Chapter 1: Chapter 1
There were several things Korra knew about her roommate:
1.) her name was Asami. (Annie? Amy? Korra wasn't sure.)
2.) she was an engineering student.
3.) she had eight bottles of shampoo, seven for conditioner and one lotion, which all seemed expensive. Korra wouldn't even dare look in their general direction.
4.) she always came home late.
5.) and every time she did, there was a to-go cup of matcha tea for Korra in the fridge. Korra had no idea how Asami (Annie? Amy?) knew that was her favorite drink, but she appreciates it anyway and always attaches sticky notes on top of the plate that covers a steaming cup of ramen noodles that say, 'thank you and you're welcome :)'.
This has been on-going for the past two months and maybe, just maybe, she meets Asami or Annie or Amy. Whatever. Tenzin always told her how roommates in college are always extremes: the best, or the worst. Korra wishes, hopes, prays it's the former.
She wonders when she'll actually catch a glimpse of her roommate, because sometimes it feels like she's living with a ghost that eats a lot ramen noodles.
("Come on, Korra, we'll be late," Bolin called out from the small living room. "Chop chop!"
She peeked from the kitchen while pouring steaming water into the ramen cup. “Opal will be expecting us by half-past 12, Bolin. It’s 1 in the afternoon,” she squinted her eyes at him, “and if you ever tell me to chop-chop again, the next thing I will be chop-chopping is your--”
“Why are you both shouting,” Mako groaned from his nap on the couch, “you’re in front of each other.”
Korra shot Bolin another glare, just for luck, and resumed breaking the noodles from their wax in hot water. He ignored daggers thrown his way and noticed the cup on the countertop. “Why’re you making noodles, Korra? We’re going to have lunch.”
“T’s not for me, t’s for Ah-samee. Ah-nnie. Am-ee. Whah-ever.” It took her a few tries to open the pack of seasoning with her teeth.
“Who’s Asami? Annie? Amy?”
“My roommate. Just one. I keep on forgetting her name.”
“Ah. The one you haven’t seen, I don’t know, ever? It’s been two months since you moved here.” Bolin leaned across the counter and Korra narrowed her eyes at him while leaning back from his vicinity. “Are you sure she’s not a ghost?”
Korra rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure ghosts own three expensive conditioners that probably cost more than our salaries for six months combined.” She continued stirring, shrugging. “I’m just doing something nice for her, is all. I mean, she leaves matcha green tea frappes for me in the morning. Why not return the favor?”
“Seriously? You haven’t seen her even once in the two months you’ve been living together?” Mako said, fiddling with the remote. “I would’ve thought you were dating now.” Korra rolled her eyes again. “I remember when we were dating, though; matcha green tea frappe was the worst drink I’ve ever had. I couldn’t even look at it.”
“Shut up. The day I ate your grandma’s caramel kale and nut chicken stew was not the best day of my life.”)
Korra’s not one for introductions and swimming training just drains the fuck out of her that as soon as she makes it to her bed, she falls asleep immediately.
And she’s not about to let her college roommate, asshole or complete sweetheart, slip through her fingertips. So Korra does something about it and buys a whiteboard and hangs it on the fridge.
In the morning, when Korra was about to leave for her first class, she leans back and thinks of what to write. The marker remains capped between her lips but moments later, she uncaps it and writes.
Good morning/afternoon. Make good choices today, roommate. :)
Korra smiles at her work after trying twice to fix her handwriting, and leaves with the cup of matcha green tea and the ramen cup on the countertop with matching ceramic plate and sticky note.
She almosts misses the whiteboard when she robotically took out some water, gatorade and crackers before heading to bed after training, but Korra notices the pretty, loopy handwriting when she closed the fridge door.
Good evening. I did and will. Hope you did too, Korra.
The cute notes continue for the next few, and Korra might lose it if she doesn’t meet Asami.
Good morning/afternoon! Have some of the best ramen noodles ever. Enjoy your day!
Good evening. The best, apparently. Get some rest after training.
Good morning/afternoon! I’d say the same to you. Hope you’d gotten enough sleep.
Good evening! Left you some pizza. The guys had some and I thought to bring some home for my roommate. Treat yo self.
Good morning/afternoon! Did you just make a Parks and Rec reference
Good evening!!! And yes. YES, YES I DID. The boys back at the workshop usually watch during breaks. Enjoy the day, Korra.
Korra loses it when she sees Mako and Bolin’s handwriting on the board on the third night, with their large handwriting that said: ‘HELLO ARE YOU A GHOST’ (Bolin) and a toddler-level drawing of Bolin and Mako (Mako).
Asami didn’t erase the brothers’ writing--she never did even with Korra’s. Korra was always the one to erase--and instead wrote below the drawings: “If I said I was a ghost, would that scare you off? Cute drawings by the way.” with a cute (extremely cute, Disney-style cute) drawing of a husky.
So probably, Korra didn’t hate the boys as much as she thought she did. So she keeps the whiteboard as it is. Tenzin said meditation hour is in five minutes in the gardens of the college of Asian studies.
Six frustrating hours later, half of them was Master Tenzin talking her ear off on proper ways to open her mind and heart to meditation and some shit like that. Stellar marks in Economics, Accounting, Political Science, swimming--though it was extremely ironic (and humiliating) that she was having trouble with Martial Arts, with the meditating thing.
Korra opens a can of beer and nearly crushes it her hand. If she wasn’t dead tired, she was fuckin’ frustrated. Well, it was better than not taking a shower before she sleeps, so she calls for some beef and broccoli stir fry and some sweet and sour chicken, heats Asami’s pizza and takes the much needed shower and settles on the couch with her favorite pillow, a case of beer, and a bunch (all) of the Disney movies she has with her.
Her phone pings halfway through Mulan; it’s only then Korra realizes it’s two thirty in the morning. It’s Bolin.
B: reruns of Kyoshi and the Warriors on channel 22!!!!!!!! ALSO SCOOBY DOO!!!!!!!!!! Haven’t seen anything like this since 2010 BAHAHAHA
Korra, Mako and Bolin fucking loved Kyoshi and the Dancers the cartoon. And the movie was shit. And Scooby Doo? The fucking best. She missed Naga, though.
The remote has never been farther her entire life. Korra switches the channel and there it was, one of the best memories of her childhood. She quickly types back a response.
K: YOU’RE RIGHT!!!!!!!!!! AGHH I MISSED THIS. Why are u guys still up though
He replies instantly, the grey dots turning into a speech bubble on her phone. Mako’s finishing a paper for Crimo and I’ve like 3 recipes due tomorrow huhuhu
Korra was typing back her response when keys jingle outside her door followed by the lock turning, and Korra doesn’t even notice--
“Kyoshi and the Warriors? I loved that. Hey,” Asami says, and Korra turns to her.
Korra returns to typing a response for three seconds before--
Her head whips back to the Asami faster than the blink of an eye and she drops her phone into her lap.
It’s I-write-cute-messages-that-I-hope-will-brighten-your-day Asami.
Asami looks gorgeous: with her long black hair and greasy overalls with sleeves rolled to her elbow. Asami looks absolutely fucking gorgeous.
Korra looks stupid: with her eyes wide open and her mouth slightly hanging with her phone in her lap and empty cans of beer on the center table not to mention the husky pajamas and the baby blue blanket around her. Korra looks absolutely fucking stupid.
Asami raises a brow at her and looks to her sides, like maybe there was a ghost standing beside her. “Uh, hello again.”
She wants to say: Hello you’re absolutely gorgeous and you make my day and you’re really cute and I’m sure you’re smart and you’re absolutely gorgeous and you make me smile with your cute roommate things and--
She says, “Hi.” Korra mentally round-house kicks herself in the head for that.
Asami laughs, and really, it’s one of the best things Korra has ever heard. “Didn’t think you’d be up late today, roomie.”
“Well--um--wasn’t tired. No… no training today.” Her roommate hums while downing a glass of water, and Korra noticed that the back of her hands had soot that stood out against her light skin.
“It’s about time you got some rest. I always got home to you sawing logs when you leave your door open.” She giggles and Korra’s eyes grow wider. “I’m just kidding. You snore a little bit, but that’s okay. My dad’s snores were worse, and that was because he was exhausted. You saw the pizza today?”
Korra nods and smiles, naturally and not because her cheeks are cramping. “Thanks. Also for the frappes you leave in the fridge. And the notes. They always make my mornings better.”
Asami grins again, and there’s soot under her chin. “You’re welcome. I should get going. A shower is necessary. You should get some rest too.”
But Kyoshi and the Warriors. But Scooby Doo. Korra shakes her head. “Nah, you should hit the hay, though. See you tomorrow, Asami.” Korra realizes she likes that name a lot.
“Good night, Korra.” Asami saunters to the bedroom humming the theme song of the KatW.
Thirty minutes later, in the bright light of the tv that showed reruns of her favorite shows when she was a kid, Korra can’t stop smiling when she finally replies to Bolin.
K: Good news: Asami isn’t a ghost that eats my ramen noodles.
Coach Kya blows her whistle and it gets the attention of all the swimmers in the pool. “Alright, ladies. I’m letting you all off the hook for a week, starting now. You should all be resting before your midterms. As long as you all spend it resting and not getting blind-ass drunk, I’m fine even if you don’t train between your break.” They whoop and cheer and Korra makes a calculated and well-executed fist pump into the water. Desna and Eska remain impassive as ever, but she could feel just a tinge of relief coming off in tiny, insignificant waves from her cousins.
They make it out of the pool and her teammates invite her for pizza dinner, but Korra shake her head and smiles, telling them they should enjoy the night without their team captain.
Walking back to the university apartments, Korra realizes how the past four days haven’t been peachy. She hasn’t seen Asami or replied to Bolin, Mako and Opal’s messages. Homework here, essays due the next day there, word problems everywhere. Horrifying. Kya’s not been easy on them, either.
When Korra opens the door, she nearly drops her training bag when she sees Asami sitting on the couch with papers surrounding the center table. She turns with a pen between her lips and her black hair held up in a bun with another pen, and damn if Korra short circuited just the sight that is her roommate.
Asami looks even better in a pair of shorts and a tank top, without the soot covering parts of her face and fingers.
“Hey,” Asami says, smiling up at her and Korra can’t help but return it.
“Hey yourself. You’re home early,” Korra replies, heading to the fridge to take the usual post-training stuff. The whiteboard still has the Bolin-Mako stuff on it, and Korra just chuckles every time she sees it.
Asami extends her arms, joints popping into place as she stretches. “Yeah, my integrated project for Industri-arts just finished and I’m just writing some stuff for the Architecture’s integration.”
Korra’s eyebrows furrow. “I’ve a feeling that has something to do with Trigonometry.” Her roommate chuckles lightly.
“Unfortunately, it has everything to do with trig.” Asami sips from her mug. “What about you? It seems like you won’t be sawing logs in your room tonight.” Korra looks up from pouring water from the pitcher and into her glass with playful raised brow. “Kidding, kidding.”
“Our coach let us take a break because it’ll be midterms soon. I’m glad, though--we’ve all been beat up the past few days because regionals are coming up next month.” Korra searches for something say next, because conversations are horrifying, but luckily the TV that seems to be providing background noise as Asami works showed that Scooby Doo was up next, Korra’s eyebrows raise to her forehead when Asami drops everything she’s doing, eyes glued to the screen with amusement.
Korra knows she’s staring, and when Asami glances to the side and blushes slightly. “Sorry. I haven’t seen Scooby Doo in ages. And, well, when I saw you watching Kyoshi and the Warriors the other night, I reckoned--well--I don’t know,” Asami giggles, “I thought that you were someone I can watch these things with without you laughing at me.”
Korra only smiles because her face is burning up and if she says something to respond to that she’s going to--
“Mind if I join you?”
Asami nods, holding her mug between her hands.
To: Bolin, Mako, Opal
K: hi guys, I’m still alive. Sorry for being AWOL for the past few days. Tenzin and suyin have been giving me a shit-ton of work and kya’s not being nice during swimming training. I’m alive don’t worry :P :)
M: Same here. Beifong is on my ass. She’s on everyone’s asses in Crimo class.
O: had my last class for the week yo!! and it’s only tues!! I’m with Opal rn @ the food lab -B
O: We should see each other at the end of the week? Tahno said the swim team is on a quick break before midterms!! -Opal
K: Yeah we are! I guess I’ll be seeing you guys sooner than I expected.
Korra locks her phone and sets it on the table before sitting on the end of the couch to put distance between Asami and herself, but the small couch can only handle so much distance. She can extend her arm and touch Asami’s arm if she did so.
They watch Scooby Doo in comfortable silence as they watched and laughed and when they’re not quiet they trade quick stories about their childhood that make the both of them go, ‘awww’.
Apparently, they both agree that they should retire to their own bedrooms. When they were about to close their doors after their goodnights, Asami’s voice stops her. “Hey. Thanks for the ramen cups every morning. They always made my day.” Asami grips the doorframe lightly and smiles at Korra.
Korra’s hand finds her neck and she blushes. “No problem. Thank you too. And congrats on finishing your project.”
“Thanks. I’ll see you around more, hopefully. Good night, Korra.”
Korra grins into her pillow before sleep finds her.
How she ends up tied to a chair wearing her pajamas and a beer hat, munching on pizza, Korra doesn’t know.
Tenzin’s kids monkey around her dorm room, jumping on every flat surface (except Jinora. Jinora is texting Kai while absentmindedly feeding her pizza. And not severing the strings used to hold Korra down. Whatever.) Rohan is on the coffee table, Meelo on the tabletop and Ikki is probably going to break her mattress. Tenzin will frickin’ reimburse everything that breaks inside this dorm room.
And if there was something that Korra knew something about Tenzin’s kids, it would be the fact that the only way to sedate them is to tire them out. So Korra lets them be, sips from the straws of the beer cap, keeps her eyes on Toy Story 3, and waits.
Korra is still tied to the chair when Andy gives his toys to Bonnie (she won’t tell anyone but she tears up every damn time) and the kids are asleep on the couch, when the door opens without warning.
The look on Asami’s face is priceless.
If only it wasn’t in Korra’s expense, she would have found Asami’s mortified face hilarious.
They both open their mouths, trying to say something appropriate, but of course, nothing comes out.
“Should I ask what in the name of the Spirits is going on or is it better if I walk away so that no one gets harmed?” Asami manages, voice above a whisper. The kids (Meelo) snore loudly.
Korra releases the bendy straw from her lips with a pop and she's grinning at Asami's relatively less mortified expression. "I can explain."
A cake falls from the ceiling, lands with a plop right in front of Asami's ankle boots. She raises a brow at Korra which makes her sorta think that maybe there is no way she can explain this. But Asami only laughs and steps away. "Wait, I know these kids. Are they Vice Principal Tenzin's?"
"Mm hmm. He and Pema had their date night today and since they weren't able to hire a nanny, the next best thing was me, their godchild." She tugs at the binds at her hands. "Mind helping me out here?" Asami moves forward to help Korra and cuts the nylon with her Swiss knife.
Korra pops every possible pop-able bone in her body: fingers, hands, wrists, neck, shoulders, and legs and it's enough to wake Jinora and Ikki. "You're gross," the younger daughter says before promptly falling back asleep.
Jinora rubs her eyes sleepily. "Hey Korra, what time is it?"
Korra glances at her phone and notices the red lines that lined her wrists. Ugh. Why did she even agree to Meelo tying her up. "It's ten thirty PM. Oh Jinora, this is my roommate, Asami. Asami, Tenzin's eldest, Jinora."
Asami smiles warmly and waves, and Jinora does the same.
Tenzin and Pema pick them up later while the girls were up and cleaning up, Asami was putting up the shower curtains in the bathroom. Korra scoops up both Meelo and Rohan with each arm to hand them to their parents.
"Sorry for the mess," Pema apologizes. "Are we reimbursing something tonight?"
Korra takes a swift look around. "Nope, nothing today, don't worry. Hope you guys enjoyed your evening." Tenzin and Pema apologize again, insisting that she take the money for the trouble, but Korra declines, saying she doesn't need it. Jinora and Ikki hug Korra, thanking her for the night, and Korra locks the door as soon as Tenzin's family leaves.
The couch has never felt so divine when Korra plops down on it, exhausted. It's more exhausting than swimming. Korra deflates with a sigh, and Asami emerges from the bathroom, her white blouse untucked from her shorts.
"Tenzin picked the kids up already?" Asami asks. There is a hint of disappointment when Korra looks at her roommate, and it's endearing. Asami wasn't a kid person, she could notice the way she skirted around Meelo as she cleaned up, clearly avoiding the smaller boy even though he was sleeping. Korra hums in reply, downing the rest of the root beer. "Aw. Meelo was kind of growing on me. They sure are a handful."
"Oh they are, one time, Meelo and Ikki dumped a bucket of ice water on Professor Beifong on April Fool's." Korra snickered, the footage was still on her laptop.
"Professor Lin Beifong? Are you serious?"
Korra nods. "Tenzin's ex dumped twice: by Tenzin and by his kids!" They both laughed; it was a known fact that the Vice Principal and the Dean of Criminology both dated in their early years. "Hey, what're those boxes on the table?"
"Oh, I'm visiting my dad soon and we usually play board games together," Asami says quietly, looking at the stacked boxes. Clue, Monopoly, Game of Life, Chess and Pai Sho was the lineup and Korra remembers playing half of them and winning against Mom and Dad, and Mako and Bolin.
Challenging Asami Sato to play board games was one of the not-so smart decisions Korra has ever made in her life.
Like, she wouldn't bat an eye if her roommate was a chess world champion. Or a Clue world champion. Or a Pai Sho world champion. Asami managed to get nearly a million dollars in Game of Life. And while it's bruising her ego, it's the most fun Korra has had in a few weeks.
"I wish I arrived earlier so we could have played with Tenzin's kids," Asami says after taking three of Korra's chips in one move without looking. "Could've been fun."
"How rude," Korra narrows her eyes at her, then the board, then Asami, then the board. Well, she's completely fucked. "Yeah, you would've won anyway."
"Oh, is someone bitter?" Asami teases lightly, smirking at Korra who may or may not be burning up and makes a move without an eye on the board. "I would let the kids win, just so you know, Korra."
"Yeah you would," she mutters, two of her chips end up on Asami's side of the table. Asami had devoured everything sans two chips, and Korra stops the game before she could take one more to her ego with a yawn and a stretch that Asami quickly catches.
"You've a long day; rest, I'll fix up," Asami moves to stand and Korra does the same, telling her that she's being silly and that they should clean up together.
They end up on either side of the crummy hall to their respective rooms, and Asami bids her good night with a hand to her bicep, squeezing it gently, and then lets go.
"I had fun tonight, thanks." Asami says, her back to the door and her hand to the knob. "It's been so long since I've been in the company of people other than sweaty guys who smell like oil and pizza."
Korra leans against the doorframe, laughs. "Been a long time for me hanging out with people who don't smell like chlorine."
Wait, what? Korra is about to thump herself on the head, but Asami chuckles, shoulders rising at falling as she shakes her head. "Look at us: sniffing the people we're around with ninety percent of the time. I should let you go now; good night, Korra. Thank you."
"Thank you too." She waves and smiles and she's probably blushing like a complete idiot. "Good night, Asami."
Korra would like to apologize to her pillow for the dopey grins and the quiet squeals after.
There's a quiet rapping at the door of the apartment at seven am, and Korra is not happy to answer to answer it. Stupid fuckin' knocker, stupid fuckin' door, stupid fuckin' hand knocking on the stupid fuckin' door.
She opens the door looking like the horrifying mess the person on the other side's nightmares should be made of, and the man's face would have made her laugh, if only it wasn't a Saturday morning after an exhausting Friday night.
"Can I help you?" Korra tells the man in a dark red uniform. The man looks like he's about to pee in any second.
"Um, I'm looking for Miss Sato," he holds up a manila folder.
Korra furrows her brow and scratches her head. "Miss who?"
The guy moves back to look at the door number and is confused. "Miss Asami Sato?" The patch on the guy's uniform said Future Industries.
Future Industries owner. Multi millionaire.
Asami Sato the heiress to Future Industries.
Asami Sato is her roommate.
Hold the fuck up.
She narrows her eyes at the employee. But mostly at Asami, who was probably in class right now. She hopes the look sharp enough to poke her sneaky ass. "Sorry, she's not here yet. Maybe you can check later?"
"No, it's alright, miss. I apologize for disturbing you. Good day." The guy leaves and Korra closes the door and frowns.
How could she not know her roommate's last name. She's been fuckin' living under the same roof as someone who costs more than her entire family and she didn't even--
Oh. The anger--no, irritation dissipates almost at once and Korra shrugs. Makes sense. There was probably no easy way to break it to her roommate that she was an heiress to one of the biggest companies in Republic City considering they've only started talking two weeks before.
'Hey, I'm a multi millionaire. Be my roommate, yeah'. No, not smooth. Not smooth at all. Korra can tell that Asami isn't that kind of person.
Mr. Choi's delivery arrived 15 minutes earlier than expected. They've agreed that Chinese takeout is, undoubtedly, better than people. Asami yet again takes her property on Boardwalk with that fuckin' card. Her roommate is so going to pay for that. Korra knows exactly how.
"So," Korra says, rolls the dice and lands a 5. "I was thinking of getting a car,"
Asami hums, her eyes on the board, but she's paying attention. She manages to take a piece of fish and raise it to her mouth.
"Probably a Sato one."
Asami's hand stops midway, mouth open and Korra has her complete attention, which makes her smirk. The card said to take 5Gs. "What do you think?"
Asami averts her eyes. "Get it, then. I wouldn't know. I don't have a car."
They don't say anything for awhile and for once, being in Asami's presence is awkward. Korra reaches out to cover Asami's hand with hers and wow, her skin is so soft and wow, this is the first time she's touched Asami. "Hey, my lips are sealed. I won't tell anyone. And multi million company heiress or no--Asami Sato or Asami the Roommate--I'll still make you ramen noodles and play boardgames with you until one in the morning."
Asami finally looks at her, open adoration playing on her face and wow, she's so so very pretty. "Thanks, Korra. I'll tell you everything eventually," she turns her hand to squeeze Korra's. "How'd you find out anyway?"
"Some guy woke me up with incessant knocking this morning. I forgot his name."
Asami drops her head on the table and groans. "Howaaard,"
She pinches the bridge of her nose. "He came to deliver some things for me and I specifically told him not to come to me here."
"Asami, would you have told me? About... this. Or were you going to just be a surname-less Asami for the entirety of us being roommates?"
Asami looks at her and blushes, shakes her head eagerly. "No! No," she explains and Korra's heart drops a little. "I mean, I would have told you but the opportunity just didn't present itself considering that we didn't really meet until a few weeks ago. I thought that you were going to be like my other roommates that I didn't really bother telling and that you didn't really care to meet the ghost roommate and then you took out that white board and made me ramen noodles then I realized that when we meet I wanted to tell you so we could actually get to know each other. And I'm rambling," Asami blushes and tucks a strands of her hair behind her ear. Korra's heart nearly gives away at how adorable Asami is. "I just couldn't, you know, drop by and say, 'Hey, I'm the daughter of one of the city's greatest moguls' out of context. But believe me," Asami chuckles lightly, "I was going to tell you."
Korra smiles and squeezes her roommate's hand reassuringly. She meant it that her being rich won't change how she treats Asami.
Asami Sato definitely was something else.
"Wait, you're serious, Asami. You've never seen Finding Nemo? Ever?" Korra fixes Asami with an incredulous stare. "Where have you been living, under a rock?"
"Dad was on a business trip when that came out, okay?" Her roommate replies defensively. The microwave beeps and Asami takes the popcorn out of it and pours it into a bowl. "Then I sorta...forgot to watch it. But I've heard that it's great."
Korra has to pause the movie because 15 minutes into it Asami is sobbing and oh my gosh what is she going to do, oh my gosh. At the beginning there were quiet sniffs, so quiet it was like it wasn't even there, so Korra didn't really say anything, but then now Asami is crying and well, Korra pauses the movie and hands Asami a tissue.
It seems like Asami doesn't want to talk about it, so Korra lets her rest her head on her shoulder until the sobs subside into the sniffles it started from.
Just when Korra is about to say something, the door opens to Mako and Bolin, dressed to the nines, with large, somewhat identical grins on their faces.
"How in the name of the Spirits did you get into my--"
"We've a key but there's no time for explaining now!" Bolin practically hauls her towards them that they didn't see Asami in their presence.
"Hell week for Crimo and Culinary just ended; we've got to celebrate," Mako explains in a more calm tone but at the looks of it, he's as excited about celebrating as much (or slightly less) than Bolin.
Korra resists and pries the grip Bolin's got on her wrist. "Hey, hold your horses there, Bolin. You guys just interrupted girls' night right now,"
Mako notices with who. Bolin looks absolutely confused but with one swift glance to his side he catches up.
