The Fighter
Chapter information


Written by


Release date

April 11th 2017

Word count


"Korra, please, I beg of you, eat something."

Korra shook her head. "I can't, you know I can't."

Asami could almost feel the tears prick in her eyes. "You're only 60 pounds! You're stick-thin, it's 75 degrees in here, and you're shivering! You can't keep going on like this, in fact, if you keep going like this, you won't go on at all."

Korra looked up with tears in her eyes, knowing that she would break Asami's heart. "None of that is true. I'm happy like this."

She couldn't take this any longer. "Korra, I'm not gonna stand by and watch you starve yourself to death because some bitch on the internet who has never seen you tells you something." She decided to do something she never did: set an ultimatum. "Either you come with me now to eat, or I'm out." Asami actually was crying now, because she couldn't bluff on this one. She hated what Korra was forcing her to do.

But Korra didn't budge. She sat down on the bed, folding her stick-thin arms in front of her.

At that point, Asami knew it was enough. She took one more look at her best friend, the tears falling down her sunken-in cheeks, before turning around and leaving.

In the hall, she ran into Senna, who, judging by the look on her face, had heard enough of the argument. "This can't go on any longer, Senna."

The mother nodded, stuck in the dilemma between loving her daughter and saving her daughter. "I know, but what are we going to do? We tried support, therapy, punishment, everything. What else is there?"

Asami thought for a moment. "I'll call the police. Tell them she's a danger to herself and put her in a clinic."

Senna obviously hated the idea but didn't see a way out either. If Korra wasn't forced out of her anorexia, she would literally die from malnourishment. "She'll hate you for it," she quietly said.

"I'd rather have her hate me than have her dead," Asami sighed.

The mother pulled Asami into a tight hug. "You're a good person, Asami. I wish more people were like you." When they pulled away again, Asami saw the tears in her eyes. "Go. Make the call."

With shaking hands, she took out her phone and dialed.

5 years later...

"Will you finally tell me where we're going?" Asami sighed.

Bolin laughed. "Oh, Asami, ye have little faith. Why won't you trust me?"

"Oh, I don't know, maybe because last time you took me to do something, you pushed me off a bridge."

"On a bungee cord!" he quickly came to his own defense. "It was awesome, and you know it."

Asami wasn't impressed. She was fine with most things, but she hated heights. It wasn't preposterous, but just standing on the ledge of a really high bridge was her idea of hell. And just as she had made up her mind that she wasn't going to jump, Bolin gave her a push and she fell, calling him every word for 'bastard' in the English language on the way down, and come to think of it, quite a few that weren't in English.

Bolin knew what her silence meant. "Okay, I promise you, you get to do this one sitting down the entire time."

"Fine," she conceded, but that agreement took another hit when Bolin announced they were there. "Oh, you've got to be kidding me."

"Asami, trust me on this one, you'll like it."

She huffed. "What have I ever done that makes you think I would enjoy an MMA fight?"

"Gut feeling?" he tried with his most innocent expression.

"It's a good thing Mako became the cop and not you," she said, rolling her eyes.

Bolin clapped her on the shoulder while laughing. "Don't knock it 'till you try it. Come on, I got us pretty good seats."

Asami sighed. The things she'd let him talk her into.

It had to be said, their seats were pretty good. They weren't exactly in the middle but slightly off to the side of one and a couple of rows back. To placate Asami a little bit, Bolin had bought her a soda and told her to just try and enjoy the show. She had no idea who was fighting, but the crowd sure seemed to be into it.

Suddenly, the lights went out. "Ladies and gentlemen!" the announcer came on as a spotlight shone on him. "In a bout scheduled for three rounds, we have the great, the reigning champion, the Uniter!" The crowd roared as a second spot light came on, this one on a woman. She was extremely muscular, no surprises there, with her pitch-black hair tied in a long braid, and even from here, Asami could see the beauty mark under her right eye.

"And for the challenger, the undefeated Avatar!" The crowd seemed less enthusiastic for her, even though Bolin definitely cheered this time around. A third spot came on, and this one was in the far corner on a woman with darker skin, a short bob haircut, and both arms tattooed all the way down. She looked like the opposite of the Uniter, save for the fact that she was just as muscular.

Something about her was familiar, but Asami couldn't place her finger on exactly what it was. She wouldn't have very long to figure it out though, as the referee stepped into the ring as well. After checking they were both ready, he started the fight.

