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May 29th, 2017
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and so did their day out at the carnival. Bolin and Opal hadn't managed to catch them to exact their revenge, which was probably a good thing for now. Still, it had been really enjoyable even with Kai unable to win anything for Jinora because she wouldn't be capable of taking it home with her anyway.
They were back at the watershed shack again, with her already standing next to the bike. "You sure you can't stretch it any longer?" Kai asked with a hopeful look in his eyes.
"I'm sure," she sighed. "Dinner is gonna be soon, and I don't want to be on the receiving end of my mom's wrath if I'm late. I'll text you later, okay?"
He did look a little disappointed, but nodded. "Okay. Come on, one more kiss." Jinora happily complied, but then it really was time to walk back home.
As soon as she stepped in, she knew that she'd have to make for her room or risk getting trapped by either one of her parents, or worse, Ikki. At least this way, she could quietly take off her hoodie, replace her lenses with more comfortable glasses before being yelled at.
When she got back downstairs, Jinora got the expected death-glare from Ikki that was easy enough to ignore and went straight to the kitchen, where her mother was preparing dinner.
"Hey, Mom," she cautiously started.
Pema looked up. "Hey, sweetheart. How was your day out?"
This was strange. Why was she so casual about this? "It... It was fine, I guess? We went to the carnival at the other end of town."
-"Hmm." Her mother's tone was completely even, which just confused Jinora more. She got chewed out for it earlier, and now, it was just nothing. "Jinora, would you go and set the table?"
Deciding it couldn't hurt, she just went with it. "Okay, sure." Jinora quickly went to work with that, preparing the table for the six of them. She could hear noises from the living room, probably just Ikki who had decided to spend the rest of the time by watching TV. Usually, they would prepare the table together, but taking current events into account, it was for the better they didn't.
Soon enough, everything was set and the six of them were sitting at the table, waiting for Tenzin to end his prayer. Despite a modicum of tension hanging in the air, which was mostly coming from Ikki who continued to look daggers at Jinora that the latter would ignore, dinner went down as smoothly as Jinora could have hoped for.
Of course, it wasn't meant to last.
Apparently, she wasn't the only one who noticed her sister's death-glares, making Pema speak up eventually.
"Ikki, if you would like to say something, you can tell us."
Jinora looked up from her plate to see the younger girl's angry look on her, already having an idea of where this was going to go. So much for having a nice dinner.
A few moments passed and there was still no word from Ikki, which took Jinora by surprise. After all, her sister wasn't someone to keep still for long, but her stare wasn't faltering nonetheless. If looks could kill, Jinora was sure she would be firmly in her grave by now..
Becoming impatient, Pema raised a brow. "Well?"
It seemed like her sister went from venting to giving her the silent treatment now, but unfortunately for her, it didn't work on the older sibling who kept staring back at her. "You ditched me," Ikki suddenly burst out.
Jinora scoffed. "We've been over this, I didn't ditch you. I have a life, go look for one of your own."
-"Jinora!" Pema intervened.
She internally berated herself. That was Jin getting the upper hand again at a moment where it was definitely not welcome.
Naturally, Ikki wasn't too pleased with the answer. "You're only thinking of yourself! Since weeks ago, it's all about school or friends for you. You keep saying you would try to make time for me, but you never do."
"Last time I checked, I didn't have someone keeping tabs on what I'm doing," Jinora threw back.
At this, Tenzin smacked his hands flat down on the table, putting a sudden halt to his daughters' bickering. "Alright, that's enough. I don't want a fight at my dining table. We are going to finish this and then you two are going to have a conversation like grown-ups."
Jinora knew this was going nowhere, and that dinner could only take a turn for the bad from there. Since she was done anyway, she stood up, and went back to the kitchen, where she started cleaning up. A distraction, maybe, but one she needed right now.
Soon enough, she was joined by her mother, who looked disappointed. "I thought you two had been making progress."
"So did I," Jinora scoffed. "Can't really work with her acting entitled like that."
-"Jinora, your father was right. You two are going to talk this out - tonight. I'm not going to have you ignore each other for another six months."
After helping her mother clean in the kitchen, Jinora went to her room again, where she started texting Kai.