Red eyed with the tiniest sniffles, Asami hastily wipes her eyes and stands before walking to the trio. "You must be Mako and Bolin. I've heard a lot about you."
Bolin is the first to shake her hand with eagerness that surprises Asami pleasantly. "And you must be the dear lady Asami; I'm Bolin it's wonderful that you are not a ghost but a beautiful woman who has survived my friend over here." He nudges Korra with her elbow and waggles his eyebrows, and Korra shoves him away playfully with the roll of her eyes.
Mako stands uselessly on the side, and if Korra knows him, he would have proposed to Asami right then and there. "And you must be Mako," she grins and shakes his hand, and Mako is still staring, still staring and Korra promises to make fun of him and his obvious crush on Asami. "The Mako, I suppose. Korra has told me things."
...She might have told Asami that she'd dated Mako a few years back. Mako sends her a horrified look that Korra laughs at, and a subliminal message that says, 'holy shit you told her we were together--are you fucking out of your mind'. Korra just nods and laughs even harder.
Mako shakes her hand firmly but with a quivering hand. "Wait, why does it feel like I know you? Do I know you from somewhere?"
His brother jumps in. "Yeah, you look really familiar. Do you have Calc with Opal Beifong?"
"I do," Asami replies.
"Wait. Is your last name Sato, as in Future Industries Sato?" Mako's brows raise to his hairline.
Korra's stomach drops at that. She hurriedly tries to push them out of the uni apartment. "Okay time to go, you dorks, no boys allowed--"
Her roommate looks at her fondly. "No, Korra, it's fine," a hand on her shoulder stops Korra from creating a Mako and Bolin shaped hole on the sides of the small doorway. "Yes, yes I am. But I'd appreciate it if it remained between the four of us."
"These lips are sealed," Bolin makes a zip noise and pulls his fingers across his mouth. Mako does the same (however, less enthusiastically). Korra rolls her eyes at them.
"Why don't you come with us, Miss Sato?" Bolin exclaims and throws her arm around Asami and Korra. "Boys plus Korra night outs are guaranteed best nights ever!"
Asami sends Korra a look: permission, apology and just the usual Asami smolder. Korra smiles back at her and nods, because she likes the idea of hanging out with Asami and she likes the idea of doing other stuff with Asami that did not bruise her ego (like losing boardgames).
Now that their group had an even number of people, it was easier to split into teams and be fair with competitions. Girls vs Boys? Piece of fuckin' cake, Korra thinks.
Tonight was Arcade Night, and Arcade Night was Korra's favorite night out--definitely better than attending a party and getting drunk off her ass. Kya has eyes everywhere and if she gets shitfaced, Kya was going to know. And regionals won't be a thing for her even if she was the captain of the team.
Asami buys both teams 50 tokens each and whoever has the most tickets wins.
Asami grips Korra's elbow and Bolin grips Mako's and it's Korra who's tasked with the go signal and they take their marks. (Korra tries really hard to ignore warm patch of skin where Asami's hand rested).
"Ready, get set... Go!"
A rundown of how the next two hours go for Korra and Asami:
Smash-a-Mole - Asami and Korra take turns and reach the level that's too hard and oh Spirits, this sad excuse for a game for children makes them sweat really hard. A well earned 50 tickets.
Ring the Bell - Korra hits the flat surface hard enough to nearly make the bell fly off. 70 tickets. Not bad.
Rifle Shot - Asami takes the reins here, and hits every bullseye. Korra positively swoons. 70 tickets. They eat some hot dogs after and count cars.
Basketball - Yeah baby. Asami is tall, but Korra is quick. 145 tickets each.
Bowling - They both blow it up (figuratively). For some reason, they both suck. 25 tickets.
Old school arcade games - Oh this. This was the fun part. They've grown up with these games and Asami knew most of the shortcuts to win games like Pacman, Bomberman, Tekken, Stacker and six other games. 702 tickets. Fantastic!
And the best part is the Drop the Ball -
"Pick a number," Asami tells her, blue lights inside the machine bouncing off her face.
Korra raises a brow and pours some candy her mouth. "What? Where are the numbers in there? You just had to drop the ball at the right time--"
"No, silly. I'll drop the ball after a few seconds. The number of seconds being a lucky number."
"Why 8? You see, luck works hand in hand with intention." Asami's looking at her and wow, blue is a good look on Asami.
"When did you become the great fortune teller Asami Sato?" Korra teases. "It's my birthday. 1 and 7. January 7."
Asami shrugs, "Fair enough.", and counts to 8. She presses the button and the ball falls, bouncing around the rotating board with holes and...
It lands on the jackpot.
They bounce around and Asami takes her in a tight embrace and Korra is fucked, because Asami smells like jasmine and honeydew melon and probably everything that smells nice in the world and she hugs back.
645 tickets. She can't wait to see Mako and Bolin's faces when she dumps the tickets on the counter. And to add to that, their faces were absolutely magnificently embarrassed/confused/horrified when they ended up with 700+, and Korra and Asami with over a thousand.
Arcade Night? Arcade Night is Girls' night.
Asami and Korra share an empowered high-5 and take a bison stuffed toy (for Asami, which she names Mr. Cogs) and an adorable multi-colored propeller hat (for Korra, and it's so cute it hurts).
Mako and Bolin get a toaster, which is pretty lame but quite necessary, after That Toasting Incident a few months back. The stench of burning cords and bread still haunts Korra to this day.
They walk out of the arcade with a few weird stares from the store owner: Asami hugging Mr. Cogs, Korra twirling the propellers of her hat with a stupid grin on her face, and Bolin embracing the box of Mr. Toaster. Mako walks beside them and looks so embarrassed by his friends that he's almost as red as his scarf.
"That was fun," Asami tells Korra while Mako and Bolin fall behind them. "I feel like I'm twelve again."
Korra replies thoughtfully, "Didn't expect you to go to arcades,"
"I didn't," Asami giggles. "We had our own arcade."
Korra lets out a low whistle and laughs, her breath frosting in the cold night air. "Well, there you go."
"But I've never had a prize before," Asami raises Mr. Cogs high and squishes him. "Thank you; not just for Mr. Cogs over here, but for the night. I forgot how fun it is to be in the presence of new people."
"You've got to stop thanking me for all these things," Korra says with a tiny shove, but it's done not unkindly.
"Well, get used to it," she embraces Mr. Cogs and looks at Korra with her right cheek squished and the younger girl's heart swells at the sight. "I'm grateful for you being my roommate and friend."
Before Korra could blush and reply, Mako interrupts them with a hand on Korra's shoulder. "Hey, Bolin is asking if you guys wanted to get some drinks with us?"
"At the seedy place you guys go to? Uh, think I'll pass after what happened the last time we were there. Unless Asami wants to go."
"What happened?" Asami inquires.
"Long story short: the roof was on fire for a few seconds," Korra shudders. Some guy named Wu nearly set the ceiling on fire with his hair-brained ideas. "Horrifying." Asami shakes her head. Probably next time, Korra muses.
"Right," Mako says, as if remembering what happened discouraged him from drinking there. Ever. "Well, good night then, ladies. And most especially to you, Miss Sato."
"Oh come off with the formalities--I'm Asami," She flips her hair and waves. Mako is going to faint at any moment.
Korra can see a few hairs on his head stick up straight when Asami fixes him with The Smolder. "Um, yeah, o-okay. Asami. Korra." He nods stiffly and leaves.
Bolin says goodbye with a mouthful of Skittles and Korra and Asami leave them alone.
"I think you broke Mako," Korra says once they start walking. "When you did that. . . Hairflip thingy."
Asami does it again, this time to Korra. "I don't know what you're talking about."
She has to laugh at that. "Yeah, yeah; doesn't work on me, Asami," says Korra, even though it works 150% percent on her.
"Huh, I was hoping that it would." Asami counters with a grin. "Where are we going next?"
"I thought we were going home," Korra tugs on the sleeves of her coat. "It is 11 pm."
"Oh come on--the night's still young and we're young and--" Asami pauses. "I sound like a young adult book, don't I."
"For a moment there I thought you were Jinora," Korra responds with a wink. "So, where to?"
Asami looks down and tugs at her sleeves. "I. . . I wouldn't know. Why don't you surprise me?"
"You haven't been around the city?" Korra asks with a furrowed brow, and Asami shakes her head bashfully and just a little bit sadly and Korra's heart breaks a little at that. She doesn't press on why and chooses not to assume. "Well, princess, you chose one of the best people in town to show around! Don't tell Bolin and Mako, though."
She holds out her elbow for Asami to curl her arms around and she does so with a giggle. "Alright, show me around, brave knight."
Here's how the next two hours go for Korra and Asami:
Yue Bay outlook - there are stands that sell everything on sticks. Korra makes sure to buy one of everything for it to be grilled in an open fire and when Asami takes cautious bites of fish, chicken claws, seaweed, squid, pork cubes and a big mushrooms, she groans and absolutely loves them all.
Republic City Park - Asami has been to the park at night, when all the lights are alive but Korra takes her to a secluded area.
"Wha--" Then Asami sees a pond, illuminated with a blue light of some sort with some ducks swimming around in the shallow water. It makes Korra's heart swell to see Asami so enthralled by something, anything at all.
"Come on, Asami, come closer," Korra tugs on her again and Asami follows. When they reach the small pond, Asami watches what Korra does next, and Korra bends down to remove her boots, then her socks and folding her loose jeans before dipping into the pond. "Come over here before I pull you in completely."
Asami looks at her with incredulity. "Korra, it's freezing."
She rolls her eyes. "Trust me, you'll be fine."
Asami bites her bottom lip before bending to remove her own boots and fold her jeans. She steps into the pond while holding onto Korra's outstretched hand and flinches, expecting icy water--
But is greeted by none.
"It's a hot spring," she explains, "well, a warm spring because it's colder now. Explains the yellow ducks here."
They sit down on the ground and just sit by each other, watching the ducks swim around. (They all approached Korra, though one duckling bumped on Asami's leg. She chuckles and rubs its yellow head before guiding it around her. Korra, for the nth time, swoons.)
They laugh and scurry to their boots because the cold air makes Asami's teeth chatter when they hurry to put on their socks and boots.
Narook's Seaweed noodles - It's automatically Asami's favorite. She loves the noodles, and Korra is proud to say she grew up with these.
Yue Bay Outlook (ii) - "Are you sure we're allowed here?" Asami whispers, hot on Korra's heels. Her eyes widen when Korra leaps over the fence in one quick movement.
"Nope," Korra shoots her a grin from above. "Now shush and get up here."
Asami rolls her eyes yet holds her hand out to be hoisted up by Korra. They land on light feet, grass rustling underneath them as they tiptoe to the coastline.
It's marvelous at night--the bay. It still steals Korra's breath away. She tells Asami this when her roommate gapes at the sight of Republic City at night from where they stood.
"It's beautiful," Asami croons, the lights bouncing off her face.
Korra looks at her fondly, then turns back to the bay. "Look over there!" She points towards a plop to the water.
Asami squints. "I don't see any--"
Flying Fishes jump up and then dive back down, just enough to reflect the light. And then more fish come, creating a flurry of yellows and blues and purples and wow, it's never been so majestic, even more so with Asami grinning and her green eyes alight. Like a six year old watching an interesting show for the first time.
They stand there until the fishes have subsided, and they soon have to return to their apartment, and Korra thinks this is one of the best nights of her life with night with Asami crawling its way to the top of the list.
They walk home in companionable silence, until Asami breaks it. "I never got around the city--my father was always busy and he didn't really like it when I went out. He told me the world was dangerous, that's why I never saw this side of the city." Korra let her continue, and Asami looks so broken in that moment that all she wanted to do was to wrap Asami in a hug, but she was scared it was pushing the boundaries and that Asami would break even more if she did. "I was scared, I guess, of the real world. I'm sure you assumed I was a prissy, snooty, stick-up-the-ass kind of daddy's little rich girl, that's why I never saw what you just showed me tonight and--"
"Hey," Korra halts her from rambling with a soothing tone a hand on her shoulder. "I never assumed any of those. Don't worry. I know that it wasn't because you were disgusted by the ordinary life--it because you never got to live out of that shell of yours until recently."
Asami only looks at her intently, searching her face and Korra blushes under Asami's green eyes. Korra expects her to say something, but doesn't, and they return to walk back to their shared apartment.
It wasn't until then when Korra is unlocking the door, when Asami pulls her into a bone-crushing hug, the keys falling to the floor with a simultaneous jingle and thud. Korra returns it after a moment of surprise, and Asami smells like jasmine and honey dew.
"Thank you," Asami whispers into the fierce embrace. "For not assuming. For showing me what living out of a box feels like."
Korra closes her eyes and revels in being within Asami's vicinity. "You're welcome," she adds with a teasing lilt to lighten up the mood. "Anything to make the princess feel young and alive. I'm glad to have shown a princess the finer things in life."
Asami giggles. "You sure did."
The last three days of her swimming break signifies the start of midterms, and all of them are in a flurry to study and to catch up and Korra is losing her mind over economics, while she struggled to make a journal entry for Accounting. Asami continues to draft designs for her Architecture midterms and the two of them run on coffee and pizza--which will take their toll on Korra the next time she'll be back in the pool again.
On the third day of midterms, Opal stays over after lunch--her next test is in the Asian Studies college with Tenzin, and Korra appreciates the quiet company of one of her closest friends as they study together and have some occasional chitchat with the jasmine tea she knows Opal loves.
Korra's phone pings with a new message notification, and the sound of the alert is different, so it tells her it's from Asami. Or Salami, her phone says.
S: History test just finished! Boom baby
K: Congrats Sami!!! Told ya you'll breeze through it like a leaf
S: A leaf I became. Sort of expected myself to turn into a leafless cactus or something
Opal looks up from her notes and inspects with green eyes.
"What?" Korra tries to wipe off the stupid grin on her face but fails miserably so.
"I haven't seen you smile that hard in a long time," Opal remarks, "like, that kind of smile."
Korra is about to protest, to ask what she means by that, but instead tells her Asami had joked about something. Opal buys it (a little), which relieves Korra (a little).
"Is she still dating that Iroh guy?"
The lukewarm tea gets into the wrong tube of her throat, sending Korra into a coughing mess, sputtering tea all over her notes.
Opal is horrified and startled, half at Korra and half at what she has just said. "What?" Her voice is muffled by the back of her hand as she wipes at her mouth. Opal hands her a handkerchief but she has her own, and waves her friend's hand away.
"Oh my gosh," Opal covers her eyes. "Forget I said anything, really." She mumbles something about not being able to keep her mouth shut, but Korra has heard it, yep.
Korra makes a face. "Iroh, like the professor Iroh?" She honestly thought Asami wasn't into that kind of thing.
Opal mirrors the look on Korra's face. "Ew, no! Iroh II, Zuko's grandson. That Iroh."
"Oh, him." Korra tries to remember his face. She recalls him to be quite good looking. Asami had taste, Korra thinks and nods, genuinely impressed.
"I don't think they're dating, though," Opal continues, betraying what she said earlier about saying too much, but Korra laughs because those are one of the things she finds endearing about her friend. "Whatever they have, it's nothing serious. I can't believe she didn't tell you, though,"
Korra shrugs and lifts up the papers from the center table. "I don't really mind. I'm sure she was going to tell me anyway," and maybe there was a tinge of disappointment that hadn't been there before, but if there was one, she chooses to ignore it.
They're eating pizza from yesterday and Korra swears she can see an elephant at the corner of the room probably laughing at the two of them as they sat across each other.
A pause, then they giggle. The elephant shrinks.
"You first," Korra tells her.
"No, you," Asami replies.
"I asked you first."
"I asked you second."
Korra laughs. "That doesn't even make sense."
Her roommate is pensive for a moment, looking for the right words, and Korra wonders what she's going to say even though she knows exactly what.
"So," Asami says, elongating the 'o', "I didn't know you were the daughter of the Chief of the Southern Water tribe."
Well, there it goes.
It wasn't really a mystery and there's really no point in hiding it. I mean, it was obvious that she was from the Water tribe, but it wasn't really a big deal for everyone she was Tonraq's daughter.
"It's not a big deal--"
"You're practically a princess."
Challenging Asami, Korra leans closer. "You're practically a CEO."
"Touché," Asami says, snapping her fingers. "Well, what about you? Any other truth bombs you're about to drop on me? You know it's unfair because I've only had one truth bomb and you've got two on me."
She grins at her. "That's how life goes, darling. Speaking of bombs, how is Iroh in the sack." Asami's reaction is similar to Korra's this afternoon: sputtering and coughing up, only that it's water and Asami still looks (relatively) nice while in a coughing fit.
She's red when she faces Korra, and looks everywhere but Korra. "I. . . what? Who?"
"Oh you know, Iroh, that cute guy you're dating."
Asami takes half a minute to rein herself in and continue breathing to live. Korra enjoys Asami's embarrassment too much, and she revels in the blush that spreads on Asami's cheeks. "He's not my boyfriend."
Korra remains quiet in a 'please elaborate' kind of way.
"We. . . slept together just to get the edge off, after some projects. Nothing serious. I don't even see him anymore, and I don't plan on sleeping around with him again in the future."
When Korra asks why, Asami shrugs. "He's just not what I'm looking for anymore." She hums in reply, taking a bite from the pizza crust Asami slipped on her plate. "Also, I'm bi."
Korra gasps sharply and the crust enters the wrong tube in her throat and she chokes--fuck, it's hard to breathe--Asami hands her a glass of water with a smug face. She's draining the cup when Asami speaks again, "Well, I guess we're even now," Asami jokes with a hand patting Korra's back then continues quietly, "I hope you don't have a problem with that."
Korra's throat is cleared yet she was still shaking a little. "I don't," she says before clearing her throat, "Actually, I am too."
If Asami was surprised, she didn't show it. She probably isn't, though. "Really? You've dated girls before?"
Korra shakes her head. "I've dated Mako but I guess I'm attracted to girls as much as I am to boys. Is that weird?"
"No, not at all. We're the same, actually, only that I've dated a girl."
Korra's brows raise slightly and she gave Asami a leering grin. She rests her chin on her palm with her elbow on the table. "Tell me about it,"
"There's nothing much to tell, only that she was a senior student and I was a sophomore. It was... educational." Asami reddens.
"Why'd it end? If you don't mind my asking."
Asami shrugs and takes a bite from her pizza. "It just didn't work for me. She was in uni and I was still in high school. It was hard to see each other and I think she had someone else."
Korra's frowns. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be! It wasn't like it meant much to me," Asami waves her hand dismissively, "I was really young and stupid, not to mention that she was a bitch."
"Well, we've all have that ex." Korra rolls her eyes at Mako. "Some people are really better off as friends, e.g. Mako." Her roommate giggles. "It was after him that I realized that girls are... nice too. But I was always too scared and shy to approach them."
Korra's looking down at her plate, but Asami bends down and peers under her short hair. "Hmm. I didn't peg you to be a shy-type," Asami jokes, and Korra has to laugh at that. She's never been shy, but to people she has crushes on, every bit of her bent away from them.
"Shut up," Korra laughs, though her throat was tight. She hated (or liked) it when Asami looked at her like she was the only one she wanted to talk to. Asami was a sweet and attentive person--it was in her nature to talk to friends like that.
Putting her pointer finger on Asami's forehead, Korra pushes her away gently, playfully. "Eat your pizza. Might get cold again, Salami."
Much to Kya's dismay, regionals were moved a month after the original date and of course, the team is elated. Korra tries to remain as neutral, because what kind of captain is happy about rescheduling of competitions? (Apparently, Korra is that kind captain. But don't tell Kya that.)
So the month passes pretty much uneventfully, consumed by training and essay due every week for History with Professor Iroh. As much as Korra likes him, he gives a shit-ton of essays to write that Korra's hands and wrists have taken the form of their position when typing on her laptop. Training is rigorous with Kya. She still can't meditate with Tenzin. Has she mention training is rigorous with Kya?
She, Mako, Bolin and Opal take Asami out often when they can and there wasn't a day when Asami didn't go out with them for pizza, ice cream, bowling and whatnot. Korra finds that she likes having Asami around with them. It feels like her roommate has been their friend since forever, that they hadn't only met nearly two months ago.
(On Bar Night two weeks ago, Bolin raised a glass to The Krew, and Asami's eyes widen before meeting Korra's eyes across the table when they extend their arms to clink their glasses to the middle of the table.
There was a worried look on Asami's features, and Korra read it perfectly, asking 'am I supposed to do this' or 'am I part of this'. Korra just laughed and nodded eagerly before saying, "To Asami! The newest member of the Krew!"
Mako, Bolin and Opal echo her words. "To Asami!"
Korra tried to ignore the watchful way Asami looked at her for the rest of the night, but doesn't ignore the way Asami held her hand in the chilly night air. They share earphones and listen to New Order on Asami's phone while walking back to their apartment.)
On the day of the competition, the Krew sits in the front row, right in front of the pool, with Bolin and Mako wearing hats with paper that say, 'GO #1!' taped at the front. Asami and Opal hold a 'GO KORRA!' sign. Korra grins and waves at them, stepping on the pedestal as she slides down her goggles from her forehead.
"Butterfly. 200 meters. Swimmers, get ready. 3. 2. 1." The sound of the starter gun fires and Korra dives into the water and does what she loves--swims.
Their team wins champion of regionals, moving onto Nationals which won't be in the next eight months. Kya pulls all of them into tight, rib crushing hugs (Korra is the last and gets the most rib-crushing hug and Kya ruffles her hair saying, "That's my captain." She can't wait to tell her parents what a softie Kya has become.)
Her friends approach despite her near naked state in just her windbreaker jacket and her swimsuit. Bolin pulls her into a hug that almost matches Coach Kya's, then Mako ruffles her still damp hair with a, "Congrats, Champ," and Opal embraces Korra though warily, not to get her clothes wet. Asami, however, pulls Korra into a tight embrace despite her body still being wet from the swim. She probably smells like Chlorine while Asami smells like jasmine and wow, she likes Asami's hugs. A lot. Her bag drops with the magnitude of the embrace. "You were so great!" Asami says finally letting go to look at Korra. Her black blouse and wine red shorts were damp now, but if Asami minded, she didn't really show. "It was like--like you were the water. Spirits, you were like the water."
Bolin makes swoosh and swish sounds and tries to imitate how Korra tore through the water during her events. They all laugh.
"Thanks, 'Sami," she tells the girl in front of her and then turns to the three surrounding her. "And thanks for being here, guys. I know you have classes, but you still came."
"Of course we came!" Opal tells her with an arm looped around Bolin. "We wouldn't miss your competitions for the world."
Her heart turns into a puddle at the love and support her friends are showing her, and Korra pulls them all into a tight hug like the mushy person that she is. "I love you guys," she mumbles, her words muffled by their closeness, but Korra's sure that they heard her.
Once they break away from the hug, Mako speaks up. "So, anyone up for some pizza?"
Trial balances will be the end of me, Korra thinks with resign. Professor Zhu Li allowed them to take home the extremely hard quiz earlier today. Seems like Asami is having some trouble with word problems from Architecture. Kyoshi and the Warriors continues to run, completely unnoticed by the two of them.
Their doorbell rings, startles the both of them. Who the fuck rings at two thirty in the morning. "I'll get it," Korra tells Asami when she sees her stand in her seat.
She's about to lose their shit on the person who dares make her soul jump right out of their body with their fuckin' instinct to let their presence be known with the doorbell at two thirty in the fucking morning, but when Korra opens the door, the profanities and sharp words she was ready to unleash burns away almost immediately.
Korra has only seen Iroh twice, but damn son, he is as good looking as she always thought him to be, in his black hoodie and brown jeans. Asami has taste.
She stands there staring at him, hopefully the tired scowl she had on earlier isn't there, but by the sudden nervous expression that his face takes on, she knows it's still there.
"Hello, sorry for disturbing you at this early hour, but is Asami here?" he asks politely, rubbing the back of his neck.
She nods and lets him in. Asami notices his presence almost immediately and wow, the weather didn't forecast 80% humid awkwardness today. Korra would have laughed if the awkward didn't affect her too.
"Oh, hi." Asami quietly says. "Um, what are you doing here?"
"You left your plates on your desk," he hands her a tube and Asami sighs with relief. "I was passing by and then I dropped it off for you."
"Thanks, Iroh. I appreciate it."
There was an awkward silence. A very, very awkward silence. Korra clears her throat, and Asami remembers Korra's presence in her room. "Oh, um, Iroh, this is my friend and roommate, Korra. Korra, this is Iroh, we, um, take Engineering and Architecture together." Korra waves her hand at him, and he returns it politely. Korra wished he wasn't a nice guy so she could have a reason to dislike him, but he gave her none. Handsome, smart and polite? Asami has taste.
"Well, uh, I'll just get going then."
"Alright, good night. Thanks again."
