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12 Weeks

Chapter Text

By the time that the same Tracy Chapman song played for the third rotation, signaling the restart yet again of Lonnie’s bummer Monday evening playlist, Catra had already cleaned up the entire mess left behind from last night’s weekly Sunday Beer Blast, washed all the glasses, wiped down all the surfaces, and prepped the recycling to go out. It was honestly the hardest she'd work in years, her only motivation being to avoid the impossible task of writing.

There was nothing left to do except stare at her notebook for 3 more hours and either wait for pure genius to explode from her brain or for customers to throw her a bone and finally come in so she’d have someone to blame this ineptitude on.

Mondays were usually slow at the bar but never this dead. Catra could generally count on a handful of folks stopping by after work or popping in for an awkward first date. She'd come to expect listening in to at least one conversation where two cuties stumbled through explaining what they did for a living and also their entire birth chart.

Fuck, it would suck if tips are super low tonight. Catra already owes Kyle $200 and they’re in the middle of trying to negotiate some studio time to record new demos.

To the left of her, Lonnie grunts, trying to haul too many cases of PBR up from the cellar. Catra decides not to lift a godsdamn finger to help.

“Yo! I know you can see me!” the human yells. “Want to get off your ass?”

“I just scrubbed this place top to bottom,” Catra tells Lonnie. “You can stand to carry some beers. Not like there's anything else to do.”

She goes back to staring at the empty page. That goes on for several long minutes until Catra gives up once again. She hasn’t been able to write jack shit for weeks. It’s got her irritated as fuck and the fact that Catra has to spend the whole night with only Lonnie and her fucking smart ass mouth seems like a cruel joke.

“Where the hell is everyone tonight?” Catra asks. 

Lonnie barely looks up from where she’s shoving beers into the cooler faster than ever.

“Every bar that doesn’t suck – so not us , of course – is playing The Bachelorette tonight. That’s where all the gays are.”

Catra pretends to gag before replying, “We have to watch straight people fail at life on tv? Not enough of that IRL?”

“You haven’t heard?” Lonnie’s putting on the dumb face she makes when she thinks she’s smarter than Catra. “The Bachelorette is queer this year.”

That doesn’t make sense. Catra wracks her brain, trying to remember everything she can about a stupid franchise that she probbaly only watched two episodes of all the way back in college.

“Doesn’t that just mean she lost last season and this is her consolation prize for getting her heart broken on national fucking television?”

Lonnie straightens up to all but bounce on her toes with excitement. Since when does she care this much about pop culture?

“Oh, no,” Lonnie says, shaking her head vehemently, like Catra just accused someone of treason or something. “Last season, one of the women who lost laced the craft services at the tell-all special. All of the other contestants got super bad food poisoning. They were gonna announce the bachelorette but...” 

Lonnie makes a face like she’s going to be sick. Catra does have a vague recollection of reading about a bunch of stone-cold stunning empty-headed would-be influencers having super embarrassing tummy troubles on broadcast tv.

She can't help the evil squeaky laugh that bubbles up out of her chest.

“Wait, some girl didn't win the show so she gave everyone diarrhea? You know what? Shout-out to a real queen.”

Lonnie is much less amused.

“Well, the girl they’d picked to be the next lead was completely down for the count. But, the Bachelor, Adam – his sister was there. The internet had already fucking loved her during hometowns.”

“What are these words you’re saying? Who are you?!” Catra yells.

“That’s when they meet the family,” Lonnie explains with great exasperation. “Anyway, she was sweet and a fucking dork and seemed weirdly normal . Gays loved her. Even straight women loved her. Everyone was trying to find out more about her.”

Catra doesn’t usually drink when she’s on the clock cause it makes her too talkative and she absolutely never wants to give anyone the impression that she’s approachable. Also, if Huntara, the steroid-riddled owner, caught her getting sloppy, Catra imagines she’d rip off her tail or something.

But this whole conversation lost its intrigue so long ago and Lonnie never shuts up when she’s this excited about something. Catra pours a pint of the highest ABV draft they have. It’s a bitter ass double IPA and she hates it. Fucking Lonnie.

“So she comes to the tell-all and the whole thing’s live. The camera picks her up backstage trying to help take care of all these wilting pageant girls. The host brings her out onstage cause Twitter’s asking a million questions about her. She talks about boring shit like family and love and blah blah. Overnight sensation. They gave her the job the next day.”

Catra pauses about halfway through her beer to say, “When I look back on my life, I feel like this monologue is something that I’ll regret the most.”

“Whatever,” Lonnie huffs. “I’m turning the show on. The season premiere is tonight.”

She immediately uses her annoyingly impressive biceps to push herself up onto the bar. Huntara's gonna have a fucking fit when she reviews the camera footage and sees Lonnie’s muddy Timbs on her precious bar top.

Catra’s been coming to the Hidey Hole since she was 19 and had to sneak in with a fake ID. She’s never much paid attention to the awful collection of dusty, abandoned bras hanging up above the mirrors on the back wall. As long as spiders don’t fall into the liquor below, Catra minds her business.

Apparently this was a mistake. Lonnie knocks a bunch of ancient brassieres down, while Catra has to duck to avoid accidentally wearing one of these gross things as a scarf, and a television is revealed. She makes sure to shake all of the dust of her short, unkempt curly hair.

What the actual fuck? Huntara made her watch the fucking Superbowl halftime show on her phone this year.

And the godsdamn thing is functioning! It’s even connected to the soundsystem, Catra realizes when Lonnie turns it on, the screen lights up, and audio fills the entire room. 

“Are you a fucking wizard or something?”

Lonnie’s flicking through channels, too busy to really pay Catra any attention.

“When I close up alone, I usually put on something,” she replies. “As long as I put it back the way I found it, Huntara doesn’t even notice.”

Catra almost laughs, thinking about Huntara’s grumbled complaints every time she suggests that the bar should play sports or music from the last decade. She’s got a sneaking feeling that some past manager pulled a fast one and got this thing installed before promptly being fired. And probably physically thrown out.

Lonnie hops down and pulls a stool behind the bar to watch. They’re just in time to catch the host’s over-the-top intro about how groundbreaking the show is and how it’s definitely the most dramatic season ever. Blah blah blah.

Maybe the view of this heteronormative nonsense from the street will at least attract some customers. Catra pours another beer and buries herself back into her notebook to distract from this banality.

“How’s the writing going?” Lonnie asks, raising her voice over the host’s monologue. She’s trying to sound like she’s just casually making conversation but Catra isn’t fooled. 

“Mind your fucking business,” she mumbles back.

“Girl, I’m just wondering,” Lonnie says with an amused smile.

“I don’t need another person trying to pitch me on Kyle’s songs.” It’s bad enough getting it from Rogelio and Entrapta at every practice, she doesn’t need it from her nosey coworker. “No one wants to listen to your boyfriend, who is the literal embodiment of Wonder Bread, butcher Alice Smith’s oeuvre.”

“What the fuck is an oeuvre?”

Catra continues undeterred, “One – those songs are perfect. Two – no dude's cover of a woman's song is better than the original. Don't waste my fucking studio time.”

“Technically, it's Kyle's studio time since he's the one paying for it.”

The queer community in Bright Moon is too small. It’s impossible to meet someone who isn’t dating one (or more , in Lonnie’s case) of her annoying bandmates or a regular at the bar or  married to one of Catra’s exes. Fuck, she really needs to broaden her circle to get away from all of these assholes’ unwarranted opinions. 

Catra’s about to say as much when the focus on the tv switches to introducing the Bachelorette. She knows she should probably be at least a little interested. Catra can certainly appreciate a good looking woman and judging by her voice, this girl is cute as fuck. She sounds sweet and goofy and warm.

Refusing to give Lonnie the satisfaction of her joining in on this viewing, Catra stubbornly goes back to pretending to write so that she doesn’t yield to the temptation. 

The girl tells her story, a bunch of cookie cutter bullshit about how family is so important. Her friends are amazing. Her job at the family business is just the best. She has the greatest dog in the world. What a fucking cliche. 

She’s just missing one thing – someone to share her life with. She’s looking for someone who challenges her, makes her laugh, who she can have fun with. She’s a pretty grounded person but she really believes she can find love. 

“If you’re a grounded person,” Catra mumbles, “you don’t usually have to tell people that.”

Lonnie just shushes her. “She’s wearing the fuck out of that bikini,” she taunts but Catra isn’t taking the bait.

“Love can happen when you least expect it,” the Bachelorette says, like a fucking cheap ass greeting card.

The commercials are a much-appreciated break from all of this saccharine bullshit. It gets even better when Catra’s ears swivel to hear someone finally wandering through the bar’s heavy door, a touch of the windy late spring night following in behind them.

Catra lifts her eyes from her notebook and is met with a tall figure in a bright red hooded jacket and dark grey sweats. They’re fit, judging by the way the tight coat hugs their arms and even gives Lonnie a run for her money.

“Hey, how’s it going?”’ Catra asks, in a way that hopefully makes it clear that she doesn’t actually want an answer.

The person seems to nod quickly, which suits Catra just fine. They’re considerate enough to walk right up to her to order. It’s so nice when people don’t force her to get off her ass to chase them from end to end of an empty bar.

“What can I getcha?”

Catra expects this new customer to remove their hood to answer but they just tuck their head down lower, shadows completely obscuring their face. Hopefully they’re not planning a robbery. Kyle would cry and cry if Catra had to sacrifice Lonnie to escape.

“Uh…” their voice is tentative, which isn’t unusual around here. Folks often stumble in thinking they’re just in your typical dive, before spotting all of the rainbow and lesbian pride flags and Huntara’s bizarre collection of posters of super outdated queer icons, and then pausing.

The person’s head crooks in the direction of a sun-bleached print of Marlene Dietrich.

“I’ve never been to...” they lean forward a bit and Catra thinks they might be trying to take a peek down her shirt before she remembers she’s wearing her annoying uniform, a black tank top so worn and faded that the name of the bar is barely still visible. “...The Hidey Hole?”

They pause to giggle quietly.

“Do you have a cocktail menu?”

Lonnie looks up from where she’s texting, just to fucking chortle.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Catra asks as kindly as possible, before pointing around her at the general grungey nature of the space.

They’re lucky that the place has stools , for fuck’s sake, and that Huntara hasn’t deemed those as too wimpy or something absurd. The sink in the customer bathroom once stopped working and Huntara instructed everyone to “go ‘round back and use the hose” if they “really needed” to wash their hands.

“Sorry,” they laugh gently, not sounding offended at all, “Dumb question. Can I get the pilsner?”

“Wise choice.”

Lesson learned, the person makes everything else easier after that. They pay in cash, leave a decent tip, and plunk themself down near the taps. When their hand accidentally touches Catra’s as she’s handing over their drink, they apologize quickly. And then they just drink their beer in silence, nervously staring at their hands.

Catra still hasn’t ruled out a robbery. A quick glance at Lonnie seems to confirm she thinks the same thing, if only because she moves closer to where Huntara keeps the bat hidden under the bar.

The host’s voice comes flooding back through the speakers and Lonnie immediately abandons her and Catra’s safety to turn her full attention back to the television. Their athletic red-hooded buddy freezes, beer halfway to their lips. When they try to place the pint down, their hand shakes just a little, Catra notices. 

The screen goes black. Catra tries to remove the plug from her claws before Lonnie catches her pulling it out of the outlet but since she’s the only suspect there, that fails completely.

“What the fuck, Catra?!” 

Steam is already coming out of Lonnie’s ears. Maybe Hoodie can put those muscles to good use and save Catra?

“We don’t want to bother our one whole customer,” she replies. A subtle nod towards the person in question does nothing to appease Lonnie.

Instead, she spins around. “You got a problem?”

“Uh, nope!” they answer quickly. There’s definitely a 0% chance that they’ll be returning after this. Catra and Lonnie are truly in rare form tonight. Credit to them, though, cause they’re bold enough to add, “I’d kinda prefer not to watch that if you don’t mind.”

“See,” Catra says. “The customer is always right.”

“You refused service to someone last week cause she ordered a vodka and coke,” Lonnie reminds her.

“I was trying to save her date. That was a fucking red flag.”

Catra will defend her stance on mixing vodka with coke until her death.

“I’m gonna watch it on my phone downstairs,” Lonnie announces through gritted teeth. “Good luck handling the shift on your own.”

Catra waves at all the empty space, sarcastically noting, “I’m sure I’ll manage somehow.”

Once she’s gone, the patron quietly says, “Thanks.”

“Didn’t do it for you,” Catra casually replies.

After they don’t add anything else for a bit, Catra decides to just go back to hanging out. Lonnie took her phone so at least everyone is spared from listening to that awful playlist again. Catra pulls up some chill music on her own phone and goes back to pretending to write.

“You, you watch that show?”

“Fuck no!” Catra shoots back quickly. “I can definitely appreciate a bunch of drunk people fighting on tv but I prefer something where a table will actually be thrown over or someone’s getting a wine glass tossed in their face. Not pretending to want to box each other over some mediocre girl.”

Red Hood, which is what Catra’s decided to call them, laughs. “Mediocre, huh? Yeah, it’s not exactly Bad Girls Club. I heard someone has too much champagne and falls in the pool tonight.”

Catra cocks an eyebrow. Did she risk a blow-up with Lonnie for nothing?

“You want me to turn it back on? I definitely got the vibe it wasn’t your jam.”

“No, I, uh, I don’t need to watch,” they reply. “Just wanted to see if you were curious.”

“If I want to watch a crying drunken lesbian mess, I can just pick up a Saturday night shift here.”

Gods know, that night is ripe for drama and at least one weeping wasted person. Especially when DT’s spinning their usual mix of sexy yet somehow depressing music. 

Without asking, Catra gets up and refills their empty pint.

“Besides,” she adds, “Proposing to someone after a couple months seems absurd.”

“It’s really 12 weeks,” Hood corrects. They pull some cash from their pocket to place it on the bar. “Three months should be enough time to fall in love with someone, right?”

It’s weird. Kinda like they’re trying to convince themself and not their bartender. 

Catra leans against the well to casually reply, “I once fell in love over the course of an epic 12-hour lesbisdate. Never saw her again. Don't even remember her name, come to think of it.” 

“How old were you?” 

“Oh, this was last week.” She smirks to make sure that they know she’s mostly joking. Her heartbreaker days have largely been over for at least the last couple years, since she entered the back half of her 20s and couldn’t put up with awkward post-fling run-ins as easily.

Hood’s snort is interrupted by Lonnie’s sudden reappearance. The show must be an absolute trainwreck cause Lonnie’s practically brimming with excitement.

“Is it going that badly?” Catra asks, trying to maintain her disinterest.

“Gods, I wish I had known about the casting call and signed you up,” she responds and grins at Catra’s grimace. “You would hate it. There’s a girl reading auras and at least one person who I’m pretty sure you dated.”

Lonnie laughs, before grabbing a bottle of beer out of the cooler.

“I also realized that I have a rebuttal from earlier – a guy doing a great cover of a woman’s song. Those Glee kids did Teenage Dream.”

Catra shakes her head vehemently, like a total liar. No one needs to know about her secret love of musicals, in general, and that show, in particular.

“I thought my respect for you was as low as it could possibly be but you’ve really inspired me to dig deeper,” she replies.

“I’m pretty sure Tainted Love and Hound Dog were covers too,” Lonnie says absently, mostly thinking to herself.

“Politically, I cannot accept this stance. I have judged this entire argument invalid. Better luck next time.”

Catra refuses to consider if Lonnie’s correct by managing to delete the conversation from her mind.

“Whatever,” the human scoffs, rolling her eyes. “Commercial break is probably over soon.” 

“Um, Maxwell,” Hood says quietly. Catra’s face twists in confusion so they continue, “It sounded like she was trying to convince you of a good cover done by a guy. Maxwell’s version of ‘This Woman’s Work’ is deeply superior to Kate Bush’s unfortunately. Typically, I agree with you, though. Women supremacy.”

Catra fixes them with a hard stare, leaning closer to the bar. “You’re not a TERF, right?”

“Nope, definitely not,” Hood responds quickly. They laugh a little nervously.

“Good. Have to check, ya know?” Catra tells her.

“Bar policy or political policy?”

“Both.” Catra grins a little, almost. This person’s quick and they seem to know a little. “You listen to Maxwell?”

“I listen to lots of stuff. Why? Do I look like a square?”

They manage to say this without at all acknowledging the absurdity of the statement. Catra has no fucking way of knowing what they look like.

But. “Only squares say ‘square.’”

“What’s your band like?” they ask completely out of fucking nowhere.

“I didn’t tell you I was in a band,” is Catra’s cagey reply. It doesn’t feel great having this person already know more about her than she knows about them.

“I saw you writing over there,” they respond with a shrug. “And your hands have calluses like you play an instrument.”

Catra leans a little closer, so much so that she has to cross her arms and relax her elbows onto the bar. Hood doesn’t budge, to her surprise. People usually get scared off by a giant cat with claws zeroing in on them.

“And now I’ve gone from square to creep,” they anxiously chuckle.

“You’re observant.”

“Just of attractive women.” That almost throws Catra off but she just narrows her eyes. They add quickly, “Nope, still sound like a creep.”

“Mostly just a fuckboi,” Catra suggests.

They make a very cute offended sound, like a surprised puppy, before arguing, “I’m not a player.”

Catra ignores her amusement at their prudish reluctance to saying ‘fuckboi’ and demands, “Show me your last selfie.”

That makes them fidget in their stool. Their head shoots to the right quickly, as if they’re thinking about just bolting instead. This jackass is a walking red flag.


“Proving my point.”

“Will you show me yours?”

“Sure,” Catra lies.

Hood opens their screen, quickly hiding what looks like entirely too many messages from a group chat. Like over 100. Maybe they’re hiding out from the law? When they get to pics, they turn the phone around and there’s a photo of a huge golden retriever. 


“You’re cuter than I thought,” Catra drawls. What kind of dummy takes dog selfies? Their face didn't even fit in frame.

The laugh that shoots out of them is goofy and loud. They almost snort at the end.

“That’s my brother’s dog. You didn’t specify that it had to be of me.”

“Well, I can’t see your face so I had no way of knowing.” Maybe this will inspire them to unmask.

Instead, they ask, “What about yours?”

The problem is that Catra is probably 97% sure that her most recent 5-8 last selfies are all of her: in her underwear, in a bathing suit, blowing weed at the screen, or being annoying behind the bar. All attempts at being cute that she took proudly for an audience of only herself and she has no intention of sharing with anyone, especially a stranger whose face she’s never seen.

“Sorry, my phone’s plugged into the speaker.”

“What a convenient excuse,” they laugh. “I can’t believe you just played me like that.”

“I played you?! Excuse me?! You just showed me a fucking dog!”

They glance at their phone again before putting it back into the pocket. More messages. With a sigh, they begin to stand slowly.

Catra kinda regrets bringing this up and starting this chain of events.

“Heading out already?” she asks, trying to sound sympathetic.

“Yeah. Gotta make some calls unfortunately. Thanks for everything.”

“No problem. Hope we see you around here again soon.”

Hood tilts their head up just a bit, enough to show Catra a bright smile full of perfect shiny teeth and pillowy soft lips.

“Yeah? Me, too.”

Chapter Text

Catra ends up working that Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Thankfully, she has to put up with Netossa for two of those shifts and not Lonnie. Maybe it’s because she’s older and more chill, but Netty’s clap-backs are always less likely to bring out Catra’s claws.

She’d half-expected that customer in the red jacket with the cute smile to come back at some point.

Early into Friday’s shift, Catra realized that she’d actually have no idea who they were if they showed up without the hood. After giving herself a lecture about how pathetically boring her life was for her to consider this any type of mystery, Catra basically forgot about it.

The second Monday is pretty much the same. Barely anything but her constant cycling of songs on the sound system to keep Catra company since Lonnie’s rushing around so she can banish herself to the office to watch that dumb show on her phone again. Two folks come in for happy hour but leave quickly, probably annoyed by the bartender’s irritating inability to listen to a song for more than 75 seconds. 

The problem is that Catra’s feeling restless. She always gets this way when she has writer's block, pacing and irritable and indecisive. Maybe she should just bring a book to read or something like Spinnerella does on slow nights. Catra hasn't read a fucking book in years.

Around 7pm, she begins to pray for her favorite customer, Castaspella, to come in. Casta is always either on some ill-fated date or, when she’s at her peak, has a long, winding story about the tragedy that is her romantic life as a ‘woman of a certain age’, in her words. Casta pretends to be ‘early in her mid-late 30s’. It's obvious that she’s an ancient witch who steals souls but Catra prefers to mind her own fucking business.

At 8pm, as expected, Lonnie finishes up all of her tasks – stocking the cooler, cleaning up whatever Catra hasn’t gotten to herself, being annoying as fuck for no godsdamn reason – before announcing that she’ll be going back to the office to watch the Bachelorette. Good riddance.

When sitting on a stool and trying to write produces nothing, Catra switches to leaning over the bar. Stalking back and forth across the room. Laying on the pool table in the back, which sidenote: disgusting idea, don’t recommend. 

There’s a wooden beam down the center of the ceiling from the front door to the backyard that Catra’s fairly certain is decorative and not load-bearing. She’s considering reaching up to see if she can hang upside-down from it when the door opens again.

She can hear the person take a step, pause (likely to wonder why the bartender is crouching on the pool table like she’s gonna pounce), and then continue forward.

If Catra plays this right, comes off with enough confidence that no one would dare question her, she can get away with being caught. 

Slow as molasses, she stands up straight, glances at the person with a practiced uncaring glare, and begins to step right off the table without looking down at the 3-foot drop.

It’s Hood, as she calls them in her head. Back again, wearing the same exact clothes and everything – red jacket, dark grey sweats, and white sneakers. Like last week, their face is covered but Catra just feels them smirking.

She almost twists her godsdamn ankle on the landing. She comes down awkwardly and her right leg bends in a weird way that she has to struggle to walk off. From across the room, Hood snorts at her stumble.

“You alright there?” they call out. “Need help changing a lightbulb?”

Catra grumbles to herself as she heads behind the bar, ears lowered and face reddening. “Are you one of those tall people who makes that into your whole personality?”

Their shoulders shake from silent giggling as they plop down in a stool. 

“How was your weekend?” they ask.

“How was yours?” Catra questions instead of answering.

“Quiet mostly. I’ve been spending a lot of time indoors lately. You’re the only human contact I’ve had for days. Tell me about your weekend please?”

Catra thinks their voice is cute, especially when it’s pretending to plead and be dramatic. And then she sneers internally at herself.

“I’m not exactly a human if you haven’t noticed.” She flicks both of her ears to emphasize this.

Hood practically coos.

“Nope!” Catra interrupts. “None of that sound. Order a drink and sit quietly.”

They make a big show of looking around at the empty bar. Unfortunately, that makes their hood scoot back just enough to finally give Catra a glimpse of their face. High cheekbones, strong jaw. Kind’ve a button nose. Light eyes maybe?

If they’re actually casing the bar for a robbery, Catra’s police sketch is gonna be absolutely shit.

“I’m gonna say this place being empty and your stellar customer service aren’t just a coincidence,” they say lightly. “Is the other bartender around?”

“Drink?” Catra impatiently asks.

“A manhattan, please,” they respond, very pleasantly.

Oh. That’s like an actual drink. She doesn’t usually have to make many of those. It’s so slow tonight that it’s a nice challenge.

Catra tries to make it with a flourish, just to entertain herself but it’s not really that many ingredients.

She doesn’t twirl the bottles cause this isn’t a date she’s trying to impress or anything.

Also, maybe she makes two cause the punch of bitters and booze sounds perfect right now.

Drink placed in front of Hood, Catra even offers a mumbled, “Salud.”

“Cheers. Thanks.” They put down a $20 and don’t even bother asking how much their cocktail costs.

Catra’s learned a few things in her years working here. Not asking how much a drink costs says you’re either doing well enough to not worry about it or you’re wasted.

“What do you do for a living?” she asks.

“You have a lot of questions for a person who keeps dodging mine,” they answer. But they still add, “I work at my family’s company. I’m a middle manager, basically.”

The bartender takes a slow sip of her drink while she thinks up a response. She incorporates this new piece of information into the story she’s building about this mysterious stranger. Honestly, she’s kinda back to thinking they’re just not out. Families can be shitty around that sort of thing, in her experience at least.

Against her will, Catra feels her shoulders relax a bit.

“Something I should call you besides ‘Red Hood’?” 

“That makes me sound like a Batman villain. I guess that’s an upgrade from what you called me last time.”

Catra raises an eyebrow and peeks at them over the rim of her drink. “That's a deep cut. You read Batman?”

“I was basically raised by tv and comic books.”

“Me too.” She tries to put as little emotion into it as possible to match their unaffected tone.

“Ooh,” they respond, shifting in their seat a little from excitement. “Who's your favorite Batman villain?”


Hood seems to look at her for a long moment. It’s almost like they might consider showing their face just to stare in her eyes and suss out what the fuck kind of answer that is before they finally snort again.

“You're funny.”

“Wasn't trying to be,” Catra lies. “Pretty much everyone's trying to cheat death in those stories. Avenge murdered parents, like that's gonna bring them back. Find fountains of youth. Build legacies that'll live on after they're gone.”

“Oh, and you're smart too,” Hood says, their voice doing a silly little lilting thing. Apparently, they're impressed. And a flirt. They're definitely back to trying to flirt horribly.

Catra decides to ignore that by asking, “Who's your favorite villain?”

For a few moments, they don't speak. Catra believes they're just thinking way too hard about this.

Until they drop their voice and respond with a very suggestive, “I always had a thing for Catwoman.”

“Get the fuck out of my bar,” she mutters back automatically.

They begin howling with laughter like a dork. “Not a fan?”

“No one is a fan of cat-based come-ons.” Or the wildly irresponsible deployment of that dumb low, sexy voice they just used.

“I'm pretty sure it's Huntara’s bar and not yours,” they point out.

Catra leans closer, trying to catch them in a lie. “Thought you said you’d never been here before.”

“I haven’t. I used to be in the same queer bowling league with her and Huntara was always inviting everyone to come here.” They tilt their head, and Catra can definitely hear them smiling when they add, “Your eyes are so gorgeous when you’re suspicious.”

“Does this usually work on women?”

“Oh, no, never. I’m just being friendly. I can stop if you’re uncomfortable.”

Catra scoffs. “You don’t have the ability to make me uncomfortable.”

“Does this too cool for school attitude usually work on women?” Before the bartender can respond, Hood answers themself. “Duh. It totally does. Nevermind.”

Whether they’re talking about how effective it’s being on them or just in general, Catra decides not to question further.

They descend into silence for a bit. It's not exactly awkward but it's nowhere near the comfortable silence that Catra's used to at the bar, where she’s generally unconcerned about her customers’ secret thoughts and feelings.

She's about to pepper Hood with more questions for them to avoid when they ask, “Why Batman?”


They shrug. “Just curious what you liked about it. My brother was deep into Superman and honestly I got into Batman and Wonder Woman just to be unique. But I stuck around for the mystery and the sword lesbian vibes, respectively.”

“I do enjoy a good mystery,” Catra replies with a smirk. 

It took her a moment to catch – distracted by being told her eyes are gorgeous and all – but this dummy let it slip that they know Huntara. Catra can just ask her boss if there’s any annoying dorky flirts in her...lesbian bowling league. Yeah, that won’t narrow it down at all. This is destined to fail.

“I don’t know,” Catra shrugs, rooting around in the back of her mind for an answer that doesn't give too too much away. “I guess I was always intrigued by the idea that Batman is his real personality and Bruce Wayne is actually the mask he wears everyday to blend in, to hide. Who are we when we're alone with no audience?”

Idiot. “The art” would have been a perfectly acceptable answer.

Predictably, her mysterious patron takes that as an opening and asks, “Who are you when you’re alone?”

“Sorry, Red Hood, I think I'll have to get to know you a little better before I let you in on my deepest darkest secrets.”

“Maybe you can tell me about your music instead?” they try, voice all hopeful.

“You know those themes that wrestlers walk into the ring to?” Hood nods. “I write those.”

“You’re lying,” they laugh.

“Afraid not. One of the best in the business.” Catra knocks back the rest of her cocktail with a smirk.

“Do you know Lita?”

“Ugh, my childhood dream was to be Lita,” Catra gushes, brain immediately overtaken by images of the tattooed badass wrestler that was her baby gay awakening/role model. She immediately realizes her mistake in dropping her cover. “I mean, yeah, of course I do.”

“You know I’m just gonna have to research all those composers to verify your story, right?”

“Kind of you to call them ‘composers’, I guess. But go nuts.” She nods at their empty glass. “You want another?”

Before they can answer, the door blows open and Casta bombards in with the energy of at least half a dozen people.

“Are you closed? I mean, that’s never stopped me before.” She tosses out a loud, almost maniacal laugh at her own antics. “I walked past Rubyfruit and Pony on the way here and the bars were packed , darling. Huntara’s really missing the boat on this little show thing.”

Hood, their awkward third wheel now, retreats even further into themself. They try to sort of roll up on the stool, unsuccessfully shrinking their tall form.

Casta throws her purse onto the bartop and hops up on the foot rail so she can hoist herself halfway across the bar. 

“Hi, Kitty Kat!”

Catra dutifully meets her halfway like she has for forever and ‘begrudgingly’ accepts a swift kiss on the forehead. She has to rub it off immediately to make sure the older woman’s dark, matte black lipstick doesn’t leave a stain on her fur.

Casta makes a face as she pulls back. “Ooh, you smell like booze! Partying tonight?”

Of course, instead of waiting for an answer, she steps down from the rail and moves away from the bar to give Catra a full view of her body. With a flourish, Casta extends her arms to the side and waits expectantly.

Tonight must have been a special occasion cause Casta’s basically poured into a high-collar, dark blue long-sleeved dress that’s tight on her curvy figure and runs almost to the floor. Her jet black hair is up in a bun, with two little tendrils falling across her forehead on both sides. 

Casta has some of the deepest brown eyes Catra’s ever seen on a person and they look extra delighted under her long lashes. As always, she’s smiling like she knows a secret. 

“Gods, Casta. Whose heart did you break tonight?” Catra gives her a little wolf-whistle and everything.

The older woman looks like she’s about to ask the stranger’s opinion when Catra shakes her head quickly. Once Casta starts trying to get someone to talk, she’s not going to stop until she has a new best friend or a mortal enemy.

“Casta’s a fucking vision, right, Hood?”

Catra cuts them a small smile. She’s not sure what that’s supposed to do – they seem nice enough already. It’s not like they’re gonna insult Casta for no reason. Catra just feels weird about the whole thing, like when you bring a date to meet your closest friends.

She can’t rewind and overanalyze that thought before Hood raises their hand towards Casta and gives her an awkward thumbs up.

“Definitely,” they say, with what Catra is pretty sure is a completely fake voice. It’s awkward and deeper and if they had pulled that shit when they first came in last week, she definitely would've clocked them as two kids standing on each other's shoulders. 

Casta's already moved on. “You know how I mentioned my bus driver is an absolute delight?”

“Yeah, and a cutie,” Catra replies. Casta has spent no less than 80 hours talking about this woman over the last several months and interpreting their clandestine shared glances as she gets on and off at her stops.

“Well, I was on the apps and decided to broaden my horizons a bit. Open myself to new possibilities.”

It's...unclear what this is a euphemism for.

“Is she 25? 60?” Catra asks. “In another county? Or listed a super specific kink on her profile?”

Casta nearly clutches her pearls at the apparently gauche way that Catra tries to cut through her bullshit.

“She’s a tad bit younger than what I had been interested in,” she huffs. “Anyway, as you seem to suspect, she came up as a match.”

“She still hot outside the uniform?” Catra waggles her eyebrows and grins wide so that Casta can watch while she slowly licks one of her fangs.

Somehow, that makes Hood choke a bit on...air? Oh, that reminds her.

“Did you want another drink?” Catra offers, reaching for their glass.

Instead, Casta jumps in with, “Could you be a dear and pour me a prosecco? I need a smoke if I'm going to give you the entire saga.” She reaches into her purse and pulls out a silver cigarette case, immediately heading towards the backyard before she barely even finishes her order.

“None of your jazz cigarettes though,” Catra calls out after her. “Huntara says the upstairs neighbors were complaining about the smell again.”

Casta waves her away like she’s being silly before disappearing out the door. Hood takes what they probably think is a covert glance at the back door to make sure Casta is truly gone.

Then, in their regular voice, they announce, “I'm gonna head out.”

They don't even bother asking for change back from the $20 they left and Catra doesn't think to offer it. Maybe she'll get Casta's opinion on this whole charade thing they're doing.

When Catra doesn't say anything more, Hood just nods and mumbles goodnight. Her eyes follow them as they awkwardly make their way to the front door. They pause just as they reach out for the handle. Their broad shoulders slowly rise and fall, taking a deep breath. 

Catra braces herself. If they're gonna do something super weird, a stoned Casta 30-feet away is a useless witness.  Instead of vandalism or serving her with papers or whatever other surprise Catra had in mind, they march confidently back to the bar.

“Could I get your number?” they ask, as if they’re not still a completely faceless enigma that’s been making one-sided passes for two weeks now.

Catra can't help it. She straight up laughs in their face. Their self-assured posture doesn't break.

“Hmm,” she hums. “So I’m supposed to exchange messages with someone who I wouldn’t even be able to pick out of a police lineup if this ends up being just a long con to get me to join a cult?”

It's mostly a joke. They could look like the lovechild of Lena Waithe and Ruby Rose and Catra would still blow them off for being so bizarre and cagey.

To her shock, they place an elbow on the bar, lean over, and lower the hood.

“Does this increase my chances?” they ask with a goofy smile. 

They're cute. Like 90s teen drama cute. Like Catra could see them singing fucking annoying pop songs outside her window cute.

They’ve got long, straight blonde hair pulled up into a ponytail with what appears to be a bump-it. Do they still even make those? An innocent, suburban girl-next-door face, all perfect teeth and flawless skin and rosy cheeks. Catra was right when she guessed about the light eyes – they’re pale blue and big and round like a puppy’s.

That’s not good. This person is absolutely trouble.

“Fuck,” Catra breathes out. It kinda feels like someone just kicked her right in the gut in a thrilling way. “You couldn’t have the decency to make this easier by being ugly?” 

Their awful, pretty eyes sparkle with something between confusion and amusement.

“Give me your phone,” she gruffly demands. It’s important that Catra seem as annoyed as possible cause there’s no emotional space for anything else.

All that confidence from Hood was a fucking front cause they practically fumble the bag in a rush to get their phone out of their pocket and into Catra’s hands. She inputs her number quickly before she completely freezes up. Something about being in the presence of them in their full glory makes her go all fidgety. Must remain cool.

Catra’s hands only shake a little bit when she passes the phone back to them. They immediately do something; she imagines it’s the next part of their elaborate scam until she hears her phone buzz behind her, where it’s plugged into the speakers.

“Now you have my number too.” They won’t quit it with that dumb smile.

“And what name should I add to my blocked contacts list?”

With a goofy laugh, they say, “Adora. She/her. Catra, right?”

She can only nod in response.

“Adora,” Catra repeats. What a ridiculous name. How perfectly fitting. “Uh. Yeah, she and her, too. They/them is fine as well.”

The blonde smiles one final time before turning to go.

“Talk soon, Catra.”

Ugh, her own name has no damn business sounding so good coming from someone else’s mouth.

Catra doesn’t have another shift until Thursday. So when she accidentally wakes up early on Wednesday morning, she’s already filled with the red-hot rage of 1,000 active volcanoes.

Apparently she forgot to close the curtains completely when she sat up until 5am the night before, failing again and again to write anything. The daybreak peeking through them isn’t very much; unfortunately, though, when she and Entrapta moved in, Catra painted her room a random color that she bought at a reuse place for $1, and on days like this, she deeply regrets this bright chartreuse that seems to just fucking soak light into the space.

Everything else in the room is the same style – that is, available at a thrift store for less than $10. The fuzzy yellow lampshade, the purple shag carpet, the combo vhs/dvd box tv, the grandma-esque matching dresser and nightstand, the hanging shelves full of creepy figurines.

Catra spent part of the long night trying to figure out if she had anything she could sell to make some extra cash, what the fuck could possibly break this creativity block, and why that idiot asked for her number if she didn't plan on using it.

Catra sure as hell wasn't gonna text first. 

Since she's awake anyway, she checks her phone like she's been trying and failing to pretend is totally casual since Monday.

A message from Lonnie about a staff check-in (usually just Huntara grumbling at them all about cleaning or inventory). A couple friendly messages from Rogelio that are clearly in-roads to asking if she's written anything or made any progress. And no texts from anyone else.

Melog, her criminally lazy Russian Blue kitty, quietly meows from where they’re nestled at the foot of the bed. Catra’s been awake for a full 30 seconds and hasn’t bothered paying attention to them. As always, Melog’s judgey face seems to ask ‘how very dare you?’

She reaches down to pick them up and take them into her arms.

“Morning, love.”

Melog butts their head up under her chin and nuzzles.

“Thank you for being the only creature who truly loves me.”

“Meow,” they agree, before they begin purring.

It doesn’t take long for Catra to match them and for a long while, the room is only filled with streaming daylight and the sounds of them purring in tandem.

Then Entrapta, Catra’s roommate, bandmate, and decade-long tormentor, shrieks from across the apartment because she hasn't done anything weird in at least 72 hours and was way overdue. Catra doesn't want to waste energy going to check on her.  Without warning, Melog rockets out of Catra’s arms and takes off out of the half-closed door to hide. Catra just stares after them and narrows her eyes. 

“Fake ass...” she mutters.

As the week goes on, she comes down with a bad case of Catritis, the imaginary disease that Entrapta created for her years ago. The primary symptom is wanting to see people but immediately being overwhelmed by the prospect of actually having to spend time with them. On Thursday, Catra lets a bunch of regulars convince her she should come hang out on Saturday even though she doesn't have a shift. She spends an hour day-of thinking about what to wear and how she could maybe meet someone new, before giving up and going to sleep at 11:30.

Adora doesn’t text once. That's fine. Not a big deal. Whatever.

So Catra doesn’t either.

Chapter Text

The universe seems to conspire to make the next week a bit easier on Catra. She wrote something resembling lyrics over the weekend. On Monday, Lonnie is blessedly quiet and heads into the back to watch that stupid show without any fuss. (Though she does throw out, “You sure you don’t wanna watch? They have to play muddy Capture the Flag tonight and I think that scorpion girl might accidentally send someone to the hospital.”) A couple folks come in during happy hour and tip surprisingly well. 

All in all, everything’s coming up Catra.

She should have known that couldn’t last. When has anything ever just worked out for her?

Around the time Lonnie disappears, there’s no sign of any company. So Catra, feeling oddly inspired, starts playing one of Entrapta’s abandoned beats on a loop. Over and over, she mumbles the short hook she’s come up with and even starts to map out a few parts of some verses. It’s rough – like really fucking rough, a few times she just goes “something something blah” where actual words should be – but it’s coming together nicely.

She’s a little too into her own head, pacing back and forth to the drum track, to notice when the door opens. The new patron manages to make it all the way to a seat near the taps with Catra completely unaware of them.

“Gods, your voice is amazing.”

Catra nearly has a cardiac event. She stops in her pacing and hisses, haunches raising and hair standing all on end.

It’s Adora, smiling like a goober as usual. Of course, it could only be Adora. No one else would be set on a path to embarrass Catra so thoroughly. Maybe a hologram of Catra from middle school when she gave herself that awful asymmetrical bob or her first girlfriend, who constantly denied even knowing her in public. But Adora’s a perfect stand-in.

“Sorry,” she says with a wince. “I didn’t realize you didn’t hear me.”

“‘S’fine,” Catra mumbles. She tries to slow her breathing while smoothing down her fur so it isn’t so obvious.

“Did you make this beat?”

Catra lunges to turn her phone off. Her face feels hot. Fuck, really, her whole body feels hot.

“No.” No need for elaboration. Silently, she puts on a random playlist so the bar isn’t entirely empty.

“I didn’t mean to interrupt,” Adora tells her. “Don’t mind me. You can keep practicing.”

She crosses her arms and leans forward, eagerly waiting for a free show. There’s no hood today. Just a red windbreaker over a white tshirt, with a pair of round, oversized black sunglasses tucked into the collar. 

“What can I getcha?” Catra asks instead of dealing with the more pressing issues, namely Adora’s sudden freedom with her face and the way she completely wasted 500 chances to text.

The blonde hums to herself for a moment. She lets her right index finger scratch her chin and everything.

“How bout a daiquiri?”

It’s honestly the kind of drink Catra would expect from her, just solely based on looks, if she hadn’t shown better judgment over the past couple weeks. Teasing her for this choice feels too familiar so Catra merely nods and sets about making it.

“How did you spend the rest of last week?” Adora asks.

“Working,” Catra mutters, while trying to hunt down lime juice and simple syrup. 

Though she doesn’t have the title or the higher pay to show for it, Spinnerella is the unofficial manager of the bar. She usually makes sure everything’s stocked up, especially the shit that Huntara thinks is too frou frou. Like orange juice. Or straws.

Gods do exist because Catra actually finds all the ingredients and has a reason to ignore Adora’s questioning gaze. She clearly wants more information. She’ll have to learn to live with disappointment as long as she’s planning on being around Catra.

The bartender begins shaking the cocktail, being mindful not to smile or flex her biceps. In fact, she decides, it’s probably best to just turn away from Adora completely.

“Sorry I didn't text,” the blonde tells her.

For the tiniest second, the shaker stops moving. And then Catra catches herself and pours the drink quickly before placing it on the bar.

“Not a big deal,” she says with a shrug. “Getting someone's number doesn't mean you're honor-bound to message them.”

“I wanted to,” Adora continues on. She nervously runs her hands through her hair and Catra notices for the first time that it's down. No bump-it in sight today. The way the shoulder-length blonde locks frame her face makes her look even more like a grown-up former prom queen. “I just didn't know if you were for real.”

“What does that mean?” The statement feels a little ironic coming from someone who is both working so hard to hide and also could be a Miss Etheria winner.

Oh. Maybe she is a model or something. That would be possible. Maybe a news anchor. Or a professional volleyball player.

It’s truly a shame that Catra can’t find an excuse to trip over the bar and ‘accidentally’ land by shredding the sleeves on Adora’s stupid tshirt. Those arms deserve to be liberated.

It’s more of a shame that Catra, an adult person mostly, had that thought.

Adora’s apparently choosing to ignore Catra’s question by tasting her drink.

“Oh!” she giggles. “This is delicious.”

“You sound surprised,” Catra points out, while narrowing her eyes.

“I mean, Huntara owns this place. She made a girl quit our league for ordering a pitcher of margaritas instead of beer one day.”

“I saw her sweep up a broken pint glass from the floor using only her bare hands,” Catra responds quickly.

“She threw a bowling ball so hard once that she broke most of the pins in half.”

“She picked up a pickpocket and used him as a club to beat up another pickpocket.”

Adora snorts so hard that daiquiri comes out of her nose. 

“She did not!”   Adora greedily accepts the stack of napkins that Catra throws at her, using them to dry her eyes and wipe the drink off of her chin and shirt. “You made that up!”

The blonde is an absolute fucking wreck. Face and eyes all red, sugary liquid quickly turning to a sticky mess all over her. She’s still laughing, seemingly only half at Huntara’s tall tales and half at herself for being a dork. Even through her cackling, Catra’s breathing picks up just a tick.

“How could I ever make that up?” she drawls. Granted, she was about three sheets to the wind when it happened but that’s how she’s always remembered it going down. “I assume her reputation is why you never came around before.”

Adora manages to get her chuckles down to a quiet lull, before shaking her head.

“It’s rare but queer bars aren’t always as welcoming as I think they’ll be,” she admits. “My two best friends are pan and dating each other. Sometimes onlookers just assume they’re a straight, cis couple, and we’ve been in a couple queer spaces that kinda felt judgey about that. Like Mean Girls.” 

“Hmm. Well, Netossa and Lonnie are our unfriendly Black hotties,” Catra thinks aloud. ‘Welcoming’ has never really been her vibe necessarily but, “Hidey Hole isn’t like that. We’re not policing anyone’s gender or who they fuckin’. A couple of my friends go through that same shit, having their lives flattened down like that. Huntara doesn’t fucking stand for that. You should bring your friends around sometime.”

Her words are met with a smile. It starts sweet and relieved and soon morphs until something a little naughty.

“So what you’re saying is you want to see me more?” Adora places her elbow on the bar and uses it to prop her head up, in what she probably thinks is a sexy pose.

It is not. She still looks like someone threw a cocktail in her face, Housewives-style.

“How fucking delusional do you have to be to have heard that just now?”

“Extremely,” Adora answers then fucking winks like she just said the best pick-up line.

Against her will, Catra feels the corners of her mouth try to quirk up. This is a great opportunity to really focus on washing the one whole cocktail shaker that she dirtied.

“You’re a night owl, right?” Adora asks. This feels like her thing, complete non-sequiturs.

“Crepuscular,” Catra corrects. “But I adapt for work.”

The blonde repeats the word to herself as she takes a sip of her drink. She probably thinks she’s being smooth as she hides her phone in her lap and begins reading from it.

“How’s that wikipedia entry? Interesting?”

Adora doesn’t even try to deny. “I’m learning a lot.”

Catra walks over and leans down as close as she can get to the blonde without jumping over the bar. 

“Hey, Adora?” She makes sure the words drop from her lips with as much feigned desire as possible. The voice that girls used to absolutely eat up. “Why don’t you do us both a favor and not think about me in bed?”

She’s not sure if Adora knows that her grunt is audible. When the human looks up, she’s annoyingly obvious about how she stares at Catra’s lips.

Catra wanders to the other end of the bar to put a bit of distance between her, Adora’s piercing eyes, and her own rapidly disappearing chill.

“So, what do you do when you’re not here?”

“I volunteer with kids and the elderly,” Catra deadpans.

“At 5am? Why don’t you ever give me a straight answer?”

“Cause, girl, I don’t know you,” the Magicat laughs. She’s not being ridiculous. Adora is being ridiculous.

“This is literally how people get to know each other,” she points out. “You tell me something about yourself and then I tell you something about myself.”

“I hate small talk,” Catra mutters.

“Okay,” Adora smiles. “Is that something about you? Or just a general complaint?”

The bartender pours herself a coke instead of responding.

“Alright. Ask me a real question then,” Adora offers.

“What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?”

Adora just rolls her eyes. “You won’t tell me your hobbies but I’m supposed to incriminate myself in a crime?”

“Interesting that illegal activity is what immediately comes to mind for you.”

“I broke my brother’s arm,” the blonde says. She grimaces in embarrassment, adding quickly, “Not intentionally! We were 10 and he climbed up on our roof. I told him I’d catch him if he jumped down and then right before he would have landed on me, I saw my life flash before my eyes and I dove out of the way.”

“You’re a murderer,” Catra accuses immediately. “I knew it!”

“He’s fine! He broke his radius and we both got grounded but he healed. Like 6 months later, he accidentally broke my nose by hitting me in the face with a baseball.” She shrugs. “Twins get into a lot of trouble.”

There’s another gorgeous creature like this just out there walking around? That seems unfair. Thank the Gods that the other one sounds like he’s outside of Catra's desire spectrum.

“What about you?” Adora inquires.

“You can’t ask the same question.” Catra pretends to be horrified that Adora missed the obvious guidelines of whatever nonsense they’re doing here.

“You’re used to making all the rules, aren’t you?” She smirks, like she has Catra all figured out. 

“Is that your question?”

Adora thinks for a moment before nodding. “Yeah, let's go with that.”

“Fine. Then, yeah. I've never really been a follower,” Catra says casually. She's fairly certain Adora was going for something else but that's on the dummy for not clarifying.

“So if I-”

Catra tuts, interrupting Adora with a frown. “It's not your turn.”

“Can I ask what the rules are?”

“If that's how you'd like to waste your next question, go off.”

Adora looks like she wants to argue but she just bites her cute bottom lip instead.

The coke isn't strong enough for this. Catra drops a splash of whiskey into it.

“Maybe I'd like to take the lead next time,” Adora tells her. It's not very subtle, with the distracting thing she's doing with her mouth, but she's also back to using that low voice that she incorrectly thinks will make Catra fluster.

She gives one very sharp chuckle. “I'd like to see you try.”

Adora raises an eyebrow as if that was a challenge. Excitement practically starts rolling off of her.

Everything Catra can think of to say next will definitely come out like a scrambling, backtracking mess. This asshole does not make her nervous. She’s just not going to open her mouth and accidentally give that impression. Adora’s ego seems big enough already.

After slinging back a big mouthful of whiskey, and turning away to hide the ensuing wince, Catra finally formulates her next question.

But her ears unconsciously swivel forward before she can open her mouth. There’s two very familiar voices out on the sidewalk, getting closer and closer to the Hidey Hole.

She’s not quite sure what generosity comes over her, but Catra glances over at Adora and whispers, “Someone’s coming,” and then moves to hide her own drink behind the bar.

Laughing and ribbing each other as usual, Netossa and Spinnerella enter, hand-in-hand. They’re both a little done up in matching long-sleeved dressy jumpers, violet for Spinny and silver for Netty, and even some light makeup. Netossa pauses to hold the door open for her wife.

“Thank you, darling,” Spinnerella grins at her. She brightens up even more when she glances over at the bartender. “Catra!”

She rushes over to gently grab Catra’s hand. “We missed you last weekend. Casta said you were feeling sick?”

“Just tired from rehearsals,” she lies.

Spinnerella nods sympathetically. “We’re so excited to see you perform this year! Netty and I managed to finally clear our schedules so we can catch you at Tenderoni.”

Catra looks past her at Netossa’s smug smile. “You’re not worried about busting a hip there, Nets?”

“Hey, kitty, I can still get down. I bet I’ll shut the place down while all the young ‘uns have to get home for curfew.”

“I just don’t know how I’m gonna explain to everyone that that’s my elderly uncle in the front row.”

“I look forward to embarrassing the fuck out of you then,” Netossa shoots back. For a sample of the forthcoming shame, she begins doing a flawless bodyroll to the Janelle Monae song that’s playing. “Ooh, this is actually good music. I thought Lonnie was working today.”

Catra snorts loudly. She regrets making the sound in front of Adora. Can’t have her thinking Catra’s as much of a dork as she is. But that is pretty hilarious, that Lonnie’s shitty playlists are growing in notoriety.

“Where is Lonnie?” Spinnerella asks with a little concern. 

Her eyes sweep around the bar and all she seems to notice is Adora, whose sunglasses are suddenly back on. She’s materialized a black snapback out of thin air. On top of making it more painfully obvious that she’s trying to be incognito, it also kinda makes her look like a douche for wearing shades this late at night indoors.  

If only to distract from this madness, Catra answers. “She had a migraine so I made her lie down in the back.”

“Oh,” Spinny says with a frown, “I should go check on her.”

Netty exchanges a look with Catra before pulling her wife gently by the wrist.

“I’m sure she’s fine, love. You’re not on the clock and Lonnie’s a big girl.”

Catra gives her the shortest grateful nod.

“What are you two up to tonight?”

Spinnerella immediately perks up. “We’re both off so we decided to have a date night. Some quality time together.”

“And you came to the place you work at?” Catra drawls.

“Why not?” Netossa smirks. “Free drinks from my favorite bartender. Besides, everywhere else is playing the Bachelorette tonight and I don’t want spoilers.”

“Boooo!” Catra jeers. 

“Be nice,” Spinny tells her. “It’s a good show! I really think the girl can find love.”

“Yeah, mudwrestling or whatever Lonnie mentioned sounds like the perfect way to find your soulmate.”

Just barely, she sees Adora stiffen out of the corner of her eye.

“There’s some real ringers on there,” Netossa defends. “A couple sweethearts that could make it to the end. And then some real pieces of work who are there for all the wrong reasons.”

“Oh no,” Catra fakes. “You mean to tell me that on a show about getting famous, there are women there who only care about getting famous? Scandalous!”

Netossa rolls her eyes. “Fine, I’ll drop it. We’ll just head to the back and mind our business. Don’t worry – we won’t interrupt your date too much.” She nods at Adora, who’s busy trying to pretend no one can see her, and raises her eyebrows at Catra.

Catra tries to make her eyes as comically wide as possible in response, signaling that it’s a cry for help and not a funny joke.

As expected, Netty ignores her. “Can we get the usual?” She leads her partner to the back towards the pool table, without waiting for their drinks.

“Am I a waitress now too?” Catra calls out to them.

They get distracted with flirting halfway through racking the balls. Their love is disgusting but Catra puts up with it publicly because she doesn’t want to come across as just a hatin’ ass bitch. So she dutifully makes them both cocktails and takes them over.

Spinnerella shoves a crisp $10 bill into her hand like a grandmother.

When she gets back behind the bar, she catches Adora watching the couple to make sure they’re ignoring her.

Catra opens her mouth to call her out for being a total creep, but Adora cuts her off.

“You’re a secret sweetheart.”

Catra balks. “Fuck you.”

“You lied to cover for your friend.”

“I’ll go shiv her right now. I don’t care.”

“You secretly love her,” Adora sings, like a literal child. “You fight all the time but you really care about her deep down.”

“Stop smirking at me like you know me.”

“I want to.” It genuinely sounds like she means it. That just makes Catra roll her eyes extra hard. “You were so cute with them,” she adds, nodding towards the other two bartenders in the back. “Am I the only person in this bar that you’re actually rude to?”

“You should probably reflect on that for a while and make some personal changes.”

Refusing to accept this gracious feedback, Adora says, “I believe we were in the middle of something. And it was my turn.”

That...doesn’t sound right.

“What would your enemies say about you?” the blonde asks quickly.

“That’s actually a good question,” Catra murmurs. Fuck. “Probably the same thing my friends would say. Horrible taste, too aloof, unreliable, the king of being petty.”

Adora almost seems surprised that she answered so honestly. Or maybe horrified by that description. Slowly, she just nods.

After a beat, the blonde tells her, “I think mine would say I try too hard. And that I’m only pretending to be so nice.”

“Nothing about your dumb hair poof?”

“People love the poof,” Adora whispers. Her tone is very defensive. Catra is obviously not the first person who’s pointed this out and it’s a sore subject.

So she definitely has to exploit it.

“Do you own stock in bump-it?” Catra continues. “Do you have boxes of them in your garage since it was discontinued?”

“What’s Tenderoni?” Adora asks, trying to re-route these personal attacks.

It’s a successful tactic. Catra can feel herself fidgeting a bit when she answers, “Nothing.”

She should have just lied. Say it’s a pasta party. Literally anything. Adora looks like the type of person to say something annoying like “I haven’t had a carb in 8 years” so that maybe could have worked.

Adora’s already pulling her phone out.

“It doesn’t have a wikipedia page so you’re shit out of luck.”

“It does, however, have an Instagram,” Adora replies. “Ooh, a queer dance party. And look, a lineup for the next show. With performer photos. ‘Tenderoni: Pride Edition.’ Featuring…” She looks up to lock eyes with Catra. “Horde.”

Not for the first time, Catra curses the inventors of social media. She’s still plotting how to destroy Adora’s phone when she sees her own light up out of the corner of her eye.

“Don’t worry, that’s just me. Sending you a follow request...Catra Weaver.”

Stupid Lonnie running Horde’s account and tagging her in every photo. By now, a smarter person would probably not keep their full government name on their account. Of course, her handle used to be ‘pussyonfire’ years ago, which is only slightly more mortifying.

“I knew this was a scam,” Catra mutters. “Now I’m gonna end up in some kind of bump-it pyramid scheme.”

Adora throws out a sarcastic laugh before standing. Like last time, she leaves $20 with no questions. She leans over the bar to get closer and even with the world’s most obnoxious sunglasses on, she still manages to look entirely too tempting.

“See you next Monday?” 

Catra has to poke herself in the hands with her own claws not to nod too eagerly. “Yeah, whatever.”

Adora smiles brightly anyway and does the most uncool wave before leaving. She’s barely out the door before there are footsteps rushing towards the bar.

“Who was that?” Spinnerella asks.

“No one. She doesn’t matter.”

“Yeah, tell that to your face, kitty,” Netossa scoffs.

Catra wipes her own goofy smile off by theatrically frowning. “She’s just a customer. A real weirdo too. So.” 

“You do have a type,” Spinnerella winces.

“She might not even be gay.” That’s a bald-faced lie. The ‘straight’ factory doesn’t yet have the technology to put out women who look like that.

“Ooh, girl,” Netossa reaches out and gently pats her hand. “You’re gonna have to work really hard to come up with some better excuses than that.”

Don’t worry, Catra thinks to herself, she definitely will. After all, she’s a level 5 saboteur.

Catra’s list of turn-offs is easily three miles long. Some feel universal – loud chewers, people who are condescending to wait staff. Some are...particular. She once stopped hooking up with a perfectly fine girl because the person didn’t buy toys for her cute tabby cat. Catra just didn’t understand why the asshole had sentenced her poor kitty to a lifetime of no fun, but she didn’t intend to reward this bad behavior by continuing to fuck her.

Amongst those turn-offs are many many rules on texting. Catra doesn’t like to receive more than 10 messages per week. From all of the people she talks to. Total.

There is one exception, of course. When she remembers there are other people in the world, Entrapta sends novel-long messages that Catra never responds to. Every 20 texts, she just writes back, “damn” or “hahaha.” It works for them. Everyone else can fuck right off.

Starting Monday night before her shift’s even over, Adora has already sent at least 12 messages. It continues all week. Good morning texts, random thoughts, more questions, good night texts. Mid-day check-ins. Puns.  

Hey girl hey

absolutely not

Just like that?
What about...

It’s a fucking gay animated horse saying “hay!” Every piece of Adora’s energy screams ‘horse girl.’ Why would Catra be surprised at all? She can practically hear the blonde laughing at her own dad joke.

Also, the horse isn’t necessarily gay, per se, but it’s got a rainbow mane and it was sent by Adora, the biggest lesbian she’s ever seen, so Catra just assumes. But, like self-determination or whatever.


When she actually doesn’t get a message back for several minutes, she wonders if Adora finally gave up. Catra’s deadpan doesn’t really work well over this format of communication. Maybe she should ask Adora if they can hang out in person? Outside of the bar?

Ugh. No. No, this is not charming. Better keep messaging just in case though. To be polite.

will i actually be cursed with your presence on monday?


Adora’s face. Her full face. Sweaty and smiling. Her eyes look even bluer, shiny and excited. And her godsdamn tits . Adora must be in a sportsbra or something cause 90% of this photo is cleavage, collarbones, and bare shoulders.

Catra wants to mark all that perfect skin right up with her fangs.

That is, until she zooms in (for research.) There’s trees in the background. Airpods in Adora’s ears. The daymoon on her gorgeous face.

Oh, for fuck’s sake. Someone who jogs for fun?

🤞🏽 you don’t pull something

You just want to gently nurse me back to health
Do you like sweet or savory?

often at the same time
i like an explosion in my mouth

I tripped and fell into a bush

ya hate to see it

“I thought you were writing,” Lonnie interrupts. “What are you smiling about?”

Catra immediately switches to her notes app.

“Don’t we have rules about partners at rehearsal?” she asks Rogelio. He just turns so he doesn’t have to look at her and can concentrate on his bass.

Ro’s always been the strong, silent type but this is ridiculous. For a 6-foot tall lizard built like a truck, he could probably learn how to stand up to his partner. Kyle, a full 80 pounds soaking wet, obviously isn’t going to say shit to their girlfriend. He and Rogelio are wearing matching pink tie-dye tshirts and black skinny jeans today, a painful reminder that Lonnie truly owns them so much that she dresses them up like little twins.

Rogelio at least pulls the look off.

For the past hour, he and Kyle have been trying to perfect some songs while Catra and Entrapta have been two useless lumps. Well, at least Entrapta was pressing play on her laptop in between coding on her other laptop. Catra’s been “writing”, which is technically true because she has been responding to Adora non-stop.

Lonnie goes over to Rogelio and Kyle to explain that this behavior is why they’re not more successful. She has to shout over the music cause they’re not slowing down. 

“This behavior” has been the norm since they formed the band sophomore year of college, after Catra drunkenly convinced her two music major neighbors to join up with the casual duo that she'd begged Entrapta to start with her, once she realized the girl's hidden talent with a drum machine. Catra doesn’t believe in overpreparing . She’s better on stage when she wings it. Besides, Horde is in a sweet spot. They make enough money from gigs and streams that they can usually cover their expenses for the band but aren’t so successful that they actually have to try or tour or anything annoying.

“What’s the point of planning to record anything if Catra’s not gonna write new stuff?” Lonnie continues.

“I have so much new material,” Catra mumbles from her beanbag. “Though, we should probably push new demos back until the fall. We’re all super busy right now.”

“You just spent an hour grooming yourself!” Lonnie shoots back.

Catra makes a big show of whispering weakly, “I’m resting my voice for our upcoming shows.”

Lonnie huffs. She’s muttering a litany of critiques to her two boyfriends. How Catra’s lazy and doesn’t follow-through. Kyle should be the lead.

Catra can admit that the twink’s voice is pretty good. Having a choir boy singing like a gay angel under her low, raw voice really helps temper some of the fucking growling she seems to do all over every song. Catra loves making art and performing. She just kinda still has two decades of her mom-ager pushing her to strive for perfection drilled into the back of her mind at all times.

Kyle has the stage presence of a cherry tomato, though. It’s best to keep him hidden in the back behind his guitar.

Soon, Lonnie turns on Entrapta, trying to get her attention. The purple-haired girl is sprawled out upside-down on the beanbag next to Catra so she’s clearly also part of the problem and not the solution. She’s in overalls as usual, faded black today, with a cute little baby tshirt, and her big clunky boots getting scuffs all over their wall. 

Entrapta hasn’t looked away from her work even once since everyone got to their apartment for what Catra mistakenly thought was just a hang-out session. She should’ve gotten a clue when they all immediately headed into the bedroom that Entrapta’s converted to a music space, instead of sprawling out in the living room like usual.

“Catra will record her lyrics this week so everyone can contribute,” Entrapta decrees idly. 

“Cool cool,” Catra agrees. She shrugs casually, smiling at Lonnie like she’s won.

Of course that just means that sometime in the next 30 hours, Catra needs to pull a bunch of songs out of thin air and commit them all to tape. Or digital tape, whatever.

Adora texts another update. She’s embarrassed but unharmed. 

what do you listen to when you run?

More ammo for you to make fun of me
Terrible pop
Whatever comes up on Spotify

this feels unnecessarily violent

Why’d you ask?
Want to make me a playlist?

want to? no
but your music choices are a reflection on me since we're talking
so i must

How selfless

Catra opens her Spotify app. A few more hours can’t hurt, right?

Chapter Text

On Monday, Catra gets up “early”, aka around 2pm, to get dressed cute. The bar’s gonna be empty again tonight. Might as well treat herself and look nice. No other reason necessary.

In unrelated news, there's several text messages already waiting for her when she rolls over.

Good morning!
I love my new running playlist!
Someone with excellent taste made it for me
Can't wait to see you tonight
There will be surprises!

if you do any magic tricks, you're banned from the bar

✨✨ 🎩🔮✨✨

Catra does her hair kinda. Well, she washes it and sorta fluffs up her short waves as they’re drying.

Her fashion options are very limited by her uniform. Besides which pair of shorts to throw on, she has to decide between two bar shirts.

She could ask Adora for advice but Catra sent an impromptu photo of herself laying down for a nap the other day and the blonde replied with so many nonsensical emojis that Catra almost blocked her.

But then Adora sent a voice note . She sounded almost breathless as she whispered, “Gods, you’re so pretty.”

So Entrapta is the only resource for advice. Rogelio’s working right now and Catra trusts literally no one else. Not that Entrapta is a paragon of fashion – Catra’s never seen her outside of overalls and this includes her pajamas – but she’s always honest with her opinion.

Catra finds her roommate in the kitchen, shoveling mini-dumplings into her mouth while typing furiously. Much like her own bedroom, their tiny eat-in kitchen is mostly decorated with thrifted items. It’s almost 1950s-style, if it was interpreted by someone who was stoned and didn’t quite understand the question.

“Your recordings were...strange,” Entrapta announces.

“Yeah, I’m in a weird place,” Catra says absently. “Some kind of early mid-life crisis.”

Who cares? There’s a more important and urgent issue here.

“Which shirt should I wear today to work?”

She takes her time showing off the one she currently has on, a fresher black tank that she doesn’t like much. The name of the bar is even still visible and easy to read. Then Catra quickly removes it and switches to the next, the more worn shirt she wears most days. It’s broken in (and down, one might even say) and very soft cause if she has to be on her feet for 8 hours, she’s going to be semi-comfortable. 

“Well, the nicer one sends the message that you’re responsible and will make a good mate.”

Catra balks at that. “No one said anything about mating.” She’s just trying to get felt up a little.

“Why else would you care about what you’re wearing? Last week, I saw you wear an apron as a dress.”

Sometimes the straight-forward way that Entrapta delivers a sentence is absolutely vicious. Once, many years ago, she told her roommate, “I’ve noticed you don’t really have any standards,” and Catra almost died

It was true, obviously, but like, sugarcoat it a bit maybe?

“Is that what that was?” Catra questions. “I thought it was an art smock. I found it in a dumpster.” It was a nice peach color and she figured it was cute enough.

Entrapta ignores that cry for help.

“My hypothesis is also supported by those odd songs you wrote.” 

Catra’s lived with Entrapta since they were paired together as college freshmen. In the last decade, she’s never been this astute. The two and half new songs weren’t mushy ballads or anything. One was her half-rapping about staying up at night texting and the other was some weird ghostly musings on the color blue…

Fine. Catra can hear it now too. The third half-song was honestly just a lyrical thirst trap. Not every song has to mean anything.

After thinking it over a bit, Entrapta finally adds, “The second shirt is also likely to attract a mate. Because...tiddy.” 

Catra looks down and the top is indeed ripped a bit where you can see maybe more cleavage and sideboob than she was intentionally trying to show off. She rips it just a bit more. Just in case.

“You should change pants,” Entrapta then suggests, eying Catra's jorts. “Those shorts you wore to court would be a good option.”

“You’ll have to be more specific,” she jokes.

“I think that’s one of your references that doesn’t translate.”

Catra groans. Adora would have gotten it. She has surprisingly decent taste in pop culture.

“The ones that got you kicked off of jury duty,” Entrapta elaborates.

Oh. Yeah. That’ll do.

Never has Catra finished all of her tasks so quickly. The place is fucking spotless within an hour of her getting there. She yeets Lonnie into the office as soon as she shows up.

“But they’re doing a super awkward group wedding photo shoot tonight,” Lonnie tries to argue. “You have to watch it.”

Catra closes the door in her face. After that, there's nothing to do but pick a good playlist to set the mood and practice standing in a bunch of nonchalant poses.

A handful of people come in during happy hour. Then two folks on a deeply uncomfortable blind date. A gaggle of girlfriends orders margaritas. 

Catra channels a saint-worthy amount of patience when she doesn't scream at a single person. 

‘Get out,’ she chants in her head. ‘Getoutgetoutgetout.’

“Did you say something, sweetie?” an older redhead asks, while her friends are gabbing at the end of the bar.

“I asked what I could get you next,” Catra lies.

“Oh. Just our tab.”

“With pleasure.”

She dives for her phone as soon as they're out the door and the place is empty again.

i believe i was promised a surprise

“Yeah.” She glances up and Adora's in the open doorway, holding up her cell. “I think the surprise was how long I could wait in the alley before someone reported a flasher. Turns out: indefinitely.”

“You’re in the heart of the gayborhood. That would be the least suspicious thing the neighbors saw all day.”

Adora closes the door with her foot. Catra notices that she’s wearing birks cause apparently she’s just a walking stereotype. In her hands are a donut box and two medium-sized plastic bags.

“Need help?” Catra teases. “I know how clumsy you are.”

“You fall into one bush cause a hot woman tells you what she wants in her mouth and suddenly you have a reputation as clumsy?”

Catra ignores yet another compliment from Adora by critiquing today’s disguise. Along with dark denim cut-offs, she’s sporting a truly awful woven poncho hoodie situation, with black, red, and green stripes. She looks like she rushed there straight from a hacky sack tournament.

“Are you incognito as a camp counselor today?” Catra asks.

“Youth minister was the vibe I was going for, I think.” She places everything on the bar and begins slowly setting up a spread.

“If there’s a joke coming up about making me see God, please skip it.”

Adora laughs. “No, but I like where your head's at.” She pauses in her movements. “Though I’d prefer it in betw-”

She’s interrupted when Catra sprays her with the soda dispenser. It’s set to water, sadly; maybe coke would ruin this ugly ass poncho.

Catra doesn’t know who she’s kidding. The thing is hideous and comfortable-looking. If she ever sleeps over at Adora’s place, she’s definitely stealing it. That’s basically how she obtains half of her wardrobe, recycling it from hook-ups.

“You know, you complain about my ‘dirty dad jokes’ but I can tell your heart really isn’t in it,” the blonde smirks as she uses her sleeve to dry her face.

Adora’s flirting, which was already laughably bad, has crossed over into cringe territory over the past couple days. Maybe she was emboldened by Catra actually engaging but she’d slipped from gentle teasing into slightly raunchier territory. It was still completely harmless but Catra was starting to have a gut feeling that Adora was a secret freak. She had to push that thought away because it was just a bit too hot – this dorky girl-next-door type had a dirty side.

“I’m calling a moratorium on your jokes until you’re done feeding me.”

“Shh,” Adora whispers. “You’re ruining the surprise.” She finishes unwrapping and setting everything out.

Task complete, she takes her poncho off, smooths her hair down, and makes gameshow presenter jazz hands at the food.

“And just what exactly am I looking at?” Catra asks.

“Right.” Adora begins pointing at each item while she describes it. “Empanadas – half are spicy chicken, half are seafood stew cause I remember you said you liked fish. Cookies – there’s some sprinkle ones cause those are my favorite but I got you the chocolate with nutella and sea salt. And donuts.”

She stops and shrugs. “I just really wanted donuts. It’s a variety but you like tropical and citrus, right? I made sure to get passionfruit, mango, and lime. So, in conclusion, we’ve got savory, sweet, and sweet and salty.”

When the blonde looks up from the spread, her smile is a little nervous. “Shit! I just realized I didn’t ask if you had allergies or anything.”

“No. But you memorized every food I told you I liked over text?” Catra can feel her tail unconsciously straightening up in the air behind her.

“Are you naturally suspicious or do I just bring out the best in you?” Adora asks with a grin.

She takes a seat finally and begins chomping down on the first food her hand touches.

“So, how’s the writing coming along?”

Catra groans. Revealing her band's pressure to come up with new material to Adora was clearly a mistake. “Not you too. That’s all anyone wants to ask me about.”

“Sorry. Trust me – I know what it’s like when everyone in your life keeps bugging you about the same topic over and over and over.” With an eye roll, she moves on to the donuts. “You still haven’t told me what kind of music you make,” she points out.

“You have our socials, Adora. You seriously want me to believe you haven’t looked it up yet?”

“I have this silly idea that one day you’ll trust me enough to tell me yourself.”

“I write music for Looney Tunes,” Catra tells her.

Adora snorts. “Your first lie was better. Are you not hungry?”

“I’m waiting for you to taste everything first so I can confirm it’s not poisoned.”

“What if I already took the antidote?”

“Then you’re smarter than you look.”

It all smells mouth-watering. This was not the type of surprise that Catra had in mind after all of Adora’s teasing. She’s a sucker for free food, though.

“You want a drink?”

“Seltzer's fine,” Adora mutters around a mouth full of donut.

Instead of placing it in front of her, Catra watches Adora’s eyes light up with surprise as she slowly walks around the bar and takes up the stool next to the blonde.

It’s easier to eat while sitting down, she tells herself. And this is a perfectly good excuse for Adora to get a peek at her full body. 

Catra intentionally moves into Adora’s space, pulling her stool up way too close. She pivots before she sits so that her back is leaning against the bar and she’s facing Adora. Their thighs touch as Catra gets comfortable. She even makes sure that her tail occasionally 'accidentally’ brushes Adora's leg.

“Your seltzer.”

Adora takes it gratefully. She almost spills it trying to set it down cause she still hasn’t taken her eyes off of Catra.

Entrapta's suggestion was a pair of tight black pleather shorts that only stop an inch or so under Catra's ass. They’re actually leggings or something cause they’re super comfortable. But they look scandalous (at least according to the judge who informed her that she should wear something more “appropriate” the next time she showed up to fulfill her civil duty.) Adora's pretty baby blues are practically falling out of her head staring at Catra's legs.

“Problem, Adora?” she asks.

The blonde shakes her head. “I like your outfit today.”

“Yeah?” Catra pretends to be surprised. She glances at the top Adora’s wearing, a white tank that reminds her of that first revealing selfie. A claw reaches over and tugs at the bottom of the shirt. “I like yours too.”

Adora smirks, just a little. “I think that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.”

“Shut up and pass me an empanada.”

Everything she tastes is delicious. Adora explains how she found each place and Catra nods like she cares. Again, it’s free food. Catra isn’t going to question its origins. Or its intentions, cause this feels weirdly like a first date, the cute kind that Catra’s never been asked on before.

She eats more than she probably should and, though they don’t end up with much left, Adora encourages Catra to take any leftovers home with her.

The blonde frowns at her suddenly. “You’ve got a little bit…” Adora trails off before reaching over and using her left thumb to knock some imaginary crumbs off of the corner of Catra’s mouth.

“What a fucking cheesy ass move,” Catra mumbles, as Adora hand lingers there.

“Don’t mess with a classic,” Adora replies. She slides her fingers so they’re buried in Catra’s short hair. 

Adora’s hands are large and sure and just a little rough. With the gentlest pressure, she tugs Catra closer to her while moving forward to meet her halfway.

Thank the Gods. After all the teasing and nervousness and constant messaging, Catra was starting to think Adora might be all talk. Just a girl that likes attention but isn't actually going to make a move. Going slow has never been Catra’s style.

They’re close enough for her to see how Adora’s eyes are actually just a teeny bit grayish and feel Adora’s breath on her lips. Catra only has about one second left to worry about how maybe seafood stew shouldn’t have been the last thing she put in her mouth. Too late now.

The last few centimeters of distance between them are rapidly disappearing when Catra just barely feels her ears swivel to pick up a footstep behind her.

“What. the. fuck?!” someone shouts.

Catra’s up on the bar with her haunches raised and tailed puffed up before she can even place the voice.

Standing in the office doorway, it’s just Lonnie. Catra’s never seen her look so shocked before, mouth flapping open like a fish. She follows Lonnie’s line of vision and she’s trained on Adora, staring like she’s seen the second coming of Beyonce.

Adora looks as stunned as Catra feels. She’d been so wrapped up in hanging out that she completely forgot Lonnie was in the same building, let alone just a few feet away.

“Seriously. What the fuck?” Lonnie repeats.

Catra tries to exchange a look with Adora but only gets back sheer terror.

She turns back to the other bartender. “What’s your problem?!” 

Lonnie just points. “Adora Grayson is your mystery girl?” 

Catra feels her face scrunch up in confusion. “Is that supposed to mean something to me?”

“I gotta…” Adora announces, motioning towards the street. She’s running out before she finishes the thought.

For a long moment, Catra just watches her go. Then she figures she better get her head out of her own ass and follow, though she’s not sure if she wants to figure out what the fuck she just witnessed or make sure Adora is okay. Either way, Catra leaps down from the bar. The only thing preventing her from getting on all fours and bolting is having to actually be upright to work the door.

Being bipedal is fucking useless she decides. It slows her down enough that by the time Catra’s out on the sidewalk, Adora has completely disappeared. Catra could sniff around and pick up her scent, hunt the blonde down and demand to know if she’s alright. That feels weirdly personal though. Adora looked so shook that maybe some space would be good for her.

Storming back inside, Catra can already feel her claws out. She marches right up to Lonnie’s stupid still-shocked face.

“Why the fuck did you do that?” She can hear her own voice wavering. Must be the adrenaline.

Instead of answering, Lonnie looks at Catra like she’s lost her fucking mind.

“Dude, I know your thing is pretending to be too cool for the mainstream, but do you seriously even know what the fuck you’re doing right now? For real, Cat?”

There might be something super obvious that Catra’s missing here, Lonnie’s definitely fucking acting like that’s true, but her brain’s too scrambled from the rollercoaster of that almost-kiss to the blonde disappearing act to catch up.

‘Explain this to me like I’m an infant’ is what Catra would like to say. But that risks Lonnie being even more condescending and she can’t really afford to lose this job for killing a co-worker.

She instead decides to go with another screaming accusation but Lonnie must read that on her face because she jumps in first.

“That girl you’ve been talking to for weeks? The one I’m guessing you’re spending all your time texting?” Lonnie says all of this slowly, and, honestly, it’s both not slow enough and so fucking patronizing. “That’s Adora Grayson.”

When Catra doesn’t faint or whatever Lonnie’s expecting – since she already said this phrase once and it means absolutely nothing to anyone here but her – she throws her hands up in the air in frustration.

“She’s the Bachelorette , you thirsty dumbass.”

Catra snorts. Cause no. Adora is...well, Adora bugs her all the time and says cutesy shit to her and Catra’s pretty sure they were just on a date. And Adora is a doofus and a nerd. She’s not a pilot or a social media influencer or whatever ridiculous job people on that show have.

But. Adora’s also shady as fuck. She’s got a bunch of disguises. Did she get Catra to turn the tv off that one time or did Catra offer…? They only see each other on Mondays. When everyone else is watching that stupid show.






“That’s the correct answer,” Lonnie nods.

It's raining. Of course it's raining. It's basically summer already but because Catra made the mistake of going outside today, it's pouring.

She hid in her apartment on Tuesday, trying to figure out what to say to get Adora to respond to her texts. ‘hey’ and ‘youre an asshole for not at least telling youre alive’ were not successful.

Bad news gets around quickly cause when she slinked into work on Wednesday, Spinnerella was already making sad eyes at her. Catra spent most of the shift trying to avoid her in their shared 3-ft by 8-ft space.

Anytime they had a moment of rest, Spinny was saddling over, asking how Catra was feeling or whispering words of encouragement. Ever since Catra started sneaking into the Hidey Hole at 19, the older woman has supported her through most of her horrible embarrassments in one way or another. 

Spinny was the person to gently point out that her first girlfriend, the one who avoided her like the plague in public, might not be good for her. (Though, Castaspella had to step in and teach her how to effectively dump someone and cut them off completely.) While Catra could appreciate what Spinnerella was trying to do, she wasn't really sure what the hell to think yet. She refused to process this publicly. Weirdly, she was kinda worried about protecting Adora's privacy and trust.

Which was ridiculous because she was upset with Adora. For…something. Lying by omission? Not responding to her messages?

On Thursday, Netossa was even worse. Lonnie must not have given them many details cause Netty was in full interrogation mode. She wanted to know everything about Catra’s “date” from last week, especially once she heard that Casta had seen her too. Wanted to know why she was acting so strangely. 

“I’m being perfectly normal,” Catra had hissed, while pouring some drafts.

“You’re wearing swim trunks to work,” Netossa replied, looking at the bright blue board shorts that Catra had grabbed while in some sort of fugue state that morning.

“That feels on-brand for me.” It’s not like she had anyone to impress. Might as well just put on the first thing she saw in her dresser.

But tonight is raining and unfortunately that means any tips that Catra might feel solace in in exchange for having to deal with Lonnie will be much lower. This would’ve actually been a great day to save the swim trunks for. 

Lonnie is decent enough to make herself scarce for most of the late afternoon as they set up and then wait for the after-work Friday night rush. Catra takes the free time and space to check her messages for the millionth time. Still nothing from Adora. 

This shouldn’t matter. It’s only been a month. Catra’s walked away from girls for far less annoying transgressions.

For some reason, she feels like Adora deserves one last chance. An opportunity to say something in her defense or explain what the hell she was thinking when she spent a bunch of weeks trying to get Catra to warm up to her. Texts haven’t been effective. A voice note, Catra decides. Adora said she liked her voice.

She takes one last look around to make sure no one’s on their way into the door, unplugs her phone from the speakers, and inhales a deep breath before pressing record.

“Hey, it’s me...uh, it’s Catra, I mean. From the bar.”

Modern phones have contact info so why is she acting like she's leaving a voicemail from the 80s? 

“Listen, I’m sorry about what happened earlier this week. Lonnie’s a tool but she’s not a total dick. She just got excited. I said, the bar is really... welcoming or some shit.” 

Catra pauses for a second.

With a hiss, she adds, “I swear if you make some joke about how shitty my customer service is, I’ll fucking claw your Achilles heel.”

She sighs. The point is not to completely scare the dummy off.

So Catra continues a lot more gently. “If you come back, no one’s gonna make a big deal or expose you or anything. No one better fucking mess with you when I'm around.”

She again pauses when she hears how protective those words sound coming out of her own mouth. 

“Ugh. And I’m sorry for making fun of the show. You don’t have to talk about it. It’s probably weird, right? So. Uh. Come back? Or don’t. I'm not the boss of you. Maybe we can hang out somewhere else if that makes you comfortable. Nope, this is way too long and weird.”

Catra scrambles to press the x and get rid of this recording immediately. She’s not a one-take girl, as years of being a musician have taught her. That was an okay dry run and now she just needs to destroy this evidence forever and give it another try.

Of course, in her haste to delete the message, she sends it. Catra watches in horror as it floats into cyberspace or wherever these things go. The confirmation that her dumb ramblings have been successfully delivered feels like the final nail in the coffin of this relationship. Non-relationship.

“Phenomenal,” Catra says to herself. “Yet again killing it in the ‘scare women away’ game.”

“So you want any feedback on that message or...? Just committed to crashing and burning?” Lonnie asks behind her.

Catra turns to see her exiting the backroom.

“This is all your fault!” slips out of her mouth reflexively.

Lonnie was complicit in exactly 0% of this trainwreck. But she’ll do as a stand-in for how annoyed Catra is with herself. Besides, Lonnie can take it. Her only response is to roll her eyes.

“Look. You a dumb ho,” Lonnie says plainly, with surprisingly little judgement in her tone. “This is my fault. I should have realized that you couldn’t be left alone with some shady ass person each week without trying to give it up to them. Bad decisions are your catnip.”

With a scowl, Catra replies, “Thank you for taking accountability for the role you played in this.”

Lonnie chooses to ignore that. “If it makes you feel better, she seems legit. Just...when she contacts you, try to run your response past one other person before you do anything dumb.”

That's asking way too much. “Probably not. If she contacts me.”

“Well, I tried,” Lonnie shrugs. “And she will. Trust.”

With nothing to do on Saturday, Catra has very ambitious plans to sleep all day and order breakfast for dinner. 

She makes it until around 3pm before she's roused out of bed by Entrapta loudly talking a mile a minute.

When they first moved into this apartment 3 years ago, Entrapta, who works full-time as an engineer, claimed she had sound-proofed the place. It works well in the room that they use for practice – they've never gotten a complaint from the neighbors. However, it has never once been able to stand up to Entrapta's actual voice, which can be heard from nearly every spot in the apartment.

Catra peeps her head out of the door to see who Entrapta could possibly be voluntarily spending her free time with.

On their huge bright orange living room couch is Rogelio, taking up about 60% of the space. He looks pretty punk rock in his black tank top with some random holes and splashes of white paint, matched with ripped black cut-offs that show off a whole lot of his huge thighs. Like Catra, he’s usually barefoot, though bullshit “health codes” mean she has to put on shoes for work. The record store doesn’t have similar restrictions for Ro.

While Entrapta rambles at him about work, practically bouncing around the room, he listens silently, focusing on petting Melog in his lap.

Catra’s only in a horribly unmatching bra and panties, whatever she passed out in last night. To show some fucking couth, she tosses an oversized shirt on but Rogelio isn’t exactly ‘company.’ He turns up at least a few times a month, usually when Lonnie and Kyle are off doing their own thing. Ro avoids crowds and loud spaces so he’s more likely to drop by for a chill hang-out. He’s pretty much Catra’s favorite person, since he’s completely comfortable with sitting in shared silence for hours.

Entrapta doesn't stop talking to acknowledge her when she fully enters the room and tosses herself into the leather armchair that she recovered from the street. Rogelio grunts a greeting. Melog doesn't give a shit about her so they've probably already been fed.

“Then I created an algorithm that can track hours that the engineers are working and the hours that product managers are interfacing with clients and determine efficiency. Though, it doesn't solve the primary problem, which is the limits of and variations in interpersonal communication.”

Rogelio gives her a series of short grunts in response.

“Ooh, yes. I suppose I should keep this information secret from management if I want to protect everyone's job security,” Entrapta says, tilting her head in thought.

He agrees and then grunts a few times more.

“Destroy it?!? data!”

With a gentle shake of the head, he warns of the risks this information could have in the wrong hands. Entrapta sighs.

“I see. I will consider tighter security restrictions and a possible de-commissioning of the program.”

Catra’s always considered them fortunate that Entrapta didn’t fully realize how powerful she was. And that she was usually fairly easy to reason with. It took Rogelo and Kyle a long time to explain friendship to both her and Trapta. The old Entrapta would have definitely leaked this info to get everyone fired at her company and replaced by robots for their efficiency. The Entrapta of today would consider the lizard’s words about the greater good and let it go.

He turns his attention to Catra next, pretending to casually ask about how she’s been, like he doesn’t check in constantly or live with the only other people who see her more than he does.

His grunts get a bit slower and more intentional.

“Ooooh,” Entrapta lights up with the possibility of gathering new data. “Is this the girl from your new songs?”

Catra grumbles, voice still rough from sleeping, “I don't write about girls. I write about my life.”

“Women are the majority of your life,” Entrapta replies. “Watching them. Talking to them. Losing them or running away from them.” Ro nods along.

“Why has everyone been waiting so long to tell me they think I’m a giant loser?”

A quick defensive grunt followed by a few tentative more.

“Exactly. Just...interesting choices,” Entrapta tells her. She twirls one of her long, purple pigtails around her fingers a little nervously. 

Rogelio relays what he’s learned from Lonnie, a bunch of bullshit about Catra and Adora spending time together, what she interrupted on Monday. Oh, and apparently she’d secretly seen them on the security screens while locked in the office with her dumb show, she just couldn’t make out Adora’s face. Cool cool cool.

Lonnie’s dead fucking meat next time Catra sees her.

“What kind of looks?” Entrapta asks.

Rogelio is reluctant to elaborate, casting a sheepish glance in Catra’s direction. She just rolls her eyes and waves for him to continue. Might as well get this all out in the open now. It’s not like she has secrets from them.

He explains his second-hand knowledge with some low grunts and then some higher pitched excited ones, like he’s pleased with this turn of events. Rogelio’s tone gets somber again as he tells Entrapta about the latest development.

Entrapta hums to herself, processing this all. “Prolonged eye contact and constant communication are signs of romantic interest.”

“Yeah, well, running off is not one.” Catra’s tone makes it clear that this is the end of the conversation. “Now, I’m ordering pancakes. You jerks want anything?”

Between Catra and Rogelio, they ended up polishing off three stacks of pancakes and way too much bacon. He sticks around to listen to some records with her, while Entrapta goes into her room to entertain herself. He’s kind enough not to bring up the Adora situation again.

Catra’s so stuffed that she doesn’t have the energy to do much after he leaves so she just wastes several hours watching YouTube reviews of awful action movies and scribbling nonsense lyrics until she’s tired enough to collapse back into bed. It isn’t until she’s finally falling asleep that she sees a text notification. It’s just one word.


Chapter Text

Adora doesn’t know how she’s supposed to remember all of these people and stand up straight in this dress like she’s not the most awkward person on Etheria and not be fed snacks all night. Most of what she does at a party is graze on chips and stuff but the four different production people she checked with confirmed that there’s no food allowed here. And if there was, she wouldn’t want to eat it anyway, they said.

What kind of monsters would make food that no one can eat?

“Dude. Are you even listening?” a droll voice asks.

Adora blinks twice to clear her vision and try to zap her brain back into the present. This bizarre present where she’s standing on the stairs of a fancy Eternian mansion, in a strapless dark blue dress that she kinda hates, and waiting as beautiful women exit a limo and come up to her one-on-one, like she’s a queen or something.

In front of her, this most recent woman (maybe the 10th? 12th? she’s met tonight) slightly leans away from the camera so she can roll her eyes without anyone noticing. It’s weird that someone’s able to do that so early, right? Just figure out where the cameras are instinctively?

“Sorry,” Adora mumbles, now distracted by that thought instead of how long ago it was that she ate that turkey wrap. To house Adora and a part of the crew, they rented out this huge resort near the contestants’ mansion; it’s got a gym, a sauna, a pool, and, most importantly, a 4-star restaurant. 

All the production assistant brought her was a sandwich that looked like he grabbed it from a gas station. Adora’s not a snob but she’d already looked at the restaurant’s menu and was hoping to try the sirloin. What a tragedy.

The woman quietly taps her foot on the ground, a signal that Adora’s floated away again.

“It’s so nice to meet you,” she says automatically. It’s genuine. She actually is really excited to get to know everyone. Like, so excited that all the nervous energy is probably what’s making her so hungry and awkward in her body. “I’m Adora.”

“I’m Mermista.” It definitely must not be the first time she’s had to repeat it just now.

