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|A Pair of Threes|
Jinora took one last breath before knocking. Just calm down. You're only asking her for help... getting into a drug ring. Yeah. You're fucked. She sighed and finally knocked.
Korra opened herself, surprised to see Jinora. "Jin? What are you doing here?"
"Do you have a minute? I kind of need to talk to you."
-"Uhh, sure, come in." Korra stepped aside, letting Jinora into her apartment. It wasn't much, but for two people it, would do which was exactly what it did. Opal had lived with Korra for a few years now, and it was working okay for them. Opal needed a place somewhere close between the supermarket and the club to allow her to keep up her job at both. Korra wanted to be close to the Gyatso's, so it was a decent compromise.
-"What did you want to talk about?" Korra asked, slightly concerned.
"About my mom." Jinora sighed. "I went to see her in the supermarket yesterday, and kind of saw... something that I wasn't supposed to see."
She fell silent, and Korra furrowed her brow. "Saw what?"
Jinora unsuccessfully tried to swallow the lump in her throat. "I saw her giving Toza a blowjob," she eventually managed. "He made her do it."
At first, Korra didn't say anything. She just stared at Jinora. Suddenly she fell back into her seat, slapping her fist into her palm. "Bastard," she hissed. "So it is true."
"Is?" Jinora quizzically said. Then, it hit her like a ton of bricks. "You knew?!"
Korra sighed. "I had my suspicions. There are days that Opal comes home, and clogs back half a bottle of mouthwash before even saying hello. Every time I asked her about it, she ignores me at best, and depending on how bad the day is, she yells that it's none of my fucking business. So no, I didn't know, but I could hazard a decent guess."
"Did you know about my mom as well?"
Korra shook her head. "No, I didn't. Didn't think it would be that bad."
"Well, it is. He makes all the girls at the supermarket do it, and he docks their pay if they refuse, or tell people about it."
-"And what about your mom?"
"That was hardly her fault, I walked in on them. It'd be a dick-move even for him to take it out on her," Jinora said, but she wasn't sure he would anyway. Toza and her mother weren't on the best of terms, and this might be an excuse to get rid of her. Replace her with someone younger. She shook the thought from her head, and turned her focus to Korra again. "I thought about this, Korra. I've come to realize that I need to start doing something to help my family, and that's why I'm really here." She paused for a moment. "I want in, Korra."
Korra forcibly tried to act dazed, but miserably failed. "What do you mean?"
"Don't play dumb with me Korra, you're not good at that. I know you sell for a living, and I don't mean girl scout cookies. I want in," she repeated.
Korra hesitated. "I don't know, Jin. This is not something you'd want to do impulsively. Getting in is easy, getting out is hard. Most people who do get out, leave in a box."
It was an obvious attempt to scare her off. "Korra, I'm tired of sitting on my hands here. That's all I've ever done, and it is way past time I change that. My mom said she did it for me, and I need money in order to change that."
-"What's wrong with an honest job?"
"Says the professional dealer," Jinora threw back. It succeeded in throwing Korra off her game. "Besides, get a job where? The supermarket is kind of out of the question, and something like a Narook's doesn't pay nearly enough to get her out. I'm going to need a lot more than minimum wage."
Korra was silent for a while. "Jinora," she softly began, while she leaned forward. "Have you given some thought to the notion that your mother is doing it so that you don't have to?"
Now it was Jinora's turn to be silent. Korra had an excellent point, that was the reason her mother was doing this. But that didn't make it any easier to bear. "Korra, it's not the fact that she sucked some guy's dick for money, I've done that for crying out loud! It was who she was doing it to. I mean, Toza, he looks like a pig, acts like a pig, and smells like a pig. If anything, it's weird that the duck-test doesn't apply to him." She paused for a moment. "You didn't see her like I did," Jinora said. "She wasn't just embarrassed that I saw her with his dick in her mouth, it was much, much worse than that. Toza isn't just disgusting, he was... demeaning, and he was humiliating her. Do you have any idea what it's like for me to see my own mother like that?"
-"No, I don't," Korra sighed. "But that doesn't mean I have to agree with you. You have always been the promising one, Jinora! You can get out of this shithole, get good grades in school, go to college, get a good job. You can take your family with you from there."
"I probably could, but that would take ten years, not to mention a heap of money to get me through college, which we don't have. Even if I could get a scholarship, there's still the time issue that worries me." Jinora paused for a moment. "I don't want to sound mean here, but Ikki and Meelo simply don't have the same chances I have. Even if I did go to college, they would be in my shoes two years from now, and I also want to prevent that. If I can save them, it's worth doing it for me." Korra was still hesitating, so Jinora threw in her last trump card. Going all-in on a pair of threes, if you will. "Korra, if you won't help me, someone else will. I came to you because I trust you more than the kids at school who I know to also do this. They wouldn't be this hesitant on saying yes."
Fortunately, Korra isn't holding a straight flush either. "No," Korra resolutely said. "If you're going in, you're at least going to do so in a way that I can keep an eye on you." She sighed again. "I don't like this, Jinora. I don't like this one bit."
"Thank you." She thought for a moment. "So what's the next step?"
-"Damn it," Korra swore under her breath. "You're really not kidding." She sighed, while Jinora shook her head. "The next step is that I go talk to my supplier, see if he's even interested in taking you in. Keep in mind, I have to vouch for you, so if you fuck up, it'll land on me. That means I'll have to walk you through the necessary baby's first steps of dealing, if you will. We'll have to get you some equipment, but that won't be too hard, and from there, you're pretty much in."
"That easy, huh?"
-"Your end is, it's much more difficult for me. I'll have to convince The General to take you in, and even if he does, it means a lot of work for me."
"Who's The General?"
-"My supplier. He gives me the drugs, I sell them for him. He's got a couple of people working for him, and he's typically on the lookout for willing bodies. Your age might be a problem, though, but I can work past that. I was even younger than you when I started."
"You were?" Jinora asked, shocked that Korra had been in that game for that long.
Korra sighed. "I was. I dropped out of school, and had nowhere else to go. Iroh was good enough to take me in, and I've been working for him ever since. He's... decent." She hesitated to say it, so Jinora immediately suspected that she didn't fully agree with her own statement. "That is my condition though: you go through with your school, and if you need to get out so that you can go to college, you get out. Deal?"
Well, she's only looking out for you, just as planned. "Fair enough, I can do that."
-"Then I can get you in." Korra was silent for a moment. "You go now, I need to square things over with Iroh first anyway. I'll come get you when I've made the necessary arrangements."
"Thank you, Korra."
Korra sighed. "Just don't make me regret it."
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