“Rum and coke?” Catra asks, her voice warm and eyes dancing as she raises a hand to flag down the bartender. Adora, a little caught up in Catra’s other hand on her bicep and the way raising her arm showcases that all she has on beneath her leather jacket is a bralette, just nods a bit dumbly and tries to keep her eyes fixed on a respectful location. Catra smirks. Okay, Adora is blushing and obvious, but she didn’t stare that much.
She isn’t used to this. She never meets a stranger and just clicks like this. Catra guessed her drink order without trying. She’s a magicat though – maybe she could smell it on Adora’s breath or something. She’s never met a magicat before, but she’s always felt this pull towards them, so she knows a bit about them. Their sense of smell puts humans' to shame. It could be insanely good luck, but Adora is certain she used so much meeting a girl like this tonight that there isn’t enough luck left for anyone else to use.
With her swept back hair, cocky smirk, leather jacket, and sparkling eyes, Catra is a sight to behold. Adora isn’t known for talking to strangers. If they approach her first, she can talk all day. It’s how she made it through high school. Being the quarterback got her attention, and that drew others in to her, but the few times she tried to approach a girl herself, she was a stuttering and nervous disaster. She weirded them out before it could go anywhere.
She doesn’t know how she overcame her anxiety to talk to Catra, but the bedroom eyes she made at her the moment she caught Adora looking at her definitely helped. Adora is nervous like always, but somehow, conversation with Catra just comes naturally. She’s terrified of fucking it up, but luckily for her, Catra seems to find her nervousness cute, and as the conversation has flowed easily between them, she has seemed to like her blossoming confidence even more.
“So, do you go to school?” Adora asks her when their drinks arrive, sipping hers a bit nervously. Catra has straight absinthe, which somehow fits her perfectly. Adora is on a good roll right now, and she’s really worried about fucking it up. Catra is a stranger and it shouldn’t matter if she messes up – they’ll never see each other again, and Adora will have already accomplished a lot getting this far – but for some reason, the idea of Catra walking away from her is horrifying to her.
Fuck, is she really so lonely she’s willing to U-haul with the first pretty girl who asks her questions about herself and cares about the answers, no matter how stumbling they are? Adora is so out of her element, and yet everything about this night has just fallen into place in a way that makes her think she can’t let this go. The universe finally cut her a break after twenty years of falling flat on her face. Maybe the stress of finals week finally cracked her mind, but her face hurts from laughing, so she doesn’t care.
“Nothing they can teach me that I don’t already know. I’m a videographer. I specialize in film,” Catra tells her, shrugging as she takes another sip. And there it is again, that easy confidence that has made Adora want to pull her close all night. Catra’s smirk says they can’t touch me and Adora’s heart says but I want to. Catra’s answer is maybe a bit hipster and could even be a warning sign that she’s secretly pretentious, but Adora doesn’t believe that.
“That’s cool,” is the only reply she can think to give. It feels inadequate. Ever since Catra laughed at something she said for the first time, lighting up and sparkling, everything she has said that hasn’t evoked the same reaction has felt pointless. Catra’s lips twitch in amusement. Okay, Adora likes that too. She really wants to kiss that smirk off her face, but she also doesn’t want it to ever go away. It’s cocky. It’s infuriating. It’s sexy.
“I only get freelance gigs with pretentious clients for the most part right now, but I’ll break in to real work eventually. The industry is stuck up and it takes time, but I like the weight of a camera,” she tells her, shrugging. That clicks for Adora. Not that she really relates, but Catra’s whole suave-badass thing hiding an artistic side that finds comfort in the right object in her hands make sense. Catra didn’t say that explicitly, but somehow, Adora knows that is what she meant.
Catra just makes sense to her. Adora doesn’t know if she’s projecting, or had too much rum, or if maybe their neuroses just happen to line up in a way that makes them understand each other, but the whole night as been like that. She watches Catra knock back the rest of her drink, trying and failing to pull her gaze away from the line of her throat, and flushes when Catra drops her glass back on the counter and flashes her a confident smile.
“I have a loft two blocks over,” she offers. Adora has never gone home with anyone since an ill-advised hookup with a cheerleader in high school that led to them both quitting their respective teams senior year, but she nods overeagerly. Her own ponytail hits her in the back of her head from how quickly she nods. It tells her she’s doing that too much thing that often ends in disaster, but Catra chuckles, seeming endeared.
Fuck, she might just be the perfect woman.
