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|Crashing Down From High|
3 hours earlier
When Jinora woke up again, her entire body felt sore. Not only the headache a dry throat from the hangover, but there was also a painful throbbing coming from between her legs. It was about then that she realized she was naked, and not exactly in the bed by herself. Kai was still peacefully asleep, and Jinora felt massive wave of nausea and guilt wash over her, knowing that she had forced him into doing something neither of them was ready for.
The sheer magnitude of the scale on which she fucked up became even more apparent when she gently tried to move out of the bed. Her legs felt sticky, and like there was some sort of crust on it. That's when she suddenly remembered: they hadn't used protection. Mother. Fucker. If you're pregnant, it's your own dumb fault.
But strangely enough, Jinora couldn't really bring herself to care right now. It just seemed like a good way to forget, but it hadn't worked.
You know where you can do this. She sighed and got out of bed, quietly dressing herself. A glance at her phone revealed that it was 7:00 in the morning, which meant she had some time before she would be missed anywhere. Not wanting to be found, she put her phone on the nightstand, figuring Kai would find it when he woke up. She left a note on the main screen for him: 'I'm sorry for everything.'
As silently as she could, Jinora walked down to the street again, where she finally got a chance to orientate herself. Where did Kai live again? It was somewhere on 82nd street, but what avenue? She walked in a direction, and ended up on Taku Avenue. Great. It's at least four blocks to Gaoling, and then another dozen blocks up.
Steeling herself, Jinora threw on her hood, and just started walking in the direction of Gaoling, determined to get there. Back on the familiar avenue, she turned north, noticing that traffic started to become busier as she progressed. She was about halfway when she was halted.
-"Jinora!" she heard a familiar voice call out. She looked up, a saw Tuyen walking towards her. At first, she looked fine, but a worried frown appeared on her face when she got an up close look at Jinora. "Is everything alright?" It wasn't really a surprise. She had barely slept all night, not to mention the utter despondency she hadn't been able to shake since she pulled that damn trigger.
The Airbender sighed. "Not really." It was the only answer she felt like giving, even if it was curt, and she was basically telling her friend to fuck off.
-"You do realize you're walking the wrong way, right? School is that way," Tuyen said, pointing in the direction she just came from.
"I know. I have some business to take care of."
Tuyen wasn't the least bit convinced, but Jinora didn't care. She just wanted to get moving again, and her friend noticed it. "Alright, if you don't want to talk about it, that's fine. I'll try to cover for you in school, sound good?"
Jinora half-heartedly nodded. "Yeah, thanks." Tuyen stepped aside, and the Airbender kept on walking towards her destination.
The Innkeeper was surprised to see her. "Well well well, The Airbender graces me with a visit when we don't have a delivery planned."
"I want it. My own product. One shot. How much?"
He cautiously eyed her up, trying to scan her for wavering resolve. Truth be told, that would be the case, but Jinora was simply at the end of her tether, and this was the one thing she hadn't tried to make herself feel slightly less shitty. "You're not going to fuck me over out of our deal, are you?"
Jinora gritted her teeth and gave him a death glare. "How. Much?" she hissed.
The Innkeeper nodded. "60 yuans if you want a clean needle. Your shit is very pure, but that's how you get the best high."
She reached into her pocket, handed him the money, and in turn, he handed her a small pouch with the familiar white powder. "Follow me," he said, and preceded her into what would be best described as a kitchen, where he took out a spoon and a lighter, and helped her to put the stuff into the needle. Jinora let herself sink into a corner, and took one last deep breath.
You can still turn around. She sighed. Nothing she had tried had worked in lifting her spirits. She snapped at Korra. She didn't even dare to face her family. Getting drunk only made her angrier. She had abused Kai's trust and naiveté in a pathetic attempt at cheering herself up. And none of it had worked.
This is your last option. Jinora steeled herself, and decisively stuck the needle in her arm. At first it hurt pretty bad, but then when she started pushing the Glide into herself, it worked almost instantly. All of a sudden, she felt very woozy, but she also felt her troubles melt away from her mind. Nothing really seemed to be that important, and it certainly lifted her spirit. Jinora felt quite a bit happier, as she slowly sunk further onto the ground, which was when the real reason her product had quickly gained a name for itself became clear.
It made her feel incredibly light, and the floor seemed to melt away beneath her. Jinora felt like she was completely weightless, suspended in the half-dark of the early morning light coming in through the window.
