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you know I dreamed about you (for 29 years before I saw you)

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“Asami, you have to watch this.”


It’s late.


And you’re tired.


Well—okay—you’ve been tired, but Bolin is here and he’s about to do something incredibly stupid and that should keep you going for the next few hours until your shift ends.


He’s standing on the inside of a shopping cart with his legs spread out for balance and—god—he looks ridiculous. He somehow managed to find a kids helmet in the store, you’re not sure where or how since you’ve just done inventory and it’s a grocery store, but he found it. He has one of those special mops that’s advertised on T.V all the time and you’re not sure what he’s going to do with it, but he’s holding it outside the cart like a paddle, and Varrick has both his hands on the handle of the cart with a crazy look in his eyes—but then again he pretty much always looks crazy.


You’ve decided to take absolutely no part in whatever they have planned, so you just lean against a shelf full of chips with your arms crossed and you can’t help but smile. Under the white fluorescent lights they look completely insane, and—shit—you hope Mako doesn’t show up to ruin the show, because frankly you can’t wait.


“Alright, Bolin, I’m gonna push for a little while so you can gain speed then I’m gonna let go and you’re gonna paddle. Got it?”


“Gotcha,” and Bo juts out his upper lip and salutes, and you start laughing because you’ve just noticed that his helmet is way too small for his head and it’s covered in Barbie dolls and he has a sticker plastered on the front that says “bad girl."


“Okay, on three, ready—“


“Varrick, wait! Is it on three or after three, or is it one, two, three g—“


But Varrick starts pushing before Bo has time to finish talking and—fuck—you wish you could freeze time for a second because the look on Bo’s face when Varrick starts pushing is the best thing you’ve ever seen. You start laughing as soon as Varrick starts pushing because he’s way faster than you thought he was and when he lets go of the cart he gives it a sharp push and Bolin ends up falling backwards and the shopping cart flips over on top of him and you swear he slides like ten feet. The damn mop he was holding is sticking out of the cart and it knocks over half the bags on the shelf and you can’t wait until Mako has to clean everything up.


Asami!” and Bo is whining and he sounds like a child and you want to laugh at him a bit more but you know you have to help him because Varrick is useless.


“Yeah, I got you.”


And you walk over to pull the cart off of him and part of you is really glad he had that stupid helmet on because he has a cut on his forehead and you’re looking at the cart and you laugh because how the heck did his massive body fit in that?


“Am I bleeding? Please tell me you can’t see my brain? Asami, what if I’m concussed,” and he’s grabbing at your ankle and you kind of just want him to get his hands off of you.


“Bo, you’re fine, quit it.”


He gives you this puppy dog look and his green eyes look really bright under the fluorescent lights. His hair is usually messy, with little strands sticking up in the back and there’s always a small part that falls onto his forehead, but right now it’s plastered down because of the helmet and he looks even more like a kid than usual.


“Come on,” you say, and you help him to his feet.


“What the hell did you do?”


Bo’s eyebrows shoot straight up and he puts on this goofy sideways grin that he thinks will get him out of anything. It doesn’t.


“Hey, Mako, funny story, lemme just start by saying; nothing broke.”


“What are you talking about,” you say, because literally almost everything in the aisle is broken. You’re not surprised at all really, Bolin breaks almost everything, it’s not his fault though, he’s kind of too big for his own good. He has the mind of a puppy but he resembles the hulk more than anything else.


“Who’s side are you on here,” Bo says and he’s making his angry face at you, which is really just him scrunching his eyebrows and pouting a bit.


“I’m sorry are you gonna clean this up?”


“Pft,” he says walking away, “I don’t work here.”


You laugh because, yeah Bo doesn’t work at the store and he never has but he’s always there. You don’t mind it because working the last shift is hard. It’s boring and your mind tends to wander, and you don’t like it to. Sometimes it’s hard to talk to people, Varrick can be a little much most of the time and Mako is a shit conversationalist, even if you dated him for a while.


You loved him for a while too, you’re not quite sure how you loved him though. It’s hard to tell because sometimes you think all you felt was a tenderness or maybe you just needed someone—anyone to give you some sort of attention. You never wanted to be alone and you needed someone to make you feel like you were worth something and you needed to know that someone could want you. Maybe you thought that it was possible for someone to piece you back together, but you’re not really a puzzle and he’d never be able to fix you. It made you feel worse to see the way he looked at you and all you saw in him was a way out of your own head.


Nothing felt right with him anyways, it was like sleeping in someone else’s bed; it was new and smelled different and felt different underneath your palms. But eventually you wanted to go home again. He never did feel familiar to you.


So you broke up with him for his own sake.


You pat Mako on the back, “Good luck, pal,” and you walk away and you’re sure he’s making a face at you, but you can’t really be bothered anymore.



You're trying really hard to avoid any sort of contact with the clock and you know that if you look at it time will just move even slower or you'll realize absolutely no time has gone by at all and--you just can't look at the clock.


There's only one other person besides employees in the store and you're a little annoyed because he decided to come to you to get his shit scanned. Sure, you're better looking and have a more friendly demeanor than Mako--you get it--but it's too damn late and all you want to really do is go home.


But you can't.