Jinora: Well dinner went great *rolls eyes*
Kai: Sister troubles?
Jinora: No, you think? What gave it away?
Kai: Don't direct too much of your frustrations at her, it's not good for either of you
Ikki walked in, once again without knocking. "Jin, Dad wants us to talk."
Jinora: Speak of the devil... she quickly texted, before turning to her sister. "I know, but not before you learn how to knock," she snidely threw at her, and turned back to her phone, where Kai was typing a response.
Ikki squinted, clearly not pleased with this, took a few steps forward, and before Jinora could react, snatched her phone right out of her hands, and ran away.
"Hey! Give that back, you little brat!" She chased after her little sister, but wasn't quick enough. She could hear the sound of her receiving another message, and this had her worried. Ikki could just read her whole text history with Kai, most of which was for Jinora's eyes only.
-"MOOOOM!" Ikki's voice rang through the air. That definitely didn't bode well for Jinora, a point which was proven moments later. As it turned out, when she was committed, Ikki was suddenly faster and lighter on her feet than her older sister, which was surprising. Before Jinora could catch her younger sister, she was down the stairs, waving the phone triumphantly in their parents' faces. "Jinora has a boyfriend! It's Kai Fong!"
This was exactly the aftermath she'd feared. She didn't know yet what Kai had sent last, but chances were it was fairly conclusive, given that Ikki couldn't have gone through their entire history that fast. (She was a slow reader.)
By the time Jinora had finally caught up and snatched the phone back out of her sister's hand, the damage had already been done: Kai had sent a picture. In truth, she really liked that picture, he'd only taken it earlier that day, and it was the selfie of the two of them. It had come out as adorable as she hoped it would, with the faint blush on Kai's cheek.
Didn't really work in her favor now though, especially now that Ikki had outed her.
Her father remained expressionless, but her mother's eyes grew wide. "Is this true, Jinora?"
She sighed, as she realized she couldn't lie anymore. The genie was out of the bottle. "Yes, it is."
-"Boys, go to your rooms," Pema ordered.
-"But, Mom..." Meelo started to protest, but it fell on deaf ears.
Both Meelo and Rohan knew better than to fight it when their mother struck that tone, so they quietly made themselves scarce.
-"Ikki, how do you know this?"
"She stole my phone while I was texting!" Jinora yelled before her sister even had a chance of answering. "She yanked the damn thing right out of my hands!" She was dangerously close to losing her restrictions, to letting go of Jinora, and fully embracing Jin in front of her parents.
Her father finally spoke up. "Jinora, watch your language. Now," he said, turning to Ikki. "Is it true that you took her phone?"
The younger girl bashfully looked down and nodded.
Ikki looked up to her parents. "She promised me we would go see Ice Age, and then she dumps me so she can go out!"
"'Dump you'?! I didn't dump you, you just assumed I would do it because you're the princess of this house who always gets her way!" Jinora yelled back.
-"Jinora..." Tenzin warned, but it wasn't enough. She was too far gone to be reeled back in, and Jin had taken over.
"You are just a spoiled fucking little brat!"
-"JINORA KATARA GYATSO!" her father's voice thundered through the air. "We do not use that kind of language in my house!"
It went eerily quiet after that. Jinora realized she was in deep trouble, swearing like that to her sister, in front of both her parents no less. Hell, it was very likely that her brothers had heard it too. (It was actually pretty safe to assume the entire neighborhood did, given how loud she yelled it.)
-"Tenzin, you take Ikki to her room, I would like to discuss a few things with Jinora first," Pema said calmly, knowing full well that she could gain more ground on her own than if it was the two of them against her.
Once they had cleared the room, her mother softly spoke up. "How long has this been going on?"
Jinora thought about it, and realized she wouldn't gain anything by trying to deny it any longer. "About six months."
A surprised look appeared on Pema's face. "Six months? You've been dating the boy you've been fulminating over since fifth grade for six months?"
"Yes, I have. We got to know each other a lot better over that English project at the start of the year, and saw the other side of one another. A side of him that I could fall in love with."
-"Romantic as that might be, it doesn't explain why you've kept it hidden for so long."
