Adora!” a deeper voice called a second time.
With an internal shriek she bolted upright. The turbulence caused the blonde to wake with confusion, and she shielded her temples with a soft groan.
“Shit, sorry,” Catra hissed meekly, caught between concern for the injured woman and her own urgent flight response.
Glimmer and Bow burst into the bedroom noisily – until they discovered both individuals sprawled on the bed. The two friends gaped, taking in the bizarre scene. Catra paled in mortification, frozen and staring back at the people standing in the doorway. Meanwhile their eyes darted back and forth between the two women on the bed. In the end, they settled on their ailing friend.
“Adora, we’ve been so worried,” Bow began gravely. “You never called us to come get you, and we tried to reach the hospital –”
“And they said you’d left hours ago with your girlfriend,” Glimmer finished accusingly, crossing her arms and glaring at them.
“Sorry, guys,” Adora replied weakly, a hand still pressed to her forehead. “I was barely conscious when they let me go. It was so late. Catra offered to drive me home so you guys wouldn’t have to come out there.”
The pink-haired woman’s gaze leveled at Catra instead, no amusement visible.
“I think you guys can handle things from here,” the Fright Zone captain broke in awkwardly. “I should get going.”
She had to squeeze between both Adora’s friends to escape the bedroom, but that was far less intimidating than sticking around for any more of this horribly embarrassing conversation. She kept up her borderline-run all the way to her motorcycle outside. She didn’t even pause to check her phone for fear of Sparkles or Crop Top watching her from inside the building. She would just deal with whatever situation met her at home.
The three friends were silent awhile after Catra’s hasty exit. Glimmer and Bow seemed slightly embarrassed for ruining their flatmate’s company while also still plenty confused about the entire situation. Finally it was Bow who spoke up.
“Adora, are you and Catra dating now?!”
“No!” the blonde shrieked, pulling her comforter up to hide her bright red cheeks. “That was just a lie so the hospital would let her visit so late at night.”
Glimmer’s earlier irritation quickly subsided as the far more tempting opportunity to tease her best friend took precedence.
“But why do you think she would care about doing something like that?” she asked with a wry grin. “You don’t bail on all your friends to spend the night in a hospital with just anybody.”
A squeal erupted from underneath the covers. “GLIMMER!”
“Alright, alright,” Bow stepped in. Careful to avoid her feet while sitting at the foot of her bed, he added kindly, “She does have a point though, Adora.”
The captain tore the blanket down to glare desperately at her friends. “I. Don’t. Know, you guys. I was pretty shocked, too. She messaged me right after I got off the phone with you two.”
“That’s pretty quick after the game, considering we rushed out to check on you right away,” Bow commented.
Adora chuckled nervously in response. “Yea, I almost didn’t check my phone. I was so tired.”
The blonde appeared to zone out for a bit, perhaps reminiscing about the events from the night before. It was difficult to focus with a fresh head injury.
“Well?” Glimmer finally reminded her after joining her boyfriend on the bed. “What happened then?”
“She came straight there,” Adora recalled with admiration. “And apologized for me getting hurt. She thought it was her fault.”
They all frowned at that idea.
“That doesn’t seem fair,” Bow said.
“She wasn’t even on the track for that jam,” Glimmer added.
“She feels responsible as the team captain. And,” Adora paused, wondering if she should reveal Catra’s more personal details to her closest friends. She decided to play it safe for the sake of staying on her crush’s good side. “And she said she should have stepped in before anyone took it that far.”
“That does sound like something a captain should have done,” Glimmer stated hotly, folding her arms again. “That was really fucked up, what that jammer did.”
Adora’s shoulders hunched sadly. “Yea, it really was. But it was somebody else who pressured her to do that, not Catra.”
“Come to think of it, it looked like she was yelling at that new coach after they decided to eject that jammer,” Bow added. “She seemed pretty mad.”
A tiny wave of excitement rippled through Adora. Could Catra have blown up because of her getting hurt? Of course, they had just lost one of their primary jammers. That would be another reason to tell off her sister. She had been the one who was pushing the dirty plays. Adora stuffed down her selfish idea. The second reason made much more sense.