So, you sit behind the register with your head resting in one of you palms and you stare at Bolin from across the store, about five aisles away, flicking goldfish in air and catching them in his mouth. So far he hasn't caught one. You're a little certain the guy you're ringing up is saying something but you've mastered the art of, what your mom likes to call, ‘selective listening.’ This way you don't have to pay attention but you catch social cues and when to nod and how to answer and whatever else. The only people who know you're not really listening are the people that know you best, so your secret is safe from any strangers.


“That'll be $37.58,” you say finally looking at the guy, and you're a little glad you didn't pay any attention to him because he looks obnoxious and greasy and like he looks at himself in the mirror for too long.


He gives you a sleazy smile, with his mouth closed and cocked sideways and his eyes squinting and eyebrows raised, “What are you doing later--uh--Ah-sami,” he says looking at your name tag.


You’re a little too tired to say anything snarky so you give him a deadpan look because that’s all you can manage, “That’ll be $37.58.”


He kind of scoffs at you and hands you the money wedged between his index and middle finger, “Have a good night, sir,” and you haphazardly give him his change back.


Bo rolls up as the guy walks out of the store, and he’s riding backwards in a shopping cart with his arms and legs sticking out of the sides.


“Ya know,” he says propping his elbow on the counter, “I really think you should get a job where you work with people, you’re just so friendly.”
“Bo, quit harassing 'Sami, it’s too damn late,” Mako says and he’s drinking his coffee which you’ve lost count of how many cups he’s had. Mako is kind of insane because he drinks espressos but he sips on them all day. You used to count how many cups he’d have but that started to become tedious because watching him is probably the worst thing ever. And it blows your mind because somehow he’s totally the same all the time, he doesn’t get jittery and his mood doesn’t change and he basically looks and acts like his same old boring self.


Mako kind of reminds you of that lonely diner painting sometimes, you’re not sure why. You guess it’s because sometimes it’s interesting to look at him, like you’ve seen him a million times before, but there’s also something sad and lonely and profound about him like if you look at him long enough you’ll catch something you didn’t before.


“I’m not harassing her, I’m trying to make conversation.”


“If it wasn’t so late I’d take you up on your offer but for right now--” and you put your index finger on his forehead and push him along and away from you because you think you might explode if you hang around him any longer.


You look at the clock again and it’s gotten kind of quiet so you can hear the steady ticking. If you’re being honest, you kind of hate clocks. When you were little your mom always put one in your room, but when night time rolled around you’d take the clock down and hide it somewhere where you wouldn’t able to hear it. You’re not sure what it is about them, but they make you so anxious. You think maybe they make you too aware; the ticks turn into units of measurement even when you’re looking away and time is something that has always scared the hell out of you.


There’s something about time passing that’s always been so difficult. It’s kind of like you know that you have a lot of time but at the same time it feels like you have none at all. And the constant ticking is just a reminder that you’re running out of it, not for real, but in a way yeah.
You can’t really get away from the ticking either you can shut your eyes and cover your ears but the more you try to ignore it the louder it gets, so yeah you’d put the clock in a drawer but the ticking would always claw its way out and slither back into your ear and knock on your brain in constant patterns that were enough to drive you crazy.


You wish you didn’t have to work so late because it’s too quiet and the clock is so loud and you wish Bolin were with you so that he could make the ticking disappear.


“Hey, Bo?”


“Yeah,” he says shouting from across the store somewhere.


“Wanna see how far we can slide you down the isles?”


“Oh, hecks yeah,” he says screeching and you laugh because he’s scrambling to his feet and you’re kind of so thankful he’s such a goofball.



You stand in the middle of the isle and cross your arms as you admire your work. The floor is all shiny and glistening and slightly wet and kind of blue from the dish soap you spread down the middle of it.


Bo has the little pink helmet propped on his head again and he’s staring down the end of the aisle, you put a shopping cart on it’s side and turned it into a goal post type thing and that’s what Bo is aiming to slide into. He’s taken off his shirt so he slides a little faster and you laugh because you totally forgot he has a tattoo of a smiley face in the middle of his chest.


You remember when he got it you asked him why he got a smiley face of all things and he just shrugged at you and said, “I was happy when I got it.” Everything is so easy and basic and simple with Bo, you kinda wish you were more like him or at least looked at the world more like him.


“Alright, Bo, I get off in five so let’s do this quickly, yeah?” You slap him on the shoulder but he doesn’t really even acknowledge you because he’s staring down the aisle like it insulted him.


“Less friction,” he says nodding, and he starts to unbutton his pants and part of you is starting to realize this is an awful idea but it’s way too late to turn back now because Bo is committed and you bought soap with Mako’s credit card already.


“Okay,” he says, “I’m ready.” And he’s shaking his arms and legs and his eyebrows are scrunched together and you look down and he’s wearing boxer briefs with bananas printed all over them and—shit—this is the worst idea ever.


“Ready,” you say, and you get the stopwatch on your phone out and Bo gets into a track ready position.


“Set,” his hands are on the ground in front of him and you’re tempted to knock him over but you decide not to last minute, “GO!”


Bo runs forward a bit and then lunges and he actually starts to slide at a significant speed, but you look up and—fuck—Tenzin is standing at the end of the aisle with his hands balled up into fists at his side. You haven’t felt like this since you were a kid and you feel like you’re about to be put on time out. You look back at Bo and right in front of him there’s a big patch of dry floor and your stomach drops because it’s too late to tell him to slow down or stop or—well—anything really.