They both engaged, with the Avatar looking like the more patient fighter. She was slower to engage, and when the Uniter swung her first punch, she quickly leaned back and used the extra momentum of coming forward to land the first punch in the Uniter's face.

Asami couldn't help but smile as Bolin cheered. When he was invested in something, he wasn't afraid to show it. When she looked back, the Uniter was just blocking a high kick from the Avatar, who was quick to recover from it and dodge an incoming hook herself. They kept on stalking around each other, always waiting for an opening.

The first round soon ended, both of them seeming equally matched. It should be said that while Asami had her doubts about coming here, with the crowd and everything, she was surprisingly enjoying herself.

The second round was different. This time, the Avatar definitely had the upper hand, being more aggressive, landing more punches than her opponent. And then probably the most amazing fighting move Asami had ever seen came. The Uniter was standing her ground as the Avatar engaged again, and after slapping a punch down, she suddenly tried a roundhouse kick aimed for the Uniter's head, but missed. The Avatar must have planned for this, because instead of stumbling as she came back down, she kept on spinning, this time with a back-handed cross slamming straight into her opponent's head.

KO, because the Uniter fell down onto the mat, no doubt about it. Some of the crowd cheered, some of it booed, but the Avatar showed off anyway, a satisfied smirk lining her face.

And that's when it finally hit Asami. It couldn't have hit her harder if she had taken that final punch to the face. She'd know that smirk anywhere. "Korra..." she whispered. "Bo, we gotta get back there. I know her!"

He smiled. "So you figured out why I brought you here."

"Yes, now come on, we have to go!"

"Fortunately, our tickets include backstage passes," Bolin smiled. "I know someone there." They made their way to the back exit where the crowd was also stacked up and couldn't really elbow their way forward because those wolves wouldn't let anyone get them off of their good spot for a signature.

After about 20 minutes, she came out. Through the people that were loudly cheering, Asami could just make out that she really was there, but no way in hell that Korra could see her. "Dammit, Bo, I gotta talk to her."

"Relax, I got this." He put his fingers in his mouth and whistled unbelievably loudly, getting everyone's attention, including Korra's. "Korra!"

"Bolin!" she called back. "Hey, Frisky, let that guy through!" An absolutely massive guy gestured for Bolin to come up to the barrier and lifted one up a bit to let him through. Asami tried to follow him, but the guard put the barrier back into place before she could step out as well. For a moment, she considered arguing, but it would be pointless.

Still, when they got a little closer, she could at least follow their conversation. "Just out of curiosity, who was the second ticket for?" Korra asked while she was busy signing scraps of paper and whatnot. "You were awfully secretive about it, which is nothing like you."

"Well..." he said with a mischievous smile, "I wanted it to be a surprise." He nudged Korra in the elbow and pointed at Asami.

When they locked eyes, Korra was so surprised that she dropped her pen. "Ho-ly shit..."

Asami sheepishly smiled. "Hey, Kor."

Without saying a word, Korra pulled her in for a tight hug, and Asami really wished the barrier wasn't there, because that was poking her in the hips while Korra was almost crushing her ribs. "Korra... can't... breathe..." she managed to squeak out.

"Right, sorry," she quickly managed while putting Asami back down. "Asami, you gotta come with me. We have a lot to catch up on, and we have to do it quickly. Do you have time for a quick bite to eat?"

Asami chuckled. "Korra, I've been trying to get you to say that to me for nearly ten years. I'm in."

Korra bashfully brushed a strand of hair behind her ear. "Yeah... I guess I had that one coming."

Much to Asami's surprise, Bolin declined. "I'm gonna sit this one out. It looks like you two have some catching up to do."

"Okay," Korra nodded. Meanwhile, she lifted the 40 pound gate with one hand, making Asami raise an impressed eyebrow. "Come on," the fighter said. "I have a post-fight ritual and inviting someone along is no reason to change that." They quickly said their goodbyes to Bolin who went back to his own car, while Korra ushered Asami into a huge black SUV with tinted windows and the guy she called Frisky took the wheel.

"'Post-fight ritual'? What the hell do you mean with that?"

"Means I go out for some poultry. Need them proteins," she finished with a big smile. "There's a place not too far from here that has the best turkey sandwiches ever, and you need one of those. Not even a matter of want, it's a matter of need."

Asami smiled. "It's great to see you like this. Last time we talked, it wasn't exactly..." but she was interrupted by Korra.

"Hold that thought. He doesn't need to know everything," she said, gesturing to the guard.

