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Spoilers for The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King follow. Again, go stand in the corner and be ashamed of yourself if you haven't seen it yet.
"Mom, would it be okay if I actually got around to celebrating my birthday this year?"
-"We always celebrate your birthday."
Korra rolled her eyes. "No, I mean celebrate. Your version is the one where we eat cake with a cup of coffee, I was thinking about inviting a few people. Nothing big, just hanging out here on Saturday."
This was met with a raised eyebrow. "Has Opal gotten into you already?"
"That's not really an 'already.' We had been dating for something like three months when you caught us. It might seem shorter to you, but trust me, it's not."
-"Fair enough." Her mother thought for a while. "Who did you have in mind?"
Halfway there. "Opal, Mako, Asami, and maybe Bolin. Just here, and hang out for a bit. Have some fun."
-"You do know Pema and I are going to that new play on Saturday, right?"
"Well, yes, that's why I want to do it that night. We'll have the house to ourselves, no one will be bothered by us."
Senna thought for a while. "Alright. Just don't make a mess."
"Have I ever?" Korra smirked.
-"There is a reason I bring that up, you desperately need to clean your room. That is my condition."
You have got to be kidding me. It's going to take a dump truck to clean all the junk out of that place. "Fine. Steep price to pay though."
-"If you're looking for pity, you let it come that far by never cleaning it."
"I guess. Well, I should get going. I promised Opal that we would finally watch the third Lord of the Rings, but it's been kind of busy."
Senna slightly winced. Korra could tell that even though she had given her approval, she still wasn't completely comfortable with the idea of her being with a girl. That being... thought, she managed to hide it well enough that if Korra hadn't been looking for it, she wouldn't have seen it. "Okay. Have fun, dear."
Korra smiled, and got into her car. Living halfway across town was, on the one hand, kind of a shame. Being able to spend more time with each other that week was nice, but on the other hand, it was all the more satisfying when they did get to see each other.
The driveway of the Beifong Estate was empty. Opal let her in as soon as she rang the doorbell, meaning she had been waiting for her. "Hi sweetie. How's things?"
Korra smiled. Opal's wide-eyed innocence never failed to do that. "Oh, you know, things have calmed down."
-"Still no word from your father?"
"Not a peep." Korra sighed. Since he stormed out on them two weeks ago, they hadn't heard from him. Not directly, at least. Tenzin told her that he showed up for work every day, and that he made pretty long days, something which was not that unusual. But it had been a sore spot for her mother. They hadn't spoken about him since the night it happened. Korra could tell that it was hard on her, almost as if she was blaming herself for this. In all fairness, it is kind of her fault, but that's beside point. "He knows how to reach us, and if he wants to talk to us, he'll find a way. Now how about we spend the next three and a half hours on our asses watching the fate of Middle-Earth unfold?"
-"As long as I can watch your ass beforehand." This comment got Korra blushing, and earned Opal a good smooch.
"Let's get it started." Korra fired up the Return of the King, while Opal made sure they had positions on the couch which would allow them to both sit snuggly together while still being able to watch the screen. It was what Korra had promised: The White City of Minas Tirith, the reforging of the shards of Narsil into Andùril, The Beacons of Amon Dîn, Andy Serkis' underrated performance, Shelob's lair, the epic second charge of the Rohirrim, the Dead Men of Dunharrow, the Battle at the Black Gate, the coronation of Aragorn as King of Gondor, and Frodo stabbing Sam in the back by sailing to the Undying Lands.
Opal cried during the-biggest-dick-move-of-all-time-scene, "Go home, Sam". Korra still hated that scene, just because of the knowledge that everyone is supposed to sympathize with this guy.
But after the fifteen thousand endings, both girls were fully satisfied by what they just watched.
-"I gotta hand it to you Korra, that was great. I can't believe no one forced me to watch it before."
"Neither can I. It's the greatest work in cinema of the past decade, and you never got around to it?"
-"Never thought I'd like them, but there you go."
A comfortable silence fell. Neither girl felt like doing something. During the course of the movie, they had sunk further and further into the couch. Opal was resting her head on Korra's breasts, using them as a makeshift pillow. Korra absentmindedly played with Opal's hair for a bit, when Opal broke the silence between them.
-"Hmmm, your boobs are really soft..." she murmured through her teeth, but Korra heard it clear as day. It brought a massive smile to her face, knowing that Opal probably hadn't meant for that to come out.
