You lower the cigarette from your lips, smoke slowly seeping away and upward into the dark sky. You look down at the paper in your hand and exhale the rest of the smoke. Being a first year student meant that you were invited to mixers and ways to meet people. All of these revolving around alcohol and letting loose. A way to try to destress and make new friends that are in the same situation as you. But all it seems to do is make you more anxious. Make you more nervous for the year to finally begin. You bring the cigarette to your lips and inhale, holding the smoke for just a moment and then blow softly, trying to create rings. You give up and exhale the rest of the smoke, watching it swirl and then fade into nothingness.
You startle slightly and then focus your eyes on the woman in front of you. Her hair is short and her skin dark. Black rimmed glasses rest on her nose, framing her vibrant, cerulean blue eyes. She’s got this easy-going, lopsided grin on her face as she looks down at you. Her outfit is just as easy-going, a dark blue oversized sweater and black jeans with black Converses.
“Do you happen to have a lighter I could borrow?” she asks, a cigarette in between her fingers.
“Oh yeah. Sure,” you say reaching into your purse. “Just one moment.”
“Sorry,” the woman replies as your hands finally feel the smooth plastic.
You pull out the lighter and without thinking, you light the cigarette that she had resting between her lips. You then pull away, seeing her eyes focused on you.
She chuckles softly and rubs the back of her neck with her hand. “Thanks. You a night owl?”
“Not usually,” you admit.
“Nervous for the entrance ceremony tomorrow?” she asks with curiousity in her eyes.
She shakes her head. “No. I’m not a first year student.”
“Third year,” she tells you.
You’re about to say something else, but stop when your phone dings. You take it out and see a text from your new roommate about going out tonight. You feel as if it would be more fun to stay with this stranger, but decide that it would be best for you to try and make friends. So you put your phone away and stand up.
“I’m sorry, but my roommate wants to go out tonight.” You hesitate, but then hold out your lighter to the woman. “Keep the lighter if you want.”
She looks at you confused. “Really? If you’re going out won’t you want this later?”
“I’m going to be drinking and I don’t smoke when I drink. So it’ll be fine.”
“Ah, okay. Then don’t mind if I do.”
Her fingers brush softly against your own as she takes the lighter and you hold back a gasp. Why did you feel so drawn to this woman?
“I’ll see you around then.” You grab your purse and begin to leave, but stop when you hear her speak once more.
“Don’t drink and smoke too much,” she advises.
“Oh, uh. Yeah. Thanks,” you stutter out and finally make your leave.
“Asami!” You turn around at the familiar voice of your roommate.
“You’re coming to the mixer tonight, right?”
“Yeah, I guess.” You’d attended more mixers and parties in the month that you’ve been here than ever before. Sure they were a good way to meet people, but the fact that you don’t actually enjoy drinking and partying much, really does dampen the mood.
“Great! A ton of guys have been bugging me about you. They keep asking if you’re seeing anyone and that they want to get to know you,” Opal explains.
“Oh. I do have class early tomorrow morning, so I won’t be able to stay too late.”
“That’s fine. The guys just want to see you again. I swear after the last one they won’t stop talking about how pretty and nice you are.”
You laugh awkwardly and worry your hands in front of you. “You’re pretty too.” You’ve never been good at taking compliments.
Opal giggles and places a hand on your shoulder. “Thanks. I better get to class before I’m late. See you in the room tonight. We can get ready together.”
“Yeah, sounds good.” You wave her goodbye as she struts down the hall of the academic building.
“Hey, Asami,” one of the guys, Tahno, across from you starts. “You have a boyfriend?”
“Oh, no. I’m not really looking for one.”
“Come on now. That’s no fun. You’re in college, ya know?”
“I’m just focusing on my studies.”
“That’s really admirable of you,” Mako adds beside you.
“She’s always doing homework. I’m glad she finally came out tonight!” Opal practically shouts from the end of the table.
“So you’re smart and beautiful,” Mako flirts.
