The most boring professor in the history of professors finally starts to finish up his lecture. Catra wonders if they’d decided to search for personalities to match the subject, because contract law has been the single most boring class, and it’s like they’d scoured the earth for the single most boring professor to teach it.
He drones on, asking if anybody has any questions. Catra scans the lecture hall – she’s in the perfect position to do so, since she always makes sure to sit at the back. Nobody looks like they’re going to ask anything, which is good, because this particular professor always continues to drone the fuck on until literally everyone is late for their next class.
Catra doesn’t have a class after this, but it is the end to a very long day. No, scratch that; a very long semester. She wants to get the first bus back home, get into her pyjamas, and finish the semester off with a glass of wine and a few episodes of Faking It.
(Don’t judge. She knows it’s trashy, but she got pulled in by the promise of sapphic romance.)
The moment the professor dismisses the class, Catra grabs her backpack, which she’d been subtly packing for the last ten minutes, and shoots off the end of the aisle, down the stairs and out of the door. One time, he’d called everyone back because of this one point he’d forgotten to make. Catra doesn’t want to risk that happening again. Not when she’s finally free for Christmas break.
“Where are you headed in such a hurry, kitten?” A familiar voice questions behind her. It’s not enough to make Catra stop walking at the brisk pace she’s set, but she knows that Double Trouble can keep up. “Got a hot date?”
“Yeah, with my couch,” Catra rolls her eyes and grips the strap of her backpack, “I can’t keep her waiting. She’s very impatient.”
Double Trouble smirks, in that way where Catra can never know what they’re thinking. She’s been told that she does that too. She never imagined how annoying it was. Maybe that’s why they’re friends. “Sure. Well, there’s a party tonight, courtesy of yours truly. Can I count on you to show your face, since you bailed on the last one?”
“I bailed on the last one because we had finals,” Catra retorts, pushing open the doors to the law school building and taking in a breath of fresh air. It’s refreshing, after the heat in the stuffy lecture theatre. “And I’m bailing on this one because I’m fucking tired.”
“Ugh,” Double Trouble groans, “you’re so boring. Don’t you know that college is supposed to be fun?”
Catra rolls her eyes again. She finds she does that a lot around Double Trouble. “Maybe my idea of fun is comfy pants and TV.”
“Let me call the nursing home real quick, tell them that one of their old women escaped and hijacked the body of a nineteen year old,” Double Trouble teases, “come to the party. It’s the last one before winter break.”
“Again, no thanks,” Catra says as she stops at her bus stop. It’s a thirty-minute ride back to her apartment, and thankfully the next one is in six minutes. She’d been worried that she was about to miss it, because they only run every half an hour, and it’s freezing. She pulls her girlfriend’s jacket tighter around herself as she promises, “I’ll come to your next one.”
“That’s what you said last time,” Double Trouble answers, “I don’t buy it. Don’t be surprised if I show up later to drag you out by your hair, kitten.”
Catra snorts with laughter. “Don’t be surprised when you end up staying to watch trashy TV with me.”
“Never going to happen, darling,” Double Trouble laughs, “unlike you, I actually like to have some fun every once in a while. Anyway, I better get home. This party isn’t going to set itself up. Have a good Christmas, kitten.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Catra waves them away, but flashes a small smile and says, “you too,” as they go.
She watches until they’ve walked down the street and disappeared into the typical on-the-hour crowds around campus. That’s when she pulls her phone out of her pocket and performs a familiar action like it’s muscle memory. Though maybe at this point it is. She unlocks it, flicks her home screen over to the next slide, presses the Gmail app, and refreshes her inbox, waiting with baited breath as the little icon spins around.
Sure enough, her actions are rewarded. There’s one new email waiting there, just like she thought.
Subject: Street smart vs book smart
Dec 17, 3:37PM
Let’s forget who would win in a physical fight – because you know I’d kick your ass – but in a mental battle, I’m also thinking maybe I’m superior here.
Look. I know you’re like, basically a genius and everything. I’m not denying that. But academically smart people have no common sense, so like, street smarts vs book smarts. Which would win?
(In case you couldn’t tell, that question actually translates to Catra vs Adora.)
Anyway, hurry up and come home. I miss you. And I think this is an example of your geniusness lack of common sense, because who chooses a class that happens on a FRIDAY? Unlike your very street smart girlfriend, you made the worst possible decision.
P.S. I was serious when I said I missed you. Would it be socially acceptable for me to come to your class right now and declare that there’s an emergency? Because my desperate need for kisses right now pretty much classes as an emergency. I’m sure I could get the President to declare a state of emergency across the whole country if I tried hard enough.
P.P.S. And yes I am that dedicated… shut up.
Subject: Re: Street smart vs book smart
Dec 17, 4:07PM
first of all i could absolutely kick your ass. let’s forget that time you took me off guard last year, because my very expensive guitar was right there and i was much more concerned that you were going to ram into it with your big jock body. you might be taller and physically stronger than me because you live at the fucking gym, but there’s no denying that i’m quicker. literally the only sport i would smoke you in is track. so yeah, maybe you have physical advantages, but you’ve got to catch me first.
and before you deny it, i challenge you to a race. winner gets to ask whatever they want from the loser and the loser has to do it.
including bedroom stuff ;)
i do agree with you on the idea that academically smart people tend to lack common sense though. but i also think you’re forgetting that you literally have zero common sense yourself. like, you asked me if we could put dish soap in the dishwasher. in complete seriousness.
i’m waiting for the bus now, dummy. see you in 30 mins.
p.s. and i didn’t choose the stupid friday class, my dumbass college forced it on me and you should know this considering i complain about it almost as much as you complain about mondays
She sends the email with a smile on her face, but she’s always smiling when she’s talking to Adora. Or spending time with Adora. Or thinking about Adora.
Does this mean she’s whipped?
(Who is she kidding? Catra knows she’s completely whipped.)
A year ago, she would’ve been embarrassed by the mere thought of being this fucking sappy about a girl. But now, Catra doesn’t care. She loves Adora, and she’s proud of it. For Adora, she’ll be the sappiest person on the planet.
But only for Adora.