Adora gives her a nod and a smile and then waits for her catchphrase or the cute little things that people keep saying in their intro. Some of them tried to appeal to what little they knew about her by making puns or asking about her dog, Swift Wind. (Apparently, if you post a couple punny photo captions on Instagram, people think that's your whole personality.) Some just straight up hit on her. A few wore costumes (a giant heart on a sleeve, a soccer uniform, and a pink taco, unfortunately.) One particularly bold person went for a kiss that Adora had to avoid and transition into an awkward fist bump. 

“Hopefully our relationship is written in the stars,” Starla, a short girl with orange hair, had told her. 

“I’m brave, strong, loyal, and I give great hugs,” Scorpia announced, before pulling her into an amazing bear hug. Adora’s not gonna struggle to remember her, at least.

“You’re smaller than I thought,” Octavia, a tall purple woman with many limbs, grunted at her. 

(Adora maybe hasn’t memorized anyone else’s names yet. The only other strong impression made on her was a waifish blonde who asked what her favorite flower was and made a joke about how the popularity of red roses is actually pretty bad for the environment. That’ll be cut out of the show, she imagines.)

This person just looks at Adora expectantly, as if she, the bachelorette, is supposed to have something written for this.

Mermista’s...striking, is probably what someone would say. The sleeveless chiffon dress that hugs her hips and gives a great view of her cleavage is only a shade darker than her thick, wavy teal hair and has a huge slit that goes up dangerously high on her left thigh. Her chestnut-colored skin is so flawless that it looks like she’s barely even wearing makeup. Maybe just a touch of mascara that helps her mischievous eyes twinkle even more, along with some teal lipstick that really draws attention to her half-smirk.

“Uh, I love your dress,” Adora stutters out, hoping she’s not drooling.

Mermista barely sounds like she cares about the validation when she says, “Thanks,” and heads inside to her new home for the next several weeks. Hopefully.


After all 22 women arrive, Adora is summoned to greet them collectively and say a few words to welcome them/share her intentions.

“Just don’t ramble,” her brother, Adam, had warned her before, while he lounged on her bed and did absolutely nothing to help her pack for the next 3 months. “When you get overwhelmed, you get all rambly. It makes you look like a dork.”

Like a total dork, Adora gazes at this sea of folks decked out in shiny dresses, expensive-looking jewelry, and hair extensions, and her brain threatens to completely shut down. Too gay to be in public, she loses her point somewhere around the 3-minute mark of her prepared words. Adora can hear herself saying absolute nonsense about journeys and openness and, as badly as she wants to shut up, she just can’t.

That thin blonde from earlier produces an extra glass of champagne out of nowhere and kindly passes it to Adora. She shoots back a grateful smile, before raising the glass, signaling that everyone else should do the same. Thankfully, they all look like they’re in a hurry to wrap this up as well.

The traditional first night toast is finished for a whole half a second before someone grabs Adora’s arm and pulls her away. Apparently, the cocktail party has officially begun.

From there, it’s pretty much a carousel of being snatched from person to person, answering the same questions (about her impression of their entrance, what she’s looking for in a partner, how badly she wants to get married) and struggling to save much information. She’s good with notes. She’s not so good on the fly but Hope refused to give her any paper, saying the producers will remind her of anything she needs to know, which was...creepy? Slightly unsettling? An ominous reminder that they’re always watching? 

Lesson learned! She’ll just bring the hotel-provided notepad next time. Adam had told her not to try too hard but Adora’s always been the better student and harder worker.

True to her namesake, Starla pulls Adora into a quiet corner to point out some constellations. There's so much light pollution in Eternia that it's hard to make any of them out but her storytelling is completely engaging. A very tipsy brunette asks how Adora feels about polyamory. It's a fitting question and one that the producers warned her she's absolutely not to talk extensively about. Which is obviously complete hypocrisy because the entire show is built on consenting to be in a giant polypod.

“Uh, prior to this, my experience is pretty limited,” Adora jokes awkwardly. “But I'm open to discussing boundaries and the...creative ways that my potential partner and I can have a fulfilling relationship.” 

She mentally adds this to the list of answers that will never be aired. The network's got some pretty “traditional” (aka “bullshit”, Adora would actually call them) ideas about the kinds of relationships that their audience is ready for. 

“Someone's getting kicked off for fucking in the house,” Glimmer had predicted. “Hell, at least three people will have fallen in love in the limo and be broken up by the end of the night.”

Bow’s gentle and extremely helpful suggestion was for Adora to only pay attention to the relationships that she’s forming and not anyone else’s that might pop up within the group of contestants.

Attempting to explain as much to this brunette is a little impossible, thanks to the champagne she’s consumed.

The woman responds with a semi-slurred, “So, my chances of being in a sandwich between you and the Scorpiani is…?”

Looking around for someone to steal her away turns out to be an effective tactic for escape. As soon as Adora’s blue eyes glance away from the woman in front of her, no less than 3 others  immediately descend to get their time. The quickest is the blonde who saved Adora from her own awful speech.

“And you are…?” Adora begins, as she’s pulled away to a quiet corner, hoping it isn’t horribly rude that she couldn’t remember.

“Also interested in hearing the answer to that thought-provoking question about you and Scorpia,” she laughs, which makes Adora relax and chuckle a bit too. Fair enough. “But my name is Perfuma.”

Adora has to rush away when she hears a loud splash at the back of the house, giving an apologetic smile to Perfuma, who had begun to explain her entire philosophy on life. Something about following nature’s lead by going with the flow.

“She fell,” Octavia says sternly, pointedly not looking at the flailing person in the pool she's standing near. She might look handsome in her grey pantsuit, if not for the whole low-key menacing vibe she has.

Behind her, three women’s eyes go wide in surprise. One, tall, curvy, and in red, looks as if she’d like to dispute that claim.

But Octavia quickly asks, “Right?” , jaw tightening.

Everyone nods, including the woman in the pool.

“Kyle was drunk and she fell,” Octavia repeats.

Something about her eyes feels like she might have been the person who was watching from the shadows as Kyle awkwardly flirted with Adora earlier. They hadn't kissed or anything but she'd gotten more into Adora's personal space than anyone else so far, minus that super weird fistbump person. No one moves to assist Kyle as she gurgles a bit and falls below the surface.

Adora surges forward to jump in and help, when someone else, the gym teacher maybe?, grabs her by the elbow.

“Can I steal you?” the person asks. Her skin is pink and she kinda reminds Adora of a bodybuilder-version of her best friend, Glimmer.

“Just give me a second,” she replies, still looking back at the pool, where there’s now only air bubbles visible.

“That’s not fair,” Octavia says, blocking her path. “Kyle already got her time with you.”

“She’s fine! Stop messing around, Kyle,” someone else calls out, before Adora is led away, still trying to catch a glimpse and make sure they didn’t just all witness a terrible crime.

“I think you should tell her,” Adora whispers to Mara, the show’s host, after rushing off and running into her in a random backroom. It smells like roasted potatoes. She almost asks if there’s leftovers. “Octavia definitely just threw someone in the pool, right? If I don’t give her a rose, I’m next. Why don’t you just tell her she should leave now?”

The host laughs, like this is a joke and not a very reasonable request. She doesn't even bother looking away from her phone, continuing to text while lounging in her impressively tailored charcoal suit. It's still a mystery why they didn't choose Mara – part of the franchise since its beginning and probably one of the most attractive people Adora's ever seen – to be the first queer bachelorette. Except she's pretty sure that they're all supposed to pretend that Mara is straight.

“I thought you were made of tougher stuff than this.”

“I like to stand up for people. But I'm smart enough to tell when I'm outmatched and could use backup. The big guns,” Adora jokes, shooting finger guns at Mara.

Mara, the big gun here, does not shoot back.

“Don’t be silly, Adora,” she insists gently. Then she glances up and gives the blonde a sharp look. “Kyle fell.”

There’s an intensity in Mara’s eyes that matches Octavia’s hard tone. Adora decides not to question it.


“Can I just get a quick snack?” Adora asks again.

“Adora,” Hope admonishes. Her voice is so even, which Adora originally just chalked up to the woman’s decade-long career as manager of all of this chaos. But, the blonde swears she hasn’t seen Hope’s chest rise and fall from breathing once. The whole crew was panting and perspiring earlier while setting up and rushing around. There wasn’t a bead of sweat on Hope’s pale blue skin.

“Are you alive?” the bachelorette hears herself whisper. 

Hope doesn’t even raise her eyebrows, which are the only hair that’s visible on the tall, imposing producer.

Laughing nervously, Adora adds, “Sorry, I think I’m delirious from hunger.”

“You ate two hours ago,” Hope replies.

“Is time moving differently inside here?” Adora quietly wonders to herself. “When did the daymoon set?” She swears she’s been there for at least 6 hours.

“You’re just nervous,” Mara says. “It’s normal. Now, I’ll leave you all alone so you can make some decisions.”

No one will explain what Mara’s real job is. As host, she pops up twice per night to make announcements to the contestants. And she’s always just sorta around. She’s listed as a producer but it’s unclear if that’s just a vanity title or something they did to keep her from jumping to another network. Maybe it’s the low blood sugar talking, but Adora hasn’t decided if Mara is the puppetmaster or just another pawn yet. 


Mermista’s not so bad once you get past the complete and total lack of apparent interest in most things. 

Eventually, she’d jumped into the pool and rescued Kyle, though she won’t let Adora acknowledge it in any way. Her dress is all wet (and basically see-through now!) but all she’ll say is, “I’m from Salineas. I grew up in the water,” with a shrug.

Some clever assistant tosses Adora two towels and shoves her in Mermista’s direction, seated near the fire in a den that no one else seems to be allowed in.

(It feels important to try not to be suspicious about these secret rules and rooms. At least, not so early in the show. Trust the process and everything, like everyone keeps saying.)

Tucked close together, it’s kinda impossible not to get drawn into Mermista’s story once she opens up a bit. To be fair, most of what Adora hears is “cheerleader”, “loves to travel”, and “wants a lot of kids”. For just a fleeting moment, Mermista talks about her family and the pressure she feels to be successful. The vulnerability is a briefly-opened door into the mystery of who this girl really is deep down. Adora can definitely relate to the familial expectations.

“Whatever,” Mermista huffs when she finishes, half-catching herself before she gets too deep. “Now, you gonna kiss me or what?”

Even with her previously-lovely updo soaked and tilting over until it’s dripping on the floor, she’s absolutely breath-taking. Adora leans in without hesitation.


“22?!” Adora screeches at the camera. She’d very calmly run into the confessional room to hide and gather her thoughts after talking to this most recent contestant. Except, this small closet full of cameras and lights and leading questions was probably the wrong choice.

“22,” she repeats again, still trying to wrap her head around that. “What. The. Fuck?! Shit! You’re gonna cut that out, right? Shit, and you’ll cut out me asking you to cut that out, right? Shit!”

Adora knows she’s not supposed to curse. They’ll bleep it out obviously, but that’s one of the many rules the producers have asked her to follow to make sure that she’s someone charming and wholesome who people will want to root for.

But fuck it, this feels like an exception. Frosta is 22. As in, years of age. That’s how long she’s been on Etheria. She probably had to ask for permission from her parents to be there.

She can’t stay. Wait. Can Adora kick someone off cause they’re too young? That’s ageism.

Well, it’s not really about age. It’s about...being serious. Is Frosta serious about marriage? When she and Adora talked, all she mentioned was the fantasy YA novel she’s always wanted to write, Winter’s Bane, and her ongoing search for an underground fight club to join.

That first point probably could have been a clue on how young Frosta was. But she’s like nearly as tall as Scorpia, so Adora had no way of knowing. My Gods, everyone’s gonna think she’s an old creep. When she was 22, Frosta was still in middle school.

Finally making eye contact with the camera again, Adora realizes she’s just been sitting here panicking in silence for several minutes.

“You’ll cut that out too, right?”


Just as Adora finally gets comfortable for the first time, almost used to the flow of women and all the attention, it’s time for the rose ceremony. This is truly the only part she had been dreading – having to disappoint anyone. 

Mermista got the first impression rose after they kissed. Adora had to pretend that she didn’t see the light dim in Scorpia’s eyes a tiny bit as she reached past her to ask Mermista to join her outside for some privacy. Besides her, the other 21 women likely have no idea where they stand.

Adora waits at the front of the room next to a hip-level endtable covered with long-stemmed red roses, watching everyone’s tight smiles and panicked eyes. Between meeting everyone and repeated invitations to the confessional room for all of them, it’s nearly 2am. A few of these women are completely wilting, dresses wrinkled and hair all frizzy. They all stand on short, tiered platforms, staring at her expectantly. The whole room smells like booze and anxiety.

Adora makes the wise decision to skip any further speeches and just jump right into it. There’s some easy calls, people who stood out to her right away that she’d like to keep around and get to know more. And there are many, many women who she has to take a break and ask for a reminder of their names as Adora tries to sort them all in her head. Hope’s team is...less than subtle about their choices.

“Flutterina could be in the final four,” someone says.

“Oh, I’m not smart enough to think about all that yet. Let’s just make it through the first night,” Adora jokes with a huge smile.

“If they ever try to get you to do anything that seems weird, just play dumb,” Adam had told her. “That should be easy for you to do.”

She’d retaliated by posting a bunch of awful high school photos of him on her suddenly booming instagram account. One million people got to see that atrocious bowl cut he wore for 3 years.

Pretending to be confused buys her some time though. The producers back off, undoubtedly thinking up another strategy for good tv. But they don’t argue any of Adora’s picks. She keeps Flutterina, who seems nice enough, anyway.

Octavia and Frosta don’t make the cut, and neither does Ariel, who was interested in being the meat in the muscle blonde sandwich, or Deena, who she honestly doesn’t even remember meeting. Kyle wouldn’t be safe either, under any other circumstances, but Adora feels bad that she was basically sacrificed for being nice, and gives out a pity rose. 


“I am absolutely psyched for today’s group date,” Adora announces to her suitors.

It’s the 3rd week and they’re already down to 16 women. Last week went by in an absolute blur. She took Scorpia to a county fair but they kinda felt more like two buds hanging out than two people on a date. There was a horribly awkward group outing where everyone had to journal about their idea of a romantic evening; everything was either super cliched walks on the beach at dusk or a complete blindside. One person suggested a sex dungeon. Adora wouldn’t necessarily be opposed , under the right circumstances, but she didn’t want to talk about it on a show that her parents will be watching. More people went home and it was too early to even keep up with them.

Today, they’re all supposed to be dressed for a “casual” date. Three people have on heels. All of them look like they spent at least $200 on these outfits. Adora, who's mostly used to being around women who are dressed down, feels like a complete scrub in her yoga pants and white compression top. Everyone swoons over her anyway, a couple of folks shoving each other out of the way so that they can stand closer to the blonde.

“Something most of you know about me is that I love sports,” Adora says and she has to wait while there’s a small smattering of cheers. 

Flutterina, that small pixie-like girl who looks all rainbows and blueberries, just barely scowls, before popping back into the group so that her small figure is hidden. Adora makes a side note to figure out how old she is ASAP. Can’t have another Frosta debacle.

“In a partner, I’d love someone who’s excited to get up with me on the weekend and maybe join me in the park for soccer or go for a run. So we’re gonna play a friendly game today. Everyone’s gonna break up into two teams for Capture the Flag. The winning team with the most points gets to join me on a date afterwards and, unfortunately, the losing team will return home early.”

Hearing that there’s a prize – and that the prize is more time with Adora – the vibe suddenly gets a lot icier.


“I’m sorry,” Scorpia says again, still wincing remorsefully. The blue team jersey is scandalously short and tight on her, because for all their money, apparently the network couldn’t be bothered to accommodate her more. The mud in her short hair just somehow makes her look dashing and badass. “Sometimes I don’t know my own strength.”

Perfuma hums in agreement, eyes roaming slowly over Scorpia. Kyle’s on the ground, body kinda mangled like a pretzel. There’s a foot up near where her shoulder should be.

“No big deal,” she chokes out. She’s probably going home soon, if only for her own personal well-being.

“I wouldn’t expect Scorpia to be so aggressive,” Adora hears Flutterina whisper to someone behind her. She managed to stay out of the fray as most of the women descended on Kyle and each other immediately, like blood-thirsty gladiators. Flutterina seems to always be buzzing in someone’s ear. “Is that the kind of wife Adora is looking for? Doesn’t feel very safe for the rest of us.”

“It’s okay, Scorpia,” Adora says, loud enough for everyone to hear. “I saw what happened. It was just an accident.” Quieter, in the direction of a producer, she whispers, “Can we get a medic, though?”

Starla pulls Adora aside to make sure she’s feeling okay since everyone had basically only been running up to her the whole time and asking, “Did you see what I just did?” like she’s a dad at a kid’s soccer game.

“Yeah, I'm fine. It’s….” Adora trails off.

“A lot?” Starla finishes for her. She’s kind. The way that her thick layers of amber hair match her hazel eyes is hard to forget. All they talked about at the last cocktail party was Starla’s love for animals but she seems like someone that Adora really wants to get to know better.

Adora nods. They’re on a break while medics confirm that Kyle only had the wind knocked out of her. No one bothers looking at the girl that Mermista hipchecked into next week when the cameras drifted away from her.

Starla’s on the red team, which is down by 5 points. Perfuma claimed to not be interested in competition, since it’s a tool of capitalism. Emily, who doesn’t really seem to speak, just wandered away to study the trees. Kyle crumbled like a house of cards as soon as Scorpia made incidental contact with her. Adora still can’t identify who anyone else is yet – there’s a bartender maybe, someone who has mentioned being a model every time Adora’s looked in her general direction, and someone who describes herself as an ‘heiress.’

They didn't really stand a chance against Mermista, a professional athlete, and Scorpia, a contractor who could bench press them all. All the rest of the blue team – whatever an “account manager” is, a raven-haired woman who talked about her TikTok following the first night, and a blonde who looks a bit too much like Adora herself and claims to be Miss Etheria – had to do was stay out of their way to get the win.

“Excuse me a second,” she tells Starla. Turning to the group, Adora announces, “I think this is a good time to wrap up right now. You all showed a lot of heart and a lot of hustle. I was so impressed that I’ve decided that there are no losers. Everyone’s invited to the cocktail part of the  date.”

She pauses, expecting cheers or some enthusiasm. The red team, especially Kyle who’s being held up by Scorpia’s pincers, glances at Adora as if she just put a target on their backs. The blue team – or really everyone except Scorpia, who yells “the more the merrier!” – all turn to angry stone.

“Rookie mistake,” Mara tells her in a rare moment of them both not being mic’ed up. She was supposed to be providing color commentary for the game, but all she did was snark while the contestants fell all over themselves into the mud or got run over by Mermista and Scorpia. “I predict a riot.”

Adora waves her hand dismissively. “It’s just drinks. How bad can it be?”

It’s only 20 minutes into the cocktail party before several people have told her that they don’t necessarily have a problem with Adora breaking her own promises and rules but that Flutterina has implied that maybe the blonde’s not ready for marriage if she can’t keep her word.

“I invited everyone to the party so now I’m a liar?” How could things escalate so quickly?

“You should nip this in the bud right now,” Hope warns. “Go out there and tell them to never question you.” 

The woman missed her calling. She’s got the swagger and self-seriousness of a dictator, not someone who’s supposedly trying to make quality television.

“I just want you all to know that I really appreciate what everyone has shared tonight,” Adora tells them instead, once she has them all gathered again. One-on-one, they’d each talked about: their childhoods, families, everything they hated about Flutterina, and how intimidated they were by Mermista. 

Perfuma and Starla had been the only ones to ask Adora about herself. In fact, Perfuma did a whole aura check on her to help give the bachelorette some guidance on how to focus on taking care of herself this week.

It almost felt like a normal first date with Starla, just talking about nothing in particular. Everyone else is in a constant rush to tell their “story,” generally some kind of early formative trauma that you don’t share with a stranger who you aren’t paying an insurance premium to. The heiress talked about how she hasn’t read a book since a typewriter fell on her foot while playing hide and seek when she was 6. 

Starla asked Adora a series of silly ‘would you rather?’ questions, like if she’d prefer to only eat safe but bland tuna sandwiches for every meal for a year or have 5-star meals that may be full of tiny spiders.

“But why are there spiders?” Adora inquired.

“The kitchen’s haunted,” was the shrugged response.

It made zero sense. It was the best time Adora had had in 2 weeks. 

“I’m giving this group date rose to Starla,” Adora says. 

The girl accepts it gratefully, even letting a small flush fill her dark cheeks. Scorpia and Perfuma shoot her encouraging smiles. Flutterina leans over to whisper something to those closest to her, eyes narrowed at Adora the whole time.

“I also want to communicate something important,” Adora adds. She wasn’t expecting to say this but it’s coming out now and there’s nothing she can do to stop it. “I’m not infallible. I’m here because I’m very committed to this process but I will make mistakes. If you don’t like the decisions I make, I want you to feel free to voice that. I’d prefer that you share that directly with me, though, so that we’re able to communicate and understand each other better.”

She pauses to let everyone take that in, before continuing, “Is there anything anyone would like to ask me?”

“Actually,” Flutterina’s squeaky, saccharine voice speakers up. “There is.”

Adora turns to her, just a little worried about the almost calculated look in her otherwise round, innocent fairy-like face.

“Do you think your wife is in this room?” Flutterina smiles but it’s empty. Completely devoid of the actual emotion that she’s trying to fake.

Does she, though? Adora’s only known these women for a few weeks. She thought she’d at least get a handle on this pretty quickly, figure out who would or would not work in her life, who she could or could not maybe grow feelings for. Some of them could be promising, if she really tried.

People don’t generally think of Adora as sentimental or overly romantic (maybe just naive, which she is not, and excitable, which totally ) but she always had good examples of love in her life. Her parents, Bow and Glimmer, and even their parents. Teela and Adam now, who just went through this process themselves. There must be someone out there for Adora who just fits. And she’s finally ready to find that person. No more of that lone wolf vibe she learned to pull from a young age when Adam and her parents were too busy and Bow and Glimmer had each other.

When the network offered to make her the lead on the show, she immediately agreed. It’s not batting 1,000 but the process has worked for some people. Plus, she’s not always great at meeting folks in other situations. Her adventures with love include either being completely oblivious to crushes, which Bow always has to point out for her, or flirting a bit too enthusiastically. Glimmer’s called her out so many times for coming on strong – non-stop texting when she likes a girl or all the sweet (but maybe sometimes weird) surprises that she tries. Adora pretty much only goes 0 or 100. In all things, honestly.

That’s what she’s prepared to give here to find her person. Really go full out.

“I believe so,” the blonde says. She hasn’t felt a single spark, not down to her bones like she was hoping for. Hasn’t felt a true connection that could challenge her and push her. But she nods anyway, mentally crossing her fingers. For luck.

Chapter Text

After that brief acknowledgement of Catra’s multiple messages and rambling nonsense, Adora doesn’t text again.

It takes Catra a few hours of consideration, and more than a few beers at the Sunday Beer Blast, but she eventually decides to send a message back.

It’s a fucking cat meme. With a pun. The depths she’s apparently willing to go for this girl.

At the time, Catra’s too buzzed to be embarrassed. By Monday evening, when Adora doesn’t come in, the mortification is so thick, she’s sure that’s what's giving her a tummy ache and not the hangover.

Lonnie barely talks during the shift and that’s the only thing that saves that asshole from being flayed alive.

She does tentatively ask, “Can I turn on the tv? It’s a group date at the beach tonight. You could see your girl in a bikini.”


‘Adora might come back,’ Catra thinks to herself but even she knows that’s unlikely. ‘I don’t want to see her kissing other women’ feels more honest. She’s not 100% sure what happens on the show but she’s seen plenty of commercials of girls jumping into people’s arms and being spun around and kissed.

And truly, what a dumb idea. Those stupid kisses. Women being carried. Spun in a circle like a child. Fireworks going off in the background. Or some random band playing a song that’s supposed to perfectly describe your feelings for each other. Awful.

“Not my cup of tea,” Catra finally adds.

With a shrug, Lonnie disappears into the back.

It’s the first week of June and the weather’s starting to get even warmer. During the night, about a dozen folks end up stopping by the Hidey Hole to get drinks in the backyard. Mixing the occasional cocktail is a decent distraction and a few of the regulars even make brief conversation but Catra can barely participate.

In between making vodka sodas and washing glasses, Catra figures this is a decent time to get some lyrics down. 

She spends a while scribbling down a few phrases that she’s been muttering over and over again.

“Sometimes you don’t realize the knife is in your back until it starts to twist
You can’t see the blood on your hands til it’s dripping down your wrists”

Once it’s in her notebook, Catra reads that back to herself. 

“That’s fucking awful. Am I 16 again?” 

Deciding she’s possessed by the ghost of Taking Back Sunday, she just rips that sheet up and throws it out. 

Everything else she’s mumbling to herself is the same – maudlin, overwrought shit that’s pretending to be deep. Balls. This is junior year of high school all over again, when Catra convinced the two friends who she made, other “alt” kids who she ditched classes to smoke cigarettes with in an abandoned apartment building, to form a band. As soon as she turned 16, she’d gotten a job at the local music store by flirting with the idiot manager. She then spent all of her breaks and any free time there trying to poorly teach herself a variety of instruments, minus the piano. Catra actually wasn’t too bad at most of them. She’d always been a fast learner or a very convincing faker.

The band sucked ass. No surprise there. No one was as committed as her so she’d taken over visioning and songwriting and musical direction. After she saved up enough money and tapped into that sweet sweet employee discount to buy a used guitar, they’d gone with a classic screamo vibe. Catra and the Lesbians, they were called. She thought it was fucking clever cause the other two were straight cis dudes. They didn’t get the joke. In hindsight, it was...not actually funny.

Maybe she was better off trying to perfect and update some old Horde songs? Going down to the docks and trying to slip on a fishing boat was also always on the table. When in doubt, just fake your own death and take to the sea, right?

Ugh. Water fucking sucks. Catra never learned to swim. And what if they sing shanties or some bullshit? That won’t work.

“You’re making frown lines, Kitty Kat.”

Instinctively, Catra feels all of her hair stand on end. It takes her a second to recognize that this is just Casta, standing before her and waiting expectantly for her attention. She’s in an indigo wrap dress that would be boring on literally anyone else but looks perfectly witchy on her, with its long sleeves that drape down past her hands.

“Hey, Casta,” Catra greets, accepting the kiss on the forehead. Even she can hear how defeated she sounds.

The older woman scowls but wipes it away quickly, probably thinking of what she just warned about frown lines.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Catra mumbles. “You want a prosecco?” she asks, already reaching down for the bottle.

Casta tuts. “It’s a cava night, darling. Extra large.”

“You know I can’t-”

“Three cavas please,” she orders in the most absurd regal tone. More quietly, she says, “And a pint glass.”

Catra follows obediently. It’s not a smart idea to deny Castaspella anything but if Huntara hears about her bending the rules again, she’ll be in for a world of problems.

After she places all four glasses on the bar, she pretends that she doesn’t watch an elder of her community combine several ounces of sparkling wine into a pint.

“There – problem solved,” Casta announces. “Now, what’s been eating you lately?” Catra must wince, thinking of how deeply empty her bed’s been feeling for a couple weeks now, cause she backtracks. “Bad choice of words? Is that the issue? Girl trouble, my love?”

Now. If there’s anyone that Catra can process this weird messy situation with, it’s Castaspella. Hell, Casta would probably even listen to the story and say something like “The exact same thing happened to me in 1995,” or spin a convoluted tale that’s twice as long and full of names of people who Catra definitely does not know but is supposed to remember. It will end with no answers but Casta will nod sagely like she just gave the bartender the greatest gift.

Not at all in the mood for that tonight, Catra replies, “Just tired. Practice, ya know?” She gets a nod in return. “What inspired the cava kick?”

Casta sighs and throws her purse on the bar with a thump. Who knows what mysteries and treasures lie inside there but it sounds like 30 pounds of pure danger.

“My bus driver…”

“Juliet, right? She trouble?”

“Hah!” Casta scoffs loudly. “I wish! No, she’s the perfect gentlewoman. Kind and steady and respectful. She sends me cute little messages all the time just to let me know she’s thinking of me.”

Catra hates the way something in her stomach clenches at those words.

“Unfortunately,” Casta knocks back a huge gulp of her drink, “She doesn’t speak much otherwise. She can carry a conversation well but she doesn’t really know how to talk about herself or her emotions or what she’s really thinking. It actually kinda reminds me of you.”

Catra’s face twists up in offense.

“Oh, don’t look at me in that tone of voice!” Casta waves dismissively. “You never tell anyone how you feel.”

“More people should try that maybe?” Catra shrugs. “I’d like to know 70% less about everyone in my life.”

Casta rolls her eyes and pounds down more cava. The glass is disappearing just a tad too quickly.

“How are girls supposed to get close to you?”

“I think they’re just fine where they’re at.”

“Catra,” comes out exasperated. “What do dates have to do to get to know the real you?”

“Solve three riddles...”

Casta groans loudly. “Impossible.”

There’s no trick really. There’s nothing anyone needs to know. Some bullshit about her parents? Her secret dreams and fears? No thanks.

Have girls tried to get close to Catra before? Mostly, they just seem to want to get into her bed. There was that weirdly chipper scorpion girl who claimed to be a huge fan once and wouldn't leave her alone after every show for a couple months but never had anyone else been so insistent. Not until lately, at least.

There’s that annoying feeling in her stomach again. Maybe the stress of dealing with Lonnie is giving her an ulcer.

“Have you tried asking her how she likes to communicate?” Catra suggests. “Maybe she doesn’t want you to sit across from her and question her about her feelings? Maybe she needs...something else. I don’t know.”

Casta sits with that for a minute, swirling the rest of her wine before finishing it.

“That’s not bad advice, Kitty. Hope you remember it yourself.” She presents her empty glass. “Seconds please, barkeep.”

Aside from having to cut off Casta after her second extra large cava, Catra survives the shift with little incident. She even manages to come away with some decent tips, though everyone drinking in the backyard complains about mosquitos and the darkness, like Huntara’s gonna be open to putting tiki torches out there or some shit. At best, she might toss a flashlight and yell “figure it out!” Lonnie makes up for her 2-hour absence by taking over most of the cleaning at the end of the night.

Catra’s in the back, locking the patio door and half-assed wiping down tables when someone taps on the glass of one of the front windows.

“Closed!” she and Lonnie both yell back. There’s another quick tap before the music playing on the speakers is cut off by Catra’s phone ringing.

“Finally,” she can hear Lonnie mutter to herself before jogging around the bar and unlocking the door.

“Did you hire a hitman?” Catra calls out. “That’s sloppy. You don’t even have an alibi.”

From this angle, Catra can’t actually see the door but she can hear someone exchanging quick apologies with Lonnie. Since when has Lonnie ever genuinely told anyone she was sorry? She hit a pedestrian with her car door two years ago and argued with the person until they took responsibility for denting her shitty sedan.

“Hi,” Catra hears from a quiet and tentative voice.

She whips her head up to find Adora slowly approaching her, shy smile already in place. She doesn’t look great – she’s sweaty and her face is paler than usual, with dark bags under her eyes. Her typically perfect and bump-it-filled hair is a mess, random strands flying everywhere. 

“Hey,” Catra tries to say casually. She’s suddenly super awkward in her own body. Hopefully Adora’s too uncomfortable herself to notice.

Catra shoves the towel into her back pocket and then has to grimace when she remembers that it was still pretty damp. Adora comes whatever this is...and Catra’s standing there with a soggy ass and Lonnie craning herself over to the bar to hear what’s happening while trying to pretend she’s not paying attention.

Perfect. So thoroughly in line with Catra’s entire existence, truly.

“What do you want?” she says with more annoyance than she feels. Well, feels towards Adora anyway. “I mean, how are you? You okay?”

The blonde nods. “I feel bad that I didn’t reply. I didn’t know what to say.”

“‘S cool,” Catra mumbles back.

“I went for a run tonight. To keep my mind off of things. Kinda ended up walking for a long while too. I was heading home and saw the lights on.”

“We’re just closing up. I’ll be taking off soon.”

“Hey, I’m almost all done up here,” Lonnie yells. She’s going for some sort of innocent tone that really just does not work on her at all. Lonnie could be whistling, twiddling her thumbs, holding a balloon, and standing next to a nun, and Catra would never fall for any sort of angelic act from her. “You should head out early. I’ll finish up alone since you held down most of the shift. Maybe you can hitch a ride.”

Well now, Catra’s chances of pretending that she has a car and doesn’t need a chaperone are blown. 

There’s a ghost of a smile on Adora’s lips.

“Can I take you home please?” she asks.

Catra tried to dilly-dally as much as possible but Lonnie resorted to using her brute strength to shove them out the door. When Lonnie gets low to the ground, she’s basically an unmovable stone.

“Do you need the bus?” Adora nervously asks, looking around. It’s 1am. Catra does not have a death wish. “Or we could walk to my place and pick up my car?”

“I live like 20 minutes away. Humboldt and West.”

“Oh. I’m on Ditmar and Spruce.”

Adora lives in one of the most gentrified parts of the neighborhood. Figures. Catra and Entrapta live in much more humble digs. One of those small buildings where you know the landlord, even if that never helps you get shit fixed or make sure the heat runs all winter and then turns off before it’s boiling in the summer. Adora’s over on the east side where the high rises from uptown have successfully made in-roads in encroaching on what’s a friendly but dicey local little downtown hood.

Catra is a little surprised at how annoyed she is by this new info. She starts off in the direction of home. Adora can follow or not. Up to her.

“How long you lived there?” the blonde asks.

“3 years. You?”

With a quiet laugh, Adora says, “About the same. I got a place a couple years after college while it was still more affordable. We’ve been neighbors for years and didn’t even see each other.”

“We might have.”

“Trust me. I’d remember you.” Her voice sounds all breathless, like on the note that Catra saved and hid on her phone.

Just gonna push that thought right to the back of her brain. 

“Someone should apologize,” Catra hears herself say.

Adora kinda chokes at the suddenness of the statement. Basically, she takes a breath in, Catra’s weird shit hits her like a brick, and her esophagus seems to just stop working. She manages a hoarse cough to get some oxygen into her lungs.

“I’m sorry?” she asks. It’s definitely an ask. Not a declarative sentence at all. The beginning is so high-pitched, it practically jabs Catra right in the eardrums.


Catra shoves her hands into her pockets right as they start to feel on the edge of trembling. Adora hasn’t mentioned knowing anything about Magicats but Catra tries to focus on keeping her weaving tail still just in case. 

“I...I should have responded to your messages,” Adora finally says. “I kinda panicked and spiralled. I didn’t know if you’d think I was lying to you or something. Plus, pretty much everyone in my life – people who have never ever cared about this show before, or me , in some cases – is suddenly obsessed with it. My brother, Adam – he did the show last season. He made all this interest and scrutiny look so easy. I think I just kinda forgot that he’s used to being the center of attention. That was never my thing.”

Catra knows she should probably ask about the show. Like if Adora is still dating any of the women. If she’s sticking around in Bright Moon or has to move off to Eternia to be a famous person now. If the fact that Catra didn’t watch the show is the only thing Adora likes about her.

It’s all a swirling, overwhelming jumble in her head. 

“What’s your thing?” she asks for some reason.

“Oh.” For a second, Adora smiles a little sweetly and Catra feels like none of the last week happened. “Pretty bartenders with amazing eyes? Unbelievably talented singers?”

“Girls who are rude to you?” Catra returns dryly.

“Definitely,” Adora chuckles. “That’s always been a must-have for me. I think it’s cause my first crush was a super aloof cheerleader who used to babysit me.”

“You and a cheerleader makes sense.”

“I was 10 and she was 16 so sadly it wasn’t meant to be.”

“So you only bug me cause I’m a bitch. Maybe I should try being nice to you.”

The goofy giggle that comes out of Adora blankets Catra’s fraying nerves and manages to sooth them down for a while.

“You think you’re so mysterious and indifferent, but you’re warming up to me, buddy. You made me a playlist. You ran interference for me at the bar a bunch of times. You basically begged me to hang out with you outside of your place of business.”

“Your standards are pathetically low,” Catra mumbles, hoping the dark can hide the way her face heats up under her fur.

“Meh,” Adora shrugs. “I like a challenge.”

“A challenge?” Catra asks. Her brain and her face are in some kind of fight, a smile trying to peek through while her brain is trying to pump the brakes on it frantically. “That’s not a good foundation for a relationship.”

Adora fucking lights up. On this grimy street, where the only other sources of illumination are the neon sign for a shady bodega and an even shadier 24-hour drugstore, she fucking beams – all perfect white teeth and flushed, excited cheeks and bright, shiny blue eyes.

A voice in the back of Catra’s mind whispers, ‘Relationship? So we just out here saying all types of wild shit, now, huh?’

“A relationship?” Adora repeats. Then she raises an eyebrow and that previously gorgeous smile morphs into a smug smirk that’s worthy of the reveal at the end of the movie that the protagonist has been a bad guy all along. “You really like me.”

A cigarette would be nice. Catra stopped smoking 2 years ago and now she really regrets that. It would be a welcome distraction, a repetitive motion to occupy her hands and a super gross habit that usually kept her from trying to put her mouth on anyone else’s mouth.

Not that that’s a temptation right now. No matter how kissable Adora is, Catra is mad.

“Tell me about the show,” she demands.

She should feel a little joy at how Adora's face drops. Mentioning the thing that the dummy spent several weeks living inside and then probably a few months afterwards talking about has the desired effect of shocking them both into reality. Reality reality. Not “reality,” where a bunch of people in ball gowns weep because Adora didn't give them a flower.

With a weary sigh, Adora turns away to say, “I'm not really supposed to talk about it. They make you sign a pretty serious NDA. They tried to get me to hire a whole team of people to ‘protect my image’ that very clearly secretly had ties to the network. They basically own my ass for the next year. It's supposed to get even more extra until the finale comes out.”

To Catra, master of never listening to anyone else, that sounds like a living hell.

“The show’s about halfway through airing,” Adora continues. “It’s...Some of it is real . Most of it isn’t. Producers were pretty manipulative. The whole process was manipulative, really.”

“And you willingly signed up for this?”

“My lifelong dream has been to be thrown into a room full of queer women.”

“Then join a rugby team,” Catra mutters. 

When Adora looks up at her, Catra realizes she may have sounded defensive. 

“Listen. It wasn't a bad experience. I'm just not cut out for this. Right now, I'm supposed to be keeping a low profile and it's fucking miserable, just me alone in my apartment with my dog and a snake plant that I'm pretty sure I killed.”

“Sounds like you've living the dream to me.”

Adora scoffs. “You love being at the bar. I saw you through the window when it was packed a couple Fridays ago. You were having the time of your life, holding court.”

“How dare you!” Catra fake gasps. 

No one can know that she's really an extrovert pretending to be an introvert. She has a reputation to protect. What if people suddenly started expecting her to show up and have a good time?

Side note: Adora's creeping around and watching her through the window? That's the gayest thing Catra's heard in a long time.

“It's okay,” Adora assures her with a wink. “You're keeping a secret for me. I can keep one for you.”

“What about your family? You don't have a compound somewhere you can hide?”

“I knew when I said I worked for my parents, you were judging me!” Adora tells her with fake rage.

“I was not!”

“You had shamey eyes!” 

Adora points her finger in accusation before Catra quickly slaps it out of the air. A second too slow, the blonde grasps at her furry hand but Catra's already snatched it back. Nope, there will be no hand holding today. Catra knows that move – hell, Catra knows all of Adora's schoolboy-level moves – well enough to anticipate them.

Adora plays off her disappointment by continuing on, “They own a company but it's not really fancy. Or they're not fancy, at least. My parents are deeply committed to believing they're so salt of Etheria. They work constantly, even though they don't need to. 55, 60 hours a week. All of their money is basically hoarded for their retirement. I've pretty much had to take care of myself for my whole life. Adam's the golden child who gets the company. They made me apply for a mid-level job and I don't think they would have even given it to me if their top choice hadn't gotten a better offer!”

By the time she's done ranting, Adora's a little out of breath.

“Been holding that in long?”

“Just 25 years,” she mumbles. “Sorry. I haven’t really had anyone to talk to. My friends have lost their minds about the show. It’s all they want to chat about.”

Catra doesn’t exactly feel bad for Adora or anything — only an idiot would subject themself to this type of shit — but it’s clearly blown up in the dummy’s face.

“You can keep coming to the bar,” she offers. “If you want.”

Adora hums to herself, failing spectacularly at hiding a pleased grin.

“You know, I started coming there just to be alone. Not to ‘bug you’ as you call it.”

She lightly bumps her shoulder into Catra’s. It’s supposed to be soothing probably but Adora’s muscles still feel pretty tense.

Catra doesn’t quite understand why until the blonde adds, “I was kinda vetting you. For a while at first. Um...that’s why I didn’t text right away. I was kinda waiting to see if you leaked a secret photo of me or something.”

Her shoulders are practically up by her ears now, probably waiting for Catra to get pissed.

“So,” Catra begins slowly, “Because you didn’t end up on some trashy instagram page, you immediately just trusted me? Adora! You fucking rube!”

The blonde gives her a relieved laugh, some of the tension melting out of her.

“Did you at least do a background check on me?”

Adora nods. “Paid $19.99 and everything.”

“Ooh, anything interesting?” Catra’s really always wondered about which of her greatest hits was bad enough to end up on some type of permanent record. Or if that was just an empty threat from her high school guidance counselor.

“Well, your credit history suggests you've been dead for several years,” Adora tells her with shockingly little judgment.

“Dummy. That's what I want them to think.” Catra taps her temple with a claw, like her financial ruin is all part of some grand plan.

“You harassed a police dog.”

“I hissed at a nosey mutt who was trying to narc on me for carrying a joint.”

“Your phone number is weirdly untraceable.”

“It was a present from my roommate, Entrapta. I wouldn't suggest doing a background check on her unless you'd like to get flagged by some shady federal authority. I'm 80% certain that she's some kind of internationally wanted hacker.”

“Isn't she in your band?” Adora asks.

“Hiding in plain sight. Honestly, I'm impressed you did your homework.”

When Catra stops walking suddenly, she can see the panic in Adora’s eyes, worried that she just somehow overstepped. Catra motions at the 6-story walkup next to them.

“This is my place,” she says.

Adora nods at it with this goofy little head bop like she's appraised the place and deemed it safe.

Catra gives her a serious look that's only kinda undermined by how her fur ruffles and her tail weaves anxiously. She narrows her eyes in that way that usually makes people tremble in fear. Kyle, mostly. She zeros right in on Adora's eyes, daring her to look away. Instead of panicking or getting even a little shifty, Adora takes a step closer to Catra so they're only a few inches away.

“Even a scowl looks beautiful on you.”

“Gods, you're incorrigible,” Catra breathes out. “Adora, for real. Is there someone else?”

The blonde frowns, taking a step back to put some space between them.

“There…” She pauses and thinks over her words. “There's things I'm not supposed to say. About the outcome, I mean.”

Catra tries to hold in a wince. It shouldn't be unexpected that some girl was smart enough to snatch Adora right up.

It's fine. Being friends is fine.

“What I can tell you,” Adora continues, “is that I can't stop thinking about you. You're the person I talk to all the time. Only you.”

Catra's aware that that answer is infuriatingly vague. But she doesn't have much chance to investigate further cause Adora moves back into her space, those puppy dog eyes looking hopeful.

“Can I see you soon? When you're not working?”

The lie shoots out of Catra's mouth so quickly that she almost believes it herself. “I'm off next Monday. You can entertain me.”

Technically she’s on the schedule but Spinnerella always lets her switch shifts if she needs to. 

Adora genuinely smiles, openly and warmly, and seeing it for the first time in a week makes Catra feel absolutely bananas in her stomach. But that could just be the hangover she’s been denying all day. 

“What do you like to do for fun?” the blonde asks.

“I’m down for whatever.” 

What? The list of Catra’s acceptable pastimes is so short that most of her friends don’t even bother suggesting what they’ll do. Suddenly she’s so free with her time?

Adora makes a silly face, grimacing and squinting her eyes. “What about some beers, a pizza, and an old action movie?”

This is what she's embarrassed about? That pretty much describes Catra's dream life.

“Wife me,” Catra whispers.

“What?” Adora's face is puzzled and a little tickled. 

“What?” Catra parrots, considering just running inside her building and never coming out again. “Uh...yeah, that’ll-that’ll do. I guess.”

Adora’s dumb perfect smile is back. “Neapolitan? Grandma? Or just super trashy?”

“You’re not one of those weird people who is super serious about pizza, right?”

“If you haven't noticed, I’m super serious about food period.”

It's getting late. And yet, Adora's only thinking of dates a week away and pizza. Catra figures she better make a move or else this will never take off the ground.

“Come on.” And she turns and enters her building, letting her tail briefly weave around the blonde’s wrist to tug her along.

Chapter Text

By the time they get up to the fourth floor, Catra's realized that beyond Adora's cryptic answer, she hasn’t fully thought through the implications yet of the show the blonde is on. She’s been so caught up on the whole ‘feeling ignored and rejected’ part. But this is happening now, Adora's coming home with her, so she'll just have to schedule feelings of regret for tomorrow.

Adora seems to love the place. She spends too much time gushing over how the decor is classic but with a fun twist. Naively, she sees some type of intention and forethought in the mishmash of furnishings that she's surrounded with. 

Entrapta’s playing beats loudly in her room, which makes sense cause Catra is pretty sure that she never sleeps.

Standing only semi-awkwardly in the living room, Adora asks, “Are you a shoes off house?”

From the kitchen, Entrapta yells, “You should definitely keep your shoes on. A motherboard shattered earlier, which I didn't know they could do – isn't that amazing ? I'm not sure I was able to recover all the pieces.”

Adora nearly jumps out of her skin at the sudden unseen threat when Entrapta jumps out and is right in front of them. She’s practically vibrating, a sign that she’s hit her late-night second wind. Trapta’s holding too many babybel cheeses in her hands, a few slipping out of her overall pockets.

“Oh, hello, Catra’s friend,” she greets. Her voice sounds a little like she’s surprised to see someone there, even though she just answered their question. Her energy starts to tamper down, going inside of herself in the unfamiliar company.

“Hey,” Adora responds. It takes her a bit of effort to calm her breathing from the shock.

Catra points between the two of them. “Entrapta, meet Adora.”

“Adora,” she repeats. Catra isn’t sure if Entrapta’s intentionally making her voice sound like Wall-E or if it’s just the mouth full of tiny cheese.

“Nice to meet you, Entrapta.” Adora reaches her hand out to shake but Catra instinctively slaps it down quickly. Her roommate isn’t a fan of touching so Catra does the best she can to keep Entrapta out of awkward situations where she has to explain that to strangers.

Adora doesn’t even react.

“I like your beats,” she says instead.

Entrapta’s whole demeanor shifts again. She’s already raising up on her tiptoes in excitement, probably preparing to give Adora too much information on her equipment or her mathematical research into creating the perfect rhythm.

“Adora’s here to see me,” Catra reminds her roommate. It’s basically their code for ‘don’t scare away my date.’

“Alright. Welcome to the Hobbit Hole, Adora.”

“fuckinghell,” Catra whispers quickly, rubbing her eyes. They’ll have to come up with a new signal for ‘don’t scare away potential sexual partners by telling them your dorky name for our weird apartment.’

“Okay, goodnight, Entrapta. You're vacuuming tomorrow,” Catra tells her before grabbing Adora's hand and dragging her into the bedroom. 

“Have fun in Catra's Hovel, Adora!”


When she closes the door behind herself, Catra half-expects Adora to be standing in the middle of the floor, giving her that cocky smirk of theirs, armed and ready to tease about Entrapta’s naming practices.

Instead, Adora immediately rushes around, excitedly inspecting everything. Poking at Catra’s weird figurines, a collection of childhood toys, action figures, and strange knickknacks. Looking at her ‘altar,’ which is really just a few crystals, a seashell with a half-smoked joint, and some kind of blessing card that Casta gave her once. Inspecting her record collection, piled up on a shelf that definitely wasn’t meant to support this much weight. Drifting over to the VHS tapes from her youth.

“Oh my Gods! You own some of my fave 90s action and ninja movies. Do you have a tape player?”

Catra nods over at the old tv. Then a thought hits. “You want to stay and watch a movie?” 

That seems like the type of thin and obvious cover that girls like Adora need as an excuse for sex. When Adora hisses a ‘yes’, Catra tosses herself onto her bed and removes her shoes.

She thinks about just taking the rest of her clothes off as a clear green light. It’s pretty apparent that subtlety won’t work with Adora. But she soon realizes that could cross the line from ‘sexy’ to ‘creepy’ without Adora's explicit assent. The dummy's still too busy poking around the room so Catra settles on just a lazy sexy pose, just kinda tilting back and pushing her tits forward.

The blonde begins to pick through the tapes one-by-one, taking each out and studying the front and back thoroughly.

From somewhere beneath the bed, there’s a sad whine. Catra sends back a reassuring ‘meow’, keeping her voice light and calm so Melog knows it’s okay that there’s a weird stranger in their space, touching all the things that are their domain.

It takes a moment but they pop up onto the bed to fling themselves into Catra’s lap. Then fucking Adora turns around and squeals, sending the cat into a full panic.


“Shh!” Catra cradles Melog until they lower their hackles, soothing their fur down gently with her hands.

Adora falls onto the bed in a way that’s already too familiar.

“I’m sorry, kitty. What’s their name?”

“Melog. And they don’t like new people.”

Because everyone in her life exists solely to undermine her, the cat stands slowly, gives a very dramatic assessment of Adora, and raises their nose in the air like they’re too good for this. Nonetheless, they softly step out of the safety of Catra’s arms, cross the bed, and walk right up to Adora. Melog trains their sights on the blonde for a moment and then decides that she’ll do. They bump their head into her arm and wait impatiently for pets. Adora obliges them gratefully.

“Oh, I love you already,” she whispers.

“Aren’t you a dog person?” Catra accuses.

“I love all animals.”

“Right. Horse girl and all.”

When Melog fully climbs into Adora’s lap, she just melts right into the comforter.

“This is going to impede my movie selection process but I’m not complaining.”

“I’ll just put something on,” Catra grumbles. It doesn’t matter. Her new barrier is figuring out how to get her cockblocking cat out of the room now.

She decides to go with ‘Hackers’ cause young Angelina’s haircut is basically an aphrodisiac.

“Ooh, good choice,” Adora affirms. 

Catra hits the light and sits back down, close but not too close to Adora. The dummy still has to work for it.

Nearly halfway into the movie, still nothing. Melog is completely passed out and snoring on Adora’s stomach and she’s made zero moves. Catra was expecting some flimsy excuse for Adora to put her arm around her at the very least. 

Maybe she’s gunshy after last time? Having someone burst in and reveal your secret identity right when you’re about to kiss could do that. Probably. Wouldn’t have stopped Catra. Once in college, Entrapta stormed in while she was going down on some girl and Catra didn't even pause as she shooed her out of the room.

Waiting is starting to get old though and it’s late. Catra decides that maybe fully lying down on the bed and weaving her legs into Adora’s lap will send a clearer signal. The bed is soft and Adora’s hands are warm as they move from Melog to Catra’s calves, rubbing gently. She’ll be able to rest her eyes. Just for a moment. It’s been a long week already and it’s only Monday.

A paw hits Catra right in the face. Once. Twice. On the third time, it’s accompanied by a wailing meow.

Catra isn’t quite awake but she’s able to slur out, “Mmropf?”

Melog gently slaps her again. Right in the cheek.

“Entrapta will feed you,” Catra grumbles. “Just open the door.” 

She starts snoring before she even finishes her sentence. It’s a mystery but somehow Melog taught themself to turn the knob and open closed doors all on their own. She trusts their ability to find her roommate and demand breakfast. 

Before being harassed into reality, Catra had been having a lovely dream about trying to design a leather pantsuit for a design show competition. It was shiny and black and even though she’s never sewed a day in her life, she was creating it perfectly. Christian Siriano was deeply impressed and also supported her campaign to make sure there are tail-holes in every outfit. She really would like to go back and finish it up then rub her victory in everyone’s faces.

Catra can’t help but be shocked fully awake though when a warm body tugs her back more fully into it.

Oh, right.

Just barely cracking one eye, she can see how annoyingly bright it is already. She fell asleep in her fucking work shirt and jeans so Catra just feels disgusting all over. All of the grime of the Hidey Hole in her bed now.

Also in her bed, wrapped completely around her like a snake with abandonment issues, is a snoring Adora. Her left arm is right around Catra's midriff, her right is shoved somewhere uncomfortably and just barely touching Catra's hair, all of their legs are weaved together, and Adora's chest is pressed so closely to Catra's back that it feels like they're sharing one breath.

Catra just barely remembers laying down when the movie got slow. Adora offered to massage her feet, saying that Catra was probably tired from standing all the time. That massage was fucking heavenly and it soon turned into some very innocent canoodling.

How absolutely fucking lesbian of them.

Adora was the perfect gentlewoman and didn’t even try to do anything more. A part of Catra wonders if that was a brilliant scheme for morning sex, which, in her opinion, is the best sex. But when Adora does finally wake up, mostly cause Melog won’t stop roaming the halls and meowing loudly like they’ve never been fed before, she just nuzzles further into Catra.

“Morning, beautiful,” Adora whispers. Her sleepy morning voice is so low yet completely open and vulnerable. 

If her eyes aren’t closed and she sees Catra blush, she’s definitely not leaving this apartment.

...ugh, that was supposed to sound like a threat, not all 'unintentionally sexy,' which is definitely all Catra can think about now.

“Your tail’s fidgeting so I know you’re awake.” Adora sits up, yawning and stretching. Quickly, she begins moving around the room while Catra continues lying there, pretending to be asleep even though her cover’s blown. “I gotta go walk my dog. He’s not gonna be happy about being left alone all night. Do you have a hat or anything I can put on? It’s probably super paranoid but I can’t really be seen leaving a woman’s apartment right now.”

She’s joking, it seems. Partly, at least. Catra’s stomach feels like she was dumped in a cold lake and then placed in front of a speeding bus. Maybe she was too horny and tired and relieved to see Adora last night, but morning light has brought with it a new clarity.

Adora can’t be seen coming out of here. Cause Adora’s not actually supposed to be here

She’s on a show where the entire premise is to find a fiancée. There’s no ring on the girl’s finger but that’s probably just for spoilers or something.

Catra, who has never once made a good decision, picked up someone who is fucking engaged!  

She gave away her time and entry to her bed to a dummy who’s gonna go off and marry some other idiot. And everyone knows! Well, Lonnie and Rogelio and Entrapta know, which means Kyle does too and pretty soon Spinny and Netty and Casta and everyone else in Catra’s life will too.

Since dying immediately isn’t an option, she settles for rolling over onto her face and burying her head under a pillow.

Adora just laughs, completely unaware of the inner turmoil and shame filling the Magicat right now. “Right, you’re not a morning person. I’m just gonna grab these sunglasses.”

Catra peeks out to make sure the blonde doesn’t take a pair she actually likes. Cause obviously she can’t ever see Adora again after this. Catra’s a pretend trash person – the kind who steals your parking spot, not an actual trash person – the kind who steals your fiancée .

And what the fuck business does she have with Adora anyway? That show is full of literal models. Catra often only showers upon request.

Gods, is this why Adora didn’t want to fuck last night? She’s lonely and the attention Catra’s pathetically giving her is nice. But she doesn’t want to make the mistake of having sex with her and risking ending up with this needy cat following her around all the time. Shit, she’s not even wrong. Catra spent all of her teens and early 20s falling in love with literally any girl that gave her reassurance. She’d thought those days were long over, once she learned how to wall herself off and curb any empty attachments. But fuck, Adora sent her a few texts and suddenly she was blowing off band practice and half-assing work just to talk to her.

Granted, Catra probably would have done those things anyway. But still!

“Are you really not going to say goodbye?” Adora teases.

“Goodbye forever, Adora,” Catra mutters, having resigned herself to end this.

“Oh, haha,” she says sarcastically. “I’ll talk to you later.” 

Adora’s hand lands lightly on the small of Catra’s back and she has to fight to not arch up into it. Fingers ghost up her spine then her neck then up through her hair before they stop at the base of her left ear. With a little hum, Adora gives her a soft scratch there.

Catra waits until she hears the door close to hiss. There’s very little threat to it since she’s as flustered as a fucking schoolgirl.

Look, this temporary lapse of judgement was nice while it lasted but it’s done. More people are coming to the bar on Mondays so Adora probably won’t be back. Catra just has to text and say she’s too busy to hang out next week and they’re done. Golden. Problem solved.

If Adora messages back, Catra will just blow her off. Be cool and aloof. Catra’s a cool person. People are intimidated by her and think she’s icy and unapproachable. Those people are idiots that can’t tell that she’s just incredibly awkward and hiding it but no one needs to know that! Catra just needs to remember to keep faking it. Tap into that energy.

She is not backsliding just because a pretty girl spent the night spooning her.

It felt so nice, though. The whole bed – hell, most of Catra’s own body – smells like Adora now. Sweet almond and a little outdoorsy. Adora held her just right, cradling Catra against her body tightly but not too tight. Her dumb arms were calming and she whispered, “is this okay?” before every move she made, almost like she knew how easily Catra spooked when someone else took the lead. 

“I like you,” Adora had said and Catra groans just thinking about it.

“You’re so soft,” she whispered when her fingers grazed Catra’s stomach.

Catra fights it for about two whole seconds but pretty quickly her hand is shoved into her own pants, imagining what Adora would have sounded like asking her “is this okay?” before moving into her underwear. 

Melog tried to follow me out the door
So now I feel obligated to return since they loved me so much

After getting off (twice!) to a very vivid daydream of what it would be like for Adora’s gentle hands to get much rougher, Catra’s brain is mushier than ever.

Over a bowl of cereal, she spends a long time zoning out and thinking about looking up the show. She could even ask Lonnie, who seems to be tapped into what’s happening. Maybe Adora chooses some loser who’s only there for the fame and blows her off. It’s probably too early to tell though.

She shouldn’t be doing this anyway. Any kind of lingering tie to Adora is a set-up for complete failure and the fucking rude awakening she’s gonna be in store for in a few weeks.

Once Catra realizes her Fruit Loops are completely soggy, she tosses the bowl in the sink and picks her phone back up.

pretty sure that’s not how that works
besides, a cat will cuddle up to any warm body

She does not wait with baited breath to see if Adora will take the hint.

Is that your way of saying you want to be the big spoon next time?
I really liked waking up holding you
But I’m flexible

Gods. The fucking nerve of Adora! Just being so sincere like that. 

flexible, huh?

I guess you'll have to wait til next Monday to find out
Unless you want to see each other sooner?
What's your week look like?

lots of shifts, lots of practice
we have some gigs coming up
i might be pretty busy over the rest of the summer

Good. That's good. Start threading the needle now. ‘So busy. No time to hang.’ Then slowly drift out of Adora's perfect life.

I’m super free
I can work around your schedule
Maybe you’ll even let me come to a show?

we’ll see

It’s about 30 minutes before she gets a response back. More than a dozen times, she sees those torturous fucking bubbles appearing and disappearing from Adora’s end. Catra’s texts were harmless enough. There’s no way that the blonde is already catching on to her plan.

A message notification finally pops. Catra checks it so quickly that she can’t even pretend that she hasn’t been staring at her phone for a half hour.

It’s a voice message. Oh, no.

“Hey, Catra. I just wanted to let you know that I had a good time last night. Like a really good time. Um, I always have a good time with you. I hope you did too? Shit, I'm winking. This isn't a visual medium.”

Catra can hear her awkwardly laugh before clearing her throat.

“Maybe I'm reading too much into it but if you want to cancel next week, no hard feelings. I know my whole situation is really strange. I don't want to bring any stress into your life. If you want to call this all off, I get it. I meant it when I said I liked you.”

It sounds like she whispers, “And only you. Seriously.” Catra's sure she's imagining that though. “But no pressure.”

Oh, look. An easy out. Catra's always loved a quiet, graceful exit. Like just jumping out of a window into the bushes when you realize you've had too many tequila shots and you hate everyone at this party.

Except. Adora sounds so...bummed. Catra can just imagine her, sitting in her bland high-rise apartment with some goofy golden retriever, binging every shitty show and a bunch of terrible movies. Jogging , the poor soul.

She's lonely and bored enough that she picked up Catra of all people. That's some sort of cry for help.

A non-committal gesture can't hurt. So she sends a short text. Just a link. To give Adora something to distract herself with for a while.

Adora that what I think it is?

yeah it's our streams
since you're so obsessed
prepare to be underwhelmed

You have MERCH?

don’t you dare

I already have 12 shirts in my cart

why don’t you give the music a listen first?
before you overhaul your entire wardrobe


Another selfie of her face. Earbuds in. Biting her bottom lip like she’s really jamming out on Horde’s music. 

Are you ready for live reactions?
Or should I prepare a thesis at the end of your discography?

you truly have a talent for making me immediately regret my actions

I’m glad that I’m a challenge too

Catra sleep-walks through a night at the bar with that mindfuck click-clacking around in her brain. A challenge? She doesn’t need a challenge. Life’s been difficult as it is. And Adora hardly qualifies, as thirsty as she is.

She’s frowning into a stack of dirty pint glasses that she’s definitely only making marginally cleaner with how sloppy her rinsing is when she hears Casta call her name.


Casta laughs with the two slightly younger queers seated at the bar next to her. Catra’s seen them around before – there’s nothing too memorable about them except their bright hair and that they often look like they just came from a shift at a bakery. For some reason, Catra does not particularly enjoy being on the outside of whatever’s so funny.

“Don’t look so grumpy, Kit Kat. I was just observing that you’ve been smitten lately. It looks good on you.”

“Smitten?” Catra scoffs.

Casta gives her a delighted smile. “Rumor has it you’ve got a secret suitor.”

A quick glance around the bar confirms that a couple more folks are listening in. To be fair, Catra was kind of a terror for a few years, picking up women constantly, before she just stopped cold. That act got boring quick but she still manages to draw some interest these days, even though she pretty much shoots everyone down.

“Trust me. The only thing keeping me company is my right hand.”

“Aw,” Casta says with fake sympathy. “You used to be a much better liar.”

“Want to hear a great joke?” Catra asks the other two, knowing she doesn’t give a shit about their answer. “Casta, what year were you born?” 

“1997,” she replies casually. Almost automatically. 

The glass in Catra’s hand nearly misses the shelf and falls. She has to scramble quickly to catch it and when she straightens back up, Casta’s trying to pull off looking completely innocent.

“You’re...younger than me? Really? ” 

Catra was expecting maybe a soft lie, not to be told that up is suddenly down and right is now wrong. She thought Castaspella would say something silly and Catra would make a harmless joke about it and then tell Casta that she was gorgeous regardless and no one would ever have to talk about whether or not Catra was indeed smitten with the world’s best cuddler.

Casta just raises an eyebrow, daring the bartender to accuse her of lying. Catra’s life is regularly in peril enough – does she really need to be cursed by a powerful witch? 

With a gulp, Catra nods. “Yeah, that sounds right.”

Casta gives a downright girlish giggle and tosses her hair over her shoulder. “I’m surprised I don’t get carded here.”

“Alright. Let’s not push it,” Catra grumbles, accepting that she’s been outmatched today. 

Her phone doesn’t buzz again until well after last call. Well, it had alerted her earlier and Catra had run over, way too eager to see what Adora thought. But those messages were just from Entrapta rambling about some project and Kyle asking if she had an update on the money she owed him. On Friday, she plans to pay him $199 and then dare him to ask her for exactly $1.

This time though, it’s actually Adora.



To distract from what feels suspiciously like nerves, Catra focuses on closing up. Netossa’s tired or something cause she doesn’t bother asking why Catra’s moving around so frantically. They both startle when the Magicat’s phone rings.

Instead of texting back like a normal person, Adora’s calling. Catra picks up literally just to complain. That was her first mistake. Her second was putting the phone on speaker, like a rookie.

“I was expecting a written dissertation-”

“Oh my Gods, Catra, it was amazing!” Adora gushes. “Your sound is like funk meets R&B meets hip hop meets lo-fi rock. It’s so original! And I mean, I knew you had a great voice but seriously, your singing blew me away.”

She glances up and catches Netossa’s smirking face across the room. She’ll be hearing about this for the rest of the week at minimum.

Catra lets herself out into the backyard for some privacy as Adora continues.

“And you rap too? I was so surprised! Your lyrics were so great. Funny and smart and full of emotion.”

No matter how hard she tries to train her face, the dumb thing keeps trying to perk up into a smile.

“I just think you’re so talented,” Adora says. She sounds as if she’s about 3 seconds away from swooning. “Like probably the most talented person I know. Thank you so much for trusting me enough to share this part of yourself.”

“Yeah, it’s a website freely available through the internet, Adora,” Catra says dryly.

“You know what I mean!” the dummy laughs.

She does. That’s probably why her cheeks feel so warm.

Catra had made several rules. She has also broken nearly all of them.

She has texted Adora. She has flirted. She’s called Adora on the phone and on video. She’s listened to all sorts of stories about Adora’s life and she’s even told (safe, vague) stories of her own.

So far, the only self-imposed rules Catra has managed to maintain are not making additional plans to see Adora in person and not trying to hunt down spoilers for the awful show that she’s on.

By Friday, she’s pretty sure that she won’t last the weekend.

If she trusted anyone else in her life enough to share with them what was going on, maybe they’d be able to keep her accountable to herself. But no. No nono no. Everyone is either a gossip or a worrywart or even more of a trainwreck than she is. For example, Entrapta’s already asked when Adora’s coming over next and Kyle feels left out cause he’s the only one who hasn’t talked to Catra about the blonde yet.

Like a fool, Catra thinks she'll get some reprieve from her constant thoughts about Adora during her shift on Saturday. The Hidey Hole is absolutely slammed and these are the kinds of nights she actually enjoys. Rushing around behind the bar, anticipating orders, smirking at cuties, catching everyone's attention but being too cool to reciprocate.

She's working with Huntara, which can be irritating because the woman is, and Catra means this in the kindest way, an asshole. Huntara's kept the bar open for two decades through community loyalty and sheer force of will. Catra's long thought that all the queers in this particular part of Bright Moon would have probably been priced out by now if it wasn't for Huntara threatening every landlord, realtor, developer, ombudsman, and city council member that she ever caught wind of trying to pull some bullshit. 

Unfortunately, that personality quirk, coming across like she'd literally eat a person for dinner, doesn't really turn off at the bar. Huntara picked Catra up by her scruff and physically dropped her on the curb the first time she was caught sneaking in underage. Most customers try to avoid ordering from her if at all possible, since Huntara thinks the only reasonable beverage is beer or a shot of whiskey. And she does not live by the creed that the customer is always right. People actually like Huntara well enough, especially when she's just hanging out, but they have an appropriate amount of fear for her.

Catra has to work twice as hard, serving everyone who pretends to be fine when Huntara comes up to them. She basically tries to relegate the hulking woman to being a bar back so she isn't in the way the whole time.

Busy is good. Or it is right up until Catra's ears pick up, “Ugh, Adora's so hot. Did you see that bikini she wore to the beach group date?”

Out of the corner of her eye, Catra sees a group of folks all drinking vodka crans and practically fanning themselves.

“I know. I want to be crushed between those thighs.”

“Tessa thinks Starla’s a front-runner, but I'm rooting for Perfuma.”

“Unh unh. Scorpia's so sweet. She and Adora are perfect for each other.”

“You've been standing like a statue for three minutes,” Huntara mutters. She's carrying a huge bucket of ice like it weighs nothing and all but shoves Catra out of the way. “Stop slacking off.”

“Hey, save that sweet charm for your patrons,” Catra tells her dryly. But she quickly gets back to serving before Huntara can say anything else.

In fact, Catra puts in a little extra effort to dig them out of the weeds. Just to have a friendly catch-up with her boss.

“Hey, uh, Hunt,” she tries to say casually, once she's able to catch her breath. “You know Adora Grayson, right? From bowling or whatever?”

“Shit. Not you too.” 

Catra looks over and Huntara’s already annoyed, arms crossed and eyes narrowing.

“What's your malfunction?” she asks her boss.

“Listen. I don't have her number. I can't hook you up. I don't know where she hangs out-”

Catra jumps in. “So you'll be Best Person at our wedding. Got it.”

Huntara growls a warning.

“Sorry! Jeez. Didn't realize it was a sore subject. You strike out with her or something?”

“Watch it, kitty. I never strike out.” She pauses to grab a towel. “Adora was too oblivious to call anyone up off the bench though.”

Catra remembers sprawling herself across Adora’s lap and the blonde still not taking a hint. Yeah, that sounds about right.

“She's a nice enough girl,” Huntara continues. “Comes off as naive maybe but pretty smart.”

It's weird but for a moment, the boss looks like she's 1,000 miles away, trapped in thought. Does Huntara have a thing for Adora??

“I mean, maybe I'm being naive but I still think I can win.”

Catra starts to feel a little short of breath. It's too warm in this enclosed space. Aside from pageant girls and half the bar, Catra's now competing with a literal stack of muscles and swagger?

Huntara just continues on, “I mean, Mermista's still there and if Adora proposes to my top choice, I should have enough points to win the whole pot.”

“Fucking hell, are you talking about the show?!”

“Are you not?!”

“I'm not watching it,” Catra whines.

“Do you know how much money I have riding on this?” Huntara asks, as if Catra cares at all. “Last week, Adora gave Flutterina a rose even though it's clear that she's manipulating everyone and starting all that drama in the house! Fucked up my whole bracket! But 2 of my top 4 are still there so I still have a chance. It’s a shame about Miss Etheria, though. I definitely thought she’d go all the way.”

Everyone has officially lost it. Huntara, who Catra woulda sworn didn’t actually own a tv, is even obsessed with this mess. Maybe not having to compete with Miss Etheria was a bright side, at least?

Catra opens her mouth, on the verge of asking about these women. Their chances of winning. How Adora looks at them. 

If anyone's gonna be honest, it's Huntara with her gruff candor. 

But there's something about knowing which makes it feel like it'll just sting more. It’s impossible to figure out which is worse – Catra thinking she’s going to be hurt? Or getting confirmation and being absolutely sure of it without a doubt?

Chapter Text

For the first time in years, Catra dreams about her . Her awful stepmother. It isn’t even a full-blown nightmare, the kind she used to have constantly up until she turned 20 or so. Compared to that, this one is nearly harmless.

Catra’s at a restaurant. Maybe Entrapta’s there. It’s hard to remember. Like a lot of her recurring dreams, there’s big cats. Lions and tigers, not Magicats like her. Much like in real life, there's never other Magicats. They’re circling outside the doors so that Catra can’t leave, not threatening, just there . Only this time, fucking Sheila’s there.

“You talk to them, Catrice,” she says with that awful fake ‘worldly’ voice she used to put on, like she wasn't just a girl who grew up on the east side in a 2-bedroom apartment with 6 other people. “They’re base animals like you. Perhaps they’ll listen to you.”

“Catra,” she reminds her stepmother.

“Speak up, girl!”

“Stand up straight!”

“Why is your fur always in the drain?”

“You'd look much prettier if you tried.”

“No one's going to want to marry someone who can't even take care of herself.”

“Always such a disappointment.”

“Fine!” Catra yells finally. “I'd literally rather be mauled to death than listen to more of this.”

So she storms out. It's not a restaurant now. It's actually a food court at the mall. The one in the Elberon ‘burbs, where she used to hang out on Saturdays and make fun of the popular kids. How the fuck did they end up there?

There's nothing outside. Just empty streets for miles. Unfamiliar streets, the kind you see in a zombie apocalypse movie. 

“The fuck?” she whispers. “Entrapta?”


Catra wakes up so fast, she accidentally smacks her head on the wall next to her bed. It takes her a moment to shake off the lingering sleep and confusion.

Entrapta is standing in the doorway, cradling a plate of pizza bagels.

“Oh,” she says with a frown. “Were you sleeping? I thought you needed something.”

Without waiting for an answer, she turns to leave.


Entrapta dutifully stops.

“Just,” Catra realizes she's out of breath and has to pause for a second. “Just hang on.”

“Big cats or zombies?” Entrapta asks around a mouthful of bagel.

“Big cats. Maybe zombies? And Sheila.”

“Oh,” she frowns again. “You're anxious. Why are you anxious?”

Catra can only manage to sigh. “Trap…”

“Sorry. Right. That's not helpful.” Entrapta shoves another entire pizza bagel in her mouth while she thinks. “The likelihood of a big cat stampede is astronomically low since you live in a large city that only houses three underfed lions and a deeply depressed panther?”

She raises her eyebrows. That's Entrapta’s ‘please feel better’ face.

“You're right,” Catra admits with a nod.

“The other two elements are quite unlikely as well, for obvious reasons.”

Catra nods again. She knows this is dumb. Slowly, Entrapta eases further into her room.

“The apartment has a very advanced security system that can be triggered if needed.” She chews her lip a little, searching for the right words. “You are safe? With me?”

And even though Catra just woke up and is not remotely hungry, Entrapta hands her a pizza bagel.

Catra looks up at her with wide, grateful eyes.


“Now about your anxiety….”


“Sure thing.”

Catra lies back down to clear her head and eat her unwanted breakfast. Ignore Entrapta’s ongoing theory that Catra's nightmares are caused by a spike in her anxiety. Hell, ignore the nightmare altogether.

That becomes pretty easy to do when the source of some of her anxiety decides to call. Adora wants to FaceTime. Catra probably has dried drool all over her face but what the hell. Adora should know what she's getting in advance.

“Morning!” Adora sings, cheerful as always. She's dressed for a run but she's indoors so that might just be her default wardrobe as Catra's learning. “Your bedhead is so cute. And your freckles.”

She makes a silly face, like she’s just noticing them for the first time.

“I am not cute,” Catra growls.

“Whatever you say,” she replies with a grin. “How'd you sleep?”

Catra considers lying or just saying some platitude so she can get the real reason for Adora's call more quickly. Deep down though, she knows the blonde is probably just checking in anyway.

“I've had better nights,” Catra admits.

“Sorry to hear that,” Adora says genuinely. “Want to talk about it?”

Catra shakes her head no.

“That's okay. Actually, this is sorta related to why I'm calling.”

She takes a dramatic pause that has Catra's nerves getting even more high strung.

“I had a really good time the other night,” Adora begins with a little blush creeping up on her face. “I meant it when I said I liked sleeping next to you.”

Oh, Gods. Talking about her feelings literally seconds after waking up is in Catra’s top 5 of worst experiences. It’s only slightly worse than talking about her feelings in general.

“You don’t have to call to tell me you want to fuck me, Adora,” Catra tries to deflect. Throw the blonde off her game. “That’s painfully apparent.”

Adora opens her mouth then closes it quickly, getting even redder in the face. Her eyes are kinda frozen, stuck in her own head while trying to dig her way out of this.

“That wasn’t-I mean-I was….”

Suddenly, Catra’s just looking at the ceiling of Adora’s place. She has to cover her mouth with both hands to keep her cackling under wraps.

“I can hear you laughing!” Adora yells from offscreen. She picks her phone back up with a huff. “You’re messing with me.”

“Am I?” Catra smirks.

“I wanted to let you know my intentions upfront,” she says with a cute little frown. “Which were: I’d like you to sleep over so we can cuddle. If you want that too. You can bring a change of clothes and stuff.”

What timing. After the absolute shit night of sleep she just got, spending another night alone in her bed sounds like a terrible option.

“How many of your high school moves should I prepare myself for?” she asks.

Adora puts her index finger to her chin, pretending to think. “Well, there’s the old ‘faking a stretch so I can put my arm around you.’ And probably the ‘oh, let me get this eyelash for you’ number.”

“If you start to stumble suspiciously and look like you’re aiming for my lips, expect to get clawed.”

The goofball laughs at that.

“Okay, I’ll text you the address. Bring whatever you want – no pressure.”

Catra knows that she shouldn't get any closer to Adora. She just somehow forgets that everytime she hears from the blonde. 

New tactic: since Catra herself can't be trusted, she'll have to be as unappealing as possible. Totally unfuckable. She imagines this isn’t too hard – she’ll just be her truest self. That’s driven loads of people away in the past.

When she shows up to Adora’s place, it’s nice but nothing as fancy as she originally thought. It’s clearly been there for a good while and doesn’t at all match the hoity toity high rises surrounding it. The building has an elevator and a working buzzer though, so it’s still classier than most of the neighborhood. There’s not even anyone crowding the stoop, which is kinda a red flag for Catra.

Adora answers the door with so much excitement in her eyes that it almost gives Catra goosebumps. Almost. It’s the tight hug that she pulls Catra into that actually does the job.

“Hey,” the blonde whispers against her ear. “I’m so glad you could make it.”

In a moment of total weakness, Catra wraps her arms around Adora’s lower back. The blonde is a couple inches taller so Catra’s face ends up on the bare skin of her neck, where she has to force herself not to settle in and nuzzle. 

“Well, I can’t let you waste away here alone. Basic personal kindness.”

Adora steps back to give her a onceover. “Oh my Gods. I’m so jealous. I’ve always wanted one of those shirts.” 

Catra glances down and she’s wearing red plaid shorts and her lime green Dykes Lumber hoodie, a fucking eyesore that’s so bright that it’s practically reflective at night. She stole this right off of some girl’s back while making out with her.

She opens the backpack that she brought with a few overnight items (just in case!) and pulls out a Horde hoodie. It’s a piece of merch that she always kinda hated, a weird pale rainbow-colored tie dye with a circular pattern.

“Maybe you’ll take this instead?” Catra asks as she hands it over. “Kyle only made about 50 of these so it’s practically a collectors’ piece.”

Adora unfolds the sweatshirt and begins beaming as soon as she sees the Horde logo, two wings that Catra drunkenly drew while trying to make a cool-looking H. It didn’t work but they ended up keeping it anyway.

The blonde holds the hoodie up to her body and poses for Catra. It already matches the pale blue shorts that she’s wearing. Fingers crossed that she doesn’t put it on now though cause it would be a shame to cover up the super tight white compression shirt she’s got on. 

“I love it,” Adora says genuinely. Her eyes linger on the backpack but she does them both a favor and doesn’t mention it. “So, I feel like I need to remind you. I have a dog. Is that okay?”

Catra feels her fur bristle.

“What? Cause I’m a cat, I must hate dogs?” She tries to come off sounding offended. “Stereotypes hurt, Adora.”

For a moment, the blonde examines Catra’s face, looking for some type of clue. Finally, she smirks. “You can’t just admit that you’re afraid?”

“I’m not afraid.”

Adora demonstrates how correct she is but gently petting along the back of Catra’s neck, soothing her fur down. Then she slowly drags her hand up to scratch behind one of Catra’s ears, which have folded down flat against her head. 

“Well, look who bothered to read a whole wiki on Magicat body language.”

“Oh, I read a whole lot more than that,” Adora responds, in a way that makes Catra more than a little curious. Her voice is suggestive almost, knowing. It doesn’t help that she’s still petting Catra’s ears and can probably hear the low rumble that’s threatening to grow out of her throat.

Catra’s about to diffuse this by asking if she’s been staying up at night watching very niche porn when Adora turns and suddenly opens her door the rest of the way.

They take one step into the apartment and a fucking ball of furry hell shoots around a corner and comes at them full-speed.

Catra prides herself on being pretty cool under pressure. This is not reflected in the way that she completely freaks out and instinctively attempts to flee, hissing the whole time.

Unfortunately for Adora, the nearest safe surface for Catra to climb is the blonde’s body. The high pitch yelp she lets out when claws latch onto her torso is enough to drive Catra’s panic even further so she’s forced to use Adora as a launchpad to jettison herself onto the kitchen counter.

Haunches raised, Catra hisses another threat at the dog. Except, she can’t quite see it. It seems to have completely vanished from the room, which is just fine with her.

Then there’s tiny scratching and panting against the bottom of the cabinet. Bravely, Catra chances a peak.

It’s a fucking Pomeranian. Adora – who tells tales of outside adventures and backpacking and playing soccer and chopping her own wood one entire time – has a 6 pound tan and white cotton ball for a dog. This person continues to reach new heights of ridiculousness.

“I was expecting a golden retriever or a lab or something,” Catra grumbles. She’s still up on the counter but she’s not coming down until she knows that this thing is safe.

“I get that a lot,” Adora laughs. “No, I wanted a big dog but I met Switfy at the rescue and immediately fell in love. Once I set my eyes on something I want, I can’t let it go, you know?”

Catra nods absently. She’s only 15% sure that Adora’s talking solely about the dog.

“Come on, Swift Wind,” Adora calls. The dog looks over at her and then back at the giant cat on top of the cabinets. He chooses to terrorize the cat, obviously, trying again to jump up, even though his tiny little legs won’t take him more than a couple inches off the ground.

“Swift Wind?” Catra questions.

“Look at how fast he is!” the blonde says with too much enthusiasm. 

Adora whistles and juts her head and this time, he actually obeys. The small floof races over and pulls that same scratching and panting act at the human’s ankles until she reaches down and picks him up.

Cradling the tiny terror, Adora gushes, “I can't wait for him and Melog to meet!” 

Apparently, they're introducing their children to each other soon? The sweatshirt and ugly shorts are not working as planned.

Adora gives a brief tour – it's a place with some rooms (Catra wasn't really paying attention, too busy trying to keep her distance from Swift Wind.) The apartment looks like someone bothered to decorate a little. There's definitely a theme. Deep lesbian. The walls are lilac. The art all vaguely looks like abstract women's bodies. And…

“Is that a framed women's soccer jersey?”

“It's signed by Wambach!” Adora proudly announces. “That was a Christmas present from my brother, Adam.”

“Right, the twin.” 

In the living room, Catra notices a huge mahogany bookshelf, mostly filled with paperbacks, board games, and graphic novels. One of the middle shelves, right at eye-level, contains a handful of framed photos. Adora playing soccer as a kid. Cute. Adora playing soccer as an adult. Hot. A series of pictures of her with two friends, a smiling darker-skinned kid and a glittery pale pink poofy femme who kinda looks like trouble. A couple of stiffly staged shots of the perfect 2-parent, 2-kid family – one from when the twins look like they’re about 8 or 9 and another from an awkward high school phase. Curiously, the mom is a striking redhead and their dad looks like a big ol’ dark-haired bear.

Catra has this weird feeling in the back of her mind. Sort of a strange and short daydream of what it would have been like for her and Adora to know each other as children. For her to run around with this kid who looks so wild and free on the soccer field, instead of the time she herself spent alone, trapped inside on a piano bench.

“Your mom’s hot. A shame that you and your brother are so homely.”

Adora just rolls her eyes in response.

“The pizza beat you here. Hope you’re hungry.”

Catra basically devours an entire pie as soon as her butt hits Adora’s surprisingly comfortable grey leather couch. The blonde doesn’t seem to care cause she’s too wrapped up in doing the same. Swift Wind sits at the edge of the dark wooden coffee table, patiently waiting for scraps.

She kinda thought the promise of a bad action movie was a joke but Adora right away pulls up a streaming channel on her fucking masssive tv and they have a heated debate about which to watch. Under the action listing, Adora’s already seen half of the movies. Catra’s seen the other half.

Adora tries to give up halfway through, offering to make popcorn, even though they’re both stuffed.

“Focus, princess,” Catra replies absently while she reads another summary. “This one has sharks for some reason. I think we found a winner.”

“Oh,” Adora says, right as the opening credits pop, running over a shot of nearly pitch black water. “I meant to ask you the other day – what’s up with your sink?”

Entrapta has her own bathroom thankfully cause Catra can’t imagine trying to get whatever weird fluids the scientist is always covered in, which somehow are not at all related to her work, out of her shower. Or the amount of hair the two of them could compile in a drain.

Unfortunately, that means Catra's bathroom is the public one. Everyone who visits can see how there’s two huge bright patches of purple duct tape holding the white sink basin together.

“Melog knocked a candle off the shelf next to it and shattered the bowl. Twice. At least once was on purpose, based on how they were staring at me.”

Adora’s eyes grow large.

“Why don't you replace it?”

Catra shrugs. “It works, doesn’t it?”

Adora looks at her for a moment, clearly thinking through something . But then she just shrugs and moves on.

By the time that Adora not-so-subtly dims the lights while supposedly getting up just to grab some beers, they’ve both listed out their favorite shitty movie plotlines and tropes.

“You like a lot of trash,” Catra observes.

“I see the good in a lot of things that people don’t usually take seriously.“

She takes a big swig of beer, for courage Catra imagines, and begins an exaggerated stretch, smirking the whole time. Catra’s not surprised when a pale hand lands on her shoulder as Adora gently wraps an arm around her.

“Is this okay?” she whispers.

Catra manages to casually nod, like she’s not saving that one mentally for later when she’s alone.

“Are you cold? I can turn down the AC? Or….”

Adora reaches behind her head and pulls down the throw blanket that was decorating the couch. She holds it up towards Catra with a question in her eyes. It looks soft as fuck. Adora looks soft as fuck.

The plan immediately goes out the window.

As a bit of unconscious self-sabotage, Catra remembers as she’s pulling off her sweatshirt, she wore a super thin white tee. And no bra. Her nipples are hard enough to cut glass right now so there’s no way that that isn’t completely apparent to Adora. She’s polite enough to only stare for about 10 seconds before generously saying absolutely nothing about it and covering Catra in the blanket. 

“Get in here, dummy.” She holds up the other corner so Adora can nestle in too.

By the end of the movie, which the shark should have won but was robbed by a vengeful widow, Catra finds herself leaning into Adora’s body, her head on the blonde’s shoulder, wrapped up in both of her arms, while she kneads along the human’s waist. The way her feet are tucked underneath herself, she fits right in Adora’s embrace so fucking perfectly. She doesn’t even mind Swift Wind plopping his head into her lap and falling asleep.

Catra doesn’t purr. That’s a hard boundary. Adora makes enough happy, relaxed sighs for the both of them anyway.

After the movie, they take turns picking a bunch more crap to watch before playing a random board game. When they finish up, it’s late and Catra has no choice but to stay over. For safety. Or something.

“I bought a couple more pillows,” the blonde whispers as she takes Catra into her arms as they lay down. “I want you to be comfortable here.”

“That a thing you do for everyone who sleeps over?” the Magicat mumbles, hoping that Adora doesn’t understand why her tail’s trying to weave up between their bodies to straighten up behind her.

“Well, you’re the only person I’m planning to invite for a good long while.” Hands tighten around her midsection. “If there’s anything that’ll make you more at ease, let me know, okay?”

Catra focuses on thinking unsexy thoughts to avoid how fucking thoughtful everything in that sentence was. How does national debt work? What is shortening made out of? Some third thing probably, but she passes out as soon as Adora begins breathing deeply against her.

She sleeps like a kitten in the huge fluffy bed. It feels like Adora doesn’t let go of her even once during the night, cradling Catra tightly the whole time. The blonde seems to have trouble parting from her the next day too, staying in bed as long as Catra wants to, just staring into her eyes and asking sleepy questions about her likes and opinions.

When Adora does finally reluctantly get up, it’s only to take Swift Wind for a quick walk and make them both breakfast. She basically tries to get Catra to eat while seated in her lap on the couch and that finally gets the Magicat to pump the brakes.

“I have to go feed Melog.”

Adora’s hand has found a sliver of vulnerable fur between her pajama top and shorts, just a couple inches above Catra’s tail. The more she massages it, the more Catra has to fight from arching onto the touch. It feels fucking glorious, gentle but firm pressure on a sensitive spot that she can never reach herself. It’s relaxing and….stimulating both at the same time.

As soon as Catra feels her hips rock, she stands up and goes to get dressed. It’s unclear if she was aiming to lean into Adora or cool down some of the pressure building between her legs. But there is no time for any further investigation. Melog needs her!

She pretends that she doesn’t hear Adora chuckle quietly back on the couch.

As a mature person would, Catra shoves everything into her backpack, including the oversized tshirt Adora slept in, and tries to bolt for the door, yelling “Goodbye.” Catra’s learned that if she puts on a serious face, everyone thinks she’s just a busy woman on the move and not someone who is horrified by being away from her own bed.

Her quick escape is thwarted by the overly complicated locks. Adora takes her sweet time strolling over to help.

“I want to see you again,” the blonde says.


“Okay, let’s make plans or okay, you’re acknowledging that I’m a person and I just spoke?”



She finally gives up on the deadbolts and lets Adora take over. Instead, Adora crowds her up against the door. There’s a few scant inches between the bodies but they’re definitely close enough that they’re in each other’s airspace. Close enough that Catra can’t help but think back to the night they almost kissed a couple weeks ago.

“I had a lot of fun last night. I really really appreciate you offering to keep me company. It meant a lot.”

Catra scoffs. “I remember you begging me to come over.”

“Is it confusing to lie to yourself so much?” Adora asks with a smirk.

You could not even begin to imagine, Catra thinks.

When she doesn’t answer right away, the blonde reaches around and unlocks the door.

“Thanks for looking after me. And for the Horde swag. I’ll treasure it forever.”

Catra makes sure to look very unimpressed.

“Actually,” Adora adds. “You should sign it. Make it even more valuable.”

“Next time maybe,” Catra replies dryly. “Give you something to look forward to.”

Adora's still looking at her expectantly. 

“I have to stop at a store on Cabrini Ave,” Catra mumbles. “Pick me up tomorrow at my place around 2.”

“I like when you’re bossy,” Adora tells her in that low tone that she must realize makes Catra feel like surrendering her body immediately.

