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Adora woke up in bed, jolted awake by someone moving. That was odd. Not the jolting awake part – years of martial arts training had slipped into her subconscious and sometimes (a lot of times, maybe) while she was practicing on imaginary opponents in her dreams, she'd accidentally kicked the sheet up and startled herself awake.

No, it was odd that someone else was in the bed since Bow had taken Swift Wind home to visit his parents with him so that the dog could get some fresh air and nature outside of the city. Besides their big goofy yellow lab, Adora had been alone in her bed for months.

Her hand started to reach out before she could make the conscious decision to do so. It just barely missed the thin, fur-covered wrist that instantly jerked itself out of her grasp.

“Relax, I was just going to the bathroom,” a voice replied, scoffing out a dry laugh. It was a scratchy voice, which probably meant they'd just woken up too. Kinda low with a rasp. Like when you drink a smooth sweet bourbon and it has just a little kick at the end.

The thought of booze immediately made Adora feel woozy. 

“Shh, just lie down,” the stranger whispered. She took Adora's hand and gently guided her back until the blonde’s head relaxed against the pillow. This was not the side of the bed Adora usually slept on. Maybe she didn’t mention that last night. Or maybe her strange bedfellow chose a spot and Adora was too polite to protest.

The person’s voice was sexy, warm. It helped put Adora at ease for a bit. Her spidey sense wasn’t tingling so it was hard to give into the little voice nagging in the back of her head that screamed she didn’t know who the hell she was showing her boobs to right now.

With great struggle, Adora tried to open her eyes a smidge more but they were blurry, probably dry from wearing contacts for too long yesterday. Thank the Gods that she’d actually remembered to take them out before bed. Waking up with contacts sealed to her eyes would be a special kind of hell. So she’d take not being able to clearly make out who she’d invited home over that, at least. Maybe if she could dig up her glasses, she’d be a little less out of sorts.

The bedside was empty. Well, it wasn’t empty – there was a huge glass of water, some aspirin, and Adora’s wallet and keys – but no glasses.

“Oh, you gave me some very specific instructions about how to take care of you in the morning,” the stranger said, sounding amused. Adora so deeply wanted to actually be able to see this person she’d apparently trusted so willingly last night. “I'm supposed to put drops in your eyes before I tell you where I hid your glasses.”

“Why’d you hide my glasses?” Adora asked. Her throat felt absolutely awful. Like she’d swallowed ashes and sand.

“You made me. You said if I didn't, you'd put them on without moisturizing your eyes and then you'd be miserable all day and do nothing about it. It was a pretty cute rant.”

Adora was annoyed (for a number of reasons, really, if she included the fact that she didn’t care for having her very well thought out arguments described as ‘cute’.). She hated putting anything in her eyes. Wearing contacts everyday was basically torture but having anyone see her in her terrible thick grandma glasses was a fate worse than death. Besides, her whole body was dehydrated right now so past Adora was right.

“Listen...uh,” Adora stumbled, still trying to come up with the girl's name. “I'll be fine. You can just give me my glasses.”

“Nope, I promised, unfortunately.” She pulled a little farther back from Adora. “You're a tricky drunk, you know that? You seemed sober for hours, which was impressive considering how many beers you had. Then you were tipsy for about 20 minutes and suddenly you passed out as soon as we laid down.”

Relief bloomed in Adora’s chest. “Oh, thank Gods.” At the stranger’s curious ‘mmrp?’ she added, “I thought we’d had sex. And I’d feel realllllly bad if I’d forgotten that.”

“Not as gross as I would feel if that happened. No, no. We were just talking about nothing in bed. Anything more than the little bit of kissing we did would have been dicey, consent-wise.”

Well. She wasn’t a creep. She was gorgeous, even if it was blurry. Adora had apparently talked to her all night.

With a sigh, Adora relaxed finally. “Sorry. You were on your way to the bathroom?” She nodded towards the door in encouragement.

The woman easily made her way there and back without any directions, so Adora imagined she must have gotten a tour last night or figured it out quickly.

She dashed back into the room and ducked under the covers, shivering for dramatic effect. Adora always kept the apartment chillier than most folks would like. Or really that's what she told herself as she got used to the fact that the heat only had two speeds – off or Hades. She always opted for leaving it off and her roommates (including Glimmer, who technically had her own apartment that she never used) had acclimated over time.

“I smoked cigarettes,” was the first thing Adora said when the woman came back. She did that cute little ‘mmrp?’ again. “I never smoke cigarettes because gross. But sometimes when I drink, I’ll have one and I swear, it always makes me way more drunker.”

“Oh, yeah, you smoked like a chimney. You bummed cigarettes off of like 6 people.”

Adora groaned. That’s so bad. She treated her body so well and then once a year, she went and just swallowed tar. It was like how Bow lost it every few months and went from calm and put-together to spending a weekend holed up in his room, turning into an unwashed slob who ate wings and ice cream sundaes in bed.

She was used to the cold but Adora pulled the sheet up to her neck, feeling a little self-conscious. 

“You still don’t remember me, do you?” the person asked.

It was a fight to keep a neutral face. No, besides a couple flashes of dancing with someone at the show or laughing as they stumbled up the stairs, Adora hadn’t quite pieced together this puzzle. She didn’t go out hard often, but when she did, Adora really committed. Usually, Glimmer was by her side; this person must have had a similar energy and skill for encouraging fun (yet terrible) behavior.

The girl laughed at the continued lack of answer. “I swear it’s like 50 First Dates with this one,” she mumbled to herself.

Adora racked her brain for some clarity. Her plan had been to attend the concert just for something to do besides being cooped up in her apartment alone. Just stand in the back, have a couple beers, and politely chat up anyone in the vicinity who looked like they could use some company. It was Christmas Eve after all, so some casual friendliness would be the nice thing to do. She remembered standing at the bar when someone came up behind her and called her by name. Smoking a cigarette outside with them and joking with others who were taking a break from the sweltering dance floor. Her hand on the small of the woman’s back while she whispered in Adora’s ear.

“You were there last night cause your friends are all away. Like me.” It was a fact she was more or less sure about, something to prove that she wasn’t completely clueless.

“Well, that’s not hard to guess. That’s why everyone goes to the annual loser party.”

“Last night you said the party was for the best people, the ones who get to enjoy the city when everyone flees for the holidays to be with relatives.”

Adora watched her nod but the woman said nothing in response. She tried squinting a few times but she could swear the person might have been intentionally staying just far enough away for her to not be able to get a clear look. There was something familiar about the girl though. She’d felt the same thing last night, she remembered. Like they’d known each other.

She’d called Adora by name so maybe that wasn’t a huge leap. They could have worked together in the past? Shared mutual friends? That voice was too memorable to be someone she interacted with regularly.

“Guess it's drop time,” the person said finally.

Immediately, Adora felt like she was going to break out into a cold sweat. “Look….”

“I know you're gonna squirm. You said you might even flail about. You very suggestively told me I was allowed to restrain you if needed.”

Hearing that voice mention ‘restraints’ had Adora in knots in a completely different way suddenly. “I don't think that'll be necessary,” she managed to squeak out.

The stranger straddled her quickly. It was probably the most effective way to get Adora to go stiff as a board. Her hands awkwardly balled up at her sides until the girl reached down and placed them on her own hips.

“Squeeze as hard as you need to. I can take it,” she said, while she grabbed something from the table.

It was a hard fought competition between gay panic and her actual weird near-phobia thing about her eyes. But gay panic won out by a mile as Adora focused so deeply on how those soft hands gently cupped her face, how amazing that warm body felt on top of her,  that she almost didn't notice the cold annoying liquid until she was blinking it away.

“Done,” the girl said before getting up. She wandered to the desk in the corner near the door and returned with a small leather case.

It took a couple of blinks for Adora’s eyes to recover and adjust. Her room was a mess. She’d been busy at work lately and hadn’t bothered to pick up before heading out last night. That was kinda embarrassing, the multiple pairs of underwear on the floor and the plate in the laundry bag, which Bow would have definitely not approved of. It was bright outside, her thin blue curtains doing nothing to keep the daymoon out. 

But most importantly, there was a topless woman standing in the center of her room, wearing only tiny black boyshorts.

A very familiar topless woman.

Adora felt like an absolute idiot. She’d only spent hours arguing against that voice, taking notes and studying the types of positions she was prone to taking. Trying not to get lost in those hypnotic mismatched blue and gold eyes or that knowing smirk and stumble over her words.

“Catra?!” she said, trying and failing not to sound too surprised.

Catra laughed easily. “You know, literally three people hit on me last night by telling me how unique looking I was and you’ve forgotten who I am twice! It’s humbling, at least.” She shook her head, not seeming to care that her perky little breasts were just hanging out there. She was a hell of a lot more comfortable than her host.

It was astounding – unimaginable even – that Adora had both ran into and took home Catra Fucking D’riluth. 16 year old Adora used to doodle sketches of Catra's face every time their schools competed in Debate. Everyone thought the club was so nerdy but Adora still swore to this day that Debate was a hotbed of queer pining. And probably the nexus of her attraction to bossy, assertive women.

Catra was the worst. She never wore whatever dorky uniform the rest of her team put on, usually white button-ups and black slacks that made them look like cater waiters. She went over time, constantly arguing until she was reminded to shut up and sit down. She once debated the judge when they threatened to penalize her for habitual rule breaking, beginning a passionate argument on how unfair it was to be punished for past behavior and their own failure to properly sanction her in the first place.

As always, her points were well stated, even if they were completely full of shit. 

