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It Takes a Toll
Chapter information
Series

All Are Equal

Chapter

13

Written by

AvatarAang7

Word count

5295

Chronology
Last chapter

Making a Choice

Next chapter

Crashing Down From High

Jinora felt deflated. That was the best word to describe her at that point in time. After she shot Zaheer, they quickly made their way out of the area, back towards the den. Fortunately, Korra decided differently. She guided her unofficial little sister home, determined not to make Jinora spend another second in the same room as Iroh.

They didn't say anything the entire way back from the Red Lotus' hideout, which was a long way from Pema's apartment. Once they were standing in front of the building, Korra broke the silence. "Look, Jinora..." she cautiously opened, but then sighed, as she didn't really know what to say.

"Just go, Korra," Jinora bit back, not wanting to have anything to do with her right now.

-"Do you think I had anything to do with this? That I knew Iroh was going to make you do this?" She briefly paused, and Jinora realized she was right. Korra was the one who was protecting her, telling her that she would be fine as long as she emptied both clips. "He caught me off-guard as well, but we both knew that you were fucked, no matter what would have happened next."

Jinora nodded, turning her gaze away from Korra. "Did I make the right choice?" she asked, though she was asking it as much to herself as she was to her unofficial older sister.

The older girl sighed again. "I don't know," she said in a low voice. "Alright, here's what we're going to do: you are going to bed, sleep this all off, and we'll pick this conversation up again in the morning. Meanwhile, I am going to yell at Iroh. Sound good?"

"I guess..." Jinora vaguely muttered, before turning the key in the lock. Korra gave her a small if insincere smile, and the younger girl walked upstairs, but with every step felt more and more like she shouldn't. She wasn't just a relatively harmless dealer anymore, she was a full-on criminal now. An executioner. A murderer.

As she stood in front of her door, she reached out for the doorknob, but the wave of guilt that washed over her left her unable to actually open the door and walk in. If she did that, she would have to confront her mother, her sister, her brothers. Ikki might even be able to piece together that she shot someone, given her current demeanor. She felt her pocket, and aside from her gun, felt something strange. She took it out, and realized it was the 150 yuans she made over the past week. It had been a good one. Jinora took one last deep breath, turned around, and left the building again.

This time though, she didn't just mindlessly wander the streets, no, she knew exactly where she was going. It had been a while since she went there, but it was the best place she could think of right now. Once Jinora had arrived at the bar, she simply plonked herself down on one of the bar stools, eyeing the barkeeper up. "Shiro," she blankly greeted him.

He seemed a bit puzzled at first, but ultimately the light went on. "Ah! Now I remember you. You're Korra's friend, aren't you?" Jinora slowly nodded in confirmation. "Good, my memory doesn't betray me, even though I am blanking on your name."

"Jin."

-"Right, that was it. What can I get you?"

"Something strong. Just give me a heads up when this runs out," she said, slapping a 50 yuan bill on the counter. He raised an eyebrow, but didn't question her any further. He set to work preparing a rather large glass of vodka for her, and even in her fucked-up condition, Jinora could see that even the most determined alcoholic would struggle to down that in one gulp. She took it a bit easier, but still chugged it back like it was a glass of water, the alcohol burning in her throat.

Shiro eyed her up with a raised eyebrow, yet there was a distinct undercurrent of worry in his voice. "Are you alright?"

"Just perfect," she groaned, slamming the glass back down onto the counter. "Give me a another."

Even though he seemed to have his doubts, he did oblige, refilling her glass. With the worst of the edge already taken care of by the previous glass, Jinora took it a lot easier on the second one. She was certainly starting to feel the numbing effects of the alcohol, as her problems suddenly didn't seem so far fetched anymore.

She had soon finished the second glass, and signaled Shiro for a third. And a fourth. And a fifth.

Each one took her longer, and by the time she clogged back the sixth, she felt like the chair she was on was spinning, and she had trouble piecing together the words. "Reffffill..." she slurred, letting her head rest on her arm that was sprawled out over the bar. But for the first time, Shiro refused.

-"No," he firmly stated. "I will not have you drink yourself to death in my bar, so we are ending this now."

Jinora managed to lift up her head. "What? F-fuck you, I paid!"

-"Yes you did, and now I'm giving you your change," he said, putting a wad of cash right in front of her. "You're not kidding anyone, I know you're not 18, but I figured, if you want to get shit-faced, you're going to do it with or without me, so I might as well keep you in a position where I can keep an eye on you."

She groaned in response, still able to realize that he was kind of right.

-"Give me your phone, I'm going to call Korra so that she can take care of you."

A pang of fear shot through her. She definitely did not want Korra to see her now. "Nooo," Jinora breathed. "Not Kooorra."

