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Moksha

Chapter Text

Asami took a deep breath, inhaling in the scent of her tea.

"I think Korra's bored."

Looking up from his own cup, Mako met Asami's gaze. "What?" He asked.

Asami shrugged. "I just…I don't know."

"Asami, For as long as I've known Korra, I've never seen her happier. Something she's mentioned pretty much every day since the two of you came back from your honeymoon."

"I'm not saying she's not happy," Asami sat her tea down and stared at the table. "It's just not as exciting anymore."

"Between the two of you?" Asami shook her head. "Then what do you mean?"

"I just mean that after Kuvira there was rebuilding, which took almost two years and constantly kept us busy. Then Korra proposed and we spent another year planning the wedding because it was the Avatar getting married and everyone wanted to be a part of it. Now we're married and just back from our honeymoon and it's just…nothing."

Mako couldn't help the smile that spread across his face. "Isn't that what we fought for? A little peace and quiet?"

Asami rolled her eyes. "Yeah but peace and quiet is easy for us. We're just people who happened to be caught up in crazy stuff. Korra is the Avatar. She grew up being told that she was a hero. She's trained and worked her entire life and now…I'm worried she's feeling a little useless."

"She's not though."

"I know that, she doesn't. She spends her days either at home trying to be domestic or on Air Temple Island training."

Mako quirked a brow. "Wait…being domestic?"

Asami bit her lip, she's said too much. "I—I may have caught her trying to cook yesterday morning." Mako's raised his eyebrows. "I'm sure you can imagine how that went."

They both started laughing as Asami regaled him with the story of Korra's failed custard pie.

"It was on the ceiling, Mako. I love the girl to death but she is banned from our kitchen."

Mako smiled again, finishing off his tea. He gave Asami a thoughtful look, "Have you tried asking Korra if she's bored?"

"Of course not," Asami ran her finger along the rim of the cup. "I know she'd just say no if she was, but I can tell, you know? She stays up all night because she's restless. She listens to that damn police scanner I made like it's her job even though Lin has told her numerous times not to get involved in police business. Most days I just ship her off to Tenzin because being around the kids keeps her busy."

"Asami," Mako sighed, leaning forward on the table. "You know you need to talk to her. If she's stressing you out, then you're probably stressing her out. Communication. You two are masters at that. You over-share more than any couple I know."

Asami gasped. "That is not true!" He stared at her blankly. "Not more than Bolin and Opal. Come on!"

"The other day I saw Korra picking at your teeth with her own finger."

"I couldn't get a piece of lettuce out!" Asami cried, standing up from the table. "If my lovely wife cannot dig through my teeth than what is the point of being married at all?"

Mako chuckled as he stood up with her, adding a few yuans to the table. "It also didn't help that you took her finger into your mouth shortly after. In public. I thought Bolin was going to have a heart attack."

"Hey I said Korra was bored with day to day, I never said she was bored with me." Asami's wink made Mako groan as they exited the cafe into the beaming mid-afternoon sun.

"See, just like that. Over-sharing." As they reached Mako's police car, he stopped just before opening the door and turned to Asami. "Look, you need to talk to Korra. See if she really is as frustrated as you think she is." His tone was more serious, looking into Asami's eyes until she nodded, "It can't hurt to ask."

She put her face in her hands. "I know. I just don't want her to think that I'm worried about her."

"But you are."

"I know! But we just got back from our honeymoon like two weeks ago and I'm already stressed out."

With another smile, Mako put his hands on Asami's shoulders and waited for her to look at him. "Talk to Korra. Ask her. She's an open book. You know that better than anyone."

"You're right," Asami nodded with a resigned sigh. "I'll skip out on the rest of my day and go talk to her at the island."

"Good," Mako hugged her. "Same time next week?"

Asami smiled into his shoulder. "You've got it officer."

With that, Mako climbed into his Satomobile and drove off while Asami made the short trek back to Future Industries.

For the most part, people saw Future Industries as a beacon of productivity. No longer tainted by the wrongdoings of the Equalists, it was the coal that kept Republic City burning, and Asami Sato was the engineer that drove it forward day after day. It was busy work that never stopped. When one idea is completed, another is begun. The city was in constant need of repairs, and there were always improvements to be made.

Asami's heels clipped across the floor as she made her way through the lobby towards the front desk. The nervous boy who ran it saw her coming and immediately stood up.

"Miss Sato, you look lovely today. I mean not that you don't look lovely every day, it's just that today you have a particular—"

"Mio," Asami smiled brightly, raising a hand to stop him. "Thank you. But I need you to do me a favor."

"Of course, Miss Sato. Anything you need." Mio was actually sweating as Asami reached across the table to grab a pad and pen.

"Can you get a message to Aya and tell her that I'm going to be taking the rest of the day off and to not let Varrick start on any special projects until I return tomorrow?"

Mio nodded, taking the signed note from Asami. "Yes ma'am, of course. Anything else?"

"Hmmm," Asami's mind wandered a bit. Thinking of Korra. "Yes actually, could you call and have a dozen fire lilies sent to Air Temple Island for Korra?"

As with every time she mentions Korra to Mio (or most people) his eyes went wide. "The Avatar? Yes, of course I can do that!"

"Great," Asami smiled, about to turn around when she stopped herself. "Oh, and please have the florist make the card out to Korra and not The Avatar. They're supposed to make her smile."

A bright red blush covered Mio's cheeks. "Right, of course. Have a good day, Miss Sato."

"She's pretty,"

Mako jumped at the voice from the black Satomobile he walked by on the street. It's parked right behind his own car. He turned, curious as the window rolled down to reveal a very pretty and very arrogant smirk being sent his way.

"Rin? What are you doing here?"

Rin Kato was a vibrant young red head from the Fire Nation. She was also RCPD's newest patrol officer. One of the brightest young stars on the force. Highly touted by Chief Beifong and practically racing to the top.

The problem was, she knew it.

"A little fancy for you though," Rin tilted her head. He gave her a confused look. "I might have seen your car at that restaurant and followed you back here. That girl you were with kinda walks with a stick up her ass."

Mako sighed, leaning into the open window. "You do realize that's Avatar Korra's wife, right?"

"Wow, really?" She nodded in approval. "Didn't know the Avatar had such rich taste."

"How do you not know who Asami Sato is?"

Rin shrugged. "Sato is familiar, but can't really say we give a shit about Republic City business in the Fire Nation. At least I don't." Rin seemed to be thinking as she blankly stared out the windshield at seemingly nothing. Mako all but prepared to leave when she finally spoke again. "So the Avatar is gay?"

"What?"

"Gay, you know? Into girls. You said that's her wife. I didn't know the Avatar swung that way."

Mako considered her for a moment. It's such a blunt term. One he hadn't heard often in connection with Korra. She had never been with other girls before. Just Asami. In fact, she'd never shown any interest in other girls before Asami.

It didn't feel right to label her that way. "I don't know, I think Korra just…loves, you know? She's dated guys too. She dated me, in fact."

Rin made a face. "Really?"

"What does that mean?!" His voice squeaked a little and he hated it.

"I'm just saying," Rin smirked at his outrage. "You're cute but…kinda dull."

Mako huffed. "I am not dull. I've fought against worse things then you can ever imagine!"

"Hey, I'm not doubting that. I've heard the stories. I just meant that you're kind of…predictable."

With a heavy sigh, Mako was ready to exit this conversation immediately. "I have to get back to work."

"Oh come on! You know I'm right. How else do you think I found you? You go to this same restaurant every day, you probably order the same meal each time. You probably have all your work clothes lined up in your closet by the day of the week you plan to wear them!"

Mako didn't realize until she spoke the words that she wasn't entirely wrong.

In fact, she was completely right.

Mako was suddenly depressed. "Huh." He stands up from the window, now questioning his whole life.

BEEP!

He jumped at the sound, immediately moving into a firebending stance before the sounds of Rin's hysterical laughter caught his attention.

"What is wrong with you?" Mako shouted, debating whether or not to kick her car in frustration.

Still laughing, Rin wiped at the corner of her eyes as Mako stomped away from her car. "Wait!" She called out, leaning out the window. "Wait. Come with me, I have to do a welfare check and I could use the entertainment." Mako just glared at her. "Alright, I'm sorry. Please tag along. It's halfway across the city and I really could use some company."

She sounded genuine enough, and when she wanted to, she had a very pretty smile.

Reluctantly, Mako moved to the passenger seat of her Satomobile. As he closed the door, he glanced in her direction to see her smirking at him as she fired up the car.

"What?"

Rin looked him up and down, then offered a curious gaze. "So what's the Avatar like in bed?"

"Just drive!"

"Do her eyes glow when she orgasms?"

"Drive!"

The ride to Air Temple Island was easy enough for Asami. She was so used to it now that it's almost like a commute. Life on the island was much calmer as well. The kids had grown up quite a bit in the last few years. Though Meelo could still be a terror and Rohan was well on his way. Ikki was more relaxed and Jinora was often more adult than any of them.

As soon as she stepped off the boat, Asami sped up at the sight of Korra racing with Meelo and Ikki across the island. They're screaming and laughing as Korra lowered her body to take in a turn.

The woman might be twenty-six now, but she still acted seventeen around the kids.

She stopped when she had a good enough view of the race and watched as Korra rolled her air scooter up the side of a statue to round a corner. Somehow, she balanced herself enough to stay on it and landed just in front of Meelo.

"Cheating!" Meelo shouted. "You went off the track! Cheater!" He screamed and Korra only laughed and shrugged looking over her shoulder.

"Korra!" Asami bellowed as far as her voice could carry. Korra glanced back for a second at the noise and forgot to turn. A moment later she rode up the lip of a small fountain and ended up splashing into the water.

With a gasp that was only partially a laugh, Asami covered her mouth and started running. When she was finally in sight of the fountain, she saw Korra sit up, her hair soaking wet and hanging across her face. Only one glaring blue eye was visible through a crack in the dripping locks.

Asami bit her lip, hard, a laugh fighting to make it's way out.

"All hail the mighty cheating Avatar!" Meelo chimed in, carrying his voice like a radio announcer and Korra turned her ire to him.

She raised a hand and in one motion shot a stream of water at Meelo. He cried in protest before running away.

Asami watched him go, laughing as he shouted to the skies about the injustice of it all. When she looked back to Korra, she saw her wife standing in the fountain. Her arms are drawn up at her sides, holding water under both of them.