But Catra was charming and brilliant and generally got her way. Outside of meets, she’d never given Adora a second glance.

Now, a decade later, she was climbing back into Adora’s bed and snuggling herself under the fluffy navy blue blanket. That also meant she was seeing the blonde in her terrible big, round gold-rimmed glasses that made her look like an old maid. Teenage Adora would be mortified.

Adult Adora decided to distract Catra with questions. “Uh, if we didn't have sex, then why are we both half-naked?”

Catra gave a fake-exasperated look, smiling just a little. “I was cold and you convinced me that the best way to warm up was to use our body heat. You cited examples and everything so I'm proud that the Debate Club nerd in you is still alive and well but Twilight: Eclipse isn't really scientifically accurate.”

“I can't believe I was drunk enough to say that.” Adora was more embarrassed by the movie choice than the bad pick-up line.

“I can't believe I was drunk enough to fall for that. You were surprisingly smooth though. Teenage me woulda creamed her fucking pants.”

Catra laughed and Adora was shocked to realize they’d been sharing a similar line of thinking about this whole situation. Did that There was no way Catra had a crush on Adora as well. She'd drawn her and Catra's fake couple name in her lit book and then scrambled to hide it from Glimmer for a month before she was forced to just cover it up with a coexist sticker. Over time, she got busy with other extracurriculars and focused less on debate and soon Catra was just a fading memory in the far recesses of Adora's mind.

“Anyway, it's still freezing in here so. You gonna bring your ass over here or what?”

It took Adora a moment to understand what Catra was hinting at, eyebrows raised expectantly while she pretended to shiver a couple more times. Adora sank deeper under the covers before slowly inching her way to the other side of the bed. She wanted to give Catra plenty of time to back out, just in case she decided to remember that she was leaps and bounds out of Adora's league.

But Catra just waited impatiently, huffing occasionally as Adora slid over. When she was finally within arms reach, Catra saved them both some time by diving into Adora's space like she belonged there. Her lean muscular arm wrapped around the blonde's waist while she buried her face in Adora's collarbone.

Back in school, Adora used to fantasize about holding Catra close. Usually during a slow dance. It occurred to her that she'd probably actually achieved that last night. Hopefully, those memories would slowly return over time, unlocking themselves as she sobered up. Right now, Adora just focused on how close to reality her dream had been – Catra was as soft and warm as she'd hoped. And she smelled so good, kinda woodsy, like she'd just burned a sage leaf. It was hard to see her face where it was hidden against Adora's chest but Catra's breath ghosted across her skin, leaving goosebumps. 

Adora wanted to pull her closer, let herself relish in all things Catra for a while. It was important not to come on too strong though. No one wanted a clingy almost-one night stand, which was probably all this was for Catra. A one-off hook-up with an old acquaintance who turned out to be surprisingly high maintenance. Who drunkenly makes someone promise to put drops in their eyes? Gods. This was why Adora never made it past date three with most folks.

She began to notice that Catra was going frigid in her embrace.

“Oh,” she breathed out. “It's weird now.”

“...noooo,” was Adora's unconvincing reply. Her arms still felt like two slabs of granite. “Maybe.”

Catra shifted away, retreating further to her own side of the bed. “Guess I'll just get out of your hair then.”

Adora reached for her quickly. This didn't have to end just because she was Etheria’s most hopeless lesbian. 

“No, wait! It’s early! And cold! Maybe we can relax here a little longer? I've got some really comfy flannel pajamas you could put on. And breakfast! I'll make you breakfast!”

Catra seemed amused as Adora drove herself more into a suggestion-filled frenzy. By the end, she was gesturing and rushing to her closet while Catra remained lounging in bed, mocking Adora with her eyes. But she didn't get up and run away and truly, that's all that mattered at the moment.

Adora had maybe sorta forgotten that those super comfy pajamas were holiday-themed, a present from Bow's dads to keep her in the spirit of the season.

Catra frowned cutely as she looked at herself in the mirror. The pants had green and white horizontal stripes running from hip to ankle and Catra was forced to awkwardly tuck her tail inside. The shirt was covered in presents and tiny santas. Adora felt a little bad that the pajamas she chose for herself were a simple red and black buffalo check (another gift from the Archers) but it was a little big on her so it would have been huge on Catra, who had to roll up the sleeves and legs so she wasn't drowning in material. 

Catching Catra's eyes in the mirror, Adora took in how she'd changed. Her long wavy dark hair was more of a shaggy bob now with curly bangs that fell close to her eyes. Even though her mane was wild from sleep, Catra looked effortlessly gorgeous. 

“I feel like I'm pulling this look off,” she joked. She wasn't. It was absurd, as if a model had been booked for the wrong catalog gig, showing up for an underwear ad and getting shoved into a matching family spread instead.

“You're a fashion photographer,” Adora said suddenly. None of the words that had run through her head were her own; they were all pieces she'd subconsciously remembered Catra sharing. “That's really impressive.”

“Heh, yeah, that's exactly the same reaction you had before.” She held Adora's gaze in the mirror. “Anything else coming back?”

Well. Catra had shared this while they were splitting a menthol, leaning against the side of the venue. Amidst the gaps, all Adora could pull was art school debt, travel, difficult personalities.

“You took a photo of me,” Adora said.

“It's a fucking doozy,” Catra laughed. “Really captures you in your full glory.”

When Catra made no moves, Adora asked, “Can I see it?”

Catra bit her lip. It was hard to figure out if that was nerves or something else. “Hmm. Maybe later.”

“You gonna fill me in on the rest?”

“Oh, I would but I can't.” Catra's eyes began to twinkle. It was familiar, similar to the look she used to give when she was on a roll but…softer? Kinder. “You see, you made me promise that I wouldn’t tell you.”

“Why would I do that?”

Catra shrugged. “You told me it was the most ‘rememorable’ night of your life. And that you would, no matter how much you’d had to drink, never ever forget it. And that if you did, I was sworn to secrecy forever, while you were doomed to have lost the best evening of your existence.”

Adora’s hands must have been feeling pretty bold because they suddenly reached out and grabbed Catra by the waist, spinning her around so that they were face-to-face. The two of them probably looked equally surprised. It was muscle memory maybe, something Adora felt she must have done a couple times last night in response to Catra’s teasing.

Adora pulled her closer and stood to her full height, trying to use the meager two or three inches she had on Catra to intimidate her into being serious. All she got in response was a delighted smirk as Catra’s hands went to her shoulders.

“I would never say anything so dramatic, Cat, so I know you’re making that up.”

“Cat?” she repeated. “I don’t know, Dora. You were pretty over-the-top. When you finally admitted that the room had started to spin, you screamed ‘my body is betraying me!’ and then you collapsed.”

Had they given each other nicknames?

“Just tell me what happened,” Adora said very calmly. Maybe Catra could be reasoned with.

“Fine. If you tell me the password.”

Adora squeezed harder and pulled her closer, feeling a sense of déjà vu. They’d definitely done this. Or she was about to be slapped. Or both.

Lowering her voice, Adora sternly commanded, “Now, Catra. I’m not kidding around.”

Catra’s hands slipped up behind her neck. She stepped closer into Adora’s airspace, moving so intentionally that the blonde was sure they were going to kiss and she was going to collapse once again. Claws came out as Catra’s hands weaved into Adora’s hair, massaging gently. Not for the first time, Adora regretted getting out of bed.

She waited with bated breath as Catra drew nearer. Her large, striking eyes were focused in on Adora’s lips, lids growing heavy and pupils getting larger. Adora wanted to remember all these details – how Catra looked when she wanted something. When she wanted Adora.

Their lips were mere inches from each other when Catra paused her movements. “Nope, that’s not it,” she whispered. She pulled away with a laugh, sauntering out of the room and into the kitchen, leaving Adora a complete mess.

The fridge was empty. Not a single fucking useful thing in there. Butter. Some condiments, sure. Nothing to put them on. Adora and her roommate both did some fancy thing that involved the words ‘sustainable’ and ‘investing’ that Catra didn’t understand but found oddly fascinating when Adora tried to explain it to her. Apparently what she’d failed to mention is that they lived like banker bros with their empty kitchen and messy bedrooms.

Catra stood up straight and closed the door. On a magnetic whiteboard on the freezer was a chore chart. The handwriting was intricate and very very fey, probably done by the little fancy man that Adora had shown her a picture of. Bow was assigned to cleaning out the fridge, a task he had checked off. Adora was assigned to buying groceries. The checkbox next to this chore was as empty as Catra’s stomach.

Disappointing. Teasing Adora was a meal and a half, for real, but actual food would be needed to sustain Catra until she decided what the fuck she wanted to do next. Adora had retained basically none of their interactions, so picking up where they left off was out of the question. An awkward getting-to-know-you morning-after situation was not how Catra wanted to spend Christmas Day.

Adora was right though, that she wasn’t expected anywhere else. Neither of them were. The grocery store was probably closed. The most they could hope for from a bodega would be eggs and bread.

“I was promised a feast,” she whined, hearing Adora’s footsteps finally heading towards her. Drunk Adora had an unearned confidence that was way too sexy but it was equally fulfilling to watch Sober Adora completely implode every time Catra tried to rattle her. She was so fucking cute in her horrible glasses that Catra nearly caved and gave her everything she wanted.

“That’s impossible. I don’t even cook,” Adora argued. She set about making coffee and pouring them both large glasses of water. The kitchen was on the smaller size so Catra fit herself in the one place where she wouldn’t be in the way, hopping up on the counter next to the sink.