Catra tucks her phone into her back pocket at the exact moment a car pulls into the bus stop. It’s a car that she definitely recognises, considering she’d driven it for the better part of three months until Adora passed her driving test, and still sometimes drives it when Adora wants to drink on a night out, or if she’s too lazy to walk to the grocery store.
Though, for the record, she’s not the one who named it Swift Wind.
The window rolls down, and Adora sticks her head out of the window. She’s smiling, but that’s nothing new; Adora is always smiling, like she has unlimited happiness to offer up to the universe and she’s willing to share it with everyone.
“Cab for the most beautiful girl in the universe?” Adora calls out, flashing a softer kind of smile. This one is only ever directed at Catra. Despite Adora being so open with people, there are still some things she only ever shares with Catra. “I’m guessing you’re the one who ordered this ride? Because you’re the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen.”
“Shut up, loser,” Catra rolls her eyes like the words haven’t given her major butterflies. She pushes herself off the slanted seat in the bus stop and walks around to the passenger side, getting in the car. “What are you doing here, anyway?”
Adora leans over and pulls her in for a kiss before answering. Catra melts into it, so glad that almost a year on, she and Adora are just as affectionate. No… almost exactly a year to the day she told Adora she was Cyra.
“Well, since I finished school yesterday, like every smart person who doesn’t pick a class that happens on a Friday, I had nothing to do,” Adora says as she starts to drive, “I figured I might as well pick my beautiful girlfriend up and save her from the bus.”
It’s little things like that, the constant consideration that Adora always has, that makes Catra fall for her more every day. If that’s even possible. Catra knows that her heart is stuck so deep in a trap of Adora’s design. “Well, thanks, dummy. But you didn’t need to.”
“I wanted to,” Adora shrugs, and flashes that gentle smile again. “So, what’s the plan for tonight? No parties, right? Normally I’d be up for it, but we have to get up at like five to drive back to Etheria, and I can’t do a college party sober…”
“No parties,” Catra says, despite Double Trouble’s threat that they’d show up and drag her out anyway, “honestly, I just want to curl up on the couch and watch Faking It with you. I can’t believe you got me into that dumbass show.”
Adora laughs. “I knew you liked it.”
“Never said that,” Catra retorts easily, and Adora rolls her eyes, her fingers drumming lightly against the steering wheel as she drives, “maybe I’m just in it for the cuddles.”
“Why do you always have to say all of this cute stuff when I’m not recording you?” Adora teases her. “I’m lucky I got a video of that one time when you were drunk and you told me you wanted to marry me.”
“You already knew that, so technically drunk Catra didn’t say anything new,” Catra shrugs, like the whole thing wasn’t mortifying when it happened. She’s trying really hard not to get embarrassed over showing affection, and when it comes to Adora, it’s easy. Other people… not so much.
(She knows Adora forwarded that video onto Bow and Glimmer, because Sparkles wouldn’t shut the fuck up about Catra being a softie. For three whole months.)
“I know, but I still like to hear it,” Adora smiles to herself, “anyway, you and I have a romantic date night tonight.”
As much as Catra usually loves to hear those words, her stomach drops. All she wants is just a relaxing night in; the semester had been a fucking nightmare. They hadn’t even gone back to Etheria over Thanksgiving because of both of their workloads, and instead had a mini-Thanksgiving in their apartment. Adora had made chicken instead of turkey, because there’s no way two people could eat their way through a whole turkey, even when one of those people was Adora.
“Oh,” Catra says, “what are we doing?”
“I went to the market and bought two filet mignon steaks, and I got one of the fancier bottles of wine at the store. Well, it’s a corked bottle, so that just automatically means it’s fancy to me. I decided we could pretend for one night that we’re not broke students,” Adora laughs, “so I’m going to cook dinner for us, and then we’re going to watch our trashy TV.”
Catra should’ve known that Adora would plan something like that. Adora had already known how tired she was. Last night in bed, Catra had mumbled into Adora’s shoulder about how she couldn’t wait for the semester to be over. Adora had held her, and even made a futile promise to help her with any schoolwork. They’d both laughed at that.
“So…” Catra pauses, “this is a fancy date that I can wear sweatpants on?”
Adora laughs. “That’s exactly the dress code I was thinking. Pyjamas, sweats, whatever. I was planning on wearing my Pikachu onesie. You know that’s totally the proper dress code for a fancy steak dinner.”
“Okay,” Catra reaches a hand over and squeezes Adora’s knee as she drives, “have I ever told you how much I love you?”
Quickly, because she’s at a stop sign, Adora glances over. She’s wearing that cocky smirk that Catra thinks is so hot. “You might’ve mentioned it once or twice.”
When she meets beautiful blue eyes, Catra feels that stutter in her chest. The one she’s always felt, even when Adora was just She-Ra and words on a screen. She leans over and pulls Adora in for a kiss, and Adora sighs into it contentedly, melting into her touch, fitting against her perfectly. It’s like they forget where they are, like the whole world is just the two of them.
Until a car horn blares behind them, and Adora pulls away with a laugh and an, “oh, shit.”
“Bon appetite!” Adora says as she places Catra’s steak in front of her. She smiles in that soft, gentle way, and leans down to kiss the top of her head. She puts her own plate on the opposite side of the kitchen table and sits down. “Let me know if I cooked it alright.”
“You always cook it perfectly,” Catra says with the obligatory eye roll, “and you know it.”
Adora blushes, and Catra’s stomach does that twisty thing. She’s the most beautiful person in the entire world, and Catra gets to say that she’s her girlfriend. And she gets to make Adora feel better when she’s feeling insecure. Between the two of them, Catra had always had more of an issue with that – everything with Weaver had left its mark – but Adora had her own insecurities too, about the things she’s good at.
Catra always makes sure to tell her how amazing she is every day, and she knows that Adora believes it. And Catra believes her, too. They’ve both come a long way.
“Yeah, well,” Adora shrugs, “just making sure.”
“Adora,” Catra laughs, “I’d literally be living off ramen if it weren’t for you. Even if my steak is medium rare instead of just rare, I don’t care.”
Adora leans over the table and pokes her in the arm. “Shut up. I’m sure you could figure out how to cook. You are a genius, after all.”