"Korra…" Asami warned, taking a step back. "Remember, I am your wife. You promised to love me no matter what."

Korra took a stalking step out of the fountain, the water following her like an extension of her own body. She was wearing a devilish smirk on her face, still dripping water across Tenzin's clean temple grounds.

"Oh I still love you, but you are about to get so wet."

With that, Asami turned and ran with Korra in close pursuit. Korra chased her around the temple, water still lingering behind her as Asami finally found the front door of the temple's foyer and ducked inside. She closed the door, laughing as she put her back to it.

Suddenly she was face to face with a very confused and slightly irritated Tenzin, "Miss Sato, what are you—"

His words were cut short as water started to seep under the door beneath Asami's feet.

"Korra don't you dare!" Asami shouted, stepping out of the water but still trying to keep her back pressed against the door.

"Tenzin, what's going on?" It was Pema, she stepped up next to her husband. As Asami felt the door giving way, she dove to the left and it burst open with a rush of water. Soaking the poor couple standing in their own home.

"Ha! I got…you…oh no." Korra's expression changed from joy to misery as she looked up and down at her mentor and his wife. Both now dripping wet and staring at her with annoyance. "Tenzin, I'm so sorry! I didn't even know—Asami was—I…"

"Waterbend them dry you goof!" Asami whispered quite loudly and drew Korra's eyes to her as Asami sat on the floor still trying not to laugh.

Korra snapped into action, raising her hands up and bending away all the water from Tenzin and Pema.

"Korra," Tenzin started, in that tone. "When you arrived at the temple this morning and I suggested that perhaps we should have a nice, relaxing day of meditation and self-inspection. What did you tell me?"

"Uh," Korra still stood steadily at the door, holding a ball of water above her hand. "That I thought self-inspection sounded kinda dirty?"

Asami saw Tenzin twitch. His face turning redder. Pema just smirked and hid her expression.

"After that."

Korra let out a defeated sigh. "That I was a grown woman who was capable of entertaining myself quietly on the island."

"And yet, here we are, standing in my living room, and you chasing around Asami like a teenager."

"She started it!" Korra cried, turning and pointing to Asami, only adding to Tenzin's accusation of immaturity.

Dignified as ever, Asami brushed off her clothes, straightened them, then walked over to Korra and stood by her side.

"We apologize, Master Tenzin." Asami bowed and Korra rolled her eyes. "Korra and I will clean up the mess, then I will take my lovely wife aside and have a nice, pleasant conversation with her."

Tenzin stared at Asami for a moment, taking in her words. A moment later, he nodded. "Very well, I leave Korra in your care. Please see that she acts her age."

As he turned around, Korra stuck her tongue out at him and Asami, quick as ever, snatched it between her fingers to draw Korra out of the room.

"Hmmfff, lemme go…" Korra whined.

When Asami finally did release her, she pointed to the fountain in the distance as Korra smacked her tongue in her mouth.

Coiling back, Korra drew the water close to her body before throwing it into the air and watching it fall clumsily into the fountain, splashing over the sides.

"I was just playing with the kids," Korra said, looking a bit regretful.

Asami shook her head and smiled. "What am I gonna do with you?"

Korra just grinned and took Asami's hand as they start walking. "You're off work early?"

"Yeah, I took a half day. I—I was hoping to talk to you about something." Asami tried not to convey any worry in her voice. It would work with anyone else. Except Korra, who instantly quirked a brow in her direction.

"Bored with your new wife already?" Korra joked, bumping Asami's hip before pulling her close by their joined hands. "Come on, we'll go the meditation area at the end of the island and talk there."

"Right there…yeah…no wait, a little to the left." Bolin bit down on his lip, studying Opal's every move.

"Why am I doing this again?" Opal asked, glaring at Bolin as she continued to work

"Because you're an airbender and it works better with airbending."

Opal sighed and continued. "There?"

"Not yet, a little more to the left, there's not enough room in the back." He stepped around to get a better view. Opal was waving her hands, gently as she could, to move the pai sho table forward just a bit. "Stop!"

She put her hands up and the table stopped moving. "I didn't even move it!"

"You did though, just enough to make it perfectly align with the other three." Stepping back, Bolin gestured towards the three other pai sho tables that lined the far wall.

Opal rolled her eyes. "You know I think it's wonderful that you're opening this place, and that Asami is funding it, but I don't think at-risk kids on the streets are really into pai sho."

"Well they should be!" Bolin cried, moving to sit at one of the tables. "It's the ultimate game of strategy and skill. Every game is different, no two players are the same. Pai sho can teach you about life." He sighs, picking up a piece on the board and moving it, though he had no opponent..

"Alright so pai sho boards aside, is everything set up now?"

Bolin shrugged. "We're getting there. We still don't have enough beds in the back rooms. I mean I'm not expecting an overflow of kids or anything right away but I don't want things to be crowded."

"You should talk to Tenzin, he always seemed to have beds at the ready when new airbenders showed up."

"You're right!" Bolin's eyes went wide. "Tenzin's got a bed-guy!" Opal laughed at Bolin's blatant excitement. "We need more games though. Things to keep the kids busy. I'd love to have a place to take the benders so they can work off that bending energy, you know?"

Opal nodded and sat at the pai sho table across from her boyfriend. "Maybe we should see how well this does first before we start talking about expansion." Bolin nodded, only pouting a bit. His dream for the place was so large and endless, it had been hard for him to keep the idea reigned in now that it was finally starting coming together. "I am very proud of you though, Bolin. You could have done anything you wanted after your work with Korra and you chose to do this. It says a lot about you."

"It was an easy choice, really." Bolin stood up from his seat and scooped Opal up in his arms,making her laugh. "Everyone should have a home."

Gently, Opal leaned into Bolin's arms and gave him a kiss. When they pulled apart, Bolin raised his head dramatically.

"Come, beautiful woman. We shall return to our home and commence with more kissing!"

"Oh Nuktuk! I'm the luckiest girl alive!"

Korra sat down against the railing, the same railing where, years ago, Asami found her lost in thought and brought her a cup of tea. It was one of a million random memories that Korra had of the woman she now called her wife.

It was a place she came to often, to think and let her mind wander. Though lately she struggled to figure out exactly what that mind was wandering towards.

Asami settled in next to her, both girls leaning on the railing with their legs crossed. The wind picked up a bit, fluttering through Asami's hair as she looked at Korra.

"I see you had fun today." Asami said, drawing Korra's smile.

"Yeah, the kids are always fun. Tenzin wanted to train but I wasn't really up to it today."

Asami nodded, spotting her opening. "It's because you're not sleeping well." Korra's eyes went wide for a moment before she looked at away hastily.

"What? I'm sleeping fine—"

"Korra," Asami took her hand. "We share a bed. When you're up, I'm up."

Brushing a strand of her growing hair aside, Korra looked at Asami with a soft smile. "I don't mean to keep you up."

"I don't care about that," Asami rolled her eyes. "I just want to know why you're not sleeping? Is something wrong?" The hesitation in the answer worried Asami, if only for a moment. Then Korra shrugged, still not speaking. "Is it…me?"

"No!" Korra snapped her head to Asami. "No, it's not you, of course not. I married you Asami, you know I love you. It's not that…I just…I don't know what's wrong with me." Sadness washed over Korra's face as she buried her head in her hands with a heavy sigh. "I wish I did but I just feel a little lost these days."

"Have you talked to Tenzin about it? Maybe he could help?"

Korra settled back against the railing behind her and laid her hands in her lap. "No, I don't think it's a Tenzin thing. It's just a me thing. I—I haven't really done anything in the last five years, you know? Since Kuvira was defeated and we rebuilt the Earth Kingdom I've just been…dormant."

"Oh," Asami frowned, she hated herself for it but she couldn't stop.

"Asami…"

"No, I understand. I do. It's been weird, I'll admit. I've felt it a little too. Things were always so crazy for so long and then it just stopped and we could actually be…normal. It's been an adjustment."

Sliding her legs up, Korra tucked her chin between her knees and nodded. "Yeah but it's easier for you. You have a job. You get up in the morning and go places. You do things. I come here and train, I play with Rohan, I race Meelo and Ikki around the temple. I feel a little…useless." The sentence ended in a whisper. As if saying out loud made her realize the truth in the statement.

Asami couldn't deny that Korra hadn't been called upon much in the last five years. After Republic City was destroyed for the second time and the Earth Kingdom was torn apart by Kuvira, measures were taken to better protect the future.

In a lot of ways, Korra had become nothing more than a figurehead. A past hero people took strength from, but never asked for help.

"So what do you want to do?" Asami asked simply enough. It would be easy to draw this out. To take deeper meaning into the things Korra is saying, but she knew better. She knew that Korra was just searching.

Slowly, Korra turned to look Asami in the eyes. She was wearing a soft, hopeful smile. "I want to be able to find happiness like this. To…be okay with just being here, with you. With Tenzin's family, with Mako and Bolin. I don't know if the world will need me to be the Avatar again any time soon. I need to find a way to be happy until it does."

"Okay," Asami nodded, reaching over and laying a hand on Korra's knee. "Tell me how we do it, and the almighty CEO of Future Industries will make it happen." Asami smiled brightly, prepared to give Korra the world.

There was a nervous look in Korra's eyes as she laid her own hand atop Asami's and stared anxiously into her eyes.

"I—I," Korra sighed, clearing her throat before letting out a nervous huff. She resettled and found her confidence. "What do you think about starting a family?"

Asami's hand jerked away from Korra.

"Oh…"

Hurt washed over Korra's features almost as soon as Asami pulled her hand away.

The look in Korra's eyes made Asami feel miserable. "Korra I—"

"Delivery!" It was Ikki, racing up towards them with a bouquet of fire lilies. Asami couldn't decide if it was good timing or bad. "Korra these are for you!"

Almost working not to look at Asami, Korra pushed herself up off the ground and grabbed the vase from Ikki. "Thank you for bringing them to me." She offered, tousling Ikki's hair and earning a very cute groan.

"Who are they from?" Ikki asked, already glancing in Asami's direction.

Korra opened the card and read it.

"To Korra, these are to make you smile, love Asami."

When Korra looked at her again, there was a distance in her eyes. An unsettling discomfort that Asami couldn't stand. "Thank you, I love you." Korra forced a smile and Asami could only nod.