He took her phone, which she had placed on the counter because he hated the way it stung her thigh when she sat down, fucking girl's pants without decent fucking pockets, and unlocked it. "Alright, tell you what. You have fifteen seconds to tell me who else to call, or I'm calling Korra either way."

"You fucker..." she slurred, and reached forward, trying to take her phone back from him, but only succeeded in knocking over the now nearly empty bottle and a few glasses.

-"Ten seconds."

"Ffffine!" Jinora sighed. "Kai," she said, thinking he was the lesser of three evils here, between Korra, her mom, and him. She saw how Shiro scrolled through her phonebook, and called someone with her phone. That was pretty much the last thing she remembered before passing out.


When Korra walked back into Iroh's den, he was sitting quite comfortably on one of the sofa's, while Tahno was relaxing in the barcalounger, both of them sipping on a beer and looking utterly content with themselves. "Hey Korra, join the party," Iroh cheerfully declared, and held out an open beer to her. Korra lost it, smacked the bottle out of his hand, and it shattered on the wall in an explosion of glass and beer.

"What the fuck is your problem?! You make her clip a guy in the fucking brains, and for what?! To prove her loyalty?! She never did anything to suggest she isn't!"

Iroh and Tahno both stood up, slightly more on guard now that it was clear to them that Korra was seething with rage.

-"Hey, you listen..." Tahno started, but Korra didn't let him finish. She spun around, grabbing him by the throat, and pushed him against the wall, lifting him up a few inches. "No, you listen to me," she hissed. "You get the fuck out of here. If I see your face again tonight, I swear to Raava, I'll shove my gun up your ass and pull the trigger until it goes 'click'. Understand?" He was starting to discolor from the lack of air and he faintly tried to nod.

-"Korra, put him down," Iroh calmly ordered. She complied, throwing Tahno down, while he gasped for air again. Iroh nodded in his direction, and he left. "You obviously have some issues with what I made Jinora do. Now would be a good time to let that out."

She took a deep breath, collecting herself again before countering. "Why did you make her shoot Zaheer? You could have done it yourself, get it over with."

The General sighed, obviously not very happy with it either. "It was not to test her loyalty, I don't really question that. What I do question is her resolve, or at least, I did. It was to make sure that she was fully on board with us, and that she would stay that way. Drug trafficking is something the authorities are willing to let go for the right information, but a first degree murder? That's something else entirely. She'd be going away for a long time."

"Leverage. That's what you did it for? Did you really think that wanting to keep her family safe isn't enough of a reason for her to keep working for you?!"

-"It's a reason for her to keep her mouth shut, but I need to know that she'll do what is necessary, and now I do." Iroh gave her a hard stare. "Korra, Don't you realize this is a good thing? By morning, the entire town will know not to fuck with us. What's more, no one will try to fuck with The Airbender, otherwise you get a bullet to the brain. She's safer because of this, and I know you can only like that."

Korra had a hard time not scoffing. "Safer? From who? Down-on-their-luck streetkids trying to rob her in an alley?" She stood right in front of him, and even though Iroh was easily a full head taller than her, she could see him cower away, clearly unable to predict her next move. "Jinora might not be at risk from other people, but right now, she's a danger to herself. If something happens to her, it's on you." With that, she turned around, slamming the door shut behind her.


When she came back around, everything was spinning. Jinora felt a pair of strong arms carrying her, and she half-fought to get free, and the arms put her back on her own two feet again. This however, turned out to be a poor decision, as she almost instantly lost her balance, and was forced to latch on to whoever it was that was carrying her. She looked up, surprised to see Kai's green eyes. "Heyyy sweetie," she slurred, and let her head rest on his shoulder.

-"Jinora, you're drunk."

"No I'm not!"

Kai frowned at her. "You can't even stand on your own two feet, let alone walk back home." He thought for a while. "I take it you rather wouldn't have me take you to your mother?"

This made her spirits drop, and her face fell too. "Nooooo... D-don't take me home!" Her mother would probably murder her if she came in like this. Or at least lock her away until she was 21. "C-c-can I ssstay with you?"

This made him sigh. "Alright, but can you at least walk if I hold you?"

"Of course you can, sweetie..." Jinora slurred, only half aware of what he was saying. Kai took it as confirmation, and locked arms with her, making sure that she would have a proper anchor to hold on to. He walked them back to the house of his foster parents, neither of which he got along with. The half hour-walk helped a little bit in sobering her up, but it still wasn't brilliant. At least she could walk on her own again by the time she got to Kai's place, which was nice. Navigating three flights of stairs however, was not. Jinora needed quite a bit of Kai's help to get up to the correct floor, but he took it like a trooper. His foster-parents were already asleep, so they snuck into Kai's room as quietly as they could, which wasn't very quiet in Jinora's case.