You laugh awkwardly and wave your hand, dismissing the praise. “Not really.”
“You definitely are. I can tell.”
“Uh, thanks.” You take a sip of your beer. You want to leave, but know you can’t. It’s only been half an hour since you arrived and Opal would never let it go if you left now.
“So what are you studying?”
Mako’s eyes widen. “Wow, that’s awesome. I’m in computer science.”
“So, how’d you get into engineering?”
“My dad owns a car company and I’ve been into mechanics ever since,” you explain.
He leans closer to you, his shoulder brushing against yours. You’d lean away, but there’s already someone on the other side of you.
“That’s really awesome.”
“Yeah.” You stand abruptly and push out your chair. “I, uh, need to use the bathroom.” Without another word you leave the table and rush to the bathroom.
It’s not long before Opal opens the door. “You okay?”
Opal furrows her brow. “Hey. Want to go back to the dorms?”
You close your eyes and sigh. You want to relax, smoking a cigarette and reading a book. But you also feel bad to end Opal’s night early.
“It’s okay,” she reassures. “Let’s go.” She takes your hand and guides you out to the table to address the rest of the group. “We need to get up early tomorrow, so we’re going to head out. You all have a good rest of your night.”
You hear some of the guys grumbling about having to leave so early, but that doesn’t matter since Opal is already tugging you away and towards the dorms.
“Thank you,” you thank.
“No problems. You getting anxious again?”
You inhale and exhale slowly. Again smoke drifts from your lips as you look over your schedule for this semester. It doesn’t seem too hard, but you have to try to figure out how you’ll fit in times to eat. Most of your classes are back to back. Maybe you’ll just pack a snack to quickly eat and hold you off.
You look up and see that same woman from the beginning of the first semester. You hadn’t seen her a single time since that night. It'd been three months or so. But she looks as casual and free-flowing as ever.
“Got a light?”
“Yeah.” You hand her your lighter and she smirks at you.
“We ran into each other before, right?” you ask, to see if she remembers you.
“Yup. Needed a light then too,” she chuckles and then inhales. She then leans her head back and puffs out a single ring of smoke. Then another and another until she exhales the remainder.
“Right. I remember.”
“Yup.” She then points to the paper in your hands. “That your schedule?”
“Can I see?”
You hand it to her and watch as her eyes scan over it.
“We have Intro to Philosophy together,” she says as she hands it back to you.
“Yup.” She stands and puts out her butt. “Guess I’ll see ya around then. Thanks for the light.”
She just waves over her shoulder as she walks away. Her short chestnut hair blowing slightly in the wind.
If you said that your anxiety wasn’t through the roof right now, you’d be lying. You can’t help it. When you’re in large lectures, you always feel as if your palms are more sweaty. Your heart races. Your legs bounce. Everything about your social anxiety is raised. Then on top of it, you can’t stop thinking about if someone were to sit next to you. Would they talk to you? Would they stay silent? Would they pick up on your weird habits? Would they think you’re weird? All of this runs through your mind as the clock ticks closer to the start time for the lecture.
“This seat taken?”
You glance up from the notebook that you had just written the date in.
“Oh, go right ahead,” you say, feeling a blush creep up to your cheeks.
She puts down her bag and leans back, not even bothering to take something out to take notes on.
“I’m surprised you found me in such a big lecture hall,” you say quietly as you watch the professor enter the room, five minutes still to go until it starts.
“Hard to miss someone so beautiful,” the girl says without missing a beat.
You feel your blush deepen and you dip your head shyly.
She chuckles at your reaction. “You probably get that all the time.”
“Ah, I guess. But it doesn’t really matter. A pretty face isn’t really much beyond just that.”
She readjusts her glasses and nods. “I guess you’ve got a point.” She then reaches into her bag and takes out a piece of paper and a pen. “How many people are in this lecture?”
“I think the cap was around 250.”
“Damn. The professor won’t notice if I fall asleep then. Morning classes are truly evil.”
