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"Are you sure you want to wait out here?"
-"Korra, I am helping you through this, come hell or high water. Just because it's a bit nippy doesn't mean I'm not going to wait for you."
Korra sighed. It was Sunday afternoon. After Mako had dropped off her phone, she had been doubting whether to call her parents or wait for them to call her. Ultimately though, her mother had called her on Saturday, late in the afternoon. It had been a very brief conversation, as neither one wanted to have it over the phone, and they agreed to meet in the teashop on the corner of 15th and K. Neutral ground. Opal had insisted on coming along, and was hell-bent on waiting outside for Korra, even though it was quite cold.
They had gone there in the Volvo, and Korra told her mother to bring the Audi, just in case they wanted to make the switch. Korra had seen her own car parked on the lot, and she put her father's car right next to it.
Now though, as they were standing in the parking lot, out of sight of the shop itself, Korra was feeling very nervous. "You can fix this, remember? Your mother wouldn't have driven halfway across town just so she can yell at you some more. It will be fine." Opal's emerald eyes gave her an assuring look, and she gave Korra a quick kiss on the lips. "Now get in there." Korra smiled at the reassuring words of her girlfriend, and let go of her hand, before walking into the shop.
It was busier than she had come to expect, given that when she typically came here, it was quiet. Now though, quite a few people seemed to get out and enjoy the first fair weather day of the year. But since everyone always overlooks that it was still cold, they ended up in a teashop so they can warm their hands on something other than their pockets. Not all that surprising, come to think of it.
A quick look around revealed that her mother had taken refuge on a table for two in the far corner. Korra walked over to her, and took the seat across from her. On the table, there were only two things: a cup of tea for her mother, and the keys to her car. Korra could have recognized her completely worn-out model of the Eiffel Tower anywhere. Her father had bought it for her when they had taken a vacation to Europe, when their family was actually happy. Ever such a long time ago.
Senna got a cautious smile on her face. "Hi Korra."
Neither one of them knew how to start. The silence was deafening, so to speak. A waiter came over, making Korra look up. She had already decided what she wanted. "Fresh mint tea with honey, please."
He nodded, walked off, and the silence returned.
"So," Korra began. "You'd imagine that we would have plenty to talk about, and yet here we are, staring at the table."
-"Korra, I'm sorry about your father."
The very mention of him put Korra on edge. "Why isn't he here? He is the one who forced my hand, and now he's making you do the dirty work of cleaning up his mess."
-"He doesn't know that I'm here." she reacted sharply. "I don't care that he would disagree with me for doing this, you are my daughter as well."
"Really? Judging by what happened last week, I wouldn't have called that."
Her mother bit her lip, obviously uncomfortable with Korra pressing her nose on the facts like this. "I know. I haven't been a good mother, and these past few days made me realize that."
Korra wanted to soften up and this confession of her mother, but the response that came out of her was very sharp. "It's a bit late, wouldn't you say? 17 years, by my calculation. Whenever I wanted to talk to someone who would just listen, I would go to Mako. Hell, Naga was higher on that list than you. When I first started doubting whether or not I was gay, I didn't go to you for precisely this reason. I went to Pema, and she took it like a champion. Instead of judging me, she supported me, and she set me up on a date with Opal to stop me doubting. She even went as far as hiding our relationship from Tenzin, just so dad wouldn't find out. And just this week, when you kicked me out, I ran to Suyin, the one dad calls 'The Full Metal Bitch', and you know what? She took me in with open arms, telling me to take all the time that I needed to..." She interrupted herself as she felt the anger coming back. Korra wanted to stay calm, for as far as she still could. Another benefit of meeting in public. You'd both make an absolute fool of yourselves if you started yelling in here.
Senna sighed. "I want you to know, I never wanted him to kick you out."
"Then why didn't you stop him?" Korra paused for a moment, and continued a bit softer, as she noticed her voice began to rise again. "Why didn't you stop me? I walked right past you, and you didn't even say a word. It took three days before you even so much as gave me a phone call, even though you knew there were only three, maybe four places I could have gone."
-"I wanted to go after you. But I knew your father wouldn't want me to. So I tried calling you, but you left your phone at home, and right then, I didn't know where you went. Mako came by the next day, and told me that he had taken your phone, your wallet and some clothes to you at the Beifong Estate. I thought about calling you. I thought about every minute. But I constantly stopped myself."
Korra noticed her mother's lip started trembling a little, and that tears were slowly building in her eyes. "Why?"
-"Because I was afraid that you would hate me. For doing exactly what you just said. Not stopping you from barging out that door. Not even speaking out against your father." She hesitated a little. "I am sorry, Korra. I am so sorry about all of this."
"You don't know what it's like, do you? Being forced to hide yourself away, first from yourself, and then I had to keep Opal hidden from you, and then, I..." She sighed. "For all my life, I just wanted you to accept me, and approve of me."
-"Of course we accept you. You're our daughter."
