Home of the Brave
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Happy Birthday

Korra ran up the stairs two at a time, she was so excited, and barged straight into Opal's room. "Opal!" She flew her girlfriend around the neck. "You're not going to believe this! My mom came by, and we just talked everything over and decided to go home, to face my dad together!"

The green-eyed girl was kind of startled by Korra's exuberance, but quickly regained herself. "That's great! I told you, you could fix it all."

Korra let go, and with a massive smile on her face. "Yes you did," she said, nearly bouncing on her feet in excitement. "We just talked, and she admitted that she would have liked to see it differently, she definitely approves of us. She saw us outside the teashop, and she said that I looked happy. Imagine if she saw us on a good day."

Opal giggled. "Don't get ahead of yourself. This is a big step, but you still have your father to convince. From what you told me, that's going to be the more difficult one."

This brought Korra's spirits down a little bit, and she sighed. "Yeah, I guess. But now that I have my mom on our side, he's outnumbered and outmatched. I think we have a pretty good chance at convincing him to at least tolerate it. I don't care about his approval, as long as he doesn't kick me out of the house again. But I have to pack! All my shit is spread around this room!"

-"I know, you're kind of a slob."

"Oh what, like you are that much better."

Opal playfully stuck her tongue out and smiled. "Point taken. I'll help you collect, but you can always come back for what you forgot, am I right?"

The thought of this made Kora all fuzzy inside. No more hiding. No more sneaking around. She wrapped her arms around Opal's neck, and pressed a quick kiss on her lips. "You are. From now on, it's easy sailing for us."

They quickly stuffed whatever Mako had brought by in Korra's bag, and she was on her way down, where Suyin sat down with Senna to drink a cup of tea together. "Ah, Korra," the Beifong said. "I see you packed your stuff. You don't have to rush anything, it's already late. You can stay one more night if you want to."

Korra looked over to her mother. Senna got a smile on her face as Korra declined. "No. I really appreciate everything you've done for me, but I think it's time I go home."

It felt weird saying it. Coming here was so easy, because even though it formally wasn't her home, it felt more like home than her own house. Nobody here was judgmental, or demanding, they all just accepted her as the latest addition to the family. Her situation might have also had a lot to do with it, but Korra's new-found physique meant she could measure up with both Opal and the Wonder Twins, she could find herself in Huan's art and Baatar Jr.'s engineering projects were surprisingly interesting. Suyin was kindness itself, and Baatar Sr. was very indifferent about Korra living with them, but she barely saw him, so it didn't matter.

This was all a stark contrast with her own home. Her mother pushing her around, and her father with his disapproving scowl. She never really thought about it, but the lack of siblings meant no peers, no one to agree with you or stand up against your parents. It had always been her versus them. Until now.

-"Korra, shall we get going?" Senna asked cautiously.

"Ehh, sure, but how did you get here?"

She smiled. "By cab. I was fairly certain I could win you back with that little speech I had prepared."

Well, you know what they say, this is The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. She certainly took that phrase to heart. "Well, then I guess I'm driving us back."

Korra started walking to the front door, but Opal stopped her. Senna was right beside them, and simply took Korra's bag and keys from her hand. "You two take a minute. I'll wait in the car."

Opal pulled her into a tight hug. "You be careful now."

Korra chuckled. "Relax, I'm going to my father, I'm not leading the charge of the Rohirrim. I'll call you to let you know how it went. That, or I'll be back here in give or take an hour and a half."

-"Still, you never know." She gave Korra a firm kiss. "Good luck. You're going to need it, both of you." Korra looked into Opal's emerald eyes one last time, and turned around to walk to her car outside.

Her mother was behind the wheel, so Korra just made herself comfortable on the passenger seat. She drove off, a bit clunky since she wasn't used to the manual transmission. "Sorry. I'll try to spare your clutch."

Korra just smiled. "Doesn't really matter, it's already knackered. Opal isn't a very good driver either."

