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|Speak What Your Heart Wants You To|
December 28, 2014
chapter one :: Speak What Your Heart Wants You To
[or: asami is a cool (and rich, and smart) kid, mako is a bro, and korra thinks she may be "just asamisexual"]
Watching Asami Sato, Korra reflects, is just like watching a movie detailing to day-to-day life of a person she admires from afar yet will never become.
The heiress to the gargantuan corporation known as Future Industries has it all: sleek cars, gentle smiles, perfect friends. Crisp shirts and designer jeans, loud brands and shiny shoes. Dark shades wink in the sunlight, painted lips curved into a slight smile turned toward effortlessly fashionable students who form an enormous slice of the school's top social clique piling in the backseat of a glaringly cherry red Ferrari.
Cool kids and their fast cars, that's the life that Korra doesn't fit into but Asami Sato certainly does. She can't even say that Asami's just some other random rich kid with no brains, pawing off of her corporate magnate daddy's money just because she can — she's been to MITES (or that really rigorous summer whatchamacallit for engineering, that place where fun goes to die) over the summer, apparently, and is some sort of glorious engineering savant; there has been many a time when Korra has breezed past the girl in the hallway, who would be talking earnestly with the school's Intro to Engineering teacher with her binders tucked snugly underneath her arm.
So it would be a euphemism, then, to say otherwise that Asami Sato is anything less than perfect.
(Perfection that appeals to Korra.)
Though of course, it's not as if she can just march up to Asami Sato and her perfect life and say, "Hey, I really like you, even though we've totally never talked before and we're not even really friends, and stuff. But do you want to go out with me?"
The problem doesn't lie with the fact that Korra's not impulsive enough to do such a thing, because in all honesty, she's the queen of impulsiveness. The problem doesn't even lie with how embarrassing it would be if Asami rejected her, even though the thought of how embarrassing it would be if she'd said all of that and then she found out that Asami didn't even "swing that way" is enough to send her moving back half a step.
("Swing that way" has to do with it, though.)
The problem is that Korra is not attracted to girls in any way, shape, or form and she refuses to believe that she's gayer than the rainbow.
She can't be. Nuh uh.
"I can't be gay. I can't. I dated you in, like, sophomore year," she says stubbornly one day at lunch over a tray of the colorless slop that the cafeteria calls food, half to herself and half to the amber-eyed boy sitting awkwardly next to her.
"...You know, there's a term for that," Mako comments helpfully, obviously having heard her muttered remark. His turkey sandwich sits dolefully on the plate in front of him, untouched and forgotten. "It's called bisexuality."
"But I don't like girls," Korra pitifully moans into the air before burying her head in her hands.
Bolin chooses this moment to swoop in, shoving Mako away from his anxious hovering before he claps Korra on the back.
"It's okay, Korra!" the green-eyed teenager says, excitement bubbling up clear in his voice. "Seriously —"
"I've never liked girls before, I can't just randomly have started liking them now —"
"— accept who you are, because you are and always will be amazing —"
"— if I hadn't met Asami, none of this would have ever happened —"
("You've been in the same school as her since seventh grade, Korra," she vaguely hears Mako sigh.)
"— scream your individuality out from the highest of all mountaintops —"
"— oh my gosh —"
"— and paint with all the colors of the wind!"
"— did you just quote Pocahontas?" Korra's eyebrow is arched sharply upward into a rather unamused question mark, her lower lip thrust out into a pout of disbelief.
Bolin only grins crookedly at her and gets slapped across the arm for his troubles.
She comes up with an explanation not two moments later, and immediately kicks herself for thinking it.
She's not homosexual or bisexual, of course, but maybe she's Asamisexual.
("Yeah. More like delusional."
"It's okay to be bi," he sighs in response, his eyes turning upward to survey the ceiling. "No one's going to judge you.")
Seventh period AP Literature class, Korra finds herself cursing whatever higher being there had to be above (as well as her teacher) for forcing her into the ridiculously cliché situation that is doing a project with her (completely Asamisexual) crush.
To her endless relief, she and Asami end up clicking together just fine. (In other words, Korra manages not to be awkward and make a fool of herself and if she does, the green-eyed heiress doesn't say anything.) Asami is as kind to her as Korra has ever seen, so Korra is nice to her back. They banter back and forth about how the sociological aspects of wealth are portrayed in The Great Gatsby and draw up their oral report together in the school library after school one day. In the process, Korra learns that, other than her well-known passion for engineering, Asami Sato enjoys mint chocolate-chip ice cream, twentieth century literature, Disney movies, and...