You laugh and nudge her softly with your elbow. “Don’t fall asleep! You’re here to get an education and if you sleep then there’s no point.”
“I can just look at your notes later.” She winks at you and leans even further into her seat.
Twenty minutes into the lecture you glance over at the girl and see her eyes shut and her chest rising and dropping slowly. She hadn’t lied about sleeping in class.
This is how the next week goes by for this class. Glasses Girl shows up, has some small talk with you and then twenty minutes into the class she’s already asleep. You fight the urge to wake her every time, but decide it’s not your problem. Plus, it’d be a lie to say that she didn’t look good. It allowed you to sneak glances at her throughout class without the possibility of being caught.
“Okay, so are you gay?” Opal asks as you get lunch together.
“Bi,” you tell her.
“Okay. So you think you like Glasses Girl?”
“Maybe. I mean she’s been nice so far and she’s really cute,” you admit.
“Then first step… get her freaking name!”
“I feel like it’d be awkward to ask her for her name at this point. Like we’ve known each other for a week now and ran into each other twice before that.”
“Isn’t it more awkward the longer you don’t know her name?”
You hadn’t thought about that. It is weird that you hadn’t introduced yourself by now.
“Yeah,” you say softly.
“Then your mission is to get her name on Wednesday when you see her in class.”
Opal points to your plate. “Can I have some fries?”
You just slide it over to her. “Knock yourself out, I’m all set.”
You let out a heavy sigh as you put away your notebook and pen. Glasses Girl didn’t show up for lecture today. You had psyched yourself up to just be let down. You sling your bag over your shoulders and shuffle out of the row of seats. Just as you’re nearing the door, Glasses Girl walks over to you. She looks tired. Her hair is completely messed up as if she just rolled out of bed and she’s got dark bags under her eyes.
“Morning,” she says to you, but then something seems to click as she looks around the lecture hall. “Damn. I totally missed the lecture, didn’t I?”
You purse your lips and nod. “Yeah,” you hesitate but then add, “Want to take a look at my notes?”
“Oh, could I? That’d be cool, thanks.” She smiles at you with that lopsided grin. “Want to grab some coffee and I can copy them?”
“S-sure that sounds good.”
“Wow, your notes are so tidy,” she points out as she takes her first glance over them.
“Oh, yeah. Thanks.”
She shuffles through her bag and hands you a book. “If you want, you can read this as you wait.”
“Thanks.” You take the book and read the title aloud. “Half the Sky.”
“Yeah. It’s about the oppression of women around the world and how we can do something about it. It’s pretty empowering and very interesting. At least to me.”
“It sounds good.” You glance up and smile softly. She just nods and begins to copy your notes.
You get through the first couple of pages and are instantly pulled into the book. You glance up at her every so often to check where she is in her copying. She’s doing it quickly, her hand writing much less neat than your own. Her note taking style as free as she is.
You clear your throat, as you watch her close your notebook and shove the copied notes into her bag. “Could you maybe… tell me your name?”
She tilts her head to the side and smirks. “It’s Korra.”
“I’m, um, Asami.”
“Cool.” She hands you your notebook and then gets up from the table. “I need to run, but feel free to keep the book until you’re done with it.”
“Thanks, Korra.” You like how her name sounds coming from your lips.
Soon your Wednesday mornings became a mixture of reading, coffee, pastries, and spending time with Korra. Something about her made time go by easily. Calmed you in ways that you had never experienced. Somehow your worries would fade away when you were with her.
But somehow, you never felt like you knew who she was. You’d barely talk about yourselves, your conversations revolving around books and class. You knew nothing about her family, nothing about her friends, nothing about what she enjoyed other than books and smoking. Although you spent class together and Wednesday mornings, she was still as much a stranger as she was when you had first met.
But somehow you felt as if you were living your life just to get to Wednesday. Just to get to spend time with Korra. It was as if the rest of the week didn’t matter at all. No matter what you told yourself, you couldn’t get the thought of her out of your head.