“Not in the kitchen,” Catra says, because Adora knows that much after the disastrous baking when they’d first started dating, and all of the other attempts at teaching Catra to cook that had ended in either burns from hot pans or some kind of toxic mess. Razz had basically put a blanket ban on Catra using anything other than the microwave and the toaster back in Etheria. “But that’s okay. I’ve got you to take care of me.”
Adora grins. “What would you ever do without me?”
“Again, ramen,” Catra says with a soft smile, “or the microwave mac and cheese that my body survived on for nine years at Weaver’s.”
Adora’s expression darkens at the mention of Weaver’s name. She cuts into her steak a little aggressively, like she’s imagining that it’s Weaver’s face. She probably is. “I still want to punch her.”
“I’ll make you a dartboard with her face on it as a compromise,” Catra says, and Adora brightens again. She doesn’t know if it’s because she thinks the joke is funny, or if she thinks that Catra is serious.
“I’ve never hated anybody, but she comes pretty close,” Adora says once she’s eaten her bite of steak, “I mean, the things she’d say to you…”
“I know,” Catra reaches over the table to take Adora’s hand, “but it’s okay. I know none of it was true.”
Adora looks up hopefully. “You do?”
“Yeah,” Catra says, and she thinks she believes it. It had been hard, obviously; she’d had Weaver telling her how worthless she was for almost ten years. But after a year away from that poisonous environment, and a year with Adora, and her amazing family, Catra thinks she believes she’s worth something. “I do.”
With that, at least, she’s telling the truth. There are other feelings, other issues that she has to deal with, but she hasn’t had time to think about them since she’s been physically away from them since moving away to college in late August.
She hasn’t had to look at Mara and stop the word mom from falling out since then. Catra is sure that she’ll have a hold on that now. She doubts she’ll have to worry about it over winter break.
“Oh,” Adora squeezes her hand, and she’s smiling in that way again. The way that makes Catra’s heart stop and stutter and start all over again a thousand times faster. “Well. You’ve come a long way from the girl who ghosted her email girlfriend because she thought she wouldn’t want her.”
“Okay,” Catra laughs, “for the millionth time, that’s not what ghosting means.”
“I know, I know,” Adora says, “it’s just funny to watch you get all defensive about it. And ghosted or not, we both know I would’ve found you.”
Catra isn’t too sure about that. “Yeah, I don’t know. You were pretty oblivious.”
“Uh, okay, I would’ve found out that your last name is literally Driluth eventually. Like, seriously, how did I not know that?” Adora answers, rolling her beautiful blue eyes to the ceiling in irritation, “And anyway, if I somehow didn’t make the connection then, I probably would’ve ended up asking you out because I liked you, and then you would’ve told me. I know you couldn’t keep that to yourself.”
Catra hums in thought. Now, she can say she would’ve told. But back then, a year ago, she wouldn’t have understood why Adora was asking her out. She probably would’ve panicked and said no. The only reason she told Adora she was Cyra in the first place was because she was right there, telling her straight up that she wanted her, and Adora has never been anything less than genuine. Adora is literally physically incapable of lying.
“I guess we would’ve found each other eventually,” Catra admits, and Adora flashes that gorgeous, earnest smile. It’s the one that she always wore when she got an answer right in their old tutoring sessions, the one that would make Catra lean over and kiss her despite her own rules of maintaining professionalism while she was tutoring. “If you tell anyone I said this, I’ll deny it, but… I feel like we’re supposed to be together, you know?”
Adora grins now. It’s the smug, cocky grin that used to get on Catra’s nerves. “Oh, yeah? You know I’m definitely going to tell everyone you said that, right?”
“Naturally,” Catra rolls her eyes, but she doesn’t mean it. Really, she loves it when Adora teases her. “But I just mean… I think you’re my soulmate. Or whatever.”
Adora puts her cutlery down and leans across the table to pull her in for a kiss. Little things like that, things Catra never thought she’d get to have a year ago, make the butterflies in her stomach come alive. She can’t count how many times she’s kissed Adora by now, but it never feels any less exciting.
When Adora pulls back, she stares over the table at her, that special smile on her face. It’s the one that only Catra ever gets to see. And then she laughs. “You’re just realising that now?”
Adora laughs again and takes a sip of her drink, and Catra scowls across the table at her. “Uh, excuse me?”
“Well, obviously you’re my soulmate,” Adora rolls her eyes, “I thought you were supposed to be the smart one? But you only just figured that out?”
That certainly wasn’t the reaction Catra had been expecting. “Uh, okay, like it’s a totally normal thing to just come out with at any given moment.”
“Well, you did just come out with it at any given moment,” Adora retorts, but her smile softens and she admits, “you know you’re the only person for me. And I love you, Catra.”
Catra’s heart stutters in her chest. “I love you too.”
When the door swings open, Catra doesn’t know what to expect.
Honestly, she doesn’t know how to feel, either.
She watches quietly, fist gripping tensely onto the handle of their suitcase, as Mara pulls Adora in for a tight hug and says how much she missed her. Razz joins in on their little mother-daughter moment, and Catra awkwardly stands to the side until Mara holds out an arm and says, “What’re you doing over there? Get in here.”
Adora reaches out, grabs her hand and pulls her into the hug before Catra can say anything or wonder if she really means it. Arms are around her – she’s not sure whose – but she relaxes into the hug and squeezes Adora’s hand quietly, trying to telepathically let her know that she appreciates this.
Slowly, they all start to pull away, and Catra steps back and grabs their shared suitcase again. Adora pauses where she’s stood and sniffs the air, and then her eyes widen adorably and she shouts, “Oh my god, you made cookies!”
Adora bolts into the house as Mara shakes her head fondly and Razz follows after her, broom brandished. “They’re for everyone, not just you!”
Catra pulls the suitcase towards the door, but Mara steps forwards and bats her hand away from the case. “Let me get that. You guys have had a long journey.”
“Okay,” Catra lets go of the case, only because she’s not sure if she can argue. It’s not that she isn’t comfortable at Adora’s house, and around Mara and Razz. She is, it’s just more like she’s not sure how to act.
She sees them as her family too, but she doesn’t know if saying it would be uncomfortable.
Also, she’s worried that the thing might slip out, and that would definitely be uncomfortable.
“There’s someone else that’s desperate to see you,” Mara says as she shuts the front door behind them. She twists the handle on the lounge door, and a black blur shoots out and rams into her.
