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|House of Cards|
Korra heard the familiar sound of Tenzin's front door closing. They were late, but it didn't really matter. It was Friday night, Opal was busy, and Mako and Asami already had dating plans. If she wouldn't have been called over by Pema, she would have spent the night grinding away at the last few headshots for the Golden AK-47. With my current free time, that is going to happen when pigs fly.
Still, could be worse. She was at least making money, instead of sitting on her ass, costing money. Not that she wasn't just sitting on her ass here, but hey, gotta count your blessings.
Korra was already halfway to the door, when the married couple stopped her.
-"Korra, we would like to talk with you before you leave," Tenzin said, his voice firm as usual.
Well shit. This conversation can only have one purpose. "Let me guess: it's about my father."
"If he wants to talk to me, he knows where to find me." On the one hand, Korra felt really bad for shooting him down like this. He is going through the trouble of trying to repair whatever shrapnel remains of your relationship, and you tell him to fuck off. On the other, she didn't feel like talking to her father's messenger boy. Even if said messenger boy was one of the best-respected politicians nationwide.
-"If it makes you feel any better, he didn't put me up to this. Even though I don't necessarily approve of your relationship with Opal, I won't sit idly by as your family tears itself to pieces." Oops. Congratulations Congressman, you just succeeded in making me feel even shittier.
Korra looked up. "How are you so sure about that?"
Pema joined in, as she subtly coerced them back into the living room. "Your mother. After I took her to the play last week, we stayed to have a drink. She told me that even though her relationship with you has been on the up and up since you came out, her relationship with Tonraq has only decreased."
"I know. Cause and effect and all that. I've been on the receiving end."
-"Korra, we're not treating this as a joke, and neither should you," said Tenzin sternly. "Pema and I have talked things over and decided that we should at least hear your side of things."
This struck her dumb. What were they expecting of her? That she would just poor her heart out, like she had all those months ago with Pema? She would be willing to fix things for her mother's sake, but wasn't driven to do so in any form, sort or way. "Look, my father doesn't want me around, and I'm kind of fine with that. What I don't like is that he's taking my mother down with him in his crusade to burn me."
Both of them were surprised. "You don't care about him?" Pema asked, more shocked than Korra would have expected.
"No, I don't. He made his point quite eloquently, so to speak. He gave me a choice: Opal or him. And do you blame me for choosing someone who genuinely cares about me and goes out of her way to make my life more enjoyable over someone who seems to have made it his life goal to make it as miserable as possible?"
This kind of silenced them. Tenzin was the quickest in organizing his thoughts. "That's not the Tonraq I know."
Korra interrupted him. "I've had that discussion before with Pema." She looked over to her, and saw her blushing. "It doesn't matter what you think he is like, my mother and I are always at the receiving end of his frustrations at the Capitol. We have put up with it, but this is in a different category. He doesn't agree with me in particular, and he needs someone to vent his frustration at, and we are both out of the question. He's kind of stuck for escapes."
It was silent for a while. Korra's company thought over what she had just said.
-"Are you saying that he refuses to talk to you because he is frustrated?" Tenzin asked.
"Yes. My mother told me how he came to be, something he keeps a careful secret. It's why he is so adamant to work me out of the house, and all the more reason for him to stay away from me. He knows that this is already gnawing away at his patience and he wants to protect us from himself."
-"He wouldn't hit you," Pema said resolutely. "He would never forgive himself."
Korra couldn't help but see the irony of the situation. "Yeah, but he would also take me coming out like a champ, and yet here we are." Pema and Tenzin both winced at the realization that she was right. "Did you have anything particular in mind, or was this just to gauge my own opinion?"
-"Do you want us to help you or not?" Tenzin didn't seem too pleased with Korra's callous responses.
"Look, the only way you can get us to talk about it is to force us the same room and lock the door from the outside."
-"If that's what it takes, I can make that happen." Korra looked up in surprise, but Tenzin appeared to be completely serious. Of course he is. When have you ever seen him not serious?
"Tenzin, I was joking. how would you even make that happen?"
-"Simple: I invite him over to my office, where you wait for him, and I force him to sit down and hear you out."
Son of a bitch, that might actually work. "That... sounds pretty good, actually." Korra thought for a while. "How soon could you arrange something like that?"
