ave / stories / Splinter ch.0

"Fuck!" The pad flew in through the open door and smashed against the wall, followed by an angry cat. The force captain stormed over the shattered electronics and stared at the screen behind them, waiting for something, anything, to flare up, to give her the answer she had been looking for for so long. Or at least to give her something new to lash out at.

The shapeshifter silently put their own pad down on the table beside their huge couch and tiptoed closer. "What is it, kitten?"

"We lost. Again. In Thaymore of all places . . ."

The door hissed closed behind them. How did they want to entertain themselves today . . . ?

"A relevant loss?"

"No, of course. I'm not dumb." Catra's knuckles were white against the dark green metal paint. "Just . . . annoying. I wanted to set up a supply base there. Would've made it easier to get weapons to Brightmoon."

Out of her sight, the mischievous scalie rolled their eyes. Seriously, as if they of all people couldn't spot a lie. They came besides their person of interest, pointing at the map with a long, slender green finger. "Elberon is easier to get to, though. There's some hilly terrain between there and Brightmoon, but that's nothing our little tech mistress can't take care of." They wrapped an arm around the feline's shoulder. "Tell me, kitten . . . what is this really about?"

Catra turned aside, about to storm off again, but stopped. She took Double Trouble's hand, held it. The trickster could feel she was getting emotional again. "That's . . . that's where I lost Adora."

Oh boy. That was a landmine they didn't see coming. Catra took a step away, still absentmindedly holding their hand. "I . . . I had just gotten promoted, and it was my first mission, I was so glad when I found her, but . . . but she fucking left me for some Rebellion bastards!" She kicked the pad, sending it off against another wall and stabbing a glass splinter in her bare foot.

"Fuck!" she shouted, falling to her knees and clutching her knee.

Double Trouble was looking at her, hand at their hip, a blank expression on their face. She was . . . weak. Casual. And it obviously wasn't a facade she showed to everyone. What was it, the trickery? Their shapeshifting? Why did she trust them so?

Sigh. "C'mere, kitten . . ." Double Trouble bent down, wrapping two momentarily beefed up arms around her. She hissed at them, but they had grown up in a desert with venomous snakes and ignored it, carrying her to the sofa bridal-style and depositing her softly. Despite the apparent enmity, she didn't try to get off, but just stared at them. Facades, facades . . .

"Just stand still." They picked up her foot with a slender arm, taking a look at the tiny splinter lodged into her toebeanies. Growing two pincer-like nails, they took it out without much of a bother.

"Ouch . . ."

"Seriously, kitten." They took a moment to ruffle her already very messy hair. "Where would you be without me?"

Just as Double Trouble was about to head back to the map to think of something else to bait her with, she grabbed their hand, keeping it in her mess of a hairball. Catra was shaking. And . . . yup. Tears.

"I miss her. I miss her so much . . . we grew up together, she was always taking care of me . . . protected me from, from mother . . . well, at least from the worst of it . . . Trouble, I . . ." She pressed their hand against her sobby face, too much of a mess to keep talking.

". . . oh, kitten." Double Trouble toyed with an idea. Gently caressing her face, holding one cheek and making her stare at their face as they slowly shifted into the blonde's skin, grinning at her . . . or maybe, just, smiling, softly, loving her like she craved to be loved . . .

No. There was time for that later. They nudged themselves beside the kitty on the sofa, pulling her into their lap and slowly combing through that thick mass of hair. "There, there . . . it will be all right."

She looked up, with wet eyes. Despite their thick skin, despite their cold heart, it almost hurt them to see her like that.

"I promise."

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