The euphoric feeling of flight and the lack of her troubles bothering lasted about 15 minutes, but it felt a lot longer to her. After that, Jinora became heavier again, and the feeling of the floor came back to her side, but it was impossible to keep her eyes open any longer. Not having a care or a worry left, she peacefully fell asleep.
Please let me be in time to stop her. That was the only thought racing through Korra's mind at the moment. If she couldn't stop Jinora in time, there would be no telling what it would do to her. She had pulled a massive sprint across nearly 15 blocks, and even though she was in excellent physical shape, she was completely out of breath by the time she reached 95th and Gaoling.
Korra raced up the stairs two at a time, before nearly kicking the door of the crackhouse down.
-"What are you doing here?!" came the brusque voice of The Innkeeper from behind her.
She quickly spun around, hand already tightening around the grip of her gun. "Where's The Airbender?" Korra demanded.
He started laughing. "I wouldn't be much of a good dealer if I would just give everyone up, now would I?"
You don't have time for this bullshit. Korra pulled out her gun, aiming it right between his eyes. "I already helped put down four people yesterday, and I won't hesitate to make you the fifth. Where is she?!"
The Innkeeper looked her square in the eye, and didn't see any signs of her either wavering, or even that her threat was an idle one. "She's in there," he said, nodding to the kitchen.
Korra rushed in there, and her heart fell when she saw her unofficial little sister lying on the floor, one sleeve up, and a used needle beside her. Mother. Fucker. She felt like kicking herself in the face for letting this happen. Of course Jinora wasn't okay when she let her go. The Avatar was just following the pieces of Jinora that she had left behind.
-"Now that you've seen her, would you be so kind as to fuck off?" The Innkeeper asked, appearing in the doorway behind her. It took every ounce of self-control Korra had not to turn around and blow his brains out.
"I'm taking her with me," she resolutely stated, hoisting Jinora on her shoulder.
-"Can't let you do that, Avatar. I'm in the business of giving my clients what they want, and I did just that. I'm keeping her here until she's capable of walking out by herself," he said, cocking the hammer of his gun, which he was holding by his side.
Fuck this shit. With her free hand, Korra resolutely took aim, and put a bullet square between his eyes. She didn't even flinch, and neither did Jinora, who didn't wake up, even from something as loud as a gunshot.
It took her a few moments to realize that she had just shot another person, but really, she couldn't be bothered to care. What she did care about, was covering her tracks, so she put Jinora down by the door for the time being, walked back to the kitchen to rip the gas line from the stove loose, letting the natural gas flow into the room. Korra looked around, seeing a stack of old newspapers in the corner, which she put on a chair before lighting them on fire, creating a makeshift fuse.
She quickly made her way out of the area, once again with Jinora's arm slung over her shoulder, carrying the sleeping girl back to her own apartment through the miasma of alleyways. When she was about three blocks away, she heard the loud explosion of the crackhouse finally igniting, blowing the place to smithereens.
Korra decided it would be best to take her unofficial little sister back to her place for the time being, not wanting to burden Pema with this just yet. Shit. Pema. She took her phone out of her pocket, made extra difficult by the fact that she also had to carry Jinora, and dialed.
-"Korra? Have you found her?" the distressed mom from the other side immediately asked.
She sighed. "Yes, Pema, I did, but I can't take her home now."
-"WHAT?! Korra, you get my daughter home right now!"
"Pema, listen to me. I could take her home, but you would hate me for it, and I can't let you see Jinora like this. She is safe with me for the time being, and once she's back to her old self, I'll take her home."
It was silent for a while. "Korra, what happened?" Pema asked in a low voice.
The shaking voice was almost enough to break Korra's resolve and spill the truth. "She..." she began, but she couldn't bring herself to finish. "I can't tell you." It fell silent for a long time. "Trust me on this one, Pema. Please."
Another long silence. "I don't like this, Korra. Not one bit."
Korra sighed again. "Neither do I." And after that, Pema resolutely hung up the phone.
When Jinora woke up again, it felt like her entire body was aching, even worse than it had before. This wasn't just like the hangover she'd had earlier, this was very different. There was an itch all over her body, but it wasn't on her skin. It felt like her bones were burning inside, on top of everything else she was feeling. There was a particular sore spot on her arm, the headache had come back with a vengeance, and the dry mouth and sore throat were worse than ever.
