“You friends with Adora? The blonde from the soccer team?”
Glimmer doesn’t know what to think when the big, buff girl from the school wrestling team stops in front of her table in the library and asks her that. She looks up from her physics homework that she’s only really pretending to work on anyway and frowns.
Huntara, that’s her name, Glimmer remembers as she looks at the expectant person in front of her, waiting for her question to be answered. She’s the girl Adora likes. Wait, she asked about Adora.
Nervously, because the girl is huge and kind of scary, Glimmer smiles and asks, “Why?”
Huntara folds her arms across her chest. Six feet tall and two hundred pounds of muscle, this girl could crush Glimmer like a grape. Probably with one hand. And she knows it, too, if the gruff “just answer the question,” is anything to go by.
Glimmer’s brain works fast. Huntara is asking about Adora. Adora has been crushing on her for the last year. She’s stopped mentioning it as of the last few months, since a little before summer vacation, but this is probably Glimmer’s chance to be the best friend ever and set her up with her crush. Despite how terrifying said crush actually is. “I’m her best friend.”
Huntara grunts in acknowledgement. “She seeing anyone?”
Glimmer grins. Hunch confirmed. “Nope. No, definitely not seeing anyone.”
A surprisingly soft hum comes from Huntara. She nods once and turns around, silently lumbering out of the library. Glimmer frowns after her. That was abrupt, but whatever. That isn’t what she should be thinking about. What she should be thinking about is finding Adora and giving her the awesome news that Huntara is finally interested.
Honestly, Adora’s crush on her had been a little pathetic, Glimmer has to admit. She’s been to all of the wrestling meets just to watch her from afar, doodled her name in the back of her notebook, and refused to even consider acting on her feelings. Glimmer has been ninety percent certain that Huntara had no idea Adora existed, until now.
Adora is going to be thrilled. Glimmer smiles at the thought. She’s happy for her friend, happy that something is happening with the girl she’s liked for a year. She packs up her things, because homework isn’t important when her best friend is going to get the girl she likes. She leaves the library with a smile on her face and humming a pop song about love as she walks down the corridor with a spring in her step.
Until she walks past a classroom door, and someone bursts out and slams into her.
“Sorry,” Glimmer starts, but her apologetic expression morphs into a scowl when she realises who she’d walked into. Catra. “Oh, it’s you. Never mind.”
Maybe that’s petty, but Catra is the worst. Like, trademark The Worst™. Massively self-absorbed, just because she’s some kind of genius and doesn’t even have to try to get good grades. It doesn’t help that she’s attractive, either. Not even Glimmer can deny that, when those stupid heterochromatic eyes were so striking and her probably intentionally messy hair always seemed to fall just right. Even Glimmer’s own mother loves her, always talking about the amazing grades Catra gets and questioning why Glimmer can’t get the same. Catra doesn’t make it any easier to like her, either; she walks around thinking and acting like she’s god’s gift to the earth, always wearing this stupid smirk like she knows everything about everyone.
She’s smirking now, looking Glimmer up and down in some kind of petty amusement. Like she’s a child that’s done something stupid. “Easy there, Sparkles. Wouldn’t want people thinking your precious mommy didn’t teach you any manners. I’m sure that would reflect badly on the school.”
“Do you have to be such an asshole all the time?”
“Do you have to be so irritating?”
“Ugh,” Glimmer shoves past Catra purposely and stomps down the hallway. No, she won’t let that asshole ruin her mood. Things are good. Glimmer has just basically scored her best friend a date with the girl she’s liked for ages. That’s amazing. An encounter with a jerk isn’t going to ruin that for her.
She checks the time on her phone, and it’s almost lunch period. She’s had a free before then, and usually Adora does too. She wonders where she is – a lot of the time, in their shared frees, they study together. Or… more like pretend to study. But whatever. Maybe Adora actually is studying because she realised she wouldn’t get any real work done with Glimmer.
She heads outside to the area on the school field they always sit when the weather is nice, under the big willow tree. Perfuma is already there, idly making a daisy chain while little Frosta, the freshman she’d taken under her wing at the start of senior year, is talking about her win in dodgeball last time she had gym class. Adora is nowhere to be seen.
Glimmer flops down in a patch of shade, and the moment there’s a gap in Frosta’s story of complete annihilation, she jumps in with, “Anyone seen Adora?”
Her question is answered when Adora heads out of the school building in the distance. Bow is with her, and he’s talking animatedly about something if the way he’s waving his hands around excitedly is any indication. As they come closer, Adora doesn’t look like she’s actually listening to what he’s saying; there’s a happy, almost dazed smile on her face, and Glimmer grins. Huntara must’ve asked her out already.
When Adora sits down and opens up her lunch bag, still with that dopey, dazed smile on her face, Glimmer smirks at her, ignoring a kiss from Bow in favour of teasing her best friend. “So… any news, Adora?”
Adora looks up. The smile is wiped off her face completely, with an obviously fake confused expression sliding in its place. She lets out a loud psh and waves a hand, her cheeks turning bright red in embarrassment. “What? News? Nope. Everything in my life is exactly the way it’s always been. Yup. Totally normal. Hey, did you watch that documentary about hammerhead sharks on the Discovery Channel last night?”
Glimmer raises her eyebrows. “Honestly, Adora, you’re the worst liar I’ve ever met. It’s okay, I know.”
Adora squints at her. “You do?”
Bow looks between the two of them with a frown. “Are you guys keeping secrets from me?”
“No, Adora is keeping secrets from us,” Glimmer tells him, and then looks emphatically at Adora, “Come on, Adora. We’re happy for you. It’s hard not to be, when you’ve been drooling over her for a year.”
Adora blinks. Her brow furrows, her mouth works like a fish out of water, and then she loudly blurts, “Wait, what?”
“When did she do it?” Glimmer asks, because she isn’t going to let her wriggle out of this one. “She only just asked me if you were single, so she had to have caught you a few minutes ago. That’s why you were smiling the way you were.”
“Uh…” Adora looks a little frantic, and she smiles sheepishly and bites into her sandwich, taking her time to chew. But that’s okay. Glimmer can wait. Glimmer will wait, because Adora is going to tell her, and then they can gush about it.
Bow raises his eyebrows and waves his hands to draw attention. “Uh, is anyone going to tell me what’s going on?”
Glimmer looks at Adora, challenging her, and Adora just takes another bite of her sandwich. She rolls her eyes. “Fine, if you won’t tell him, I will. Huntara finally asked her out.”
Bow says, “That’s amazing,” at the exact same time Adora chokes on her sandwich. Glimmer looks at her deliberately. “What? I told you, if you weren’t going to tell him, I was.”
“Huntara…” Adora manages to get out, coughing again, “Huntara didn’t ask me out?”
“What?” Glimmer questions. But then… what had Adora been smiling about? What had she been lying about? What was she trying to hide so desperately that she decided to switch the conversational topic to shark documentaries of all things?
Bow frowns. “Okay, is Adora going out with Huntara or not? I need to know if we can double date.”
“Not,” Adora quickly answers, but she doesn’t look away from Glimmer, “definitely, definitely not. Why did you think she asked me out?”
“Because she asked me if you were seeing anyone,” Glimmer says clearly, “you don’t ask that unless you’re interested. I thought she’d done it already, but I guess she’ll get around to it later.”
Instead of looking absolutely ecstatic like Glimmer thought she would, Adora pales. She finishes her last bite of sandwich and stands up, leaving her things piled on the ground with a quiet, “I’ll be right back,” and no other explanation as she bolts towards the school building.
“What?” Glimmer asks aloud, even though Adora is too far away to hear it. “What the hell?”
“I’m right there with you,” Bow says, watching as Adora heads inside the school building and disappears from view. “So… Adora’s definitely not going out with Huntara, right?”
“Apparently not,” Glimmer says, staring over at the school building, “no.”
It isn’t until a week later that Huntara uses the information Glimmer had given her.
Adora is waiting with Glimmer as she’s swapping books in her locker, grabbing the ones she needs for her classes after lunch. Adora is talking excitedly about some kind of soccer play that Glimmer doesn’t understand, and her voice trails off into strained nothingness when a big shadow falls over them.
Glimmer whirls around and shuts her locker, tucking her books under her arm. She sees Huntara and smirks, looking right at Adora and mouthing you’re welcome.
Adora looks almost… pained. She grimaces when Huntara smiles at her, and glances around like she’s looking for an escape route. Glimmer can’t understand it. Or… maybe it’s just nerves. Yeah, that’s probably it. After all, Glimmer had been terrified when she admitted to Bow that she liked him. Nerves are basically a given in a situation like this.
“It’s Adora, right?” Huntara asks, and Adora answers that with a solitary nod. “I’ve seen you at the wrestling meets before. Always thought you were pretty cute.”
Adora’s voice is strangled and squeaky when she answers, “Oh, uh, thank you,” and lets out an awkward laugh. Glimmer smirks again, watching as Adora’s eyes widen and her cheeks flush. She sees annoying, asshole Catra saunter past and watch the encounter with an amused grin on her face, but Glimmer won’t let the fleeting presence of the biggest jerk in the universe ruin her good mood.
“Would you want to go out some time?” Huntara asks. “On a date?”
“Um, well, you see,” Adora lets that awkward laugh fall out again, “I’ve got a lot going on right now. I’m flattered, but, uh, no. No, thank you.”
Glimmer’s jaw drops, and she watches as Huntara grunts a “no problem,” and lumbers away. She reaches out and shoves Adora lightly.
“What the hell was that?” Glimmer questions, gesturing in the direction Huntara had headed away in. “You shot her down?”
“Uh, yeah,” Adora turns and attempts to open a locker that isn’t even hers by way of a distraction, “I’m allowed to do that.”
“I’m not saying you’re not, I’m just…” Glimmer stares at her in shock, “you’ve liked her for a year.”
“I liked her,” Adora corrects, shrugging like that isn’t information she’d usually tell her best friend, “Summer happened. I didn’t see her and the crush faded. It’s whatever.”
“But…” Glimmer shakes her head, “even if you’re not crushing anymore, you liked her before. Why not give her a chance?”
“Hey, I have to go to the bathroom,” Adora says, already backing away from her and stumbling into a passing student, “I’ll be right back!”
“Adora!” Glimmer calls after her, but Adora spins around and sprints down the hallway before she can do anything. She leans against the lockers with a frown, and she’s still there when Bow comes over and nudges her.
“Hey,” Bow waves a hand in front of her face, “Glimmer. Are you okay?”