And just like for most of her life, Catra's mouth decides to get her into trouble. 

She surges forward and kisses Adora's lips. It only lasts about 2 seconds – Adora doesn't even have a chance to respond. In one moment, they're staring at each other as if they haven't been doing that all morning and then suddenly Catra's lips are pressed firmly against Adora's. It's almost surprisingly chaste, mouths closed and hands at their sides. 

But the jolt of pure desire that shoots through Catra at the contact makes her pull back instantly. While Adora stands there completely stunned, clearly trying to catch up, Catra slips out the door.

“Thanks,” she whispers, before ducking her head to hide her blush and pulling the door closed behind herself.

Catra floats into her apartment in a daze. She kinda feels like the first time she kissed a girl. Happy, confused, freaked out, high on adrenaline. The circumstances are shockingly similar too – when she was 15, Catra spent 3 months staring at this violinist before one day bumping into her leaving school, stumbling into a quick peck on the lips, and then running all the way home.

And much like that day, as soon as she steps into her home, someone bursts her fucking bubble.

“Did you fuck Adora?”

The heavy front door swings shut behind her and Catra isn't fully aware of her surroundings until she feels her tail get pinched in the jamb.

The piercing yowl she lets out has Lonnie covering her ears. She does absolutely nothing to help while Catra tries to get her tail free.

Wincing and fully pissed now, Catra asks, “Why are you here? In my home? Where I live?”

“I’m working on outfits for the upcoming shows,” Lonnie replies casually.

That makes no sense. Why would Lonnie of all people be worrying about their styling? Horde usually just shows up in whatever they want to. If they’re feeling really fancy, Kyle will do his and Catra’s hair. (Rogelio has none, obviously, and Entrapta’s pigtails are best left alone. Catra could be wrong but they seem to be... sentient. She definitely saw one retrieve a glass one night but she was super super stoned at the time.)

Catra rushes over to glance into her room. The closet is open and it’s in a slightly different state of total disarray than she left it in.

“Stay out of my stuff,” she says, heading back into the kitchen to toss Lonnie out. But the jerk is already opening the door to exit quickly.

From the hall, Lonnie pops her head back in to warn, “Hey. Told you you’d hear from her. Be smart. Like ‘actual person smart.’ Not ‘Catra smart.’ Maybe no super bizarre rash decisions?”

The door’s closing before Catra can respond.

“Let me know when you’re ready to ask me about the show,” Lonnie yells out. “I got all the gos’ on your competition.”

Catra storms back into her room and dives into her bed. After last night (and this morning), the last thing she needs is Lonnie reminding her of what a horrible mistake she’s making.

‘Be smart.’

A smart person would call this off now. Or, probably, like two weeks ago. Catra takes out her phone, contemplating doing just that. She can’t do it in person, duh. The second she gets around Adora, Catra completely forgets the appropriate way to behave. There’s a message already waiting for her, of course.

You may not have realized this because it happened so quickly
But you kissed me?
I think

did i?
is that how history will remember it?

I’m never washing my lips again

well that’s a great way to ensure there’s never a repeat

I didn’t really get to participate
Maybe I’ll have another chance tomorrow?

‘No,’ she thinks. Just write ‘no because we are acquaintances and acquaintances do not kiss.’ Or spend the night cuddling or buy extra pillows so one of them can be comfortable just in case she sleeps over. And then her traitorous claws begin typing again.

fortune favors the bold

Chapter Text

Via text and one extremely long late night call, Adora asks a million questions about what their plans are for the next day. Catra predictably gives nothing away.

“Adora. I’m starting to feel like you don’t trust me.”

“We both know I’m trusting to a fault. I just want to make sure I wear the correct shoes,” Adora whines. “And what about snacks? If there’s no access to food, I might need to bring a snack.”

“Relax,” Catra sighs. “I know how often you need to be fed now. I’ll take care of you.”

On her phone screen, Adora perks up enough that the Magicat immediately regrets her casual word choice.

Catra interrupts before the dummy can say something too kind and make her melt into a puddle all over her bed.

“Wear sneakers. Anyway, it’s late. I gotta go.”

“Yeah, you’ve got to be up in 12 hours. Must be in a real rush,” Adora mocks her.

Catra escapes quickly after that.

Somehow plans for one day turns into impromptu plans for basically the whole week. Catra doesn’t keep many friends around her anyway so it’s not like she’s blowing anyone off when she spends her days off with Adora or wakes up early to see the blonde before work, usually somewhere quiet, dark, and out of the way. Adora’s a bit paranoid but always makes Catra feel like it’s normal. 

And it is normal. Almost painfully so, in a way that Catra’s never really had experience with. Conversation flows freely and Catra feels comfortable to be completely herself with no judgement. If she doesn’t feel like talking, it’s not terrible to listen to Adora ramble about nothing. She’s almost kinda funny.

Truly the weirdest thing is Adora’s insistence on wearing an annoying baseball cap and sunglasses most of the time. Catra’s starting to miss seeing her entire face or the way her eyes get excited about food or whatever nugget about Catra’s life that she accidentally drops.

Their surprise outing on Tuesday is a trip to the crystal store, which Catra convinces Adora is totally just a joke. Adora seems reluctant to come in once they arrive. She peeks into the window and then shoots in once she sees whatever she’s looking for. Catra isn’t sure if it’s the unnecessarily dark and mystical vibes, but Adora’s acting weird, even for her.

She heads straight towards the back, pretending to be really into perusing the merchandise. Catra pokes around a bit, but is mostly keeping her eyes on how extra fidgety Adora is. There’s a couple more folks inside and Casta seems to be in the store room somewhere, probably retrieving something. Hopefully, she isn’t watching the camera monitors in the back cause Adora’s definitely acting like she’s about to steal something.

When Catra catches up to her, she’s staring at a tray of tiny Tiger’s Eye, 20 or so that are about the size of a quarter.

“You should get this one,” Adora suggests. “Good for protection and luck, it says.”

“You don’t believe in this bullshit, do you?”

The blonde shrugs. “Maybe. Never really looked into it. I was just trying to be supportive.”

Adora doesn’t question why they’re there if Catra supposedly doesn’t care. She turns and looks at the description of a tray of Rhodonite.

“Heals hurt and bruised hearts,” Adora reads.

Catra’s heart, or rather the place where it used to be, feels like it seizes at those words. Her tail fluffs out and, for a moment, she considers just bailing on this errand. What the fuck possessed her to bring Adora along for the ride?

As if she can read those thoughts, the human reaches over and takes Catra’s hand gently. She gives a cursory glance around, probably to make sure no one’s looking, before smiling and rubbing her thumb along the back of furry knuckles.

“Come on.” She tugs Catra forward so they can continue to peruse the two rows of gems then move onto the random tarot card decks and other goods Casta has there. Adora gets distracted by a display of candles and soaps, insisting to sniff each individual one. She refuses to let Catra’s hand go, though, so they have to work as a two-person team to pick up and open everything, whispering reviews to each other.

Over the speakers, some hippie love song starts to play and Catra feels Adora move her body closer, pressing her front to Catra’s back, swaying them both side to side as she moves her hand to Catra’s hip.

“The rose is nice,” Adora murmurs.

“It’s too rosey,” Catra grumbles back. “I don’t like flowery stuff.”


She feels the blonde’s nose softly brush against the back of her neck and has to swallow down a whimper.

“What do you wear?” Adora whispers.

“Oh, there you are, Kitty Kat!” Casta yells as she emerges suddenly from the back room.

Adora springs away and is gone, disappeared into the bowels of the store immediately. 

Probably the sooner they can get out of here, the better. So Catra obediently follows Casta up to the counter where she is now, dressed like she just stopped at the Stevie Nicks Dress Barn, in a black, long-sleeve lacy number. It’s 80 degrees outside today.

“It’s finally done!” Casta announces. She grabs a canvas tote from under the counter and hands it over. Inside is a soft, green bundle of fabric.

“You knit me a blanket?” Catra asks. When Casta promised a surprise, she...well, she’s not actually sure what she should have been anticipating. The witch is nearly as unpredictable as Catra herself is.

“It’s a blanket for Melog!”

It’s unclear why Melog needs their own blanket or why Casta appointed herself as the person to make it, but it’s a kind gesture.

“They’ll love it. Thanks.”

Casta beams proudly. Then she glances behind Catra and makes a face like an exasperated mom. Catra uses her excellent peripheral vision to subtly peek over her shoulder. Adora’s hovering around, trying extra hard to pretend that she isn’t eavesdropping while being probably as obvious as humanly possible.

Two small crystals are shoved into Catra’s hand, a vivid bluish-green with streaks of gray.

“Amazonite,” Casta tells her. “For both of you. Helps you speak your heart and be true to yourself while staying in connection with others.”

“Just once, I’d love for someone to plainly tell me what they want from me,” Catra grumbles at her. Feels like everyone in her life is intentionally being as vague as possible. Like a global scheme to drive her out of her mind.

On Wednesday, Adora asks Catra to join her for a trip to a bookstore. It’s a huge, two-story nerd heaven with an impossible-seeming amount of shelves, nestled way on the eastside in midtown. Nothing at all like the dull, orderly chains nearby.

As she drags the Magicat by the hand up and down every single aisle, the blonde spends the afternoon sharing a bunch about how she grew up: Outside of Bright Moon proper in the suburbs of Thaymor, climbing trees with Adam; then glued to the TV while her parents worked constantly to grow their business and her brother was pushed to be the golden child. She got decent grades, made two life-long friends that she wants to introduce Catra to, and went away to college for sports medicine. 

“And now you sit behind a desk?” Catra asks. Seems like a waste. Though she spent 4 years (and many more before that ) studying music just to spend her nights slinging drinks, so she’s not really in a position to judge.

“Well, they let me take a 6-month sabbatical so that tells you how irreplaceable I am to the company,” Adora says with a rueful smile. 

“This is what you want to do?”

Adora shrugs. “I want kids in the next 5 years. So it's probably a good idea to keep this job that pays well enough and has perfect security cause, you know, my name's on the building. But I don't actually care enough about it to take my work home.” To herself, she whispers, “Way too early to mention kids.”

The Magicat pretends to not hear.

“You still haven’t seen anything that looks good?” Adora asks.

“I don’t really read much. Not anymore.”

She gets a hum in response. Then Adora pulls her to the other end of the store, a section that they’d definitely already checked out. It’s all the LGBT books.

Adora searches for a couple things while Catra glances around them. There’s nothing in particular calling to her until she realizes that she’s standing right in front of the queer erotica shelves.

Now, Catra is not a prude. Not at all. But she’s well aware that if she stops to browse anything here, two things will definitely happen. 1. Adora will catch her and make that stupid smirking face. B. Between that annoying smirk and Catra’s increasingly strong desire to have Adora inside of her ASAP, she’ll turn into a complete mess.

“What you got there?” Catra hears behind her as soon as she gets three sentences into something that she chose solely because it had ‘wet’ in its title.

“Nothing,” she says quickly, shoving the paperback onto the shelf.

This ruse is destined to fail since Catra is still very clearly standing right next to a bunch of porn. She looks over at Adora whose pretty little lips are quirked up just a tick.

“It’s okay. I’m not judging. Lesbian erotica is basically how I learned about sex.”

“You learned about sex...from a book?” Catra asks, brow furrowing.

Adora nods. She does not look embarrassed about this at all. “Why? How did you learn about sex?”

“Movies, I guess. Online porn. Mostly from having subpar sex, honestly.”

Adora clucks like she feels pity for Catra. It makes the Magicat’s fur bristle a bit. The blonde reaches over and picks the book back up, adding it to the stack in her hand.

“We’ll get this one too,” she announces.

“Why are we paying for porn when you can get it for free from the internet?”

The blonde laughs. “We’re supporting queer authors.”

“Aren’t you worried it’ll tell me all your tricks?” Catra jokes.

A pale thumb reaches down and winds into one of the belt loops of her shorts. Adora pulls gently, tugging Catra into her body, close enough that they’re chest to chest. Her blue eyes darken and her smirk turns just a bit more wicked.

“Not all of them,” Adora whispers. “I’ve still got plenty of surprises planned for you.”

Her nails scratch lightly against Catra’s hip as she pulls her hand back. Without another word, Adora turns and confidently strolls towards the check-out counter, leaving Catra alone and just a little breathless.

Adora takes her to a matinee of a horror movie on Thursday. Catra has to look on in shock and confusion as she witnesses the dummy spend about $100 just on snacks.

“I’ve always wondered why kind of fools get conned into paying these jacked up prices for something you could get next door at the drugstore,” she mumbles, forced to carry an armful of sweets while Adora tries to balance nachos, popcorn, sodas, and mini corndogs.

“It’s an essential part of the experience!” she responds with a mouth full of maltballs. The worst candy.

The film is absolutely terrible. It’s the 3rd or 4th in a series that neither of them has ever seen. The plot is incomprehensible and the shocks and acting are even worse.

As she ingests her body weight in sugar, Adora watches Catra out of the corner of her eye as the Magicat heckles the movie and annoys the three other attendees. Someone grumbles a curse that only Catra can just barely hear. But Adora seems to sense that she's about to pop off back cause the blonde’s hand flies to her knee to keep her in place. That stills the cat in her seat even though inside, she’s squirming to get closer to Adora.

They spend the rest of the film with Catra trying to concentrate while Adora uses her index finger to slowly draw seemingly random patterns on her bare, furry thigh.

Friday afternoon, Catra suggests plans. Or really she texts that she has to go look at records and Adora can come if she wants. 

Honestly, the last thing Catra needs is more stuff but it’s an excuse that makes her feel better about occupying more of Adora’s time. Besides, the record store Rogelio works at is usually pretty empty and there's a gyro place nearby that Adora will like.

The store is a small mom and pop one that looks more like someone’s basement than an actual business. Adora’s eyes go wide as she takes it all in before deciding to look at each record one-by-one and making absurd but meticulous arguments for what Catra should buy based on her own personal tastes. Terrible musicals. 90s alt rock that costs way more than Catra’s willing to spend. Some heavy metal album that has a woman holding a sword on the cover. The House Party soundtrack because she remembers liking that movie. 

In between this terrible advice, she holds Catra's hand and tosses out random questions. It’s all of the small talk bullshit that Catra’s been avoiding for weeks but she decides she’s feeling generous today and actually cooperates.

“How many siblings do you have?” 


“What's your favorite ice cream flavor?” 

“Mint chip.” 

“If you were a villain, what would your power be?” 

“I am and it's destroying men.”

Over by the register, Rogelio snorts.

“If you were bit by a zombie, how would you want me to handle that?” 

Catra pauses from her rapid fire answers.

“Are you asking for permission to off me?” This is actually a really good question. Very telling, in her opinion. 

“I'm learning about your leadership and self-preservation skills,” Adora explains. 

Catra narrows her eyes in thought, before nodding. “Yeah, off me. I'd do the same for you.” 

Adora looks up from an awful Christmas compilation she’d been examining. “But what if there was a secret cure?”

“I wouldn't be on the list to get it. Maybe you would, famous person, working in healthcare, whatever.” Catra huffs. “Fine. I'd lock you in a basement and put a sign on the house.” 

Rogelio grunts loudly. Catra's about to yell back that he’s a coward when Adora laughs. 

“No way. With your muscles and your thick scales, you actually have a decent chance of survival,” she says.

Ro’s eyes match the surprise that’s likely in Catra’s as well. She pokes Adora in the side with a claw.

“You know lizardtongue?”  

The blonde nods. “Some. I learned from a classmate growing up. Why?”

She looks a little alarmed as Catra suddenly grabs her by the shoulders and drags her over to the counter.

“This is Rogelio, he/him,” is all she says. It’s not much of an introduction but Catra isn’t sure what else to say. He’s the only sensible person she knows, or at least the only one who is aware of this newest development in the long-burning garbage fire that is her love life. His opinion is oddly important to Catra.

“Oh! You play the bass!” Adora yells too loudly. She’s grinning like she’s meeting an actual celebrity. “You’re amazing.”

Since he knows Adora can understand him, Rogelio tries to communicate with Catra by just looking at her like she’s an asshole. Unclear what the actual message is.

“This is Adora,” she adds.

He grunts out some platitudes about being excited to meet her. Adora doesn’t seem familiar enough with lizardtongue to understand tone cause she definitely does not detect his standoffishness.

“Catra just introduced me to your music a couple weeks ago,” she tells him. “You all are sooo talented. I love it.” Adora throws her arm casually around Catra’s waist.

The Magicat takes a chance and pulls off Adora's ridiculous sunglasses. To her surprise, there's no resistance at all, just Adora’s typically excited and shining blue eyes. Catra looks away quickly before she can get too lost in them. Not quick enough, though, cause Rogelio’s practically smirking when she turns back to him.

The two of them fall into a quick and easy conversation about typical first meeting nonsense. How long has Rogelio been playing? Does he enjoy performing live? What are some records he’d recommend based on his musical influences?

Ro answers but doesn’t seem to warm up much more to Adora. Not surprising. He tends to be reserved with strangers, especially ones that may or may not be leading his close friends on.

Adora, as oblivious as ever, continues on without noticing. She’s trying really hard to be cool, pretending that she recognizes any of the obscure bands that Rogelio just recommended. Catra can tell she’s lying from how her eyes crinkle at the edges and she trails her eyes up before replying each time.

Huh. That’s interesting. She hadn’t realized the blonde had such an obvious tell before. Good to know.

Catra’s immediately distracted from this new and wonderful piece of information by the hand on her waist sloooooowly crawling down to slip into the back pocket of her jeans.

She cuts her eyes quickly at Adora but the dummy just keeps lobbing questions at Rogelio and grinning like she isn’t openly cupping Catra’s ass in public.

“I don’t know. Catra, what do you think?” Adora asks. Then she smirks like a little shit.

“Yeah, whatever,” Catra mumbles. She has no fucking clue what the prompt was. It definitely was not a yes or no question, judging by the confused look from Rogelio and the even smugger smile from Adora.

She was a bit too focused on how warm the blonde’s hand is on her butt. It’s sensitive back there, especially so close to her tail, and the touch is maddening in all the best ways. And possessive . Adora’s grip is firm, completely confident in how she literally has Catra in the palm of her hand right now.

“We gotta jet,” the Magicat announces. She doesn’t want Adora to stop so she reaches over and grabs the blonde’s free hand to lead her away.

“Wait, you’re not gonna buy anything?” Adora asks. She thinks she’s so fucking coy as if Catra can’t see that mischeivous little gleam in her eyes.

“Nah, I got enough crap at home. Come on.” She tries tugging again but the fact that Adora doesn’t move an inch reminds her of just how strong the woman is. A fresh wave of want washes over Catra.

“I’d love to invite you both to my place next Sunday,” Adora tells them. “I’m having a small barbecue with my two best friends. We were just gonna watch the pride parade from my roof and have some beers. You should bring the whole band. And partners, dogs, whatever.”

Rogelio grunts that he’ll check and see if everyone can make it. He’s definitely not sold on this at all.

Catra’s a bit caught up on something else. “You want me to meet your friends?”

Adora chuckles quietly. “Yeah, I told you I did.”

“But you’re actually making it happen?”

For a moment, she looks a little worried. She leans closer to Catra to whisper, “Is it too early?”

Early? Is there an appropriate time to introduce your friend group to your...whatever secret thing Catra is to Adora. Kitty plaything? Detour on her way to her perfect life?

“They’re gonna like you as much as I do,” Adora promises. The hand in Catra’s pocket cups her harder for further assurance.

Right. Gotta get out of here.

“Bye, Ro! I'll text you the details.”

Adora tries to say goodbye too but Catra catches her off-guard quickly enough that she doesn’t have time to prevent herself from being dragged outside. They don’t stop until Catra’s pulled her around the corner and into the alley next to the store. Adora chuckles again, but this one is so throaty and sexy that Catra shoves her right up against the gray brick of the building. 

“You’ve been a fucking tease all week,” she accuses. It’s weak. It’s so fucking weak. Mostly because Adora still has her hand on Catra’s ass and her response is to push her entire body up against the blonde’s, trying to mold them into one.

Catra’s claws are already out cause she’s too worked up to think straight so starting a fight seems like the only logical way to deal with this situation.

“You love it,” Adora says, smooth and low, not at all like the giant dork that she is. 

Well, that just takes all the fake rage right out of Catra. Adora’s free hand goes to her other ass cheek and then their lips are meeting in a heated, very quickly escalating kiss. It’s unclear which one of them finally took this step forward but Catra’s too horny to care at this point.

She reaches up to grab a fistful of hair and keep the blonde in place so she can take the lead. Even being crowded up against the wall like this, Adora isn’t having any of that. She uses her couple of extra inches of height to lean down and maneuver Catra on the defensive.

Okay, maybe they are fighting. This definitely feels like some kind of chess match to figure out who’s really in control here.

Adora bites down on Catra’s bottom lip before peaking out her tongue and aiming for entry into the Magicat’s mouth.

Catra pulls back an inch, just to deny her. When Adora chases after her lips, Catra does it again, just to prove she can.

“Who’s the tease now?” Adora groans out.

“Ask me nicely,” Catra orders sweetly. She knows her tone is completely undermined by how both of her fangs are fully on display through her smile.

Adora moves one hand up to run through her short hair before angling Catra more fully in her muscular arms. “Is this okay?” she practically growls, still managing to make it sound genuine and vulnerable.

Fuck. Well played.

Catra hadn’t realized how transparent she was with the way that phrase affected her. If she wasn’t, she thoroughly gives it away with how quickly she dives back into kissing Adora, opening her mouth immediately and gratefully accepting the blonde’s tongue.

Gods alive, Adora is a good kisser. She throws her entire body into it, grinding her hips against Catra’s while keeping up the caresses with her hands. Her soft tongue works around Catra’s rougher one until they’re both nearly breathless. Her lips are insistent but it still feels like she’s holding back. And, fuck, does Catra want to watch Adora completely lose control.

Everything just kinda slips away. The street noise, the awful summer heat, the fact that Catra needs to be at work in like 45 minutes. All she can think about or feel is Adora all over her, kissing her like this is the most important thing in the world right now.

It briefly occurs to Catra that she must be a lot more touch-starved than she realized. Magicats are a tactile people, at least according to her experience, and Adora's been the only person to touch Catra this intentionally in months. It's so fucking fulfilling and yet she needs so much more.

Somewhere nearby a throat clears, followed by the sound of something slamming loudly.

Catra’s pretty committed to not letting anything break this cocoon she and Adora are in but the blonde has other ideas. She rips her mouth away and stands up straight as an arrow suddenly, shooting her eyes around frantically. When Adora catches sight of someone from the noodle place next door throwing a bag in the huge dumpster at the far end of the alley, she tries to spring away from Catra like they’re two kids who just got caught necking under the bleachers.

Catra doesn’t move an inch. In the back of her mind, she sorta registers that she was so safe in Adora’s arms that she didn’t even startle at the surprise presence of another person.

“It’s fine,” Catra mumbles. “He doesn’t give a shit.” 

Behind her, she can hear the guy’s footsteps retreating back inside. But when she tries to pull Adora’s head back towards her, the blonde looks ridiculously spooked.

“Shit! I shouldn’t be doing this in public.” She begins mumbling to herself about getting in trouble and how is she supposed to even keep this up.

Catra jumps back like she’s been slapped, the cause of her racing heart quickly turning from excitement to shame. Looking at Adora’s pretty face all twisted up in worry makes her avert her eyes.

“Here’s your sunglasses,” Catra mumbles, thrusting them blindly at the blonde. As soon as she feels Adora grab them, she turns and heads out of the alley. “I gotta get ready for work.”

It doesn’t matter if Adora follows or not, Catra tells herself. She just needs to get some distance between the two of them right now. This should be a sign – every time she gets close to Adora, someone comes along and swipes her feet out from under her. Every single time.

Cats are supposed to be more graceful than this.

Catra’s supposed to be smarter than this. Otherwise, she’s learned nothing from all the other dumb shit she’s done before and that would be hilariously tragic.

She doesn’t even realize that she’s not alone until there’s a pull on her elbow. Instinctively, Catra unsheathes her claws and turns to the person with murder in her eyes, only to be met with Adora’s wincing smile. The sunglasses are back on and her hat's pulled down further to obscure her face.

“Sorry. You think I’d know by now not to sneak up on you.”

Catra just keeps walking but reluctantly lets Adora link their arms together, calming down slightly at having her close again.

“I know this all sucks and it’s probably super confusing,” Adora tries to explain. “I’m just supposed to be keeping a low profile. So some stuff, like making out in public like that, has to be off the table. Just for a while. Is that doable for you?”

She asks the question as if Catra has a choice in any way. If she says no, what would Adora possibly do? Besides, it's not like Catra was gonna hire a skywriter or insist on updating their social media to have awful matching couples profile pics.

Everything she can think to respond with feels too full of bitterness or too pathetic to say out loud. So Catra just continues on in silence until she finally feels a squeeze on her arm.

“Hey,” Adora begins awkwardly. “I know it's last-minute but I'm heading to Mystacor in a couple hours. Do you think you could call out sick and come with?”

“Mystacor?” Catra repeats. It’s an annoying little seaside town, about three hours away with traffic. She’s never been into it personally, not a fan of the beach or the fresh air or the kitchiness. 

“My friends, Glimmer and Bow, are interior designers and they need to pick something up from a couple of the antique stores out there. I said I’d join them for a quick overnight trip. They rented a little bungalow on the water so we can wake up early tomorrow and get some beach time in.”

That feels loaded. The idea of her and Adora spending even more time intentionally sharing a bed. On a vacation together. Kinda. A couples trip.

Adora's got big ‘fuck up your whole life’ energy. Like the kind of person who sticks around and convinces you to save up money for a cruise. And then there you are – stuck on a cruise! With nothing but water and sugary drinks and Adora expecting you to have fun with strangers.

This has never happened to Catra (or anyone she knows) but. What she means is Adora feels like a human slippery slope. Agree to one dumb thing they suggest and pretty soon you're saying yes to life.

“Yeah, miss me with that shit,” Catra says, breezily.

“Is that a no?” 

She nods. Adora’s face looks so disappointed and Catra’s worried that if she opens her mouth, she’ll end up agreeing to change her mind. 

“Okay, that’s cool.” Adora thinks to herself for a second, before schooling her lips into a nonchalant flat line. “What about – the midnight movie at the Sunshine Cinema this weekend is Purple Rain. We were gonna go to that when we come back. You’re welcome to join.”

It’s hard to turn down Prince, especially with Adora giving such a vigorous effort to pretend that she gives not two shits whether Catra agrees or not.

“Fine. I have the earlier shift on Saturday anyway.”

“Perfect!” Adora whips out her phone and immediately begins furiously texting.

Lonnie calls an early morning practice session on Saturday, before Catra has to be at the bar. She’s a bit too sleepy to ask why Lonnie, who is very much not a member of the band, is allowed to convene them at her whim.

There’s not any time anyway since Lonnie, Kyle, and Rogelio immediately jump into an argument about which songs they need to perfect for the Tenderoni gig. The rest of the shows they've booked during Pride will figure themselves out probably in time but Tenderoni is the keystone of their summer.

If Catra were dating someone who she wanted to support her music, that’s the show she would invite that person to. But, like the past 4 years, there is no such person in her life. The party is packed every year and even certain friends – nay, acquaintances – who are “keeping a low profile” would probably be too uncomfortable there.

Adora’s already texted her three different selfies from the beach. Standing with the ocean behind her. Standing in the sun. Lying damp against a towel. The white and gold bikini she’s wearing would look so nice ripped to tatters by Catra’s claws.

“Hey, pay attention!” Lonnie yells.

Catra glances over at Entrapta, sure that that’s who she must be yelling at. But Entrapta’s uncharacteristically actually reading over the document that’s been thrust in front of her. When Catra looks up, all eyes are on her.

“I am!” she lies. “You’re overthinking this. Everything looks great.” She has literally no idea what she’s approving but it’ll probably become clear through context clues later.

Suddenly, Lonnie’s face shifts from annoyance to amusement.

“Too busy thinking about seeing Adora tomorrow? It’s been so long since we’ve met one of your girlfriends.”

Before Catra can unleash hell, Rogelio grunts a joke about how excited he is for the roof-top barbecue. He’s lying but it’s sweet or something. When Catra texted them all Adora’s invitation, the reception was lukewarm at best. Nobody in this circle likes new friends. Kyle seemed the most pumped and that was good enough to get everyone else to agree.

Entrapta’s still a wildcard. Since she works remotely, she almost never leaves the house. Having to get her out for a handful of shows is already pushing her boundaries so so much.

“We’ll all just drop in for a minute tomorrow and then leave quickly and find another party,” Catra suggests.

“I want to stay and watch the entire parade!” Kyle argues cheerfully. “I love the floats but it’s too much up close. This is the first time we’ll get to see it from a rooftop.” When Catra doesn’t look fully sold, he adds, “Plus – free food.”

Catra nods. Yeah, that does change things.

“Do you have to bring something when you go to someone’s house?” she asks. “Cause. I don’t want to.”

“Kyle, pick up some beers,” Lonnie orders and that seems to settle that for everyone. “So we’re clear on upcoming practice dates, arrival time next Friday, everything?”

She gets a round of thumbs up, even from Catra who definitely didn't hear anything that was previously said and Entrapta, who is Entrapta. Meaning she's been on an iPad ever since Lonnie originally shifted topics from the band that she's not a member of to whatever awkward disaster they're walking into tomorrow.

Lonnie moves into the next agenda item, which is apparently new songs.

As agreed upon, after Catra shared the three horribly embarrassing songs she'd worked on a couple weeks ago, Rogelio and Kyle had been tinkering with them, trying to add in more elements and get a rough sense of a direction to take them in.

“I'll listen later,” Catra dismisses. Having to confront how she’s wasting everyone’s time on rambling nonsense about her stupid crush isn’t really what she wants to do right now. Or ever. Again, taking to the seas is starting to sound like a good option.

Lonnie grits her teeth and sighs. “Fine. Let’s dive into the songs you sent a couple days ago.”

Oh, Gods. That’s so much worse.

In what could only have been a sleepwalking daze, Catra wrote and recorded a terrible number called “tub thoughtz,” (spelling and capitalization intentional) where she listed out all the random shit that comes to her mind when she's in the bath, like if her cat is actually a telepath, what happened to her best friend from middle school, what is yogurt’s real agenda and when will it makes its move, and who really really are you? Are you the sweet slice of sunshine you pretend to be? Or a trickster demon sent to seduce the soul out of me? Are you the girl who brings me home to meet your family or the honeypot who fucks up my credit and sanity? 

“It's actually so dumb that it’s perfect,” Lonnie tells her. “Girls are gonna eat that shit up.”

Lonnie is less fond of "Sexy Beast", a song that casts Catra as an anti-prince villain, while she lists out all her faults – petty, gruff, loud, a tendency to throw white men off of parapets.

“Yeah, let’s just forget that either of those ever happened. Call it a mulligan. In fact, scratch all 5 of them. I’ll come up with something better. Just give me a couple months.”

Kyle quietly whines about them not making any new music in two years. Who cares? What imaginary timetable are they on? Other than, you know...relevance, interest from fans, opportunities to make money.

“Catra.” Lonnie kneels down to look at her closely in the eyes. “Do you want to be successful?”

“Gross. No.” She’s actually kinda offended that this wasn’t blatantly clear to everyone.

“Well, too fucking bad. You’re a talented musician, you’re a fucking phenomenal singer, and you’re a semi-decent songwriter.” These seem like compliments but Lonnie’s delivering them as if she’s cussing Catra out. “You’re just gonna have to get over yourself. It's hurting everyone else’s chances.”

Catra glances around the room. She should see at least a couple supportive faces. Rogelio and Kyle get where she’s coming from, right? Or Entrapta? Entrapta’s got a whole job she’s actually serious about. She doesn’t have time for really taking Horde to the next level. They’re not gonna tour or get signed by a label or anything. This is dumb to dream about or hope for!

But there’s no sympathy in her bandmates’ steeled looks. Even Trapta looks a little bored with Catra’s attitude.

“Alright. Let’s do it. Let’s go be successful or whatever,” she grumbles. This is fine. She’s a level 5 saboteur, after all. She’ll get them to see it her way soon.

Chapter Text

“It's a tradition,” one of the producers, Oona, whispers to her. “Be grateful that I pushed for you to do it on a group date. That way, it's just photos. On a solo date, they make you write fake vows.”

“How do you write wedding vows about someone you met a month ago?” Adora wonders.

“How do kids write fake vows when they marry their dolls?” Oona smirks. “You make a bunch of empty promises that you think sound good out loud and just move on with your life.”

It took a month but Adora’s starting to make friends with some of the folks who are working around her constantly. Oona’s one of the nicer ones, dark-haired, a little serious. She’s open to helping Adora as long as it doesn’t inconvenience her in any way, which, sadly, is kinda the most she could expect.

Adora’s been asking them all about their days and their lives and making jokes since the beginning. Folks are just...not very trusting. 

“Look,” Mara had explained with a sigh, after Adora showed up at her hotel room with a bottle of scotch last week and tricked the host into consuming most of it. “Everyone wants this to work for you. We do. We just all have different opinions of how to do that best. And it doesn’t help that everyone gets incentivized to make the most watchable program. Half these folks are just trying to make sure they have a job next season. TV’s a rough business. You can’t take anything personally.”

Committed to not taking things personally at all, Adora still greets and messes around with everyone as she looks at the outfits for today. She’s not sure how a fake wedding photoshoot is supposed to bring her closer to any of the women. She’s even less sure that she wants to wear most of these dresses – there’s trains and long flowy lace and layers upon layers of gauze-like material.

“Are there any that are more...classic?” she asks. That's her mother's polite way of saying ‘less tacky.’

The clothing designer, Fisto, a large hairy man who kinda reminds her of a younger, gayer version of her dad, sucks his teeth in response. He twirls his thick mustache as he reluctantly glances over at a few dresses that haven’t been pulled out for her to review. 

“Classic elegant looks are really back in style, right?” Adora presses. She just wants something simple that doesn’t make her look like a total fool. “I mean, we want to seem relevant.” When he still doesn’t move, she looks at his black mesh tank, ignoring how she can see his pierced nipples, and smiles. “I really like your shirt.”

With a grunt, Fisto takes away some of the more audacious dresses and places a few understated ones there instead.

“Gorgeous,” Adora replies. “Got any pantsuits?”


Once they have her mic’d, Oona begins the questions. “So how did you imagine your dream wedding when you were growing up?”

Adora fights not to make a face. “I think I was more interested in planning the perfect soccer championship after-party.”

She laughs a bit awkwardly while Oona just motions for her to continue.

“I guess, maybe a few years ago, I started to think more about marriage as a real possibility. I just mostly saw my family around me, people having fun, dancing. Ooh! I want a red velvet cake.”

It's the same cake Adora wanted for the soccer championship celebration she planned for years, even though she never played on a team that won anything.

Oona doesn’t look concerned as a couple folks around her frown at not getting the response they want.

“So, imagine this for a moment here with me,” Oona starts. “It’s your wedding day. You’re about to walk down the aisle.” Adora nods to indicate that she’s following, though she still can’t quite picture it. “Who’s next to you?”

“My partner. None of that ‘father giving you’ away stuff.” Adora makes a silly face. Her dad probably thinks it's bullshit too but her mother would pitch a fit until Adam reasoned with her.

“And what does it feel like to be standing next to her?” Oona encourages.

Adora bites her lip as she thinks. She’s in a park maybe. Her friends are there, Glimmer and Bow. They’d have matching outfits and wait at the altar, next to Adam. Maybe Glimmer’s aunt, Castaspella, could be the officiant. She'd led the ceremony when Glimmer's parents renewed their vows a couple years back and hopefully Adora would be marrying someone who would be into Casta's overdramatic, witchy antics.

“Yeah,” she whispers to herself out loud. “My best friends are there. My brother. Other folks who mean a lot to us. My parents are right up front, my dad’s crying like a baby. My mom’s embarrassed about that. My partner and I walk down the aisle to some cheesy song we both love to hate. And my friend’s aunt presides and says some words about love and how the universe brought us together at just the right time. We say some words. I don’t know. I’m sure we razz each other a little bit. But we make real promises, like how we’ll put up with each other’s weird quirks all the time and we’ll try to be better every day. And then we kiss and I-...I guess, how it feels standing next to her, whoever she is? I want to be proud and happy home.” Adora pauses to swallow, once she realizes she’s been talking for so long. “Uh. Yeah, that.”

When she looks back over, Oona is smiling so Adora feels slightly less self-conscious about rambling all of that.

In the back, she hears someone sniffle and a person shush them.

“Shut up,” Fisto bellows back at them. “You cannot silence the beauty of her gay love.”


“This is not personal,” Adora repeats to herself, as Flutterina begins to step up to the fake altar they’ve built for the photoshoot. 

The blonde hasn’t spoken to the girl since she gave her a rose last week. There were people who she was less interested in and no one seemed to think Flutterina’s question about Adora actually finding a wife was as pointed as she experienced it. The producers wanted Flutterina there cause they thought she might have a chance with Adora. It was definitely not a very personal attack on the bachelorette’s integrity and seriousness about the process. Definitely.

“You look beautiful,” Adora tells her, admiring the long, off-the-shoulder number she’s wearing. It’s low-cut in the back, her wings hanging freely. All of her fuschia hair is down and billowing around her face. Adora kinda feels like a jerk for not appreciating her more before. 

“For the picture, I think you should sit and let your fiancée be in your lap,” the photographer instructs.

At Flutterina’s shy grin, Adora dutifully pulls over a chair and takes a seat. The elfin girl gingerly climbs up to rest comfortably on the blonde’s thighs, her side gently brushing against Adora’s chest. She’s so light that it makes Adora giggle. They take the first picture smiling brightly as directed. It actually genuinely helps improve the unnamed tension between them.

‘Hmm,’ Adora thinks. ‘It’s possible they’re on to something with this date.’

The heiress, Rana, wears a shimmery gown and insists on being half-dipped in her pictures. Emily looks like she wasn’t really concerned about what she grabbed and they stand in a classic prom pose, Adora holding her from behind. It’s even more awkward with the ‘account manager’ who seems super uncomfortable being there, which no one could blame her for.

Because Adora had the bright idea for her to also change outfits for each fake-bride (it just seemed more considerate not to be wearing the exact same thing with all of them), she doesn’t have much time to speak to any of the contestants between photos. They get to hover around after they’re finished but that just means that as each turn goes by, the audience of spectators gets larger and louder.

By Perfuma’s turn, Adora can barely remember how she’s supposed to stand.

“I feel like you’re overthinking this,” Perfuma whispers to her, while Adora feels like her limbs have turned into heavy, stiff logs. “Just take a breath, tune them out, and let yourself be present in the moment.”

Adora nods quickly, trying to follow. She can hear Perfuma humming a little as her long, thin arms go around Adora’s waist.

“I imagine your face hurts from smiling,” she says.

“It does!” Adora makes some exaggerated facial stretches.

“We’re going to do a few softer ones,” Perfuma yells out to the photographer. Besides the heiress, she’s the first person to give any instructions. Quieter, to Adora, she adds, “Just keep looking at me.”

Perfuma gives her a gentle, barely there smile that Adora returns easily. It’s always nice to be in her presence. Perfuma breathes calmly, chest rising and falling, and Adora decides to focus on copying her and not how the low-cut, very understated dress shows off her cleavage. That – the breathing, not the boobs – does actually help her tune in and stay present.

Adora wraps her arms around Perfuma’s upper back and pulls her a bit closer than the last few women. It just feels natural.

Slowly, the crowd goes silent, and all Adora can hear is the clicking of the camera and her own racing heartbeat.

She more or less just goes through the motions for the last 2 women, trying not to be too obvious with how she catches Perfuma’s eye from time to time.


“I’m looking for someone who gets me,” Adora tries to explain. She doesn’t know why she’s crying, except that she hasn’t really slept in the last couple days and they’re not anywhere near keeping up with her typical caloric intake. Also, there’s always someone in her face asking her the same questions over and over.

She’s answered this fucking one about what she’s looking for in a partner so many times that it’s almost lost all meaning now. They want some sob story about how she’s been cheated on or led on or something. Adora just wants to date a cute person who wants to go on adventures and joke around and take care of each other. This shouldn’t be that hard to explain.

“Look,” she tries again. “I’ve got an off-beat sense of humor. I like weird movies. I’m kind’ve the silly one in my family, never really fit in. I don’t have a lot of close friends. I don’t think people always understand me. I guess I’m just looking for a place to belong. A person to belong with.”

“We’re gonna have to take that one more time,” someone says. “The crying made you too hard to understand.”

“You’re the one who made me cry! You basically asked what was so awful about me that I wasn’t in a relationship!”

She storms off. Well, not storms. She very intentionally and carefully stands and removes herself from the confessional room, ignoring anyone who insists that they need more footage.

It was an adjustment to get used to the cameras but they’re easy to forget about now as long as she isn’t in the middle of having a near-meltdown. Which means right at this moment, they stick out like a sore thumb and she needs to be away from them as quickly as possible. Particularly, Sea Hawk, who’s nice but doesn’t really understand social cues as he moves closer and closer to get a good shot of all the snot running down her face while Adora backs herself up further against the wall.

“Woah, there,” a loud voice cuts through. “Let’s give the lady some room.”

Everyone has to jump back quickly to duck as Scorpia’s huge tail swings and creates a clear path for Adora to escape. There’s a bathroom door a few feet away and she makes a bee-line for it, stumbling a bit in her heels.

The bathroom is too tiny for how large this house is. Maybe rich people don’t want any company that visits to stay too long so they make everything seem unappealing. Adora crumbles onto the floor next to the sink, not caring if this ruins the ugly shiny gold dress they made her wear.

Maybe she’ll suggest that Glimmer and Bow can come and remodel this place. It’s actually quite hideous – severe and trying too hard. No wonder all of the contestants are on edge constantly.

“Knock knock,” Scorpia says through the door.

Adora doesn't particularly want to talk to anyone but she doesn't want to be alone either.

“You can come in," she finally says after a long pause. "No one else though.”

There’s not actually anywhere for a second person to fit, no matter how much Scorpia tries to shrink down. Between her height, muscles, and exoskeleton, she just has to stuff herself over near the toilet and make sure her long black dress stays a safe distance away.

Okay, this has gone on long enough. Adora can’t do anything to stop herself from being turned into a blubbering mess but she can talk to Hope and insist someone actually ask Scorpia about what her needs are. They bought all their group date shirts in size small only, for fuck’s sake. They could blow out this wall to make a reasonably-sized bathroom. They have literally millions of dollars at their disposal.

“You want a sip of water? A shawl? A handkerchief? I don’t have one but I’m sure I can hunt one down,” Scorpia rambles.

Adora glances up to see that Scorpia doesn’t have any of the other things she offered either. It’s kinda hard not to laugh, though it comes out all mangled. You know, cause the snot and all.

“Hey, you don’t have to be tough and hide your tears, buddy. No need to fake it for me, believe me.” Scorpia nods vehemently. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. I’m…” ‘focusing on how to help you so I don’t have to worry about myself, while you’re focusing on how to help me.’

“I’m fine,” Adora sighs.

“It’s okay if you’re not,” Scorpia tells her. 

The white-haired woman's eyes are so genuine and sympathetic. She's kind’ve a fixer, Adora notices. Even though she ends up being the person who breaks things half the time. She doesn't seem to give up easy, especially not without at least trying first. Adora's watched her knock over 3 fancy vases with her tail already and then attempt to gather all the pieces so she can glue them back together.

They have more in common than she thought, Adora realizes.

“Can you help me up?”

Scorpia takes Adora's hands in her pincers with surprising gentleness. Of course. Of course she's capable of so much grace. 

“Thanks,” Adora mumbles as she gets to her feet, feeling both a little silly and a little swoon-y. “I'm just tired. Kinda overwhelmed. Pretty afraid of screwing everything up.”

Adora's never proposed to anyone. She's not sure how many people she knows who have practice with it anyway, but she's never come close. She and her college girlfriend both knew they weren't serious enough for that. The handful of women she's been with since then were perfectly lovely but nothing was leading towards anyone being legally bound together.

“That all sounds really valid,” Scorpia replies. “Do you want to get some water and a snack and talk about it?” She glances at the closed door. “As long as the other ladies don't mind, I mean.”

Adora forgets everyone she's ever met at the mention of food. She lowers her voice, as if that'll do anything to keep the incredibly sensitive mics from learning any secrets.

“How do you have snacks?” she whispers. It's just a little desperate. 

“Why are we whispering?” Scorpia replies quietly. She's terrible at whispering. She just goes ahead and uses her normal, booming voice to say, “There’s snacks all over the house. Did no one tell you?”


After Mara announces that the rest of the cocktail party is cancelled, Adora has to pretend that she doesn’t hear the usual din of excitement and anxiety turn into a lot of disgruntled grumbling. 

She worked at a chicken shack one summer and, once, they ran out of fries for a whole week cause of an issue with the distributor. Much like that harrowing time, Adora’s just waiting for someone to find her hiding and berate her over things that feel totally out of her control, no matter how much responsibility she’d like to take for them.

While everyone’s gathering, which seems to take forever because apparently everyone has to go to the confessional and complain about how this isn’t fair, Adora practices finding as many places to hide as possible. It does nothing to stop the crew from chasing her around, trying to keep jellybeans and apples out of her mouth cause the audio of ‘mouth sounds’ disgusts everyone who works here and is forced to wear a headset.

Apparently, there are indeed snacks all around the mansion, because it's actually a house where people live. The candy jars in the den have real candy. She finds a pantry with rice cakes. Scorpia almost gets some cold pizza out of the kitchen before being caught.

Wisely, someone decided they just couldn't tell Adora where the snacks were cause they didn't trust she wouldn't try to constantly eat on camera and fuck up all the audio. And cause she technically doesn't live there and it's food for the contestants.

Fine. Maybe it wasn’t a dastardly plot against her, just a common tv rule to make sure they have usable footage. But, like, give a girl some edamame every couple hours. 

After 30 minutes of sneaking, hiding, snacking, getting caught, and lectured, Adora's finally not hangry. She still hates the question she was asked that started this all but the situation is reduced to defcon 5.

Scorpia gets the first rose. As Adora hands it over, the taller woman leans close to whisper, “It’s all gonna be alright. You’re doing great.”

Adora has to pause to go in the back and cry some more. This one's a good cry, though! Scorpia's just so wonderful.

“Are you on your period?” Hope asks. For a brief moment, Adora wonders if a contestant has ever challenged a producer to a physical fight. This might be a historic season for a multitude of reasons now.

Adora's decked Adam for saying far less offensive things before.

They’re only a month in. Adora’s always followed the rules. All of elementary school, she stayed in girl scouts even though she fucking hated it and would have been much happier in karate class like she had asked her parents. She took business management as a minor because her dad insisted it would be helpful with Grayson Health, ignoring that Adora wanted to do hands-on work with athletes in recovery.

“Regardless to what anyone tells you about contracts or expectations, this is your show. Your journey,” Teela had shared before she left. “You do it your way.”

Rules are important. Adora abides by them. Looking at Hope’s hard face, she's not sure that's gonna last much longer.


Okay, for real now. Hope is absolutely giving less time to people who Adora shows a genuine interest in. This is not made up.

She said she liked Mermista early on and the woman’s basically been abducted by aliens since then. After that interaction with Scorpia, one of the producers tells her that she should really get to know Flutterina, of all people.

“Maybe she’ll surprise you,” they say.

‘With a crowbar to my knees,’ Adora thinks. She’s smart enough not to voice this out loud. Flutterina does not like her but she seems to definitely be obsessed. With Adora or just pretending so she can stay on the show – or both? The producers won't stop hyping her up.

Adora had given her a chance on that photoshoot date but at the cocktail party afterward, Flutterina only talked about other women in the house who she felt like had ulterior motives to be there.

“I just want to make sure that you’re being very careful,” she had said in a weirdly cryptic way that freaked the blonde out. Adora gave very clear instructions that Flutterina was not allowed to request that she show up anywhere, particularly Adora’s room, and ‘surprise’ her with anything like people sometimes do on the show. 

“I want a one-on-one date with Mermista,” Adora repeats.

“You have to remember to give everyone else a fair chance.”

“Fine,” she replies, forcing herself to smile. “Then that’s what we’ll do this week. Cancel all the smaller dates and we’ll have one big date.”

Hope’s steely face almost twitches. “We’ve already made plans, Adora. We can’t just change them. The women have certain expectations.”

“The weather’s gorgeous. Let’s go to the beach. That’s one of my favorite things to do. And it’s romantic. Everyone can be included and get the same amount of time.”

Adora nods, proud of herself. This is flawless logic. She’s never asked for anything – except to be fed a reasonable amount of times. And she’s never received anything – except excuses about how the food is only for staging, so she can push for this. Adam cancelled dates all the time on his season. He’d get bored and was so used to getting what he wants that probably no one ever argued. Adora’s not gonna be denied this one thing just because she’s a woman.

“Equality!” she adds.

In her right hand, Hope grips the clipboard a little harder. 


Everyone starts screaming as soon as the bachelorette appears, wearing a white bikini that’s a lot skimpier than she would ever choose for herself. In fact, Adora had packed a tankini top with board shorts. Fisto had a dramatic fit. But he also tried to get her to wear a bunch of gold bangles to the beach so he’s now on the list of people whose judgment is...skewed.

At least the bikini is a hit. Even though it’s super awkward to stand in front of 14 women and wait for them to cheer for you for just showing up.

Adora takes a deep breath to calm her nerves. In the back of her mind, she notes that Mermista didn’t actually lose her shit upon seeing the blonde; she just kinda smirked. Woof, Adora really has a type. Glimmer was exactly right about the kind of woman she’d immediately gravitate towards. But today’s about giving everyone a chance.

So she decides to say as much. “Thank you all for indulging me today. I know some of you might have been excited for more intimate dates. I really want to get to know you all better and do something that’s casual and fun. There’s some volleyball set up – no competitions today.” An awkward laugh bubbles up out of her throat. “Let’s just have a good time!”

The women all cheer again. The beach is beautiful, it’s just a little overcast and the water looks so blue and gorgeous. What a waste it would have been to visit Eternia and not spend some time at the shore. Production had to scramble to get everything closed off appropriately but it’s worth it. 

This is promising. 


Emily never stops following Scorpia around long enough for Adora to talk to her.

With so many people who she hasn't spent much time with vying for her attention, Adora only ends up talking to Scorpia, Perfuma, or Mermista when she peeks into their quick game of volleyball. Everyone pulls her from end to end of the small beach space that they’re allowed to film on until she breaks off from the last person and wanders back to the game. Because she enjoys sports. Not because she’s hoping to see anyone in particular.

“It’s just a friendly scrimmage,” Perfuma whispers through gritted teeth as she has to quickly put her hands up to keep from getting beaned in the face by a particularly vicious spike.

“That’s what losers always say,” Mermista, the one delivered said spike, quietly shoots back. The slim scraps of material that technically count as her turquoise bikini don’t really do much to cover her generous chest, especially during a competitive game of volleyball. 

Unfortunately, three different people catch Adora’s blue eyes paying just a bit too close attention. Respectfully. With an awkward cough, the blonde quickly turns to the closest person to strike up a conversation.

More unfortunately, it’s Flutterina, eyes already alight deviously. 

She cycles through some questions about how much fun Adora is having and what's her favorite part of the day, while the blonde lobs back a few polite but non-committal answers as she pretends to be engrossed in following the game.

It works fairly well until Scorpia kindly heads to the other side of the net and attempts to help Perfuma perfect her form. It involves a lot of... touching and blushing, Scorpia’s large arms wrap around the smaller blonde as she explains how she alters her stance so she can hit the ball without piercing it with her pincers. Somehow, this requires such a hands-on demonstration, which makes them both flustered.

That's. Interesting?

“They’re very close,” Flutterina helpfully points out. “Perfuma and Scorpia, I mean. They spend a lot of time together, I noticed. In the pool, doing yoga, making lunch.”

“That’s nice,” Adora replies, trying to make her voice as neutral as possible. Apparently following Bow’s advice and focusing only on the relationships she’s building involves holding her breath and trying to crush the brief jealousy blooming in her chest. “What about you? Are you making friends with anyone in the house?”

Flutterina’s smile freezes. She has to blink twice quickly to reset and Adora sees for the first time that her eyelids are a little more lizard-like than the rest of her pixie-esque features.

“Well, I try to be friends with everyone. Some people stay in small groups or keep to themselves, like Mermista, so it can be hard to get to know everyone.”

Adora hums in acknowledgement of that. Mermista hasn’t once mentioned literally anyone else in the house. She kinda wonders if that’s how she would be if she was a contestant. It’s more likely that she’d be like Emily and stick close to her one friend.

Oh. Emily probably has a crush on Scorpia. Nevermind.

Wait. Does everyone have a crush on Scorpia?

Adora thinks about asking Flutterina but worries that both: it’ll look bad on tv and she’ll give Flutterina something to whisper to everyone else about.

“Why don’t you tell me more about yourself?” she asks instead. “I don’t think I know what you do for a living.”

“I’m an artist,” Flutterina replies. “And you work for your parents’ company. What’s your relationship like with them? Must be tough being Adam Grayson’s baby sister?”

Adora smiles so it doesn’t look odd as she grits her teeth. Is that sore spot obvious to everyone or is Flutterina just that good?

She huffs out a long puff of air slowly. No. Flutterina must be there for a real reason – to find love. She just probably doesn’t know how to show vulnerability.

Maybe it’s a good idea to model that for her.

“It’s not too bad,” Adora says. “Adam’s always been more outgoing, more able to pull people in like a magnet. But I’ve gotten pretty good at finding people who want to be around me. What about your family? Any...challenging dynamics you’ve had to navigate?”

Completely caught off-guard again, Flutterina looks like she almost swallows her tongue for a second. Adora watches as her eyes shift up towards the sky.

“Not really,” is all she’ll say.

“Can I steal you?” Adora hears.

With a glance to her other side, suddenly Starla is there, smiling kindly.

Adora turns back to apologize to Flutterina, but she’s already gone, slinking away to join a group of women building sandcastles.

“Uh, yeah, of course.”

Full attention on Starla, Adora notices her blue bikini decorated with yellow stars. 

“You look really nice,” she comments.

Starla smiles shyly. “Thanks. You too.” Her eyes drift away and Adora worries for the first time that conversation might not come to them as easily as before. But when Starla looks back, it’s to ask, “Come swim with me? Let’s catch up.”

“We’ll just be a few minutes,” Adora tries to assure the panicked PA who she throws her mic pack at. She has to ignore multiple yelled warnings as Starla takes her hand and races with her into the water.

The sea is amazing on her skin, just cool enough after being in the daymoon for so long. It's so much clearer and cleaner than Mystacor. It's pretty exciting to think that Eternia isn't even the most amazing place she'll see while they're filming. As they get closer to the end, production will be taking them to all the most romantic places across Etheria.

When Adora resurfaces, she's greeted by Starla trying to float on her back. 

“You know those trips they always take on this show? Anywhere you'd want to go?”

“This is probably the exact opposite of you cause you live there but,” Starla pauses to shrug one shoulder. “I haven't been to Bright Moon since I was a kid. I’d love to explore and see a show and eat everything.”

Adora perks up at that. Maybe it was too early to think about how she'd potentially have to settle on a place to share with whoever she chose. But most of the women were scattered all over the world and, in the back of her mind, Adora kept wondering how that would work. Who would have to compromise? Starla being interested in Bright Moon felt like a positive sign.

“So, uh, what did you want to talk to me about?” Adora asks.

“Nothing,” Starla replies with a serene smile. “I just thought you might want a couple minutes to pretend to be a normal person on a trip to the beach.”

Adora stares at her gratefully, intentionally giving her those big puppy dog eyes that Glimmer always mocks her for.

“Thank you,” she adds, just in case that’s not enough.

Starla laughs easily. “You don't have to thank me. I felt like you could use a break. Besides, if the bachelorette isn't having fun then this isn't fun for any of us.”

Adora wades for a few more moments, allowing her to just watch Starla's features, her tender brown eyes and cute round cheeks. There's just a hint of tan freckles there, right next to her nose. Freckles are cute – Adora never really thought much about them but she decides that she’s into that now. (Perfuma has freckles too and she's gorgeous.)

“Is that why you signed up? For fun?”

“I thought it would be an interesting thing to try.” Starla bites her lip before throwing in, “Plus I thought you were really cute.”

Adora paddles over to kiss her gently. It’s pretty tame, just a quick peck, but Starla’s lips are soft and sweet.

“Tell me more about you please. Desert island books?”

Starla hums quietly in thought. “Give me whatever lesbian or queer young adult fantasy books you’ve got on hand and I’ll be happy.”

“Ooh, same. Do you have any tattoos?”

She laughs. “Not any you’ll be seeing before Fantasy Suites.”

Adora has to duck half her face underwater for a second to keep from blushing. No one has mentioned the overnight dates yet. Does that mean Starla’s looking forward to that? The idea makes Adora shiver just a bit in excitement.

“What do you do for fun?” she asks to distract herself. “Besides date dorks on tv?”

Starla smiles, seemingly grateful to Adora for not getting stuck on the mention of...physical parts of their relationship. She slowly turns over to paddle on her stomach as she begins to list off all the adventures that she and her siblings get up to. 


As it gets later in the day and everyone has more champagne, Adora notices the amount of wandering hands has started to grow. Everywhere she looks, someone is rubbing moonblock all over a well-muscled back or playfully tussling in the water. They’ve all paired off or formed small groups. While this whole thing is supposed to center around Adora theoretically, she feels awkward trying to impose on anyone.

Mermista’s nowhere to be found though. This is probably the only chance to catch up with her.

Adora wanders off in the direction of the confessional they’ve set up in a small corner of sand. The whole crew is sweating and miserable in their tshirts and jeans so it takes her even longer to get there, pausing to grab bottles of water and hand them out to whoever will accept them.

As she comes over, she just barely catches the tail-end of Mermista cackling at something inside before announcing that she’s done. Usually the blonde waits to be told to leave but apparently Mermista calls her own shots. That’s pretty hot. 

There’s some rustling where Adora imagines they’re helping her back into the beach mics, horribly ugly puka shell necklaces that make them all look like 90s suburban mallrats.

“This suit’s really working for you, by the way,” she hears Mara whisper. Adora didn’t even realize she was on set today. There was nothing for Mara to announce or introduce. Maybe the blonde thought kinda foolishly that she could count on Mara to be more honest and transparent with her moving forward, after their tipsy hang-out.

Adora gives a small peek around the corner only to find Mermista smirking at Mara. The latter is dressed in a way that almost never happens on camera, wearing an all-white linen shirt and slacks, long brown hair flowing loosely down her shoulders and back. Why is she so effortlessly good-looking and cool? 

The host’s gaze...well, she’s not looking at the suit , that’s for damn sure. 

“Yeah? Let’s hope my date likes it half as much as you do,” Mermista says back to her, not bothering to whisper at all. Nothing about her tone is flirty but her lips quirk up just a tad as she walks away, hips swaying with purpose.

“Hey,” Oona says, suddenly right next to Adora.

The blonde hears herself let out a yelp as she jumps maybe a full foot in the air in surprise, but she's a bit too busy trying to make sure she doesn't topple over into any of the fake walls and giant lights they set up. She’s scrambling, she knows, but there’s literally nothing Adora can do about it at this point as her instincts completely fail her. That one tiny jump somehow turned into a complete loss of equilibrium and, with so much expensive shit around, she’s destined to crash sideways into at least half of it.

Right as she's certain she's gonna fall, reaching for truly anything solid to grab onto for balance, including Oona, who quickly steps away, Adora's stopped by a pair of strong but silky smooth set of hands. Fingers wrap around her upper arms to catch her. Vaguely, Adora thinks that she and her savior probably look like a plus sign together, based on her own trajectory.

“You were seriously just gonna stand there and let her split her fucking face open?” she hears Mermista ask from above. Much like always, her voice doesn’t really raise but Adora can tell that she’s genuinely annoyed, as opposed to how ‘pretend’ annoyed Mermista usually is. 

“It all happened so fast,” Oona replies, not sounding concerned. Out of the corner of her eye, Adora sees Oona motion a random cameraperson over.

“Yes, Oona, fearless leader, I am here,” Sea Hawk sings as the producer tries to shush him. The crew doesn’t have mics so most of what they say could usually be edited out, Oona has explained. Except Sea Hawk, whose voice seems to carry through doors/walls/etc. and into everyone’s sound equipment.

He won’t make it til the end of the season, Oona has assured Adora, who actually kinda finds him amusing. Everyone is pretending to be concerned about her journey towards true love. Not Sea Hawk. He just wants to tell his own stories about sailing around the Eternian Sea and sing improvised songs and loudly greet everyone ‘good morning’, even after he’s been asked to shut up repeatedly.

He’s as close to ‘normal’ as anyone gets here.

“This fucking guy,” Mermista whispers with great disdain as he points his camera at the two of them. “Unbelievable.” She manages to right Adora, with only a little help from the blonde herself.

“Thanks!” she immediately chirps. With a nervous laugh, Adora tells her, “I don’t know what happened there. One second, I was fine, and the next, I was heading down.”

“You’re a goof,” Mermista says plainly. She must make a face cause the woman adds, “I mean, not like a huge one. It’s fine. It…looks good on you.”

Adora knows she’s blushing this time and doesn’t even care. She’s tipsy enough and has had enough practice today to get over some of her nerves. 

“What else looks good on me?” she tries to whisper into Mermista’s ear, wanting to tease the girl for overcoming her nonchalance and saying something nice.

“I don’t know? A penguin onesie or something cutesy like that?”

Adora frowns. That’s not exactly the sexy vibe she was going for.

“I know what you mean,” Mermista says, rolling her eyes. “Come on. I’m not into these weirdos eavesdropping. Get this mic off and carry me into the water and I’ll let you shamelessly flirt with me for as long as you want.”

It’s the most exciting offer Adora’s gotten all day.


The date card says, ‘Starla, let’s spend some time horsin’ around. – Adora’

For some reason, she thought she’d get to write out the date cards but Adora doesn’t get to choose the dates (and barely gets to decide who even goes on them) so that made no sense. It’s a horse pun so it sounds like she wrote it, even if it is a card full of lies.

For Starla, especially, she wants the process to feel more like actual dating. Everyone else seems nice enough but Starla really listens and gives as much as she takes. Adora likes everyone more or less. It’s just hard not to keep circling back to Starla in those quiet moments when she’s all alone.

At the house, Starla isn’t ready yet. Usually, the production asks everyone to awkwardly sit in one room and wait so they’re all forced to watch Adora pick up their rival for a date.

Today, it seems like a handful of folks have decided to ignore these instructions. Flutterina’s there, smiling brightly and pretending to care, while making conspiratorial eyes at anyone who will look at her. 

The half dozen other women are all vibrating with nervous energy, looking caught off-guard by Adora’s appearance in their personal space. There’s way more oversized boxers and glasses and natural skin than she’s used to seeing.

“You all look great,” Adora tells them genuinely. Most of the women sneer like she’s just taking pity on them. Feeling awkward, she tries for some casual conversation. Except, the only topic she can think to ask about is, “Where’s everyone else?”

In this group of still mostly distant faces, Flutterina elects herself spokesperson, it seems. With a smile, she explains, “Starla’s still getting ready. Perfuma and Scorpia are on a jog around the grounds. Mermista’s up in her room.”

Every sentence, she delivers with some kind of hidden message that Adora doesn’t feel nearly smart enough to suss out. For that last line though, Flutterina raises an eyebrow ever-so-subtly towards upstairs.

“She’s probably reading,” Rana offers. “You shouldn’t bother her.”

“Adora, totally feel free to head up and check in with her,” Flutterina insists.

“You’re fine down here with us,” Rana argues. “No need to worry about what’s going on upstairs.” She cuts her eyes at Flutterina. “We don’t need more distractions.”

No one else looks like they want to intervene on whatever this weird conversation is. Adora takes it upon herself to mumble that she just wants to look around the house for a minute, maybe wait for Starla upstairs.

“Unless I, uh, miss her somehow,” Adora clarifies. “Then you should tell her to wait down here for a minute and I’ll be right back.”

She rushes off before they can respond. She hasn’t spent much time here but the cameraperson following her isn’t exactly sly about nodding towards which bedroom door she’s looking for.

Adora knocks quietly and waits. After a minute or so, when she doesn’t get an answer, she knocks again. “Hey, Mermista? It’s Adora. I just wanted to see if you’re okay.”

From behind the bland, white door, she thinks she hears some frantic fumbling. Maybe Mermista is naked? If she was in her room alone, Adora would b-....her mind kinda stops and explodes at the idea of Mermista just on the other side of this wall, completely nude.

“Yeah, give me a sec,” the girl calls back. There’s more quiet talking and it seems oddly...agitated?

Also. Is there more than one voice? No one mentioned Mermista having a roommate and unless she’s rooming with Scorpia or Perfuma, she should be alone.

...unless. Gods, what if Adora forgot about one of the women? That could totally happen. Was Emily even downstairs with the rest of them?

She’s in the middle of a spiral about what a heartless monster she is, while mentally counting all of the remaining contestants, when Mermista calls out.

“You can come in now.”

Adora takes a deep breath to shake herself from her thoughts and to prepare for possibly seeing Mermista in a bed. She turns the knob slowly, so there’s still a chance for Mermista to change her mind, before quietly stepping inside the room.

For this date, Adora decided to wear light colored jeans, a white oxford, and a gray suede stetson hat that Fisto had given her to match the gray cowboy boots he chose. It makes sense for later but she feels completely ridiculous wearing them into someone’s bedroom.

Mermista only briefly glances up when the bit of light from the hallway breaks into the spot of early morning daymoon she’s enjoying in her bed. Wearing a hoodie, boyshorts, and out-of-style squared-shaped blocky glasses, Mermista looks up from where she’s reading a paperback book in a sea of pillows. There’s not a spot of makeup on her face for the first time since Adora’s met her and it makes her look even more amazing. Her skin seems so soft and also much younger and more innocent than what Adora is used to.

She gives a dreamy sigh as soon as their eyes meet. “Hey.”

“Hey,” Mermista says, seemingly unimpressed as always.

“What are you up to? You weren't downstairs with everyone.”

“Yeah, I don't need to see you off on dates, Adora,” she replies, mildly. “No offense but you can miss me with that.”

“What are you reading?”

“Mer-Mystery: A Watery Grave.”

With her index finger, Mermista pushes her glasses from the bridge of her nose where they've started to slip. Adora's never gone in for the nerdcore look but she's very open to it if this is secretly Mermista's thing.

Maybe that's all that was happening earlier, with the noise and rushing around. Just Mermista trying to protect her image. She is a professional cheerleader after all.

Something about the idea of being trusted with this part of her is pretty hot to Adora.

Gods, she's a mess for this girl. She can’t even see Mermista without feeling like she’s breaking out into a sweat.

Moving slowly towards the bed, Adora takes off her silly hat and wets her lips. Mermista only raises an eyebrow as the blonde shifts the book out of her hands and onto the dresser. When Adora kneels onto the bed, Mermista relaxes back on her pillows and eagerly pulls Adora into her arms.

They come up for air about 15 minutes later. Vaguely, Adora thinks it's weird that no one's interrupted them. She didn't let a camera follow her inside but she's still mic’d so they definitely caught every word and sound that came out, all of Mermista's commands and her own breathless sighs.

“I have to go,” Adora whispers against hurried lips.

Mermista had kissed like a hurricane. Strong and demanding, easy to get lost in. Adora could have spent the whole day there and not noticed the passing of time.

“Yeah, I know,” is the mumbled reply. “Wish I could have a one-on-one date. I love horses. I played water polo for a few years growing up.” 

Thankfully, Adora's still half-sitting so it's not totally noticeable when she swoons. 


“ played water polo? On horses? In actual water?”

Mermista shrugs, like that isn't absurd. “Yeah, that’s how we do it in Salineas.”

Adora can’t imagine how any of this is safe or logical or what the horses would want. Are there mallets? Where are the goals? 

Before she can ask more questions though, Mermista continues.

Off-handedly, she says, “They were having some real fun, picking Starla for a date like this when they know she's afraid of horses.”

Adora's eyebrows shoot up towards the ceiling.


“I'm not afraid of horses,” Starla denies, as they're walking up to the beach. She’s in a matching cowgirl outfit that she does not look at all comfortable in. The hat doesn’t even really work with her huge, curly hair. “I just don't have a lot of experience with them. I'm used to smaller animals.”

When the horse is directly in front of her, she turns cold, hand tightening in Adora's grip.

The gray-haired butch in holding the reins introduces each animal as Adora coos at them. “This is Xena,” she explains, pointing at a large, dark brown mare. “And this is Gabrielle,” she says with a bit more softness, stroking the mane of a smaller tan-colored steed.

Adora snorts out a quiet laugh, enjoying the reference to such a formative part of her sword lesbian upbringing. When she looks over for Starla to join in, the other girl is practically shaking.

“Okay,” Adora says calmly. “I think maybe today's not a good day for a ride. I'm happy just meeting them. We can go for a walk on the beach instead.”

“No,” Starla shakes her head. “You love horses. This is fine.”

As soon as Xena takes one step towards her, Starla shrieks at the top of her lungs, startling both horses and Adora terribly.

They compromise. Adora rides Xena with Starla plastered to her back, eyes closed and yipping every time the horse does anything. Trots, huffs, really anything. It's not the calming beach ride at dusk that she had in mind but it's still fun. 

“I'm sorry this was so awful,” Adora tells her at dinner.

“It wasn't,” Starla swears. “I pushed myself. I learned something new. The moonset was gorgeous, at least.”

Adora nods in agreement.

“I want you to feel comfortable telling me if you're not having a good time.”

“I don't think that's who either of us is,” Starla admits, with a laugh. At Adora's frown, she explains, “We're compromisers. I can already tell that you're like me. You don't mind crunching yourself down so someone else can fit.”

Adora thinks about that for a moment. She wishes the dinner was actually edible. She always thinks better when she's eating.

“I don't want to be though,” she says, finally. “Do you?”

Starla slowly shakes her head.

“So... pact?” Adora extends her pinky and reaches over so that her hand is inches from where Starla's sits on the table. “No crunching ourselves down? Especially not for this.” She waves around at the prying cameras.

Starla smiles before hooking her pinky in Adora's. “You're on.”

Chapter Text

Catra went to sleep in a funk and she woke up in a worse one. Between Lonnie and everyone insisting that she had to start trying and knowing that she was willingly walking into Adora’s for some weird...semi-relationship thing, her stomach was all twisted up in knots.

Trying at shit wasn’t really something Catra did. She had but that was years ago. Attempting to attain perfection, hoping that would secure love or kindness. It didn’t. Hours of practice and worrying and caring and focusing on every little detail never got her anywhere. No need to risk that again.

Ugh, and it’s Pride. The city of Bright Moon goes way too hard on Pride. It last for fucking weeks and there’s a million events, all over the place in different neighborhoods. Horde’s playing like 5 shows in 20 days and Catra’s already exhausted just thinking about it.

It’s kinda cute that they get to take a break today and just watch the dumb parade like normal people. Especially since the bar is gonna be fucking bonkers most weekends now. She’s had to move around a bunch of her work schedule to accommodate the shows but that just means she’s gonna be taking up shifts on a whole lot of slower nights to make up the loss of income.

About 30 minutes later than the time they all agreed to, Catra strolls into Adora’s building. She expects to take the elevator up and join everyone for a bit before dipping early.

To her surprise, she finds Lonnie, Rogelio, and Kyle in the lobby, lounging against each other on the floor, while two six-packs of beer build up a puddle of condensation next to them.

They all look horrified, like she just announced she’s a conservative. At first, Catra begins to prepare an argument for how she’s not really that late, until she realizes that they’re staring at her outfit.

It's her typical mishmash of random clothes, truly a ‘I’m not having sex tonight’ special – a white oversized men's dress shirt, long tube socks with lime green stripes, bright pink high-top sneakers, a gold baseball cap, bike shorts under her cut-offs even though it's way too hot for that, black suspenders, and a blue plaid shirt tied around her waist. 

Wordlessly, a look passes between the three of them and then Lonnie and Rogelio physically drag her out of the lobby and into the alley next to the building. 

“You’re supposed to look at yourself in the mirror and take one item off, not add 4 more,” Kyle mutters. He looks like he’s near angry tears. What’s the big fucking deal here?

“Did your closet whoop your fucking ass?” Lonnie asks. “Can you take just one thing seriously?”

Rogelio grunts at her about intentionally trying to turn people off. Yeah, that’s the whole plan!

Catra’s suspenders fly into the dumpster next to them. Her socks and shoes go into Kyle's backpack. The plaid shirt around her waist is suddenly on Lonnie's instead. It actually matches her black T-shirt/blue jeans situation. Kyle takes the hat, which is a mistake cause it just makes him look younger and even twinkier if that's possible, especially in his rainbow tanktop

“The shorts will just have to do. You’re gonna have to switch shirts, though,” Lonnie announces, seconds before Catra feels the June daymoon hit her bare chest. “Of fucking course, a bra is the one item you don’t have on.”

“Well, I didn’t know you were planning to go all Fairy Godmother in a fucking alley!”

“It’s Pride,” Kyle points out. “No one will notice a topless woman. They’ll just assume you’re celebrating.”

They throw Rogelio’s plain white tshirt over her head. It’s practically falling off of her, a whole lot of collarbone peeking through the neckline. Kyle scoops up the bottom and ties it into a knot at her waist.

While Kyle is running his hands through Catra’s hair to make it look like it’s intentionally a total mess, Lonnie yanks the red bandana out of his back pocket. He wraps up the look by tying it around her hair like a headband.

Rogelio, who effortlessly looks great in the thin, white dress shirt Catra was previously sporting, snaps a quick photo to show her the finished product.

“This doesn’t even look like me,” she grumbles. “It's Madonna in the ‘Borderline’ video.”

Rogelio grunts and then gives her a low, rumbling laugh.

“I didn't say it wasn't an improvement,” she mutters through gritted teeth. “But there's no point. What am I even supposed to do with this?”

Lonnie answers, “Try to behave like a normal, reasonable person who’s interested in a girl today.”

And she leads them all away before Catra can complain more.

Adora's outfit for the barbecue makes Catra realize that she hasn't seen her in her full glory before –  face uncovered and dressed to hang out. Instead of sweats or workout clothes, the blonde is wearing an oversized short-sleeved pink floral print shirt with palm trees that billows out, even around her broad shoulders. It's unbuttoned down almost to her bellybutton where Catra can see a dark green sports bra that perfectly matches the color of the palms. She pairs this with black cutoff shorts that she leaves stringy around the knees and a pair of classic throwback basketball shoes. That dumb poof is gone, her hair all pulled up in a messy gay little bun.

Wouldn't it be so nice if this Adora fucked her until she couldn't walk, Catra thinks.

Then the blonde looks up from her two friends, sees her, and her whole face turns into this dorky excited puppy grin. If anything, this somehow just makes Catra want her even more. 

This is her type now, apparently. This open, caring goofball dressed like a mix of a teenage boy and someone's grandpa. To be fair, that style actually describes most of the people Catra’s dated.

Adora opens her mouth, making that face like she’s about to yell out in excitement. This is, sadly, something she does often. She catches a look at her friends and seems to decide to put a lid on it.

“I’m glad you all could make it,” she says instead.

The roof is smaller than Catra would have imagined. There’s enough space for a couple picnic tables, a propane grill, and some lawn chairs. Adora’s already got hot dogs, buns, and the fixins all set up. She sees a little cooler, which she imagines houses the beers Adora and her friends are holding. Besides that, it’s more chill than she had expected. There’s some decent music playing, gay retro jams.

Maybe Catra will consider actually sticking around for a little while? This doesn’t seem like too heavy of a lift.

“Hey, Adora,” she greets. And then she has to fight not to wince. That sounded way too familiar. She didn’t bother to ask how she’s supposed to behave in front of Adora’s friends, but she’s probably not allowed to act like they have thorough knowledge of each other’s mouths.

Adora's eyes shift nervously to the couple with her. They’ve now turned to watch the newcomers so they don’t catch that, thankfully. That’s a big part of why Catra is so concerned about today. After billing this as the big meeting of friends (in her own head), she’d actually ended up being introduced to Bow and Glimmer the night before. It was at a movie though, so they fortunately didn’t get a chance to talk. But Catra knows they must have seen her and Adora holding hands, based on how Glimmer's curious eyes were on her the whole time. The Magicat ran off as soon as the end credits had started to roll, disinterested in whatever interrogation Glimmer was probably gonna try for.

Today, Bow smiles like he’s genuinely happy to see her again. He’s in a white cropped tank with a huge red heart in the center of it, the arm sleeves hanging so low on his sides that Catra can see fading top surgery scars. Oh. That reminds her of what Adora said in passing once, some spaces assuming her friends were a cis, straight couple. She makes a mental note to herself, just in case they actually show up in Hidey Hole, like she’d suggested. Just to keep an eye out and show up for him if needed. Being a good ally or something. Definitely not at all about being nice to people Adora cares about.

Glimmer, on the other hand, is deeply unimpressed. She’s wearing the hot pink lycra crop top and high-waisted shorts combo of Catra’s nightmares with high-top purple sneakers. Everything about her vibe screams that she’s difficult and the Magicat can honestly relate.

Adora introduces everyone, has people share their pronouns, and accepts Kyle’s gift of beers.

“It’s so cool that the whole band could join. I know you’re all so busy,” she gushes.

“Except Entrapta,” Catra says. “She doesn’t really do public visits.”

The blonde frowns in confusion. “She got here half an hour ago. Did she not tell you?”

For a moment, Catra thinks of asking if Adora’s sure. But there’s not a single other person on Etheria who looks like Entrapta. It’s possible that she finally created a robot clone to take care of all of her social obligations. That technology seems years away though.

A glance at the others tells Catra that this is a surprise to them as well.

“She friended me on IG,” Adora adds. “I just asked if she was coming today. We talked a little bit and she said yes. She really liked my tv. Said she wanted to set it up so I could binge some anime that she loves.”

Oh. Well. Now Catra can’t leave without her roommate. And Entrapta could be here literally for hours while trying to trick out Adora’s smart tv to access all the content that the engineer swears everyone should be consuming.

“That’s great,” Kyle beams as he starts handing out beers.

To Catra’s annoyance, everyone breaks off into groups quickly. This is her least favorite part of parties. She’s never in the right place and doesn’t know how to enter conversations that are already happening. So she ends up looking like the bitch that’s standing alone and doesn’t want to talk to anyone.

Rogelio and Lonnie elect themselves to take over the grill, where Adora has some chicken going. Kyle strikes up a very enthusiastic conversation with their host about music and some mutual interests that Catra doesn’t catch. Bow and Glimmer are already together. There’s still time to find an excuse to go inside and spend the whole party hiding with Entrapta.

That is, until Bow and Glimmer somehow approach Catra from both sides, bright smiles already in place. Bow’s is sweet but his eyes look unsure; Glimmer’s is lethal.

“So, Catra, how long have you known Adora?” the girl asks.

“Uh, two months maybe? You?”

Glimmer continues like she didn't hear the second-half of Catra's answer. “How'd you meet?”

Catra glances over to Adora, who's enjoying talking to Kyle but makes panicked eyes as soon as she catches sight of their threesome.

Figuring there's nothing that can be gained by this knowledge, Catra almost tells the truth. She doesn't like being pushed, though, and Glitter feels like she's used to getting her way.

“What did she tell you?” Catra asks, just to make this harder.

“That's a suspicious way to answer a simple question,” Glitter shoots back.

“Well, the way that you're asking it feels suspiciously not simple.”

“Oh? What way am I asking it?”

Like she's trying to catch Catra in a lie. Or like she thinks she's talking to someone with ulterior motives.

“Hey, Adora? Did you not tell Shimmer the super embarrassing way that we met?” Catra calls out.

“It's Glimmer, you-”

Adora's awkward laugh cuts them off. She jogs over and her whole vibe says ‘I’ve gotten tangled in my own web of deception.’

“Glimmer, I told you I met someone at the bar down the street,” the blonde explains, voice just a little too high. She's standing near Catra but it feels distinctly not too close.

The Magicat turns and nods at the couple. “Well, she's leaving out all the details where she acted like an awkward creep but I'll save that until after I've had several beers.”

“And you just kept going to the bar? Alone?” Glimmer asks slowly. “And now you're hanging out in each other's homes?”

Before Adora can open her mouth, looking like she'd probably argue that it's not what it sounds like, there's a tiny jingly sound next to them. Swift Wind emerges from under one of the tables and takes one look at Catra before barking excitedly. He runs over, and it's hard not to think of the resemblance between him and his owner. His tiny paws go to Catra's shins, ignoring everyone around them. Catra notices Glimmer tilting her head curiously. But the godsdamn dog starts barking again when he isn't immediately appeased so Catra has to reach down and take him into her arms.

“No licking, ya mutt,” she quietly reminds him. If he understands (and Catra's certain that he does), he chooses to ignore the command by extending his tongue and squirming to make contact with her cheeks. “Swifty, no,” she repeats more firmly, trying to copy Adora's stern warnings without being too mean.

The dog just whines. When she doesn't give in, he nestles into her embrace, tail wagging happily. Catra catches Adora's fucking infatuated grin.

Glimmer escalates from her head tilt to arching an eyebrow. “So you’ve been here a few times?”

“Adora said you’re a decorator, right? Not a cop?” Catra asks.

“I’m an interior designer. You have a real problem with active listening.”

Catra can hear Lonnie snort very quietly, the sound moving closer. At least she’s not surprised when the girl appears next to her arm.

“Me and Rogelio don’t have good enough eyes for this chicken,” she says plainly. “Cat, can you and Bow check to make sure it’s done?”

She’s never cooked anything more intensive than stovetop mac and cheese. She’ll poison them all. Lonnie doesn’t really leave any space for her to decline though, already stepping up to speak to Glimmer and push Catra away.

When she and Bow crack the grill open, Catra just stares at the chicken blankly.

“This is too much, right? This is like 3 whole birds.”

He chuckles, “Yeah, Adora tends to go overboard. She put this on about 25 minutes ago so let’s just flip it and then take it off in a few.”

Catra can only assume that she must look out of her depth. She’s not exactly future wife material. He starts flipping everything over and it quickly becomes clear to her who should actually have been in charge from the start.

“Sorry about Glimmer, she’s just-”

“An asshole,” Catra says, not unkindly. “And a good friend – seems protective. Adora’s a dork with all this new fame. She’s probably got folks trying to hustle her left and right. I get it.”

“Oh.” He looks a little surprised but pleased. “That’s nice of you to understand.”

Catra gives a small shrug, which jostles Swift Wind slightly. He tries to use it as an excuse to attempt another face lick but she’s quick enough to thwart it.

“Adora’s...special,” she adds. “She’s said a lot of good things about both of you. But yeah, I could read between the lines that Glimmer would be a lot like, well, uh, like, me.”

Bow shoots her a small, almost relieved, smile. When they both look over at the rest of the group, Kyle and Lonnie seem to be whispering to Glimmer, quiet enough that Catra can’t pick it up at all, which is weird. Adora’s laughing with Rogelio and the daymoon hits her straw-colored hair in a way that makes Catra have to turn away before she’s an ogling mess.

With Bow, she starts up a boring conversation about work that she only half-listens to while swiveling her ears constantly, trying to figure out what Lonnie could possibly be saying right now. Catra thinks she was behaving basically like a fucking saint by not popping off at Glimmer as soon as she got froggy. If that annoying pink menace joins forces with Lonnie and her fucking stank attitude, Catra’s gonna test how flammable this propane is.

Lonnie’s years of tending bar have made her effective at running interference, though, and Catra and Glimmer are smartly kept apart from each other up until everyone’s done eating. During that time, Catra learns way too many details of Bow’s life, and as a consequence, a lot about Glimmer and Adora too. Bow tells her all sorts of interesting shit, like that the blonde went through a phase where she wore a newsboy cap everyday for two years in college. He even promises to show pictures later. Honestly, it makes the whole day worth it.

He mentions a lot of other illuminating shit in passing too. How it’s been a while since they met anyone Adora was dating (though, he politely pretends that this is a totally casual comment and not at all related to today in any way). How Adora comes off as unguarded but actually takes some time and finesse to open up. How she’s the nicest, most selfless, most loyal person he knows.

Honestly, if Catra and Adora end up fucking tonight, Bow deserves a commission for how good of a sale he’s making right now.

He manages to get Catra to say all of five words about herself. Bartender. Musician. Scorpio. Omnivore. Sleep-enthusiast.

She doesn’t give away much more than that, no matter how hard he gently fishes. He’s...sweet? But she doesn’t need more friends.

Catra tries not to let it bother her too much that Adora hasn’t talked to her much all day. Their longest interaction is somehow around Entrapta and what she would be having for lunch. Catra almost has a fucking panic attack when she realizes that they didn’t bring anything that was up to Entrapta’s requirements for food, usually just that it was tiny and familiar to her. She knew from experience that her roommate could go a full day or more without eating at all if she wasn’t provided for or reminded. She starts to go into a full spiral about what they could even put on the grill that would work – pizza bites and quiches were out of the fucking question.

Completely unaware of this colossal fucking oversight from Catra, Adora bounds up the stairs and back onto the roof. In the silent commotion in the Magicat’s mind, she might have not noticed that anyone at the party was missing at all.

“Entrapta’s all set up with the wings,” Adora announces. “Though, she told me lemon pepper was her favorite in a way that felt really passive aggressive.”

Lonnie chuckles while Rogelio comments on how that’s both just Entrapta’s usual tone and that she simultaneously is indeed often passive aggressive without noticing.

“Wait. Wings?” is all Catra asks.

“Yeah, I couldn’t think of anything else that made sense,” Adora tells her with a small wince. “I mean, technically, you could think of it as tiny chicken.”

“A game hen is a tiny chicken,” Bows inserts, being no help to anyone.

“A game hen is still like 6 pounds,” Glimmer argues.

“Maybe a squab?” Kyle asks.

Rogelio grunts a thought.

“No shit?” Lonnie questions him. “Just a pound?”

Catra’s hiss shuts them all up, though Glimmer’s face says that she’d love to keep this annoying distraction up. Adora’s still fidgeting back and forth from foot to foot. She’s...embarrassed? 

“Wings was a good idea,” Catra affirms with a short nod. She watches as Adora’s red face fills with relief. “It’s one of the few approved foods for watching football at our house.”

Adora suddenly lights up. “You like football?”

Ugh, right. Dumb jock. 

“I like cheerleaders,” Catra corrects.

“What a coincidence,” Glimmer says. “So does Adora.” She’s giving both the blonde and Bow this intense look, some kind of silent communication happening between them.

Lonnie jumps in with, “Ooh, Ro. This is a good time for a smoke. Looks like the parade’s about to finally start.” She takes a moment to glance around the table, “Anyone mind a little weed?”

No one complains. Hell, pretty much everyone looks grateful to have something else to chill out the slightly tense vibe.

Rogelio doesn’t ask any questions as he pulls a small satchel out of Kyle’s backpack and begins rolling a few tiny joints quickly, like a boss. He’s always been surprisingly nimble for someone with huge lizard fingers.

The parade finally kicks off (leave it to a bunch of gays to be an hour late), while Adora rearranges the lawn chairs to put them in the best viewing position. The route is actually a few avenues away, closer to the center of their little peninsula but Adora’s building is tall enough to catch most of the action.

“I don’t think I’ve seen this since I first came out,” Catra mumbles, dropping herself into the chair farthest on the end.

Adora nearly shoves her friends out of the way to take up the seat next to her.

“When was that?”

“Hmm...sophomore year?” 

After receiving a typically fucked up email complaining about how she wasn’t following the path laid out for her, Catra called her stepmother on the phone and told her to eat shit and never speak to her again. Oh, and also that she was a raging lesbian as the woman had always suspected. Entrapta squealed in joy in the background the entire time. Then she ran off down the hall to grab Rogelio and Kyle and the group (minus Entrapta) had some mid-day beers and made an impulsive decision to head down to the parade.

Baby gay Catra’s mind pretty much exploded there.

“That’s a nice memory,” Catra thinks.

“Yeah? Tell me about it?” Adora asks.


Catra realizes now that she’d closed her eyes and also maybe she wasn’t sure what thoughts were inside thoughts so much anymore. Shit, how was she already so stoned?

Next to her, Adora was trying to simultaneously pay attention to her while also chugging down beer to prevent a hacking cough as she passed a joint to whoever was closest. Lonnie and Kyle were sharing a chair as Rogelio stood leaning against it from behind; Glimmer had floated over to stand next to Bow as he rested his elbows on the roof’s ledge.

“Ro, do you need a seat?” Catra doesn’t wait for a response before grabbing Adora’s arm and trying to tug her out of her chair.

Smoking always makes Catra more touchy and living in Adora’s lap right now sounds like the perfect way to pass a couple hours.

“There’s plenty of chairs,” she hears Glimmer whisper to Bow.

“Let’s just let this play out,” he says quietly back. “Adora seems happy. We’ll figure out what’s up later.”

Thankfully, Adora’s dumb human ears don’t hear any of this so she allows herself to be pulled over into Catra’s body. She manages to pull a fast one though, and instead of taking Catra in her strong arms, the blonde situates herself between the Magicat’s outstretched legs and and leans back against her chest.

“You’re big spoon today,” Adora glances over her shoulder to say. “What an exciting challenge for you.”