She groaned and fisted her hair, gently rubbing her temples in an attempt to calm that furious headache. Suddenly, a voice came from her side. "Drink this."
Jinora opened her eyes, and saw Korra sitting there, handing her a glass of murky water. "What is it?" she asked, voice completely hoarse.
-"Disgusting, now drink up," Korra flatly replied.
She decided not to question it any further, and chugged the glass of water back in a few big gulps. The incredibly bitter taste of aspirin lingered, but it did have it's effect in numbing the pain.
"Where are we, Korra?"
-"My place. I didn't take you back home because I didn't want your mom to see you like that. You can thank me later."
"Hmm," Jinora replied, and she threw the blanket Korra had put over her off, only to find out she was left in just her underwear. Not that it really mattered to her right now, she had other things on her mind. "Where are my clothes?"
-"Washing machine. They were absolutely rancid, because you slept on the floor of a place covered in piss and vomit." Korra's voice was growing angrier, and Jinora had a pretty good idea why.
"Korra... I..." she began, but had no idea where she would go with that sentence. Would she try to justify herself? Apologize? Explain her reasoning?
Instead, Jinora just stopped talking altogether, letting another long silence fall over them.
Korra eventually rubbed her hand over her mouth, before getting out of her chair. "Get up," she commanded.
-"On your feet. Now." Jinora complied, painfully dragging herself out of the bed, before she ultimately managed to will herself on her two feet. Korra took a few steps closer, and before the younger girl fully realized what was going on, got the wind completely knocked out of her.
Korra had given her a mighty good punch to the stomach, and Jinora completely collapsed, sinking on her knees, while a massive urge to throw up rose through her. The older girl kicked a bucket in her direction, which Jinora gratefully utilized. To Korra, she already had no dignity left, so this wouldn't matter anymore.
A very pissed off Korra stood over her when she was done what felt like puking her guts out. "What the fuck were you thinking? You of all people should know what that shit does to you!"
Fair enough, you deserved that. Jinora took a deep breath, trying to steel herself. "I wasn't thinking. I wanted to stop feeling."
The older girl calmed down a bit. "So you put a shot of pure poison up your arm?"
"Seemed like a good way to get there." Jinora didn't know what else to say. In hindsight, yes, it was incredibly stupid of her, but she if she could do it again, she probably would. It was a good way to stop feeling for a few hours, even if it was nothing more than a way to postpone her misery. "Same reason I slept with Kai. He tried to stop me, but I coerced him into doing it anyway."
Korra let her eyes rake over Jinora's barely covered body. "Yes, I imagine he was very reluctant in giving in to fucking you."
Jinora sighed, and forced herself to sit up against the bed. "Don't take this out on him, Korra. This was all my doing," she said, throwing up a defense for Kai. No one else was going to take the shit for her mistakes.
-"No," Korra resolutely threw back. "This was Iroh. He should never have forced you to shoot Zaheer." She sighed. "I gave him an earful last night, and he said he made you do it to test your resolve and commitment. He never even considered the impact it would have on you. Iroh is to blame for this."
This didn't really spark any hope in Jinora. Even if she could successfully pin this on Iroh, she had screwed over everyone close to her after what had happened. Plus, she needed The General's connections in order to keep the flow of income up. "That doesn't help me. I made the decisions, so it's my fault as well." She tried to walk to the door, but the headrush made her fall back on the bed.
Korra stood up as well, and pushed her on her back again. "Listen, between the drugs, the alcohol, and the trauma, you wouldn't even make the front door. So you're going to stay here and sweat it out for the time being, because you are in no condition to go home."
"But Korra, I need to..." Jinora started to protest, but the older girl cut her off.
"The only thing you need to do is come up with a way to tell your mom what you have been up to, because you are going to be in a world of trouble when she finds all of this out."
The younger girl sighed, realizing that her friend was right on this one. She could barely stand on her own feet, let alone walk home and give off the vibe that she was actually okay. The aftereffects of the Glide were becoming more apparent now that the aspirin was starting to wear off, and the pain under her skin was returning. It's your own fault, so suck it up and stay down.
Jinora decided she wasn't in a position to argue, so she just rolled over again, and fell back asleep.
-"Ah Lin, good to see you here."