“Hey, Asami. You asleep yet?”
You turn your head and look over at your roommate across the room. “Not yet. What’s up?”
“Bolin was wondering if you knew anyone that might have an old copy of Professor Kang’s old exam for ethics. I thought Korra might know someone since she’s an upperclassmen.”
“To be honest, I doubt that she does. But I can ask just in case.”
“Great. Thanks. So how are you and her? Any new news?”
“Not really. We just keep trading books and then talk about them.” You sigh and pull the comforter closer to yourself.
“So no signs she likes you back so far?”
“I don’t think so. I mean she told me I was beautiful a while back, but that’s it. You tell me that too, so I feel like it doesn’t really mean anything.”
“Because you are beautiful,” Opal starts. “But I think she meant it in a different way. Why would she spend so much time with you outside of class?”
“We just talk about books.”
“Drop a hint then. Give her a book by Patricia Highsmith or Sarah Waters,” Opal advises.
“That’s not very subtle…”
“Whatever. It’s not like it needs to be subtle.”
You roll over and face the wall. “I don’t know. I like her so much… yet I feel like I don’t even know her.”
“Get to know her.”
You don’t say anything back and instead just think about all the things you’d like to know about the girl you’re crushing on so hard.
“Do you happen to know anyone who’s taken Professor Kang’s ethics class?” you ask her as you walk towards the cafe. Smoke streaming from the cigarettes you both hold.
“I took it last year.”
“Do you have the questions?”
“No. I never keep my old exams,” Korra explains.
“Do you need them? I can ask some of my friends.”
“No, it’s fine. I was just asking for a friend.”
“Gotcha.” Korra flicks the embers from her cigarette and then returns it to rest in between her lips. You don’t mean to, but your eyes linger on her tan lips much longer than they should. As soon as you realize what you’re doing, you clear your throat and look towards the ground at the sidewalk.
“So how many exams do you have?”
“Just two. The other three classes have final essays. You?”
“That’s nice. I have four.”
“Hmm, good luck then.” Korra’s eyes drift to the left. “I’m going to go meet someone. I’ll see you later.”
“Yeah. Have a good day, Korra.”
“You too, Asami.”
“Good luck,” Korra whispers to you. A seat in between you, to adhere to the rules of taking an exam in a lecture hall.
You’re surprised when Korra gets up after just forty minutes. She confidently struts down the stairs and places the exam in front of the proctor. You try to remind yourself that you’re fine and you’re doing well, even as more and more students filter out of the hall. You end up being one of the last people up to turn in your exam.
You push the door open and then let out a long sigh after the door is shut. You’re running your hand through your hair when you jump due to someone clearing their throat.
“What’d you think?” Korra asks as she stands up from her sitting position on the hard tiled floor.
“Oh. Why are you still here?”
“I was waiting for you, obviously. But that didn’t answer my question.” Korra places a hand on the small of your back as you both walk down the hall towards the exit.
“Right. It wasn’t bad. I got stuck on some of the multiple choices, but the short answers were easy. What did you think?”
“You finished so early.”
“Yeah.” She pushes the door open and hold sit for you. “I tend to finish exams really quickly.”
“You know you didn’t have to wait for me,” you point out quietly as you both automatically start walking towards the cafe.
You stop and place a hand on Korra’s forearm. “Could we… maybe talk?”
You slide your hand down into hers and lead her to a small bench outside one of the academic buildings. You can’t bring yourself to begin, so once you sit, you rummage through your backpack, pulling out your cigarettes and lighter. You offer her one, but she shakes her head, taking out her own pack. You’d shared before, but she tends to dislike the packs you smoke. You light your cigarette and take a long drag. You’re trying to compose yourself and psych yourself up.
“Wait, come closer for a sec.”
Korra places a hand on your cheek and turns your head. She leans in, letting the tip of her cigarette touch yours. She inhales, slowly lighting her cigarette with yours.