“If I’m crushed under your huge body, I’ll see you in court.” But Catra pulls Adora even closer, wrapping her legs and arms around the girl’s waist. Adora’s head falls back onto Catra’s collarbone. Out of the corner of her vision, she can just barely see a very red-eyed Kyle gape at them before Lonnie forcibly turns his head back towards the parade.

The weight of Adora on her feels perfect. Not constraining or overwhelming. The blonde smells so good and comforting like always. Catra wonders if they could sleep like this next time. She probably shouldn’t be planning for that, though. Before, this was a secret thing they were doing; now, they’ve invited an audience and that brings all sorts of opinions and scrutiny and advice.

Catra just needs to stay present right now. No one’s better at that than her – living in the moment and not considering or believing there will be any consequences for her actions.

Adora leans back to whisper in Catra’s ear, “Does that mean you don’t want to be underneath me sometime soon?”

Fuck. Is time moving differently? Also, Catra’s pretty sure she just stopped breathing. 

Adora turns around innocently and asks, “How did you all meet?”

Catra’s kinda busy trying not to grind herself against Adora’s ass at the idea of having that cocky goofball on top of her.

So it’s on Kyle to answer, “Rogelio and me were freshman roommates. We didn’t even make it through orientation before we started hooking up,” he laughs. “Catra and Entrapta lived next door to us.”

Rogelio chimes in with some rude and untrue things about Catra. Kyle unhelpfully translates, “Right. They claim they’ve never gotten together.”

“Have I ever lied about anything like that?” she points out.

“No, not that…” he trails off.

“Not to us anyway,” Lonnie mumbles to Kyle. “Just to herself.”

Catra peels back her lips to snarl but Kyle interrupts first. “And then we started the band right after that.”

“Band?” Glimmer asks. She sizes Catra up with her eyes for a moment. “Yeah, that checks out.”

It feels a little like one of those games where there’s hidden rules that only a handful of people know. Like they’re playing Mafia and everyone else has powers and a secret agenda and Catra’s just a bumbling villager waiting to get got.

That could just be the weed talking though.

“And you and Lonnie met when you started at the Hidey Hole?” Adora questions.

Almost matching high-pitched laughs fall out of Kyle and Rogelio. One day, they will blend into one annoying boyfriend.

Rogelio starts grunting protests while Kyle rushes to translate for Bow and Glimmer. “No, Lonnie and Catra dated when we were all like...22 maybe?”

Adora turns into a frozen block of marble in Catra’s arms. For her part, Catra pretends to suddenly have gone out to lunch. 

Glimmer doesn’t know any of them so she clearly could not give less of a shit.

Instead, she replies, “I could never go to the Hidey Hole. The name always makes me think someone’s waiting behind the door with an axe.” Then she adds with an Olympic-level eye roll, “Plus, my aunt is there all the time.”

Adora recovers from shock or amusement or whatever grating thing is written all over her face to half-turn back towards Catra.

“You dated?” she has to purse her lips to hide a smile. “For how long?”

“Just a couple months,” Lonnie answers. “It was very casual and a mistake we like to ignore so if everyone could just move the fuck on, that would be aces.”

Adora’s face says she’s definitely not moving on. “What happened?”

Catra shakes her head. There’s not really a good time to detail all the various reasons why no one’s ever wanted her before, but she sure as shit doesn’t want to do it in front of someone who broke her young heart a million years ago. Catra’s over it...she’s just not going to give Lonnie the satisfaction of watching her admit literally anything about them.

Unfortunately, that means that Lonnie takes the reins on this narrative. “She thought she was too cool for me.”

Catra very loudly scoffs so now all eyes are on her.

“I mean, live your truth or whatever. I remember it differently.” She’d only written like a dozen songs about it but if Lonnie couldn’t figure out that they were about her, having spent years listening to them at this point, Catra wasn’t going to give anything away now.

Lonnie thought she was too good for Catra. She just fucking blew her off, like Catra was nothing. Stopped calling, stopped texting, disappeared. And then a couple years later, suddenly Lonnie was back in every part of her life – working at the bar, hanging out with Rogelio and Kyle.

The only way to hide a fire is to cover it completely. Even water leaves steam behind for a time. So Catra smothered it all inside herself and hoped that no one would notice and it worked just fine, thank you very much. Just one more defeat she swallowed in a long line of them. It was pretty good practice for some others that came after. 

Ugh. Sometimes weed makes her spiral with no sense of time or her surroundings and this is truly a rabbithole that Catra could climb down into for hours. Her favorite game show with no winners – ‘What’s Wrong With Catra?’ When she imagines the studio audience chanting the title, she admits that fine, maybe she smoked a bit more than she should have.

Hands wrap around her own, gently pushing them underneath Adora’s shirt. Catra isn’t about to miss this chance to knead at the blonde’s soft skin and feel the ropes of muscle underneath her claws.

“Well, regardless, I’m glad this worked out in my favor,” Adora says with a smile. She leans back into Catra more fully.

It takes Catra a moment to realize that Adora said that out loud. To everyone. In front of her friends. There’s no pretending that nothing’s happening between them now.

Catra glances over at Glimmer and Bow, both failing terribly to act like they’re not watching. Bow shifts his whole body away just a second too late. Glimmer, on the other hand, doesn’t really take her eyes off of Catra.

Glimmer grumbles something to him before very quietly whispering, “Too cool. In a band. Whole bad girl vibe.”

“Really likes Adora,” Bow adds.

“I’m gonna lose this fucking Bachelorette pool,” she whispers.

“But maybe gain a new friend?” Bow responds. It sounds like he’s smiling but his back is to Catra. “I’m so excited for Adora!”

Glimmer sighs. “Yeah, me too.”

By the time the daymoon is well and gone, they’re all pretty lethargic, tipsy and stoned again. There’s a silent agreement that it’s time to head home. Entrapta had texted Catra at least an hour earlier to say she was done tinkering with all of Adora’s tech and just watching TV downstairs.

For some reason, Lonnie takes it upon herself to start divvying out cleanup tasks. All of the leftover food is shoved into Catra and Adora’s hands and everyone else is given trash bags and very specific instructions that suspiciously keep them all out of the kitchen.

Glimmer kinda looks like she might want to ask further questions. Bow’s already picking up a bag of buns. Lonnie looks everyone right in the eyes, daring them to argue. No one has the guts to do so. (The buns get thrown to Adora.)

Once everyone hit a second wind, there wasn’t really much food remaining so it takes very little to gather it and get down to Adora’s apartment, Swift Wind following alongside them.

Catra barely sets down the plate before Adora has her pressed against the kitchen counter. The dog wisely disappears from the room.

“Thank you for coming today. You look gorgeous,” Adora breathes into Catra's ear, hands flying to her waist to keep them pushed together fully.

The Magicat hears herself groan. There’s no way to hold it back, really. Adora’s been touching her for the past 2 hours in a way that was maddeningly innocent and chaste. Just slowly stroking along Catra’s calves or her hands as she lost herself in kneading along Adora’s body.

“I really like spending time with you,” Adora continues. 

It’s a decidedly not racy thing to say and Catra’s kinda embarrassed about how it makes her stomach clench anyway. The only way to shut Adora’s stupid sexy voice up is for Catra to shove her tongue in the blonde’s mouth obviously.

They have a very limited window of opportunity, though Lonnie seems to be ensuring they have plenty of space, but their kisses grow frantic almost immediately. Their lips meet over and over again, warm and inviting and just a little sloppy from beers and weed. Adora's hands start to move up to the bare skin between Catra's shirt and shorts. Another low groan, this time out of frustration cause there’s really not enough time for that.

To avoid this escalating further, Catra grabs Adora's hand and holds them both on the counter behind her own body.

What a miscalculation. With a quick flick, Adora has Catra’s wrists pinned down instead and full control of the situation. Catra moans into the next kiss and gets a sharp bite on the lip as a reward. Predictably, her hips take on a life of their own, trying to grind up into Adora to get some relief.

What the hell is her problem? Adora asks for a mint and Catra falls over herself trying to throw a full-course dinner at the dummy. 

“Stay tonight? Please?” Adora whispers between kisses.

Catra pulls back to respond but the blonde doesn’t slow down, instead moving her lips down the Magicat’s cheek and to her neck. Catra’s words die in her throat.

Adora’s lips are so careful, like she knows that Catra’s sensitive, especially since it’s been months since anyone else has gotten so close.

“Is this okay?”

She lets out another deep groan that sounds a lot like ‘fffuuuuuccck.’

“Catra? Are you in pain?” Entrapta calls out from the living room.

Adora shifts a knee between her legs, gripping her wrists harder. “You should probably answer her,” she teases.

Catra can only whimper. Gods, she’s never gonna be able to show her face around here again after that.

“I love your voice,” Adora whispers.

“Yeah, I’m fine, Entrapta,” Catra calls back, trying to cut off anything else Adora might want to say. Her own voice sounds wrecked, almost if she actually is in pain. Technically, she is. She’s throbbing so hard between her thighs that it basically hurts. Adora’s leg is just far enough away that Catra can’t get any meaningful pressure where she needs it. “What about Melog? It would be cruel to leave them all alone.”

“They’ve got Entrapta.” Curse the fucking low neck of this shirt cause Adora’s lips are down to Catra’s collarbone now.

“What about my comfy bed?”

“Hmm, I think your sacrifice will be rewarded.”

“Yeah? How?” Catra purrs.

As she guessed, Adora pauses in her kisses. “Gods, I can’t wait to hear you beg.”

Wrists still tightly grasped, Catra places her hands flat on the counter and lets herself go boneless. This is an old move and she’s way out of practice – it’s been years since she’s had to evade a cop or bouncer or persistent hug. But she watches as Adora’s eyes go wide in horror at the idea that Catra has just suddenly dropped to the ground like a heavy rock. That short freeze is enough time for Catra to slip out of the hold, ducking into a forward roll on the floor down by the blonde’s feet. She comes upright near the kitchen doorway.

It’s entirely too much effort just to shock a girl but, eh, gotta keep her on her toes somehow. Can’t have Adora being so smug and thinking she’s got this on lock.

“Beg?” she mocks, strolling off towards Entrapta without bothering to look back. “Oh, Adora. You’re gonna have to try a lot harder than that.”

Catra hopes to Satan that she pulls off being cool there cause one more second and she probably would have promised her whole body and soul to Adora just to get off.

She very casually rushes over to her roommate, who’s lounging on the couch with some kind of robot-themed anime in the background.

“Trap, let’s roll.”

Entrapta doesn’t even turn the tv off. She just bounds up happily and follows Catra to the front door, right as the rooftop crew apparates into the kitchen, looking a little worse for wear and smelling like they’ve all rolled in a cannabis farm.

“Are you all okay to get home?” Adora asks, genuinely concerned. Each one of them is swaying a bit too obviously.

Bow giggles uncontrollably. It was not a funny question. “Yeah, we just called a huge car.”

“Huge,” Glimmer idly repeats with a nod, loudly swallowing like she’s got dry mouth.

“Great, Entrapta and me will wait outside with these dummies so they don’t die,” Catra tells their host.

She opens the door for them and suddenly there’s a loud chorus of everyone screaming goodbye at Adora at once. Catra’s just grateful that she’s within walking distance.

“Thank you for having us, Adora,” Entrapta says. It’s a little wooden, which Catra knows just means that she’s trying to recite how to be polite from memory.

“Of course. We should hang out more!”

Entrapta gives a nod that says she has very little interest in that. Adora doesn’t pick up on it at all.

Catra whispers a flippant, “See ya around,” as she leaves.

When she catches up to the others on the sidewalk, they’re all dancing in a circle around Lonnie’s iphone in her palm. There are few things more grating than the sound of a phone blaring music. That is not the way it was intended to be listened to.

The whole group is really jamming out, eyes closing, bodies writhing off-beat. Entrapta takes one look at them and just turns to head home.

Catra gets closer before she recognizes the beat. 

A voice.

That’s her voice. Oh, no. Oh, no no.

Catra almost lunges for Lonnie’s phone but reminds herself to remain chill. Get these assholes in a cab. Slowly cut off all contact with them forever.

“Catra!” Kyle yells. “Everyone loves you!”

“That feels in complete contradiction to everything I know to be true in the universe,” she replies.

“We like your music,” Glitter clarifies, still dancing. “Jury’s still out on you. But we’ll be at Tenderoni to get more acquainted.”

“Tenderoni?” Catra repeats.

“We bought 3 tickets!” Bow announces, arms circling his head. Suddenly, he stops moving entirely. “Glim, we have to come by early and help Adora get dressed.”

“Why?!” Catra asks, cutting Shimmer off.

Of course, a giant black SUV pulls up in front of them at that exact moment. Catra’s question gets lost in the cheering. They all start clumsily climbing in, Lonnie pitching Kyle over the middle seat into the back.

“Why?” Catra asks again. Her voice is just teetering on panicked. She knows, obviously. Deep down inside, she knows what horrible fate awaits her.

“What? Oh. Cause she’s coming with us,” Bow tells her with a big smile. It’s meant to be friendly. Glimmer’s smirk behind him just makes it more unsettling.

Adora’s coming to the show. Adora’s going to watch her perform. A girl that she may or may not have feelings for is going to watch Catra do the one thing she loves most in this world.

This is a disaster.

Chapter Text

I didn't tell them to do this
But Glimmer and Bow apparently bought tickets to your show

yeah i heard

I meant it when I said I'd wait until you invited me
It just seems super personal to you
I don't want to overstep
I told them to take Glimmer’s mom
(We don’t have other friends...)

Catra doesn’t text back for most of the day. She doesn’t know what to say to that. Adora’s not manipulative, as far as she can tell. If the dummy says she won’t go, then she won’t. It’s not a ploy to make Catra feel bad.


Monday night is too packed for her to have time to overthink this. The bar’s full of people still hungover from the day before or who seem to have run into each other randomly during pride shit and are catching up.

Is it okay if I come by tonight?

not unless you want to be mobbed
i just overheard a girl say she’d break up with her boo for you tho
should i give her your number?

You’re so generous
I’m not looking to be anyone’s rebound unfortunately

‘And I am?’ Catra thinks.

She feels her tail swinging behind her in frustration. Adora just finished dating like 20 fucking bombshells. Adora is possibly still dating one (or worse). And wasting a summer with Catra’s bullshit until she can go public with her supermodel girlfriend.

Performing is a weirdly intimate thing for Catra. She knows this is stupid. Counting all of her piano recitals from childhood plus Horde gigs, she’s done literally hundreds of shows at this point in her life, so many that she doesn’t even remember most of them. They’ve happened in front of seas of anonymous people. But never an Adora.

“You’re still coming on Friday, right?”

Spinnerella looks up from where she’s making two margaritas. “Of course, sweetie. Huntara found someone to cover for us all.”

“Shit! Is she gonna be there too?” Perfect. Just perfect. More witnesses to what Catra is now sure will be an onstage meltdown.

With a nod, Spinny calmly tells her, “We’re all so proud of you. You’re going to be great.”

That doesn’t do much to help with Catra’s growing nerves. She hasn’t had stage fright since her stepmother corrected it out of her when she was a kid. Catra actually enjoys the rush of the lights and the crowd and the potential for chaos. But Adora might be there. Just watching. Comparing her to those other girls. 

“Hi! No rush but maybe you’d like to help me out here?” Spinny too kindly requests in a whisper. She places the two drinks on the bar and moves to take another order. Apparently they’d gotten a little backed up while Catra was standing around, freaking out.

Catra drops her phone and her impending spiral and does the same.

She climbs into bed that night, exhausted to her bones. Work wasn't that bad but it feels like she hasn't slept well in days now. Adora’s basically sent a live update of her entire evening – a couple shitty martial arts movies, a walk with Swift Wind, a brief at-home workout (with an accompanying photo of her flexing that makes Catra’s mouth dry), and leftover grilled chicken for dinner.

just a heads up
not that it impacts you in any way
but i’ve got practice a lot this week

Yes, not that our weeks are at all planned around each other 🥱
I figured as much though
Can I take you out Saturday?

i’ll see you on friday

Her phone rings immediately. Adora’s not the patient type.

When Catra answers, she’s in her bed, blonde hair splayed out on navy blue sheets, like she’s wading in an ocean.

“You’re not messing with me again, right?” Adora tries to narrow her eyes sternly but she can’t stop smiling.

Catra knows she looks a lot less excited. “I wouldn’t want Sparkles to waste her money. I imagine her mom’s cooler than you dorks and already has plans.”

Adora’s smile grows for a moment but then she drops it suddenly.

“You don’t have to do this, you know? I get the feeling that you’re really protective of your music.”

“No, I’m just,” Catra searches for a word and somehow all she can come up with is, “shy.”

“Shy?” Adora repeats. Her eyebrows and lips spasm, trying to hold in a reaction.

“Yes,” Catra double downs. “I’m very shy.”

No one has once ever called her that in her entire life. Even the way she says that absurd lie sounds like she’s ready to give a public debate on how she’s correct.

Adora nods, not willing to argue about this. “Okay. Is there anything I can do to make you more comfortable with me there?”

Is it better or worse that they haven’t had sex yet? It certainly must be the biggest contributing factor to how Adora being considerate makes Catra feel so inexplicably horny. Is this why she’s so nervous? She feels like she knows the blonde but she doesn’t really know her. You can learn a lot by tonguing someone down.

“Nah,” Catra sighs. “Shy people like me just have to push ourselves and go slow.”

Adora nods again. Apparently, she’s gonna let this continue. That’s either kind or really foolish.

“I’ll put you on the VIP list so you can get in early and find a good hiding spot. What fake name should I give them?”

The human pouts cutely. “Should I have been using a fake name all this time?”

“You givin’ your full name when you pick up pizza? That seems like an easy way to end up with a stalker.”

“What about She..Ra?” the blonde says with great uncertainty.

Catra gives her best unimpressed look. “Soooo, just your pronoun and the second part of your name? Genius. If I was in search of a ghostwriter, I know who I’d come to.”

“Hey, I know a lot of words that rhyme.”

“What a ringing endorsement for the Thaymor public school system.”

“Like pink and drink and wink.”

“Adora, are you implying that you’d write me a song about taking a drink from the pink? Honestly, that sounds like the kind of poorly veiled euphemism I would use.”

On the screen, Adora shifts and bites her lip. “Your music is a little...provocative sometimes. Are you gonna do any of those songs?”

Catra arches an eyebrow. What a fucking tease this girl is.

“Which one did you have in mind?” she asks. She makes sure to drop her voice low, rasping the question out.

Adora takes a long breath. “Oh, what’s it called? ‘Slick’ maybe?” She answers almost coyly but she’s a terrible liar.

Oh, yeah. That’s just 5 minutes of Catra rapping pure filth. It’s a slow one so they don’t usually perform live, especially at a party space like Tenderoni. 

Catra imagines Adora lying in bed, listening to it over and over on repeat. Particularly the chorus where she pretty much just fucking growls, “this might be in poor taste, but can you sit on my face” in a godsdamn loop.

“Would you be open to a private performance?”

“Right now?” the blonde eagerly asks.

“Aren’t you a sports lez? Isn’t it bad luck to do anything spicy before a big game? I gotta be focused.”

“That’s a dumb superstition,” Adora mutters.

“Well, I’m not gonna chance it,” Catra smirks. “So keep your hormones in check.”

“My hormones?” she pretends to be incredulous. “You’re the one who can’t control herself around me.”

“We’ll see what happens when you witness me in my element,” Catra challenges.

Smart. Overhype it. Really build it up for the ultimate letdown.

“I can’t wait,” Adora sighs with a lot of longing. Too much. 

Gods, Catra’s gonna fuck this all up.

“Hey,” Adora says quietly. “If you’re feeling shy, I don’t have to come.”

The Magicat responds with a confused, almost purred, “Mmr?”

She receives a soft, kind smile. “You made that panic face you get sometimes. No pressure, alright? If you’re not feeling it on Friday, just text me.” 

Adora shrugs, like this isn’t a deeply generous offer. Maybe it’s just common courtesy. It’s more than Catra’s used to being offered.

She grumbles back, “Just don’t stand in the front. I don’t want to get distracted.” But she lets a smirk shine through so Adora knows she’s joking. Kinda.

On Tuesday, Catra awakes to too many excited texts from Adora. How is this dummy going to possibly sustain such a high level of no fucking chill all week?

Amongst an amount of emojis that should be illegal, there’s a curious fucking question.

Do you hate actual flowers or just floral scents?

Catra roses?

Oof. Kinda triggering for me, ha!
Roses just represent competition now
And you definitely don't have any competition
I was thinking more like peonies

Not knowing a godsdamn thing about flowers, Catra, like a total fool, looks these up. They're cute enough, if you don't mind having a dying thing to take care of in your house. And then she becomes a dying thing that someone should take care of when her eyes drift to the meaning behind peonies. It's a bunch of bullshit about new romances.

When she realizes that she's both biting her lip and holding her breath during this deep dive, Catra goes right ahead and shoves her phone under her pillow so she's not tempted to text back that she prefers the pale pink ones. Most of the other varieties are too dark and the yellow is a hard pass.

Romance. What a stupid word. On top of being gross and overused, it implies... feelings.

That’s completely unacceptable.

while you’re totally being SUPER subtle
maybe don’t bring flowers to the show on friday?
since you’re not looking for attention

I don’t know what you mean but I am definitely SUPER subtle
I’ll only get attention from the person who matters

Sure enough, on Wednesday morning, Catra wakes up to the new and out-of-place smell of blossoming flowers. She tracks it out to the living room where Entrapta’s apparently opened the box and left a bouquet of about a dozen of the most delicate-looking pale pink peonies sitting on the coffee table. They’re in what’s probably an old spaghetti sauce jar, seeming way too precious and special against the apartment’s tacky vibe.

A small white card peeks out of the center. Catra only paces around the room for 10 minutes before she builds up the courage to read it.


You came into my life in a deeply bizarre moment. But I wouldn’t change a thing cause you’re here now. I’ve never met anyone like you. You always make me feel special and bring a smile to my face. I hope you know how much you mean to me.

Don’t roll your eyes at my cheesy words.



A girl's never gotten her flowers before. Catra has to roll her eyes – they're just built that way – but it's more at the stupid swimming feeling in her stomach than Adora's card.

you’re ridiculous

Does that mean you like them?

“I’m not leaving digital proof of this for you to print out and hang over my head forever,” Catra explains into a voice memo. “And you better not save this message.” She lowers her voice so much that she’s not even sure it’s audible, so she can say, “You make me feel pretty fucking special too. Dummy.”

Rogelio’s gone over the set list way too many times. They’ve practiced every song, every cue, all the places that everyone’s supposed to riff or improvise. And Catra fully committed like a good little kitten even though she’s still planning ways to destroy her own band.

She could just quit. But no, that’s too easy. Everyone would be expecting that. They’d probably just try to replace her with Lonnie, who can’t even sing. No, Catra has to make them see how she was right all along – that they’re just fine the way they’ve been for years and there’s no need to ever change. 

She has to bide her time and wait for her moment. Until then, she just has to pretend to be fully on board.

Giving a real effort is so fucking boring. Fine, they’ve never sounded more in sync. And they’ve been moving around enough that she might actually not be super winded on stage for once.

Catra has to draw the line at synchronized dances though. Kyle has a lot of ideas about how they should practice some choreography after Rogelio changes up the song list so there’s less need for Catra to play guitar. He’s giving her the freedom to improvise and really go off cause it's a dance party. Apparently since she proved that she could be trusted to behave, she’s earned a little extra good faith that she won’t screw them again.

She may have gotten a bit of a reputation during some of their college shows for completely going off-script and making everyone struggle to keep up. But that was a long time ago. Personal growth or something.

Also, Rogelio is surprisingly good at giving direction. It’s possible that he’s always been and Catra was just too loud-mouthed to stop screaming over him. The last few days, she’s been too busy trying to concentrate and memorize everything to be a contrarian.

She even practices when they’re not together. It’s a lot less anxiety-producing than when she used to spend countless hours going over the same dull concertos until her hands hurt so badly that she couldn’t use them for much else.

Catra’s even considerate enough to ask if she should wear anything special on Friday. Nothing she owns is clean obviously but she could probably come up with something.

Rogelio pauses before he answers, shooting Lonnie a weird look. Then he casually grunts out some simple enough instructions. Just shower and wear underpants. Catra would like to pretend to be offended but she knows who she is. It’s nice that her friends do too.

Moments after Catra gets to the venue, she’s yanked into a room. The bar staff looked horrified that she was so early but Catra knew a couple of them from around, so they just gave her a beer and pointed her towards the back.

Entrapta’s hand is wrapped around her shoulder before she makes it too far. She gets pulled into what passes for a green room there. It’s small and drab but at least there’s a (tiny, dirty) window. The two couches look comfy too and surprisingly clean. Entrapta stretches herself out on one and picks her laptop back up. She immediately focuses on ignoring her roommate.

“They lied and told you to be here at 3, too?” Catra hadn’t even noticed her leaving the apartment, too wrapped up in blow-drying her fur probably.

“2 o’clock actually,” Entrapta replies. “I believe, based on our previous behavior, we have earned this level of deception.”

Catra nods. This would be a great time to get Entrapta on her side. She could begin with how disrespectful it is for the rest of the band to treat them like children and make them wait for hours.

Except. Catra and Entrapta have actually made Rogelio and Kyle wait at venues for an eternity before, promising that they’re just ‘5 minutes away.’ The duo once pulled that crap when they were actually about two counties over. You teach people how to treat you or whatever and Catra has to begrudgingly admit that this is what she’s taught them about her.

There’s not a lot for the Magicat to do for 3 hours. She spends some time texting Adora but the blonde is so excited, it just makes her more nervous. She tries watching calming videos for about 20 seconds before realizing that’s a waste of time. Eventually, she digs into the backpack she brought.

There’s an outfit for later inside. Though ‘outfit’ is being generous cause it’s mostly just a shimmery gold bralette and her black pleather shorts. 

Underneath that though, Catra finds one of the books Adora bought her the week before. The cover is cute – brightly drawn and covered with queer and non-binary teen protagonists. Of the three books, it’s the one that she thought she might like the best, a graphic novel about some gay angsty adventure. She’s got time to just tuck in for a bit.

When Lonnie, Rogelio, and Kyle leisurely stroll in around 6:15, they are shocked to find their bandmates casually relaxing before the show like two normal people who can totally be trusted with responsibility. Their matching slack-jawed mouths are kinda worth Catra sacrificing her afternoon. Besides, it’s not like she doesn’t have enough free time as it is. 

“Finally!” she groans. “I can’t believe how irresponsibly late y’all are. So inconsiderate.”

“That’s a funny joke,” Entrapta says, with zero hint of a laugh in her flat voice, ruining the whole bit.

“Thank you for being here early,” Kyle tells them both. He’s so genuine and excited that Catra has to look away to grimace. “It really means the world to us.”

“I can’t believe you trained them to appreciate so little,” Lonnie mumbles.

“It’s pretty easy cause I trained them to expect literally nothing,” Catra proudly announces. 

Rogelio starts single-handedly lugging their equipment in and coordinating with the venue staff. Kyle grabs a table and unpacks his hair and makeup products. Entrapta doesn’t move at all.

Catra finds a random piece of paper in her backpack to use as a bookmark before putting the novel away. She had thought earlier about texting a brief review to Adora but figured that it was probably in her best interest to pretend that the blonde didn’t exist until the show was over. 

Lonnie whips a pile of denim out of her bag and thrusts it at Catra. The Magicat stares at her blankly for a long moment. Finally, she slowly and deliberately blinks at the girl.

“Put this on,” Lonnie grits out impatiently.

Catra just arches an eyebrow. “What’s the magic word?”


She snatches the garment away. It’s one piece, dark blue with shorts and short sleeves, both already cuffed.

“This isn’t enough material. You want me to be naked on stage?”

“Yeah? What did you bring to wear?” Lonnie challenges with a knowing smirk.

The crop top Catra’s currently sporting is so short that she’s sure people can see the bottom of her boobs. The bralette in her bag looks a lot closer to a headband.

With a grumble, she storms off to a corner of the room and strips down. Everyone here has seen her actually nude dozens of times. No need to be modest now.

Catra picks up complaining again as soon as the jumpsuit’s on. It’s confining but she kinda likes the brown stitching and how it has more pockets than necessary.

Lonnie hauls her over to stand in front of a mirror hanging on one wall. The buttons on the jumper go from neck to navel and Catra has left a few open to show off some cleavage. So of course Lonnie buttons it all the way to the top.

“That’s not sexy!” Catra yells.

“Is that what you’ve been going for all this time?”

When Lonnie brandishes a mahogany-colored bundle of leather straps, Catra’s eyes go wide.

“This is a very different show…” she whispers. 

It’s not until Catra ends up face-down on the floor under Lonnie, after a very contentious wrestling match, and the straps are shoved under her arms and across her chest, that she even realizes what it is.

“A fucking harness?” Catra wheezes. Her hands are gripped above her head and all of the other girl’s weight is on her back. “You could have just said that.”

One of the gold buckles is clasped too tightly. Catra attempts to wiggle her claws out but the hold on her wrists strengthens.

“You’re getting my clothes dirty!” she tries.

“All you had to do was dress yourself,” Lonnie grits with great effort. “But no! You had to be a dick!”

She manhandles Catra to her feet and pushes her back in front of the mirror. Lonnie’s so correct, that it’s physically painful for Catra to admit it. The denim and leather combo looks damn-near sinful. The shorts cover so little of her legs that Catra herself almost blushes and they basically grip and uplift her ass. It’s tight around the chest too, the bottom strap of the harness running underneath her tits to really push them out front and center.

She doesn’t even have the heart to lie and say it’s too tight, just to annoy Lonnie.

“I’m keeping this,” Catra proclaims instead. “Where’d you get it?”

“Lonnie got us our first sponsor!” Kyle squeaks in joy. “We just have to tag them in our photos from tonight.”

She finally looks over at her bandmates, since she was a little preoccupied with the previous several minutes of scuffling. Rogelio’s clothes are identical to her own, including the harness. His ass looks great too – these shorts really are miracle workers. For a second, Catra thinks Entrapta hasn’t changed at all. But then she realizes that her roommate is in a new set of overalls in the same dark blue denim along with the shirt she wore there. A part of her appreciates that they didn't try to change Entraptra’s style. Kyle has the biggest makeover. His thin, little pink body is covered by a tight sleeveless denim minidress.

Catra gives a low whistle.

“Lookin’ good,” she tells him. When Rogelio grunts in agreement, Kyle blushes down to where the low-cut dress starts on his chest.

Before Catra can question why and how they look like an actual band, Lonnie drags her over to Kyle, who wastes no time whipping her hair into shape. 

Once it finally sank in that Horde wasn't gonna make any money, Kyle had saved up tips from serving and put himself through hair school. ‘Beauty school,’ Catra called it at the time, like a fucking prick. She usually never lets him do more than run a comb through her hair. Today, Lonnie stands guard and keeps Catra still until Kyle has enough time to style the nest of messy curls on her head. He parts it on the right side and finds some particularly stubborn and strong-willed pomade to slick it down. 

Is this who she was always meant to be, Catra thinks as she looks herself over. Give her an untraceable accent and she's the villain in a spy movie who flirts with the hero too much and ends up turning against the Big Bad.

‘Thank you’ is on the tip of her tongue but dies when she catches Lonnie looking too smug.

With everyone ready to go, the asshole manages to get a couple quick photos. She loses all the good will she’s gained though, when she tries to shoot a live video to hype the show on their Instagram. Catra’s too busy staring at herself and thinking of the perfect angle to send Adora. The blonde would eat this up.

Oh, that's a fun thought.

Entrapta won't get off her laptop still and Rogelio and Kyle clam up around the camera. Lonnie ends the stream quickly.

They make it through sound check and greeting the other acts with little issue. Catra's got a good feeling about this. The show is gonna be fire. She might even get to second base finally.

That feeling ends when Adora’s new contact photo shows up on her phone. It's one of the beach selfies she had sent last week. Catra has endless shame about saving this picture but also kinda none.

Adora must be cancelling. Why else would she call?

Lonnie's unconcerned drawl interrupts her thoughts with, “Yo, you gonna get that or just force the rest of us to keep watching you stare at it like death is calling?” 

“You can look away,” Catra hisses back.

If she wasn't paralyzed with anxiety, she would probably be able to prevent what happens next. Catra would destroy her phone or Lonnie or the entire building. But she’s frozen to the spot as Lonnie reaches over and answers, placing the call on speaker so everyone can hear Catra's rejection. Might as well start another live video.

“Catra's phone. Lonnie speaking.”

“Oh, hey!” is Adora's bright, and only slightly confused, greeting. “Uh... I'm here. I mean, I'm early. Could I maybe see Catra?”

Everyone turns to the Magicat. She still doesn’t move, eyes boring into all of them back. Did Adora want to send her regrets in person? How overly formal.

Lonnie rolls her eyes to the heavens for strength. “Yeah, sure.” 

She gives directions on where they are and only a couple minutes go by before Adora Grayson peeks her head into the door, waiting a full two seconds after a tentative knock. As Catra’s come to expect, Adora politely smiles when she sees everyone but grins uncontrollably when her eyes land on the Magicat.

Catra swallows thickly. “Hey, Adora.”

The blonde rushes in and sweeps her up into a hug. “Hi,” she whispers.

Adora sounds kinda nervous, which is weird. Or fitting, if she really is about to shoot Catra down gently. She pulls back to give a quick hello to everyone else in the room. Her hands don’t leave Catra’s waist though, thumbs going to rub circles into her hips.

“How are you feeling?”

Catra ignores that to ask, “What are you wearing?”

It’s their ugliest merch, in her expert opinion, a black razorback tank with the Horde logo screenprinted in the lesbian pride flag colors. Maybe her negative judgment is impacted by how annoying the shirtmaking process was. It was her idea but Kyle ended up doing most of the labor once Catra immediately realized how much work it was and gave up. Who the fuck is even still shipping these out?

“All of my new clothes arrived!” Adora declares. Without releasing Catra, she flexes her biceps slightly. “Does it look good?”

Catra has to tear her attention from Adora’s arms to her arrogant face. The dummy might as well be asking ‘does gravity exist?’ or ‘Is Catra wet?’ cause duh.

Wait...that’s...not how that saying goes. Water. Is water wet. Meaningless slip.

“It looks perfect!” Kyle assures her when Catra doesn’t respond for a good long while.

“It’s alright,” she mumbles finally.

Adora just gives a fake exasperated sigh but her eyes are too fond. “Well, we can’t all be an absolute smokeshow like you.”

Catra sticks out her tongue in disgust at the frat boy-level compliment.

But Adora quietly says, “I love your hair like this,” and suddenly she doesn’t care at all.

“Yeah?” she asks. Hopefully, it only sorta sounds like she’s desperate for more praise.

Catra watches as Adora’s gaze slowly sweeps all over her.

With a nod, the blonde replies, “Yeah, this whole look is really…”

She pauses suddenly and seems to realize for the first time that there are 4 extra pairs of eyes watching them. Even Entrapta, who’s pretending to still be engrossed in her laptop. Catra’s certain that she’s probably recording this interaction.

Barely holding back another hiss, Catra grabs Adora’s hand and leads her to the furthest corner of the room. It won’t provide much privacy but at least they won’t be smack dab at the center of attention.

“Sorry,” Adora says with an apologetic smile. “I didn't mean to interrupt your pre-show ritual or anything. I just wanted to give you something.”

“Give me something?” Catra repeats, feeling like a complete idiot.

With a nod, Adora lets her go to pull a small black velvet bag from her pocket. 

“For luck. Not that you need it. You’re so amazing.”

Catra kinda just stops functioning in response. She's never known how to receive gifts. It makes her hands all clammy. Adora drops the bag in her swampy paws and gives her an expectant look.

Catra shifts, trying to make sure her body is blocking whatever this is from the rest of the room. If her claws fumble and she shreds this precious offering, the last thing she needs is more spectators and the inevitable teasing. She gets the bag open with minimal clumsiness and pours the contents out into her palm. Catra doesn't know what she's expecting, but she takes a second to try to push any hopes down.

It's a thin gold chain. With a tiny gold heart pendant. It’s not a perfect heart, the edges a little intentionally banged up in a way that feels fitting. Right in the center is a small, messily drawn message in cursive: ‘bless this mess.’ Like one of those silly embroidered signs in someone’s grandmom’s kitchen.

When Catra hears a sort of joyful cackle loudly pierce the tense air, it takes a moment to realize that sound is coming from her. 

“You tryin’ to call me out, Grayson?” Catra hasn't taken her eyes off the necklace. 

Adora chuckles softly and places her hands back on Catra’s waist. “Not intentionally. I saw it and just thought of you.”

All of that deep want pooling in Catra’s stomach everytime she sees the blonde gets a new neighbor. Just a fluttering of butterflies. She’s vaguely aware of her tail shooting straight up in the air behind her, quivering back and forth. She just drops the bag carelessly to the floor, rushing to bring the chain up to her neck and put it on.

“Let me?” Adora asks. 

She doesn’t wait for an answer before she takes over. Her fingers are soft as always as they stroke Catra’s hands and grab the clasps. Once it’s secured, Adora smoothes the necklace under her collar so the heart sits right in the middle. Catra half expected her to tuck it inside her clothes.

But no. Adora wants everyone to see, Catra thinks a little breathlessly. The Magicat surges forward into a kiss, one that catches Adora by surprise apparently cause she squeaks a little into it. Catra ends it quickly when she hears Entrapta begin furiously typing again.

Adora’s hands are still on Catra’s shoulders, warm and steady.

“Oh. You’re tense,” she says for some reason. 

Delicately but firm, she starts to work the stress out of Catra’s shoulders and neck. Adora sticks her tongue out a little in concentration and everything, like a total fucking dork. Catra slips into some kind of bizarre spell, so focused on Adora’s fingers and her furrowed brow that she completely forgets anyone else even exists. 

It feels like the butterflies are migrating up from her stomach to her throat until they spring out and manifest themselves as a deep, rumbling purr, loud enough to fill the whole room. Absolutely mortifying. Adora stumbles in her movements for a moment. Catra immediately drops her gaze to the floor, ears going low. That fucking purr just won’t stop itself though.

“Hmm,” Entrapta hums quietly. This is definitely going into a log somewhere.

Adora seems to catch herself and tries to start up again with the massage.

“I think I’m good,” Catra whispers. She very much has to ignore the tremble she hears in her own voice.

“Okay, I’ll let you get back to prepping.”

With a smile, she gives Catra a quick kiss.

“I’m so excited I get to see you do your thing.”

Catra’s pretty sure she makes a face. “Just…” ‘Be gentle?’ ‘Don’t be pissed if I mess up?’ “...have fun.”

“I always have fun when you’re around.”

Adora wishes everyone good luck, and then has a whole fumbling apology until she says ‘break a leg’ instead, before disappearing.

Catra can feel everyone staring at her. She decides to practice looking at the wall instead. Her body’s relaxed now but her heart is fucking hammering.

She hasn’t done this in years. Just standing offstage, peaking into the crowd like a creep. The act before them is great, The Star Sisters. Very fucking punk. Catra watches as the audience dances wildly. Spinnerella and Netossa stand up front, trying to pretend that the loud music isn’t bothering them. (Spinny’s wincing almost imperceptibly.) Huntara moshes around in the back.

Closer to the center of the audience, Glimmer and Bow dance together, laughing and being goofy. Adora just bops her head next to them. She’s wearing a black baseball cap with the Horde logo in red. And glasses. Black boxy wide-rimmed glasses. She could not look more like a person wearing a disguise unless she put on a fake mustache.

Catra has already gone through the list of horrible things that can (and probably will ) happen. She’ll fall on stage. She’ll fall off the stage. She’ll forget the words to her songs. She’ll remember the words and that will be terrible cause her songs and her voice suck. She’ll freeze up. She’ll throw up, like she did that one time when she was 12 and had the flu but was forced to play a recital anyway. Some cute girl will come up to Adora and start flirting with her and they’ll leave in the middle of Horde’s set. 

“Stop making that awful sound,” Lonnie orders.

“...what?” Catra doesn’t look away from the crowd.

“That weird high pitched sound you were just doing. Stop it.” Lonnie steps up next to her and crosses her arms. “Don’t look out there.”

Catra thinks for a second that Lonnie might pull her back. Instead, she reaches over and closes the curtain.

The fucking Star Sisters selfishly finish their set right at that moment. Horde is supposed to go on next.

“I gotta go to the bathroom,” Catra mumbles.

“No, you don’t. You just went. Time to go on.”

The trio comes bounding backstage, laughing and whooping. They high five Rogelio and Kyle as they walk by and graciously receive their praise.

“Melog had an emergency.”

Lonnie throws her hands onto Catra’s shoulders. It’s not nearly as calming as Adora’s.

“Hey!” Catra’s eyes immediately spring to hers. “Who’s the most annoying bitch in the game?”

“You?” Catra answers unsurely. Lonnie’s grip tightens. “Ow! Me?!

“Yes, you! You’ve done hundreds of shows your entire life. You gonna let some hot girl throw you off?”

“No,” Catra grumbles unsurely.

“Fuck no, you’re not! You are fucking untouchable on stage,” Lonnie tells her with a sudden fire in her eyes. “So you're gonna go out there and do what you do best, right?”

“Yeah!” Catra agrees. “What is that exactly?”

Lonnie pulls her closer to...intimidate her into feeling better? Yes, that seems to be what she's doing.

“Being a fucking terror and making everyone eat it.”

It's either the kindest thing Lonnie's ever said to her or a deep indictment of her past behavior.

The MC introduces Horde and Lonnie shoves Catra onto the stage before she can overthink it.

Well. It’s probably the most fun Catra’s had in a long time.

She had kinda forgotten that whole thing where the spotlight is so blinding that she can’t really make out most of the audience, even with her superior sight. 

Spinny and Netty are right up against the stage, shooting her an encouraging thumbs up and whooping like someone’s goober family. That’s good enough. Catra decides to make sure that they have a good time at the very least.

So she shows off a little. Gives that ‘yeah, you're lucky that I'm here’ smirk and swagger. Does half a verse in a fucking split on the floor cause she slips and that’s the only way to play it off as intentional. More or less successfully deepthroats the microphone during a song she wrote about strapping, just to prove she can. 

Also, everyone is clearly wasted. No one cares enough to be judging her. Only half the audience is even facing her it seems, the rest too busy dancing around.

Since she can’t have Adora – or even fucking look at Adora for fear that everything will just pour out onto the stage – Catra flirts with a bunch of girls during her set, leaning down towards them to make ‘fuck me’ eyes while gyrating. Her voice sounds nearly pornographic for many of the songs.

Don't need no one to
Mansplain my coochie
Down on your knees
Good little poochie
Pick up your collar
Be so obedient
Eyes closed. Mouth open
Such a good pet

Catra grips a random cutie by the hair as she whispers the last line, vaguely hoping that Adora is watching closely.

Rogelio looks like he’s having a blast the entire time. Kyle can’t stop smiling. Entrapta behaves the exact same way that she has for 10 years of performances, sitting behind her computer and pressing buttons as needed. But every once in a while, Catra catches her quirking up an eyebrow in amusement at the Magicat’s antics.

Catra only feels a little self-conscious when she rap-sings an old song that feels oddly relevant for her disastrous present. She does her best to sell it anyway, trying not to worry if anyone specific in the crowd will think this song is about them. Not that that matters.

Is this all?
An endless amount of outcomes
A million ways for me to play dumb
To play dead, to play bad
While you can go off and secure the bag
No subtweets, no diss tracks
A postcard: “Yo’ new bitch wack”
If you were real and this is us
Maybe I wouldn’t lose sleep so much
Hours spent, endless sighs
Planning how to get between them thighs
I’d go to church, eat the rich
Give it all to be your next chick

They end on a couple of bangers, and Catra gets to just go completely fucking wild, prowling the stage. She even does a couple of the dance moves that Kyle had wanted to practice. She draws the line at synchronizing with him though.

As they finish to loud applause and cheering, Catra rushes backstage, so high on adrenaline that she feels like she’s vibrating. She actually had a really good time and a really good show. It’s apparently possible to do both at the same time – who knew?

Lonnie ushers them past the other acts, graciously allowing them to accept some brief praise before she shoves them back into the room.

“Okay, let's get everything packed and in the van and then everyone's free to make a fucking mess of their evening.” She's only looking at Catra.

Something finally clicks. The tone, the instructions, the outfits, the sponsor. It probably shouldn't have taken this long to figure out but Catra's kinda been distracted with the new girl in her life who is nice and gives her presents and tells her she's pretty. Anyway, not the point. The point is...

“You’re our manager now, aren’t you?”

“Took you long enough to wise up,” Lonnie replies.

Even Entrapta seems unconcerned. Honestly, it's probably one of the best decisions they've made and Catra will definitely take credit if it works out. 

“Fine. I wasn’t doing a very good job at it anyway,” she concedes.

Lonnie finds that amusing for some reason. “You thought you were the manager?”

“Uh, I wasn’t?” Catra definitely thought she’d booked this gig.

Rogelio grunts from across the room. Oh, shit.

“Well, you were doing a great job, then,” Catra tells him.

He just laughs at her obliviousness.

It does occur to Catra to at least ask, “Are we paying you?”

“As soon as I start making you some money, sure,” Lonnie replies, with a confident smirk.

She’s got the time, definitely. She loves her boyfriends and she puts up with Entrapta and Catra well enough. Hell, she got them to a show on time. That’s a first. Horde’s been shockingly consistent lately, which Catra had been just chocking up to her own lack of focus in self-sabotaging. 

Lonnie’s got about as much experience managing a band as Catra and Rogelio. Fuck it, why not?

“You’re hired,” she announces.

She chooses to ignore it when Lonnie grumbles that she started over a month ago.

Sometime in the last 30 minutes, Entrapta disappeared. Catra lost the trio halfway to the bar, which is fine cause she doesn't need a babysitter. Spinny and Netty brought her a cocktail (and a shot that Netossa hid from her wife) along with their apologies for being old and having to leave immediately.

(Huntara's over in the corner, sandwiched between two different goat girls. No need for Catra to think on that ever.)

People keep coming up to her with offers of a drink, their phone number, and/or their bed for the night. She takes the free booze but dismisses everything else. Every once in a while, a blonde head peaks over the crowd but backs off.

It would be a colossal godsdamn mistake to rush over to Adora and attract more attention. Clearly, waiting for her isn't working either, though. Catra settles for finding Bow in the crowd, since he's tall and hard to miss. When she finally spots him, he, Glimmer, and Adora are all already staring at her and whispering, being painfully obvious.

They pretty much run over to the bar as Catra nods at them, after excusing herself from a couple of way too young queer babies.

“We're harness buds!” Bow screams over the music. He smells like vodka and sweat but Catra's almost happy to see him. 

He and Glimmer are the kind of couple that wears matching outfits. That doesn't feel surprising or necessary. They're both in black mesh croptops, offset by white leather 4-strap harnesses and white jeans, plus a white bra for Glimmer. Bold move to wear anything that light-colored to a party this gross but Catra respects that one must suffer for fashion.

“You're having a good time, right? Everyone's being cool?” Catra directs the question only to Bow. The other two can handle themselves, she thinks.

“Yeah, it's been great!” Bow confirms. He throws an arm around Glimmer and it looks like she's already basically holding him up. “We're having so much fun! We never go out like this anymore.”

“Cause someone can't hold their liquor,” Sparkles says, narrowing her eyes as the extra weight almost knocks her over. “You weren't half-bad up there.”

“Oh, Glitter. You spoil me.” Catra covers her heart, pretending to swoon.

“We loved you!” Bow yells.

“Some of us more than others,” Glimmer mutters. She jerks her head back at Adora, who's weirdly hovering behind their shoulders.

Catra had been trying to pretend she wasn't there. The plan flies out the window once she catches the blonde staring at her again.

“Ooooh, we should order more alcohol,” Bow announces, like he just came up with the most brilliant and original idea.

He smashes his body against the bar to get the bartender’s attention. This creates a small space for Adora to ease up next to Catra. From an outside perspective, they probably just look like a disordered circle of friends waiting for their drinks.

Adora totally casually leans down near Catra to whisper, “That was phenomenal. You’re the most talented person I’ve ever met.”

“Shut up.” She lets her tail dip down to brush against Adora’s thigh.

“I mean it. You just...came alive up there. I couldn’t take my eyes off of you. I mean, that’s basically always true though.”

Ugh. Stupid earnest Adora. If Rogelio didn’t have a strict ‘no hook-ups’ policy for the van, they’d be in there fogging up the windows already.

“They have jello shots!” Bow squeals.

“Yeah, you def shouldn't get that,” Catra drawls.

He does. He gets several, in fact. Adora declines but is completely ignored. They get interrupted twice by random people trying to talk to Catra before she gives up and takes both hers and Adora's shots just to get some godsdamn peace and quiet for a second.

Catra waves away a third distraction before they can even open their mouth.

“Everyone wants you,” Adora whispers. Her tone is weird, not annoyed or judgey. Just...weird.

Catra tries laughing it off. “Ditto.”

The dummy is literally on a TV show where a dozen women are after her. Somehow, she looks thrown off a bit at being reminded of that.

As Bow and Glimmer disagree on how much alcohol can reasonably be injected into jello, Adora slightly recovers. Her ability to speak, to be clear, not any game.

With zero subtlety, she inquires, “How long are you staying out?”

Catra just shrugs. “I want to dance.” She's not trying to be coy. It's just naturally coming out that way.

She doesn’t ask if Adora can stay and dance. Obviously, she can’t risk being noticed.

Adora gives a short nod. “I gotta take out Swifty at some point. Can I come over after?”

“Might be late…”

“You can just say no, you know?”

Catra could . She won’t. What’s she supposed to do? Just not sleep in Adora’s arms at least once this week? That doesn’t mean she plans to make it easy.

With the briefest glance to make sure no one can overhear, she quietly tells the blonde, “You’re little spoon.”

Adora tries very hard to maintain a neutral, not desperately pleased, face. “Isn’t that called jetpacking?”

Catra chooses to ignore that and march forward confidently. “And I’m getting drunk.”

“So no funny business,” Adora replies definitively. “Got it. Maybe I should stay and keep an eye on you.”

“Go walk your mutt, dummy. I’ll be done in a couple hours. And I’m a big girl. I can take care of myself just fine.”

Adora looks like she might ask if Catra’s sure. But a set of claws suddenly appears between the two of them so Adora just shuts her mouth.

Instead, she tries a much more clever strategy. Adora leans over and whispers something to Bow and Glimmer.

The boy turns to Catra with delighted eyes. “Oh my Gods, yes! Dance party buddies!”

Glimmer barely has time to say, “Goodnight, Adora. We’ll probably return her in one piece,” before Bow drags them both by the hands into the center of the crowd.

Catra tries to shoot Adora her most murderous look for getting her into this mess, but the blonde is already waving her goodbyes.

It’s hot and late and they’ve been dancing for maybe forever. Catra’s body and her soul could keep going. Her feet, on the other hand, are already fucking pissed. Thank the gods she chose to wear shoes tonight at least.

“BRB,” Glitter yells over some very awful techno remix of a pop song that Catra had previously secretly loved. “I gotta run to the restroom.”

“Take your boyfriend,” Catra tells her but the sparkly menace disappears immediately.

Nearby, Rogelio, Kyle, and Lonnie are in a three-person grind move that would be banned from a PG-13 movie. It’s up to Catra to keep 100% of Bow’s attention so he doesn’t wander off again. An hour or so ago, he thought he saw someone he knew and tried to follow them out the door. It took both Catra and Glimmer to subdue him, his girlfriend reminding him that this particular friend actually lives on the other side of the planet and hasn’t talked to them in a decade.

As soon as his brain finishes slowly processing Glimmer’s words, Bow pulls Catra into an awkward and wobbly side hug, before basically dropping his whole weight on her. Pressed up against her, he’s absolutely drenched in sweat. The mesh doesn't do a godsdamn thing but trap it to transfer directly onto Catra’s brand new clothes. There's only one sweaty human she wants this close to her and it is definitely not Bow.

“We should get another beverage,” he suggests. Except it comes out sounding like ‘brevidje.’ So no, he’s had more than enough, thanks.

The problem is Bow’s already pretty built and booze just seems to give him herculean strength. When he tugs on Catra’s arm, the rest of her body has no choice but to follow unless she’d like to have a late-night trip to urgent care to have her shoulder reset.

Catra takes it upon herself to order. Two seltzers with a splash of bitters and a cherry. The bartender takes one look at Bow, who smiles and waves like his body is made of putty, and nods wordlessly. When they hand the drinks over, they also give Catra the boy’s receipt and credit card.

He doesn’t have a wallet. She has to slump him against the bar and physically place the straw in his mouth in a futile attempt to keep him hydrated.

“This is delicious!” Bow yells around a mouth full of liquid. “This is the best cocktail I’ve ever had.”

“Where’s your wallet and keys?” Catra asks, patting his empty pockets. He gives up on the confusing straw and just tries to sling the drink back into his mouth. Seltzer ends up all over the bottom half of his face, a few ice cubes flying behind him with enough speed and velocity to slap some random kid dancing nearby right in the head.

“Why? Do you need to stay over?” He haphazardly throws the cup onto the bar to grab Catra’s right hand. “Sleepover buds?” Bow’s big brown eyes are so hopeful that she almost could ignore how absolutely wild and unfocused they are.

“I just need to put this somewhere safe, unless you want someone doing an MTV Cribs-style makeover of their place on your dime,” she tells him, opening the hand he’s holding too tightly to show him his own card. 

“Ohhhhh,” he draws out, nodding slowly. “You can just put that in Glimmer’s bra.”

“Fuck you.”

Bow drops her hand and gives a scandalized gasp so dramatic that she can see the back of his throat. Catra thinks he’s being a little prudish about a low-level curse, until he says, “I’m so sorry. Would that be cheating on Adora?”

“Uh...whattt? No! Shush!” all comes out in a scramble as Catra shoves her hands over his mouth. “Quiet!”

She gives a quick glance around but no one’s paying attention to them.

“For one, we’re not…” There’s no good way to finish that sentence. Dating? Monogamous? “ that. And slipping something into a bra definitely does not count as cheating. And also, fuck no, I’m not doing that! I don’t know Sparkles like that!”

Bow nods too many times, not listening at all. “But you really like her, right?”


“Ad-” He stops suddenly then leans right up against Catra’s ear to shout, “Adora!”

She’s definitely going to have tinnitus after this. This fucking friend group is trying to kill her. 

Catra’s still holding her aching ears as Bow continues, “She really likes you. She told me. You can’t tell Glimmer though cause she can’t keep a secret.”

“And you think you can?” Catra accuses. She doesn’t want to hear more about Adora and her feelings. Not when Catra can barely handle her own.

“I’m like a vault. She told me everything over the phone this week and I didn’t tell anyone,” he slurs. “Not about the necklace or how much she wanted you to come to Mystacor or how she asked Entrapta about you or the flowers, which were my idea.”

“Of course they were,” Catra sighs. Great. Now she has to torture Entrapta for answers. One more godsdamn thing to add to her to-do list.

“Adora wanted to send yellow carnations cause she thought they were pretty.” He makes the most drunk sad eyes. “Can you imagine the message she’d be sending?”

No, Catra literally cannot imagine what the hell that’s supposed to mean. But again, yellow flowers don’t sound attractive at all.

“What other secrets are you keeping?”

“I’m a vault,” Bow reiterates. “I didn’t tell anyone about the necklace or Mystac-”

“Is there a button that changes Drunk Bow from ‘repeat’ to ‘shuffle’?”

“When she chooses you, you have to be surprised,” he whispers.

“Oh, I definitely will be,” Catra agrees. No matter what this extremely inebriated weirdo says, that doesn’t seem like the most possible outcome to her.

Chapter Text

Catra is mostly recovered from her hangover by Monday. This is her late 20s apparently, her bad decisions staying with her long after the fun has ended. Maybe party nights will have to be downgraded to only twice per year. 

For a moment, she wonders how Casta downs a bottle of bubbly half the time she's there. But then Catra remembers. Dark witch. No further information needed.

Lonnie’s faring much better. She sent a flurry of texts on Saturday and Sunday about new followers, momentum generated, upcoming shows, blah blah. Catra had worried this would happen. She gave an effort once and now people are thinking it's the new normal.

Shit. Wasn't she supposed to be sabotaging the band? Gotta... remember what that plan was. Was there more to it than just being difficult? She can manage that in her sleep.

Catra won't let Lonnie talk about anything Horde-related during their shift. Unfortunately, the bar is slower than the past couple weeks so they have nothing else to distract themselves with.

She decides to fall back into an old pastime. Hooking a foot onto the stool below her, Catra angles up to the space above the bar and drags down the hidden box at the top of the mirror.

When the last people she expects to see, Bow and Glimmer, wander in, they find her sitting behind the bar, digging through the junk in the lost and found. It’s mostly phone chargers, a dusty digital camera for some reason, and a couple random items of clothing. 

At Tenderoni, the two of them ended up dancing with Catra and the rest of Horde until the daymoon was coming up. Eventually, Bow attempted to lay down and take a nap in the middle of the dancefloor, signaling that it was past time to leave. Catra and Glimmer decided to split a cab and because fate has a fucked up sense of humor, they got to Catra's place just as a half-asleep Adora was walking up to meet her. Apparently she timed her arrival badly and had to pretend to casually be in the neighborhood. Glitter+Boy™ seemed to notice but were too nice (or too inebriated) to ask any questions. 

As always, Adora was perfectly well-behaved, even when Drunk Catra tried to put on some Sade and get a vibe going. She could not be moved by an improvised sobriety test where Catra failed to name all of Etheria’s moons, a feat she'd never done soberly but was just drunk enough to sell her fake confidence. As a last-ditch effort, she'd thrown herself onto her back in the middle of the bed and whined, “A-dor-a” over and over until she fell asleep.

The next morning, Catra apologized for being so drunk and uncool as soon as she woke up, still groggy and mostly confused.

“I try to respect people's boundaries,” she added. Really, it was Catra's own boundaries that she tended to stump all over. “I won’t be such a fucking nightmare next time. Are you upset?”

Adora laughed. “You were less coherent than you think. You swayed for a minute. Bragged about how smart you were. Then you toppled over, mumbled my name, and started purring. It was pretty cute.”

“I'm not cute,” Catra argued, nipping at Adora's shoulder until the blonde took her into her arms.

Adora stayed and held Catra for most of the early afternoon, still whispering about how blown away she was the night before, until Catra’s lips were all over her to get her to finally shut up. 

“Tell me how you like to be touched?” Adora had asked between kisses, voice so honey sweet and sexy that Catra was forced to turn her head and bite into her pillow to keep from moaning.

“Shut up,” she mumbled around a mouthful of down feathers.

Adora shifted to press kisses against her collarbone. They’d both slept in some shorts and tanks that Catra had dug out of her dresser but that wasn’t nearly enough material.

“Can you imagine what it would be like if you said something nice to me too?” the blonde chuckled.

“I only put up with your annoying ass cause you’re so fucking perfect. Don’t ruin it by trying to be charming. It’s not a good look for you.”

“Perfect?” Adora repeated. Her smile turned into a full smirk that was just so fucking insufferable on her gorgeous face. “Oof, I didn’t realize how bad you had it for me. You must hate that.”

Whatever weak sauce response Catra would have come up with was cut off by Adora switching her attention towards giving maybe the world’s best massage, explaining how overworked Catra’s body probably was. It was pretty chaste until the Magicat was completely over the teasing and tried pushing her tail and ass into Adora’s hands. She reluctantly made the blonde leave to walk Swift Wind pretty quickly after that, before things escalated more. Catra was kicking herself about it for the rest of the day.

Bow’s enthusiastic “Hey, guys!” snaps Catra out of her daydream, just as he and his girlfriend both take a seat.

“What are you doing?” Glimmer asks.

“Shopping,” is Catra’s curt response. “Don’t you three have a show you’re supposed to be watching?”

“We decided to DVR it and catch it later,” Bow explains. “Can we get two seltzers please?”

Lonnie pours them cause Catra’s clearly not planning on moving.

“What’s your excuse?” she asks the other bartender.

“I’m sure I’ll find some way to stream it tomorrow morning before the internet spoils it for me.”

They’re all looking at Catra while very much pretending not to. She’s not paranoid. This is weird. ...right?

She decides to just go about her business, selecting a huge gold tshirt with a weird bodybuilder gym logo on it and tossing the box onto the floor. After shaking out some of the lint off, she sets to using her claws to remove the hems attaching the sleeves.

Glimmer and Bow look puzzled.

“Please help,” Lonnie begs them. “I’ve been trying to support this ho for years and I’ve run out of spoons.”

Catra snorts. ‘Support’? That’s what they’re calling it?

“Sooo,” Bow draws out. “We had a great time with you both the other night.”

“Even though we’re never drinking again,” Glimmer adds.

“Right. We just stopped by to hang out.” He pauses here, a little unsure. Then, cuts his eyes to the left to take a quick glance at Glimmer. “Catra, where, uh...where’d you grow up?”

“Here,” she replies.

“Like, in the bar?” Glimmer responds with great sarcasm.

“That’s technically true in some ways,” Lonnie mumbles.

“Cool,” Bow nods. He does not like this answer, judging by the slip of his smile. “And you live around here now?”

“Sparkles, what do you two actually want?” 

“Bow is genuinely trying to be your friend. I’m just finding all of your weaknesses so I know how to destroy you if you hurt Adora.”

Catra sucks her teeth slowly, giving Sparkles an appraising look. “It’s a shame you and I didn’t meet each other first.”

Glitter narrows her eyes but the way she bites her lip sends a very different message.

“I know, right?” she says with a sigh.

Catra lazily turns to Bow next. Maybe she’s feeling generous. Maybe she’s amused by how flustered he is by the idea of losing his girlfriend to her.

But Catra throws him a bone.

“Don’t ask me weird questions about my life,” she tells Bow. “Just talk like a normal person. Tell me how business is or what you’re watching on tv or something.”

Does she have to explain everything around here? Also, if people are looking to her for advice on navigating social interactions, they’re clearly hopeless.

“You know what we’re watching on tv?” Sparkles teases. “Just this silly little reality dating show. Have you seen it, Catra? Big fan?”

Her eyes are...dangerous, really is the only thing that comes to Catra’s mind. She has no trouble believing that Glimmer’s more than prepared to ruin her entire existence if things go wrong between her and Adora.

That doesn’t mean Catra’s above fucking with Glitter though. “Super fan. On all the reddits. My dream’s always been to sabotage the show from within and take down the lead.”

“She’s joking,” Lonnie explains.

“That’s not really a joke,” Glimmer argues. “Does she need help understanding what a joke is?”

Lonnie just continues on, “Catra only watches trashy shows where people embarrass themselves and their entire families. Oh, and bad movies.”

“Like old martial arts movies?” Bow asks.

At Lonnie’s nod, he and Glimmer exchange a look.

Ugh. Yes, she and Adora have some common interests. That doesn’t mean anything.

“I don’t know how the show ends if that’s what you want to know,” Catra states. “Adora said you’d lost your minds over it.”

“Pretty clear how it ends,” Sparkles mutters.

Out of the corner of her eye, Catra sees Lonnie nod absently.

“You seen any spoilers on how we get there though?” she asks.

“Nothing that seems like it would actually happen,” Bow answers. “We’ve known Adora since we were kids. She’s...awkward sometimes. A little oblivious and hard-headed. But she’s not cruel or selfish and some of the rumors are…”

“Fucking lies,” Glimmer finishes bitterly.

That makes Catra more than a little curious but she tries to push it down. If Adora could be a jerk and lead on whatever loser supposedly ‘won her heart’ on the show, then she could definitely do the same to Catra.

She tries to ignore the conversation continuing on without her. Just focus on destroying this ugly ass shirt. She has a pair of purple shorts that this will look absolutely horrible with. Perfect date outfit to keep her off Adora.

“My pick was Mermista,” she hears Glimmer announce. “She has that aloof vibe that Adora seems to always go for. Gods, remember when she tried to introduce us to that scary woman from her bowling league who she had a crush on? She didn’t even bother to learn Adora’s name!”

“Could you not do that here maybe?” Catra bites out. It’s hard for her to miss how fucking pissed off her tone is. Gods.

“I’ll start a group chat!” Bow says before he tosses his phone to Lonnie for her to enter her number.

They sit in silence for a bit, which feels odd cause these two seem like the kind of folks who literally never stop making noise. Catra glances up when she realizes that they're just watching her once again.

“It’s impolite to stare,” she hisses. “Why does this bar only attract overly friendly creeps now?”

“What type would you say you are?” is what Glimmer asks completely out of nowhere. 

Type? What kind of question is that? “Dragon,” Catra answers quickly, saying the first word that comes to mind just to be annoying. 

Glitter is unbothered. “See, I was thinking dirty soft soft butch.”

“Secretly-not-actually-rough trade?” Lonnie suggests.

“I was gonna guess ‘ruff’ trade but that doesn't work cause you’re a kitty,” Bow adds.

“Fine, talk about your stupid show if you want,” Catra huffs. 

“Anyway,” Glimmer continues quickly. She clearly knows how to get her way. “I probably would have been right about Mermista if not for…” Catra doesn’t see whatever motion she makes but when she looks up Sparkles is staring at her again. “Honestly, it’s probably better this way. Adora kept talking about your music this weekend so much that we started to worry she might quit her job and try to follow you on tour. Bow and I were half-planning to go to the show before we even met you. Something about this all feels weirdly...inevitable.”

“Written in the stars,” Bow coos. Catra doesn’t care for the dreamy look on his face.

“Like Adam and Teela,” Glimmer responds. “Once they were on the show, they found out they both ran in some of the same circles and had just been missing each other for years, like ships in the night. It all worked out so well for them. We thought it might for Adora too but.”

She shrugs with just the tiniest smile.

There’s something about this that Catra can allow herself to be interested in. She sure as fuck isn’t interested in checking out the women that Adora was dating. But she can see what kind of fucking fox Boy Adora ended up with.

“This Teela – you got a picture?” she requests.

“Oh! Definitely!” Bow rushes to find something on his phone and in just a few seconds, he’s flipping it around to show her.

It’s a tabloid shot. The couple’s out running errands or something in sweaters and sweats. Adam’s gorgeous, for a man. Tall and blonde and athletic like his sister, with similar sharp features and soothing eyes. Teela looks good on his arm. Long auburn hair, pretty cocoa eyes, and plump lips. Even in her bulky clothes and dressed down, Catra can tell she’s built like a brick house.

Gods, she was right. This is the kind of woman who signs up for this show. If someone was unlucky enough to get a photo of Catra hanging out with Adora, what would the caption even say? ‘Bachelorette Adora Grayson pictured with a fan’?

“Are you okay?” Bow tentatively asks.

“I’m fine,” she shoots back quickly. She pours herself a glass of water as a distraction.

“That’s a nice necklace,” Glimmer says. There's something in her voice that Catra can't quite identify.


“You were fiddling with it. It’s cute. Looks like something we watched Adora pick out.”

Catra doesn’t know what she’s getting at so she just walks back to her stool. Bow is busy hiding his grin behind his hands.

“She was looking at a little lapel pin for herself that day but didn’t get it,” Glitter adds. “I can send you the link if you want.”

No. No, Catra does not want that. Receiving a gift doesn’t mean she’s obliged to give one in return. Casual acquaintances do not exchange presents.

Catra asks, “Don’t you kinda hate me?”

“I don’t know you,” Sparkles tells her. “But someone I trust vouched for you. Don’t worry – I’m not gonna suddenly be nice to you or anything.”

“Well, thank fuck for that.” For a long moment, they just stare each other down. “Yeah, send the link,” Catra hears herself say. “If you insist.”

To put a fine point on how she’s done interacting with people for at least the next 24 hours, Catra shifts on her stool so her back is to everyone. Conversation closed.

That lasts maybe 3 whole minutes until Glimmer and Lonnie start just chitchatting like two casual friends and Bow slides his peppy ass down the bar to creep into Catra’s line of vision.

“Hey, buddy!”

“No more 20 questions,” she tells him quickly.

“Fair,” he says with an easy smile. “I just wanted to apologize for Friday. It was so much fun! But, I might have had too much fun.”

“You and me both.” Catra grimaces, thinking of how annoying she was to Adora. The blonde said it wasn’t that bad but Catra should probably think of some way to make it up to her. The lapel pin doesn’t have to be a gift – maybe it could be a ‘sorry I’m trash’ offering.

Bow nods in sympathy. “At least you had someone to help take care of you afterward.” His tone is searching, like he wants her to tell him how that went. When all Catra does is stare at him blankly, he moves past it. “Anyway, thanks for putting up with me.”

He pauses to glance over and make sure Glimmer’s still enthralled in her convo with Lonnie. “About that thing I said…”

Catra finishes for him, “Just blame it on you being drunk. I know.”

She had absolutely not started to fantasize about what it might mean for Adora to pick her. Also, this is real life. If Adora showed up at her apartment with a single fucking rose, Catra would laugh in her face and probably call her cheap.

“I don't lie, Catra. No matter how many jello shots I had.” He glances at Glimmer again. “Be surprised, remember?”

Then he mimes...something. He opens his mouth and eyes wide and throws his arms up in the air. Maybe he's acting out being mugged?

“Are you a clown?”

“I'm acting surprised,” he whispers.

“You look like you just saw a poltergeist.”

“Whatever motivation works for you,” he shoots back. He’s just a little frustrated and Catra takes some pride in cracking through his serene facade. With a sigh, he leans across the bar. “That shirt would make a good croptop.”

“The logo’s too low,” Catra argues. The weird bodybuilder symbol’s gonna get cut off, which would be a shame cause it’s so terrible. The dimensions are all off – head too smushed, arms too long – and it looks a little like someone put a doll in the microwave then drew that as their logo. Must preserve the integrity of the artist’s vision.

“Not if you know how to crop it properly.” Bow extends a hand towards her, signaling at the shirt. “Watch and learn, buddy,” he says with a confident grin.

On Tuesday, Catra is awoken by the sound of Entrapta squealing. It’s even more frantic than her usual loud, grating sounds so Catra actually bolts out of her room to make sure nothing is literally on fire or being rotted by acid.

Instead, she finds Entrapta in their narrow hallway, jumping up and down.

“It’s beautiful!” She turns when she sees Catra. “It’s fixed!”

“Guess the surprise is ruined,” she hears someone mumble. Oh no.

With a peek into the bathroom, there’s Adora on her knees, the old sink on the floor and a brand new identical one installed in its place. The blonde at least looks a little embarrassed about being caught. And then her eyes sweep over Catra and she has to bite her lips to hold in a laugh.

Ugh. Catra may have collapsed in her bed last night in her most comfy sleepshirt, a well-worn awful purple abomination with the words ‘I sleep bear naked’ and a picture of a fucking bear. Is Catra embarrassed to be standing in front of the hottest woman she’s ever seen while wearing this wine mom top? No. Should she be? Probably! But the ash-colored panties she’s sporting are much worse cause that’s the least sexy color possible.

“How did you get this up here?” she asks.

“I carried it,” Adora says with a smile and only flexes a little, in her pale pink tanktop with a hot pink triangle on the front of it. Her hair is pulled up in a messy bun and she’s covered in sweat.

Witnessing this sight does not make Catra want to have Adora’s babies. She would be open to offers, however.

“You carried it,” Catra repeats absently. The dummy spent probably a couple hundred bucks on this and then lugged a 60 pound sink up 4 flights of stairs. How? Why?? “And you installed it. Alone?”

“Thanks to Glimmer and Bow’s business, I know a little about home improvement,” Adora explains. “Well, I didn’t know that much. But I watched a bunch of videos over the past couple weeks. I feel so butch!” She says that with a high-pitched nasally voice that makes Catra actually laugh.

“I can’t believe you,” she says, smiling and shaking her head in wonder.

Entrapta is much less charmed and just continues on with her usual flat tone, “Adora, there are several things that Catra has broken throughout the apartment through a combination of clumsiness, neglect, and obliviousness. I think improvement of them would greatly impact her general mood and happiness.”

“Yeah, of course! Just show me where.” She stands, ready to go.

Still trying to recover from how deeply incompetent her best friend just made her sound, Catra insists, “Nope. This is more than enough.” 

This is, in fact, too much. This is girlfriend-level. That just won’t do.

Entrapta, who Catra is now convinced is definitely aware of what’s happening here, continues, “But–”

“Nope. Don’t you have work now?”

“I do. Excellent job, Adora.” Then Trapta says, a little quieter, “I hope you deploy that new data I gave you.”

“What’s that now?” Catra asks, voice growing in suspicion.

Entrapta disappears quickly. She’s not a genius for nothing. Adora waves after her like a nerd.

“I was thinking of maybe removing this shelf and putting it a little lower. So, you know, falling candles won't be so much of a sink-destroying risk?”

“Uh huh,” Catra replies idly. 

Deciding to try this out for herself, she turns on the sink and it works. There’s no spills. It’s honestly a relief cause she was starting to wonder if the duct tape was hiding some sort of terrible growing mold or something else that could silently kill her.


Adora smiles smugly. “I’m sorry – what was that?”


“That sounds suspiciously like ‘thank you, Adora.’ Not that I did this for the praise.”

“You’ll take the old one out too, right? Otherwise, I’m just throwing it out the window and praying for no casualties.”

Adora rolls her eyes. “Yeah, I’ll clean up after myself.”

“Okay, great. Dismissed then.”

Catra turns to leave and isn’t surprised to find the bathroom door closing quickly and herself pressed up against it. Adora’s front is smashed against her back, hands resting flat against the door.

“That’s it?” the blonde asks. Catra can hear the smile in her voice.

“I thought you said you weren’t in it for the praise?”

“No, but a ‘good morning’ would be nice.”

“Clean up and I’ll make you some breakfast,” Catra tries to say casually.

“It’s 2pm,” Adora points out.

“You want some bacon or nah?”

There’s a low chuckle in her ear. “Yeah, that sounds perfect. I’m starving actually.”

“No surprise there.”

Adora takes a step back so that Catra can maneuver out of the room. She makes it halfway down the hall before she slows. Stops. Fights with herself for a good 30 seconds.

And then Catra’s walking swiftly back, where Adora is picking everything up. The blonde has no time to react before Catra is kissing her so hard that Adora’s pressed up against the brand new sink. When they pull apart, her smiling face looks a little breathless and dazed.

“Thanks, I guess. Now, get to work on that shelf.”

Catra leaves without a word to make breakfast. She has to eat anyway. Might as well make enough for two.

“I’ve never seen you cook before,” Adora comments as she enters the kitchen several minutes later. She’s carrying a big bulky yellow toolbox and her cut-off shorts have been sheared so high that the pockets are visible. There’s even white tube socks sticking out of her tan workboots.

What a fun time for Catra to learn she’s very interested in this specific fantasy. Adora swaggers over like she can read this thought loud and clear.

“Don’t say a damn thing about helping me with my pipes,” the Magicat warns.

Adora sticks out her lip in an annoyingly cute pout. “That’s not what I was gonna say.”

“Yeah?” Catra challenges. “What then?”

“I was just gonna ask...if your basement was flooded.” She quirks up an eyebrow and slowly trails her eyes down Catra’s body, stopping very obviously just below her tummy.

“You’re disgusting, Grayson.”

Catra doesn’t give a shit about the bacon on the stove as she throws her arms around Adora’s neck, kissing her soundly. Since she bothered to cover up those sad granny panties, Adora kisses back. Catra can feel her flexing when strong arms go around her waist and she’s lifted just slightly off the floor. Catra growls possessively into Adora’s mouth, getting a shameless moan in response. The human doesn’t release her until the two of them can’t ignore the smell of something burning.

“This is probably why I haven’t seen you cook,” Adora laughs.

Catra tosses the completely scorched food into the trash. “That’s honestly nothing compared to the Great Bloomin’ Onion Disaster of 2017.” She lowers her voice to be as creepy as possible. “A lot of good men were lost that day.”

Without prompting, Adora whips out a screwdriver and starts tinkering with that cabinet door under the sink that decided to slowly fall off a few months ago.

She makes sure to keep her eyes on her work and the hope out of her voice as she suggests, “Maybe we should take a cooking class together?”

It's such a domestic date idea. Cooking and bonding and aprons not being used exclusively for fashion.

“Maybe,” Catra replies reluctantly.

“Until then, should we be safe and go with delivery?” she asks.

“How dare you!” Catra pretends to huff, tossing more meat into the pan. “I’m gonna make you a delicious breakfast-”

“It’s definitely lunch but sure,” Adora mutters to herself.

“-and you’re gonna to enjoy it. Got that?”

She gives a fake frown and a curt nod. “Yes, sir.”

That plus Adora on her knees is really too much for one person to deny themself. Catra tosses the spatula in favor of weaving her fingers into Adora’s hair and pulling at that messy bun.

The second pan of bacon burns too.

Catra spends all of her shift that night and the rest of the next day in a bit of a haze. 

After her third attempt at breakfast was successful, they’d made out in the kitchen for a long while. She had straddled Adora at the table and whoops! suddenly two hours had gone by. It was kinda impossible to not get lost in Adora’s hands all over her – her hair, her back, her tits through her thin shirt – and the blonde moaning for her and pulling Catra to grind down harder against her. When Entrapta ambled in for her afternoon snack, Catra realized that she needed to definitely freshen herself up and get her ass in gear to speed to work.

Every time Adora texts her, Catra rushes to message back, flirting for hours. But other than that, she’s a zombie; her dumb brain won’t stop replaying all the things Adora’s done for her. All the non-dates they’ve had. What this could possibly mean.

That’s the most annoying part of all. Catra doesn’t overthink. Hell, she often doesn’t think. Most of the time, she acts on instinct and trusts that she’s scrappy and can figure things out if she gets into trouble.

With Adora, a voice in her head, some fucking siren song of ruining everything, keeps trying to beckon her to examine what she and the dummy have been doing. Catra can’t. She can’t. She knows herself – she’ll get super weird and Adora will get suspicious and fuck knows what nonsense will spill out of her traitorous mouth. And then Catra will have to wander into the woods and live as a hermit forever. She fucking hates nature.

“Are you more incompetent than usual or am I losing my mind?” Netossa asks, taking a fucking blowtorch to Catra’s inner monologue. She's on the other side of the bar, waiting for Casta or something.

“Well, you are advanced in your years,” Catra replies.

“What a weirdly formal way to call me an old bitch.” Then she laughs so at least Catra isn’t worried about having to fight her now.

“What were you two jerks talking about anyway?”

From the other end of the bar, Lonnie turns away quickly. That leaves only Netossa, unless she plans on just getting up and walking out.

“What was it?” Catra repeats.

Netossa sighs. “Just about a certain tv show.”

Catra feels herself make a face. It morphs into a furrowed brow though, when she realizes that Netossa was trying to keep this from her. Theoretically, Netossa should know nothing about anyone that Catra may or may not be totally involved with.

“What about it?” she asks.

“Why? What’s it to you?” Netossa slings back. 

“Nothing!” Catra says immediately, convincing literally no one.

The pleased look on the older woman’s face is just way too much. Too too much.

“You know,” Netty starts. Her tone is dripping in implication, like she’s holding on to a secret and really wants to reel Catra in. “I joined Huntara’s pool. Put down a bunch of money too so I had to do my research.”

“Does Spinnerella know about this?” Lonnie asks.

“She knows that I enjoy betting and research.”

“And the exact amount of money that you put on this…?”

“I feel like she knows she shouldn’t think too hard about that part or ask questions,” Netossa answers.

“Uh huh,” Catra and Lonnie say in tandem.

“Moving along,” Netty pushes. “Using a combination of social media and gossip-hungry lezs, I looked into Adora's past romances, likes, dislikes, weaknesses. I believe she’d go for someone successful, by some measures, independent with their own life and friends. Strong. Rebellious. A freak.” 

Catra wonders what can be easily found on the internet to point towards that last quality. She’s a little upset that Netossa knows more about Adora than she does. And she’s irrationally vindicated cause she also thinks Adora might be a freak.

“I bet on two top contenders. #2.” Netossa pauses to pull up a photo on her phone. It's a headshot type thing of a stunningly beautiful woman with skin like rich cocoa, voluminous waves of teal hair, and a cocky grin. 

Catra considers hurling herself into space. This is exactly what she didn't want to know. How the fuck is she supposed to compete with that?

“That's Mermista, professor cheerleader for the Salineas Sharks, former gymnast, all around badass.”

“Her confessionals are the highlight of the season,” Lonnie adds. “She just drags the fuck out of all those other girls.”

“And then you have my #1 choice...” Netossa says. She takes back her phone to pull up another photo. When she reveals it, it's a picture of Catra, asleep on one of the picnic tables in the back, mouth open and drool falling onto her shoulder.

Catra considers hurling Netossa into space instead.

“How the fuck do you still have that?” Catra asks, voice consumed with venom. She was tired and she wasn’t on the clock and the sunbeam was too nice and she doesn’t have to explain herself for taking a catnap in the middle of a party, that’s racially insensitive. Probably.

Netossa couldn't care less.

“Obviously, I wasn't allowed to bet on someone who wasn't intentionally a part of the show. So I wagered that Adora wouldn't propose to anyone.”

Catra's anger pauses for just a moment. She didn't really realize that was an option. Adora could...just not be engaged or dating someone? Just completely single and free to spend time with whoever she wants?


Netty continues, “A recent foray into Adora's social media showed that she was following two new accounts – Horde. And Catra Weaver. Independent, rebellious, stubborn as all hell. A band with local success.”

“A freak with local success,” Lonnie interjects.

“There’s already been a little curious buzz in the streets about that,” Netossa teases. “People want to know why the bachelorette is suddenly following a local bartender’s personal account. Especially when it’s mostly pictures of her cat.”

“You're way off base, Miss Marple,” Catra tells her. She does not bother mentioning that Melog is self-centered and demands to have their photo taken and posted. Or that Adora also friended Entrapta, cause her account is hidden under some fake name and somehow shows up as nonexistent when you try to visit it most times.

“Am I?” Netty asks. “I thought I was grasping at straws. Seeing what I wanted to see for you because I love you for some stupid reason. But then, I remembered something. A certain blonde enigma that you've been spotted with at the bar. Repeatedly.”

And then Netossa just waits. She puts on her best ‘you’re gonna crack’ face and stares at Catra until she grows uncomfortable with the attention. 

“Adora numbers amongst the people I have met before,” she says finally. Catra crosses her arms, signaling that that’s all that she’ll allow.

“Adora got her that little heart piece she’s wearing. And they’ve been cuddled up everytime I see them,” Lonnie tacks on.

“Lies!” Catra hisses.

“Girl,” Lonnie tsks. “Just cause you’re lying to yourself, doesn’t mean the rest of us have to play along.”

Catra feels her fur rising, her tail moving closer to her leg for safety while flicking lightly. She’s not in any danger. Why does her body seem to think she is?

“It’s okay, kitty,” Netossa tries to sooth. She puts both hands up in a sign of surrender. “No one’s calling you out or saying you did anything wrong.”

‘Didn’t I though?’ Catra thinks.

Netossa’s face softens. “I’m just trying to help. Sometimes you...think you don’t have any support and you make rash decisions.”

Yeah, that sounds familiar. It’s annoying that she’s fought so hard to have people who are not concerned about her in the least in her life, which is truly Catra’s dream – a handful of people who do not bother her and don’t care whether she lives or dies but will help her move if asked. Instead, she ends up with this group of loving, worried goons.

If anything, this is another reason why nothing can ever happen between her and Adora. Behind those dreamy fucking eyes are a lot of extra trouble that Catra just can’t have – expectations, mutual care, appreciation and lov-

“No!” Catra yells out suddenly, attempting to cut off that train of thought.

Netossa lowers her hands quickly, looking deeply concerned. Lonnie just frowns at her.

Catra takes a deep breath and repeats, “No...uh, I mean, yes. I know Adora. But she’s not...I’m not into her.”

She has to shush the little voice in her head that says, ‘Really, bitch?’ It’s starting to sound suspiciously like Lonnie.

“Adora’s got a real ‘Captain Save-a-Ho’ vibe about her.” She fixed a sink for Gods’ sake. “And that doesn’t really do it for me, ya know?”

“Uh huh,” Netossa replies, sounding very unconvinced. “What else has she done?”

“Well, she…” Catra feels her eyes glaze over a bit, trying to remember all the dumb little shit Adora’s done over the past couple months. “She brought me food. To the bar. Like a date. Which, gross. A date, I mean – the food was delicious. And she texts me all the time to check in. But not annoying shit, like ‘how are you?’ Sometimes she just asks, ‘Tell me all the people who pissed you off today?’ Much better question. She bought me some books. She’s nice to my cat and my friends. And she introduced me to her weird crew. She tells me all about her life in a way that’s actually interesting but she doesn’t push me to talk about mine. She doesn’t push me at all. Keeps saying I’m gonna trust her. And the massages!”

Completely forgetting she’s not alone in her home, Catra lets out a deep (and extremely frustrated) growl. It’s really the only way to convey: how much she feels about Adora; how much she fucking wants Adora; how this is absolutely never gonna work out for her; and how annoyed she is about all of that.

“And…?” Netossa responds. “What’s the problem here exactly?”

“Everything! Did you hear what I just said?”

“So, you like her,” Lonnie says. 

Catra begins thinking of how to build a spaceship cause now they’re all going on a kamikaze mission to their immediate end. 

“I don’t like her!”

“Did you hear what you just said?! You like her and you’ve done some fucked up Catra math and come to the epicly stupid conclusion that she doesn’t like you. But you wish she did.”

“But also you definitely realize that she does like you and you wish she didn’t cause she’s too good?” Netossa adds.

Hearing it out loud is somehow worse than just feeling it constantly.

Lonnie sighs. “Bitch, you better pick a struggle,” she says, in a strangely kind voice. 

“I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do with all this,” Catra tells them. She sounds so fucking tired. Has she been this tired the entire time?

“Enjoy it?” Netossa suggests. “For once, you’re not obsessed with some scumbag fuckboi who’s gonna steal your rug. Congrats! Savor this. Go on dates. Say nice words to her. Buy her things.”

“I don’t know how to do that! No one ever taught me how to do that!”

“Sounds like Adora’s trying to,” Lonnie points out.

Catra just narrows her eyes in response. Everyone’s acting like this is all so simple. Maybe she’s not explaining it correctly.

Lonnie shakes her head. “Fine. Once you hit bottom, I hope you realize what we’re trying to tell you and finally get your act together.”

“That’s it?” Catra asks.

The asshole mimes washing her hands clean of this whole mess.

“That’s it from me. I’m never speaking about this again. It’s your life to fuck up. You do what you do best, Cat.”

Catra growls out, “What the fuck is that supposed to be mean?”

Lonnie opens her mouth, theoretically to say something horrible, but stalls out when Casta blows in through the door. It’s the last week of June, just a handful of days past the summer solstice and Casta’s dressed in a grayish-blue lace dress that covers just about everything except her face and head. There’s not a single bead of sweat on her.

Catra hopes to be this fucking deadly when she grows up. Like such a complete badass that even the daymoon is afraid to fuck with you.

Locked arm in arm with her, but desperately trying to not bring any attention to herself, is a tall, thin woman with caramel-colored skin and a haircut very similar to Netossa’s. Of course, if trying to keep a low profile is anyone’s intent, they probably shouldn’t come within a 5 mile radius of Casta.

As soon as she lays eyes on her friends, Casta yells out, “Ah! There you are! I have arrived!” and her date tries to shrink and hide in her shadow.

Honestly, Catra already kinda likes this Juliet. Catra too has a long history of subjecting herself to public embarrassment just for an attractive woman.

They go through a round of introductions that she barely pays attention to. Juliet’s kind. She repeats everyone’s names and nods like she’s locking them into her memory. Casta, of course, immediately takes over all conversation and Juliet sticks to her side, giving an encouraging smile and quietly reminding her if she gets lost in her own rambles.

It’s cute. Catra’s happy for her friend.

When Juliet excuses herself (actually says “excuse me” and everything, like a person with manners), Casta’s eyes are fucking delighted to hear affirmations on what a great catch she’s snagged.

Lonnie and Netossa are nice enough to not make her fish for compliments.

“Juliet’s really hot,” Lonnie says.

“She’s head over heels for you,” Netossa tells Casta. “And so respectful.”

Casta turns to Catra expectedly, who shrugs. “She’s alright.”

The older woman rolls her eyes, saying, “I know that’s high praise coming from you. Your advice has been working lately, by the way. Juliet and I have figured out better ways to communicate that allow us to get closer and for her to open up.” Casta takes the smallest sip of rosé that Catra’s ever seen her ingest. “Have you been taking your own advice with her ladyfriend?” 

“She’s not mine,” Catra protests. “She belongs to the streets.”

Netossa waves her off. “Casta, for right now, we’ve given up on solving this issue with Ad-”

She’s interrupted by Juliet returning. Which is perfect because Catra had already placed her hands on the bar and was seconds away from vaulting over it towards Netty.

Because Catra can’t stand the idea of interacting with another person anymore, she lets Lonnie get out of the shift early, promising to take care of everything on her own. Popping some slow jams on, she takes her time, lazily slinking around the bar and moving through her tasks at her own pace. 

No matter how loud she turns the music up, or how much she tries to pretend that settling the register takes 100% of her brain functions, Catra’s mind keeps wandering to Adora. It would be smart to process all of this new and very confusing info from Netossa.