“Anyways,” Glimmer interrupted her musings. “What did they say at the hospital?”
“Just a sprain for my ankle, but it really hurts to walk on it right now.” Adora winced from the memory. “And a moderate concussion. Oh damn, I think my paperwork is still in Catra’s motorcycle bag.”
“Her what?!” both friends exclaimed in unison.
“She brought you home on a motorcycle? When you were barely conscious?!” Glimmer’s indignation was bubbling again.
“Calm down, Glim,” the blonde pleaded. “She was extremely careful. She even tied us together because she was worried about me letting go.”
Her audience both raised an eyebrow at that last part.
“Uh, sounds interesting,” Bow offered warily.
“It was totally safe, guys. And she didn’t even let me walk up the stairs outside. She carried me the whole way,” Adora added with admiration.
The couple watched her daydream with bemused expressions. Glimmer recovered soonest.
“Well, it’s been a pretty exciting 24 hours for you. You better keep resting. And don’t even think about coming to work tomorrow. I’ll talk to HR about your medical leave.”
“Glimmer, but we have way too much going on right now. The doctor just said I need to limit my screen time and rest.”
The shorter woman leveled a stern gaze at her friend. “None of which you can do at work. Adora, it’s final. You rest, and call us if you need anything.”
“We’re just glad you’re home safe,” Bow added reassuringly. “We’ve got your back, Adora.”
Adora deflated back into her bed and sighed deeply. She knew she was lucky to have friends who cared about her well-being. She was even luckier to work for one of those friends and know she wouldn’t be in trouble at her job.
“Fine,” she conceded finally.
Catra parked near the front door of her apartment building. Most of the residents were still home this early on a Sunday. She had to wedge her motorcycle in between two parked cars, but she managed. When she stepped quietly through the door to their unit, she found Scorpia sprawled unconscious on their living room sofa. That was abnormal. Entrapta was typing away on her laptop in the kitchen, which was normal.
“Catra! You’ve returned,” she called cheerfully, as if it wasn’t the crack of dawn on a weekend. “We were concerned for your safety. Scorpia especially.”
She gestured at their sleeping roommate. Catra spotted the dark circles under the woman’s eyes.
“Sorry,” she replied in a hushed tone, heading closer so their conversation wouldn’t require shouting across the living space. “Did you guys wait up for me?”
“I believe Scorpia did. Looking over the data from your previous independent journeys, I presumed you would be fine and return when you were ready. Of course, Scorpia doesn’t always care about the data.”
“She worries a lot for people she cares about,” Catra conceded ruefully. “I was, uh, busy and forgot to check my phone for a long time. I didn’t even look when I rode home this morning. Figured it was too early to bother, heh.”
“Yes, I’ve been working out here for one hour and thirty-seven minutes; and she’s been sleeping that entire time. Any responses to Scorpia’s messages during that timeframe would have been ineffective.”
There was some rustling from the living room.
“Wildcat?” Scorpia’s voice echoed over to them.
“In here,” Catra responded with a weary grimace.
“Catra! You’re safe!” her friend shouted when she got to the doorway and could see the latecomer for herself. “I texted and called so many times when you didn’t come home.”
“Sorry, Scorp,” she apologized weakly. “I was helping somebody out, and then I ended up falling asleep, too.”
“Oh, so that’s why you couldn’t come to the after party!” the taller woman switched tones easily with the explanation. “Who was the friend? Somebody we know?” She chuckled jovially.
“Uh, not exactly…” Catra prayed her cheeks wouldn’t betray her right now, but she could already feel her flustered feelings rising back up again.
“So we do know them? Oh man, what a treat. Now you’ve gotta tell us!”
The jammer suppressed a groan. She knew Scorpia would not let this topic go now that she’d latched on. Smearing a palm across her face in an attempt to cover her frustration and embarrassment, she answered, “That captain from the Alliance. Adora – er, She-ra.”
