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|And Into the Fire|
Getting back in the habit of tutoring was nice. Even though Korra had picked up a new schedule, she managed to work in time to accommodate for teaching Asami history. And it also meant that for the first time ever, Korra was busy.
"What date was the first atomic bomb dropped?"
-"8:15 in the morning, August 6th, 1945. Little Boy, over Hiroshima."
"A result from what program?"
-"The Manhattan Project, under the supervision of Robert Oppenheimer."
"What was the main incentive for Truman to give the order to drop this bomb?"
-"The Battle for Okinawa, in which over 50.000 American soldiers died. The general idea being, that if they would fight that hard to defend a small island, how many soldiers would have to die trying to take the four main islands, fighting a country which was already on its knees?"
"And where was the Japanese surrender signed?"
-"Aboard the USS Missouri, September 2nd, 1945."
"Excellent work Asami. Really, I'm impressed."
-"I've had a good teacher."
"Well, I haven't got any more. That was the end of World War 2."
Asami smiled. "Not really, according to you."
Korra was very surprised. "You actually remembered that! I gotta be more careful about what I say around you, you'll put that shit away like Sherlock Holmes."
-"But I'm still waiting for you to tell me what the actual reason was the Japanese surrendered."
"On August 9th, around the time the US dropped the second nuke over Nagasaki, the Russians declared war on Japan, on insistence of China and the US. The Soviets were reluctant about fighting a two-front war, but now that Germany was finally defeated, they could help the US in the Pacific theatre. They started with the colonies in China, and the last thing the Japanese wanted was a Russian invasion on their main islands, so they surrendered to the Americans."
Asami seemed intrigued. "But why doesn't anyone know about that?"
"American pride, mostly." Korra smiled. "History is written by the victor. The Soviets locked all that information away in closed archives, which didn't open until after the Union fell in 1991. Meanwhile, the Americans had 46 years to sweep it under the carpet and thus, nobody knows about it."
Asami looked thoroughly impressed. "Then how do you know about it?"
"Sometimes you just stumble across things, you know? This was one of those times."
-"Well," Asami drummed a few times on her desk and pushed her chair back. "Enough history for today, as far as I'm concerned. How about an episode of The Walking Dead?"
"I don't know, maybe something a little more active?"
-"You have really become something of a fitness-nut since Opal asked you to go to the gym with her, haven't you?"
Korra gave her a crooked grin. "Yeah... I guess you could say that."
-"Korra, you've lost like 10 pounds in a month. Plus, I can see your muscles through your shirt all of a sudden. What happened to make you so... so driven?"
She hesitated for a moment. "Well, it's kind of... Okay, let me put it like this: Opal's choice of wardrobe in the gym doesn't leave a lot to the imagination."
Asami seemed a bit puzzled at first, but quickly got what Korra was implying. "Say no more. You don't want to think you're a lazy bum."
Korra smirked again. "It's a bit late for that. But Asami, it doesn't matter that you're straight as an arrow, if you were there, you would have been gawking at her right alongside me."
Asami furrowed a brow. "That good, huh?"
Korra nodded. It fell silent for a bit, so she decided this was a good a time as any to leave. "Listen, Asami, I gotta go. I promised Opal to go to the gym tonight, so I managed to pressure my parents into eating early."
-"Really? You'd be more than welcome to eat here."
"Nah, that'd be a bit rude. I'll be fine."
-"Well, your call."
Korra smiled, and the girls said goodbye. She went to her car, and because she chose to leave early, avoided the worst of the rush hour. During the simple dinner, her parents announced they had to leave as well, meaning they wouldn't be home anymore when Korra would come back. 'Some gala' in town. Means that they get to eat caviar on the taxpayer's cost. Charming use of our money. After dinner, Korra was off again immediately, this time to meet the other girl in her life.
The workout went great. Korra managed not to focus on Opal's gorgeous features too much, and instead on her exercises.
She was in the lobby again, waiting for Opal again, who quickly came out of the dressing rooms. "Feel like coming over to my place for a bit? My parents are gone anyway. I'll drop you off again here afterwards. What do you say?"
Opal doubted for a bit, but ultimately agreed. "Why not?"
The drive back home was pleasant enough, and finally being able to hang out at Korra's place without having to hide anything felt relieving. They just watched a bit of TV under the enjoyment of a drink, Opal leaning against Korra, head leaning on her shoulder. In turn, Korra let her head rest against Opal's. God, her hair is soft. Why don't we sit like this more often?
Neither was paying any real attention to what was on, it was more a case of just cuddling after a hard workout. Letting the sore muscles come to rest worked double well when you are leaning against your own private stove. But all good things must come to an end, and when the clocked struck ten, Opal decided now would be a good a time as any to leave.
She stood up, and Korra let out a dissatisfied groan. "Ugh, do we have to go? This was far too good!"
Opal smiled. "I know it was, but I really need to go home. So come on, you promised me that you would take me back to my place." She pulled Korra on her feet and wrapped her arms around her neck, pressing a gentle kiss on her lips. '"There's more when you get me back home," she said, smirking with her eyes closed. But Korra wasn't smirking.