“What?” Glimmer snaps out of her thoughts and gives him a quick kiss in greeting. “Hi. Sorry, I was just… thinking.”
He frowns. “About what?”
“Huntara asked Adora out, and she said no. She said no to the girl she’s been crushing on for a year.” Glimmer says. Her gaze follows the path Adora had taken in her haste to get away, and she frowns. “She had a major crush, and the girl finally notices her, and she says no. And when I asked her about it, she got all… weird.”
Bow shrugs. Apparently, he doesn’t see that this is all wrong. “Maybe she just lost interest.”
Glimmer shakes her head. No. It isn’t that simple, and she knows it. She knows how to read Adora, and she knows what she’s like when she’s lying.
Adora is hiding something, plain and simple.
And Glimmer is going to find out what it is.
“You’re being crazy.”
“No, you’re being crazy.”
Bow laughs, lounging on Glimmer’s bed as she paces back and forth. “Okay, Adora is allowed to say no when someone asks her out.”
“She’d liked Huntara for a year,” Glimmer points out like it’s obvious, which it is. She puts up another finger to emphasise her second point. “She gushed about her and her muscles every day, and then Huntara actually asks her out, and Adora says no. What part of that makes sense?”
“Well, it had been a year,” Bow says reasonably, “maybe Adora moved on and Huntara asked her out too late.”
“I doubt she’d go from gushing over her muscles every day to completely uninterested in a matter of months,” Glimmer says, “and besides, even if she had moved on, it’s not like she’s with anyone. She liked Huntara before. A normal single person would say yes and give it a chance. Something isn’t right here.”
“Maybe Adora just doesn’t want to date anyone right now,” Bow replies with a shrug, “either way, it’s not our business. She’d talk to us about it if she wanted to.”
“You don’t get it, Bow,” Glimmer rolls her eyes, “she’s hiding something from us, and we don’t do that. The three of us… we tell each other everything, and Adora keeps acting all suspicious. She disappears in free periods. Sometimes she doesn’t show up for lunch. And last weekend, when we went over to her house, Mara said she was out with a friend, but all of our friends were meeting us at the movie theatre.”
Bow laughs, but it sounds more like a concerned laugh than one of amusement. “That doesn’t mean we should stalk her, Glimmer.”
“You’re seriously not going to help me?” Glimmer says, and then belatedly notices his choice of word, “and it’s not stalking. It’s just… a concerned friend checking up on her by following her around all day. Stalking makes me sound crazy.”
“You are crazy,” Bow rolls his eyes, but when Glimmer glares, he smiles and adds, “but in a totally loveable way. Just… you’ve got to admit, it’s a little bit insane to follow Adora around just because you think maybe she’s hiding something. Which she probably isn’t, anyway. Adora is as open as they come. Maybe she’s just having some time alone and doesn’t want to offend us. She was probably hiding out in her room on Saturday and told Mara to tell us she was busy. Free periods, she’s probably using them to study, like you’re supposed to. And there’s nothing wrong with having a couple of lunches alone. Our friends can get a little loud. Maybe she just wanted some peace and quiet.”
Glimmer sighs. She has to admit, Bow is making it all sound perfectly reasonable. But then… then there’s that smile. The one Adora had on her face at lunch last week. She was smiling like she’d just seen the greatest thing in the world. “I think she’s seeing someone.”
Bow shrugs. “And if she is, she’ll tell us when she’s ready.”
That could be the case. Or…. “What if they’re making her keep it a secret because they know other people would call them out on… on being manipulative to her? Think about it! A secret relationship is never a secret for a good reason. There’s always something sinister behind it.”
There’s a flicker of thought on Bow’s face. He looks a little bit uneasy, but he shakes his head. “No, privacy isn’t always a bad thing.”
“Privacy isn’t,” Glimmer agrees with him, “but I said secrecy. That’s different. And Adora was acting all weird about it, like something bad would happen if we found out. You can’t say you’re not a little worried about her. Why would she keep something like a girlfriend from us? We’re her best friends, and she knows we’d be supportive. Even if she just told us she had a girlfriend, I’d stop worrying. But she won’t even say that.”
Bow frowns in thought. He flips one of Glimmer’s stuffed animals in the air and catches it. “Okay. Maybe you’re right about that. But we still can’t stalk her.”
“I told you, it’s not stalking,” Glimmer rolls her eyes, “it’s just… following. Out of concern for our best friend’s wellbeing.”
“That doesn’t make it any better,” Bow says, but draws out a sigh and nods, “but… I’ll go with you. Just to stop you from going overboard and doing something stupid.”
Glimmer squeals and jumps on him in a tight hug. “Thank you, thank you, thank you! You’re the best boyfriend in the world.”
“But when I’m right, and Adora is totally fine,” Bow says, his voice muffled by Glimmer’s hair, “I’m definitely saying I told you so.”
“Okay, okay,” Glimmer pulls away and smiles sheepishly, “I can accept that. But thank you.”
“Well, at least we’re not spying,” Bow says as they settle down to watch Adora’s soccer practice from the bleachers, “that would feel wrong.”
Adora catches sight of them from the pitch and waves excitedly. Glimmer waves back as she says, “I told you it wasn’t stalking.”
Bow hums in thought. “It kind of is, but whatever. Are we going to watch the whole practice?”
“Mhm, and then you’re going to offer her a ride home,” Glimmer says, “that way, we’ll know she gets home safe, and our job is done for the day.”
“Good, because I’m definitely not hiding in the bushes outside Adora’s bedroom window,” Bow shudders at the thought, “that would be crossing a line.”
“That’s a good idea, actually,” Glimmer says in consideration, and it’s at least half a joke. She watches as the team perform a few drills, and her face naturally settles into a scowl when Catra sits down a few rows ahead of them and cracks open a book. “Ugh. What the hell is she doing here?”
Bow follows her gaze and shrugs. “I don’t know. Probably here to watch Scorpia, they’re friends, right? But I thought we were supposed to be watching Adora.”
“Right,” Glimmer tears her gaze away from Catra and looks back to her best friend on the pitch, “don’t want to get distracted.”
Glimmer doesn’t take her eyes off Adora for the rest of the team’s practice, and when the coach finally blows the whistle and signals the end, she grabs Bow by the arm and drags him straight to the locker room doors to wait for Adora.
Five minutes pass.
Most of the team have already passed them on their way out of the locker room, probably preferring to shower at home since it’s an after-school practice.
But when Scorpia comes out, the last person other than Adora (she knows because she counted) Glimmer stops her. “Hey, Scorpia, is Adora still in there?”
Scorpia looks back to the locker room door with a confused frown. “Nope. You guys must’ve missed her. Last I saw, she was changing out of her soccer boots around fifteen minutes ago. I think she left already.”
As Scorpia heads down the hallway, Glimmer frowns. They’d seen Adora leave the pitch and go back inside. Glimmer had dragged Bow towards the locker room the moment she saw Adora go in. They’d been right on her tail.
Bow looks at the squint on Glimmer’s face and groans. “Uh oh. I know that look. You’re going to go in, aren’t you?”
“Yep,” Glimmer says, and she pushes the locker room doors open and shouts, “Adora? Are you in there?”
There’s no response. No sound at all except the slow dripping from the still-wet showerheads. She signals to Bow to wait where he is and goes inside, checking the empty shower cubicles and the single bathroom stall. She goes around the four rows of lockers, and nothing. And when she checks Adora’s locker, it’s unlocked and ajar and emptied of everything besides her tattered soccer boots, the ones she’d been wearing on the pitch.
She checks the back exit, the one that went back over to the pitch, and it’s already been locked. Scowling, she stomps back out to Bow and mutters, “She must’ve gone out the back way. Sneaky little-”
“Well, it’s not like she knew we were waiting for her,” Bow interrupts with the voice of reason as he follows a stamping Glimmer down the hallway, “she probably thought we just came to watch her practice and then headed home.”
Glimmer still goes back out to check the pitch, but Adora isn’t out there, and the bleachers are completely empty too. Even Catra is gone. “She knows I’m onto her. I bet that’s why she went out the back way. When has she ever done that before?”
Bow sighs. “You’ve finally lost it, huh?”
Glimmer chooses to ignore that, because she doesn’t want to end up on the front page of the news for killing her boyfriend. “I bet her secret girlfriend showed up to take her away somewhere.”
“Or she just went home,” Bow points out, pulling out his phone, “I’m texting her.”
Glimmer’s eyes widen and she swipes for the device, but Bow pulls it out of her reach and continues typing a message. “Don’t do that, you’ll blow our cover!”
Bow sends whatever it was he was typing anyway and says, “I don’t think asking her if she got home alright is going to make her think we’re on some super spy mission to find out if she’s hiding a girlfriend.”
Glimmer groans, but Bow’s phone pings immediately, and he smiles, holding it up to show Adora’s response.
Adora (5:08PM): Yeah I’m all good!! My mom picked me up bc I didn’t bike this morning :) I would’ve stayed if I knew you guys were waiting
Glimmer frowns at the message, and Bow laughs good-naturedly. “Come on. You can’t say that’s suspicious. She even said she would’ve gone home with us if she knew we were waiting for her. She probably just went out the back way because it’s quicker to the parking lot where Mara picks her up.”
“Okay,” Glimmer says, “You’re right. But she’s definitely still hiding something.”
Bow rolls his eyes and pats her on the back fondly. “Whatever you say, Glimmer.”
Glimmer knocks on the black front door and stares at the peeling paint while she waits for Adora to answer. She’s home, because her rickety red bike – that Adora had fondly dubbed ‘Swift Wind’ when they were ten – is in its usual place, and Glimmer’s double-checked with all of their friends to make sure that none of them had plans with Adora today. If everything is as it should be, Adora will be home.
It isn’t Adora who finally answers the door, but Mara, her mother. Almost like she knows the question Glimmer’s going to ask, Mara smiles kindly and says, “Sorry, Glimmer, but Adora isn’t home.”
“Her bike is here,” Glimmer points over to the bike in question, “she goes everywhere on that.”
“A friend picked her up a little while ago,” Mara says, and Glimmer makes a mental list of all of their friends just to make sure she’d checked each and every one off in her earlier research, “but she’ll be back around five, I think? You’d have to text her to find out for sure, though. Sometimes she tells me one time and then shows up five hours later.”
Glimmer frowns. “She’s really not here?”
Mara laughs gently. “No, she’s really not. You can come in and search if you like.”
Glimmer smiles sheepishly. She won’t go that far. Well… not in front of Mara, anyway. “Well, who is she with?”
