Asami Sato was a morning person in general, so when she woke up that day, she woke with a smile on her face. She savored the warmth of the arm haphazardly thrown around her waist as she turned to look at her Korra. In juxtaposition to Asami, Korra was NOT a morning person. Already she had hunched herself into the covers, trying to block out the light coming in through the curtains. Asami smiled and leaned over for a quick kiss on Korra’s nose before getting out of bed and preparing to start the day. She felt like it was going to be a good one.
After finally deciding between her various jackets and skirts, she made her way down to the kitchenette where Lee was waiting for her with breakfast and a newspaper, as he had been doing since she was a little girl. She even laughed when she tripped over one of Korra’s boots that the girl seemed to leave everywhere. She returned Lee’s gentle, “hello,” and tucked in. By the time she was finished and walking out the door with the paper under her arm, Korra was stumbling past her to the kitchen with a grumpy, “Have a g’day ‘Sami”.
Future Industries’ new headquarters was another tower, of course. Asami just loved the thought of being able to look out any window and see the spirit portal that had come at such great cost, but also had given her such great love. As she thought this, she rolled her eyes at her own sentimentality and headed for the elevator. The top floor housed her secretary, her office, and her meeting rooms. Today she had some meeting with President Raiko, who was incredibly vague about what it would entail. Asami got to work at her drawing board to finalize some new add-ons to her father’s airplanes, patiently mapping out the proper lines and calculating the amount of drift certain extensions would cause.
By the time she got out of her haze of numbers and lines, it was 10 minutes before the meeting was supposed to begin. In shock, she dropped the pencil to the ground and went about rolling down her sleeves and putting her jacket back on, two things she usually did without even knowing when in the zone. With one quick look in the mirror to fix her hair, she was on her way, brushing past her secretary who was just coming to get her.
Entering the room, she was surprised to see not just the president, but Tenzin and Chief Beifong also sitting down. The former looked tense and the latter looked annoyed, which in Asami’s book, was never a good combination. Raiko, however, looked as smarmy as always as he stood up to greet Asami.
“There you are Ms. Sato! I didn't think you’d be late. After all, we’re here to discuss your father.”
And just like that, Asami knew it was going to be a bad day. After a long period of denial, then grief, then depression, she had come to terms with her father’s death in the Spirit World with Korra. There was nothing more that needed to be discussed in her opinion. He had a headstone next to her mother’s and although the coffin did not contain his body, it did contain some of his favorite mementos. He was laid to rest and as far as Asami was concerned, so were any issues about him.
Beifong saw Asami’s face harden and was quick to speak up, “Look kid, my opinion? There isn't any reason to be here. Yes he was one of my prisoners, but he was taken out by a councilman.” With that she looked to Tenzin who nodded fervently. “So in my books, he was out on parole and became a free and honest man when he helped us. He died a hero. Raiko just has a stick shoved up his...”
“Hey,” Raiko shouted red-faced, “Watch your mouth Chief or I’ll fire you! Again!”
Beifong crossed her arms and glared at him, “Really? Because that worked so well for you last time, right?”
As Raiko tried to stutter out a comeback, Asami just stood there trying to figure out what the heck was happening. She looked across the room to Tenzin, and his compassionate eyes begged her to ask the questions needed to get the ball rolling. She took a deep breath and centered herself.
“Mr. President, what exactly are you here for? What does this have to do with my father?”
Raiko, caught off guard from his ongoing argument with Lin, turned to look at her with wild eyes.
“It has everything to do with him! We need to discuss what we’re calling him in the history books. I already have scribes working to capture the events of that day before everyone forgets and moves on like this city is so apt to do after the Avatar goes around destroying it!”
At this, Tenzin lets out an aggravated huff, ready to defend his former pupil, but Asami beats him to it.
“We wouldn’t even be here having this discussion if it wasn’t for Korra! The city would be razed to the ground! And if you want to call my father anything, you call him a hero. Because that’s what he was!”
And with those lines, an argument started so loud and ferocious that Asami’s secretary couldn’t help but overhear it. With deft fingers she reached to grab her phone and call the number Asami gave her in case of emergencies.
“Hello Pema, this is Ming-Li, Ms. Sato’s secretary. Yes. Is Avatar Korra there meditating? Oh yes please, right away!”
Asami didn't know how long they’d all been going at it, but a quick glance at the clock, she saw that it’d been little more than an hour. An hour and already she was so drained, emotionally exhausted in every way. Her patience had worn thin and she knew she’d reach snapping point soon enough, Agni help whoever she ended up snapping at. She took a breath and tuned back in to Tenzin’s defense of her father. The airbender looked ruffled and old in a way that reminded Asami that although he, too, was a father like Hiroshi; he’d also lost a father like Asami. Even Beifong was on her side. She had to fight this!
With this new drive, she turned once more to jump into the argument when she saw a flash of blue out of the corner of her eye. What was she doing here? Who called Korra? Asami knew immediately that Ming-Li must have, but Korra had nothing to do with this. This wasn't her fight. This was Asami’s. Irrational anger bubbled in the pit of her stomach and when Korra burst into the room demanding to know what was going on, Raiko’s glare was only matched by her own.
“Avatar, this issue has nothing to do with you. Please leave,” the president stated rather succinctly with his arms crossed.
“No. Whatever has to do with Asami has to do with me,” Korra stated calmly, making a move to stand by Asami, but was stopped by Asami’s own outstretched palm.
“Korra, he’s right. This has to do with my father. Not yours. Please I think you should leave”. Asami breathed deeply through her nose, hoping the Water Tribe girl would be rational for once. No such luck.
“Asami, he has no right to come in here and start any sort of argument with you about your father. It’s downright disrespectful. I think he’s the one who should leave.” With that she looked over her shoulder to Raiko with the most threatening look Asami had ever seen. For his part, Raiko didn't seem too shocked by this, but she saw his eyes widen a little in fear. This was the last straw for Asami. She could take care of her own damn problems. She jumped up and slammed her fists on the table.