Instead, Catra falls into the easy trap of thinking about what could have happened yesterday if she didn’t have to leave. Adora’s kisses had practically made her light-headed. Even the kissing itself – just slowly feeling each other, no rush towards anything more – was a change for her. Adora could have suggested they move to the bedroom but nope, she was perfectly content with a long, teasing makeout. And so was Catra, much to her own shock.

Adora was fine moving at whatever pace Catra set. Fuck, that just made Catra want her even more. She knows that at some point, she should investigate why ‘nice’ and ‘considerate’ were suddenly turn-ons. But it’s so much easier to focus on how Adora’s hands always feel so damn steady and safe, even when they’re pulling Catra’s hair or gripping her tits.

Catra’s work picks up speed once she realizes that she’s now hopelessly horny and better head home quickly to take care of this alone. One last rapid-fire runthrough of the place and her closing ritual is nearly done when there's a knock on the window. Even though it's ridiculous, Catra knows exactly who it is without looking.

She's right. A huge grin and big excited blue eyes greet her when she opens the door.

Catra leans against the frame casually, trying to slow her racing heart and pretend that she isn’t staring at the exact face that she was just imagining between her thighs.

She smirks, just a little. It’s hard not to relish in the nervous excitement pulsing off of the blonde, like she’s so pleased to see Catra but unsure if that feeling is returned. It makes the Magicat feel powerful enough to push aside her own jitters, fur standing just a little in anticipation of what the two of them could get up to. This late at night. Alone with no chance of interruption and nowhere to be.

“Hey, Adora.”

Chapter Text

“Hey, Adora.”

“Hey, Catra,” she tries to mimic. When Catra doesn’t make a move to let her in, Adora gently places her hands on the Magicat’s waist and leads her backwards into the bar.

“We’re closed. If you're here to steal the cash from the register, I've already pocketed it,” Catra says.

“Well, then I'm here to be taken as a hostage in your getaway,” Adora replies. She closes the door behind herself and relocks it. 

Catra knows scents are a whole thing for her people. How they mark family or find each other. How they know if someone's compatible.

Adora's clearly here fresh from a run. The sleeveless gray hoodie with only a sports bra underneath and bright red running shorts give that away. 

But also, Adora's perspiration seems to be amplifying her natural scent and it's already filling the room. All Catra can smell is sweet almond, warm skin carrying a hint of the summer air, and Adora.

Pheromones. It's science’s fault that Catra's so fucking turned on she can barely keep her own underwear on. It probably doesn’t help that all she’s been thinking about all night is a supercut of Adora’s sexiest moments.

“What are you actually doing here?” she asks, taking a few more steps to place some distance between them. It doesn’t do a godsdamn thing to slow down her rapidly increasing desire. 

Adora’s face flushes a little. “Sorry about not giving you a heads up. I wanted to see you for a bit. I...I missed you.”

Catra feels herself blush to match this dummy. Fuck. Why is it so easy for Adora to just say ridiculous shit like that? 

They saw each other less than 24 hours ago! To be fair, two hours of kissing with no release was a bit...frustrating. After watching Casta and Juliet and how they’re able to be all couple-y and cute in public, Catra was feeling lonely and even more needy.

“I-” she starts but the words just sorta die on her tongue. She swallows loudly and tries again. “Adora, I-”

The sound that comes out is closer to a tire letting out air. Adora scrunches up her face in confusion.

“What’s up?”

“Nothing,” Catra responds immediately.

Adora nods like she doesn’t believe that. “Am I interrupting? I can go if you want.”

“No!” Catra says too eagerly. Now Adora seems nervous for all the wrong reasons. “Nah, you’re fine. It’s not that. It’s what you said.”

“What I said?” Adora repeats and Catra regrets that the gift of speech only works for her when she’s saying all the wrong words.

“Yes,” she double downs. “You said you missed me.”

“You can say it too,” Adora points out.

Her voice is doing that thing where it’s light and amused. Catra doesn’t think the blonde’s laughing at her necessarily but it feels pretty close. Close enough to make her fur bristle.

“Well, how ‘bout this?” Adora asks. “Did you? Miss me, I mean.”

Catra grumbles to herself.

“What was that?” Adora teases.

“Yes,” Catra hisses, only slightly louder. 

One slow step at a time, Adora begins to cut the short distance between them.

“You’re being so patient about everything I’m going through right now, Cat. I can be patient while you figure out how to tell me how you feel. Until then,” Adora stops just an inch before they’re touching. “You can show me if that works better.”

Catra nods slightly. She can do that. She’s always been better with actions anyway. Adora reaches for her waist again, but she easily side-steps the touch.

“Come here,” Catra instructs quietly, before she moves towards the back of the space, over by the pool table. It's one of the only spots at the bar where Huntara’s cameras don't reach.

She glances back over her shoulder to make sure Adora's following, only to catch the human staring at her ass all slack-jawed. Without paying attention this afternoon, Catra had thrown on some bright yellow mostly-spandex shorts that were scandalously tight and probably meant for track or something. It’s hard not to smirk at their impact on Adora but Catra decides to be generous and not rub it in.

That generosity continues when she leans against the back wall and lets Adora pin her without a fight. Strong hands wrap around Catra’s hips while she buries her claws into blonde hair. Adora kisses her softly, much softer than Catra is expecting or used to. A sharp bite on the lip and hard tug on her ponytail don't do much to convince her to speed up.

Adora’s tongue gently caresses Catra’s for just a moment before she begins pulling back.

“I just want to kiss you,” Adora whispers, apparently still unwilling to rush.

She said she missed Catra. Fuck, she can have anything she wants and Catra’s so desperate to give it to her.

At some point the song must have changed without her noticing and now Brittany Howard’s crooning, ‘Give me all you got, baby.’

“We can do more,” Catra offers. What she’d like to say is ‘I want you to fuck me so hard I’ll be feeling it tomorrow’. But that feels dangerously close to begging. 

“More?” Adora repeats, swallowing thickly. “Are you sure?” 

If she’s uncertain herself, she doesn’t show it. She wastes no time pushing her thigh between Catra’s legs, already starting to slowly thrust against her. The Magicat has to swallow down the urge to mewl for additional pressure.

Adora so fucking leasuirely works her lips down to Catra’s neck. Holy fuck, it feels nice. But the dummy knows that, based on the way she’s smirking against Catra’s throat.

Impatiently, she guides Adora’s hand from her hip to her stomach. Instead of taking that very not subtle hint and going lower, Adora reaches under Catra’s shirt to lightly pet her soft tummy. It’s a sensitive spot, the tender touch only making Catra need those hands further south even more.

“Hmm? You sure?” Adora repeats.

Catra’s pretty committed to not asking for or admitting to anything. So instead of answering, she looks right into those gorgeous blue eyes. And fucking defiantly reaches down past the elastic waist band to shove her hand into her own shorts. Honestly, she doesn’t even touch herself, it’s mostly to prove a point.

Your move, Blondie.

Adora catches the movement, which it would be hard for her not too since it’s happening against her thigh and all. For a second, all Catra can read on her face is jealousy and betrayal. She opens her mouth to taunt Adora a little but she’s cut off with a sudden shock; Adora wrenches away, making the most exciting sound that Catra’s ever heard in her fucking life – there’s a rumble in Adora’s throat so deep that it sounds like a growl.

“Fuck yes,” Catra whispers breathlessly. It’s half-consent and half-her mind shutting down at the prospect of Adora just going fucking feral.

Quickly, Catra’s hand is being tugged out of her pants and Adora’s digging her thumbs deeper into her waist. Then she’s up in the air a couple inches as the blonde hauls her up to sit on the pool table behind them.

Catra’s pretty sure that she mumbles ‘fuck yes’ a few more times in there. This is so close to a very specific fantasy she’s had about Adora that she might be going delirious.

Rough hands start pulling her shorts down. Instead of being helpful and lifting her hips, Catra uses the distraction to place a hard bite on Adora’s soft, perfect skin. Right over her pulse point.

With an audible wince,  Adora quickly shifts her head away. Catra must frown at the rejection cause the blonde rushes to explain in a confusing ramble.

“Sorry. The show-tomorrow, I hav-”

Catra crashes back into her lips. Nope. There’s absolutely nothing about that godsforsaken show that she wants to hear right now.

Catra wants Adora to take her, a silly word she read in that ridiculous dirty book they bought and that she didn’t fully understand at all until this very moment. She needs Adora like this, all animal and instinct, trying to claim Catra for herself. Not in her giant head about some bullshit on tv.

She shoves her own bottoms to the floor before Adora can continue. Grabbing both of the blonde’s hands, Catra uses them to spread her own thighs.

Adora half growls again. At this point, Catra thinks she’s just being cruel for using that voice. Obviously, Catra's soaked. No need to keep showing off. 

Gripping roughly, Adora pushes Catra's knees even further apart. Her thighs protest the stretch, but Catra's attempt at communicating that only comes out as a broken moan. Being spread so open and exposed like this brings a slight embarrassment (and a definite hunger) in the pit of Catra's stomach that makes her instinctively want to make a joke or close her legs. The fire burning in Adora's eyes warns her to stay still though. Catra has to fight to keep from letting out another needy sound.

Finally, just when Adora releases her and Catra thinks she'll make a move, the blonde pauses to take a step back and do the most puzzling thing.

Adora tilts her head down just to stare at Catra’s pussy for half a minute. She almost looks like she’s concentrating.

“What are you doing, dummy?” Catra asks, still holding herself open.

“Mentally taking a ‘before’ picture,” Adora answers without looking away. 

“Before what?” 

Slowly, she drags her eyes up, past Catra’s still-clothed torso, and to her face.

“Before I destroy it,” she says confidently. With a dumb little smirk and everything. Those sky blue eyes of hers have gone dark as hell.

Catra straight up cackles in her gorgeous face. “What corny ass bullsh-” She's cut off by Adora roughly rubbing a thumb against her clit while sliding a finger inside. 

With a moan, the Magicat drops onto her back on the pool table. She didn’t even check to see if there were balls on the table first. It would have been pretty hilarious if she had brained herself their first time.

It’s like some kind of evil wizardry how perfect and full she feels. Adora’s not even in that deep and it’s still so good. Every nerve in her body, and most of her fur it feels like, is already standing on end.

Desperate for more contact, Catra wraps a hand around Adora’s left bicep and pulls her closer until the blonde is half-bent over her body. With her other arm, Catra reaches down and gently caresses the back of the hand working inside her. She also not-too-delicately pushes on it, signaling for Adora to go knuckle-deep. Her tail wraps around Adora’s forearm and tightens, just in case there weren’t enough cues for how much Catra needs this.

Adora leans down to meet for a frantic kiss, as her finger begins to move further. Her thumb slowly starts making a steady motion against Catra's clit that threatens to turn the Magicat into a sopping mess.

“Is this okay?” Adora whispers into her mouth.

She's met with a louder moan. Of their own accord, Catra’s hips begin dancing to meet Adora’s thrusts.

Adora chuckles in response, low and so fond. “You like when I ask you that, don’t you?” When Catra doesn’t reply, her thumb puts more pressure into the slow circles it’s making. “Answer me.”

“Yes!” Catra whispers, feeling like an electric shock is passing through her whole body. “It turns me on so fucking much.” 

She’d like to blame this on being desperate and the godsdamn teasing and foreplay they’ve done for weeks but the truth is, she gets so damn mouthy as soon as anyone touches her. Sometimes (a lot of times, really), it’s kind of mortifying. With Adora, Catra loses the typical urge to hold back.

“Hard or soft?”

“Hard!” Catra immediately responds. “Fuck me hard, Adora. Please.”

“I told you I couldn’t wait to hear you beg.”

Vaguely Catra remembers when she’d thought, all those weeks ago, that Adora was holding back. Apparently, that’s not gonna be a concern tonight.

Adora’s shifts to stand, and before Catra can be sad about losing the weight on top of her, her shirt is pushed up roughly and a hand is massaging and pulling her nipples. She didn’t know she needed that but they’re both hard and screaming for attention.

The blonde uses this new angle to start putting some serious power in her thrusts. It’s kinda hard for Catra to keep her eyes open already but she wants to watch every flex of those biceps as they work to pound her into this table.

“Gods, you’re so fucking hot,” she groans. Adora's a vision, sweaty, grunting, biting her lip in concentration as she fills Catra up over and over again.

“I love your voice. Keep talking,” Adora demands. This is not the low, sexy tone that Catra’s used to. This is some commanding and totally in control shapeshifter that’s taken over the blonde’s body.

And, to be fair, it’s taking over Catra’s body too. The thrusts are so deep and jostling that, just barely over the sound of how absolutely drenched she is, she can hear the pool table creaking.

“Can I have some more?” Catra begs. “Can I have some more, please, Adora?”

“More what? What do you need, baby?”

Blagh. Fuck, Catra hates how much she loves that word falling from Adora’s lips.

“More fingers,” she manages to get out, throat tightening and tongue going dry. She feels like she can hear the blood rushing in her ears. All of that gets pushed to the back burner to focus on the fire raging between her legs.

Catra bears down a bit, trying to squeeze her muscles tight to really enjoy the one digit that’s already inside her. Adora swears up a storm, before she pulls out and re-enters Catra with a second finger.

This- Catra has to pause mid-thought as Adora starts thrusting with maybe 60% of the power she has and Catra can just barely handle it- This really isn’t gonna take long at all. She’s way too turned on and Adora’s too too good.

“Harder,” Catra chokes out. Her legs develop a mind of their own and move to wrap around Adora’s waist. 

The blonde’s hand jumps from Catra’s tits to her hip, pinning her against the table. Just in time too, cause Catra was starting to become aware that she was dangerously close to teetering right off of and onto the floor.

Everything after that just fades away into white-hot oblivion. Adora’s thrusts pick up so hard and fast that Catra has to reach down and grip the edge of the table herself, not able to be worried about whether she’s leaving grooves in it with her claws. She’s sure she’s babbling nonsense but all she can make out from her own words is ‘fuck!’ and ‘more’ and ‘yes’ and ‘Adora’ as those fingers play her perfectly. In and out, around in circles, as deep as they’ll go.

It’s building. Low in Catra’s stomach, the crescendo is swelling more and more until it reaches a panicked peak. At the last second, she tries to hold back. Hold it off so she can enjoy this just a little longer. But it’s too much, it’s everything she wanted it to be for all these long weeks and Catra has to let go and let the wave take her.

“Adora!” comes out in a shaking scream. Catra feels herself pouring onto Adora’s hand, pulsing around and drenching it.

She can hear Adora’s awe-filled whispers about how amazing she is and how wet she was and how that was even better than Adora’s fantasies. Mostly, Catra can hear her own pulse in her ears, feel the weight of the table underneath her as she tries to calm and ground herself back on Etheria.

Cause fucking hell, that was...

“That was...okay, I guess,” Catra says eventually, struggling to catch her breath. Her mouth's as dry as the desert. But there’s definitely a small pool under her ass.

“You’re the absolute worst,” Adora returns with a laugh. “Did you even hear yourself? My ears are still ringing from how loud you screamed.”

She removes her hand from between Catra’s legs to wipe it off on her own shorts. Tenderly, she reaches down to pull the Magicat up into a sitting position so Adora can cuddle close to her body. They probably linger there for 10 minutes or so, Adora just kissing Catra’s ears gently while smoothing down the fur along her back and arms.

Maybe Catra purrs the entire time. She’d deny to her last breath that that ever happened though.

After Adora all but redresses her and carries her out the door and a few blocks away, Catra starts to regain her sea legs. She can’t let go of Adora though. It’s kinda hard for them to walk with Catra buried under the blonde’s arm and trying to nuzzle into her neck. Adora doesn’t seem inclined to be any further away from her though.

It’s probably just the endorphins or whatever from cumming so hard but Catra can’t remember the last time she felt this light and dumb and gooey inside.

“You have shows most nights this week, right?” Adora asks. “Can I come?”

“Nah, they’re all smaller things,” Catra says. “Queer band showcases and dull Pride shit. It’s not as fun.”

“Okay. I’d still come if you wanted me there. I’ll go to whatever for you.”

Catra hides a trill by burying her face deeper in Adora’s neck. 

“Smell so good,” gets mumbled into there too. If Adora heard it, she doesn’t say anything. “What can I do for you?”

“What?” Adora seems caught off-guard. Catra lifts her head slightly to catch a look at the blonde’s confused face.

“You do all this nice shit for me. Don’t think you’re gonna get away with it. I’m gonna get payback.” Catra says it as a threat because that’s really the only acceptable way to communicate this.

Adora is not fooled, judging by her smile and her twinkling little eyes.

“Ah, yes. Payback. Right,” she says sarcastically. “Not because we have feelings for each other or anything.”

There’s no way to verbally respond to that, with her heart moving into her throat, so Catra shifts so the hands around Adora’s waist trail under her hoodie to her bare skin. 

She kinda wants to steal this sleeveless sweatshirt Adora’s wearing. As they turn onto her block, Catra thinks she’ll have the opportunity tonight. She almost gets nervous thinking about the possibility of having Adora naked and on her back in Catra’s bed tonight.

“Honestly, I don’t know,” the blonde finally answers. “I just like being with you.”

“You don’t want anything? Anything at all?”

Adora shrugs. “I like being of service, if that wasn’t clear.”

Catra trills again, thinking of how unbelievable that service truly was. Fuck, she’s already horny again. They might not even make it all the way into the apartment. Hopefully Adora doesn’t have any qualms about getting eaten out in a dimly lit stairwell.

“I guess when I think of what I want from a girlfr- person I’m seeing ...I don’t know. Just someone who has my back. Like if I’m singing the most embarrassing song, she’ll jump in or beatbox or something.”

Catra is surprised to find herself laughing. What a goofball thing to want.

“I’m not anyone’s hype girl,” she says. But she tucks her face back against Adora’s neck to whisper, “But I could be.”

Adora holds her tighter as they draw to a stop in front of Catra’s building. The pause is weird but Catra doesn’t think much of it, probably just Adora’s occasional shy politeness that flares up sometimes. She starts to tug the dummy along but Adora stands firm.

“I’m not done with you, Grayson,” Catra whispers into her ear, before tugging on it with her teeth. “I’m gonna lick your pussy til you lose your mind.”

Adora basically whimpers but gets a hold of herself quickly. “I would love that but I gotta head home. I have a really early day tomorrow.”

Catra pulls back from their embrace, feeling her stomach drop. Maybe Adora’s teasing her again or trying to play it cool? The blonde’s face is resolute yet regretful.

An early day. What a shitty excuse. Catra’s heard it plenty of times before when being blown off. People who didn’t want to stay the night or preferred a bathroom quickie cause it allowed for a fast, clean escape.

That’s fine. This is what everyone always thinks Catra’s good for. Just some quick fun. Adora seemed different. Catra thought she’d at least have the decency to spend the night, after the way she’d been cuddling up to her all these weeks. But whatever. Catra can appreciate a long con. 

Adora must notice how Catra withdraws completely, tail going to wrap around her own leg, because the blonde suddenly begins scrambling back towards her.

“I want to stay over, baby. I really do. Like, really really do. I’ve got a 7am call time for some press thing. I don’t want to fuck up your sleep schedule.”

“Thanks for thinking of me, I guess,” Catra tells her bitterly.

Adora reaches for Catra, who just gently dances away.

“Hey, I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, I bet,” Catra says breezily. She turns and storms into her apartment without looking back.

All of the kissing and touching and ‘baby’. Fuck. Adora was trouble. Catra knew that. She told herself over and over again. And she still gave Adora exactly what she wanted. Only to watch her leave.

Catra throws herself into her bed. Then she immediately regrets that. She can smell sex and Adora all over herself and the disappointment and heartbreak are already wearing her down so much that she can’t bring herself to get back up and shower. 

Melog slinks out from under the bed with a whiny meow. When Catra returns the same sad sound, they hop right onto the mattress next to her. Mewling sympathetically, they knock their head under her chin before nuzzling down into her chest.


“I know,” Catra mutters. She kisses the crown of their head. “You like me. So it doesn’t matter that she doesn’t.”

Chapter Text

“So, like, we all know Flutterina’s a danger to herself and everyone near her, right?” Adora hears through the door.

They usually don’t let her anywhere near the confessionals when a contestant is inside. She’s not sure who’s slacking today but a PA told her she was needed there and the handful of people working nearby are doing absolutely nothing to stop her from listening to all of Mermista’s inner thoughts and feelings. Adora would feel bad. Except, Mermista hasn’t actually said anything about Adora or their relationship. Yet.

“The other day, she told me I had a dancer’s body,” Mermista continues. “In a way that definitely made me feel like she was gonna make a doll out of my skin.” She pauses and snorts. “Sorry, that was too dark. That’s not making the cut.”

“What exactly about her makes you think that Flutterina threatens your relationship with Adora?” a voice asks.

Okay, maybe now Adora feels like she's prying a bit. But if someone else is noticing that things are a little off with Flutterina, that feels like very important information for her to know.

“My relationship?” Mermista questions. “No, that little elf looks at me like she wants to threaten my life. I swear, she knew I was allergic to nuts when she convinced Scorpia to put them in that cake. Grinding them up into the flour – who does that?”

“They checked the footage. She didn't mention you to Scorpia at all when she was sharing that recipe.”

“That doesn't mean she's not guilty. It just means she's good.” Mermista doesn't sound scared, which is bonkers to Adora cause she's now terrified. “I'm gonna keep staying out of her way and hopefully she'll just stay out of mine.”

“Are you going to tell Adora about your concerns?”

Mermista sighs. “You know how that goes. You complain about someone and suddenly the lead thinks you're drama. As an introvert, who I'm sure you're gonna edit to look like a total bitch, I've got enough problems already. I actually like Adora. I'm not stamping my own ticket home.”

Adora frowns. She wants people to feel safe to come to her. So far, she'd mostly listened to what amounted to petty critiques of each other but this felt like a legit concern. Flutterina had certainly done what she could to tell her side. She thought Mermista was standoffish and self-righteous. She'd also casually dropped that Mermista had previously been romantically linked to a few semi-famous people — a second-string Sharks player, a model, a pro skater — and that she was always up to something mysterious in her room. The narrative Flutterina spun questioned Mermista's motives without outright saying anything she'd ever have to stand behind.

The producer asks some more questions but Mermista's clearly done playing along.

The last thing she says before exiting and sending Adora into another scramble to not fall into any equipment is, “I know literally no one listens to a single thing I’ve requested before but a one-on-one date would be great. Maybe we can actually get to know each other? Ugh, but not one of those dates where I have to go to a two-person concert for a band I’ve never heard of before. It’s just so awkward, dude.”


They make Perfuma go on the awkward band date. The beginning isn’t too bad. It’s sky-diving and Perfuma is afraid of literally nothing, Adora’s learned. When the bachelorette hesitates at the drop point, her date practically pushes her out of the plane.

It's terrifying for the first minute or so. The sensation of free-falling is a thousand times worse than even the steepest rollercoaster she's ever been on. Once she acclimates to the feeling that her stomach might jump out of her throat though, Adora enjoys the rush. Almost.

The sky is absolutely gorgeous, a clear blue day. Way in the distance, she can see the city and people going along about their lives while she only has a parachute and a guy named Eugene to rely on for safety. Adora's not sure what magic Eugene and Perfuma's instructor, Rod, pull but they manage to slow their descent so the two women can catch each other's incredulous smiles and share a short wave.

This is an amazing date, she thinks. And then it's time to land.

Adora hits the ground face-first. Her legs get tangled up or something and her arms have little time to stop before her cheek makes intimate contact with Etheria. Millions of people are going to watch this and then they’re going to make gifs and memes and Adora’s probably never going to be able to show her face in public again.

“It’s not that bad,” Perfuma assures her quietly. Eugene and Rod nod supportively in the background.

“I’m gonna have a shiner,” Adora winces. The skin around her right eye is already throbbing badly and it hurts to even blink.

“A little arnica will clear that right up. Plus, people are attracted to tough women,” she says brightly. 

The quirk of her smile gives Adora the slightest fluttering in her stomach. The moment is broken up by the medics finally arriving. All they do is poke at the rapidly growing bruise and explain that ibuprofen, an icepack, and arnica are what they can offer.

Production assistants whisk Perfuma away quickly after that. Apparently they’re all in a rush to get Adora to the makeup person so that they can cover up this little mishap. Everyone lectures the blonde, like it’s her fault Eugene’s instructions weren’t very clear. Or maybe they were. She was kinda still panicking about the idea of being tossed out of a moving jet everytime he reviewed the landing guidelines.

By the time Adora makes it to dinner, Oona tells her that they'll have to cut it short. The band and the fireworks are on a tight timeline.

"Oh, no," Adora mocks. "But what happens to the fake food if no one is there to pose next to it?"

Oona just rolls her eyes.

Conversation flows easily with Perfuma. She always asks thoughtful questions but she also has a wicked sense of humor that most people probably wouldn’t notice.

“How long have you owned your flower business?” Adora asks.

“Only 3 years. It’s pretty small but we’ve got some amazing loyal customers and we’re very popular during wedding season.”

“How are you doing away from everything? Home? Your shop?”

Perfuma gets a faraway look in her eyes, both sad and hopeful at the same time.

“I’m starting to get homesick honestly,” she says after a moment. “Especially when there isn’t much to do in the mansion and your mind starts to wander. But I’m finding time to keep up with my meditation practice and my rituals.”

Adora wonders how much Scorpia is helping with that too.

“That’s how you stay so serene in such a high-stress environment?”

Perfuma’s smile makes her eyes crinkle at the edges in an adorable way. “I try to ground in my purpose – remind myself why I’m here. Then I just work on tuning out the extra noise. Leaning into discomfort when needed.”

Adora nods slowly. She doesn’t quite get it but she wants to.

“How’d you learn all that?”

“Self-reflection and lots of study, mostly,” Perfuma replies. “I used to be a really angry young person. I felt hurt by the world, owed lots of things. Over time, I learned to listen to myself, set boundaries, and acknowledge my trauma, which I feel is the best way for me to make myself open to the rest of life.”

Adora just listens, trying to take that all in. It’s hard to imagine Perfuma as anything resembling angry. Though, she did catch Mermista stepping on a flower during one of the earlier group dates and Adora swears she saw Perfuma’s eyes turn to daggers.

“What about you?” Perfuma asks.

“Wh-uh...what about me?” Adora stutters out, confused by this turn in conversation. She’s still not quite used to answering questions about herself, since most of the contestants don’t bother asking much.

“This process is tough. How are you dealing with the stress?”

“Oh.” Adora shrugs. “I get to work out. Run. Read the few books I was able to bring.” That’s pretty much it, sadly. Maybe some time meditating would help.

“And your purpose?” Perfuma pushes gently.

“I’m hoping to find my person. I trust the process. I know that it’s flawed but I’ve seen it work. Maybe I’m too open but I think it could work for me.”

“You know, in the real world, you’re someone that I’d be interested in, Adora. If I saw you in a bar, I’d go up and talk to you.”

The thought makes Adora smile. “Same. What were you hoping to get out of this process?”

“I’m always open to love,” Perfuma says.

Adora tries to force herself to not think about how that’s pretty vague, considering that she doesn’t think she’s the only one Perfuma has her eyes on. She must feel the air around them shift, because Perfuma quickly tries to move them to another topic.

“What’s something about yourself that you want to improve to be a better partner?”

“I’m not the best communicator,” Adora admits after considering that for a short moment. “So that’s definitely one thing. Two: sometimes I go after the problem alone, thinking about the greater good. I think I would definitely need to learn how to consider a partner and make myself open to receiving help. What about you?”

Perfuma thinks for a long moment. “I’ve been known to be too passive sometimes. I’ve been working on naming what I need and communicating that to my partner.”

Adora acknowledges that with a nod. It’s nice to be moving past surface questions for a change. She’s about to ask Perfuma a follow-up when Oona calls for them to wrap up. People start moving before Adora even has a chance to mentally switch gears.

They end the date as Mermista described it, trying to pretend to be excited about a private concert for two from a band that Adora’s never heard of before. Perfuma hasn’t either, based on the lack of recognition in her eyes but she plays along well. She’s a good dancer too, graceful and light on her feet. She’s kind enough to let Adora feel like she’s leading, even though it’s clear who’s actually directing them across the dancefloor that’s been oddly staged in the middle of the park.

It’s a soft country tune. Not really Adora’s style but no one bothered to ask what kind of music she was into anyway. She’s more of a bubblegum pop/nostalgic tunes from middle and high school/drugstore aisle classic jams person. She’d like to ask Perfuma’s tastes but the producers have instructed them not to speak during the performance unless it’s about their feelings.

Perfuma gives her a dreamy sigh and in that moment, Adora feels a bit like getting carried away. It’s a lovely night and she’s in such great company. Adora leans down and pulls Perfuma into a kiss. They only sorta startle horribly when the fireworks suddenly go off in the background.


Shakra burns a thicket of ‘healing herbs’ that Adora’s certain is just rosemary, based on the smell. Her voice is calming though as she explains, “It’s very important to be attuned to our bodies and share ourselves with our partners. Who would like to present their painting to Adora first?”

The half-dozen women sitting in a circle with her, sweating under the mid-day sun on this boiling hot beach don’t look too pleased with volunteering. 

The date card said ‘Let’s talk about sex.’ When everyone rushed up to Adora, bounding with energy, they were probably expecting something a lot more exciting than a quiet art class by the ocean, led by a willowy woman with salt-and-pepper hair who could pass for Perfuma’s mother.

“I can go first,” Adora offers. She’s not very artistic, besides a few short stories she’s written over the years, but she decided to have fun with this. When she flips the letter-sized canvas over, she stands so she can still see everyone’s reactions.

There’s a lot of fake smiles and confused eyes.

“The part of my body I wanted to share was my shoulders,” she explains. In hindsight, it just looks like two peach-colored mountains with a thin tree in between. That was supposed to be her neck. Perspective isn’t really Adora’s thing. “I’ve spent a lot of time in my life trying to figure out what is my burden to carry and what’s not. That’s something I’d like to share with my partner – trying to even our loads a bit.”

There's some patient nods from the group but still a few confused faces as Adora takes her seat once again.

“Well, I can go next,” Starla begins slowly. “I think I took the idea a bit too literally.”

She turns her canvas around with a hint of a blush crawling up her cheeks.

The painting has a backdrop of cocoa brown centered around a swirling of carnation pink with just a light sprinkling of orange, like her curly hair. It's kinda a flower if Adora tilts her head to the right angle.


“Yep, that's my vagina,” Starla awkwardly laughs just as the thought blooms in Adora's mind.

Shakra has to raise her voice to be heard over the round of raucous cheers and wolf whistles from the other contestants. “And what about your vagina would you like to share with Adora?”

Starla just raises an eyebrow at the teacher, as if the answer is obvious.

Shakra tries a different approach. “What does this painting tell Adora about you?”

“The carpet matches the drapes,” Mermista tosses out with a dry chuckle. “Same, girl.” She reaches over and high fives Starla, which seems to make the latter feel at ease. Especially once Mermista unceremoniously flips around her canvas to show a similar image, this one embellished with a strip of teal part-way down the center. 

...just a strip?

Everyone cheers for her as well. It’s the most excited they’ve ever been in Mermista’s presence.

“Hey, Scorpia,” Mermista calls out, eyes teasing. “We're all curious to know…”

“Uh, ahem,” Scorpia stumbles, one pincer going to rub the back of her neck nervously. 

For a moment, Adora feels a little guilty. Scorpia seems more reserved than some of the women. Maybe this isn’t the kind of date she’s comfortable with. 

“Def-definitely matches,” Scorpia finishes with a laugh that sounds a lot more like a cough. She turns her canvas to the group slowly revealing a pale pink painting adorned with white curly brushstrokes.

“Oh, yeah! That's a distinguished pussy,” Mermista hoots. 

Adora has to laugh at Scorpia’s sweet blush and mumbled thanks as everyone explodes, cat-calling her. Respectfully.

“Is anyone else learning that they might have a mommy kink?” someone jokes, the voice just barely being heard over the din.

“It's a shame Perfuma's not here,” someone else giggles.

“Perfuma's got enough familiarity with it already,” Flutterina replies, all smiles and sweetness.

Adora sees Mermista roll her eyes. “What about everyone else?” she asks, back to her usual bored tone, trying to distract from the sudden chill in the air.

The next couple people are reluctant but the cheers from the group relax them enough to share. It's more vaginas, of course, even Flutterina’s, which Adora definitely expected to be an elbow or something else that would tell absolutely nothing about her. Apparently the bachelorette is the only person who didn’t understand the prompt. Glimmer's probably gonna see if she can purchase these paintings when the show airs and use them to redecorate Adora's apartment.

Shakra is not happy with her students today but she moves them along to the next activity with little complaint. It’s supposed to be a short exercise to learn each other’s needs and desires. It devolves almost immediately. Everyone’s hot and hungry and not willing to play nice anymore.

When Shakra asks them to write down their body’s love language — a thing that definitely sounds made up — on a little dry-erase board, Mermista answers, “Spanking,” before throwing a wicked grin Adora’s way.

As the blonde fights to catch her breath, Shakra moves quickly to Starla. She at least looks a little guilty for not taking this seriously.

“I didn’t realize we’d be saying it out loud,” Starla explains. Everyone’s laughing before she even shows her board. It kinda looks like the zodiac sign for cancer, two stick figures...Yep. Definitely 69’ing.

“Oh, we matched!” Scorpia excitedly tells Starla. Her drawing is surprisingly more graphic. Who knew Scorpia was such a talented (and detailed ) artist? “Did anyone else match?”

Ignoring that that’s not the point of this activity, Mermista sets her sights on Adora again. “Yeah, Adora — you match with anyone?”

Then she licks her lips in a way that could probably devastate a weaker person completely. Adora is pretty proud of herself for not immediately turning into a gay mess. She’s pretty sure her nipples are only hard enough to be slightly visible in the thin top she’s wearing.

Truthfully, she wrote ‘cuddling’ but she doesn’t want to break up the fun. 

Trying to clandestinely clear her dry-erase board, Adora lies, “Nope. I had ‘choking’.”

There’s a few grumbles of disappointment as the rest of the women reveal their answers. Biting. Hair pulling. Switching.

Adora barely notices them. Mermista won’t break eye contact, her gaze hot and pointed and slowly driving the blonde out of her mind.

Once they’re at the cocktail party portion of the date, Mermista doesn’t let anyone get a word in before she steals Adora away. It’s not even clear where they end up, some maintenance closet or something at this restaurant. Trying to muffle their mics inside their clothes probably doesn’t do anything to hide the loud slapping sound that eventually drives Scorpia to look for them and make sure they’re okay.

Scorpia’s too kind to mention Adora’s mussed appearance while they chat. She and everyone else mostly ask about the bachelorette’s answers and fish for how sexually compatible they might be together. While there’s definitely some intriguing prospects, it’s almost impossible for Adora to stop playing what happened in the closet on a loop in her brain.

After the typical carousel of getting some face time with everyone, Adora returns to the group to collect the date rose. She’s able to catch the tail end of some haughty-sounding monologue from Flutterina and has to hope that the cameras don’t catch her rolling her eyes.

“I just feel like you were all really disrespectful today,” Flutterina says. “None of you were taking this seriously. Some of us are here to find love and you’re making a mockery of it.”

When there’s a long silence, Adora peeks around the corner to see everyone’s reaction. For the most part, they all just look bored. Mermista focuses on buffing her nails onto her short black skirt. Even Starla and Scorpia, who are usually so nice, are scowling at Flutterina. 

“Mermista, isn’t there something you’d like to say to everyone?” Flutterina asks.

“I hope all of you bitches go home this week,” she nonchalantly replies.

For a moment, Adora worries they’re all in a fight. Until Starla slowly reaches over to take Mermista’s hand. Giving it a squeeze, she looks deeply into the other woman’s eyes.

“We wish you the same,” Starla tells her, adopting a fake sympathetic voice. She gives a condescending little pat on the hand until Mermista breaks and laughs.

Now giggling herself, Starla adds to the rest of the women, “Honestly, that goes for all of you. I love you but I don't want to see you here next week.”

Everyone raises their drink to that. Except Flutterina.

They all start to move into random small talk so Adora thinks it’s fine to enter and do her thing. Conversation comes to standstill as soon as she takes a seat as usual and it feels extra hard to be the center of attention when the tension is palpable.

In the confessional, Oona had peppered her with questions about sex and relationships and what may or may not have happened with Mermista in that random closet. When she switched to asking about Flutterina, Adora realized that all she could feel for the woman was a strain in her shoulders and a tummy ache.

“Thank you all for today,” Adora says. “It was so much fun. It’s so nice to learn more about you and have a blast while doing it.”

Her eyes land on each of them, all smiling and trying to hide their nerves.

“I appreciate that you all shared so much of yourselves today.” Adora barely gets that out without accidentally laughing. “Especially you, Mermista. Will you accept this rose?”


Teela and Glimmer had warned her about these 2-on-1 dates. They go out to the middle of nowhere with two women and the bachelorette is only allowed to choose one to continue on their journey together. And take the plane back to the hotel.

“They left a girl in a swamp once,” Glimmer had explained with glee. “I think they abandoned one guy on the side of a mountain!”

This type of date is usually saved for high-conflict dynamics, though; people who have full-blown rivalries. As far as Adora can tell, Mermista doesn't even acknowledge Flutterina’s existence unless explicitly asked about her.

Currently, Mermista’s in the confessional throwing a fit loud enough to be heard from across the street.

“Absolutely not!” she screams. It’s the most passion Adora’s ever witnessed from her outside of their clandestine makeouts. “I’m not giving you a sound clip so you can make me seem like I caused this. If she has a problem with me, she could have just said something like an adult. This is a waste of my time and a distraction from my actual feelings for Adora!”

Adora's not sure what Flutterina will say about all of this when it's her turn in the confessional but she imagines it won't be a declaration of any romantic intentions.

Turns out the term “date” is highly exaggerated. The three of them are taken to a picnic on a cliff overlooking the water and Adora is instructed to give them each some alone time to explain their side of things.

The location is concerning. Mermista’s frosty enough the entire time that Adora thinks she might “accidentally” push her rival off the cliff’s edge just to be done with this whole thing.

The picnic basket only has champagne and two glasses inside. Even just some grapes would welcome right now. A baguette. A small thing of olives. One apple.

Adora clears her throat awkwardly, figuring they should stop wasting time with her daydreaming. Hope was very clear on her instructions and Oona basically reiterated that this was inevitable. Something in her tone said she wasn't too happy about it herself.

“Thank you both for joining me here today,” Adora says, taking time to look into Flutterina’s pleased eyes. It's harder to gaze directly at Mermista's quietly simmering rage. “I just want to get to the bottom of what's happening here. I'd like to speak to you both individually-”

“I'll go first,” Flutterina cuts in. It's slightly chilly today near the water and the light jacket she's wearing is a little too big on her. It also doesn't have space for her wings, like she borrowed it from someone else, unless she secretly has a completely different style than what she's shown Adora. This is sleek and cool in a way that Flutterina's never tried to be.

Adora nods. “Okay, that's fine.”

The person who speaks first controls the narrative, Adora knows from a lifetime of being a twin. The first one to throw the other under the bus usually gets out of trouble.

Flutterina eagerly bounds away while Mermista sighs loudly, glancing off into the water. Reluctantly, Adora follows to a second blanket, only 50 feet or so away. The amount of dread in her stomach rises the closer she gets. 

“First, I just want to remind you that I’m here for you,” Flutterina says. “I-”

“Where do you see our relationship going?” Adora asks, interrupting. “Where do you envision us in 3 years?”

She’s sure that Flutterina doesn’t think the disappointed grunt she lets out is audible.

“Well, I…” The girl pauses to smile but it reads ‘hunter’ more than ‘potential mate.’ “It’s still very early in our relationship but I feel strongly about you. I’d like us to get to know each other more. I could really see myself falling for you. That is – if I make it to next week.”

“But what about afterward? Outside of the show? What do you want our relationship to look like when there are no cameras?”

Flutterina glances at one of the cameras in question. Not for the first time, Adora wonders what she’s like when they’re not around.

“I’d love to move to Bright Moon with you.”

“Walk me through what a Saturday morning for us would be like,” Adora gently pushes. 

She doesn’t want to be thinking about other women right now but it’s hard not to remember all the adventures that Starla’s envisioned for them or the list of places that Perfuma wants to show her or the many many mundane couple-y things Scorpia is excited to do together someday. Even Mermista had mentioned how they could sight-see if Adora was down to follow her to the occasional away game.

“Farmer’s market?” Flutterina guesses. “Brunch with your friends. A trip with Swift Wind to the dog park.”

Adora nods, absently thinking that the girl probably just pulled a random selection of yuppie pastimes out of thin air. All that was missing was a visit to Ikea and a brewery.

“Mermista’s not going to want to do any of those things,” Flutterina continues. “She doesn’t want a regular life or a real relationship. She’s just here to be famous.”

Of course, deep down inside, Adora knows that’s one of her biggest, most rational fears. And not just about Mermista – most contestants know they’re not going to be chosen and they’re fine using their exposure to pick up endorsements or boost their brands. As an artist, Flutterina’s got as many red flags as Mermista. Probably more even, since, you know, she may have tried to poison another contestant.

When Adora sits down with Mermista, she’s not expecting the small, genuine grin she gets or how it gives her a little fluttering of butterflies in her tummy. She’s more accustomed to time with Mermista producing a red-hot heat a little lower on her body but this is nice.

And she’s most definitely not expecting the first thing Mermista says. “What was your high school yearbook quote?”

Adora feels her face scrunch up in confusion. “Uh...what?”

“This is the closest I’ve gotten to a one-on-one date so I’m gonna make the most of it,” Mermista tells her.

“But this isn’t a one-on-one. We’ve got some pretty serious things to talk about, right?”

“Do we?” She looks disbelieving. “Like what?”

“ and Flutterina. Your conflict.”

Mermista shrugs, looking like she couldn’t be less concerned about this. “We’ve never had a fight. We’ve barely spoken. Outside of dates and the rose ceremony, we’re almost never even in the same room. Me commenting on Flutterina in any way would be the equivalent of me making any kind of assessment about-” She glances around and points to a random cameraperson who Adora isn’t familiar with. “-that guy! I don’t know his life.”

“Okay,” Adora says slowly. “That makes sense. What’s the story there then? Why don’t you speak? I need to hear your side.”

“I don’t have one. I don’t know what’s said behind my back and I’m not addressing it if someone can’t say it to me directly. I’m not here for drama – I’m here for you. So this whole thing is gonna ride on what you actually want.”

“I have to make a choice,” Adora comments idly. Mermista isn’t really giving her much to stand on.

“No, you don’t. It’s your journey, Adora. No one can make you do anything.” Mermista huffs, like this should be obvious. “You can send us both home or keep us both or even give neither a rose and ask us both to come to the rose ceremony.”

“I can?!?” Instinctively, she almost looks around for Hope. Wherever she is, she’s going to be fucking furious when she hears about this.

Mermista sighs. “You really shouldn’t listen to the producers about everything. I’ve been watching this show since I was 12. Do you know how many people break some sort of rule? Almost all of them. Cancel dates, refuse to give out roses, send people home, tell everyone you love them – do whatever the fuck you want to do. You’re strong and smart and the kind of person who is genuine enough to withstand this process. Just don’t be an idiot.”

They sit in silence for a long beat as Adora tries to take all that in and incorporate it with the load of lies that she’s been fed by the producers for the past several weeks.

“All I do is win,” Adora mutters, sounding very much like a zombie.

Fairly, Mermista looks at Adora like she’s absolutely lost her mind. “What?”

“That was my yearbook quote,” Adora explains, ignoring how her face feels like it’s on fire. “It was a huge hit at the time and I was greatly exaggerating my soccer prowess.”

“I see my name in shining lights,” Mermista replies. 


“Yep.” She pops the ‘p’, probably to distract from how uncharacteristically embarrassed she looks.

“I have to see a photo of you from then.”

“No fucking way, dude.  


“Doesn’t seem like Mermista gave you the answers you were looking for,” Oona says. “How does that make you feel? Are you worried?”

“Not really,” is Adora’s intentionally short answer.

Oona tries asking a number of questions but the more she pushes, the more Adora is fucking over it. She doesn’t want to guess about Mermista’s intentions or how ready either of them is for marriage or anything else.

“Excuse me,” Adora says, not really meaning it. She’s out of her chair immediately. There’s a short dinner date after this travesty of a day and all she can think about is getting to it as quickly as possible.

The rose is sitting in the middle of the picnic blanket when Adora gets there. It’s right between Mermista and Flutterina, as if the physical reminder of what’s at stake could get them to actually fight. No such luck, it seems. While Flutterina’s definitely muttering something, Mermista’s staring impassively off into the distance.

They don’t even seem to notice Adora until she’s just a couple of feet away. The blonde gets their full attention when she gently places one hand on Mermista’s shoulder and offers the other to help her stand. Once they’re eye-to-eye, Adora reaches back down.

She has to reach past Flutterina’s outstretched and expectant hand to grab the rose, ignoring the offended gasp that she hears.

Adora turns back to Mermista with a smile. “Thanks for helping me not be a massive doofus. Will you accept this rose?”

“Congratulations!” Flutterina says with fake-excitement. “You just hand-picked the next Bachelorette.”


By the time the cocktail party is half-way through, Adora’s feeling much better about this week. Flutterina went home with only a small fight after giving a dramatic monologue about how no one in that house is keeping it real except for her. It wasn’t Oscar-worthy – or really, believable in any way – but she’ll probably pick up some fans from it.

Adora ignored Hope’s rage at how little salacious drama she was able to get from the day. She knows who she’s sending home and she refuses to let anyone change her mind. They’re two weeks away from visiting people’s hometowns so there’s no use wasting time anymore. 

“I'm feeling very attacked!” Adora hears someone yell out as she heads out of the mansion and into the backyard. She’s sure that they won't air the footage of her subsequently turning on her heel and walking in the opposite direction of those slightly unfamiliar voices. She doesn’t need to give any attention to anyone’s last-minute attempts for more airtime.

At the rose ceremony, Adora only needs to send one person home. That’s easy enough. She chooses Serena, a quiet brunette who Adora’s gotten very little time with so far. They don’t click, Serena never seeks her out, and the process is too far along for her to catch up to the kinds of relationships that Adora’s already formed with some of the other women.

After everyone says their goodbyes, Serena storms up to Adora, dragging the train of her purple sequined dress in her hand. The blonde doesn’t have a chance to apologize before Serena’s pointing an angry finger in her face.

“I don't understand how you could send home someone who’s a professional soccer player and looking to get married and have kids within the next year!” she whisper-shouts. “Do you even know what you’re looking for?!”

Adora feels her mouth fall open, just as Serena turns sharply and stomps off.

“You’ve literally never told me a single one of those things,” Adora calls out weakly to her retreating back. 

How had that never come up? Serena had talked about her tequila line no less than 5 times.

Since Adora can’t stop replaying all the conversations she’s had with Serena and trying to figure out if she missed any important clues, Perfuma offers to give the final toast of the night.

“It’s late so I’ll keep this short,” she giggles. “To everyone getting clear on what they want and how to communicate it.”

“Cheers to that,” Adora agrees. If her laugh is just a bit awkward and unsure, no one seems to notice.

Chapter Text

It’s easy to avoid Adora because, for once, Catra made a mistake with someone who she isn’t going to run into at every single place she hangs out in.

When she was 24, she had a series of awful reckless flings with three people who ended up actually all being friends and Catra couldn’t go to a single party, bar, picnic, concert, anything without running into all of them and getting iced out. She had actually liked two of them (the 3rd was cute and seemed into her so Catra thought she could grow into feeling something) but she soon came to regret everything.

So at least she didn't have to go through that again? Progress!

A normal person would do more self-reflection maybe to figure out why she’s never good enough for anyone. Catra instead spends any time that isn't occupied by gigs or work, writing a handful of lyrics and lying on the couch, glued to the TV.

She was angry for a short while about how Adora had basically used her and then disappeared into the night. It had been nearly a week though and she was over it.

Ignoring Adora’s many many texts (and voice messages and calls). Eating two tubs of ice cream. Crying during a cheesy romantic drama. 

Totally over it.

In fact, she'd actually been nice enough to eventually text Adora back.

Fuck, you were so amazing tonight
Unbelievably sexy
Sorry again for not being able to stay
I wish we had more time
I can’t wait until I see you again

Morning, Beautiful!

3 missed calls
3 voicemails

Audio message

Hey, Catra
I’m really sorry about the other night
Can we talk about it please?


Come on, Cat. Where’d you go?

busy lately with gigs
can't hang. have an early morning, ya know

It was not petty, she told herself. It was the truth. Well, in a sense. She did have to get up early for Catra , like noon or so some days.

Most of the shows sucked, Pride gatherings for small groups or those LGBT music showcase things that she always hates cause it's just full of randos who don't get their sound. Lonnie appreciated that Catra was mostly on time and played ball. Though more than once, she commented on how their songs had a new heartbreaking quality.

“It's good,” Lonnie tried to assure her. “Just maybe a bit gut-wrenching for a dance number.”

Catra ignored her. It’s exhausting performing multiple times a week, Catra forgot about that. It at least gave her a good excuse to avoid…anyone.

Adora still texted, which wasn't a huge surprise. She was nothing if not persistent and good at giving the benefit of the doubt.

Call me old-fashioned but I always think a conversation is a pretty good way to address an issue
Rather than just pretending to ignore it

Call me when you’re ready, I guess

When her phone buzzes again, Catra just ignores it. Until her alarm goes off to leave for her shift, she’s going to occupy all of her time with watching compilation videos of fights from the Real Housewives of Eternia until her brain goes numb.

A few times, she hears Entrapta’s footsteps coming into the room and leaving promptly.

Finally, Catra hits a wall. There's been 11 seasons of RHOE and she's somehow watched every single possible master cut of someone throwing a drink, knocking over a table, or going from 0 to 100 to defend actions that they clearly don't believe in. YouTube suggests she check out clips of the Bachelorette next so she just turns the TV off.

“143 minutes,” she hears. “New personal record.” 

Catra glances up to find Entrapta typing into her tablet.

“Stop logging my totally normal behavior,” Catra orders.

“Normal?” Entrapta asks. “That last video had 104,000 views. Considering the population of Etheria, particularly for the show's demographic-”

“Fine,” Catra interrupts. “I get it. I'm weird. I still don't want you logging every embarrassing thing I do.”

“Are you capable of being embarrassed?” Entrapta asks genuinely.

Catra lowers her head into the couch to hide her blush. That doesn't matter. Entrapta makes a sound and starts definitely logging Catra's lowered ears and hiding tail.

“Trap, I don't really need this kind of attention right now…”

“Of course. Vulnerability is particularly hard for you when you're upset. I came to cheer you up actually!” she announces. 

Entrapta swivels her tablet around to face Catra. The Magicat hasn't moved from the couch for more than ice cream or peeing so she doesn't bother shifting to see the screen better. From the peek she catches over the arm of the couch, it's just a confusing spreadsheet with too many rows and columns, color coded in a pattern she can't make out.

“Summarize please?” 

Entrapta’s eyes fill with maniacal delight. “I've analyzed the data from the past 30 seasons of the Bachelor and Bachelorette.”

Catra immediately tries to cut Entrapta off by hissing but that has never once worked. 

“Based on prior history, I've calculated that Adora has a .019% chance of being in a relationship by the end of the show. Her chances of being engaged are even lower. In fact, it's much more likely that she quits the show early as is heavily rumo-”

“Entrapta!” Catra yells loudly. “I'm trying very hard to not know anything about that.”

“Well, that is illogical. Though, your past behaviors indicate an instinct towards claiming to protect your emotions while recklessly taking part in activities that are directly in conflict with that goal.” Entrapta pauses to hum. “I believe I misjudged the situation. What happened?”

“Nothing big,” Catra lies. “We had sex. Adora dipped.”

“Dipped?” Entrapta repeats. After a beat, she frowns deeply. “Adora willingly ignored the data I gave her. In that respect, you two are a compatible match.”

Catra narrows her eyes. “What data?”

“Your question is irrelevant. Did she give you a reason?”

“Does it matter?”

“Yes,” Entrapta answers quickly. “Does it change the impact, however?” She sighs, looking her roommate’s sorry state over. “Unfortunately not.”

Catra gets to the karaoke place an hour before Lonnie. It’s a shit move. But if she’s gonna be lured out of her house for whatever dumb night Lonnie has planned, she’s arriving early and running up the tab.

She eats two plates of mozzarella sticks and has three palomas. The cheese kinda soaks up the tequila is her rationale so she better hit the throttle on the booze to compensate. The grapefruit juice there is trash but it's not any worse than what Huntara orders for Hidey Hole, gross and sweet and fake-acidic.

The place is pretty typical – dark main bar, a few private rooms, overpriced drinks – though Catra’s never been to this particular one before. Midtown isn’t really her style, with its yuppies and businesspeople. Catra’s already feeling inadequate enough in her dating life; now she has to feel like she hasn’t accomplished enough in her professional life too. Great.

Lonnie comes in hot. Her eyes are already narrowed at Catra’s (probably tipsy) grin. But that’s fine cause at least the Magicat will have Rogelio to keep her company tonight.

Except. Instead of her two partners, Lonnie’s flanked by Glimmer and Bow. Oh no. Oh no no.

Catra scrambles to close the Reddit of dating disasters she's currently perusing to make herself feel better/worse and re-check her texts.

Hey, me and the crew are doing karaoke
Want to come through?
We’ll cover your drinks

Since when was Glitter+Boy™ “the crew”? Neither of them is surprised to see her, which is telling. Lonnie speeds up to get to her first.

“What are you doing? Did you eat all these mozzarella sticks? I’m not paying for this,” she whispers.

“Price of my company,” Catra returns. “Why are you with them?”

“We’re friends. We hang out sometimes.”

“Suspish!” comes out a lot more slurred than Catra intends. It’s possible that she hadn’t been eating much lately and also possible that she didn’t need three drinks in less than 60 minutes.

It’s fine. It’s karaoke. Everyone will catch up to her.

Bow greets Catra like he hasn’t seen her in months. The tight hug and beaming smile is actually pretty comforting. Casta hasn’t been coming to the bar as much in the past few days, too wrapped up in Juliet, so no one’s touched Catra since the pool table incident. Bow has a calming presence. Maybe this night will be okay.

Then Glimmer spits out a ‘hello’ like she’s swearing to avenge the murder of her ancestors. 

“Hello to you too,” Catra grumbles. “What’s your problem?”

Glimmer points a finger at her. “What did you do to Adora? She's been all mopey for days.”

“Why don’t you try asking her what she did to me?”  

Catra quickly moves to address Lonnie but she’s stalled by Adora – because fucking of course Adora is here too!! – casually strolling into the bar. Her eyebrows shoot up to her hairline when she sees Catra.

Catra, on the other hand, refuses to act surprised or annoyed, because Lonnie’s watching closely and she doesn’t want to give her the satisfaction. This will be the last time she willingly shows up anywhere when summoned. People will just have to subject themselves to a potential kidnapping charge to get her to go anywhere after this.

“What did you do to Catra?” Glimmer yells across the room, already redirecting her accusatory finger at her friend.

Weirdly, Catra appreciates being believed without question. Especially by Glimmer, who seems like the naturally suspicious type.

A series of emotions runs through Adora’s expressive face. Confusion. Embarrassment. Arousal. More embarrassment. Frustration. Sadness. Back to confusion.

“I’m sorry, Cat,” she finally says with those sad puppy eyes. “I really am. What can I do to help you believe that?”

“I was promised karaoke,” Catra responds, talking only to Lonnie. “Not a space to air my grievances publicly.”

“But that’s your favorite forum for grievances,” Lonnie points out.

Catra picks up her backpack. “So y’all have a reservation or…”

Bow gets everything squared away and they’re quickly led to a private room. While Glimmer is still deeply interested in figuring out whatever dyke drama is happening here, she pretty quickly gets distracted by Bow’s excitement for singing. They dive into the songbook while Adora nervously chews her fingernails in the corner and calls the front desk to order some beers. 

In addition to the huge projector screen and horrible strobe lights, the room has three black leather couches running along the walls. Catra throws herself onto the one in the back and stretches out, as Lonnie grabs a songbook and sits in the corner closest to her.

“Anything you in the mood to sing?” Lonnie asks.

“What fucking shenanigans are you up to?” Catra accuses instead.

“They wanted to hang out. I thought you’d like karaoke. You could have said no.”

“I didn’t know Adora was coming.”

Lonnie pretends to put on a confused face. “Hmm? Is there some problem between you two? You haven’t mentioned anything.”

Well, no. Catra has not said anything directly. Yet, she’s obviously upset about something. Lonnie should know by now to read between the lines of what Catra is not saying.

She can't even glance in Adora's general direction. The dummy is looking uncharacteristically badass today. Black Horde tank, those black cutoff shorts Catra's come to love, black sneakers. Hair up in a bun. She even has eyeliner on. Who the fuck did she think she was meeting tonight?

Catra's having a bit of trouble imagining any scenarios for tonight that don't end in her trying to fuck Adora in the bathroom, her common sense in a complete war with her hormones.

Glimmer and Bow provide enough of a distraction/boner killer when they launch into a non-stop list of the most grating pop songs and musicals ever created. The arrival of a tray of beers is a blessing. The problem is Adora attempts to hand them out herself instead of just leaving them on the table for everyone.

“I didn't put them up to this,” she whispers as she passes Catra a drink. “I didn't even know they invited you.”

“Then why do you look so good?” Catra asks pointedly.

At Adora's quirked smile, she realizes her mistake too late.

The blonde raises Catra's sprawled legs and slides them into her lap so she can sit next to her, careful of her tail. 

“You think I look good? The shirt’s from my favorite band. They're talented but the lead singer has a bit of an attitude.”

Catra whips her tail so it bats against the side of Adora's big head.

“I haven't even begun to have an attitude,” she scoffs.

“Well, I see your ability to communicate hasn't eroded. So what's the problem? Thumbs broken? Phone shattered?”

“I just assumed you'd blocked me after you got what you wanted.” Catra tries to keep her voice light, make it sound like a joke so Adora doesn't know how upset she is.

Unfortunately, that must not work because Adora's smile begins to drop, replaced by something much more unacceptable –- genuine concern.

“I’m sorry. I know we haven’t communicated about everything in-depth. But when we talked about things, I thought you understood-”

“I do!” Catra interrupts. 

She understands perfectly fine what Adora’s whole scheme is. She doesn’t need to have it spelled out for her. All of the things that Adora’s told her about the show – that some of it’s real, that Catra’s the only person she talks to, about PDA, about the random requirements – Catra gets. Even if Adora is attracted to her, the show comes first clearly and she’s only got space for some easy fun.

Catra has no interest in continuing to look at Adora’s worried face. Quickly, she sits up, pulling her legs from Adora’s lap, and shifts towards Lonnie.

“Fine, let's sing something.”

“I’ll choose but you're on your own after that,” Lonnie tells her. “I’m gonna need a palate cleanser after these two are done making sure I never hear Hamilton the same way again.”

Adora tries to get her attention again but eventually she gets pulled away to sing with Glimmer as Lonnie lists off probably the worst possible options for Catra to perform right now. “Cuz I Love You,” “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” “Eternal Flame.”

“Maybe choose a song that isn’t 100% guaranteed to humiliate me,” Catra suggests, poking Lonnie with a claw.

“What about Mariah?” It's said like a challenge. “I'll even lower the key so it's easier for you.”

Ugh, no. Catra can't do that and look like a fool in front of Adora.

“I'm gonna do ‘Anaconda’ instead,” she decides. It's a hot song.

The problem is this outfit, a pair of paint-covered shorts and a baggy zebra-print retro blouse, isn’t really slutty enough to make Adora fully see what she’s missed. Catra makes a sudden sound of triumph that’s loud enough to alarm Lonnie, before she grabs her bag and rushes from the room. She’s got some random clothes in there, a black bralette and some other shit that she picked up recently. Victory.

Catra’s changing in the stall, or really, standing in her panties and looking at the mess she’s made on the floor when someone else comes in.

The person doesn’t even knock. They just ask, “What happened with Adora?”

“Nothing, Lonnie.”

“You’re acting like something definitely did.”

“Why do you even care?” Catra asks. “I thought you were done helping.” She pulls on a tight red cotton camisole. It’s low-cut and has some sort of built-in pushup bra situation that’ll definitely work.

“Maybe I don’t want to watch you keep making the same mistakes,” Lonnie says. There’s something in her voice that’s almost caring, as much she can be anyway.

Catra pauses before selecting a pair of high-rise denim shorts. A quick claw through the back makes a decent alteration for her tail. She might have actually stolen these from Kyle the other night after the show. Hopefully Lonnie doesn’t notice.

“Adora wanted to stop seeing me.”

“What did she actually say? Like what words did she use? Specifically?”

Catra grumbles, “I don’t like what you’re implying.”

“Sometimes you hear words and then they float into your mind and what you heard doesn’t resemble Etherian logic.”

Logic. That’s two people this week who are trying to imply that Catra’s brain is broken or something.

Greatly offended, she spits back, “She fucked the soul out of my body and then bailed immediately with some bullshit excuse about how she had to wake up early.”

“Maybe she really had to wake up early,” Lonnie replies, like Catra’s the idiot here.

“No one has to wake up early.”

“She was on morning talk shows all last week. Adora sent home this super awful girl and had to do a bunch of damage control cause people were spreading rumors about how she’s just here for the exposure and doesn’t even get enga-”

“I don’t want to hear about that!” Catra yells back, shoving the rest of the clothes in her bag.

“Would you feel better if I showed you a gif of Adora landing face-first while trying to sky-dive?”

It should but the idea doesn’t give her the usual excitement she gets for watching someone completely eat shit. When Catra exits the stall, Lonnie’s leaning back against the sink with her arms crossed.

“Do you remember why we broke up?” she asks.

It comes so out of left field that it stops Catra in her tracks. They never talked about it since neither of them was really the processing type. They dated, Lonnie faded away, and then they didn’t have to speak for a full two years after that.

“You weren’t into...” Catra starts and then she doesn’t quite have the words to explain what a fucking wreck she is that everyone has to steer completely clear of so they don’t get their life destroyed too. “... This,” she finishes, just waving at herself. That’s the classic story of her life.

Lonnie looks at her for a long moment. Really looks at her, like she can see through her. It’s fucking unsettling.

With a sigh, Lonnie says, “You were so afraid of being real and getting hurt that you came off like you could care less about everyone and everything. It didn’t feel worth it to continue on with someone who I had to beg to act like she liked me.” Lonnie shrugs in a sort of sad way.

That….that’s not how Catra remembers it. Lonnie was the one who peaced out on her suddenly. Though, things hadn’t really been good for a while. Catra was young. She partied. She didn’t check in. They had a way of ribbing each other that felt like affection or something but sometimes it wasn’t as...gentle and good-natured as it should be. As much as she wanted to, Catra never really could figure out how to temper some of the sour with a little bit of sweet.

Catra mulls over that for a minute. Fine. She could have been more open, more willing to say how she felt. She knew that. It was hard! She hadn’t exactly had any examples of that most of her life. Sheila was all stick, no carrot growing up so Catra didn’t know any better. Most people who were interested in her just got over it and left soon.

“Hey,” Lonnie says softly, as if she can read this spiral on Catra’s face. “You’re the fucking worst...that doesn’t mean you’re bad. You can have something good. You deserve it.”

Catra gives a distracted nod. The bathroom of a karaoke place isn’t really where she wants to get into her deepest fears so she just lets Lonnie tug her out of the room and back down the hall.

When they re-enter, Adora’s the first few bars into a very unenthusiastic version of “I Want it That Way.”

Catra would expect Bow and Glimmer to be supportive. They seem like good friends. That is very much the opposite of the energy they’re giving right now.

Bow’s kind enough to just wince slightly at Adora’s completely flat notes. Glimmer thinks shouting the words and clapping to keep the blonde on beat is correct encouragement. It is not.

Adora’s doing bad enough but once she sees Catra and Lonnie enter, she starts stuttering over the lyrics. She doesn’t seem to know what to do with her arms, both stuck to her sides, as she stands there robotically. 

Gods. This is painful to watch.

Just as Adora looks like she’s about to quit, Lonnie grabs the bag from Catra's hand and basically shoves her towards the front of the room. She manages not to careen right into Adora but only because the blonde reaches out and tucks Catra against her body to soften the impact.

Glimmer throws the extra mic at Catra with the strength of a pro-level quarterback and she has to rush to catch it before it beans her right in the face. Adora’s pure look of joy when she catches on to what’s happening is kinda worth it. So much so that Catra doesn’t untangle herself from the embrace too quickly. 

Catra considers herself a gracious duet partner (regardless to what Kyle will swear) so she lets Adora take the lead while she moves to backup. She only jabs the blonde a little when she gets off-key. Adora has the stage presence of a throw pillow though, standing awkwardly stiff and reading all the lyrics like she doesn’t know them by heart.

“Come on, dummy. Give me a show,” Catra teases in a whisper.

Adora does love a challenge, after all. Catra knows she’s immediately accepted when the blonde takes a dramatically slow step back away from her. Affecting an over-the-top anguished face, Adora turns towards her with those big sad puppy eyes. Catra rolls her eyes as the idiot in front of her goes into full boyband-mode.

It’s a fascinating transformation. Adora stands up straighter. She balls up the hand that’s not holding the mic. She relaxes her shoulders and really opens up so that she can project her full voice towards Catra, not that bashful mumbling she’d been doing before.

Adora actually (almost) finds the correct key. Catra has to bite her lip to keep her smile in. Out of the corner of her eye, she can just barely see how evilly pleased Glimmer is.

Watching Adora singing her heart out, Catra almost misses her cue for backup. She manages to jump in quickly though. The Magicat refuses to be outdone. Obviously that means she has to meet Adora’s ridiculousness with the same zeal. 

Catra takes on the bad boy role, though, going for more of a smoldering look, bedroom eyes, smirk, and all. Adora nearly chokes on her words before remembering herself. She must take this as encouragement cause the dummy goes all in, pretending to sing for Catra’s heart.

Ugh. Hopefully it’s just pretend. Either way, that annoying fluttering feeling is back in her stomach. Maybe more tequila will kill it.

As the song fades out, Adora tries to pull her close again but Catra just sidesteps. She politely claps for the dummy while Bow and Glimmer cheer wildly. Lonnie just gives Catra a look that she can’t quite decipher.

“Thank you,” Adora whispers in her direction. “That was a lot better than having to beatbox at least?”

Catra’s eyes go wide, remembering that conversation. Absolutely not. She's not out here playing girlfriend. 

Adora scrambles out of the limelight and for a seat before she can respond. It’s Catra’s seat on the couch she was enjoying before. The blonde sits right in the middle so it’ll be impossible to not end up touching her in some way. Well played.

Catra tries to follow, thinking up some kind of strategy to keep from flinging herself into Adora’s warm arms. The Gods (or Satan) intervenes in the form of Glitter.

“Where do you think you’re going?” she asks. “It’s your turn.” Then Glimmer gives her a look over. “Are you wearing different clothes?”

“I’m doing Mariah. A wardrobe change is an homage,” Catra says, as if Glitter is an idiot for not understanding this.

There’s a handful of shots on the table that Catra definitely doesn’t remember seeing before. She knocks back one quickly without asking what it is or who it’s meant for.

It’s vodka. That was a terrible choice.

Catra tries to keep the booze down as she looks over and snaps her fingers at Lonnie. She expects to get some backlash for that gesture but Lonnie’s got a greater payback planned. Catra doesn’t understand it until the first few notes of the song begin.

The drums from “Emotions” kick in dramatically. Lonnie’s cunning genius should never be underestimated. 

Catra immediately feels dumb. But she’s a performer and she’s not gonna look bad in front of these jerks. Closing her eyes, she just focuses on how Lonnie definitely barely lowered the key so she’s gonna go full-out and hope she blows out her voice and ruins her music career. Lonnie will have to live with that guilt for the rest of her life.

Bow and Glimmer join in on the chorus, sounding absolutely tipsy and terrible. 

It’s a little hard not to get into the song, visions of a goofy smiling blonde floating in her head, indeed making Catra feel deeper emotions that she’s never felt. 

She rips herself out of the daydream only to be met in reality with Adora’s big wide blue eyes staring at her so longingly. The blonde’s lips are slightly parted, cheeks flushed.

Catra can’t help but feel warm all over. She is so screwed.

As the bibimbap is placed in front of her, Catra realizes she’s maybe a lot more buzzed than she intended to be tonight.

After a few more songs and a few more shots, Bow had suggested they continue the fun at dinner. Catra tried to silently slip away but was stopped when she heard him say -

“I’ll pay.”

“I agree to those terms,” Catra mumbled.

Glimmer had dragged them to a place directly across the street from karaoke. Everyone conspired to make sure that Catra and Adora were coincidentally seated next to each other. It would have been hard to avoid anyway. After her first song, Catra had found that Adora was practically glued to her side for the rest of the night, following her around like a little puppy. 

Is there a word that describes when something is both everything you want while also being everything you know you shouldn’t have? She’d have to ask Entrapta later. 

Anyway, the scent of beef and rice helps Catra snap out of this spell a bit. She’s not thinking clearly. She doesn’t actually want Adora, she’s just tipsy.

To prove this, Catra removes all of the mushrooms from her bowl and heaps them into Adora’s. For punishment.

“Thank you!” the blonde dummy half-slurs. “You remembered that I love mushrooms!”

A quick glance over reveals that Adora’s food is mostly vegetables and Catra has to laugh at her misfortune. Then she feels bad and tosses a piece of beef in with the gross shiitakes.

“This does not mean I have forgiven you,” she whispers.

“Forgiven me?” Adora laughs incredulously. “Yeah, no, you ghosted me. I’m the one who’s actually upset with you. I at least apologized.”

“You bailed on me,” Catra insists. She maybe isn’t whispering anymore cause Glimmer has leaned halfway over the table in interest.

“I just wanted to see you. Everything else that happened….” Adora says, raising her eyebrows so that Catra will get the picture, “Was an unexpected but very enjoyable surprise. I tried to tell you I had to get up early and couldn’t stick around but you shut me up.”

Catra crosses her arms. “I remember it differently. You can’t just leave after...that.”

Adora leans down closer. At first, Catra thinks she’s making a move, but it turns out, she just wants to inspect the Magicat’s eyes more deeply. Somehow this makes Catra feel pretty exposed, even while thinking that that’s ridiculous because Adora’s been two fingers deep inside of her already.

Whatever she’s looking for, Adora smiles. “You’re kinda complicated, you know that?”

“That shouldn’t be a turn-on,” Glimmer whispers.

Adora moves even closer, sliding over to Catra’s ear to quietly tell her, “I’m sorry. I really wanted to stay and spend more time with you. My aftercare is usually much more attentive after such an...intense experience. I should have thought about how that would make you feel.”

With a fleeting hand on Catra’s shoulder, Adora pulls back and returns to her food to take a bite. 

It’s nice to feel vindicated at least. That’s kinda taking a backseat to how turned on Catra gets just from Adora being close and whispering to her. 

And then the dummy ruins it by adding, “But you were a jerk for ignoring me and refusing to talk about this.”

Catra almost gasps in righteous indignation but manages to hold it together. Before she can spit back something truly awful, Lonnie laughs.

“What else is new?” the girl jokes.

Catra hisses and extends a claw towards her for good measure.

“I told you about flashing those things at me, right?” Lonnie replies very calmly. “You’re a private school girl trying to play public school games with me. Watch it.”

Catra hopes everyone else is inebriated enough to miss that.

“Is that a saying?” Bow asks Glimmer. “That doesn’t seem like a saying.”

“It’s not a saying,” she confirms, before turning to Catra. “Are you secretly a spoiled rich fat cat? Cause that would explain a lot about how bratty you are.”

“Fat cat’ is a very offensive phrase. To both plus size people and cats!” Catra replies. She has no idea if this is true.

“See! Brat!” Glimmer yells. It’s a Thursday night at 10pm so the restaurant is fairly empty but they’re attracting the attention of the four other tables there already.

“Catra wasn’t raised with money,” Lonnie explains. “But she went to that fancy private high school uptown.”

Catra’s hackles go up instinctively. “I was a scholarship kid. All those snobs were shit to me.”

Adora looks impressed. “Scholarship? I knew you were smart.”

“It was a music scholarship,” Lonnie clarifies cause she’s a bitch.

“That doesn’t mean I’m not smart!” Catra argues. She’s more than prepared to leap across this table to avenge this disrespect.

Adora uses her chopsticks to pick up a piece of beef from Catra’s bowl. Before she can attack the blonde for stealing, the food is shovelled into Catra’s own mouth. That, plus the hand that Adora sneaks onto the small of her back, is distracting enough to de-escalate her right away.

That fucking traitorous tail of hers rushes to wrap around Adora’s wrist and keep her hand in its place. Guess the doof is just gonna have to finish her food with only one arm.

“So you’ve been playing the guitar since you were a kid?” Adora asks.

For weeks, Catra’s been avoiding speaking of her childhood on more than vague terms. She knows most details about Adora’s life and has offered very very little in return.

Catra opens her mouth to silently request more food. When Adora obliges immediately, Catra rewards her by saying, “Piano. I didn’t pick up guitar til high school. Youthful rebellion.”

Predictably, Adora acts like receiving any information about Catra is akin to being told the secret to eternal happiness. 

The human’s fingers walk along her lower back until they’re right at the base of Catra’s tail.

“Why do you keep trying to do this in public?” she whispers to Adora.

“I’m starting to realize you like it in public,” is the quiet reply. That stupid smug tone is followed up by a scratch against her fur so deep Catra thinks she can feel it in her fucking bones.

Adora smirks down at her. “Do you still play? Piano, I mean.”

How is she so good at pretending to be so innocent? 

Catra can only shake her head. If she opens her mouth, she's pretty sure ‘fuck me in the alley’ is what's gonna fall out.

Lonnie apparently mistakes her silence for bashfulness and not a devastating amount of arousal.

“Doesn’t touch the piano anymore,” she answers. “She went from a child prodigy to a bust.”

A growl rumbles up from Catra’s throat. Adora’s fingers massage deeper and Catra has to snap her mouth shut to cut off a whimper.

Lonnie tosses out a, “Psh. That’s not even your weirdest personality tic. It’s probably the fact that you invested all your cash in that cannabis MLM.”

“Are you trying to help?” When all she gets it’s a careless shrug in return, Catra shoots back, “Lonnie’s afraid of buttons.”

“No, you losing all your money in a weed pyramid scheme is definitely weirder than that,” Glimmer comments.

“I didn’t lose it. I’m just not...liquid.” It’s a solid investment. The guy said he had a system and everything.

“How did you two meet again?” Adora asks. Catra would think she was just being nosy if not for how the human’s hand retreats back into her own lap. 

Lonnie catches Catra’s eye to give her a look. Oh, she’s suddenly shy now?

“I apparently have no secrets to hide since you just told them all,” Catra responds.

Lonnie rolls her eyes. “You have thousands of secrets, Cat. Doesn't the IRS think you’re dead?”

“Answering that feels like entrapment.”

“It was a support group for kids with dead parents,” Lonnie casually tells Adora. 

“And that’s where I learned that trauma bonding is a terrible foundation for starting a relationship,” Catra drawls.

She and Lonnie were immediately drawn to each other since they were the only two people “not taking the group seriously enough” according to the therapist leading it. They hung out once, had sex, and then jumped into a relationship way too quickly where they told each other everything and were basically codependent until Lonnie just bailed. 

Or, did not bail. Right.

“Sorry,” Catra mutters. She and Lonnie seem equally surprised by this admission. “About earlier. Or, like, about...several years ago.”

Lonnie nods for a long moment. “Me too.”

Catra acknowledges that with a nod of her own. They’re not really the kind of people who are gonna have a three-hour processing session around the past. This isn’t much but hopefully it’s enough to soothe some of the old wounds between them. Catra has to bite the inside of her cheek when she feels tears well up in her eyes, looking back down into her food so no one can tell. 

“I feel like we just witnessed something important that both of you are too drunk to remember tomorrow,” Glimmer says.

Once she’s gathered herself, Catra turns to Adora, since she’s basically on a roll now. “What did Entrapta tell you about me?”

With wide eyes, Adora begins to fidget in her chair.

“Uh…” She glances around the table for support. There’s none. Bow and Glimmer are enjoying the show, while Lonnie’s been a long-time distant follower of Entrapta’s antics. 

Reluctantly, Adora continues, “Entrapta more or less told me that you’ve been hurt before and that you’re a lot less tough than you come off. Then she recited my social security number and a bunch of other personal information from memory and basically told me she’d destroy my entire life if I did anything shitty to you.”

“She’d do it too,” Catra confirms. It’s easier to focus on how nice or something it is that Entrapta wants to protect her instead of how her roommate is in the streets just telling everyone her business.

That’s good cause the absolute last thing she can think about is how sad she feels that Adora’s no longer touching her.

They spend entirely too long trying to figure out how everyone’s getting home. Catra’s suggestion to simply take the nearby trains is repeatedly shot down. Glimmer and Lonnie have some not at all hidden plan to get the Magicat and Adora into a cab together, even though Catra tries to distract her new manager by insisting that she has Horde business that they need to talk about immediately.

“We’re not doing a visual album. End of story,” Lonnie tells her. “Now hail a damn cab.”

“Did you see the clips I sent you, though? It would be amazing. Visionary.” Catra pauses to hiss quietly, “And I don’t have cab money!”

“You sent some shitty cello samples over black and white b-roll of the woods and your creepy whispering. At 5 am. It was like Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’ meets that movie ‘Us’. It gave Kyle nightmares . Get some fucking sleep and stop spamming us.”

Lonnie takes it upon herself to underestimate Catra’s genius and step out into the street to grab them a cab. To the right of her, Bow and Glimmer seem to be having the same argument with Adora.

It doesn’t matter cause the two of them are shoved in the car anyway. Ignoring Adora, Catra plasters herself against the window as a cry for help just as the car pulls away from the curb way too fast. 

Who even hails a yellow cab anymore? The car’s weirdly ancient, maybe 20 years old, but surprisingly clean inside. Catra can’t get a good look at the driver as Adora tries to (drunkenly) give both of their addresses and then some very confusing directions.

“I know the way, dearie,” the cabbie interrupts. She sounds like a 100 year old woman.

Catra’s seated directly behind her so she has to crane around to see. Unfortunately, that puts her basically in the lap of Adora, who misreads the situation and eagerly tries to pull her in further. 

“Paws off,” Catra whispers, distracted.

The cabbie looks to be about 1,000 years old, actually. Tiny and covered in the deepest wrinkles Catra’s ever seen, she’s got layers upon layers of wiry white hair and the hugest black circular glasses. And a muumuu. She’s wearing what definitely looks like a pink flowery muumuu and Catra’s deeply jealous. 

Underneath her, Adora’s stopped using her hands but she’s still focused on shifting her legs until Catra’s further leaning into her body. By the time, the Magicat is finished trying to count the dozen or so brightly-colored bracelets that their driver is wearing, she notices that she’s situated pretty firmly in Adora’s lap.

“My God, are you some kinda horny magician?” Catra asks. 

Adora smirks. “Yes. You into that?”

No, Catra is very much not into anything involving magicians . But Adora trails a hand back down to her tail and Catra has to remind herself that they’re in the presence of a very elderly little old lady.

The blonde leans forward for a kiss and Catra feels herself moving to meet her. This is not the plan. Though, she doesn’t really remember the plan. Has that been happening a lot lately? Her forgetting things, particularly in Adora’s presence? She should probably finally start writing her brilliant strategies down.

Adora freezes at the last second, suddenly examining Catra’s face with unfocused eyes.

“Wait, are you drunk?”

“Aren’t you, dummy?”

“You’re both drunk, dearies,” the cabbie points out. “Best you hold off on anything until the harsh light of day tomorrow. I’ll be making the two separate stops just in case.”

Catra glances around the car for some kind of license or ID. It’s possible that this old woman is a Future Catra coming back to the past to keep her from making an idiotic mistake with Adora. Maybe tomorrow morning, Catra stumbles into traffic and gets hit by a biker or something and they fall in love like a romcom. Just gotta stay strong til then.

She spots a medallion license up on the dash. ‘Razz,’ it reads. What kind of name is that?

“Um, ma’am, I’m not sure you're going the right way,” Adora tries to point out.

Catra peeks out of the window. Yep, they’re definitely still heading north instead of towards downtown.

The old woman – Razz – just laughs. “Don’t be silly, Mara. I know a shortcut.”

“Who the fuck is Mara? We’re not paying extra for the detour,” Catra tells her.

“Detours are fine, dearie. You two have to learn – life is not a direct line. We take detours towards each other all the time. Forward, backward, side to side. Every time we veer off-course is a chance for a new lesson about ourselves.”

“She’s definitely kidnapping us,” Catra whispers to Adora. “Be prepared to tuck and roll as soon as she slows down.”

“I’m not jumping out of a moving car,” Adora replies.


“What’s important,” Razz continues, “Is that we arrive exactly when we’re needed.”

The car skids to a sudden stop. There’s no time to brace so Catra’s head bonks right into the plastic divider that separates the driver from the passengers.

“Stop #1,” Razz announces.

Once Catra’s able to clear her aching head, she notices that they are indeed at her apartment. The fact that they traveled 40 blocks in a few minutes just confirms that this lady has some sort of interdimensional travel powers. Catra decides to save herself and get the fuck out of this cab immediately.

As soon as she’s free and clear and on the sidewalk, a hand reaches out to grab her wrist. Catra glances back and she’s looking into Adora’s sad drunken eyes.

“Can I see you again, Cat?”

She barely represses an eye roll. “You don’t have to pretend to be interested in me anymore, Adora. Take the easy out.”

Adora furrows her brow. “I’m sorry I fucked up. I want to make it up to you. I do really like you. Don't-don’t you like me?”

It's late. This is a mess with the world's weirdest audience. The meter's still even running. Catra can’t really deal with how Adora’s words make her feel like someone’s got her heart in a headlock.

She just sighs. “I don't know what I'm supposed to say.”

“Speak from your heart, dearie,” Razz calls out to her.

“Yeah, I'm not doing this. Right now or ever.” She gently twists away from Adora's grasp. “Just text me, dummy. Let's not make this a whole thing.”

“And you'll actually respond?” Adora asks hopefully.


What's one more horrible mistake in the grand scheme of things? Catra will text back, fall in a little deeper, they'll meet up, and Adora can hurt her all over again. 

She seals that promise with a quick kiss, made sloppy from all the booze, before rushing off into the safety of her apartment.

Chapter Text

Got home safe!
Did you?

Morning! I had a lot of fun last night.
Sorry about the ambush!
Thanks for backing me up

I thought you promised you’d reply

some of us are trying to sleep, adora

Why isn’t your phone on silent then?


Lol, fine sorry

well, i’m awake now
every drop of blood i draw today is on your hands
i hope you’re happy

Almost. I’d like to see you soon
When are you free?


Perfect! It’ll be good picnic weather

i’ll just come over after my shift

I was hoping maybe a daytime date

after my shift works best for me

Catra never thinks of a clearer way to explain her intentions, even when Adora tries to negotiate by sweetening the offer with free food. Like Catra won’t just steal her leftovers out of her fridge.

A date seems like a waste. They both know what Adora wants. Why do they have to play this game?

Adora likes chasing her. Likes fucking her and being flattered by how much she unsettles Catra. They might as well just skip straight to it.

That doesn’t stop the blonde from sending more messages over the next couple of days. Flirting, joking. There’s even a couple of selfies. 

Catra kinda feels like an idiot, thinking back to when, just a few weeks ago, all of this attention felt genuine. Like Adora felt...something for her.

Whatever. She shakes that thought off as she comes up in the elevator. When all else failed, Adora offered to at least pick her up from the bar. Catra busted her ass to get everything done early just so the timing was thrown off.

already halfway there

Which way are you walking?
Me and Swifty can meet you

i’m a big girl
i can get there all on my own

Adora’s not going to ruin this. She thinks she’s clever. But Catra is cleverer. More clever? Godsdamnit.

When Adora opens the door, she gives Catra a quizzical smile. Adora’s not dressed like someone hanging out at home at 2am. The fucking white, whale-printed button-up short sleeve shirt and navy blue bermuda shorts make her look like a dork on vacation. 

Except, Adora’s looking at Catra like she’s the one adorned oddly when she says, “Hey. Cute bow. Wouldn’t think it was your style.”

It’s really not. But the only two options Catra had for this were this dumb bow or a tie. And there’s no way she could wear a tie with her work shirt without looking like a full Avril Lavigne. 

No, for this plan to work, Catra grabbed a long black silk ribbon and tied it a couple times around her head as a headband. She even did it up into a little bow. It would be cute on anyone else. On Catra, it just makes her look even more dangerous, like if Little Red Riding Hood was really the Big Bad Wolf all along.

She makes sure to show Adora both fangs as she smiles. “Thanks.” Then Catra brushes past her, completely dismissively.

Swift Wind rushes up to nip at her heels as soon as she enters. With a cool grin in his direction, Catra produces a giant bone from her backpack. Something to distract him with that she picked up in a dumpster behind that barbecue place a few doors down from Hidey Hole. Adora practically has hearts in her eyes, as she takes Catra’s bag to put it near the door.

“Hope you’re hungry,” Adora says.

‘Not the way you’re thinking’ crosses Catra’s mind. The closest she comes to voicing that, though, is looking right into Adora’s eyes as she slowly licks her lips.

Adora does a good job of holding it together and not reacting, minus her eyes getting just a bit darker.

“Come on.” Adora takes her hand and starts to lead Catra out the apartment and towards the elevator. 

Catra could protest. She thinks about it. There’s nothing upstairs except the roof. It’s not what Catra had intended but she can actually work with that if needed.

They don’t say anything most of the ride up. Adora just stares at Catra like she’s both excited to see her and very badly hiding a secret.

“You don’t have some dumb ‘I’m sorry’ surprise up there, do you?”

“What would make you think that?”

“You’re making me go onto a roof late as fuck. You’re smiling like a weirdo. You’re not a good liar,” she lists off.

“That last one’s a good thing, though, right?” 

Catra doesn’t have time to respond before the elevator doors open.

The first thing she notices is the stars. When they were up there for Pride a couple weeks ago, the sun had just barely set and the city lights were the only thing in the sky. Tonight, though, it’s so clear, not a single cloud floating by. The stars are out in full force and it’s more beautiful than Catra remembers the night being. When’s the last time she even stopped and really looked up?

This is just the backdrop to Adora’s surprise. In the middle of the rooftop sits a full picnic, cliched red and white checkered blanket, wicker picnic basket, champagne in a bucket, and everything. 

“I thought about putting up candles,” Adora says, interrupting Catra’s mind being blown and reminding her to breathe, “But-”

“The stars were enough,” Catra finishes quietly.

With a quick smile, Adora pulls her over to sit down on the blanket. Catra’s plan had not accounted for so many variables. If she starts eating, they’ll be here all night and that just won’t do. 

Catra yanks the blonde down next to her, not leaving even an inch of space between them. She has to grab Adora’s hands and distract her as soon as she reaches for the basket.

“You didn’t need to do this,” Catra tells her, dropping her voice into a low rasp. She reaches up to caress Adora’s cheek, holding her full attention.

Adora is way too sincere when she replies, “I know, but I wanted to do it for you. I really like you and I’m sorry I hurt you.”

Ugh, no.

“I mean, we can just skip ahead.”

Catra moves closer, pulling Adora in for a kiss.

The blonde nods. “Okay, I’m definitely excited about that part. But I want to do it right this time. I want you naked. And in my bed. So food first.”

“You’re not in charge here,” Catra tells her, moving to straddle Adora.

The kissing escalates almost as soon as their lips touch. For all of Adora’s stalling, she seems to be impatient too. The only thing more insistent than her kisses are her hands, which are rushing to be everywhere – Catra’s ears, the nape of her neck, down her back, over her bra. By the time they make for her tail, Catra reaches for Adora’s wrists. It’s too early to get swept up in this.

Adora’s touches are magnetic or something. Everywhere she touches leaves a tingling sensation and Catra can already feel herself beginning to get wet. Catra can’t see her eyes, but Adora’s blushing from her ears down to her neck and her breaths are coming in heavy. She must be just as turned on as Catra.

Adora doesn’t fight the constriction of her movement as Catra crosses the blonde’s arms behind her own back. She barely seems to notice, really. Instead, Adora puts her mouth to work, drifting down to Catra’s neck. The blonde’s not as tentative as other times; her teeth set about making a mark right over the Magicat’s pulse point quickly.


Catra is not hers so this is truly a horrible idea. And yet. It feels good. It’ll be hard for anyone to see under her fur. Maybe she’ll let herself have this one little indulgence.

“Fuck!” Catra actually does yell aloud, instead of just inside her own head, once Adora bites down much harder than she expected.

She logically knows she should stop this – if scents are a big deal to her people then marks are a huge fucking deal – but her body decides to arch into Adora’s lips further. When Catra starts unconsciously grinding down into the blonde’s lap, she fears all is lost.

It probably would be if not for another dumb mistake Catra makes. Adora takes the offer of more real estate for her to kiss seriously and continues working her way down Catra’s collarbone until she’s sinking her teeth into the top of the her left tit.

Then Adora freezes. Catra’s not sure what caused it but she uses this opportunity to shift both of Adora’s wrists to her left hand. Meanwhile, her right reaches up and pulls off that dumb bow so the material falls limply.

