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May 23rd, 2016
In the corner of the paper, there was a bright red circled 'A'. Jinora looked over her shoulder, glancing over to Kai, and their eyes locked. She was not a vindictive person, but seeing the defeat on Tarrlok's face was priceless, and Kai agreed, judging by the massive smile lining his face.
-"Uh-huh, sure there's nothing going on between the two of you," Fen said, rolling her eyes.
Jinora gave her a playful poke in the side in retaliation. "Oh shush, you're worse than my sister." Fen didn't look the least bit convinced, so she threw down all her cards. "Come on, we just beat Tarrlok at his own game, we have plenty of reason to be smug. And chances are that this is the only time you'll hear me say this, but... I couldn't have done it without Kai."
Her best friend gave Jinora an incredulous stare. "Are you okay, or should we call a doctor?"
"I just went to see a doctor last week, and she made sure I legally can get high every four hours. Could be the drugs talking, but I think I'm okay." It had been three weeks since she busted her rib, but she had been back every week for a check-up and more Vicodin. (Benefits.)
-"I don't believe you."
"Your problem, not mine."
-"There's something going on between the two of you, and I'm going to find out what."
Jinora was about to dismiss the comment, but Tarrlok beat her to it. "Ladies, eyes up front, I want to start my class."
The rest of the hour was a sea of dreary English grammatical constructions and how to properly use them, how not to use them, etcetera, etcetera. In the end, there wasn't a single surprise to the hour, not until the bell rang. "Mr. Fong, Miss Gyatso, I'd like a word with both of you before you leave for lunch."
Kai and Jinora shared a knowing look, and walked up to his desk.
-"I've given you both an A, because your project was excellent. In depth, yet comprehensive. Now there is cause for concern here; Miss Gyatso, when I paired you two up, you outed your concerns about the majority of the workload ending up with you. Has this happened?"
Jinora had trouble not bursting out into laughter. (The nerve of this guy, he actually thought she'd rat Kai out.) "No, that hasn't happened. I did exactly what you told me to: kept him on a short leash."
-"Ha, you wish," Kai muttered under his breath, and Jinora rolled her eyes at him. "It's not too late for me to change my mind," she teased.
Tarrlok cleared his throat, drawing their attention back to him. "If you could save the lovey-dovey stuff for when you're outside of my classroom, I'd appreciate that. Now, Miss Gyatso, I'd like a word with Mr. Fong, alone."
Even though she was equal parts embarrassed and furious at his comment, Jinora kept her cool, keeping Jin in check for a change. "Sir, I assure you, he did his share of the work, I did mine. It would be unreasonable to punish him on this project for his typical work ethic."
-"That's not what this is about, though I appreciate your forthcoming. Shows character." He paused for a moment. "No, what I have to discuss with him is of a more... private nature. Would you give us the room?"
Jinora thought it to be safe now, though she wasn't entirely convinced by his sincerity. It would be best to wait outside, hear from Kai directly what kind of ploy Tarrlok would cook up this time around.
It didn't take long for Kai to come out as well. "What'd he say?" she immediately asked.
-"Turns out he's quite clever. He put together that you didn't write as elaborately about my current living situation, so that something was up there. You were telling the truth, he's obliged to report that."
A slight smile appeared on her face. "Of course I was, I'm not you."
He chuckled too. "Hey, as far as lies go, you tell more of them than I do, Jin. I'm just not telling you the full truth."
"Yeah, that's called lying by omission."
It briefly fell silent after this. "Listen... Thanks for sticking up for me in there," Kai said after a while.
Jinora's smile changed from slightly devious to genuine. "You've held up your end of the deal, you earned it."
-"If you say so. Take care." He wanted to walk off, but Jinora stopped him.
"Wait," she said, already half-way to regretting what she was about to say. "I know this might sound weird coming from me, but if you need someone to talk to, get the full truth off your chest... I'm a good listener. You can trust me, I can keep it a secret if you want me to."
Kai briefly mulled it over. "Thanks, but no thanks. I'm not doing it for me, but for my siblings. I appreciate the offer, but if you'd know, you'd only try to do something about it, and that won't do them any good."