“Korra! I don’t need you on this! The Avatar can’t fix everything or stick her nose into my personal business. I swear you didn't get this underfoot when you were in a wheelchair!”
At first, Asami thought the silence ringing in the room was only in her head, but when she looked around the room she saw the looks on everyone’s faces; Tenzin’s eyebrows up in shock, Lin’s eyes also widened in shock, but her mouth already curled in disgust, then Raiko who for the first time ever, looked at her with respect. As the words she said finally ran through her mind once more she turned to look at Korra, who was standing there, ramrod straight, but Asami had spent too much time looking at everyone else as Korra’s face was already wiped clean of anything other than polite indifference, surely a look she’d been practicing with Tenzin for Avatar business.
“You’re right, Ms. Sato, I apologize for my interruption. My apologies Master Tenzin, Chief Beifong, President Raiko.”And with a proper bow, the Avatar turned and walked away with her head held high.
Asami just stood there. When the elevator doors finally closed, and Korra was out of sight, Asami slumped into her seat. What had she done? She felt the anger that had been boiling in her stomach turn into a rock, heavy with guilt and regret. She barely noticed as Raiko re-opened the argument in front of her, albeit, with more tact than he had before. All Asami hears is the words she said repeated over and over again in her head. She remembers holding Korra as she woke from nightmares where she was still wheelchair bound and feeling like a failure. She thought of Korra’s bravery and strength for allowing Asami to see how vulnerable she was as she cried. Over and over again it played in her mind.
In the end, nearly another hour later, she thinks Tenzin has settled the deal with the president, but she doesn’t know for sure what that deal entailed. Raiko simply nodded to her and left, followed by Beifong who ignored her completely. Tenzin was the one to snap her out of her guilt-infused daze. He put a heavy hand on her shoulder and waited until she caught his eyes. Still as compassionate as ever, he smiled softly and patted her on the shoulder. As the door closed behind him, Asami sat up and squared her shoulders. Yes, she’d completely messed up. Yes, she’d hurt the woman she loved more than anything else in the world. And yes, she was going to do everything in her power to make it up to her.
She quickly walked back to her office, grabbing her purse and her keys before shouting to Ming-Li on the way to the elevator, “Ming? Cancel my appointments for the rest of the day, I’m going out.”
Asami spent the next hour running all over the city. She went to Narook’s to get Korra’s favorite seaweed noodles, ignored Mako’s irritating smirk as he told her what type of desserts Korra liked before going out to fetch them. She even interrupted something between Bolin and Opal just to find out which teams were going to play in the new pro-bending arena and if he thought Korra would want to see them. This of course resulted in much begging on Asami’s part to find someone willing to sell her the sold-out tickets. But although her purse was lighter as she drove home, she drove with a smile on her face, sure that after much groveling, she could salvage her good day.
She pulled into the driveway and parked quickly. With her prizes balanced precariously in her hands, she opened the front door and stepped into the foyer of the mansion. She smiled, wondering where Korra would be sulking when Lee popped out from the door leading to the kitchenette. The grim look on his face caused Asami to step deeper into the mansion, depositing her gifts on one of the couches.
“I’m sorry Ms. Sato, but Avatar Korra insisted on doing everything herself.”
Asami looked at him confused, her mouth open to ask what he was talking about, when she really looked at the room around her. There were no brown boots laying around. No arm bands or vests thrown lazily on the couch. Asami felt a cold vice grasp her heart. No airbending scrolls laying in a frustrated heap on the table. Naga’s chew toys and pillow were gone from her corner by the doors that led to the garden. Nothing. She turned to look back into the foyer, hoping to see the blue parka Korra always left by the door. Not there.
She turned to Lee with stuttering breathes, but he stood there, his eyes full of sympathy and sadness.
Asami shook her head in denial, “No,” she murmured before running headlong to the stairs to their room, skidding across the landing and slamming open the door. The vice around her heart clenched tighter as she observed the room. To anyone else, the room would seem to be in tip-top shape, but Asami knew that that alone was enough to send up warning signals. First of all, the bed was made and Korra most definitely did not believe in that.
“What’s the point when we’re just gonna mess it up later?” She remembers Korra saying this with a crooked grin before tackling her into the sheets she had just straightened.
The cup of water Korra always kept on her nightstand was gone, and so were the pieces of dark metal she had been intensely fiddling with the last few nights before bed. The closets were the next arrow to her heart. Gone were the shades of blue and navy that had hung beside the reds and blacks. Instead the closet stood half-empty, her clothes looking almost lonely hanging there.
Asami slammed the doors shut with a cry, “NO!” She stomped into the bathroom to check for the black tooth brush that always found its way beside her green one, but that too was gone. And that’s when Asami lost it. She darted out of their room and searched all the others in her estate. Korra’s jazz records in her office? Gone. The water tribe styled room she insisted they make for her parents was back to its original color scheme and the earth sculptures Korra had insisted she make to liven up all the empty rooms were nowhere in sight.
Asami ran and ran and ran, while Lee stood by as his mistress scoured the mansion for any sign of Korra. And in the end, Asami collapsed on their bed with tears dripping down her face. It was like Korra hadn't been living there for the last month. It was like Korra had never even been there at all. The vice around her heart finally was too much and she sobbed into Korra’s pillow, hoping to still find her scent on it and sobbing even harder when she couldn't. She didn’t know how long she cried until she felt herself drift off into a fitful sleep. She does remember feeling someone placing the covers over her and almost smiling, thinking it was Korra before remembering the truth. Instead of thanking Lee, she’d turned over and bundled the covers over her head, blocking out the world.
The next day dawned and Asami woke, for once, in a terrible mood. She remembered waking so contently yesterday, but today everything was wrong. The bed was too cold without Korra’s firebender body heat and even the light coming in through the curtains didn't seem as bright. With a sigh she hopped out of bed and changed into whatever she first touched in her closet. After brushing her teeth, she forewent her usual make-up for the sake of expediency, and told Lee she’d be going to Air Temple Island for breakfast. In Asami’s mind, that’s the only place Korra would have to go to.