“WHOA, Catra, I thought you were enemies because of work! I remember you danced with her a couple months ago, but you said that was just a plot to trick her! You actually like her, don’t you?”
Catra screeched back, “It’s not like that! I had to take responsibility after Lucia got her hurt. I went to the hospital to atone for my bad leadership with our team.” She resisted the urge to keep rambling. She needed to make them understand her motives weren’t romantic at all. While she was at it, her own heart could use some convincing as well. It needed to calm down right now.
“That’s pretty kind, Wildcat, but I’m not sure you needed to go that far?”
Entrapta chimed in. “Your involvement in Purple 01’s injuries was extremely negligible. After all, you actively discouraged Octavia’s actions, and data shows she is an autonomous adult. She bears the majority of the responsibility, followed by Shadow Weaver for consistently inciting violent gameplay for the last two weeks.”
The captain balled her hands into fists at her sides. “I should have stood up to her from the beginning.”
She turned to her seated roommate earnestly then. “I’m really sorry for putting you in that position. I was afraid of how she would punish me at work. I’m basically a coward. You never should have had to deal with that.”
The purple-haired woman patted Catra’s hand mechanically a few times. Physical contact wasn’t an area where she was particularly comfortable; so the effort was a testament to her relationship with the other girl.
“I can provide a lot of credible evidence that you are not a coward, Catra. However, my sociological observations would support your strong need to maintain peaceful relations with a woman who is both your primary connection to family ties as well as your direct employer. You were behaving predictably for any human in your situation.”
Catra placed her free hand over her friend’s and smiled warmly. She swallowed back the tears threatening to well in her eyes. She still felt guilty for all the trouble she’d caused Entrapta, after everything the woman had done for her and the team. Her commitment to the Fright Zone had dramatically changed their competitive capabilities for the better, and it was her income as a technical genius that had secured this home for them. Letting her sister threaten that relationship had been a huge mistake. Still, hearing her roommate offer forgiveness in her own way lifted a huge weight from her shoulders.
“Now that we’ve established the obvious, that Wildcat’s an incredible leader,” Scorpia interrupted, “how about spilling the details from you spending the whole night with Adora?!”
Catra recoiled with embarrassment, but she was trapped in that part of the kitchen with the red-haired woman still occupying the doorway.
“UGH, there are no details! When I showed up, nobody else was there to wait with her. That’s super fucked up; so I stayed until they got her test results forever later. She needed a ride home, and by then it was really too late to ride all the way across town to get here. I left her place as soon as I’d gotten some sleep.”
“Oh wow, you stayed the night at her house too? Damn, Wildcat, you don’t mess around when you pick up women.”
Catra hid her face in her hands again. “Oh. My. God. I didn’t pick anyone up. I gave an injured person a ride home from the hospital!”
“Whatever you say,” Scorpia laughed. “But you sure are acting flustered for that being all it was.”
“There does appear to be increased blood flow in your cheeks, indicating a strong emotional response,” Entrapta contributed.
“I’M GOING TO BED!” Catra interrupted and pushed past her broader roommate toward the hallway.
“Well, it’s fine if you do like her!” Scorpia called after her. “She seems really sweet!”
Catra groaned loudly as she slammed the bedroom door behind her.
She flopped face-first onto her bed and whimpered quietly into the pillow. She did not need this when she already felt so overwhelmed and confused. The flustered woman didn’t know what to make of her behavior from the last night. Why had she even gone to the hospital in the first place? Her friends’ arguments contradicted the pathetic reasons she’d already been feeding herself. Of course, she had felt responsible for Adora getting hurt. There was more than that, though. She hadn’t been that worried for another person in about ten years. She’d needed to make sure the other jammer was okay. She was excited to keep her company and take her home. It had hardly taken any persuading to stay the night in the other woman’s bed. Meanwhile it took hours to calm her nerves enough to sleep when she’d much preferred staring at every detail of the blonde’s relaxed features.
How the fuck had she gotten herself into this situation?
And worse – what was she supposed to do going forward?