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|More from DrachenRitter42||Drama/Action||PG||Here|
08 AUG 2015
Amon and the Equalists were beaten. With Amon exposed as a fraud and subsequently killed, the Equalist movement was rapidly losing the public's support. But even though they had won, it didn't really feel like it.
Soon afterwards, Korra had traveled from Republic City back home to the Southern Water Tribe. With her had been Tenzin, Mako, Bolin, Asami. Her parents had been there to greet her, and predictably horrified when they learned what had happened to her. For Korra, it had felt like being stabbed in the gut, a reminder that she was broken, crippled. Katara had been her only hope - the greatest healer in the world. And even she couldn't do anything. Then there was Mako. Normally, she would've been ecstatic to hear him say the things he'd said to her. But now...she just wasn't sure.
So she stood alone at the top of a high, sheer cliff, covered in ice. Naga lay behind her, whining softly. For once in her life, Korra ignored the animal. She looked down, and pondered simply jumping. Just ending it right there. But she didn't - couldn't do it. She was too scared - whether it was drowning or freezing to death, it would be slow and unpleasant - assuming, of course, that the impact with the water didn't kill her instantly, which was possible. But still she was too scared to take that step.
"How pathetic am I?" she muttered bitterly. She sat down on the ground, feeling desperate and alone. What now? She was supposed to be the Avatar, but with her bending gone...she was nothing. Just a mediocre airbender. She heard footsteps behind her, and guessed it was probably Tenzin looking for her, undoubtedly with another lecture about patience. Naga let out a booming bark that Korra knew meant she recognized whoever it was - well, duh. Definitely Tenzin.
"Not now, Tenzin," she said bitterly without even looking back. "I just want to be left alone."
- "Well I can't speak for Tenzin," a female voice said, surprising Korra, "but I really don't think that's a good idea."
Korra turned around, finally looking at the speaker.
- "Asami?" she blurted out, looking bewildered.
- "Don't look so surprised," Asami replied. "I was worried about you - we all are. Mind if I join you?"
Korra shrugged, then turned back to face out to sea. Asami rolled her eyes, but she remained worried - she couldn't imagine what Korra was going through right now, but she was just afraid that she would do something stupid.
- "What, are you going to try and tell me that it's somehow going to be all right?" Korra asked cuttingly. Asami bit her lip, trying not to take it personally. Tenzin was right, this was going to take time - and it would be hard for all of them, but especially for Korra. What she had lost...
- "No, probably not," Asami replied slowly. "Korra, I'm not saying what happened to you isn't awful, because it is. But shutting everyone out isn't going to help. Your mom and dad, Tenzin, Bolin...even that knucklehead Mako's worried about you."
Korra snorted, almost laughing in spite of herself at the insult leveled at the absent Mako. She had a point, though. Even Korra, who had been majorly crushing on Mako since practically the day they met, recognized that. But Asami...
- "And what about you?" she asked.
- "And me, too," Asami replied. "You guys are the only friends I really have, since..." Asami did not finish her sentence, and for a long while, neither spoke. Asami had no siblings, no family except her father, Hiroshi Sato. Now, she didn't have even that, since he had been arrested for his role in the Anti-bending Revolution. Then there was the fact that he had tried to kill her.
"I was six years old when Mom died. A bunch of Agni Kai triad goons broke into our house, and one of them killed her," Asami said slowly. Vaguely, Korra remembered Tenzin saying something about Mr. Sato's wife having been killed years earlier, but she had never expected Asami herself to bring it up. "After it happened, I almost couldn't bear the loss, the pain. I felt so abandoned, with her gone...I don't think I could have gotten through it, if not for Dad. He was all I had left, and he helped me to work through it."
Almost in spite of herself, Korra listened. More than twelve years later, the loss still hurt - she could tell from Asami's expression. "Whenever I needed help, he was always there for me," Asami continued. "No matter what problems I had, emotionally or anything else. I could always talk to him about it, and he always understood. He always supported me - even when all I needed was a shoulder to cry on. He was all I had, until I met you and Mako, and Bolin."