“Just a… friend of hers,” Mara says, and there’s a strangely knowing quality to her smile. Glimmer doesn’t understand it. “I’m sure she’ll get around to telling you soon.”
“Does she have a girlfriend that she’s not telling us about?” Glimmer asks, because Mara clearly knows something she doesn’t. “This girl she liked at school for the last year asked her out, and Adora shot her down. Bow thinks I’m crazy, but I think she’s got a secret girlfriend.”
“Well, I suppose it’s a good thing at the end of the day that my daughter never learned how to lie,” Mara laughs quietly, “As I said, I’m sure she’ll get around to telling you soon. I’ll see you later, Glimmer.”
When the door shuts, Glimmer turns around and heads down the driveway, thoughtful. I’m sure she’ll get around to telling you soon. Telling her what, though? That she has a secret girlfriend? Or… friend, apparently. No, definitely a girlfriend.
“Because why would she need to keep a friend secret?” Glimmer asks out loud as she sits down in the driver’s seat of her car. She rolls her eyes and puts the car into drive. The thing Mara knows is probably something completely different. She doubts Adora would tell her mom that she has a girlfriend and not tell her friends. But then…
I’m sure she’ll get around to telling you soon. What the hell could that mean?
She’s thinking about it all the way back home, and she almost asks her mother what she thinks about the cryptic statement until she walks into the kitchen. Angella has a sheet of paper held in her hand, and it takes Glimmer only a few moments to deduce from the disappointed expression that it’s her report card. “You got Cs, Glimmer. You know you’re smarter than this.”
Glimmer pinches the report card from her mother’s grasp and looks down the grades column. She has one C, in literature, which she sucks at and would never need anyway. “It’s just one. And I’m going to drop this class next semester, anyway.”
Angella sighs. “I just don’t understand how that happened. I know you’re smart, and you’ve gotten A’s in almost everything else. I got you that professional tutor last year to help you achieve higher grades, and you’re still getting beaten for the top spot by Catra.”
There it is. Catra managing to ruin her day without even being present. “Catra is an insufferable asshole who’s probably blackmailing her teachers, because I never see her trying hard at anything.”
“Catra is a perfectly hardworking student. If you applied yourself like she did, you could be top of the class.” Angella shakes her head in disappointment. “I’ll look into getting you a literature tutor. You can imagine how it reflects on my school and your teachers, when the principal’s own daughter can’t manage to get above a 3.5 GPA. Try harder.”
As her mother walks away, Glimmer crumples up the report card with a loud ugh and tosses it in the trash. First Adora being secretive, and now her mother talking about how perfect and hardworking Catra of all people is.
This day couldn’t get any worse.
“So,” Mermista starts as she sits down across from Glimmer, Bow and Adora in the cafeteria, “my parents are away this weekend. Halloween party at my place. Are you coming?”
Now that’s good news. Glimmer needs a good party with her favourite people to take her mind off things. Especially the fact that one of her favourite people is still hiding something from her. Adora had been… subtler, as of the last few weeks, but she still kept sneaking off places and making stupid excuses up about where she was.
Like, last week, she said she was swimming over lunch. Bright Moon High doesn’t even have a pool.
“Count us in,” Glimmer says, throwing one arm around Bow’s shoulder and the other around Adora’s, “costumes? We should totally do a famous trio. Maybe those characters from Buffy that you love so much, Adora.”
Adora grimaces. She’s been doing a lot of that lately. “Um, actually… I already have Halloween plans.”
Glimmer frowns at her. “But we haven’t made any plans yet.”
“Yeah…” Adora ducks out from under Glimmer’s arm and shrugs. It’s clearly supposed to be a casual shrug, but Adora looks so tense that it appears more like she has a cramp she can’t shake. “I promised my mom I’d hand out Halloween candy so she could go out for once, and Razz is too old to be doing that herself.”
Bow flashes an easy smile. “No worries. We can always come over and keep you company.”
“No!” Adora says, far too quickly for Glimmer’s liking. She coughs and composes herself. “No, that’s okay. You guys should go to Mermista’s party.”
Glimmer opens her mouth to question her, because she’s sick and tired of all of Adora’s sneaking around. But Bow puts a hand on her knee and shakes his head, and Glimmer just sighs and mutters, “Fine. Have fun handing out candy.”
But Glimmer won’t be going to Mermista’s party. No way. Bow might be above hiding out in the bushes outside Adora’s house, but Glimmer certainly isn’t.
Almost like he’s read her mind, when Adora practically inhales her remaining food and runs off somewhere, Bow takes Glimmer’s hand and squeezes it gently.
“Look, I know you’re worried about Adora,” Bow says, “but she’s allowed to have her secrets. And I don’t think she’s in any trouble, or that she’ll get in any handing out Halloween candy with Razz. She seems happy, actually. You’ve got to trust that she knows what she’s doing.”
Glimmer sighs, because he’s right. Despite all of the shiftiness and the obvious lying about her whereabouts, Adora did seem happy. She walks around with a spring in her step and a goofy smile on her face, and Glimmer’s seen her drawing little hearts in the back of her notebook in class.
“I just don’t understand why she isn’t telling us what’s going on,” Glimmer says with a long sigh. That’s the part that bothers her. Not Adora maybe having a girlfriend, the fact that she doesn’t seem to think she can tell her friends about it. “There has to be some reason why she won’t tell us. It’s hard not to think it’s a sinister reason.”
Bow smiles warmly and squeezes her hand again. “I don’t think there’s anything crazy going on. But we can swing by Adora’s place on the way to Mermista’s party if it’ll clear your mind. Not to hide in the bushes and peer in with binoculars, but we’ll knock on the door and talk to her. Okay?”
Glimmer sighs. “Okay. Fine.”
She finds she’s more and more okay about it as she makes her way to her next class. And she’s definitely okay when Adora’s already there at their usual desk, doodling something in the back of her notebook. When Glimmer peers over, it’s another heart with initials written in it.
“You really like this girl you’re hiding from us, huh?”
Adora jumps and slams her notebook shut before Glimmer can get a good look at the initials, the blush on her cheeks evident. “What? There’s no girl.”
“I’m not an idiot, Adora,” Glimmer rolls her eyes, “and as much as I want to follow you around until I find out who she is, I won’t. Like Bow says, I’ve got to trust that you know what you’re doing. But I’ll definitely say I told you so if she breaks your heart.”
Adora drums on her notebook cover with her fingers. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Sure,” Glimmer scoffs in amusement as she pulls her notebook out of her bag. When she sits up, her mood sours. Catra breezes past their table and flashes Glimmer that cocky smirk. Sometimes, she honestly thinks Catra does that purely to annoy her. She sees the t-shirt Catra’s wearing and rolls her eyes emphatically. “Adora, you better burn your Paramore t-shirt. Catra has the same one.”
Adora forces out a laugh and flips open her notebook to a clean page. Glimmer rolls her eyes again. If keeping her secret girlfriend a secret is bothering Adora so much, why can’t she just come right out and tell her friends who she is?
So, Glimmer isn’t exactly following Adora around anymore, or actively trying to figure out who the secret girlfriend is. But she’s still passively trying to find out. Listening extra carefully to the things Adora says, waiting for slip ups. Maybe making detours to places she knows Adora frequents on her way to somewhere else. Bow might trust that Adora knows what she’s doing, and even though she’s trying to, Glimmer knows that Adora’s a little bit of an idiot. She’s way too gullible, plus kind and trusting. Adora would be easy to manipulate, and Glimmer still gets a bad feeling about all the secrecy.
Sometimes, she gets the feeling that Adora isn’t even trying to hide it anymore. It’s almost like an invitation to snoop. When she relays that thought to Bow on their way to Adora’s on Halloween, he laughs. “You literally make sure to mention her secret girlfriend at least once per day.”
“Yeah, but she acts like she doesn’t know what I’m talking about,” Glimmer huffs irritably, “I just wish she’d come right out and say it. Even if she just told me I have a girlfriend and that was that. But no, she’s apparently totally single.”
“It’d be funny if you really are wrong, and she’s actually been planning something really nice for you,” Bow says as he carefully pulls the car in front of Adora’s driveway, avoiding the last wave of trick-or-treaters. “Then you’d feel bad.”
Glimmer points directly at the car parked in Adora’s driveway, the little red Mini that definitely isn’t Mara’s. “Okay, then whose car is that?”
Bow gives the car a passing glance, but Glimmer’s more focused on the way the blinds in the lounge window shift. Adora’s face peers through the slats and she spots them instantly. She smiles sheepishly and waves, before ducking away to go open the front door. Glimmer walks up the driveway to the front porch, and she isn’t surprised when the first thing Adora says to them when opening the front door is, “Hey! I thought I told you guys I didn’t need company tonight.”
Bow smiles. “We just wanted to check in on the way to Mermista’s party. And I wanted free candy.”
Adora holds out the candy bowl and isn’t subtle at all when she glances back to the living room door. It’s pulled almost shut, but there’s a little opening. Through it, Glimmer can see Hocus Pocus paused on the TV, and the unmistakeable shape of someone’s legs under a blanket on the couch. She can’t see the girl’s face or any identifiable features, but it definitely isn’t Razz.
“Okay, well, you checked in and got your candy,” Adora leans against the door frame casually, “everything is all good here. Just… hanging with my grandma, you know how it is.”
“Didn’t know Razz was driving again,” Glimmer jabs a thumb over her shoulder towards the car parked in the driveway, “I thought you said her eyesight was too bad for it.”
“She got laser eye surgery,” Adora blurts out, and then winces, because nobody’s going to believe that. But since Adora is Adora, she sticks with her terrible lie. “Yeah, that’s why I have to stay in and help her hand out candy, because she’s got these patches on her eyes and she can’t see. Like Helen in that episode of Drake and Josh. Hey, does that show have a Halloween episode? I might have to add it to the list of things I’m going to watch tonight. With Razz. Except she can’t watch because she can’t see.”
Adora flashes an embarrassed smile. hen Razz shuffles past holding a bowl of popcorn, her eyes definitely not covered with patches, Glimmer raises her eyebrows. “Have fun watching TV with your secret girlfriend.”
“I don’t- Glimmer,” Adora scoffs, and it sounds so fake that Glimmer almost laughs, “She’s just- you know how Razz is. She probably forgot that she needed to keep the patches on. Old people, you know?”
Razz’s voice sounds from the lounge. “Would you like some popcorn, dearie? Adora has never been a hostess, I can’t believe she hasn’t offered you any.”