"My pleasure," she sarcastically replied, rolling her eyes. "What do you have for me?"
Saikhan handed her a pair of latex gloves, and gestured her to follow him inside the small apartment. "Four bodies, each with a load of bullets in them, and enough spent shellcasings here to classify it as a small war."
Lin took a look around. The four bodies were all in the living quarters of the room, none in either the kitchen or the bathroom. There were bulletholes everywhere, indicating a massive fight, compounded by the mentioned shellcasings. "Do we have an ID on any of them yet?"
Saikhan sighed. "Not anything official, but I know this guy," he said, pointing to the bald one who had taken a headshot. "He's called Zaheer, and he was busted a few years back for drugs and stuff, but there wasn't enough evidence to make it stick. That probably means this lot is the rest of the Red Lotus," he continued, gesturing to the others.
Lin squatted next to Zaheer, taking a close look at the wound. "This one was executed. Look, you can see the powder burns on his stubble. Point blank, most likely."
Her partner nodded. "Yeah, that's the first thing the pathologist said. Here's one interesting thing though: An eye-witness, she claims she saw The Airbender."
This got Lin's attention. "The Airbender? You mean the guy working for The General?"
-"It's a gang hit, and he's involved. If we can somehow manage to pin this, we can put him away for good."
Lin wasn't convinced. "That's a mad-sized 'if', Saikhan. We don't even have a name, for crying out loud. Are there any leads on this Airbender fellow?"
Saikhan shook his head. "No. He pops up left and right, selling some drugs, but no one who can tell us anything useful."
Lin took off her gloves and sighed. Another dead end. Fucking marvelous.
Over the next few hours, Jinora stayed in the bed, and the pain eventually subsided. Korra came back with her clothes once they were dry again, and she decided it was time to get up and go home again. She showered and dressed herself, walking back out into the living room, where she found Korra sitting on the couch.
She looked up. "Good to see you back on your feet. Now before you go, we have something to discuss." Korra motioned her to sit down as well, and Jinora complied. "We're fucked," the older girl said. She took a deep breath, preparing to deliver bad news. "The Innkeeper is dead. I had to shoot him in order to get you out of there, and I blew the place to bits."
"You what?!" It was a mixture of disbelief and anger that was now running through Jinora's body. "Korra, I needed that place, you know that!"
-"Jinora, be realistic here. Do you think that Iroh would ever let you so much as look at his product again now that he knows you used it?"
Korra slowly nodded. "If it happens in the Dragon Flats, you can be almost certain he knows. Iroh is the best at gathering intel on his people, so..." She sighed. "Jinora, you're out."
The younger girl took a deep breath. So it has all been for nothing. Fuck. "I take that won't be the end of things?"
-"No, probably not. He's going to come after you, and after me too, because he already suspects that I'm not entirely on his side, but on yours too. That also means he's going to come after your family, in case he needs leverage."
"He wouldn't dare..." Jinora said, but she knew it was a lie. Iroh had just put a kill order out on four people in one go, they weren't the first, and they certainly wouldn't be the last.
-"You know that's not true. Just because you're young, doesn't mean he's gonna go easy on you. Because above all else, to him, you are expendable. No prior connections, no record, not on anyone's shitlist... A blank slate. Now you've royally fucked up, and I pushed you further into the shit. We're both screwed now."
It made sense. Together, they had cost Iroh a good 2000 yuans a week, and that's just for starters. The police couldn't possibly deny four murders, and if they would find the Innkeeper, the connection would definitely lead back to Iroh. "So what can we do?"
Korra took a deep breath. "Let me worry about damage control for now, see if Iroh is just as pessimistic as I am. Either way, I wouldn't get too hopeful if I were you."
"Alright, I won't do that."
-"Have you thought about what you're going to tell your mom?"
Jinora sighed. "I owe her the truth. And now that I'm out anyway, it won't matter if she knows. Plus, chances are she already suspects."
Korra looked up surprised. "You really think so?"
"She'd have to be pretty dense if she didn't, and my mom notices everything."
-"True." Korra put her hands on her knees, and used them to push herself up. "Right, time for you to go back home. Can you walk?" Jinora nodded, fairly confident that she could. It wasn't that far to her apartment from here. "Okay, then I am going to take you home, and I am not leaving until you are inside. Sound fair?"
Considering the stunts you pulled last night; yes, yes it does. "Let's go."
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