"I love you too, Korra." She returned, wanting desperately to continue their conversation. She was just about to send Ikki away when—

"Come on, Ikki. Let's go find somewhere nice to put these."

Asami can only watch as Korra guided Ikki away towards the temple. She threw her head back and stared up at the ceiling above her.

"Well you could have handled that better, Sato."

Chapter Text

"Why am I here again?" Mako asked, for the third time. Rin was about to strangle him.

"You're here because I was bored and hate driving out all this way on my own. Now go knock on the door and see if anyone is alive in there."

Mako furrowed his brow at her. "Why am I knocking? It's your call!"

"Hey, you came out here with me! You can't just tag along and do nothing, Help a girl out!"

"Ugh, you are just—" he trailed off and stepped out of the Satomobile, not moving until he heard Rin follow.

They were in a fairly downtrodden neighborhood, full of loud and obnoxious noises. The surrounding buildings were showing signs of decline from years of neglect and abuse

Mako climbed the steps to the front door and knocked.

"Police, welfare check. Anybody home?" He waited, looking to Rin who seemed utterly bored and uninterested. There was no response on the other side, he raised his eyebrows and she shrugged. Again he knocked. "This is the police, if there's someone in there speak now or I'll be forced to enter."

Rin sighed. "You're so by the book. Here…" she stepped in front of him. "Hey! Open the damn door or we're gonna burn it down and rip your ass for ignoring the authorities!"

"Oh I'm sure that will have them rushing to let us in." Mako rolled his eyes.

Again though, there was nothing. Just quiet and darkness as they peeked through the nearby window. Mako groaned. Situations like this usually didn't end well.

"How long since they've seen movement in the home?" He asked, his hand lingering on the door handle.

"Two weeks." Rin said flatly, knowing what he was thinking.

Mako nodded and pressed on the locked door, it budged just a bit. He could force it open easily enough. He stepped back and took another step into the door and it gave way. The weak frame easily caved under his weight.

The smell hit him almost immediately. It was thick and rotten, enough that it made Rin violently retch and stumble out the door.

Mako pulled the collar of his shirt up a little further, covering the lower half of his face. He lit a fire in his palm and began to shuffle through the darkness.

The place was a disaster, furniture turned over, glass shards on the ground. There was definitely a struggle, he didn't need to be a detective to figure that out.

In the distance he saw a door, it was slightly ajar and the smell was growing stronger.

With a sharp exhale, Mako pushed the door open and saw the sight of gore almost immediately.

It was a body, a man, tied to a chair with his head lulled back,what was left of it, at any rate.. There was a massive hole in the man's head going all the way through. Stains of dried blood covered the ground below him.

It was more than a murder. This was an execution.

"Fuck…" Rin mumbled. Mako turned to see her standing in the doorway. All her earlier bravado was gone. She was pale and staring at the body like she'd never seen a death up close before.

That was when Mako realized she hadn't.

"Go radio the station, we need a team here to set up a crime scene." Suddenly Mako's by-the-book style seemed to comfort her. She nodded and rushed away.

Still hidden under the cover of his jacket, Mako took a deep breath and turned back to the body. That's when he saw it. Something was resting in the man's lap; a piece of paper folded into origami. He walked over and picked it up, desperately trying not to focus too much on the gruesome corpse that he had to move towards to grab the origami.

When he had it, Mako shuffled back to the doorway and unfolded it.

It's a note, only two words.

FOR BALANCE

"Asami!" Varrick's voice brought with it an immediate headache. She winced, tried to ignore it, but knew he'd be next to her soon.

After the incident with Korra, Asami decided to come back to work and make sure everything was in order for the grand opening tonight.

For the past three years, Future Industries had been working on an underground railway system to connect all of Republic City and make for even more efficient travel. It had cost a couple million yuans to make, but the cost was easily acceptable because the return would come back nearly double in the first year alone.

Public transportation in Republic City was crowded at best and the idea came to Asami when she realized how much more work it would be to build a railway system around the spirit portal in the middle of the city. Building it underground would not only help with more direct travel, but it would just look better.

"Hey! Asami!" Varrick called to her again, she had her back to the door of the office, burying herself in paperwork to avoid thinking about Korra. "Asaaaaami!" He dragged her name out and she turned abruptly.

"What?" She screamed, making him jump a little, but he smoothly recovered.

"What do you think?" Asami saw that he was holding up two suits. One was blue, the other was white, other than that they were nearly identical. "Which do you think Zhu Li would prefer?"

Asami sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. "I don't know, Varrick. She married you, clearly she's okay with whatever crazy thing you do. I don't really think it matters."

"You're right! I'm a great date in any color!" He tossed the blue suit to the side and proudly held up the white one. "We have a winner! Oh, before I forget. President Raiko wanted me to tell you that he plans to make a speech at the opening tonight!"

"What? Why?"

Varrick was already putting on the suit jacket right in front of her. "I don't know. Something about wanting to speak on the accomplishment of the whole thing. New railway, big changes to the city. Personally, I think he just wants to steal my thunder!"

She could feel the anger boiling over. Her eyes narrowed, her fists tightened. It took every ounce of strength she had not to slug him in the mouth.

"Raiko had absolutely nothing to do with this project. Other than give his approval. Beyond that he's sat on his ass trying to slow my progress down at every turn because I was 'disturbing the city'!"

Varrick was utterly unfazed by her outburst. "Well, he's calling it his project, so be ready for that. Oh! Maybe I should wear a bow tie with this suit!"

Suddenly all of Asami's anger shifted into misery. Korra was mad at her, Raiko was turning the opening of one of her biggest projects into his own re-election rally. It was not that she cared about credit, she doesn't. But this was the last three years of her life. She wanted to enjoy it. More so than that, she wanted to enjoy it with Korra and that was seeming less likely with each second they didn't speak.

"Varrick can you please leave? I'm sure Zhu Li will help you pick out a tie." When Asami sat at her desk, she looked up to see him half pulling his pants down. "What are you doing?!"

He stopped, eyeing her curiously. "You…don't want to see me in the full ensemble?"

"No!"

"Oh," he pulled his pants up. "Well you should have said so. But you're not getting the full effect like this! You will tonight, though! See you then boss!"

Then just as fast as he arrived, Varrick was gone and Asami stared at the speech she'd been planning for the opening.

It didn't matter. She told herself that, but it honestly did matter. It was her project, her energy and effort. She'd poured so much into it.

Still, she took her speech and pulled a lighter from the top drawer of her desk.

From the corner, Asami set the speech on fire and just stared at it for a moment.

Nobody needs to know how the work is done, so long as it's done.

This made her smile, a quote from her father when she was younger. it always made her laugh because he told her this then stuck his last name on his greatest invention.

As the fire consumed the pages, she tossed them into the trash and doused it with water.

Raiko could have his speech. People will be riding the Satorail long after all of them are gone.

By the time Asami finally made it home, Korra was sitting on a couch in their living room, fully dressed for the party.

She looked beautiful, her dark blue and white water tribe dress was draped perfectly across her body. Korra's long, dark hair hung down her back and slightly across her shoulders. The only thing missing was a bright smile. Korra's face was distant and upset.

Asami spoke first. "Hi."

"Hey." Korra answered quietly. "I—I uh, I laid your dress out for you."

"Thank you," Asami smiled, fidgeting with her hands and shuffling her feet from side to side. She and Korra didn't fight very often. So when it did happen, Asami never knew what to do.

When it became clear that Korra wasn't going to say anything else, Asami sighed and made her way to the bedroom.

When she reached the room she found Naga curled up on the floor. The polar-bear dog raised her head up to greet Asami. Letting out a soft whine, seeking attention.

"Hey girl," Asami knelt down beside Naga and gently rubbed her chin. A moment later Naga pushed her massive head into Asami's chest and Asami had no choice but to hug Naga fully. "Aw, well at least I haven't upset you yet."

After giving Naga a good rub down, Asami stood up and evaluated her dress for the evening. It was perfectly laid out across the bed.

It didn't take her long to shower and change into the dress. Asami took extra time putting on her make up.

Her mind wandered to Korra, sitting on their couch stewing in her own aggravation. It was hard for Asami to gauge a response to Korra's request of starting a family. She had thought about it before, of course, but it was always so far away.

Asami twisted a fresh stick of lipstick and colored red across her lips. She just wanted to make this better, to make the night better. She wanted to enjoy it, not spend it in awkward silences and unanswered questions.

Once she was finished, Asami picked up a bag to match her dress and stepped back into the living room.

There was a bit of a reprieve when Korra saw her. Asami knew the dress looked good on her, it's why she chose it. The A-line cut of the red skirt caused the billowy fabric to flow as Asami walked, like gossamer angel wings trailing behind her.

Korra gaped at her for a moment, blushing a bit when she met Asami's eyes and was given a smile. Korra then took a deep breath and smiled in return before holding out her hand. "Ready to go?"

"Absolutely." Asami answered, taking Korra's hand as they stepped out of the apartment together.

The ride in Asami's Satomobile was quiet. There wasn't as much tension between them, but still, nobody had said anything. Korra was staring out the window at the city passing by. Asami wanted to say something, but she didn't know what it would be. She was, still, unsure of where she stood on the situation.

Korra wanted a family, but Asami was worried about her own wants. About Korra's wants. What if this was just a phase because she was feeling unnecessary in her usual role?

What if—

No, she couldn't dwell on that now. It wouldn't do anything but ruin her mood. She needed to be focused on tonight. A part of her knew she was being selfish, but this opening just had to go well. .

Still, Korra let out a heavy sigh next to her and laid her head back against the seat, her mind was clearly lost in their earlier conversation.

Before either could broach the subject again, they were met with a slew of parked cars outside the entrance of the party. It was Asami's idea to have the party in the lobby of the stations main entrance underground. She would do the honors of cutting the ribbon, let Raiko make his stupid speech and then they would all take a ceremonial ride on the rail to Future Industries and back.

Asami parked the car towards the back. There was a slew of reporters waiting at the entrance as various big names of Republic City arrived.

Glancing in Korra's direction, Asami saw her adjusting her dress as she opened the door and stepped out.

"You up for this?" Asami asked, grinning a bit.

Korra laughed softly. "Used to it at least."

When Asami climbed out of the car she walked around to the sidewalk with Korra and was greeted by her wife linking their arms together.