"Oh really? Never would have guessed."
She felt Opal tense up. "Crap. I said that out loud?!"
Korra couldn't suppress her laughter anymore. "Yes you did. Good thing too, half-asleep thoughts are always good to know. Or at least fun."
Opal got off her, and turned around. Her face was completely flushed, and this only made Korra laugh even harder.
-"Stop it! It's not funny!"
"Yes it is, and you know it." Opal made an adorable pout, and Korra couldn't help giving her a quick kiss. "Well, it's always good to know that you like my boobs."
Opal smiled. "I guess it is." She stood up. "We should clean up before we fall asleep." It wasn't that much. A few glasses, and a bowl for the popcorn. Korra knew she had to go home, as it was nearly midnight. Before she walked out, she turned around to Opal again.
"Before I go, I want to ask you something. I was planning a small party Saturday night, for my birthday. Feel like coming?"
-"Of course I would. Just tell me a time and a place, and I'll be there." They gave each other a good-night kiss, and Korra was on her way back home. One down, three to go. Might as well do those the modern way. When she got home, she sent them all a text, explaining the particulars of the idea in her head. Even though Mako and Asami had dinner plans, Korra just moved it up an hour, so they were happy to come.
Bolin called her up not long after she invited him. "Hey Korra, would it be cool if I would bring my new girlfriend?"
Korra was surprised. "New girlfriend? What did I miss?"
-"Oh, that's right, I didn't tell you yet. Her name is Ginger, and we met at the movies. But could I bring her along? I don't feel like fifth-wheeling all night."
You inconsiderate bitch. Not a hair on your head had thought about that. "Ehh, sure, I guess. If you think it would be fun for her as well, I don't see why not."
-"Because you don't know her?"
"Good point, but I trust your judgment." Liar. You're just trying to get rid of your guilt. You wouldn't trust his judgment if it was the last thing on the face of the earth.
-"Nice. Well, I gotta go, see you later!"
He hung up, and Korra decided now was a good a time as any to go to bed as well.
Saturday couldn't come quickly enough for Korra. She was eager to see all of her friends together again. Sure, she and Asami kept busy reviewing her history lessons before her exams, Mako occasionally watched a movie with her, and there were various work-out and make-out sessions with Opal, but the entire group together, that didn't happen very often.
But it wasn't so far just yet. She would just have to wait it out, one day at a time. So she just talked things over with Asami in the break, huddled against their radiator.
"Asami, did you know Bolin had a new girlfriend?"
-"Yeah, I saw her a couple of times. She's a pretty redhead, but didn't look too bright."
"Hmm. Mako said something like that."
Asami looked surprised. "Did he now? He didn't say a word to me."
"Did you ask him the right questions? You know Mako: he's even less pro-active than I am."
This got a laugh out of her. "Yeah, I guess so. But what did he tell you about her?"
Great. Gossip hour. "Oh, you know, basically what you just said. I believe the exact phrase was 'dumb as a brick', but I could be mistaken. Don't tell Bolin."
-"Korra, I'm insulted. You really think that little of my people skills?"
"I use myself as a frame of reference, it taught me a few hard lessons." Asami laughed. "What? Gotta work with what you know, right?"
-"Fair enough." She quickly checked her phone, as she got a text, presumably from Mako, judging by the smile on her face. Still, could be worse. Two close friends of yours are a cute couple. At least they're not on the verge of breaking up.
-"So Korra, tell me, why do I feel like this party is kind of a big deal to you?"
It was a bit of a painful question to Korra. "Well, you know, other years, it wouldn't have been very busy. Just Mako, and maybe Bolin if he could be bothered. Then there was the significant hurdle of my parents, that has become a lot lower in recent weeks, and I now have simply more people to invite, making it worthwhile."
-"I suspect this has everything to do with your father leaving?"
Korra immediately went on the defensive, even if she didn't know full well why. "He didn't leave! He just needs some time to take it all in."
-"I thought he kicked you out, and you're defending him?"
"He's still my father, and he has his reasons. But no, we haven't heard from him directly since he walked out the door."
-"How's your mom taking it?"
Korra sighed. "Not too well. Every time I try to bring him up, she changes the subject, or just leaves. She blames herself for this, you know. I have to do something about it, I don't know what. My mother wants him to accept me like she does, but he hates my guts for this, and he also doesn't like that my mother is on my side."
-"Have you ever thought about calling in outside help?"