Then you hear bare skin sliding on linoleum tiles and you cringe because you know that hurt, and Bo pushes himself up really quickly and his chest is bright red and you’re surprised his nipples haven’t ripped off.


“What are you two doing?”


“Uh—look, Tenzin, I’d really really love to explain, but my shift is over—“


“Asami—“


“—and I really need to get home and put something on Bolin’s chest, he’s in a lot of pain, ya know, we’re probably gonna have to staple his nipples back on—come on, Bo.” And you grab Bolin by the arm and drag him out of the store before Tenzin has the chance to say anything else.


Neither one of you can drive so Bolin walks home with you and you look over and realize he’s left his clothes at the store so he’s walking down the sidewalk in his underwear and a torn up pair of shoes.


“You better not get us stopped, I’m too tired to deal with any cops tonight.”
“Nah, we’re fine, no one around here cares that much,” he says shoving chips into his mouth and you figure he probably grabbed them on the way out and you laugh a little bit at him.
You walk down the sidewalk and through the parking lot and you can hear waves from the beach that’s just down the street, you’re tempted to ask Bo to sit with you for a bit, but you’re tired and he doesn’t have clothes and you don’t want him to get a ticket.


“You should text Mako so he remembers to bring you your clothes.”


“My phone’s in my pants pocket and my pants are lying somewhere near the dips.”


“Yeah, alright you can call him when we get to my place,” you say rolling your eyes and kicking a rock.


“Can I just crash at yours and borrow some clothes?”


“On what goddamn planet do you fit in my clothes?”


“Look, 'Sams, who cares if it fits, I just need something to wear in the morning.”
You kind of really love Bolin, he’s been your best friend for years now, and really you’ve been inseparable. You one time promised each other that if you weren’t married by the time you were 33 you’d get married to each other. Of course, you’re kind of hoping that doesn’t happen, but then again, Bo isn’t so bad.
His chest is shiny under the streetlights from the skin he ripped off sliding across the floor, and you feel a little bad because it was your idea after all.


You come up with bad ideas all the time, and most of the time, Mako is the voice of reason and he stops you and he’s kind of like your mom sometimes. Bolin is usually up for anything so when Mako doesn’t intervene you guys usually get into trouble.


Bolin is shoving chips into his mouth and you watch the way he clenches his jaw and how his upturned nose kind of wiggles when he sniffles and how his round eyes just look at everything in a way you could never understand. He has a curiosity and certain understanding of everything and he always knows exactly what to say. Really, you’re lucky to have someone like him, not everyone gets to have a friend that great.


You don’t give him enough credit, you think. He’s helped you get through the worst of things and even when you’ve tried to turn your back on him, he was still there for you. He’s not the familiarity you always thought you needed, but he’s a safe place to stay when you need it. He makes you feel not so alone when it gets a little unbearable.


For a while being alone was the worst thing you could be, you needed someone to make you feel whole and keep you from losing yourself again. I wasn’t until recently you’ve come to realize that it’s not the case. And so you’re fine on your own, maybe you’re meant to be like that, you kind of think you’re better on your own anyways.


So you walk with him beside you on the empty street, with nothing but the fluorescent streetlights igniting his light green eyes and you feel okay. Which is something you haven’t always been able to say.

 

Chapter Text

So, you know you should be walking to work right now, but you’re never actually on time for anything so there’s kind of no point in breaking your late streak just yet.

 

You’ve been at the park with Bolin for like an hour now and the sign at the entrance said it closed a while ago, but you really doubt you’ll get stopped or arrested or anything for being there. So whatever really. You’re mindlessly swinging and you guys haven’t talked about much of anything, and you’re pretty okay with that. Bo is going back and forth on his stomach so you’ve been waiting for him to eat it, but you’re not sure it’s actually gonna happen since he’s been at it for a while now

 

You feel calm and sad in a nostalgic kind of way because you remember doing this with Bo when you were little kids. And it’s summer but there’s a sharp chill in the air that sort of stings your lungs and burns your eyes, and it reminds you of late nights and roof tops and throaty laughs.

 

Everything is sort of still and silent and all you can really hear is the rustling of trees and grass and the swings creaking every time you or Bo moves. You think that if you were by yourself you might start to get too into your head, because everything is too quiet, too still, too peaceful. You hate clocks and you hate silence for the repetition of it, it’s too constant and predictable and makes you feel uneasy. It’s like silence makes everything louder, and repetition always seems too overpowering and it makes you feel like you’re underwater.

 

People value silence but it’s sort of like if you’re in your head for too long you might get lost and it’s too hard to find your way out sometimes.

 

You wish Bo would say something because you can feel yourself getting sad, it always starts on the flat of your tongue then trickles down your throat and it expands, and gets in your lungs until it feels like it’s in the air around you.

 

You hear Bo, cracking his lighter and you watch the faint light filter through the green of his eyes and you smile at how concentrated and cute he looks.

 

“Ya know, sea lions are kinda like sea puppies. I’ve never thought about it until now really, but if I were a mermaid I’d want a sea lion as my sidekick,” he says taking a hit of his joint. He passes it over to you and he scratches the side of his face like he’s really giving it a lot of thought. And god you don’t know how he does it but he always manages to say something at the right time.

 

“You think you’d be like an aquaman type of sea creature, superhero thing or--like--something else?”