“You swore you’d learn just for me. You asked my favorite meals and everything.” She made a big show of being too preoccupied with drinking her water to continue.

Adora grumbled to herself before opening the fridge. “Shit!”

“You didn’t read the chore chart before Bow left town,” Catra pointed out.

The fridge slammed shut. “Are you secretly the Ghost of Christmas Past? Cause I feel like you know way more than you’re supposed to about my life.”

Catra tried to make her best enigmatic face but she was certain all she ended up doing was giving Adora bedroom eyes. Regardless, the blonde basically choked and rushed away to drink her own water.

Fuck, Adora Grayskull had gotten even hotter. Catra had sworn that she’d spend Christmas Eve the same way as always, hanging out at DT’s ridiculous concert/drag show/dance party extravaganza, flirt a little, and then go home alone.

She’d nearly swallowed her own tongue when she was heading to the bar and saw 5’9 of blonde goddess standing in front of her, that instantly recognizable laugh snorting at some youth who was trying to hit on her. Adora had spun around at the sound of her own name and awkwardly stared, racking her brain until recognition finally hit. She hugged Catra so hard that she lifted her up in the air. They talked and danced and flirted, both admitting to maybe kinda possibly harboring huge gay high school crushes on each other. And they kissed. Fuck, even with as uncoordinated as the booze had made them, Adora still kissed Catra like she was trying to erase the name of everyone she’d ever been with before from her mind. Tipsy and caught up in the moment, they’d both said a lot of things that they swore they’d never told anyone before. Catra meant it. She hoped Adora did too.

But it was probably just the heat of the moment. Today, Adora was a complete blank slate with no memory of what had felt like something really special.

It gave Catra pause. Maybe it was smart to tread lightly and not try to push something that clearly wasn’t felt both ways. “Actually, maybe I should take off. Clearly you have your hands full with the basics. Don’t need me adding to it.”

Adora’s hand flew to her leg, keeping Catra on the counter. Her voice was high and worried when she said, “I just need milk. And eggs. A banana would be nice. Plus, uh…all the ingredients for whatever your favorite meal is. What was that again?”

Catra tsk’ed at her. “Adora. You know that isn’t how this works.”

“Fine,” Adora pouted. “Then be prepared to answer all of the same questions you did last night.”

“Gladly,” Catra said. Like she was gonna say no to more time with probably the most intriguing person she’d met in a good long while. 

Adora was a conundrum. She was so very sweet and kind and also absolutely an incorrigible little shit. She had seemed so straight-laced all those years ago – in her little plaid tie and cardigan that made her look like a young conversative --  that Catra basically wrote her off as someone hot to fantasize about but who could never possibly reciprocate her infatuation.

Last night, Adora made friends with all the stragglers, checked in on everyone, and helped make sure multiple folks made it safely into a cab. But she also teased Catra mercilessly. The way she danced, the filthy things she vowed she’d do to Catra. They only ended up leaving the party because Catra was sure they’d be thrown out for the way that Adora’s hands were all over her.

Against her will, she ground her thighs together thinking of how Adora had taken control. It wasn’t a place Catra found herself in often. Hard to do without some level of trust and reliance. Adora made it easy to give her both, with her own vulnerability and steadiness. She shared all kinds of shit, her real feelings about the holidays, about her friends, the growing feeling of hollowness in her life. Catra could definitely relate. She was happy, which was new, but it was hard to ignore the feeling that something was missing. That there was a piece she was waiting for, even when she was unsure she’d ever figure it out.

Whispered secrets turned to an admitted attraction. Catra learned that Adora Greyskull had evolved into a very competitive top. She could work with that. 

“Are you okay?” Adora asked, dragging Catra from her thoughts. Her little Christmas pajamas were too much. “You’re kind’ve…purring?”

“You’re too fucking cute,” Catra answered.

Adora blushed, looking away. “You’re pretty cute too. I can’t believe we made out.”

Catra extended one leg so her foot tickled at the back of Adora’s thigh. “Can’t believe it happened or that we didn’t do more?”

Adora went to open her mouth but quickly slammed it shut as a look of pure horror overtook her face. Her head shot up in Catra’s direction. Her face got even redder, which Catra imagined was just from some phantom glimpses of them making out.

Until Adora said, “I’m so sorry. I-All those things I said. I’m usually not that forward. I apologize if I made you uncomfor-”

“Shut up, dummy.” Catra interrupted. “I was-... You don't have anything to apologize for.” No sense in admitting that she was into it if Adora regretted the whole thing. “It’s…flattering that you told me you were gonna sit me on your-”

She stopped herself, so very much enjoying Adora's reaction. The blonde was embarrassed but she wanted to hear the end of that sentence as much as Catra wanted her to follow through on the offer. 

“Soooo…” she drew out, having a great time watching Adora twist in the wind. “Bodega?”

“No one – literally absolutely not a single soul – no one , Adora, needs multiple pairs of Uggs. One is a red flag. Two means the rest of society gets to vote on whether or not you’re allowed to be shipped off to a separate island where you can no longer harm us with your crimes against common decency and good taste.”

Catra was warm and that was Adora’s primary objective. She wasn’t concerned if Catra was necessarily comfortable, which for the record, she obviously was. The clothes she tried to pick up from Adora’s floor had barely counted as such. A pair of ripped jeans that wouldn’t work in this 30 degree weather. A flimsy piece of fabric that was supposed to be a shirt. A cropped leather jacket. Adora couldn’t let Catra change into that and then freeze outside. Catra hadn’t even brought shoes!

Bundled up in Adora’s pj’s, her Uggs, and a big sparkly fluffy lilac bubble jacket that Glimmer had left in Bow’s room, Catra was the perfect picture of cuddly warmth.

She was completely miserable about it. Or pretending well. Adora filled up the backpack she’d brought to the small corner store with the overpriced essentials that she needed to make it through the next couple days, while Catra complained and grabbed the occasional bizarre snack. Buffalo pretzel pieces, birthday cake Oreos, and white chocolate Reese’s were on neither Adora’s shopping nor interest lists. It was impossible to get a word in edgewise to push back with Catra declaring a global ban on the boots that were generously keeping her cute little toes from freezing off.

Selfishly, a great byproduct of covering Catra all up was that Adora had hoped it would make the other girl less tempting. No such luck. Even the fluffy polka dot scarf, tan beanie, and immovable frown couldn’t make Catra frumpy. Instead, it was almost domestic, wearing ugly clothes to run errands together. Every time Adora began to think she could get used to this, she reminded herself that Catra was only there out of kindness. Clearly, she took her promise to keep an eye on Adora very seriously. The blonde must have been a complete pathetic mess the night before.

The brief memories she had of shamelessly propositioning Catra were motifying. Adora was probably a little more, uh, free in bed than most people would think. Never had she ever told a girl on the dancefloor all of the very specific and graphic ways Adora was going to fuck her.

From the little Adora could remember, Catra didn’t seem horrified. She was having a great time hanging this whole thing over Adora’s head. There would likely be no repeat of their brief hookup but Adora was excited to have Catra around, as long as her motives weren’t completely out of pity.

Catra seemed to love having a sounding board for her rants.

Adora had to stop her mid–sentence to point out, “I think this critique is about 5 years too late. You’re behind on the trends.”

Catra tossed flamin’ hot Funyuns into the bag, before throwing Adora an incredulous look. “I’m behind on trends? You wore mom jeans to the show.”

“Glimmer told me mom jeans were cool again,” Adora said, smiling triumphantly.

“The fact that you need someone else to give you that advice really just proves my point.”

“Cat, you lost your point 4 blocks ago.” A pack of smores poptarts almost hit Adora in the face. She silently led the two of them towards the fridge in the back.

Adora was reaching for a carton of eggs when Catra grabbed her arm. She was wearing little knit gloves that she’d whined were ‘for babies’ for a solid 5 minutes.

“Do you even know what you’re making?”

“Yep,” Adora answered. She didn’t. Eggs benedict maybe? Everyone loved eggs benedict. Adora would just have to grab what she generally thought was in the dish and then wait until Catra was distracted to look up how to make it.

“Are you going to tell me?” Catra asked.

“Are you going to tell me what I promised to make you?”

“I swore an oath on my honor. It's not really the same thing.”

Adora narrowed her eyes. This stubbornness shouldn’t be charming but, annoyingly, it was. 

“I’m making breakfast to repay you. That’s all you need to know.” She went back to grabbing items, ignoring Catra’s confused look.

“You don’t have to repay me.”

Adora fought the urge to argue. Instead, she just gave what was certainly a strained smile. “Okay, sure. Then I’m just excited for the challenge of getting to stretch my cooking skills.”

“Last night, you told me you’d poisoned Glitter once. The greatest gift to repay my generosity would be to not put me in the hospital.”

“She only got a tummy ache!” Adora whispered harshly.

“You call it ‘tummy’? So fucking wholesome.”

Adora looked up from the milk she was dropping in her bag to find Catra giving her the barest hint of a smile. As soon as they locked eyes, Catra glanced away to the vaguely creepy guy pretending to mop while listening to their conversation.

Catra threw him a glare and he quickly went back to pushing at the same spot on the floor.

“I'll get some ginger ale and some Pepto just in case,” Adora mumbled as she grabbed a few last things.

The clerk was half-asleep on the job as she checked out. Catra had gotten distracted with petting the bodega cat, an act that Adora had long ago given up on because it usually ended in violence. It wasn't til they were back on the unusually empty sidewalk that Catra addressed her again.