"You're welcome. Good night, Sato. Good night, Korra." He leaves, and Korra locks the door. She has to bite her cheek to keep from laughing really hard, enough to disrupt their neighbors and Spirits, that was the most awkward situation she has been in--she has been in a lot--and it happens to not be at her own expense.
"So," Korra starts, "Did you happen to notice the big elephant sitting right between you two named 'you're hot, we're awkward, we slept together, and we're even more awkward'?"
Asami laughs and tosses a wet rag that lands square on Korra's face. She sputters, pulls it away and places it on the table. "Shut up," Asami says, returning to her plates.
"Hey, come on, you've taste!" Korra exclaims as much as she can without getting another complaint from the RA. "He's hot. Handsome. Polite. If you're not gonna date him, I am!"
Laughing even louder, Asami throws another rag that Korra dodges perfectly. "Well, if you do, you're going add another elephant between us named, 'I slept with you and we're awkward, then I slept with your roommate, which makes us more awkward'. So, I'd rather you don't."
"Hey, don't blame me," Korra raises her hands in surrender. "He looks like Mako."
Asami scrunches her nose. "That he does. Also giving you another reason to not date him. Or sleep with him."
"Ew," Korra makes a face, and tosses the rags at Asami, who catches it perfectly. Ew indeed.
Second semester comes pretty quickly, in a flurry of homework and training and essays and night outs and all nighters (may it be for papers due the next day or just watching cartoons with Asami and sometimes, the Krew). And praise Spirits, Asami got better schedules that didn't make her go home after midnight like before they actually met.
Korra would be fooling herself if she said that Asami didn't make things better. Because her roommate--her friend--did.
For one, laundry has never been Korra's favorite chore, but damn, she looks forward to it every weekend when they head down to the laundry room and blast Nsync or U2 or any track on any of their phones' music libraries.
And another: cleaning up was fun now. Whoever finished sweeping or mopping or washing the dishes first always had the remote or decided what to watch on Netflix, or will buy the other their lunch from Narook's.
One more: Korra has never laughed so hard her entire life when she and Asami dubbed infomercials one night. Then Infomercial Friday happened, and with Asami, she looks forward to all the days of the week. Monopoly (any board game) Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, X Files Wednesdays, TV Thursdays, Infomercial Fridays, Saturdays (night out with the Krew) and Sud-day (laundry). They pretty much came up with these names after realizing that this was, indeed, their routine as roommates and as friends.
They switch schedules, per Asami's request, so they know when to hang out after class and whenever their breaks meet (Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Friday mornings.)
It feels nice--to have someone to be really weird with who isn't a guy. She's had Mako and Bolin ever since she was a kid and they were her best friends ever since. Yet she has always wanted a girl best friend, and maybe it's too early to call Asami her best friend, but she knows, prays, hopes that Asami will be around long enough for Korra to call her that.
Besides, she's part of the Krew. And once you're part of it, you can't leave.
(Not even a nasty break up can ruin it. See: Korra and Mako.)
Really. Korra just wishes Asami sticks around; It would really hurt her otherwise.
A quarter through the semester, Korra's having a bad week. She failed her economics test and her arms hurt like hell, not to mention that there's conditioning training until 10. But then in the morning there is a matcha green tea and ramen sitting on the counter with a sticky note that says 'take it easy, next week will be better, champ :) -a' in a loopy writing she knew well--it banishes any thought of Asami being a temporary fixture in her life.
There are many things Korra knew about her roommate, now friend, Asami Sato:
1.) her music library is full of 80s, 90s and indietronica tracks she found on Pandora, Spotify and 8tracks.
2.) she hates manila paper.
3.) her favorite books are all written by Gillian Flynn and George Orwell.
4.) she was bisexual, has slept with guys and dated a girl.
5.) her left eye twitched when she gets four or less hours of sleep.
6.) Future Industries blah. Korra knew those things like the back of her hand. Also, Asami's mom died in a fire when she was as old as Ikki.
7.) she's extremely polite and courteous to the elderly and has met Korra's parents more than once when they came to visit. Mom and Dad like her almost immediately. Asami likes them a lot, too.
8.) Grilled tuna and seaweed on sticks were her favorite delicacy now.
9.) Asami cries when she's overwhelmed with frustration and anger. Hardly when she's sad (and when she does, it's Disney movies again).
10.) She likes it when Korra braids her hair, even if she can braid it herself.
11.) Asami's room smells like her and vanilla coconut.
12.) strawberry ice cream is her solution to a bad day, and Korra makes sure she buys it for her when Asami is having one.
13.) when Asami laughs hard, she doesn't make any sound--only wheezing and crying tears of laughter.
14.) when she studies or reads, she makes a bunch of facial expressions Korra likes to imitate just to annoy her.
15.) Asami is beautiful. Asami is her best friend.
And Korra might be falling in love with her. Just a little bit.
Just a little bit.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Thursdays, U2, and poppies
Thank you so much for all your comments and kudos; I’m overwhelmed!!! I appreciate all your kind words and the way you told me how this fic made you grin like dorks. Believe me, reading through all your comments made me do the exact same thing. So thank you, and also thanks for waiting for this.
And yes, you probably noticed that there are three chapters instead of two. This chapter got too long and I wouldn't want the pace to be dragging, so I made it a three part thing. I'm not sure how you're going to react to that, though please know that it's for the good of both you and me.
Beta’d by Abby -- if you’re reading this here and I know you are -- please know that whatever happened in this fic, it’s your fault. Literally. Passing notes with prompts, heartbreaking prompts that make me cry in the middle of discussions during Physics.
Also beta'd by Kathryn -- thank you for fixing this and also the hand-holding sessions.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Well, I'm fucked.
That phrase is the first thing on Korra's mind when she wakes up on the kitchen table at ten AM, with a blanket around her shoulders and mug of freshly brewed tea.
One: Economics class was at nine.
Two: She has fallen asleep on her laptop while trying to pull an all-nighter for her essay.
Three: Asami put a blanket around her and the mug of still hot tea was to the right of her nose, almost in danger of being knocked down by her hand.
One: Professor Izumi will kill her. Trial by fire is the easiest way to go.
Two: Her essay only had her name, the date, and the word 'The'. The rest were variations of a monkey smashing the keyboard, written by her cheek.
Three: Asami has to stop doing this.
Asami has to stop being so thoughtful. Asami has to stop being cutesy. Asami has to stop being so touchy. Asami has to stop being… Asami.
Korra will lose it.
(Known fact: Korra does not want Asami to change. Not for her. Not for anyone. She takes back what she thinks immediately.)
She's always noticed things about Asami in ways that she doesn't with other people. Korra notices how Asami meets her eyes across the room or a table during night outs with the Krew, notices how they're always linked to each other with their arms and their hands and their feet when they're wearing fuzzy socks on days where it's too cold to be barefoot, notices how pretty Asami's eyes are, that until now Korra doesn't know what color they are. Emerald is too simple a word to describe the brilliant green of Asami's eyes.
(She has a theory, though. Korra knew she liked Asami when Asami was calling for pizza after they had been caught in a sudden downpour. Asami orders them a pizza: half a Hawaiian for Korra and half a veggie-whatever for herself. They eat their respective halves and occasionally tease the other about their taste in pizza.)
She'd thought Asami was attractive as her roommate, so Korra let it slip. Let it slide. She almost got over it when they became closer.
That's when Asami the Roommate became Asami, Korra's 1/2 and 1/5 of The Krew. Asami, who finished Korra's sentences. Asami, who cries watching Disney movies. Asami, who loves her mom's cream fish recipe.
(There was also Asami Sato, Hiroshi Sato's daughter and Future Industries heiress, but Korra knew better than to treat Asami like her title and last name demanded.)
Maybe her feelings for Asami have always been there--brewing like a hot pot of coffee on cold days, as steady as the pitter patter of the rain outside their window when they stay in.
Asami (n): thoughtful, intelligent, funny, beautiful will be Korra's demise. She will be the reason Korra goes crazy.
Nevertheless, Korra thinks, it's the best kind of crazy. And she'll be glad to be crazy because of/for Asami.
(And if this will end up in a point A [Korra] to point B [Asami], and never the other way around, well, she has to be okay with that.
Korra tries to ignore her subconscious telling her it's mathematically impossible for that to happen.)
The first time Korra realizes she wants to kiss Asami was when they were supposedly reviewing, but no.
Their yellow pads are forgotten on the table and Korra and Asami sit on the carpet, doing anything but studying.
Instead, Korra was showing Asami dumb magic tricks that are so old that they’re practically fossilized.
(“What the fuck.” Asami curses gravelly with disbelief, staring wide-eyed at Korra’s hand.
Korra looks at her with knitted brows. “What?”
“Do that again.”
“Do what again?”
“You know, the thing. With your hand. And the card.”
"This?" Korra motions to the pink card between her fingers, twists it to make the card disappear. The pure childish glee on Asami's face makes Korra's heart thump.)
"My dad taught it to me when I was a kid after nearly yanking his beard out," Korra laughs. "You haven't seen it before?"
Asami shakes her head. "I have. From my dad too. It's one of those nice things I remember about him before Mom died."
The mention of Asami's mother is like a kind ghost that lingers in the room that even Korra could feel. Asami always spoke about her mom like she was still alive, like Mrs. Yasuko Sato was forever on the train that led to her passing and Asami was still waiting for her. Maybe Asami was that kid, ten years ago. Korra swears she still hears that kid now, and it makes the push between her ribs magnify.
Korra does it again to make Asami grin, though it was never wiped from her face. She likes how bright Asami smiles and wants to kiss this girl, lips devoid of their dark red tint.
Korra likes Asami's hands.
They’re not smooth nor porcelain.
They’re not rough. Just… used.
They remind her of her childhood spent in Tenzin's place, his brother Bumi teaching her how to carve wood.
Asami's hands are thin and nimble, capable of writing and drawing for hours, capable of handling engines and pieces of metal that are hot but are, as much as Asami is embarrassed to admit, unable to open a jar of blueberry jam. Korra does it for her, failing to keep her grin under control.
Asami is also perfectly capable of smashing that jar on someone’s head. (She knew she wouldn't, if the occasion doesn’t call for it.)
And it's cute, really, how Asami's hands that always bring heat to Korra get cold so very easily. Maybe that's why Asami likes holding Korra's hands. Maybe that's why she always wants her within her reach.
Spirits, all these friendly touches are going to drive Korra mad--straightjacket mad. The telltale signs of her crush includes warming her body when there are tiny brushes of fingers and wow, Korra is so fucked.
It's during a violent game of Sorry! between Mako, Bolin and Korra that the brothers find out in a way that makes Korra think, 'damn I could've done better.’
Korra is about to kick Mako's sorry behind and send him back home to his base, when Asami steps behind her to brush her hand under Korra's chin.
Of course, her body reacts embarrassingly so, blushing and warming and dropping everything she's holding (the card of Mako's destruction). Asami doesn't even notice, though it's a good thing she doesn't see that she's slowly and unknowingly killing Korra.
Mako's too busy gasping, "Korra, you were about to do that--I thought we were friends!" that it's Bolin, naïve and endearingly oblivious, who notices the way Korra's skin has become a darker shade of red.
He doesn't bring it up for the next two hours, until Asami passes by again to whisper strategy in her ear, then leaves to have a meeting with Professor Varrick.
"Is it me or is it suddenly warmer?" She asks, tugging at the neck of her old Led Zeppelin shirt. Mako and Bolin share a look. A Look.
Despite playing Clue which requires focus and logic, Korra can't deny the elephant named 'I Have A Crush On My Roommate’ growing every passing moment they don't talk about it. Fuck. Might as well tell them, right?
She's about to try forming words to explain, about to open her mouth and say 'Yeah, I like our friend. Deal with it'.
But she can't.
Admitting it to others is admitting it to herself. The great gods above knew that she was still in denial, and telling others might make it worse.
There are snapping sounds in front of her face. It's Bolin. "Hey, you sorta zoned out on us there. What's going on in that brain of yours?" He and Mako are watching her with concern.
These are Mako and Bolin. Her best friends. Her childhood friends. They've been with each other through thick and thin. Sometimes Korra hates herself for forgetting that.
She steels herself and goes for it. Rip off the band aid.
Well, here goes.
“UhlockAsamokay.” So much for opening her mouth.
But they eye her, greatly confused. Mako raises an eyebrow. "Slow down, Korra,” from Mako and a; "Yeah, you're garbling your words,” from Bolin. She used to be adequate with these… words. Things.
Korra clenches her fists on her lap. “IreallylikeAsamiokay.”
There’s a pause and Korra fears that the elephant just expands each passing moment of silence. “I wanted to tell you, but I was scared that if I admit it to someone else, I’m admitting it to myself,” Korra explains in a quiet voice, hoping to break the silence. “So. Yeah.” She punctuates it with a sad smile directed at the red pieces on the board.
That’s when Mako spares his brother a side glance. “Looks like you owe your girlfriend a hundred yuans.”
“You bet on me?!” Korra exclaims, flailing her arms and ready to thump their heads together. Those fuckers, she’s going to--Bolin has the audacity to hide his face from seeing Korra’s rage which she knows they knew was coming if she finds out they bet on her and her... feelings. “Opal and Mako did,” Bolin admits with defeat (and slight fear). Korra turns to Mako and narrows her eyes at him only to see him raising his hands in surrender.
“Hey, you aren’t the most subtle person in the world,” He defends himself and Korra is thinking about plotting his untimely demise. Then her conscience decides to grace her mind with its presence. Well, it is true. You’re anything but subtle. Spirits praise Asami for being the oblivious saint that she is.
Korra crosses her arms and rolls her eyes at the comedy that is Bolin and Mako and her fucking subconscious. So, okay, the might have a point.
They do have a point.
This is really hurting Korra’s ego, so she sinks into the couch to sulk further.
Two hands on her shoulders stop her from doing so. She looks up to see Mako and Bolin stand behind the couch and lean against it with their forearms on the back of the furniture.
“Hey, if you think we judge you, you’re absolutely wrong,” Mako tells Korra in his mom voice. “If you like Asami, well, it’s easier for us to approve of her.” He smiles softly and Bolin grins.
“We love you, yanno,” Bolin says in a tone that reminded Korra of Uncle (sort of) Sokka. “Asami’s a wonderful person but we don’t want you to get hurt.”
Korra doubts that. Knowing Asami: kind, compassionate, gorgeous Asami would never hurt her. Korra knows with her whole heart that she will, in the least and/or worst ways possible, hurt herself. She tells Mako and Bolin so. “Yeah, we know,” Mako tells her--reminds her somberly. “That’s why we’re telling you to be careful of yourself while you take care of Asami too.”
The brothers hop to join Korra on the couch and it gives Korra nostalgia, thinking about when they were ten with memories of cold lemonade and video games on hot sticky summer afternoons.
Korra exhales a shaky breath. Well, that she can make sure of. She will take care of Asami: as a roommate and as a friend. It will never stop being that way. “Thanks for looking out for me, you guys. And Asami too. She would have liked that.”
“Would have?” Bolin asks, “What do you plan to do?”
A pause. Korra looks everywhere but the two boys beside her. “Um. Nothing.”
After sleepless nights of trying to come up with a battle plan, none came.
Mako chuckles. Oh the nerve. “You don’t know what to do, do you, Korra?” She pushes him roughly with her shoulder.
“Don’t rub it in. It isn’t everyday that you inconveniently fall for your roommate.”
Bolin taps his chin in thought. “Do you want to, you know, act on your feelings or something?” She shakes her head. “Why not?”
“Remember that girl in late freshman year?”
Cute notes. Chocolates. Roses in the dumpster. Korra cringes and even recalls her name to be Rosie--ironic.
Mako and Bolin seem to have a recollection of the event. “Oh.”
She takes a pillow, buries her face into the soft cushion, muffling her voice. “Yeah. You know how I deal with...rejection. Or whatever.”
“So let’s get this straight, pun not intended--hey!” Bolin starts pragmatically but Korra hits his face with a pillow. “Rude. Anyway, before I was interrupted: you don’t want to act on your feelings for Asami?" She shakes her head for no.
Mako adds, “Do you want to get rid of them?”
She pauses and thinks for a moment--thinks about the way Asami keeps her hand warm. Korra nods again, though she won’t say that she convinced herself.
Miraculously, the brothers don’t pick up on her hesitance. “I’ve an idea, though I’m not sure you’ll like it.”
At this point, she's willing to try anything. “Hit me up.”
“Why not go on a date with someone new?” Bolin suggests. Mako nods. Korra’s life flashes before her eyes.
It’s no secret first dates and set-ups horrify Korra.
Guaranteed, painful awkwardness.
And the worst of all: being polite.
Oh Spirits, it makes her nauseous thinking about it.
Then Korra imagines holding Asami’s hand and the way she still wants it to keep her hand warm and the way she wants to kiss her, then she’s nodding.
Bolin is texting his friend, and Korra thinks: I’m going to regret this later. And tomorrow. And the day after that. And most likely for the rest of my life.
“Do I look nice?” She asks, checking herself for anything possibly embarrassing. The indigo dress she and Opal bought a few months ago still hugged her nicely, and might she say, her ass looks fantastic.
Asami’s lounging on the couch with a blanket up to her abdomen, covering half of her wine red tanktop and--
Korra looks away and busies herself with strapping her watch to her wrist--her Timex sports watch replaced by a branded silver one from Opal which probably cost more than her college education. Asami should stop staring at her like that, like that--she doesn’t even know what that look is, but she should stop, or Mission Get Over Your Crush On Your Best Friend will never work. Though Korra will be fooling herself if she said that she didn’t like that look.
Asami looks up from her book.
(“Should I get this?” Asami had asked her distractedly, while she chose between Orwell’s 1984 and Donna Tartt’s Secret History.
Korra turned to see the book Asami held up across the low bookshelves of the store. It’s Memoirs of a Geisha--Korra has read this before, in freshman year for History. “I’ve always wanted to buy it, but I kept on forgetting,” Asami explains, looking at the first page of the book.
She tried hard to recall the events of the book and it came in brief flashes: Sayuri. Virginity. Geisha. Tea. Shows. Men. Hatsumomo. Beauty and pain. “Yeah, it’s an okay book. Not really a fan of first person point of views, but it was okay. Maybe you should read it to scratch the itch.”
Asami smiled serenely. “Okay, I’ll buy it.”)
Korra’s heart beats a little faster at the bare lips that beam at her. Her reading glasses are settled on the bridge of her nose. The way Asami’s eyes widen at her makes Korra blush. She grins at Korra. “You’re looking snazzy tonight,” she says kindly and excitedly. She sets down the book on her chest to look at Korra fully. “Somewhere to be?”
“Yeah,” Korra laughs, her stomach fluttering with Asami’s compliment. “I’ve a date. With a guy. Take cover, it’s the apocalypse.” She makes explosion noises, and Asami laughs again and shakes her head.
“Anyone I know?” She inquires out of curiosity, more than anything.
Korra blushes. “About that... it’s a blind date.”
“Ooh, tell me about all you know about him!”
“Okay, okay, chill out,” Korra laughs. “All I know is that he’s Bolin’s friend and extremely good looking, charming too. Gotta dash, see you later?”
Asami waves and returns to her book before pushing her glasses up with her finger and says with an easy laugh: “Yeah, see you. Enjoy the date and I'm saying it now: go easy on him."
Bolin finds it hilarious and somewhat fitting to use the "Haaave you met (insert name here)?" game. Korra almost thumps him on the head with her purse.
Korra's sure of a few things:
1.) Wing Beifong is Opal's brother, whom she never had the chance to meet unlike his twin brother, Wei.
2.) He's extremely good looking.
3.) Korra hates those rare occasions where Bolin gets her taste right.
She opens the conversation by laughing awkwardly and saying, "I haaave met your twin."
She ends the conversation (in the restaurant, at least) by saying: "Wanna get some coffee?"
Turns out Wing is a dean's lister for Culinary with Bolin and is also on a scholarship for competing in 3 sports, but knowing the Beifongs and the way that Wing snatches the bill before they could share it, Korra knew he didn't need the scholarship to go to RCU. He's handsome, intelligent, manages to almost charm Korra out of her shoes and laugh and it doesn't feel uncomfortable like the dates Korra has gone on in the past.
It was about to be a great night until they step out of the coffeehouse and talk for a while, Wing kisses her and wow, there's all the awkwardness that she didn't feel during dinner and coffee.
She closes her eyes for the scent of jasmine and the taste of honeydew lip balm, hoping that the kiss will leave a dark red mark on her lips.
But she tastes none. Feels nothing.
The shocking cold of raindrops falling on her head brings her back and she's feeling guilty, embarrassed and confused. She can't do this. She can't do this to a nice and sweet guy like Wing. She puts a hand on his chest and pushes gently, thanks him genuinely for excellent company he made and walks briskly under the downpour, ignoring Wing calling for her.
She's not sure when she starts crying yet the hot liquid in contrast told her that yes, yes she was. Though Korra wasn't sure why.
She suddenly starts feeling feverish, like the blood is too close to her skin, matched with the growing throb between her ears. Great. The cold rain isn't doing her any good too.
Korra makes it to their apartment in one piece, the coffeehouse being a few blocks from her and Asami's flat.
Feeling like her arms and knees are going to give away at any moment, Korra sits outside their door for a moment, trying not to shiver, just enough to gather herself. Shit. It's the flu. Shiiit.
She takes out her phone with shaking hands and texts Asami.
K: Plrs orpen teh door inm outsdire
Right on cue, Asami opens the door with a worried expression on her face. She kneels down to Korra and takes her in her arms and wow, Asami's so warm. "Shit! Korra? What on earth happened!?"
Korra groans, leaning into her best friend's touch. "Got sick... on the way back..." A hand touches her neck.
"Spirits, you're down a fever," Asami says with worry. Korra's eyes are hot and droopy and stinging, but she sees Asami's face perfectly, and her (love)sick heart squeezes without bidding. Then she's being lifted up and into their apartment (with soft mumbling of 'why didn't you call me' and 'you could've caught your death in the rain' and 'Fuck, you're heavy'. Korra recognizes the scent of her room and the softness of her mattress when she plops down onto it.
Then her head decides to throb painfully with the impact, and Korra groans unintelligibly.
Asami then pulls Korra to a sitting position. "Let's get you out of this dress, shall we?"
Korra blushes furiously, heating up more than her fever will ever do so, and woah.
She may have thought about this once or twice or six times but this definitely wasn't it. Her head is pounding and she just wants to lie back down, so she nods and let Asami unzip the back of her dress.
Kind, compassionate, saintly Asami will allow her do the rest after she leaves. "I'll get you a towel and some fresh clothes, a Nyquil and some water."
There's a soft knocking on her door, but Korra knows it's Asami. She's holding a tray with soup and a glass of Korra's favorite kool aid flavor.
She didn't feel as bad as she did two hours ago, and Asami took perfect care of her and nursed her back to wellness. (Well, sort of.) "How are you feeling?" Asami asks and sets the tray on the side table.
"Better," Korra admits. "Thanks to you." She sees the time, and it's two forty five in the morning. "Shit, I kept you up, 'Sami. I'm so sorry."
Asami resets the thermometer. "It's nothing, Korra. I'd stayed up with you; it should be no problem for me to stay up for you. I passed by Gongi's downtown and got you some sour chicken broth."
She inhales despite Vicks taking over her senses, she still hints a trace of the broth within the room. Asami gives her the thermometer which she puts in her mouth. They wait in comfortable silence for a few minutes before it beeps. “How’d you learn to take care of people?”
"When I was a child, I got sick pretty often that I had to know how to take care of myself,” Asami says offhandedly, like she thought Korra did not care about her childhood when in fact, Korra did. A lot. “A hundred point two degrees. Not bad, your fever's going down." Asami places the back of her hand on Korra's forehead and she likes how Asami makes her feel both coolness and warmth. "Get some rest, alright? If you need me, call me."
Asami holds on to Korra's hand even when she rises to her feet. "Nooo," Korra moans, "don't stay up for me. Get some rest." Her roommate glances nervously but nods all the same though Korra knows Asami won't be sleeping tonight.
Asami tucks her into bed like a child, Korra laughs at the absurdity of it, but she likes it.
She also likes it when Asami kisses her forehead despite its sheen of sweat. She likes this kiss better than Wing's.
"Good night, dear knight of the queensguard," Asami places her forehead on the top of Korra's head.
Korra chuckles. "Good night to you too, my queen."
When her legs regain the power to walk without wobbling, she sees Asami tucked on her side of the couch with her trustee dandelion yellow blanket. Asami is about to ask what she was doing up, and Korra is about to ask why Asami is still awake but Kyoshi and the Warriors is on tv. Korra makes that an excuse to lie down on the couch with her blanket and her head on Asami's lap, falling asleep to Kyoshi's fan turning to a guitar that destroys evil spirits with punk rock and the way her heart meets a steady beat, matching the way Asami's hands card through her short hair.