Adora leaps back and pulls the lounge door shut before the secret girlfriend in question can talk, and then leans against it casually like she hadn’t done that at all. She lets out an awkward laugh, and Bow shakes his head in amusement. “Okay, I’m with Glimmer. Definitely a secret girlfriend in there.”
“What? I don’t have a girlfriend,” Adora lets out a loud psh and waves her hand like she’s waving the accusation away. “Me? Girlfriend? I’m not- I’m not even gay.”
Adora realises what she said, cringes, and Glimmer bursts out laughing. “You’re the worst liar I’ve ever met.”
“I don’t- oh my god,” Adora hides her face in her hands and shakes her head, “Forget I said that. I’m very gay. But I don’t have a girlfriend.”
“You definitely do,” Glimmer says, “and it’s serious enough that she’s hanging with your grandma.”
“There’s- Razz was just talking to her friend. From bingo.” Adora says. “Yeah. They’re really big Halloween fans and you have to respect your elders, so… we’re going to play a little spooky bingo later. I know, Razz and her friends are pretty wild. I have to be here to make sure this thing doesn’t turn into a massive party. Anyway, speaking of parties, shouldn’t you guys be heading to Mermista’s?”
Bow nods, placing his hand on the small of Glimmer’s back. “Yeah, actually. Have a good time with your girlfriend.”
As they head back to Bow’s car, Adora calls out, “I don’t have a girlfriend!” and neither of them believe her.
Adora continues to deny having a girlfriend for the next few weeks. One time, she’s so serious about it that Glimmer almost believes her. Almost. On the day in question, she’d scowled, said, “Seriously, guys, I don’t have a girlfriend,” and gotten up and stomped off somewhere.
At that reaction, Glimmer considers laying off. Or at least apologising. It’s just fun to tease her about it and see what completely unbelievable lies she’d come up with each time. So, she gets up and tries to find Adora, looking around in all of her usual haunts – the school gym, the locker room, outside on the soccer field, the bleachers – and comes up short. It’s like Adora has phased into non-existence.
She isn’t even trying to find her anymore when she does.
She’s walking past the music classroom, which is really more of an outdoor shed, when she catches Adora’s voice coming from inside. She steps up to the door and she’ss about to walk in, but through the little window in the door, she sees Adora pacing in front of a girl. The girl’s back is facing Glimmer, and she’s partly obstructed by the frame of the inner door.
Glimmer takes in what details she can. She’s a brunette, her hair scraped back in a messy ponytail. She’s the complete opposite to Huntara; where Huntara is large and muscular, this girl is lithe and slender. The neck of a guitar is poking out from where the girl is stood, the strap around her shoulders. From the hand gripping the neck, Glimmer can see that the girl has a tanned, olive complexion. She could be any one of a number of girls at their school.
A musician? Glimmer questions. Also not Adora’s type. Adora has always liked athletic, muscular girls, ones that look like they could snap her in half with one hand. Creative, slender brunettes have never been on the usual checklist.
“…and I just don’t get why they keep questioning me about it,” Adora finishes with a huff and sits down on one of the desks, “It’s like… I mean, look, I know I’m not the best liar-”
“Yeah, I caught onto that one pretty quick when you told your mom the bottle of wine she found in your backpack was grape juice,” the girl laughs, and Glimmer frowns. She knows that voice, but not well enough to place it.
“Okay, technically that’s not a lie,” Adora defends herself, “but anyway. Any time they question me about it, it takes me really off guard. So I try to lie about it, but then it’s always a dumb lie because I haven’t thought it through. Like on Halloween, I told them Razz had gotten laser eye surgery.”
The girl laughs again, softly and fondly. “Yeah, I heard that. It was so hard not to laugh.”
“They basically know I’ve got a girlfriend because I’m such a bad liar, and they keep pestering me about it,” Adora rolls her eyes, and Glimmer smirks at the definite confirmation, “but it’s like they don’t get that I don’t want to talk about it. I mean, I do want to talk about it, because you mean a lot to me, but I know… I know that they’ll freak out. Not really Bow, but Glimmer definitely would. I just… I don’t want anything to wreck this. You’re so special to me.”
The girl puts her guitar down, and almost like it’s second nature, Glimmer ducks down and away from the window. They’ll freak out. Glimmer definitely would. I don’t want anything to wreck this. So Adora is the one keeping things secret, not the girlfriend, because she’s worried about how her friends would react.
“Hey. You know you’re special to me too.” The girl says, and her voice is muffled when she speaks again. Glimmer assumes they’re hugging. “And I don’t care what your dumb friends think. I love you and I’m not going to let anyone ruin that.”
“I love you too,” Adora says, so softly and quietly that it sounds foreign from the girl who’s always so loud and bubbly, “I… I’ll probably tell them soon. I want to… to hold your hand and kiss you in the hallway and be super cheesy and make everyone see that you’re really just a big kitten. And I want to go to senior prom with you.”
The girl snorts. “You think I’m going to prom? Lame. No way, loser.”
“You’ll go if I ask you,” Adora says, her tone light and teasing and sounding a lot more like herself, “so… will you go to prom with me?”
The girl lets out a loud groan, but answers with an irritated, “Fine. But I’m not wearing a dress.”
“Didn’t think you would,” Adora laughs, “but that’s okay. I like it when a girl shows off her masculine side too.”
“Not surprising, if we’re going off your ex-crush on The Hulk,” the girl scoffs, “I mean… seriously? You were into that?”
“Okay, first, her name is Huntara,” Adora corrects, and Glimmer can imagine the eye roll, “and second, don’t be mean just because you’re jealous. You know I only have eyes for you.”
“Pfft, jealous?” The girl laughs. “I don’t even like you.”
“Nope, you love me,” Adora says, and her voice drops into that weirdly soft tone again, “and I love you back.”
Glimmer leans back against the music building with a sigh. Definitely a happy one. Adora is okay. Glimmer had been right – she definitely has a girlfriend – but wrong about anything sinister. Adora’s in love, and she’s happy, and that’s enough for Glimmer to back off, as fun as it is to tease her about her secret girlfriend.
Apparently, backing off makes her look suspicious.
When Glimmer doesn’t say anything about Adora’s secret girlfriend for a whole week, Adora starts looking at her weirdly. Squinting at her, like she’s trying to assess her motive. Until eventually, after class, Adora corners her.
“Why haven’t you asked me about my girlfriend for a week?”
Glimmer laughs. “So you admit you have a girlfriend.”
“What? Wait…” Adora frowns, realises what she’s said, and shakes her head, “I didn’t mean- you just haven’t accused me of having a girlfriend for the last week. I still don’t have one.”
“Okay,” Glimmer lets that lie slide, “but if you did, I want you to know that we’d be happy for you. Me and Bow. As long as she makes you happy and treats you right.”
Glimmer almost expects Adora to come right out and tell her the truth. After all, Glimmer has just dispelled any of the fears she might’ve been having. But Adora just smiles guiltily and says, “I know. I still don’t have a girlfriend, though.”
Glimmer pulls her backpack onto her back with a small sigh. “Whatever you say, Adora.”
“So, um,” Adora quickly catches up with her on the way out of their empty classroom, “I’m not doing anything this Saturday. Best Friend Squad hangout?”
That would be the perfect opportunity to say something about the secret girlfriend, because Adora’s spent every single Saturday since the start of the school year with her. But Glimmer just nods “Sure. I was planning on going shopping and dragging Bow along with me. I want to start looking at prom dresses. I know it’s not until May, but it’s always good to start looking.”
“Actually, that’s a good idea,” Adora starts, that goofy smile on her face indicating that she’s thinking about her girlfriend, “I’m not going to settle on anything yet because I need to talk about coordinating with- um… nobody.”
Glimmer laughs and patted Adora on the arm comfortingly. “You’re so bad at this, you know that, right?”
“Ugh, okay, fine,” Adora groans and rolls her eyes, “I have a girlfriend. Are you happy now?”
“Bow and I have known for like, two months,” Glimmer says, and Adora lets out a dramatic sigh, “are we going to get to meet her any time soon?”
Adora bites down on her bottom lip and frowns. “I don’t know.”
“Alright,” Glimmer says, “that’s okay. But thanks for telling me about her. And I look forward to meeting her- oof.”
She cuts herself off when someone walks into her, bumping against her shoulder. She scowls when she realises it’s Catra. “Okay, do you just do that on purpose or something?”
“Don’t know what you’re talking about, Sparkles,” Catra scoffs, scowling right back at her, “watch where you’re going next time.”
“You’re such a freak,” Glimmer snarls as Catra shoves past her again, obviously on purpose that time. She ughs loudly and irritably and turns to Adora with a roll of her eyes. “God, does she have to be such a jerk all the time? She thinks she’s the most important person on the planet or something, because she’s just so smart. I can’t stand her.”
Adora used to agree with her sentiment. At the end of last school year, when Adora had gone for a little tutoring in math, Catra had been her assigned tutor. Adora never stopped complaining about how much of a condescending jerk Catra was until they’d gone their separate ways when school finished.
But now, Adora stays silent, tapping away at something on her phone like she hadn’t seen what an asshole Catra is. Glimmer shakes the interaction from her head. “Anyway, jerks aside, you should definitely bring your girlfriend around sometime. I want to get to know her and tell her all of the embarrassing stories like a good best friend is supposed to.”
Adora laughs nervously. “Um, maybe. She’s just… she’s shy.”
It seems like an excuse, but Glimmer lets it slide. Maybe she is just shy, and that shyness coupled with Adora’s reluctance to introduce her had led to the whole secrecy thing.
“Well, we’ve at least got to double date for prom,” Glimmer says, and she’s almost ready to move on from the girlfriend topic and onto what time she and Bow would pick Adora up on Saturday, when Perfuma catches up to them with Adora’s wallet in her hand.
“Adora!” Perfuma calls out. “Here. I was going to give it back to you earlier, but I couldn’t find you.”
“Oh, thanks,” Adora tucks it into her back pocket with a smile, “you’re a lifesaver. For a little while, I thought I was going to have to freeze my bank card and get a new ID and everything.”
Glimmer frowns. “You lost your wallet?”
“Adora left it at the restaurant the other night,” Perfuma explains, “Scorpia and I were on a date and we ran into Adora and-”
“Um, she doesn’t need to know that,” Adora quickly interrupts, that guilty smile on her face again, “we just joined them at their table and I left my wallet because hah, I’m forgetful. So, uh, grown any cool flowers in your garden lately?”