“I've decided I want bagels.”

Adora paused in her steps. Bagels? Did Catra not trust her? Glimmer was only vaguely ill that one time!

The wheels in her head began turning swiftly.

Bagels? Yes. Bagels could work.

Catra didn't say a godsdamn word while Adora dragged them across town.

Well, okay. Fine. She said lots of words, many of them curses because it was fucking freezing. But she didn't question why they walked past at least 4 open bagel places that looked perfectly fine to her.

Adora swore that they just had to go to this one place. Catra wasn't about to argue. She certainly wasn't gonna let herself believe this was all a ploy for them to hang out longer.

She did however distract herself by coming up with an overly complicated clandestine plan to secure all the snacks she'd scammed Adora into buying.

The shop was tiny, a narrow little storefront with a sign that didn't remotely describe what they did inside. ‘Deli’ it lied. No. This was no mere deli. The very grumpy purple muscle lez who practically threw a bagel at her forehead was a sandwich god.

“Fuck you,” Catra sighed at Adora after she took her first bite. It was supposed to be a regular bacon, egg, and cheese but it tasted divine. It was the most delicious bagel she'd had in the whole city. Perfectly seasoned, fresh as hell. “You've ruined my life. I'll never be satisfied again.”

Adora waggled her eyebrows like she was about to make a dirty joke. A wave of shyness hit her before it could come out and she busied herself with unwrapping her smoked salmon.

“Try this one.”

It was even better. Salty and smoky and briny. 

“Fuck you,” Catra repeated.

“I'm so glad you like it!” Adora stole a bite of Catra's sandwich, even though it was her own fault that she got something that wasn't a hot cheesy mess.

For penance, she fed Catra another bite of her own sandwich. They stood there in the small shop fighting over food and then feeding each other in apology until the owner told them to beat it. They finished up on the cold sidewalk, Adora washing everything down with a huge water bottle she produced from her backpack before she held it to Catra's lips.

“We have to stay hydrated,” she explained.

It was a bizarre way to share, especially for two near-strangers. But it was fun to be doted on a little so Catra allowed this ridiculous person to give her water and throw out her trash and straighten the dumb beanie she’d shoved onto Catra’s head cause her ears kept shifting it around.

“Okay, what else can I get you?” Adora asked.

“Nope, it’s your turn. What do you want?”

Adora reached one arm up to scratch awkwardly at the back of her neck. “Want? Uh. Nothing. I mean, whatever you want.”

It was pretty unlikely that Adora remembered drunkenly joking about how she was so bad at asking for things. When she admitted she wanted Catra last night, she'd added that that was a pretty big deal, “cause, you know,” like Catra had any fucking idea, “I'm pretty big on living without things.”

“That's stupid,” Catra had mumbled against Adora's lips. “Tell me how you want me.”

To say that she'd met the challenge was an understatement. She'd been so explicit, so full of wants after hours of flirting that Catra could barely keep up with the many fantasies Adora had for them.

“That's a tall order.”

Adora had buried her fingers in Catra's hair to pull her closer. “Don’t worry. We've got plenty of time. I'm not going anywhere.”

With a silent sigh, Catra reminded herself to forget about all that. “Fine. I want something fried.”

“Sounds perfect.”

Adora's eyes bulged when she took in the buffet Catra led her to. It was close, since they'd apparently abandoned Adora's neighborhood. Hopefully, the cold was enough to keep the milk in her bag good for a while.

The place was empty. All of the pepper-shaped twinkle lights shined down on rows of square wooden tables that had been set for no one. But the food, trays of chicken and lentils and rice and so on, were heaping and so warm that Catra could see steam rising off of them.

She considered filling her hands with samosas and leaving $20 taped to the register.

“Ah! Customers!” a voice screamed from the back. The double doors to the kitchen swung open and bounding out came the bane of Catra’s existence, smiling broadly like he wasn’t a threat to everyone around him. “Catra! And Adora?! Yes, you’ve taken that donning of our gay apparel quite to heart, I see. Very festive!”

“Sea Hawk?!” Adora asked, seeming too delighted about this encounter, as he skidded to a stop in front of them. He was dressed shockingly similar to Catra with red and white striped pants that resembled candy canes and a horrible green sweater that lit up like a christmas tree.

“No,” Catra told him. “I request a different server. I still haven’t recovered from the last time when you damn near flambeed my fur off.”

Sea Hawk’s broad grin twitched at the edges. “And I have apologized many times-”

“Hawk!” a new voice screamed from the kitchen.

“Yes, dearest.” He bowed his head briefly. “I’ve been instructed to state that I do not recall this incident and cannot be held legally liable.”

“Oh, a man hiding from accountability? How original,” Catra grumbled.

“So you come here a lot?” Adora asked her, moving a hand to the small of her back. Catra could barely feel it through her layers but she chose to focus on that point of contact instead of drowning Sea Hawk in a tub of boiling hot paneer.

“Yeah, I’ve known the owner for years. Even though I don’t trust her taste in workers/boyfriends.”

“He is not my boyfriend! He’s just the dishwasher,” Mermista screamed. 

She appeared suddenly, storming out of the kitchen carrying two to-go bags packed to the brim with containers. Unlike Sea Hawk, who was taking the holiday with the seriousness of a mall Santa, Mermista was dressed in her usual teal tshirt and tights. She had her long hair pulled up in a bun and she was covered in sweat, like she just had to whip up all of this food herself. 

Walking right up to Catra, Mermista thrust the two bags into her hands. “Here. Your more demonic half just ordered enough to feed a party bus.”

“I’m just here for a snack. I don’t do delivery.” Catra tried to hand the food back but Mermista stepped behind the counter immediately.

Once she took a seat, Mermista propped her head up on her hand to give Catra and Adora a long, enigmatic look.

“So. Is this happening?” she asked. 

“Give me a samosa and I’ll promise you anything you want to hear,” Catra offered.

“She’s in Hawk’s parkour training camp,” Mermista said, nodding at Adora. “Thoughts?”

“I have a lot of them. First, why are you knowingly dating someone who started a parkour training camp?”

The doofus in question began jumping in the air and trying to bounce himself off a table, as Mermista pointedly ignored him. “We’re not da-”

Catra spun on Adora before Mermista could finish. “You keep some questionable company.”

“He really improved my vault,” Adora explained, eyes darting to Sea Hawk as his foot snagged on the edge of the table and he went tumbling to the floor. “I’ll show you later. It’s pretty impressive.”

Those were decidedly not the moves that Catra was interested in seeing from Adora. Though it would be funny to watch her silly human jumps while Catra leapt from rooftop to rooftop all around her.

The bags were starting to get heavy. And probably cold. Maybe if Catra was lucky, there was the promise of fried dough inside.

“Merms, text DT and tell them I’m on my way. My phone died last night.”

“I’m not your secretary,” Mermista told her.

“I’m the one doing you a favor!”

“Are you? I don’t give a fuck about their food.” To prove this, she picked up her phone and began scrolling through social media.

“Don’t you have pride in your work and your business?”

Mermista laughed dryly. “You’re hilarious today. Getting laid must put you in a good mood.”

Adora gave a nervous giggle that made them sound like they were up to a lot more than slurred secrets. Catra elbowed her in the ribs to get her attention and led her towards the door.

“Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!” Sea Hawk yelled from the floor, now somehow all tangled up in a tablecloth.

Adora spent most of the walk from the restaurant awkwardly defending parkour and her many other athletic ventures. It was a legit sport! On the verge of breaking into the mainstream really. They were even starting to air some of the events on tv.

“I’m not judging,” Catra said. “That’s just how my face looks.”

Catra’s face looked very judgey.

They stopped at a shorter building. It looked older, a little industrial. Adora glanced around and realized they had wandered into a more hip, artsy part of the city. One of those neighborhoods that had repurposed warehouses into art studios and microbreweries but hadn’t been overrun with yuppie transplants just yet.

Catra juggled the bags of food to unlock the door and they began the trek up a couple flights of stairs. Each floor had two doors at the end of a long narrow hall, but only a number on one. Railroad apartments, Adora guessed. On the third floor, the residents there seemed to be having a boisterous party. The sounds of people laughing and cheering stretched out into the plain gray hall. One of the doors flew open as soon as their feet stepped on the landing.

“There you are!” a tall curvy woman with a sweet smile and hair like purple cotton candy yelled. She looked relieved, which Adora thought was pretty cute. Catra played all tough and aloof but one night away from home and she already had people worrying after her. “You haven't been answering your phone. Scorpia's worried sick.”

“Here I am, minding my own business, Spinny. Setting an excellent example for us all…” Catra tried to hint.

Spinny chose to ignore that, turning to Adora. “I’m Spinnerella, Catra's landlord.”

“Adora.” After a slightly awkward handshake – mostly made weird by Catra's antsy energy – Spinnerella continued to hover in the doorway. The football game was playing on a large living room TV as about a dozen folks who Adora read as very very gay watched and argued.

“Join us,” Spinnerella said quickly, noticing Adora's interest. “It's just a small holiday get-together. We'd love to have you.”

Catra held up the two takeout bags. “Sorry, Spinny. We've got plans.”

“Plans?” a second woman with silver hair asked as she joined them. “Oh,” she gave Adora a once-over before shooting Catra a conspiratorial look. “Plans,” she said with a wink.

Catra rolled her eyes. “I don't know what you're implying, Netty. We’ll probably just be working on Bible study or something.”

Netty looked at Catra like she was completely full of shit, which was fair. “Well, if you don’t get too busy, come by later to unpack presents.”