There’s a gentle press of lips on her forehead on her way to unconsciousness--so gentle like it isn’t even there. She’s too sick to even doubt it wasn’t a dream, but she still appreciates it anyway, and it’s as if the trivial tingling of her forehead made her a few degrees cooler.
In the morning, Asami doesn’t ask how her date went.
It hits her harder than she expected, earlier than she expected.
Korra’s texting Asami and doesn’t even realize what she’s saying until she rereads her previous message. The grey speech bubble dots move, showing that Asami was replying.
K: Come hoooome
It hits her that she just called their apartment--their small, university apartment--her home. Their home.
Korra’s one to never say these kinds of things lightly because the only place she called home is her village in the South. Never a place in Republic City. It’s Mako and Bolin’s home, not hers.
But then this place, this place with Asami, it’s like it’s more than a place that brought the two of them together. It’s like it’s made for them. Like the infinite universe saved a tiny space just for the two of them--this small space made for Korra and Asami.
Maybe it isn’t the place that makes this small apartment a home.
Korra’s phone pings and she doesn’t even notice it through her brief panic attack and--
S: I am :)
Professor Raiko dropped a bunch of essay prompts for Pol Sci to finish over the weekend, and Korra wants to slash his fossil ass with all the paper that his stupid essays are going to take. Paper cuts are evil. Paper cuts will make Raiko pay.
Asami seems to have sensed Korra’s irritation as soon as she stepped into the room--fuckin’ essay on a fuckin’ Friday night; who the fuck is this guy kidding?--and decides to put on a kettle and make Korra a hot cup of lemon tea (which was subconsciously her ‘essay tea’, she realizes. Korra tries not to think about Asami remembering small things about her). “Take it easy,” Asami tells her, bending to set the mug onto the low table where Korra typed so very furiously that if her laptop catches on fire, Korra won’t even bat an eye.
“Just wanna...get this... off my to do list...” Korra’s hands are starting to cramp. She replied without looking, but now tilts her head to look up at Asami and give her a warm smile. Asami deserves nothing less than that. "Thanks."
Asami returns it softly right before their telephone's ringing disrupts the tranquil and somehow comforting sounds of the electric kettle boiling and the Her soundtrack playing at a moderate volume throughout the apartment with the mini stereo Asami had brought in. "I got it," Asami tells her, motions for her to sit back down and finish her essay.
Asami moves to answer that damned phone and Korra turns back to her laptop taking a sip from her mug. She makes tea as good as Pema and her mom.
"Hello?" Asami greets. The smile on her face falls.
Her tone shifts from bright to serious. "Yes, this is Miss Sato speaking."
Korra watches her intently, watches the way Asami's lips are in a stern line that showed displeasure.
She doesn't have to make a wild guess, doesn't have to hear whatever the caller was saying to know that this had something to do with her father or the company that would soon be Asami's.
It's... scary to see Asami like this. It's new but it doesn't give Korra the pleasure of seeing something new from her friend. It's new. But it scares her.
Then Asami's face shifts from simmering, pent up anger to worry and confusion and it was so sudden that if Korra was worried then, she was more worried now. Asami is troubled, so very troubled, and Korra sees it in her eyes that Korra feels the intensity of Asami's emotion--the things she wants to say right now--it's too much that it hits her like a truck. "Where?" Asami's voice clearly breaks when she speaks again, trying to remain calm despite being quite short of failing. "Alright. Goodbye."
Korra opens her mouth to ask--
"My dad's sick," Asami gulps and her eyes are glassy. She starts gathering her coat and sneakers briskly. "He was already sick before--he didn't tell me. No one... No one told me."
"Fuck," Korra cusses quietly but the urgency that matches Asami's tone. She hasn't met the man and wishes that one day she does only so that she has the pleasure of punching him in the face for being such a shit father. Asami is enough to make all these violent desires dissipate. "I'll come with you," Korra firmly says and readies to stand but Asami's hands on her shoulders push her back down to where she is seated.
"No," Asami replies and meets Korra's eyes fleetingly. "Let me do this on my own.”
Korra knows better than to push Asami. "Are you sure?"
The other girl hesitates, then she nods. She won't cry--not yet--so all Korra can do now is to pull her into a loose hug that she hopes will tell Asami, “You can leave anytime but I'm here,” and Korra is about to move away but Asami pulls her back in and embraces her with vigor, with strength. Though Asami is breaking and Asami is breaking her heart. Korra holds Asami (together); she would be nothing if she didn't hug Asami like her life depended on it.
She feels more than sees Asami nod her yes. "Yeah, I am. I'll be at the RC General."
"Okay, I'll be here."
Asami smiles and shyly tucks a strand of stray hair that fell from Korra's ponytail behind Korra's ear. "I know. I'll see you later."
Asami's at the front door when Korra calls out to her. "'Sami."
Her roommate looks over her shoulder but turns, realizing that this is Korra she's talking to, not just anyone. Asami turns in her place to meet her eyes across the room.
"Don't keep me in the dark, please. Promise me you won't."
Asami smiles. It doesn't reach her eyes.
"Yeah. I promise."
Korra glances at the wall clock -- it’s 1:45 AM and Asami isn’t home yet nor has she replied to Korra’s message to call her when she needs something.
The worry ebbs away at Korra like waves against the shore. Three essays are forgotten, her second one unfinished as she anxiously waited for Asami to get home safely.
She’s lying on the couch reading 1984 in a bad light to U2’s Where the Streets Have No Name, when there is a faint jingle of keys outside. Korra sits up immediately and stretches when the door opens. “Hey,” Korra says, joints popping into place and she turns to see--
Asami, leaning against the door looking for the world like a mess: her face is flushed, black hair in disarray, mascara running down her face into dark streams. “Damn, Asami,” Korra leaps up and catches her before Asami hits the ground. She’s hot, heavier than Korra expects, the scent of bourbon mixing with her usual jasmine. “Hey--”
Broken sobs wreck Asami, adding more mascara to her cheeks without meaning to.
Korra sets Asami on the floor gently, holding her by the shoulders.
It takes her a moment for it to register that the girl in front of her is Asami--a broken Asami--an Asami that she has never seen. Her body is like a ragdoll that Korra knows Asami isn’t, even if she closes in on herself to bring her knees to her head to cover her face but Korra stops her.
But no--ragdolls don’t do that. Ragdolls don’t cry. Ragdolls don’t embrace Korra. Ragdolls don’t say “I’m a horrible person,” repeatedly with strained voices. Ragdolls don’t pull Korra closer.
And she smells like bourbon and jasmine and antiseptic. Her cries and sharp breaths match Where the Streets Have No Name.
Korra might be in love with her.
So she chooses not to ask and holds Asami in the same manner Asami is holding her and tells her repeatedly, “No you’re not a horrible person, you’re anything but a horrible person,” and that she’s nothing close to horrible and bad and every other synonym of the damned word. They sit there for half an hour until there are no more tears to cry, and Korra remembers to give Asami water if she wanted to survive a massive hangover that’s guaranteed to arrive tomorrow. Asami downs the glass quickly, hiccupping like a small child--she resists the urge to tuck a strand of Asami’s hair sticking to her forehead. “How much did you drink?”
“Do you want to go to bed?” When Asami nods, Korra wraps her arms around Asami’s back and under her knees to scoop her in her arms and carry Asami to her room while trying not to break and bump into anything.
When Asami is all cleaned up and dressed and tucked into bed with all the necessities of a Killer Hangover brought to you by bourbon (trashcan by the bedside, water, mints, and some ibuprofen for the morning. Asami’s always handled her alcohol so there was a big possibility that she won’t need these tomorrow), Korra presses a kiss to Asami’s forehead, who falls asleep promptly. They can talk tomorrow. She leaves another kiss just for good measure.
Kyoshi and the Warriors plays and Korra has probably dozed off three times, jolting awake whenever she hears Asami groan in her sleep. Five minutes into the episode where Kyoshi slams her guitar in the Cheng river to make it part (Korra distinctly remembers this episode. It resulted in a broken vase and arm and a twenty minute staring game with a wall) Asami emerges from her room with puffy eyes and a mess, but she's certainly looking better than she did four hours ago.
"You didn't have to stay up," Asami tells her, voice croaking with use, but it's the first time she's spoken to Korra without wrecked sobs distorting her voice until Korra no longer recognises it.
"Yeah, well," Korra shrugs. "I had to make sure you were okay. Go back to sleep, I'll be fine." Asami moves towards the other girl, not back to her room like Korra thought, but falls onto the sofa and rests her head on Korra's lap.
They maintain the quiet, and Asami looks gorgeous even like this: makeupless and in the light of the television screen.
"Dad has Stage 4 lung cancer."
Korra's attention snaps from the TV to Asami, and she's looking up at the ceiling, not Korra.
"I knew he was sick the last time I visited, but he assured me that it was just a cough. Dad also told his employees to not speak a word about it to me." Asami grips the pillow tightly. "They didn't tell me it was cancer. They didn't tell me that he was already getting treatment. Howard was kind enough to tell me Dad was rushed to the hospital because he couldn't breathe. I don't think they would have told me anything until he was gone."
Asami finally looks up at Korra, whose heart leaps up to throat when Asami leans into her touch. "He didn't want you to worry. He didn't want to give you another reason to hate him after providing logistics for a drug lord.”
Asami's jaw clenches and she looks away stormily, petulantly. "I don't hate him." A pause. "For being sick, anyway."
"Does he know that?"
Asami's eyes move fleetingly from one corner of the room to another, but finally settles to meet Korra's. "No. No he doesn't."
A comfortable but somehow weighted silence settles over them before Asami speaks again and laces her fingers with Korra. "Thanks."
Korra beams at her. "No problem. Are you gonna visit him more often now?" Her best friend nods.
"Yeah, he has therapy every Monday, so the best time to visit him is on Thursdays because I don't have class at all."
"Okay. You need someone to come with you?"
Asami shakes her head and squeezes Korra's hand, smiling up at her. "I'll let you know if I do, though."
"You do know that you're not alone, right? You don't have to do this on your own, Asami."
"Yeah, I know." Asami smiles at her fondly but with a little sadness. "I tend to forget I'm anything but alone. Thanks."
Korra's brows furrow. "For what?"
"For being you. I don't know what I would have done without you being... Korra. Thanks." Asami punctuates it with a beam and it's that look again. Her heart feels three times bigger.
"You're welcome," is all that she replies because it's the best option: not an eyeroll and a sarcastic remark of 'Yeah, I know' or a deflecting one like 'Look, the sun is almost rising'; not even the worst and cringe-worthy of them all: 'I think I love you'. But Asami doesn't need that right now--doesn't need the baggage that her roommate, her best friend, thinks she's in love with her.
It's Asami who tilts her head back, exposing her long neck, when she notices the sunrise. "Look, the sunrise. I had forgotten how beautiful they are."
Though Korra isn't looking at the sunrise, or at the window. She's looking at the girl who rested her head on her lap.
Korra nods. "They sure are."
Her lungs are burning for air though it’s the best kind of burn ever, like the one that triggers adrenaline to do its job and let her move through the water like she was part of it.
The wall is closer now, Korra notices. She pulls up from the water breathing heavily, and Asami steps away from the water that Korra splashes around when she bounces back into the water in surprise.
“Spirits, Asami,” Korra heaves, holding her chest with one hand and takes off her swim cap with the other. “You’re going to give me a heart attack.”
Asami laughs. “Yeah, well. I’m not going to be the one that will freeze her ass off because she,” she holds up Korra’s blue towel, “forgot her towel.”
Damn. “Thanks,” she thanks her with embarrassment, “our apartment is ways away, though. You shouldn’t have. It’s not the first time I’ve forgotten. Aren't you supposed to be at the hospital?"
Asami bends her knees to get closer to Korra. There are wet patches on her maroon pants, which she rolls up to half her calves. Korra tells her that she can use the towel to sit on the ledge of the pool. Asami does so and lets her legs dangle with her feet in the water. "Yeah, I was. But there was a chemo session ongoing when I arrived, so the nurse just told me to visit in a few days.”
Water clogs her left ear--to clear it out, Korra bends to her left and jumps in the water. "How’s he doing? It's been a month since he agreed to chemo."
"The doctor said he’s responding well to chemo and the slim chances of him surviving increased a tad bit.” Asami says, her feet creating tiny waves on the water. She smiled a small one, though it’s happy.
Korra grins. “That’s great!” The doctors told Asami that her father only had a few months to live considering he ignored almost the entire treatment process of his illness, only having occasional medication secretly.
“Yeah, it really is. The press are starting to wonder where Dad is, though. He’s been MIA in big company parties around the city and it won’t be long until the press finds out the hard way.”
Korra places her hand around Asami’s ankles and rubs it tenderly--Asami is a nice warmth in the cold water that has turned the skin of her fingers to a raisin-like texture. “He doesn’t want the public to know?”
Asami shakes her head as an answer. “But Dad promised me to let his assistant finally release the information to the media biggies probably next week. He said he didn’t want to tell the press because--”
“If he does, it’s going to put you on the hot seat,” Korra nods in understanding.
She hums. “The last thing both he wants is my privacy to be invaded because of him. I also wouldn’t want both of us to be chafed by those pesky reporters.” Asami adds with a shy, downcast smile. “Don’t really want to ruin our tiny Asami plus Korra gimmicks.”
Korra tilts her head to the side. “I don’t really mind, though. So long as you and your dad don’t get shitty-ass headlines about keeping his sickness, not to mention those ugly rumors that are bound to fly around, I don’t care if they bother me. Yeah, it’s going to be weird with reporters pestering you, but then if it means that you keep your names clean, then I’m good.”
Asami contemplates with her brows furrowed. “Yeah, you’re right.”
“Plus,” Korra includes with a beam, “no one really knows you’re a Sato, remember? Just me, the Krew, the boys from Engineering workshop and Tenzin. We all agreed to keep your identity safe.”
Reaching out to straighten out a loop of chlorine-dry strands of hair on Korra’s head, Asami smiles back. “Thanks, Korra. It...it means a lot to me.”
“Don’t worry about it. We’ll make sure that you’re as safe as you will ever be.” Korra wades through the water to rest the back of her head against Asami’s calves and they stay like that for a few moments: with the water swishing around and Asami’s hands on her hair.
Everything is perfect until her stomach decides to rumble loud enough to be heard despite being still submerged in the water. Asami laughs heartily and Korra grunts. “Heads up,” Korra warns before Asami stands and takes a few steps back. She hauls herself out of the pool and onto the ledge, taking the towel from the concrete and wrapping it around her shoulders. “I guess that’s my stomach asking you to have dinner with me now.”
“I’d love to,” Asami says, drying her feet on the rug and stepping into her doll shoes. “Where to?”
“I don’t know. Where do you want to go?”
“Hmm. You’re always in the mood for pizza.” Asami grins at her.
Here's how TV Thursdays have been:
1st - Asami came home, obviously tired and sad, shoulders slumped. She ate her take out slowly and doesn't laugh when April made some apathetic comment on something that Leslie said. She tells Korra little about the visit--probably only telling her the outline. Korra didn't push and only held Asami's hand. She's getting used to being affectionate without making it obvious and uncomfortable. It’s an achievement.
Both their phones ping at the same time; it’s a message from Mako in their group chat. Another ping says it’s from Bolin and another from Opal.
M: Hey guys, I think you should check RC News Nightly now. Asami, you there?
B: Holy shit asami get on quick
O: Korra, if Asami is with you, tell her to turn on the tv
They do as they’re told, Asami’s hands considerably shaking.
The headline says, “Future Industries’ Hiroshi Sato suffering Stage 4 Lung Cancer”, the announcer rattling on the details that Asami and Hiroshi have agreed to let the press know. Tumor in the right lung. Caused by smoking. It’s been half a year. Chemotherapy. The assistant is the only one to answer questions for Hiroshi.
And then suddenly: Sato’s daughter, where is she now?
Asami tenses up like a string held together on both sides, her breathing shallow and Korra knows Asami isn’t far from having another panic attack. “Hey, calm down,” Korra soothes her though Asami keeps her eyes trained on the TV, “we expected this, okay? The Krew told you we’d expect this and the worst thing that could happen was that they flash a photo of you and they didn’t.”
After a while and with Korra’s attempts at calming Asami down, she does so and exhales shakily. “Y-yeah, you’re right. The last photo they have of me was when I was 11 when we still lived in Dragonflat’s borough--I didn’t get around often even until Dad sent me to boarding school in Norway. So--okay. You’re right. I’m just--I’m just overthinking. I’ve to--I’ve to calm down.”
“Breathe, okay? At least they’re not going to make horrible rumors about why your dad hasn’t been showing up to important events.”
Asami nods, rises to her feet. “Right. I should call Howard and discuss some things with him. Thanks,” she presses a kiss to Korra’s cheek which lasted a second longer than necessary. “Good night.”
Korra prays that Asami doesn’t see how red she is. “Yeah. Good night.”
2nd - Asami came home, tossing the keys into the bowl on the small table. Korra's a little busy copying from Opal's Asian history notes. The TV remained unnoticed as Korra greeted her, eyeing her carefully to make sure her friend was okay. Asami looked better than she did after last week's visit. Asami perched by the sofa and ate while watching. They don’t talk for the rest of the night, save for Korra asking if there were any reporters that bothered her but Asami says no, there weren’t any.
3rd - Although, she looks forward to some things every fourth day of the week. These are:
>Every time Asami visits her dad, she buys a bouquet of different flowers and Korra's not sure how, but one of those flowers end up on a glass (now, vase) in the middle of their small dining table with a note: "To apologize in advance for being a crappy roommate on Thursdays :)". It's beautiful. It gets more colorful with more flowers that add to the glass slash vase.
>When Korra opens their fridge, it surprises her that good ol' matcha green tea frappe is there with a matching straw and another note that says, "For old times' sake. Enjoy the day, Korra."
>She still sees Asami, at the end of the day, when she gets home safely and without being mobbed by the media if ever they did find out what Asami looks like six years later. That's a plus in everything. Moody, brooding, quiet, tired, sad Asami is also bright, funny, light hearted, kind and intelligent Asami. She gets to see those more often than anyone else. And Korra thinks that Asami is the best thing she looks forward to every day.
"Hey coach, can I get off early today?"
Kya looks up at Korra from her clipboard and fixes her with a sharp look. For a moment she trembles with fear, knees buckling at Kya's sharp blue eyes. "What's it this time, captain?" She says sternly.
"Um, I have to take a quick rest. My asthma's starting to act up again." Korra lies with a little discomfort. She's never lied to skip training before.
Coach Kya's shoulders slump slightly with concern. "What? You haven't had an asthma attack since you were fifteen."
"Yeah, exactly. Is it okay if I just have an hour of light training and tell Eska to take over?" Please please please please, Korra pleads silently.
"Get the rest you need, cap." Kya claps her hand on Korra's back lightly. "Off early and no training on Friday. Would that be enough?"
Korra grins and makes a mental fist pump. "Yeah, it is. Thanks, coach!" Kya smiles and returns to her clipboard.
Korra's bouncing on her feet when she showers in the empty locker room and makes sure to shower and dress quickly before making her first stop at the bookstore.
"Why are you doing this with me again?" Opal inspects four apples closely before placing them inside the small fruit basket in their shopping cart as Korra focuses on choosing the best chicken cuts. "Isn't this, like, a Korra plus Asami kind of thing?"
Korra rolls her eyes and takes the sealed bag of chicken from the poultry guy. "Thanks," she tells the (smitten) clerk and turns to push the cart with ingredients for sweet chicken salad. "Asami's kind of busy right now," she tells Opal, who's doing her own shopping and helping Korra at the same time. Korra pauses to take some cream from the top shelf but damn, her shoulders hurt, so Opal reaches it for her and refuses to point out her overworked state, thank Spirits. "and you said you needed to go shopping because Bolin's busy with his practical exam and you wanted to do something nice for him. I'm the same only that it's for Asami."
Opal frowns a little then nods with understanding. "Because of her dad."
Korra hums. "Yeah. Thought she might need some pick me ups."
One of the things she appreciates about Opal is that she never really brings up Korra's feelings about Asami unless Korra talks about it--yeah, she may have won the bet on whether or not she had a crush on Asami a few months before but she never really made Korra feel uncomfortable for feeling something for their friend.
"You're really sweet, you know that?" Opal tells her and Korra blushes. "You guys are really lucky to have each other as roommates and friends."
Korra smiles shyly at that.
She's in the middle of checking if everything's in place when her phone pings with a text from Bolin (via Opal): go get 'em, tiger!! -b
The next one is from Opal, who says, i tried to tell Bolin that ur not confessing to Asami. hope she feels better btw! :) with a multitude of ant emojis.
Korra just smiles and rolls her eyes and tries to convince herself that she's not blushing, nope, not at all.
Korra's sitting on her bed, finishing the last few chapters of 1984 when she hears the door of the apartment open then close. The walls are thin enough for her to hear Asami's soft laughter, and Korra feels a smile creep up her lips. Mission accomplished.
This is what Asami saw:
On the dining table: her favorite brand of cranberry juice and Katara's recipe of sweet chicken salad which Asami loved dearly.
On the coffee table: a bunch of coloring books and tons of crayons beside them.
On the couch: bags of popcorn and soda.
On the TV: Breaking Bad seasons one to three on Korra's Netflix account.
In the CD player: U2's best hits.
It was meant for a me-time kind of night for her roommate, so it surprises Korra that there's a hesitant knock on her door a minute after Asami returns home. "Come in," Korra calls out quietly, closing her book.
Asami opens the door and pokes her head between the crack bashfully, like she feels she isn't welcome there when in fact it's quite the opposite. "Hey," Asami says softly.
"Hey yourself," Korra replies, stretches and grins. "You saw what's outside?"
Her friend nods eagerly and has finally entered the room, though she keeps her back to the wall.
"I call it the Asami's ‘Happy Thursday’ kit," Korra proudly tells her and she inspects her nails. The grin on her face stretches wider. "I named it myself. Thought you might need it after dealing with stress of everything. "
"You... you did that for me?"
There's a hesitance in her voice and Korra has to look up, her stomach dropping and fears to see disappointment, or even sadness, in Asami's eyes, but finds fondness and that look (Yes, she still hasn't figured that out yet).
"Well," she responds, raising a brow at her, "it wouldn't be called Asami's ‘Happy Thursday’ kit if it wasn't for y--"
Everything smells like jasmine, and a hint of rubbing alcohol and car oil and she finds herself buried in Asami's shirt when Asami embraces her tightly, so very tightly, that if this is the way that she gets to the afterlife, she'll die again and again in/by the arms of Asami Sato.
"Thank you," Asami whispers to the top of her head like a secret she only wants Korra to know and yeah, Korra can get used to this. The cotton of Asami's indigo shirt and the jasmine/antiseptic/oil scent is gone before Korra knows it, but Asami keeps her hand under Korra's jaw even as she pulls away. "You know what would make this kit my favorite thing ever?"
Korra's eyes grow wide. Shit, she thinks, did I forget something!? "What?"
Then Asami continues with a large grin. "If you spent it with me." Then Korra is out of the bed, hauled by Asami into the main room, like a child at Disneyland.
They stand side by side and Asami spares her a side glance, their knuckles brushing. "So, what do we do first with this kit?"
Korra laughs and presses the play button of the CD player. The guitars of Pride (In the Name of Love) plays and Asami squeals. "Step one: lip sync to U2."
Other steps that come as the night passes:
Step two: dinner. Asami groans when she bites into the chicken and Korra makes a mental note to thank Katara for the recipe.
Step three: color the coloring books with crappy crayons brought to you by Ikki, Meelo and Rohan. Asami dibs on the dinosaur coloring books and Korra gets the fairy ones.
"Not my fault you're a slowpoke. Now color.")
They color and sing and continue coloring. At one point, Asami draws a realistic robot dinosaur destroying the city and Korra will tear this fucking coloring book apart because she can't even color without coloring past the lines of those damned fairy wings. (Korra keeps Asami's drawing. She'll frame it and hang it above their couch.) Asami laughs and it seems like she's having the time of her life even though they're doing things kids younger than Meelo do in their spare time.
Step four: watch Breaking Bad with four cheese popcorn and more cranberry juice. How Asami ends up in Korra's arms until she starts snoring, she doesn't know, but she watches Asami fondly and follows Asami to sleep shortly after.
Everything smells like popcorn, jasmine, honeydew and cranberry juice. It's always fun with Asami.
(They wake up and stay like that. Asami has class in a few and so does Korra, but the warmth that the other gave was so intoxicating that Korra has to chant: just friends just friends just friends over and over and over until it hurt her head.)
"Thanks for making my Thursdays happy," Asami says to her with messy hair. It takes every fiber in Korra's being not to brush it away from her face.
Alas, Happy Thursdays is now a thing for them as easily as all the other days of the week came.