"Like who? Should I call Tenzin, hoping that someone who tolerates me because his wife tells him to, would actively try and fix this?"
-"You could call Pema. You went to her first of all, and you even said she's a good listener." Korra looked doubtful. "You could always give it a shot. Even if it goes wrong, it's not like you have a lot to lose right now.
Korra thought it over. She did have a good point, it's not like their family could sink much lower at this point. That could only happen if her mother rejected her again, and that seemed very stiff. "That's actually not a bad idea. Thanks Asami."
The rest of the week was relatively uneventful. Be bored at school, gawk at Opal in the gym, force herself to enjoy dinner with just her mother, repeat. Cleaning her room was the equivalent of a hard day of manual labor, but the results were worth it. It was spotless for the first time in years.
And then the long-awaited Saturday evening was finally there.
-"Alright Korra, I'm going to go now. Remember what I said, I don't want to find the living room looking like a dump when I come back."
Her mother was dressed up, and she was about to go pick up Pema.
"You look nice, mom."
Senna smiled at the genuine comment of her daughter. "Thank you. If even you say it, it has to mean something. Right, I'm off. Have fun!"
She quickly left, and Korra made some final preparations. Music? Check. Chips? Check. Soda? Check. Comfortable seats for every couple? Check... I think.
The doorbell rang. Opal was the first one to arrive, a bit early.
-"Hi sweetie. Happy birthday." She hadn't even stepped inside or take off her coat, and they were already kissing. When they finally broke away from each other. Korra was grinning like an idiot.
-"What's so funny?"
"Well, every time you came here, we had to do our utmost to hide 'us', and now the first thing we do is make out on the doorstep."
-"Very astute of you, Korra. There wouldn't happen to be a hidden parent somewhere to yell at us in a minute, would there?"
Korra smiled, and stepped aside to let Opal in. "No, my dad still isn't back, and my mom is out to see a play with Pema. We have the house to ourselves for now."
Opal took off her coat, and it was clear to Korra she had done her best on her wardrobe. She was wearing a green dress, not too short, but just long enough to expose the good parts of her legs, which were covered in a white pair of leggings. Coupled with a nickel-plated necklace, she looked stunning.
"You look great. I mean... wow, you look amazing."
Opal giggled and brushed a strand of hair behind her ear. "Thanks. I bought the dress for today. The necklace was an idea of my mom."
"She was right. It goes great with the rest."
They went inside, and Korra poured them both a drink, but before she could take a seat herself, the bell went again. Mako, Asami, Bolin and Ginger had decided to collect before going over, so they were complete in under five minutes. Benefits of having a small social circle.
They exchanged their congratulations, greetings and well-wishes, Korra was introduced to Ginger, Bolin and Ginger were introduced to Opal, and they all chose a seat. Before giving everyone their drink, she eyed Ginger up. A redhead, albeit most definitely red from a bottle, long slender legs, a slim figure, and judging by her remarks so far, Mako's comments about her being an dumb as a brick were most certainly accurate. Korra took her seat again, and Mako started grinning.
-"Korra, I brought you an old friend." He reached down to the bag next to him, and pulled out a bottle of vodka with a massive smile on his face.
She raised a silencing finger while she took a sip of her soda, before putting her glass down so that she had both hands free to flip him off properly. "No way. Not what happened after New Year."
She glanced over to Asami, who got something of a blush on her cheeks.
Opal was a bit confused. "New Year? Korra, what haven't you told me?"
The four who were there all started grinning. "We killed a bottle or two in record time, even though I did most of the handiwork," Korra replied, and it was met with approving nods of Mako, Bolin and Asami.
-"You'd be amazed how good she can sing. Karaoke was a brilliant move," Asami recalled.
"I wouldn't get too smug if I were you, miss Sato," Korra playfully bit back. "You were just as guilty as I was, we only did duets that night. And your hangover was far worse."
Asami smiled. "That's true. But I took the morning after a lot better."
Korra thought for a while. "Call it even?"
The rest of the evening continued like this. It was a perfect way for Korra to get her mind off things for a bit. She ultimately did accept a shot of the vodka at Mako's and Opal's insistence, which quickly turned into five. ("Alright, one." - "Well, can't walk with one leg, have another one." - "The bottle isn't even halfway done, start trying!" - "Well, it's nearly empty now, might as well finish it." - "Oh wow, there was more in it than I expected. This time, we can truly finish it.") Korra decided it was past time to stop when Ginger's comments started making sense. A semi-drunk Opal was fun, if a little clingy, but it could be worse. She's a lightweight in every sense of the word.