“I can’t believe I keep forgetting my lighter,” Korra sighs.
You roll your eyes. “You know I can’t always be here to light your cigarettes.”
“I know. But you’re here now, so it works out.”
“And if I wasn’t?”
“Then I’d figure something out.” Korra blows out rings of smoke and then smirks at you. “So what’d you want to talk about?”
“Oh, right. I, um…” Your voice trails off and you’re not sure if you can bring yourself to tell her how you feel. So you opt for something else. “I just was wondering what you’d be doing during break.”
“Just chillin’ with friends and family. Nothing too special. You?”
“So you just wanted to ask me that?” Korra seems to be hinting that she knows that’s not what you wanted to say, but she doesn’t push when you nod your head. “Cool. Let’s get coffee one last time as a first year and a third year student.”
Korra takes your hand and pulls you up from the bench. You expect her to let go as you walk, but instead she holds it the entire time, only letting go when you enter the cafe.
“Did you talk to her much during break?” Opal asks you as you and her unpack your belongings.
“Not much really,” you admit with disappointment.
“Really? I thought you’d made progress with her.”
“I kind of thought so too. Like she held my hand and I swear she flirted with me so much when we got to the cafe… but when I texted her it was still the same as it had been.”
“Damn. Maybe she was just busy,” Opal tries.
“I know she had work and all, but… I don’t know.” You throw yourself onto your freshly made bed and push your face into the pillow.
“Hey.” You feel a soft hand on your back. “Just talk to her. Tell her how you really feel.”
“I tried,” your voice muffled by the pillow.
You turn your head so you can see Opal. “I said that I tried.”
“But you didn’t do it. You need to keep trying,” Opal encourages.
“I don’t know if I can.”
“Well next time you see her at least try to and if you don’t that’s okay too.”
“I think we’re still going to get coffee on Wednesdays, at least that’s how it seems,” you admit.
“Well at least you get to see her cute little face.”
“Shut up,” you groan shoving your face into the pillow to hide your blush.
“Okay, how about seeing her smokin’ hot bod that you can’t stop dreaming about?”
Opal laughs and finally stops to continue unpacking.
“What the heck?” Korra stops abruptly at the cafe door.
“Says it’s closed for a month for renovations.”
“Oh. Where should we go then?” you ask her.
“Um, not really sure. We could go to the library or another cafe…I have coffee at my place too, if you’d want to go there,” Korra offers.
“Your place sounds good,” you say, trying to keep your voice from shaking. In all honesty you’d been curious about where she lives. You’d been curious about how she’d decorate and the amount of books she’d have. You were curious about so many things.
“So, welcome.” Korra holds up her arms and shows you the apartment. It’s definitely not what you’d expected. It’s tidy, but also there are kids toys thrown across the floor of the living room. There are alphabet magnets on the refrigerator and paintings made by a child on display.
You don’t say anything as she brings you to her room. It’s practically bare. A mattress on the floor. Textbooks and other books thrown about. Her laptop charging on the floor as well. There’s nothing on the wall and the room is fairly dark, with only an overhead light.
“There’s not really much here, but this is my place.”
“It’s clean and tidy,” you say, not knowing what to say.
Korra laughs at this and rubs the back of her neck. “You don’t have to lie. I know that there isn’t much here. You don’t mind sitting on the floor while I go make the coffee, do you?”
“No not at all.”
“Cool I’ll g-”
Suddenly there’s a knock on the bedroom door and Korra turns around to face it.
“Come in,” she says.
The door rushes open and a little boy, probably six or so rushes in. “Korra!” he shouts as he wraps his little arms around her leg. “You didn’t come say hi when you got home!” he reprimands.
“Sorry, dude. I brought a friend home.” She ruffles his hair and then points to you.
“Hi,” you greet as you wave to him. “I’m Asami.”
“He’s my little brother,” Korra adds.
You smile as Korra sits down to be eye level with her little brother. “Nice to meet you, Kaden.”