A genuine smile crept across her mother's face, which was something Korra hadn't seen from her in a long time. It was a surprisingly heartwarming sight. As soon as they had left the Beifong Estate, Korra posed the question that was hanging between them.

"So what are we going to say when we get home?"

Senna sighed. "I don't know, Korra. I had gotten about this far, but I honestly wouldn't know what to say to your father when we get back."

This got the younger worried. "That means we have to improvise."

-"Basically, yes."

Now it was Korra's turn to sigh. Magnificent. You suck at improvising.

It fell silent for a long time, the both of them trying to come up with a solid reason to let Korra stay. Unfortunately, neither could come up with something more intelligent than 'It's not just your house, half of it is moms/mine', until they turned back into their home street. Senna took Korra's hand, and gave her a reassuring smile. "It's going to be all right, Korra."

Korra tried nodding convincingly, and she stepped out of the car with her head held high. Tonraq was already waiting for her in the doorway, and pointed an accusing finger at her.

-"What are you doing here? I warned you not to come back here."

Her mother immediately jumped into the breach for her. "Leave it Tonraq. She's here because I asked her to come back with me. We have talked it through extensively, and came to the conclusion that we both wanted to do our absolute best to repair what remains of our family. Even if you don't want to, we do."

He eyed his wife up with half squinted eyes. "I will not have that kind of filth in my house. You can come in, she is not staying."

-"It's not just your house, is it? Married in common goods, remember? Half of the house is mine, so I get half the say. The only way you can get us to leave, is by manhandling us out the door. And I take it you wouldn't want that kind of attention?"

This took Korra by complete surprise. Never would she have guessed her mother to be so determined, so cutthroat. But it seemed to be working, as she could see her father weighing his options from behind the door of her car.

Tonraq took a deep breath, and gave in. "Fine, have it your way." He stepped out of the way, and let her mother pass. Korra took her bag from the backseat, and walked in as well. As she walked inside, her father gave her the dirtiest look imaginable. "Welcome home, Korra," he sneered, and he turned around on his heel, taking large steps back into the living room.

Korra and her mother couldn't do anything but stare after him. They gave each other a meaningful look, and Korra went upstairs, back to her room.

It was just the way she left it. A giant fucking mess. How the hell did Mako find anything in here? She threw her bag into a corner, and let herself fall onto her bed. The feeling was nice, back in her own room. The many movie posters that lined the blue walls were familiar, making her soon feel comfortable again. Of course, it wasn't as comfortable as falling asleep while cuddling with Opal, but it was home and it was just going to have to do.

Then she heard her parents yell at each other downstairs. Korra couldn't make out what they were saying, but she could take an 'educated guess'. She walked out on the balcony next to the stairs, where her father came barging out the living room, seething with rage. He noticed Korra looking down at him. "This is all your fault! Happy now?!" he yelled at her, before barging out the front door and slamming it shut behind him. Déjà vu anyone?

Korra rushed downstairs, and found her mother on the couch, her face buried in her hands and leaning on her knees. She sat down next to her, and put a comforting arm around her shoulder. Senna leaned against her daughter, desperate more than anything else.

"What did he say?"

Her mother sighed. "Care to take a guess?"

"He doesn't want me back, and he didn't want to stay with me under one roof."

-"Pretty much."

Silence descended on them again. Korra couldn't exactly say she was surprised. It wasn't so much that he always got what he wanted, he made it happen. But this situation was completely out of his control. The two most important people in his life, and he has zero influence on their decisions.

"Where do you think he went?" Korra eventually asked. In truth, she didn't care, but she didn't know what else to say.

It took a while before Senna responded. "I don't know." She paused for a moment. "This wasn't exactly what I had in mind."

Korra sighed. "What did you expect? That we would give me a big hug, and then throw me a welcome home-party?"

-"Well, no, but I at least expected him to be a little more mature about it."

"How did he end up so pig-headed? Nobody ever told me."