"You like the Arctic Monkeys?!" Korra wildly spews out, dropping her stubby pencil onto the ground.
"Uh...yeah," Asami says after a moment's pause, her eyebrows scrunching together in an expression of confusion. "I've loved them ever since I listened to their debut album. And their new songs are pretty good, too. Why? What's not to like?"
"Oh — no. No, I didn't mean anything bad by it! I like them, too! A lot, actually. Um, my favorite. I was just surprised, is all," Korra manages to get out after taking time to blink once. "You just...ya know." She gestures unhelpfully with her hands before letting out a sigh of defeat. "Okay, I say it in the kindest possible way, but you don't seem like the type of person who'd listen to, uh, indie rock bands. At all."
There's a flicker of a grin playing across Asami's expression. She asks teasingly, "Then what type of music does it seem like I'd be the 'type' to enjoy?"
"Ah, I don't know." Korra ruefully picks up her pencil and glares at a scrap of printer paper in front of her, trying not to let her extraordinarily pitiful knowledge of today's hottest artists show. "Um. Shakira? Or maybe that one Australian rapper chick whose last name has something to do with a flower, maybe a periwinkle? Everyone and their mother is literally obsessed with her." Korra throws her hands up in exasperation. "Oh, I don't know...Taylor Swift or something? I mean, you and Taylor Swift both, er, have great hair."
(This, though, is coming off of the single look an eleven-year-old Korra had given Fearless when it came out in 2008.)
The blue-eyed girl realizes what had just come out of her mouth two seconds after she said it. Eyes widening in vexation, Korra immediately sinks two inches lower in her chair and is pretty sure that her face has turned even hotter than the Sahara Desert's summertime high temperature.
Asami only laughs, her shoulders bunching up into some kind of shaking shrug. She shifts into a more comfortable position on her seat and pulls the scattered pages of what used to be their oral report toward her once more. "No, no Taylor Swift. And for the record, I have an issue with Iggy Azalea's rapping. But...well, I guess that's fair enough," she agrees in an amicable fashion, a gentle smile still pulling at the corners of her lips. Korra has to fight hard not to stare, and to her credit, she manages to pull it off.
They give the presentation not two days later, earn a perfect score, and then Korra and Asami drift back to their respective friend groups. Korra with Mako and Bolin and the rest of the we're-there-but-no-one-really-gives-a-damn-about-us group, and Asami with the other cool kids.
The only thing that's changed between the two of them because of the English partner project, then, is herself. She's turned from Asamisexual-and-in-denial Korra to starts-shy-and-ends-blushing Korra.
Korra bemoans to anyone who will listen the day she became a romantic, but caves in to the fact that Asami Sato has stolen a piece of her heart, whether or not the other girl knows it.
"This is totally your fault," she grumbles into her sweatshirt sleeve to Mako over a spread of history textbooks on the last day of winter break, otherwise known as the Friday before their AP U.S. History midterm. They're at a Starbucks near Mako's apartment, and the aroma of hot coffee wafts pleasantly through the air. Clutching a cup of her hot cocoa in her hand, she waves it threateningly at him, although the only thing she knows is threatening to happen is a deluge of hot brown liquid splashing onto the ground. "You've turned me soft."
"Not quite sure if I should take that as a compliment or an insult, but what's my fault, exactly?" the amber-eyed teenager wryly asks, flipping a page over in his notes. "Turned you soft to what? Alright, concerning slavery during the time of the Revolutionary War...how did the democratic sentiments unleashed by the conflict challenge the institution of slavery during the time period?"
"Attraction," is all Korra will say, taking a sip of her drink. "Specifically, my attraction toward Asami."
Mako rolls his eyes. "What does our relationship have to do with your crush on Asami, exactly?"
"I'm pining over her," Korra groans, as if it had anything to do with her former relationship with Mako, dragging a hand down her face. "Pining."
"Yeah, that's generally what happens when you crush on someone...c'mon, Korra, work with me here. Revolutionary War. Slavery. Midterm on Monday. Snap out of it." He leans over the booth, hitching Korra's chin up.
"I don't wanna history," comes Korra's muffled voice. Her hair, newly shortened and cut over the break, is sticking up everywhere, strands of dark brown creating some sort of frazzled halo around her head. It creates the impression that someone had just vigorously rubbed a balloon over her hair. "And, god, why'd they even call it the 'Revolutionary War'? There are plenty of wars that were revolutionary, not just this one. Like that one in France. 'The French Revolution.' With Napoleon. He was kinda chubby, wasn't he?" Pause. "Wow, I just realized, all these revolution names are so boring —"
"...Technically, there were five revolutions in France," Mako says pointedly. "And yes, the French Revolution was led by Napoleon Bonaparte."