“I’ll see you on New Years. Maybe.”

“Oooh, 120-hour lesbidate? Going for the world record?” Netty teased.

“Merry Christmas, Catra,” Spinnerella said, reaching for a hug.

Catra let it happen. Everyone politely acted like they didn't notice when she had to stop purring to grumble, “Bah humbug” into Spinnerella’s shoulder.

At the fourth floor, the front door had been painted a dramatic jet black. It managed to give the message ‘do not enter’ while also tempting you into thinking there must be some really cool shit inside.

Catra motioned for Adora to knock. It took a couple tries but eventually, a thin periwinkle-colored man answered the door. His eyes were bloodshot, hair mussed, and clothes... non-existent. He had to lean against the door frame to balance himself. Something about him was vaguely familiar and Adora had to wonder if they'd met the night before.

“Who the hell are you?” Catra asked.

“They’re not here,” he replied, sounding somewhere between bored and half-dead. Though, he was surprisingly animated as he snatched the food out of Catra's hands and slammed the door in their face.

The walk to the next floor was filled with Catra angrily muttering that she hated this building. There was a mat by the front door that read “Welcomeish*” and in smaller text “*depends on who you are and how long you stay.”

Adora was a bit surprised when Catra unlocked the door. She hadn't realized that Catra's apartment was their ultimate destination. She covered it by laughing.

“You're kinda corny,” she explained, pointing at the mat.

Catra continued to mutter how this was the worst.

Inside was warm. Both the temperature, which was much higher than Adora's place, and the decorations that made it feel so cozy. The big brown suede couch and the pale green papazian looked comfy. The window shades were open so the daymoon’s rays poured in from outside, while unlit candles and only a couple of lamps seemed to be the other sources of light. The walls were all a dusky pink and most of the space on them was covered with framed photographs. Mostly cityscapes and oceans but a few close-ups of people or found objects, like a leaf on the sidewalk.

“Did you take these?” Adora asked. The pictures were all gorgeous.

Catra nodded. “Make yourself comfortable. I'll be a minute.”

Catra closed the front door behind herself as Adora got seated on the couch.

She nearly jumped back to her feet when a voice from another room called out, “Kitten? Finally! I told my gentleman caller that I’d be gone for 3 minutes and then you go and make a liar out of me.”

To the right of the living room sat a doorway covered by a beaded curtain. With the same flair that they’d displayed when introducing each performance the prior evening, DT whipped the curtain to the side and appeared, triumphant and grinning. The morning must have been hard on them too – their intricate braid had wilted like a dying dandelion and their face looked sunken and thin. Their long body was covered only by a black silk robe.

DT took one look at Adora and unleashed a squeal similar to a delighted, but evil, child. “Blondie, you sealed the deal. And matching outfits? Gods, I love how fast you lesbians move.”

Catra quickly rushed over to shove DT into her room. They yelped dramatically but allowed themself to be moved.

Adora was able to be chill enough to sit still on the couch for all of 30 seconds. Didn’t seem like there was much privacy in the apartment – in the building, really –  as Catra and her friend’s whispered voices carried right back into the living room. She could only make out some small parts:

“Looks like you’re getting everything you wanted for Christmas.”

“Shut up. Lower your voice!”

“Did she pull the mistletoe trick? She looks like that’s one of her moves.”

Adora decided to give them some space, wandering and idly checking out her surroundings. Her earlier guess about sage turned out to be correct; Catra had a small bundle of it on one of the windowsills where she clearly burned a leaf at a time and left them in an ashtray. Her matchbooks were from a local gay bar. Adora remembered her talking about how much she enjoyed going there to watch gameshows during happy hour. A pretty ridiculous past time. Adora even remembered Catra’s drink – whiskey and soda. Unless she was feeling fancy and then it was martini time.


Maybe sense memory really was a thing. Here, in Catra’s home, surrounded by her scent, her essence, Adora was starting to have some visions of last night coming back to her. Catra was…sweet. Like really sappy sweet. She listened to Adora all night and she told the blonde how amazing she thought she was and she shared her own fears and dreams. She cried when Adora got a little emotional.

Shit. It was probably the most intense night of Adora’s life. They were instantly drawn back to each other. Maybe such a huge hug was weird for someone she barely knew but Adora was tipsy and felt such a surge of excitement when their eyes met that first time. Never had she laughed so much on a date. Or been as real. Catra had even said the same thing.

Adora felt herself start to bounce on the tips of her toes. She had such a rush of feelings hitting her at once that she didn’t know what to do with herself. There was a pit in her stomach from the slight embarrassment of all the things she’d said. A heat in her blood from the closeness they’d shared. A flutter in her chest from how Catra patiently made her feel heard, supported Adora, and gave her a little bit of shit when she needed it.

With a start, Adora realized she was completely enamoured. This strange, meandering day together had solidified it. 

Adora groaned aloud. She’d been so awkward today! She couldn’t believe she thought Catra was just casually hanging out because of guilt or pity or something. Catra had made her romantic interest very clear the night before and Adora had spent the whole day accidentally trying to finagle herself into the friend zone.

“You okay?” Catra called out.

“Uh, yeah,” Adora lied. Her voice was way too high. She fixed it by dropping it way too low to say, “Just stubbed my toe.”

“You’re being weird,” Catra sang.

“Yeah, I know,” Adora sang back before she could stop herself.

She could hear Catra quietly laugh in the next room, only stopping with DT mimicked her with a girlish giggle.

“I’m just gonna take a call in the hall. I’ll be right back,” Adora promised. Her mind was racing but she knew instinctively who she needed to talk to.

“Bow,” she yelled as soon as he picked up. And then she reminded herself to keep her voice down. She was practically on the next floor down to get some privacy but it probably still wasn’t far enough from Catra’s ears. Adora was fairly certain that they’d covered Catra’s excellent hearing the night before, when she was grinding back into Adora so hard that the blonde couldn’t help but quietly moan. Catra spent 10 minutes teasing her for being overeager.

“Where are you?” he asked, sounding panicked, voice hurried and concerned. “I’ve been trying to reach you all day. Didn’t you see my texts?”

“Uh…” Yes, but Adora hadn’t actually tried to read any of them. “No? I’m fine. I’m with…a friend.”

“A… friend?” Bow repeated. Adora listened to him take a calming breath. Voice stronger now, he said, “Okay. Please hold.”

“No! Nononon-” Adora tried but he was already gone. This was not what she needed right now.

When the phone clicked again about a minute later, Glimmer also repeated, “A friend?” but her voice was much much drier. “Get off the phone and go have fun, Adora. Oh! Oh – wait. Are you okay? Is she treating alright? Do I need to come fight someone?”

Glimmer’s younger cousin Frosta screamed in the background, “Who are we fighting?”

“I’m fine,” Adora sighed.

“Glimmer was worried about you,” Bow explained. “And this felt like a Best Friend Squad emergency.”

“When I consented to this three-way call emergency rule, you have to understand that I assumed it would be for actual emergencies, like the life-threatening kind.”

“As a doctor-,” Glimmer began.

“Med student,” Adora corrected.

“- I have to stress that if you’re bleeding, call 911. If you’re confused about which shoes to buy, call a BFS emergency.”

“I would’ve just waited the night and slept on it but they were both only on sale for that one day,” Bow explained yet again. “So. Your friend?”

Adora tried to answer but what seemed to come out was more of a sigh that sounded like, “Yeah, Catra.”

The FaceTime notification knocked her out of her thoughts. When their faces came on the screen, Bow and Glimmer were wearing matching amused grins. Also, matching red reindeer sweaters, each hiding in some random area in their respective parents’ houses.

“Catra D’riluth?” Glimmer asked.

“Yeah. You remember her?” Adora was curious. Bow and Glimmer hadn’t been in Debate, the former because he was busy with theatre and the latter because she was kicked out during try-outs for repeatedly refusing to yield when her time was up. Glimmer once generously attended a match and was annoyed with Catra stealing her ‘tricks’. 

Bow laughed. “Well, that explains the text messages. Cat emoji, cat emoji, red heart, purple heart, exclamation point, exclamation point, exclamation point.”

“Times twelve,” Glimmer added. “I thought you were telling us you drunkenly adopted some kittens. I support this a lot more.”

“It sounds like you had a good time, Adora.” Bow paused to give her an encouraging smile. “I’m happy for you.”

“Really happy for you.” Glimmer lowered her voice to whisper, “It looks like you’ve been rode hard and put away wet.”

Adora snorted, thinking of how awkward their contact had been that day. Now that Adora actually remembered their effortless chemistry, she wanted it back.

“Not at all. Guys, I think I kinda screwed things up. Catra told me I was being weird.”

Glimmer hummed to herself. “She'll fit in nicely around here.”

“What size shirt does she wear?” Bow asked, probably already mentally creating her a ‘BFS Squad’ cropped sweatshirt.


“Did she also tell you that you screwed up?” Bow questioned. “Or is that your assessment?”

Adora chewed her lip while she thought. “My assessment,” she mumbled. “But we haven't been all over each other like we were last night.”

Glimmer’s face held no sympathy. “You mean, when you were white girl wasted? Is Catra the one who took that IG video you posted of yourself dancing? Even my dad was embarrassed for you.”

Adora switched the phone to speaker so she could open the app and remove that immediately. What an amateur move, not checking all her accounts as soon as she woke up. In her defense, she was a little distracted by the gorgeous, topless woman in her bed.

