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|Episode Two: Sagely Advice|
December 31, 2014
Avatar: The Legend of Korra Book Five: Love
Our discussion of the past, airing out all those old worries and concerns... and learning just how long the two of us had been on the cusp of something wonderful was an eye opening experience. Though we had both felt it for a long time, saying and hearing those magical little words was absolutely liberating. The kiss we shared afterwards was both incredible and a little scary. There was... a need within it, a hunger and a passion that set a swarm of butterfly moths loose in my stomach. It was still too soon in our relationship for things like that... but damned if it wasn't something to look forward to...
Episode Two: Sagely Advice
"Oh ho ho! I come to investigate a new portal opening with hopes of finding new sources for tea along the way. Instead I stumble across a different sort of flower blooming," a wise, raspy voice announces from somewhere behind me.
My eyes shoot open to meet Asami's equally startled gaze, understanding passing between us in an instant as we break apart. Asami dives for her bag which contains her electrified glove as I press my hand flat on the ground and launch myself to my feet with a gust of wind, readying myself for attack.
"Peace, Avatar Korra," the voice says with a chuckle as the underbrush shifts aside to reveal Iroh's smiling spirit.
The tension drains from my body and I motion for Asami to stand down, bowing respectfully to Iroh and returning his smile.
"Asami, this is Iroh, Iroh, this is Asami Sato, my..." I turn to look at Asami questioningly, receiving a nod of approval, "my girlfriend."
"I gathered as much!" he chuckles, stepping forward to take Asami's hands in his. "A pleasure to meet you, my dear, I am Iroh, a brewer of tea in this world of spirits."
Recognition flared in Asami's eyes.
"Iroh... THE Iroh?! Like... Zuko's uncle and mentor of Aang... that Iroh?" she asks in bewilderment, causing the old man's smile to widen even further.
"And former brewer of the finest tea in the Fire Nation," he adds with a wink.
"Wow... you expect to meet some important figures when you travel with the Avatar... but it's still a surprise every time! It's an honor to meet you, sir."
"It does me much good to be recognized by so lovely a young woman. Even old, fat, and passed from the mortal realm my charm still holds strong!" he announces, erupting with laughter and setting Asami's cheeks to reddening.
"Easy there you old charmer," I mutter, stepping up to stand by Asami's side and slip an arm around her waist. "I went through hell and back to get this one so I'm not just gonna stand by and let you steal her away."
"Ah, you Avatar's seem to have excellent taste in companionship. This one's spirit is strong, every bit the firecracker young Katara was I imagine."
"Old Katara, too," I add in, "she's as sassy as ever."
Iroh, still smiling, drops Asami's hands and steps back to regard the two of us.
"If the two of you are here then perhaps you can save me a journey by telling me of this new portal to the Mortal World. It has caused quite a stir amongst the spirits here and I would like to put them at ease."
I nodded and set about relaying the events leading up to the creation of the new portal.
"...and for now the entrance is being guarded to prevent the public from coming in but eventually I'm hoping to smooth things over enough to allow free traffic to and from the Spirit World. It's what I wanted to accomplish over time by leaving the portals at the North and South Pole open but given the location it's going to happen a lot faster than either side is ready for," I finish, before turning to Asami and hanging my head. "Sorry, this is supposed to be our vacation and I'm doing Avatar stuff..."
Asami let out a little huff of laughter.
"Oh I made my peace with that a long time ago... just don't ever... EVER plan on leaving me behind. I'm not a wait-and-worry-from-home kinda girl. So long as that's understood I think I can handle sharing you with the world."
It was Iroh's turn to laugh.
"Firecracker! I knew it!" he roars, giving Asami a nod of approval before turning to me. "I will do what I am able from this side to ease the spirits until a balance is struck," he offers, stroking his beard and musing to himself.
"I couldn't ask you to do that, you came here to relax, learn, and brew tea. There will be conflict in this and I don't won't to upset the life you've made here...you've earned your rest."
"Nonsense!" he shouts, clapping me heartily on the shoulder. "I shall move my teahouse near to the portal to give humans and spirits a place to sit and relax with one another. It will give me a chance to test my new creations on a variety of new customers and my craft will grow. Such a thing is nothing to help an old friend!"