Despite it being nearly three years since she has done this, and her lack of experience in general, sex just falls into place like their conversation did. Catra kisses like a hurricane, pulling at their layers and leading Adora through her loft by her beltloops, but when they reach the bed, Catra falls backwards into it and grins up at her, warm and easy and excited. Her tail is twitching beneath her, and it might just be the cutest thing that Adora has ever seen.
“Come on, big girl. Show me what you’re made of. Those muscles good for anything useful?” Catra teases, the exact right kind of goading to encourage Adora to move past her nervousness and straddle over her on the bed. She isn’t normally this confident – she isn’t normally anything, she doesn’t do this, she has no idea how she ended up here – but in only a few moments, she’s found a spot on Catra’s neck that makes her moan when bit, and she has her twisting beneath her hands as she slips them beneath her bralette.
Last time, Adora had no idea what to do. With Catra beneath her hands, it comes naturally. Maybe she’s watched too much magicat porn, but she hasn’t seen that much, and she doesn’t think any of them could have taught her how to elicit the delicious growl – sexy, excited, frustrated, and needy – that Catra releases when Adora nips at her bottom lip and tugs.
When Adora finally works her way to taking off Catra’s pants and touching her over her underwear – it's as much a tease as it is building her own confidence to move forward – she shudders upon feeling the slight rumble in Catra’s chest. That sensation is amazing. It makes Adora’s blood buzz, energy dancing beneath her skin that she can barely contain. She doesn’t know how she went so many years without feeling that near-invisible purr, nor the gasps that Catra gives out as she arches her back beneath her.
“You don’t have to be gentle. You aren’t going to hurt me. I meant it when I said to show me your strength,” Catra tells, her voice rough in a way that makes Adora’s own thighs clench. She is nervous about fucking this up still, but those words soothe her a little. She doesn’t know how Catra knew that was what she needed to hear. She kisses her in response. Any honest words about how that helps her would almost definitely ruin the moment.
She doesn’t want to ruin this. No moment has ever been better.
Around round six, Adora realizes she might be in love with a girl that, logically, she knows she just met and barely knows. It doesn’t feel like that though, especially not when Catra pants and moans her name like it’s the only word in the world, or when she later nips at Adora’s shoulders, which are already acquiring a number of bruises, and asks if she wants to try a blindfold. Any logic goes out the window as Adora flushes and ends up face-down in the mattress moaning and whining Catra’s name with a similar intonation.
Adora ends up breathless, bruised, and somehow still wanting more. Sex with Catra feels like she’s burning from the inside out. It feels incredible. Catra doesn’t hesitate to bite her with just the right pressure, tease her with her claws, and spank her ass. She falls apart herself in Adora’s hands. Watching it gives her some kind of adrenaline rush that feels like it could be a drug. She shows no signs of slowing, so Adora doesn’t either.
She loses count. At some point she realizes it’s almost fucking dawn and despite still having excitement in her soul, her body is spent. Catra purrs after she comes, and she drapes across Adora’s chest rumbling like an engine. Adora has never slept in a stranger’s bed, but with a sex-content magicat draped over her chest, she isn’t worried. The curtains are open and the street below is noisy, but despite normally needing a noise machine and pitch-black darkness to sleep, Adora drifts off easily.
Her dreams are where things start getting weird.
She’s in a grass field in the countryside. She’s young. Beside her, Catra is hissing and whining. Adora has her tail laid across her lap, carefully picking burrs out from it. She gathers them on a corner of her apron. Her parents don’t have the money to afford nice skirts for her, and she’d rather the burrs stuck to her apron than be underfoot for Catra’s bare feet.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know,” she tells her. Catra’s wide baby eyes screw up in a flinch as Adora tugs one particularly stuck burr free. They chose the field to meet in secret, but the last time they were here, it was fall. It’s the perfect half-way point between the house where Catra is a servant and Adora’s parents’ cottage, but that’s only until a magicat goes running through it to launch herself in friend’s arms and discovers every weed in it is covered in burrs.
Catra whimpers as Adora plucks another one out. They can’t stop. If Miss Weaver sees the burrs in her tail, she’ll know Catra wandered without permission. They have to pick them all off, and that will eat up all the time they have to secretly be together. Catra will run back before she can be missed. Someday, Adora is determined to have the room in her home to bring in her orphaned friend, but for now, their relationship can only bloom in stolen moments.
Catra turns, burying her face in Adora’s shoulder and clinging to her as Adora works. Adora murmurs soft assurances to her the whole time, and they make Catra twitch a bit less. She manages to clear her tail faster, and gets to just hug her friend for several long moments before they’re forced to stand and make their way back. Adora kisses her friend’s cheek as they part.