"I want to go somewhere," Asami says a matter-of-factly, looking up from her notes. Korra's eating noodles and is halfway through 1984. It's as good as Asami told her it would be.
It's Saturday night and it seems like the Krew is busy tonight with their own post-midterm stuff. "Where?" Korra raises a brow. She's really not up for some clubbing right now, though if Asami asks, well, she can never say no.
"I don't know. We could go to the hardware store and I wouldn't mind," Asami places her chin on her palm and wow, Korra notices, she's still gorgeous even without makeup--in just her pyjamas and RCU sweater. It's the glasses. It's those frickin' reading glasses. Those glasses on Asami are the works of the devil (Or angels. She doesn't know.)
Asami narrows her eyes when Korra doesn't respond, thinking that Korra was actually considering taking Asami to the hardware store when in fact, Korra was just staring blankly at Asami's face. "When I said that, I meant it as a joke. Please don't take me to the hardware store. Please."
"Guilty as charged," Korra lies and chuckles, holding her hands up in defeat. "Well, I do have to get Ikki a present for her birthday."
Asami lights up immediately. "Toy store?"
She nods. "Toy store."
Her friend grins to stand up. "Let me get my coat."
Korra rolls her eyes and feels her heart swell and makes a show of how she's a Responsible Nineteen Year Old that doesn't do toy stores, but then she'll be lying if it didn't make her as excited as Asami.
They share earphones plugged into Korra's phone to listen to Incubus and Dave Matthews for a change. "What are you getting Ikki?" She asks Korra as they walk the isles of dolls. "I was thinking of getting her those custom-made stuffed toys that have their own birth certificates."
Korra shrugs and presses a button of a toy that started singing in Spanish. "I don't know... weapons of mass destruction, maybe?" Asami slaps her shoulder playfully. "Ow."
"That didn't even hurt," Asami tells her, "Be nice even though she and her brothers trash our place every month." Korra huffs a laugh and finally agrees. Tenzin's kids are a handful (that being an understatement) but she loved them, and it seems like they've grown on Asami.
Korra decides to get Ikki those Japanese mannequin dolls that you dress up with fabric, but they linger longer inside the vast store, complaining more often than not that their toys back in the day were so much cooler than the toys now. Sand that dries instantly when you scoop it out of the water? What the fuck are those?
They're in the board game section when Asami says, "Dad's not getting better."
Korra almost drops the centennial Game of Life box. "What!? I thought the doctors said he was?"
"Yeah, they did, but then he's been relying more and more on the oxygen tanks to get through the night," Asami says with a pained look, "He doesn't even talk anymore because it exhausts him to breathe, much more ask me about how my day went. He doesn't have much time left, the doctor told me recently."
Korra doesn't ask how many years, months, days, hours, minutes, seconds Hiroshi Sato has left on his name, but instead, "Wanna go visit him now? Visiting hours aren't over yet."
Asami looks at her incredulously--pained, desperate but hopeful. "You're serious? You want to go see my dying dad?"
Korra nods. "Well, I've never met him and it's only right because you've met my parents and they liked you immediately. I have not yet the opportunity to charm his socks off."
Asami grins and a few tears spill from her eyes. "Yeah, yeah. Let's go do that."
"Disclaimer. I may or may not act like a baboon trying to communicate with Republic City's top tycoon." Korra jokes, and wipes away a tear from Asami's chin.
Asami beams at her. "I don't think Dad will mind at all."
They buy the Game of Life for Hiroshi. Asami carries it with care in a paper bag.
"Setting phasers to extremely charming.” A pause. “I’m going to screw this up. I can feel it.”
They stand outside the room of Hiroshi Sato’s intensive care unit, scrubbed up to the nines. Asami flattens out a clump of cloth near Korra’s collarbone. “Oh shush now, Korra,” Asami laughs with enough lightheartedness that it takes a large weight off her shoulders. “I’m sure that he’ll like you. He… he probably isn’t awake enough to dislike you.” Asami’s words tasted like the sadness and regret that she had always tried to hide from Korra.
She takes Asami’s hands in hers to hold it between them. “Operation charm your dad’s socks off: All systems are go. You ready?” Korra grins. When Asami returns it, she notices that it’s the first time Asami has smiled every since they stepped foot in the RC General. Asami nods and beams and enters first.
Hiroshi Sato has seen better days. There were countless tubes connected to each other with the end taped to his face and the other end to tanks that help him through and from the looks of it, Asami's ‘He isn’t getting better’ seemed like an understatement. Korra distinctly remembers him having a whole head of hair which was gone now--it’s the chemotherapy.
He is usually too weak to even keep his eyes open, Asami tells her, but now Hiroshi is awake.
The probability of Korra screwing this up increases greatly.
“Hey Dad,” Asami greets her father softly as she shuts the door. “I know it’s Saturday, but someone wanted to come see you with me.” She motions to Korra, who stands awkwardly and bashfully behind Asami, who was almost a head taller than her. “This is Korra. You know her already.”
Her voice decides to abandon her for a few seconds, though a gentle nudge from Asami returns it to her. “Uh, hi, Mr. Sato. It’s… it’s nice to finally meet you, um, sir.”
Korra doesn’t expect any response, but Hiroshi wiggles his fingers at her as a hello, but, she notices, Hiroshi only spares her one glance before he returns his attention to his daughter.
This is the man that seemed to have forgotten that he had a daughter after his wife died. The man that offered everything to Asami except the freedom she pleaded to live her own life. The man that sent his daughter away to a boarding school and complained when Asami wanted to attend university here in Republic City. This is also the man that did dirty business with a drug lord and lost millions of yuans just to wash his name.
But this man is also one of the busiest people in the world. This man respected his daughter’s privacy and sent her to boarding school to protect her from the clutches of the business world and the harsh claws of the media. This was also the man that feared the loss of his daughter and grieved the loss of his wife. This was also the man that bailed one of his troublesome employees just so that he could protect both Asami and said employee.
Okay, Korra doesn’t hate him as much as she did before.
Though it makes her smile how Asami doesn’t hate him too. That somewhere in her heart, she had forgiven for all his shortcomings as a father and as a person.
The visit comes to a close, and Korra doesn’t bring it up until they’re hailing a cab home.
“Your dad doesn’t like me.” She says, not unkindly.
Asami spares her a side glance and she notices that her breathing is twice as fast than normal. “What are you talking about? He liked you fine.”
“Stop lying, ‘Sami. You know he doesn’t.”
Her friend visibly deflates. “Dislike is too strong a word. More like… indifferent.” Korra is about to say that it’s okay but Asami interrupts her. “When I was five, Dad had a misunderstanding with a watertribe guy. Unalaq, I think. Yes, your uncle.”
“Oh? I don’t remember my dad telling me something like that, but I guess he doesn’t really care about anything related to my uncle.” Korra shrugs. “Well, tell your dad that I’m nothing like my uncle. I’m not a cuckoo-brain, I swear.”
Asami laughs. “Yeah, you aren’t one. Sorry about that. I didn’t really think that my dad would react that way. Or not react. Whatever.”
“It’s fine. I guess Mission Charm His Socks Off isn’t that much of a success.”
A cab comes to their rescue just when they were about to give up and walk the few blocks to the bus stop.
"But you do know that I don't care what he thinks of my friends because I love you and will not listen to anything he says about you," Asami giggles and then loops her arm with Korra and all she the word that floods her mind is platonic. Platonic platonic platonic. "I know that... you don't like him either."
Try as she might, Korra cannot deny this. "It's just--he put you through a lot at a young age and I don't think I can trust him. But you do now so I guess I'm okay."
"I think he's actually learned and accepted all the wrong things he's done. Dad can't--dad won't hurt me like he did before, if that's what you're worried about." How Asami found out Korra was, indeed, worried, Korra doesn't know and doesn't say anything but it's true; she just wants Asami to be safe. "He's a changed man. I like to believe that he is. Don't worry about me."
"Okay." Korra replies simply, but she knows that will stand in the way of her from being wary.
Later, Asami buys jelly doughnuts and coffee for the both of them as they sit on the ledge of Yue bay, watching the lights of the skyline with the cold wind brushing past their cheeks and their knuckles touching.
Her phone pings right after Korra's last class of the day, doesn't have to look to know it's Asami.
SS: Hey, you busy tonight?
Korra replies instantly. No, not at all. What's up?
SS: I’m a little busy tonight at the workshop :( would you mind bringing flowers to my dad? :( it’s okay if you don’t want to, though :( :)
Hiroshi Sato may not be a person Korra would want to bring flowers for, but--well, Asami--it’s enough for her to agree to the favor. I’d love to, don’t worry :) any message for me to deliver?
Korra may not understand Hiroshi, but she understands Asami.
The grey dots jump up and down longer than usual, long enough for Korra to put her phone in her pocket and find Mako in the courtyard of the university.
Korra presses the heels of her palms and drags them down her face in frustration for forgetting.
She has a Fire Ferrets basketball game to watch with Mako at half-past six PM, her watch tells her it’s five thirty in the afternoon--Damn it, Korra!
Her phone finally pings after probably five minutes. Asami’s response is short, yet it applies a painful pressure between her ribs and it’s hard to breathe because:
SS: Just tell him I love him.
Korra may not understand Hiroshi, but she understands Asami, compassionate, kind, and the good things in the world, understands how much Asami truly loves her father.
A hand touches her shoulder in her reverie, just staring at her friend’s message; it startles her so much that Korra’s primal instinct to haul forward and have them in a tight headlock (despite being profoundly shorter than her attacker) acts up but she knows that horrible Polo Sport cologne and that flash of red and--
“Jesus H. Christ, Mako,” Korra shoves him away. “We talked about this and you know that I am inclined to do that to any male that surprises me.”
Mako laughs and rubs the arm that Korra could have broken if he were any other person (male). “Yeah, we did, we did, I’m sorry,” he says, but he doesn’t seem to be sorry at all. “I still don’t understand how you know the person who surprises you is a guy.”
Korra raises a brow at him. “It’s a...woman thing. Our natural state is ready to kick the sorry asses of men.” They start walking, Korra tucks away her phone. “Asami does it too, if that should make you want to stop giving me heart attacks.”
“Really? For some reason, I’m really scared to know what she does.”
She laughs and claps her hand on his back. “You should be. You wouldn’t want to know how many times she kneed Bataar Jr. in the balls for pulling surprise pranks on her.”
Mako makes a sour face. “Ooh, that’s gotta hurt. Poor Kuvira. Wait, he is hitting it off with Kuvira, though?”
“I... really don't know, and,” she shudders, “I really don't want to.”
They both laugh and well, Korra marvels at how easy it is to be with Mako without having any romantic entanglement. He’s half of the best guy friends she could ever have and ask for. Mako may have been an asswipe to girls, but then, you know, he and Korra were best friends first, ever since they were seven. It’s nice to know that the Mako that she met in the ballpit in middle school hasn’t changed since.
"Hey, is it okay if we make a stopover somewhere?"
Mako raises an eyebrow at her. "Sure, but where? The game is in an hour."
She casts her eyes to the ground. "The flower shop."
Genuinely puzzled, he asks; "What are we gonna do with flowers in a basketball game?" When Korra doesn't respond, he waves his hand in front of her face. "Hey, you're spacing out again. I bet this has something to do with Asami," he jokes, though when Korra remains where she is, his laughed fades.
"She...she asked a favor and wanted me to visit her dad for her because she was busy," Korra mutters. "I agreed because, well, I don't know. I agreed because she's Asami."
Expecting Mako to want to get to the game right now, Korra braces herself to go all mom-Mako mode and reproach her with saying yes to pretty girls who happen to be your best friend but none come. Instead, Mako grins a shit-eating grin that Korra wants to punch off his face.
Korra crosses her arms in front of her chest defiantly. "Am not."
"You, Korra, are so whipped by Asami Sato." Mako cups his hands around his mouth and takes a breath to most likely scream the same words over and over again to nobody except a bunch of trees. "Korra is wh--"
Korra pulls him down forcefully just enough for him to stop yodeling the rest of the sentence. "Stop, Spirits, stop. Fine. I probably am."
"Probably? You're going to visit her father, who dislikes you as much as you do him and bring him flowers. Just because Asami asked you to. You're seriously whipped."
She rubs the bridge of her nose. "Don't remind me." Though Mako grins when he catches on the fact that Korra did not deny the fact that she was, seriously and irrevocably whipped. "So, is that okay?"
"Yeah, of course, why not? RC Gen, right?"
"What're you waiting for? Let's go! We've a game to catch after." She laughs and follows Mako to the exit lane of RCU's entrance.
If Korra remembers the Language of Flowers correctly, the yarrow means 'get well' and the Bachelor's Button show anticipation.
She and Mako buy a bouquet, and Korra takes one from it and saves it for Asami.
A few unexpected things:
1 - The elevator slides its doors open to the fourth floor. But when she sees three people in corporate clothes and cameras, Korra hauls Mako back inside the lift with a hand to the back of his black shirt.
"Ouch," he complains, rubbing his neck. "What was that for?"
The elevator doors slide closed. "There are press people here. They aren't allowed," Korra breathes out. Fucking media and their insensitivity to privacy.
"What should we do?"
There is a pregnant pause as they think of a way and--
Korra rummages for the case of her aviators and when she finds it, she hands the shades to Mako. He opens his mouth to inquire or complain but Korra holds up a finger to stop him from speaking further. "Just wear it and pretend to be his bodyguard."
"Are you crazy!?" He exclaims, his eyes on Korra then the aviators and then Korra again. "I may be taking Crimo but I'm not--"
"You're wearing black, you're tall, your resting face looks like you're going to pounce on anyone who dares to do some monkey business. Hate to stereotype but try and say one more thing about why you don't look like a bodyguard."
Mako doesn't but what he does say is; "These are girly shades."
"They are not. Now quit whining, woman up and wear those damned shades and act like Hiroshi's body guard if you wanna catch the game."
He visibly straightens his back upon hearing the game. Mako wears the aviators, tosses Korra his scarf and presses the button that opens the elevator doors. "Go get 'em, tiger."
Korra doubles over with laughter when those reporters scramble to leave when Mako walks briskly and menacingly towards them. "Press members are strictly not allowed here--Move away from the room!"
"Wonderful performance, young detective," Korra heads to dressing room to scrub up and hands the flowers to Mako. "Is it okay if you stay outside?"
"Yeah, of course," Mako replies. "I'll stand watch here should those reporters try and bug us again."
2 - Hiroshi is awake when Korra enters the room and for a moment, she feels surprise chill her spine.
(Korra had hoped awhile back that Asami's father would be asleep during this time.)
Confused, Hiroshi eyes her and Korra takes the chance to explain why she was there because, well, she's probably the last person he expected to visit. "Asami's a little busy at the workshop now," Korra tells him, voice muffled by the mask she's wearing. She busies herself and arranges the flowers into the beautiful vase that sat at the bedside. "She asked me to bring you these."
Hiroshi now radiated of happiness instead of his obvious indifference towards Korra. "Yes, she is quite sweet." Korra laughs because, well, Asami is one of the sweetest people she has ever met.
When there is nothing left to say, she makes for the door, though her phone weighs heavier than it usually does in her pocket. Korra turns back and smiles at him. "Oh, she told me to tell you that she loves you. A lot."
3 - Hiroshi's forehead crinkles at first and Korra is a bit taken aback by his reaction but it turns out that he is unmistakably crying, tears leaking at the corners of his eyes and Korra's heart seizes in her chest like a hand has gripped it and decided to crush it.
She may not understand Hiroshi, but she understands that this man loves his daughter more than himself.
Her own eyes are prickling as she moves to the bedside to take a tissue and dab gently at Asami's father's temples. When Korra takes another, Hiroshi shakes his head and pulls away. His hand motions for something, pointer finger and thumb together as it moves up and down and Korra realizes he's trying to ask for a pen.
Korra reaches into her bag and hands it to him and sets the soft tissue on a flat surface near his shaking hand. Then Hiroshi writes with a light hand and he's still crying when he finishes, the blue scribbles unintelligible though Korra comprehends the words: I love you and forgive me.
If Korra wasn't crying then, she's crying now.
Hiroshi places it into her palm and closes his hand over hers and it's rough and wrinkly and papery, extremely weak that Korra doesn't know how he managed to hold the pen to write. Give this to her, Asami's father doesn't say. Give this to her so she'll know.
Korra nods twice, thrice and moves to leave the room and Hiroshi alone.
She doesn't understand Hiroshi, but she does understand how much he loves his daughter.
At the dressing room, Korra folds the flimsy paper nearly, tucking it in her wallet.
If she's sobbing, she can always deny it later.
4 - She meets Mako, who is still standing like the bodyguard that he's pretending to be (though he's doing a pretty good job doing so).
"Hey--wait, are you crying?"
Korra shakes her head and waits for a quip or any other thing that will remind her that she did, indeed, cry because of Hiroshi Sato.
None comes her way.
Mako hands her back her shades and smiles. "Let's get to the game then."
5 - When Korra presents the tissue and the flower she saved to Asami, Asami beams and slides it into the picture compartment of her wallet, and the Bachelor’s Button into the makeshift vase.
She may not understand Hiroshi, but she does understand that Asami loves her father and has never stopped loving him throughout everything.
“Don’t you ever want to go, you know, public?”
Asami’s stops downing the bottle of beer, spares her a glance, then places the bottle back down. “What do you mean?”
Korra swallows. This is, in all likelihood, not a topic to discuss when you’re having dinner outside. “You know, telling the press that you’re Asami Sato.”
Her best friend watches her from across the booth, stares at her like she’s waiting for a punchline. “You’re serious.”
“Why wouldn’t I be?” Korra’s shoulders rise and fall but only slight. They still hurt from training. Asami looks away, but her eyes look stormy. Korra regrets this topic almost immediately.
“I don’t want to. It’ll...there are questions that I don’t want to answer.”
What Korra doesn’t say is: “You’re going to have to answer them when they cover your father.”
What Korra does say is: “They’re going to try and find you soon.”
Asami grips the beer bottle in her hand, her knuckles are turning white. “Don’t remind me,” she says between grit teeth and yes, she’s cross with the press, not Korra, though Korra can’t say that she isn’t even a little bit scared of Asami when she’s angry. “It means that people are most probably going to treat me like how my name demands them to. People are going think that I’m only back because my father is sick, because I want the attention after running away. People are going to think that I am only there because I’m one step closer to becoming the head of the company and--”
She halts. It registers that she’s said too much but Korra heard everything and Asami needs not say more for her to realize the consequences of her question.
Korra remembers that Asami was truly the next one in line, having no siblings and no mother to take over, but the problem was that Asami has just spent a year of being legal and well, it’s hard to have a nineteen year old run a company even though Korra knew that Asami could do so perfectly.
The weight on Asami’s shoulders triple if she tells the press about her identity and, maybe, her side of the argument is weaker if it meant that Asami stays safe.
Something tells Korra that Asami wants Korra to act like she didn’t hear anything. She apologizes instead, casting her eyes on the onion rings before them. “Sorry. Just looking out for you. I’m sorry.”
Asami’s eyes soften, jaw unclenching when she notices Korra’s shoulders slumping. “No, don’t apologize. I shouldn’t have lashed out on you. I’m sorry, too.”
“I shouldn’t have acted like I knew what’s best for you, because I probably don’t.”
Her best friend reaches across the table to take Korra’s hand in hers and Korra remembers how much she loves Asami’s hands, how much she loves Asami’s warmth, how much she loves Asami. “No, you do. It’s just…”
“Hard. I know.”
Asami gives her a downcast smile.
Korra leans down and moves the curtain of dark hair, peering up at Asami. “Whenever you’re ready.”
Nodding, Asami grins, though it’s so much brighter. She laughs at Korra’s attempts at cheering her up. “Whenever I’m ready,” she echoes and her voice, the hope and the promise, warms her heart.
They walk home, listen to The Cure (Korra has never missed 80s music so much) with shared earphones and later, they settle on the couch and watch Kyoshi and the Warriors and it’s perfect. Korra loves this. Korra loves how she rests her head on Asami’s lap with the occasional popcorn crumbs falling on her face.
This time, Korra and Asami don’t sleep in their individual rooms but instead they cramp up on the couch.
Everything smells like jasmine and popcorn and a bit of the beer and onion rings from the bar and Korra thinks, perfect.
Her phone goes off during Raiko's class and if he says one more thing about how Republic City will fare better with him as the president, Korra will not hesitate to toss her shoe to land squarely at his face.
She sneaks a look at the caller I.D., about to feel irritated that she's in the middle of class going on about how she doesn't need the extra classes if ever Raiko catches her in the act but then--
Salami is calling...
Asami knows her schedule and Asami knows Korra hates it when someone calls during class hours, no matter how boring.
Korra picks it up quickly, nearly as fast as an individual heartbeat, knowing that this is a matter of urgency. She murmurs, hiding her face with her massive textbook. "'Sami, what's--"
"Korra." Asami's voice is hoarse and Korra can hear her shallow breathing. "Korra. My dad--he's--"
She opens her mouth to say 'shit, what happened?' but Asami interjects her again, voice breaking.
"Korra, Dad's...Dad's gone."
Thanks for reading and sticking around!
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
the morning is always better
with love. :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“As you might have heard, Future Industries’ Hiroshi Sato has passed. The cancer in his right lung could not be treated by the chemotherapy and, in the words of the doctors that have done everything in their power to save him, there was nothing they could do. My father--”
The reporters react violently, closing in and causing a cacophony. Rapid flashes of the cameras and noisy shutters join in the rush of questions thrown at Asami mercilessly.
“--yes, you have heard right. I am Hiroshi Sato’s daughter, and as his only child, he would have wanted me to bring the news of his passing.”
There is a high pitched voice inquiring who are you, where have you been, why have you only stepped into the limelight now. Asami looks stonily at the camera with a tight jaw.
“My name is Asami Sato. I have been living out of my father’s home ever since I went to boarding school and until this year, my second year of college; I have been kept out of the cameras since I was a child and stayed away from my father’s spotlight until now.”
Another asks if Asami only returned to claim the company and Korra wants to hurl this goddamned couch at the screen--how dare they--though both of them knew that Asami could no longer run away from those kinds of questions.
Asami is stricken, eyes stormy. Korra grips the remote in her fist tightly, violently. “I have never left my father.” She replies fiercely, “I may have lived on my own but I made sure to visit him regularly even before I was even told he was sick.”
What do you say as the new CEO of Future Industries? another inquires. Korra knew Asami so well that to a stranger, it wouldn’t seem like she was caught unawares, but Korra knows Asami, knows how Asami couldn’t answer the question when they rehearsed, how Asami’s confidence wavers; Korra knows how she is overwhelmed by the weight on her shoulders.
Asami was an heiress.
Asami is now the head of her father’s company.
Asami--nineteen years old. Still holds a fascination for red cellophane kites and coffee shop buzzers that light up when their orders are ready--is the CEO of Future Industries.
This was too much to handle, even for Korra. She can’t even start imagine what Asami is going through.
She turns off the television with a shaky hand and takes a sip of her beer.
This was how Korra’s afternoon started:
Asami’s voice was raw, was pained, though she didn’t seem like she was crying--it was as if she was trying not to.
Her heart thudded against the cage of her ribs. She knew this day would come but she didn’t think it would happen this soon. The myriad of emotions coursing through Korra were overwhelming.
Ignoring the icy glare Raiko gives her, Korra excused herself from the class and brought her bag outside. She’ll deal with this later. Korra didn’t give a damn about him, didn’t give a damn about his class, didn’t give a damn about anything else because this is Asami and Korra promised herself that if this day arrives, she will drop everything and be the one that holds Asami together.
“Shit, Asami,” Korra cursed once she was outside. “Where are you?”
“I-I’m on my way to RC Gen, but don’t go, please,” Asami pleaded. When Korra intended to ask why in the name of the Spirits don’t you want me to come with you, Asami continues. “I have to deal with the press in a few minutes.” Her voice was thick and rough in all the wrong ways and it just didn’t sit well with Korra, a lego block of a different shape but if you pulled it out, it would make the entire building crumble.
“What time did he...?” she asked, struggling to keep her voice balanced.
“An hour ago. Fuck, Korra, I just--I can’t--” Asami’s labored breathing was audible on the other side of the phone. “I can’t--you need--fuck,”
Korra’s heart shattered at the jagged way Asami spoke. “Hey, hey,” Korra cooed though her confidence wavered at Asami’s shallow inhales, throat tight with anxiety and grief for the only man Asami has ever admitted to love. The man that asked his daughter to forgive him through a flimsy piece of tissue. The man that had promised Asami to take her to a kite park all those years ago, yet the promise was never fulfilled. The man that would have wanted to teach his daughter everything he knew and saddened by the fact Asami learned all he could offer on his own. “‘Sami. Asami. I need you to take deep breaths. Can you do that?”