When they reached the mass of people at the entrance, all eyes suddenly turned to them. Cameras were flashing, voices were bellowing out to them, it was chaotic, but familiar.

Asami simply smiled and put her hand up. "Relax, everyone. We know tonight is a big night. I'll answer a few questions before taking my lovely date inside for dancing." Asami then pointed to a cute little reporter who was raising her hand while pushing up on her glasses. "You first."

The girl smiled and immediately looked to her notepad. "Miss Sato, for the Republic City Booklet. What do you say to people who are worried about traveling underground and have concerns of collapse or being trapped?"

"Ah," Asami smiled, standing a little straighter. "I would tell them that Future Industries always puts safety first. We have tested the rail an endless number of times. All the specs for the design have been poured over by myself and many other engineers within the company. We've accounted for any and all scenario that may occur. I will put my family name on the line in saying that there is no safer means of travel than the Satorail. Except maybe the Satomobile." She smirked, drawing laughs from the reports and a soft chuckle from her wife at her side.

Asami answered a couple more questions. Most involving the cost and efficiency of the Satorail. It felt a bit strange, to look over at Korra and see her being so completely ignored. She smiled for the pictures, hugged Asami when asked to by the photographers and played the part of proud partner perfectly.

Still, it was strange. As if they world had forgotten who Korra was and what she had done.

When they finally made their way down the steps to the platform where the party was being thrown, Korra excused herself to use the bathroom. She gave Asami a kiss (it felt genuine and Asami welcomed it) before slipping away to the restrooms that would be scattered all around the platform.

Asami went to one of the catering tables to pour herself and Korra a drink when she felt a pair of big hands grab her shoulders.

"Asami!" Bolin cried, drawing Asami's attention as she turned to see Bolin, a huge smile on his face. "Your big night. This place is so cool!" He looked around dreamily at the underground platform. "I can't wait to ride this thing!"

A smile graced Asami's lips. "It's pretty neat to see it all finished. I pictured it in my mind for a long time. To see it like this makes all the work worth it."

"I know what you mean. Seeing the shelter like it is now is so cool."

"How's that going?" Asami asked, guiding Bolin away from the catering area to her reserved table.

"So good!" He beamed. "We've actually had a few kids start coming in already. It was only like three and they just stayed the night, then ate breakfast and left but still it was really great. I'm hoping word of mouth will spread."

Asami nodded, her mind already working. "We could put up some signs and billboards to help guide people to it. I have some billboard space downtown that Future Industries has claims on, I could direct some of it your way."

"Oh, Asami that'd be great! But you've done so much for me already." He shook his head at her, smiling bashfully.

"Nonsense," Asami waved him off. "You're doing amazing work, Bolin. I'm happy to help."

A moment later, the table filled up even more as Korra and Opal both returned together.

"I see you found my better half!" Bolin boasts, gesturing towards Korra who sits down next to Asami as Opal does the same next to Bolin.

Before any of them could say another word, the sound of a clinking glass filled the room. They all turned to see President Raiko standing proudly next to the Satorail. Asami immediately tensed and felt Korra take her hand.

"Good evening everyone! I am so honored that you are all here as we take another historic step in modernizing our beloved city. Tonight, we transform the future of travel in Republic City with this state of the art underground monorail."

Asami felt her rage bubbling over. Her hard work and effort was being completely ignored by this arrogant gasbag. Her fists were clenched so tightly that Asami thought her nails might break the skin of her palm. She was ready to stand, ready to scream, when the person next to her rose first.

"Um, I'm sorry to interrupt. Avatar Korra Sato here." She waved goofily around the crowd, not caring about the stares she was receiving. "I'll be quick. It's called the Satorail, you know, because Asami Sato put in years of work to design and build it from absolutely nothing." Korra touched her wife's shoulder, Asami was smiling so hard her face hurt. "Sorry Raiko, I just wanted to help you keep all of your facts straight. I know you're so busy, you have trouble with that sometimes. Please, continue." With a crooked grin, Korra sat down again next to Asami and turned to her.

"Thank you." Asami whispered, only loud enough for Korra to hear.

There was a silence over the room for a good thirty seconds before President Raiko cleared his throat and continued.

"Yes, thank you Avatar Korra for reminding us of the value your wife brought to this project. How about a round of applause for Miss Sato and all of Future Industries."

The applause came and Asami stood up to humbly greet them. She didn't care though, all that mattered was Korra coming to her aid, without even having to ask. She loved her so much.

When the speech finally ended and the music started, Opal dragged a very accommodating Bolin onto the platform area that was set up for dancing.

Asami, still riding high after the performance of Korra, stood up and offered her hand.

"May I have this dance, Korra Sato?"

A blush colored Korra's cheeks as she took the proffered hand and followed Asami to the dance floor. "Of course."

The song was slow as Korra pulled Asami in close and wrapped her arms around Asami's neck. In kind, Asami's hands found their way to Korra's hips and they swayed back and forth.

The closeness was comforting, seemingly melting away all the earlier tension as Asami dropped a gentle kiss to Korra's neck, just above her betrothal necklace.

After a while, Asami pulled away and stared into Korra's familiar blue eyes. "Hey,"

"Hi," Korra smiled. "I'm sorry." She looked away as she spoke.

Asami shook her head quickly. "No, don't be. Don't apologize for wanting things, for thinking about our future. You just surprised me and I reacted badly. If this is important to you, Korra, then we need to discuss it. I want to."

"Really?" Korra beamed.

"Of course. Tomorrow? We'll get up in the morning, I'll make breakfast and we'll figure it out, okay?"

With a heavy sigh and a contented expression, Korra nodded and settled her head back on Asami's shoulder.

"Good, because I have other plans for tonight."

"Oh?"

Korra laughed into Asami's neck, her breath tickling the skin. "In that dress? Are you kidding me? It's a shame I'm gonna rip it off of you."

Asami let out a chuckle and held Korra closer.

"So what happened?" Lin Beifong descended the few steps from the front door to where Mako was leaning on the hood of Rin's car. She crossed her arms and leveled a hard stare in his direction.

"Welfare check, I tagged along with Rin. We went in and the guy was dead. Just…left here."

Over his shoulder, Mako could see Rin sitting in her car, still a bit shaken. He was genuinely surprised it was still bothering her.

Lin followed his gaze and then when their eyes met again, she huffed. "New kid doesn't seem to have the stomach for this stuff."

"It's not something you get used to." Mako defended, not really sure why.

"Who said anything about getting used to it? It's her job. Now, tell me about the note."

Reaching behind him, Mako picked up the note now neatly tucked into an evidence bag and held it up. "It was folded into origami when I found it. No idea what it means."

Lin studied the note for a moment, then grabbed it from his hands to look closer. "Balance." She cast her gaze up to him. "That word sound familiar to you?"

"Korra?" Mako returned, he'd thought of that already.

"Sounds about right."

Mako can only sigh. "Do you want me to tell her about it? Or do you—"

"No," Lin said, shaking her head.

"What?"

"We don't need to bring her in until we know more. It's useless and it'll just piss her off and we don't need her interfering." Lin's voice carried no room for debate.

Still, Mako snuck in an argument. "But she's the avatar. It's her duty to interfere."

"Not with small time stuff like this. One dead guy isn't really worthy of calling in the big gun."

Mako stood up. "Still, if someone is killing and trying to send a message to Korra, she has a right to know!"

"Do you know who that victim in there is?" Lin asked irritably, looking over her shoulder at the open door of the crime scene. Mako shrugged slowly. "That's Ken Tao. One of the meanest pro bending bookies in the entire city. He hurts people, detective. People who get caught up in his lies and silly games. He's paid off benders, he's paid off entire teams to put people in debt to him. And when they don't pay, he makes them suffer." Lin let out a grunt. Mako almost thought it was a laugh. "Well, he did."

"So…wait," Mako scratched the back of his neck. "He's a bad guy?"

Lin chuckled. "Believe it or not, detective. Bad guys do piss people off enough that they get what's coming to them."

"Okay, but that still doesn't explain why we'd leave Korra in the dark."

He could tell she was growing frustrated, her stance stiffened, her eyes narrowed. "We're not leaving her in the dark. We're doing our job. We're the police. We figure out why this happened. Korra's the Avatar. We don't call her in for every little death that happens in this city. If we need her, we'll find her. For now, do your job, figure out who did this, why they did it and forget about Korra. She'll know when she needs to know!"

Lin shoved the note back into his chest before stomping away back into the crime scene.

Chapter Text

“Okay!” Tenzin’s voice carried through the silence, making Opal jump. Much to her chagrin as she had just managed to settle into a good nap. It was early though, so early, and meditating was never Opal’s strong suit. She blinked a few times, snickering when Tenzin used his foot to slightly poke at Meelo next to him who was also fast asleep in the lotus position.

“Five more minutes!” Meelo whined, falling over to his side and just giving up the charade.

Tenzin rolled his eyes and turned back to the rest of the group.

“That was a wonderful morning session. Remember, we’ll have an airbending training session in the afternoon. Until then you are free to roam the temple. I think it is a great opportunity for self-inspec—“ he stopped short, clearing his throat and shifting his robes uncomfortably. “Self-reflection and relaxation. If you wish to start training earlier, my brother Bumi is at the training grounds. See you in the afternoon!”

With that, everyone dispersed in varying directions, talking to one another and chatting lively.

Opal had no idea what she was going to do with the rest of her day. She stood up, dusted off her robes and turned to seek out breakfast.

“Hey!” Kai chirped, making Opal squeak as he suddenly appeared at her side.

“Oh spirits! You nearly gave me a heart attack! Why are you so sneaky?”

Kai offered her a familiar smirk. “Was kinda my means of survival. Plus I’m light, my footsteps are soft.”

Opal rolled her eyes. “Is there something that I can do for you or were you just trying to scare me?”

“No, I had something I wanted to ask you.” He then peaked over Opal’s shoulder at Tenzin who was still trying to wake Meelo up. His face was turning a light shade of red with each time he sternly called to his son. “Come over here.” Kai said, turning and waiting for Opal to follow.

“Okay, but we’re going to breakfast. I am starving!” Opal said, pointing towards the kitchen.

Kai laughed. “Bolin is really rubbing off on you isn’t he?” Opal simply shrugged. “Speaking of Bolin, well not really Bolin but just…relationships. I—I have something to tell you.”