She was looking at the window.
She hadn't closed the curtains.
She was looking straight into her father's eyes.
It took less than a second for him to get into the house. His face was red with anger, his breathing deep, yet his voice was calm. Korra suspected it was only the calm before the storm.
-"Beifong, out," he commanded.
Referring to Opal by her last name was not a good sign. "Opal, don't..." but he interrupted Korra.
"Get the fuck out of my house!"
Opal gave Korra a reassuring look, but it had a hefty scoop of desperation and concern in it. "It's fine, Korra, I'll go." She walked past Tonraq, who didn't take his eyes off her for a single moment until he heard the front door close. Senna had come in as well, and stood beside her father, but she looked more shocked than angry to Korra.
-"Explain this. Right now!"
"Take a guess." Yeah, he's only on the verge of either going on a rampage or having an aneurysm, might as well poke him with a stick, see what happens.
-"Don't you test me Korra! Don't you fucking test me!" he yelled, pointing an accusing finger at her.
"Alright, you want the fucking truth?! I'm dating Opal. Have been for the past two months, and you two have been too fucking blind to notice."
-"You're putting this on us? You're doing... this with her and you're blaming us?!"
"I'm not blaming you for this, I'm blaming you for not seeing it! Opal's mother knew since she was twelve! And neither of you two suspected a goddamn thing about me, did you?"
-"Of course I fucking didn't! I did not raise my daughter to be a despicable... lesbian!"
"That's because you didn't raise me! Mom did! And even if you did, it wouldn't have made any difference! This is who I am!"
Her father was still seething with rage, and took a deep breath through his nose. "You are never to see that girl again, do you understand me?"
Now Korra got fully furious. "No! You can't keep playing God over my life! It's my life, and for once, I'm in control! Don't you realize that I am finally happy?"
-"I won't have it! Not like this!"
She felt tears welling up, but was able to beat them back. "That's because you don't care! You never cared! All you care about is your career," and she turned to her mother, "and all you care about is making us the perfect cover of Lifestyle fucking Weekly!"
Tonraq wasn't letting up. He was determined to get his way. "This is your last chance Korra!"
All of a sudden, it was crystal clear to Korra. She needed to get away from them. Far away, if at all possible. "FINE! Fuck you, both of you!" She stormed past her parents, and glanced at the tears in her mother's eyes. On the table in the hallway, she spotted a bunch of keys, and grabbed one of them. Once Korra was outside, she saw that Opal was waiting for her.
Tonraq had appeared behind her in the doorway. "And don't you dare come back here!" he yelled, and resolutely slammed the door behind her.
She clicked the keys, but found her Audi locked.
-"Uhh, Korra?" Opal said with a small voice. "It's that one," she said, pointing to her father's Volvo. A quick look at the key in her hand confirmed that, and Korra briskly walked over. "Get in."
-"I don't think tha..."
"GET IN!" Opal looked shocked, but obeyed quietly, gingerly getting into the passenger seat, while Korra took the wheel. She smashed the throttle, making the car shoot forward, racing down the street.
-"Korra, pull over!" It was Opal's voice, laced with panic that drew her back into reality. She didn't know where she was, only that she was driving. "Shit, slow down! You're doing 70!"
Korra slammed the brakes, and turned into the parking lot of a McDonalds. She got out of the car, where it had begun to drizzle and took a few paces to nowhere in particular. As the realization of the mess she had worked herself into started to dawn on her, she couldn't fight back the tears anymore. It was the pure anger that held them at bay earlier, but now they began to flow. As she buried her face in her hands, Opal walked up to her, and pulled her into a hug.
She didn't know how long they were standing like that. Korra felt deflated when Opal finally pulled away, but never took her hands off her shoulders.
"What have I done?" Korra asked, more to herself than to Opal.
-"That doesn't matter right now. We need to get out of here. You just get in, I'll drive."
Opal gently pulled her over to the passenger side of the car, and put her into the seat. Korra felt how she put her jacket around her, then she fell asleep.
When she woke up again, she wasn't in her own room. She had a splitting headache, and her eyes were sore. Fuck. Meant that everything wasn't a dream. Opal was sitting on the edge of the bed, holding her hand and gently caressing it with her thumb. Korra looked into her massive green eyes, and they gave her a sense of comfort. "Good morning sweetie. How do you feel?"
"Like I have an axe lodged in my skull."
-"Alright," she said. "I'm going to get you some aspirin, and you're going to go back to sleep. I need to go to school, but you're not going anywhere. My mom is working from home today, she's going to keep an eye on you. I'll leave my phone here, so you can call anyone you want. Mako's number is in it, so you can always call him."
She pressed a kiss on her forehead, and left the room, only to come back with a small bottle of aspirin and a glass of water, and she placed them on the nightstand. "Here you go. I'm gonna leave them here, and I'll be back as soon as I can. Deal?"
