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One Look and I Ignite

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Korra is naturally a night owl. She hates the mornings. That’s why she chooses all afternoon and night classes when possible.

But sitting in her Civil and Criminal Law class at 7:27pm is currently the bane of her existence. Professor Beifong is drawling on about contract law. Korra knows she should be paying attention especially when Beifong starts talking about lease contracts for apartments, but it’s such dry material. She leans the right side of her face against her palm in a feeble attempt to make it look like she’s paying attention.

Blue eyes scan the room most of the time, hoping Beifong doesn’t call on her to work through a scenario on the spot. She sits about mid-way back from the front near the door so she knows she’s not at the highest risk of being called on since Beifong has the tendency to call on students who sit in the back more often. Then again, she’s not doing too hot in this class.

Like every night in this class for three torturous hours – yes, the whole three hours because Beifong is a hard ass like that – she catches the back of voluminous, black waves cascading down a slim back towards the front right corner of the room. She often sees the owner of these waves twirl a random tendril with her left-hand during class. The first time she saw those waves, she tried matching the posterior appearance with a voice and a last name, but couldn’t for the life of her.

But then she realized who she was when they were talking about product liability and torts about a month into the semester.

“Sato, let’s assume you buy a new car. A week after you purchase that car, you’re in a car crash that ruptures the gas tank causing a massive explosion. You survive, but are horribly disfigured and have burn scars all over your body. Other consumers also purchased the same model and brand as you and experienced similar events because of a rupturing gas tank in collisions. Do you have a case for negligent tort and/or product liability against the car manufacturer?”

Korra couldn’t see Sato’s face, but something about her body language changed. She straightened out, black waves tumbling down her back, and started gesturing with her right hand.

“Are we assuming this car rolled off the production lines of one of my father’s factories or Cabbage Corp’s? I sure as hell know my father would never let a car with a design defect as severe as that roll off our production lines. I sure as hell won’t either.”

“Just answer the question, Sato. Assume your father’s not a leader in the automobile industry, and that I don’t know your family. I called on you for a reason and that reason is not be a smartass.”

“Well, like you’ve taught us, I always sue everyone. As for negligence and product liability, I have a strong case. I would bring up strict product liability under Restatements of Torts, the third version, and the tort theory of negligence. For both, I’d prove the criteria for both of them and likely be awarded compensatory and punitive damages.”

Beifong gave her an approving grunt before moving on and explaining it more in depth.

Ever since then, Korra keeps her eye on Sato. After that class, she finally caught a glimpse of Sato’s front and she was breathtakingly beautiful. Tall, perfect skin, tempting curves, fashionable, and she sashayed out of there with confidence. She’s the one small perk of being in Beifong’s class.

Beifong’s enunciations sometimes slur together in Korra’s brain so she always thought someone in the class was Soto, not Sato. Beifong is the notorious professor who only calls on students by their last name. She claims it helps her remember the students’ names years down the line when they ask for references or recommendations.

The name Sato is infamous around the world. Sato’s great grandfather, Hiroshi Sato the First, had invented the Satomobile in the 1920s. Now, Hiroshi Sato the Third runs the conglomerate. One day in the future, Hiroshi would be no more. Asami Sato will one day be at the top of Future Industries.

Korra does not drive and does not have an affinity for vehicles though her father has tried to teach her how to change the oil in their cars numerous times. It never keeps her interest. That is why after Beifong had that lovely dialogue with Sato, that Korra did a little research on Future Industries and the Sato family immediately after class, finding out that Sato’s first name is Asami.

“Waters!” Professor Beifong barks. Korra’s head snaps up from nearly falling on her desk from admiring Sato’s perfectly manicured finger twirling a strand of hair.

“Yes, Professor?”

“What do you think?”

Korra’s eyes go to the whiteboard where Beifong has depicted a terrible rendition of whatever scenario she is trying to teach.

“Can you repeat the question?”

Beifong’s eye twitches and she angrily huffs. She walks back to the board, pointing to various points of her drawing and explaining once again.

“A man from a northern province comes to Republic City on vacation. During his vacation, he runs you over, crippling you to a wheelchair for the rest of your life. By the time you can sue, the man has fled back home and crossed the boundary line. What jurisdiction do the court systems have?”

“Wow, trying to kill me off, Beifong?” she teases with a crooked smile, leaning back and slumping in her seat a bit. “I always seem to end up dead in your wonderful stories.”

“Waters, what jurisdiction do the courts have?” she repeats harder this time.

Seeing that Beifong is not in the mood for her antics, Korra analyzes the drawing again, but it’s not giving her any help. There’s a car and a stick figure with x’s over the eyes of what she assumes is her. She tries to bullshit her way through a response – she doesn’t even know what jurisdiction is – when a familiar voice saves her from further embarrassment.

“Republic City has in personam jurisdiction over the man who hit Waters because of minimum contacts and long arm statues. As for the level of courts, it depends. If the amount in dispute is over 75,000 yuans, both federal and province can concurrently hear it since the plaintiff and defendant are from two different provinces, satisfying the diversity of citizenship test. She can only bring the case up in one level so she should determine if she gets a better reward in federal or province court with the assistance of a lawyer. If the amount falls under 75,000 yuans, it falls under province court.”

“Well said, Sato, but next time, let Waters answer.”

Beifong continues on about jurisdiction and expands on Sato’s answer. Korra is a little surprised that Sato tried helping save her ass. Besides her natural beauty, that’s another thing about Sato that draws Korra to her: she’s intelligent. Like really intelligent. Since she began paying more attention to her, she’s noticed that everything that comes out of her mouth is well thought out and exactly what Beifong is looking for. And listening to her discuss criminal and civil law that flows off her lips like sweet molasses is kind of hot too.

She glances at her watch. 8:37pm. Thank the spirits I’m almost through another week of Beifong.

Movement from the other side of the room catches her eye. Sato has swiveled slightly in her chair. It’s just enough for Korra to get a view of the left side profile of Sato. Wait, did she just wink at me and do a little cute wave?

Korra blushes in embarrassment. Whether that’s from needing her ass saved or Sato’s – friendliness? kindness? flirtatiousness? – showing is unknown to her. Suddenly, the room feels a million times hotter and she pulls at the collar of her favorite parka.

“You’ve all made it this far in the semester so you better stick through these last two months.” Class is finally ending for the night. Everyone begins packing up and grabbing their bags to head out. “Is it the end of class yet? No! Sit back down. I need to announce the partners for your law briefs. It will be due the last week of classes. These partners have been chosen randomly. And before you ask, you may not switch partners.”

Beifong begins rattling off the partners. Korra is only half-listening, scanning the room for the poor sucker that Beifong has paired her up with. Korra couldn’t remember which students belonged to which last names even though there’s only about forty students in the class. Korra’s devised her own nicknames for everyone except Sato since she’s the only student she can identify correctly.

Singing boy who looks like he belongs in elementary school.

Girl with a prosthetic arm.

Boy who always played devil’s advocate with Beifong.

Glasses, geeky senior looking guy.

Korra is only pulled out of her own guessing game when she hears a certain name.

“Sato and Waters.” What?! “Find your partner and come up for your assigned case.”

Mouth gaping open, Korra catches Sato’s mischievous green eyes from across the room. She has now swiveled around completely to face her. She winks, flaming Korra’s cheeks again.

Korra swallows, wondering how in the world this is going to work.