Opal gasped dramatically. “Is Bolin leaving me for you?” She threw her head back and covered her face with a forearm. “Oh Kai, please treat him well! Tell him I love him!”

“What are you doing?” Kai asked, trying not to laugh at her outburst

“Sorry,” Opal chuckled at herself. “Bo and I have this routine of over acting when we talk.”

“Well in case you didn’t notice, I’m about a third the size of your giant boyfriend.” Opal sighed dreamily and Kai made a face. “Anyways, can I tell you my thing now?” He asked and she nodded. Kai looked back to Tenzin again to make sure they were far enough away.

He then reached into his robe and pulled out a very small box. When he flipped it open, a ring stared back at Opal. It wasn’t anything fancy, no diamond or shimmering rock. Just a band, silver and resting comfortably.

She stared at the ring, then back at him, then back at the ring once more. Then suddenly, her eyes went extremely wide. “You’re going to propose to Jinora!” Opal squealed and a moment later Kai’s hand was covering her face and staring in Tenzin’s direction in panic. Opal mumbled her excitement into his palm for another few seconds before he dragged her even further away towards a fountain and made her sit down.

“Really? You had to scream it? He was right there!”

Opal laughed. “Kai, I know you’re still tense around Tenzin but I think he knows you’re in love with his daughter. They do let the two of you share a room here.”

“I know, but this is big, you know? I—I want to do it right. I want to ask for permission and everything. I just…I don’t know how to approach it.”

“And you thought coming to me was a good idea?” Opal scoffed a bit. “Kai, I’m not even married. Why didn’t you go to Korra? She’s the last one to propose.”

“Yeah, to Asami.” He said dryly. “Those two were practically married when they came out of the Spirit World. The wedding was just a formality.”

The last sentence drew a bit of suspicion from Opal. She quirked a brow at him and grinned. “You’re not worried about Tenzin, are you?” Kai pursed his lips and looked away. “Aww, you’re so cute!”

“Ugh, will you stop that! It’s not cute. It’s annoying. I can’t stop…doubting myself.” Opal frowned. “It’s—I’m not used to it.”

“Kai, why are you doubting yourself?”

He took a long, deep breath and sat down on the fountain’s edge next to her. He stared intently at the box in his hand.

“Every single day, Jinora becomes more and more amazing, you know? She’s doing so much now. People come to her for help. She’s connected to our world, the Spirit World. She’s so smart and has such a huge heart. I just—she could have anyone she wanted. Why would she settle down with me?”

As soon as he finished, Opal wrapped her arm over his shoulder. “Kai, Jinora is already settled down with you. I’ve seen the two of you. You make her smile after the long days when she’s swamped with helping people. She calms you down when you get bored and irritable. The two of you click, you have from the moment you met her. I know because she’s told me this before.”

It was strange to see Kai this way. So unsure of himself.

Still, he took in her words and nodded with a bit of that old smirk returning. “You’re right. I’ll never know if I don’t ask, right?” He stood up, but Opal grabbed his arm to stop him.

“I do think though, that it would be very sweet if you got permission from her father first.” She gestured to Tenzin, who at this point was carrying Meelo over his shoulder back to the temple. Talking grumpily to himself.

Kai grimaced. “Really?”

Opal shrugged. “They are a pretty old fashioned family."

“Yeah…” He sighed with defeat, tucking the ring into his robe again. “Thanks for the help, Opal.”

Opal then airbent herself quickly so that she was standing on the lip of the fountain, hands on her hips, staring distantly into the sky.

“That’s what Nuktuk is here for, citizen. To help the helpless!”

Kai rolled his eyes. “Thank the Spirits you make each other laugh.”

———

Bolin was still a bit groggy as he made his way into the shelter in the morning. His mood immediately picked up however when he saw the place bustling with people. Quickly, he raced over to one of the overnight guardians.

“Wow! There’s like seven people here! Did they all stay overnight?”

The guardian, to her credit after a long night, smiled up at Bolin. “Only four did, the other three came in this morning for the free food I think.”

“Wow!” He repeated, nothing could defuse his excitement. “This is so great. Asami’s going to put up billboards to get us more recognition. If that works I think we’ll open more of these!”

“One thing though,” the woman said, drawing Bolin’s attention. “One of the boys who came in last night had a pretty bad wound on his hand.”

“Aw, what happened to the little guy?”

Bolin was met with a derisive look. “For starters, I think he was punching something, or better yet someone.” Bolin’s eyes went wide. “Yes, we’re talking about a teenager, perhaps no older than seventeen.”

“What did he do when he showed up? When did he show up?”

“Around midnight. He stumbled in and asked where the beds were. I pointed him in the direction but wouldn’t let him go until his hand was fixed. He shouted at me, all bluster and nonsense. We finally convinced him to let us patch him up. I wasn’t about to let him get blood on the sheets we just washed that morning. After that he just went to bed, woke up this morning and sat down at that pai sho board on the far end.”

As she pointed, Bolin followed her index finger to see a kid sitting guardedly at the back of a pai sho table. He was leaning against the wall, his knee tucked up onto the seat, resting his chin on it. Just watching everyone around him.

He looked familiar. Not that Bolin knew him, but just reminded him of someone. Mako perhaps? When they were younger and living on the streets. Cranky, guarded Mako always doing whatever he could to get by.

Maybe that was what this kid was doing? Struggling to make it? Fighting people to survive another day.

Bolin felt the urge to help this kid grow too strong in his chest.

“I’m gonna go talk to him.”

Before the woman could respond, Bolin was moving towards the table.

He stroked the growing goatee on his face as he sauntered up to the table and casually sat down.

“Looking for a partner for a game?” He asked, smirking.

The boy rolled his eyes. “No.”

“You afraid I might beat you?”

“No, I’m afraid someone might see me playing this dumb ass game.”

Bolin frowned. “What? Pai sho is an amazing game of strategy and a true test of will!”

The kid did not look impressed. “Can I do something for you?”

“Hey I’m just making pleasant conversation.”

“You are?”

A laugh escaped Bolin. “You really are hard to talk to aren’t you?” Bolin held his smile. “I’m Bolin by the way.”

“I didn’t ask,” the kid glared. “In fact, I didn’t ask you to come and talk to me.”

Frustrated, Bolin threw his head back and groaned. “Come on! Don’t make this so hard. If you don’t want to play pai sho then that’s fine. But I’m trying to be nice, at least tell me your name.”

There was a long pause, both of them just staring at one another. The kid glaring, Bolin grinning. A real true of wills indeed.

“Ugh, fine!” The kid cried out and Bolin clapped triumphantly. “My name is Jin. Now it’s my turn to ask a question.”

“Of course! I’m an open book!”

Jin leveled a hard stare on Bolin. Bolin leaned in as well, wondering if perhaps some deep and dark secret was about to be shared.

“Why do you have that stupid thing on your face?”

Bolin burst out laughing at this, holding his gut, throwing his head back in a vibrant chortle. He took a moment to settle down. “If you knew how silly that question was.” He was still laughing, clearly affronting Jin by not being at all offended. “My girlfriend loves the facial hair. And if you saw my amazing girlfriend you’d understand how bad of a question that is because if she likes it, it stays and her opinion definitely carries more weight than yours does.” With a hearty sigh, Bolin wiped at the tears in his eyes. “Oh, this was fun. Now it’s my turn.” He tilted his head at Jin who had crossed his arms in disgust. “What happened to your hand?”

Like a burst of fire, the kid stood up from his seat and tucked his damaged hand into his pocket. “We’re done, chuckles.”

“Aw come on, don’t be like that! Maybe I can help you.”

Jin laughed humorlessly. “There’s no help for me.”

He walked out of the shelter before Bolin could ask another question.

———

The morning sun peeked in through the slightly open curtains of the bedroom and drew Korra awake slowly. She rolled onto her back, uncovering from the blanket and opened her eyes.

She felt good, like…really good. Nights with Asami had a way of doing that to her. Despite not having any frame of reference to compare to, Korra was fairly certain that sex with Asami Sato was better than any sex there was in the world.

It hadn’t been easy for them at first. Asami had little experience with girls, a few kisses and touches. While Korra was completely untrained in intimacy at all. With either gender.

A smile touched her lips at the memory. She had been so nervous. Her hands shaking as she fought with her own mind about what to take off of Asami first. Where to touch, what pressure to use. If her mouth should be involved at all. It didn’t help either that Korra was so overwhelmed with happiness that she started crying during the whole thing.

Thankfully Asami was a practiced Korra-bender because she calmed her down, brushed off her tears, told her to speak up and the most important part of their sexual relationship was born. Communication.

Now, five years later, they could set the mood with a look and change the pace with a sound. It was perfect.

It also helped that mornings after sex usually started with Korra smelling food cooking in the kitchen. As she did right now. Which usually meant her performance the night before had put Asami in an equally good mood.

Standing up, Korra shuffled to the bathroom and ran her hands through her hair. It was longer now, as long as it had ever been. She wore it down more than she used to. It made her look older and that was something she had to remind people of more often than not.

The world had a way of still seeing her as the teenager that stumbled through the city with her polar-bear dog all those years ago.

Taking a step back, Korra raised her right arm up into view and flexed. The muscles shaped at the motion and she nodded.

“Still got it.” She said to no one in particular before striking a few more poses.

“Mmm,” Korra jumped at the soft hum from the doorway and turned to see Asami leaning on the frame watching her. “Breakfast and a show.”

Korra blushed profusely, lowering her head with a gentle laugh. “Just…making sure I still had it.”

Asami pushed off the doorframe and sauntered over to Korra. She reached out and wrapped her hand around the bicep of her wife, squeezing it with a dreamy sigh.

“I think you’re good,” she said, breathlessly as her fingers traced up the curve of her shoulder before dipping down to the collarbone. Asami ghosted her hand over Korra’s breast

Korra gasped, peeking up through the cascade of her hair and set her eyes on Asami with a shallow breath. Asami closed the distance between them and caught Korra in a passionate kiss, pushing her back into the wall.

Five years, and each kiss still felt like the very first one.

When the kiss broke, Korra came up for air with short, sharp breaths and Asami’s lips were red from the pressure. Korra reached up, tucked a strand of hair behind Asami’s ear and smiled.

“Asami?”

“Hmm,” Asami hummed into Korra’s skin.