“I will find her and make this right,” was the mantra that ran through her mind on the drive to the docks and on the ferry ride to the island. However, she was mistaken. An hour later she found herself eating with Tenzin, his family, and some of the other airbenders, but Korra was not there.
“Asami, she called and said she was alright and that she had a place to stay. I think maybe the best thing you can do is give her space,” Tenzin later confided in her as he walked her back to the ferry.
How much space, though? Asami wasn't one to give up so easily. When she finally got back to the mainland, she headed first to Mako’s and then to Bolin’s. She almost started crying again when Bolin innocently asked, “Did you guys have a fight?” Mako, much like Tenzin, told her to give Korra space, “Look, we both know she’s a hothead. She just needs to cool down.”
But Asami was too distraught to care. She spent the rest of the day driving around the city, asking around for any sightings of the Avatar or her polarbear dog. Any leads she did get turned up empty, though. Where was she? When the sky started to darken, Asami finally decided to call it quits and return home. If Korra wanted space, Asami would give her the best space ever in the history of spaces. Korra would come home to her, she knew it.
Two Weeks Later
Asami turned over in bed as her alarm rang, burrowing deeper into the covers. Mornings no longer held the same appeal to her as they did when she had Korra to wake up to. Day 15 without Korra and Asami once again resigned herself to the fact that this whole “space” thing was not working out in her favor. 15 days. 15 sunrises, 14 sunsets. All without Korra. The worst part was that Korra wasn't even that far away.
Asami still didn't know where Korra spent her nights, but the Avatar hadn't abandoned Republic City. If anything, she’d become the city’s greatest mascot. There was not a bad word to be said about her if you asked both the residents and the construction teams. She helped build apartments, clean up city streets, dealt with spirit problems deftly and swiftly. She worked right beside the citizens. People even said they saw her playing around with children in the park that bore her name. But the one place the Avatar wasn't was anywhere near Asami Sato and that’s what frustrated her the most.
Whenever she heard Korra was working on one of the Future Industries sites, she’d try to catch her, but to no avail. Korra always managed to have finished up before Asami arrived to hear her workers’ glowing reports of how much help she’d been. It was downright annoying and if she was honest with herself, slightly hurtful. She’d even taken to showing up randomly at the island, hoping to catch her off guard, but instead always ending up drinking in whatever stories the kids had from Korra’s visits, visits which never correspond with hers.
She could even swear that Korra had been the one to save the life of her and one of her foreman when one of the metal beams they’d been lifting, broke out of its cables. Asami had already grabbed her foreman and was ready to dive out of the way when a well-placed breeze of air sent the beam away from them and the other workers and into an empty lot. By the time Asami had looked up, the airbender was already using their glider to get as far away as possible. And there was only one airbender who still used a glider. Korra.
So Asami, instead, did what she did best. She threw herself into her work with gusto, much like she had during those three years without Korra. Future Industries was in the best shape it’d ever been, in no small part due to its genius CEO. Despite how successful her business life was, though, her private life was pretty desolate. Lunches with Mako and Bolin were far and few in between and most nights she came home late and sat up in her office with a glass of wine. She knew that without Lee, she probably would've starved by now.
So it was a surprise when on Day 15 without Korra, Bolin came striding into her office around noon time with take-out from one of the new restaurants that had opened. His happy grin was enough to draw her away from balancing her checkbooks, and join him at the table in her office.
“Bolin”, she greeted warmly, if not tiredly, “to what do I owe this honor?”
He smiled as he started taking out the containers and handing her chopsticks, before replying, “Well, ya know, I figured with Opal away on a mission and Korra and Mako together on an adventure, us two lonely souls could stick together.”
Asami had frozen at the pairing of “Korra and Mako” and “together”. She tried to swallow, feeling like her heart was in her throat.
“I wasn't aware the two of them had gotten back together.”
This resulted in a rather unexpected reaction from Bolin as he started choking on his noodles. It took several hard slaps on the back from Asami for him to breathe again, but when he looked up at Asami with tears of pain in his eyes, she saw that they also held amusement.
“They’re NOT together. Well, they are together. But not like, TOGETHER together, ya know?”
At Asami’s exasperated look, he struggled to explain himself, “What I mean is that Wu called them in to help with some uprising in the Earth Kingdom as it transitions to an Earth Republic or whatever. Some people aren’t happy with changing what they've known for hundreds of years. They left last night.”
With that cleared up, Asami could breathe again, but also felt the worry clenching in her gut.
“How bad exactly are these uprisings, Bo?”
But Bolin already was concentrated back on his meal and answered with a shrug, “Bad enough to warrant Avatar intervention?”
The rest of the meal was spent in silence as Asami chastised in her head, “Korra you better be careful. I still have so much to say to you.”
One Week Later
Day 22 without Korra and Asami was already settled into a new morning tradition. Instead of skipping right to the business section of the paper, she’d open to the international section, skimming the articles for any news on Korra. Apparently, the cities in the northern part of the former Earth Kingdom were not taking too kindly to democracy. The uprisings had only gotten more violent and several counties had to have innocent citizens evacuated. If Asami was lucky, sometimes the article would include a picture of Korra; discussing tactics with generals, speaking with politicians, standing grim-faced with an equally serious looking Mako, or Asami’s personal favorite, Korra smiling genuinely as she played with some refugee’s children.
As long as Korra was alright, Asami, could live without her. She’d come to that conclusion after Bolin had brought her lunch. Asami had thought she’d been living a nightmare when she had Korra close, but not with her. But really, Asami knew that the true nightmare would be to not have Korra in the world at all. No more cerulean eyes shining with mischief. No more crooked and sheepish grins. No more passionate speeches. That would be the true nightmare. So she swallowed her sorrow, prayed for Korra’s safety, and went to work.
It was on Day 26 without Korra that her new routine came to a stop. She came into the kitchenette and was already halfway done with her breakfast when she realized what was wrong. She looked up at Lee who was standing by the counter, watching her with soulful eyes.
“Lee, where’s my paper?”
He tried to lie to her, looking away, “The paper doesn’t seem to have been delivered this morning, Miss.”