“What Glimmer's trying to say is that things are going to be a little different cause your inhibitions aren't lowered anymore,” Bow reasoned. “If you want to be more intimate, you'll have to actually communicate that.”

“Just feels like she's holding back now,” Adora admitted to them. It made sense. Catra woke up with a different person than the one she went to bed with. It was smart to be cautious and move slowly.

Adora didn't get this far in life by being smart though.

Wait. That wasn't what she meant.

“Oh no. What terrible plan are you cooking up?” Glimmer asked with a frown.

“Nothing,” Adora answered quickly, even while racking her brain for the perfect present to show Catra how serious she was about this whole thing.

“Look, Adora,” Bow said. “Why don't you create a cute date for you two tonight? Set the mood, have a convo about what you both are looking for.”

“That's too much too early,” Glimmer argued. “Just go back in there and ask if you can kiss her.”

“Make her a nice romantic Christmas dinner,” Bow suggested.

“Order her a nice Christmas dinner unless you find holding her hair back in the bathroom to be an aphrodisiac,” Glimmer countered. “I can't believe we left for two days and you went and got a girlfriend.”

“She's not my girlfriend.”

“Tell that to your goofy lovestruck face.”

“You do look happy, Adora,” Bow added, with his own goofy grin.

She knew they were worried about her. Nothing dire had happened but she’d just been a little down lately. A little off. She'd told Catra all about it and was surprised when she shared a similar feeling. Like they were both waiting on something great to happen. 

Not wanting to put too much pressure on this new thing with Catra, Adora deflected. “It’s just a chance encounter. It’s not that big of a deal.”

Bow shrugged. “Sure. But do you want it to be more than that?”

“Yeah,” Glimmer agreed, latching on to this as well. “What do you want, Adora?”

The problem was, well, Adora didn't know what she wanted. It had been a feeling that followed her most of her life – a nagging longing with no words for what it was that she was missing. It was a terrible question anyway, ‘what do you want?’ No context, no options. Was Adora supposed to just pick one thing out of the infinite amount of choices in the universe? And what if she asked for something – really asked for something that mattered, like for Catra to stay another night – and was rejected? No. Better to stay free of such things. Better to follow Catra’s lead and be content with whatever she got. People like Adora who worked for the greater good of everyone rarely got to have what they wanted anyway. 

All attempts to explain this to Bow and Glimmer came out as a stuttered unsure mess. Finally, Bow took some pity on Adora and just asked a (deceptively) simple question.

“You really like her, though, right? This isn’t just some lonely thing?”

Adora thought about all the memories that had come flooding back to her. The small moments with Catra. The silly ones and the sexy ones. The electric way Catra made her feel.

And she’d been having a blast with Catra all day. It was weirdly easy to be around her. Even with Adora’s nerves, it didn’t feel like she was forcing conversation or feelings. 

“Yeah. I really like her.”

“Then make sure she knows.”

DT was taking up the whole bed, lounging like they owned the place. Their robe – which Catra was almost certain was actually hers – kept threatening to slide right off, creating this weird fear that Adora would walk in and get completely the wrong idea. She had to fight the urge to ask them to cover up since it would have just made them even more haphazard about their state of dress.

Melog meowed sadly from wherever they were hiding under Catra’s pillowsoft heather gray comforter. Adora’s bed was an acceptable level of comfy but she definitely needed better and more blankets.

Anyway, her annoying gigantic gray cat was probably fine. They just liked to complain. Much like their owner.

“I have no words,” DT opened with.

Catra set about finding a small bag. “Good. Let’s keep it that way.” 

“I knew she was gaga for you last night but, oof! Still following you around like a little puppy in the harsh light of the day? How precious.” 

Catra tossed her backpack onto the one small corner of the bed that wasn’t being taken up by absurd creatures. “DT, please listen and understand — I will literally filet you alive today. Don’t test me.”

“Well, that’s not very much in the spirit of the season. So what are you and your little Christmas miracle planning to do for the rest of the day?” They craned their neck to peek out of the curtains. Adora was probably still in the hall after whatever weird shit she’d done in the living room. She wasn’t a very quiet talker and the two on the phone with her were even worse, screeching so loudly that Catra could almost hear what they were saying.

She tried to clandestinely grab a couple items and casually toss them into the bag without DT noticing. “There’s no plan. We’re just...taking things as they come.” 

“Oh, I bet you are,” they replied, tone full of insinuation. Every time she’d caught their eye last night, they had been winking at Catra and nodding their approval of Adora.

“You’re gonna break that poor thing’s heart,” they had said when Adora went to get drinks while DT was on a break. “Lucky girl.”

Stretching on Catra’s bed, DT continued to push. “So. Details. Give me the most salacious ones first since we’re low on time.”

“Okay, time for you to go.” Catra abandoned her task to pull at their foot. As always, their skin was scaly and cold and she couldn’t keep a good grip without them slipping away.

DT kicked at her but Catra wasn’t letting go. Everytime her hand came up empty, she grabbed at their ankle or shin, still trying to drag them out. Somewhere in the tussle, Melog gave a very outraged meow and rushed from the room.

“Kitten, you’re being ridiculous!” The robe was dangerously close to coming undone and flying open. This was a lose-lose scenario really.

“Get out! Go eat the $80 worth of food you made me carry 15 blocks!”

At the mention of lunch, DT threw one last kick before gracefully leaping to their feet.

Harrumphing, they pulled their – again, probably Catra’s – robe closed and retied it. “I don’t have to stay here in this dump and be treated this way. I’m leaving.”

“I definitely kicked you out. I’d like the record to reflect that.”

“I’m leaving of my own free will,” they petulantly responded, moving to the doorway.

Just when Catra thought she’d be free of them finally, they flung their bony arms around her. She froze, unsure what the hell they were doing. In 5 years of friendship, they’d never touched each other in a way that didn’t feel like it was straight out of a soap opera monologue.

DT’s voice was uncharacteristically gentle when they said, “Congrats, kitten. You really did find love in a hopeless place.” They took a step back and composed themself. “I'm pretty sure the attractive rogue I brought home last night is downstairs ruining my credit as we speak. He claimed to be a prince and we all know how that scam ends.” 

“Love?” Catra scoffed. “I barely know her.” 

“Isn’t that the fun part?” 

As soon as they disappeared from the room, Catra hurried to grab the final items. The only sign of Adora was her loud panicked voice in the hall, sounding like she was swallowing all of her words.

Catra took the opportunity to jump in the shower quickly and try to wash the hangover off. It was a shame to lose Adora’s scent as well but the smell of cigarettes and cheap beer had been making her vaguely nauseous all day.

Adora must have come back around the time she was busy blow drying her fur. The human was probably trying to be stealthy as she tiptoed around Catra’s apartment, picking up random things. She might as well have just yelled ‘I’m poking through all your shit!’ with as much noise as she made.

Catra found Adora still in the living room, going through the bookshelf.

“Being nosey?” Catra asked after sneaking right up behind her.

Adora yelped and nervously whipped around to face her. Catra nearly laughed at her for being jumpy. Except, she got distracted once she took in the full picture.

Narrowing her eyes, Catra asked, “Why is my cat wearing a bandana?”

Adora followed her gaze to the bundle she had cradled in her arms like a baby. Catra’s huge 15-pound lump of fur that moved maybe once per day was curled around Adora’s chest, face nuzzled right into her tits. Melog hated being picked up. Even Catra wasn’t allowed to move them. That fucking traitor.

“I found it!” Adora anxiously pointed at a clear plastic stocking full of cat toys and clothes. A ridiculous present from Scorpia and her girlfriend that Catra knew she hadn’t opened. “Look how cute they are.”

Melog lifted their eyes to meet Catra’s, seeming very unimpressed both with her guest and with the snowman-covered ascot wrapped around their neck. But they undermined themself by burrowing further into Adora’s arms. Brat.

“We should celebrate,” Adora said out of nowhere. She was just a little frantic sounding.

“That I showered?”

“Christmas!” She spun around and Catra could see that Adora had also been poking at the holiday postcards laid out on the coffee table. Her energy was different, more melancholy than before. Hopefully Adora wasn’t prone to emotional hangovers like Scorpia, who would cry the whole next day after going out.

Adora’s eyes roamed down Catra’s body. Yes, she’d put the stupid pajamas back on. They were comfortable and she wasn’t about to commit to having to wash and return them later. She kept her backpack hidden behind her. If Adora excused herself to head home alone, Catra could save herself the embarrassment of having quickly packed an overnight bag before jumping in the shower.

“Christmas?” she repeated.

“Yeah, did you forget?” Adora joked. “Listen, I probably already told you this but I don’t have any family. And I’m pretty sure you don’t have any fam-“

“I have plenty of family,” Catra interrupted, gesturing at cards from the folks who she called ‘home’. “I just don’t have any relatives. There’s a difference.”

Adora nodded, seeming to let that sink in. “Yeah. Yeah, you’re right. I like that.”

“What’s your vision for this holiday celebration?”

“Oh. I don’t know. You have any traditions?”

The couple times that Catra had gone home with Scorpia’s family were overwhelming. Her mothers kept a tight schedule of holiday-themed fun that left Catra exhausted by the end of the first day. Entrapta’s family was absent with no explanation when Catra visited. They had tiny eggnogs and then acted like it was any other day. 

“Not really,” she answered. “Christmas always seemed…disappointing. All this buildup for a few moments of enjoyment and then it’s over.”

Adora smirked to herself. “You could say the same thing about sex.” 