Bolin and Ginger were the first ones to leave, followed swiftly by his brother and said brother's girlfriend. Opal couldn't drive home anymore, so they decided that Opal could stay the night. She helped Korra clean up the worst of the mess, and went to bed. Korra leant her a pair of pajama pants, but there was no way Opal was getting her Age of Empires shirt. I'll take that thing to my grave with me.
As they lay cuddling on Korra's bed, she couldn't help but feel that same comfort that she felt when she first ran to the Beifong Estate. "Opal?"
"Don't you miss this?"
-"You mean falling asleep while cuddling?"
-"Well, it's certainly nice. But it's also nice not to wake up in the middle of the night with an elbow to the face."
Korra leaned back. "Did I do that?
Opal nodded. "Oops... Sorry." Korra said with a small voice. "Guess I'm just a wild sleeper." It was silent for a bit. "Why didn't you tell me?"
Opal smiled. "Well, it's not like you could help it. Plus, you say a lot of cute things when you sleep. Didn't want to wake you up."
Korra felt her face heat up. Fortunately, it was dark, so Opal couldn't see it. "Save it. I don't want to hear what I said."
"All good things, don't worry," Opal said, and pressed a quick kiss on her lips.
It fell silent. She knew she had been drinking, so her inhibitions would be lower. So would Opal's be, and there is a good reason not to try anything.
"Do you ever think about that first evening after I ran away?" Korra asked, very hesitatingly.
Opal winced back a little bit. "You mean when you..." She didn't finish, but Korra knew she got what she was hinting at.
Korra nodded. "Yeah. That one."
She could hear Opal sigh. "I try not to. Not one of my favorite days between us."
"I never thanked you for stopping me. I still feel bad about trying to you like that."
-"You were in a dark place, and not thinking straight. At least you didn't push on when I told you off."
Korra sat up. "I keep wondering what would have happened if you hadn't."
Opal sat next to her, and pulled her close. "Guilt, and regret... They would have come soon enough." She reached around, and turned on the light. "I want to tell you something I have never told anyone." Korra looked into her green eyes, and they were on completely serious. "Korra, I'm not a virgin anymore. I had sex with my last girlfriend, and at the time, I thought it was genuine. Turns out, she just used me to gain leverage over my mother. After I found out, I felt betrayed, and disgusting, and I never want you to go through something like that. It felt awful to know that the first time I had sex was just a part of someone's scheme to climb the social ladder."
She stopped for a minute. Korra hesitated again. "Do you... regret it?"
Opal thought long and hard. "Truth be told, I don't know if that would be what I'd call it. With hindsight, yes, definitely. But would I have done it again with the knowledge I had back then? Yes, I would have. It felt special at the time. But that only lasted until I found out her true intentions." She sighed again. "I want to save you from that same feeling. When you are ready, I will be too. But I don't want you to do something that you would most definitely regret, not five minutes afterwards."
It stayed silent for a long time between them. Korra didn't really know what to say about it. She never thought that Opal had so much cause to stop her. It only served to add to her guilt over that evening. Opal saw her thinking.
-"Korra, I don't blame you for what happened that night. Like I said, you weren't thinking straight, and given the circumstances, you could even call it justifiable."
"Well, I do blame myself. I had never thought about it in the way you just laid out here. I guess I owe you more than I thought."
-"Don't dwell on it. It's in the past, it's done. But nothing happened, no hard feelings between us, and there is nothing to be sorry about anymore, so we might as well let it go."
She thought it over a little more, and realized once again how lucky she was to find such an amazing girlfriend. "Did you really mean what you said about waiting for me to be ready?"
-"Of course I did. I don't want anything to happen we would regret." A playful little smirk crept across her mouth. "Until then, I'm just going to have to make do with old Jill."
Korra yanked her head around in shock. "WHAT?!"
Opal held up the back of her right hand, and drew the letters across it. "J. (Thumb and index.) I. (Middle.) L. (ring) L. (Pinky.) Jill!"
Korra poked her in the side of the gut as retaliation. "That's not funny!"
But Opal was laughing so hard that the tears were nearly rolling down her cheeks. "I'm sorry, that was just way too easy."
"Stop it!" She continued tickling Opal, until they were both tired, and really fell asleep this time around.
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