Asami rolled her eyes. Lee had never been a good liar, which was why she’d kept him around.
“Come on, Lee. Stop playing around. I need to check on Cabbage Corp’s supposed “new” car. Make sure they didn’t steal our designs. Again.”
The manservant stopped looking at the ceiling and instead focused on a point above Asami’s shoulder.
“Miss, I don’t think you should read the paper today,” he mumbled fervently, but Asami had little patience for games in the morning.
“Lee, I have read the paper every morning since I was 9 years old. Give it here right now,” she said firmly.
With one last sigh, Lee pulled the paper out from behind his back and handed it to her.
“Finally. Thank yo…” her thanks were dropped as she caught sight of the headline on the front page:
AVATAR DEAD AFTER RAID?
While the bold headline was enough to send Asami to her knees, the question mark at the end brought her some hope. She continued on, feeling the tears building in her eyes.
As of late, uprisings in the former Earth Kingdom against the forming of an Earth Republic have gotten increasingly more violent over the last few days. Still, most battles have had an underlying sense of honor, following the time-honored traditions of warfare. However, one of these traditions was grossly broken last night in Gao-Yen. The city is being used by the Earth Army as a medical base and, therefore, according to tradition, neutral and safe ground.
Last night, though, a small band of elite sandbenders and metalbenders attacked the city and its injured soldiers in an ambush attack. Avatar Korra along with former-prince Wu’s adviser, Detective Mako of Republic City had been in the city for several days at that point. The Avatar had been healing minor injuries in the hospital when the attack started and fought hard to defend the city while Detective Mako helped lead an evacuation.
With the aid of the Avatar State, Avatar Korra put up a good fight and was driving the enemy back, out of the city, hoping to push them towards the approaching battalion of soldiers she had radioed for help. Witnesses say that this is when it happened. In a momentary lapse of the Avatar State as she checked on one of the veterans helping her, a metalbender shot a spike through the Avatar’s torso, lodging it in as she collapsed to the ground. At this point, Detective Mako had returned to see his fallen friend and roared so viciously, witnesses said it was reminiscent of General Iroh, the Great Dragon of the West. He then continued in the Avatar’s place, leading the charge against the rebels.
Since then, all communications to the area have been either jammed or shut down to prevent explosives from being set off. It is currently unknown how many casualties there were, and if, among them, is Avatar Korra.
Suddenly, the world was spinning for Asami as her eyes blurred with tears and her breaths grew ragged. Black spots appeared in her vision and she was vaguely aware of Lee shouting her name as she tipped over and sunk into oblivion.
Four Hours Later
When Asami awoke, she was on a couch in her living room with an orange throw tucked around her. She could tell from the light outside that it was already early afternoon. With a sudden shake of her head, it all came back to her. Korra. Stabbed. Dead. She jumped up, ready to do something, anything. She needed an airship. She needed to get Katara, get Kya. She needed to go to Korra. But before she could even take a step away from the couch, a familiar voice startled her.
“Asami, sit down. There’s nothing we can do right now.”
She turned to see Bolin leaning against the mantle of the fireplace. His clothes were ruffled, his eyes red and his voice had that thick quality to it, the one which said he’d been crying. He came over to her when she started to protest, grabbing her hands.
“No non-Earth Republic airships are allowed in Earth Republic airspace. The highways have been shut down and their borders are closed until they have the situation under control. No one’s allowed in or out.”
Asami stared at him incredulously. “But Korra could be dying. We have to do SOMETHING. I don’t care if they throw me in prison. We need to get there, we need to leave now. How can you stand there? What about Mako? Do you even love him at all?”
Proving once more that he was the kindest of them all, Bolin took her hurtful words in stride, pulling her in for a hug that she fought to get out of. Instead he just held her tighter and whispered into her hair, “It’ll all be okay, ‘Sami. Opal and Kai and Jinora were in the Earth Republic for their mission. Kya was in Ba Sing Se visiting with some old friends. I’m sure they’re all headed to Korra and Mako right now. Tenzin already phoned and said he’d call us the moment he had news. You and me both know he’ll have information before we do. It’s gonna be alright.”
As his logic seeped into her mind, she sunk into his embrace, finally hugging him back as the tears came strong and fast. She cried into his neck, “Oh Bo. What if she’s dead? I’ll never get to apologize. Tell her I love her. Fix things and have a life together like we’re supposed to.”
Instead of replying, Bolin just held her tighter after her confession, his sobs mingling with her own. They cried for their loved ones and their friends. They cried for the unfairness of the world they lived in. Bolin cried for the brother who always protected him and for his best friend. But Asami, Asami cried because she might be in love with a dead woman.
When the clock struck 5, their tears had finally dried out and they were parked on the couch, watching the sunset with the orange throw wrapped messily across their shoulders. Bolin seemed to take comfort in the sun’s fading rays, but Asami sat there, practically comatose. She barely seemed to notice when Bolin jumped from under their wrap and meandered over to the radio. He quickly flipped passed the news stations before finding one that played some mellower music. He turned the volume up to a decent level before moving in front of Asami, blocking her view of the last rays. He held out his hand to her.
“Let’s dance, ‘Sami.”
And she didn't know if it was because nothing mattered to her anymore or if it was because she was too tired or if because the old, compassionate Asami within her wanted to make Bolin happy, but she grabbed his hand and allowed him to pull her into the middle of the room. He started off with silly moves, trying to get a smile out of the CEO. There was a lot of hip shaking and spins, but it was the spontaneous dip that finally got a giggle out of Asami. Encouraged by his success, Bolin continued his antics until his friend was laughing, and, finally, added her own ridiculous moves to the mix. Eventually they moved onto real dances as Asami taught him how to waltz and two-step and Bolin shared an Earth Kingdom dance he remembered his father using to twirl his mother around their small apartment.
But that, too, petered out as it got later and they got tired. They ended up lazily leaning against each other, moving in a circle as they let the music surround them.