“Melog!” Catra kneels down to pet them, and then gets a good look at the previously scrawny cat. Her jaw drops just a little bit, and she mumbles a surprised, “uh…” without thinking about it.
Since August, when she and Adora left for college, Melog has clearly been eating good. They’re chunkier and definitely weigh more, Catra realises as they jump up at her and lick her face with a rough, wet tongue. She wonders how many bags of cat treats they’ve been through.
“Razz,” Mara says in explanation, and Catra laughs quietly in realisation. Of course. “She decided that Melog was too thin. Apparently, cats need three course meals three times a day now.”
“Well, as long as you’re happy, buddy,” Catra says as she scratches behind their ear affectionately, “I missed you.”
They purr back at her, almost like they’re saying I missed you too.
It’s not as easy as it used to be to scoop Melog up in her arms and carry them, but Catra doesn’t care. She doesn’t plan on letting go of them until the end of winter break, and even then, she thinks Mara and Razz are going to have to pry the cat out of her arms. She might have to just sneak Melog back to college with her in her suitcase.
“Thanks for taking care of them, Mara,” Catra says as they walk through to the kitchen. Melog curls against her, snuggling into her shoulder, and Catra can’t believe she’s been without this since August. “I appreciate it.”
“You know you don’t have to thank us,” Mara laughs, “it’s no trouble at all.”
Catra isn’t sure what to say to that, so she just offers up a smile. When she sits down at the kitchen table, Melog still purring against her, Razz pries the plate of cookies from Adora and puts them in front of Catra instead.
“You eat up,” Razz points sternly, “you’re much too thin. Are you sure Adora is cooking properly? I’m sure I can make a trip there and get some good food in you.”
“Hey,” Adora pouts, “just because I don’t make enough food for the entire student population, it doesn’t mean I’m not cooking properly. It’s not my fault that Catra’s descended from garden gnomes.”
Catra reaches out and shoves her lightly for the insult as she pulls out the chair next to her and sits down. “Why do I put up with you, again?”
“Because you love me,” Adora shrugs, meeting her gaze with that soft smile. She spots Melog and reaches out to scratch behind their ear. “Hey, Melog. I bet you missed your bestie.”
Catra cringes. “Don’t say bestie, you’re not twelve. Or Scorpia.”
Adora snorts. “Uh, okay, you literally just said it.”
“Yeah, because I was telling you not to say it,” Catra says, rolling her eyes in annoyance. But it’s completely feigned, because when Adora smiles again, her body betrays her and smiles back.
“Honestly,” Mara laughs, “you two are like an old married couple.”
“Guess we’re just getting practice for the future,” Adora says, like the sentiment hadn’t given Catra a heart attack in the best way. “Anyway, what’s for dinner?”
“You just ate eleven cookies,” Razz retorts, “you don’t need dinner.”
“Uh, yeah, I do,” Adora says, “I’m a growing young girl. I need food so I can grow up big and strong.”
“Like we need you getting any taller,” Catra mutters, and Mara clearly catches it, because she laughs, and Adora pouts in offence. With the hand that isn’t busy petting Melog, Catra reaches out and pokes Adora playfully. “You know I’m kidding.”
“You’re just jealous because you’re short,” Adora sticks her tongue out childishly, but then her expression shifts again, to that soft, gentle smile. Her blue eyes sparkle with so much love, and her hand closes tenderly around Catra’s, like she’s something precious.
It’s the way Adora treats her. Catra thinks that’s the thing that’s done it. Adora has always treated her like she’s something precious. Like some perfect, irreplaceable thing that means everything to her. That’s the way Catra feels about Adora, at least. And from the look in her eyes, Catra knows it’s mutual. She thinks it’s why she understands now. She thinks it’s why she believes she’s worth it. Adora looks at her and sees something good. Something worth loving, something worth cherishing. And if someone as beautiful and pure as Adora can see that, it helps Catra see it too.
Some people say to love yourself before you love anybody else. But sometimes, other people need to see they’re capable of being loved first.
“We’ll order pizza for dinner,” Mara says, and Razz scoffs irritably. Catra had come to learn her hatred for takeout food over the last year. First hand, actually, when she came home with McDonald’s and Razz whacked her with her broom. It had barely touched, her, just grazed the top of her head, and she’d expected Adora to laugh about it.
But it was also the first time she’d ever seen Adora genuinely angry. When it happened, she blew up at Razz, shouting about Weaver and everything she’d done, and how she doesn’t care if Razz wants to hit her with the broom, but she’s never allowed to harm even a hair on Catra’s head.
Catra had watched, stunned, until Adora grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her to the bedroom, and then proceeded to pace around the room muttering about how insensitive Razz could be.
“It’s okay,” Catra had said, the McDonald’s forgotten on Adora’s bedside table, “honestly, it’s kind of nice. Not getting hit by the broom, obviously, but like… I don’t know. I don’t like it when people walk on eggshells just because… you know, I’ve dealt with some stuff.”
“I… I’m not…” Adora stopped pacing and looked over at her worriedly, “I’m not trying to do that. I just… I want you to feel comfortable here. You lived with that bitch of a foster mother for so long, and if you ever did anything she didn’t like, she’d do something to harm you. Physically or emotionally. I don’t want you to have to worry about that here.”
“And I don’t,” Catra assured her, because the months she’d spent at Adora’s at that point had been the best of her life, “seriously. I appreciate the sentiment, but don’t yell at old ladies on my behalf, alright? I’m tougher than I look.”
Melog licks the back of her hand and pulls Catra back to reality. She smiles down at the little cat, and then tunes back into the conversation. They’ve moved on from dinner tonight, clearly, because Razz is talking about all of the stuff she needs to prepare for Christmas dinner, and saying that she’s going to make extra because Mara had invited Hope.
“You don’t need to make more than you usually do,” Mara says, exasperated, like they’ve had this conversation a million times before, “we never finish it.”
“You never know!” Razz says, shaking her broom in Mara’s direction. “It’s always better to be prepared.”
“Speaking of prepared,” Adora says, and she squeezes Catra’s hand to get her attention like she doesn’t already have it at every hour of the day, “I’m going to get prepared for bed. You coming?”