"Same differ — wait a sec, how do you even know that?" Korra drags her head upward, staring at him with confusion.
Another long-suffering sigh. "Korra, we took AP World last year."
"Yeah, but that doesn't mean I remember anything from it!" Korra throws her hands up in exasperation. "And wasn't that, like, in the beginning half of the year, anyway?"
"...I like history," is all Mako has to offer.
Korra rolls her eyes.
Three hours of sitting in a cramped desk inside a stuffy, hot, and smelly high school gymnasium that's been turned into a gargantuan testing center.
Three hours of writing a DBQ and various other long responses, coloring in little bubbles with dark graphite, and staring blankly at the wall.
Three hours of taking a midterm later and Korra's ready to yank her hair right out of their follicles. As soon as her papers are collected, Korra all but bolts from her seat and makes a beeline straight for the doors, charging out of the area as quickly and desperately as a woman dying of thirst would be when trying to reach a fountain.
Her name isn't quite shouted, but it carries through the air all the same. Korra stumbles to a halt with a surprised yelp, her arms windmilling as she attempts to keep herself upright.
The sound of shoes clunking their way quickly across the floor begin to register, and Korra wheels around with a start, her eyes widening right as Asami Sato catches up to her, her pencil case still clutched tightly in her hands. The green-eyed girl stops short when she sees Korra, apparently drinking in her appearance.
"...You got a haircut," is the first thing Asami says, her head tilted to the side, and Korra would be damned if Asami isn't blushing.
She stiffens. "...Yeah. Uh, yeah, I did."
"It looks nice," Asami says sincerely. "It suits you, I think."
This coming from the Fashion Queen herself startles Korra a little, and she touches the ends of her hair self-consciously. "Oh. Uh...thanks."
It comes out more of a question than a statement, and Korra's mentally kicking herself (again) when Asami pipes up again.
"I was actually wondering...do you want to hang out right now, maybe?"
Korra stares at the fidgeting black-haired girl in front of her. Looks to her left, and then to her right. There's no one else Asami could possibly be talking to.
"What?" she eventually asks, her eyes still wide. "Hang out? With me?"
Because Asami's a Cool Kid, and Cool Kids hang out with other Cool Kids, not with people who are lower on the social hierarchy. Not with people like Korra. "Well...yes. Hang out with you, that is," Asami says back after a pause, her smile still warm and friendly. She raises her eyebrows, clearly expecting an answer.
Say yes, you idiot! the better half of Korra's mind screams. "Er...I'm not really sure. My parents, they kinda want me back home right after I finished the test," is what comes out of her mouth. "Because...babysitting. Yep. My uncle's kids are a handful."
But still, she doesn't want to risk doing anything stupid, especially not in front of Asami.
Speaking of which, Asami's clearly not used to getting a "no," however veiled, for an answer, based on the politely puzzled expression apparent on her face.
"I mean, I'd really like to, but I can't," Korra amends, trying her best not to spew out the absolute bullshit that usually accompanies her words when she's nervous.
I'd like to, but I can't risk it. I can't risk being weird and dopey around you.
"Huh. Well, tell me if you can, okay?" Asami responds, still smiling. Korra wonders briefly if that girl's ever shed a single tear in her life, because she just looks so damn happy and friendly all. The time. "It was nice working with you. And, well, there's this nice ice cream store down the street. But none of my friends are into that."
She leaves shortly after that, throwing a "see you around, Korra!" and a wave over her shoulder.
Korra stares after her, and then claps a hand to her forehead. Her pencils clatter to the floor with an obnoxious rattling sound.
She's just totally, completely, irrevocably blown any chance at all she had with Asami, and she didn't even realize it.
And jeez — who the fuck is she kidding, anyway? Asami probably only wanted someone to be with for the day because her usual friends didn't want to go wherever. Korra imagines the drummer that keeps her heart beating as some random dude with vague features like Mako, complete with those unreal eyebrows, handing her a consolation prize wrapped in ribbon: you've done screwed up, kid.
Korra eyes one of her fallen pencils and then kicks it against the wall in frustration.
God, why did she never seem to just get it?
By the time April edges by, what little snow has fallen during the more wintry months has melted away. Along with, Korra's still sure after that disastrous meeting after the AP U.S. midterm, any semblance of a connection she and Asami Sato had had with each other.