(It’s been three months since Asami’s last panic attack; it being about a massive amount of projects due the next day and her father’s condition getting worse. The precedent episode before that was in senior year of high school.
Asami had been extremely embarrassed telling Korra about it, though Korra only smiled and tucked a stray strand of Asami’s black hair behind her ears and told her with a smile, “Well, the best person to help you is someone who has had episodes, too.”
Her best friend looked up at her with fresh tears that did not spill. “Y-you’ve had anxiety attacks?”
Korra nodded. Before she spoke, Asami interrupted her. “Was that when Zaheer almost took you after his disagreement with your dad four years ago?”
It still pained her to even think of it and the trauma it caused hiding in fear from the anarchists that wanted to get her and her family years back, but Katara always told her that whenever she’s faced with the memory, it’s right to face it, to not dwell on the past and to remember where you are and the person you are now.
Asami realized that she may have triggered her, so she pulled Korra into a tight, desperate embrace. “I’m so sorry--I didn’t mean to--”
“It’s alright,” Korra told her and pressed a kiss to the crown of Asami’s head. “You’re okay, I’m okay. That’s all that matters.”
They stayed like that for some time: Asami’s face burrowed into the skin of Korra’s collarbone and Korra telling her dumb childhood stories that made Asami laugh with minute shivers. She made a mental note of things that made Asami shake less and less; starting from days at the beaches near Opal’s home and the strawberry ice cream they buy later on.)
There was an obvious reluctance to do so, but Asami listened and obeyed, drawing deep breaths. After a few moments of echoing Korra, she seemed better than moments ago. “There we go, princess,” she soothed her best friend and wished she was there beside her. “I’m sorry. He was a good man.”
“Yeah, he was,” Asami agreed. Her voice cracked again, though she didn’t break. Not completely. “It means so much coming from you.”
“What’re you going to do now?”
“I...honestly don’t know. Well, there’s the press, then the arrangement of the funeral and… the company--Korra,” she drew in an audible breath, then her tone is pleading, broken, desperate, in a way that Korra has never heard before and never wants to hear ever again. “What am I going to do?”
“I asked you first,” Korra attempted at cheering up Asami, even just slightly. It didn’t seem to work.
Korra smiled and turned the corner, exiting the building. “You sure you don’t need someone to keep you company?”
“I do, but…” She trailed off, Korra’s heart sunk a little bit. There was a hiss and a door opening, signifying Asami’s arrival at RC Gen. “Later, okay? I’ll text you.”
“Alright. You sure?”
Asami chuckled. “Yeah, I am. And Korra?”
It made everything within Korra stop; her feet have halted in their path, her hand gripping the handle of the large double doors, her heart has stopped beating and if she dies from lack of blood coursing through her veins, she can always blame Asami. (But she can’t, she can’t ever, she will never.)
“Korra?” Asami prompted.
The gears in her head decide to move again, and she blurts out a, “Love you too, ‘Sami.” Her heart beat like mad, like only moments before it had stopped. “Call me when you need something, okay?”
“I will,” Asami said. “I’ll update you.”
“You better,” Korra told her, not unkindly, “No leaving each other in the dark, remember?”
“No leaving each other in the dark.”
The Krew texts her, fires away messages being the appropriate term, asking about Asami, where she is, if she allows visitors. She says later, Asami will tell them eventually.
They surprise Asami at the hospital after dinner with a box of her favorite takeout place and flowers. Asami smiles when she sees them, her phone tucked between her shoulder and ear, busy with arrangements.
Her hair is a mess, make up smudged, but Korra thinks she still knows how to carry herself even in a crisis. She’s so very beautiful, Korra is so very smitten, and Asami leans into her tight embrace, returning the hug with more vigor.
“Thanks for coming,” Asami tells them when the visit comes to a close. “I’ll see you guys soon, okay? I love all of you.”
“We love you too, Asami!” Bolin pulls her into a crushing embrace.
“Yeah, we do. If you need something, we’re here, okay?” Mako hugs her next. Then Opal, who sheds a few tears.
Korra is the last to say goodbye. “You promise to ask if you need help?”
Asami tucks a stray strand of black hair behind her ear. “I will. Thanks, you guys. All of you mean so much to me.”
Bolin pulls Asami into another hug (a bone pops into place, Opal looks horrified and tells Bolin to set her down), but Asami keeps her eyes on Korra the entire time, a small, barely noticeable smile pulling at her lips.
It’s sad, but it’s there. That’s gotta mean something.
Her phone rings in the middle of her essay for A-hist. The chimes doesn’t have to tell her who it is.
Asami’s voice on the other end is tired, used. “Hey. Mind if you come early today?”
Korra checks her watch. The service was at seven, and it was still five in the afternoon. “No, not at all. Need a hand over there?”
“Yeah. But it’s your company that I need more.” There is a push between Korra’s ribs.
“I’ll be there. At the lobby of your dad’s mansion?” She rests the phone between her ear and her shoulder as she tidies up her stuff on the coffee table.
“Yeah. The company chauffeur will pick you up. Wear white, please? There are enough people wearing black.”
Korra halts in her ministrations and pauses, furrows her brows fondly. “Of course. Should the Krew come early with me?”
“Opal called me and said she, Mako and Bolin will catch up with us. She said to expect them by seven thirty.”
“Alright. I’ll bring flowers.”
“Thanks. And Korra?”
“I owe you one.”
Korra tsks. “You don’t owe me anything.”
“I do. I’ll see you later, okay?”
“Yeah, I will.” Korra smiles, though Asami doesn’t see it.
The hall of the large house is full to the brim with rich old people and press members that may or may not have had too much to drink on the job.
She searches for Asami, stretching her neck to see through the crowd of people socializing. Korra catches a glimpse of the urn, decorated very beautifully with an array of flowers and a pot of incense mixing with the scent of flowers.
It’s a nice scent, even if the scent reminded her of death.
And this tight, white dress? It also reminds her of death. White isn’t Korra’s color, but it’s the least of her concerns.
Asami appears out of nowhere, looking gorgeous in white herself, like an angel that’s ready to take Korra to heaven.
(If Asami is the one that takes her there, she doesn’t really mind at all.)
“Hey,” Asami laughs, a mere huff and a tired smile. “You made it and you look gorgeous.”
Korra blushes. “Me? Nah. You? Extremely.”
“Always the flatterer, aren’t you?” This time, Asami is really grinning. She takes Korra into a tight embrace that feels more real than Asami pretending that she’s okay, for all these people.
Korra mumbles into Asami’s dress, “Always.” For you.
“Don’t sell yourself short, Korra. You don’t look bad yourself.” Her best friend pulls away. “These are beautiful,” Asami tells her, admiring the wrapped poppies. “Dad would love it.”
“I’m glad he would,” Korra tells her. “I chose it just for him.”
Asami tightens her hold on the bouquet. “You’re too sweet.”
“It’s nothing,” Korra begins to say, but Asami takes her into another embrace.
“It’s beautiful and it means the world to me. Say no more.”
What Korra wants to say: You’re beautiful and you mean the world to me.
What Korra does say: “Okay, um, you’re welcome.”
Asami smiles and Korra looks around, crinkling her nose. “I’m surprised the smell of Old Spice hasn’t overpowered the incense. Old people.”
“That’s why you’re here,” Asami says, with a hint of a smile. “I feel like my youth is sucked by each old person I talk to.”
“Ah,” Korra beams. “I am, how do you say, your fountain of youth,” she says in her best Juan Ponce de Leon accent. It earns her a full-fledged beam, Asami’s teeth a sharp white contrast to the red pigment of her lips.
Asami rolls her eyes. “Whatever you say, conquistador. Come with me? First show these to dad, then I’ll introduce you to the so-called fossils that drain my youth each passing moment.”
Korra takes her hand and they walk towards the crowd. “Nothing I’d like to do more. Take the lead, Sato.”
There’s an image of Hiroshi Sato sat in the middle, the urn sitting on the pedestal that was a fountain at the same time. It’s beautiful. Asami must have spent quite some time making sure that it looked beautiful, like her father deserved.
Asami keeps her by the arm as they move around, greeting each snooty rich person that enters and tells the same damn story every damn time.
It might not tire Asami out, though it does Korra. She asks to sit for a moment, and Asami allows, worried. Korra assures her it’s nothing. A drink, that’s all she needs.
The Krew drop by with Tenzin and his family, coming to pay their respect. Asami swoops in the meet them and Korra does too, though neither stay so long and they say their farewell to Asami with tight embraces and sincerest apologies.
The night passes by uneventful, and she rejoins Asami to meet guests (though, if she was honest, no one really cares who she is. Korra’s grateful for that). Asami tells her to rest, and with a few protestations from Korra, she sits and waits to feel her feet again. Korra doesn’t know how she does it, doesn’t plan to find out. Asami just keeps surprising her again and again.
Korra jolts and looks up from the wine she has been staring at for the past few minutes. Surprises, Asami can really do. If she endures a heart attack while she’s young, it’s probably because of Asami.
The weariness and sadness on Asami’s face greet her and Korra replies with a smile and hopes that Asami will smile too. “Of course. Why wouldn’t I? This is alcohol that costs more than my tuition. Duh.”
Asami giggles breathily and it feels like a glass of cold water on a scorching day. It’s something, Korra thinks, it’s something. “Give credit to dad’s assistant,” Asami takes a seat beside her and clutches her beige shawl in the middle. “She loves herself some good alcohol.”
There aren’t many people left in the hall, Korra notices, sans a few service boys clearing up the tables. No more visitors for Asami to entertain, no more visitors for to inquire about the same things over and over and over again. She's relieved on Asami's behalf.
She offers Asami her glass of wine, and Asami takes it without thinking twice, downing it in one swift motion. “Thanks for that, and for coming.”
“I told you,” Korra tells her, for the nth time that evening. “I want to be here. It’s nothing.”
Asami pours herself then downs her second glass. She shakes her head. “It’s not nothing. I told you, it means everything to me that you’re here.”
Korra sighs. The least she can do is to accept Asami’s unfeigned honesty with a whole heart. “Okay. You’re welcome.”
"I want to go home." Asami's voice is tired. Used. Weary. Sad. Asami's voice is all the things that make Korra's chest hurt with things that Asami shouldn’t be.
Korra rises to her feet, ready to leave. "I'll give you a lift to the mansion, if you like."
"No, Korra," Asami shakes her head, small ringlets of black hair bouncing slightly at the movement. "I meant our apartment."
"Oh," is all Korra can muster as a reply.
She wants to say: Our home is that eighty square meter apartment at the university.
She wants to say: I'm in love with you and you think a place with me is a home.
Korra takes Asami by the hand and they leave the Sato grounds and take a cab to the university's apartment, the silence around them heavy, yet not uncomfortable. The hand Korra holds in hers make the heavy silence so much bearable.
The moment Korra shuts the door, Asami crumples to the floor, her back to the door.
In the same way that she had when she had learned Hiroshi was sick.
For a moment, Korra thought Asami tripped on something she might have left on the floor, though the loud, broken sobs that wrecked Asami’s body tells her more than it should.
How Asami managed to hold it together this long, Korra doesn’t know and doesn’t want to find out. All that matters is that Asami is in her arms, crying, sobbing, like a child that she never was. Tears threaten to spill from her eyes too, imagines that Hiroshi’s death has broken Asami in ways that even Asami herself doesn’t understand, then she lets the tears flow freely, like Asami.
Asami’s raising her voice, makeup running down her face and even if she’s red-faced and damp, she’s still so very beautiful in the dim light of the kitchen lamp. She’s still so very beautiful, Korra envies how she manages to look so beautiful and strong even when she’s falling apart.
“I’m not ready--he left so early--I’m not ready and--I haven’t even--Spirits, Korra--” Asami wheezes, “I’m not ready for any of--I wasn’t ready for all o-of this.”
“No one is, was, will be,” Korra says lowly, holding Asami closer. Wine, jasmine, honeydew. She drowns in the scent. “You’ve reached this far, Asami. You’ll get through this, I promise.”
“It hurts,” Asami tells her, “It hurts so damn much.” Korra can’t even begin to say I know because she doesn’t understand. She knows it can hurt, but she doesn’t understand.
“I had to say all those things--all those good things about my dad and I will never get to say it to him myself--fuck, I’m so--I’m so stupid!”
She lets Asami get it out of her system: yelling, nails painted red clutching anything and everything and more tears, before Korra speaks. “That’s mourning, Asami,” she says, “we mourn the things we can never tell those who leave us. We mourn the things we never got to do with them. It’s natural. Before Gram died, the last thing we talked about was a book she never got to read during the war. I never read the book too, because it hurt too much to remember her.”
Asami focuses on catching her breath and wiping away the ruined make up.
The first one to lose is the last one to mourn, Korra thinks with an aching heart. It hurts her in unimaginable ways at how Asami is so very broken. How after all these days that passed, this was truly the only time Asami can be violent: hit walls, scream at the top of her lungs, ask the Spirits, why? Asami did neither of those; only cried and cried and cried. I’m not ready, Asami had said. To take the company. For being alone. For Dad dying, Asami does not say but Korra hears everything.
They’re sitting side by side, their shoulders touching and their hands touching and Korra is aware of every part she and Asami touch.
“The company will be under my uncle’s control until I graduate,” Asami informs her with a shaky sigh. “That was my condition to accept the company. I’m not...I’m not ready.”
“At least you did it on your own terms. You’ve got a few months to finish your thesis and then you’ll take the company when you’re ready. That’s good.” Korra nods, tightens her grip on Asami. “At least they know you will take the reins.”
Asami nods. Then another silence blankets over them, save for the heavy breaths they both took.
“Could you imagine if I hadn’t forgiven him?” Asami says, breaking the quiet. She stares at the Campbell Soup pop art on their wall.
“But you did,” Korra tells her, grips her hand tighter.
Asami’s voice breaks. “He didn’t know that.”
So Korra takes the simple, black wallet from Asami’s purse that lay across them, digs her fingers inside the picture compartment and shows her the piece of tissue she had seen Hiroshi write, she had cried over because Hiroshi loved Asami so much. I love you, forgive me, the tissue paper told them, in blue ink. “I think he did.”
Her best friend clings to her arm and cries until there is no tears left to shed.
The burial is on a Thursday.
(Asami cries when she kisses the vase of her father’s ashes.)
(Korra remembers a part of her favorite Buddy Wakefield poem:
We are not funeral homes
with propane tanks in our windows
lookin’ like cemeteries.
Cemeteries are just the Earth’s way of not letting go.
It will hurt to hang on. But it’s important to hang on, just a little while.)
Asami doesn't step out of her room for the next few days. It's part of the healing process. It's part of pulling yourself back together.
And Korra? Korra doesn't fix the coloring books scattered around their place. Korra doesn't forget to place a tray of noodles on the doorstep of Asami's locked room. Korra doesn't text or knock or tell Asami to step out because she can't do that--she can't rush or disrupt the healing process.
Korra doesn't ignore the half eaten food on the tray each morning. Asami has to eat and she tries, tries so hard to make sure Asami gets what she needs but she always sees the soup barely touching the line on cup. Sometimes, the noodle cup remains untouched.
She sighs then, warms it with the microwave and eats it herself then leaves some snacks and water by the door, if ever Asami goes hungry while she's gone.
It hurts that she has to see Asami like this, but on the sixth day, she notices that the noodle cup is empty. Korra smiles to herself, to the cup, and she must look really stupid right now, but it’s a small baby step forward. It’s a small baby step and she is so very proud of Asami for this ‘little thing’.
Korra puts away the noodle cup and leaves a note by the new set of coloring books on their coffee table.
If you see this, knock yourself out. Enjoy the day. Love you. -Korra
She scribbles out the third sentence until there’s a blue blot that covers those two words and seeps through the thin sheet of paper; worries her bottom lip, and leaves for class.
Asami finally steps out of her room, hair disheveled and eyes darker than what Korra is used to seeing, but she accepts it anyway. Korra smiles at her, and when Asami (barely) returns the smile with a slight lift of the corner of her lips, she picks up her phone and orders the largest pizza with extra anchovies and artichoke on Asami’s side of the pizza.
They sit beside each other in silence, a small space between Korra and Asami, and Asami tries, tries, to eat but only ends up eating a slice or two. She apologizes huskily, casting her eyes down, and Korra only smiles and puts it away and embraces Asami in the way that she had wanted to do so while she was in her room. Black hair still drips with shower water and smells of expensive conditioner, and this is what Korra has wanted. She has wanted Asami’s arms around her, has wanted Asami’s jasmine scent, has wanted Asami.
She and the Krew are all that Asami has right now. And she has to remember that putting Asami back together is her main priority.
So Korra kisses Asami’s forehead and they watch Kyoshi and the Warriors in silence, although they don’t really watch, with Asami’s shallow breathing and tight grip on Korra’s hand.
“Hey, gimme your hand.”
Asami’s staring off into space again instead of finishing her food, so Korra calls her attention gently, worried that she might burn two holes into the upholstery. (Also because the push between her ribs get worse every passing moment Asami has that blank, empty stare for the nth time.)
Her friend looks at her slowly, sadly, but then smiles a bit and gives her hand to Korra.
Korra holds up some old lipstick she found in her room and makes a dark red circle on the middle of the back of Asami’s right hand.
“Okay, so what you gotta do is you have to rub the color off your skin and then blow it slightly and say, ‘Korra is really cute’ as the magic words.”
Giving Korra a small smile, Asami does what she’s told, only: “Asami is really cute.”
Korra rolls her eyes. “Okay, show me your palm.” The red mark has transferred to the middle of Asami’s palm. “Viola! It passed through your hand!” (Not really. The trick: there is lipstick on the pointer finger of Korra’s other hand as she touches her the middle of Asami’s palm and rubs the red on it carefully.)
She expected Asami to beam and squeal and say ‘Do it again!’. She expected Asami to bug her to show her how she did it. She expected Asami to laugh and finally give up asking Korra when she is perfectly capable of figuring out the trick by herself.
What Asami does: throws her arms around Korra and cries.
What Korra does: wraps her arms around Asami and cries too.
The thing about sleeping now is that they don’t sleep in their individual rooms anymore.
The thing about sleeping now is that it’s never done alone.
(There’s a soft knock on her door.
“Come in,” she says, even though she knows who it is. Korra folds the top right corner of Fahrenheit 451. It’s pretty late for her to be up, bearing in mind that it’s her first day back on training tomorrow, and it’s pretty late for Asami to be up, too. Asami peeks around the door frame and Korra laughs, setting her book on the dark blue sheets of her bed. “‘Sami, you do know you don’t have to knock.”
Asami laughs, though it’s somewhat forced. She looks away. “Just wanted to check on you,” she tells Korra, but it’s obvious she had something else in mind. “Sorry for bothering you, goodnight.”
When she makes to close the door, Korra gets to her feet and follows. Her hand is already at the door to her own room when Korra calls her attention. “‘Sami. Hey.”
Her best friend turns to face Korra, fleeting green eyes looking everywhere but her. "Sorry, I just... Sorry. I just wanted to... It's dumb. Never mind."
Korra's hands find Asami's shoulders, hopefully offering a comforting weight. "Come on, Asami. Don't be like that. Did you need something?”
Asami evidently hesitates, though, “Sorry. I just couldn’t sleep. I thought that maybe company would make me sleep but I...I’m sorry.”
Liquid pools in her chest, Korra is positive that it’s her heart melting into a puddle. “You haven’t been sleeping?” Her best friend shakes her head. “When was the last time?”
She ponders, tapping her chin. Korra notices the dark bags under her eyes and it tells her, not enough. “Yesterday, during Varrick’s class.”
Korra laughs and punches Asami’s arm lightly. “Woah, we’ve got a rebel over here.”
A wide grin graces Asami’s lips. “Shut up,”
Silence settles over them for a moment until Korra breaks it. “Did you want me to keep you company till you sleep?”
Not for the first time, Asami hesitates, but nods. “I hope you don’t mind.”
Korra smiles. “Of course not. Step into the Casa del Korra. Or whatever.”
They don’t speak much after, with Korra resuming to read her book. Asami is asleep almost immediately, soft snores filling the silence of her room and yeah, Korra can get used to this; her room smells like jasmine and expensive conditioner.
She wakes with a start, eyes straining to see in the dark. The dim moonlight from her window allows Korra to make out the outline of Asami, sitting up and taking in heaving breaths.
“Shit,” Korra curses, her voice cracking. Asami whips her head back and wipes at her eyes, though her distress is still visible. “Asami?”
“Korra,” she says, trying to keep her voice leveled, like she hasn’t been sobbing moments ago. “Sorry, I--shit, sorry. Nightmares--they, they happen often. I s-sort of forgot,”
Korra throws off the comforter, shifts closer to the unusual--though not unwelcome--warmth on her bed and places her hand on the small of Asami’s back and Asami leans closer to the touch, closer and closer until she and Korra are in a tight embrace, tight enough for Korra to feel hiccups and the trembling breaths Asami lets out. “It’s fine, you’re fine, you’re here,” Korra soothes, hands rubbing up Asami’s arm, damp with sweat. Nightmares aren’t knew to her, for her, someone reminding her that she wasn’t in the nightmare, reminding her that she’s living in the now, is what Asami needs. You’re fine, you’re here, she repeats like a prayer.
The rigidity of Asami’s body loosens with every passing phrase and they just stay there, their hearts and breathing in sync and everything smells like jasmine and honey dew and the pine tree scent from Korra’s room.
“I don’t know what to do, Korra,” Asami whispers, “I don’t know what to do and so many people are counting on me to do what my dad did and--I just--I can’t do it when I can’t even face everything that happened before. I’m so scared.”
Broken sobs wreck Asami’s body before Korra knows it, and she holds on, so tight--holds this girl together because she wants to, because she needs to, because this girl in her arms mattered so much to Korra that she would be nothing if she didn’t hold Asami. It feels right, as right as rain. It feels as if she was supposed to be here, as if all those months ago, it was meant to end this way: with Asami in her arms. Korra isn’t complaining.
“You’ve got to face them, Asami,” Korra tells her, hand making comforting circles on the small of Asami’s back. “You’ve got to face your past even if it’s hard. It’s the best thing to do, Asami. It’s hard but it’s the best thing to do.”
Korra wipes at Asami’s eyes. There is no make up to be washed by Asami’s tears and truly, Asami is so beautiful. So very beautiful. Korra loves her. “Come to terms with yourself, alright? I don’t know what you have to do to do that, but you have to try and face it just to see if it’s not as scary as it was before.”
It seems like Asami is about to argue but she thinks better of it, sinks into Korra’s embrace with a shaky sigh. “Thank you,” whispers Asami, a secret told to the fabric of Korra’s grey shirt. A secret that she only wants Korra’s ears to hear. “Thank you so much.”
“I’ll protect you,” Korra winds her fingers in Asami’s long hair, “even if you don’t need me to. I still will.”
“And I you,” Asami replies, her breathing stable with slight hiccups.
It dawns upon Korra that this was the closest they’ve been in a few months.
In the morning, she wakes with the right side of the bed cold but a warm mug of coffee awaits her on the table with a note that says: thank you :)
Hopefully, the time when Korra wakes without the scent of jasmine and honeydew never comes.)
The thing about sleeping now is that there was just a silent agreement that Korra spends her night in Asami’s room or Asami spends her night in Korra’s room. They go about their schoolwork with a comfortable silence blanketing over them and their flat, then brush their teeth beside each other then proceed to a room and spend the last few hours of the night in each other’s presence.
Then when Korra wakes, Asami is gone, but there is always, always a mug of hot coffee waiting for her.
It’s Tuesday night, though Korra skips pizza with the team to do some paperwork for her pre-thesis for I.S. class. A rough week it was, with Asami being busy most of the time with her own thesis and catching up with her classes.
She tosses her keys into the bowl, tells herself that the coloring books on the dining table remain there because neither of them had the time to clear them out.
But Korra likes it there.
It’s Tuesday night, and the first semester’s schedule are good to the both of them.
“Asami,” Korra calls out, “do you want to get some dinner?”
It’s been a month and a half since Hiroshi died, and two months since Asami was supposed to inherit the company. It’s been two months and honestly, she hasn’t been doing well.
So Korra waits, waits and waits, waits and it hurts that there is nothing she can do to make Asami feel better.
(Though the tiny smiles Asami gives her when she does something funny or stupid or both is more than a triumph. Korra savors it, Korra stores it and keeps it safe.)
“Asami?” she asks again when she gets no response. It’s Tuesday. She was supposed to be here.
Korra peers into Asami’s bedroom.
Her heart picks up its pace as she checks the bathroom, and her own room, and it’s dumb to worry about Asami because it isn’t unusual for her to be gone to do her engineering stuff or to get drinks with the boys from the workshop.
But Asami would have told her.
With quivering hands, she takes out her phone. No message. And when she was about to dial Asami’s number, an orange paper that sat by the coffee table stops her.