-"You can have the bed, I'll sleep on the floor," Kai simply said. Jinora decided not to argue with him, and sat down, taking off her shoes, pants, and hoodie, and laid down. Everything was spinning for her, but she still managed to choke out a quiet "Thank you" for Kai, before she tried to actually get some sleep.

It would prove to be futile.

Soon after falling asleep, she found herself back in the tiny, disgusting apartment of the Red Lotus, with guns going off everywhere. Everything was flashing, before suddenly dying down, and four hooded figures entered. Jinora found herself sitting on her knees, and the first figure took off her hood. It was Korra. "Why did you do it? I would have protected you!"

Jinora looked over to the second figure, who turned out to be Ikki. "You said you hadn't shot people! You lied to me! To all of us!"

The third figure took off his hood, and it startled her. "Dad?" she asked, unable to believe she was looking in her father's eyes again. "I had such high hopes for you, Jinora," Tenzin said in his deep, calm voice. "You threw everything away."

She turned to the fourth figure, who removed her hood as well. "I didn't raise a murderer," her mother's disappointed voice rang through the air. It hurt more than if she was the one who'd been shot. "I did everything for you, Jinora. I warned you not to go with Korra, and you didn't listen. You abused my trust."

"Mom... I-I didn't mean to! I didn't want to shoot him!" Jinora felt like crying at the way her mother looked at her.

-"You are not my daughter," Pema said, and she turned away, followed swiftly by the others. A fifth figure walked in, and Jinora recognized him as Zaheer. "Don't worry," he said, raising a gun at her head. "I'll make it quick." With that, he pulled the trigger.

Jinora shot up in her bed, and it took her a moment to remember that she wasn't in her own room. She was covered with a gleam of sweat, and she was shaking all over. Her body hadn't rid itself of all the alcohol just yet, but it was on the way to doing that, judging by the lack of instability and the presence of a headache. "Kai," she loudly whispered, trying to wake him up, but not the rest of the people in the house. "Kai, wake up," she urged, gently shaking his shoulder.

He did wake up, and rolled over, looking her straight in the eyes. "What is it?"

Tears started welling up in the corners of her eyes, and Jinora quickly lost her resolve, breaking down right in front of him. Kai didn't say anything, he instead pulled himself up to his bed as well, and pulled her into a tight hug. Having his arms around her comforted her a little bit, but it didn't do anything to rid herself of the images that flashed through her in her dream. She was quietly crying, and was immensely grateful that Kai didn't ask any questions just yet.

He would eventually hear the rumors, because she had no doubt Iroh and Tahno would spread the word that The Airbender blew a guy's brains out because he was messing with her product.

But she sure as hell wasn't going to speed that up.

Eventually, Jinora was empty. She pulled back, and he looked her straight in the eyes again. "Jinora, what happened to you? Getting drunk off your ass is nothing like you, so what made you do it?"

Choose now. Tell him the truth or live with the lies. "I... I can't tell you," she snickered. "You'd hate me for it."

Kai just hugged her a little tighter. "If you don't want to tell me now, that's okay. I won't force you to do that."

Jinora smiled through her tears, feeling a bit more relaxed, but by no means at ease. "Thank you." After a while, Kai slowly pulled back, but still let his hands rest on Jinora's shoulders. There was comfort radiating from them, but not as much as the security she felt when he hugged her.

-"Do you want to go back to sleep?" he asked, a very sincere concern in his voice.

Jinora slowly nodded. "Could you... hold me?" Kai nodded back, and pressed a kiss on her forehead, before she lay down again. Kai lay down behind her, wrapping her securely in his arms. It gave Jinora a sense of safety and comfort, two things she desperately wanted.

Explicit content follows. Consider yourself warned.


Korra woke up with a loud groan, trying to discover what it was that was making all that noise that disturbed her sleep. It turned out to be her phone on the floor beside her, furiously ringing her awake. "Hello?" she groggily answered.

-"Korra, it's Pema. I need you."

The dealer groaned again. "Pema, it's early. What on earth do you need me for?"

-"It's not early, it's ten in the morning, but that's beside the point. Jinora didn't come home at all last night, and I just called her school, she's not there either." This got Korra's attention, and she sat up straight in her bed. "Korra, every time she goes out, you tend to know what happens, so I'm asking you now: where is she?" Pema continued.

"This doesn't make any sense, I dropped her off at your place last - shit," she swore, realizing that Jinora must have run away, not ready to confront her family with what she'd done. "I left her at your front door, but I didn't escort her all the way in. She must have taken off after I left."