Jinora sighed. "Because I knew this," she said, gesturing around the room, "would be the reaction I'd get. And that's my own fault, I spent so long badmouthing him and wasn't any closer to coming up with a solution without being obvious." She paused for a while. "I want you to give him a fair chance, and I feel like I already ensured he's going to hit the ground limping."
-"Well, you're not wrong there," Pema sighed. "Given your stories, he is an odd choice, and not one I would support."
A light went on in Jinora's head, and it was one she wasn't sure how to feel about. "Mom, do you think I'm dating him out of some petty act of rebellion?"
-"I don't really know what to think right now. Were you with him earlier today?"
"Yes, he took me to the carnival, we hadn't been on a date in weeks."
Pema folded her arms, clearly not pleased. "So you lied to me. To my face."
"Well..." Jinora was kind of at a loss there, because it was true, she had. "A white lie," she weakly attempted.
-"A white lie isn't something you keep up for six months."
-"And definitely not something you'd say to your mother," Tenzin piped up.
Pema was surprised to see him as well. "I thought you were with Ikki, why are you already back?"
-"Because I want to hear what Jinora has to say first hand."
"Great, so you can double-up on me," she snidely said.
Her father sighed. "No, Jinora, I want to know why you chose him and why you kept it from us."
"That part I already explained to Mom, because you will be automatically inclined to think the worst of him, given my stories over the past seven years. And I don't think I really chose him, circumstances happened. Same reason you two are together. We were in the same social setting, had a few stumbles, but you made it work, because here you are, 35 years and four children later, and you're still together."
She smiled as she saw her parents share a meaningful look, especially since her father was fidgeting with his wedding ring.
-"Jinora, I think your father and I are going to have to talk - alone," Pema eventually said.
Jinora nodded understandingly, and made for the privacy of her room, this time hoping to actually keep it private. When she could check her phone again, she scoffed as she found out that Kai had been sending messages the entire time. That they were in the middle of a conversation had totally slipped her mind. There was the selfie that got it all rolling, followed by a whole bunch of actual texts.
Kai: Hopefully that can cheer you up
Kai: Are you still there?
Jinora: Yeah, I'm back
Jinora: Bad news: Ikki just outed us to my parents. Stole my phone and showed the picture
Kai: Definitely not good
Jinora scoffed, mostly because her parents' reaction hadn't been as bad as she first would have anticipated. Heck, even judging from the fact that she couldn't hear them arguing, emotions weren't running very high over this.
Jinora: Could be worse. Reaction is TBD, I'll call you for that
She sighed as she threw her phone onto her bed down next to her. Not long after, there was a knock on her door.
-"Jinora? Can I come in?" her father asked.
He did, and subsequently pulled up her desk chair so that he could sit across from her. Before saying anything, he sighed. "Jinora, I'm disappointed in you."
"Why? For having a boyfriend or about me yelling at Ikki for something reasonable?"
-"I'm mad that you lied to us, Jinora. We have raised you better than that. We're your parents, you shouldn't be afraid to tell us things like this. And yet you kept it up for over six months. I already punished your sister for what she did. In all honesty, I think you should be too, but your mother talked me out of it."
Jinora mulled it over for a moment. That actually worked out pretty well for her, given how she yelled at Ikki and everything that followed. "And what about Kai?"
Her father stroked his beard. "Yes... I'm not going to lie to you, I am not excited about that. On the one hand, you say he's changed since you started going out with him, but on the other, there are seven years worth of you convincing me otherwise. I hope you understand that I'm not exactly over the moon to learn that my daughter is going out with someone who has been arrested twice."
This put her between a rock and a hard place. Should she tell the truth, which would make things worse, or keep up another white lie and maybe make it even worse than that down the line? She decided on the former. "Thrice," Jinora mumbled.
-"What was that?"
"Thrice, Kai has been arrested three times. Third one was definitely not his fault though."
Tenzin's eyebrows almost reached to the ceiling. "Regardless, he's a delinquent. Repeat offender, worse than I thought, though I appreciate the honesty. That is what I told your mother, but she was adamant that we give you the benefit of the doubt. Jinora, we want to meet him."
*Looks at the notes under the last chapter.* Well, that will teach me not to open my big fat mouth again. Still, here it finally is. Special thanks tofor helping me out with the dinner scene.
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