“The toilet paper roll is poking me in the butt.” She said and Asami burst out laughing before lovingly wrapping Korra into her arms.

She then took Korra by the hand and pulled her out of the bathroom. “Here, get dressed and we’ll have some breakfast.” She tossed Korra a white tank top and a pair of blue sweats before returning to the kitchen

A few minutes later Korra came out to see two plates sitting on the counter with Asami already starting on hers. Korra pulled up a seat across from her and took in the smell.

“Sooo good. How are you so good at everything?”

“Well you know I can’t bend elements to save my life.” Asami said, making Korra smile.

“Pretty sure you bent all four elements last night,’ Korra winked, making Asami blush before taking another bite.

After a minute or so of silence, Asami sat her utensil down and put her hands on the table. She was nervous, of course she was.

They’d promised to have this conversation and dammit they were going to.

So she waited, tried not to look anxious and let Korra finish her breakfast

Fortunately Korra was a quick eater, and soon enough she was staring back at Asami, looking at her curiously.

“You okay?”

Asami nodded, taking a deep breath. “Yeah, I just…I’m ready to talk. Tell me what you want, Korra.”

Suddenly Asami’s nervousness seeped over to Korra, who bit her lip and looked away. It was a big deal. They both knew it. This was their future. It needed to be as in sync as possible.

“Okay,” Korra nodded, psyching herself up. Asami grinned slightly. “First of all, I want to say that no matter where the conversation goes. I love you and I plan to go to bed next to you tonight and tell you the exact same thing.”

Asami took Korra’s hand across the table. “Of course. I love you too, sleep next to you. All of that.”

“Good,” Korra said. “Good. Okay, bottom line. I—I’m ready. I want to have a baby.”

Letting the words hang over them for a moment, Asami decided to press for more information. It was a strategy she used in nearly every situation. Evaluate all the facts before responding.

“Okay, now when you say ‘have a baby’ you mean—“

“Adopt! I mean unless you want to carry a child?” Asami quickly shook her head. “Yeah, I don’t want to either. Spirits could you imagine me pregnant? I’d burn the entire Air Temple down.” She laughed sardonically at herself. “Plus I’m not even sure how we’d do that. I don’t want to think about it. It’s not an option.”

“So you want to adopt?” Korra nodded, her eyes so hopeful at Asami’s questions. “Can I—“ Asami sighed, searching for the right words. “I need to know why, Korra.”

“What?”

“Why do you want this? Why now? Why so suddenly?”

Korra’s hand slipped away from Asami. “Suddenly? Asami I’ve been thinking about this for a long time.”

“You have?”

“Yes,” Korra said matter-of-factly. “I’ve always loved kids, you know that. Why wouldn’t I want to have my own? And adopting kids is so great. To give someone a home when they don’t have one. Asami we can do that, and then some. We can give them a great home!”

Asami nodded slowly. Korra was right. They were at the right age to do this. They were more than financially set. The circumstances were perfect

Still, it was just so…sudden.

“Korra,” Asami’s tone immediately upset her wife. “I just…I worry that you’re not seeing the big picture.”

“I’m not a child, Asami. I see the whole picture.” She snapped back.

Asami was determined to keep her voice steady. “Okay, but I just know how much fun you have with Tenzin’s kids. It’s just that I worry that that is all you’re seeing. You’re not thinking about the crying and the messes and how hard it is to be a parent. We would be taking a life and having full responsibility of it.”

“I know that!” Korra pleaded and moved to take Asami’s hands into her own. Almost trying to will Asami into being where she was “Sami, I’ve been taking care of people my whole life. Since I was seventeen and came to the city, I’ve been taking care of everyone here. I know having a baby is different. It’s…not a job. It’s a privilege and I can just feel it, you know? It’s like a pull. There’s a voice in my head that I’ve been trying to escape for months that is telling me we need to do this.”

Tears were brimming in Asami’s eyes as she held Korra’s hands tightly. Afraid of letting them go, afraid of what she was going to say. Just afraid.

“That’s the magic word, Korra. We. What if I’m not ready?”

A realization washed over Korra in that moment. It settled into the pit of her stomach and took away the excitement in her eyes. But understanding replaced that emotion and she laced her fingers through Asami’s.

“Are you not?”

Asami sighed, using a free hand to brush at a fallen tear. “I don’t know. I honestly just wasn’t prepared for it. I haven’t thought of it, not with this much certainty. Can you…can you give me some time? A couple days to think it over?”

Korra nodded immediately. “Yes, absolutely. Sami you can have as much time as you need. Just as long as you’re thinking about it.” Korra gathered up Asami in her arms and rubbed her back as Asami settled herself down and embraced her wife.

“Korra,” she spoke, drawing back to look into Korra’s eyes. “What if I’m not ready?”

“Then it’s just like I said. I’ll still love you, and I’ll still go to bed next to you every night.”

Asami relaxed immensely and pulled Korra’s hand up to her lips and kissed it. She then turned, still holding Korra, and pulled her out of the kitchen.

“What are you doing?” Korra asked, not hesitating to follow.

“There’s only one way to relax after a heavy conversation like that.” Asami said, glancing wistfully over her shoulder

Korra raced forward and scooped Asami into her arms bridal style. The sounds of laughter filling the apartment.

Dipping her arms down to her knees, Asami was teetering in her grip and let out a screech. A moment later Korra curled her back up against her chest.

Asami gasped in shock. “Are you bicep curling your wife?!” She couldn’t stop herself from laughing (and being extremely aroused)

“Maybe.” Korra said before repeating the exact same motion, this time ending by pulling Asami up for a kiss.

“You are such a showoff!” Asami said, letting her legs escape Korra’s arms before settling on her feet and pulling Korra in for a kiss. It was passionate this time. Asami snaking out her tongue to trace across Korra’s bottom lip. A request. Accepted almost immediately as Korra’s mouth opened and greedily took in Asami’s tongue.

They kissed for a short while, hands tangled in one another’s hair, bodies smashed together. Asami greedily pawing at every muscle on Korra’s back as a hand slipped through the waistband of her pajamas to grab the soft flesh of Asami’s butt.

Asami broke the kiss first, smiling when Korra whimpered a bit. However, Korra’s disappointment vanished quickly when Asami pulled her oversized white shirt over her head and tossed it onto the floor.

Five years later, the sight of Asami’s naked chest still did things Korra couldn’t explain. She dipped her head down, kissing along Asami’s collarbone and between the swell of her chest.

Asami’s fingers grabbed onto her hair gently, guiding her down as Korra continued to lay open mouth kisses along her stomach.

When Korra came back up, she tasted the peak one of Asami’s breasts. The warmth of her mouth encircling it as her hand cupped the other.

Asami cried out, throwing her head back as Korra backed her up to the bed. When Asami’s knees struck the side, she felt Korra’s hands at her back, guiding her to lie down, never tearing her mouth away from Asami’s body.

Korra traced her tongue over the flesh, manipulated it with her lips and feeling Asami press the back of her head, begging for more contact.

She released Asami’s breast finally with an audible pop that made Asami giggle and Korra glance up at her with a smirk.

“What do you want?” Korra asked, ready to please.

“Come here.” Asami said, scooting up on the bed and giving Korra room to crawl onto the bed. Asami laid back, her hands pushing her sweat pants down.

Korra reached out to help her and together they took away her pants and Asami was laid bare before her wife.

“Asami,” Korra sighed, looking her up and down. “You’re so beautiful. I’m so lucky.” She grabbed Asami’s leg and laid a kiss against her ankle. Slowly, painfully so, Korra kissed her way up Asami’s leg. The ankle, the calf, behind her knee, at her thigh and just before the most sensitive spot on her body.

The primal growl of frustration that Asami let out when Korra started the same treatment on the other leg was intense.

Korra stared up into the savage green eyes looking at her as she began her kissing trail up Asami’s other leg.

“Please,” Asami whimpered as Korra’s lips dragged down Asami’s thigh.

Again, Korra stopped.

“Korra!” Asami said with a growl, gripping the sheets at her sides. “I need you.”

“Okay,” Korra nodded. “Just a little warm.” Korra then pulled off her tank top and dropped it on the floor. “Now, what did you need?” Korra asked, reaching out and running her finger along the moist slit between Asami’s legs.

Her head went back, one of her long legs reaching up and hooking over Korra’s shoulder. Pulling her down.

“Your mouth on me, now!”

Korra gave in with a laugh and lowered herself down. “Yes ma’am.”

Then she was there. Her tongue darted out, running up the tender lips in front of her. Asami’s heel dug into her back and Korra drew Asami’s hooded bundle of nerves into her mouth and pushed her hand up to slowly slide into Asami.

Just one finger, curled just right after years of practice and Asami was swimming in pleasure. Korra’s mouth, combined with the gentle hook and movement of her finger, was maddening.

It stirred in her stomach, low and deep. Like flowers blooming inside of her. She was racing up a hill towards the sunrise. Her eyes closed, pleasure washing over her. Asami lost control of her words.

“Kor—fuck—baby—fuck! Right there! Hnnggg.” She bit her lip, feeling her body release more and more onto Korra’s hand.

The sounds, the words, they drove Korra. Asami only ever called her ‘baby’ in bed. They weren’t much for pet names, but, in here, drawing that out of Asami was addictive.

All Korra had to do was add a second finger, which she did, and Asami was gone. She shuddered and jerked her hips up off the bed. Korra planted a firm hand on her stomach to keep her steady so she could maintain her position and help Asami ride it out.

When the world started to reshape around Asami, she could hear herself breathing heavily. She opened her eyes, taking in the sight of the ceiling of their bedroom for a moment before Korra crawled above her, lips glistening and eyes dark.

Korra ducked down, kissing Asami gently, tracing her fingertips against the flushed cheeks of her beautiful wife. Asami wrapped Korra up in her arms, wanting to hold her, to feel her against her skin.

“Asami,” Korra whispered into her neck. “Asami.” She kissed pulse point. “Asami.” She repeated again. It was a habit of Korra’s during sex, to just mutter Asami’s name over and over.

Mustering her strength, Asami lifted up off the bed and flipped them so Korra was beneath her. On shaky arms, Asami craned herself up above her wife. Korra’s brown hair splayed around her head like a pillow. Asami dabbed her thumb over Korra’s bottom lip.

“Asami,” Korra said once more, staring into her eyes. “My turn?” She asked, a smile on her lips.