 

“I’d want to be like Ariel, she’s pretty bad ass, Aquaman isn’t a mermaid really, at least, I don’t think so.”

 

You take a hit of the joint and hold the smoke in your lungs, “Nah, I don’t think so, he’s more like a trained mermaid wannabe. Or like a mega fan girl.”

 

“I’m a mega fan girl,” Bo says as you hand the joint back.

 

“I’m not gonna train you to talk to fish or anything, though.”

 

“Some dad you are,” he says pouting and you laugh. “You think you can actually teach someone to--like--breathe underwater--or not breathe exactly but teach someone to hold their breath for insane periods of time?”


“You suffer from brain damage after five minutes of no oxygen I think.”

 

“You sure?”


“No, I just think it’s five minutes, I’m not so sure,”  you say.

 

He pauses for a minute and he’s staring at the playground in front of him and part of you feels like he might’ve forgotten that you were with him, because he’s done that before. Not because he’s stupid, he just gets really high.

 

“Yeah,” he says, “I’d definitely wanna be Ariel, my sea lion would be a buddy anyways, not really a sidekick type deal. Also I’m not into being a superhero; too much work.”

 

“Saving the world isn’t for you?”

 

“Fuck no,” he breathes out and you laugh because you can imagine Bo getting way too into being a superhero and taking it absolutely serious.

 

“I bet you’d have--like--this huge movie franchise. Sequels upon sequels that absolutely no one would want,” you say and you’re fiddling with the chain of the swing kicking the wood chips on the ground.

 

“Oh, please everyone would want to see me on the big screen a ridiculous amount of times. No one could possibly get tired of this face,” and he gives you a big goofy grin, so you swing to the side and push him a bit.

 

Bo is letting the joint hang out of his mouth and picking at the loose skin on this finger and his eyebrows are furrowed and, “Why the heck are they called sea lions , they don’t even look like lions.”

 

“Clown fish don’t look like clowns. The letter “w” isn’t actually a double “u,” a lot of things don’t really make sense.”

 

“Speaking of, the other day,” he starts and you’re prepared to start rolling your eyes at him, “I was on this website and there’s this theory that Taylor Swift is a clone of the father of Satanism’s daughter and--”

 

“Bo--”

“No, Asami, listen this is so cool and I want your opinion--”


“I have work and I don’t have time to be listening to you talk about conspiracy theories, you’re gonna ruin my high, punk ass.”

 

He’s quiet for a second and, “She’s totally a clone,” he whispers and you start laughing really hard. You’re not sure if it’s Bo or if you’re just really high but your stomach is achy and you’re sure you’ll never have to do an ab workout ever again after laughing this hard.

 

You feel like this is one of those moments that you’d like to drag on for an eternity, maybe pause time and take a moment to enjoy the tranquility of just being , with Bolin’s green eyes and sharp air and faint stars that you can just barely see. You don’t even mind the small rock in your shoe or the cold chains of the swing burning your hands. And honestly you’d rather do anything besides go work a night shift.

 

“Lowkey I wanna be on that Unsolved Murders show,” Bolin says.

 

You stare at him for a minute and, “Are you high?”

 

He looks at you with squinty red eyes and he’s got a lazy half smile plastered on his face, “Nah.”

 


 

 

It’s late. You wanna go home. And Bolin fell asleep under the register that you’re working at. Usually he stays with you during the night shift to keep you awake, seeing as it’s almost impossible to fall asleep with someone like Bo constantly talking about everything and anything that could possibly cross his mind. But he got too high and ate too much to keep himself awake. Somehow he managed to eat an entire bag of microwave french fries (frozen) and two bags of hot wings (also frozen) and a two litre bottle of Coke, so if you’re being honest you don’t blame him for passing out thirty minutes into your midnight shift.

 

You look at him and one of his shoes is missing and there's a hole in his sock so his big toe is poking out. His jeans are unbuttoned and you're assuming it's because of all the food he ate. Every few minutes his eyes kind of flutter half open and close and he wipes the drool from his mouth. It kind of reminds you of the time you two got high and ate all the food in your fridge and decided to watch Jeepers Creepers. You both had thought you'd fallen asleep in the middle so the next day you guys decided to watch it again and you realized you didn't miss any of it, and the truth of the matter is, Jeepers Creepers is just a shit movie and doesn’t make any sense.

 

It’s 1am and almost no one has come into the store, which isn’t surprising considering it’s a Wednesday and normal people don’t exactly go shopping for groceries at this time.

 

Mako is asleep at his register and you really want to fuck with him, but you’re sleepy and you’re afraid he’ll bring your mood down if he gets grumpy.

 

Tenzin’s son Meelo decided to hang in the store during your shift, which you don’t mind because he’s kind of a mess most of the time and watching him destroy everything is kind of entertaining. Especially since Varrick got stuck with janitorial duty tonight. You decided to ruin Tenzin’s life a little bit and you brought Meelo a cappuccino with like three shots of espresso in it. So he's been running up and down the aisles half laughing, half screaming with Tenzin chasing behind him. If you’re being honest you’re not sure how Mako managed to fall asleep with everything that’s going on.  

 

You on the other hand have just been trying to avoid looking at the clock, but you feel like time has been stretched out right in front of you, and everything in the world has just been elongated and warped. And honestly you're afraid that if you look at the time now you'll realize that you're right and you'll end up at this grocery store until the end of your existence. So to avoid any tragedies you decide to blindfold yourself because you definitely don’t want to look at that clock.