He ignores you as he laughs at Korra making funny faces. You smile broader and feel a slight flutter in your stomach as you watch.
“Korra, are you home?” You’re gaze leaves the siblings and lands upon a woman with a tray of snacks and drinks. “Oh, hello. I didn’t know we had company. I’m Senna, Korra’s mother.”
“Mom this is Asami. She’s a classmate of mine,” Korra explains from the ground.
Senna looks down at the tray in her hands and then smiles. “Juice box and apple slices?” she offers to you.
Korra and you chuckle at this. “I was going to make coffee, but if Asami wants that we can have that instead.”
“I haven’t had a juice box in ages,” you say as you take one from the tray. “Thank you.”
“You’re very welcome. Kaden, let’s give the two of them some privacy.”
“But Ma I wanna stay.”
“Come on handsome. I’ll even give you a seaweed cookie!”
Kaden jumps up at this and sprints from the room.
“If you need anything you know where to find me,” Senna says as she closes the door behind her.
“Your little brother is cute,” you say as you sit down next to Korra.
“Yeah, sorry. I thought he had soccer today, but I guess not.”
You take the chance and place a hand on her thigh. “It was nice meeting them, Korra.”
“He’s um, not really my brother. He’s my uncle’s kid, but my parents adopted him.”
“Oh, I see.”
“Yeah, my uncle was involved in some shit and got himself arrested. Kaden’s biological mom wasn’t an option, so my parents adopted him instead.”
You pause to think about what to say. This is the most Korra had ever opened up to you and you didn’t want to mess it up by saying the wrong thing.
“He seems to really like you.”
“Yeah. He’s cool.”
You smile at Korra being so nonchalant.
“You’re really cute playing with him.”
“Um, you want to get out of here? I really thought they weren’t going to be back. I wouldn’t mind a smoke right now,” Korra mumbles.
The next few weeks seem to go by as a blur. You’re in a standstill with Korra. In limbo. Ever since you had met her family, she actually seems to be avoiding you. Sure you get your coffee on Wednesdays, but she seems distant, distracted. It’s as if she didn’t want you to know about her family, yet she was the one to invite you over. No matter what you’d have been curious, eve if you hadn’t met Kaden, you would have assumed something. You may have assumed that she had a kid of her own.
As the weeks continue on, Korra seems to attend the class you have with her less. You know that it’s her last year and maybe she’s just tired, but she needs to come to class. Everytime she misses it, there’s a chance that the professor could take the random attendance. The attendance that could cause you to fail or pass. She ends up missing two attendance days, meaning that if she misses the next, she will automatically fail. And something in you won’t allow for that.
You find yourself in front of her apartment door and steel yourself. You knock softly at first and then knock harder after a moment. The door swings open, a very large, intimidating man answering the door.
You clear your throat. “Uh hi. I’m Korra’s classmate… I was just wondering if I could maybe see her.”
“She’s sleeping,” the man’s deep voice booms.
“Well that’s kind of the reason why I’m here. It’s just that if she misses another class then she’s not going to pass and I just wanted to make sure that she knew that.”
The man looks her over and then moves to the side to let you in.
“I’m her father, Tonraq,” he says as you walk by him.
“Asami,” you return.
“Well go get her, Asami.” You nod and walk down the hall, but stop when you hear his voice again. “Thank you for looking out for my daughter.”
“Of course,” you say softly before pushing Korra’s door open.
You stop as soon as you see her. It’s the first time you’ve seen her without her glasses on. And she looks even more perfect and calm and at peace than ever before. Your heart races as you kneel down and place a hand on her shoulder. You shake it softly.
“Korra. You need to wake up.”
Korra murmurs in her sleep and then reaches out with her arm and wraps it around your neck to pull you down towards her. She hugs you close and nestles her nose into your neck.
“You smell nice, Asami.”