Asami stopped speaking for a while, as Korra watched. Somehow, she had never seen, never realized how much their friendship meant to Asami - and what it meant for her, who had grown up sheltered in the White Lotus compound, with only her parents and a succession of older, stuffy instructors, to have friends her own age. "Without him, I don't think I could ever have gotten through the pain, the grief of losing Mom. But I guess I didn't realize that he never did," Asami continued sadly, and it tore at Korra's heart to see a single tear flowing down her cheek.
"And now, I've lost him, too. With him in prison, I don't have any family left. The truth is, I don't think I'll ever get over something like this - sometimes, I'm still not sure I'm over losing Mom. But what makes it bearable, for me, is knowing that I have you guys - you, Mako, Bolin. I know I can count on you all, and I guess that makes it possible to live with the pain - maybe, makes it a little easier to bear."
A long silence followed, as Korra thought over Asami's words, once again surprised at the heiress - just like she had a number of times before, Asami had shown a side of herself to Korra that the Avatar would never have expected. And she, so selfishly caught up in her own loss, had failed to see that she wasn't the only one who had suffered. Yet in spite of all that, Asami was now here, trying to comfort her. Korra bit her lip, trying to hold back the tears she felt coming.
"Anyway..." Asami said eventually. "What I'm trying to say is...don't shut us out. We all care about you. We're all here for you, okay?"
Finally, the tears Korra had been fighting back became too much, and she broke down completely. Unexpectedly, she felt Asami's arms around her shoulders as the Sato heiress pulled her into a loose hug, and she let her head rest on her shoulder, the tears flowing freely down her face as she wept bitterly. Asami said nothing, she simply held her in her arms and let her cry.
It was a long time before the tears stopped, but finally, Korra started to sit up and pulled back a few steps, sniffling and wiping her eyes on her sleeve. "Sorry," she said thickly.
Asami shook her head. "It's all right. I'm here for you if you need anything - that's what friends are for," she said, an understanding smile on her face. "And speaking of which, we really should get back, and you need to talk to Mako."
- "To Mako?" Korra asked, prompting Asami to raise an eyebrow.
- "Korra, I'm not blind, you know - I've seen the way you two act around each other," she said with an exasperated expression.
- "But I thought you two were..." Korra started to say.
- "Not anymore," Asami interrupted sharply. Korra looked away, and Asami realized her mistake. "Korra, I'm sorry," she added. "I didn't mean to..."
- "No, it's all right," Korra replied, her tone hurt and upset. "I mean, I'm sure it's my fault you two broke up, after all."
Asami wanted to contradict her, but for a moment she hesitated. Did she blame Korra for the failure of her relationship with Mako? It was true, to a point, that Korra had a lot to do with it. The way Mako acted when she was missing; the fact that Mako had kissed Korra while they were still dating; the way even after she returned, during the whole Equalist mess, the two seemed so close...
- "No," Asami said slowly, "it's not your fault. It just...didn't work out between us, that's all."
- "So what, was it his fault then?" Korra asked pointedly. Asami smiled, but she didn't answer. Maybe it was his fault. Or maybe it wasn't anyone's fault. Or at least, that's what she told herself.
- "Maybe," Asami said vaguely. "I guess, I realized that what we had wasn't as important to him as it was to me."
- "I suppose you mean because of how he feels about me?" Korra asked, still sounding upset.
Asami didn't immediately reply. She really didn't want to talk about it, especially not to Korra of all people. So why should she? But Korra was a friend, and since she'd brought it up it was a good opportunity to clear the air between them.
- "I just...I saw the way he acted around you, and then Bolin told me about how he kissed you."
- "I kissed him," Korra blurted out, unsure why she said it. This surprised Asami, because it contradicted what Bolin had told her. Still, whether Mako had initiated it or Korra did, Mako's reaction when she had confronted him said it all.
- "Really?" She asked. "Well, the bottom line is that he wasn't honest with me about how he felt. So I broke it off."
- "I'm sorry," Korra said sincerely, and Asami sighed. As much as some part of her might want to, she just couldn't blame Korra for what had happened.
- "Well, I know how he feels about you, and I'm sure you feel the same way. Or am I wrong?" Asami asked, with a pointed expression, as she recalled Korra's initial reaction, the first time they had met at Tarrlok's gala.