She picks it up and reads and recognizes the loopy handwriting she can recognize a mile away, on yellow post-its stuck to a mug or a to-go cup of her favorite beverage.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what you’ve said about my dreams getting better when face my demons instead of running away from them. As usual, you’re right. You are most absolutely right. And I thank you for that. I’m safe in Dad’s mansion in the meantime to face the things I fear the most. It’s going to be rough doing it alone, but I’ll manage. :)
I’ll miss you guys while I’m away. I’ll miss you a lot, Korra, but I’ll be back soon. Don’t worry about me.
All the love,
Korra smiles at the piece of paper at her hand. This is what Asami needs. This is what Asami needs to get better.
She places the note on her desk with uttermost reverence and continues her activities for the night as she tries to ignore the ache in her chest similar to the void that Asami’s absence has left. That a year and a half she didn’t even know who Asami was even though they were living together.
It’s an empty ache, but she knows it’s for the better.
“I haven’t seen Asami around, is she alright?” Bolin asks, on the way to basketball practice. “Mako hasn’t either.”
“About that…” Korra hesitates, playing with the straps of her gym bag. “Since it’s the break, she decided to stay over at her dad’s mansion.”
His brows shoot up into his hairline.. “What? Doesn’t she hate it there?”
“She does, but…” she says, fiddling with the navy blue strap once more, “She needs it. Recovery thing.”
“Oh,” he says, “I hope she’s doing okay, though. Being there will stress her out, I’m sure.”
“I know.” Korra’s shoulders slump on their own accord. Bolin throws an arm around Korra.
“Hey, Asami will make it through. Trust in her.”
Korra crosses her arms. “I do, okay? I’m just…"
“Worried about her?” He offers, and sometimes Korra wants to slap him for knowing her so well. She nods, but only slightly. “We all are, but most especially you. It’s okay,” he continues. “She’ll be fine. She’s Asami Sato.”
Korra grins, even if her heart squeezes painfully at that. She’s Asami Sato. Kind, brave, tough Asami Sato who will never give without a fight.
They walk in silence for a few moments until Bolin breaks it. “Do you still like her?”
She punches Bolin’s arm and makes him yelp. “What in the name of fuck was that for?” He yells, clutching his arm.
“Sorry, shit, sorry,” Korra apologizes and rubs the spot where she hit him. Questions like that aren’t dropped all of a sudden. “I’m sorry, I just… stop asking questions like that after an emotional moment, will you?”
“Fine,” he wheezes out, “Damn, I forgot how well you pack punches. Jeez. So, are you going to not answer my question after hitting me hard enough to bruise?”
“I...honestly don’t know,” she lies, and curses herself. How on earth is she going to convince Bolin if she can’t even convince herself otherwise? It doesn’t help that he points out the fact that she’s lying through grit teeth with a laugh. “Okay, so maybe I do.”
“There we go,” he grins that stupid grin and the urge to punch him is strong. “Okay. At least we have that. We both know you aren’t ever going to make a move on her.”
“Come on, Bo,” Korra groans, pinches the bridge of her nose. “You’re better than that.”
“What’s the matter?”
“She has so much on her plate right now. The last thing she needs is me being in love with--”
Too fuckin’ late, great, Korra.
Bolin’s heard it already, and he’s grinning from ear to ear. “I swear to Raava, Bolin, if you say something about this I’m going to--”
“You’re in love with Asami,” he sing songs, the nerd that he is, Korra is red, her face hot and she hits him again without apologize, this time a bit harder than the last one. “Ow, okay, I deserved that,” he wheezes, grins through his wince.
“Maybe I am,” Korra whispers the next sentence, “...in love with her. You’ve got a problem with that?”
Bolin holds his hand up. “No, not at all,” he clears his throat. “I’m just happy for you. You guys are good for each other. And I’m glad she has you during this time. She has all of us but... you’re the one she really needs.” His hand claps her back comfortingly, and it reminds her of their childhood when Bolin was one of the boys who wasn’t nervous around her because she was a girl and because she had the ability to whoop their asses. Korra’s thankful for this asshole as much as she is of Mako and of Opal and of Asami.
She pokes the bruising spot on his arm for good measure. “Yeah yeah, whatever.” Korra pretends to not see hear anything of what he said and ignores her feelings for Asami like an alarm clock on a cold Monday morning.
Six days. The ramen noodles stare at her, stare and stare and stare and she’s tempted to text Asami to come home, but Korra doesn’t. She knows better than to rip off the band aid before the wound has even healed.
The kids are well-behaved today, and they’re watching Disney’s Atlantis, though, like always, it’s just her, Rohan and Jinora that watch.
Rohan tugs at Korra’s sweatpants in the middle of the movie. “When will Asami come back?”
Korra looks down and feels the strings of her heart tug painfully. It’s been two weeks since Asami came home. “I don’t know,” she tells him and it’s the truth. Rohan deflates then returns his attention to the movie.
“How is she?” asks Jinora. Korra is well aware that the eldest of the four have taken a liking to Asami like her siblings. “I haven’t seen her since the funeral.”
Fixing her with a don’t mess with me look that eerily resembles Pema and Tenzin combined, Korra breaks under Jinora’s narrowed eyes. “Okay, she hasn’t been doing well.”
“Is that why she went away for awhile?”
Korra nods. “She needed some time alone. And I’d be more than willing to give that to her.”
“Have you told her?” Jinora prods further. Korra nearly spits her drink.
She shakes her head. “I wouldn’t want to make my...feelings another burden for her to carry. She’s going through so much. I wouldn’t want to give her more baggage to deal with if she doesn’t, you know,” there is an insistent push between her ribs, “...feel the same.”
She’s pouting before she even knows, and Jinora fixates her an exasperated look, though she doesn’t say anything other than that. “Do you plan to, someday? After all this?”
Korra shrugs. She honestly didn’t know. It was too much of a risk to take and even if Asami, the saint that she is, didn’t feel the same and act awkwardly around Korra, it would still hurt like a bitch.
She’s thought about this, thought this through and tried to find an escape route from her feelings, but alas, there were none.
There was no escape route to stop being in love with your best friend. There was no escape because either way, she will still be your everything. “It’s easier said than done, Jinora,” Korra tells her and
“All I’m saying is that life is too short for her not to know.”
Ikki grumbles half-asleep, evidently peeved. “Stop bein’ such a scaredy cat, Korra. Tell her already. And will you shush now, please? I’m try’na sleep o’er here.”
The eldest child raises a very triumphant eyebrow at Korra with a subliminal I told you so message.
Korra exhales and tries to remember when she had allowed a bunch of kids to have the ability to help her sort out her feelings.
“Has she called you or anything?” Opal asks before eating a french fry. Girls’ night just isn’t the same without Asami, Korra knows that Opal thinks so too.
She shakes her head. Three and half weeks. Three and a half weeks that dragged by without her one-half. Three and a half days that dragged by with coloring books that need the be colored, ramen noodles that begged to be consumed and the jasmine scent that lingered in both of their rooms.
“I miss her already,” Opal says, eyes downcast. Her heart squeezes in her chest, telling her how much she misses Asami too.
“But she needs this,” Korra offers with a smile, because it’s true. Asami needs this more than anything.
“Yeah, she does,” her friend agrees. “The least we can do is to wait for her to get back to herself. Asami--she’s tough as nails.”
Korra has to laugh. That has to be the best thing she’s heard in ages. “That she is, Opal. That she is.”
The call connects, the screen black for a moment then it shifts to her parents waving enthusiastically at Korra with a simultaneous 'hey, sweetie!' and 'can you hear us?'
“Hey, guys,” Korra laughs, adjusting the earbud that was falling off her ear. “I miss you. How are things there?”
“Everything’s fine, sweetie,” Senna tells her. “Everything’s great here. Your hockey kids miss you tons. Katara too.”
Her dad pipes in. “To quote them, they said they miss making you fall on your bum during practice.”
Korra wags a warning finger at them, imitating her mother. “I may be a water person here but I will still kick their sorry little butts when I come home. How’s Katara?”
“She’s doing well! A lot of people have been coming to her for acupuncture and therapy.” Her mom says. “She asks about you a lot more than she does Kya. Can you believe that?”
“I don’t think Katara would miss me more than she misses her own daughter,” Korra laughs. “Kya’s been great, lately. Still no boyfriend slash girlfriend to bring home for the holidays five months from now.”
“Speaking of special friends, how is Asami?” Tonraq inquires. “We haven’t seen her around your apartment lately.”
Korra doesn’t point out about the special friends part, but she answers their question nonetheless. She knows that her parents like Asami--has been the first girl they liked that she liked even though they missed out an important thing: they aren’t dating and she never wants to date her best friend. (A push between her ribs tells her she’s lying to herself, but she has time to deny that later.) “Still recovering from her dad.”
“Oh, honey,” Senna coos. Asami has grown particularly on her mother, sharing recipes and of course, Asami taking care of Korra when she’s down with the flu and asthma will always make Senna like her. “I hope she’s okay. Extend our condolences to her again, will you?”
“Of course,” Korra nods. “She’d appreciate it. I was thinking that she come with me when I go home?”
“Why not!” Her father bellows. “Asami is welcome to stay here for as long as she wants.” Her mother nods in agreement.
“Thanks, guys. I’ll tell her when she comes back. Now, the hockey kids better not embarrass me when I see them.”
“I’m not promising anything.”
Korra knows precisely how she ended up eating noodles on her own, watching Kyoshi and the Warriors on a late Friday night and decides that she doesn’t like it--doesn’t like the feeling of this place being too big for her. Like this apartment, the place she has called home. Home isn’t supposed to feel like there’s a void missing.
Four weeks. Asami missed a week’s worth of classes. Classmates from different subjects ask where she is and Korra only replies, on a business trip when Asami isn’t even the CEO of the company yet to do so.
And really, she just misses Asami so much.
Then it happens, almost too quickly for her liking.
A familiar jingle of keys. The hushed opening of closing of the door. Her heart beats thrice as fast and when she turns, she’s there.
“Hey,” Asami says, back to the door and her backpack dropping on the floor. She smiles; it’s tired but wow, it warms her eyes in a way that it hasn’t in a long time.
They’ve been in the same situation before. One year and six months ago. They’ve been in the same place before, as strangers--as roommates who, in the two months of living under the same roof, never were able to see each other.
Now they’re Korra and Asami and everything in between: noodles, tea, T.V., Thursdays and late nights and sunrises and sunsets with many other things that filled the space between them and placed a ‘+’ in between to make Asami + Korra, whatever the plus in the middle meant.
Korra finds herself grinning from ear to ear it hurt. “Hey yourself,” she manages to say before she rises to her feet to take Asami into her arms for an embrace to calm her worried soul, tight enough to knock the breaths out of both of them.
Asami returns the embrace, buries her face in Korra’s short hair and chuckles heartily--Korra can feel it tickling her ear and tugging at her heartstrings. It’s her favorite sound in the world and it’s marvelous to hear the smoky laugh once more and, finally, with feeling. “You missed me; I knew you would,” She holds Korra by the shoulders, beaming, cheeks dimpling.
There are still bags under Asami’s eyes that she didn’t bother to hide, though it’s relatively better than the dark shade they were before. The color returned to Asami’s cheeks, the light back in the lightest shade of green eyes Korra’s had the pleasure of seeing.
“You were gone for a month, of course I did.” Korra tells her, sitting on the ledge of the couch, Asami leaning a bit forward so their knees touch.
The girl in front of her glances away, eyes everywhere but Korra. “I’m sorry it took so long. I would have kept in touch but…”
“You needed time for yourself,” Korra answers for her. “Don’t apologize for that, okay?”
Asami smiles, slowly and surely--it’s like watching the sun rise. “Yeah, okay.”
They remain quiet for a few moments, revelling in the presence of the other. It seems like Asami is gathering her courage to talk about the month in her father’s mansion. Korra waits.
“Your classmates were worried. A lot of them talked to me about you and started asking how it was to be roommates with a billionaire,” she starts, to springboard the conversation.
Asami chuckled. “Really? What’d they say?”
Inspecting her nails coolly, Korra shrugs. “Said you threw money everywhere inside the room. All the time. And that it really got on my nerves..” But the simultaneous smiles that break out from both their faces betray any hard feelings.
“Come on, I’d pay for your tuition but you’re the Water Tribe princess, so,” Asami says firmly, taking the cup of noodles from the table and slurps up the noodles with Korra’s fork. “You don’t really care about my money, do you?”
There’s an unsure edge to Asami’s voice, hidden in a jibe.
Korra’s brows furrow. “Of course not. What would make you think that?” It disgusts her that people who only care about Asami and her money are graced with the privilege to walk this earth.
The worry vanishes from Asami’s face, apology replaces it. “Sorry. I’m--I just had to ask, eventually. You were my friend first, before you even knew who I was.”
Korra beams at her. “Ramen noodles and matcha tea and white boards, come on. The Krew and I don’t care if you’re just you or a billionaire. We love you all the same.”
Asami walks forward and takes Korra in her arms and it’s jasmine and expensive soap all over again. “Thank you.”
She wraps her hands around her. “No problem.” They stand in that embrace, longer than necessary. It’s too much. Korra takes a detour, an easy way out. “Iroh asked where you were, if that makes you feel better.”
Asami crinkles her nose in disgust.
“What,” Korra raises a brow. “So you don’t like him now? Like, like-like.”
“No, not at all,” her best friend replies. “There’s… no one. I don’t like anyone now.”
The push between her ribs makes itself known with the admission. But she tucks the ache away in the deepest, most ignored part of her heart. “Oh. That’s nice. Relationships are overrated anyway.”
Asami laughs. Korra tries to not notice her brows knitting before it smooths out, disappears as quick as it showed. “Yeah, they are.” She leans her head on Korra’s shoulder. “But you know what isn’t overrated? Kyoshi and the Warriors and pizza.”
It’s Korra’s turn to giggle; she nods. “I’ll call the pizzeria now. I missed you, Asami.”
Asami snuggles closer, clutches her blanket. “I’m here now.” A pause. “And I missed you too.” She says the latter sentence, softly and reverently, like a secret she only wants Korra to know.
And really, it’s a secret she wants to hear over and over again until it etches in her hands and her chest.
Korra tightens her arm around Asami and watches Kyoshi rip out a guitar solo with her golden guitar.
Asami is improving over the course of days. It’s noticeable and Korra likes the way Asami catches up on her schoolwork right beside Korra when she’s working on projects too. All nighters and empty Red Bull cans kind of nights are always fun with Asami.
She still doesn’t join the Krew on Saturdays, for reasons that she doesn’t need to tell Korra. Mako and Bolin and Opal come to visit her, though, with boxes of pizza and beer. It’s still great.
Asami is back. Asami brightens the space of the apartment where Korra feels, knows, her presence isn’t enough. Like this apartment was made for two. Like this apartment was made for Korra and Asami.
Asami smiles now, not the hollow one she used to give people when they try to offer her their sympathies. Asami smiles now, not the strained one she gives Korra when Korra tells her dumb jokes.
Asami squeezes Korra’s hand back. Asami bounces in Korra’s bed to get her to watch cartoons with her on mornings with no class with loud, “get up your lazy ass and watch Kyoshi with me!”
Korra remembers how strong this girl is and how much Asami gives her reasons to love her more each day.
It’s not a fight harder kind of day, no, not anymore.
And just like that, Asami stopped surviving and started living, just like Korra did years ago. It gives Korra another reason to be proud of the CEO of Future Industries.
“You should really be more careful,” mumbles Asami as she dabs a cotton with betadine (Korra will rather throw herself off a cliff than use alcohol) under Korra’s chin.
“Yeah well,” Korra winces when it stings a bit. “Careful isn’t exactly my middle name.”
“It doesn’t seem like it needs stitches,” Asami laughs. “I would have called Suyin to do your stitches.”
“Oh, spirits, please don’t mention her. I have a test for her and if I fail it, it’s going to be a real bitch to avoid her during family reunions no matter how polite she is.”
Their faces are close enough for Korra to count the lashes on Asami’s eyelids. Everything smells like jasmine and honey dew and her heart is beating a hundred miles per hour.
Asami looks at her in the way that she never understood and she does so intently, her green eyes boring into her skin and living there. She doesn’t mind that Asami has gotten into her skin, to be frank, she doesn’t mind that her days are filled with ramen and board games and music. She doesn’t mind, nope, not at all.
Heat creeps up her neck, slowly and surely, like how lava falls from a volcano, her mind telling, chanting, praying for Korra to do something that she will truly regret later.
Korra pulls away after Asami fastens the Mickey Mouse print band-aid under her chin and ignores the way Asami’s breathing is as shallow as her own and how the air is so thick she can slice through it with her hand. “Thanks,” she lets out, rubs under her chin.
“Anytime,” Asami replies, busying herself with placing the items back into the first aid kit. “Be careful, okay?”
“Yeah, I will.” She says, matching Asami’s tone, then Korra grins at her (her chin hurts, ow), “Engineer, math genius, singer, chef and now a nurse? Is there anything you don’t know how to do?”
Asami chuckles, tossing the crumpled bandage wrapper in her direction. “You’re overselling me.”
“Me? Oversell Asami Sato? Never.”
Her best friend only rolls her eyes at Korra’s melodramatic tone and plops back on the couch with her lemon tea. “Whatever, Korra,” she laughs, “now zip it, Kyoshi’s starting.”
“Ah, one of my favorite parts of the week,” Korra follows suit on the couch and grabs the bowl of sweet and spicy seaweed crisps that Asami loathes. She prefers the extremely spicy one, the one Satan probably made.
They were a perfect puzzle that were wrongly matched for a few months, but now, sitting with their legs entwined, watching their favorite shows and eating seaweed crisps in the comfort of the home that is the apartment, the puzzle pieces they are now fit together perfectly, despite the nagging voice in her head telling her that she loved Asami more than she should.
Korra doesn’t watch Kyoshi and the Warriors. Instead, she absentmindedly eats the crisps and imagines if Asami’s lips do taste like honey dew.
“Are you serious? You were that close to kissing her? And you didn’t?” Bolin exclaims with a mouthful of half-masticated beef.
“Honey, what did we talk about?” Opal chastises her boyfriend.
He swallows before speaking, looking bashful. “Chew like your mouth has a secret. Sorry.”
Opal kisses his cheek then turns to Korra. “Why didn’t you?”
Korra leans into her hand and stirs the bowl of clam chowder distantly. “It’s scary,” she explains, realizes her words are an understatement of how she really felt. Kissing your best friend isn’t on the list of ‘Wise Decisions To Make.’ “Come on, it’s a big risk to take and I’m just fine as we are now.”
Opal nods, understanding. “Just don’t get yourself hurt, alright?”
She doesn’t promise anything because she can’t. Opal amongst all people know Korra and her tendencies when it came to anything with love.
Thursday nights aren’t as happy as they were before.
When your father was buried on a Thursday only a month ago, it’s difficult to like that day of the week.
But Korra and Asami try, no matter how hard it was to keep it up even during hell week, between papers and papers of homework and essays and projects.
Board games, Lucky Charms on cold mornings, Kyoshi and the Warriors.
They try, really, but sometimes Asami misses her dad more on days where she would visit him when he was still alive. She misses him so much, and it pains Korra to see her so sad and so heartbroken, so she does this:
“Wanna go out? I’ll hail a cab so we don’t have to wait in the cold.”
Asami looks up from her notes, the corner of her lips tipped down. “I don’t feel like going out today, Korra. Sorry,” she apologizes, but she releases her hold on the pen after hours of writing.
“Come on,” Korra pulls her up. “Pretty please,” she pouts. “For me?”
Her best friend regards her for a moment then proceeds to stand up. “Okay, fine,” grumbles Asami, slightly disgruntled. Graphite marks are on the underside of her palm, Korra notices when she rubs at her eyes and walks to her room to change.
“Yes,” Korra pulls her fist down in a fist pump. “I knew you couldn’t resist me.”
Asami calls out from the room: “Don’t push your luck, Korra.” There’s a smile to her voice, and yeah, it’s enough to make Korra smile too.
“Where are we going?”
“It’s a secret.”
Asami harrumphs. Korra giggles. “Don’t be such a grinch. Come on, you used to love surprises.”
Asami fiddles with her red sweater. “Just not today.”
“Yeah,” Korra agrees, a hand over Asami’s. “But I promise to make this worthwhile, alright?”
The cab stops across the local flower shop. “A flower shop?” Asami raises a brow. “What are we--”
“Just you wait,” Korra grins, rolls down the window to order a dozen of chrysanthemums to be bundled up. It’s fit through the window with some struggle by the owner of the shop and Korra, but they manage.
Asami smiles when she smells the sweet scent of the flower. “These are for?”
Korra rolls her eyes. “You ask too many questions. Patience, grasshopper.”
“Okay, fine. Surprise me.”
“‘Atta girl. Here,” she takes three flowers and hands it over to Asami, their fingers brushing when she accepts it. “Because you deserve it after everything that’s been going on. A queen always needs pretty flowers.”
“Just a few months ago I was a princess, now I’m a queen. What gives?”
“Well, you are technically a CEO if you give the word. That’s like, a queen, right?”
Asami laughs, toying with the flowers. “Thank you, they’re very beautiful.”
They sit in silence for the rest of the trip to somewhere, Asami’s eyes glued to the three pink flowers she held in her hand.
“We’re here,” Korra nudges Asami awake, her head lolling on Korra’s shoulder halfway through.
Asami blinks the slumber from her eyes, looking around. “This is the cemetery.”
She beams at her. “Exactly.”
The meaning dawns upon Asami, her face crumpling into tears and she tosses her arms around Korra in a tight embrace. “Thank you,” Asami’s sobs muffled by Korra’s jacket. “Thank you so much.”
“You missed your parents, and for Happy Thursday, I thought that, well, we could visit them. It would make all of us happy.”
The sunset casts a hopeful glow upon the headstones and grass, and they walk hand in hand up the hill where Hiroshi was buried with Yasuko. Butterflies flew about. It was beautiful and if the afterlife looked like this, Korra doesn’t fear it.
Asami rings the gong and Korra does the honor to light up the incense. They put their hands together and bow lowly and courteously, paying their respects to Asami’s late father and mother, her mother’s lone picture now replaced with both her parents looking extremely happy together.
“Hey, mom and dad. It’s been awhile, I’m sorry,” Asami apologizes to her parents. “It’s just been… difficult. But I’m sure that the both of you have been on my mind a lot. Korra here,” she turns to Korra and squeezes her hand reassuringly, “snapped me out of it and took me here with you. She even got both of you these beautiful flowers. I’m doing well. Senior year has been great, and I found a great set of friends with Korra here. I miss both of you terribly.”
Asami turns to leave to bring Korra with her, though Korra plants her feet firmly on the ground and speaks: “Mr. and Mrs. Sato, I know that wherever you are, the both are you are very proud of your daughter. She’s a great person, and you have raised her well. Thank you very much, sir and madam, for blessing us all with her.” Korra puts her hands together and bows. “Thank you.”
Korra turns to Asami and she’s there, looking at her with that look. Green eyes regard her with so much intent that a few more moments of Asami watching her like that will result in Korra combusting. “I feel like dancing today.”
“Don’t you owe Bataar Jr. some plans and prints?”
Asami takes her by the hand, rolling her eyes. “Scratch that. I need to dance and Thai food right now. My treat?”
Korra smiles and follows. She isn’t a person to deny Asami Sato anything.
Asami starts going out. Asami joins Saturdays with the Krew. Asami catches on to her lessons perfectly. Asami manages to finish half her thesis. No one really seems to bother Asami about her true identity as a Sato, and for that Korra is grateful.
Asami starts going out again. Korra is so very proud.
“Hey, check this out.”
Asami looks up from her sketches, glasses slightly askew. She raises her eyebrows and gives Korra her full attention.
Their shoulders knock into each other when Korra takes a seat, brimming with excitement.
“Ow,” Asami snickers and puts down her pencil. “What’s up?” she asks, pushing her glasses up her head and bringing her her sippy cup to her lips.
Korra holds up both her hands at Asami’s face. “Touch my hands.”
“Okay,” Asami raises an eyebrow, laughingly, but obeys.
Korra loves Asami’s hands.
Graphite smudges a stark contrast on her light skin. Tiny droplets from the sweat of her cold strawberry smoothie. Rough, used, but possessed the gentlest of touches.
Korra loves Asami.
And her hands.
“Now,” she deepens her voice, half hoping that it masks the way it dries when she sees Asami looking at her intently with that unreadable face. (Maybe it’s just her. Maybe it’s her blind spot. Maybe it’s her Achilles’ heel. Maybe it’s the only expression of Asami that she will never have the ability to read.) “You must say the magic words.” Korra continues and hates herself for sounding so very distracted by her best friend, her ½, the person who makes sure she doesn’t buy too much things for the apartment.