Before Perfuma can let Adora change the subject, Glimmer holds a hand up. To be honest, she’s a little bit hurt that Perfuma and Scorpia have met Adora’s girlfriend before she and Bow have. They’re supposed to be her best friends. “You’re saying you and your girlfriend went on a double date with Scorpia and Perfuma? But you won’t even let us meet her?”
Perfuma smiles awkwardly. “Okay, I see you two have some… unresolved issues to talk out. I’ll see you later.”
Glimmer doesn’t blame her for making that escape. She folds her arms across her chest and waits for Adora to explain herself. She’s bright red and looked anxious. Good, Glimmer thinks, she should be anxious, because I’m about to kick her ass. “Well?”
“We didn’t plan on it,” Adora quickly blurts out, “we had our own table booked and then we ran into them and they invited us to sit with them. And… and she’s friends with Scorpia, who already knew we were together. It was a spontaneous thing. It’s not like I’ve been planning all these hangouts and double dates behind your back or anything.”
“Still… it’s like you’re keeping it from us specifically. We’re supposed to be your best friends, and yet you’ve introduced everyone to your girlfriend except us?” Glimmer asks, waiting for Adora to explain. When she makes no move to do anything, Glimmer sighs. “Look, Adora, I get it if you want to keep your relationship private. But keeping it a secret from your best friends and telling everyone else… I can’t understand that.”
Adora scratches the back of her neck nervously and exhales heavily. “I’m sorry.”
“Whatever,” Glimmer turns away. She’s going to go find Bow, and he’s going to rationalise this for her. He’s good at making her see things from different perspectives. “Sorry you don’t trust me enough, I guess.”
“No, wait,” Adora calls after her, “Glimmer!”
But Glimmer doesn’t want excuses right now. All she wants is to know why her best friend doesn’t trust her.
They don’t end up going to the mall to look at prom dresses, and Glimmer is perfectly fine if Adora’s spending her Saturday with the girlfriend she doesn’t trust her enough to tell her about. Even Bow hadn’t been able to rationalise it with her, just said that he’d talk to Adora and try to smooth things out.
Glimmer’s fine with not talking to Adora. Not if her best friend isn’t going to trust her.
At least until she’s half drunk at the usual Saturday night party and she goes into the bathroom, only to find Adora sitting in the bathtub and talking into her phone.
Adora doesn’t notice her; she’s too engrossed in her phone conversation. “No, I’m telling you, ducks can’t fly.”
A pause. Then Adora laughs and says, “No, I know penguins can’t fly, but ducks can’t either. It’s the same kind of situation, right?”
Adora listens to the person on the line, and then lets out an unusually girlish giggle. “Oh. Well, I’m not going to take your word for it until you send me video proof. And no, I don’t care if you’re some kind of genius. Video. Proof.”
Another moment of silence. Glimmer watches her, waiting for her to turn around and notice her, but Adora just whispers into her phone, “Are you looking for a video? Okay, good. Can you come and get me? I’m drunk and I want to snuggle.”
Glimmer just can’t help herself. She blames the alcohol when she asks bitterly, “talking to your girlfriend?”
Adora yelps, jumps, and hits her head on the glass shower door fixed to the bathtub. She drops her phone, and Glimmer sees that her girlfriend’s contact is saved as kitten with three heart emojis.
“Ouch,” Adora rubs the back of her head where she’d hit it and scrambles to pick up her phone, “no, I’m okay, Glimmer just jumpscared me. Are you going to come get me? Good! And did you send a duck video?”
Adora smiles so softly at something her girlfriend says that Glimmer can’t find it in her to be mad at her. “Yay! I’ll watch it and then maybe I’ll believe you that they can fly. And then you’ll be here and you can cuddle me and give me drunk kisses. Well, for you they’ll be sober kisses, but for me they’re drunk kisses. Okay. Bye-bye, baby.”
Adora squints at her phone and takes a few moments to remember how to hang up. She ends the call and looks up to Glimmer with a small smile and a wave. “Hi. Do you want to see if ducks can fly?”
“I already know ducks can fly,” Glimmer says, but she sits on the edge of the bathtub and observes as Adora watches the video and then texts kitten back to tell her how mindblown she is. “How much have you had to drink?”
Adora hums. “Quite a lot. I haven’t been to a party for a while, so I guess I went a little crazy. I did shots with Scorpia but she’s big so she can hold her liquor better than I can.”
Glimmer studies Adora, her blue eyes cloudy and tired, her cheeks flushed from whatever drink she’d had. “Are you feeling okay?”
“Yeah! Yeah, I feel good,” Adora rocks back and forth drunkenly, and Glimmer has a feeling she’d be revising that statement when she stands up. Adora frowns down at her feet, playing with the laces on her white sneakers. “Are you mad at me?”
Glimmer looks down at her best friend. Adora stares up at her with wide blue eyes, and she looks hurt at even the thought. “I don’t know.”
“I didn’t mean to make you think I don’t trust you,” Adora sighs and pulls her knees up to her chest. She wraps her arms around her calves and rests her chin on her knees. “You just… I know you’re not going to like my girlfriend. And that makes me sad.”
“Okay,” Glimmer holds up a hand to stop Adora’s oncoming rambling, “if I say I’m not mad at you, can we talk this out when you’re sober? I’ll come over tomorrow morning and you can tell me why you think I’m not going to like your girlfriend.”
Adora looks up and nods tiredly. “Okay. Oh!” She jumps when her phone buzzes and answers the incoming call from kitten. “Hi! Oh, you’re here? Good. I’m in a bathtub.”
When Adora looks up at Glimmer with pleading eyes, she realises what Adora’s asking. “You want me to go?”
Meekly, Adora nods. “Yes please.”
“Okay,” Glimmer pats Adora lightly on the head and moves towards the bathroom door. She pauses in the frame and sends her drunk friend a soft smile. “Text me and tell me you got home safe, okay?”
Adora yawns and makes a thumbs-up sign. “Okay. Bye, Glimmer.”
Glimmer makes her way down the stairs, and just as she rounds the corner to the lounge where Bow’s waiting with Sea Hawk and Mermista, she thuds into someone. And… of course it’s Catra. Literally who else would it be?
“Okay, that’s the third time in the last two months,” Glimmer says, glaring at her to show she really means business, “being top of the class doesn’t mean you’re allowed to walk around like you’re better than everyone and shove people out of the way. Like, jeez, it’s no wonder you have no friends when you’re such an asshole.”
Catra spares her no more than a passing glare. She’s holding her phone up to her ear, and she mutters a “whatever, Sparkles,” as she heads up the stairs. Somehow, that infuriates Glimmer even more. There’s something about Catra that just ticks her off. Maybe it’s the superiority complex the girl seemed to have. Or maybe it’s the way Glimmer’s own mother always drones on and on about Catra’s academic accomplishments, and why couldn’t Glimmer get a hundred percent in every single class, on every single test? Catra doesn’t try, and she still gets all the praise.
Glimmer huffs and glares towards the stairs that Catra had gone up, before squeezing herself onto the couch between Bow and Mermista. She plucks Bow’s cup from his grasp and takes a long drink from it, wincing slightly. Whatever that is, it’s strong. Good.
She needs to have a good time.
Glimmer realises she’s maybe had too much of a good time when she wakes up with a pounding headache the next day. She’s at Bow’s, she remembers quickly, because Angella would flip if she knew her daughter had been drinking.
The boy in question passes her a glass of water and some aspirin. “Morning. And how are you feeling on this lovely day?”
Glimmer rolls her eyes at the sarcastic tone and takes the aspirin, downing the water. Of course Bow can’t just be a good boyfriend, he has to be sarcastic about it. “I’m tired and I have a headache, so it’s definitely not a lovely day. Can you drive me to Adora’s?”
Bow looks a little sceptical. “You’re not back on that whole stalking thing, are you?”
“No, I said last night I’d go over there so we can talk things out,” Glimmer pushes herself up onto her elbows and says through a yawn, “and to figure out why she doesn’t trust us with the identity of her mystery girlfriend, but she’s perfectly fine telling everyone else.”
Bow cringes, and it takes less than a second for Glimmer to figure out what that means. She puts the glass of water down and scowls. “She told you, didn’t she?”
“Maybe?” Bow flashes an awkwardly sheepish smile, exactly like all the ones Adora wore when the topic came up. “Okay, fine. But it was actually kind of an accident. I walked in on them making out in an empty classroom. And if it means anything, I totally get why she’s scared to tell you.”
“That means nothing,” Glimmer says in a deadpanned voice. She reaches over and checks her phone. There’s an unread text from Adora, saying she got home safe and that she was excited to ‘tlak’ tomorrow. “I guess I should get over there.”
“Okay. I set out one of my t-shirts for you to borrow since your blouse from last night is covered in some… weird substance,” Bow cringes at the thought. “I’ll make some breakfast for you while you get ready so you can eat before you go.”
He kisses her on the forehead before he leaves, and Glimmer wonders for a moment what she’d done to deserve him.
She dresses quickly and eats just as quickly. It’s almost lunchtime, and Adora tends to bounce back pretty fast from drinking. Glimmer had always envied her for that. When Bow drops her off at Adora’s, Glimmer’s feeling a little better. At least well enough to talk things out rationally, though there’s still a light throbbing in her temples.
She knocks on the front door and waits for Adora, but it’s actually Razz who answers. Glimmer tries to look as not-hungover as possible when she speaks. “Hi, Razz. I’m here to see Adora. She knows I’m coming.”
“Yes, come in, come in,” Razz ushers her inside, “Would you like some tea? Or some pie? I just baked an apple pie this morning…”
“No thanks, Razz. I just ate.” Glimmer says, gesturing down the hallway in the direction of Adora’s bedroom. “Is Adora in her room?”
“Yes, that lazy lump hasn’t gotten up yet,” Razz tuts in disapproval, “I have half a mind to go in there with a bucket of ice water.”
Glimmer laughs. “If I can’t wake her up, I’ll help you out with that.”
She heads down the hallway and doesn’t bother to knock when she reaches Adora’s bedroom door. Twisting the handle, she pulls the door open, but freezes in the doorway when she sees something truly horrific.
Adora isn’t asleep. No, she’s wide awake, a movie playing on low volume on her television. The movie is going by ignored, because Adora’s attention is on the girl in her arms.
Adora’s fingers are winding softly through Catra’s hair, her other hand curled gently around her waist. Catra is snuggled up against Adora, a hand gripping her t-shirt, her face snuggled into Adora’s shoulder, lightly snoring as she sleeps in Adora’s arms.