 

“Asami,” you hear, and you know it’s Tenzin and you know he’s about to be a huge pain in your ass.

 

Tenzin.

 

“You do understand you’re working right now, correct?”

 

“I mean technically.”

 

“Technically?”

 

“Honestly Tenzin, this isn’t exactly work, I could stand and be miserable absolutely anywhere, ya know, it’s the 21st century.”


“I’m quite aware, you’re lucky I don’t have the energy to deal with this right now.”


“At least that’s something we have in common currently,” you say grinning at him, and you can feel that he’s walked away from you thankfully.

 

With the blindfold over your eyes you can hear Bolin’s deep breathing from under your register and Mako’s snoring not too far away, and you think you can hear Varrick mopping the floors a few aisles away.

 

Sometimes everything gets so loud it makes you nervous, it gives you the feeling like when you see someone get hurt on TV, it’s a tickling feeling that runs down your spine and spreads throughout all your bones. It’s like any sound anyone makes is the equivalent of nails on a chalk board. And anytime someone tries to talk to you you feel the pressure of all the noise build up inside your head and you can’t handle it.

 

It used to happen more often. All of a sudden too much would be going on for you and you’d lose it, like you were a balloon and someone was blowing too much air into you so you felt like you were stretched out too thin.

 

You clench your jaw and breathe deep, for once focusing on the ticking of the clock because if anything is gonna bring you back it's that.

 


 

 

Something is kicking your foot and everything is black and you can't remember where you are and you're kind of freaking out.

 

Asami,” and as soon as you hear the whiny drawn out last vowel of your name you know it's Bolin. You lift your hands to rub your eyes and you remember the blindfold and Tenzin, and you realize that you fell asleep at some point. You pull the blindfold off your face and the fluorescent lights are too much right now and you feel like you've just risen from the dead and you probably look like it too.

 

“Wow ‘Sami you look like you've been to hell and back.”

 

“I'm sure I feel worse than I look.”

 

“I don't doubt it. But, ya know, now that you're awake you wanna get me a bag of potato chips?” And he’s giving you his best smile and you kind of want to kill him, but your butt honestly hurts so much you wouldn't mind walking around for a second.

 

“I'm not doing it because I love you,” you say getting up.

 

“If it wasn't for the fact that I’m not attracted to you in anyway shape or form I would be convinced you're the love of my life.”

 

“How will I ever live knowing you don't love me?”

 

“You'll get over it,” and he's shrugging his shoulders and you can't help but smile at the big lump of uselessness sitting under your register that is Bolin.

 

You walk down the aisles and you figure you’ll take your time because it’s four in the morning and literally no one is going to go to the store at this time. So you walk down the tiled linoleum floors under the harsh fluorescent lights that are buzzing above and you’re doing that thing where you avoid stepping on cracks, and you probably look like an idiot.

 

The bell to the front door of the store rings and you’re pretty sure Bo went outside to smoke so you don’t even bother to check if someone came in. You make it to the chips and when you pick up the family sized bag you can see someone standing on the other side of the aisle and you just--

 

“What the fuck,” and you slap your hand over your mouth because, wow, was that dumb.

 

The girl standing in the fruit and veggie aisle turns around and she has a grumpy, confused look on her face that you would laugh at were it not for the fact that you’re absolutely mortified.

 

“I’m so sorry,” you say, “It’s just like--four in the morning and this is the worst grocery store and I did not expect to see anyone tonight--oh god--I’m sorry--” and you realize you’re rambling, but all of a sudden you’ve gotten a good look at this girl.

 

And she’s--like-- really pretty, with these crazy blue eyes that are dark around the edges like water spilt on blue ink, or the line that separates the beach and the ocean. She’s got this messy brown hair and tan skin and a dimple on her right cheek and smile lines that you want to drown in, and you think maybe you need a second to recover.

 

“It’s alright,” she says, and she turns right back around and keeps looking at the watermelons.

 

And--really--you think you’ve embarrassed yourself enough for one day so you’re about to walk back to your register but--

 

“Did you know a watermelon isn’t actually a melon?” She says, and she turns around to look at you with her eyebrows scrunched together like she’s genuinely concerned with this concept.

 

“Uh--well--yeah, I mean I thought it was a citrus? Or actually, that might be a tomato that I’m thinking of. If I’m being honest I’m not sure. What is it then?”

 

“It’s a huge fucking berry. Can you believe it?” And she holds up a watermelon and says, “This monster is just one big berry.”

 

“Huh,” you say looking at her through the empty space in the aisle, “maybe it’s the seeds.” And you feel so stupid because you clearly have no clue what you’re talking about.

 

“There’s some scientific explanation behind it that’s boring and I don’t feel like explaining. Tomatoes are berries too. So are bananas.”

 

“Banana’s don’t taste like berries though.”

 

“Wow,” she says putting her hand on her forehead, “I had no clue I was in the presence of a berry expert.”

 

“Yeah, alright, sure,” you smile and you start to walk away because you’re sure Bo is going to kill you if you don’t bring him his potato chips soon.

 

“See ya, berryman,” she says waving to you.