-"It's because everything he has, he had to work hard for. You never met his parents, and there was a reason for that. His father, your grandfather, was a drunk. He died before we even met. His mother tried to scrape something of a living together by working as a hairdresser by day, and as a waitress by night. She worked herself to death trying to provide for her three sons and one daughter. With her absence, your father was the oldest one, and he pretty much raised his siblings. Any one of them would have been a handful in their own right, but three of them, with a complete lack of parents, and minimal means made it extremely taxing for him. He had to raise them with an iron fist, hence why he can be so harsh and unforgiving. One day, the youngest, his sister, was killed by a drunk driver. With only two brothers left, he felt like he had failed. His family had fallen apart, and every attempt he made at saving it had proven fruitless. He sent both of his brothers off to boot camp as soon as they were old enough, as he couldn't take the stress of taking care of them anymore. He headed to law school himself, determined to succeed where his father had failed. That's where he earned the nickname 'The Iceman'. It was not so much his personality, but the way he worked. He was always cold-blooded, clean, methodical and thorough. But that was not the man I fell in love with. He was also warm, and compassionate to his friends. After he graduated, we agreed on building our own family, and he was determined to do it right."

She sighed, and took a moment to regain her thoughts. "In a way, he did. Our family has been his proudest achievement, but it has been difficult for him as well. He doesn't like the idea that he is not in full control. It has been forced on him from such an early age, that adapting to anything else is extremely difficult for him. He has always struggled with you, and you even admitted that you haven't made it easy on us. The older you got, the more you started to disagree with him, and he never took it well. And now... this, he sees this as his ultimate failure, because he knows he cannot control it. You are both stubborn, and you both refuse to give in. Don't think I blame you, though. He should get over himself, and come to grips with the fact that not everything is, or even can be in his control."

Korra was stunned. Her father had always refused to talk about his past, and now she knew why. To be very fair, it wasn't even surprising. His control over his siblings was what kept them alive. Small wonder that he tried to micromanage every aspect of her life. And all the more reason why this whole 'coming out'-thing doesn't fall well.

She felt the wave of guilt build up in her again. She had seen this as a victory, finally being able to break free from his iron grip. But now she realized that when he said that he was trying to keep her safe, he meant it, and more importantly, that he had every reason in the world to be worried, he had seen it all go wrong before.

It was silent for a long time after Senna stopped talking. She had told his life's story, something Korra had always been curious about. But now that she knew, she wasn't sure if this was what she wanted.

"Why did you never tell me this before?" was the first thing Korra managed. It felt like a stupid question.

-"He didn't want to tell you, because it would be opening up old wounds for him, and he wanted to spare you the worry. If you knew, he thought you would worry about it, carry the mistakes of his family with you. He opted for control instead, lock it away, never to talk about it again."

"But it explains everything! You could have told me this years ago, and I would have at least understood why you were so controlling about my life."

-"He didn't want to, and I think you understand why I didn't want to push him. It's his burden to bear, and his choice to tell you. But now it seems like our last lifeline. I think you need to know if we want to have any chance at truly making this family whole again."

Korra sighed. Her mother's reasoning made sense. Her father would probably need some time to himself to let it all sink in. One week of shouting at his wife wouldn't do him much good. But even with that in mind, she would have to talk some sense into him at some point. Korra doubted that he accept her full stop, and truth be told, she didn't care. But he had no right to make her mother's life a hell because of that. She would have to fix it at some point in time.

Team Player
Act I
Dinner and a MovieThe Green BentleyPropositionMeet the ParentsBlack WidowBlack and White
Act II
New Year, New StartConfessionBlind DateNight's WatchOut of the Frying PanChiseledThe Metal Clan
And Into the FireExtinguishedEmergency RepairsReinforcementsHome of the BraveHappy Birthday
Act IV
House of CardsReady, Fire, AimWell and TrulyRude AwakeningHome AloneDriveGetaway
Act V
Unfinished BusinessPeacekeeperRisky BusinessHoneyPublic ScrutinySkeletons in the Closet
Act VI
Up, Up, and AwayBest Vacation Ever
The Naval ObservatoryMuch Ado About NothingPepper and Cyanide

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