“Are you serious?” Glimmer blurts out, and Adora jumps and looks up, her eyes wide. Catra stirrs, dazed. “Her? That’s your girlfriend?”
“I totally get why she’s scared to tell you.”
“I know you’re not going to like my girlfriend. And that makes me sad.”
Adora’s mouth works and her fingers curl tighter around Catra’s waist. “Glimmer- I… this isn’t how I wanted you to find out. I completely forgot you were supposed to come over today…”
Catra blinks, stretches, and snuggles her face into Adora’s shoulder. “Thanks for the rude awakening, Sparkles.”
“You’re one to talk about being rude,” Glimmer snarls on instinct, but when Adora’s big blue eyes widen and looks so sad, Glimmer takes a breath. “Adora. I get why you didn’t want to tell me. Because this... I mean, what the fuck are you thinking?”
“I… it’s not- I…” Adora pauses and inhales, and she seems to squeeze Catra tighter, “I love her, Glimmer. That’s what I’m thinking. And I know you don’t like her, but… but that doesn’t matter, because I do.”
Glimmer sees the way Catra’s hand reaches for Adora’s and gives it a soft, comforting squeeze. Kind of like the way Bow does with her.
But she’s still absolutely fucking bewildered. “You didn’t like her either! Every time you had a study session with her last year, you’d always rant about how pretentious and condescending she was.”
“Wow, thanks, babe,” Catra says into Adora’s shoulder, “really appreciate the compliments.”
Adora’s only response to her girlfriend is to gently run her fingers through her messy hair. She looks up at Glimmer and shrugs. “Things change and I know you’ll dramatically fake vomit if I try to give you the details. Just… can you please be okay with this? For me?”
After a long and severely uncomfortable silence, Glimmer groans. Nobody could say she isn’t the best friend ever after this. “Fine. But I still don’t like her.”
Catra scoffs and sat up, and naturally she’s wearing that cocky smirk that Glimmer always wants to smack right off her face. “Trust me, Sparkles, the feeling is mutual.”
Glimmer rolls her eyes and gestures behind her to the door. “I’m going to go. Mostly because I don’t want to puke and looking at you with her is making it really hard not to.”
Catra snorts. “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”
“God, you are such an asshole,” Glimmer says, turning around and slamming Adora’s bedroom door for effect. She stalks down the hallway and heads right out the front door, and she’s halfway down the driveway when Adora calls her back.
“Glimmer!” Adora stands on the front porch step in an old t-shirt and her horse pyjama pants, and Glimmer gives her the time just for that. “You should stay. I did invite you, after all. And maybe… maybe you could get to know Catra? I know you guys could get along if you just tried. I’ve already told her to be on her best behaviour.”
Adora looks so hopeful that Glimmer can’t say no. “Fine. But only because I want to see what Catra considers good behaviour.”
She follows Adora back inside, but this time to the lounge. Catra has already curled up in a blanket on the end of the couch, and Glimmer sits as far away from her as she can, in Mara’s armchair. Adora bundles right up beside Catra in the blanket and pulls the girl close.
Glimmer doesn’t try to stifle the laugh that starts. “I think the rest of the school would love to know that the girl who walks around so apathetic is actually the little spoon.”
Catra scowls and opens her mouth to (likely) insult her, but Adora nudges her and murmurs, “Hey, you promised you’d be good.”
Apparently, Glimmer isn’t the only person to fall victim to the big blue puppy dog eyes, because Catra just sighs and rests her head on Adora’s shoulder, muttering something about an “idiot.”
Glimmer snorts with laughter. “Oh, and you’re whipped, too.”
“Glimmer,” Adora says warningly, “you said you’d try.”
Begrudgingly, Glimmer apologises. “Fine, fine. I’m sorry. So… when did this abomination start, then?”
Adora politely ignores her choice of words and smiles down at the grumpy girl in her arms. “Well, obviously we didn’t get off to the best start with our study sessions. I think Catra called me dumb at least ten times a minute in every single one.”
“Adora, you literally only just learned that ducks could fly last night,” Catra says, but it isn’t in the biting, condescending tone she uses with everyone else. It’s soft, fond, and there’s so much love shining in heterochromatic eyes as she looks at Adora that Glimmer almost aws. But then she remembers who’s talking.
“You called me the smartest person you’ve ever met the other day, so you don’t get a say on that,” Adora says, and kisses Catra on the tip of her nose. “Anyway, one thing led to another, and maybe we stopped studying math and started studying anatomy.”
“Don’t put it like that,” Catra groans and rolls her eyes, “that makes it sound like we were having trashy makeout sessions in empty classrooms.”
“I mean… we were,” Adora says with a soft laugh, and if she wasn’t talking about Catra, Glimmer would’ve teased her, “but fine. We were arguing about some mathematical formula that I couldn’t understand, and I just sort of… kissed her. I’d been having thoughts about it for a while, but it just happened, and then I awkwardly rambled and ran away. But then it turned out that Catra’s actually a big softie and she liked me too, and she managed to corner me for long enough to ask me out. And now it’s been six months.”
As… disgusted as she is, Glimmer sees the way her best friend smiles at the girl in her arms, and she can’t find it in her to be unsupportive. She definitely doesn’t approve, because Catra is an asshole and she always will be, but Adora is happy. That’s what mattered.
“You could’ve told me,” Glimmer says, trying to sound as sincere as possible, “you’re my best friend and I want you to be happy. If the jerk over there makes you happy, then that’s enough for me.”
“I’m going to ignore the fact that you just called my girlfriend a jerk,” Adora lifts the corner of the blanket she and Catra are curled up under and slips out. She launches herself across the room and dives on Glimmer in a tight hug. “And I’m going to hug you because you’re my best friend and I appreciate you being okay with this.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Glimmer hugs her back and can’t hide her smile. Even Catra’s indifference at the display looked fake. “You’re just lucky I’m so amazing.”
Catra hahs loudly and says, “didn’t know you had delusions of grandeur, Sparkles.”
“That’s rich,” Glimmer scowls over Adora’s shoulder at her, “Your head is so far up your own ass that you might as well be rolling around in a circle.”
“Okay,” Adora jumps up and gives both of them a stern glance, “stop it. I don’t want to have to break up a fight. Because I could easily take both of you.”
“In your dreams, babe,” Catra says, and Glimmer makes a loud fake-vomit noise. Catra spares it no attention other than a passing eye roll as she reaches for Adora’s hand and pulls her back down. “We both know I’d kick your ass.”
“Do you want to arm wrestle again? Because I think the final score was twelve to… zero?” Adora smirks and kisses Catra’s forehead. “I win.”
“Or maybe I just let you win.”
“Right,” Adora drags the word out and exchanges a knowing smile with Glimmer, “sure. We can pretend that’s true for the sake of your public appearance.”
“If you don’t shut up,” Catra pokes Adora’s arm, “I’ll leave right now.”
Glimmer waves mockingly. “See you later, then.”
“Fuck off, Sparkles.”
The usual bite isn’t there, and Glimmer swears there’s a flicker of a smile on Catra’s face. The flicker becomes the real thing when she looks at Adora and sees the way she’s smiling. Adora looks back at Catra and her bright blue eyes soften in a way Glimmer has never seen before, but that isn’t the surprising part. The surprising part is the way that Catra looks at Adora. She isn’t smiling anymore, but she doesn’t need to. Her gaze is so gentle and she looks so calm that it’s jarring, because Glimmer has never realised how tense Catra usually is. It’s like seeing this makes her notice.
Adora’s hand winds its way through Catra’s hair, and Catra’s head comes to rest on her shoulder. It’s their own secret method of silent communication, and it hits Glimmer then and there that she’s never seen Adora so happy.
Okay… Glimmer thinks, maybe this isn’t so bad after all.
It doesn’t feel weird when Catra joins them at lunch on Monday. In a way, it feels like she’s always been there.
She sits down next to Adora at their table and greets her with a quick, casual kiss, before Adora jumps right back into telling a soccer story that Glimmer only half understands.
Bow looks like he can hardly contain his smile, and he nudges Glimmer lightly, gesturing between Catra and Adora. “You know?”
Catra rolls her eyes. “Obviously she knows,” she glances at Adora and asks, “do any of your friends have actual brain cells?”
“Play nice,” Adora says and nudges her playfully, “and no, they don’t, because we were so obvious and nobody noticed.”
Glimmer scoffs. Sh’s entirely offended by that total lie. “Uh, I knew you had a girlfriend. You aren’t the best liar.”
“Yeah, but you didn’t know she was Catra,” Adora says, and Catra wraps an arm around her shoulder and sticks her tongue out childishly at Glimmer. “I mean, she was literally wearing my Paramore t-shirt and you didn’t catch on.”
Glimmer gapes at the two of them. Because Adora is right; Glimmer had just made a joke about how she needed to burn her shirt because Catra had the same one. Maybe they had been obvious…
Catra on the phone at the party, when she’d walked into Glimmer. Heading upstairs where the bathroom was, where Adora was waiting for her girlfriend to pick her up. Catra being at Adora’s soccer practice for apparently no reason at all, and Adora disappearing right after. Adora being so insistent that Glimmer wouldn’t like her girlfriend, when the only person she’s ever disliked on any level was Catra.
“Judging from her expression,” Bow pauses to laugh, “she’s not taking that revelation well.”
“How did I miss it?” Glimmer asks aloud to nobody in particular. “She was wearing her shirt. I guess I just thought Adora wouldn’t date someone so conceited.”
“Clearly that’s why she’s dating me and not you.”
“Catra,” Adora says sternly, “don’t. Please.”
“What? She started it.” Catra says, nose crinkling in insult. “I’m not just going to sit there and take it.”
“I know, baby,” Adora says softly, and she presses a gentle kiss to Catra’s cheek. “Glimmer, be nice. For me.”
Glimmer ughs dramatically. She’ll tolerate Catra for Adora. Only because for some weird reason she’ll probably never understand, Catra makes Adora happy. “Fine, fine. I’ll stop. But I won’t be making her a friendship bracelet any time soon.”
“Aw,” Catra drawls sarcastically, a hand on her heart and a mocking pout on her face, “that hurts, Sparkles. Really. You’ve wounded me.”
“Like you wanted one anyway,” Glimmer says, and a teasing smirk tilts up the corner of her mouth unconsciously when she adds a mocking, “kitten.”
It’s worth the loud scolding of “Glimmer!” from both Bow and Adora when she sees the way Catra’s cheeks flush a bright, embarrassed red.