- "Honestly? Pretty much since I met him," Korra said bluntly. "The day of that Pro-bending match."
- "Against the Platypus Bears," Asami recalled. "That was the first time you played."
- "Well no, I actually met them the first time the match before that. Wait a minute, you remembered my first match?" Korra asked, and Asami nodded. "I...kinda wish you didn't." To Korra's surprise, Asami burst out laughing at the Avatar's words as well as her discomfited expression.
- "Sorry," Asami explained, "it's just that...obviously, you know I'm a big pro-bending fan."
- "You bankrolled our team in the championship," Korra stated, trying hard to keep the regret out of her voice as she thought of those days, and of the fact that she would never be able to do something like that again. "Kind of obvious."
Technically, Asami had convinced her father to sponsor the Fire Ferrets, which Korra knew. Asami did not correct her, however, as she guessed why Korra had chosen to avoid mentioning Hiroshi Sato, and she felt a surge of gratitude. "Well anyway," Asami continued, "when Mako and I met, I told him I'd caught all of the Fire Ferrets' matches that season, and he said almost exactly the same thing you just did."
- "Wow," Korra chuckled weakly, "that's...that's a coincidence."
- "Right," Asami said, and then her smile faded somewhat. "He really does love you, you know."
Behind the two of them, Naga had been lying down, quietly watching Korra and Asami as the conversation went on. Finally, the big animal got up and padded over to her master, nuzzling her and resting her big head on Korra's shoulder with a low, affectionate sort of whine.
- "I'm sorry, girl," Korra said softly, scratching behind Naga's ear. The long tail whipped back and forth as a pleased expression appeared on the polar bear dog's face.
- "I think Naga's trying to tell us it's time to go home," Asami said, smiling, as she stood and briefly petted the big animal's soft, furry flank.
- "Hard to argue with seven hundred and thirty pounds of polar bear dog," Korra replied, tongue in cheek. Then she too finally stood and climbed into the high saddle with practiced ease, before helping Asami climb up behind her. Asami wrapped her arms around Korra's waist, and Korra sucked in her breath at the sudden, unexpected closeness. Though she wasn't sure why exactly.
"Let's go home, girl," she said, and with a booming bark, Naga took off with a swift, loping run. Soon, they had returned to the enormous high-walled compound where Korra, under the close guard of the Order of the White Lotus, had grown up. As they crossed through the high gates and Naga slowed her pace to a leisurely walk, Korra spotted a worried-looking Mako standing in the shadows of one of the doorways.
"Go get him," Asami muttered from behind her before lowering herself gracefully from Naga's saddle, landing on her feet.
Korra hesitated for a moment, but then Mako looked up and spotted her. She jumped off Naga's back, landing in a crouch before straightening up, looking across the courtyard at him. And then she started running. She threw herself into his outspread arms and wrapped him in a bone-crushing hug, then looked up at him.
"You had me worried for a while, there," he said, wincing. Then he smiled, and she felt her heart racing. She smiled too, before the distance between them disappeared as she kissed him, long and slowly.
- "I love you too," she said softly when they finally parted. Hand in hand, they turned towards the high open doors, and walked slowly into the compound. Even with everything that had happened, Korra was on cloud nine - she didn't think it was possible for her to be happier - except if she were to regain her bending, of course. But other than that, she was happy, and it showed.
Asami hung back, staying next to Naga as she watched them with a wry sort of expression on her slender, beautiful face. Selfishly, she felt saddened and more than a little jealous as she watched Korra in Mako's arms, the expression on the tall, handsome firebender's face. Korra had what Asami wished she and Mako'd had, what she thought they'd had for a while. And in some part of herself she blamed Korra - or did she blame Mako? She still wasn't sure - for having lost that.
But Korra was her friend, and after everything she'd been through, Asami felt she deserved at least this much happiness. As for Mako, well she had been happy with him while it had lasted, but it wasn't meant to be. And if he and Korra could be happy together, well she would have to be happy for them. Besides, she thought, it's not like there weren't others out there.
"And as for me," she said softly, slowly petting Naga as she watched, "I'll be here for them if they ever need me. After all, what are friends for?"
Some time later, she bade Naga good night, and followed after Korra and Mako into the compound as night began to fall.