Now the rain comes down the windows and it
Drops onto the forehead of the waiting boy
He surveys his rental kingdom and he
Wonders if he's really lost his one joy
Another fool would go down to the
Only place she ever went to lose herself
She's gone to the movers now and she
Don't need your help…
As she closed her eyes, Asami took in the last words, “She's gone to the movers now and she's not coming back.” Korra, you’re coming back. I know it.
The two friends were woken up in the early morning by the shrill chirp of the phone. When her sleepy self finally realized what the sound was, she pounced to answer it, practically falling over Bolin napping on the floor in her haste.
Without waiting for any greetings she belted, “Any news on Korra?”
If Tenzin was surprised by her loud question, he didn't let it show in his voice.
“We know where she and Mako were taken to for treatment. The situation in the north has been controlled and contained. The borders will be open in an hour. I was thinking you could…”
He was cut off by Asami suddenly, “Meet us at the airfield in half an hour, I’ll have an airship ready.”
Without waiting for a reply, she slammed the phone back into the receiver. She peeked into the kitchenette to see Lee already starting on breakfast.
“Lee, could you make those to go? We’re heading to the Earth Republic.”
Lee looked up with wide eyes. He opened his mouth to say something, but then closed it, apparently thinking better of it. He nodded and she turned to head upstairs to change. Halfway up the steps, though, he stopped her with a cough. With a sigh of impatience she turned to him, “Spit it out Lee!”
He looked shocked at her attitude for a second, but wrung his hands nervously, looking down at the ground. “Will you be bringing the Avatar home with you, miss?” He looked up at her hopefully and Asami realized that she hasn't been the only one missing the boisterous Avatar.
She hopped back down the steps and softly placed her hand on Lee’s shoulder, looking him in the eyes.
“Yes. I’m bringing our Korra home where she belongs.”
The smile that broke out on his face was enough of a reply and he left to wake up the green and brown lump that was Bolin as Asami returned to her original goal.
Before long, she was at the helm of her finest airship with the crew working double time around her. She was happy that Tenzin had only decided to accompany them, letting the rest of the airbenders who were heading to help out the Earth Republic take sky bison. She didn’t think she could put up with any of their cheerful antics right then and there. Tenzin, himself, was in the lounge meditating and Bolin was asleep on the floor next to him as a result of his attempt at “special monk meditating”. Asami allowed a small smile at seeing him sprawled out before her eyes ticked back to the machine that monitored their ETA. Five hours. Five hours until she gets to see Korra. She may not have seen her in weeks, but right then and there, five hours felt more like five years.
The moment they touched down on the outskirts of the city of Kyto, Asami had an all-terrain Satomobile unloaded from the cargo hold, and would’ve honestly driven off without the guys if they hadn't jumped into the vehicle quick enough. They were on their way within minutes and Asami was glad there were no other vehicles on the road as she was sure she’d broken the speed limit and was driving pretty recklessly. They pulled into town in a cloud of dust and dirt, Tenzin hopping out to exchange niceties with some of the Earth Army officials. She was even sure she heard Opal’s voice mingling with Bolin’s behind her. But none of that mattered. She saw the building with the huge red cross painted on the awning and headed there with no delay.
Entering the hospital was like stepping into a different world. Everything was a clean, impersonal white color, as healers and aides walked around in their brown garbs, providing a stark contrast. The lobby itself was crazy as aides set up triage in one corner for incoming victims and refugees. Asami shook herself out of her daze as she caught sight of the bloody bandages wrapped around arms and legs and torsos. She headed to what appeared to be the main desk and introduced herself to the frazzled clerk sitting behind it.
She’d barely gotten her name out when the clerk cut her off, “Avatar Korra is on the third floor in ICU. Room 310. The firebender is with her,” before getting back to her work.
Asami’s heart pounded in her chest as she took the elevator up. ICU. Intensive Care Unit. Nothing good could come of that. When the doors opened, she stepped out shakily, casting her eyes about for directions. A couple minutes later, she stood in the open door of Korra’s room, heartbroken. The Water Tribe girl had a bulky bandage wrapped thrice around her torso, and numerous scratches littered her arms and face. Her right knee had a brace around it and both her ankles were angry shades of swollen purple. But worst of all was the mask over Korra’s face. Asami knew that the machine it was hooked up to was helping the woman breathe. Asami, herself, had helped Varrick build the contraption for hospitals in Republic City.
Nothing was worse than knowing Korra couldn't breathe on her own. Asami tore her eyes away from her love and noticed Mako asleep in a chair next to the bed. A pair of crutches leaned against the wall next to him and his wrapped leg was stretched out in front of him. He looked ragged, but aside from his leg, unhurt. Vigilant as always, he awoke when Asami’s shoes clacked against the floor on her way to Korra’s side.
His golden eyes pierced Asami’s green ones pitifully and before she could even say his name, he’d gotten up to hobble over to her, grabbing her hand.
“Asami I’m sorry. I shouldn't have left her not even for a second. I didn't protect her; it’s my fault. I’m so so sorry”, he said regretfully. Asami only sighed and pulled him in for a side hug. She was too tired to place the blame on anyone other than the rebels. “I’m glad you’re okay Mako. I know you did all you could, so thanks for doing your best. But I really just want some time alone with her and Bo’s downstairs.”
Mako perked up at the mention of his brother and after a solid hug, grabbed his crutches and hopped away to the elevator. Asami wrapped Korra’s hand in her own, and leaned down to place a tender kiss on her forehead. She kept her own forehead pressed against Korra’s and breathed in deeply with her eyes closed. If she focused hard enough she could pretend they were in bed at home, tucked away together. Korra smelled like she always did: like fresh rain and smoke. Asami pulled away and dragged Mako’s empty chair closer so she could still grasp Korra’s hand. She settled herself down and basked in Korra’s presence. There were no more tears to shed for now. Asami was finally home.
Asami’s vigil did not go uninterrupted. Bolin eventually made an appearance, but left the room teary-eyed and sniffling. Kai stuck his head in briefly with tea for the CEO and Kya, haggard and covered in other people’s blood described how the spike had nicked Korra’s lungs and that they’re lucky she got there in time.