Jinora stared after him as he walked off, feeling a new-found sense of respect for him.
Even though she couldn't yet get back onto her skateboard, Jinora was fit enough to climb out of the window again, so tonight was the first time in since cracking her ribs that she could go out to the park. Having dressed herself in the appropriate attire (her hoodie with the arrow, a fairly baggy pair of jeans, lenses instead of glasses), she was quickly on her way again.
At the park, everything was just as she left it, maybe a bit less busy as it hadn't just been closed for three days. There was the strum of the rap music, which, unlike anything she'd have said in the past, was kind of growing on her, the bright industrial lighting, and the sounds of skaters pulling off some nice tricks. All in all, it felt like her home away from home.
It took a bit of looking around, but Jinora eventually found Korra in the bowl, showing off to the people on the edge. "Nice moves, grandma!" she snidely commented, drawing the older girl's attention.
-"Jin!" she exclaimed, spotting Jinora on the side. Korra promptly made her way out of the bowl, pulling the younger girl into a tight hug. "It's great to see you up and about again. How are the ribs?"
Jinora shrugged. "Still a little sensitive, might be back on the board in a week or so. Anyway, all that stuff is semantics. What'd I miss here?"
They sauntered off, sitting down in the patch of grass at the edge of the park. "Well, not too much. Things have been going like they always have, police has been quiet, and no one gives a flying fuck about what they did," she said, nodding to a couple of guys having a joint. "I took your advice," she said after a brief pause.
"What do you mean?"
-"I came out to my parents last week, introduced them to my girlfriend while I was at it. They were pretty cool with it."
Jinora smiled. "That's great. When do I get to meet your girlfriend, or at least get a name out of her?"
Korra smiled back. "Her name's Asami, but she isn't really a skater."
"Neither was I, but then I started coming here."
-"Good point. I'll ask her, see what she has to say."
"Sounds like a plan." Jinora was about to ask if anything else had happened, when Kai came walking up to her, a smile on his face. Something was off about both his smile and him in general, she could immediately tell. Normally, his smile was cocky, slightly arrogant even, but this one was just stupid.
-"Hey Jin," he opened as soon as he was close enough.
This also happened to be the range at which she could smell him. "Are you high?"
-"Higher than you," he joked, before plopping down next to her. "Come on, it's nothing too bad, at least, nothing I haven't done before."
"You're standing under industrial spotlights and your pupils are the size of olives, not to mention that you smell like a hippie encampment."
He just continued on sheepishly smiling at her, making himself comfortable. "You should really relax a little bit. In fact, you need a hit," Kai offered, holding out the joint to her.
"Get that thing away from me." She slapped the joint out of his hand, and it fell somewhere in the grass.
-"Oh shit," Korra mumbled. "Kai, trouble on the horizon, get out of here."
Jinora followed Korra's gaze, seeing a uniformed cop at the entrance of the park.
-"Meh, nothing to worry about," he shrugged.
"You're high as a kite, you have everything to worry about," Jinora said, already standing up and preparing to drag him out of there. "Come on." She pulled him to his feet, dragging him around the back of the shed, just a few yards away from Korra, who stayed where she was. From here, she was just within earshot of the older girl.
-"Well, well, well, if it isn't Officer Killjoy," Korra snidely remarked.
He audibly sighed. "Knock it off, Korra. That's not what I came here to talk to you about. I hear you've started dating Asami Sato."
-"Yes, Mako, your mutual exes are dating each other. So what, we're both big girls, we can take care of ourselves."
So this was the elusive Mako. Jinora had heard plenty of stories about him from Korra and Bolin, but it was nice to finally be able to put a face to the name.
-"It's just..." Mako sighed again. "I thought there may have been another chance for... us."
At this, Korra laughed out loud. "Are you serious? Mako, even if I didn't have a girlfriend right now, the reason we broke up is still there: you're acting like you have the Harmony Tower shoved up your ass."
-"Now you're just being unnecessarily flippant. There was something real going on between us."
-"'Was' being the operative word there. We're over, plain and simple. Now go make your rounds, and leave me the fuck alone."