With a nod, Asami disappeared from Korra’s view.

———

“What do we got?” Lin Beifong boomed as she stepped out of her Satomobile and stomped up to the yellow tape blocking off the scene.

One of her officers, Mori, was kneeling next to a massive scorch mark on the ground. It trailed all the way up to the building that was still billowing with smoke.

“Nightclub fire, started from the inside we’re pretty sure. So far thirty-five people are unaccounted for.”

Lin took a step back, crossing her arms as she glared at the nightclub in assessment. It was badly damaged. They’d kept most of the response teams at a distance because the building looked like it might collapse at any moment. They had a few waterbenders trying to put the fires out, but the building was beyond repair. The inside was nothing but a black pit from what she could see.

“This is the Red Diamond. Don’t some of the Triple Threats run their business out of here?”

Mori nodded, moving to stand next to the Chief. “Yes Ma’am. We know of at least two Triad higher-ups who filter their business through this place. We’ve never been able to pin anything solid on them, but they were certainly on our watch list.”

Lin turned her gaze to Mori, leveling a hard stare on him. “Were?”

“Yes Ma’am, we’ve been told they were in the building. They did not make it out.” A displeased grunt escaped her. “Turf war perhaps?”

She knew it wasn’t. Though she wasn't ready to express this out loud. “Maybe. We need more evidence. Continue to search the scene—“

“Chief,” She turned to see Mako stepping towards her, ducking under the yellow tape “I heard the call over the radio. Thirty-five dead?”

“There were over 200 inside.” Mori said.

“Through the chaos, it’s expected to lose a few.” Lin wasn’t overly emotional about it in the least, but the scowl on her face told a different story. She hated people dying in her city.

Mako stared up at the building as the last of the fires was put it. There was no way anyone was still alive inside. “This is Triad territory.” Mako said, earning a huff of impatience.

“You show up just to repeat the same shit we’ve already been discussing?” She challenged. Mako knew better than to take it to heart.

Instead, he turned and sent a knowing look in her direction. “Two days ago we stumble across the body of a bookie known for bad dealings. Now, the club where Triple Threat leaders run their game is suddenly burned to the ground? I don’t think—“

“We’re not doing this again, Detective.” Lin stopped him cold.

Still, Mako was nothing if not persistent. “It’s not a coincidence.”

“Now you’re making assumptions. Do you job. Figure out what happened here. Figure out what happened to Ken Tao! Do something other than spit your insane theories around. You sure you’re worried about Korra? Or do you just want her here to hold your damn hand?”

Mako sighed and looked away. It wouldn’t do him any good to fight with the chief right now. And if he said what he was thinking a screaming match might turn into more than that. So he buried it, clenched his fists and walked away from her towards the building.

Lin pinched the bridge of her nose, a headache settling in deep. Thirty-five people dead, and for what? Two triad leaders?

Even if this was somehow tied to Korra, it wouldn’t do any good to bring her in. The avatar was a weapon of good, yes, but she was also destructive, even though Korra calmed down a bit as she grew up.

Throwing molten rock on an already burning fire did nothing to solve the problem.

Besides, it probably wasn’t even—

“Chief!” Mako called, she turned to see him standing near the alleyway next to the club. “You have to see this!”

With a steady pace, she and Mori and a few others jogged to where Mako stood. He then led them through the alley to the back.

That was when she saw it, burned into the next building with black scorch marks.

MAINTAIN BALANCE

Lin sighed, running her tongue along her teeth as she waited for what she knew was coming.

“I think we have to tell Korra now.” Mako said.

“No."

“What?! It can’t be any clearer that it’s about her!”

“And what if it is? Does that mean that we just call the Avatar in, let her tear up the world trying to figure this out and then we’ll clean up her mess, again?”

Mako stared at Lin with frustrated confusion. He was so lost. He couldn’t understand why Lin was completely against bringing in Korra. “What do you have against her?”

Lin snapped an icy stare in his direction. “I have nothing against her! In fact, I rather like Korra. But I will not let the Avatar start another war in this city! Do you understand me?”

“Chief, Korra can help. She would want to help.” He was pleading now, but he couldn’t help himself. Korra was his friend, she had a right to know.

“When we know more, we’ll bring her in, but Mako I want you to listen to me. We are not letting Korra handle this. We are handling this. We are the police that protect Republic City. It is our job to do that, not to call in the Avatar for help. Figure out why this attacks are happening. If it makes you feel better, I’ll speak with Tenzin.”

Given the determination in her face, Mako knew that was as much as he could ask for. “Okay,” he nodded, staring up again at the message in the building.

Chief was right about one thing; if Korra knew about this, it would completely set her off.

 

Chapter Text

Stepping down from the ferry, Asami took in the sight of Air Temple Island. It made her smile to see it so full of life now. She could remember being younger and hearing about how sad the fall of the Air Nation was. A once proud nation of benders ripped away by the Fire Nation. Nearly eradicated.

Now, through Tenzin's persistence and Korra's efforts, it was thriving. Asami knew, deep down, that Korra would always have a role here. Her job, in a way, was to make sure that the Air Nomads continued to grow and survive. Still, that didn't require an enormous amount of day to day effort, which mostly left Korra sitting on her hands as the four nations had formed a strong peace.

The threats that once consumed the Avatar's existence didn't exist anymore, which led Asami here, seeking advice from a man who had come to mean so much to her in the last five years.

Asami remembered telling Tenzin about their relationship. He was so supportive, in his way. Korra had been terrified of telling him, because Tenzin was so traditional she worried that the Avatar dating another girl would be frowned upon, but Tenzin had been thrilled. He spoke of how important love was in the world, and how much he'd seen them grow together through the years.

It was later that night, after a celebratory dinner and announcing to the rest of the family, that Tenzin pulled Asami aside.

"Miss Sato?" Asami stopped, feeling Korra's hand drop from her own as the Avatar raced towards Jinora who wanted to show her something.

Asami turned towards Tenzin, her face still hurting from so much laughter and smiling after the wonderful dinner.

"Yes, Master Tenzin?" She asked and he smiled.

"Could you come with me for a moment?"

She nodded and followed him across the island to a relaxation area just beyond the training grounds. It was a lovely spot, overlooking the water and the city beyond it. Above them you could see stars in the sky that blended into the lights of the city as you gazed further out.

Tenzin sat on a bench, gesturing for Asami to join him. He stared warmly at her. "I won't take up much of your time, Miss Sato. I just wanted to tell you, on behalf of my family which has accepted Korra as our own, that…we couldn't have chosen anyone better for her to fall in love with than you."

Asami flushed almost immediately. Heat piercing behind her eyes as she turned away from him shyly. "Thank you," she whispered. Willing herself to calm down. She found a bit of strength and smiled back at him. "I've loved Korra for a very long time."

'"I know," Tenzin said simply.

"You did?" She gaped at him.

A grin formed on his lips. "After Zaheer…Korra was so broken and so…hard to be around for a while. Dealing with the loss of her independence and the pain she was going through. At first, everyone wanted to help. Mako and Bolin were constantly here, trying to cheer her up. Jinora and Ikki would sit and talk to her. A few weeks passed and she wasn't improving, more so, her mood was not improving."

The tears came back, Asami remembered. Of course she remembered. Korra was so sad and angry and not at all equipped to handle it at the time. "Those were hard days." She admitted, for the first time to anyone. "I used to cry every night for her."

Somehow, Tenzin's smile only grew. "That is my point exactly. Eventually, everyone stopped being so persistent. Bolin and Mako weren't around as much, Jinora continued but more on a spiritual level, to understand Korra. But you…Miss Sato, you never stopped. You were at Korra's side every single day. You earned her trust, she allowed you to help her dress and wash. You became the rock that held her up through the darkest times. To see the two of you now, so happy with one another. I couldn't ask for more for Korra."

Of course Tenzin had made her cry after that and when she returned to Korra and told her about it they both teared up and Korra left to talk with Tenzin. Asami never knew what that conversation was about between them. But when Korra came to their room shortly after, they shared their first intimate night together.

However, as Asami saw Tenzin waiting for her at that same spot they spoke years ago, she knew that memory would have to wait.

"Good afternoon, Tenzin!" Asami called, drawing the older man's eyes to her.

He smiled and stood from his spot. "Asami, it's wonderful to see you." They embraced, Asami feeling a fatherly comfort in his arms. "Have a seat." He gestured as they broke the hug and both sat down. "You wished to speak with me?"

"I did, how are the kids?"

Tenzin sighed. "Oh they're doing well. Rohan is taking after his brother I'm afraid," his voice was both exasperated and a bit amused. "Ikki has no interest in anything other than writing. The girl writes day and night and won't let any of us read a single page until it is all finished."

"Oh writing? That's great. The world needs more writers!"

"Agreed," Tenzin nodded. "Though I would like to know exactly what it is that has consumed her so much."

Asami smirked. "Afraid it might be less than decent?"

"You're saying this as a joke, Asami, but we both know that may very well be true. Ikki has always been…curious in the ways of romance."

There was no denying that. No person had pried into her and Korra's love life more than Tenzin's youngest daughter, to the point that Asami often wondered if Ikki was actually interested in girls. Not that she would ever be the one to tell Tenzin, or anyone beyond Korra.

"How are things at your work?" Tenzin asked, changing the subject smoothly.

Asami sighed and leaned back on the seat. "Exhausting, constant, irritable, and a nightmare on most days." Tenzin gave her a look. "I mean…I'm the boss, but so many people always seem to be working against me. Especially Raiko. I swear that man needs some real competition for his position when the next election comes up."

"We've had discussions," Tenzin stated, drawing a gaze from Asami to divulge more. "There are many with advanced positions in the city who believe that three terms as president is too many. That, perhaps, trimming it to a limit of two and allowing new candidates to run would be best. Raiko has his…ways of maintaining his spot. If we allowed it, he'd probably be president until the day he died."

"Eh," Asami winced. "That would be awful. Oh, maybe I could convince Korra to run!" Asami said, trying to keep a straight face.

Tenzin's eyes narrowed on her for a moment. "You cannot be—"

Asami started to laugh and Tenzin let out a breath of relief. "Could you imagine? President Avatar Korra Sato of the Southern Water Tribe. Not sure Korra could handle anymore titles." She shrugged to herself. "Though…lately I'm thinking she might appreciate the work that came with it."