“But I've done all I can. Not everything can be healed with waterbending. Her lung tissue is pretty sensitive. I pieced it back together, but that’s the most I can do right now ‘til it gets stronger. I wouldn't worry, though”, she said with a tired wink, “Our girl’s a fighter.” And while she meant this to be comforting, Asami tried not to hurl.
Jinora was the one whose presence brought some sort of comfort. She carried the green knapsack Asami remembered Korra bringing to the Spirit World. “I just thought maybe you’d like to hold onto Korra’s things. It’s pretty crazy out there and I wouldn't want them to get lost”. Asami appreciated this greatly, and finally extracted her hand from Korra’s to rifle through the bag’s contents. For the most part, there wasn’t anything that interesting. A change of clothes; an arm band; a Fire Nation dagger Asami was sure had to have come from the royal family itself; those peculiar scraps of metal she used to play with before bed; bending scrolls; interestingly enough, a beginner’s book on engineering concepts. It was the general sort of knickknacks you would expect anyone to have on them.
Asami absentmindedly thumbed through the engineering book when she came across a photo wedged between the pages. It made her huff a laugh. It was everyone at Varrick’s wedding, surrounding the happy couple; Varrick proudly holding Zhu Li in his arms. The Beifong Clan were all jokingly striking superior poses, except for Lin, who always stood like that. Tenzin and his family were squished together with Rohan balanced precariously on Meelo’s shoulders and Jinora pulling a camera-shy Kai by the collar, dragging him into the shot. Sprawled on the ground in front of the couple were the Krew. Bolin was sitting, pulling a kneeling Mako down to mash his fist in his older brother’s styled hair. On Mako’s other side was Korra, smiling, laughing Korra, who was turned, and leaning into Asami’s embrace as they sat side by side. Asami’s own happy face was mashed up against the side of Korra’s, her arm around the younger woman’s waist. If you asked her, Asami thought they looked kind of ridiculous with their moronic smiles. But that was what happiness felt like. She’d do anything to be back in that moment right now.
With a sigh she tucked the photo back in the pages and went to throw the book back in the knapsack when she saw something else sticking out of the pages. At first she thought it was another photo, but tugging it out proved it to be an envelope. An envelope with her name on it.
There it was in Korra’s always surprisingly neat handwriting. What could Korra possibly have written to her? For about a half second, Asami hesitated with her conscience. Was it an invasion of Korra’s privacy? But then again, it did have her name on it. Why shouldn't she read it? It’s not like Korra was going to get the chance to send it anytime soon. With trembling hands she pulled out the creased paper and read.
All I ever seem to do with my free time is write letters to you. And they never even make it into the envelope before I incinerate them. Because I've never been good with words. Well, at least not the sweet kind. I can make speeches that drive Raiko nuts. I can inspire these Earth Army soldiers as we sit around campfires yearning to be home with the people we love. But I can never seem to find the right words to say to you, and you, you’re the only one I’d ever want to have the right words for.
First off, I want to apologize for moving out so quickly. I was upset and it was rash, but we are friends before anything else, and as a friend, I know it must have felt like I abandoned you. I’d never in a million years meant to hurt you like that, especially after I know what my 3 years of absence did to you. I’m sorry.
But you have to know, I only did it because I was scared. So damn scared. Because, well, I love you. And you were right. I always try to get in the middle of your work. I steal you away before closing time, I take you out for lunch and get you back way after your lunch hour is up. I spill ink and leechi juice on your blueprints when you leave them on the table. I’ve even pretty much made your mansion a pigsty. And you deserve more than having me underfoot all the time. You saying what you said just made me realize that you knew that you deserved better too. I know you’re way too nice and care about me too much to kick me out abruptly. So I left before you could leave me. I don’t think I could’ve handled you breaking up with me. So like usual, I ran away.
And I know I acted childishly long after the fact. Instead of letting us go back to being friends, I avoided you at all costs and dove into every Avatar job I could get my hands on. I should’ve faced you, because we’re best friends! I know you wouldn’t have made it awkward, but I didn't trust myself. I don’t think I could stand there and just be your friend. I’m too in love with you to do that. Pretty pathetic, right?
I may be here in the Earth Republic, but my heart is with you in Republic City. I hope that when I return we can go back to being friends. I think I’ll be ready for that. But if it’s too late for even that, I hope that when we do see each other at political functions, we can be polite. You deserve so much more than some half-baked coward of an Avatar and I hope you find the great love of your life and have a happy future. It’s nothing less than what you deserve, Ms. CEO!
On one last note, you may have noticed the scrap metal I've been messing around with? It sounds pretty stupid after all this, but I’d been practicing making you an engagement ring. Even though I knew it was pointless, I still have been fiddling with it just for the sake of mastering metalbending. And well, I finished it. I’m giving it to you, not because I've deluded myself, but because it was made for you and only you. Keep it. I’d like you to think of it as a token of my appreciation of all you've done for me and as a sign of our friendship. You’re an amazing person, Asami, and I am lucky to have been in your life.
The room was silent except for the hum and whoosh of the breathing machine. Asami couldn't even hear her own ragged breaths over the pounding of her heart. The pressure behind her eyes was building up as tears burst forth, blurring her vision. She angrily wiped them away with the back of her hand as her mind reeled.
A ring. Korra made her ring. Korra thought she didn’t love her. She had wanted to marry her.
She couldn't believe it at all. When her tears were under control, she shakily turned the envelope over, but no ring was inside. She stood there frantically shaking the envelope before taking the bag on her lap and flipping it over, emptying out its contents all over the hospital floor. She deftly searched through the knickknacks before hearing the telltale metallic clink of metal on tile. She looked to her right and saw it laying there.
It was beautiful. The dark metal, nearly black in color, was twisted into a band reminiscent of the Spirit Portal. And wrapped in its tight grip was a modest-sized ruby, shining brilliantly as Asami picked it up.