“I’ll find somewhere better for us. We’ll always find somewhere to meet,” she promises her. Catra’s expression is tremulous from trying not to cry while Adora worked, but she looks up at her with wide, hopeful eyes.
“You promise?” she asks. Her voice is so high. Adora nods, determined.
“I promise. I’m always going to be your friend,” she returns.
“That’s ridiculous, Catra. I’m always going to be your friend,” Adora tells her, but her heart is hammering in her chest. There’s nothing in the world that could make her want to stop being Catra’s friend, but she knows what the one thing she is afraid of Catra finding out about her is, and her stupid, overactive heart is telling her that Catra could have the same fear. She can’t imagine anything else that has triggered this outburst. Catra hunches her shoulders, looking away from her.
Adora watches a shiver run down her back, making her shoulders quiver in the darkness. Right now, the shoemaker’s shop where Adora is apprenticed is closed, but her master lets her sleep here. Catra says he isn’t being kind, just doesn’t want his free labor to look too ratty and most especially doesn’t want to give her room and board at his own home, but Adora counters that feeding her and giving her any roof at all doesn’t make her labor free, just cheap.
It’s better than the stale bread and scraps Catra works for. If it weren’t for Adora sneaking Catra in most nights, she would have nowhere to sleep either. The advantage of sleeping at the shop to “look after it” is that her master isn’t there to catch her. They’ve both been orphans for years, and they promised to stick together through it all. Adora risks her entire apprenticeship letting Catra in, but she does it every night she can get away with it. They promised to always be there for each other – Catra’s sudden fear of Adora turning her away is ridiculous.
“And what if I told you I-“ Catra starts, but then she cuts off and looks away, her ears pinning back and tail lashing. Adora’s breath hitches. Say it, her mind silently urges.
“You what? It’s okay. You can tell me anything,” Adora promises her, edging a little closer on the bench. Catra flinches a little when their sides brush and Adora quickly stops. Catra is looking down at the floor, flexing her toe claws and looking mildly sick.
“I- I have these dreams. And you’re there and they’re just- It’s stupid. Fucking fiction of a life that doesn’t suck, is all. They just feel real,” Catra tells her. Adora’s heart squeezes. It could be nothing, but Catra is so worked up over it. She swallows, deciding there’s only one to ask. She elbows Catra, laughing with a bravado she doesn’t feel.
“What, are they dirty dreams or something? Is that why you’re so bothered?” she teases. It isn’t a joke – she wants to know. She hopes. They’re old enough now. It could be. It could mean something. Her heart falls as Catra flinches, her mouth twisting with disappointment as she continues to glare down at the floor. She’s mad about Adora making light of this – which means they aren’t, and whatever they are really upsets her.
“You wouldn’t get it. And you wouldn’t believe me anyway,” she tells her, hopping off the bench and fleeing. Before Adora can even hurry to stand, she hears the bell of the shop door opening and closing behind Catra.
“You wouldn’t believe me anyway,” Catra replies, rolling her eyes. Adora chuckles beside her, throwing an arm over her shoulder and pulling her girlfriend close.
“Trust me, no one has ever had a longer how did you meet story than us,” Adora adds on. Their coworkers look dubious. It’s probably the secretive looks Catra and Adora are exchanging. The group makes their usual jokes about the lovebirds being sickening and moves on. Adora quietly sips her gin with a small smile on her face. They really wouldn’t believe them. She’s never met anyone else who has their love story start in the nineteenth century, after all.
“Golden girl,” Catra breathes in her ear, a tease back to their very first life. Adora laughs softly, turning to whisper right back to her.
“My beloved,” she tells her, moving to kiss the base of her ear. To their left, someone complains loudly about young love. That just makes Adora chuckle. Their love is anything but young. Just because it has never died doesn’t mean it must be new.
Adora wakes up from disjointed scenes of her and Catra, throughout time and history, but always together. Her hyperactive, lovestruck imagination leaves her disoriented as her brain remembers that she lives in this life. She and Catra were never Victorian orphans together, and they didn’t dance in a San Francisco flat on their first day moving into their own place on the West Coast. Adora’s lived here all her fucking life. She’s certainly never gone on a road trip with the girl she proposed to when she was eight and kissed on the playground only to discover-
“You’re up early,” Catra greets, kissing Adora’s shoulder. Adora squints her eyes, turning her head to blink down at Catra, still sprawled across her bare chest. Adora swallows, glancing to the nightstand. The clock there informs her it’s ten.
“It’s mid-morning,” she replies. It actually is early for her to be up on a weekend, but there should be no way for Catra to know that. Her heart is racing oddly in her chest. They were just dreams. Dreams where Catra always remembered and Adora never did.