Catra tilts just enough to be able to easily reach both of her hands behind Adora’s back. This also puts the human’s eyes directly in her line of vision. Adora’s pupils are both huge, not just with arousal but also something close to wonder or awe. Catra pauses her movements.

“What?” she asks, trying to project calm and confidence.

“You’re wearing the necklace,” Adora points out.

Catra immediately shifts so they’re not making eye contact anymore. She kinda forgot she was wearing it. More accurately, after Adora put it on her, Catra just never thought about taking it off again. It certainly wasn’t some unconscious attempt to sabotage her own plan for payback.

“Didn’t notice,” Catra mumbles.

“Do you wear it often?” Again, Adora goes and gets way too sincere.

Catra shrugs and just decides to move her own lips to Adora’s neck to get past this. Thankfully, the dummy gives in quickly. Catra is courteous enough to not leave any deceitful marks behind. Adora’s cute little earlobes feel like fair game though. Allowing herself to lightly use her fangs, Catra pulls one into her mouth, laving it with her tongue to soothe any bites.

That unleashes a whole new Adora. Suddenly, she’s the one grinding mindlessly, trying to shift Catra in her lap using only her toned thighs. (Catra imagines they’re toned, even though she’s never seen them in their full glory – which is truly a fucking shame. They feel thick and sturdy and honestly, Catra can’t wait to be in between them.)

“Mm, Catra,” Adora moans. 

It’s such a vulnerable sound, her name falling from Adora’s lips like that. For the first time, Adora feels like something Catra could break if she wasn’t careful.

She pushes that feeling away quickly. Not wanting to waste anymore time, she situates Adora’s wrists comfortably before twining them together with the ribbon. Adora doesn’t seem to take notice until Catra’s pulling the first knot tight.

Adora doesn’t bother pulling her ear away. “What’s that?” 

“Oh,” Catra whispers, like she just noticed the restraints too. She ties the second knot. “Just had an idea. Is this okay?” she mimics.

Adora nods quickly. Eagerly.

“You fine with the classic stoplight colors if I need to stop or take a break?”

Catra hums her agreement. “Sure. Where you at now?”

“Oh, very green,” Adora sighs happily.

As Catra moves to the other ear, biting and listening to Adora moan her name again, her hands float down to unbutton the blonde’s shorts.

“Mm, wait,” Adora interrupts breathlessly.

Catra dutifully stops and pulls back to pay attention.

“I thought you might want to sit on my face…” Adora offers.

And though Catra may possibly touch herself for at least the next month thinking of riding Adora’s face while she’s fully bound, she’s got different plans right now. 

There is only one mission tonight. Catra’s going to give the best head she’s ever given. And then she’s going to untie Adora and leave. Bam. Revenge served cold.

“Nope.” Catra smirks slowly. “I’m gonna lick your pussy until you scream loud enough to wake the neighbors.”

Adora’s face morphs into somewhere between embarrassment, horniness, and self-consciousness.

Catra arches an eyebrow. “Color?”

“Green,” Adora says, like it’s the only option she was ever considering.

Fluidly, Catra lifts herself from Adora’s lap and settles between her legs, down near her feet. It was a fast motion, one that it seems to take the blonde a moment to process. Catra tugs her shorts impatiently and that snaps Adora out of it. She rushes to kick off her shoes before lifting her hips to help Catra remove her bottoms.

Fully naked from the waist down, Adora leans back using her bound hands for support. It doesn’t look comfortable to Catra, but then again, she isn’t really sure what the phrase ‘core strength’ means still.

“You can lay down,” she offers.

Adora shakes her head immediately. “I want to see you.”

And, fuck, does Catra want to give her a show. Still knelt between the blonde’s legs, she lets her claws lightly scratch at Adora’s calves up to her thighs as Catra moves closer. She stops her hands just short of where she really wants them to go and scratches back down Adora’s thighs, a little harder this time.

Catra can feel Adora's eyes on her, the gaze of those baby blues feeling heavy.

She wants to tease this out. Wants to make Adora desperate for it.

But Adora fucking cheats! She spreads those thighs (which Catra can now confirm are thick and tone and she wants to fucking bite the hell out of them) and tilts her ass so her pussy is more on display.

Catra’s gulps loud enough that she’s sure Adora can hear it.

Down there, Adora’s wide open. Wet and throbbing and ready. Catra can smell how turned on she is and it’s like a siren song calling her closer.

“I can’t wait to hear you beg,” Catra hears herself say, mocking the blonde. It’s truly a miracle that any part of her is still functioning right now.

“Please,” Adora says quickly. She sounds completely wrecked already, voice gravelly and dry. “I’ll do whatever you want, Catra. Just please!”

There’s no time to enjoy this victory. Catra can’t handle this anymore. She dives in face-first.

She uses her tongue to open Adora up more and seek out her clit. Catra tries to situate herself flat on the ground on her stomach, not really caring how uncomfortable and hard the warm roof is under their thin blanket. It doesn’t matter. Adora’s so hot and slippery on her tongue while Catra teases her with just the tip.

Above her, Adora is moaning and begging for more already. Catra doesn’t realize that she’s closed her own eyes until she decides to angle her head so she can see Adora’s face – it’s wrenched in agony and pleasure but completely focused on watching Catra work.


She takes a moment to sheathe her claws before reaching under Adora to grip her ass and lift her closer to Catra’s face. Adora gasps as Catra’s tongue moves down slowly, trailing to her entrance. Catra lets it linger there for a second, even though she’d pretty much sell anything she owned to be inside of Adora right now.

“Green? Is that what you’re waiting for?” Adora asks. 

She tries to tilt her hips closer but Catra’s got her pretty firmly in place. It’s her turn to be in total control.

Catra kindly answers Adora’s request, though, letting her rough tongue slip inside of the girl.

“Holy fuck,” Adora hisses. Catra watches as her eyes close and her head tips back, hiding her face from view.

The disappointment of that quickly fades as Catra focuses on penetrating Adora with her tongue. She tastes even better than she smells, so fucking delectable that Catra thinks it’s a shame that she won’t be doing this again. Adora’s so soaked that Catra’s fur is going to be a total mess by the time they’re finished.

Catra’s had plenty of experience. She knows her tongue is too rough for most folks and she has to be very careful when making any licking motions. But fucking? Never had any complaints there before. So she shoves her tongue into Adora with a zeal.

“Holy fuck,” Adora repeats, in a much higher pitch.

She sounds closer so Catra glances back up. Adora’s eyes are boring back into hers. The blonde even looks surprised by how much Catra is throwing herself into this task, thrusting her tongue in and out, making the wettest, lewdest sounds she possibly can.

Catra’s mouth is a bit too busy to smirk. She settles for winking at the blonde, groaning when she feels Adora tighten around her tongue.

“You’re gorgeous,” Adora strains to say. “And you’re fucking me so good. Lick me again please?”

Catra allows herself a few more dips in and out of Adora’s pussy while she tries to formulate a response. 

She eventually settles on mumbling, “Remember your words, okay?” after she pulls out.

‘Alright, just be gentle,’ Catra reminds herself. She takes a deep breath. Her back’s already a bit sore from the angle and probably from her basically humping the blanket. She redirects all of her focus on Adora’s face to capture any signs of distress.

The first lick is tentative, just the tip of her tongue again. She completely freezes when Adora takes in a sharp breath.

“D-Do that again please.” 

Catra complies and repeats the motion, only to get the same pained sounding gasp in response. 

“Move up a little. Maybe just do it more indirectly?”

Catra trails up to the blonde's hood, caressing it gingerly with her tongue.

“Yes! That!” Adora screams. “Harder!”

Catra had been talking a big game about that whole yelling thing. She only half-expected it to happen, especially since Adora is so stubborn. But it is very much happening as she picks up speed and adds more pressure with her tongue, moving to lap up and down Adora’s clit, careful not to be too rough. The blonde shouts out a litany of filthy praises, driving Catra to rub her own thighs together faster in a desperate bid for some relief.

“So fucking good! Your mouth, Catra! Fuck! So good, so good,” at that last part, she soon descends into high moans and nonsense rambling.

There's a pretty good chance that Adora's going to have to deal with a noise complaint later. Catra will be long gone by then. 

Adora's hips are dancing more erratically now, chasing wildly after more pleasure. Catra shifts her hands from the blonde's ass so she can wrap her arms around Adora's upper thighs. Her hands land on the inside of each leg. This gives Catra the perfect opportunity to both hold Adora open and push closer to her pussy.

It's harder to see her face now but Catra can still hear and feel Adora rapidly falling apart. Catra still wants more. She wants Adora to feel as destroyed and smitten and lovingly wrung out as she did when Adora took her.

Catra opens her mouth wider, enveloping as much of Adora as she can. She begins to suckle softly but greedily, mindful of keeping her tongue working as steadily as possible. Her claws are back out again – she hadn’t really noticed before, just way too turned on – and they’re digging into where her grip on Adora’s thighs is tightening to keep them open. And then, as the piece de resistance, Catra begins to purr, creating a rumbling vibration while she holds Adora in her mouth.

It would be perfect if Adora cried out her name. Like surrendering a victory to a worthy opponent. Acknowledging exactly who worked her up into such a sorry state.

Sadly, Catra doesn’t get that. Adora whimpers and tries to grind her hips in a completely futile move. She’s sweating heavily, which Catra can smell and, fuck, her pussy is a dripping mess. But when Adora finally cums, clit swelling proudly in Catra’s mouth, all she manages to scream out is, “C-aaahhhhh!”

She doesn’t lie back, like Catra would. Adora slumps forward, bent uncomfortably at the shoulders and neck, body and breath occasionally heaving from aftershocks. 

Catra’s still idly licking Adora, trying to focus on the least sensitive areas. She hasn’t gotten her fill yet and Adora seems too content to stop her. By the time she’s done, Catra kinda regrets not taking her top off. The neck of her work shirt is wet, probably a combination of Adora’s cum and her own spit, and she def can’t wear this without some nosy busybody taking a guess at what’s all over it.

In a final act of kindness, Catra moves Adora's weak body, tugging at her rubbery limbs until she's a couple inches to the left and not sitting in a giant wet spot. Catra digs around in the picnic basket and finds a small bottle of cold water that she helps pour into Adora’s dry mouth so the dummy can speak again. Inside the basket is meat and cheese and bread and jam. Catra feels a little bad so she pulls a couple of the foods out.

They sit up there for 20 or so minutes while she feeds Adora tiny sandwiches, checking occasionally to make sure her hands aren’t completely asleep.

Catra’s feeling...something. High off of touching Adora. A weird almost-calm inside. A bit chilled out thinking about the vastness of the stars and how her dumb mistakes are just one in a sea of billions in the world. 

Also, horny. So fucking horny. Adora’s pussy is just sitting there minding its business and Catra wants to be back inside so bad she could cry.

Adora’s hair is a mess from their making out and her eyes are worn out from either how late it is or that devastating orgasm. She stills looks so beautiful that Catra can’t let her eyes linger for more than a few seconds at a time or she’ll break her resolve.

“You sure you don’t want anything?” Adora mumbles around the bite that Catra just fed her.

“Not really feeling hungry. Just ate a lot.” Catra smiles devilishly, showing all her fangs. 

Adora blushes a bit and for the first time, seems to remember that she’s still naked from the waist down.

“Can you give me a hand with my pants? Or untie me maybe?” She bumps Catra’s shoulder to get her to look again, since the Magicat is taking her periodic break from staring at Adora like she’s the fucking daymoon rising. “Unless you want to play more? I’d like to touch you. I could…”

Her eyes drift down to Catra’s thighs and she just runs out of words apparently. Catra mimics her, bumping Adora’s shoulder until she meets the Magicat’s eyes.

She couldn’t have really been prepared for this – Adora’s annoyingly effective bedroom eyes. They’re so dark, half-lidded with her pupils huge.

“You’re in charge,” she whispers in a way that makes Catra feel like she’s breathless. “Will you let me fuck you? I want to watch you cum so badly. I haven’t been able to think of anything else since last week, Catra. You can’t even understand how much I loved fucking you. It was-”

She’s cut off by Catra sighing loudly. Wordless, Catra stands, trying to look as bored as possible. Adora’s pretty confused as Catra retrieves her shorts and does a half-ass job of pulling them up to the blonde’s hips. She barely gives Adora time to shove her feet into her shoes before Catra grabs her wrists and pushes her towards the elevator.

Adora doesn’t resist, even as her face shows she’s in a bit of a panic. “We have to clean up first,” she says, glancing back at the mess of the picnic they left.

“Quiet, princess,” Catra orders. “I think you’ve made enough noise for tonight.”

“But! Ants!” she whines.

In the apartment, Catra pushes Adora towards the bedroom. She hasn’t quite made up her mind what she’s going to do. In her gameplan, she was supposed to just rip the ribbon off and leave. But she obviously couldn’t abandon Adora on the roof all tied up. Catra isn’t a complete monster. She’s not sure what possessed her to take this to the bedroom though.

They pass Swift Wind asleep in the hall, cradling the giant bone like a pillow. When Adora goes ‘aww’, Catra slaps her ass to cut through the cuteness of the moment. The groan she produces is much worse though.

“That’s kinda a thing for me,” Adora tells her in a whisper.

“Hmm,” Catra hums. “Me too.”

“Yeah? What else?”

“Biting. A little hair-pulling. In the right mood, some name calling.”

“I'd be down for all of that,” Adora replies with a voice as thick as molasses.

Once they’re in the bedroom, Catra’s brain reminds her to slash the ribbon and run. Catra’s body throws itself down onto the mattress. They are not in alignment.

Adora eagerly kicks her shoes off and shimmies to get her shorts back down. Catra folds her hands behind her head, signaling she’s not going to be any help at all. Adora manages to crawl up and kiss Catra, only sorta putting all of her weight on her. 

Apparently Adora doesn’t know how to kiss without her hands, for some reason, cause her lips are sloppy and everywhere. She misses the mark and Catra ends up with kisses all over her cheeks and chin and other random spots until she’s shaking with laughter.

“What?!” Adora asks, now laughing too. “This is harder than it looks!”

“It really shouldn’t be.” Catra reaches behind Adora’s back and easily slices through the restraints with her claws.

As they fall away, she tries to take Adora’s hands into her own to massage and baby them, but the blonde has other ideas. She wrenches away quickly to begin pushing Catra’s top up her stomach.

“Hey, aftercare! I have to make sure your hands are okay.”

“I’ll show you how okay my hands are,” Adora mumbles to herself, reaching to unbutton Catra’s shorts.

“Excuse me? Who’s in charge?”

Adora freezes immediately. Obediently. “Sorry. You are.”

“Good. This isn’t gonna be like last time, right?”

Catra’s asking herself as much as she’s asking Adora. It doesn’t matter how deeply she wants this. If she makes herself vulnerable for Adora again and Adora rejects her again , Catra doesn’t know what the fuck she’ll do.

Soft hands cup her face, thumbs caressing her cheeks. “I like you so much, Cat. I’m not going anywhere. Can I show you? Like you just showed me?”

Oh, is that what Catra was doing? Fucking news to her!

Adora winces as her touch trails down Catra’s neck.

“Actually, my shoulders kinda hurt.”

“No shit, dummy. Come here. I’ll give you a massage.”

“Nope. I have to take care of you. Will you let me?”

Catra narrows her eyes. “You don’t have to do anything for me, Adora.” She doesn’t want to feel like an obligation or a task that Adora has to complete.

Adora leans over to kiss under Catra’s right ear.

“Let me rephrase. If I don’t make you cum right now, I don’t think I can continue on with my life.”

“My Gods, the dramatics.”

Adora continues on, “I won’t be able to eat or sleep or-”

“Shut up and fuck me, dummy,” Catra whispers against her lips. She can feel Adora smile into the kiss, falling over on top of her once again.

She lets Adora undress her quickly and unceremoniously, her clothes being tossed all around the room, before the blonde removes her own shirt and bra. This will be the first time she's completely naked in Adora's bed, a position that she doesn't usually put herself into. She'd prefer the lights out, not the mood lighting that Adora must have left on earlier, a dimmed lamp in the corner that almost makes Catra's fur glow with a golden hue.

She stops internally spiraling, and instead starts bracing for the worst, when she notices Adora knelt between her legs, staring at her. Her eyes are fighting to take in everything at once. And not even just the fun places either – Adora seems to get particularly distracted around Catra’s hips and stomach.

“You’re not gonna say some fucking corny ass thing again, are you?” Catra laughs, trying to diffuse the tension.

She stops when Adora's eyes turn soft.

“You are... unbelievably beautiful,” Adora earnestly tells her. She laughs to herself. “Was that too corny?”

“Only if you meant it,” Catra says quietly. Even to her own ears, the attempt to make that sound sarcastic is pretty weak.

“I always mean what I say to you.” 

Adora lets her hands gently land on Catra’s calves. She doesn’t break eye contact, though, slowly dragging her fingertips towards Catra’s thighs. Catra kinda wants to make fun of Adora for stealing her moves from earlier tonight. But the blonde’s touch is so much more tender.  

Fingers dance up to the apex of Catra’s legs before moving to her hips to pinch lightly, drawing a laugh from her. To her sides where Adora grips her tight for a moment. To her tummy before getting buried in the thatch of nearly-white fur there.

Catra impatiently waits for Adora to slide up to her tits. But all momentum stops there at her stomach as the human switches to opening and closing her hands, watching in awe as Catra’s fur falls through her fingers like sand. 

‘Yep,’ Catra thinks, ‘Called it. Freak.’

“Furry freak,” she corrects out loud.

Adora, who’s now escalated to rubbing her face in Catra’s tummy pauses to look up, caught red-handed. 

“No!” she argues, in the most unconvincing voice possible.

“Adora,” Catra draws out, super condescendingly.

“I’m not!” She rubs her face across Catra’s stomach and hips like the Magicat can’t see or feel that. “I’ve just been waiting to touch you for so long. I want to savor it.”

“Well, savor a little fas-” Catra cuts off with a moan as Adora stretches up to grasp each of her nipples between her fingers.

The blonde takes one in between her teeth for a moment before releasing it to whisper, “Whatever you want, baby.”

“You should tell me that more often.”

“I feel like, secretly, your favorite word is ‘gimme’.” Adora moves to the opposite nipple, sucking it roughly into her mouth.

“I thought you liked to be of service?” Catra teases.

Releasing the nipple, Adora says, “I do.”

“Well,” Catra arches her hips, trying to get closer. “Gimme.”

Adora kisses up to her throat. “What do you want?”

There’s many many answers to that question and the only one that doesn’t give too too much away is, “Don’t stop touching me?” It comes out shaky and Catra hopes Adora will dismiss that as just her being turned on.

She feels the blonde shake her head. “Never.”

Adora slides up until they’re eye-to-eye. It’s almost like she wants to watch the exact moment that Catra feels her hands on her ass, moving steadily towards her tail.

Catra cuts her off before she even gets there. “Fuck me. Now.”

She thinks she hears Adora gratefully mutter, “Thank you,” but it’s muffled into her neck as Adora reaches under Catra and lifts her up.

When she’s suddenly airborne, Catra scrambles to wrap her arms and legs around Adora's broad shoulders and strong hips. Just as soon as it’s begun, it’s over, Adora having only just scooted a few inches across the bed. The human moves something around before depositing Catra gently on the spot where the pillows usually are. Adora quickly slides in behind her so that her back is now resting against the headboard, Catra sitting in between her outstretched legs.

Catra doesn’t really have time to even question the position – they’re basically sitting and spooning, which feels entirely too intimate – before Adora is reaching both arms around her to grasp at Catra’s front. The hands flying to her tits and her thighs are nice but they don’t really compare to the rush of electricity that goes through Catra when her always-sensitive back is flush against Adora’s naked skin.

It’s just. A lot of Adora. Like an overwhelming amount of Adora. In all the best ways. Catra can pick up her scent so well. Can relax and feel safe in her arms. Can even lean into how Adora’s absently grinding her pussy into Catra’s ass.

As promised, Adora doesn’t stop touching her. She works her left hand gently, caressing the fur from Catra's neck to her tummy. The other hand roams from Catra’s leg straight to her clit, two fingers wasting little time pressing into the bud from both sides and rubbing it in small circles.

“Oh, fuck!” Catra shouts, throwing her head back onto Adora’s shoulder. The sensation is even more intense than their first time together. The slow, steady pace of this whole evening, plus getting to watch Adora cum already, has Catra more than ready for a release.

Adora doesn’t disappoint. As soon Catra tries to tilt her hips to signal for more, those same two fingers move from her clit to her entrance. They linger there just a moment, feeling how wet she is.

“Keep those legs spread for me, okay?” she whispers in Catra’s ear before giving it a soft nip. 

Catra shudders then nods. When Adora enters her and her thighs shake not to snap shut and hold the girl there in place, Catra just throws her legs on the outside of the blonde’s.

“That’s perfect, baby,” Adora tells her, voice rumbling through Catra’s fur, it feels like. “You’re perfect. So open for me.”

There’s something close to a whimper threatening to jump out of Catra.

“Faster,” she orders. Though it sounds more like some very undignified begging.

“Whatever you want, baby,” Adora repeats. The thrusts pick up, deep and body-wracking from this angle. Catra reaches down to help position Adora’s palm more firmly against her clit. 

“You’re so sexy, Catra. I can’t even describe how much I love touching you. I want to make you feel good. I want to make you cum for me.”

Honestly, she almost came while fucking Adora. Catra’s ready this for. She’s so fucking ready for this.

Adora speeds up, pace remaining focused and intense. The chorus of moans that Catra hears don't even sound like herself. So vulnerable, so needy.  

“I love the sounds you make for me,” Adora growls and it sounds so possessive that it shoots straight to Catra's clit.

The peak hits suddenly without warning and Catra realizes that she is not at all ready for this.

Her mouth opens in a scream but no sound comes out. Legs shaking, she squeezes her eyes shut until she can see lights dancing in her vision. Instead of tilting back further into Adora, Catra leans forward, her muscles contracting as she bends like a bow. (Later, much later, she’d think about this and kinda chuckle that she and Adora had near-identical goofy orgasm reactions that night.) Without Adora keeping her arm wrapped tightly around the Magicat, she’s not sure where she would have gone, maybe tried to curl into a ball? Her legs close, trapping Adora’s hand inside of her as Catra bears down on it.

Finally, after what feels like so many long seconds of this, Catra's body gives out and goes limp, allowing herself to be pulled further back into the body holding her closely.

She can just barely hear Adora swearing and breathlessly whispering how beautiful it was to watch Catra.

The Magicat uses the little energy she has left to nod. It was probably not a question but she doesn’t want Adora to think she’s asleep. She’s just closing her eyes to gather herself for a moment before heading home. A brief moment.

She lets Adora move them both until they’re lying down, heads on the pillows that have reappeared. Adora spoons up behind her and Catra purrs at the amazing feeling of the blonde lying completely naked against her. Catra hadn’t known she was waiting for this.

Okay. Maybe one more moment is fine.

Chapter Text

Catra's having a dream about learning to kayak when some high-pitched whining pulls her out. She wasn’t really enjoying the kayaking anyway. Obviously.

Entrapta was in one boat, using her hair to paddle and cackling maniacally. Lonnie was in another but there were actually two of her and both were fed up with Catra, arms crossed and scowling while their kayak magically steered itself.

The Magicat was predictably panicked to be in water, dressed in one of those bright orange kids life vests that was way too small. Adora was swimming alongside the kayak, trying to give Catra instructions but they kept coming out all warbled, like she was underwater even though her head was completely above the surface.

“What?” Catra asks.

In response, the whine turns into a loud bark.

“Swifty, cut it out,” she hears Adora whisper.

Another loud bark. Grumbling as the dream fades away completely, Catra reaches down and picks the dog up without opening her eyes. It’s not until Swift Wind is cuddled in her arms, panting happily, that she jolts awake.

She’s still at Adora’s apartment. Fuck. It’s super bright cause Adora doesn’t believe in blocking out the sun for her mental health and wellness or whatever. Smells like eggs are cooking in the kitchen. Swift Wind barks again, insistent that she lay back down and cuddle. 

Catra had come over late Sunday night and was hoping to leave early before Adora woke up. Except Adora apparently really loves teasing and winding Catra up to orgasms so world-changing that she collapses afterwards and seems to exit this plane of existence. Last night, Adora was fucking insatiable, doing things with her tongue that really should come with some sort of warning or terms and conditions form to sign. Catra was floating and when she crashed, it was straight into the blonde’s arms and a deep sleep.

That's two nights in a row, though, and this really shouldn't become the norm. 

Dressing quickly, while constantly whispering to the dog to be chill and not give her away, Catra tries to slip out of the room and to the front door. That means she has to pass the kitchen, where Adora’s cooking something at the stove while she bops around to a Horde song. Worse, she’s actually singing along word-for-word.

“Ugh,” Catra whispers to herself. It’s too early to have to hear her own voice and, also, she can’t really think about how much time the dummy must have spent listening to her sing over and over again (or how that thought warms Catra up from the inside out).

“You’re awake!” Adora smiles without looking away from her work. “I was starting to get worried.” She somehow manages to say this genuinely, like she wasn’t the one who fucked Catra into a low-grade coma.

“Yeah, up and at ‘em,” Catra mumbles back, nonsensically. She eases closer and closer to the door.

“I made your favorite. Salmon and cheese omelette. Extra salmon.”

Catra pauses. When had she mentioned this?

Her feet start moving towards the kitchen by themselves.

Adora finishes up, kindly ignoring Catra’s silence. She doesn’t even complain when the music gets changed to something more palatable. The human makes idle small talk with herself while Catra nurses a half-drunken glass of juice that she steals.

The omelette she’s served is surprisingly beautiful and perfectly seasoned. The healthy grain-filled toast and weird steamed spinach isn’t terrible either. Swift Wind rushes to sit at her feet and silently beg with his big puppy eyes that remind her too much of his owner.

“Fiber is important,” Adora says idly. Oh. She’s nervous, fidgeting around both as she places everything in front of Catra and then even once she’s busy eating.

“So,” Adora begins awkwardly. “I have to shoot something for the show next week. It’s live. The week after too.”

“You flying to Eternia?” Catra asks with a mouth full of eggs.

“No, it’s in midtown. You know those studios over on the west side?”

Catra just nods. She doesn’t really want to hear about this part of Adora’s life that she spends so much energy pretending doesn’t exist.

“What are you up to this week?”

“Nothing,” Catra mutters. She might have vague plans with Rogelio. There’s no reason to not say this except wanting to avoid this morning-after kiki.

Adora’s fidgeting gets somehow even more pronounced. “Would you want to hang out tomorrow? We could get dinner at this crab shack place that I think you’d like.”

That sounds suspiciously like an actual date.

“Let’s play it by ear. Maybe I’ll come over Friday after my shift.”

For a second, disappointment flashes across Adora’s face. She quickly takes a sip of water, noticing that her juice is suddenly on Catra’s side of the table, and gathers herself.

With a slight smile, she says, “I don't just want to see you at night , you know?”

Catra starts to shovel as much of her breakfast into her mouth as possible, trying to speed this awkward interaction along.

“Is that all you want?” Adora asks after a beat.

No. But it’s certainly all either of them can offer.

Usually Adora sends some ridiculous gif or just checks in or something. She hasn’t texted since someone rushed out so fast earlier that they probably left a Catra-sized hole in the door.

Catra must seem especially miserable cause Lonnie’s been a dream all night. (Minus her entrance, when she noticed Catra wearing gray shorts with a navy blue strip down the side and Lonnie asked, “Did you fuck our mail carrier?”) She did most of the work without any unnecessary commentary and she’s pulled almost all of the weight with the decent-sized Monday night crowd they’ve attracted.

Catra hasn’t done anything except sulk on a stool all evening and stare into space.

She’s certain of a couple of things. Adora is….special, that’s what she’d said to Bow, right? Catra’s never really met anyone like her before. Earnest and kind but real. She takes a reasonable amount of shit from Catra but can give it right back. Fuck knows what Adora sees in her. Besides a good lay.

Maybe there’s an alternate universe where Catra has her life together and maybe is a totally completely different person and that Adora and Catra can have a real relationship and-

“Who broke my Kitty Kat?”

Catra has to blink a couple times before she notices Spinnerella, Casta, and Juliet sitting at the bar in front of her, all giving her concerned looks. It’s funny to think that the latter, who doesn’t speak very often and who she’s met exactly once, is even worried about her.

“What up?” Catra mumbles to them. Automatically, she pops over the bar to let Casta kiss her on the forehead. There’s something oddly tender about this one so she lets herself linger there for a moment until the older woman is tugging her by the hand.

“Come on over here, Kit.”

Casta probably meant for her to walk around to the end of the bar but Catra just jumps right over. She’s immediately enveloped in Casta’s arms before Spinny can lecture her again about safety. 

Castaspella always smells like frankincense or some musky kind of incense from her store plus vanilla and an unknowable scent that Catra is sure is magic. She’s only been to the woman’s actual home a couple times but the whole place smells like that and Catra’s ended up taking a nap every time she was there, ditching whatever party was happening to snuggle into their host’s bed. Once, she woke up and Casta was holding her and humming a lullaby and it was probably the best thing that ever happened to Catra.

She sighs into Casta’s hug, relaxing even further when she feels Spinnerella reach over and gently pet her back.

“Problems with your girl?” Casta asks. All she gets is a shrug in return.  

“Did you try talking to her?” Spinnerella questions.

“Some things can’t be fixed just by talking,” Catra mumbles into Casta’s neck.

“So you’re just going to keep fucking her and acting like nothing’s wrong?” the dark-haired woman says.

Without moving away, Catra turns her head so she can narrow her eyes at Lonnie.

“Hey, I haven’t told anyone anything, Cat,” she argues, raising her hands as a sign of fake surrender. “I said I wasn’t helping anymore and I’m not.”

“You’re glowing,” Spinnerella points out. “Even with the scowl. Wasn’t very hard to figure out.”

“Was it good?” Casta whispers conspiratorially, so no one else can hear her. Catra nods weakly against her shoulder. “Good for you.”

Because they know her well enough, neither Casta nor Spinny asks anymore questions. Eventually, after a long minute, Catra untangles herself and walks back around to her side of the bar.

“Thanks or whatever,” she mutters. “Sorry for being weird. Juliet, what’s your drink?”

Everyone seems reluctant to just let it go quickly but Catra doesn’t really leave any space for questions as she starts serving them. Lonnie could probably use a break anyway.

The trio heads to the back to enjoy the summer night while Catra sets to washing some glasses.

“Where’s Sparkles and Bow?”

Lonnie doesn’t look up from the beers she’s pouring. “Uhh…”

Catra pauses. That’s a very un-Lonnie-like sound. She’s usually pretty quick and confident.

They both wait until she’s done serving and Lonnie sorta pushes Catra into the further corner of the bar. Catra definitely does not nearly panic.

“Fuck is up wit’ you?”

“They wanted to watch the show live. It’s hometowns this week – the lead goes to 4 people’s towns and meets their boring ass families. But this one’s s’posed to be…. surprising.”

“What’s the surprise?” Catra hears someone ask. She doesn’t think it’s her voice because she doesn’t care about this show or Adora.

“You really wanna know?” Lonnie scrunches up her face as if this is something she’s reluctant to share suddenly.

No. “Yeah.”

“Well, the commercials want you to think she proposes to someone on the spot,” Lonnie explains. Catra feels her stomach fall right out of her ass. “The Twitterverse claims she cuts two women immediately.”

Which two? What are they like? Spill everything. “Hm.” 

She feels her eyes kinda glaze over as she tries to process that and her mind quickly threatens to spill into its darkest places.

“Alright,” Lonnie says, pausing to wipe her hands on a towel. “Break time for you.” 

She swiftly grabs Catra by the shoulders and tries to shotput the Magicat into the office. Still confused as hell by this sudden turn, Catra has to push all her limbs against the doorjamb to resist.

“No, I have shit to clean,” she grits out, with great effort, cause Lonnie is strong as fuck.

Her hands are both pried off the wall and suddenly Catra’s just hanging on by the claws of her toes and trying not to fall as Lonnie continues pushing forward.

“I don’t want to be alone,” Catra whispers frantically. It’s not til she says it out loud that she actually realizes that’s the queasy feeling burning up from her gut to her throat.

Lonnie lets her go immediately. Which is a shame cause she was holding most of Catra’s weight up at this point. That, plus an opposing force disappearing, means Catra topples over, landing flat on her face.

“You don’t want to be alone?” Lonnie repeats. She’s not even winded, the fucking show-off.

This floor is absolutely disgusting, sticky from where Huntara and Lonnie and Catra haven’t cleaned it in days. But it’s really the most fitting setting for what’s about to tumble out of her mouth so it’s fine.

“I wouldn’t have anything to show,” she sighs. “If I did the thing and we went home and it’s supposed to be all cute and ‘family’ or whatever. I got no one. Just death everywhere. And not even cute pictures or something from my childhood. No good stories. alone with a piano...and Sheila.”

It still hurts to say her stepmother's name. Like physically hurts Catra, her throat getting tight and her eyes starting to burn.

Adora’s family looks nice from the pictures. She was a happy kid. Catra was never happy, was never truly a child. She couldn’t afford to be. Sheila beat that (sometimes more literally than others) into her. She was a Magicat. Everyone thought she was an animal. She had to try twice as hard to be taken half as seriously as the other pianists. Not exactly the kind of gentle pep talk an 8 year-old needed.

Perfect Adora deserves a perfect mate.

That was one reason why she'd been oversleeping at Adora's place the last two nights. After passing out post-orgasm, Catra had been awakened in the early morning by her own anxiety. Hours had been spent watching Adora sleep, cataloguing all of her features and beauty marks while constantly being bombarded by a voice in the back of her own head reminding Catra that she'd never deserve her. Even if Adora picks no one, Catra would never be good enough to keep her.

Lonnie roughly reaches under Catra’s armpits and yanks her up until she’s standing again.

“You know I didn’t hear a word of that, right? You mumbled it all right into the floor.”

Catra lowers her shoulders in defeat. There's no way she's doing that again, and definitely not to Lonnie's face.

But the other bartender throws her a bone. “Go on. Those glasses ain’t gonna wash themselves.”

She shoves Catra towards the bar and gives her a way too hard slap on the back.

They manage to work in a pretty companionable silence for a while, Lonnie making the occasional random statement at perfect moments, somehow able to tell when Catra’s falling into a spiral in her own head each time.

“Kyle was thinking of getting into cross-stitch. Anything you want him to put on a pillow for you?”

“Cardi quotes,” Catra replies, shaking herself from thoughts of meeting Adora’s parents and them immediately convincing their daughter to break up with her.

“I don't cook, I don't clean, but let me tell you, I got this ring?” Lonnie recites. With a smirk, she adds, “Would make a good congratulations present for you in a couple months.”

Catra scowls at the joke and at the impossible-sounding idea of rings. “Pussy so good, I say my own name during sex,” she suggests instead.

“Neither of those will fit on a pillow, just so you know,” Spinny tells them as she sets three empty glasses down on the table. “Maybe try ‘racks stack up Shaq height’?”

Lonnie goes to make a second round as Catra stares neutrally at Spinny, refusing to be impressed that the old girl still knows some bangers.

“I’m young and I’m heartless,” Catra quotes back, picking the dirty glasses up and taking them to be rinsed. “I think that’s the winner. I expect my pillow in 3-5 business days.”

She tries to ignore the not-at-all covert look that passes between Spinnerella and Lonnie, both frowning. 

“My love,” Spinny calls softly, scooting further down the bar to be closer to her, “I’m sure you’ll say you don’t want to talk about it-”

Catra interrupts, “And yet you’re gonna try to make me.”

“I don’t think anyone can make you of all people do anything.” She shakes her head softly like the idea is so ridiculous. “You barely listen to yourself half the time,” Spinny mutters quietly.

“There’s nothing to talk about. Nothing’s happening.”

Spinnerella leans her elbows on the bar, long thick purple hair falling over her shoulder and framing her face softly. The look she gives Catra is so gentle that the Magicat has to move her eyes to the sink and pretend to be very focused on this incredibly simple task.


“I know Netossa and Lonnie have already told you everything anyway.”

“You really like her,” Spinny says quietly.

Around the lump in her throat, Catra tries to swallow and nearly fucking chokes. Gods, this job sucks. Everyone’s so godsdamn caring.

“I’ve liked lots of girls,” Catra replies. 

She hears Spinnerella softly sigh. “I know. You used to be so sweet with them.”

“I was not!”

“You used to bring the new love of your life around every few months, so excited to show them off but pretending to be all tough and not care.” Spinnerella pretends to glower, doing an impression of Catra that would be an immediate death sentence for anyone else. Spinny’s earned a free pass though. She did help weed out a lot of the scumbags Catra had dated, after all.

“Don’t tell me you long for the days when I was convinced I could make a home in every toilet person I picked up at last call,” Catra deadpans.

“I long for the days when that vibrancy that hides inside of you shined a little brighter. When you used to have more will to fight to keep the bad times away.” 

Catra swears she must have gotten some detergent or something in her eyes because she can feel them welling up.

Too tenderly, like raising her voice might blow Catra right away, Spinny continues, “These past few years, you’d lost that. Or rather, you gave it away like you were afraid of having it taken from you instead. Lately, you've seemed more like your younger self. Excited. Trying. ” 

A pale hand slowly crawls across the bar, reaching out. Not even thinking about how her own are covered in soapy water, Catra reaches back automatically until Spinny is lightly grasping her fingers.

“How do I help you keep that?”

Fuck if Catra knows. A time machine maybe? A year’s supply of cognitive behavioral therapy? An Eternal Sunshine-style mindwipe?

She can see Lonnie out of the corner of her eye, watching the ice melt in the drinks and trying to pretend as if she isn’t listening.

Catra pulls her hand back quickly, hoping to hell her voice doesn’t shake when she opens her mouth. “I don’t know what you mean.”

Spinnerella smiles in a sad way that makes Catra’s insides hurt. “Well, we’ll be here when you do.”



Any chance you considered Tuesday more?

don’t think i’m up for it
feeling a little sick

Oh no
Hope you’re okay
Do you need me to bring anything over?

nah, i’ll be fine
it’s just catritis

So I googled that
I’m pretty sure your roommate wrote this wiki entry

After being called out, Catra refuses to respond and risk confirming anything. 

On Tuesday, all she ends up doing is making mini-pizzas with Entrapta and lying on the couch with Melog. For a while, she considers breaking bottles in the alley behind the house but that would involve standing so...nah. 

She’s off on Wednesday too, a fact that thankfully Adora isn’t aware of. When Catra foolishly mentions reconsidering the bottle breaking in the Horde group chat, Rogelio rushes over with Kyle. 

“That wasn’t a cry for help, just so you know,” she explains from her spot on the floor. 

It’s hot and Entrapta’s super powered air conditioning contraption isn’t working hard enough so Catra’s made a huge nest on the living room floor. Heat rises or something, she explains to herself. Everyone has to tiptoe around the pile of pillows and blankets since she isn’t unfurling from the ball that she and Melog have rolled into. Catra’s bent nearly in half, arms wrapped around her knees with her head hidden in the pile of limbs. Melog is trapped in there somewhere, after they’d slinked over and joined in.

Rogelio grunts back.

“I did not cry,” she argues. Fucking Lonnie.

He just continues on, having gotten the complete wrong story from his girlfriend. For a mostly silent person, he’s such a godsdamn gossip.

Meanwhile, Kyle busies himself with putting together some kind of dinner from whatever’s in the fridge. Rogelio’s in the middle of a fucking dissertation on his opinion of this whole Adora/Catra situation when Kyle returns with some random beers and reheated pizza.

Anyone else would sit on the couch next to Rogelio.

Kyle places the plate on the floor near Catra’s head and lies down beside her.

“Ro’s been going on and on about this for weeks,” he whispers. He doesn’t roll his eyes – he’s too nice to do that, which ugh – but Kyle grins as if he’d like to.

“How do I make him stop?” she whispers back.

“Just eat some food.” He pushes the plate closer to her.

Rogelio finally nears the end of his diatribe on how Catra should be more open or something. He was getting overly poetic towards the end and she just had to tune it out.

“What do you lugs want to do tonight?” she asks instead of acknowledging any of Ro’s blabbering.

The other two exchange a look.

“We’re okay just lying around with Ball Catra,” Kyle answers.

Rogelio voices his agreement but makes sure to ask Kyle to give her a hand.

“I’m just fine down here thanks,” Catra says sarcastically.

She hears the plate move closer and before she can decline again, Kyle manages to locate her head and wave a small piece of pizza in front of it. Reluctantly, she lets him feed her a few bites.

“Hey,” Catra softly grumbles between bites. “You want to write some songs with me?”

Kyle breaks into a wide, excited smile. But he calms himself enough to throw her a fake-casual, “Yeah, that sounds cool.”

“Cool,” she repeats. “I’m not getting out of this ball.”

“I think the acoustics are great in there,” Kyle jokes as Rogelio rushes to grab some paper and some equipment, she imagines.

They end up playing around and occasionally jamming – a phrase that Catra would never admit she used – more than getting any writing done but it’s the kind of distraction that she could use for a few hours. Entrapta pops out of her room once or twice, the first time scaring the living shit out of Kyle, who’d forgotten she was there.

By the time 2am rolls around, and she’s alone in her bed, Catra’s exhausted and wrung out from the past couple days. And yet. All she can think about is how much she’ll miss falling asleep with Adora wrapped around her.

i’m six blocks away


did you change your mind?

Adora’s basically half-conscious when she opens the door. Doesn’t look like she changed her mind at least. She’s not in pajamas, just a very rumbled tshirt and shorts, ponytail a complete mess.

“You fell asleep?” Catra asks.

Around a yawn, the blonde replies, “I was watching tv. Just nodded off for a minute.”

She opens the door wider to let Catra in but doesn't let the Magicat pass until Adora's given her a brief, very casual kiss on the lips. It's so thoughtless and automatic that it makes Catra think of how Netossa and Spinnerella are with each other.

Catra had made it less than 48 hours away from Adora. Before her Thursday night shift was barely started, she'd already reached out to say she'd be coming over later.

The Adora who responded eagerly does not resemble this barely put together mess that's half-asleep on her feet. All of the lights are on and Catra can hear the TV playing a saxophone-backed gunfight from one of her favorite action b-movies in the living room. In front of her, Adora rubs her barely-open eyes with her fists like a baby. It's the cutest fucking thing Catra's ever seen. She sniffs haughtily to keep herself from cooing.

“Flattered you didn't bother waiting up,” she sarcastically says.

Adora shrugs, looking like she doesn't really have enough energy for the motion.

“I didn't get a lot of sleep last night.” It sounds like she adds, “I missed you,” but she's yawning again so Catra allows herself to pretend it was a trick of the mind.

With a sigh, Catra tells her, “Go get in bed, dummy.” 

She doesn't wait for a response before pushing Adora down the hall. Then Catra rushes around, making sure all lights and electronics are off and that Swift Wind is already asleep in his own bed. Well, one of his beds, the plaid one in the living room. The spoiled brat seems to have a plush place to sleep in every room of the apartment. Catra is certainly not jealous about that.

Getting to the bedroom, Catra sees that Adora’s managed to tug her shorts off. It looks like part-way through removing her shirt, the goober sat down on the bed and promptly passed back out.

Being able to move stealthily around the room helps Catra get the rest of Adora's clothes off but doesn't do much when she's trying to lift up all this dead weight to get her bra off.

“A little help maybe?” she grumbles.

Still snoring somehow, Adora strips down the rest of the way and dives under the covers. It doesn't seem possible but Catra doesn't question it as she undresses herself.

She should go home. Sex is clearly not happening tonight. There’s no good reason to stay here.

Adora whines, reaching over to pull at Catra’s leg.

“I'm in the middle of my whole brooding thing,” Catra hisses. “You’re not being very considerate.” She finishes up and leaps over the unconscious lump to snuggle into the right side of the bed.

Adora's taking up more than half the mattress, stretched out on her stomach. Catra quietly complains just in case she's still secretly listening, with some grumbles about personal space and being inconvenienced. 

Careful not to wake her, since it's Catra's fault that neither of them has slept well, she nuzzles into Adora's side, half-sprawling herself across the blonde's back, an arm and a leg both thrown over her.

The human whines again, pulling on Catra’s hand harder until she's stretched out even further, limbs all askew as they try to remain touching in as many places as possible. That must finally satisfy her cause Adora sighs happily and manages to settle down enough to start breathing deeply again. 

“Sorry about tonight,” she mutters. 

Catra shushes her. “Just get some sleep, babe.”

Adora sounds like she's trying to get out some more words but Catra's lips against the back of her neck shut her up. She leans in there for a while, drowning in Adora's scent and the feel of their bare bodies pressed together. With a soft purr, her hands begin to gently knead against the soft skin of Adora’s back and shoulder until Catra feels herself drift off to sleep.

Chapter Text

Catra's still purring when she wakes up. She can't even pretend to be pissed about it, her face buried into what she imagines is Adora's shoulder as her hands unconsciously knead into the girl's toned stomach. Adora’s arms are wrapped firmly around her back and waist. There’s a swishing sound from the sheet covering both of them as her tail swings back and forth underneath it.

“My Catra-sized blanket is awake,” she hears before a kiss is pressed against her ear.

Becoming a bit more aware of her surroundings, Catra does indeed seem to be lying across Adora's chest, the opposite of how they went to sleep. Catra doesn't even remember waking up to move.

Or at all. She...slept through the night. Huh.

“What time is it?” Catra manages to choke out, mouth feeling completely dry. That probably means she was snoring right in Adora’s cute face. It’s only extremely mortifying.

“12:30,” Adora replies all casual. 

Catra shoots awake, rising up to look at her. Adora’s strangely calm for someone who usually likes to be up and out before it's too late.

“Why aren't you up? Are you sick?”

“Maybe Catritis is contagious,” Adora answers with a smirk. “Thought we could both use the rest. I already walked Swifty and ate some granola. I was gonna see if you wanted breakfast but you were making grabby hands at me so I just came back to bed.”

Content that they don't have to rush, Catra lies back down and relaxes. She does some light stretching, in an attempt to get comfortable.

You can't really stretch with another person though, not without a plan or intention or gym mat. Catra ends up pushing her hips further into Adora's as she arches her back. Pushing her tits into Adora's face as she tugs her arms over her head. Straddling Adora's thigh as she... actually, there's no excuse for that one but she caught the way the blonde was staring, tongue falling out of her mouth, and faked a move just to tease.

“Do you do that routine every morning? I've never noticed it before.” Adora's eyes are already darkening, going half-lidded.

“Maybe you weren't paying attention,” Catra returns with a shrug.

“It would be hard to look away from. Trust me.”

Adora's voice is low and throaty and Catra has to drop her face into the human's chest to hide how turned on she is.

Morning sex is the best. You're all comfy and horny. While Catra is 100% justified for rushing out after every time they've fucked, it's really a shame that she hasn't been able to stick around for morning sex. (She's choosing to ignore that it's technically afternoon sex at this point.) Being held while Adora absolutely destroys her pussy is literally the only thing she wants in life.

“Oh,” Adora whispers as Catra's hips roll into her thigh. “Hello.”

“Hey, Adora,” she whispers back. “Any plans today?”

The blonde lets her hands drift down towards Catra's ass, grabbing greedily. 

“Fucking you until you collapse?” She pulls Catra into a quick, searing kiss that's completely at odds with what she pulls back to add. “Then ratatouille with Bow and Glimmer. Will you come with me?”

“The food or the movie?” Catra catches herself. “Nevermind. Let's focus on your first task.”

When Catra rolls her hips once more and lets a very quiet yet very needy sound slip out of her throat, Adora kisses her again before rocking her leg between each of Catra's.

“You got naked again after your walk?” the Magicat asks. She hadn't been thinking clear enough to process it before but this was a perfect time for her brain to conjure up all sorts of derailing tactics.

Adora chuckles briefly to herself. “I should probably say something sexy. But honestly... I just love feeling you next to me when we sleep.”

Well, that seals the deal. Catra flips them quickly so Adora's on top, ignoring the surprised sound the dummy makes. She pulls Adora until her weight is a warm, comfort bearing down on her. With a content sigh, Catra makes a small pocket of space between them so she can grab Adora's hand and place it between her legs.

Adora groans at the first touch, closing her eyes tight for a moment. When they reopen, she maneuvers so that her left forearm is under Catra's head, pulling them even closer.

“You’re so fucking wet,” Adora whispers, sounding almost pained. “Looks like I have a lot to make up for since I didn't take care of you last night.”

She doesn't wait for whatever stuttering nonsense would have likely come out of Catra's mouth. Adora begins immediately dipping two fingers lightly into Catra's entrance and slowly dragging moisture up to her clit. 

The movement is unhurried and methodical, the kind of attention that Catra's body is crying out for. Really, she's so turned on that Adora's fingers are bringing as much relief as they are agony.

“Do you-” Catra begins. Then she has to snap her mouth shut quickly as the idea of what she's about to ask for almost makes her cum. Not a promising start!

Adora's hand slows even further. “What do you need?” 

“I don't hate what you're doing…”

“Which in Catra-speak means you like it,” Adora translates as she rolls her eyes.

The Magicat huffs at being exposed like that. “Do you have any toys?”

Catra’s always more open and needy in the morning. Maybe her brain’s not fully online yet. But there's a way she wants Adora right now – a very specific way – that has the potential to make her very vulnerable. ‘Toys’ is about the closest she could get to it directly.

“I'll have to move for a minute.”

Reluctantly, Catra untwines herself from the body on top of her. 

Adora's too perfect. Seemingly understanding Catra’s need for uninterrupted closeness, she intertwines their hands as she gets out of bed and pops below it to pull out a box. It looks like an organizer you'd get at the Container Store, blue with white polka dots and a little space to put a label for what's inside.

“This is where you keep your toys?” Catra tries to keep the mockery out of her voice since Adora's doing this for her or whatever.

“Where do you keep yours?” Adora challenges.

The truth is ‘wherever they land.’

So Catra answers, “Don't you worry about that. Somewhere safe.”

“I found a vibrator on the floor next to my socks last time I slept over so…”

Adora pulls the lid off instead of continuing to prove her undisputed point. Unsurprisingly, she's gathered an assortment of items that scream that she's overprepared. A couple different fancy-looking lubes, a shiny bullet vibe, a larger not very interesting (to Catra at least) vibrator, a fucking hot white leather harness, a pair of rainbow briefs that she imagines are also for packing, and three different cocks. 

Catra feels kinda like Goldilocks staring at them. One's more on the “realistic” side with the texture and feel of skin, and it’s way too long. Not knocking it but it’s not for her. The second is jet black and would be fine but it's just not calling to her today. The third is fucking perfect. It's gold, short and stout, with a nice curve upwards.

Almost hypnotized by it, Catra picks the gold cock up and gives it a once-over with her eyes. The base has a little nub for the wearer. Yeah, this is just right. It's gonna look fucking hot on Adora.

“That's the one?” she asks and Catra nods quickly.

Adora takes a seat on the bed next to her, making sure they're touching hip-to-hip. She's already smiling confidently and Catra can't stand it. The fur between her thighs starts to feel impossibly wetter.

With a question in her raised brows, the blonde holds up the leather harness. As soon as Catra nods again, Adora begins prepping quickly. She gives Catra's hand a reassuring squeeze before letting it go.

In the strap, with her big excited eyes and dumb sexy smirk, Adora's pretty much the most attractive thing Catra's ever seen. 

“Anything definitely on the table? Or definitely off?”

Catra has to pause speaking until she's sure that she's not gonna blurt out a declaration of her undying love.

“Uh, ahem.” She swallows thickly, and when she opens her mouth again, she sounds a bit more like herself. “You can be a little rough. Call me whatever. I’ll tell you if it’s too much.”

Adora throws the box on the floor and kneels on the bed, not breaking eye contact at all. Catra feels pinned there under the intensity of her stare.

“Slow? And deep?” Adora asks. Her eyes are sure but her hand twitching against the strap gives her nervousness away.

Nodding, Catra reaches up to pull her closer. Once Adora’s back in her rightful place, completely covering the woman underneath her, the two of them meet in a long, unrushed kiss. Adora’s taking her time running her tongue around Catra’s mouth, teasing and driving her out of her fucking mind. Everytime Catra tries to speed up, Adora uses her hips to keep the Magicat trapped on the mattress and nips at her bottom lip as a warning.

By the time Catra’s nearly ready to scream in frustration, Adora’s only allowed her hands to begin moving down towards her neck. Thank the Gods for lightning fast reflexes though; as soon as Adora shifts to take a nipple into her mouth, Catra raises her hips and lines the cock up just right. She lets gravity do the rest until the tip of the strap is inside her, the shaft slowly sinking into her pussy.

The fullness makes her gasp loudly, tugging at Adora’s hair to convince her to bite down harder. Catra can feel the base and the harness pushing against her clit. It’s literally everything she wanted and more. Moving to wrap her arms and legs around the blonde, Catra melts right into the mattress.

Adora pulls back to check. “Is this okay?” Her face reads sweet and innocent but she’s holding in a smirk. 

“Fuck you,” Catra gasps again. Every place where her fur is touching Adora feels like it’s more alive than ever. She’s helplessly full and open. Adora twisting the knife to be a smartass is much more than she can stand right now.

The blonde just chuckles. Taking hold of Catra's hips, she starts a very deliberate rhythm, slow and deep, just like she promised. Push in, pull halfway out, and repeat. Adora bites her own lip, examining Catra’s face and movements carefully.

Catra blushes under the attention. This is the kind of vulnerability she was worried about, being at the apex of so much care and consideration at once. Every inch of the strap is heaven as she begins tilting her hips to meet Adora’s thrusts, greedily trying to take it all. Catra wants both of them to feel it each time the strap is buried to the hilt in her.

That must work – must make sure the little nub on the inside is hitting just right – cause Adora groans, dropping her forehead to Catra's. It's a fucking anchor. Catra's not sure if one or both of them might just float away right now without that.

“You're so beautiful,” Adora whispers, slightly winded but not breaking her stride. “Taking it so well.”

Someone whimpers. Catra tries to glare at Adora, get her to take blame for that way too revealing sound but the angle's not right. So close, all she can see are bright blue (though, pretty fucking dark right now) eyes, earnest and kind and brimming with love.

Catra's the first to look away, unable to stand how her heart seizes and her stomach feels like someone's kung fu fighting in there.

Adora just keeps going. “You're everything. You're so perfect.”

And, Gods, if Catra thought the whimper was too much, the fucking needy whine that escapes her is mortifying.

Adora just shushes her. Kisses trail down her face and to her neck.

Right when Catra doesn't think she can handle anymore of Adora making her feel so soft, the blonde shifts. Her hands reach up and join together under Catra's head, thumbs falling against her throat.

Adora's eyes are questioning and Catra nods eagerly.

“Green,” comes out hoarsely. 

Adora doesn't push too much. Her fingers just linger there on the Magicat's throat, reminding Catra of the power they have. Making her feel fragile yet safe in Adora's large hands.

The pace of the strap, smooth and steady, never falters.

Her orgasm comes as a complete shock. Catra doesn't even realize what's happening until her eyes roll back, taking her whole head with it, and Adora grips her neck harder to keep her in place, still trying to watch. Her claws are out, grasping desperately to Adora's back as she screams out her name. There's no threat of the blonde going anywhere but Catra's instincts are still to draw her in deeper and make sure that's true.

Adora must sense that. She leans as far into Catra as possible, ending her thrusts and holding there. It doesn't even matter how sweaty she is. This is worth the damp fur while Catra enjoys the aftershocks, pussy spasming and gripping on Adora’s strap.

They lay there for a long moment, just holding each other and catching their breath. Slowly, Catra stretches her muscles to brace for round 2. Instead, Adora begins pulling the strap out.

“Wait.” She hopes she doesn’t sound frantic, but it’s just…“You didn’t cum?”

Catra could have missed seeing it, busy having her mind fucking blown or whatever, but she’s pretty sure she would have heard it. Felt it.

Adora shrugs. “Nope, but that’s okay. I wanted to do this for you.”

“And I want you to finish. In me. Right now.”

An involuntary thrust draws another sharp gasp from her.

“Sorry,” Adora says, wincing. “I just…” As she trails off, her hands reach down to cup Catra’s face gently. Reverently almost. Adora stares at her eyes, at all her features, like she’s trying to capture this image and save it.

And then Catra ruins the moment by reaching down and lightly digging her claws into the blonde’s luscious ass. Like a livewire, Adora’s hips spring back to life, thrusting the strap in and out hard.

“Can I go faster?”

Catra has to choke out through clenched teeth, “Whatever you need.” 

Her knees get lifted, jerked up and then pushed back as Adora pins them to the bed. With Catra completely wide open, the strap flies into her even faster. From this angle, it’s catching that spot inside that makes her tingle over and over.

That’s...fuck, this is just. “The best,” Catra hears herself mumble a few times.

“Yeah?” Adora’s starting to actually get winded, getting even sweatier. There’s something almost primal about the look in her eyes that makes Catra’s absolutely delighted and even more aroused. “Do I make you feel good?”

Her tail weaves around one of the hands keeping a tight grip on her legs. Claws dig into those strong shoulders.

“Tell me,” Adora says. She’s probably going for ‘commanding’ but she must be so close to cumming that she can taste it. Her voice comes out a lot more pleading.

Ugh, talking. Adora loves talking so much. But Catra lo-lik-... wants Adora to cum and she always ends up being mouthy in bed anyway. That’s usually giving orders, not the genuine praise and affection that the blonde craves.

Catra heaves a reluctant sigh that sounds curiously like a moan.

“So good,” she agrees. It’s kinda hard to speak until she realizes that her face is wrenched, eyes half-closing and mouth in a tight circle. “Fuck, I came so hard. You’re so hot and so strong. I want to watch you cum so bad.”

The pace picks up til it’s almost punishing. There’s no way Catra’s not gonna be walking a little gingerly through tonight’s shift.

“Just like that!” she moans. “Use me, Adora. Make yourself cum. Fucking ruin me.”

When Adora begins grunting with the effort she’s putting in, Catra forces herself to reopen her eyes fully. Adora’s focus is everywhere, rushing to stare at Catra, her body, the strap going in and out, her ears, tracking all of her reactions. It’s weird to feel actually seen and desired, like she hasn’t before. 

Well, fuck. That’s too much. Against her will, Catra’s back arches as she feels herself tightening around the strap again.

And then she’s just completely gone, saying all sorts of shit. How much she wants Adora. How she's a fucking mess for Adora. How much she needs Adora.

Adora sounds just as desperate when she asks, “You're my slutty little kitten, aren’t you?”

The groan Catra releases is so deep and loud that Adora’s hips pause for just a moment, probably worried she went too far. They hadn’t actually ever specified what names Catra wanted to be called. Points to Adora for getting it right on the first try though. It’s the sexiest phrase Catra’s ever heard in her damn life and she’s only a little embarrassed with how it pushes her closer to the edge.

“Fuck. Yes! I'm your slutty little kitten.” So close. So godsdamn close. Adora picks up speed yet again, completely plowing into her, and soon, there’s no way to stop the next three words on Catra’s lips as lightning explodes inside her,  “Adora, I'm yours.”  

With one last plunge into Catra, Adora stills, crying out her name. The Magicat hardly notices as pleasure surges through her, her body, her blood, like an electric shock. It just keeps coming in waves, crashing into her and pulling Catra under each time she thinks it’s passed.

It doesn’t really end until Adora collapses on top of her, still quivering slightly. Somehow the blonde conjures the strength to remove the strap. Catra doesn’t even have time to whine again before Adora’s back and covering her with her body again, wrapping Catra up tightly.

She’s calm and spent, face shoved into Adora’s shoulder to conceal her goofy, blissed out grin. And the drool. Catra may have drooled just a little as she was getting fucked senseless. There’s definitely no hiding the bed-rumbling purr coming from her, though.

“Hmm,” Adora hums lazily. “I love when I make you happy.”

She leans down to rub her cheek against Catra’s throat and chest, apparently trying to get closer to the thundering sound. Unknowingly, at least Catra thinks, marking her scent all over the Magicat. Like Catra’s hers. That’s what she had said, she's pretty sure, though her brain is too much like jelly to fully process. That she was Adora’s.

The purr stutters then stops. Catra's body smartly routes all functions to just trying to keep her breathing steadily.

She's Adora's? What the fuck is she thinking? They've got less than two weeks of this left and Catra is just making this harder on herself. Tricking herself into thinking this is a real relationship. Adora has an actual life and probably an actual relationship to get back to. Not one where she stays up all night with Catra playing pretend girlfriend.

“What's wrong?” Adora asks in a voice that threatens to rip Catra's heart in half. So fucking earnest and reassuring.

“Nothing,” Catra mumbles back. It sounds watery to her but maybe Adora's too cum-drunk to notice.

The blonde shuffles to see her face before taking it into her hands again. “Why are you crying?”

‘Why don't you love me?’ Catra thinks but a swirling of voices in her own head answers that.

“It was just intense,” she manages to say. It's not a complete lie. Multiple things can be true at once, okay?

Adora kisses her. Her lips, yes, but also literally kisses away Catra’s tears, the corniest move she could possibly pull right now. 

“It’s okay. You’re safe with me. Let it out.”

Catra just cries more.

Until she feels tears falling on her already-damp face from above.

“Why are you crying, dummy?”

Eyes red and wet, Adora laughs. “I don’t know!” She smiles into the next kiss. “I just like you so so much. I don't even know what to do with it sometimes.”

Catra can’t quite capture how that makes her feel. A lot better. A lot worse. Horrible and elated and doomed.

She holds Adora tighter, crying like two idiots.

When Adora wakes her again, it’s almost 4pm. She’s made sandwiches, thank the Gods, and Catra swallows a couple whole while texting Netossa that she’s running late.

Busy playing house?
I’ll let it slide since this is your first offense

i’m late all the time
i’ll be there in less than an hour

You’re always on time
Early even
Stop playing tough, sweet kitten

on second thought i quit
this will be the last time we talk
so if you’d like to apologize for anything
this is your chance

I wish you WOULD be more than a hour late
Just fucking try me
Let’s see what happens

Catra rolls her eyes at the threat...and then jumps out of bed to start gathering her clothes from the floor quickly.

“Don’t you want to take a shower?” Adora asks, mouth full of sandwich. “We don’t smell great.”

She doesn’t even know. She has no idea how Catra reeks of Adora’s scent and sweat. Even knowing how dumb it is, Catra’s reluctant to wash it off.

Also, showers suck.

“Nope.” Catra considers whether or not it’s worth it to rewear dirty underwear.

“Come on,” Adora says. “I bought the same shampoo and conditioner that you use for your fur. And a better blow dryer and an extra toothbrush.”

Catra moves to glance into the en-suite. She hadn't noticed when she stumbled in uncoordinated and half-conscious earlier after being dicked down so thoroughly, but the vanity shelves are covered in all new products and essentials. It almost looks like a hers and hers bathroom. 

“Fine,” Catra huffs, forcing the corners of her mouth down. It’s nice to be considered. Or something. “Go prep whatever weird surprise you’ve got planned and I’ll be there in a minute.”


Adora jumps up, abandoning the rest of her food and pulling Catra into a hug. She’s barely wanted to be more than a couple inches away since they woke up. Catra had to beg for Adora to stop making mooney eyes at her and eat her lunch.

Once she disappears into the bathroom, Catra makes her move. She has to rush all the way out to the living room silently, avoiding Swift Wind, to grab the gift box from her backpack. In the closet though, Catra doesn’t actually know what the fuck she’s looking for. She’s not even there to steal anything, sadly.

Adora seems like the type of dork who lays her outfits out early but maybe 3 days in advance was too much to expect. Everything is so meticulously organized. There’s a ton of super boring work clothes – slacks and oxford shirts – that she hopes look much better on Adora than they do color-coded on their hangers.

Except! There’s a cherry red, sleeveless dress shoved between two suits, a grey linen and a boring dark blue one. The dress is hot. Catra’s never seen Adora in a dress. Oh, the possibilities.

She just goes ahead and chooses a suit. The grey one. It’s cuter.

“What are you doing?” Adora asks, suddenly behind her. 

Catra glances over and the blonde is hovering in the doorway.

“Stealing,” Catra answers automatically. Implicating herself in a crime is much better than the truth.

“What’s in your hand then?”

“Nothing.” If she wasn’t naked, maybe she’d have somewhere to hide the tiny silver box.

Catra may have actually bought the lapel pin that Glimmer had shared with her. It’s pretty much the most patient and amazing thing she’s ever done. The store was some hipster bullshit. Lonnie had planned to meet up with her that day and Catra wasn’t changing course to accommodate her. Once they were inside the shop, two different people asked if either of them could help them find something in their size. When Lonnie’s “We don’t work here” didn’t have any effect, Catra’s “Bitch, we’re here to shop too. Back the fuck up,” was pretty clear at getting the point across.

“What’s that?” Adora asks again.

She pries it out of Catra’s hands before waiting for an answer. Of course, her gorgeous face fucking lights up when she sees what’s inside.

“How did you know?!” she squeals.

Catra shrugs, not wanting to implicate Sparkles. “Lucky guess. Matches your tattoo.” 

The pin is ridiculous and fitting – a tiny gold sword, similar to the palm-sized art she noticed on the back of Adora’s tone shoulder. Catra's going through all this torment from a dorky sword lesbian. How embarrassing.

“I love it,” Adora gushes. “The producers have spent so much time trying to convince me to wear more dresses. Guess that’s supposed to make me more palatable to audiences. I didn’t want to fight but. This is a sign, Cat.”

Catra plans on blocking half of those words out of her memory so she just says, “Wear the grey one. It’ll look good with your eyes.”

Adora takes a long look at the grey linen one, something that would be boring and stuffy on anyone else. Without trying to make a big deal out of it, Catra picks up a thin white button-up with blue stripes and tosses it at the blonde. It'll be a cute look.

“Thank you,” Adora sings. “I told you you were a secret sweetheart.”

The blonde expresses the rest of her gratitude in the shower, pampering Catra’s fur (and giving some grade-A head that actually makes bath time enjoyable for once.) Catra’s only 15 minutes late(r) to work, still high on Adora and orgasms and the bizarre realization buzzing at the back of her brain. Netossa doesn’t say anything though, when she takes one look at the Magicat’s shell-shocked face and immediately the truth comes blurting out for the first time.

“I’m in love with that idiot.”

Chapter Text

“Erelandia?!” Adora tries to whisper. She doesn’t think she’s successful by the way Mara slightly winces. “For real?”

It's a small town. Like, small small. Tinier than Mystacor even, without the water or the boardwalk or the charm. 

“These cute local town dates are the best,” Mara tells her.

“But they’re usually on the other side of Etheria, in some amazing destination. Not just down the highway.”

Mara rolls her eyes. “It’s 500 miles and we’re taking a plane.”

“Sorry, I don’t want to sound like a snob or anything,” Adora says. “Just like...what are we supposed to do there?”

Erelandia is renowned for exactly nothing.

Sounding weirdly robotic, Mara tells her, “There’s a lovely and quaint Main Street that has lots of nice shops and restaurants. The market is supposed to be really-“

“So Erelandia’s tourism association paid for this and there’s no way Hope was passing up a free trip,” Adora interrupts. 

She can’t help sighing. Between the debacle with Flutterina and the lack of drama lately, Hope’s been even icier than usual. She barely makes eye contact unless it’s to shoot a disappointed glare at Adora.

It’s even more awkward when Adora’s forced to be in a room with Hope and Mara at the same time. They remind her of her parents in a weird way, Mara trying to act like everything’s okay and move past the conflict while Hope emanates disapproval without saying a single word.

“Okay,” Adora says after a beat. “Erelandia. We’ll make the most of it.”

“Great,” Mara replies but the perfect smile she gives doesn’t meet her eyes. “Just keep an open mind and try to have fun on your dates.”

When Mara turns to leave Adora’s room, the blonde is pretty sure she hears the host mumble, “Now what the fuck am I supposed to do in godsdamn Erelandia?!”


The plane that couriers them to Erelandia is so tiny that they can’t even fit all 6 of the contestants, the crew, and their gear on it; some production folks have to be bumped to a later flight on an even tinier plane. When turbulence hits and the damn thing swoops in the air, feeling like it’s gonna buckle and break in half, Perfuma’s voice cuts through the screams to let everyone know they’ll be fine before leading them into a deep breathing exercise. 

It also helps that she reminds everyone of Adora’s experience with jumping out of planes. Particularly the part where she landed face first. Starla, seated next to Adora and holding onto her arm for dear life, is even able to laugh at that. 

According to Starla, everyone did an admirable job of pretending to cheer when Mara announced their trip. Except Mermista, who suggested they all go on strike until this grievance was corrected.

Somehow, they must have tricked Mermista into coming and more or less behaving. Seated across the aisle from them, she continues to sulk but shoves a glass of champagne into Starla’s hand.

“Chug this,” Mermista orders.

Starla follows without question. She’s mentioned to Adora that she and Mermista have gotten a lot closer lately, now that the latter is starting to open up more. Starla seems to trust her implicitly.

When Starla’s unconscious 15 minutes later, Adora realizes that was a mistake.

“Did you, uh... slip her something?” Adora whispers. This feels like an extreme tactic to get more time with her. This would certainly impact Adora's opinion of Mermista and their long-term viability as a couple.

“She asked me for an anxiety helper,” Mermista shrugs. “Her family only travels by bus or some shit, like a band of hippies.”

“I think sharing meds is against the rules.” Everyone had outlined the guidelines on prescription drugs, sharing pills, and overindulging in booze, and mixing any combination of those three was an automatic flight home.

“Exactly. I don’t know how half a xanie ended up in that champagne and production can’t prove a thing cause their little cameras aren’t running.” 

Adora watches as Mermista chugs her own glass before whipping an eye mask out of her bag. Of course, Adora packed her own sleep mask but it was a gift from Bow. Which is to say, it’s supposed to look like a unicorn with its eyes closed and she won’t be wearing it for any of the shared flights.

“Hey,” Adora softly calls, untwining Starla from her shoulder. The girl’s head lolls back against her seat, mouth falling open as she begins snoring. “You’re not nervous about this plane?”

“You ever flown to the Kingdom of Snows?” Mermista asks, arching an eyebrow. When Adora shakes her head, cause there’s basically nothing up there except icy outback, Mermista just smirks. “Try being in a helicopter only big enough for 3 people and landing on a frozen lake. A tiny deathtrap to Erelandia with a little wind is a piece of cake.”

“Kingdom of Snows – family vacation?” Adora hopes against hope.

“Worst second date ever.” Under her breath, Mermista derisively adds, “Fucking hockey players.”

Adora’s about to ask a follow-up question – so many follow-up questions really – but she’s cut off by someone singing.

“Oh, Mermiiiiiiistaaaaaa.”

As she seems to do everytime Adora watches these two interact, Mermista mumbles, “And this fucking guy….”

Sea Hawk strolls down the aisle, completely ignoring the flight attendant’s warning to remain seated during the turbulence. He props himself against the seat in front of Mermista, blocking Adora’s view of her.

“Hawk,” Mermista says sharply. “I’m busy right now. Remember what we talked about?”

“Yes, of course,” he answers quickly but his tone is deeply unsure. Nervously, he rubs his hands against his jeans. “I just wanted to say hello to you...and-and Scorpia and Adora, of course.”

Scorpia, seated next to Mermista, finally looks up from the book she’s been studiously reading ever since the van picked them up from the house. The bright yellow and green cover says ‘Plant Magic: Herbalism in Real Life.’ Perfuma, Adora had noticed, was reading a very dry-looking tome on architecture. So. They’re exchanging interests now. That’s...great.

Anyway, once Scorpia sees Sea Hawk, her face brightens immediately. 

“Hawk!” For a second, Adora watches her nervously glance over at the bachelorette. “ nice of you to come say hi to me and, you know, everyone. All of us.”

Wanting to save them all from whatever awkward ruse they’ve concocted, Adora calls over, “Hey, Scorpia. Are you not a nervous flyer?”

“Oh, no way, buddy! I got my pilot’s license when I was 19,” Scorpia announces.

“Oooh, I didn’t know that,” Perfuma says, turning around to hang halfway over her seat and address Scorpia. They start up what sounds like a fascinating story about their upbringings. It would be nice to include Adora, she thinks, but she’s too far away to join in and they continue on together. Sea Hawk uses this opportunity to begin whispering to Mermista, who seems to reluctantly indulge him. 

In front of Adora, Emily is staring blankly at a spot in the distance, having apparently booted down for the day (a phrase Starla coined for how Emily just seems to slowly shut down like a computer). Rana’s clearly struggling not to be sick. Adora offers to help but just gets waved off. With a last glance at Starla’s snoring face, Adora gives up hope of interacting with anyone else, pulls her hood over her head, and tries to take a nap.


Just by being there, they’ve nearly doubled the population of Erelandia. The wi-fi is terrible so her e-reader struggles the entire first night. The tv only seems to be playing news, weather, and worship hours for that creepy Lord Prime cult. There’s no gay bar or nightlife. The liquor laws are bizarre and don’t allow for more than a couple ounces per person and none past 11pm. 

“Mara’s gonna hate it here,” Adora whispers to Oona, thinking of the host’s love of a good highball and hours spent reading about herself on Twitter. “When’s she getting in?”

“Their plane landed two days ago.”

Adora looks up suddenly from where her mic is being fixed. “Their?” she repeats.

“Don’t ask questions that you’re not ready for the answers for,” Oona warns.

The pieces start to come together slowly. “Hope didn’t fly with us either.”


“Nope, you’re right. Above my paygrade.” She tries to laugh to put Oona more at ease but it just comes out horribly awkward. So far, exactly one person around here has seemed to both be acting in Adora’s best interest and also know every single thing that happens.

She’ll just ask Mermista about it later.

It’s not a surprise when Mara appears to intro the group date looking already annoyed. Erelandia’s nestled high in the mountains, surrounded by woods. Everything has a vaguely doomsday prepper feel to it. Between the fresh air and the altitude, Mara looks a little green around the gills in her tan suit, long hair just a bit flatter than usual.

She launches into her typical spiel about how excited she is to have them all there in beautiful Erelandia. She only stumbles over the last words slightly. 

The date mostly consists of a cute outing to the market, a big open space with lots of local vendors from all of the surrounding towns. It’s shockingly bustling, a swarm of people poking at produce and textiles, while trying to pretend that they aren’t staring at the group of weirdos being followed by half a dozen cameras.

This is the last date before Adora meets everyone’s families but she’s got a pretty good idea of who she’s choosing. In a generous attempt to give Emily one more chance, Adora tries to pull her aside a couple times while everyone is sniffing cheeses and then listening to Perfuma explain flowers (as Scorpia asks a million questions.) Emily doesn’t bite a single time.

“She’s shy,” Starla explains in a whisper, watching Emily quietly wander away yet again.

‘Or deeply disinterested,’ Adora thinks. Emily had basically slipped through the cracks over the past few weeks since she caused absolutely no trouble. But this is when things get really serious and currently, Adora couldn’t name a single thing that she knew about the girl for sure. That made it basically impossible to imagine a future for the two of them.

“Come on,” Starla says, pulling her from her thoughts. “We spotted some alpacas over there.” Starla’s excitement is contagious and Adora eagerly follows her, hand in hand.

Adora gets spit on immediately so Rana’s out, sneering while she walks off. Starla sacrifices her scarf to help wipe the mess off of the blonde’s cheek, snickering quietly the whole time.

“Great,” Adora grumbles. “Another future meme.”

The others are kind enough to hide their smiles behind their hands. Perfuma looks Adora right in the eye to laugh at her.

“One of your best qualities is that you’re not afraid to put yourself out there,” she says. “If people want to make fun of that, who cares?”

Like an idiot, Adora goes back to pet the same alpaca and gets the same result. When everyone laughs loudly this time, she doesn’t feel so bad.

For the evening portion of the date, they’re all driven to a vineyard outside of the town limits.

“Thank the Gods cause I could use a drink after all this,” Rana whines.

During their time alone, Adora asks where Rana would like to be in the next five years.

“World’s youngest billionaire.”

“Oh. That’s...ambitious,” Adora replies.

“Well, my family has invested well,” Rana tells her with a bright smile.

“How will you manage that?”

“No, that’s what I have people for.” Her tone’s a bit condescending.

Adora finishes her wine. “What exactly do you do with your time then?”

Rana does a sweeping motion towards her body. “I’m like an ambassador for our investments. I just have to keep us in the public eye, make sure our image is maintained.”

The back of Adora’s neck feels a little itchy. She might have not really considered that Rana had any ulterior motives for being there; Adora kinda just thought she was a rich lesbian interested in meeting the nice girl she saw on tv. How deeply naive that was.

“As my wife, you’d join me for charity events and galas and openings.”

Adora smiles tightly and just nods. That doesn’t sound like her kind of thing. Also, Adora considers herself a reasonably ‘woke’ person so she firmly believes no one individual needs that much wealth when there’s so much suffering in the world. Seems like Rana isn't quite concerned about that.

Thankfully, Scorpia interrupts to get some one-on-one time.

“I cannot wait for you to meet my moms,” she gushes. “They’re going to love you.”

“I’m so excited to show you Plumeria,” Perfuma tells her later.

“I miss my siblings a lot,” Starla says when it’s her turn. Her legs are stretched across Adora’s lap, eyes a million miles away. “We're gonna have so much fun when you meet them.”

“Yeah? What's on the agenda?”

“That's usually up to Tallstar,” she replies. “I know we're supposed to do a short date together and then dinner with the family but they'll probably insist on an all-day activity. Just to make sure you can hang,” Starla teases.

She describes backpacking and sneaking into underground casinos and after-hours parties in abandoned buildings. Adora’s always up for an adventure, assuming it’s not too too wild.

Starla gets the group rose date. Adora leaves the others with promises to see them at the next rose ceremony. From here on out, there will be no need for more cocktail parties. Everyone stares at her with dread in their eyes, like their fates have already been sealed.


“Mermista, I'm ready to go deep,” the date card says.

“Why is it so suggestive?” Adora complains to Oona.

“You’re getting a massage.”

“It sounds like someone’s getting a lot more than that,” she mumbles.

Apparently, Erelandia has a reputation for its amazing spas. Adora could use the relaxation – Gods know she still doesn’t quite know how to do that – but she has a lot of reservations about this plan.

“I just want to talk to Mermista more. Can’t we do a bike ride or a picnic or something?”

“A spa is a great place to talk,” Oona answers absently. She’s more interested in going over whatever’s on her clipboard.

Adora huffs. “You don’t understand. I know we have chemistry so we don’t need one of these dates where we have an excuse to touch each other or get cozy. What I need to know is if we’re actually compatible as a couple before I meet her family.”

That makes Oona look up for the first time in the last several minutes. She frowns a bit while she thinks this over. Once it’s clear that Adora’s not backing down, Oona finally sighs.

“Fine, I’ll pull a couple of the activities.”

Adora fights the urge to pump her fist in the air in victory, since the cameras are still recording and there’s no need to add to the bank of embarrassing material that Adam’s going to build from the show. Oona steps away to jump on her walkie-talkie and begin arguing with someone. That makes Adora feel even better. Not only did she stand up for herself, but Oona’s pushing back on her behalf too. This is excellent.

Mermista steps out of the truck with a smirk already in place. It’s a little cooler in Erelandia compared to the perpetual beach weather in Eternia, and Mermista’s dressed for a nice spring day in a short-sleeved teal jumpsuit that looks soft and stretchy.

“You look amazing,” Adora tells her as they walk to meet in the middle. “Thanks for joining me on this date.”

“Took you long enough,” Mermista teases.

They share a short hug that has Adora heating up already, no matter how brief the contact is. Really, this just reaffirms her decision to curb some of the physical stuff for now.

They’re face-down on massage tables a few feet away from each other when Adora finally works up the nerve to talk about the serious stuff. The two large intense masseuses, who kinda remind Adora of her very intimidating former bowling crush, Huntara, continue to work in silence around them, rubbing the almost-couple down with surprising gentleness.

“So, hometowns…” is about as far as Adora gets before Mermista grunts.

“Don’t be afraid of my dad.”

“Uh...wh-why should I be afraid of him?”

“I just told you not to be,” Mermista responds. “He looks scary but he’s actually a big baby.”

“Oh. My dad’s kinda like that sometimes. Who else will I be meeting?”

“Ugh, my sister, Oceana, will be there.”

Adora smiles even though Mermista can’t see her. “Are you the oldest? You have an older sibling vibe.”

“Yeah, she’s 5 years younger. She’s a pain in my ass but she’s captain of the U of Salineas squad. They make it to nationals every year. Dad’s their coach.”

Adora’s never met a family so dedicated to cheerleading.

“We’ve never talked about what your plans are after you…” She trails off, not sure how to delicately finish this sentence.

“Get too old to be asked back next season?” Mermista adds for her. She doesn’t sound pissed about it, more like bitterly amused. “We’ve actually got a couple folks in their 30s but yeah, at some point, I have to think about the future. I help my dad out a lot. I’ll probably end up on his staff. I really like to choreograph.”

“You’d make a great coach, I bet.”

“Cause I don’t take any shit?” Mermista laughs.

Adora snorts at that. “Cause you’re smart and focused.” She hopes her smirk is audible when she adds, “And not too bad at motivational speeches.”

“Ha!” Mermista says sarcastically. “Is that what that was? Hope made it sound like I derailed your entire journey.”

Adora shoots up to a sitting position before realizing that everyone can totally see her tits. Jumping back down quickly, she covers herself again and mumbles an apology to the masseuse.

“You okay over there?” Mermista jokes.

“I’m fine. Sorry. I just can’t believe her.”

“Eh, can’t you? Besides, I’ve been yelled at by scarier women. Most cheerleading captains are one missed jump away from trying to drown you in the gatorade cooler.”

“Your career sounds so intense,” Adora says in wonder.

Mermista makes a non-committal sound at that. Then she pauses briefly before saying, “Bright Moon’s a big city. Lots of sports teams. Lots of schools.”

Adora tries to match her casual tone. “True. So…”

“So. I’d consider it.”

“Instead of me moving to Salineas?” Adora clarifies.

“I mean, we’d have to talk about it more, but yeah. Me in Bright Moon makes the most sense.”

They sit quietly while that sinks in, only the sound of hands against their bodies and some buzzing from the crew keeping Adora company in her thoughts. Mermista could move. That makes things feel more viable for them. Are they ready for that? No, honestly. But maybe they could be in a year or so.

“Do you know anyone else in Bright Moon?” she asks. She’s not sure what compels her too. Maybe just curiosity on what kind of support system Mermista could have there?

“Yeah, a bunch of people,” is the mumbled answer she gets back. “No one I’m close to though. Old teammates. Folks from school. A couple exes.”

“What, uh, what kind of people do you usually date?” Adora tentatively tries. Flutterina was clearly full of shit but some of what she said did burrow into the bachelorette’s brain and start sowing some insecurities.

“Did someone tell you I only date ballers?” Mermista replies, as drolly as possible.

“Something like that.”

“I dated one player on the team. A fake genius with a failed start-up. Some other idiots.” There’s a sound that Adora imagines is Mermista throwing her hands up and dropping them. “It’s not as fancy as everyone likes to pretend. Those are the people I meet at work, like most normal people. I just happen to work around jerks who fall assbackward into wealth and social capital. It’s not really my thing but I don’t go out a lot so.”

“That makes a lot of sense,” Adora admits. “You didn’t owe me any of that by the way.”

“Anything of interest in your dating history?” Mermista asks.

“Not really. I had my first kiss cause tripped in front of everyone and she felt bad for me.”

“How old were you?”


Mermista snorts. 

“I’d like to kiss you,” Adora tells her. “Obviously now is a terrible time but-”

“Alright everyone, beat it,” Mermista orders. Adora glances up just in time to see her barely covering herself with the towel and moving to close the distance between them.


Adora knows she’s in trouble as soon as she sits down in the confessional seat. Her skin feels amazing after the scrub and the soak. And she’s light as a feather after the makeout with Mermista that made them 20 minutes late for the scrub itself.

That all fades away as she sees Hope sitting next to the camera, ready to interrogate Adora herself.

It doesn’t seem like the thin air and chilly weather is bothering Hope at all. But then again, she seems to be a robot fueled purely by egomania and vengeance.

“How do you feel your date is going, Adora?” Hope’s voice is doing that fake-pleasant thing while her left eye is just slightly twitching.

The blonde shifts nervously in her chair. It was going great until now. A glance around the room for Oona turns up nothing so there’s no choice but to sit here and play ball. Mermista’s getting changed for dinner and there’s nothing for Adora to do until they have to switch places.

“I’m having a great time,” she answers. “I really like spending time with Mermista. We always have fun. We have lots of chemistry. My feelings for her are really starting to deepen.”

Adora prays that that’s enough for Hope to clip together. She’s not trying to play this like a game but she’ll say all the right things to finish this interview quickly.

Hope doesn’t seem to deem this matter closed though. “You have good chemistry, you said. Does that feel like enough to build a relationship on? Are you in love with Mermista?”

“I’m not in love,” Adora answers first. She’s surprised by how automatically the response comes but they’ve only just had their first date together.

And she’s meeting Mermista’s father next week.

Gods. Okay, this is moving too fast. The timing of this all – Mermista getting a date so late – really isn’t doing either of them any favors.

“Adora?” Hope prods. She can probably read this entire panic on her face.

“We have things in common. I really like her. We fit together well.” She feels herself sweating. These are perfectly reasonable answers. She doesn’t have to be ready to be engaged tomorrow.

Just, 3 weeks.

“Are you in love with Mermista?” Hope repeats.

“No. But I could see myself falling for her,” Adora says. Internally, she face-palms for using the same non-committal fuckboi language that Flutterina was trying to sell her last week.

“Do you envision her being your wife?”

Adora holds in a sigh. “I don’t think I’m at that point with anyone yet.”

“But do you think you could get there?” The question seems so pointed that Adora feels her temper flare up.

Apparently, Erelandia isn’t the true test. This fucking inquisition is.

Seems like Hope wants her to spiral and make a rash decision. Or maybe she thinks she’s got this whole thing figured out already and is trying to push Adora towards a conclusion. Either way, Adora’s not taking the bait. She’s made her decisions and she’s sticking with them. 

“Hope, is there something specific you’d like to ask me?” Adora questions, voice hard. “Or do you just want to tell me how you think I should feel?”

Adora doesn’t wait for the answer, getting up and leaving to get ready for the rest of her date, determined to enjoy the rest of her time with Mermista.


It’s startling to see so few people at the rose ceremony. The group had been dwindling for weeks but looking at the 6 faces in front of her really drives home how close they’re getting to the end.

Adora doesn't even let Mara get through her explanation before she interrupts.

“I think we all know how this works by now,” she jokes.

Mara doesn’t take it well being cut off like that, narrowing her eyes even as her smile doesn’t break.

“I’m sure you’re anxious to move forward,” is all she says before making a sweeping motion at the tray of roses and disappearing.

Since Starla and Mermista have roses, this is fast. Scorpia. Then Perfuma.

“Ladies, if you didn’t receive a rose, please say your goodbyes,” Mara announces.

“I hope you don’t regret this,” Rana tells Adora, and it almost sounds like a threat.

Emily just walks straight out the door without saying anything to Adora or anyone else.

“Aw, I’m really gonna miss her,” Scorpia says, sounding on the verge of tears.


Starla’s family is the tightest-knit group of people that Adora’s ever met. It’s just her, her two siblings, and an owl, which the blonde doesn’t question. 

In Scorpion Hill, Adora got to ride dirt-bikes with Scorpia through the barren land, laughing and making a mess. Her mothers, one shorter and as saccharine as her daughter and the other taller and much more reserved, served a quiet dinner when Adora visited. They gave her a quilt of their family crest while also making sure that Adora was aware that their venom could be lethal. 

After Perfuma surprised Adora with ziplining cause apparently she’s a daredevil, half of Plumeria joined them for a feast in a meadow. Adora met Perfuma’s mother but she was also introduced to the Plumeria’s concept of collective childcare and communal living. So nearly a dozen free spirits in sandals and flower crowns asked about her intentions with Perfuma and warned her of the untraceable poisons that they all knew how to create thanks to their herbalism practices.

For their date, Mermista took Adora to the Sharks stadium where she got to meet a couple of the players and pretend to try out for the team. After, Mermista’s father had a meal catered and it was delicious, if a bit stuffy. Oceana spent most of the night hitting on Adora, just to get under her sister’s skin. While the two of them broke out into a screaming match, Mercia took Adora aside to drink brandy on the porch. Stroking his long beard, he rocked in his chair and gently asked Adora to please not break his daughter’s heart since she was more fragile than she appeared.

After dealing with both larger groups and large personalities, Adora’s relieved when she’s only greeted by the trio. True to Starla's prediction, the Star Siblings insist on an all-day family outing. They’ve heard about a waterfall hidden deep in the woods, so Tallstar leads the path as Jewelstar attempts to navigate. Starla appoints herself in charge of pointing out any birds or critters that they come across.

The woods surrounding Alwyn are spooky, overgrown and dark even with the daymoon high in the sky overhead. It barely breaks through the tall canopies of trees. Sound echoes everywhere, making it seem like they’re surrounded by woodland creatures that they can’t quite see. Adora is not nervous exactly but she is...vigilant.

