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May 9th, 2016
Jinora hit the table with her flat hand. "Come on, you agreed to do this my way, and that includes full disclosure. As it stands, this is as good as useless, given that I'm 400 words short of the target."
-"I told you everything I'm comfortable telling you."
"Yes, but I already told you, I can't fill those 2000 words with your wasted school career. I have one week left to write it, and I still have to write that last part, read it, rewrite it, let you read it, and then rewrite it again because there are bound to be things you won't like. Now I'm pretty good with words, but I'm not that good. I've stretched this thin as is."
Kai looked up, an annoyed look on his face. "How modest of you."
Jinora sighed, smacking her glasses down on the table. "I'm serious. If I were a dozen words short, I could pad it out with a few adjectives, but it doesn't work that way if you have to make the text a quarter longer. You're gonna have to give me some history, and preferably something that can make for interesting writing."
With an annoyed sigh, Kai plopped himself down in the chair in front of her. "Are you digging into this because you actually don't have anything to write about, or because know you'll be the first one to figure it all out? Fuck you, I'm not a crossword puzzle, there's no free crap if you're the first one to send in the solution."
It fell silent for a while, and Jinora knew he wasn't going to give in just like that. If she wanted to change that, she'd have to do exactly what put them at odds with each other for so many years: push his buttons. "You're hiding something, and I have a pretty good idea what. I think your foster parents are doing a bad job one way or the other, but you won't take it to the authorities for reasons that are a bit beyond me. You don't want anyone to know about it, so it has to be very bad, maybe even criminal."
Kai was pursing his lips hard, so Jinora knew she was on the right track here. "You don't want to tell me about it, because it would end up in front of Tarrlok, and he is legally bound to report suspected child abuse."
This made him look up. "What are you talking about?"
"Teachers, doctors, they are the eyes and ears for Child Services. Part of me wants to make the call myself, but the other part knows that you wouldn't be almost religiously devoted to keeping this a secret if there wasn't an underlying motivation."
Kai just stared at her with those massive green eyes, and there was a hint of both shock and fear in there. (Jinora gave herself a mental slap for thinking that they really were beautiful this up close and personal.) "You can't call, and even though I hate to admit it, but it's because you're right, there is a motivation for me to keep this quiet. So do us all a favor, and drop it."
It took a moment for the sincerity with which he said that to sink in with Jinora, but she got the hint. "Okay," she softly agreed. "I still need something though, even if it's just something I can fill the page with."
He thought again, before he slowly stood up. "What I'm about to tell you, I have never told anyone. It's what I found out about my biological mom."
Jinora perked up at this. Sure, it wasn't the current state of events, but it was the next best thing, and if what he said was true, then it would be the best compromise. "You actually know stuff about her?"
A morbid chuckle was what this got out of Kai. "The only benefit of having been in the system as long as I have: there's a paper trail, and all I had to do, was follow it. My mom was a junkie, and that she was pregnant with me didn't really matter to her. At 37 weeks, she OD'ed, and because she was pregnant, the guy that found her at least had the courtesy to call an ambulance. I was brought into this world with an emergency C-section, and was promptly put on life support for the next month. Meanwhile, my mom was forced to give me up, because she was sent to prison for attempted murder of me. I've been in the system ever since. No one wanted a child born to a heroin addict who has virtually no medical records."
"My God..." Jinora whispered, not knowing Kai had been through so much basically from birth on, and that's not counting the current events.
He simply huffed. "I could've used God on my side, but it wasn't going to happen."
Jinora was torn: she wanted to know more, but didn't think he was going to give it even if she pried, and on top of that, she wasn't sure she could handle it. Kai had been hiding large parts of his life, and hearing this, that wasn't a surprise.
-"By the way, I'm glad you brought this up, there's something I still have to do."
This had her surprised. "What do you mean?"
-"My mom got 20 years in prison, those are nearly over now. Still have to get myself a restraining order against her, 'cause I don't want that bitch within 500 feet of me."
Jinora didn't know what to say to that. It made sense on a certain level. She could have just as easily killed him when he was still in the womb, and in a way, it was a blessing for Kai that it had happened then. Had he already been born, his mother would have probably neglected him in favor of going after heroin. The other half of the picture was still missing, though. "Did you ever get to meet your father?" she asked next. She didn't really know why, but just kind of blurted it out.
But Kai didn't make a problem of it, and instead just shook his head. "Don't even know who he is. Chances are he had an alcohol-fueled one-night stand and I was the result."
"There is a chance you can find out who it is."
-"What do you mean?"
(Another mental slap for opening her big mouth. This was going to be awkward.) "Well..." Jinora hesitatingly began, unsure how to formulate it. "Not to sound condescending, but..."
-"Saying that almost always means it's condescending. Get on with it."
"You could ask for a paternity test, because if he is from that... environment, there's a good chance he has a criminal record. Those can include DNA."
He chuckled. "And do you think that if my dad is from that 'environment', I'd want to know him? He's a bastard, fucked my mom, and, by extension, fucked me." A smirk played over his lips. "I doubt you're going to quote me on that."
"Like I said, I'm good with words," Jinora smirked back.
"Not my strongest trait," she smirked back. It briefly fell silent, meaning that the subject was over, and it was time to turn their attention back to the order of business. "You have everything you need to finish your half?" Kai gave an affirmative nod, and Jinora felt pleased, knowing that everything was coming together. "Good. Make sure you send it to me by Wednesday, otherwise I can't proofread it anymore. I'll make sure you have mine before then as well."