This presented the two behind the shed with a real problem: if Mako would spot them here, he would definitely notice that Kai was high as a kite. A few weeks ago, Jinora would have been happy to let that happen, but now... Somehow, it just felt wrong. "Let's go," she quietly whispered, tugging on his wrist.
However, Kai remained stoically in place. "Nah, I kind of like it here."
"Come on..." she said in frustration, but he wouldn't budge. Now it was starting to be a problem, because she knew Mako was just around the corner. "Kiss me," she whispered, and true to form, Jinora regretted it the moment the words left her mouth. Jin, however, she was kind of looking forward to it.
Kai raised an eyebrow. "Making an offer I can't refuse, huh?" He cupped her cheeks and leaned forward, pressing his lips against hers - again.
This time around though, Jinora felt a little more certain about what she was doing, she was a little less passive than last time. She stood on her toes, making sure Kai wasn't the only one compensating for the height difference, something she wasn't entirely certain he could do on his own now.
Just as Kai's tongue brushed past Jinora's lips, she noticed Mako looking at them from the corner of her eye. She looked over to him, feigning annoyance. "Enjoying the show, Officer?"
Mako shook his head, looking fairly uncomfortable. "Carry on," he said, before quickly walking off into the crowd.
When Jinora turned back to face Kai, she saw that stupid grin on his face again. "Where were we?" he asked, before leaning in again, but she stopped him.
"Fuck off, I did it to save your sorry ass. You owe me big time, Fong." She stuck her hand in the pocket of his jacket, fishing out his keys. "You can have these back when you're sober."
-"What?!" He tried reaching for his keys, but his movements were slow and clumsy. "Fuck you, I'm fine."
"You are a lot of things, but you are not fine. If you get on your bike like this, you're gonna mistake an oncoming semi for the heavenly lights. Now go stick your head in the sand somewhere and talk to me again when the drugs are out of your system." Jinora walked off, joining Korra again.
Of course, they talked about nothing important before moving on to watching Korra pull off a few moves, which was probably a good thing, given that she had trouble focusing. Once again, a kiss with Kai had her slightly baffled, even if this one was nothing like the first one. This was sloppy and clumsy from his end, not to mention that he reeked of weed, which didn't really help.
And yet... Somehow, it was nice. Jinora found herself zoning out, and it was probably a good thing that she wasn't on her board. It would have caused her more cracked ribs straight away. While on the subject, she also noticed how her side was starting ache a little again, given that Jinora had (wisely) decided not to take her bottle of prescription meds with her, and the last pill she had taken was wearing off.
It was time to go home, but then she suddenly remembered that she still had Kai's keys. "Listen, Korra, I'm going home. My ribs are starting to ache, and I'm tired."
The older girl eyed her up and smiled. "You've been out of it the entire time, so my best guess is that you did something with Kai again."
"Not relevant, though I have to give him these back," Jinora replied, holding out his keys.
Korra chuckled. "Sure. Saw him over there on the grass. See you later, Jin."
"Yeah, see you." When she walked up to where Kai was lying down on the grass, he shot up as soon as she came close enough.
-"Finally!" he exclaimed. "I'm starving, are you gonna give me my keys back, or are you going to torture me some more?"
Jinora scoffed. "Tempting as that might be, I'm not that cruel. Look me in the eyes." He did, and she saw that his pupils were back to normal, so she held out his keys. "There's a little hole-in-the-wall burger joint about three blocks that way," she said, gesturing in its direction. "Good food, not expensive."
Kai smiled and took back his keys. "Good night, Gyatso."
She knew it was about as close to a 'thank you' as she was going to get right now. Strangely enough though, she didn't mind as his hand brushed past her fingers just a little bit longer than they needed to be. Perhaps she should be rethinking a few things.
|Who We Are|
|First Base • Espresso and Blackmail • The North Point Mall • Do or Do Not • Groundwork • Shattered Like Glass|
|Hospital Run • Skeletons • Straight-A Students • Falling • Family Weekend (Part 1) • (Part 2) • (Part 3)|
|Now What? • Stargazing • Officially a Big Girl • Second Base • Kai's Home|
For the collective works of the author, go here.