Korra had actively avoided the taller girl ever since then, keeping her head down in the hallways and skirting away whenever she saw that Asami and her posse seemed to be drawing close. It's not as if she's trying to hide from Asami, per say, but...still.
Reasons, she tells herself.
April, though, is prom season, a fact that Bolin seems to be intent on shoving down her throat.
"It's gonna be awesome!" he gushes, and of course he'd say that, Korra wryly thinks, considering that he's part of the prom committee.
"I, unfortunately, will probably not be there to see it," she says truthfully, leaning back on her hands.
Bolin's voice is flat and disbelieving even as it hits her ears, and Korra swears that her eyes are rattling in their sockets when he reaches over to shake her.
"Are you insane? Are you seriously missing out on junior prom?!"
"Uh...yeah." She shrugs, resigned. "I mean, I don't even have a date or anything."
"You can go with someone as 'just friends,'" he argues stubbornly, his hands still clasped firmly on her shoulders. "Like...why don't you go with my brother?"
Korra stares incredulously at him. "He's my ex, Bolin."
"So? That doesn't mean you guys aren't friends!"
"...You have to go," Bolin insists. "C'mon! Asami will be there!"
Which is, of course, further solidifying my decision to not go.
"...No. And what does that have to do with anything?"
"Well, it's obvious that you have the hots for her. You said you yourself before, remember?"
The only thing Korra can think of saying is:
"I said just said that I was Asamisexual! Not that I necessarily liked her!"
Korra says this a little louder than she had intended on doing.
Alright, a lot louder.
Bolin looks as if he's about to say something, but immediately shuts his mouth all of two seconds later and scoots away, pushing his two pointer fingers together.
Asami's voice sounds right behind her and Korra nearly jumps out of her skin, sure that she's died and about to go to whatever afterlife is waiting for her on the other side.
"Heeeey, Asami!" she cheerfully says, turning slowly around on her heel with a ridiculously cheery grin plastered onto her face. "What're you doing here? Fancy meeting you in the hallway...a minute before sixth period...what a convenient time...heh..."
Her voice grows gradually weaker, until she's just awkwardly smiling at the heiress. Her banana-split grin is starting to hurt her cheeks, if she's being honest with herself.
Asami reaches out with a hand and Korra instinctively jerks away, instantly feeling her cheeks flare up bright and red.
"Korra, I —"
"I really have to get to class!" Korra blurts out, sure that even her ears had turned a brilliant shade of crimson by this point. "I mean lunch. I really have to get to lunch. I'm starving, aren't you starving? It's twelve o'clock on the dot. Yeah." She tries to laugh and fails miserably, instead huffing out spasmodic, short and erratic bursts of air that sound more like a dying woman wheezing for breath than a chuckle.
She leaves Asami in the dust.
Generally feeling very sorry for herself, Korra has holed herself up in the corridor near one of the exit doors of the school when she hears the thump of footsteps approach.
"I swear that I'm not Asamisexual for you," she mumbles despairingly into her shirtsleeve as she feels a warm weight settle down next to her.
"That's good to know," comes a wry voice, masculine and low. Korra's eyes fly open, taking in Mako's amber eyes and black hair before turning back away.
"What?" she dully asks, blunt and short.
He shrugs, staring at the brick wall opposite to where the two of them are sitting, one arm slung over a leg. "I think that you should go to prom."
"...You went through all the trouble to find me, and you're telling me that you think I should go to prom?"
"Look, Korra, it's a time to have fun. Junior year's a pain in the ass and we have AP exams soon, and then finals to worry about after that. It may be the last chance of fun we'll be able to have for a long time."
Korra snorts. "I don't think I'm going to be able to have fun at prom."
"Why not?" Mako asks. "C'mon, Korra, at least think of it as a time when you'll be able to relax. Hang out with your friends, loosen up a bit. You don't even need to go with a date, you can go by yourself."
He's right, but that doesn't mean that Korra has to like it.
"...I have homework," she says, trying to masquerade the statement as a pitiful excuse, and Mako bats it right down.
"Korra, we both know that you're an incurable procrastinator and you never do your homework till the day before it's due. Or sometimes the day of."
"...Point taken. Fine," she huffs after a long pause. "But don't expect me to enjoy it!"
Mako sighs, standing up and brushing off his pants before offering a hand to her. "I'd never."
Prom night is loud and hot, and Korra's starting to regret she even agreed to go at all.