-"Depends on the schedules, but definitely within the week."
"Sounds like a plan." They quickly worked out the rest of the details: Tenzin would call her once he has a time and a date, and Korra would show up a little beforehand to get the upper hand over him. What could possibly go wrong?
Once home, Korra informed her mother of the plane they had worked out. She thought it to be a good opportunity, but they agreed that it would be best if Korra and he were to talk alone.
Tenzin called the next day, something which didn't really surprise Korra. Monday, after school direct to the Capitol. Makes it almost seem like detention, or maybe community service. But hey, don't do the crime if you can't take the time.
She waited for the whip as agreed, and he walked them to his office. It was very spacious, classically decorated, but not tastelessly so. Korra sat down on a chair so that she wasn't visible from the door, and Tenzin took his seat at his desk. Roughly ten minutes passed before her father finally showed up.
-"Ah, Tonraq, you made it," Tenzin opened as he stood up.
-"What was it you wanted to talk to me about?"
-"I lied to you a little. You're not here to talk to me." He gestured him to turn around to face Korra. She saw his eyes narrow.
-"So now you even use Tenzin to get to me. I hadn't expected you to sink so low." His voice was still filled with disdain and resentment.
-"I proposed this," Tenzin interrupted him. "Senna is breaking down over this. She is going to implode if nothing is done about it, so I decided to step up. Korra and I agreed to this. My guard outside has orders to keep you in here at all costs, and he's not going let you leave until Korra or I say so, so you will sit down and hear her out."
Her father took a deep breath, but sat down in the chair across from Korra, as far away from her as he could.
Tenzin eyed them up, and nodded as he saw the risk of Tonraq bolting from the room first chance he got was nullified. "I'll let you two talk." He walked out, leaving a big silence in his wake.
-"You wanted to talk to me, so talk," her father opened, not making any attempt to hide his displeasure about being forced to listen to her.
"I'm not here for me. I don't like you, and you don't like me, so that makes it easy for the both of us. But right now, mom is caught in the crossfire between us, and that is something I don't want." Korra paused for a moment to gauge his reaction. It seemed to lighten him up a little bit, so she continued. "I'm not asking for your permission, your approval, or your acceptance. You don't have to love me, you don't even have to like me, as long as you tolerate me for mom's sake."
-"So you're asking me to go back home, and force myself to neglect that you are...?" He hesitated, but didn't finish his sentence.
-"That's not easy for me."
Well, so far so good. "I know. But do you think this is easy for either of us? I'm forced to watch as this one detail about my life rips us all to pieces. Mom is starting to crumble, I don't know how you are handling it, but judging by what Tenzin has told me, not too well. You two have been together for over 25 years, and this is what kills it? I refuse to just accept that."
-"Korra, I never made a secret about it, I don't like what you have become. I'm pretty sure I can't turn on a dime just because you found out."
The fact that her father refused to say out loud that she was gay wasn't very hopeful. On the other hand, they were finally having a conversation about this like rational adults. "Look, dad, I'm not asking you to suddenly wave the rainbow flag in the Congress. I'm just asking you to be professional and diligent about it, so that we stop playing tug-of-war with mom's sanity as the prize."
He fell silent for a bit, thinking over what Korra said. "How would we go about it?"
Hook, line, and sinker. "I would propose a deal: I will keep my relationship out of our house and particularly your presence as much as possible, and in turn, you will ignore it whenever it does come up."
He was clearly contemplating the issue, but he didn't seem very comfortable with it, so Korra decided to try something more. "It's only for a year or so. Then I'm off to college, and we never have to see or speak to each other again."
-"That's not what I want, Korra."
She sighed. "Neither do I, but this is the hand we've been dealt. This is the first time in a month that we have a real conversation, and even though I hate to admit it, that month has been surprisingly easy."
He looked off to the side, and gently nodded. "I suppose." Another silence. "Alright. I have to make some last arrangements, but that means I could come back tomorrow. How does that sound?"
Korra smiled. "Sounds great." Neither of them really knew what to do next. How do you part ways when you have agreed to the fact that you don't like each other? Especially considering that they just agreed to move back into the same house together?
-"I guess this is it. If you'll excuse me, I have some other matters to attend to. See you tomorrow, kid."
"See you tomorrow."
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