“Sure,” Catra says, and she lets go of Adora’s hand to support Melog. Long gone are the days where she could carry them in one hand. Melog digs their claws into her shoulder for grip and Catra winces, but it’s nothing she hasn’t dealt with before. Nothing could compare to that one time they’d kneaded her stomach, anyway. “Are we seeing your dorky friends over break?”
“I know you like them,” Adora says, which is basically her default response to that question, “and yes, we are. And Scorpia texted me earlier, asking if we want to meet up with her and Entrapta, because apparently someone hasn’t responded to her.”
Catra shrugs. “I’m a bad texter. What about it?”
“You weren’t a bad texter when you were emailing a mystery girl in senior year,” Adora says, wiggling her eyebrows suggestively. “I’m starting to think I’m the only person you respond to the moment you see my message.”
“I do only respond to you,” Catra says; she has several unanswered (but acknowledged) texts waiting in her messages app, and the only one that ever gets answered immediately is Adora. “You know that.”
Adora smiles. It’s that smug, cocky one, the one that Catra used to get so irritated by before she and Adora were even friends. She can’t imagine how she ever felt that way. Now, she just finds it hot. “Yeah. Because I’m special to you.”
Catra flashes a teasing grin. “Uh, I wouldn’t go that far.”
“Oh, shut up,” Adora laughs and nudges her gently as they walk into her bedroom. She shuts the door behind them – they’re long past Mara’s open-door policy that policed the first few weeks of their relationship – and flops down onto her bed, patting the space next to her. “I know you love me.”
Catra sets Melog down on the bed and then lays down next to Adora. Melog rushes over and curls up next to her, and Catra laughs and pulls them into her arms while Adora does the same thing to her.
Snuggling her face into Adora’s shoulder, she sighs. “Yeah. I really love you.”
On Christmas morning, Catra wakes up the same way as she had last year.
Curled up in Adora’s arms, Melog snoring at the foot of the bed, and the sun still barely risen. She doesn’t know what it is about Christmas in this house; at Weaver’s, it was just another day. But at Adora’s, Catra wakes up early, like her body is expecting today to be something. Maybe it’s some stupid, childish hope that never died from when she was younger, and all she wanted was a real family.
There’s a quiet clang from the kitchen, and Catra deduces what it is quite quickly. Mara will be in there, working on the breakfast pancakes. This time last year, Catra was still incredibly committed to avoiding Mara. Now… she’s still kind of on that, but for a completely different reason.
That’s why she stays in bed, snuggling into Adora, waiting for the inevitable. It takes about half an hour for Mara to come in with two plates of pancakes, shouting a loud “merry Christmas!”
Adora shifts and groans tiredly, and Catra sits up to take her plate. She at least tries to look like she hasn’t been awake for the last thirty minutes. “Thanks. Merry Christmas.”
Adora yawns, and it sounds a little bit like she’s saying, “Merry Christmas,” too. She pushes herself up and rubs at her eyes, yawning again, but at least this time she waits until she’s done to speak. “Pancakes?”
Mara passes the other plate over to her, and Melog moves from the foot of the bed to come up and beg. “Of course that’s the first thing you ask about. Not, how did you sleep, mom? Do you need any help cleaning up the kitchen?”
“It’s Christmas,” Adora mutters tiredly as she starts cutting into her pancakes, “no chores on Christmas.”
Mara rolls her eyes fondly as she heads towards the door. “Typical.”
Catra laughs, but she makes sure to eat her pancakes as quickly as she can and then goes into the kitchen to help clean, despite Adora’s sleepy protests and request for more cuddling and her own trepidation at being alone with Mara.
She pauses outside the kitchen, but she knows she has a handle on herself. Catra has a good filter, and she never lets things out that she doesn’t want to. It’s like the one thing she’s good at, never revealing anything. She takes a breath and steps inside. “Need any help?”
Mara pauses as she’s scrubbing the pan she’d used. She looks up and smiles in that same way she smiles at Adora. All fond and motherly, and it stings that it’s not real. Catra hates that her stupid brain makes her think that it could be.
“Would you mind wiping the counter? I may have spilled a little bit of batter.” Mara says, and when Catra grabs the counter spray and some kitchen roll, she laughs. “Actually, might be more than a little bit.”
Catra pauses by the counter. The entire thing is covered in droplets of pancake batter, and there’s a big splattering of it by the stove. She laughs. “Now I know where Adora gets her klutziness from.”
“Oh, come on, you have to give me some credit,” Mara says, “I’m nowhere near as bad as her.”
Catra gets to work cleaning. “Up for debate.”
“What’s up for debate?” Adora asks as she walks into the kitchen carrying both her own and Catra’s syrupy pancake plates. She looks a lot more awake now. “Also, good morning. Where are my presents?”
“Under the tree, but we’re not opening them until your grandma wakes up,” Mara says, “and apparently, your girlfriend here thinks that I’m just as clumsy as you. I don’t agree.”
Adora laughs. “Uh, I’m not even clumsy.”
“Okay, that’s a lie,” Catra says as she grabs another paper towel, “you tripped over air the other day.”
“And that proves that I’m not that bad,” Mara adds quickly before Adora can protest, “I might’ve spilled a little pancake batter, but I’ve never tripped over air.”
When Catra turns back to the counter, Melog has jumped up, and they’re licking up some of the remaining pancake batter. She rolls her eyes and nudges them away as Adora and Mara debate over who is clumsier. “Melog, no. Not for kitties.”
They look at her like they’re saying yes for kitties, and Catra laughs. She scratches behind their ear, and Adora comes over and wraps her arms around Catra’s waist. She rests her chin on her shoulder, and Catra’s free hand rests on top of Adora’s, where they’re wrapped around her.
“So,” Adora turns her head to kiss Catra’s cheek, “merry Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas,” Catra repeats to her, nudging Melog away as she wipes up the rest of the pancake batter. Then she turns in Adora’s arms to kiss her properly. She pulls away with a grin. “Alright. I don’t need a present. You’re enough.”
Adora laughs. “Too bad. I got you one anyway.”
Catra absentmindedly twists the ring on her finger. “I doubt you’ll top last year.”
“Probably not, but I’m not trying to,” Adora says, and she takes Catra’s hand and brings it up to her lips to kiss the back of it. “You know why I gave you that ring.”