Catra bit her lip, trying to force herself not to think about all the ways Adora wanted to have her the night before. “Usually, you can have sex again immediately. You don’t generally have to wait 365 days for round 2.”

Adora gave her a quiet laugh, rolling her eyes at this logic.

Catra continued, now lost in her own head. “There was always just something so sad about it. There’s so many heartbroken Christmas songs or bummer shit that happens in the movies. I never bought into it.”

Adora’s eyes were searching, giving her a long look that had Catra’s fur wanting to stand up. Here Adora was trying to have some fun and Catra was shitting all over her parade.

“Uh, do you? Have any traditions?” she asked awkwardly.

“Not really. I mean, a tree would be cool but it’s way too late for that.”

Catra hummed. “Maybe not. Grab your stuff. We’ll head out in a sec.” 

She disappeared into her room for a quick minute, picking up a couple random items and shoving them into her bag. Then she headed back into the living room and pushed Adora out the door with her, ignoring the blonde’s questions and Melog’s grumpy goodbye meows the whole time.

“You’re going to murder me,” Adora guessed.

“Why do people always think that about me?” Catra said instead of denying it. Adora had been accusing her of increasingly ridiculous schemes for 20 minutes while they wandered.

In her defense, it was getting darker and Catra had just begun to lead her down an abandoned street next to the highway.

“You think I lied in wait for years? Doing what – plotting my revenge for that one match that you won?”

“You remembering that just kinda proves my point,” Adora pointed out. She knew, of course, that she’d won more than one match. But what was the use of giving Catra more ammo? Or, at this point, was it motive? Maybe she thought Adora still didn’t remember anything about last night and this was an easier way of getting rid of her instead of just bailing?

Adora could hear Bow’s voice in her head reminding her that that was ridiculous, but he wasn’t the one walking next to an overpass now, was he?

Catra was still only a couple steps ahead of her as cars zipped by, going way too fast to merge onto the interstate. The city had felt pretty empty all day but the highway was as active as ever, rideshares probably rushing to take people to and from their holiday destinations in a hurry.

No one would notice her scream.

“Stop being so dramatic,” Catra grumbled. “I can feel you tensing up for a fight back there.”

“I’m not,” Adora lied, while she tried to visually assess the best way to bring Catra down. She was fast and moved very quietly but Adora definitely knew she was stronger than Catra. Hand-to-hand would be hard but doable.

The block came to an end and Adora reluctantly followed as Catra led them around the cover and into an alcove under the bridge. It was a small side street, probably just a throughway to the rest of the neighborhood, with a single shady-looking subway station. But leaned against the wall of the bridge was about a dozen abandoned Christmas trees of varying sizes. They were all clearly dying — the limbs of the trees were starting to look a little dry and thin — but that didn’t matter. Adora only needed the one night.

When Catra came to a standstill, she just lazily pointed at the trees like this wasn’t an incredibly sweet move. Adora had wanted to create a special night and here Catra was one-upping her.

She was able to hold herself back from rushing over and choosing a tree like an overexcited kid. Instead, Adora stopped beside Catra and eased an arm around her waist.

“Oh, hello,” Catra teased.

“This alright?” Adora asked, even as her hand went to Catra’s hip to pull her closer. 

Catra nodded, reaching around to sneak her claws underneath Adora’s coat to lightly scratch at her tummy.

“This was sweet of you. How’d you know about this place?”

Catra shrugged. “I pass by a guy selling trees down here sometimes. Last year, he abandoned all the leftovers and I was able to get some super melodramatic shots of them. Dying spirit of the holidays or something.”

“Well, now we get to rescue one and give it a good home. Hope you brought your camera for that.”

Adora reluctantly released her to survey the remaining trees. Most were too big for her place since she’d already have to do some finagling to fit it into her living room. The one she ended up choosing was about Catra’s height. It was a little crispy and missing a few needles but nothing a little water and some lights couldn’t cover up.

The Uber XL that Catra called to pick them up was not happy about this. He was slightly less annoyed when Catra produced ties and carabiners and started strapping the tree to the roof herself.

“You came prepared,” Adora observed, aware that she probably had stars in her eyes. 

“Duh. Lesbians,” she grunted as she pulled one of the ties taut.

Getting the tree up the stairs to her apartment was slightly more terrible. Adora and Bow had carried their couch up together when they first moved in and navigating the narrow hall had almost pushed their friendship to its breaking point. Catra wasn’t as passive as Bow so her thoughts on Adora trying to take on the bulk of the load came early and often. And loudly.

“You’re gonna poke your fucking eye out. Just listen to me. Take it off your dumb shoulder and lift it over your head with both hands.”

“Trust me. I can carry more weight this way,” Adora argued. She tried to turn her head back to prove it and promptly had a branch jab her right in the nose.

Catra laughed so hard she almost dropped the trunk.

“We’re gonna have to stand it up to get it around the corners,” she suggested.

“No, I can make the turn.”

She could not. The tree was too dry to bend like that it turned out. After it almost cracked in half, Adora gave up and let Catra take the lead. They made it the rest of the way with minimal injuries.

Bow’s general motto was to never throw out anything he thought they could reuse, even when it was taking up precious real estate and would not be helpful at any point in the near-future. Luckily, he’d resisted Adora’s attempts to get rid of a few items from a holiday party three years ago. From deep in the back of the hallway closet, behind the tools and trash bags and dog food, Adora was able to produce a tree stand, two green and red wool stockings (obviously Catra would just have to use the one that said “Bow”), and two boxes of twinkle lights.

She left Catra to untangle the lights, claiming that the groceries needed to finally go into the fridge. Listening carefully to all of the frustrated swearing coming from the living room, Adora rushed around the kitchen trying to shove all of Catra’s weird bodega treats into the stocking as quietly as possible. She darted into Bow’s room for a second and stole the fancy phone charger that he kept next to his bed. The $60 she venmo’d him just had the note “sorry – don’t hate me”, so she’d probably be getting a frantic call once he was done celebrating with his family.

Adora grabbed a couple pushpins from the junk drawer and ventured back out. Catra had kicked off the boots, bare feet resting on the coffee table while she twiddled her thumbs. The tree was up in its stand with the lights lying in a lump on the floor. Bow’s favorite chair, the tan leather one he’d found on the street, was shoved closer to the couch to make room for their festive addition.

“Did you figure the lights out?” Adora asked.

Catra waved vaguely in their direction. “How attached are you to these pants?”

Adora put a pin in the wall next to the tree and hung up the stocking. “Not very. You want to keep ‘em?” That was surprising. Adora had figured that Catra wasn’t as unhappy as she made a big show of seeming but she definitely hadn’t anticipated Catra becoming so attached to the outfit.

“I want to cut them.”

At Adora’s confused look, Catra half-turned around so that her butt was pointed towards the blonde. With a bit of guilt, Adora was reminded of how Catra had been forced to shove her tail down the back of one of the pants legs. Adora tried to politely not let her eyes linger on Catra’s ass or think about how she had seen it earlier, round and full, the voluptuous curve peeking out of the bottom of her boyshorts.

“Alrkay,” Adora mumbled. Catra giggled and she realized that she had maybe slipped into a tiny trance. “Alright. Okay,” Adora clarified, rushing from the room.

When she returned, Catra was standing near the tree. Her tail was already hanging free of the pajamas, curling in the air behind her.

“Whoops,” she said. “I forgot I could just use my claws.”

Adora dropped the scissors onto the table. She set about wrapping the lights around the tree and genuinely didn’t understand what ruse Catra had cooked up until she stepped back to take a look at the finished product and noticed her own stocking hung up, filled to the brim.

“When did you-”

“Santa must have come while I was in the bathroom fixing these awful pants,” Catra said quickly, before she pointed at the tree. “You gonna do the honors or what?”

With the lights plugged in, the tree still looked kinda pathetic. The branches drooped like it was about 2 seconds away from just giving up and the floor was already covered in needles. 

“It’s cute,” Catra lied.

“Really?” They’d essentially just dressed up a corpse.


Adora tilted her head to the side trying to see if the angle was the issue. It was not. She felt a frown overtaking her face as her disappointment in her half-assed attempt at a romantic evening began to sink in.

Until a small hand slipped itself into hers.

“It’s perfect,” Catra whispered. She was probably talking about the tree but all Adora could think about was how they fit together. “Thanks for this. I haven’t ever really had a tree before.”

Adora gave her hand a soft squeeze. “Go stand next to it.” She whipped her phone out of her pocket.

“Nope, I take the photos,” Catra argued.

“But you don’t share. So let me have this one.” Adora gently laid a hand on Catra’s hip and pushed her closer to their tree.

For a reluctant model, Catra was committed to not making the picture completely terrible. She refused to smile but she couldn’t keep her eyes from looking slightly pleased, especially since she did most of the directing.

“No one looks good this close up. Take two steps back.”

“I don’t know. I’m not a professional but I think you look gorgeous.”

Catra just barely cracked a smile. Adora was quick to capture it, a shot that was so stunning that it almost stopped her in her tracks but didn’t even begin to do the subject justice. She already knew she’d be thinking about it for days.

Then Adora did as ordered, moving back and getting a few full pics of Catra. Their tree looked much better on the screen, more lively and full. The lights cast a warm golden glow across Catra’s fur, while her eyes simmered from within. She was a goddess and Adora almost couldn’t drag her eyes away.

“Okay, that’s enough,” Catra finally said, after Adora had taken probably way too many photos. Before the blonde could flip the phone around to show her work, Catra was ducking into her arms to see, pushing her back against Adora’s chest. Her head landed in the crook of Adora’s shoulder like it belonged there.