 

You walk back to Bolin and he’s sitting at the register like he’s an actual employee and wearing someone’s name tag, but you’re not sure where he got it from because no one named “Karen” actual works at the store.

 

“Where’d you find that?” You say tossing the bag to him. He shrugs his shoulders and you decide you’re not going to ask for an explanation.

 

“Oh and by the way,” you say pushing him away from the register, “your potato chips are bad luck and I’m actually considering charging you for them and burning you at the stake because you’re both cursed.”

 

“The hell did I do?”

 

“They’re the reason for me acting like a total idiot to the the girl that walked in.”

 

“Oh yeah,” he says shoving chips into his mouth, “she’s cute, really cute.”

 

“Yeah great.” You watch Bolin shove a handful of chips into his mouth and, “Hey Bo?”

 

Mmmf ?”

 

You smirk at him because you know he’s still a bit high and you want pay back for the embarrassment you just had to endure.

 

“Did you know that a watermelon isn’t a melon, it’s actually a berry.” And suddenly the chips that were in Bolin’s mouth are spewing in every direction. A rainfall of chewed potatoes rains upon your register accompanied by small droplet of spit, and the sound coming out of his mouth sounds more like it came from an eight year old girl than a full grown human because it’s so high pitched.

 

What the fuck?

 

And you can’t stop laughing because Bo looks disgusting all covered in chips and drool and the register is a mess. Then there are three bars of chocolate in front of you and the cute watermelon girl is standing at the register ready to pay.

 

“Oh, sorry,” you say trying to calm yourself down and you scan her items while she frowns at the mess Bo made, “that’ll be $5.34.”

 

She pulls a wad of money out of her wallet and you want to laugh because she gives you exact change, which is not something you’re used to and you smile because--damn--she is really cute and pretty and interesting and you kind of want to know everything about her.

 

“Ya know, berryman, you’re actually really cool.” And she smiles at you but it seems like all of her is smiling. It goes from her lips and travels like a current through the lines parenthesizing the corners of her mouth to her cheeks and to the corners of her eyes and as soon as she turns around to walk away you feel an absence. Like that smile filled up all the empty spaces in the room with something so warm and bright, now that it’s gone it feels like you’ve been sitting in the sun and now it’s night time. Suddenly you feel like you’ve been craving sunlight your entire life.

Chapter Text

You’ve been here for hours but literally every second feels just as miserable as the last.

You know you should be happy about working the morning shift, well not exactly happy, but it’s better than the night shift or at least that's how it's supposed to be. All of a sudden the morning shift is dragging on longer and you're not really sure what's going on. Normally you like it because you can bother Mako and waste time, considering most people are too busy to go to a grocery store in the morning—basically it's empty and you can do what you want.

You don't feel like doing anything though.

You've been looking towards the entrance the entire time you've been here, and you're sure Bolín is going to notice or maybe even Mako—you're not sure—but the girl from your last shift has stuck to you. Since you saw her during your last you've been waiting to run into her again.

Maybe it's a gut feeling and maybe it's something different but your brain has been telling you that if you don't see her again the earth will lose its orbit around the sun and you and everyone you know will crash into another planet and explode into a million tiny pieces. Honestly you’re not sure if that’s just the anxiety talking or maybe you actually believe that.

Bo has been tossing gold fish in the air and catching them in his mouth and Varrick isn’t even working, he’s just been digging through the trash. There’s only one customer in the store and it’s this old lady that comes in every day to ask the same question, she’s not too much of a bother though.

She starts to waddle over to you with a little scarf wrapped around her head and a hunch in her back and she says, “Excuse me young lady, could you show me to the milk and bread?”

And she’s holding a crooked finger up to you and you’re looking at the glasses resting on the end of her nose and they’re the size of her face—you think they’re cute anyways. You’re about to give her the same answer you give her every time you work the morning shift and—

“Oh! I can show you!” And Bo is hopping off the counter of your register with the bag of goldfish in his hand. He takes the old ladies arm and walks her to the aisle and you laugh because he’s huge and the old lady looks so tiny and fragile next to his massive body and—

“You don’t even work here?” You say but it’s too late and he’s already too far away to hear you.

He’s walking with his arm wrapped around the old ladies and he’s smiling nice and big at her and his dimples remind you of childhood and warm concrete and picking blades of grass. He starts to point out where the milk is but he realizes the lady can barely look up without a struggle so he reaches up and gives it to her. You watch the woman pat him on the chest and you laugh because Bo has his hands on his hips clearly proud of what he’s done.

And—yeah, he’s a huge goofy idiot—you still feel sort of proud that you get to be his friend, because in the end he’s just good and there’s something comfortable about him. You don’t think you’ve ever felt like you’ve been home, but he’s familiar like a childhood memory of a place you’re fond of and—

You expected Bo to take the lady up to your register so you could check her out but he’s walking over to the empty register in front of you and he punches in a code and starts to check her out.

You can’t really believe it because you know you’ve never given him your code and he definitely doesn’t have anyone else's.

He waves goodbye to the old lady and you don’t really know what to say if you’re being honest.

“Bye Karen,” she says to him on her way out.

“So, Karen, ” you say, and you’re trying to give him the mom look but you don’t think it’s processing correctly with him.

“Hey, ‘Sams. That lady is so sweet, I’m surprised I’ve never seen her before and you never told me—”

“What the actual fuck was that about?”