Her grip lessens and you’re able to lean back to look down at her. Her eyes are squinting up at you, trying to read your expression. Before you know it, her lips have found yours. You freeze. Your mind goes blank and every muscle in your body tenses. This is not how you had imagined your first kiss with her would be like.
She pulls back, looking at you confused. “Holy shit… you’re real!”
Korra’s eyes are now wide and she’s completely awake.
“Why the hell are you in my room and waking me up?!” Korra asks panicked.
“I came to wake you up for class. You can’t miss another, Korra.”
“Fuck, just text or call me then.”
“I have been.”
“Whatever. Just let me get changed and we can go.”
You sit there in class, unable to focus on anything the professor has said. Your mind continues to return to the kiss. To Korra reaching out to you half asleep and kissing you. To how you had frozen, unable to react. How she pulled away as if she’d seen the devil. You’re confused. You’re hurt. You’re happy yet sad at the same time.
You glance over at Korra, she pushes her glass back in place and continues to face forward. You want to talk to her, but you know now is not the right time.
“Damn, even at the most impractical time, I lit one up,” you groans as you hunker down trying to protect your cigarette from the wind.
Korra’s doing the same beside you. “Wisdom is powerless to craving.”
You nod, understanding completely. You want to talk about the kiss, but don’t want to be the one to bring it up. Even if you did have the courage to ask, you couldn’t. Not when it came to Korra.
Korra sighs heavily as her cigarette goes out. “Asami, do you have a light?”
“Sorry,” she mumbles as you pull out your lighter. You shield the flame from the wind with your hand. You’re so close to her that you can’t seem to focus and you drop the lighter, swearing after you burn your finger.
Korra’s cigarette joins the lighter and you feel her hands wrap around yours. “Are you okay?” she asks you hastily.
You jerk your hand away and shove it into your pocket. “I’m fine.” You take a long drag and feel on the verge of crying. Not from the pain of the burn or smoke, but from everything else.
“You’re not fine,” Korra says as if it’s the most obvious thing. “What’s wrong?”
“You’re seriously asking me what’s wrong?!” You don’t mean to shout, but you do. You watch Korra flinch at your raised voice and demeanor.
“I-I’m sorry. I never meant to...” She seems to shrivel up in front of you, her arms crossed over her chest. You’re sure that it’s not just because of the cold wind. She stands there in silence, just staring at the ground.
You know what she wants to say. ‘I never meant to kiss you.’
“I know you know how I feel about you,” you snap. “But you keep just stringing me along. Keep holding me close, but never close enough.” You run a hand through your hair, trying to keep it out of your face. “I can’t do this anymore.”
“I’m sorry,” is all she says.
You look at her once more and shake you head. “Whatever, Korra.”
You notice that Korra doesn’t miss a single class after your fight. But you also notice that she avoids your gaze and doesn’t even attempt to sit next to you. She looks tired, more worn out than you’ve ever seen her before. Your heart hurts, but you can’t bring yourself to be close to her. Not again. She obviously has things she needs to work out.
The semester goes by and then the next semester. Neither of you try to reach out to one another. Neither of you go back to the cafe that you once were at every single Wednesday. You wanted to congratulate her on graduating, but it just didn’t feel right.
You think you’re over her when you begin the next year, but then you see someone with her usual pack. You smell the smoke from the cigarette at his lips and instantly your stomach tightens and your heart hurts. You know it’s stupid. You know you shouldn’t be lingering on her. You know that, but your heart doesn’t allow it.
You sit at the bench that you and Korra so frequently spent time at. The smoke forms a cloud around you as you lean your head back, puffing out smoke into a ring. The ring spreads and eventually dissipates as you blow another and then another. You can finally do something that Korra always did with ease. Something you find yourself doing more often than naught.
You put out your cigarette and throw it out. You walk slowly towards your new dorm, towards your new room. Towards the room that is only yours, not Opal, no anyone.
The door clicks as your card key slides through and you walk up the stairs to the third floor. You walk down the stuffy hallway and take one more left towards your room, but stop. There’s someone hunched in front of your door. Their face is buried in their folded arms and their legs pulled to their chest. You walk slowly towards them and clear your throat.