Jinora walked up to her mother's car, who was picking them up from school today. It wasn't the way she liked the most, but her parents didn't think she needed a car for herself, and today she'd be spared from having to go on the bus because her extra hour with Kai meant she was finished at the same time as Ikki.
When she made it to the curb, Pema was already waiting, and by being the first one there, the younger sister had called shotgun. With a sigh, she took her place on the back seat, and the mother started driving.
-"How'd the date with Kai go?" Ikki teased.
Jinora rolled her eyes. "It wasn't a date, you know that."
-"Oh please, every time you do this you go to Izumi's classroom, a nice remote corner of the school, no need to worry about prying eyes, you could be doing all kinds of things in there and no one would ever know."
At this comment, Jinora turned slightly red. "Shut up, Ikki. We were putting the finishing touches on our project. One final stretch, we have to hand it in next week."
-"Are you making good progress?" Pema asked, trying to keep her daughters off each other's throats, at least for a while.
"Pretty decent, if he comes through with his part, we'll be good."
-"Ooh, no more excuses for kissy-kissy," Ikki teased again, turning around from the front seat, making kissing faces at Jinora, who noticed something out of the ordinary.
"When did you start wearing mascara? In fact..." The older girl took her sisters backpack, which was on the empty back seat next to her, digging through it, and quickly finding what she was after. "This is my mascara! I've been looking all over the house for it this morning, and you had it all along?!"
She turned around, talking into her lap. "I was going to give it back..."
"That's not the point, you're stealing my shit again! How many times, buy your own damn make-up!"
-"Jinora!" Pema berated from the front seat.
"You're taking her side in this?!" the older girl asked incredulously, starting to feel Jin slowly taking control of her again.
They were standing at a red light, so Pema quickly turned around. "No I'm not, but that is no way to talk to your sister. That being said, Ikki, Jinora is right here, you can't just take her stuff without asking. She buys that with her own money, and you have to ask her if you can use it. If she says no, which I think she rightfully can, you're just going to have to buy your own. We give you pocket money, and you can spend that on what you want, and if you want make-up, you're going to have to buy that yourself."
Even from the back seat, Jinora could tell that her sister was firmly staring out of the window.
-"Do you understand that?" Pema demanded sternly. (Being scary as hell when she wanted to be was something Jinora had inherited from her mother, that much was certain.)
-"Yes..." Ikki muttered to the window.
-"Look at me when I'm talking to you."
Reluctantly, Ikki turned to face her mother. "Yes, I understand."
-"Good, then apologize to your sister."
She turned all the way around in her seat, looking to face Jinora, who was extra on her guard. "Sorry, I won't do it again." It wasn't the least bit sincere, but Jinora didn't care about that right now.
"You stole my blush as well, didn't you?" the older girl asked, seeing the hint of rose on Ikki's cheeks.
She didn't say anything, and instead, turned back to look out the side window.
-"Ikki?" Pema asked, her tone already indicating that she was on Jinora's side.
Jinora didn't need to wait for a verbal answer, she already knew it. "If it's broken again, you're buying me a new one this time," she snapped. The rest of the drive home was silent, only broken when Pema turned on the radio, trying to ease the awkwardness off a little bit, but it didn't work. To say it was tense would be an understatement.
Later on, after the sun had started setting, Jinora found herself reading on her bed, stuck for options. She still wasn't of climbing out of her window because of her ribs, let alone pull off some awesome moves on a skateboard. It was extra bad because now that it wasn't only Kai getting on her nerves, it was Ikki as well.
-"Jinora?" Pema softly asked, gently knocking the door. "Can we talk for moment?"
The younger girl sighed, and put down her book. She had been attempting to read, but it had been in vain. Nothing she read was sticking. "Sure."
Her mother stepped in, closing the door behind her again. "What happened between you and Ikki today?"
"You know what happened, you were there," Jinora scoffed.
-"That's not what I meant. The way you snapped at her over something this small, it's nothing like you. So if there is something going on that's making you act like that, I want to know."
Jinora sighed, and leaned back against the wall. "This isn't the first time this has happened. A few weeks back, my blush was gone, and three days later, it was magically back on my shelf, completely smashed. Same thing happened with my eyeliner, it was gone, and then it just reappeared, insides completely broken. I had to buy new both times, and you know how expensive that stuff is." This was true, at least in part. The part she was hiding was that she was frustrated over being unable to go blow off some steam as Jin.
Pema mulled it over for a moment, knowing that her eldest daughter had a point here. "She's experimenting. You were younger than her when you started wearing make-up."
Jinora scoffed again. "First of all, I was 13, she's 14. Second, when I wanted to experiment with it, I asked you if I could use yours and how to use it, and then went out to buy my own not long after. Third, I wouldn't mind if she wants to borrow some to see what looks good on her, but instead of asking me, she steals it, then takes it to school with her, which is why everything was broken when I got it back."
-"I've already talked to her about that. If she does that again, she'll be grounded, and that's an end of it." She briefly let it fall silent. "That still doesn't excuse the way you talked to her."
"Mom, I had been locked up in a room with Kai Fong for an hour, forced to make nice with him. You'd have a short fuse after that as well."
Her mother eyed her up, and Jinora knew those piercing eyes: they were better than the most expensive polygraphs. "Alright. Just make sure that what transpired today won't become the norm."
She nodded in return. "Okay, I can make that happen."
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