Oh. Oh. She was such an idiot. The tears were back again and Asami didn't bother to wipe them away as she slid the ring onto her left-hand’s ring finger. It was a perfect fit. Both on her finger and with her outfit. Ignoring the mess on the floor, she clambered back over to Korra’s bedside and leaned over the Avatar, peppering the parts of her face she could reach with kisses before whispering in her ear, “You have to get better, love. Because we’re getting married.”
She dragged the seat even closer so that she could rest her upper body on the bed with her face tucked in by Korra’s wrist and their hands entwined. If the Avatar thought she was getting away from Asami, she would be sorely mistaken.
At some point, Kya had come in for a healing session, Asami had cleaned up the mess on the floor, and Mako and Bolin had brought dinner with small grins on their faces when catching sight of Asami’s ring. It could almost be considered a normal night for the Krew if Korra hadn’t been laying still between them as they scarfed down the simple, yet filling, food.
They talked about anything and everything. They talked about how they met, how they bonded. They talked about all they've been through together. Eventually Opal, Kai, and Jinora ended up in the room with them, eagerly listening to stories of their adventures as they each took turns. Mako’s accounts were bland, Bolin’s were exaggerated, and Asami’s were too analytical, so they jumped all over themselves trying to correct each other. The three of them knew that what they really needed was Korra; she’d be the best at telling stories. Still they tried their best and when they had nothing else left to give, the airbenders exchanged their own tales.
By the time the sun had set, it had evolved into telling old folktales and myths.
“Asami, I think you’ll especially like this one,” Jinora piped up. The woman in question turned away from checking in with Kya in the hall to meet the aribender’s gaze curiously. Jinora simply smirked at her. “It’s about the Avatar being in love.”
Even though she had no reason to, Asami felt the blush heating up her cheeks as everyone broke out into crazy grins and Kya ushered her back into the room to listen to the story.
“I guess it’s less of a story and more of an observation really. Amazingly enough, every reincarnation of the Avatar has found love. Like real, true, storybook, Oma and Shu love. ‘Cept for Wan of course. But people think he’s the reason all the other Avatars find love. Everyone who’s studied the Avatar cycle knows that it began with Wan and Raava. Raava loved humans, but she loved Wan the most, that’s why they merged together so that they’d always have each other. It’s said that Raava’s love for humans is what attracts Avatars to actively seek out their soulmates. It’s the spiritual, Raava side of them that’s yearning to find their other half, their Wan. Out of the millions of people in the world who never find love, the Avatar always does. I mean think about. Kyoshi lived way past 200 years and she had lovers. Kuruk had Ummi, even though that didn’t work out well for him. Roku had Ta-Min, Grandpa Aang had Gran Gran…”
“And Korra has you,” Kai finished his girlfriend’s train of thought with a smile.
At this, every face turned to Asami’s. Her eyes were glistening, yet determined. Her smile was wholesome and she didn't try to cover her pink-tinged cheeks as she grabbed Korra’s hand and placed a kiss on her cheek.
“Yes. She does.”
One Week Later
With newfound determination, Asami, found the week passing quicker than she expected, and although Korra hadn't woken yet, she knew deep down that everything was going to be alright. She swore it wasn't all in her head either.
For example, most of Korra’s superficial injuries, her cuts and bruises and swollen muscles, were healed. Mako’s leg wounds didn't get infected, which surprised the aides who always tutted at him when he tottered around trying to be useful. The airbenders flew in with news throughout the day; the Northern rebellion was officially brought to an end and all that was left was to capture a few extremists who had turned tail and made a run for it.
Luckily, it seemed that Korra’s newfound popularity in Republic City had swayed Raiko into sending United Forces troops in to help. The Earth Army would have no trouble tying up loose ends.
“It seems like thinking they killed the Avatar was enough to get them to see reason,” Bolin commented offhand as they listened to the radio broadcast of one of the rebellion leaders. He sounded almost bitter as he turned from the window in Korra’s room to look at said girl. The one thing that hadn't changed was the breathing mask that remained over Korra’s face. Asami could understand his frustration; after all, one of the uncaptured rebels was said to be the metalbender who hurt Korra.
Still, Asami was positive that the Earth Army would be able to handle it. Somewhere in the dark part of her mind, the part that was more her father than anything else, she wanted to use her glove on that bender. Repeatedly. But she knew she wouldn’t be able to face Korra, the girl who gave Kuvira, of all people, a second chance. Instead she focused all her energies on trying to will Korra to get better.
When that didn't ease her anxiety, she found herself following around aides and healers as they made their rounds downstairs with the patients who had lesser injuries. She learned how to make splints, set casts, and take someone’s pulse. She talked to patients who looked lonely and was astounded by how many recognized her, especially soldiers who’d met Korra.
“You’re Asami Sato of course!” one soldier called out boisterously, “Everyone knows you’re the Avatar’s girl!”
And while a month ago, this might’ve bothered Asami, it didn't when it came so genuinely and happily from these strangers. Apparently Korra had taken the liberty to tell everyone she could just how amazing the CEO of Future Industries is.
“Ms. Sato, is it true that you’re the reason Avatar Korra came back to Republic City?”
“Yo Asami! Korra says you’re the best mechanic in the world, think you can take a look at my scooter?”
“Hey, is it true you saved the Avatar when you guys were stuck in the Si Wong Desert?”
At first it was a bit overwhelming, but eventually, Asami learned names and personalities and was happy to answer anything they asked. She even did take a look at that soldier’s scooter and soon enough, more were clamoring for her attention. It was the perfect way to spend the time Kya used to work on Korra. But Asami’s favorite part of her day was when she’d return to Korra’s room at night to tell her love all about the day. She dutifully reported and recounted every story, every praiseworthy comment, and every funny mishap to the younger one.
And when the ICU floor grew quiet and the lights were dimmed, Asami would place her hands in Korra’s and whisper all her hopes and dreams for their future.
“The wedding is going to be in the South Pole, of course. But I am so not wearing one of those tribal dresses, so don’t even think about trying to get Senna to persuade me.”
“You know, I really should have carved you a betrothal necklace. Right? Or is that just a Northern tradition?”
“So I was thinking after a few years of marriage under our belts, adoption sounds pretty great. Kids love you!”