Supper that evening was a lively enough affair; as usual, Water Tribe traditional foods were the fare, including seaweed noodles that Bolin proclaimed enthusiastically were a hundred times better than those served at Narook's, their favorite restaurant in Little Water Tribe, back in Republic City; Stewed sea prunes, of which Korra was a big fan, while Bolin's expression of distaste was almost comical. Mako avoided those, but Asami tried it, with equally entertaining results; octopus tentacle and five-flavor soups, and more fish, seal, and crab meat than even Korra could eat. As a special treat - to try to cheer her up, Korra suspected - her mother, Senna, had even prepared her secret-recipe grilled Arctic hen, which was normally reserved for special occasions.
Korra sat between Mako and Bolin, while Asami sat across from them with her parents. Tenzin and his family were also present, as was Katara and her daughter Kya, both of whom had been involved in Korra's waterbending training. Korra couldn't help but notice how Kya teased Tenzin, which amused her quite a bit, and helped to take her mind off her own problems despite the painful reminder that she was no longer a waterbender. After a while, however, she announced that she was heading to bed, and after she and Asami helped her mom clean up, Korra traipsed back to her old room. It hadn't changed at all since she left, what felt like a lifetime ago. There was something comforting about being back in the room where she had slept for so much of her life - however much she might have thought she hated it before.
Nonetheless, her night was anything was peaceful. Amon wove in and out of her nightmares, along with confusing images that were not in any way familiar to Korra. But then she saw Aang...was it a dream, or a memory?...he looked so young...and then an old man, saying something Korra did not understand. A flash of light, confused images of places she had never seen, and then pain, pain beyond anything she had imagined possible, pain that seemed to radiate from somewhere on her back...
She snapped awake and sat up with a cry of anguish, panting and looking around in fearful confusion. She was sweating, and it took several moments before she had calmed down enough to realize that she was safe, that she was in her own room...
"What was that?" she muttered to herself. Then she heard hurried footsteps from outside, and the door to her room opened so fast it slammed against the wall.
- "Korra!" She heard a voice shout. She jumped again, then looked up into the very, very worried face of Tenzin, holding a lantern aloft as he stood in her doorway.
- "Tenzin," she said, still breathing heavily. "It's nothing. Just...just a nightmare. I'm fine."
- "Are you sure?" Tenzin asked, concern evident in his voice. Korra sighed slowly, and she felt her heart rate decelerate down to normal, her breathing easier.
- "Yes, I'm sure," she insisted, with a smile that was meant to be reassuring but just looked forced. "I just had a nightmare, I'll be fine."
- "All right," Tenzin said, sounding unconvinced, as he turned to leave. "But just remember that I'm here if you need to talk."
Korra did not lay back down. She sat on her bed, frowning, trying to make sense of what she had seen in her dream. There had been something that had nagged at her, but she couldn't quite grasp what it was. There had to be an explanation for what she had seen and felt, but she couldn't figure it out...
And then it hit her. There was one last chance - one last, fragile hope to get back what she had lost. But in order to do that...
She threw back the covers and bolted off her bed and out the door. "Tenzin!" she called out.
Tenzin was some distance down the hall, but he turned around instantly. "What is it, Korra?" he asked, sounding worried again.
- "I need your help," she said. Then she explained her dream and what had just gone through her head. "I know that I still haven't caught on with the spiritual stuff," she said. "But if there is anyone who might be able to help me, it's Aang. I have to talk to him." She recounted in detail the things she had seen during her meditations while she was Tarrlok's prisoner. "I know that's not much, but I think if I could make a stronger connection, I might be able to actually talk to him and he might be the only one who can help me. And I think you're the only one who can help me do that. Please, Tenzin."
The concern drained from Tenzin's face, to be replaced by relief and what she thought was an almost paternal smile. "Of course, I'll help you, Korra," he said kindly, resting his hand on her shoulder. "I promise. Now, try to get some sleep."
- "Thanks," she said, and Tenzin bade her good night as she turned back towards her room, closed the door, and slid back into bed. And this time, surrounded by memories, Korra slid back into a sleep that was deep and dreamless.
For the collective works of the author, go here.