“So…” Adora says by way of introduction as she drops down in the seat across from Glimmer in the library. Catra isn’t far behind; they’re never out of each other’s sights, now that it isn’t a secret they’re together. “The winter formal is coming up.”
“I know,” Glimmer says, rubbing out an underline in the poem they have to analyse for English literature homework. It’s just words to her. Forget the stupid subliminal ‘meanings’, because it’s meaningless. “My mom likes to tell me about every little event going on.”
“Well, I figured we could double date,” Adora says, squeezing Catra’s hand as she tells her, “Catra and I are going together, so I thought we could make it a group thing. I know my mom is like, dying to get pictures of me with an actual date and not just third wheeling you guys.”
Glimmer hums and underlines another word, then figures it doesn’t mean anything and rubs that out too. “Catra’s mom doesn’t want formal pictures?”
Even if she isn’t that observant with poetry, she is with people. She notices immediately, the way Adora holds Catra’s hand tighter and sends her a soft, comforting look.
In a rigid, tense voice, Catra says, “my mother doesn’t concern herself with things like that.”
“Well, I guess we’ll just all meet up at Adora’s for Mara’s photoshoot, then,” Glimmer says, because questioning whatever all of that tension is about would be a bad idea. “Have you guys figured out what you’re wearing?”
Adora mouths a tiny thank you to her before she says, “Nope. I’ve seen Catra’s tux though, so I’m going to coordinate with her. Maybe we could do that shopping trip after all? Catra works on Sundays, but we could meet at the mall on Saturday. It’s usually date day, but… dresses are important too!”
She’s rambling, which Adora always does when she’s nervous. It’s probably because of the previous topic still leaving an awkward weight. This time, it’s Catra who squeezes Adora’s hand comfortingly, and gently bumps shoulders with her. “Take a breath, dummy.”
“You know, when she first met my mom, she awkwardly rambled for like, nearly twenty minutes,” Glimmer says, because this is a great opportunity to tell her best friend’s girlfriend an embarrassing story. Even if said girlfriend is Catra. “I think she was intimidated because she’d (quote) ‘never met a principal before’.”
“Oh, like you wouldn’t be intimidated meeting someone who could give you detention for life,” Adora says with a loud but fake scoff that earns her a shush from the school librarian. She smiles sheepishly. “Sorry. But I just get nervous.”
“That’s nothing,” Catra says. From the look on Adora’s face, Glimmer knows that this is going to be good. “She probably went for about thirty minutes after she kissed me for the first time. I remember some rant about boundaries and line crossing and how I was just so pretty she couldn’t help herself.”
Adora groans. “Do we really need to cover this now? As much as I want you guys to bond, I really don’t want my excruciating awkwardness to be the thing that brings you together.”
Catra just laughs. “Oh, Adora. What else would bring us together?”
“I’m breaking up with you.”
“No, you’re not,” Catra says, a soft, amused smile making her look less like a conceited jerk and more like… a girl in love. It fades when she looks at Glimmer, and Glimmer almost expects some pretentious comment when Catra glances at her blank copy of the poem she has to analyse. “Want some help?”
It isn’t a malicious offer, like Catra is rubbing in how smart she is. Glimmer would’ve taken it that way before, but she’s seen a few flashes of sincerity as of lately.
Plus, Adora is there, smiling encouragingly. Glimmer puts her pride aside for the sake of her best friend and nods. “Yeah. Okay. Make these words turn into secret meanings by next period, thanks.”
She shoves the poem over to Catra, who gives it a once over and pokes at a section in the first paragraph with the end of a pen. “Basic metaphor there. The poet uses colour imagery a lot throughout, blue representing pain and sorrow and yellow referring to their lover.”
“How the fuck does yellow translate to lover?” Glimmer questions as she swipes the sheet of paper back and notes that down. “Like, just say lover. Get to the point, poet.”
Catra rolls her eyes. “Obviously you’re not a romantic.”
That raises Glimmer’s eyebrows. “And you are?”
Catra scoffs. “Shut the fuck up or I won’t help you with your homework.”
“She’s totally a romantic,” Adora says, clearly as revenge for the earlier teasing, “she buys me flowers and tells me what they mean, and one day she just started picking me up for school even though I never asked her to, and she waits for me after even though I have soccer practice and she could just go home. She wrote a song for me, too.”
“Adora,” Catra glares at her, “that’s private.”
“You can relax, I’m not going to sing it to Glimmer,” Adora’s arm slings gently around Catra’s shoulder, and then pauses to fix the hair tie holding Catra’s ponytail back. “I think breaking out into song would probably get me kicked out of the library, anyway.”
“Bet that’d be the most trouble you’ve ever gotten in, huh?” The glare Catra is wearing softens into that little smile again, the one she directed at Adora and only Adora. She leans in and pecks her softly on the lips, murmuring, “I can’t believe I’m dating such a rebel.”
Glimmer fake gags. “Okay, gross.”
Catra rolls her eyes. “That’s homophobic.”
“I- what?” Glimmer screeches, then quickly apologises to the librarian before she can kick her out. In a hushed, harsh whisper, she retorts, “I’m literally bisexual.”
“Relax, Sparkles,” Catra smirks that infuriatingly cocky smirk, “god, you’re easy to wind up.”
Glimmer looks at Adora expectantly. “Aren’t you going to get your girlfriend under control?”
Adora just smiles. “Nope. Because you’re friends.”
“We are not friends,” Catra and Glimmer both say at the exact same time, at an equally loud volume, and they’re still arguing about it when the librarian chases the three of them out for their ‘ruckus’.
But as Adora keeps teasing them about their new ‘best friendship’, Glimmer finds herself thinking that maybe under all of the snark, Catra isn’t completely awful.
At least, there has to be some reason Adora loves her, right?
“Okay, everybody get in this picture,” Mara holds the camera at the ready as Bow and Glimmer move to join Catra and Adora for a group picture. Glimmer feels Bow’s arms slide around her waist, and the smile on her face isn’t a posed picture one. “Aw, this is so cute. Okay, one more-”
“Mom, please,” Adora interrupts, “we’ve been taking pictures for ten minutes. Can we go now?”
Catra twists in Adora’s arms and sends her a teasing grin. “Come on, Adora, your mom is just excited that you haven’t got your dumb little hair poof for once.”
Adora flicks Catra’s cheek and says, “you love my hair poof, shut up.”
“Hm… whatever helps you sleep at night, Adora,” Catra smirks at her, and Glimmer has to roll her eyes. They’re so gross. “Hey, Sparkles, I saw that.”
Glimmer snorts. “Do you two have to flirt at every possible opportunity?”
“In our defence,” Adora holds a hand up but keeps one rested on Catra’s waist, “we did have to keep it a secret for months. So… yeah, we do have to flirt at every possible opportunity.”
Catra smirks and sticks her tongue out childishly, and Mara gushes when she snaps another picture. “Oh, that one is just precious,” Glimmer has to hold back her surprise when Mara pulls Catra in for a tight hug and says, “make sure Adora doesn’t get herself into too much trouble tonight.”
“Mom,” Adora says irritably, “I am a grown up, you know?”
“A grownup who decided to get so drunk she couldn’t walk a few weeks back,” Mara says, “when your girlfriend is smart enough not to drink.”
Catra half-smirks at Adora, who looks back at her, some silent communication happening between the two of them, before Catra says, “Yeah, Adora, who’s really the grown up here?”
“Yeah,” Adora grumbles as they start to make their escape from the seemingly endless photoshoot, “she’s just so smart, huh?”
Glimmer doesn’t understand the disgruntled tone until they’re in Bow’s car on the way to the dance, and Catra pulls a hip flask out of her tux pocket. She takes quick drink and passes it to Adora.
Adora scowls at her but accepts the flask anyway. “I can’t believe you convinced my mom you don’t drink and that you’re this perfect polite girlfriend.”
“I can be, so it’s not technically a lie,” Catra shrugs, taking the flask back and having another sip. After a few seconds of thought, she offers it up to Glimmer. “Care to partake, Sparkles?”
Glimmer eyes the flask, but after a few moments of thought, she shrugs and takes it. She winces at the sharp taste of vodka and passes it to Adora, who takes another drink. Glimmer almost thanked Catra, but decides she’d rather die than say anything nice to her.
Bow eyes the flask in the rearview mirror. “You’re not planning on spiking the punch with that, are you?”
“Just my own, if I’m in the mood,” Catra says, and Glimmer gains a tiny shred of respect for her when she tucks the flask back inside her tux jacket and says, “I think spiking the communal punch is kind of fucked up. People should know what they’re drinking.”
“Huh, maybe you’re not evil after all,” Glimmer says, and Catra barks out a laugh, “it wasn’t a joke, I’m genuinely surprised.”
“I told you, she’s a secret softie,” Adora says, reaching across the middle seat to take Catra’s hand. Catra swipes her hand away with a scowl, and Adora just laughs. “Come on, they’re going to notice eventually. I might as well tell them.”
Catra pretends to be really interested in the view out of the window and keeps moving her hand every time Adora tries to take it.
“Come on,” Adora says through a soft laugh, “Catra! Hold my hand. That’s your job as my girlfriend.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Catra says flatly, turning to look Adora up and down. “Who are you again?”
Because she can’t help herself, Glimmer has to fake gag. They’re such an insufferable couple. “Oh my god, we get it, you’re in love, stop being so gross.”
Bow sends her a stern look, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Not when Adora just smiles and reaches over the back of the seat to lightly punch Glimmer’s shoulder. “For the last time, we’re allowed to be gross.”
Glimmer hums in agreement. “And I’m allowed to comment on how gross it is.”
But even Glimmer has to admit that it’s cute, when they arrive at school and Catra immediately pulls Adora to the dancefloor when she hears a slow song playing. Glimmer sits on the edge of the gym bleachers and watches them while Bow goes to get punch, and unconsciously, she smiles. Where Adora is clumsy, Catra is graceful, leading her in the dance and laughing when Adora steps on her toes or moves the wrong way.
Adora moves forwards when she’s supposed to move back and thuds into Catra, who uses it as an excuse to cup her jaw and pull her in for a soft kiss.
“They’re so cute, aren’t they?” Scorpia says as she sits down next to Glimmer. That’s another thing Glimmer should’ve noticed. Adora had blurted out that her girlfriend was friends with Scorpia, and Catra was friends with Scorpia.
Then again, that didn’t really narrow it down much. Scorpia is friends with everyone.
Glimmer hums quietly. “Yeah. I guess they are.”