“Yeah,” Catra answers, “I do.”
“You two are so cheesy,” Mara laughs as she finishes washing up the last of the dishes. “Seriously. Get a room.”
Adora snorts with laughter. “Like you and Hope are any better.”
“Whose house is this?” Mara retorts. “I have a right to be cheesy in it if I want.”
Adora rolls her eyes and says, “whatever, mom,” but it’s not in that ungrateful way their old classmates used to. That used to make Catra’s blood boil, but this just makes her heart ache. It always does, when she sees Adora and her mother interacting.
For as long as Catra can remember, all she ever wanted was a mother. Technically, if she figured out some way to do it, she could find her birth mother. But her birth mother abandoned her and clearly didn’t want her, and Catra has a feeling that finding her would just make things worse. Then Weaver fostered her when she was nine, and she had as much maternal instinct as the pan that Mara is putting back in the cupboard.
The truth is, the only time Catra has ever felt like she had what she wanted was when she interacted with Mara herself. And then she remembers that Mara isn’t her mother and she never will be, and if anything, it hurts more. And to make matters worse, it’s incredibly hard not to be jealous of Adora, too. She has the perfect mother, and she doesn’t seem to grasp that. She’s definitely appreciative of it, Catra knows that, but it’s like Adora doesn’t get exactly how lucky she is.
Catra barely hears what Adora is saying as she jokes with her mom, but that pang of jealousy at the pit of her stomach makes her pull her hand from Adora’s grasp and slip out of the kitchen, Melog following at her heels.
She doesn’t go to Adora’s bedroom, because Adora would just follow her there and Catra thinks she needs to be separate, at least for a little while. She finds her way into the lounge and sinks into her usual spot on the couch. She and Melog had claimed it for themselves last year, when they first started living here.
Basically, she watched where everyone else sat, and chose her own place accordingly. And Melog followed suit, because they follow her everywhere she goes. Now, they jump and curl up on Catra’s lap, and Catra lets her fingers run through soft, black fur.
“Damn, you’re heavy,” Catra says, even though she’s mostly exaggerating, “you’ll have to tell Razz to stop making you three course dinners. Otherwise you’ll explode, and I don’t want that to happen. You’re my best friend.”
Her phone buzzes – probably a text from her actual best friend asking when they’re going to hang out over break with her usual aggressive amount of emojis – but Catra doesn’t pay attention to it. Instead, she just scratches behind Melog’s ear and sighs.
“It’s not wrong, is it? That I’m jealous of her?” Catra asks, like Melog is going to suddenly reveal that they’ve been able to talk this entire time and tell her the answer. “I guess it is. Or maybe it’s just something natural, something that I’ll have to find a way to get over. I got over a lot of other stuff. I’m sure I can figure this out too.”
(She’s not sure how she can stop wanting it, when it’s the first thing she can ever remember wanting.)
“Hey,” Adora pokes her head around the door, flashes that dopey grin that makes Catra’s heart flip in her chest, and then flops down onto the couch next to her. She glances at the presents under the tree. “Eager for the present opening?”
“No,” Catra says, and Adora clearly senses that something is amiss. Catra isn’t sure if it’s a blessing or a curse that Adora knows her so well. “Just getting some quiet.”
“That’s a rare thing to find in this house,” Adora jokes, but then she puts a gentle arm around Catra’s shoulder and shuffles so her entire left side is pressed up against Catra’s right. “Everything okay?”
“It’s no big deal,” Catra murmurs by way of saying I’ll get over it. She leans into Adora’s touch, because it’s not her fault that she has what Catra wants, and Catra won’t let that get in the way. “Will you just hold me for a while?”
“Always,” Adora says, and she pulls Catra in close. Melog stretches out across both of their laps, and Adora laughs. “Melog wants in on the cuddles.”
“Obviously,” Catra says quietly, mostly into Adora’s shoulder. “Who wouldn’t, when you’re the one offering them up.”
Adora snorts, and as her fingers run through Catra’s hair, she admits, “maybe my mom is right. We are too cheesy.”
“We’re definitely too cheesy,” Catra says, “but I’m okay with that.”
Adora hums in mock thought, and Catra registers her placing a gentle kiss on the top of her head. Adora squeezes softly with the arm around Catra’s shoulders. “Yeah. I’m okay with that, too.”
Everything is a lot easier to deal with when Hope arrives. According to Adora, it’s rare that they manage to get the same day off, and even rarer that they’ve both been able to get Christmas off, so it’s pretty much a given that Mara’s attention will be on her girlfriend for the rest of the day. Apparently, it’s highly unlikely that they’d both ever get Christmas off at the same time again.
So Catra focuses on Adora and cuddles up on the couch with her as Razz bangs around the kitchen making the dinner. Most of the prep was done last night; Adora had helped with the more complicated things, and Catra chopped up vegetables because she hates feeling like a freeloader. Today, they can relax, and Adora holds her so tightly that she couldn’t get up and help if she wanted to. Especially because she has about twenty pounds of cat on her lap too.
Home Alone is playing on the TV. It’s Adora’s favourite Christmas movie, Catra has learned. She’s especially passionate about it; she went on a whole rant about how anything after the second movie sucks and will never be played in her house. Catra mostly just smiled and nodded as she rambled on.
Halfway through the movie, her phone buzzes again. She expects it’s some happy Christmas text from Scorpia, but instead it’s a Gmail notification. When she looks back up at Adora, she’s smiling.
“Open it,” Adora says, leaning over to kiss her cheek, “your secret internet girlfriend is waiting for you to reply.”
“Is it really a secret when she’s sat right next to me?” Catra rolls her eyes, but in reality, she loves that they’ve kept up with the emails. It’s their preferred method of communication when they’re both busy at their respective schools and missing each other.
Double Trouble had laughed when she said she had to answer an email from her girlfriend.
“An email, kitten?” They said, rolling their eyes at her. “What is this? 2005?”
“It’s how we met, and literally the only thing I use it for, so,” Catra retorted, reaching over to shove them lightly before turning back to her response. “Shut the fuck up.”
“How you met?” They replied, raising their eyebrows and leaning forwards on the picnic bench they were eating lunch at. “Sounds juicy. Do tell.”
She pretty much ruined any chance at looking like anything other than some lovesick teenage girl when she started telling them about Adora, but she couldn’t find it in her to care.