It’s worth it when they finally reach their destination. The waterfall is so huge that it seems almost impossible that this is a hidden spot. It’s several stories long and even wider across, emptying rapidly into a watering hole 5 feet below the cliff they’re standing on. There’s no way of seeing how deep the water is inside or if there’s any rocks or creatures down there. The Star Siblings all excitedly strip down to their bathing suits, not bothering to ask these key questions. Why do all of these dates have to be so dangerous?

When Starla takes her hand, smiling widely, Adora jumps in without hesitation.

They do dinner at a cheap all-you-can-eat sushi place and Adora’s so happy that she almost cries. The owl, Glory, stays outside and Adora continues to just act like falconry is a totally common hobby.

“Sorry we’re not cooking,” Jewelstar apologizes. “The place we’re staying in doesn’t have a working kitchen.”

They move around a lot, Adora’s gathered from all of her conversations with Starla.

“How long are you staying in Alwyn?” Adora asks.

Tallstar laughs. “Well, we thought we’d have Starla back after a couple of weeks and then we’d decide from there.”

“Thanks for having so much faith in me,” Starla jokes.

“Hey, you applied on a whim as soon as you saw you’d have a chance to meet Adora Grayson,” Jewelstar makes a fake swooning motion at the mention of the blonde’s name. “We didn’t realize it would get so serious.”

With that opening, Adora expects them to ask more questions about the process. They don’t. Instead, the trio falls into a fast-paced conversation about Starla’s adventures and then everything she missed while away. They don’t even bother to include Adora, seeming so grateful to see each other that they barely notice their dinner companion.

Adora uses the break to shovel as much sushi into her mouth as possible.

It’s amazing watching Starla with her family. They’ve got their own secret short-hand. A way of reading each other’s minds almost that Adora’s only really seen Glimmer and Bow do before (though she supposes that this is probably what people imagine happens with her and Adam). She doesn’t even feel left out. They really seem like they need this time together, much more than the other contestants did with their families.


Adora’s stomach turns and she drops the last salmon roll. The group is nomadic, moving from place to place collecting wild stories and building a life where they’re free to do whatever they want as long as they’re together. They’re completely dependent on each other, no other family or even close friends to speak of. The Star Siblings are a joint unit and a pretty insular one, in fact.

Production tries to cut the meal off as soon as they reach the agreed upon end time but the trio ignores that.

“We can hang out til closing,” Tallstar argues. “We’ve got nowhere to be.”

Adora awkwardly clears her throat. “I have to return to the hotel.”

“Oh.” Jewelstar shrugs. “Okay. Goodnight, Adora.”

They didn’t ask her a single question about her feelings or her intentions or anything. The whole process is super paternalistic but Adora was expecting that production had prepped them to do it anyway. On the one hand, it’s a relief. On the other, it just kinda confirms what she’s already thinking.

Starla offers to walk her out to the SUV, where there’s a small crew inside already set up to begin recording a quick confessional on the way to the hotel.

Adora pulls her around the corner to the side of the restaurant instead. Starla smiles like she’s expecting a different kind of private moment, until she catches a glimpse of Adora’s stony face and frowns.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong,” Adora answers. “I think something just sorta hit me.” She takes a deep breath, trying to brace herself. “I really care about you.”

Starla interrupts before she can get to the next sentence, “I care a lot about you too.”

Adora’s smile is pained. “I know. I don’t think we should move forward together though. I just don’t think you’re in a good place for a proposal.”

“Ditto,” Starla says, laughing coldly while tears form in her eyes as she seems to take in what’s happening here.

The sound shoots through Adora like an icicle through her stomach.

“I-”, she starts but doesn’t actually know what she’s supposed to say to that. 

In some ways, Starla isn’t wrong probably. Adora came on the show to fall in love. That’s not really the same as meeting someone, getting to know them, and developing feelings organically. But that’s not any different from going on a dating app. It’s all about looking for a genuine connection. And she and Starla have one. It’s just not love. Even with so much invested, Adora’s not ready to ask Starla to marry her.

“Look, I’m not quite sure that I’m at that place with anyone right now,” Adora confesses. “But there’s something about seeing how happy you are in your element – with your family – that makes me feel like I can’t be a part of taking you away from this. It just doesn’t feel right. Maybe if I was surer, it would make sense. Right now though, asking you to leave them again and continue on this process just feels like a lie and a promise of something that might never come.”

Starla starts to open her mouth and decides to just nod instead.

“I’m sorry,” Adora says. “I really am.”

“I know,” Starla whispers. “Thanks for telling me now at least. Woulda sucked to fly to a rose ceremony and then have to turn around and fly back here immediately.” She glances to her right, where a camera is trying to stealthily move closer. Without another word, she turns her back to both them and the person breaking her heart.

Adora gets into the SUV, ignoring Oona’s question about this abrupt decision to wonder if Starla and Hope are right. And what the hell she’s supposed to do next about that.

Chapter Text

Reactions to the unfortunate news that had Catra indeed fallen like a complete dummy were mixed.

“You fell in love in 2 and a half months?” Netossa asks as Catra's only kinda super late on Friday. “You haven't even done your laundry in 2 and half months.”

“That's amazing,” Spinnerella tells her during Sunday Beer Blast, face seeming genuinely happy and extremely concerned at the same time. “Any chance you’ll think about telling Adora?”

Huntara only snorts as she eavesdrops.

Catra makes all of them swear not to say anything to Castaspella. She can’t get the old girl’s hopes up quite yet.

“Duh,” is pretty much the response from Lonnie, Entrapta, Rogelio, and Kyle when Catra drunkenly lets it slip at practice. Probably shouldn't have stopped at the Beer Blast on an empty stomach.

“Literally any of us coulda told you that weeks ago,” Lonnie says.

“Well then tell me what the fuck I'm supposed to do with it,” Catra hisses.

“Tell Adora,” Kyle replies, as if it was that simple. “Before she makes a mistake on national television.”

“But don't tell her during sex,” Entrapta adds. “My research says that's the worst time for a love confession.”

Taking a deep breath, Rogelio grunts. It's short and a little broken with emotion.

‘Do you want her to love you too?’

“I mean. A normal person would say yes. Right?” Catra glances around for confirmation.

“So that's a no for you?” Lonnie deadpans.

“I-I-We’re very different,” Catra tries to explain. For instance, Adora is wonderful and lovable and she is...not.

“That's good,” Kyle responds. “You could use someone who's more...steady? Grounded?”

“You dating another you would be a nightmare,” Lonnie says more honestly. “It would probably fulfill some ancient prophecy that leads to the end of the world.”

Rogelio tuts at her, reminding her they're trying to be supportive.

From where she's sprawled on the floor, Entrapta switches to another screen on her tablet. “You've built a genuine connection. Shared experiences together. You seem sexually compatible, if the increased number of nights spent at her apartment are an indicator.”

She ignores Lonnie and Kyle's high-pitched schoolyard ‘ooooh.’

So Entrapta continues, “The two of you have been creating a foundation for a lasting, genuine romantic relationship.”

“Maybe but. Hoe is life.” Catra shrugs. She takes a sip of beer, hoping it'll give her a minute to swallow down her racing heart and lashing tail.

“One: no one says that anymore,” Lonnie replies. “Two: have you listened to a single thing Adora’s told you? Are you not picking up the message at all? Cause it's pretty obvious how she feels and what she wants.”

Catra’s about to open her mouth and say that that’s completely irrelevant when Entrapta makes a disgruntled sound. Catra looks over to find her roommate frowning deeply.

“A large number of your feelings about yourself seem to be based on old, immaterial narratives that are no longer true,” Entrapta says and Catra contemplates why she hangs out with people who insist on exposing her so thoroughly. “I don't think Rogelio was inquiring what Catra from 5 years ago or 10 years ago wants. What does Catra right now – the person who you are currently, not the idea you've built from the past – want?”

Catra doesn't answer but she can't stop thinking about it. She stays up all night mulling it over, but really just letting the question play on an endless loop in her head with no attempts to resolve it. If Catra thinks about what she wants and then she doesn't get it, she doesn't exactly know how she won't just lie down and never recover. Maybe get about a dozen more cats and just start full-time wearing only that art smock as her wardrobe.

Sleepwalking through her shift is pretty much the only way to stay upright. Adora doesn’t text after sending a photo of herself in the suit. It’s only to show off the lapel pin, Catra knows rationally; Adora isn’t cruel, wouldn’t just be rubbing this whole thing in her face. Irrationally, though, Catra wants to vomit and also march down to that studio and physically rip it apart with her claws.

Lonnie unintentionally but definitely intentionally let it slip that this week was some kind of reunion where everyone comes back to yell at each other for fake shit and then at Adora for dumping them. Catra loves a roast as much as the next garbage person, but she’s run into an ex before who wanted to know why it didn’t work out, like there's easy answers. That’s just fucking awful. She imagines if she had to do that on tv with 20 exes, she’d actually finally fake her death and join a lobster boat.

Catra enters her apartment at the end of her shift with one single goal of seeing if she has some weed or some sleeping pills or something that’ll just hopefully knock her out completely.

She smells that something’s different before her eyes actually even have a chance to look around. There’s some weird, expensive flowery perfume trying to cover it up. But there’s the distinct scent of sweet almond and the woods and salt, like from tears.


A blonde head slowly peaks out of the dark kitchen. The lights are on in the rest of the apartment. Why the hell is she sitting in there?

“What’s wrong?” Catra immediately asks, rushing over.

Adora’s still in the suit (and the shirt Catra had picked out) with silly little brown loafers on, looking like the world’s hottest accountant at a beach wedding. Her long blonde hair is down, flowing around her shoulders. But her face is bright red and puffy, eyes wet and dried tracks of tears on her cheeks.

She gives Catra a half-smile when she sees her. A little gratitude and relief shines through the obvious heartbreak.

Catra has to push down the feeling that Adora maybe proposed or something, got rejected, and now she’s here to accept the Magicat as her last choice.

“Sorry to show up without warning,” Adora begins, voice almost raw, probably from crying. “My phone died and I just really missed you. Entrapta gave me a charger but it definitely looked like it would make a duplicate of my phone so I didn't take it.”

“Smart choice.”

“Swift Wind’s with Adam and his fiancée. I-things went...not great tonight. I probably should have made a plan cause I know how I get but. You were the only person I wanted to see.”

Catra wrings her hands for a second, not sure what to do. She wants to comfort Adora – she really does – but not really at the expense of making herself feel awful.

After a long beat of silence, Adora finally says, “We’re going to have to talk about the show at some point, Cat. We can’t keep avoiding it. Things are going to change a lot after next week.”

“Yeah, they are,” Catra agrees. She aims to keep the bitterness out of her voice but it hurts to fight it.

If Adora notices, she doesn't address it.

Instead, she says, “I tried doing what was right for everyone. Even if it makes me look like a dick. They put you in this impossible situation where all the people counseling you literally have an agenda. I didn't realize it was going to be this hard. And it just keeps getting harder.”

“Wh-uh, what did Adam tell you to do?”

Adora laughs ruefully. That feels like a whole can of worms that Catra's accidentally stumbled on a few times but never peered into.

“Adam. Perfect Adam who's never made a hard decision in his life told me to follow my instincts.”

“Did you?” Catra says quietly. 

It occurs to her for the first time that she can still see Adora clearly in the dark, the silent crying, the way her body's hunched over in pain, but Adora can't see Catra's face crumbling each time she has to talk about the untalkable issue of the past three months of their lives.

Adora nods. “I did. My instincts told me to let some people go earlier than they wanted. It made more sense than leading them on.”

“So you got reamed tonight?” she guesses.

Adora laughs sadly again. “Oh yeah. A few times. Apparently I did everything wrong. I ruined everyone’s fantasy by not lying to them about loving them and then ruining their lives instead. She says the last sentence with more venom than seems warranted.

“Am I supposed to feel bad for you?” Catra asks. She's not intentionally matching Adora's tone. It's just happening.

“Bad?!” Adora asks incredulously. “No. I just thought-” She stops, slumps down further. “If I had known that I would meet you, things would be...different. But I signed up and now I have to ride this out to the end.”

Catra feels tears at the corner of her eyes. Yeah, in a different life, things could be different between them. Not in this one though. In this life, Adora’s sitting in her kitchen crying about other women.

“Adam was right,” Catra breathes out. It's weird but she can almost visualize the few feet between her and Adora, just 10 or so. She sees them as a bridge, clear enough to view the water below. And she sees that bridge icing over with her words, growing brittle enough to break. “Do what's best for you, Adora. Fuck everyone else.”

The next morning, Catra doesn't really wake up early so much as she just rolls out of bed at 10am after watching Adora sleep in her arms all night.

She never did go looking for herbal support to get some sleep.

Entrapta hasn't made a sound since Catra got home, probably just hiding out in her hovel after letting Adora in so everyone has privacy.

...they really do need to come up with some better names for things around here.

Somehow, her roommate always remembers to keep the fridge more or less stocked – Catra thinks Entrapta has trained robots to get groceries – so there’s stuff for breakfast sandwiches and mini bagel versions.

Melog comes screeching into the room like a starving banshee so Catra tries to feed them quickly before they wake up Adora. Maybe that’ll delay any additional conversation the two of them have to have about their...situation.

No such fucking luck. As soon as the cat starts to eat, and eggs are frying on the stove, a completely unkempt Adora stumbles out of her room.

Ugh. She looks fucking hot in Catra’s clothes, just a pair of old boxers covered in bananas and a faded blue tanktop. Her hair is a complete mess and Catra didn’t really realize she was wearing makeup yesterday so it’s all over her face now, smeared from her crying and now dried and gross.

“Hey,” Adora mumbles, with a little half-smile.

Only a being of pure evil could make looking like absolute shit still somehow so enticing, Catra tells herself. Must resist Adora’s charms.

Catra quickly turns back to the stove to flip the eggs and make sure the bread isn’t burning. She squeaks and then hisses when arms wrap around her waist from behind. Adora shoves her face right into the back of Catra’s neck and breathes in deeply.

“Morning, beautiful,” she whispers and all of Catra’s fur stands up just a little.

Her responding, “Morning,” sounds awkward and extra raspy. Nails reach under her shirt and scratch lightly at the small of her back.

“Quit it. I’m trying to feed us.” She’s smiling too much for it to come out scolding.

They resolved basically nothing last night. She just let Adora cry and then dressed her and put her to bed as her body gave out from the exhaustion. Catra wasn't as lucky. She spent the whole night letting everything swirl around in her head until she was sure she'd be physically sick.

Adora's touch helps as much as it hurts. Catra's just a friend to her – someone to cry to and piss away time with. Someone she likes fucking but isn't going to choose in the end.

They have less than 6 days left together. And Catra's gonna spend this morning making eggs and ignoring all of this even if it kills her. Anything other than their fake normalcy is unacceptable. There’s so much unacknowledged tension that if either of them looks at it directly, it’s gonna splinter and tear through everything in its path.

She forces the blonde to make herself useful, giving directions on how to pitch in with half the meal.

Adora insists on being the one to leave Entrapta's food by her door, as penance for making the weirdo deal with her last night. She comes back into the kitchen very perplexed and holding what looks like a small white business card.

“Uh, Entrapta slid this under the door.”

Adora hands it over for inspection. Catra's eyebrows furrow themselves. The card is pre-printed and reads “thank you” in a black boxy font. That’s new but not surprising. Catra just shrugs, hands it back, and finishes serving their plates.

They eat mostly in silence at the kitchen table, only speaking to ask to pass the hot sauce or a napkin or other awkward conversation you make at a breakfast with someone who you thought you knew before you realized that actually everyone is unknowable and you've made a huge mistake.

“What are you thinking about?” Adora asks. 

Catra looks at her concerned face, trying desperately to play it cool. She shrugs before focusing back on her sandwich.

“Just have some lyrics stuck in my head,” Catra replies, sure she's matching Adora's face exactly. “You?”

Adora fidgets in her chair and half-consciously tries to fix her hair. “I have to go to the studio next Monday to shoot the finale. I was wondering if you'd consider coming with me.”

“I have to work,” Catra answers automatically. It's a poor excuse, which they both know.

“My parents and Adam are gonna be there,” Adora says hopefully.

They've already met her fiancée. Is Adora thinking they might as well meet her side-piece?

“I haven't told anyone about you,” she continues. “But it's gonna come out eventually.”

Adora expects to announce that she had an affair on national TV? Like that shit’s cool?

“Please come? For me?”

Catra just counters with, “Why is this important?”

“I want to make sure things are smooth with you and me and my family. Having you there will just make everything easier all around.”

Catra thinks she spends a good while trying to decipher what the fuck that could possibly mean.

“Maybe dinner instead?” the blonde suggests after several minutes of tense, unyielding silence.

No one's saying anything plainly so Catra decides to just take the plunge and save them both some time.

“Adora. I’m not gonna change.”

“That’s fine. It won’t be a fancy dinner. But it is kinda a few days away so…” She waves at Catra's pajamas and then laughs at her own dorky joke.

With a sigh, Catra presses forward. “I’m not gonna be the kinda girl you can bring home to your parents. That’s not gonna happen.”

Adora scrunches her face up cutely, like Catra just said something that isn't thoroughly obvious.

“That’s not, like, a type . You’re just a person. My parents are just people. I don’t understand the big deal.”

“You're asking a lot. Did you maybe consider that?”

For a moment, Adora puts down her food to peer at Catra closely.

“Look.” Now it's Adora's turn to sigh. “I’m a...mediator. I’m a people pleaser. I’m all that shit that you think you’re too cool to be. Is that so bad? I want people to like me. I want you to meet my family and I hope that you like them.” She pauses to chew her lip. “I want you to like me.”

There’s a lot of things Catra could say to that. Self-preservation kicks in and what stumbles out of her mouth is, “Yeah, I'm not that. Adora, I’ll never be that. You’re not gonna be able to make me over into someone who your mom will love.”

“Good!” Adora laughs wetly and for the first time, Catra notices her eyes are welling up with tears. “My mom kinda sucks sometimes.” She shrugs, like this is a plain fact.

“Yeah, well, dead,” Catra breathes out slowly.

Adora’s rueful smile drops into actual ruefulness. From that bizarre dinner with Lonnie, Adora knows this but Catra's never actually addressed it before. 

“I’m so-”

Catra cuts her off before she can hear the same old empty platitude she’s heard a million times before. 

“And the one who tried to replace her was a fucking nightmare. She wanted a perfect client, not a child. So I...I’m not good at this. This – wanting to make someone happy or proud? I don’t know shit about that.”

“You do though,” Adora replies, beginning to look confused. “You literally always try your best for Entrapta. I see all the little things you do for her. Even Lonnie, Rogelio, everyone. Me! Catra, do you see how far you’ve pushed yourself outside of your own comfort zone just to make me smile?”

Catra swallows thickly, trying to shove 3 months of lies back down her throat.

“That...that was selfish. That wasn’t about you. I was being selfish. And I have to stop now.”

“You have to stop making me happy?” Adora asks. Before Catra can respond, she adds, “But I lov-”

Catra jumps to her feet, pushing her chair against the floor as loudly as possible. The old metal screeches against the cheap fake hardwood with a piercing sound that carries over whatever mistake Adora's making.

“Cat,” she yells in an angry sob. “Come on. You know I'm in lo-”

Catra tosses her plate and the pans into the sinking, focusing on the grating way they rattle together and drown out the words.

Her breathing is so shallow that she feels the corner of her eyes getting darker. She has to get out of here. Adora's lies are sucking all of the oxygen right out of the room.

“Fine,” Adora says, resolute. “Maybe that's much too for right now.”

‘Right now’? No, Adora saying that is a bad idea forever.

Catra's never gonna be someone that Adora could genuinely...feel like that for. That's a foolish naive fucking thought and Catra is neither foolish nor naive.

So she says the only sensible words that have come out of either of them this morning.

She doesn't turn back from the sink to face Adora. “We should end this. Before anyone gets hurt. It's not just about you and me anymore and that's not fair to...the other parties involved.”

“Other parties?” Adora repeats. She's full-on crying now – Catra can hear the tremble in her voice and smell the salt in the air again. The Magicat listens as Adora mutters to herself. “Other parties? Who could possibly have anything to do with-”

Adora cuts off quickly, leaving Catra to listen to her quickening breaths. It’s so bright in the kitchen suddenly and Catra’s sure she feels a migraine forming.

Adora’s voice cuts through the jumble in Catra's head, high and disbelieving. “Wait. Do you think I'm engaged?!

Catra feels her tail beginning to thrash back and forth, hands going to hold onto the sink to keep herself upright.

In her silence, Adora must start putting everything together. “I thought we were on the same page, that you understood the deal.”

“I do,” Catra shoots back.

“You clearly fucking don’t! You think I got engaged? Even with the way I’ve been treating you? All the things I’ve said to you?”

Adora’s tone makes her want to curl info herself. But Catra refuses to back down. “How do I know?!” she yells.

“Because you know me! And I know you.” Behind her, it sounds like Adora’s pacing, trying to work this out still. “No, you-”

“You don’t know a godsdamn thing about me,” Catra mutters.

“I know you wouldn't have let me get so close to you if you genuinely thought I was engaged. You're not worried about me having a fiancée. You would have used any excuse to run away from this. You don’t want to end this before ‘anyone’ gets hurt – you want to end it before you get hurt cause you’re scared shitless of me.” 

Catra feels her heart pick up speed at that. Scared of Adora? That’s hilarious. Her fur doesn’t quite agree since it decides to stand up on end.

“Big talk for someone who’s letting a fucking tv contract rule their whole life right now.”

Adora absolutely does not take the bait, pushing forward to hone in on Catra’s dysfunction. “You're petrified that I'm in lo-”

“Stop!” Catra shouts desperately. Her grip on the sink is the only thing grounding her and keeping her together right now.

“See! Petrified!” Adora heaves a sharp, frustrated laugh.

The sound is so odd, so cold and out of character, that Catra turns to see who's even standing in her kitchen.

Adora’s eyes are wild, like she's trapped in a corner.

Deadly calm, Catra warns her, “What you were trying to say – You don't get to say those words. Not to me.”

Adora comes down to match Catra's energy. Her voice is low and tight as she says, “That doesn't make it go away. That doesn't make either of us stop feeling it.”

But, fuck, does Catra want to stop feeling it, want to stop being wildly, delusionally in love with this perfect creature that she could never hope to make happy. She wants it almost as badly as she wants Adora to say the words then tell her that it'll be okay. That Adora will pick her and they'll begin their life together.

“I'm not going to your taping next week, Adora. I'm not meeting your family. And don't fucking call me next time you want a break from your perfect life.”

“Is it that inconceivable that I could be genuine? I shower you with praise and love. I move at the pace you set. You've met my friends. You've seen how you fit into my life.” Adora tosses her hands to the side in frustration. “None of this was an act or a break or whatever else you think. Why can't you see that?”

Catra, blinders fully – defiantly – in place, steels her face.

“Go tell all of that to your future wife.”

Then she finally gives herself permission to do what her body's screaming for. Catra bolts. On all fours, she races towards the apartment's mostly soundproof music room and locks herself inside.

Curling into a ball of rage and regret and white-hot tears, she can just barely hear Adora beating on the door and calling for her. Catra stays in the room until the sound stops, the bit of daylight creeping through the windows goes dark, and a small card is pushed under the door.

‘She’s gone’ it reads.

Chapter Text

Are you fucking kidding me?
You just locked yourself in a room
Real mature, Catra
I can’t fucking believe you

Hey, can we talk?
I’ve cooled off
I apologize if all of that came out of nowhere
I should have known not to push
We really do need to talk about us though

Cat, it’s been 3 days
You can’t just ignore this

Can you call me when you’re ready?
Could you give me that at least?

I warned you
This means war

Whatever Glimmer said, she doesn’t mean that
We’re just worried about Adora. And you.
You’re our friend too now. Let me know if you need someone to talk to

Yo bitch, you dead?

Catra decides that the music room is a lovely place to live out the rest of her days in peace. Eventually (really only after a couple hours after Adora leaves), Entrapta gets it unlocked from the outside and lets Melog in. A tiny robot on wheels delivers a bowl of mini wontons and some water.

Entrapta calls out of work on Catra’s behalf. Everytime she glances in, her roommate’s either semi-asleep or recording some terrible song so she just keeps doing it until Catra’s completely lost track of the days.

The phone messages go ignored as do all the calls and voicemails and everything else.

Catra thinks she’s writing the album that will be her final masterpiece. She makes Entrapta listen to a few rough clips when she brings in some tiny ravioli one day. Fingers twisting around her purple hair, she doesn’t look away from Catra’s face the entire time until the music fades to silence.

With a deep breath, Entrapta gives her review. 


“No?” Catra asks. Her voice sounds like shit, she realizes, completely wrung out. Maybe that’s the issue.

“It’s...not pleasing to the ear,” Entrapta explains. “The lyrics are non-existent. The sound mixing is unfortunate. If one subscribed to the idea that there's a certain math to music, then the large combination of noise you used actually ended up equaling less than the sum of their parts.”

Fine. Maybe that one was just Catra wailing “Darling, I’m your ghost” on a loop over some previously recorded samples that she distorted the fuck out of. There's a lot of clashing sounds that are supposed to represent her inner... zzzzz.

Oh my Gods. Catra fell asleep during her own boring self-loathing internal monologue.

“Should I auto-tune it?” she asks, shaking herself out of her stupor.

Entrapta makes a face. “While I generally find that chaos can breed amazing results, this is not an instance where that is warranted.” She takes a seat on one of the beanbags, ignoring Catra’s defeated slump to the floor. “What happened?”

“I was hit with inspiration.”

“What happened with Adora?” Entrapta clarifies.

“Nothing. We broke up.”

“You broke up with her?”

“Yeah.” Catra thinks about it for a second and then laughs. “Actually, we’d have to be dating to break up. Not running around behind someone else’s back. I ended it is more accurate.”

“Behind someone’s back?” Entrapta repeats. She sits with that for a minute before gripping both of her pigtails tensely at the end. “Did you create a false reality based on a limited amount of facts and then self-destruct?”

“What kind of question is that?” Catra’s skin itches, like this conversation is threatening to give her hives or something.

“So yes,” Entrapta answers quickly. She stands up without another word.

Irritation growing, Catra hisses, “Where are you going?”

“I have to draw up some scenarios. This is still salvageable.”

Maybe it’s because there’s only two people in this room and Catra is furious with one of them, all of the disappointment and rage she’s been trying to keep bottled inside finally feels dangerously close to spewing out. While she usually appreciates Entrapta’s task-focused demeanor, it’s absolutely not what she needs right now.

“I literally ran away from her like a fucking coward cause she tried to tell me she loved me! She's never gonna speak to me again!” There's no way to fix this. When that realization hits (yet again since she’s been bouncing back and forth between ‘hopeless’ and ‘maybe?’ all week), Catra just sorta crumbles back onto the floor.

Entrapta nods a few times, seemingly unconcerned by this terrible behavior.

“Maybe. But maybe if she really loves you and you actually try , she will.”

On Saturday, Catra finally bathes and goes to the bar, just wanting to disappear. Hidey Hole is a good place for that. It's so packed when she enters, everyone a sweaty mess in the late July heat, that no one pays her any mind at first.

Spinny and Netty are working tonight, running from end to end of the bar, trying to stay in front of the wave of orders. They both notice Catra quickly as she slinks through the crowd. Netty shoots her a nod, worry clear on her face. Spinny looks nearly dumbfounded instead. 

Catra will give her that. She's kinda dressed to kill and that usually means trouble. Her tight black tanktop has a huge horizontal slash that shows off her cleavage. Her black shorts are so tiny that she couldn't really wear underwear with them. Catra even bothered putting on a little makeup, black eyeliner and blood red lipstick, and some product in her hair to keep its wild shape. 

“You look like your own evil twin,” Casta calls out to her with suspicious eyes and a near-smile. She's seated at the end of the bar, half-empty wine matching the long flowy dress she has on.

Unfortunately, next to her, smiling like they just stole the nuclear codes, is DT. They’re leaning against the bar, standing on 6-inch black leather stilettos as sharp as the pointed look they give Catra. Their whole outfit is leather actually, a skin-tight sleeveless top that reminds her of a corset almost but continues down into pants. 

Once again, Catra hates everyone else in her life for not having fur. She's nearly panting and these two look fucking effervescent.

“Don't frown, kitten,” DT tells her in their silky smooth voice. “It makes you look so pitiful.”

They have their long platinum blonde hair pulled back in an intricate french braid that falls to about mid-back. Catra briefly considers slicing it off with her claws.

This is not the addition she needs to her night. Catra can't believe she got her fucking Saturdays mixed up and came on a night that DT’s working as the DJ. It’s the one fun thing that Huntara begrudgingly allows at the bar and Catra’s been avoiding it since it started up a couple years back. DT was away traveling or something mysterious for a few months recently and maybe Catra just fucked up their new schedule.

She kinda hates maybe every single thing about them. The unearned smugness. The unnecessary theatrics. That snooty-ass way they pronounce their words (fucking theater people!) How she could never steal any of their clothes when the two of them were hooking up forever ago cause they never fit her at all. 

She decides to just ignore them completely. Their set should probably begin in less than an hour anyway.

“Casta, what’s up tonight?”

Of fucking course, DT answers anyway. “Casta is spinning quite the cinematic tale of young love gone impossibly wrong.” Their smile and their yellow eyes look just a little bit more lethal suddenly.

Casta buries her face in her wine glass, peering at Catra over the rim.

“It was a theoretical discussion,” she clarifies. Or lies. Definitely lies.

DT pretends to innocently roll their eyes to ceiling in contemplation. “Oh, was it? It sounded so oddly real. Familiar, even. Local stray-“ Catra growls a warning. “-falls in love with a golden retriever. But neither ever learned to talk about their feelings. Or are terribly lying to themselves about who they are. Opinions vary there. Alas, they are torn asunder. It’s basically an epic tragedy. Or a very depressing Pixar movie.”

You don’t avoid a person for years unless they have a very particular ability to get under your skin. Even knowing that, Catra’s a little surprised at how fucking enraged she feels. Blood boiling, seeing red, ready to sink her claws into something.

One more word and she’s pretty sure she’s gonna lose it. DT is the perfect outlet for that – they’ll give as good as they get and they’ve definitely earned it by now. One. More. Fucking. Word.

DT’s tail twitches behind them with delight as they move to open their mouth, probably to pour a little more napalm on the fire.

“Children,” Casta's voice cuts in sharply, already ready to lecture.

“Nevermind,” DT says with an eye roll as Catra mumbles, “Whatever.” They share at least one piece of common ground – they'll do just about anything to avoid Casta's attempts at teaching them an important lesson. 

Castaspella is one of Catra's all-time favorite people. Hands down. Does she want to listen to a nonsensical story that's supposed to help her something about herself? No. Not when that time could be better spent trying to lose herself tonight.

“Truce for the evening? Doesn't that sound so nice?” Casta asks. Before either of them can respond, she leans over the bar and gives Netossa a particularly ear-piercing order of “Shots!”

Netossa very much does not approve as she pours out a round of tequila. She approves even less when she's immediately asked to pour a second round.

DT begs off after that since they're actually being paid to be there and have to get into the booth. Casta says she'll be going outside for just a moment to smoke and then completely disappears. For a second, Catra questions if she was ever really there at all. 

And then she realizes that she's just drunk. Having a few beers at home before coming was a frugal but not well thought-out choice.

It doesn’t help that a few people send drinks over to Catra while she hovers at the bar, just sitting awkwardly alone in Casta’s abandoned chair. Minute-by-minute, this starts to feel more and more like a mistake. An inevitable mistake though, the kind she’s so good at making.

Catra ends up going to the busy makeshift dancefloor just to find something to do with herself. It’s the area where the pool table usually is. Her stomach roils at the memory of ‘what do you need, baby?’ and Adora expertly working her like a finely tuned guitar.

The pouding bass from the weirdly moody R&B song that DT’s playing plus the mass of folks around her, grinding their sweaty bodies on each other, makes her feel more unsettled. Everything feels hot and thick and gross. It’s too early to already be sick, she thinks, but Catra heads towards the bathroom just in case.

There’s a small line, just 4 people texting or chatting each other up. Catra considers sneaking into the back and using the employee bathroom when she sees DT coming out of the office door.

They give her an exaggerated frown when the two of them lock eyes. For once, it would be nice to see them make a regular face like a regular person. DT’s not really a “regular person” though. Tigers, stripes, some kind of saying, right?

Instead of quickly heading back to the booth, DT walks right up to Catra.

“Water, kitten,” they suggest quietly. Their face doesn’t have its usual wicked glint. “You’re looking a little green. Which we both know doesn’t suit you.”

They breeze past her back towards their spot. Catra’s feet have a mind of their own, carrying her out of the line and in step with DT.

“I can take care of myself,” she tells them.

They don’t turn to acknowledge her. But they throw over their shoulder, basically ignoring everyone around them and knowing that Catra will hear, “Sounds like you’re about to get a lot of attention. Maybe you could consider not giving everyone something to talk about tonight?”

“It’s a couple drinks. How much trouble could I even get into?” Catra replies, rolling her eyes.

“Plenty, if I remember correctly,” they say with a smirk as they re-enter the DJ booth.

‘DJ booth’ is being generous. It’s a tiny plywood stage that Huntara built and a folding table. DT has the presence to make it seem legit though. They put their headphones back on, leaving the left one pushed back, a signal for Catra to keep talking if she wants. They look like they could care less as they continue working.

“Yeah, well, things have changed,” Catra tells them, sounding thin and weak to her horror.

“Have you, though? Casta was on the fence about that.”

“Why do you even care? About any of this?” 

DT almost laughs. “I don’t. I just follow the local gossip, kitten. I don’t think your wreck of a life should even make the top 3 scandals this week, but currently it’s building to be the talk of the town.” They do actually laugh as they think about that, a cold sound that nearly sends shivers down Catra’s back.

She should be used to this by now, this fucking glacier that exists between the two of them. The problem is, Catra hasn’t ever exactly known who put it there. One day, they had something complicated but kinda nice – getting into dumb adventures and fooling around in train cars and backrooms. The next, they weren’t speaking. Then suddenly, they couldn’t encounter each other without it turning into a competition of who could be pettiest.

“Why do you hate me?” Catra finally asks. “In the sea of total garbage things about me, what garbage thing did I do to finally push you over the edge?” 

There’s a sour taste in her mouth when she realizes she’s doing the whole ‘confronting your ex in public' thing. But if there was something, some easy and clean thing she could fix then maybe Adora-

Catra huffs at that thought, ready to storm off already.

DT arches an eyebrow, amused or faking it well. “Darling, you’re casting me all wrong.”

“What?” Catra asks, furrowing her brow. She never cared for their use of hyperbole, that’s for sure.

“You’re trying to portray me as ‘Former Romantic Lead’ or ‘Scorned Lover.’ Fitting for Lonnie maybe but. That’s never been my typecasting. It’s never been yours either.”

Catra bites down on the urge to snap at them for still being so godsdamn vague.

“I don’t understand what happened.” 

“We had fun,” they say lightly. “We stopped having fun so we stopped seeing each other. It wasn't not as dramatic as you remember it being. But your narrative is your narrative, darling.” 

“Fine. Whatever.” 

DT and Entrapta should join a support group for people who think Catra is a fucking drama queen who misremembers the past. But everyone does that, remembers the good times better than they were and the bad times as the absolute worst.

Those two dicks talking about fucking narratives. They don't know Catra's life, she thinks defiantly. (Except Entrapta kinda knows pretty much everything about Catra's life but this is not a time for facts.)

DT’s got a head of steam now and they love a damn monologue. “The great thing about people who are true actors, like you and I, is that we’re able to grow into and out of roles. We don’t have to keep showing up as the same characters constantly. There are always new opportunities to make some changes.” 

“I’m not an actor.” 

“Darling, aren’t you? For years, I’ve seen how hard you play at trying to be the big bad girl who doesn’t care. That’s fine if you're comfortable always being the same character. It’s not for me and my wide range but that's your business.” They shrug, nose in the air, super judgey. "Maybe it’s time to wonder – has your motivation changed? Do you have a different actor’s secret? Are there new roles that are starting to make sense for you?”

Without waiting for Catra to have any kind of response to whatever the fuck that was – advice? closure? maybe? – they put the other headphone on. Conversation ended apparently.

Catra kinda huffs. Being ignored is a big ‘trigger’, as her former therapist would say, for her. But it’s DT so Catra pointedly turns away, pretending for herself that she ended the talk and is now ignoring them.

Casta's still nowhere in sight and as the dance floor stretches out in front of her, Catra says what the hell and dives right in. And by that, she means she sort of body rolls to the center to begin dancing by herself. She can’t imagine she’ll be alone for long.

She doesn't really want to process a single thing DT said. Not tonight, on the heels of Entrapta, Adora's rejection, and the jumble of live wires that her feelings have devolved into.

So much of her life, Catra's spent trying to make music feel liberating again after having that denied to her for so long. Dancing’s a part of that. Usually she’s too self-conscious to do it when she’s not on stage. But going out dancing is what you’re supposed to do after a breakup, right?

Once she finds her rhythm and gets out of her own head about it, Catra’s an absolute terror on the dancefloor, hips winding, arms above her head, eyes closed. She only opens them now and then when she feels a new body press up against her. Each time, she’s met by hungry eyes or smirking lips and has to banish the lingering longing for pale blue irises and a dopey smile. 

Jorja Smith starts singing, “I don’t know if you want me to come over” and Catra decides to give the person grinding up on her now an extra show. Making sure that her claws are away, she wraps her arms around the back of their neck. The person’s cute. A little tall, sandy blonde hair, cool gray eyes. Catra pulls them closer, getting all up in their space. With the lights this dark, they could easily pass for A-

Catra squeezes her eyes shut, trying to derail that line of thinking.

“Hey,” they whisper and the voice is just all wrong.

There’s no way to communicate that without sounding like a fucking asshole so Catra just shakes her head. Who knows what this tool takes that to mean cause she reopens her eyes to find them leaning down for a kiss. Instinctively, Catra feels her claws come out.

“Behind you, my dear,” she hears before being gently whipped around by a strong hand on her shoulder.

Casta’s frown is the first thing Catra notices. She rarely scowls like this, so quick to pull a smile, even if it’s pinched or annoyed. Her face is scolding now, disappointed almost.

“Time to go home, Kit,” she announces.

The party feels like it’s just getting started, even though Catra has no idea how long she’s been here. She hasn’t had a drink in a good while. So she’s, like, probably totally sober by now and should stay several more hours. Must come up with a deflecting tactic cause Casta doesn’t give up easily.

Catra takes a long moment to smirk at her, showing off a fang. “Going home together? Are we finally doing this, Casta?”

It’s maybe one of the grossest thoughts that could possibly ever exist. Should be enough to make Casta withdraw in disgust and leave her alone to stew in her bad decisions.

To her great shock, Catra feels herself be grabbed by the scruff at the base of her neck and pretty much hauled right out of the bar. Shamefully, it reminds her of being 21 all over again.

The server drops the hugest stack of blueberry pancakes ever right in front of Catra. They’re steaming and fluffy and sweet-smelling, berries heaped on top with some bursting into a thick gooey sauce.

Blueberries are alright, Catra guesses. She wanted chocolate chips but Casta said she needed vitamin C since she hadn’t left her house or eaten a vegetable in several days.

Catra hasn’t been to this diner in years. Not since she and Rogelio would go to Hidey Hole and run the pool table for hours, hustling people out of free beers until they were too drunk to play anymore. They’d stop by here at 3am and split whatever they could afford. The place is always full of at least a couple of drunk people, no matter what time of day. It’s not even trying to be retro, it just hasn’t changed anything — the neon signs, the fading wood, the plastic gold benches, the menu, or the ancient servers — in decades.

“Go on, dig in,” Casta encourages as she cuts into her bland-looking omelette. “Alcohol, heartbreak, and an empty stomach are a dangerous combination.”

“You have to have a heart for it to break,” Catra scoffs.

Casta's chews thoughtfully.

“And who told you that you didn’t?”

That’s a weird response. She expected Castaspella to argue or pshaw or something.

Catra doesn’t even have to think about the answer, though. She knows, replays it all the time. ‘I don’t think you feel anything at all,’ she can hear from the time she’s 6. ‘You didn’t even cry at your mother’s funeral.’ ‘It’s a wonder that you have so much talent with the piano. A wild, heartless creature like you,’ started up on a loop when she was 8.

“It doesn’t matter,” Catra mumbles.

“You know, I’ve noticed that a lot of times, people tell us we aren’t capable of feeling so that they don’t have to feel bad for hurting us.”

Casta lets that linger in the air between them. Catra has a hard time swallowing it down with the next mouthful of her meal. 

“Was it an ex?”

“A couple times,” Catra admits quietly. “That’s not the root. Nah, I’ve been rotten since the beginning.”

“Mother?” Casta guesses.

“Nope, my mom was a the sense that she’s dead and also thought she heard the voices of several Gods.” Catra takes a bite before adding, “Interesting that she married a literal demon though.”

“Stepmom,” Catra answers the silent question on Casta's face. Even drunk and getting the requisite urge to spill all her secrets, Catra feels uncomfortable with this attention to her past. Best to turn it back around on Castaspella. “Why didn't you ever have kids?”

She blinks in surprise. “Well, I... For a while, it didn't feel like the right time. And then I thought I needed a steady partner. Once I let go of that bullshit idea, I just never quite made up my mind.”

“Well, be happy that you didn’t end up strapped down with a bunch of brats.”

Casta smiles sadly. Wistfully, almost. “Such a shame really. I would have been so proud to raise someone like you, Kit Kat.”

Catra startles at that but Casta remains firm. Not maudlin, just honest. It’s probably the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to Catra.

It makes her chest hurt, her lungs – her fucking bones – feeling too tight to breathe. 

She can’t help it. In this fucking diner, Catra cries right into her pancakes. Full body-shaking, blubbering, huge tears. Once the dam breaks, she doesn’t know how to brace for it or get it back under control.

Casta doesn’t even seem surprised as she slides out of her side of the booth. A shawl goes around Catra’s wracking shoulders, followed soon by thin but grounding arms.

And it all comes out. Every embarrassing fucking thing. She’s shit. She’s never gonna amount to anything. Her stepmother was right. No one wants her. She met the most unbelievable woman and that woman is going to meet her perfect wife. Catra never stood a chance. No matter what Adora says, all she can see is the blonde leaving.

Casta doesn’t argue or feed her platitudes. She just waits patiently for Catra to stop rambling and weeping over her cold dinner/breakfast. Fuck, did she even eat today?

“Is your stepmother dead?”

Catra nods rubbing at her nose with the back of her hand.

“Good. I would have fucking killed her otherwise.” Catra pulls back to see if this bitch is for real. Casta’s eyes are blazing so she totally is. “Poison. I could have gotten away with it too, but fortunately for her, it won’t come to that.”

Catra isn’t quite sure what to say so she just laughs dryly.

“And Adora is far from unbelievable, trust me,” Casta continues. She ignores Catra’s confused and astonished face. How does she seem to know literally everything? “She’s a massive goober. I don’t think she knows how to tie her shoes. She tried one of those videos where you pretend to jump onto a slow moving car and ended up halfway through the windshield instead. I saw her eat a pint of frosting once, right out of the jar, like Goldie Hawn in ‘Death Becomes Her.’ And she thought she’d find love on television! That show’s batting 2 out of 40. Truly atrocious odds.”


“Oh! Glimmer is my niece. She didn’t mention that?” Casta’s trying to look innocent but her face must be unfamiliar with the concept cause it won’t quite comply.

“Of course she is. There are 6 queer people in all of Etheria and you’re related to one and know the other.”

“And I’ve dated the other three. Wait, no. Are we not counting you? I got confused somewhere along there. Nevertheless.” She moves her arms from Catra’s shoulders to lovingly guide her face so they can meet eye-to-eye. “You and Adora still have a chance. Nothing has been promised.”

“She could be engaged,” Catra points out. “That’s definitely a promise.”

Too flippantly, Casta says, “Well, promises can be broken.”

“That’s awful love advice.”

“I’m 50 and single – cut me some slack!” But Casta laughs and rolls her eyes. “You are a kind soul, my dear. You are patient and giving and you see through bullshit. And you’re fucking hot.”

Catra snorts. “I thought you weren’t coming on to me earlier.”

“I’m not dead,” she replies with a shrug. “Finding each other like you and Adora have – if it’s written in the stars, it’ll work out. You deserve it. Trust me , you do. More than most, I’d say.”

“What if it’s not written in the stars?” Catra asks quietly. Nothing good seems to be. Not for her. “She just likes fucking me. That doesn't mean she loves me. What if she’s confused and I’m a...distraction.”

Catra tries to banish the lost, moony look in Adora’s eyes when she stares at her from her mind.

“Well, she'd have to be a fool not to love you. If it's not meant to be, Adora will marry some girl she met on a gameshow. You’ll write amazing music that resonates with a generation of heartbroken queers. And Adora and her new wife will have to see you on television and magazine covers and living your best damn life. It’ll hurt – it’ll hurt so fucking bad.”  

Casta pauses and squeezes her eyes shut for a second, like she knows exactly how that kind of pain can break a person. 

“But you’ll survive, Kit. You’re too strong not to. You’ve survived much worse.”

With one last gentle pat, Casta finally drops her hands. It takes Catra a moment to realize they’ve been having the most intense conversation surrounded by fellow drunk people and sizzling bacon.

“Thanks,” Catra mumbles, beyond embarrassed.

“Of course.” Casta leans up to kiss her on the forehead before moving back to her original seat. “Now, finish your food and let’s get you home. I’ll leave you with a little homemade hangover cure.”

Casta makes Catra eat as much of the pancakes as she can stomach and drink plenty of water. It helps marginally but when Casta’s designated driver arrives to pick them up, Catra’s already starting to feel that hangover.

Glimmer, the little shit, probably senses that. With only the briefest disgusted look at Catra as she stops in front of them, Glimmer loudly throws a set of keys down onto the faded cheap table. The sound hits Catra’s temples like a shot.

Ignoring the pounding starting in her head, Catra glances up at the asshole, decked out in a glittery lilac track suit and wearing boxy pale pink glasses, like Casta woke her up at 2am just to give them a ride home. Grateful for the favor and frightened by how fucking livid Glimmer appears, Catra swallows down whatever bullshit she was gonna yell.

“Hey, Sparkles,” she rasps out.

Glimmer slaps her hand down on the table and goes to lean into Catra’s space. Casta calls her niece’s name in a total mom tone but Sparkles gives not two shits about that.

“What the fuck is your damage?” she asks in a low voice, teeth clenched. 

That was probably rhetorical but Catra answers regardless. “Ugh. I just went over it with Casta. I’m not doing that shit again.”

“Seriously – what did you do? Adora said she tried to talk to you about feelings and you had a nuclear meltdown. ”

Casta pulls at Glimmer’s shimmery sleeve, tugging her back to the other side of the table.

“Give her a break, dear. Catra’s even more upset with herself than you could possibly ever be.”

“Hey, auntie,” Glimmer greets reluctantly. And yeah, Casta’s a lot but something about Glitter’s put-upon tone and then the hug that Casta pulls her into makes Catra’s blood burn with jealousy. She never was very good at sharing.

She opens her mouth to spew some kind of drunken vitriol at Glitter. Casta cuts her off with a single touch, reaching across the table to grab Catra’s hand while her other arm remains around Glimmer’s waist.

“My two favorite girls,” Castaspella coos and she looks at them so fondly that Catra feels her ears lowering. “I always knew you’d like each other.”

Glimmer doesn’t seem so sure about that.

Not that Catra needs her validation or understanding or anything, but she mumbles out, “I fucked up,” anyway.

Shock clouds Glimmer’s face. Her mouth drops down into an o shape and her eyes widen. Guess she wasn’t expecting it to be this easy.

“I know I fucked up,” Catra continues. “I feel like shit. I don’t need you to pile on.”

“Glimmer would never do that.”

Sparkles’ eyes definitely twinkle like she knows that’s a complete lie.

“Why don’t I give you two a chance to chat while I go up to the till and pay?”

As Casta escapes this awkward showdown, Glimmer doesn’t bother sitting down. She can’t be more than a whole 5 feet tall but she intentionally leans closer to tower over Catra.

“I don’t know what your problem is. Auntie’s been defending you for weeks. Adora’s obsessed with you. Bow wants to be your new best frien-”

Catra cuts her off with, “Jealous, Sparkles?”

Glimmer’s cheeks fill with a pink blush that has Catra chuckling even though she’s very afraid that she’ll be sick if she moves too much.

“You’re actually jealous of me?!”  

Glimmer’s voice comes out like an enraged squeak. “I am not! And even if I was, why is that so funny?”

Catra glances up towards the register where Casta is clearly just hovering and staring at them.

“I don’t know,” she answers. “You just kinda have everything. And I’ve got jack shit.”

Glimmer steps into her line of vision and gives Catra a hard, searching look. Catra doesn’t back down, even as the sparkly menace lets it linger for way too long and this gets so fucking awkward.

“Bow and me met when we were kids,” Glimmer says. Then she smiles dreamily, probably thinking of her mostly tolerable boyfriend, and her whole demeanor relaxes. “I never had many other friends besides him. He was always so kind and wonderful and I never really thought I deserved him.”

Oh, Gods, no. Just no. Between DT and Casta, Catra can’t take another bizarre overly personal interaction.

“Please don’t,” she begs but Glimmer is clearly just getting started.

“When I finally realized I had a crush on him, I freaked the fuck out and got so super clingy and desperate that I almost drove him away.”

“Why is this happening?” Catra whispers to herself.

“Lonnie,” is all Glimmer says before she continues. And of course. Of course, Lonnie has been filling her pastel head full of embarrassing facts about Catra and even more embarrassing theories about why she’s like this. 

“Bow was patient. He has his flaws too, you know. But we worked through it together. Eventually, I got my head on straight enough to learn to believe that I was good enough for someone as great as him.”

Glimmer sighs and as she drops her eyes to the table, Catra imagines she sees a couple tears forming there.

“That feeling never goes away completely but looking at him when he smiles or says he loves me helps keep it quiet most of the time. I love Bow. He's smart. If he chose me, I have to trust that there's a reason – that there's something he sees in me. Even when I don’t always.”

Glimmer swallows so thickly that Catra can hear it. She isn’t looking up yet. Catra’s kinda torn somewhere between comforting her and peacing the fuck out of this awkward feelings convo too. For consistency.

Catra’s escalated to trying to catch Casta’s eye to signal for help, when Sparkles looks back up.

With a completely deadpan expression, Glimmer explains, “That was a metaphor for your life-”

“Yeah, obviously.”

“-and the thing you're going through right now.”

“I fucking got that!” Catra hisses impatiently. With a huff, she adds, “Thanks, I guess. Why does everyone try to talk to me about my feelings when I’m drunk?”

“From what I hear, if people try when you’re sober, you fucking bolt.” 

Glimmer gives a glance over her shoulder, probably to see if Casta’s still trying to pretend that no one can see her clearly being nosey. They must pass some kind of sign to leave because Glimmer reaches over and grabs her keys from the table with her left hand.

“Oh, by the way…” With her right hand – so fucking quickly that Catra doesn’t even notice! – Glimmer picks up Casta’s abandoned glass of water and throws it in Catra's face.

It hits like a fucking shock to the system. Water’s in her eyes, up her nose. Soaking her hair and dripping down her face and shirt.

“The fuck?!” Catra sputters out, surprised. Confused. Impressed.

Glimmer turns on her heel nonchalantly and begins to saunter away, “That’s for hurting my friend. Meet you at the car.”

Catra doesn’t speak for the entire ride to her apartment. Shoved in the backseat, face still slowly drying, she ignores Casta and Bow’s awkward attempts to make conversation. It’s harder to shut out the absurdly loud music that Glimmer plays as she speeds through Bright Moon’s dark streets like a bat out of hell. Her car is a giant aubergine SUV (sidenote: who buys a car this big in downtown?!) and the bass is so loud from the awful bubblegum pop she’s blasting that the windows are shaking. 

When they stop at the curb in front of Catra’s apartment, she jumps out as soon as she’s sure she won’t fall into a heap on the sidewalk. Bow looks very very worried, like this wasn’t him just a few weeks ago. At least Catra’s not gonna give him any fucked up ominous warnings about his love life.

Before Catra can slip away into the night, Casta slides across the seat to roll down the window. She grabs Catra’s hand and pulls her close enough to whisper.

“Kit? What you said earlier...about children. I hope you know I think of you like that. You and Glimmer and Bow. Lonnie, Adora, and DT, as well, even. You’re not mine obviously but with you, Kit – I’ve watched you grow up right before my eyes, all these years. I know you don’t see how far you’ve come. Even a few years ago though, dear, you wouldn’t have just run away. You would have scorched the earth until nothing else could grow.”

Catra doesn’t realize she’s drunkenly crying again until snot bubbles out of her nose when she laughs. In her peripheral, she sees Glimmer’s repulsed face, completely turned around in her seat to eavesdrop.

“All’s not lost,” Casta adds. She kisses Catra on the forehead gently before pressing a small dark brown vial into her palm. “Now, take this because you’re going to feel awful tomorrow.”

The cure works. Or, it takes away the pain and the nausea. It doesn’t do a godsdamn thing about the dehydration and shame, both from last night and lingering from how bratty she'd behaved days before.

As soon as her vision’s clear enough to type more or less coherently, Catra sends a message.

i’m a shit
i shouldntve freaked maybe
but you can't just run around saying rhat
when you know you're leaving

I’m not going anywhere, Cat
I think you know that

i understand the ridiculousness of what i'm about to say
but have you considered maybe telling me what you want plainly
we both wrong, buddy

Um, I'm not sure you DO understand the ridiculousness of that statement
I tell you I want you, I want to spend time with you, I want you to meet my parents
I have literally no idea what you want ever

Seriously, Catra
Can we please talk
I don't think this is coming across correctly

How are you so stubborn?
It’s admirable honestly

please. look who's talking
you still haven't given up on me

...Do you want me to?

i didn't say that
i'm just starting to figure my shit out

How are things?
Tell me everyone who pissed you off lately

just this dumb magicat
she tends to take off when things get hard

She sounds like a nightmare

look, i’m sorry
but i’m “petrified”
as some dummy recently pointed out to me

Hey, I am too if that makes you feel better
How can I help?


no that helps actually a lot
who pissed you off lately?

Well, that same Magicat honestly
But also this blonde dummy
Neither is very good at figuring out how to understand the other
And maybe the blonde should have said something earlier

cut her some slack
she’s having a hard time

She keeps fucking up
Like so so much
You don’t even know

she sounds like the best person i know
do you need anything?

Could you sing to me?


Chapter Text

After Catra sends Adora probably way too many voice memos of her singing the most awful chart-topping pop songs of the last two decades just to get the dummy to smile, she decides to really lean into the hangover and stay in bed. 

Catra and Adora spend most of Sunday afternoon/evening trying to keep their texts completely cordial and non-controversial. They don’t explicitly agree to this. It just sorta happens organically.

Catra’s sure she'll break down and offer to come over right now or elope or get matching tattoos if they try to get into any deeper topics or start flirting in any way. She’s not certain about Adora’s motives for going this route too, but she’ll take it. It feels like they should hold off until they have actual time to really have a deeper conversation and Adora isn’t freaking out about the finale.

They talk about the books that Adora bought her, which Catra finally finished and gives a brief review of. Except the more... adult one. She definitely read (and then re-read) it but the minefield between her and Adora can only be navigated by staying away from anything that feels charged. Like Catra sending graphic descriptions of every naughty tidbit that she wanted to try with the dummy.

She ends up wasting at least a couple hours arguing with herself about how this is a terrible idea, even while mentally drafting the messages. Particularly one scenario involving playing with a vibe while stuck in traffic. Adora’s got a car, right?

Instead, Catra makes fun of Adora for sending a video of her trying some new dance trend. They both get to pretend that for the next 24 hours, the most pressing issue in their lives is whether or not Adora posting this online will bring shame on her family name.

The silver lining or something is that Catra has plenty of time in between to get some writing done. Like a massive amount of writing actually. It starts with lyrics but once they devolve into random thoughts about Adora, Catra just ends up journaling about her fucking feelings of all awful things.

When Entrapta peeks in around 3 am, Catra’s a little satisfied that her roommate almost looks surprised for a change. Surveying the walls and bed covered in paper, Entrapta blinks owlishly.

After a long moment, she asks, “Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms? Decreased need for sleep, racing thoughts, exaggerated self-confidence-”

“Not any more than usual,” Catra answers. She doesn’t stop taping the piece of paper in her hand to its appropriate section over by her altar.

“What exactly are you doing?”

“Uh…” Catra freezes. “I don’t know. Just getting everything out, I guess?”

Entrapta gives her a distracted nod before moving further into the room. “May I?”

And while it’s nice of her to ask for Catra’s consent, she of course doesn’t wait before she starts to do a gallery walk, arms crossed behind her back and humming. Like she’s visiting the Museum of Catra.

It makes Catra want to jump out of her fur.

But don’t worry. It gets so much worse when Entrapta begins reading all of the headings that Catra’s started to group her innermost rambling thoughts into.

“Useless Narratives aka Fuck You, Entrapta,” she says aloud. With barely a glance over her shoulder, Entrapta adds, “People often focus on being upset at the person who points out their flaws, instead of addressing the flaws themselves.”

“Yeah, I’ve watched enough Iyanla to get that.”

Ignoring her, Entrapta goes back to reading. “Brilliant Ideas. Shit I Want. No Fucking Thank You.”

Because she’s a literal genius, Entrapta’s able to read the 20 or so pages – some of them torn in half, some full from margin to margin – that Catra’s taped up haphazardly in a matter of a couple minutes. Her face doesn’t really change as she processes all of her best friend’s evil plans, most mortifying desires, and worst fears. With a quiet hum, she turns to Catra.

“Good job,” she says. “The structure here is sound.”

“It looks like I’m plotting a 12-woman heist,” Catra argues.

“It looks like you’re attempting to bring some order to chaos.”

“I basically took a mind dump,” Catra tells her. Entrapta’s doing that thing where she’s being all understated and trying to make a point without making it and Catra hates it. 

“Disgusting imagery. But it’s a good first step. Now, let’s dump out at least one second step for some of these.”

Everything about that sounds overwhelming. Looking at the pages of all the shit in her head and trying to come up with some way to right it all feels like the equivalent of having to uproot and replant a forest of 100 year-old trees.

“That-I-I-” Catra stutters out. “I can’t just, like, suddenly change , Trap. That’s not how this works, I don’t think.”

“No one is asking you to change,” Entrapta replies with a frown. “Especially not for another person. I’m asking you to take a second step, if you’d like. Just for you.”

Not a godsdamn person is gonna show up tonight. Every single bar in a 5-mile radius (which is a whole fucking lot in a city this packed) is running some kind of ridiculous drink special tonight. $3 frozes or free shots for people who win Bachelorette Bingo. Rubyfruit is serving free wedding cake. It’s impossible to walk down the street without seeing flyers about screenings of the finale tonight.

For once, Catra is grateful to work at Hidey Hole. No flyers, no drinks, no customers , it seems. She can peacefully recover from staying up all night with Entrapta, debating about whether they should actually attempt a heist – which they’d totally be able to get away with because of their very specialized skill-sets – or if Catra should stop being a fucking brat and write down at least one concrete thing she could do to get her shit together. It was a knock-down, drag-out emotional fight, and Entrapta won every round uncontested, but Catra had a brief, mostly achievable list.

  1. Don’t blow off practice
  2. Actually make a deadline for recording new songs
  3. Reply to urgent and important texts (ask Entrapta if the urgency is in doubt)
  4. Tell one person if you’re freaking out

Anyway, more important than this impossible-sounding list, an empty bar means Catra can pretend to be blissfully ignorant about what Adora’s currently doing.

“I’m turning the tv on,” Lonnie announces, already muscling herself to hop up onto the bar and reach for the television.

“Don’t you dare,” Catra says. Taking a deep breath, she mumbles as quietly as possible, “I’m, uh, kinda already freaking out.”

“What are you whispering?”

Catra’s pretty sure the words come out even quieter when she repeats them.

Lonnie sighs. “Entrapta texted me that if you don’t want to watch the show, I’m supposed to remind you of number 5. Whatever the fuck that means.”

Number 5 was maybe the super secret addition to the list. 

5. Watch the finale

Was it kinda masochistic? Yes. Was it absolutely the last thing Catra wanted to do? Yes. Did it feel like she still needed to do it to understand more about what Adora was dealing with? Yes.

And still, Catra had been kinda hoping to weasel out of it by using the excuse that she was working and had no way to access the show. Lonnie had watched most weeks alone in the office. How fucking inconvenient of her to suddenly want to change that up.

“Fine,” Catra says with a sigh. She has accepted her fate. There’s no excuses to hide behind.

Lonnie reaches up to knock that gross bra collection off of the screen.

“Wait!” Catra shouts as soon as Lonnie’s hand touches the tv. With one swift move, Catra hops up so she’s standing on the bar as well.

“Entrapta said you’d try to bargain with me and I’m supposed to ignore you.”

When Lonnie turns her head back to her task, Catra reaches out and gently grabs her forearm.

“Since when do you listen to Entrapta? Or anyone?” 

“I’m supposed to remind you that this is literally your own idea.”

Damnit. Lonnie knows too much. Job well done, Entrapta.

Lonnie’s shakes her arm to throw Catra off who instead tightens her grip in desperation. Catra has to extend to her tiptoes to stay latched on, aware that she’s dangling precariously close to many many glass bottles.

“Fine. You’re making me do this,” Lonnie warns.

With her free hand, she removes her phone from her pocket. Lonnie presses a couple buttons and Catra’s face twists into horror as she hears her own voice coming from the device.

“Trap’, I really don’t want to do this.”

“Unfortunately, you suggested it and swore to follow through.”

“UGggHgh, fine.” Deep breath. In a monotone, the Magicat hears herself say, “Catra, you have to do this.”

Like a fool, she genuinely thought they’d be able to just throw that recording away and never speak of it. All Catra needed to do was sever all communication ties between Lonnie, the world’s most stubborn person, and Entrapta, a super genius, in the last hour. Shoulda added that to the list.

“Maybe it’s because Entrapta literally won’t let me sleep but I’ve had an epiphany and I’m only sorta delusional right now. We have to watch this dumb thing. You can’t run away from this anymore. Just rip the bandaid off and do it. You love the doof – you owe it to her to at least learn a little bit about what she’s been struggling with.”

Nope. Can’t take anymore of this. She handed Entrapta a Catra-proof plan. In just four bizarre minutes, Catra had built her own downfall.

“Okay, fine. I’ll do it,” she tries to yell over the recording as it devolves into some rambling about how much she loves Adora. “Let’s just go ahead and turn that off.”

“It’s starting to get to the part that you need to hear the most, I think,” Lonnie teases with a smirk.

As if she’s anticipating revenge, Lonnie extends her right hand out to hold the phone further out of Catra’s reach. With the huge difference in their wingspan, Catra can’t really hang onto Lonnie and grab for the phone at the same time. Not while trying to stand on the bartop, 4.5 feet above the floor.

She tries to anyway cause she’s not a quitter.

The results are disastrous.

When Catra suddenly shifts her weight to her left to lunge for the phone, Lonnie overcompensates or something because she jerks away too abruptly. In her right palm, Catra feels Lonnie’s hand slip off of the television and begin to flail. One of Lonnie’s legs goes airborne cause apparently she’s got shit for instincts. That’s enough to throw Catra’s weight off and then they’re both stumbling before toppling over, en route to the fucking floor.

“You could break her heart. Isn’t that the most unbelievable shit you’ve ever heard?! She’s so fucking strong and you, somehow, could hurt her. You have to be care-”

“How fucking long is this message?” Lonnie grunts out, trying to throw Catra’s hand off, probably so she can catch herself on...nothing. Air.

“I was delirious!” Catra screams back. With her agility and balance, she could just let go and jump right down unscathed. But it’s really all her fault that this happened and she can’t leave Lonnie to get brained alone.

As she prepares for the weightlessness before the fall, Catra figures they'll probably have to burn any stools they break by landing on and also just walk out the door and wander Etheria forever to avoid Huntara's wrath.

There’s a bit more desperate, futile flailing from both of them but their balance is off and neither’s completely let go so there’s nowhere else to go but down . And then they're completely in the wind, only the tips of Lonnie’s toes touching any kind of hard surface. Lonnie drops her phone and thankfully the recording stops so the last sound Catra hears doesn’t have to be her own voice waxing poetically over what a fucking gift Adora is. 

Once they’re basically perpendicular to the bar, Catra closes her eyes and braces herself. But the impact never comes. Instead, she feels a very painful vice grip on her ankle as she's yanked out of the air.

“What are you assholes doing?” Huntara’s gravelly voice yells. Catra opens her eyes to see...well, the purple giant’s mud-covered boots. She's holding them both upside down, each in one hand, like they weigh nothing. It's far too late to play any of this off now.

“She started it!” Lonnie screams, pointing at Catra. She looks a little sick from the rush of blood to her head. So that's something at least.

“I tried to save you!” Catra shouts back.

Before she can explain that this is a total misunderstanding, Huntara immediately drops them both to the floor. They land awkwardly, bodies resounding with a loud thud followed by groans of pain. 

“Concussion!” Catra accuses. She grabs her head to back up the claim, even though it's mostly her face and knees that are gonna be black and blue tomorrow probably. “I'm suing!”

“Pretty sure you've pissed off too many judges for that to be successful,” she hears. 

Catra turns to see Spinnerella and Netossa standing a couple feet from the door.

With a frown, Catra asks, “What are you three doing here?” Unlike her, they actually kinda have lives outside of the bar. Huntara in particular sets strong boundaries on her days off – no coming in to fix other people's messes.

“Making sure you don’t do something even dumber than usual,” Huntara replies, seating herself at the bar, like two employees aren't still laid at her feet.

Spinnerella is kind enough to give her and Lonnie a hand up, just as Castaspella and Juliet enter.

Casta's usual excitement isn't there as she somberly greets, “Kitty Kat.” She’s dressed in a long black satin dress that reminds Catra of a funeral or a gathering to cast dark magic in the middle of the woods. Either would be fitting for tonight. Juliet just gives Catra a short nod, face serious. 

The lot of them relax at the center of the bar, exchanging subdued hellos and hugs.

Lonnie goes back to her post, shooting Catra a death stare. Catra’s about to question why everyone suddenly is there when Entrapta , of all people, slinks in silently and sits at the far end of the bar. She pulls her laptop out to set up a workstation, as if she’s invisible and no one will notice her there. What the hell could ever get Entrapta to willingly come to a bar? This was not part of number 5.

Brain working slowly to take this all in, Catra turns to Lonnie, “J’accuse!” She points one claw, though Huntara quickly slaps it away.

“You have to make the accusation, you jerk,” Lonnie points out. 

Catra doesn’t have time to respond before Kyle and Rogelio enter next. They both wave, Kyle smiling brightly like nothing completely bizarre is happening here. Rogelio tugs him to post up close to Entrapta but not too close. 

“Okay, come on,” Catra says, looking around at the group. She’s touched by what she thinks is a show of support but also panicked that everyone can tell that she needs support. “What the hell is everyone up to?”

“The other bars are too packed. So we moved our watch party here,” Casta explains casually. Her eyes are flitting around all worried though. “An extra large cava please,” she whispers to Lonnie.

“You told them?” Catra asks Casta.

“Uh, no,” Netossa responds. “We all have vision and can see you, you oblivious lesbian.” 

Catra covers her face with her hands. “I don’t really want an audience for this.” 

Out of the corner of her eye, she watches Entrapta hold up four fingers. 

“Do we need this many people to watch Adora get fucking engaged on live television?” Or worse – and most likely – to watch Adora get her heart shattered? Catra doesn’t want Adora to be with anyone else but she also doesn’t want her to be miserable.

“Have some faith, dear,” Spinnerella encourages her. 

Faith. That went out the door as soon as Catra learned that people like her don’t ever get the things they want.

Catra huffs but she can’t really be that mad. No one in her life was ever gonna let her pretend that she wasn’t invested. Wallowing alone would have been lovely but at least there’s buffers now between her and Lonnie. Who she’s sure is to blame for all of this mess. Somehow.

“Fine,” Catra sighs. “Get some orders in. At least give me something to distract myself with.” 

As she goes back behind the bar to pour Casta’s gigantic glass of bubbles, all eyes turn expectantly to Huntara. The big lug just grunts. 

Spinny mom-voices her, “Huntara.” 

Netossa raises her eyebrows all the way to her baby hair, doing the classic ‘disappointed parent’ look.

Catra’s a fool for this but she’d think Hunt was immune by now.

Instead, Huntara grunts again. But slowly, she adds, “Drinks on the house. Two max per person. And tip your bartenders, ya fucking ingrates.” 

She barely has to extend herself to reach over behind the bar and pull three bottles of beer out of the cooler with one hand. She pops the caps off with her teeth, before adding, “Lonnie, turn on the tv.”

“Wait, you know about this?” Catra asks, gesturing towards the mostly-hidden screen.

“I know everything that happens in my bar,” Huntara says simply. Then she leans forward with a deadly gaze, peering into Catra’s soul. “I know what you did on my pool table.”

Catra’s eyes go wide, thinking of ways to avoid being mauled. She doesn’t even notice when Lonnie sweeps the screen and a pile of dusty bras and probably a family of spiders lands on Catra’s head.

This is insufferable.

“Finales are slow,” Lonnie explains, completely glued to the tv as Catra groans out her boredom yet again.

So far, all she’s seen is Adora walking on the beach alone, looking contemplative. Adora in her hotel room alone, looking contemplative. Reactions shots of Adora live on the couch, in a studio just 30 blocks away, looking contemplative.

This is what the masses think is entertainment?

There’s been brief testimonial things from all the three remaining women (apparently most of those Twitter rumors about people being banished early turned out to be lies, Lonnie mentions.) If Catra didn’t already think they lacked some critical reasoning skills for going on this show, she’s definitely convinced of that after watching how they talk about Adora. 

Mermista, the super fucking hot cheerleader, is lying through her teeth when she says she sees a future for the two of them. Perfuma, some strange hippie blonde, claims to care for Adora very much but it sounds...resigned? Catra has to push down how she resents this woman on principle for not being fucking thrilled that she’s in the position that Catra herself wishes she was. Scorpia, who looks weirdly familiar, seems like she’d be just as happy if someone told her a cactus might propose to her later.

None of them deserves Adora! Not that Catra thinks she does either. Her Adora is too good for this world.

The first interesting action doesn’t even happen until almost an hour in when Adora goes to Scorpia’s hotel room at this fucking lush resort out of nowhere. She catches Scorpia mid-workout, sweaty and looking extra beefy. Catra has to give it to her as she stares at Scorpia’s huge arms in her muscle tank – it would be hard to pass all that up.

“What the hell is Adora doing?” Catra mumbles, her whole body tensing.

“I don’t actually know,” Lonnie admits. Weirdly, she looks equally as freaked out.

Most of the conversation is so boring and circular that Catra can barely follow it. Adora’s been thinking, she’s been reflecting on their connection, she thinks Scorpia’s so great, blah blah blah. If this is a proposal, it’s the driest damn thing she’s ever seen. Every time Adora looks like she’s close to actually clearing up what the hell she’s doing here , Scorpia tries to jump in with a matching enthusiastic compliment or supportive word.

“Anyone would be lucky to be with you,” Adora tells her.

“My gosh, you too, Adora! You are the absolute best.”

“I just don’t think we’re far enough along in our relationship for me to propose,” Adora finally says. 

Scorpia sits stunned for a long moment. Okay. So where does that leave things? Are you allowed to still date? For the first time, Catra regrets not having at least done a brief google search on how this dumb game works.

When Scorpia’s eyes begin to slowly fill with tears, Catra realizes that apparently no proposal is shorthand for ‘get the fuck out.’

It’s actually hard not to feel bad for Scorpia. She seems sweet enough, even if she and Adora as a couple would be the most annoyingly positive, attractive, and buff duo to ever walk the earth. They’d probably open a gym for dogs and live out their days in a huge ranch house where they also trained therapy horses on the side. 

Catra doesn’t realize that she’s sniffling while watching Scorpia blubber until Spinnerella passes her a tissue.

“Okay,” Catra says after another 30 minutes of watching this in silence. “So this show is an ad for tropical vacation destinations to stare at cliffs and cry into the sea?”

“Yeah, this is a fucking bummer,” Huntara agrees.

“It’s usually a little happier!” Juliet says, defensively. She ignores how everyone looks at her in shock since she hasn’t spoken more than one word this entire night. “People talk about love and cry happy tears.”

“I didn’t know you were a secret fan,” Casta tells her sweetly. “You big ol’ sap.” She kisses a blushing Juliet and Catra definitely isn’t so jealous about her continued singledom that she has to look back at the trainwreck on the television.

At this point, Adora’s had no less than 3 full monologues about marriage and love and proposals, underscored by what the captions keep calling ‘pensive music.’ She doesn’t know how to tell when she’s ready. She doesn’t think she was really finding what she was looking for. Is this enough time to be prepared to spend forever with someone?

Catra’s a little worried that Adora doesn’t seem to realize that divorce is a thing that exists and is available to her.

Mermista is stubbornly moving full-steam ahead with this charade.

“I’ve always dreamed of getting married and starting a family,” her disembodied voice explains over footage of her getting dressed for what Catra assumes is her formal proposal.

Mermista’s voice is mesmerizing. Catra’s never heard someone be so completely fucking over it in her whole life. It’s truly what she herself can only hope to aspire to be one day. Really, Catra would be a huge fan of this girl if they didn’t both have feelings for the same woman.

Mermista stares at herself in a conveniently placed full-length bedroom mirror, smirking at her own reflection. She looks damn good and she knows it. Catra’s never seen such fancy, shimmering material on a gown; it’s a gorgeous, long-flowing piece, with long sleeves, a low neckline, and cut-outs on the sides where you can see the soft skin along her ribs. The color is such a deep teal that it almost looks like a mermaid’s fin.

Meanwhile, Catra’s wearing a pair of plaid shorts with multi-colored diamonds. Which she’s pretty sure were made for golf. And for a 5th grader, based on how short and tight they are.

“This whole journey with Adora started off strong but we were slow to build a deeper connection,” Mermista’s voiceover continues, as she accessorizes with a matching pearl necklace and earrings combo. “I think things have grown between us. I’m just worried that it might not be enough. I’m ready for a proposal, though. I hope Adora’s ready to pop the question. ” 

Perfuma isn’t lucky enough to get that chance. After more brooding by the seaside, Adora visits her hotel and lets her go.

Catra barely even hears the reason. Something about not being on the same page. It’s hard to focus while the edges of her vision start to get darker and darker.

Adora’s not going to move to Plumeria and open an organic, cruelty-free dispensary or whatever. She’s going to choose this fucking supermodel. This mean, too cool, sarcastic, probably flexible supermodel, just like everyone predicted.

Rogelio’s grunting brings her back out of the pit of shame and misery that she was stumbling into.

‘Take a breath,’ he tells her. ‘It’s not over yet.’

“Easy for you to say,” she grumbles back.

They cut back to the studio, where Adora’s now awkwardly seated on the small couch onstage with Perfuma. For the first time, Catra notices how awful Adora looks, a little too thin in her gray suit. This one’s different than last week and Catra imagines that the show must have provided it, cause Adora looks awkward in it, like she’s playing dress-up. There’s dark bags under her eyes that even a full makeup team can’t seem to hide and her hair doesn’t have its usual shine. 

Perfuma, in a flowy carnation pink dress, doesn’t look as shook up.

“How do you feel watching that back? Did that hurt?” the host asks. She’s a gorgeous tall drink of water, caramel colored skin and long mahogany hair, but she’s got the people skills of a chain-link fence.

Adora winces at the pointed question before turning slowly to Perfuma. “I’m sorry if that felt sudden. I care about you a lot. I just wasn’t in love with you.”

Perfuma nods gently. And then she smiles, in a way that’s sort of sad but also completely calm.

“I understand,” she says and Catra actually believes her. “When I had some time to reflect, I realized that I felt the same.”

She takes a few moments to just look at Adora before reaching for her hand. Adora looks caught off guard but lets it happen.

“You look more at peace now,” Perfuma observes quietly enough that Catra feels almost like she’s intruding on their private moment. Adora just barely nods. “I’m grateful for the time that we spent together. I really do hope that this entire process has helped you get closer to what you’re looking for.”

Nervously, Adora’s free hand goes to her collar. No, not her collar. There’s something else that she’s fiddling with. 

It’s the lapel pin Catra got her. Adora’s touching it like it’s the only thing giving her strength right now.

The host throws them to commercial, promising the most dramatic finale ever when they return. Immediately, Catra dives for her phone.

not that i’m worried about you or anything
but big night
how are you feeling?

Not that you’re worried about me, right
But...good? Surprisingly
I think two of the women are going to end up together honestly
They just maybe don’t know it yet

so you played matchmaker by dumping them?
good way to spin it i guess


Mermista’s not going down without a fight. Catra can appreciate that.

“Liar!” she screams, kicking over a potted plant.

“Faking this whole time!” She takes out a sidetable covered in candles.

“Can’t believe I almost let you [bleep] me in the Fantasy Suite!” 

Adora awkwardly stands there the entire time, hands raised in surrender. This was supposed to be a beautiful sunset proposal on the beach. Adora wore jeans. Mermista flipped out before Adora even started her monologue.

The journey to this point had been truly bizarre. After yet another spiraling, unclear voiceover about how worried and unsure she is, Adora had been driven to the sea and left there alone with Mermista, a woman who looks like she could channel the wrath of the Old Gods if given the right motivation.

The bachelorette had seemingly taken one brief look at her potential fiancee, her stunning dress, the gorgeous seaside backdrop, and the weird fake “romantic” set that they’d built for this. Adora’s face had slowly morphed from nervousness to stony and resolute. In a split second, Mermista had unleashed her righteous fury, taking it all out on the tacky decor.

Catra hasn’t stopped cackling for a full 5 minutes, no matter how much Spinnerella tries to shush her. After all this nonsense, she’s pretty sure her brain’s just descended into delirium.

“Throw the wine at her!” Catra cheers. She’s always been the type to root for the anti-hero.

Instead, Mermista reaches down and pulls at the weird rug lying on the beach, flipping over the small pedestal that contained Adora’s last rose. Then she turns on someone off-screen and rushes at them.

“She’s gonna kill her fucking producer,” Lonnie whispers.

“I hope they leave that in,” Catra replies.

They don’t. Instead, they cut back to the studio where the audience is just sitting in stunned silence. The host, Adora, and Mermista are all seated in separate chairs, the couch from earlier suspiciously gone. Mermista looks damn-near lethal in a turquois sari and the best fucking gold eyeliner and lipstick that Catra’s ever seen. She absolutely refuses to even address that Adora’s in the same room.

Adora looks panicked all over again. “I just-”

She’s cut off with a loud groan from Mermista.

“If you’d let me-”

An even louder groan. This woman is a true queen.

“We don’t make sense together!” Adora yells in frustration. It’s loud enough to completely catch Mermista off-guard and crack through her facade of not giving a single shit. “You’re amazing and I think you’re one of the most genuine and brilliant people I’ve ever met. I literally would not have been able to make it through this process without you. But that’s not enough reason for us to get engaged! Once the attraction faded, what would we have? We’re both so stubborn – we would have made each other miserable!”

The studio audience gasps dramatically at Adora’s outburst. Multiple people in the bar whisper, “Oh no.”

And then Mermista’s on her feet, storming off backstage. The cameras gleefully follow as she begins tearing a backroom apart.

“I’ve never been more frightened and in love,” Catra says.

“I know, right?” Lonnie sighs, longingly.

On the screen, Mermista roars.

“I’m not going to point out that my calculations were correct,” Entrapta begins. “But they were. Completely.”

“Not the moment, ‘Trap,” Kyle tells her. “Cat, how are you feeling?”

Catra chugs more water and tries to keep breathing. Feeling? She’s feeling everything. Happy for Adora that she escaped marrying the angriest person on Etheria. Tired from months of worrying about this. Worried for Adora, who's clearly going through it right now.

Mostly she’s fucking breaking into bits inside. Adora knew for months that she wasn’t gonna end up with anyone on the show. A part of Catra is relieved. Adora had told the truth – they didn’t spend their time together with Adora promised to someone else. Catra’s always been the default choice. The convenient one. She wasn’t looking to be put there again and she’s glad not to be.

And yet, on the other hand: There was no competition – Catra had no competition – Adora just didn’t want her. At literally any point, she could have directly said that the show was only her past and Catra was her future. The Magicat would have puked at the cuteness of those words. But truly, that’s all she wanted. Some concrete assurance that things would be okay. Something to hold onto while they were all trapped on this rollercoaster.

Adora's chosen no one. She also hasn't chosen Catra. Not explicitly. “Wanting” her and wanting to be in a relationship with her are two very different things.

“I’m fine,” Catra lies and it sounds so empty that she feels everyone turn to stare at the back of her head. If she looks away from this commercial about an upcoming dating show where people are chosen for you based on whether they win a baking competition, she might lose it and go completely feral.

“Kit,” Casta says in a pleading tone.

Catra doesn’t turn back.

“Just a little more patience,” Spinnerella urges.

“I bet I can find Mermista and she’ll help you steal all of Adora’s most prized possessions,” Netossa tries, already typing on her phone.

That, at least, draws a genuine laugh out of Catra. Unfortunately, it’s coupled with a sob that has Lonnie pulling her into a tight hug. It feels so nice and familiar almost, even though it’s something they haven’t really done in years, that Catra has to hold herself back from completely drowning in it.

“I fucking hate you,” Catra whispers softly. Kindly.

“I know. I hate you too,” Lonnie replies, arms tightening until Catra grips her back.

Adora’s eyes search the studio like Mermista might come at her from any angle. The host – Mara, Lonnie reminds her yet again – assures Adora that the girl has left the building but that doesn't do anything to calm her.

“So do you think Flutterina’s input impacted your decision?” Mara asks.

“No, of course not,” Adora answers with a frown. “Mermista is truly an amazing woman and she’s so ready to meet someone and fall in love and start a family. I’m just not the right person for that particular role.”

She gives a single high-pitched nervous laugh that has the audience pretending to chuckle along with her.

“Well,” Mara begins. “This usually doesn’t happen to us. We ask you to trust the process-”

“I did,” Adora cuts her off to insist. “I trusted the process. It works sometimes – I saw that with my brother, Adam. But you can’t just make love happen in a vacuum like this.”

Mara glances off-screen at someone, probably the producers. Catra’s never seen this show before but she’s pretty sure you’re not supposed to openly voice that it’s a complete sham.

Adora’s on a fucking roll, though. “I’m not looking to be a stand-in who someone has to settle for. Or mark for someone who has an agenda. Or a temporary reprieve for a bunch of women trapped in a house who just want to go outside for a day. I did this all wrong. This isn’t how I’m supposed to find love. You find it- I found it in random places. In those weird little moments that can only happen organically when you’re not even looking for them.”

“You found love?” Mara questions, seeming totally surprised. Again, she looks off stage for some fucking support or guidance. 

Adora’s completely gone off-script, obviously. “I mean, yeah, I found love.”

When the studio audience makes some curious murmurs, she seems to realize what she just revealed.

An innocent blush blooms in Adora’s cheeks. “I mean, I’m pretty sure I did.”

Catra’s pretty sure her own heart just stops completely beating. This moment is potentially her villain origin story. If Adora pulls some kinda bait-and-switch right now,  Catra will just need a costume and an alter ego and then she’s ready to terrorize all of Bright Moon, tearing couples apart and ensuring no one ever finds happiness again.

“I met someone who helped heal my heart and listened to me and really made me feel seen,” Adora continues. She looks like she’s not even talking to anyone in particular, just listening to herself say this out loud for the first time. “We're not dating exactly. Not really. I’m not even sure if she still wants that. She’s been so patient while I go through with this whole thing. I know it’s been hard and she’s been hurting. I’ve been hurting her. I was so worried about following all of the rules that I didn’t even see how I could help her.”

“You two have been spending time together since you finished filming?”

“Yeah, well, I have Mondays free cause I’ve already seen the show,” Adora jokes.

Zombie-like, the audience laughs. That wasn’t even that funny. Are they all drugged? What are they pumping into that studio?

“We met completely by accident a few weeks ago and I haven’t been able to get her out of my mind since then.”

Mara nods, lips pursed. She’s got shrewd eyes, like she’s trying to figure out how to spin this.

“And do you know how she feels about you?”

Adora smiles so brightly that Catra can feel it warm her up through the screen.

“I mean, she’d say something like…” The blonde pauses to scowl and drop her voice lower. “Adora’s alright or whatever,” she says, before rolling her eyes.

The audience laughs again. They must be some kind of bland cult, Catra decides. 

More importantly, that’s an awful impression of her. Borderline-offensive probably, in some logic that doesn’t make any sense but Catra’s standing completely behind.



Is Adora saying what Catra thinks she’s saying?

She feels a bit faint. She tries leaning closer to the television, as if that’s going to help her get to the heart of this mystery more quickly.

Mara is completely over this suspense as well. “Is there anything you want to say to her?” she pushes, definitely sounding like she’s politely asking Adora to finish this up and leave immediately. “Is she watching at home?”

Adora snorts, “Absolutely not.” 

That’s not the answer Mara was hoping for. Another strike, judging by her barely restrained sneer.

With her eyes going to the floor for a moment, Adora takes a deep breath. Her hands fiddle with the lapel pin for just a second more before she looks up, directly into the camera. She’s poised and sure but Catra can see just the tinges of worry in her eyes.

Is she afraid that the idiot she almost confessed her love to might not want her?

“Catra,” Adora begins and the Magicat’s pretty sure she collapses against the well from shock. “I know you’re not watching this because you’re probably sitting at the bar and writing the next great iconic lesbian heartbreak ballad. And I’m sorry for the public spectacle of all of this – I know it’s not your style. But.” She takes another deep breath. “I’ve fallen for you.”

As the audience aw’s, Catra practically has to cover her sensitive ears to protect against the raucous cheering that breaks out amongst her friends. They’re all screaming and whooping and banging on the bar and all Catra can do is wait for the rug to be pulled out from underneath her.

‘I’ve fallen for you but I’m not ready for more,’ she imagines. ‘I’ve fallen for you but I need to be single for a while after all of this.’ ‘I’ve fallen for you but you pushed me away like a self-destructive asshole and I’m afraid of you hurting me again so I have to move on.’ All fair points.

With a bright smile that threatens to soothe way too much inside Catra, Adora continues, “I’m sorry I couldn’t give you the validation you needed while this was all going on. I shouldn’t have sacrificed what we meant to each other, just to see this through. More than anything in my life right now, I’d love to be with you, like really be with you, if you’ll have me.” 

For a moment, Adora seems to realize the ridiculousness of this public declaration. She looks around unsurely and shrugs, “I guess I’ll take my answer off the air.” 

There’s a few awkward laughs in the studio before the audience cheers. 

Mara chimes in to wrap up, encouraging people to watch Kimmel or some bullshit, but it gets tuned out. Between the rush of her own heartbeat and everyone in Hidey Hole shouting over each other, Catra can’t focus on any one thing at once. Though, she pretty clearly hears Netty yell that she just won $1,200.

Adora wants to date. Adora told everyone on tv. She even apologized. 

Oh, fuck. Does Catra want to be with Adora? She’s played it (relatively) safe for so long. There’s nothing about Adora that’s safe for her. If they were together – like, really together as the blonde seems to want – Catra wouldn’t be able to just drive safe and slow. Everytime she thinks of Adora, the pull to be close to her, to be fully herself, is so strong that she can barely resist it. Catra would have to go all out, leave it all on the field, and other nonsense. Leave herself completely and intentionally open to the possibility of being very very hurt.

She honestly can’t even get past that part far enough to consider how fucking public their relationship would be or how she’d have to be accountable for behaving like such a little shit the last time they talked. She hid in a locked room, for fucks’ sake.

Entrapta shifts and Catra can see she’s holding up 6 fingers this time. Right. Super super secret number 6 on the list. It was long and rambling and Entrapta tried to edit it 2 or 3 times. But the jist was:

6. Apologize. Forgive yourself and Adora. Figure out how to move on together.

Of course, that one seems like the most unbelievable of all. But a promise is a promise. Contrary to what Casta had advised, they shouldn’t be broken. Not even to yourself or your weird, overly-involved best friend.

Around her, everyone is beginning to strategize about what to do as Catra tries to just wrap her head around all of this.

“You have to call her right now!” Castaspella orders.

“No, she’s probably in deep shit. Give her a minute to get to a quiet space for some privacy,” Lonnie suggests. 

Juliet nods aggressively. “Maybe just text her a time and place to meet up tomorrow morning.”

“Don’t make yourselves wait all night,” Spinnerella argues.

Rogelio grunts in support of that, telling Catra to just go to her apartment and wait for Adora to call.

“No way,” Kyle says. “She made the ask. Go to her.”

Entrapta makes no comment as she types silently on her computer. So they all begin making a list of possible romantic overtures that Catra should try, each increasingly worse than the one before it.

When her phone rings through the speakers a few minutes later, everyone goes completely silent.

“Ugh,” Catra sighs. “It’s just Glitter+Boy™ .”

She accepts the call and suddenly their faces are shoved onto the screen, tear-stained and overly excited.

“DID YOU WATCH?!” Sparkles screams. 