(Those damned glasses. That damned ponytail. Damned U2’s Stuck In The Moment You Can’t Get Out Of as Asami’s sketch music.)
Their faces are close, and this is a situation that she and Asami have been in a few times before. Korra is always too scared. Korra is always too horrified of the consequences of kissing her one half, her best friend.
The moment stretches, long enough for the blood to rush to Korra’s ear to pulse painfully at every passing second they watch each other intently.
Korra wants to do it. Korra wants to lean in and finally find out if Asami’s lips taste like honeydew and drown in the scent of jasmine and just stop wondering and start finding out. She wants to do it so much, that Korra pulls away like always. She wants it so much.
Their faces are close, and this is a situation that she and Asami have been in a few times. But Korra was always too scared. Korra was always too horrified of the consequences of kissing her one half, her best friend, her roommate before anything else that came.
The moment stretches, long enough for Korra's heart to thud painfully in her chest at the speed of sound. She wants to do it, she wants to lean in and finally taste honeydew on Asami's lips and drown in the scent of jasmine and just stop wondering and start finding out.
The tension in the air sits heavily in her tongue and nope, Asami is totally not looking at her lips. This is too much, this is too much for her, for Asami, for anyone.
Korra pulls away, and just like that, the air that had been taught, pulled like a string, is released. It evaporates when she puts a good distance between her and Asami's face. She needs to worm this way out like she did like all those other times before.
"I've got a thing with, uh," Korra lies, "with Zhu--"
"Are you--what--" Asami stammers, eyeing Korra incredulously, before sighing deeply and murmuring; "Whatever." She takes Korra by the thin material of her Nirvana shirt and yanks her down and presses her lips to hers in a kiss that is too awkward to be a real kiss. Korra yelps, eyes wide.
Asami tastes like pop corn, soda, honey dew and Asami.
And Korra hates herself that the kiss is over before it has begun, that she hasn't had the chance to commit that taste to her memory.
Asami pulls away, lips still parted from the kiss, eyes half closed and she looks so very beautiful that all Korra wants for every Christmas for the rest of her life is to pull Asami close to her again, to feel that she wasn't dreaming that Asami Sato actually kissed her.
None of them make a sound within the minutes that follow. Korra's mouth threatens to let out seal noises, and Asami--Asami is red enough to match her tanktop.
It's all painfully awkward, very painfully awkward, that Korra excuses herself and rises to her feet. Wobbly knees and jelly joints are what she discovers she has after kissing, and she blames Asami for turning her into this--to a spineless nerd, who is hopelessly, most embarrassingly so, in love with her best friend.
"I've--I've got to go," Korra stammers, stands and leaves the room without turning back. It's stupid, she knows, but Asami kissed her and she doesn't know what comes after that. She doesn't know if what had just happened will turn for the good or for the bad.
"Korra--" Asami starts, but she’s cut off by the sound of the door clicking into place.
Her lungs burn as well as her muscles, with equal amounts of exhaustion and overuse. Seventh lap? Eighth lap? Korra honestly doesn’t know anymore.
The water is heavier today--it weighs down her shoulders more than her anger does.
Kya hates it when Korra swims like this. Kya hates it when Korra swims when her head is hot enough to dry up the entire pool. Kya hates it, but she can’t do anything about it because water calms her. The steadfast, insistent beating of her heart from the effort of swimming. Sometimes she hates herself too, because swimmingis the unity of the swimmer and the water, not the otherway around.
Korra tears through the water, pulling both her arms to her chest and kicks to push herself forward. The wall is close--tumbles and kicks when she’s near enough, folds her arms behind her ears in a tight streamline for the last lap--her lungs can only bear so much--then grabs the ledge of the other side of the pool and hauls herself up, head popping out of the water roughly with her lungs screaming for air.
She takes a moment to catch her breath, bent over the water, breathing heavily. Her shoulders shake with each inhale.
“You’re so stupid,” Korra curses herself hotly, the hall echoing with the collision of her fist and the wall. “You’re so stupid, Korra.”
She’s running away from Asami. She’s running away from Asami even if she doesn’t want to. She’s running away from Asami when it’s the last thing she wants to do, the last thing Asami needs.
It’s been two days since she last saw Asami; Korra has to hand it to Suyin and Zhu Li for keeping them from meeting since the coin trick and the part where Asami kisses Korra like it’s the only thing she wants.
And honestly? It’s a little too late to have a gay panic now. (Though sometimes, Korra thinks, it’s never too late to have a gay panic.)
She readies herself for another mettlesome lap of angry swimming when half of the heavy double doors of the swim hall swings open.
The sound of flip flops tell her that it’s a teammate, so she floats back to the starting point of the pool to haul herself out of the water to head to the shower and get some rest, hoping, praying, Asami isn’t in the apartment. She doesn’t want any of her team babies to see their captain like this.
“Don’t stay too long,” she says behind gritted teeth, exhaustion and pain settling heavy on her bones. Korra sits on the ledge, towelling the water from her hair.
“Sure will, cap.”
That silky voice halts the motions of Korra’s hands.
“Asami, hey,” Korra stammers, incoherent words stumbling out of her mouth in the same manner of her heart that threatens to beat out of her heart if she isn’t careful. “What brings you here?”
“I was just passing by and somehow, I knew you’d be here.” She stops by the ledge. Korra notices Asami’s watermelon-designed pedicure and grins. The CEO of Future Industries still wears watermelon nails. It’s endearing. Korra loves that. “Mind if I sit?”
“No, not at all. Sit,” Korra wiggles to the side. Asami sports a dark shirt and dri-fit shorts. Korra assumes that Asami had just finished her workout routine as well. Korra opens her mouth to ask what was on Asami’s mind, then closes it when she realizes that it’s horrifying to find out.
So they sit there instead: Asami’s toes brushing the surface of the water and for once, an uncomfortable silence blankets over them--heavy with words unsaid. It makes Korra fidget in her sitting position by the pool.
Asami breaks the silence, her toe brushing the water with lightness. “I owe you an apology before anything else.” When Korra opens her mouth to protest, to offer that she doesn’t in a shaky voice, Asami holds her hand up to keep her from doing so. “Let me explain, please?”
Korra nods. It’s all that she can do. She can’t even look at Asami.
“I owe you an apology because I shouldn’t have done that, okay? I shouldn’t have done that, especially because it’s a risk that we’re obviously not willing to take. You… you mean the world to me, Korra. You’re so very, very important to me--”
It’s awkward. Like, really, really awkward. Quadrillion times more awkward and it makes Korra mad and sad, but also happy that Asami started the conversation for things that need to be talked about. However, the outcome of this weighs heavily on both their shoulders.
“So there. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done it.”
There’s nothing Korra can say (the pink of Asami’s lips are really attractive) except: “Okay.”
She’s meant to say: you don’t have to apologize for anything.
She’s meant to say: I like you. A lot.
Then Asami breaks--starts rambling like a child explaining to her mom how she did not break her favorite vase.
“I’m sorry, Korra, I’m so--jeez, look at me. I want this more than anything,” she gestures between them. “I’m sorry for forgetting that what we have now is enough because, spirits, Korra, you’re the only thing I’ve been holding on to for the past year and more. And--you’re everything I want, Korra. I hate myself for that. That you’re the only thing I want and--I’m rambling to make a point, but I just--you’re just--”
Korra jumps into the pool and pulls Asami with her to stop her from rambling. Asami squeals, grabs onto Korra, the cold water of the pool turning the both of them into spluttering messes that scramble for air.
She laughs that Asami is anything but poised. The glares Asami throws her way would be enough to make someone kneel with apologizes, yet Korra pushes her luck and pushes a wave of water that crashes on Asami’s face.
“Korra, you--” Asami starts, but Korra pulls her close, wraps her hand around Asami’s waist and presses their lips together like how she had wanted to for the past day.
Asami tastes like chlorine, honeydew and strawberry milkshake and just Asami. Korra pulls her tighter against her body. She wants the taste bottle and brewed and reproduced for her own use because she loves it so, so much. Asami’s breath catches in her throat, and she gives Korra a sweet, sweet kiss with just as sweet a sound that Korra’s mouth catches perfectly.
The need for air pulls them away. “I hope that’s enough to tell you that--”
Her best friend, her roommate nods thrice before pulling their heads together for another kiss that continues and continues, longer and more desperate than before. This was what both of them have wanted and, Spirits, it’s wonderful.
And when Asami’s tongue brushes past her lips, the bridge is gone. That bridge crumbles down but the thing was, there were no more spaces between those two islands. It’s closer now. It’s right beside each other, fitting like puzzle pieces from different puzzles that slotted together perfectly.
Korra has never been good at this dating thing, but:
1.) She gets to kiss Asami Sato whenever she wants.
2.) She gets to hold Asami without fearing it’s crossing boundaries.
3.) Did she mention that she gets to kiss Asami whenever she wants? If she hasn’t, well, she gets to kiss Asami Sato whenever she wants.
The ‘g’ word hasn’t even been dropped yet but--it’s nice.
Korra is privileged to wipe the lipstick off Asami’s lips with her own, and now she doesn’t wonder what Asami tastes like because, well, she knows the flavor like the back of her hand.
(Each time Asami kisses her, it warms her to the toes. Seems like it has the same effect on Asami too, her heart flutters in her chest to think that Asami is here, Asami wants me, Asami feels just as much as I do.)
She grins and presses her lips to Asami because, well, she can.
Korra had intended for them to speak as a group, but then when has things ever gone her way?
Movie night took the turn for the worse when Asami reached out to kiss Korra in the middle of Interstellar where, despite the dark room, everyone can see.
Opal pauses the movie. Bolin drops the popcorn. Mako stops with his hand halfway to his mouth.
They stare at each other, then at their friends, then at each other.
“We can explain--” Korra starts but Bolin is already on them, pulling them into a crushing hug.
“Aww, guys! I’m so happy for you!” Opal joins in the embrace, and Mako gives both of them claps on the back. A Cop Reputation, he must keep up.
“We were going to tell you soon,” Asami says, fiddling with the end of her shirt. “I got a bit carried away and sort of...forgot.”
Korra nods. “Sorry ‘bout that.”
“It’s fine,” Opal tells them. “Just take care of each other, okay?”
Bolin, oh Bolin, opens his mouth to probably ask something extremely embarrassing, but thankfully, Opal handles it and puts back the film.
Now they cuddle without the fear of being caught because they have been caught. Asami kisses Korra fully this time; softly, chastely, in the dim light of the TV screen.
It’s awkward--the first time.
Bumping noses. Teeth clicking against each other. Elbowing each other’s ribs. Tiny, flustered laughs with tiny embarrassed grins and tiny pink blushes on both their cheeks.
It’s awkward, almost embarrassingly so.
But seriously, it’s the best kind of awkward, like in the many ways that Asami makes things better.
It would have scared Korra if intimacy with someone so very important lacked moments that make her want a shell to hide in and never come out until the next life. Forging a new relationship and bringing it to the next level isn’t easy but with Asami--with Asami it’s exactly like that.
When she touches Asami the first time, her arm cramps real bad but Korra carries on the task at hand--
(Though when Asami kisses her with need, a low pitched moan barely escaping her lips, Korra punches herself in the face. This is anything but a task. This is a blessing from the heavens.)
--Asami arches her back with a barely suppressed groan, her bones turning into jelly.
When Asami touches her the first time, she clings to Asami so tightly. She wants Asami to be closer, closer than their bodies permit. If she were to lose herself in something, it’s inside Asami. Korra wants, Korra wants so much, and all have to do with Asami Sato.
Her pleasure builds up quite quickly, faster than Asami’s. The way Asami watches her tips her over the edge and into the oblivion to a little death.
It’s creating something new with something that she never thought she would ever have. It’s creating something new and beautiful and magnificent with Asami.
They laugh and nudge foreheads when it’s over, basking in the afterglow and truly, Korra would not have it any other way.
“I’m so happy for you!” Jinora throws her arms around Korra in a congratulatory hug. “I told you that Asami felt the same. You wouldn’t believe me.”
Korra laughs. “Yeah, well, it’s a bit hard on my part, but thank you.”
Ikki colored eagerly at one of the coloring books Asami gave her. Rohan and Meelo busy themselves with Rohan’s claydoh set, care of Asami also.
“So are you her girlfriend now?” The second child asks, halting her coloring to wait for an answer for Korra expectantly.
Korra ducks her head to blush. “No. Not yet, anyway.”
Ikki rolls her eyes. “You’re lame.”
“Ikki,” Jinora chastises her younger sister. “It’s not that easy.”
She matches her sister’s tone. “It’s not that complicated too.”
Like always, Tenzin’s kids have a point.
“You know what, you’re right, Ikki.” Korra tells her. “Maybe I’ll ask her to be my girlfriend.”
The younger sister grins with triumph at her older sister then resumes her coloring.
Rolling her eyes, Jinora turns to Korra. “You know, you don’t have to rush into the relationship if neither of you are ready.”
“Who’s not ready for the relationship?”
Rohan brightens up instantly. “Asami!”
The blood drains from Korra’s face while Rohan rushes to tackle Asami with his short arms around Asami’s mid-thigh section. “Hey, kiddo, missed me?”
“Sure did!” Rohan tells her and Korra’s heart warms at the sight of her not-so-girlfriend with kids even if initially, she wasn’t someone who knew how to handle children.
A ‘Hey, Asami!’ comes from Ikki and Jinora grins and waves. Meelo, however, approaches Asami like a gentleman, takes her hand and kisses the back of it. “Beautiful lady, I have missed you too.”
Asami raises a brow at the little boy, then at Korra, who shrugs and laughs at the sight of Meelo trying to woo Asami. “I’d say the same to you, fine young man. But sadly, my heart belongs to someone else.”
“That’s a shame, then, though I think I have an idea who it is.” He gives Korra an honest to God side-eye. “Fair lady, make sure that she takes care of you or I will.”
Nodding, Asami beams. “She’s already done so. Do not fear, young man.” Then, Meelo trots to return to the claydoh maker.
The visit comes to a close, and Asami closes the door with her back to the dark wood. “So.”
Korra matches her tone from the couch. “So.”
“My sources tell me there has been talk about not being ready for a relationship,” Asami teases with a lilt, “care to enlighten me about that?”
Korra groans, presses the heels of her palms to her eyes. “How much of that conversation did you hear?”
“Quite a part of it? Your voice is pretty loud, so is Ikki’s.”
She groans again.
“So, you’re not ready to be in a relationship yet?” Her sort-of girlfriend’s tone is serious. The air is gone with a swoosh. “If you aren’t, then maybe… maybe we shouldn’t do this.”
Korra pinches the bridge of her nose. Asami Sato just said that her heart belonged to someone and damn the Spirits, that someone is her.
“Listen, Asami,” Korra starts, leaning her head to get a full view of Asami. Beautiful, brave, kind Asami, whose head is bent down with a few black strands falling off her bun. “What you heard… it’s true.”
Her heart thunders in her chest, painful and excited and all the things that she realizes she has only felt with Asami, who eyes her with so much pain and heartbreak. She can’t do this anymore. She can’t.
“And what’s true is… I want you to be my girlfriend more than anything else in the world, Asami Sato.”
Asami half looks like she’s ready to pack a punch directed at Korra’s face, the other half looks like she wants to kiss Korra with everything she has. The latter wins, though, and Asami surges forward to press an upside down kiss to Korra’s lips, one that tasted like hard candy and honeydew (always). “You’re an idiot, you know that?”
“Yeah, but I’m your idiot.” Asami flicks Korra’s nose. “Ow!”
“I’ll be your girlfriend.”
Korra grins into the kiss. “I’ll be your girlfriend too, if that wasn’t obvious.”
“You’re my dorky girlfriend. Hmm. I like the sound of that.”
She shuts her eyes to her girlfriend pressing kisses below her ear. Yeah. Girlfriend. Korra likes the sound of that.
Coming out to Korra’s parents goes like this:
“We’re so happy for you two!” Her mother exclaims, the camera of the laptop shaking slightly. Her father beams at them.
Korra definitely doesn’t miss the wink her dad sent her way, even if it’s all the way from the South.
Coming out to Asami’s parents goes like this:
Asami strikes the small gong by the grave. Korra sets the flowers on the marble floor.
Their hands meet when Asami tells her parents, and for some reason, Korra feels Hiroshi and Yasuko’s approval, wherever they are.
They’re reviewing when it drops.
Korra’s quizzing her with Complex Engineering Things. “Define capacitive reactance.”
“I love you.”
Her eyes bulge out. “That isn’t the answer.”
Asami’s face is stricken, brows furrowed and pained and maybe, maybe Korra is overwhelmed by everything going on that she forgets to say it back.
Korra feels the same. Korra feels the same so damn much and even more because she loved Asami first. She’s the type of person who loves more than the other but with Asami, it doesn’t feel like that--doesn’t feel like she’ll be short-changed with love. Asami deserves to know such. “I... I love you too. So much.”
The bridge between them pulls them tighter together and Korra is reminded why she loves Asami so much. Every reason that made her realize that she loved Asami, the whiteboard messages and matcha green tea being the start.
Asami doesn’t look convinced, even if Korra means it with her heart and soul. So Korra kisses her, shows her how much she loves Asami in every way possible.
“Eep!” Asami squeals indignantly, shapely legs in black jeggings giving away when the blades of her skating shoes slide in opposite directions. Luckily, Korra catches her before she hurts herself. “T-thanks. Glad that the Krew didn’t see that.”
After that, Asami doesn’t loosen her tight grip on Korra’s arm. “You’ll get a hang of it eventually, ‘Sami. Don’t worry. Also, if it makes you feel better, Mako doesn’t know how to skate too. Look,” she points to Mako, who held on tightly to his brother and to his brother’s girlfriend as they skated around on the other side of the rink.
Her girlfriend mutters something about being too old to learn how to ice skate, but Korra just laughs.
It’s pretty cold out on a November day and they’re standing on ice.
Korra facepalms so hard.
“Why’s your face like that?” Asami asks, squinting slightly against the light of the rink.
“I forgot to tell you something from ages ago.”
“And what is that…”
“It’s nothing. My parents wanted to have you over for the holidays, after you know, Hiroshi.”
Asami’s expression is blank for a moment at the mention of her father, but she smiles and nods. “Of course I’d love to come over.”
“Why not? I’ve always wanted to visit the South and, well,” she bites her lip and glances away. “I have nowhere to go, really.”
Her heart aches again, like the time when Asami still grieved her father’s death. “Hey, you’ve somewhere to be. My family’s yours as much as it’s mine.”
It’s a bit early to say it, but it’s true. Senna and Tonraq admire Asami.
Asami beams up at Korra with glassy, green eyes. “I’d love that. And I love you.”
She skates forward and brings Asami closer to her, pressing her lips to Asami’s, a warm contrast against the cold November air. “Anything for you. I love you too.”
She guesses it’s how things are when you’re in love with your roommate. It’s hard to think about life without them because they live with you, in the same space as you. It’s hard to find someone else to inhabit in your personal space without feeling as if they’re leaving anytime soon. Asami Sato is also her best friend, not only her girlfriend, so that’s always a plus.
With this space the infinite universe gave them, they can be Asami and Korra and Korra and Asami and everything in between. This apartment was their home.
But when Asami visits her during swimming training, it dawns upon her that the place is never an issue when finding a home because she finds home wherever Asami is: her heart, her arms, her lap. This pool is her home, so long that Asami holds her tightly. So long that long arms are around her and honeydew lips that remind her of summers spent in Republic City.
There are countless things Korra knew about her roommate Asami Sato:
1.) Her favorite flavored drink is her mother's cranberry juice.
2.) Their first kiss tastes like honeydew, chlorine and strawberry.
3.) She absolutely dislikes manila paper and brown envelopes but she loved the smell of new books and feel of a pen on a new page of her designing notebook.
4.) When they fight, neither of them leave the house angry. They sleep on the same bed. Asami sighs every time Korra puts her arms around her and whispers her apology to the base of her neck and Asami turns to embrace Korra like she was the only grounding her (which was true).
5.) She sneezes without a sound in front of other people (but quite loudly in front of Korra, causing nearly 60% of Korra's mini heart attacks.) and snores without a sound.
6.) She likes lazy, rainy mornings with the soft pitter-patter on the window and fitting herself into Korra's side as the TV creates nice background noise.
7.) She can't stand hip hop, but has a soft spot for R&B and Justin Timberlake.
8.) When she watched Finding Nemo the first time, Korra had to pause the movie because Asami was crying within the first 15 minutes.
9.) She misses her father and mother so much. She and Korra visit their graves twice a month with a fresh bouquet of flowers.
10.) At the age of 19 still with one more year of uni, she became the rightful owner of Future Industries.
11.) And her mother father would have been so proud of her for being doing her best in fulfilling her duties as a CEO.
12.) The youngest CEO in the history of businesses in Republic City, still stays up until 4 am watching old school cartoons with Korra.
13.) Korra loves her.
14.) Asami loves Korra.
15.) and as they sit, eating mac and cheese on a plush leather couch in their humble dorm room -
("I don't want to move." Asami whispered to Korra's hair. And Korra smiled into Asami's university hoodie.
"Same here," she said, "but we've classes in the morning. You know how Tenzin will have my ass kicked by his kids when we see each other again during family reunions."
Asami chuckled, her chest rising and falling slightly. "That, too. But I meant I don't want to move from our flat. Some of the board members say I have to return back to the Sato mansion."
Korra turned to lean on her arm and look at her girlfriend. "We don't have to, you know." Her eyes popped wide and Korra felt her face heat up. "I mean--if you want me to--you know, move in--shit. Forget I said anything." She put a hand over her eyes.
Asami only laughed; and when Korra was about to sulk and pout about Asami laughing at her bruised ego, Asami kissed her sweetly and knotted her fingers in her hair. "Of course I want you there, silly," she mumbled against her lips and Korra will never ever get used to the way Asami makes her lightheaded with her kisses. "We kind of live together already, if you haven't noticed."
Korra pouted, grumbling, "Not that kind of living together," before Asami kissed her again.
"Well, Miss Korra, what do you say to officially moving in together moving in together in our lovely home that is the university apartment?"
She kissed Asami before she even finished nodding.)
Her warmth is different from the biting cold of South, but then it was Asami’s warmth that makes her Korra’s home.
8 months later:
“You can do this, okay, sweetheart?” Korra adjusts the collar of Asami’s white blouse then runs her hand on the smooth texture of Asami’s (expensive) blazer. She huffs out a laugh at her girlfriend's tremulous exhale. "Quit fussing, you look great and you do fine."
They stand in silence for awhile, in front of the dressing room’s vanity, her anxiety coming off of her in tides that take Korra by surprise, her own palms sweating too. "You got this, okay, Asami?"
Her girlfriend stiffly nods. "Yeah, you're right. I'm overreacting. I’ve never really been a press kind of girl.”
“Well, sweetheart, you gotta get used to it. You’ll be attending tons of press meetings starting today.” Korra laughs and gives Asami a warm, reassuring kiss. “You’ll do fine, I promise. Everyone knows that you would be Future Industries CEO Asami Sato. I can see it already: your name printed everywhere. CEO Asami Sato. Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?”
Asami ducks her head and gives Korra a good-natured shove. “Whatever, Korra.” She glances at the door. “The press are waiting.”
“Let them,” Korra pulls at the back of Asami’s neck so their foreheads touch. “You own the freakin’ company. They can wait.”
“Ah,” Asami nods seriously, yet a grin spreads on her face, radiates with a warmth that sends heat down to Korra’s toes. “But then that doesn’t leave a good impression on them, does it?”
Korra rolls her eyes. “Fine. Bella Figura, as the Italians would say.”
“Precisely.” Asami gives her a few eskimo kisses, tightens her arms around Korra. She glances at the door expectantly, brows furrowed. “Well, better give the crowd what they want.” She holds out her arm for Korra to take.
This girl, this wonderful girl who left matcha green tea all those years ago. This girl who has seen hell and came out triumphant. This girl that the universe has gifted her to love and to be loved by. The person that she has met and everything about her screamed, I choose you.
Asami gives her a dashing grin and truly, Korra’s heart feels so full. “Showtime?”
Korra takes the arm Asami offers. “Showtime.”
She knew everything about Asami. One of those is that Asami is the one for her.
A special thanks to my betas:
Abby -- for my constant rants and listening to my pen write during class.
Kathryn -- I WOULDN'T HAVE MADE IT WITHOUT YOU.
And to all of you who have motivated me to finish this story when I felt like there was no point to do so. So, thank you, and I'm glad you guys enjoyed this wild ride. :) hmu on tumblr @ darksabers
(Edit, 7/9/2019): Thank you so much to everyone who left lovely comments I just got back to recently. This is four years old, can you imagine! Frankly, it's really (dry heaves) reading your own work that goes back that far but it's really nice to see that the people who read this still enjoy it as much as they did. You're all wonderful. Thank you so, so much. Much love! xx