“We were up late,” Catra returns, yawning slowly. Adora blows out a breath as she watches Catra’s face crack in two and her tongue curl with the drawn-out, raspy yawn. That’s a reasonable explanation. Far more reasonable than what’s going on in Adora’s head right now. She can’t believe she’s so desperate that she’s inventing these fictions in her head to justify how hard she has fallen for this woman in the space of only a few hours.
When Catra finishes yawning, she stretches her limbs a little and sighs with content, her eyes still closed as she rubs her cheek against Adora. Adora’s heart leaps into her throat, so touched and eager to have Catra mark her. Catra is rumbling softly, either not noticing Adora’s weirdness or unbothered by it. Adora didn’t ask how often she does this. Despite what her dreams insist, she doesn’t know this woman. It could be that she hooks up all the time. Her mind’s protests otherwise are based only in wanting to be special and not logic.
“You staying for breakfast? I’m a damn good cook,” Catra asks her, peeking an eye open to look up at her. Adora’s heart is pounding again for no good reason, but she nods. In her dreams, Catra was an amazing cook. She supposes she’ll find out how true that is.
The visions aren’t stopping now that she’s awake, Adora realizes when she walks out of the bathroom and sees the wall of photos directly across from it. Silently, she pads over to it, blinking slowly at the collection of old and worn photographs carefully framed in a collage behind glass. There’s the Coney Island Cyclone – they wanted to kiss on it but got caught up in the ride and ended up with just the photo – and a pier at sunset – down in Florida, when they took a vacation there – and a forest where they-
Where they took a selfie, she realizes, blinking down at the photo of her – it’s clearly her, a few years older with her hair down and red lipstick, but still her – getting her cheek kissed by a similarly-aged Catra. Adora feels her breath hitch, her heart racing as her mind sorts through all the memories from last night all over again, life after life clicking into place until she reaches all the way back to their second, when Catra kissed her through tears before fleeing, sure that her perverted dreams of the two of them together twisted her expectations.
It took Adora a week to find her again – a week in which the memories started surfacing within her too. Catra always remembers. Adora always needs to kiss her and have time before she does. She swallows, her eyes flitting across the photos, finding more artistic shots that her brain skipped over in favor of the memories, but also more memories, and more photos of her at various ages, almost always beaming like the sun. Of course she is - she's with Catra.
“Adora?” Catra calls from the kitchen, and suddenly Adora remembers – she never told Catra her name last night. She fucking tripped over herself asking Catra for her name and got so caught up in Catra’s laugh that she didn’t even notice when Catra just started using Adora's afterwards. She was flustered and excited. There was a blip, a question in the back of her mind of when did I tell her that? but in the moment, she ignored it in favor of trying to earn that smile again.
Adora walks into the kitchen in a daze. Catra has her back to her, standing over a skillet sizzling with bacon. Adora swallows, her eyes sweeping up and down the form that she knows so well. Even not remembering, she knew it from across the bar. Catra drew her in at a mere glance. She couldn’t explain it – she still can’t. They don’t know why they’re like this, though Catra jokes that it’s to make up for the shittiness of their first life – and then their even shittier second.
Adora starts forward, unable to stop herself as she crosses the kitchen in just a few strides and presses herself against Catra’s back. She wraps her arms around Catra's waist, burying her face in her mane and breathing in the familiar scent of her best friend, her lover, her girlfriend, her wife, her life partner in any and every reincarnation. In her arms, Catra draws in a sharp breath. Adora hears the gentle clink of her putting down her spatula.
“Catra,” Adora breathes. She said it a lot last night, but never right. In her arms, Catra shivers and instantly begins purring. Adora can’t help the way she groans, not knowing how badly she was missing that rumble in her life until it came back. In her arms, Catra twists. Adora refuses to let go, but she pulls back a little so Catra can turn around and plaster their fronts together. When they meet eyes, Catra’s are burning with just as much intensity as Adora knows hers must be.
“There’s my girl,” Catra breathes, her breath hitching. Adora can’t hold back. She surges forward, tightening her arms around Catra to pull her in as close as she can as she kisses her. It’s burning with intensity, the riot of emotions she is suddenly reliving pouring through in it, but Catra kisses her with just as much passion. She always misses Adora terribly in the time between when they are reborn and when she remembers.
This is a kiss the two of them know well. It’s the last kiss of a dozen lifetimes, and the first one of a brand new one. When they part, they’re both breathless, but they’re grinning. It took them awhile to meet this time, but it doesn’t matter. They’re together again. It’s the way the world is meant to be.