Catra’s soft palm wrapped around Adora’s hand as she held up her device. They began swiping through, Catra shaking her head in disapproval at each pic.

“Well, your eye is decent but your model’s a mess,” she said. 

Adora let her free arm reach down to wrap around Catra’s waist and hold her in place. “She’s kinda the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen,” she whispered into Catra’s ear, emboldened by her touch. 

She said nothing but the way she relaxed further into Adora spoke volumes. Catra kept swiping until she came to the end of this series of pictures. Adora hardly had a second to intervene before Catra’s thumb led them to the next photo. There on her screen was a shot of the two of them from the night before, looking coincidentally very similar to how they were now. Adora was cuddled up to Catra, while the latter kissed along her neck and held the phone. 

Adora’s eyes were half-open, her mouth in a sideways tipsy smile. She remembered gasping seconds after the picture was taken and the two of them getting carried away as Catra’s fangs teased at her throat. 

And there were more moments they’d captured, she discovered. Dancing. Kissing. Being goofy. Trying to be serious and stoic.

When Catra swiped onto a gym selfie, Adora switched back to the camera. She took a quick pic of them, catching Catra still laughing at her flexed arms and duck lips as she posed in the bathroom mirror.

“Could you send me that last one?” Catra joked. “I think I have the perfect frame for it. It'll really pop with the half-naked person you didn't realize was stepping out of the shower behind you.”

Adora tucked her phone back into her pocket. “Aw, you want a framed picture of me already?” 

Catra intentionally scratched her as she pulled Adora’s now-free arm tight around her body.

“Can I see the ones you took now?”

“Nope. Phone’s dead sadly,” Catra said, not sounding sad at all.

“Maybe if you check your stocking, Santa brought you something to solve that,” Adora teased. “Also, you could have just asked me for a charger at literally any point.”

Catra had to push herself even further into Adora to crane up and look at the blonde’s face. They were practically breathing the same air. “I thought you liked my exciting devil-may-care attitude.”

“I’d also like you to be able to call an ambulance if I get hurt.”

“Wasn’t your weird friend talking about 911? Is your whole crew accident-prone?”

Adora felt herself tense. “What else did you hear while I was on the phone?”

“I wasn’t eavesdropping,” Catra told her. 

Adora believed she wasn’t intentionally eavesdropping.

“All I heard,” Catra continued slowly, “Was 911. And embarrassing video. And that you’re ordering a romantic dinner.”

“I’m making a romantic dinner as promised,” Adora replied. She didn’t think it was necessary to reveal that it would consist solely of a ham and cheese sandwich. “As soon as we’re done unpacking our stockings. Come on.”

Catra refused to budge, basically going boneless and dropping all of her weight into Adora. She ignored complaints. She ignored Adora’s threat to let her fall on the floor. Eventually Adora had to lift her in the air by the hips to drag her the extra three feet to the stockings, Catra laughing and squealing in a silly, free way that felt unusual but lovely to hear after a day of worrying that she was holding back.

“Adora, put me down!” she giggled, still doing absolutely nothing to fight back. Catra could have easily just put her feet down and stood up of her own free will. But she chose to bend her knees and give in, making Adora roll her eyes at how similar Catra was to Melog, who also made a big show of not wanting to be carried, even as they leapt onto her.

“Just grab ‘em,” Adora pleaded. 

She was overexerting herself today carrying the tree and now Catra. The hangover had her feeling a little too weak and shaky for this. Catra must have sensed that because she finally complied, pulling the stockings down. Adora rushed them back to the couch, where she collapsed with Catra in her lap.

All of the treats were out and Catra was tearing into a bag of chips before Adora could even go over the rules of present-opening. She thought they could take turns, one at a time. Catra threw everything on the couch and coffee table at once, flamin’ hot dust getting on Adora’s stocking where she kept it in her grasp.

“Your present was the snacks I bought?” Catra asked with her mouth full.

“The ones I paid for? Yes. Plus a phone charger. Did you notice the charger? You should really charge your phone.”

Catra ignored this reasonable advice to toss the rest of the chip bag on the table before wiping her hands off on her pajama pants. “I want a real present next year.”

Adora tried to peek at her gifts rather than looking up and showing how much that thought excited her. “Well, we’ll have to see what Santa gives you. And whether you’re naughty or nice.”

Catra smirked at her. “What’s your preference?”

“Nice,” Adora answered in a dry voice.


She reached for her stocking but Catra only grasped it tighter, tutting at her. “Patience,” she said, like Adora hadn't just watched her rip through her own gifts, before reaching in herself and pulling out a small cream-colored candle.

“That's not how gift giving works,” Adora pointed out.

“I noticed you didn't have any candles,” Catra explained. “A queer house is not a home without candles.”

Adora took it from her, scoffing at Catra’s idea of queerness that she probably just made up on the spot. The candle was ‘basil amber’, whatever that meant. The whiff she got of it was herby and warm and rich, reminiscent of Catra actually, and Adora decided this was her new favorite scent. Catra placed it carefully on the table and removed a mug from the stocking next. She could barely contain her amusement as she passed it over. The mug was white with just the eyes and blushing cheeks drawn on; the handle was a rainbow-colored tail and a gold horn stuck out of the front of it. Clearly Catra had snuck into her closet at some point and seen the unicorn onesie that Adora wore when she was in need of some comfort.

“I feel like you’re making fun of me but just remember that you owned this,” Adora said.

Catra kept grinning at her. “I admit that this is a re-gift. I got it at a white elephant party two years ago. But clearly the Gods had a long con in mind and it’s finally found its rightful owner.” She put the mug down. 

The last item she pulled out, before throwing the stocking on the floor somewhere, was a pack of cigarettes. Adora opened her mouth to decline, but Catra cut her off with, “They’re herbal cigarettes. No tobacco or nicotine. Just rose and damiana and some other hippie shit. It’s not healthy by any measure but if you carry these out with you, they’re a better alternative to all the metal and junk you smoked last night.” She tossed them over her shoulder without looking. “Tastes better when someone has to kiss you too.”

Adora raised an eyebrow but Catra’s face pinched together, signaling that she would not be open to any questions about who this “someone” might be.

“Thank you,” Adora said genuinely. “Very thoughtful. Ready for dinner?”

Catra shook her head. “There’s one more present.”


“Yeah.” She paused, a blush forming on her freckled cheeks. “You wanna try making out again?”

Adora blinked a couple times, trying to make sure this was really happening.

“Thought you wanted me to come up with the password first?”

“That was about me telling you what happened, not us kissing more.”

“I thought they were a package deal,” Adora said. It was kinda funny to draw this out. Catra furrowed her brow in a really adorable way, showing that she was not amused.

“Fine,” she said reluctantly. “What’s the password?”

Adora smiled smugly, excited to prove she had neither forgotten nor regretted last night’s events. “You never settled on one. You were having too much fun making me do awful impressions of old tv catchphrases and we forgot.”

Even with this revelation, Catra didn’t miss a beat. “Your Scooby Doo was so good though,” she joked. “Have you considered auditioning for the role?”

“You wouldn’t let me embarrass myself like that,” Adora said, moving closer. “You like me too much.”

Catra began to slowly lean in as well. “I don’t know. I might let you do it just for the story.”

Adora cupped her cheek to guide her in the rest of the way. “But you do? Like me, I mean?” When she wasn’t immediately answered, Catra apparently too busy staring at her lips, Adora added, “Cause I really like you.”

“I like you too,” Catra whispered. “Merry Christmas, dummy.”

They closed the distance, meeting the middle. Catra kissed her tentatively, almost waiting for approval. Adora pulled her in more deeply, kissing her firmly until she sighed quietly and relaxed. Butterflies bloomed in Adora’s stomach. It wasn’t the shock of electricity she felt when they made out the prior evening; no, this was a slow yet exciting calm. A thrilling, terrifying, welcome sense that Adora was exactly where she needed to be. 

She couldn’t remember ever having a Christmas this good.

Adora woke up in bed, slapping at the blanket to defend herself as her dream faded away. Next to her, a body moved, shaking like it was holding in laughter. She was too exhausted to open her eyes just yet. Muscles too sore to even move to block out the light. But it smelled like breakfast was cooking and Adora’s stomach started to growl right away.

She reluctantly cracked open her eyes. They met a mismatched pair, hovering a few inches above her face. Adora took in the girl smiling and then the state of complete undress she was in.

“Fucking finally.”

“Who are you?” Adora asked.

Catra’s face went through a series of feelings in quick succession: surprise, defeat, confusion, annoyance, and finally rage.

“Not funny,” she growled after a long moment.

Adora wound her fingers into Catra’s hair and grinned like a jerk. “Pretty funny,” she argued as she tried to pull them closer for a kiss.

“Are you gonna do that every morning I sleep over here?”

“And every morning I wake up at your place too.” Adora was way too sore to meet Catra the rest of the way. She had, uh…maybe strained her neck a little too much last night. Catra was moving down towards her at a snail’s pace though, really dragging this out.

“That’s gonna get old fast.”

“Rebuttal: you like it.”

“Point to you,” Catra whispered, before she leaned down and took Adora’s lips, pressing her into the mattress. “Happy Boxing Day. Come eat breakfast. And then you can tell me what harebrained scheme you’ve cooked up to restore my faith in the holiday or whatever.”

She slipped out of bed to return to the kitchen. Adora followed close behind, already imagining a slew of random holidays she could come up with, just to amuse and annoy Catra.