“What?” And he looks genuinely confused and you probably look genuinely shocked.

‘What?’ Really, Bo?”

“I don’t get it.”

“Number one, where did you get that name tag. Number two, who’s code did you use. Number three, you don’t work here. Why don’t you actually, oh, I dunno, apply for a job here? What a weird concept isn't it? As if you don’t already spend all of your—”

“Something is bothering you.”

“You’re not even listening,” you say and you almost feel exhausted after talking to him for the time you have been.

“Nah, something’s bothering you,” and he’s pointing his finger at you and kind of pouting his lip and his eyebrows are making a straight line along his forehead.

“Oh, my god.”

“I’ve known you most of my life ‘Sami, I know when something is on your mind, and believe me I’m going to find out what it is,” And he’s squinting his eyes at you, and—like—you know Bo is unbelievable but this is something entirely different.

“Yeah, fine, good luck Scooby-Doo,” and you’ve decided you can’t take anymore so you go back to your register and slam your head down on the counter.

As much as you’re trying to distract yourself your mind keep wandering back to the veggie girl. You don’t want to call bumping into her an accident because accidents don’t feel like this, though if you’re being honest something about her scares the hell out of you. You’re supposed to regret accidents, you think, and meeting her—seeing her—whatever, you don’t regret that at all.

It all feels intentional. Like little accidents, a perfect sequence of events—a chain reaction leading up to one moment. You think you’ve been through too many things in life to believe in coincidences and you know the universe likes to fuck with you when you least expect it.

So you keep glancing towards the door maybe out of fear of seeing her again, or maybe because you want to see her again—you’re not sure, but you’re certain this is something new altogether.

 


 

You’re staring at the entrance to the grocery store and out of the corner of your eye you see Bo squinting his eyes at you.

“What?” You say and he squints even harder at you.

What?!”

“Oh,” he looks at his nails, “nothin’.”

“Bo, I swear if you keep doing this sh--” The door to the store opens and you hear the faint little bell ding.

You think your heart might stop, maybe it has--you’re not even sure anymore. Suddenly you’re falling into a blue swimming pools, and you don’t even mind it. Her pale eyelashes flutter for a second, you catch them in the moment, and you don’t think you’ll ever forget the sight. You feel your heart strings get tangled in her fingers as she runs them through her hair, and you don’t know if you’re going to faint or throw up.

“OH,” You hear Bolin practically scream, “I get it now.”

“Shut up--”

“Aw, ‘Sams, I never would’ve guessed.”

“Of course you wouldn’t, you’re clueless.”

“Ouch. But, whatever, if you don’t go talk to her I will.”

“Bo, don’t even think about it --”

“Oh?” He smirks at you, and you don’t quite like where this is going, “Did I hear you call dibs? I don’t think I did, you know, that means--” and he’s off, chasing the veggie girl down the aisle. Your body moves faster than your brain and you’re right behind him.

Luckily, Bolin isn’t the fastest person, so you’re inches behind him as you run down the canned food aisle. In a moment of desperation, you grab the collar of Bo’s shirt, and he makes the ugliest noise you’ve ever heard as you pull him backwards. You don’t even check to see if he’s okay, but you do hear him tumble against some cans and go into a coughing fit. You skid to a stop and you’re looking into the most gorgeous pair of eye’s you’ve ever had to pleasure to see.

“Oh, uh, hi,” she says.

You didn’t think this through. You’re panting because of the running and the excitement and you can still hear Bo, coughing on the other side of the aisle.

“Is...there...anything...that I...can...help you...with,” You manage to say between breaths.

“Yeah--is that guy okay?” And she tries to look over your shoulder.

“Oh...yeah, he’s fine don’t worry about him.” You run your hand through your hair and try to slow down your breathing.

She looks at you for a second and you can’t help but stare, she’s so beautiful. You’re stunned by the way her stray hair catch the light and a small strand of hair that falls over her face. The way she brushes it away so gently, and the soft movement of her hand. You see a small scar under her eye that you wouldn’t have noticed if not for the fluorescent lights, and a small cluster of freckles on her nose and cheeks. She raises her eyebrows at you and you realize you’ve been staring for a little while.

“Uh…”

She laughs a bit a shakes her head, “It’s cool, I’m just getting some fruit, but thanks,”

“Just--uh--let me know if you need anything,” You walk away and you see Bo laughing at you behind the counter.

“Don’t make me choke you again,” and you feel yourself pouting, but you can’t help it.

“Come on, ‘Sams, it wasn’t so bad.”

“It was terrible,” You rub your cheek and it feels hot so you’re sure you were blushing.

You walk back to your counter, and slam your head onto the register. You’re not used to making such a fool of yourself, sometimes you’re even sure of yourself. But this girl has rattled your bones, you can feel the foundations holding you up starting to rumble beneath you. Her eye’s remind you of winter but something about her is like summer; the messiness of her hair and the childish scar under her eye, she feels like warmth and sunlight seeping through tree branches and blades of grass just barely grazing your palm--

“I, um, I can’t exactly check out myself so I might need your help now.”

You look up and she’s standing there with a few apples and some strawberries sitting in front of her.

“Checking you out? I wasn--” Your cheeks get hot and you wince a little bit, “Right checking out, you have to pay, of course.”

“I mean I could just walk out of here, but I decided against that.”