"Old friend..." Though I couldn't help but smile at his boisterous nature and the help he was offering the tears began to stream down my cheeks. Asami turned to me, worried, and Iroh lowered his gaze knowingly. "Sorry, I just... I miss them, Aang and the others, their memories. I used to love hearing him tell me of your adventures and misadventures... and now there's just silence."
Iroh's hand tightened its grip on my shoulder.
"His memory may be gone but his spirit, his fire, is still very much a part of you. There will never come a day when I do not consider you a friend, Avatar Korra. Know that, always."
Unable to restrain myself, I pushed forward and wrapped the sweet old man in the tightest hug I could manage as I cried out all the tears of my loss. Asami's hand joined Iroh's on my back, adding in her own quiet support. After a time the sobbing ceased and I took an offered handkerchief from Asami to dab at my face, Iroh nodding in approval.
"A gentlewoman and a firecracker! You have my full support Asami Sato."
Asami grinned before bowing low and respectfully.
"You're everything the legends built you up to be and then some, Dragon Savior Iroh, it's an honor to receive your approval."
"Oh ho ho! Twice now you have stoked the fires of an old man's ego! I must repay you for this, the two of you will join me at my teahouse for a feast and the finest of tea my collection has to offer!" he shouted jovially, looping an arm through Asami's and striding off with her.
Asami, laughing, turned to look over her shoulder at me questioningly to which I nodded, flashing her a smile of my own. Iroh, without a moments hesitation, had just given me the thing I needed most to keep pushing forward. Confidence in who I was...
"Lord Zuko!" Asami and I shout in unison as we enter the teahouse, both of us trying to bring our hands up for a reverent bow and ending up in a mild tug-o-war due to our interlocked fingers.
"Greetings Avatar Korra, Miss Sato," Zuko chuckles quietly in amusement and waves us down.
I can't help but notice him eyeing our clasped hands as we let them fall to hang between us and my grip weakens. Asami shoots me a sideways look, the question going unspoken. I swallow hard, take a deep breath, and renew my grip as I step forward to smile at the spirit projection of my former self's best friend. He gestures to the seats opposite him at the table.
"Where are you meditating from to reach here?" I ask, pulling out one of the seats for Asami, earning a pleased little smile from her in the process, before taking the other one.
"A plateau near the Forgetful Valley, Druk has a nest nearby so it's convenient for visits with Uncle," he says, eyes once more drifting down to our hands.
I hadn't noticed, but our hands had settled close together on the table, my pinkie finger overlapping hers. I blushed at the realization that our hands seemed to have minds of their own and didn't want to be apart for long.
"And what brings you here, Avatar Korra? Is there trouble with new portal?"
"No, nothing like that... well, not yet anyway..." I trail off and Zuko nods knowingly. "Asami and I..." I turn to smile warmly at her before looking back to Zuko, "the two of us are simply taking a much needed vacation... together," I finished, heavy implication in the last word.
"I gathered as much," Zuko says with a laugh.
"And that... doesn't bother you?" I ask nervously, Zuko merely waved the notion away.
"Azula, once free of her madness, found Ty Lee to apologize for all the wrongs she had done. They were inseparable for the rest of their lives," he said, a distant smile forming on his face.
I creased my brow as I tried to recall all that I could remember of what I'd been shown of Azula by Aang. Unfortunately most of the memories involved her shooting lighting at me but there were a few little bits here and there of her casting a sly grin at her two friends.
"Good for them," I say, smiling warmly and placing my hand fully atop Asami's.
Zuko's gaze hardens.
"Be cautious though, my friend, not everyone shares such an experience to open their mind to different lifestyles. If you so easily allow your relationship to be noticed before you're ready the results could be disastrous!"
I swallow hard and move to pull my hand away from hers. Lightning fast, Zuko's hand is atop mine, preventing it from moving.
"Don't misunderstand! I mean this only when you are acting officially as the Avatar to the world. Never feel ashamed of who you are, and know that there is never a need to hide it when among true friends," he finishes, stern face settling into a warm smile as he pulls his hand back.