Korra nodded, and Opal gave her another chaste kiss on her forehead, and turned around once more before leaving the room. Korra could see a combination of regret and despair in her eyes, but then she was gone.
A quick look around told her that she was in Opal's room. After taking some of the aspirin and a sip of water, she let herself fall back onto the bed, only to fall back asleep.
When she woke up again, 'Addicted to You' was playing, but Korra couldn't locate the source just yet. When she finally snapped out of zombie-mode, she realized that it was Opal's ringtone, and the phone was on her nightstand. It was Mako.
"Hello?" she said, still half asleep.
-"Korra?" was the surprised response. "God, Korra, where are you? Asami and I have been worried sick! I heard all sorts of 'fucks' coming from you place last night, and now you aren't answering your phone!"
"I'm at Opal's place."
-"Korra, what happened last night? It sounded like World War III going on at your place."
"Take a wild guess."
Mako was silent for a while. "Your parents found out."
She sighed. "Yeah. My father saw me kiss Opal, then we had a huge fight, and my father kind of kicked me out of the house, but I also kind of ran away, and -" Korra interrupted herself as she realized she was rambling. She fell silent, and she could hear through the phone that Mako was in his break at school. The silence seemed to last forever.
-"So now what?"
"I... I have no idea."
She could almost hear Mako's brain work overtime as he was trying to figure something out.
-"Well, if you can think of anything you need, just let me know," was the only thing he could manage.
"Thanks Mako. I appreciate that." Neither of them knew what else to say. "I guess this is it for now. I let you know when I figured something out."
Korra could hear him sigh. "Alright. Take care, Korra."
"Bye." She hung up, and put the phone back onto the nightstand.
The alarm clock read 10:35. She had no way of reaching Opal, and didn't know Asami's number by heart, though Mako would have probably shot her a message by now. She got out of bed, and put on the clothes that Opal would have taken off to put her to sleep.
Once downstairs, she looked up Su's office, where the Beifong had heard her coming and opened up before Korra had even knocked. "Ah, Korra, you're up. How do you feel?"
"Not exactly what I'd call 'on top the world', if you know what I mean."
With a grimace, Su nodded. "Well, after some breakfast and a cup of tea, everything will be better. Come on." She preceded her into a luxurious kitchen, and pulled open various cabinets to give Korra a chance at a good start of her day, and made two cups of tea with an insta-boiling water tap. Korra skipped the breakfast and instead sat down at the table.
Su handed one cup to Korra, and took a seat opposite of her on the kitchen table. "Opal told me what happened last night. I want you to know, you're welcome to stay as long as you want to. You're at a very delicate point with your parents right now, and I don't want to pressure you into doing anything you don't want to do."
"Thanks." Korra didn't really know what else to say right now. She just held her glass, warming her hands on it, staring at the steaming tea. Su didn't say anything, and let Korra just sort her thoughts as she gingerly sipped her tea.
"Did I fuck up everything between me and my parents?" Korra eventually asked, feeling the tears behind her eyes again.
Su thought for a while. "I can't speak for them, of course. But as a mother, I couldn't imagine what it would be like if one of my children would storm out of my life without any warning."
"Well, clearly Opal hasn't told you about how we parted ways."
-"She did. The last thing your father yelled after you was 'And don't you dare come back here', before slamming the door shut."
Korra sighed and nodded. "Sounds about right."
-"Can I offer you some advice?"
She looked at Su with an approving look. "If you want to fix things with your parents, I'd say that you need to give it some time. Sit it out for a while, wait until the worst of the anger has cleared the air. Then, you sit down with them, and talk it over."
Is your luck of running into good people like this a bottomless well? One asshole simply cannot be this lucky! "Yeah. I think you're right."
Su smiled. "Like I said, take all the time you need. Meanwhile, you can take a shower upstairs if you want to. I'll put some towels up for you." She briefly paused. "Just take it easy for today."
Korra slowly finished her tea, and didn't feel hungry at all, despite not having eaten anything since before last night's workout. She heard Su come down the stairs again, and went upstairs to the bathroom. She turned up the shower to very hot, and when her skin was red from the heat and the rough way she dried herself off, realized that she didn't have any clean clothes with her. Opal's clothes wouldn't fit, and no way in hell am I wearing Su's.
She dressed herself in her dirty clothes, as they would be better than nothing. After wiping the mirror clean of the steam, she saw something she absolutely didn't want to see. Korra saw just how much she really looked like her mother. With her hair falling in front of her shoulders like it was now, the resemblance was uncanny. It only served to remind her of everything that had happened. Not just last night, but in the seventeen years before. How her parents had only ever tried to own her life. How they had tried to force their every belief on her. How they had tried to mold her precisely in their image. No longer.
Korra rummaged through the drawer, and found something she had expected Baatar Sr. to use. She pulled out a straight razor, and bunched her hair up behind her head. She put the razor close to the base of her head, and in one move, pulled it through her thick bunch of hair.
The new look in the mirror only served to make her more aware of how hopeless her situation was. Korra sat down against the bathroom door, and softly started crying.
For the collective works of the author, go here.