Mostly because she is some lovesick teenage girl.
Catra refreshes her email inbox while Adora is watching, wondering if it’s some continuation on their book smarts vs street smarts debate. Even though Catra is pretty sure she’d beat Adora on both of those counts.
Subject: Hey there :)
Dec 25, 12:17PM
Are you sure you shouldn’t be sitting on top of the tree? Because I think you’re an angel.
Catra laughs at the message, and when she looks up at Adora, her beautiful blue eyes are shining with so much love.
Adora squeezes her hand. “That’s the reaction I was hoping for. You seemed kind of down earlier and I just wanted to fix it, you know?”
Catra hates that she has that stupid jealousy. She hates that she feels that way, because she knows it’s not Adora’s fault. And Adora is so fucking sweet and considerate, and if she knew that Catra was feeling the way she is, it’d break her heart.
Catra loves Adora. She always will love Adora. And she’s going to get over these stupid feelings for Adora.
She reaches over and puts a hand over Adora’s eyes. “Close these. I’m going to reply, and I don’t want you to look over my shoulder and spoil it for yourself.”
Adora laughs, and when Catra pulls her hand back, Adora’s eyes are closed. “Okay. Tell me when I can open them.”
Catra pauses before she starts to type and leans over to leave a kiss on Adora’s lips. “Okay.”
Subject: Re: Hey there :)
Dec 25, 12:22PM
want to get sleighed??
“You can look now,” Catra says as she pockets her phone, and she watches as Adora grabs her own phone and refreshes her email inbox. When she reads the email, a laugh rises in her throat, and Adora reaches over and lightly smacks her on the shoulder.
“Okay, I called you an angel, and you just make sex jokes?” Adora laughs. “Now we know who’s really the romantic one here.”
“I did ask a question,” Catra says, smirking in the way she knows gets her what she wants. “It’s rude not to answer it.”
A pink blush rises on Adora’s cheeks, a clear sign that she’s flustered. Blue eyes glance back at the TV, and Catra is fairly certain that Adora is just going to pretend like she never said anything.
But then there’s a quiet, “later,” and Catra smirks even more, resting her head back on Adora’s shoulder to finish watching the movie with her.
Catra is in a perfect mood by the time Razz calls everyone for dinner, and Adora pulls her up by the hand and walks through to the kitchen with her. And then, because she’s always got to be chivalrous, Adora rushes past her to Catra’s usual chair and pulls it out for her.
Catra laughs as she sits down. “You know you don’t have to do that every time, right?”
Adora just shrugs, sitting in her own chair and already reaching for the big plate of turkey. “I like to.”
“I’m proud that I raised a gentlewoman,” Mara says to Adora, “always respect women.”
“God, I remember you telling me how women were amazing perfect angels who deserve the utmost respect, and I was literally like a five-year-old,” Adora laughs, “how did I ever think you were straight?”
Catra doesn’t let the interaction shake her. She refuses to feel anything negative towards Adora, and jealousy is a negative emotion. Jealousy can lead to resentment, and resentment leads to hate, and she won’t let some stupid petty thing ruin her relationship with the best person she knows.
So, she ignores the conversation and reaches over to grab the carrots and spoon some onto her plate. It’s an even better distraction when Hope starts a conversation.
“How is school? Mara mentioned you’re at Yale.”
Catra glances over at Mara again. She doesn’t know why she’d be telling people she’s at Yale or talking about her in general. Or maybe it’s just because people have asked how Adora is, and Mara had probably said something like, “she’s at Connecticut State, and lives with her girlfriend, who’s at Yale.”
Yeah. Probably that.
“School’s good,” Catra says, and then considers, “hard, for sure. But it’s good. I’ve made some cool friends, and I’ve started playing at a few open mics around campus. Mostly because Adora wouldn’t stop leaving the flyers all over the apartment. She even put one in my cereal box.”
“Uh, okay,” Adora interrupts, “I only did that because you were being stubborn. I told you, I won’t let you not do something with your music. I know you love it.”
“You should play something for us,” Hope says, “I can’t remember the last time I ever went to a concert or performance. It’s probably been about twenty years.”
That sounds excruciatingly awkward and uncomfortable, and Catra tries to think of a way to say no without sounding impolite. That’s the one thing she hasn’t figured out how to master yet.
“The last time for me was nineteen years ago,” Mara says, and when Catra looks up, she smiles and winks, like she knew what she’d been thinking and decided to save her. “It was actually the night before I found out I was pregnant with you, Adora. And I thought the morning sickness was just the cocktails I had at the show coming back to bite me.”
“You got drunk when you were pregnant?” Adora says through a mouthful of turkey. “I thought you were supposed to be responsible.”
“I didn’t once I knew you were there,” Mara answers, “besides, you’re perfectly healthy.”
“I don’t know, maybe I’d be at Yale with Catra if you restrained yourself on the cocktails,” Adora says, “I bet those cocktails killed some of my brain cells. Probably the ones that are supposed to do math.”
“To be fair, Adora,” Catra says, “you probably kill at least fifty brain cells every time you let a soccer ball bounce off your head. But I guess your dumb little hair poof cushions the blow.”
“Hey,” Adora scoffs, and flicks Catra’s cheek with her finger, “lay off my hair or I’ll give you one when you’re sleeping and post pictures. Or I’ll post those pictures of you in my Pikachu onesie on your Instagram. I do know your password, you know.”
“Adora,” Razz brandishes a wooden spoon threateningly, “don’t you flick my granddaughter.”
Catra had a perfect sarcastic response lined up for Adora’s threat, but Razz’s words take the breath from her chest and make her heart stop. There’s a weird feeling there, happiness mixed with something else, and Catra doesn’t know what she’s supposed to say.
Adora rolls her eyes. “I’m your granddaughter.”
“Maybe by blood, dearie,” Razz says, and smiles across the table at Catra, “but that’s not always the only condition.”
Catra manages a smile back and takes a few minutes to compose herself as the conversation continues on.
It doesn’t work. Maybe it’s because she feels so comfortable here, in Adora’s house, with her girlfriend and her girlfriend’s family. Maybe it’s because in the last year she’s spent knowing them, they feel like Catra’s family too. Or maybe it’s what Razz had just said that set it off in her brain.