"Then why are we having this conversation here?" Korra allowed it to fall silent for a moment, while her mother took it all in. "I have let that fight replay in my mind so many times. At the time, saying that you just tried to make us a family from a lifestyle magazine was meant to hurt you. But when I finally calmed down, I realized that I meant it. I have always been disappointing to you. I have mediocre grades, poor manners and I am lousy at sports. I have no social life to speak of, and your idea of me finding a man, getting married before I turn 25, then punch out a couple of kids, that's completely out of the window."
Senna sighed. "Yes, I suppose it is. And I suppose I wanted us to be one of those lifestyle magazine families. But I wanted that to make us all happy, and not be a perfect family, but a happy one."
"Then why do I get the feeling that me batting for the team other throws a wrench in the works? Because it's not a traditional way to be happy and content?"
-"No, but..." She hesitated. "Yes. I guess this doesn't fit the grand plan I had in my head for us. But that doesn't mean I don't want us to be happy together. Please Korra. Come home with me, and we can talk this out."
Korra was nearly started crying herself. Here her mother was, practically on her knees, pleading, begging for her forgiveness. And yet, Korra couldn't bring herself to do just that.
"And do what? Just brace myself for another massive fight? Shall I keep some spare clothes at Opal's place, just so that I would have somewhere to go? You said it yourself, dad doesn't even know that you are here. Why wouldn't you tell him about this, if you think we would genuinely have a chance?"
Silence descended on them again. Her mother was desperately trying to think of something to say, but couldn't come up with something. "I don't know. Maybe because I wanted to know you would want to go along with this as well."
"Mom, I want to fix this, but I don't know if he wants to."
-"You can't just dismiss this on the off-chance that he would go berserk again. This is our family we're talking about, Korra."
"But what if he does? Then we'll be right back at square one."
-"I will make sure that doesn't happen. I will take your side this time."
"Will you? Really? You talk about repairing our family, that I am your daughter, but I know what you think of... people like me. You may not be as vocal about it as dad is, but you have agreed with him for as long as I can remember." Korra paused for a moment. "Could you accept me the way I am? That if you would see me and Opal kiss, you wouldn't be forced to turn away in disgust, just because you disagree with me?"
Senna had trouble talking. She was forcing the words out, almost one at a time. "Please Korra, just... just come home with me. We can work past that." Korra could see that she was on the verge of breaking down into tears. But she couldn't give in. She knew it would be a mistake.
She chose her words carefully and resolute. "Answer me this, and I'll go with you." Korra gave her mother a hard stare. "When was the last time either one of you truly gave a fuck about what I was feeling?"
Her mother's eyes darted all over the place, looking for an answer that just wasn't there. She leaned back into her seat, hand covering her mouth, and the first tear started rolling across her cheek. The expression of disbelief was heartbreaking.
Korra felt that she was about to break down as well. "I figured." She pulled the keys to the Volvo from her pocket, and threw them on the table. "Ask dad if he cares more about this than he cares about me now." She stood up, and grabbed the keys to her Audi, ready to leave. "And ask yourself whether you saw me as a your daughter all this time, or as the means to an end."
Senna softly began to sob into her hands, leaning on the table. And just Korra left her, going outside again.
Opal was waiting for her there, on a bench against the front wall. As soon as Korra came out, she stood up, and saw the expression on her girlfriends face. Korra slowly shook her head, and Opal couldn't do anything but pull her into a tight hug. Korra couldn't do anything but gingerly cry on her girlfriend's shoulder.
"What is wrong with me, Opal? I just made my own mother cry, and now I don't know if should feel sad, or scared, or ashamed or..." Korra fell silent.
Opal didn't pull away, instead just turned her head so that it was buried in the crook of Korra's neck. "Or what?" she asked, ever so softly.
Korra hesitated. "Or pleased." She turned away from her girlfriend. "What kind of fucking freak am I? I just reduced my mother to tears, and here I am, feeling pleased with myself."
Opal had trouble thinking of something to say about that, and it took her a while, as Korra cried. "You're not a freak. This whole situation is just so messed up, and you're caught in the crossfire between your own feelings and your parents'." She gave Korra some time to let it all sink in. "Did you at least make some progress?"
Korra nodded. "Yeah. Yeah, I think we did. I gave her some food for thought, that much is for sure."
-"Well that's great, right? Baby steps. Like I said, it's a mess, You can't expect to fix it overnight."
A smile appeared on Korra's face. God, this girl is amazing. No person in this world would have done more to help you through this better than she has. "I guess not." Korra pulled Opal in for a long kiss, throwing in all of her gratitude and love. "I am so lucky to have you here. I don't know how I would have done it otherwise."
Foreheads and noses leaning against each other, Opal tried to put her at ease some more. "No one should have to go through something like this alone. I just want to do whatever I can to make this easier for you." She wiped away Korra's tears with her glove, and pressed a sweet little kiss on her lips. "Come on. Give me those keys, and I'll drive us back to my place."
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