“Not in the mood for jail tonight?” You say ringing her up.

“You’d really send this face to jail?”

“I--uh--I guess not.”

“You’re not exactly jailbait so I wouldn’t mind being a snitch,” Bo says and you wish for once in his life he’d catch a hint and let you have a moment alone.

“You’ve been a snitch all your life so that’s no surprise,” You say rolling your eyes at him. The girl laughs and you feel something sharp in your chest but it makes you smile.

“So, no fruit facts today,” she squints at your name tag, “Asami?”

“Sorry, that offer is only valid for one time use. I do have a cool ocean fact though.”

“Alright let me hear it.”
“That has a price though, give me your name and I’ll give you a fact.” She laughs and you smirk to yourself because that was more smooth than you thought you could manage.

“Korra,” she says smiling at you, “My name is Korra.”

You like the way her name rolls off your tongue, you think you’d like to say it more often. You think your lips could get used to the taste of her name.

“Alright, Korra, the ocean controls the weather. The water creates the vapor that clouds are made of, which ultimately generates the storms.”

“Not gonna lie, that was the coolest thing I’ve heard all day.”

“I’m, uh, glad to contribute,” You smile and run your hand through your hair. You watch her smile down at her hands and push a strand of her behind her ear, some parts of her hair are faded by sunlight and you have the impulse to run your fingers through it. You want to see how warm she is, you want to feel if she’s really made of sunlight.

“When’s your break, Asami?”

What ?” From over her shoulder you see Bolin raise and eyebrow at you, and you’re just as confused as he is.

“Your break? When is it?”

“Oh--um--it’s in two hours.”

“How about I go drop this off at home, and I’ll come back here before your break, and we can go get some coffee?”

“Uh, yeah, that--um--that sounds great.”

“Alright, Asami, I’ll see you in a few.”

She takes her bag and walks away and you’re not sure what to do with yourself. You’re not sure if she’s just asked you on a date or if she was just being friendly, or maybe she just felt bad for you.

“What the fuck just happened?” Bo says from behind you.

“I have no idea.”

 


 

Korra has taken you to this hole in the wall coffee shop that you love to go to, and you’re sitting next to a window and you get to look at the ocean. The sun will go down in a little while, so she’s cast in an orange light. Her eyes look clear and crisp and her skin looks golden, her long eyelashes are casting small shadows on her cheeks and you can’t shake the feeling you have in your chest when you look at her.

“So, Asami,” she says taking a small sip from her green tea, “No offense, but you seem like you’re too smart to be working some tiny, family owned grocery store.”

“Not sure if that was even close to offensive actually,” you laugh.

“I mean--like--what else are you doing? I get it’s summer, so you must be in school or something when you’re not working.”

“I’m an engineering major, so yeah when I’m not at the grocery store in the summer I’m in school.”

“Wow,” she says, then she smirks at you, “See I knew there was something more with you.”

“Well, what about you, what are you doing when you’re not buying fruit at weird hours?”

“It’s not that weird, but Kinesiology major, then probably physical therapy.”

“Buying fruit at 3am is very weird actually, hate to break it to you. But I wouldn’t have pegged you for Kinesiology.”
“These looks can only take me so far, you know.” She gives you a crooked grin and you kind of just want to memorize the shape of her mouth; it’s gentle slope and her smooth smile lines. How she runs her finger along the rim or her coffee cup and you wonder how it would feel if she traced the line of your jaw. Would her touch be strong or just barely like whisper spoken into your neck. And would your skin remember the feeling of her finger tips, would she leave small traces of herself on the surface of your skin. You’re not sure.

She takes another long drink of her tea and says, “This is super annoying, but I really gotta pee.”

You laugh at her and, “It’s fine go ahead.”

She walks to the bathroom and just as she disappears her phone starts buzzing. You’re not nosy by any means, and you’re not sure what comes over you but you peek at her phone. You don’t really read what is says but you see a name with some hearts next to it, and you see the word love and suddenly you don’t want to be here anymore. Your heart sinks into your stomach and you’re trying to swallow away the lump that’s forming in your throat. You rub your face with your hands and try to take deep breaths.

Korra comes back from the bathroom and she smiles at you, she quickly looks at her texts messages and her face falls a little bit.

“Okay this is actually going to be annoying, but something just came up and I have to go.”

“That’s alright,” you say trying to smile at her, but you’re not really sure if you can manage it.

“Here,” she says handing her phone to you, “Maybe we can hang out some other time, and I’ll try my very best to not be completely annoying or anything.”

You put your number in her phone and give her half hearted smile, “It was nice hanging out with you, even if it was brief.”

“We’ll hang out again,  for sure,” She gives you a crooked grin again, and there’s a dull ache in your chest.

You walk along the coast alone, and you can’t even be mad at Korra. You half fell in love with a stranger and you have no one but yourself to blame for it. She made you feel warm and she made your heart feel full, like she was making herself cozy in the concave area of your chest. She’s burrowed herself in there and you don’t think you’ll ever be able to pry her out.

That’s the problem with falling for strangers, the feeling never really goes away. And you’ll hang out with her because you can’t help yourself, and she’ll make you smile just at the thought of her, and you’ll watch her love someone else just like you’re used to. You’ll suffer through, because that’s what you’re best at.

You’ll suffer through because it feels so good to love someone, even if they don’t necessarily love you back.