I managed to hold in the tears this time, but still had to work through a few sniffles to smile back at him.
"Korra..." Asami whispers, hand trembling slightly under mine. "I'm having a really hard time not jumping up and down and squealing like a giddy little girl..."
"W-What?" I ask, a small chuckle bubbling out.
"In one day two of the most iconic people in recent history, Fire Nation royalty, literal heroes and legendary figures have told me that there is nothing wrong with the way I feel about you... that's... just not something I ever expected to happen!" she shouts, voice squeaking a little from her excitement.
Zuko rolls his eyes, looking a little sheepish.
"Oh ho ho!" Iroh laughs from the doorway behind us. "Amazing is it not how different young love looks when you get to be an old man, eh my boy?" he asks, coming around the table to nudge Zuko with one elbow, nearly toppling the overflowing contents of the basket he's holding. "Hard to remember when you were able to look at the world with such bright eyes, eh?"
Zuko, ignoring his Uncle's ribbing, looks questioningly at Asami.
"Miss Sato, this meeting is actually rather convenient. Izumi and I have been discussing the potential for a powered rail line in the Fire Nation. I was going to request a meeting with you through Korra in hopes of speeding along the process but since I have you here now..." he trails off, both of them turning to me for approval.
"Uh... I don't mind. Asami said it's okay for me to do Avatar stuff when we're together so it wouldn't be fair to deny her businessy stuff. Need some help in the kitchen, Iroh?" I ask, rising to my feet.
The old man's face lights up.
"It would be wonderful if you could..."
"And by help," I interrupted, "I mean someone to stand there and watch you do stuff because my cooking ability is less than nothing."
"Come now, everyone knows at least a little..."
"I'm pretty sure she managed to burn water... on more than one occasion," Asami chimes in merrily, earning laughs from all us as Iroh escorts me to the kitchen.
"It's your fault for spoiling me with your awesome cooking," I call out over my shoulder, locking eyes and flashing her a bright smile. "They say everything tastes better when it's seasoned with love, right Iroh?" I ask, drinking in the sight of her blushing face as I exit the room.
The feast went off without a hitch, with several spirits joining in on the merriment. Laughing, singing, dancing, it was everything I had hoped for when I opened the portals to the Spirit World. If Iroh could manage even a tenth of what he'd created this night then my hopes for unity between the species didn't seem like a mere pipe dream anymore. The night was doubly incredible because I couldn't help but feel it was a celebration of Asami and me coming together. We both knew that things weren't likely to go over this easy ever again... but it was nice to have this one glorious day without having to worry. In the end we took Iroh up on his offer of a room to stay in before setting off to explore once again.
I kiss Asami as soon as the door closes behind us, earning a little yip of surprise before she returns it with equal fervor. I lift her easily, cradling her body against mine, trying to aim for the bed I saw upon entering as I press forward. My knee strikes the side of the bed and we tumble onto it, all pain forgotten as my eyes settle onto her. Dark hair splayed out to frame her beautiful face, cheeks flushed red from the intensity of the kiss, panting slightly. Her fingertips come up to trail across my cheek.
"What brought this on?" she whispers, voice coming out in a throaty purr, "not that I'm complaining..."
The fingertips lift free only to fall on my shoulder, tracing a slow line along my collarbone to my throat.
"This day... this was a good day. I never would have imagined finding so much acceptance so soon... and from people who mean so much to me..."
"A warning too, Korra, don't forget that," she whispers, then smiles. "But yes... a very good day for us... and maybe..." her fingertips slide downward toward my chest a mere centimeter but it lights a fire in my belly, "maybe a little..." another centimeter, I'm breathing heavily now, "a little more..." another centimeter, painfully slow... then stops and she pulls the hand away, nervousness in her eyes.
The fire inside me simmers down into a warm glow. I smile at her and lean down to press a gentle kiss against her lips, all the panic fading from her eyes as I pull away and lay down on the bed beside her. We embrace, our bodies fitting together as if they were made for each other.
"I love you, Korra," she whispers, nestling her head into the crook of my neck.
"I love you too, Asami," I whisper back, flicking one finger to extinguish the glowing candle with a puff of air.
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