Pema's voice grew stern, yet there was a distinct undertone of panic in there. "Korra, where is my daughter?!"

Korra sighed, weighing her options. She couldn't lie right now, Pema knew too much for that, but she also couldn't give her a useful answer, as she didn't know any. "I don't know, but I'm going to find her. I can call in favors, people who know what to look for. I'll get her back."

She could hear Pema sigh. "I suppose it's of no use asking you what happened last night?"

Korra thought for a moment. "I can't tell you that. You wouldn't want to know."

-"Yeah yeah, that's what you always tell me, but right now, I am worried sick. My daughter is nowhere to be found and she has been gone since last night!"

"Pema, calm down," Korra urged. "If she's in the city, I can find her, trust me. I gotta go now, I got some phonecalls to make. I'll let you know when I got something, sound good?"

The mother sighed again. "Just find her, Korra." With that, she hung up, and Korra dressed herself as quickly as possible. Alright, time to think logically. Jinora's troubled, and she wants to feel better. Where does she go? The options ran through her mind, and one quickly stood out. She could try Jinora's phone, maybe Pema didn't have the number at the ready, because she called Korra from her work at the supermarket.

It rung a few times, before someone picked up. "Hello?" a man's voice said.

"Kai?"

-"Yes, that's me, what is it?"

"What are you doing with Jinora's phone?"

Kai hesitated for a moment. "Jinora stayed the night, but when I woke up this morning, she left her phone at my place. Don't know where she went after that."

Korra thought for a moment. "Alright, we need to meet, face to face. Where are you now?"

-"81st and Gaipan."

Good, that's not too far away. "Okay, I'll find you there, don't go anywhere." With that, Korra hung up and made for the intersection Kai just mentioned. It didn't take her very long, and she quickly spotted the handsome kid leaning against a wall. There was something off about him, though. Even though Kai was never very tense, he seemed too relaxed for the situation.

-"Hey Korra," he casually greeted her.

"Hey." Korra paused for a moment. "So what happened last night between you two?"

Kai spilled the story of how he picked her up from Shiro's, stopping when they went to bed. "And when I woke up again, she was gone," he ultimately concluded.

Korra eyed him up suspiciously. There was something off about the story, he was leaving something out, she just knew it. "Kai, what really happened last night? And the full truth this time."

-"I just told you," he said, looking about as convincing as a five-year old telling a lie.

"The full truth." He didn't answer, and a light went on Korra's head. "Did you... did you have sex with Jinora?" Kai gave a half confirming nod, and this sent Korra over the edge. She grabbed him by the arm, dragging him into the nearest alley, and roughly shoved him against the wall. "What the fuck did you do?! You just told me, she was piss-drunk, clearly not in the right mind, and you have sex with her?! What the fuck is your problem?!"

Kai put up a weak defense. "Hey, she wanted me to do it, not the other way around."

"She was out of her fucking mind! When a girl asks you in that state, you say NO, you fucking idiot!" Korra took a deep breath. "You are very lucky that I need your help finding her, otherwise I'd be beating your ass into the hospital. Get over to the Ba Sing Se Mall, and let me know if you find her." She thought for a moment. "Actually, give me Jinora's phone. Might get something useful out of it."

Kai reluctantly pulled the device from his pocket, and handed it over. Korra gave him another death glare, and he quickly walked off. She scrolled through the contacts, looking if she could find someone in there who might know something. At first, her search came up empty, but then she saw Tuyen standing in the list. Well, maybe she knows something. They are close friends, after all.

After it rung a few times, Tuyen picked up. "Jinora? Did you take care of your business?"

It took Korra by surprise. "No, this is Korra, Jinora's friend."

-"Oh. What are you doing with her phone then?"

"She didn't take it with her, and now I'm trying to find her. What did you mean with 'your business'?"

Tuyen hesitated for a moment. "I ran into her this morning. She said she had some business to take care of."

Korra started to get worried now. "Where was this?"

-"90th. No idea what she was doing that far up, our school is on 76th, and she lives on 84th. She was walking towards the higher streets for some reason, but she didn't want to tell me."

Korra felt her eyes grow wide and her mouth go dry. "Tuyen, I need you to be specific now. Where did you run into her?"

-"90th and Gaoling."


All Are Equal
Act I
Welcome to the SuckWorking ConditionsA Pair of ThreesLike Selling Ice CreamMore Equal Than Others
Act II
The First AirbenderAll Quiet in the Dragon FlatsStick the LandingBack Alley BrawlDate Night
Act III
Soldier of MisfortuneMaking a ChoiceIt Takes a TollCrashing Down From HighCards on the Table
Act IV
Woman With a PlanBattle of the Dragon FlatsA Sister's SacrificeA Year and a Half Later

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