She hangs off awkwardly to the side like some outcast ostrich, the beat of the obnoxiously noisy music they're pounding throughout the whole escarpment reverberating through the floors. Korra is wishing forever for pockets where she could stick her hands into and act like she's uninterested in the whole thing, but instead she clenches her sweaty palms into her dress (which is not absorbent in the slightest) and glares at anyone who even so much as shoots her a passing glance.
"You should probably at least try and act like you're enjoying the night," comes a voice right next to her left ear. Korra yelps and flails out wildly with a fist, feeling her knuckles sink into stiff cotton not a moment later.
"Ow!" Mako takes a step back from her, rubbing his wrist and checking the pristine white cuffs of his suit. "This tux was expensive, Korra!"
"Oh," she bluntly says. "It's you. Hey." Korra snatches the full cup of bright red fruit punch from his hands and downs it in two gulps, tossing it in the trash can next to her. "And there's nothing to like here! It's just loud music and sweaty bodies and dancing and...okay, the food is good, but that's the only part that's even remotely enjoyable —"
"Korra," Mako interrupts, still looking slightly ticked off by the fact that Korra had almost ruined his 'very expensive tux,' "I didn't come here to listen to you complain about the prom. I was looking for you because someone wanted to talk to you."
"You're talking to me now," Korra grumbles.
"Actually...it's me who wanted to talk to you."
Sure enough, Asami's standing right there — six mile long legs, fashionably styled hair cascading down her back in a shower of black waves, dark purple eye shadow and red lipstick all. Her hands are hidden behind her back and she's wrapped in a dark crimson dress — reflecting upon it now, Korra doesn't think that she's ever seen Asami without some article of clothing that was of the red family on her — and if she says so herself, Korra thinks that it flatters her frame rather nicely.
"...Hi," Asami says quietly. Mako wanders away (the traitor, Korra viciously thinks) even as the heiress approaches, bright green eyes reflecting what little light lit up the ambient atmosphere of the room.
"Uh, hi," Korra greets back, locking her still sweaty hands behind her back. "Um...what's up?" Then, more quietly, "I'm really sorry about that incident in the hallway —"
"Oh, no. It's okay. I already knew...well, know that you like me," Asami says matter-of-factly, getting right to the point.
Korra nearly throws up what little food there is in her stomach. "I...you do...? I mean — wait, what? You knew?"
"Well...I've seen the looks you'd given me," Asami says, her hands still behind her back.
Korra's pretty sure that she's dying (or already dead) and is going to hell right at this moment. "...You have?"
"They were kind of hard to miss," the heiress giggles in response, her smile growing even wider.
The blue-eyed girl flushes even more. "Um. Yeah. Pretty hard to miss, huh?"
"It's okay," Asami assures her quickly. "Really. I don't mind."
Korra's pretty sure that Asami knows she's reduced her to a quivering pile of nerves by this point and wonders how the other girl could be so evil as to continue to prolong the torture.
"That's good," she says weakly. "I guess. I...really didn't mean anything by it..."
Korra doesn't see it when Asami moves her hands from behind her back, but there are two slips of paper being dangled in front of her face a second later. She goes cross-eyed for a moment, trying to read the lettering printed upon the slips.
"...Are those Arctic Monkey concert tickets?'" Korra splutters incredulously after a few moments, her eyes flicking to and from the slips of paper to Asami's face rapidly.
"Um...yeah," Asami says, and Korra can detect a hint of uncertainty in her voice now. "You said you liked them, didn't you?"
And Korra can feel a wide grin breaking across her expression too now, looking at Asami in the eyes.
"They're my favorite," she agrees. "But..."
Asami laughs. "What I'm trying to say, Korra, is that I know that you like me, and when I'd been trying to get your attention all that time, well...I like you, too." Dammit if she isn't blushing. "So...will you go out with me?"
Korra takes a few seconds to gape, lets her lower jaw hit the floor.
She stares at the rather nervous, fidgeting black-haired girl in front of her. Looks to her left, and then to her right. There's no one else Asami could possibly be talking to.
"Who...me?" she whispers, brought back to the morning when Asami had asked her if she wanted to go to the ice cream parlor with her.
The heiress's smile is as bright as the sun.
One of the tickets is being held outstretched and waiting, hanging still in the air.
Korra takes it and nods vigorously, still slightly stunned.
"Um," she whispers. "Yeah. Definitely. Yeah. I'll go out with you."
"Thought you'd never reply," says Asami, and then she sweeps her out onto the dance floor, still smiling.
They hold hands for the rest of the night.
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