"Right," Asami nodded. What she was about to say was exceptionally personal, and it makes sense that Korra wouldn't want that story out there. "You still look really good though. Had some body work done over the years, I see," Asami remarked, gesturing to Korra's tattoos, easily displayed by her tank top.

Korra chuckled. "I did. Felt like the right thing to do. New me, so to speak."

"What'd your parents say when you can home with them?"

"Well, my dad didn't really care, my mom wasn't a fan until I showed her this part." Korra turned halfway around, showing Asami her other shoulder, which, among many others, had a heart that said 'Mom'. "She thought that was kind of sweet even though she still thought the scales were a bit... unnecessary," she chuckled, showing her forearm, which had very stylized scales all around it.

Asami laughed as well. "Still looks good on you, it has to be said."

"Ladies, I'm sorry to interrupt, but we're here," the driver said.

"Alright, guess that's our cue," Korra said. "Frisky, you know the drill."

"I do," he sighed, and when Asami had shut her door, he drove off again.

It still had her curious though. "What's up with you having a bodyguard and all? You obviously don't like having him around, and yet you can't send him away. Plus, you don't really look like you need a guard."

Korra laughed. "Well, that was because one time after a fight, a fan hopped the barriers, I was already tired so not really thinking, and I allegedly dislocated his shoulder and knocked his lights out."

Asami wasn't convinced. "'Allegedly'? What's that supposed to mean?"

"Means that we settled and that my manager paid the fine on the condition that I take a guard with me everywhere I go who's actually trained to deal with crowd control. I really don't like having someone watch my every move, so he usually stays in the car. Right now, he's just parking around the back."

They stepped into the sandwich shop, and Asami immediately saw why Korra liked coming here so much. It had a 1950s kind of feel to it, down to the half-circular booths with the red vinyl benches.

"Kya!" Korra cheerfully opened when she spotted the woman behind the counter.

"Korra," Kya nodded. "Had another fight?" she asked, raising an eyebrow when she saw the cut on her lip.

"Ah, my opponent ended up eating the mat. It can always be worse."

Kya chuckled. "Well, congratulations. Want the usual?"

"Two, actually. One for the lady as well," Korra said, gesturing to Asami.

"Alright, I'll bring it out to you in a minute. Take a seat wherever you want, place is dead anyway."

"Thanks." She made her way over to a booth all the way in the back, where no one would be able to eavesdrop on them.

But after they sat down, a little bit of an awkward silence fell. Because it really just was the two of them now, there were no excuses not to talk about the elephant in the room. "Korra, I'm sorry," Asami eventually started. "For putting you in that clinic, I mean. I drove past is after you were taken in there, because I wanted to know what it was like, and it looked more like a prison than anything else."

"You don't have anything to be sorry for. You saved me." Korra sighed. "Yes, that place was a prison, but in the month before you made that call, I lost another five pounds. They told me that if I had kept that up for another two weeks, my body would start shutting down, and I would have literally starved myself to death. You were just in time when you made that call."

Asami didn't really know how to respond to that. She kind of already knew that, just not how severe it was. "That... that's heavy."

"I know," Korra nodded. "When they told me, it was a major reality check." It fell silent for a few moments. "I'm the one who should be sorry, for putting you in a position where you had to make that call in the first place, and..." She sighed, visibly hesitant to say out loud whatever was coming next.

Asami had a reasonably good idea what it was, but this was something that needed to happen. "And what?"

"And for hating you," Korra admitted with a small voice. "After I was first taken in there, I hated everyone and everything. I hated my doctors for force-feeding me, the clinic itself for being a prison, my parents for letting it happen, but most of all, I hated you for betraying me and putting me in there. I blamed all of you for my predicament, while the only real person to blame was me."

"Korra..." Asami said, seeing the tears in her once best friend's eyes build. She reached over the table to take her hand, giving it an affectionate squeeze. "Aren't you hating yourself way too much for this?"

Korra sighed. "Maybe. Not like I wouldn't deserve it after everything."

They were right back in that room, like they were five years ago, Korra hating herself. Only now it was for what she did, not what she looked like, so that was something of an improvement as far as Asami was considered. "But you came out of it so much stronger - literally. I barely even recognized you at first, that's how much your hard work has paid off."

They were only speaking softly, so they immediately noticed when Kya came out carrying two plates, with some of the biggest sandwiches on them Asami had ever seen. "Damn. Is this all for me?"