“I know Catra appreciates you being so cool about it,” Scorpia says, and Glimmer almost scoffs until she realises how genuine Scorpia is. But Scorpia is never anything other than genuine. “She would never have pressured Adora, but I know she didn’t like hiding it.”
“I’ve never understood why you’re friends with her,” Glimmer says without thinking, and quickly adds, “I know you’re nice to literally everyone, but she’s always so… Catra about everything.”
Scorpia smiles and shrugs easily. “She puts up a hard front, but she’s really just a softie.”
Glimmer glances back over at Catra and Adora. Catra has clearly given up on trying to teach Adora how to dance. Instead, her arms are wrapped around Adora’s shoulders, her face snuggled into Adora’s neck, while Adora holds her by the waist and sways her in place to the slow song playing. Adora looks like she’s saying something, and Glimmer doesn’t doubt that it’s probably something cheesy. She can tell from the goofy lovesick smile on Adora’s face.
“Your punch,” Bow smiles as he offers a cup to her, “I got there right before Mermista and Sea Hawk poured a flask of whiskey in there, so I probably shouldn’t touch it for the rest of the night.”
Glimmer shrugs. She expected that. It’s a high school dance, so it’s basically inevitable that someone is going to spike the punch. “I’ve got cash in my purse, we can get you something from the vending machine.”
“Thanks,” Bow says, and after a sip of punch, he leans around her to greet Scorpia, “hey, Scorpia. Where’s Perfuma?”
“Probably yelling at Mermista and Sea Hawk for spiking the punch,” Scorpia jokes, but when she looks over to the punch bowl and sees exactly that happening, she looks more than a little concerned. “Actually, I should probably go diffuse that. See you later, guys.”
Glimmer drains her punch in one and reaches over to take Bow’s hand. “We’d better get dancing before they stop playing slow songs.”
“You’re telling me you don’t want me to go request Rasputin so we can do the Just Dance choreography from memory?” Bow teases, but he finishes his drink and pulls her up. “I don’t even know who you are anymore.”
Glimmer kisses his cheek as he leads her over to the dancefloor. “Maybe once I’ve got a little bit of spiked punch in me. But for now… slow dancing.”
“Oh, I see why,” Bow laughs as his arms wrap gently around her waist and sway her smoothly to the music, “you’re scared I’ll beat you.”
Glimmer scoffs. “You’d never beat me.”
“I did last time.”
“We’ll settle this later,” Glimmer warns him, “but right now, you’re going to slow dance with me and we’re going to have a romantic night we can look back on ten years in the future with cheesy smiles. Got it?”
Bow smiles and pulls her in for a kiss. “Yes, ma’am.”
Glimmer doesn’t know how long they dance for; she loses track of time, because the world feels like it doesn’t exist anymore. It’s just her, Bow, and the music. It’s peaceful.
At least until Adora pounces on them and says, “We should have a three-way. Wait, that came out wrong. Dance in a threesome. No, that was worse…”
“You should probably quit while you’re ahead,” Bow says as he holds one arm out for Adora, “where’s Catra?”
“Oh, uh,” Adora’s smile falters, and Glimmer gets ready to go kick some snarky ass, “she had to take a call.”
Glimmer raises her eyebrows. “At a dance?”
“It’s fine,” Adora waves her hand like it’ll swoosh the subject matter away, “I requested Fearless. At first I tried to request the whole album, but Entrapta said they’d stop her from DJing if she didn’t play a mix of things.”
Glimmer wants to question her more, but the song in question comes on, and Adora grabs both of their hands and pulls both Bow and Glimmer into a dance. After a few songs, Glimmer has almost forgotten the whole thing. At least until she excuses herself to the bathroom and sees Catra leaning against the wall in the hallway on her way back to the gym. She’s frowning, kicking a foot back and forth against the vinyl flooring, a hand playing anxiously with the end of her untied bow tie.
Thinking of Adora, Glimmer pauses. “Are you alright?”
Catra looks up, and if anything, she frowns even more. She scoffs lightly. “Why do you care?”
“Because I’m Adora’s best friend, and if it’s something that’s going to concern her and get her heart broken, I’d like to know about it,” Glimmer says dryly, but even she can’t deny the way her voice softens as she admits, “plus… I told her I’d at least try to be your friend, so…”
“It’s not Adora,” Catra says quietly, and Glimmer notices the phone in her hand as Catra slides it back into her pocket. “Adora is perfect.”
“Then what is it?” Glimmer asks. Catra surveys her warily, and Glimmer rolls her eyes. “I’m not going to mass text the whole school the big news that you actually have feelings. Talk to me. Because my best friend wants to dance with her girlfriend, and she can’t do that if you’re out here being broody.”
Catra’s still looking at her, like she’s a snake about to strike. She stares her down for what feels like hours, until finally, she sighs, runs a hand through her messy, untameable hair, and speaks.
“Mother dearest wasn’t too pleased with me for coming tonight,” Catra reluctantly admits. “My mother and I don’t exactly get along. She thinks my time would be better spent studying instead of flouncing around at a useless school dance. She decided to call me to tell me precisely all the ways I’m a disappointment.”
Oh. Well, if there’s one thing Glimmer hadn’t been expecting, it’s that. Catra is basically any parent’s wet dream – top of the class, never proven to break the rules, and probably had twenty different colleges fighting for her. Glimmer heard enough about how perfect Catra is from her own mother.
“What?” Glimmer looks her over for any sign of falsehood, but there’s nothing. Just… a tired, sad frustration. “But… you’re top of the class in every class and you don’t even try.”
Catra laughs bitterly and slides down the wall, sitting against it and pulling her knees up to her chest. “Don’t even try? I have to climb out of my window if I want to see Adora, because my mother only lets me have ‘study breaks’ when I need to eat or sleep. If I didn’t try, she’d probably chain me to the wall. I have to be top of the class because there’s no other option, and even that isn’t good enough. I know you won’t get it, because your mom is the principal and probably thinks the sun shines out of her darling daughter’s ass.”
“You think I don’t get it? My mom never stops talking about how amazing you are, how you’re singlehandedly bringing up the school’s grade point average, and why couldn’t I do that too? God, why do you think I never liked you?” Glimmer says with a small laugh. She surprises herself when it isn’t bitter, and she flops onto the floor next to Catra. “My mom wants me to be some perfect academic, but I’m not. So even if it’s not entirely the same, I get it. I guess we’ve got more in common than we thought.”
“Did I hear some past tense there? You warming up to me, Sparkles?” Catra says, but her usual biting sarcasm isn’t on point. She seems to realise that, because she sighs and rests her head against her knees. “Anyway, I’ll be showing up on your doorstep tomorrow with my bags, if your mom is so in love with me. It’d be nice to hear well done instead of that’s not good enough, I’m sure there was extra credit you could’ve gotten, you’re nothing but a lazy waste of space who won’t amount to anything.”
Never in a million years did Glimmer ever think she’d feel any sympathy for Catra of all people. But she is. Hesitantly, Glimmer puts an arm around Catra’s shoulders and says a (possibly pathetic) “that really sucks.”
“Yeah, it does,” Catra mutters, but she doesn’t pull away. She sighs again and says, “Look, I know you think that I have some kind of mighty high opinion of myself, and that I think I’m better than everyone, but… you kind of have to be like that when you’re the only person you have. It still confuses me, the way Adora has so much faith in me. I’ll have a test and she’ll wish me good luck, and when I got a ninety-nine, she wouldn’t stop talking about how amazing it was when my own mother spent an hour berating me for being stupid, that if I was smart, I would’ve gotten a one hundred.”
Glimmer can see how that would make a person form a hard exterior. Catra must’ve had to, to stop her mother’s comments from getting to her. Especially because it was her mother saying those things – Glimmer had once cried because her mom had called her immature. A number of verbal beatdowns like Catra was describing would be enough to batter anybody’s self-confidence.
“I really, really love Adora,” Catra’s gaze shifts from Glimmer to the big double doors of the gym. Like she’s seeing through them and looking at Adora, probably still bouncing around with Bow on the dancefloor. “She’s the best person I’ve ever met, and I spent so much time trying to push her away because I didn’t think I was good enough for her, and she still kissed me anyway. It’s like she saw what was underneath all of the defence mechanisms, and I’m so grateful for her. I won’t hurt her. You have my word on that.”
Glimmer doesn’t think Catra will appreciate it if she gets all tearful and emotional with her. So instead, Glimmer squeezes her once around the shoulders and lets go. “Okay. But I’m totally going to kick your ass if you break that promise, you know.”
There’s something that looks a lot like tears shining in Catra’s eyes, but there’s a smile on her face when she turns around to look at Glimmer.
“Honestly, Sparkles, I wouldn’t expect anything else.”
“So…” Adora comes up next to her, clearly trying to contain the excited smile on her face. The dance is over, and they’re waiting for Bow to get the car started. Adora’s gaze flicks over to Catra, who is talking quietly with Scorpia. “Catra told me you two talked.”
Glimmer hums in reply. “Yeah. We did.”
“I know… I know you’ve never liked her,” Adora says, “but it means a lot to me that you’re trying. I really love her.”
“I know you do, Adora,” Glimmer says, “it’s pretty obvious from the way you look at her. And from the way she looks at you, it’s obvious that she loves you too.”
Adora stops trying to hide the excitable smile. “Does this mean that you approve?”
“Yeah, Adora, I approve,” Glimmer says, letting out a quiet oof when Adora pounces on her in a hug, “and she knows I’ll kick her ass if she ever breaks your heart, so I think she and I are good.”
Adora pulls back, and there’s a hopeful glint in her eye when she asks, “Friends?”
Glimmer hums in thought. “We’ll see about that.”
“Oh, shut up, Sparkles,” Catra’s arms wrap around Adora’s waist from behind, and she rests her chin on her shoulder, “I know you like me.”
Glimmer quirks an eyebrow up. “Maybe I would, if you weren’t such an asshole. Must suck to have unrequited friendship feelings, huh?”
“Hey, I never said I liked you,” Catra scowls at her over Adora’s shoulder, “I don’t hang out with sparkly pests.”
“Sparkly pest?” Glimmer repeats with a laugh. “Come on, you can do better than that.”
“Oh, like calling me an asshole is so creative.”
“Aw,” Adora twists in Catra’s hold and throws an arm around the both of them, “you guys are friends!”
Glimmer snorts. “No, we aren’t.”
Catra balks. “I’d literally rather die.”
But when Glimmer meets Catra’s gaze over Adora’s shoulder, they share a tiny, knowing smile. Maybe they aren’t friends yet, but they’re trying.
And that, Glimmer thinks, is what really matters.