“Excuse me… but that’s my room.”
Your eyes meet hers and your breath catches. Her eyes are bloodshot, but the blue still stands out as much as you’d remembered. Smudges cover her glasses, something you'd never seen before. She had always made sure to keep them clean and clear.
“What are you doing here?”
“I wanted to talk to you.”
“Now, after a year? You want to talk to me now?”
“No, save it. You can’t do this to me. Not again.”
“Hey, I know I was shitty to you, but please just let me talk for a moment. Let me explain.”
You want to turn her down, but you can’t. You’ve never been able to say no to her.
“Let’s go outside then.” You turn without another word and you don’t need to look back to know she’s following you.
The bench is cold and you shiver as you pull out a cigarette. She just watches you as you light it. She has a cigarette of her own that’s resting between her lips, but she doesn’t go to light it.
“Don’t tell me you forgot a lighter.”
She takes the cigarette from her lips and twirls it with her fingers.
“Asami, I…” her voice trails off and she paces in front of you. “Asami, we were good. We were good when we talked about books, about classes, drank coffee, smoked and just let time fly. We were good then, right?”
“But I couldn’t give you more. Not then. I… I knew how you felt about me, but I couldn’t do it. I thought I could at first, but then I realized I couldn’t. But I also couldn’t let you go.”
“Why couldn’t you give more?”
“A year before I met you… I had been dating someone for four years. W-we got in a fight and she stormed out of my house. That was the last memory I have of her. Of us screaming and shouting at one another. At us saying the worst things possible. I-I loved her so much. Actually I still love her, always will.”
“Then go tell her that.”
“I can’t.” Korra finally stops pacing and looks right at you. “She got in an accident that night. She must have been crying so much that she didn’t see that the light was red. The report says that she went straight through it and was t-boned by another car. She was the only one that didn’t make it.”
You stand and take Korra’s hand into your own. “Korra, I am so sorry.”
“I thought that I’d be able to move on. It’d already been a year. And I saw you. I saw this beautiful woman lost in thought, smoke slipping from her lips. There was just something about you, that made me think that maybe I could try again. But the more time I spent with you, the more I thought I could lose. The more I felt that I could mess up. The more that I felt I could hurt you in some way.”
“Korra,” you say softly.
“I know it’s stupid. Well I didn’t at the time. I didn’t know what I was doing to you. I didn’t realize that me trying not to hurt you was hurting you. I-I thought what we were doing was enough… but it wasn’t. Not for you… not for me.”
“Korra,” you try again.
“I’m sorry that it took me so long to realize this. But I needed to tell you why I did what I did. I needed you to know that I wasn't hurting you on purpose.”
“Korra.” You place your hand on her cheek and guide her to look you in the eyes. “I hear you. I understand that if you’re not ready then you’re not ready. But I can’t just be your friend. I can’t do that again.”
“I am ready,” Korra says without hesitation. “I’m finally ready now. But that is only if you still feel the same way. I completely understand… I mean it has been a year and we haven’t talked and I messed up so many thi-”
You don’t let Korra ramble any longer. You surge forward, your lips meeting hers. She hesitates at first, but then relaxed into your touch and kisses you back. You can feel her mouth curl into a smile as you place one last kiss on her lips and pull back.
“Stop smiling,” you pout.
“How can I stop when the girl I like just kissed me?”
“Well that girl also likes you… a lot.”
“Good, cause I have something for her.”
Korra reaches into her jean pocket and pulls out a lighter. She first lights her cigarette that’s now between her lips. She then holds it out to you to take.
“Y-you still have that?”
She just nods.
“It’s been so long.”
She holds her cigarette in her hand and blows smoke rings.
“Yeah, well a pretty girl gave it to me. It kinda became my lucky charm.”
You take her hand and fold her fingers over the lighter. “Then you should keep it.”