Korra chuckled. "It is. If you can't finish it, don't worry, I'll do it for you. I sometimes go back for seconds here as well. Thanks Kya."

It made Asami raise another impressed eyebrow. "Wait, how much do you actually weigh?"

"You know that's kind of rude to ask," Korra said with a smirk. When Asami shot her a pointed look, she caved in. "144 pounds, right at the upper limit of my weight class. And they call it featherweight," she chuckled while making air quotations. "So that's what this is for," she continued, taking a large bite out of her sandwich. "Carbs and protein make practically living in the gym a lot easier."

"So you're two and a half times heavier than you were five years ago?"

"I am. After about six months in the clinic, another girl there showed me a picture of her sister doing a one-handed pull-up while wearing ankle weights. I was starting to realize how dangerous it had been what I was doing to myself, so I set myself a one-handed pull-up with ankle weights as a goal. From there, it was about two months to get to a reasonable weight and they let me go, and then me and my dad started hitting the gym - hard. Took me another six months before I could do it, but now I can easily do it. Anyway, that's more than enough about me. What have you been up to?" To make sure Asami actually took over, Korra dug back into her sandwich.

Asami sighed. "Well, I felt guilty about the whole 'locking you up in what's basically a prison'-thing, so I enrolled in an engineering program in the Fire Nation, which took three years. After I came back, I started working at my dad's company and that's pretty much it. No significant other, no big changes in my life, other than the fact that I'm now an engineer."

Korra nodded. "Neat. And I knew it. You were always more concerned with engines than you were with anything else."

"I turned what I like into what I do for a living. I don't remember you as a fighter, but there you are."

"Good point," the fighter agreed. "There is just one glaring omission from your story: how do you know Bolin?"

"Ah," Asami said, feeling a faint blush rise in her cheeks, because this was fairly embarrassing. "I kind of... dated his brother for a while."

Korra started laughing. "Mako? The guy who always acts like he has the Harmony Tower shoved up his ass?"

"Yeah... That's also pretty much the reason we broke up. Absolutely no flexibility in that guy."

The fighter kept on chuckling. "So how does Bolin fit in there?"

"Well, we became friends when me and Mako were going out and just stayed friends afterwards. Mako isn't too happy about that, but hey, it's Bolin's life, not his. Where does he fit into your life?"

"We're gym buddies," Korra explained. "He noticed me coming there a lot, and him flirting with me gradually became less and less subtle. He was so disappointed when I told him I don't swing that way, it was absolutely hilarious. So to make up for basically laughing out loud at that, I took him out for a quick bite afterwards, and we remained friends. A couple of weeks ago, I think I mentioned you, and not that much later, he asked me for a couple of tickets to a fight. He never did that before, so sure, why not? And then he brings you."

Asami nodded. "Guess he wanted to bring us back together." She looked up from her sandwich with a smile. "Whatever his reason, I'm glad that he did."

Korra had that same smile. "No doubt about it."

Right, little bit of background on this one: I came across the story of Fee Chrystall, which is broadly Korra's story here, though I'm a little hazy on the details. It really inspired me to write this, as it is such a story about what a combination of determination and hard work can achieve. As for Korra's appearance after the jump forward, that was largely based on Emmy Simpkins, of whom I saw a picture on Tumblr. I know Korra isn't that muscular in the show, but she is in my head when I turn her into a professional fighter, and in that headcanon of mine, she always has her arms tattooed.

Korra's RecoveryThe Road to Nowhere SpecialSoldier's Eyes - Part 1InkedSmokin'For Those About To RockSoldier's Eyes - Part 2Bath TimeGym BuddiesThe New TAMoving Out, Moving OnEarning Her SpursSwimming in the RainA Drink For FreeInsiderHow I Got to MemphisWhat Happens In Vegas...VendettaThe Snow StormStays in Vegas...SaturdayPublic TransportThe Big DayThe FighterLights, Camera, ActionWhat Happens In College...Small-Block V8... Or Maybe NotSpur of the MomentThe Suit Makes the WomanAsami Alone
Other works (mostly Kainora)
TicketsAs Tough As You AreThe CompoundWas It Worth It?Coffee to GoBest Hangover EverBest Hangover Ever 2Winter Olympics 2018Lost In the WoodsGhosts of the Temple
Full stories
The Divided RepublicTeam PlayerAll Are EqualThe CallgirlWho We AreShe's a PirateWhere Do We Start?Some Day They'll Go Down Together

See more

For the collective works of the author, go here.