“I’m going to love you until there’s no more stars in the sky, Korra. And there’s billions of them. So you better resign yourself to seeing a lot of me.”
It continued like this for another week when there was a new development. It happened right in the middle of Asami’s visiting time with the rowdy men on the second floor. One of them, Kau, had left the room to try and scrounge up another white lotus tile. He’d lost his when he overturned the table after Asami’s tenth victory. This was nothing new to the rest of them. Kau was a hothead, but not a mean man.
What was surprising was when he came back, tile-less, and with a huge grin on his face. He interrupted Asami’s re-telling of how she first met Varrick, butting in rather obnoxiously, “Hey Sato!”
With an eye roll, Asami turned to the man and raised one perfect brow at him in a silent sign for him to continue.
“Did you hear the one about the Avatar who woke up on the third floor? Apparently it’s a pretty new story, unlike your old boring ones.”
Silence was all he got in return. The room had frozen and Asami’s eyes had widened, her mouth gaping open like a fish. Time had stopped.
But not for long.
Kau had barely blinked when suddenly Asami threw herself out of her chair and dashed for the door. She didn't notice that she’d almost knocked the man down. She didn’t hear the catcalls his comrades were making at her hasty exit. She slid past the closing elevator doors and climbed the stairs instead, ignoring the surprised faces or even more annoyingly, the knowing looks. She didn’t stop running until she had shoved her way into Korra’s room. That’s when she saw the most beautiful sight she’d ever seen.
There she was. Korra. Her girl was sitting up in her bed, fidgeting with her mask as Kya explained why she had to wear it. With a huff she turned away from the woman, catching Asami’s gaze. And when those cerulean eyes connected with green, it was like being in the Spirit World for the first time all over again. Asami sappily thought that maybe she’d need to borrow that mask because Agni knew she could barely catch her breath.
Kya cleared her throat with a smirk, breaking their connection.
“Asami! I was just telling Korra here that’s it’s probably best if she keeps the mask on for another day or two. And that means NO talking,” this last sentiment was thrown pointedly at the Water Tribe girl who grudgingly nodded her head, her crossed arms showing just how unhappy she was with that order.
Kya nodded sternly but cracked a smile when she passed Asami, whispering, “But you. You can talk all you want. Good luck!”
And then there were two.
Asami swallowed thickly and made her way over to the bed, sitting on the edge and taking Korra’s hand even as she felt the other girl trying to shift away. Asami just grasped her hand tighter.
“Well at least I know this time you’re not gonna run away,” she joked lightly. But this wasn't the right thing to say as she saw Korra’s eyes immediately fill with regret. She backtracked quickly, “Not that I gave you many reasons to stay! What I said was unforgivable!” She looked down at their entwined hands for a moment before meeting Korra’s gaze once more.
“And I would like to say that I am so so sorry for hurting you. I was stressed and overwhelmed and you were only trying to take care of me like you always have. Albeit, in a very Korra-ish way.” She felt Korra clasp her hands tighter, but she couldn't stop once the words started spewing out.
“I love you. I was in pain every day I spent away from you. And every day I thought of all the little things you did to make me smile. You learned how to cook my favorite childhood dish from Lee. You made me dance with you whenever the radio played our song. You brought me tea when I was locked away in my workshop for too long. You turned the manor into a home, more of a home than I had with my father or when Mako’s family stayed there.”
“And those little things are worth everything else that comes with being with you. It’s worth having the covers stolen every night and you telling everyone I snore. It’s worth tripping over everything you leave laying around as I try to get ready for work. It’s worth smelling like slobber after you sic Naga on me for kisses.”
“And it’s worth being with the Avatar and everything that entails. Because if being with the Avatar means being with you, Korra, then there’s nothing else I’d rather do for the rest of my life.”
Asami felt the tears running down her face, matching the ones steadily dripping down Korra’s. Her love’s eyes were wide with surprise, but full of so much admiration and happiness. Asami moved to place her hands on Korra’s cheeks, framing the face she loved so much when Korra made a squeak as she felt the cold of her ring pressed there. Her eyes darted down to take in the sight of it resting proudly on Asami’s finger. Her eyes darted back up to Asami, who had a soft smile firmly in place.
“That’s why I’m asking you, Avatar Korra of the Southern Water Tribe, defender of Republic City, protector of Spirits, and keeper of my heart and my sanity, if you will marry this crazy inventor? Sooner rather than later?”
With that out in the open, Asami had said all she had to say and pulled away, her eyes shyly focused on her shoes, to give the younger woman time to think. She was starting to get nervous when she finally looked up to see Korra struggling to hold the mask away from her face. Asami immediately leapt to her aid, gently pulling it away.
With an almost pout on her lips, Korra rasped out, “’Sami. Ya… stole my…*cough* thunder.” She looked up at Asami, taking a deep, rattling breath. “But…I guess… I’ll… *cough* marry ya *cough* anyways.”
Asami laughed sheepishly, leaning in for a quick kiss before softly slipping the mask back in place. “Good,” she whispered.
The world could have fallen to war and famine and disease right outside their window and neither would've noticed at all. No words passed between them as Korra carefully slid over to make room for her fiancé, Asami deftly slipping under the covers and into Korra’s arms. She curled up, resting her head on Korra’s shoulder, only closing her eyes when she felt Korra’s chin rest atop hers.
And that’s how the gang found them hours later when they came with dinner. Tenzin even stood guard, watching over them proudly as he shooed the rest of them out using his councilman voice. For the first time in a long time, the old airbender felt like Korra would be alright, especially with Asami at her side.
And the next day when Kau was sitting around, flipping his new white lotus tile between his fingers, he looked up at his buddies and asked, “So did you hear that one about our girl Sato making an honest woman outta the Avatar?”
Back in Republic City, Lee smiled as he placed the newspaper back on the table, its bold headline reading:
Injured Avatar Flying Home; Attacker Facing Trial
He had known Ms. Sato would make good on her promise. As he sipped his tea, he made a note to stock up on Avatar Korra’s favorite foods. It was going to be a good day, he knew it.