Either way, she knows she’s not thinking when she says, loud and clear to Mara, “can you pass the mashed potatoes, mom?”
Everyone hears. That much is obvious. Mara blinks in surprise, Adora looks up like she isn’t sure whether or not she heard that right, Hope looks slightly taken aback and looks over at Mara questioningly, and Razz just smiles.
Before anyone can say anything, Catra jumps up, mumbles, “Excuse me,” and bolts out of the room as quickly as she can. She hears the scrape of a chair as she runs down the hallway and assumes that it’s her girlfriend following her. Adora doesn’t have a concept of giving people space when they’re sad.
Usually, Catra appreciates it. But right now, she just wants to be alone.
As she turns to shut the bedroom door, bright blue eyes are staring right at her. But they’re not Adora’s. Melog blinks slowly at her, and Catra pauses, waiting for the cat to slip inside the room before she closes the door and flops down on Adora’s bed in frustration.
“I’m a fucking idiot, Melog,” Catra breathes out, and Melog cocks their head to the side like they’re saying tell me more. “I just wasn’t thinking, and now I’ve gone and made it all weird. They’re probably not going to want me here anymore. Just because I see them that way… it doesn’t mean it’s mutual.”
Melog climbs up onto her chest and gets comfortable, effectively pinning Catra to the bed. She sighs and weaves her fingers through soft fur and decides that she’s going to hide in here for as long as it takes to book an early ticket back to Connecticut. Maybe she can call the airline and see if she can swap the ticket she’s already got booked for when she and Adora were planning on travelling back to school for the next semester.
There’s a quiet knock on the bedroom door, and Catra wonders if her thoughts had summoned her girlfriend. No, she would’ve shown up eventually. Adora is just like that.
“Adora,” Catra says, “honestly, I just want to be left alone.”
“Not Adora, so I’m asking if that being alone thing only extends to her.”
The bedroom door pushes open and Mara peers around. She’s still wearing the paper hat from her Christmas cracker, and she’s smiling just as much. Like Catra hadn’t just gone and made everything awkward and uncomfortable.
“Can I come in?” Mara asks.
Catra just shrugs. She nudges Melog away, and they lick her cheek with a rough tongue before hopping off her and curling up on Adora’s pillow. “It’s your house.”
“Yeah, okay,” Mara laughs, and she steps into the room and closes the door behind her, “if you want me to leave, I will. But I think you and I need to talk.”
“Yeah,” Catra mutters, and before Mara can say it herself, Catra speaks, “look, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to call you that and it was way out of line and-”
“Hey, hey, no,” Mara interrupts, shaking her head. A gentle hand rests on Catra’s shoulder, and she looks up in surprise. “That’s not what we’re going to do here. Don’t apologise, for starters. You know you’re like a daughter to me, right?”
“Oh,” Catra frowns, because it seems like a trap, “really?”
“Of course,” Mara says, “I can’t imagine how hard it must’ve been for you, growing up in care, and then you ended up with that horrible woman. You deserved better. You deserved a mother. And if I can be that for you, I will. I told you, if you ever needed a parent… if you ever needed a mother… I’m always here. If you wanted to call me mom… I would like that.”
Catra meets Mara’s gaze, and she doesn’t see any trace of dishonesty on Mara’s face. But obviously she wouldn’t, because Mara is Adora’s mother, after all. And Adora is physically incapable of lying.
“I… it was hard,” Catra admits, “I think that’s why it sucked even more when Weaver fostered me. I was only nine, and I thought… I don’t know. I guess I thought that she was doing it because she wanted to be that for me. But she just wanted the nice paycheck. I didn’t understand it, didn’t know what I’d done wrong, and I tried so hard. I tried to be what she wanted, but it never worked. You know, one time, back when I first moved in with her, I had a nightmare. I went into her room, thinking that she’d let me stay in there with her. She smacked me for waking her up.”
“Catra,” Mara pulls her in for a hug, and Catra sighs into her shoulder. For the first time in her life, she knows what it’s like to have a mother there to comfort her. “You never deserved any of it.”
“I think I know that now,” Catra admits, pulling back a little bit, “being with Adora, and staying here with you guys… I think I believe that. And thank you for being… you know.”
Mara laughs as she lets her go. “You can say it.”
Catra has to look away as she does. “Thank you for being a mom.”
“It’s my job,” Mara says easily, and she stands up and holds out her hand. “Come on. Let’s go and get some more food before Adora eats it all.”
“That is a very real danger,” Catra laughs, and she lets Mara pull her up and follows her out of Adora’s room, “I have to eat fast at college, or I don’t eat. Adora is a machine.”
“Hey, I heard that!” Adora calls from the kitchen table, but she’s wearing that gentle smile rather than the cute scrunched-up offended look she gets when Catra teases her. Catra just smiles, sits back down in her chair, and leans over to kiss Adora just off the corner of her mouth.
She pulls back just in time for Mara to sit back down and pass the mashed potatoes. She takes the bowl, and despite how awkward she still feels, she pushes it down and says, “thanks, mom.”
Mara smiles as she takes the bowl back. “You’re welcome.”
Her phone buzzes in her pocket a few moments after she pours some gravy on her plate. Catra unlocks it under the table and feels her mouth tugging into a smile when she sees the notification.
Dec 25, 1:11PM
Everything okay? I’m guessing you guys talked things over, and I hope you know I’m going to tease you like crazy for ever thinking that she WOULDN’T be okay with you calling her mom. Like, she basically adopted you last Thanksgiving when you came over, and you weren’t even my girlfriend then.
P.S. You do realise that people are going to think you’re her bio kid and I’m the girlfriend, right? WHY DO I HAVE TO LOOK LIKE MY DUMBASS FATHER
Catra turns and meets Adora’s gaze and exchanges a smile with her girlfriend. She nods to answer Adora’s question, and Adora offers out her hand. Catra reaches out, takes it, and brings it up to her lips to kiss.
She squeezes Adora’s hand one last time before letting go and turning back to her Christmas dinner. Before she starts to eat, she looks around the table at her family, and feels that weird feeling in her chest again. Happiness, and something else. Catra is pretty sure it’s contentment. Yeah. That’s got to be it.
Catra is content.