“We saw!” Lonnie yells back. “What do we do?!”

“Adora’s not answering her phone,” Bow says. “Are you at the bar?” When Catra nods, he quickly responds, “Just stay there. We'll be there in like 10 minutes. We have to make sure this happens.”

Bow and Glimmer are zero fucking help.

For someone who Catra read as a mostly realistic person, Bow’s apparently decided to join forces with Kyle, Rogelio, and Spinnerella who have decreed that a grand gesture is the way to go: A large arrangement of flowers, some food from their first ‘maybe date,’ some kind of inside joke. Maybe showing up outside the studio with her guitar. Catra would rather be skinned alive.

Glimmer’s firmly siding with Casta, Juliet, Lonnie, and Netossa around a more patient response. Huntara doesn’t give two shits so she takes off with 3 road beers and disappears.

“Send a text that you need to meet at your place ASAP. Put on your skimpiest lingerie and just wait,” Netossa says.

“Kind of you to assume that I own lingerie,” Catra responds with an eye roll.

“Your cleanest underwear and tanktop then,” Lonnie argues. “Honestly, naked might just be the way to go.”

Casta shakes her head. “You should apologize first.”

“Yeah,” Juliet agrees, “Maybe have the talk before jumping into anything physical.” She pauses to grimace. “Sorry for getting into your business like this.”

“Dummy,” Catra scolds. “You’re a part of this annoying crew now. Get used to it. A core tenet is apparently being all up into my business all the time. Now, you seem like a reasonable person. Come help me write this text.”

Once she and Juliet tune everyone else out, minus Kyle, who has some almost okay ideas, they quickly write a message with enough details but not too much, enough platitudes but a palatable amount, and hopefully just the right mix of genuine regret.

are you out of your fucking mind?
1. on tv, adora?
2. i’m sorry about that thing
3. tell me where to meet you right now

“I still think you could have sounded nicer,” Kyle grumbles.

“She would have thought someone hacked my phone,” Catra says with a shrug. “Okay, I’m gonna rush home, shower, and change. And then I’ll be off to wherever she wants to meet.”

Glimmer chews her bottom lip. “I really hope she sees it tonight.”

With a couple of low, serious grunts, Rogelio tells her that it will be fine. Catra grabs her bag and her phone, after checking it to make sure Adora hasn’t responded in the last minute.

“Wait!” Entrapta yells out suddenly. She hasn’t spoken in quite a long time and Catra had maybe forgotten that she was still there. “Just wait here for 2 minutes.”

Barely restraining her panic, Catra implores, “Trap, I don’t have time. I have to go do all this shit first.”

“2 minutes isn’t too much,” Entrapta argues. “Just indulge me for 120 seconds.”

Everyone’s too confused to argue. They Entrapta in silence, quietly murmuring questions to each other. For anyone else, Catra would have already bolted. If Entrapta asks for something, that must mean it really matters. 

“Ah hah!” Entrapta erupts after what is definitely more than 2 minutes. “Okay, I’m certain now.”

“You weren’t before?!” Glimmer questions. “We’re wasting time here.”

“We are not, sparkly person,” Entrapta tells her. “Just give me-”

“2 more minutes, Trap?” Kyle shakes his head and turns to Catra. “Go to her.”

“Stop saying it like that, you fucking creep,” Catra grumbles. “Look, maybe let’s all just accept that tonight’s not a good night for this. I can revisit this in the morning with a clear hea-”

Catra’s attempt to get out of all of this is interrupted by the front door opening.

“Ah hah!” Entrapta screams again. “I triangulated-”

Kyle, deeply enthralled in watching the door with everyone else, cuts her off with a shush.

Adora peaks in slowly, looking a little sheepish. Catra hadn’t really noticed earlier that Adora’s signature ponytail was down and the way her hair frames her face makes her look like a fucking vision. Quickly, Adora surveys the room. She must find whatever she’s looking for cause she then rushes inside and locks the door behind herself.

She’s smiling already but once she gets a good look at everyone gathered, all their faces panicked or confused or smiling dumbly, Adora seems a little overwhelmed. This is a pretty ridiculous welcome wagon.

Adora’s eyes flit around until they land on Catra, still behind the bar. The room might as well be empty by the way that Adora locks onto her and smiles, relieved and a little shell-shocked.

“Hi,” Adora says quietly.

Fuck everyone’s plans. One glance at Adora and immediately Catra can’t stay away from her for even a second longer. That Catra who wanted to run earlier is banished, replaced by someone who, if she’s honest with herself, started falling for this dummy probably after just three weeks of weird banter and texts and the sweetest first date she's ever been on.

Catra smoothly vaults over the bar, nearly landing on Rogelio. From there, she sprints towards Adora and as soon as she reaches her, Catra jumps up into her human’s arms, like the women do in the stupid show. Even though there’s plenty of surprise to match the relief in Adora’s face, she catches her easily of course. They’re not sure which of them leans in first but when their lips quickly meet, Adora kisses her firmly, so perfectly and deeply that Catra’s knees would buckle if the blonde wasn’t carrying her. 

They don’t part until they’re out of breath, flushed, and giggling a bit hysterically. Catra feels so light, yet full, like she’s bursting at the seams. Her brain and her heart are running a mile a minute to come up with the perfect thing to say to Adora. Something that captures how happy and loved and grateful and sorry she feels all at once.

“I suck so hard,” Catra immediately blurts out. She holds Adora's face to make sure this is all real, poking claws into her dimples and raking her fingers through her hair.

With a confused chuckle and nervous smile, Adora replies, “I’m sorry – what?!”

“I suck,” Catra repeats. “I mean, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have acted like such an ass last time we were together. You were being vulnerable with me and I just shit all over it. I’m sorry I ran away like a fucking baby too. I didn’t even give you a chance to speak.”

Adora shakes her head, eyes so soft on Catra while her arms remain wrapped tightly the Magicat's waist, effortlessly still holding her up in the air. “No, I get how freaked out you were. You didn't know where we stood and I wasn't communicating enough. I'm sorry for ever making you feel like I wasn't completely committed to you and you alone.”

“No, dummy. You were open and giving and I was being a fuck up yet again.”

Catra leans forward, resting her forehead against Adora's. She's almost dizzy from what she's about to say.

“Adora, I’m in lo-”

Snap. Snap snap snap. Snap snap snap snap snap.

It doesn't fucking stop, this grating noise that bothers the inside of Catra’s senstive ears. She notices it’s joined by some blinding lights that she had tuned out to focus on Adora’s beautiful face.

“What the hell is that?” Lonnie yells.

Catra peaks over Adora's giant head. Out on the street, there's about half a dozen people with cameras, taking pictures through the Hidey Hole’s windows. There's a few more, probably random lookie-loos, with their phones raised.

“Someone might have followed me from the studio,” Adora says, wincing. “Just continue like they're not there.” Her eyes go all wide and eager, nodding for Catra to go on.

“Adora,” she begins again, finding it impossible to not be distracted by the flashing lights and the sounds of people yelling for them. Who tries to make an escape and brings the people you’re fleeing directly to your hideout?! “I’m in...awe of what an idiot you are.”

Glancing back at the sidewalk as it slowly fills with people, Adora just nods. “Yeah, I know.”

Chapter Text

“So, like,” Mermista drawls, already sounding like she’s had it with this entire night. “We’re just supposed to pretend that they’re not totally in love with each other, right?”

Adora can only nod sadly. “Right.”

From their spot at the top of this huge tower, overlooking gorgeous city lights, instead of kissing or enjoying the fireworks, the two of them are looking at their nearby hotel. Where they can see Scorpia and Perfuma holding hands and whispering to each other, clear as day. As the producers probably intended.

“They could just be friends,” Adora thinks aloud. “But Scorpia literally only talks about Perfuma on dates now. And Perfuma…”

“Looks fucking bummed every time she has to leave for a date with you,” Mermista finishes. “Hope’s gonna fucking kill you.”

“Me?!?” Adora squeaks. She pauses to look at all the production folks who are pretending not to listen. There’s a lot of agreement in their faces. So Adora just addresses all of them. “How is this my fault?”

“You were supposed to make them both fall super in love with you,” Mermista answers for everyone. “You basically failed.”

She has to purse her lips to keep from laughing. Adora actually does laugh, swatting at her hip.

“Sorry I’m not more irresistible.”

Mermista slings back more of the champagne so the blonde just follows suit. They might as well get drunk. This new (but very obvious and slowly mounting) development has kinda killed the romantic vibe. Plus, Adora’s still jet-lagged and hasn’t quite gotten used to the time difference yet.

She’s already had overnight dates with the other two contestants. She and Perfuma talked all night about their feelings, carefully avoiding any mention of Scorpia, before sharing sweet kisses and barely racy touches. Adora and Scorpia did some awkward heavy petting that got them both pretty revved up but only ended in actual wrestling. 

After she leaves Mermista’s suite tomorrow morning, she picks out a ring. And theoretically a bride. And then she pops the question. Also, theoretically. Adora thought more dates with them might help clarify things. 

“Do they know?” she asks. At Mermista’s blank look over the edge of her glass, Adora adds, “How they feel about each other, I mean.”

“Oh, fuck no.” Mermista pauses to glance at the cameras. “Do you think if I take my top off, they’ll be forced to stop filming?”

“I tried that a few weeks ago just to get some time alone. No dice,” Adora explains with a head shake. “I’m pretty sure Hope told them to just block out my tits. I think if I sing an entire Beatles song from beginning to end while you talk, they’ll have to cut it.”

Mermista genuinely laughs at that, mocking the producer glaring right at her.

“I don’t think we need to,” she says finally. “This is as bad for them as it is for you. Mara and Hope, I mean. They’re both so terrified to be out themselves. This is kinda their worst fear – you put all these queers in one house and everyone hooks up, breaks up, and creates a bunch of distractions from your search for love or whatever.”

“So they are both lesbians?!” Adora feels like she shouts, before wincing. Quickly, she regrets that, wondering if she just outed two people nonconsensually.

“They’ve been together for years. You didn’t notice?”

“They’re rarely together in the same room.”

“Exactly,” Mermista says with a smile. “Doesn’t that seem weird, since they should be working way more closely together?”

Adora glances back over at the crew.

“Don’t worry. Everyone knows. I tricked half these goobs into confirming it for me.”

“Okay, I feel like I can trust you to tell me the truth – did everyone fuck immediately as soon as they got to the house?” Adora asks.

Brown eyes sparkle with unbridled glee. “You were smart for choosing a beach date, instead of a pool date is all I’ll say. People figured out that water could be used to hide all sorts of sins pretty early on.”

For some reason, that makes Adora blush. She’s not sure if it’s second-hand embarrassment or the idea of how little that pool is probably cleaned.

Mermista just plows forward. “Perfuma has basically hinted that she feels like she has to choose between you and some unnamed third party. Scorpia acts like she’s ready to move forward with you and be happy. I just think she’s lying to herself.” 

Mermista takes another look at the couple on the balcony before turning back to Adora. She tacks on, “You know they’re not gonna air that, right? You’re still gonna have to actually break it off with both of them unless they beat you to it. And you’ll have to spin it a bit to come up with a reason why you’re not marrying either of them.”

That hits Adora like a brick. Mermista’s not usually wrong about these things. Hope will edit this season to be as seamless and clean as possible. No one ever has to know about Perfuma and Scorpia except for the entire crew that would like to keep their jobs, her, and Mermista, who suddenly seems uncharacteristically self-conscious.

“Not to be presumptuous or whatever,” she says, shifting awkwardly in her chair. Though, she’s not exactly wrong for assuming that she’d be the person Adora’s choosing at this point. “I just mean, if you’re not picking them, you can’t really just say ‘I think you’re in love with each other’ without sounding like a condescending dick. You’re gonna have to give them something concrete.”

Right. Adora sighs. It’s in these bizarre moments that she realizes this is as much a staged sham as it is an actual journey to find love. People need simple narratives and if Adora isn’t controlling her own, then Hope is.

“I wish I was as smart as you,” Adora tells Mermista.

With an amused scoff, she replies, “They wouldn’t have cast you if they expected you to be.”

Adora shakes her head at that. It’s probably true. Every time she thought she had the rules of this all figured out, she found out everyone around her was playing by their own.

Well, knowing she’s justified for letting Scorpia and Perfuma go should make things easier. Mermista smiles like she agrees.

The problem is...something in the pit of Adora’s stomach doesn’t.

She doesn’t get over her nervousness even as Mermista reads the date card offering for them to “forego your separate rooms and spend the night together in the Fantasy Suite.” They both agree quickly.

The suite is similar to Adora’s previous two trips in the days before. The show is considerate enough to give a short break between each date but they could stand to try to make them all more distinguishable from each other. Adora frowns looking at the same type of candles, the same color of bedding, hell, probably the same flowers, as Mermista moves quietly about the room.


Adora turns to face her and Mermista’s dress is suddenly pooled on the floor around her feet. She raises an eyebrow, wearing only a black bra and panty set. The strap-to-lace ratio is all off cause it’s mostly just strings holding together the tiniest swatches of material and leaving very little to the imagination.

“We’re not fucking,” Mermista announces.

Adora just nods dumbly, eyes completely rooted to Mermista’s body. This isn’t that much more revealing than her bathing suits but the material is so much thinner that Adora can basically see her vagi-

“You can look but you can’t touch,” Mermista says, breaking the bachelorette out of her thoughts.

“Thank you,” Adora mumbles back.

With a chuckle, Mermista breezes past her and lies down on the bed. “Come on, dork. Here’s your chance to ask me all the gory details of my life.”


There’s 4 days and an entire change of scenery before Adora is allowed near the other women again. It’s either a horrible oversight or an intentional checkmate move from Hope.

After Fantasy Suites, the decision was supposed to be clearer. Adora had had an amazing time getting to talk to Mermista all night. Even with the stated intent of keeping things PG, they’d done a little fooling around. They’d both made the mutual decision to not go too far. It felt...wrong almost to have sex. Like both of them were holding back. The attraction was still there and so Adora had made the wise decision to sleep on the suite’s couch to save them both the temptation.

“No matter what happens,” Mermista had whispered as they kissed each other goodbye. “No hard feelings, okay?”

Adora had nodded, both relieved and confused by that offer. Maybe Mermista was still playing this as a game? It all felt genuine but it was impossible to know what each person had to tell themself to protect their hearts.

Next, they’d all flown out separately. As soon as they’d reached their destination in the Meadowlands, Adora had asked for some time to speak with Scorpia and then Perfuma privately.

She’d spent the flight coming to terms with the fate of each relationship and what felt best for everyone. It didn't really feel like Adora's place to guess at their feelings for each other. Besides, even without that, she wasn't likely to propose if she was honest. There’s a spark missing in both relationships. Almost like they’re just friends that she’s just reasonably attracted to.

Her feelings for each of them were real and she’s sure theirs were too. Even if Scorpia and Perfuma are possibly a better match for each other, Adora knows that they care for her deeply as well.

It's not hard to come up with the right words in her head.

It is hard, however, to look into their faces and break their hearts. Scorpia seems to take it worse, while Perfuma almost looks like this news is expected. Neither argues and Adora returns to her room to spend a miserable, sleepless night alone.


Today is the designated proposal day.

Adora’s more or less sure about what she’s going to do now. Or not do, really.

She’s not going through with this. On paper, Mermista is literally everything Adora’s ever wanted. Gorgeous. Interesting. Ambitious. Wants a family. Loves to travel. Not too serious. She has her own life and friends so she doesn’t need Adora to be her whole universe, which is a kind of pressure the blonde’s never wanted for herself. Bow and Glimmer will love her. Mermista doesn’t seem to mind dogs, though she isn’t enthusiastic about them.

And yes, maybe she enjoys chasing Mermista. Adora does feel deeply about her. Not forever deeply. But 6 months deeply. That’s not enough to get engaged over.

It’s unbelievable that this process worked for Adam. Of course it did, though. Everything works out for Adam. High school heartthrob, D1 soccer star, sole heir to his parents’ business.

Adora has to shake herself out of this spiral with her twin, falling back into a competition with someone who crossed the finish line years ago just to distract from what a mess she’s facing.

Maybe if she suggests that she and Mermista just continue to date, everything will be fine? They had an honest, decent foundation. They could work on everything else.

Adora had always dreamed that there would be a feeling when she found someone special. All the big things people talk about – butterflies, fireworks, sparks. She’d had flashes a few times during this journey but nothing tremendous and mind-blowing like she’d expected. Hoped for, really.

The more time they spent away from each other during this last week, the more Adora started to realize that she didn’t even think of Mermista that much. Adora thought about the pressure of a proposal, of the responsibilities she had, or of how much she didn’t want to hurt anyone. Rarely did she find herself imagining just being with Mermista. Calling her on the phone or chatting about nothing.

Doubt and nerves were really all that managed to get through to her. And of course, guilt. Adora had been torn between doing what was expected of her and doing what she thought was right for everyone.

The vibe’s making everyone nervous. Fisto is already pulling out his hair, trying to convince Adora which dress to put on later. She won’t stop pacing around her hotel room and mumbling to herself long enough to choose.

It’s too hot here, that kind of thick beachy hot that reminds Adora of the beginning of this whole quest, all the way back in Eternia when Adora still believed in this process. They’ve come so far in all those weeks and she’s not closer to finding true love.

“I need to talk to Mermista,” she tells Oona. 

The poor woman’s been trying to talk her down for days with no luck.

“Adora, you know Hope has denied that request,” Oona replies with as much calm as she can call upon. Half of the time, she’s been wearing holes into the carpet along with Adora, going round in circles. 

They both know what has to happen – Adora imagines that’s why Hope refuses to let her have a conversation with Mermista alone.

“You can call your family if you want,” Oona offers.


The producers had organized the Graysons to fly out and meet their supposedly soon-to-be-daughter-in-law. Adora had charmed her way into a video call with her family, where she instructed them not to come.

She didn’t explain her reasons but if she was going to have her hand forced on a public breakup, she wasn’t about to drag Mermista and her family through a dinner full of lies and promises she was never intending to keep. Adora had already picked out a ring days before, but anything beyond that, she was going to refuse point blank.

“I’m going out for some air,” Adora announces.

She takes off down the hallway before Oona can protest, swiftly walking with no purpose or direction. That’s probably how Adora gets turned around quickly and ends up accidentally taking the exit out the back of the hotel.

It’s even hotter and muggier outside because that’s how temperatures work and Adora is now more miserable than before. Her oxford shirt and jeans feel too tight, too sticky. Her breaths start to become too shallow.

Adora tries to remind herself she’s just panicking. That’s normal. Focus on deep breathing. Maybe grab some water.

Her feet start moving her again, heading off towards the front entrance and the lobby. She swears when she immediately rounds the corner of the building and slams into another body.

“Fuck! Sorry!”

The person stumbles a couple feet back, much more shaken up than she is. The sun’s at their back, making it hard to recognize them but Adora can smell cigar smoke and too much cologne.

“Ah, no worries, fairest Adora.”

She blocks out the sun with her hand to get a better look. It’s Sea Hawk. He’s standing alone, leaning against the side of the building, a thin cigar dangling from his lips. In his hands are a pen and some paper, like Adora just interrupted him in the middle of writing.

Someone yells at him to get out of the shot while another voice asks where he’s supposed to be.

“I am merely taking my union-allotted break, comrades!” he tells them cheerfully. “And what are you up to, Adora?”

He’s probably gonna get fired, Adora imagines. That’s a shame cause he’s the only person around here who doesn’t seem obsessed with the show.  

“Just thinking about everything,” she mumbles.

“Yes, many hard decisions, I imagine. I find it helpful to write down my thoughts as you captured me doing just now!” Sea Hawk waves his paper around to prove this. His handwriting looks exactly how Adora would have imagined if she’d ever taken time to think about this – it’s swooping and dramatic and he dots his i’s with hearts. 

“How are you holding up?” Sea Hawk asks.

“Not great but that’s okay,” Adora says with a shrug.

Sea Hawk nods. “That’s much to be expected. I’ve been on three tale-worthy shoots such as these and our brave leads are often confused and conflicted at the end.” He takes a glance at the crew who are still waving him away.  “Did you have a good time last week?” he asks and his smile is a little rakish but it’s genuine and kind. 

In a way, it reminds her of Adam and how he used to always root for her like a dork whenever she had a crush. 

Adora can’t help but blush, thinking about Fantasy Suites. “Yeah, I had a, uh, lovely time.”

Sea Hawk’s smile gets broader. “Excellent!” And then he leans down closer to Adora to whisper, “Our dearest Mermista is quite amorous, is she not?”

‘Our?’ Adora turns to him slowly, feeling like ice crystals are starting to form in her lungs. It’s quite the opposite of how she was slowly burning up from the inside only minutes ago. It’s definitely not an improvement though.

“Is she?” Adora asks breathlessly.


“No fucking way,” Catra interrupts. 

“Yes fucking way,” Adora argues, still filled with clarity and rueful humor when she thinks back to that day. “He straight up told me that they’d been having sex. I think he forgot that I was supposed to propose to her.”

Catra laughs so hard that it jostles Adora where she’s nestled in the Magicat’s arms, leaning back against her chest and enjoying the feel of soft fur against her skin.

It had taken calling Huntara back to the bar to muscle everyone out of the way, but they managed to escape back to Catra's place, avoiding the paparazzi who had followed Adora from the finale. Adora figures her apartment will be swarmed for the next couple days.

The two of them were barely out of Glimmer's car before they were kissing again, relieved and a little frantic. Getting up the stairs proved to be quite the challenge. Once in the bedroom, they were even more rushed to touch each other. It wasn’t until they’d ripped each other’s clothes off quickly that Catra snapped out of it and pulled back.

Flushed and breathless, Adora had given a sheepish smile. “Sorry. I think I just have a lot of adrenaline right now.” She paused to take a deep breath. “I kinda want to punch something.”

“Why don't you tell me what the hell is going on and then we can go break bottles in the alley?”

So Adora had begun from the top, trying to walk Catra through the experience and how she ended up here step-by-step. Predictably, Catra was the worst possible audience for a long, confusing process that Adora still hadn't fully wrapped her head around herself.

Finally, Catra settles down enough to ask, “And then what?”

“I don’t know, honestly. It kinda feels like I blacked out or something. I was trying to decide if I should really walk away without an engagement and that – Sea Hawk – just felt like a sign from the universe. So I got in the car and refused to speak to anyone until I was standing in front of Mermista.”

“You’re lucky she didn’t filet you.”

“She almost did,” Adora laughs. It was truly terrifying. She’d never seen anyone that angry before. But...not? 

Mermista was definitely pissed but something about her rage felt like it was more of what she felt like she had to do. Hopefully, costing the show so much money was cathartic for her. Adora couldn’t even respond while she stood there on the beach uselessly, too confused to get out the short words she’d practiced about how there wasn’t enough between them to gamble on a proposal.

“Did that bum you out? That they were all in other relationships?”

Adora shrugs. “Not really. I was dating all of them. Being pissed at them for doing the same would have been a weird double standard.” She lets that roll around in her head for a moment. “I guess the fact that Mermista was dating Sea Hawk isn’t what mattered. He was so obsessed with her, writing her love notes and stuff. I just knew in that moment that I was never gonna feel that strongly about her. I wanted to go out and find that for myself.”

Catra nods slowly. “And then what?” she repeats.

“You’re the worst listener,” Adora teases her. “I’m telling the story.”

“You’re taking too long to get to the good part.”

“What’s the good part, babe?”

“The part with me,” Catra says simply.

“Well, that’s the best part, yeah.” Adora extends her neck to reach up and rub her cheek against Catra’s. “Nothing much happened after that. They took me to the confessional and I tried to explain that I just wasn't in love with Mermista but it probably all sounded super robotic. I think they ended up using some audio I’d recorded about Scorpia to explain why I wasn’t ready for a proposal or whatever.”

“They can do that?”

“They can do whatever they want. That’s why I tried to avoid watching it. I’m sure they made me look like a complete tool.”

Catra snorts. “Like you need any help with that.”

Adora lightly pinches her thigh and the yelp she gets in response is the cutest. Gods, what a fucking relief it is to end up here instead of the many, many less promising alternatives.

“They took me back to the hotel and Hope and Mara took turns lecturing me like disappointed parents. I made them drive me to the closest all-you-can-eat buffet, where I devoured everything in sight until I was sick. And then I was back here, just waiting for everyone to watch the show and think I was a fame-hungry dirtbag.”

Adora expects some kind of sympathy maybe. Well, not really cause whether or not she admits it, Catra’s jealous of the whole process, especially how it took time away from them again and again. So maybe what Adora expects is a little soothing.

What she receives, however, is another, “And then what?”

“My Gods, Catra!” Adora laughs. “And then I walked into a bar and met the most incredible woman on Etheria!”

Gorgeous. Blunt. Unique. Funny. Talented. Smart as hell. Tough as hell. Sweeter than she’d ever admit. After that 4th Monday, Adora had already fallen.

“Hmm,” Catra hums, before leaning down to kiss Adora’s jaw. Even that light touch has butterflies soaring in Adora's stomach and electricity sparking in her veins. “And then what?”

Adora has to fight the urge to groan in frustration. Fine. 

“And then I got to know her and lost my mind.” Catra opens her mouth, probably to be annoying again, so Adora continues, “And then I fucked her like she’s never been fucked before. A few times actually.” 

Catra makes a sound that she probably thinks is disgruntled but Adora notices how it ends in a pleased trill.

“And then she fell for me. But I had to go to my super embarrassing temporary job so she thought I hated her. Secretly though – which was not a secret to literally anyone except her – she was all I could think about. So I told her and the whole world.”


“I’m a massive asshole,” Adora explains as soon as she has her family gathered backstage.

The live finale is going horribly. Terribly. So much worse than the tell-all even, which Adora had really considered among the lower points of her life so far. She’d signed up for a public love story, not a public evisceration. At least she had Catra to comfort her that night, holding Adora close and taking care of her, before everything imploded between them.

Adora’s not really cut out for any of this. Having to wait in the green room and watch videos of herself on tv looking and sounding like a complete fool is an effective method of personal torture. The audience booed when her breakup with Scorpia was played. And now Adora gets the fun task of coming clean about how thoroughly she’s fucked all of this up to her family, who barely even seem like they want to be here.

“I’ve literally been telling you that for 28 years,” Adam replies with a smirk while they have to ignore their mother scowling in the background.

Teela punches Adam in the arm before asking, “Can you finally tell us what’s up? I’m sure it’s not that bad.”

Adora takes a deep breath to gather herself. Her family isn’t that patient: Marlena’s fingers twitch to do something, Randor looks like he’s seconds away from trying to bundle her up in a hug, and Adam’s eyes start to wander around the set.

“I’m in love,” Adora announces. It’s the first time she’s said it out loud. The weight of this secret on her shoulders feels a little lighter but Adora imagines she won’t feel fully relieved until she can tell Catra. Until she knows that Catra can open herself up to feeling it too.

“Oh,” her dad says. “We’re happy to hear that.”

“Mermista seems like a lovely girl,” her mother adds. “It would have been nice to meet her before you proposed-”

Adora jumps in to clarify, “I didn’t propose. And also, I’m not talking about Mermista.”

Four pairs of eyes blink at her slowly. After a long moment, they all finally open their mouths at once but Randor's deep, booming voice is unsurprisingly the loudest and clearest.

“Then what the hell are we doing here?”

“Dad, can you let her talk?”

“Adora, answer your father.”

Teela just looks at them and rolls her eyes.

“Two minutes!” a PA yells out.

“Okay,” Adora says as she begins shuffling them back out into the studio. “I met a girl after the show was done. She’s amazing and I’m in love with her. I’m not engaged to anyone and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do when we’re done taping. If Hope kills me, Adam has to avenge me.”

“60 seconds!” the PA yells and the Graysons all begin scrambling to get more answers, their voices getting lost in all the noise around them.

Adora uses this opportunity to run back to her seat on stage.


“And then wh-?”

“Oh my Gods, you’re insufferable!”

Catra nips at Adora’s shoulder, pulling her closer into her arms.

“Well, you’re the rube who fell in love with me so that’s your fault. There’s no cameras nearby for you to break up with me publicly – you’ll just have to wait it out.”

Adora groans but continues. Best to get this all out at once.


The makeup people are quickly trying to blot sweat from Adora’s face while Hope stands there looking like this is just another unimportant day at the office. The blazing hot lights and the dozens of people rushing around don’t seem to bother Hope at all. Her eyes bore into Adora as she stands there in silent judgement. Honestly, the blonde’s less worried about Hope and more worried that Mermista’s going to circle back and throw a chair; the producers swear she’s gone but Mermista’s so much more clever and capable than everyone here.

“Your outbursts are unacceptable,” Hope lectures.

“I’m sorry,” Adora replies, not really meaning it. 

Well, she’s not sorry for Hope, anyway. She does feel a bit bad that this is how she and Mermista had to talk but the girl had blocked her on social media as soon as they each got their phones back. 

“You have to control your emotions better. Mermista doesn’t need your behavior to be a stain on her season.”

Adora frowns in confusion before waving the makeup person away with a short thanks. “What are you saying?”

“Adora, Mermista is going to be the next bachelorette,” Hope explains to her like she’s a toddler. “You already ruined her chance to get engaged once. Why do you insist on doing it again?”

“I did not! I literally just gave an amazing speech about how great she is. And I was kind enough to not reveal that she's dating one of your camera people! I cleaned up your mess for you. Would you have wanted me to tell everyone the truth instead?”

Hope’s brows furrow and her nostrils flare. It’s the angriest that Adora’s seen her.

“If you do anything to jeopardize my show-”

“Are you seriously fucking threatening me seconds before I go back on live television?” Adora asks. She’s fuming so badly that she can feel her fists shaking. She’s put up with Hope for months but Adora’s patience is running really thin now. “I don’t really need more ammo to expose how shitty you’ve treated me this entire time. How you’ve manipulated everything. How you fabricated all of this conflict with no interest in the core point of your entire show – to help people find love.”

“Don’t be naive, Adora,” Hope tells her calmly. “No one’s pretending the intent of the show is to help people find love, except for you. They want the drama. And you’ve delivered. So you’re going to go out there for your last segment with Mara, say you had a wonderful journey and still believe in the process, and never speak of this again.”

“I'm supposed to be on Kimmel later,” Adora points out. She didn't even want to do it but Hope had made it sound like they had no choice. Of course that was just another lie.

“I bumped you and replaced you with Mermista. She's already trending.”

“Understood.” Adora smiles, not even worrying if it's believable. 

As she heads back out, Hope grabs her by the arm.

“Remember your contract, Adora. You want to spend the next few months with your new secret girlfriend and not tied up in court, yes? Do what's best for everyone here.”

“What's happening?” Mara asks, suddenly next to them. She looks back and forth between them, clearly confused by the tension. Obviously Adora isn’t the only person Hope’s keeping in the dark here.

Adora wrenches her arm from Hope’s grip. “Nothing. I'm doing what's best for everyone.” She storms onto the stage before either of them can stop her.


“That line sounds so much less badass than you think,” Catra tells her.

Adora gives her a dramatic gasp. “It was a super badass moment! It's my hero’s journey.”

Catra scoffs. “You’re a b-plot at best in this story. I'm the hero. You're the villain that fell in love with me. Keep up, dummy.” 

Not for the first time – or even the hundredth – Adora wonders what the hell goes on in Catra’s head. She imagines it must just be a constant stream of noise, based on how quick Catra is and easily distracted. All full of music and jokes and pop culture references and awful memories she’d like to outrun, even while wallowing in them. It’s daunting and fascinating, exactly like the woman herself.

Catra snaps her fingers impatiently. “And the-?”

“And then I told everyone, like I wanted to from the start. I rushed out of the building before Hope could challenge me to a fight. A very strange cabbie, who I’m pretty sure we met when we were drunk, picked me up and drove me to this amazing woman so that she could confess her love for me in front of all of her friends.”

“That last part definitely didn’t happen.”

“It totally did!” Adora argues. “It was the same weird cabbie. It was the strangest thing, Catra! I had cameras all over me as soon as I left the studio and she just pulled up and yelled for me to get in. She brought me straight to the bar. I swear, I didn’t even have time to tell her where I was going cause she was so busy babbling about detours and timing and fate.”

“I mean, I didn’t confess my love,” Catra clarifies. “I 100% believe that old biddy picked you up. I wonder if she’s in Casta’s coven.”

“...You didn’t confess?” Adora asks slowly. She knows, of course, that Catra didn’t say the actual words but kissing her in front of everyone, especially all the photographers, was just as good. It’s fun to fuck with her though.

“Let’s watch that gif of you busting your face again,” Catra suggests, squirming behind Adora.

“I'm gonna have to hire someone to have that scrubbed from the internet.” Along with all the other embarrassing moments she provided to the public, free of charge. Glimmer’s been blowing up the group chat with terrible Adora memes for weeks.

“You think that'll stop Entrapta? Amateur.” Catra clears her throat awkwardly. “Are they really gonna sue you for finally affirming how I'm the best thing that's ever happened to Etheria?”

“Your recollection of it is a bit different than mine. But nah. Hope was bluffing. She wouldn't want that story out and distracting from Mermista's press.”

Catra’s finally quiet for a long moment. Adora puts a hand on her thigh, just to try to help her stay grounded. She probably doesn’t even realize it, but Adora’s noticed that Catra has these strange times where she just floats off into her own head. It always seems so...isolating?

“What are you thinking?” Adora prompts.

“Are you sad?” Catra whispers. “That it didn’t work out?”

“I’m here with you. I’d say it worked out exactly how it should.”


They sit in silence for a bit while Adora waits for more questions. When it becomes obvious that Catra’s not going to ask anything else, not now at least, she decides to pose one of her own.

“What’s all this on the walls?”

Catra freezes behind her. Her chest stops moving, her hands on Adora’s stomach turn to wood. Adora tries to turn and give her a quick look but Catra surprises her by slipping out from behind the blonde and suddenly being on her feet next to the bed.

“I didn’t think you’d be coming by tonight,” Catra mumbles. At lightning speed, she begins taking everything down, pulling pages from the walls and gathering them in a stack in her hand.

“Sorry. Didn’t mean to pry.”

“You didn’t,” Catra replies but she still won’t look at Adora. She picks up the last sheet and pushes them all into a corner under the bed. “Just...some, uh. Things. To try. To not be shitty or whatever.”

Adora nods, unsure what that’s supposed to mean. One of the pages just said “don’t always steal from Kyle.” Is Catra telling herself to steal less from Kyle? Or just steal more from other people? Regardless, Adora’s missing at least three of her most worn-in shirts and she’s pretty sure they’re in the ball of clothes that Catra calls a closet. It’s a klepto way.

“I don’t think you’re shitty,” Adora offers. Glimmer thinks she’s being too forgiving but it’s clear that Catra’s been through a lot and that’s shaped who she is and how she shows up, especially around relationships. Also, Adora’s forgiven Glimmer for two decades of bad behavior so she can suck it.

Catra doesn’t seem to agree with Adora’s assessment. Her eyes are still trained firmly on the floor and her ears are pushed against the side of her head. 

“I'm sorry I'm like this. I haven't been exactly enjoying it my whole life either.”

Adora nods. She thinks she has an idea of what Catra’s talking about, the pushing away and pulling back. It was difficult but Adora couldn’t exactly blame Catra. Not when she’d had to do her fair share of protecting herself as well.

“Hey,” she calls gently. 

Adora slides across the bed so that her feet are on the floor. She expects a bit of coercing but when Adora reaches her hand out to Catra, it’s accepted easily. Catra allows herself to be tugged until she’s standing between Adora’s knees.

She ducks down to catch Catra’s eyes. “It’s okay. You’re okay. I was really hurt before. Not so much because you ran away but because you stayed away. I needed you.”

Catra looks up in surprise. “You need me?” she asks and the way that her voice is so small and out of character almost breaks Adora’s heart.

“I do.” Catra gives a tiny half-smile that has Adora grinning in response. “No more running off?”

“No more big secrets?” Catra asks instead.

“It would be impossible to top this one,” Adora replies with a laugh, but she shakes her head. 

“I can't help but believe you. You’re pretty much the most genuine person I’ve ever met.” 

“I know you spook easily. That's why I had been moving so slowly at first. I think if the show hadn't felt like a ticking time bomb that I was leaving in your hands, most of the trouble would have been avoidable. I wouldn't have pushed and you wouldn't have freaked.”

Catra frowns, picking up Adora’s free hand as well. The eye contact she makes is so laser-focused and determined. “Dummy, none of this is your fault.”

“Well, I definitely don't agree with that. But what I'm saying is not all of it’s your fault. We can both carry the load.” That's what Adora had been looking for, after all. Someone to share things with. Her life, her joy, her losses.

Catra examines their joined hands for a moment.

“Maybe I'll start with something reasonable like I'll come back within a few minutes if I...need some space to chill out.”

Adora thinks that over for a couple seconds and then nods. “Same. Maybe taking a breather when things get stressful will help me too. I can gather my thoughts.”

Catra moves both of Adora’s hands to her own waist. Always eager to touch, Adora lets herself grip along fuzzy thin hips before sighing happily. Catra leans in a little closer and wraps her arms around the blonde’s neck.

“I think it'll take a while before we have 100% trust in each other after all this,” Catra says. She still looks fearful but she’s pushing herself. Adora can see that clearly. “But I really want to try.”

“I mean, I'm not that worried, Cat. You're kinda the most frighteningly loyal person I know.” She thinks on this for a second. “Well, maybe you’re tied with Glimmer. You don’t even talk to anyone you’ve known for less than a decade.”

“New people are trouble. Case in point,” Catra gestures a hand casually at Adora. “I met you and suddenly the universe conspires to try to make me care about things.”

Adora moves both hands up to Catra’s hair to pull her down into a brief yet heated kiss. It's still a wonder how perfectly they fit together.

“I’ve never felt this way about someone before,” she whispers against Catra’s lips.

“Do you think Mermista’s still single? She's fucking hot. I wonder if I’m her type,” Catra whispers back.

Adora shoves her away for being a little shit. But not too far. She’s not ready to be very far away from Catra. Probably not for at least a couple weeks.

“You know, I really thought you understood. When I kept telling you there was no one else, I thought you knew that I meant you were the one.”

Catra makes an offended noise. “How the shit was I supposed to get that from your vague and, quite frankly, ominous warnings?”

“Only you would find the phrase ‘you don't have any competition’ as ominous. But yeah, you're so thick, I see now why I should have spelled things out,” Adora teases.

“You better mean ‘thick’ in the hot way.”

“You can be both.” She reaches down to grip Catra’s curvy ass to prove her point.

“You know what? I'm realizing this isn't really what I want after all. We should break up.”

Adora smirks. “After 3 months of you pining after me while I was literally sitting around thinking what a lovely girlfriend I had? Not sure how I'll break the news to Swifty. He asks about you all the time. Not to mention my parents.”

“Yeah, let's definitely not mention your parents while you’re half-naked in my bed,” Catra drolls out.

“Why would you ever put that sentence out into the universe?”

“That the end of your story?” she asks impatiently. “No more surprises up your sleeve?”

“I thought you said you weren't into sexy magicians?” Adora jokes. 

Catra looks deeply unimpressed and that’s reason enough for Adora to learn at least a few close-up magic tricks to break out on dates and when they’re in public with Catra’s friends. 

“No more surprises.” Adora reaches up to cup Catra’s face before continuing. “After we finished filming was probably one of the worst times of my life. I went from surrounded by people to alone and spiraling around what must be wrong with me if I was handed this opportunity and still couldn’t find someone to put up with me.”

Catra’s eyes soften immediately. “You’re perfect, you idiot. Except for the part where you thought you’d find someone to spend your life with on the same channel where I watched a fake doctor be stabbed through the chest by a falling icicle.”

“What I’m trying to say is even though you think you’re such a jerk – and to be fair, you often are – you, Catra Weaver, really came through for me. You showed me a lot of kindness even though I was a complete stranger. I love you so fucking much.”

The words are barely out of her mouth before Catra’s surging forward into a kiss. She’s so intent and insistent that it knocks the air out of Adora’s lungs.  

Adora’s not complaining but she’s never met anyone before whose primary turn-ons are risk-taking and emotional vulnerability. Catra probably would literally die if she realized that everytime Adora says a nice thing to her, she rushes to rip her own underwear off.

The thought makes Adora chuckle into the next kiss.

“What the fuck is so funny?” Catra grumbles but she moves her lips to Adora’s neck without an answer.

“How do you feel about me?” Adora asks. 

Catra pulls back suddenly and gives Adora an intense look that has her heart speeding up. 

Catra’s eyes are blazing when she replies, “If anything ever happens to you, I'll destroy the whole universe.”

“Okay, pull back a bit,” Adora says, laughing patiently. “Too much.”

Catra’s eyebrows dip in the middle and she scrunches her nose up cutely. “I’ll be inconsolable? Probably for a while.”

“This might not be helpful to point out but I asked how you feel and you're already talking about me leaving.”

Catra sorta blanches at that. Adora figures it’s more about having that pointed out than it is about the line of thinking itself. That particular thought seems to be hard-wired into Catra.

They can delve into that in time, probably. For now, Adora asks, “Do you regret how things happened?”

Catra shakes her head. “No. Honestly, I needed the kick in the nuts, I think. Do you?”

“Not a lot. If I hadn’t done the show and had it end the way that it did, I probably wouldn’t have met you. I wouldn’t have learned to stop trying to martyr myself for everyone. I wouldn’t be as happy as I am now.” She pauses to sigh. “I wish I had told you earlier, both at the beginning and then about the outcome and how I felt.”

“I wish I would've listened. I wanted you so much – my brain just wouldn't play ball.”

Adora lets her thumb linger on Catra’s face, tracing her cheekbones, her chin, along her freckles.

“We’re gonna be okay,” she says.

“Promise?” Catra asks, with wide, hopeful eyes.

“I promise.”

Chapter Text

Catra awakes on Tuesday morning to Melog’s constant mewling. She and Adora didn’t finally fall asleep until well after sunset, talking about the show and processing where they stood. And fucking each other’s brains out. Actually, after they had a good convo, pretty much all of their time last night was spent competing to see who could draw the loudest, lewdest sounds out of the other.

Entrapta had not been subtle about blasting music all night so the true losers were their neighbors. Maybe it was about time that they actually upgraded all that janky-ass soundproofing.

The apartment had been blissfully silent over the past few hours, giving Catra a chance to finally get some peaceful rest after weeks of anxious, sleepless nights. Adora wouldn’t let her go, pulling Catra against her body until the blonde was practically sleeping on top of her.

Right now though, Adora’s mysteriously missing for the first time. Catra’s sleepy mind almost wakes up enough to worry until she hears a panicked voice that sounds like it’s following Melog back and forth across the apartment.

“Please work with me,” Adora pleads, barely able to drown out the sound of loud meowing. “I love you and I love your person but if you don’t let me get back to bed, I’m going to eat the insides of these antique chairs and poison myself.”

“Drama queen,” Catra calls out, voice almost failing her halfway through. “Just open a can of food.”

“I did!”

Melog cries even louder. Catra drags herself out of bed and into her door frame, leaning against it for support as she rubs her eyes.

“Did they eat?” she asks.

Adora pops out so that she’s visible. She’s wearing Catra’s embarrassingly cheesy robe, a thrifted bright gold satin eyesore that’s so short on Adora that she wouldn’t be able to bend over without flashing everyone.

“They sniffed the bowl and ran away from it,” she replies, throwing her arms out to the side in defeat.

“They're trying to trick you into giving them people food,” Catra explains. She gives one quick, annoyingly high-pitched whistle before pointing in the general direction of the cat’s food bowl.

Melog runs over and begins eating with no hesitation. Adora's face is incredulous and offended.

“They know an easy mark when they see one,” Catra tells her. 

Mission accomplished, Catra slowly turns around, fully conscious that she's completely naked, and saunters back to bed. It isn't long before Adora joins her, robe forgotten on the floor. She presses up against Catra's back, the skin beneath her fur coming alive. Then two strong hands wrap around Catra's front, coming to stop low on her stomach and linger there. Catra arches up to the touch, a signal that Adora should go a bit lower.

She's dreamt about ‘relationship morning sex’ with Adora, which she imagines is even better than ‘regular morning sex’. She gets to be all wrapped up in the loving arms of her brand new person while filled to the brim with her fingers.

“I love you,” Catra says so quietly that it sounds like she's just sighing. She's still working her way up to, you know, actually making it audible to humans. Give her a couple weeks.

Adora leans down close to her ear and leaves a gentle kiss, before parting her lips. Catra practically shivers in anticipation. Is the blonde gonna whisper sweetly ‘good morning, beautiful’ like she always does or ask Catra to spread her thighs or tell her how amazing she was last night?

In her sexy, sleepy voice, Adora murmurs, “Let's look at your phone.”

“The fuck?” Catra jerks back to look at her face.

The idiot is completely serious, if maybe a little maniacally excited.

“I want to see if there's any pictures of you online. You were so cute jumping up onto me last night. Someone must have gotten a shot of that.”

“Never call me cute.”

“Yes, right,” Adora says with an eye roll. “Drop dead gorgeous.”

Catra tosses back onto her side, pulling Adora to hold her again. “Use your own godsdamn phone.” She tugs the blonde's arms closer so that's not actually a viable option.

“I don't know where it is. You kinda just tossed my clothes everywhere as soon as we got here.”

“That better not be a complaint I’m hearing.”

“Never,” Adora vows. “I like when you're eager.”

She nips at the back of Catra's neck. Finally. One of Adora's arms moves slightly while Catra waits impatiently for Adora's next move...until her hand lands on the end table, reaching for Catra's phone where it's plugged into the wall.

“My Gods, let it go,” Catra urges.

“If you check your phone, I’ll give you literally any reward you want right now.”

Catra considers being difficult. And then she considers the benefits of being generous and patient.

“Fine,” she pretends to huff, already thinking up a myriad of ways for Adora to pamper her today. 

Practically shaking with excitement, Adora hands Catra her phone. This gets annoying before she’s even made it past the home screen. Over 60 texts. Countless Instagram notifications. A dozen missed calls and voicemails.

“No fucking way,” she grumbles and throws it back towards the blonde without looking. “Now gimme,” Catra says, grinding her ass back into Adora.

Obviously, it’s naive to think she could just get absolutely ruined this morning, even after everything she went through to get here. Adora rolls away completely, picking up the phone and beginning to click through it. Catra doesn’t waste any time climbing on top of Adora and trying to swat it away. The least Catra deserves is to be the complete center of attention right now. Adora just uses her stupid long arms to hold the phone up out of reach and continue reading.

“The internet has figured out your identity already. You’ve got so many people reaching out to you for business opportunities,” the dummy gushes. “Lonnie says all the Horde merch has sold out and your streams are through the roof. This is so exciting!”

Catra sneers. There’s literally nothing good about this. She barely wanted to work for success. She definitely doesn’t trust any that’s just handed to her.

“Yeah, I’m not cool with getting famous just cause of my girlfriend. Shit, I don’t wanna get famous at all. I just want to make trash music with my friends who I kinda hate.”

Under her, Adora gives a wide, crooked grin. She looks so happy that Catra’s breath stutters for a moment, her whole being just grateful to be in Adora’s presence.

“You called me your girlfriend,” Adora coos. 

The phone gets thrown carelessly onto the floor. 

Two hours later, Catra’s once again lying on top of Adora, though this time she’s being crushed against her girlfriend’s tits as she catches her breath. Adora had pretty much tossed her around every corner of her small bed, while calling her a treasure trove of filthy names that could make a trucker blush, until Catra had cum too many times to feel her legs.

It was perfect. Adora was perfect. Catra doesn’t think she could possibly feel any more warm and gooey inside right now. She even indulges herself a bit and grooms the hair around Adora’s ear, eyes half-closed as she makes short, slow licks with her rough tongue.

“That was okay,” Catra sighs.

“I'm gonna need you to make me a Catra-to-Etherian translation guide. I've figured out some stuff on my own but a guide would be helpful.”

“The disrespect!” Catra yells with fake outreach.

“Like, ‘that was okay’ means ‘that’s the best sex I've ever had’.”

“Wow, lots of delusions of grandeur here.”

“And ‘I don't like you’ means you like me.”

She buries her face in Adora’s boobs. “No, dummy. It means I'm hopelessly in love with you.” Catra sighs, knowing what she's about to say will break this calm, delicate cocoon they're in. “‘You can't tell me you're in love with me’ means ‘I’m terrified of this. Of possibly losing you when you realize who I am. And of having you and not knowing how to treat you and make you feel as good as you make me feel.’ Obviously.”

“Obviously,” Adora repeats, trying to drop her voice to mimic Catra’s. She tugs at the dark unruly hair laid against her chest until the two of them are eye-to-eye, her own brimming with tears. “Is that why you cried that day?”

“I refuse to acknowledge that that happened.”

Adora pulls her impossibly closer until Catra has to wrap her arms around her blonde head to keep from completely sinking into her and never leaving.

Catra begins slowly, sounding weirdly like Entrapta, “I may have been thinking all of that and had a visceral reaction to the panic, which manifested in the form of perspiration.”

“From your eyes? So, tears,” Adora pushes with a grin.

“You cried too!”

“Cause I’m so fucking in love with you and you never tell me what you’re thinking!” Adora makes a sound that’s halfway between a hysterical laugh and a wail. “It’s honestly terrifying. Every time I thought I had stuff figured out, you’d run off.” A couple of the tears that were threatening to fall finally do. Adora doesn’t even move to hide them. “I know who you are. I want to know more. That’s all you have to do to show me you love me. Just let me in.”

With a sigh, Catra stands. Adora’s reluctant to let her go but gives in when Catra fixes her with a stern look.

“We’re gonna watch a movie,” is all she says, before she walks over to the tv.

It takes Catra a minute of digging around her tapes to find a couple unmarked ones. Honestly, she’s not sure why she even kept these. So much of the junk from her childhood was too painful to be around but there’s a handful of stuff that somehow made the cut. Just a few knicknacks, one or two things that are the closest to family heirlooms, and a few old tapes. She pops one in and rewinds it, hoping it’s what she was looking for and not some embarrassing record of the time she tried to form a one-person girl group.

The tv’s so old that it definitely sounds like it’s eating the black spooled film and wouldn’t that just be perfect. But it loudly clicks, signaling it’s ready to play and Catra hits the button before jumping back into bed. She sits, rather than lying down, and wordlessly whacks Adora with her tail until the blonde also sits up and moves to hold Catra from behind.

The screen comes on, crackly and slightly distorted from overuse and old age. It’s an awkward angle of an auditorium. Catra’s been to too many to remember exactly which one. Slightly left of center is a grand piano, shiny and black and stunning.

“Catrice Weaver,” a tall woman in a hideous tan suit with big shoulders and tacky bronze buttons announces. She shuffles quickly off the stage to minor applause.

“Catrice?!” Adora whispers.

“Bet your fucking background check didn’t turn that up,” Catra drawls. “Now shush.”

The two of them watch as a tiny Magicat – she was probably 9 at the time but looks much younger, too small for her age group – struts on stage in an awful pink frilly dress and confidently seats herself at the piano. Her already huge mane is teased up and hair sprayed into an outdated frozen shell of hair. With a deep breath, she sheathes her claws and places her hands on the keys.

For a few minutes, they watch in silence as tiny Catra more or less perfectly plays a dull concerto. The kid’s got fucking moxie, adult Catra thinks. She hasn’t watched these tapes in almost 15 years but it’s nice to know her theatrics have always been a part of her. Occasionally, Adora almost unconsciously grips her tighter when the music swells or when Catra fucking kills it in the cadenza.

She finishes with more of a flourish than would be typically appreciated. But the crowd thunders out applause as she takes a short bow before rushing off.

Voice sounding hushed and completed awed, Adora says, “That was a-”

“Middling,” a cold mutter on the tape interrupts. 20 years later, Catra still feels ice creep up her spine. Almost immediately, Adora’s arms wrap protectively around her.

The camera instinctively shifts to the left to capture a tall, thin pale purple woman in deep red, her face covered with a veil. She’s practically vibrating with restrained rage, eyes trained angrily on spot where Catra was previously sitting.

Realizing the mistake, the camera swiftly tilts back to the stage. 

“Shit, that woman’s a piece of work,” someone behind the camera whispers.

“Yeah, poor kid,” someone else agrees.

“Huh,” Catra says lightly. “Well, trauma is a bitch. I definitely didn’t remember it ending that way.”

“Who was that?” Adora asks. “Your stepmother?”

“Yeah,” Catra sighs. Footage of another recital comes up on screen but she gets up to turn the tape off before it begins. This was a fucking disaster already.

“Was she a professional pianist?”

Catra barks out a laugh as she ejects the tape. “Sheila? Nah. Never had a talent for anything except manipulation. She got me into good programs though. Good schools. Guess I should be grateful for that.” She shrugs.

“Sounds like she was hard on you,” Adora comments carefully. Catra doesn’t turn around to look at her but she can feel the weight of what the blonde’s trying to get at.

“Fine,” Catra huffs. There’s no real annoyance behind it, not at Adora anyway. “I’ll give you the short version. I had two moms cause queerness runs through my genes apparently. One split early. The other had some...mental health issues. Demons she couldn’t beat. She married a horrible woman who promised to help take care of us. Mom dies, I’m all alone with Sheila. I didn’t speak for a year straight after that and someone suggested art therapy. Turns out, I was pretty good with an instrument. Sheila saw that as a way to make some money, maybe get some respect so we went 120% into it. Talent comes at a cost.”

“You haven’t touched a piano since you were a kid, Lonnie said.”

Catra shakes her head. “She took all the joy out of it. I always wanted to sing anyway. Even though I hate my voice just as much as Sheila did. But I like doing it for me.” She pauses to clear her throat awkwardly. Adora doesn’t necessarily need to know this next part but...maybe she does? “I, uh. I sorta spent a long time looking for...I don’t even know. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, Adora. Fucked up a lot of relationships before. Too clingy or too distant or picking all the wrong people.”

Catra isn’t quite sure what she’s trying to explain so when she runs out of words, they’re forced to sit in thick silence for a long moment. Feet pad softly behind her until Adora’s hands are on her hips, turning Catra around to face her.

“Thank you for sharing that with me,” Adora tells her, eyes big and wet again.

“Yeah, I’m sure pieces of my tragic backstory will just pop up unexpectedly whenever they want to.” She looks to the floor. “Don’t make a big deal about it.”

“Which is Catra-speak for…”

Catra swallows and lets herself lean into Adora’s warm body.

“You still love me?” she asks quietly.

Adora pulls her close, hands going to scratch at Catra’s ears. “I love you even more.” 

They stand there holding each other for a long moment before Adora speaks again. “You ever thought about talking to someone about all this?”

“I tried. A couple times.” Catra sighs. The support group wasn’t much help but she’d briefly gone to a therapist that Spinnerella suggested a few years back. It was hard work, dredging all of this old shit up and learning to...well, to unlearn everything Sheila had taught Catra about herself. Hard work really isn’t her thing.

But Catra’s fucked tendencies have derailed so so many things over the years, opportunities for the band, relationships, chances to a decent person. As much as she hates to admit it, it probably doesn’t make it very easy for her friends to be around either. All of those goons deserve a little peace. Entrapta’s hints had been less veiled than usual lately.

“Um…” she says quietly. “I’d like to try again.”


Catra nods. “No promises, though. I’ll probably still be a brat.”

“Hmm,” Adora hums. Her lips replacing her hand on Catra’s ear. “Good thing I wouldn’t want you any other way.” 

Adora is whining. Melog doesn’t know what’s happening – though Catra’s pretty sure that they actually do – but they love complaining so they’re parroting every annoying sound the human makes.

“Please,” Adora begs.

Melog fucking howls.

“I swear the two of you better put a fucking sock in it,” Catra grumbles. 

Her room is a mess. She and Adora have been railing each other on every available surface for less than 48 hours but they’ve managed to scatter all of her belongings everywhere.

In fairness, that’s mostly Catra’s own fault. Adora is very respectful. The Magicat on the other hand has been tossing her own shit around the place with abandon.

The state of the work shirt she’s holding is shameful. Who knows that this substance on it is. The backup shirt is nowhere in sight. 

“Please,” the two dummies whine again.

“No,” Catra repeats sternly. “Neither of you is coming to the bar.”

Melog meows sadly again.

“They say they’re willing to make the sacrifice if that means only I can go,” Adora explains.

“No, they said you’re an idiot and should let me go do my thing in peace,” Catra corrects.

“I miss seeing how much you enjoy yourself at the bar. It’ll be just this one time.”

“And then what? You’ll find another queer bar to hang out in?” Catra gives up on her search to narrow her eyes at Adora. “You gonna annoy another bartender til she breaks down and falls for you?”

“You’re so sexy when you’re jealous,” Adora basically growls.

“I’m not jeal-” She’s cut off by being pulled into a kiss.

Later, when Adora’s doing the human-equivalent of purring into the sheets (mostly just non-stop moaning), Catra wipes the soaked fur around her mouth clean.

“You’re staying here,” she orders. “Or going to your own home. I’m not your boss.”

“Please,” Adora says again, but this one is much closer to a blissed out sigh. “I really want to hang out with you.”

Catra moves to give her a hard look. Except. Adora’s hair is all fucked up and wild now. Her cheeks are red, the post-orgasm blush going all the way down to her still-hard nipples. Eyes still closed, Adora puffs little breaths out of her half-opened lips.

Only a monster would say no to this sight.

“No,” Catra repeats.

“I’ll wear a tanktop,” Adora adds.

“Don’t expect this to become a regular thing,” Catra warns later as she mixes Adora’s greyhound.

“Of course not,” the blonde replies. She doesn’t look up from the book she placed on the bartop as soon as they arrived. “I don’t expect you to come to Grayson Health and watch me fill out paperwork.”

If she’s smirking, she hides it well. A little further down, Spinnerella smiles at them like a goof. She looks like she might say something but she's interrupted by yet another person placing their order.

Hidey Hole has never been this popular on a weeknight. Suddenly, the entire queer population of Bright Moon is there, most of them staring at either Adora or Catra herself.

This is part of what she was hoping to avoid.

Blessedly, for all of the people trying to shoot ‘fuck me’ eyes at Adora, she's got her head too buried in her book to notice. If any of them are dumb enough to try to approach her, they take one look at the giant bite mark on the juncture between Adora's neck and shoulder (visible thanks to the tank that she borrowed from Catra) and swerve away. Catra's particularly proud of how clearly you can see the fang marks on Adora’s skin. It's truly a work of art.

She can feel Adora sneaking little glances at her every time she's not paying attention. Catra spends the whole shift skipping around with a goofy smile on her face. This is really gonna fuck up her reputation.

When Adora finishes her cocktail, Catra goes to serve her, even though Spinny’s standing literally right there.

“Anything else I can get you?” she asks. “Another round? Water? My pussy spread out on your face?” 

Adora licks her lips slowly, like she's considering. “Can I have the second one now and the last one later?”

“You can have that one whenever you want, babe,” Catra tells her, noticing that her voice maybe is a bit more suggestive than it needs to be in front of these thirsty queers.

“What were the rumors about the show?” Catra asks later as they're walking home, hand in hand.

Adora makes a bizarre high-pitched sound that kinda sounds like, “Hmm?!” She looks completely caught off-guard, eyes wide and confused.

“Being in the bar made me think of it but I didn't want to mention it in front of lookie-loos. Lonnie and those idiots said there was lots of rumors about what happened at the end.”

Adora kinda grimaces. “Some people figured out that I didn't propose.” 

“And you said you wouldn’t have anyway, right? Even if you hadn’t found out about the camera guy?”

“No,” Adora says vehemently. “I-something felt off. Just not right. Mermista checked a lot of boxes but she wasn’t the one for me.”

Catra nods, wondering if Adora thinks she’s the one. And what that’s supposed to mean for the future.

She decides to distract from this by asking, “Any other rumors?”

“It was floating around that I had fucked everyone, promised to propose, and then ran away.” She makes a face, like this is super embarrassing.

“Oh,” Catra says cause she's not really sure what else to say. “Well, I always knew you were shifty.”

“I didn't make it past some heavy petting and dry-humping with any of them,” Adora replies, seeming to understand the unsaid question on Catra's tongue.

“It wouldn't matter if you did. You’ll be shocked to learn this but you weren't my first.”

“I know it doesn't matter,” Adora responds, rolling her eyes, “But I'm trying to establish that we can communicate about anything.”

“Well, is there anything you want to ask me?”

“Uh, there is actually,” is Adora’s nervous reply. “My parents have been really insistent that you come over for dinner on Friday.”

“Your parents?”

“Yes, the people who birthed me and raised me,” Adora explains, nodding.

“I’m familiar with the concept, dummy. I’m less familiar with being asked to meet anyone’s.”

“Mine are fine...mostly.” She thinks it over. “Harmless.”

Catra’s face must reveal how completely bizarre this feels to her cause Adora adds, “You’d be doing me a huge favor. They’ve been texting me non-stop about you since Monday. Let me take you somewhere nice tomorrow night to make up for this?”

“You don’t have to bribe me to get me to do things for you,” Catra mutters. She’d basically do anything for Adora, no questions asked. Okay, honestly, Catra would ask a lot of questions but that would only be for her own amusement.

“I think you missed the part where I’m subtly trying to ask you on a date,” Adora points out with a smile. “A real one.”

Catra almost misses a step and has to recover quickly so that Adora doesn’t notice. If she fell flat on her face just because Adora wants to take her out, she’d be hearing that story for the rest of her life.

Yes, they’re dating technically. But Adora asked her on a date. Like in public and everything. It’s such a dumb small thing but it doesn’t feel that way, not after months of hiding.

Catra’s black heart beats to life in her chest and she can feel herself blushing. She pushes closer, wrapping Adora’s arm around her shoulders.

“Well, way to bury the fucking lead,” she grumbles but they both know it’s just for show.

This is the best date that Catra’s ever been on.

“Can you stop encouraging him?” Adora says absently, eyes still focused on the menu. 

Catra will not. Instead, she leans over and lets her teeth tug at the blonde’s earlobe, making sure to angle so the photographer gets the perfect shot.

The restaurant is nice or whatever. It’s small and pretty intimate, which means they didn’t think it was weird when Catra insisted that she and Adora sit on the same side of the table instead of across from each other. 

The food is trying to be trendy — what the fuck is a garlic scape and why is she supposed to care that tonight’s special has that in the sauce? — but Adora orders well. A couple of delicious ceviches, roasted oysters with some kind of buttery breadcrumb and sausage topping, lamb chops that officially ruined all other food for Catra forever, and a boring salad that Adora just had to have.

For dessert, Adora’s trying to choose between something that just sounds like fancy chocolate pudding and some fruit bullshit. Catra’s a little too busy fucking with the photographer who’s creepily taking pictures through the window to point out that fruit doesn’t belong in dessert. He showed up pretty quickly after they sat down so he probably got tipped off by someone working there. Adora’s trying to ignore him. Catra refuses.

“Everyone will get to see that you’re mine.”

Not looking up from the menu, Adora replies, “Everyone already knows I’m yours. I’m gonna have to wear a turtleneck to my parents’ place.”

Catra pushes herself further against Adora’s right side, until she’s almost in her girlfriend’s lap.

“Are you gonna have to do interviews where you talk about how amazing I am? I’d like to approve any anecdotes first.”

Adora gives a short laugh but ignores a response in favor of ordering both desserts from their server.

“I'm definitely banned from making any media appearances,” she says when the waiter walks away. “For the next year, things will be nice and quiet for a change.”

“And then you have to write a tell-all book. Obviously, I'll need to approve any mention of me there as well.”

“Right. We have to protect your carefully crafted public image,” Adora jokes.


“You're wearing two different color flip-flops to a Michelin star restaurant right now.”

Catra stubbornly doesn't look down to confirm whether or not this is true. 

“If you love me, you gotta love all of me,” she says, poking Adora in the side with a claw. 

In revenge, Adora nips at Catra’s ear, drawing a squeak from her.

Out of the corner of her eye, she checks to make sure the photographer got that one. Hopefully she can find that on some trashy gossip blog tomorrow. ‘Adora Grayson Seen With Girlfriend, Is Definitely A Freak.’

“Just so we’re clear. This is super fucking weird,” Catra says, completely straight. Hopefully, there’s no universe where Adora thinks it’s normal to introduce someone to her parents after only 5 days of officially dating.

The Graysons are taking their sweet fucking time coming to the door, which gives Catra more space to panic and try to figure a way out of this.

The clothes she borrowed from Kyle feel tight – skinny brown pants that she has to cuff and a navy button-up that she does all the way up to the neck, the heart necklace dangling in the center of the collar. Maybe she can fake passing out?

No, it has to be an excuse that gets them home and into bed sooner. Adora's got on this red dress that just barely covers her neck and shoulders and Catra spent the entire 50 minute drive from Bright Moon to Thaymor sliding her hands underneath it.

“Look, my parents are-” 

“Two really intense old white people?” She waits for Adora to nod. “How many super racist comments should I prepare myself for tonight?” 

“None!” Adora stops to consider it. “Maybe just 2 vaguely offensive comments?” she adds with an embarrassed wince.

“Like the kind that are so bizarre I’m not even sure how offensive they are?” 

“Exactly. One will definitely be an attempt at a compliment from my dad.” 

Catra frowns lightly. “I’m not gonna be nice about it.” 

“I’ll step in if it happens. Adam too.” 

“You better.”

They’re cut off by the door opening.

It's only super fucking awkward. Not so awkward that Catra regrets coming or her entire birth. But maybe awkward enough that she would only do this for two holidays each year and definitely would insist that they couldn’t spend the night or anything.

The house is a big two-story suburban haven that kinda reminds her of the one from ‘Home Alone.’ Catra's childhood dream was to have a house to booby trap to terrorize burglars. Maybe they'll get to housesit one day…

Randor is a big ol’ bear with thick dark brown hair and a matching beard. He's built like a fucking tree and when he immediately lifts Catra up into his arms in a hug, she worries about being accidentally crushed to death.

“So nice to meet you,” his deep, laughing voice booms into her ear. Adora hasn't even had a chance to introduce them.

Marlena's more restrained. There's not a hair out of place in her fire red bob and her green low-cut dress shows a nicely curvy figure. 

She shakes Catra's hand stiffly and says, “Pleased to make your acquaintance,” which is weird.

Adam and Teela seem regular enough, if you ignore the part where they're gorgeous and super in love with each other. They’re dressed like department store catalogue models, so striking in their physical contrast to each other; Teela’s got olive skin, short chestnut hair, and brown eyes where Adam bares a strong resemblance to her sister. His gelled blonde hair is almost whipped into a pompadour in the front and Catra immediately thinks of Adora’s silly poof. Apparently it’s genetic.

“Catra’s an amazing musician,” her girlfriend says at dinner. It’s meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans. So fucking wholesome. “She plays like a dozen different instruments.”

“Teela just got a promotion at work,” Adam announces to the table, except his eyes never leave his sister’s.

Adora smiles but it’s a little...feral. “Catra has 30,000 followers.”

“Ew, really?” she whispers. Adora ignores that she doesn’t need that type of heat, just to glare at her brother.

Adam barely holds in a laugh. “Teela has 200,000.”

“That’s nothing to brag about,” his girlfriend says with a well-hidden roll of the eyes. “They’re following me for beauty tips or gossip and all I post is pictures of Cringer. He’s having a ball with Swift Wind by the way, Adora – you might have trouble getting him back.” She turns to Catra to explain. “Cringer is Adam’s dog. I saw your cat on Adora’s story the other day. They’re so cute.”

“Yeah, Melog is beautiful and vapid,” Catra tells her.

“They’re the best,” Adora adds. “It’s a shame that Cringer isn’t as well-behaved as Melog and Swift Wind.”

Adam’s perfect face shifts into a mask of offended rage. Apparently, that’s the height of an insult in this family. It’s hard to understand whatever boring verbal tennis match is happening between these two when Catra is used to Lonnie regularly making threats on her life.

Before Adam can accuse Adora of besmirching his honor or whatever, Marlena pauses between bites to address Catra.

“Do you have any siblings?”

She says it like watching her two adult kids passive aggressively bicker at each other isn’t a great argument for being an only child.

“No,” Catra replies with a small shake of the head. “I don't have any living family.”

Adora frowns a little at that. “You have a lot of found family,” she points out. “Lonnie, Entrapta, Kyle, Rogelio, everyone at the bar.”

Catra fights to not sneer. She supposes she loves those losers, and they did help her with this whole shitshow with Adora, but she's not admitting that to anyone any time soon. One breakthrough per decade, thanks.

“Do you want a big family?” Marlena asks, supes cazsh. “Adora wants 5 kids.” 

“Five?!” Catra shrieks in horror. That’s literally one for each day that they’ve been dating. 

Marlena is annoyed by the outburst but everyone else just seems to think it’s hilarious. Adora has the good sense to try to slowly scooch herself under the dinner table to hide. 

“We can talk about that later,” she whispers. “Too early!” 

Marlena gives no fucks. “If you carry them, Catra, then you can use Adam’s sperm.” 

“Why am I involved in this?” he tries to interrupt. 

But Marlena just continues, “Then they’ll be able to look like you both, have a biological tie to Adora, and plus – kittens!” Her eyes look too delighted at the idea. 

Adam shoots Teela a glance that Catra reads as ‘how are we supposed to compete with that?’ Teela doesn’t seem like she’s interested in entertaining any of this nonsense.

“I’d prefer if our children weren’t brother-cousins,” Adora mumbles to her twin. 

“Gross – boys, Adora?” Catra complains.

“Or whatever gender is affirming to them!” Adora whispers.

Randor rubs his beard thoughtfully. “Well, Adora, with Adam as the donor, that means if one of them gets sick, more possible matches for a transplant.” 

“Why are you planning on them getting sick already?” Adam questions. 

“You have to plan for that, sweetie,” Marlena answers. “Catra, is there any history of family health issues you’d have to prepare for?” 

“Deeply inappropriate question!” Adora yells. 

“It is not!” Randor argues, matching her volume. “She’s practically our daughter!”

Catra’s eyes go wide. She just met these fucking loons and she somehow already has 2 parents and 5 children. 

“Catra,” Teela calls, sounding extremely amused. “I’m gonna open another bottle of wine. Can you come help me?” 

Teela’s up and tugging Catra out of her chair before she can respond. 

“So,” Teela says when they’re alone in the Grayson’s large, too-pristine kitchen. “They are bonkers.” 

“Is it hereditary?” Catra asks quickly. “Are my dozen fake children gonna come out poof-headed and eccentric?”

Teela laughs. Instead of grabbing a bottle of wine from the rack right in front of them, she reaches under the island and pulls a bottle of tequila from the cabinet. 

“Adam’s normal most of the time. Though, every once in a while, he’ll do these weird little illogical things, like how he apparently seriously thought a nugget was a separate cut of chicken. I guess, his parents used to say that they couldn’t serve nuggets cause they only bought breasts and…” she shrugs, like she has no words. 

Shot glasses appear from another cabinet and she pours one for each of them. 

“...Were you the one who had to explain? Isn’t he almost 30?” 

Teela nods sadly. “I love him though. Everyone in this family suffers from a critical lack of any fucking chill. They'll calm down a bit once they get used to you.”

“What the fuck am I supposed to do until then? Just have a football team full of kids?”

“I know where Marlena hides all the booze, cigarettes, and weed,” Teela suggests. “WASPs, man.” She raises her shot. “Salud.”


When they return from the kitchen, two shots in and zero bottles of wine in their hands, no one even questions it.

“Catra, you're coming with me for a round of golf next weekend,” Randor informs her.

“Uh, I don't play.”

Randor’s lips droop at the edges and she sees a lot of Adora in him.

“But lesbians love golf,” he says.

“Dad!” Adora and Adam yell at the same time.

“What?!” he yells back, genuinely confused.

“Remember – if you're ascribing a character trait to an entire group of people based on their identity, it's probably rude or offensive,” Adam reminds him.

Randor nods to show that he understands, even if his eyes keep going back to Catra like he’s waiting on her to confirm his thoughts on lesbians and boring sports.

Teela redirects the conversation to something about Marlena and Randor’s upcoming plans to maybe one day hopefully take a break from overworking and go on vacation. Marlena does an admirable job of refusing to agree to absolutely anything.

“We’ll start with putt-putt,” Randor tries to whisper to Catra. It’s impossible because he has the voice of a jet engine. “I’ll teach you. All of my children have to know how to play golf. It’s good for business.”

It’s...kinda sweet. Weird but sweet.

When he walks them to the door later, Randor points to a piano in some stuffy-looking front sitting room that they clearly never use.

“Adora used to take lessons when she was younger. Absolutely terrible,” he explains, ignoring her offended squawk. “Maybe next time you can show us how it’s supposed to be done?”

“No pressure,” Adora adds quickly.

Catra glances at the old, definitely out of tune instrument and then at the hopeful smiling faces of the most beautiful woman in the world and her goober of a father. Adora’s never said a single word that hasn’t been supportive.

“Yeah, maybe,” Catra agrees. 

Kyle finishes a Xtina-esque warble that has Catra fighting not to call up Herbert S. Spotify and have their music removed immediately. The audacity he must have to upstage her like this in front of her girlfriend. 

Entrapta’s beat comes to a close a few bars after that and she pauses it. Their audience of one breaks out into a loud cheer.

“Amazing job, Kyle,” Adora gushes from her beanbag chair.

She’s wearing a Horde tshirt. When she came into the music room like this, Catra had to clarify, “You know this isn’t a free show, right?”

“No,” Adora had smirked. “Everyone already got a free show when they walked in on me bending you over the bed.” Catra had been perfectly fine with finishing after the band barged in to remind her about practice but Adora’s shy or has boundaries or something.

“Wow. Kyle?” Catra questions. “We’re choosing favorites?”

“What’s it like fucking your second favorite person in the band?” Lonnie teases Adora.

“I didn’t know Entrapta was into me like that,” the blonde responds.

“Amusing,” Entrapta says flatly. “But we have limited time remaining for this session and our exposure has increased exponentially. Perhaps, we should focus.”

“Yeah, stop being so distracting, Adora,” Catra undermines her own words by immediately leaping into her girlfriend’s lap.

“I thought there was a rule against partners at practice,” Lonnie points out, already annoyed.

“Yeah, that was obviously only until I had one,” she replies. Not caring who’s watching, Catra pulls Adora down into a kiss. “We should probably wrap up soon anyway. Gotta head out.”

They have to grab a couple things from Catra’s room first, particularly Swift Wind, who Adam and Teela had dropped off earlier. The mutt is passed out on the bed, attempting to sleepily nuzzle into Melog. Their eyes narrow when the couple enters, Melog looking very unimpressed with Catra's choices and the new friends she’s brought into their life.

“Aww,” Adora coos. “They look just like you. Same cute frown and everything.”

Swift Wind loves the backyard at Hidey Hole. Catra’s never had a dog before, because of course not, but Adora’s extremely relaxed about letting him just run around and do whatever he wants.

“Don’t you worry he’s gonna run away or get kidnapped or something?” Catra asks.

Adora goes all soft and starry-eyed. “Oh, babe. Are you worried about him?”

“Should we get you matching shirts that say ‘dog mom’?” Netossa jokes.

Catra would like to say no, but hey, free shirt.

Castaspella gasps suddenly. “I can knit Melog and Swift Wind matching fall sweaters.”

Catra knew this outing was a terrible idea. Glimmer had called to casually suggest getting some friends together to hang out at the bar and then Lonnie got involved and suspiciously no one was on the schedule tonight except Huntara and some young newbies. When she, Adora, and Lonnie entered, they were greeted by Spinny, Netty, Sparkles, Juliet, and Casta.

Juliet’s so starstruck to meet Adora that she almost fumbles her beer rushing to shake the blonde’s hand.

“She can autograph your tits if you want,” Catra offers.

Juliet must have already built an immunity to her, because she barely reacts. “I think just a picture would be fine.”

There’s no 8-person picnic tables back there so the group has to commandeer both of the two tables that Huntara reluctantly supplies the bar with and shove them together. It’s not even dusk, yet all around them the space is packed with people drinking and pretending they’re not staring. Every time Catra feels her fur starting to stand on end from the attention, Adora draws her closer or pets gently along her spine.

Whenever Catra catches Spinnerella’s eyes, the older woman is practically beaming. It’s so embarrassing.

Lonnie saves Catra by trying to drag more behind-the-scenes show details out of Adora. Everyone’s casually interested, mostly in all the drama, but Netty really tries to zone in on any info about Mermista that’ll help her get an advantage in the betting for Mermista’s bachelorette season.

It’s mostly a chill evening, lots of cocktails and joking around. Even Glimmer’s on her best behavior, probably cause someone’s gotta drive Casta home later.

All this fun comes to a fucking jarring halt when Catra hears a loud, and now way too familiar, voice yell out, “Wildcat!”

Catra’s ears swivel towards the door immediately. She hasn’t heard that name in years. Not since that…

Shooting to her feet quickly, Catra spots someone barreling out the door and through the crowd towards her, a huge red pincer waving erratically in the air above everyone’s heads.

Adora gives her a concerned look before her eyes drift over towards the commotion. “Scorpia?!” she yells.

“Oh, Adora? My gosh. You’re here too?!”

Scorpia. Oh, Gods. That was her name! That fan who wanted to be best friends with Catra for like an entire summer years ago. Who gives someone a nickname the second time they meet them?!

Catra has to picture her face 8 years younger, and with a little bit of leftover acne, but that is definitely the same dorky scorpion girl that came to all their shows and talked Catra’s ears off for hours afterward.

With a shock, Catra finally puts those pieces together. Adora dated someone who used to have a very intense crush on Catra. This information must be protected until it can be deployed on Adora for maximum embarrassment. Her face is gonna be so cute and red when she hears how Catra was obviously superior here because Scorpia liked her first. It was illogical, but Catra still thought it was hilarious.

When Scorpia finally bombards her way through the human bowling pins in front of her, she stops in front of their table and lifts Catra into a huge hug. Her red jumpsuit’s hiding her giant biceps but Catra can feel how much bigger and beefier Scorpia’s gotten over the years. And she wasn’t exactly scrawny before.

“Wildcat! It’s so good to see you!” Scorpia screams into her ear. 

Out of the corner of her eye, Adora looks completely conflicted. Confused, worried, a little jealous.

As soon as her feet hit the ground, Catra bounds back over to drape herself across Adora’s shoulders. She’s not sure if she’s protecting Adora or the blonde is supposed to be protecting her. But this is her idiot and if Scorpia wants to fight for Adora, she better get ready cause Catra fights dirty.

Scorpia doesn’t seem to notice how defensive either of them is, instead excitedly gushing, “When Mermista told us that she was still in town and would love to meet the person Adora’s dating, I knew I just had to introduce you two!”

Catra has to crane to look around Scorpia and yep, there’s Mermista standing there in real life and looking like she dressed for a club instead of a gross dive. Adora tries to pretend she’s happy to see the newcomers but her smile looks like she’s being held against her will.

Everything feels like it slows down as soon as Mermista and Catra’s eyes meet. Catra’s certain that Mermista must have said she’d 'love to murder the person Adora’s dating' and Scorpia just misheard. Other than the nuclear fire she's shooting back at the Magicat, she looks as calm and disinterested as she did on tv.

Catra blinks at her slowly, forcing her posture to relax.

“I will leave her for you right now,” Catra tells Mermista seriously. “Just say the word.”

“And I’ll off Catra to be with you,” Lonnie offers, standing quickly. “Then both of your problems are solved.” 

Mermista only briefly breaks eye contact with Catra to glance over in her direction.

“Who even is that?” Mermista asks.

“My ex,” Catra replies, rolling her eyes. “Stop cockblocking me, Lon!”

Mermista smirks, glancing slowly at both of them. “Fine. I guess I accept.”

Catra immediately pushes Adora away, using her girlfriend to springboard herself closer to Mermista. 

“That's not funny, babe,” the blonde tells her, still smiling tightly.

Catra just looks bored in response, copying her new girlfriend’s casual pose. “Oh, are you still here, Adora?”’

Mermista chuckles so quietly that Catra’s probably the only one to pick it up.

“At least you’re hot,” she says, giving Catra a onceover with her eyes. She seems to appreciate the black suspenders/rainbow cheetah print croptop/pleated gray shorts combo that Lonnie had said belonged at an “elderly lesbian mixer.”

Catra’s tail sways lazily behind her. “You’re not so bad yourself. How’d you almost end up with that giant dork?”

Mermista just barely lets her eyes shift over to Adora and then back quickly. “I guess she has her moments.” She stares at Catra for a second longer before sighing reluctantly. “Fine. You and I don’t have beef.”

“I’m relieved to hear that. It would’ve been a real barrier to us running away together.”

“Why isn’t this how you talked to me when we met?” Adora asks.

“I knew you two would get along!” Scorpia interrupts. “Wildcat, I can’t believe you still work here. I wasn’t sure how to get in touch with you but I remembered this place and figured you probably hung out here. I remember you once saying that you’d die here.”

“That was more of a morbid prediction and less of a declaration of my loyalty,” Catra explains.

“You’re still so funny!” Scorpia laughs. “You have to meet Perfuma.”

Catra assumes that she means ‘eventually’, not ‘right this very fucking minute’ until a thin hippie in a pale green sundress is shoved in front of her.

“Hello, Catra.” Her voice is even more soothing in person. “It’s lovely to meet you. Scorpia’s told me what great friends you used to be.”

“Pleased to make your acquaintance,” she hears herself say, like a tiny clone of Marlena. She can’t really think of anything else to say, brain overloaded by the presence of three people that she’s watched make out with her girlfriend onscreen. And also from being told she and Scorpia were apparently a lot closer than she thought.

Perfuma kindly just moves right along. “Hello to you as well, Adora. How nice it is to see you in the real world.”

She moves closer to Adora to speak and drags Mermista along to introduce themselves to everyone else. But Scorpia could not care less. She remains standing in front of Catra, practically dancing on her tiptoes from excitement.

“I’m so excited to catch up with you, Wildcat!”

“’s good to see you too, Scorpia,” Catra says tentatively. “Why don’t you sit down and chill out a bit?”

“Of course!” Scorpia immediately squeezes onto the corner of the picnic bench, enthusiastically repeating her name to everyone.

Spinnerella instructs their friends to politely pretend that Adora isn’t sitting surrounded by the 4 most recent people she dated, nervously sweating bullets. Glimmer’s all the way at the other end of the table but her delighted grin could probably be seen from the next town over.

Scorpia starts rambling immediately. “Perfuma and I were supposed to leave on Wednesday morning but we were having so much fun sightseeing that we decided to stick around. And then we heard Mermista was still here too and, oh boy! We just couldn’t pass up the chance to spend some time together. Maybe we’ll all go on vacation together next summer. Obviously, Wildcat, you and Adora are invited too.”

“Why does she keep calling you that?” Adora whispers.

Still unsure how that ever started, Catra asks them all, “Don’t you kinda hate her guts?” Adora’s okay and all but Catra’s not about to protect her pretty little face from all the hearts she broke.

“I can only speak for myself,” Perfuma says, “I enjoyed my time getting to know Adora but I’d much prefer to pursue a friendship.”

“I was just happy that I got to meet so many wonderful people,” Scorpia adds. “Perfuma and I are going to be the best of friends now.”

Perfuma smiles patiently. Catra actually hopes for her sake that Scorpia wises up to her feelings soon. 

They all turn slowly to Mermista. 

“Dude. I said there’d be no hard feelings,” Mermista tells Adora. 

“You threw a vase at me,” the blonde points out.

“It flew off the rug! I wasn’t even aiming for you!” Mermista seems to look around and notice all the eyes on her. She takes a breath to collect herself. “Anyway, I was more annoyed at Hope for blowing smoke up my ass for months, swearing you and I were such a strong match and everything was gonna work out. In hindsight, she was just trying to get me to stay so she could watch me have a full meltdown.”

“I was rooting for you,” Catra says. “To commit arson, I mean. Not to end up saddled with Adora.”

“Catra’s been obsessed with me for months. She’s just pretending to be tough to impress Mermista,” Adora lies through her teeth.

Catra makes to leave and never return ever again but she’s pulled into the dummy’s chest, where Adora holds her until she stops fussing. It’s nice there so there’s no need to move. Not for a little while at least.

Adora reaches to scratch behind Catra’s ear as she asks, “Am I looking at the next bachelorette?”

Mermista smirks and shrugs. “Hope made a generous offer that was hard to refuse. My breakdown was the ‘realest’ thing people had ever seen on the show. So Hope wants to capitalize on the hype.”

“What about Sea Hawk?” Adora follows up.

With a devastating eye roll, Mermista says, “He wants to join the cast and compete. He’s convinced that he needs to win my love in front of everyone.” 

The secret way she’s smiling doesn’t match her disgruntled tone. Catra can relate to that.

“Wait,” Lonnie jumps in, ignoring Casta’s attempts at shushing her. “When does casting start?”

From there, she pretty much begins peppering Mermista with a bunch of questions about how to get onto her season, if it’ll actually be open to women, and how comfortable Mermista is with a polypod.

Everyone’s complete disinterest in Adora – and more importantly, Adora’s mutual disinterest in them – calms Catra enough for her to enjoy all of her girlfriend’s gentle petting. She doesn’t even notice when she begins purring.

Scorpia’s eyes fill with little hearts. “Aww, I’m so happy for you! You know, when I went back home after my summer internship here in Bright Moon, I was so worried that you’d be heartbroken, Catra. I’m really glad you recovered.”

Adora might be talking but it’s hard to hear over Lonnie laughing at the other end of the table. 

It's 10 days later when the network gets in touch with Adora, saying one of their sister channels would love to greenlight a reality show that just follows her and Catra on their journey together.

“The only show you should be on is one of those obstacle courses where they shoot slime at you.” Catra doesn’t even stop setting up the well to give this serious consideration. 

Adora pouts, crossing her arms to lean onto the bar. “Come on. What do you think? They can follow your new commitment to your music career-”

Catra whips around to ask, “Who told you that?”

“Lonnie told Glimmer and Glimmer tells me literally everything.”

Those two together are too powerful and must be stopped. Vowing revenge, Catra goes back to focusing on her task.

“And what are they following you doing? Sorting pencils at Grayson Health and waiting until I can afford to put a baby in you?”

“I’m sorry – what?!” Adora screams so loudly that Catra’s certain that her ears are gonna be ringing for the rest of the day.

Thank the Gods she wasn’t holding anything breakable because Catra immediately throws her hands up in alarm, hissing.

“You don’t need to shout around a Magicat, dummy,” she grumbles, covering her head.

“Did you hear what you just said?”

“Why does everyone think I don’t listen to myself when I talk?” Catra wonders quietly.

Adora, she finally notices, is completely shocked, mouth agape and everything. “You’ve thought about kids?”

“No!” Catra replies reflexively. Maybe. “It was a mindless slip.” 

She had merely watched Adora trying (and failing!) to teach Melog and Swift Wind to play with a ball together and thought (totally against her will!) that Adora would be a good parent.

Catra was light years away from being able to picture herself in that role. 

“It's waaaaaaay too early. But five is an absurd number. Start emotionally preparing yourself to settle for one. Like. A decade from now.”

“Okay,” Adora says, doing a horrible job of hiding her pleased smile. “Well, we have plenty of time to iron out the details.”

Catra narrows her eyes, certain that Adora’s got some secret plan to pump out an entire WNBA starting lineup.

“Anyway, I was thinking about something else the other day,” Catra pivots.

“So you’re just completely ignoring the show or…”

“I have to cut down on my shifts so I have more time to finish polishing some songs and get them recorded so-”

“You’re really gonna record?” Adora interrupts. Then she smirks so perfectly that Catra has to look away so she doesn’t get distracted. “How many songs are about me? All of them?”

“If you legally change your name to ‘Mermista’, then yes. Stop switching topics.”

“I was talking about the show and you literally brought up multiple other thing-”

“If I have less shifts,” Catra continues, “Then we can make a schedule...and see each other more when you go back to work in a couple weeks.”

Adora positively lights up. “Aw, you changed your schedule for me? You’re so whipped.”

Catra dives to reach for the soda gun but Adora anticipates her. She jumps half onto the bar first, grabbing Catra by the shoulders. Before Catra can lift the nozzle, Adora pulls her close and kisses her soundly.

“A schedule sounds great,” Adora says when she pulls back. “Look at you being all organized.”

“Entrapta’s probably gonna write it so don’t give me too much credit.”

“And new songs! I can’t wait to hear them.”

“Yeah?” Catra sneaks in a couple extra kisses since no one’s there yet anyway. “I can’t wait to share them, I guess.”

Adora trails hot kisses to her jaw and then slowly up to her ear. “You’re so talented. I’m so proud to be with you,” she whispers.

Catra can’t stop the way that she moans easily, so damn weak for Adora.

There’s just a hint of amusement in the blonde’s voice when she asks, “Want some pool before Lonnie gets here?”

Catra growls, thinking of the last time they decided to make good use of the billiards table. 

“Yeah…” she says, already trying to think of an escape plan. The day has finally come where she’ll have to make good on her threats to slip away and disappear into the night forever just to avoid Huntara following them after this. “But try to think of a new name you’d like to have.” Cause they're gonna need brand new identities to escape Huntara's wrath.

She slips over the bar and starts tugging Adora towards the back.

“Ooh, like roleplay? Sexy.”

Catra rolls her eyes, pushing Adora to take a seat on the table. “You’re such an idiot.”

“I love you too, brat.”