Her voice betrayed her and Tenzin picked up on it. "As much as I appreciate you checking up on my family. I'm certain that isn't why you asked to meet with me today." He patted her hand that was resting on the bench between them. "What's on your mind?"

Asami nodded, taking a deep breath. She needed to get it out.

"If you don't mind my asking, what was your father like?" She asked simply enough, seeing the questions form in Tenzin's eyes. He sat for a moment, plotting out his answer.

"He was very brave, I know from seeing it first hand and hearing stories—"

"No," Asami gently stopped him. "No I mean I know about Aang the Avatar. I meant…as a father. How was he? How did he balance being the Avatar and being a father?"

Tenzin was suddenly very thoughtful, his brow creasing as he turned away from Asami and stared off at the water in front of them. His eyes closed for a moment and Asami wondered if she'd asked too much. After all, she was married to the reincarnated spirit of his father. A thought that was never absent from her mind.

"He was a wonderful father." Tenzin said, again looking out at the water. "However, we grew up in a different time. The world was not living in the peace we know now. He was fighting for it, working every day for it. He was gone quite often, when I was old enough I traveled with him. A point that did not sit well with my brother and sister."

"Do you know why your father didn't bring them?" Asami asked.

He sighed. "We would travel to the Air Temples around the world, my father teaching me the history of our people. I believe he was trying to spare my siblings of any unnecessary guilt of not being an airbender, as he was."

"Didn't work?"

Tenzin smiled. "No. Because they did not care about whether they could bend an element or not. They simply wished to travel the world with their father." He finally turned to face her again. "Why do you ask?"

"Korra," Asami started, pursing her lips. "She's been feeling a little…lost lately. Like the world doesn't really need her."

"Ah," Tenzin nodded slowly. "I've noticed. She arrives somedays very lethargic and quiet. It's hard for her, having been raised with the stories of Avatar's saving the world, and she's certainly done her fair share. So much so, in fact, that the world has found ways to take care of itself through her efforts."

Asami laughed. "So she's done such a good job that now she isn't really needed anymore?"

"Korra will always be needed," Tenzin said, chuckling a bit. "However, you're not entirely wrong in your assessment. Excluding possibilities we do not know yet, Korra's life will most likely never be as chaotic as it was in her first few years in Republic City."

"I know," Asami sighed. "That's where we are now. She…wants to start a family."

Tenzin's interest was abruptly piqued. "Really?"

Asami couldn't help but smile. "Yeah, it's not really that surprising I suppose. She's so happy around your kids."

"She's very good with my children. With all the children I've seen her interact with. Kids rushed up to her constantly when we traveled to the Earth Kingdom while establishing the new government. Each one that came to her was given her full attention."

With a slow nod, Asami lowered her head to stare at her feet. It was true, Korra had always had a pretty strong maternal instinct. She connected with kids, she cared about them, took care of them.

Would Asami be robbing her of that if she said she wasn't ready?

"What about you?." Tenzin asked.

Asami laughed breathlessly. "Me." She said, running a hand through her hair. "Tenzin, what do I know about being a parent?" She angrily brushed the tears out of her eyes. "My mother died when I was six and my father," she exhales slowly. "He loved me. I never doubted it. But I spent a lot of time by myself growing up. I learned to take care of myself. Then all the stuff with Amon happened and—" she cut herself off, closing her eyes and shaking her head.

"Asami I never met your mother. I had heard of her, of course. Hiroshi Sato's wife was well known in this city. But as a person, I knew nothing about her." Asami turned her gaze to him through the cascade of her hair. Listening intently. "Your father made some very bad decisions based on his own grief. I'm not excusing it, simply stating the truth. But he made up for that by helping save this world. Saving you, and everyone you care about." Asami nodded she sniffled. "Again though, I knew nothing of the man beyond the brief encounters we had."

"Sometimes I think that's how I look at them too." Asami shrugged. "That I didn't really know them. I got to know my father, after Amon, through the letters he wrote me. I gave them back to him at first, but…then after he died the prison returned them to me. I—I spent days trying to find the strength to read them. I just couldn't. It was like a block, you know?" Tenzin nodded. "I would grab one and get as far as opening it then just…freak out and stuff them in my desk."

"Did you ever read them?"

A smile graced her lips. "Yes, well sort of. Korra actually started reading them to me. Every night she would read three of four of them to me. She knew I was struggling with it. Then one night she was already in bed when I came home from work and I saw the letters and her and she had one opened." Asami's eyes closed, picturing Korra in her white tank top and grey sweats that night. On her knees on the edge of the bed holding that letter. Her face so warm and comforting. "She told me she'd help me get through every single one. And there were a lot. But every night she would read them to me. Sometimes one, sometimes up to five or six. Every night without fail."

"Korra has always been persistent with her affection for people. She gives all of herself."

"She does," Asami sighed. "And not all the letters were nice. Those early ones were filled with my father's hate. Hate he hadn't processed yet, I suppose. Hate for Korra, for the people I was associated with. I remember the last one like that. He said he hated me. Korra was so mad reading that out loud." Asami laughed, remembering Korra setting the letter on fire by accident. "The letters gradually got better after that. Eventually he was the man I remembered. Then Kuvira happened and he was gone and—"

Tenzin gently laid his hand across Asami's back. "It is very strange, isn't it?" Asami gave him a questioning look. "To have a parent, or in your case, both, not be alive to witness the greatest moments of our lives. It have always been aware of the fact that my father, who was so important and such a presence in my childhood, will never meet my own children, who are equally as important now."

The words settled on Asami hard. It was a humbling thought really. "Neither of my parents will ever know about my love for Korra. They missed our proposal, our wedding, they'll miss—" she stopped herself short, settling into a gentle laugh as she looked at Tenzin. "You did that on purpose didn't you. Get me to the answer the long way?"

Tenzin stroked his beard and shrugged, staring off at the water innocently.

"Right now, Asami," Tenzin started. "Do you want to have a child with Korra?"

"Yes."

"When?"

"I—I don't know. I mean I wouldn't turn a child away if we had one now, of course. I just…it's always been a future thing, you know?" She gestured her hands forwards. "It was always the future. We'd have kids, we'd buy a house. I mean I sold the mansion and we got an apartment because it was just us. If we have kids, the apartment won't be enough."

"Asami," Tenzin drew her gaze to him. "These aren't problems for you. I know you're modest about your wealth, but it is still present. Purchasing a house is not an issue. The only issue you have right now is in your own mind. If Korra asks you again about having a child with her, are you ready?"

Her whole life, Asami thought everything through. Every decision was calculated and plotted. It was how she survived. It was in her nature to think and strategize. She closed her eyes, thinking as much as she could about the implications of a child. She was busy, yes. But the Satorail was finished. She had more free time now. Korra was home a lot.

Korra.

She saw Korra, images of Korra holding a baby. Lying on the floor playing with their baby. Asami couldn't shake the thoughts of responsibility. Thoughts of long nights filled with crying and no sleep. They would come, of course they would.

Still, that image of Korra was strongest. Korra and their baby. Her family. Her new family. All she'd ever wanted.

Asami found herself smiling brightly. "I'm ready."

"Look, if I knew you two were gonna fight like baby turtle-ducks I never would have agreed to do this."

Korra stood, again, in between a fallen Mako and Bolin who were pulling themselves up with varying grunts and groans. It was Mako's idea, strangely enough, for the three of them to meet every other week and spar together.

Between traveling for her work, then proposing to Asami, then marrying Asami and whisking her away for their honeymoon, the guys had been feeling a little left out.

So Mako suggested this, though now the scowl on her face made it seemed like he was regretting the decision.

"Okay, you kicked our butts you don't have to stoop to name calling, Lady Sato." Bolin groaned, standing up and dusting himself off.

Toza was happy to let them come into the pro-bending arena to do this after Korra had fought to protect this arena once and Korra's wife put forward the funds to renovate it for the upcoming season.

Still, things were different now than they were back then. Korra was a fully realized Avatar with years of training and life lessons. In a straight up sparring match, she could take Bolin and Mako by herself.

"Alright, sit this one out, Bo. I want a shot at her by myself." Mako said, standing up with a glower on his face. He cracked his knuckles as Korra tilted her head at him curiously.

"Y—you sure about this, Mako?" Korra knew Mako could be a bit competitive, just like she was. But Korra had literally just taken down him and his brother at the same time.

Mako, to his credit, nodded and went into a fighting stance.

"Okay," Bolin stepped between them. "Maybe we shouldn't do this, I mean Toza is nice to let us use this place if we—"

"Bo!" Mako called. "We'll be fine. I've got something for her."

Korra smirked. "Mako, you haven't had any new moves since the day I met you." She shrugged. "Who knows, if you had I might not have stolen your girlfriend."

Bolin gasped dramatically and covered his mouth before backing away.

Despite his glare, Mako was fighting off a smirk.

He charged her first, coming with a strong swing at her head that Korra easily ducked. It was her strategy with Mako, let him swing himself out then take him down at the legs. He was, as always, predictable. Attacking her with easily avoided strikes. Mako was fast, to any normal person, too fast, but for Korra she could easily sway and flow away from his strikes.

Suddenly, he went low for a leg sweep and Korra jumped his leg, but then Mako completed his rotation and landed a hard strike to her stomach, causing Korra to double over with a groan.

That was new.

He then hooked his arm under her own and swung her over onto her back. He followed her to the ground, wrapping his arms around her neck and leveraging her to the mat.

Korra, still reeling from it all, took a tightened breath and swung her legs into the air before driving them down to build momentum before pulling them both back to their feet. Korra settled her hand under Mako's knee, his arm still around her neck. She then lifted him up off the ground and fell backwards, driving him to the mat with a sharp "oof!" as his grip was released.

Korra, a bit upset at being taken down at all, snapped up to her feet in one smooth motion and looked down at Mako holding his back.

"What the hell was that?" She cried, staring down at him. "You hit me full speed!"

Mako groaned and sat up. "That wasn't full speed, you're just soft in the middle." He rubbed his neck.

Affronted, Korra jerked her shirt up and patted her toned stomach. "Soft my ass! You hit me really hard, Mako. Why? You know we only go half speed here! Why were you so insistent on fighting me alone anyways?"

Once on his feet, Mako took a few short breaths to regain his air. He hit the mat hard and knocked the wind out of himself.

He didn't look at Korra. "I don't know. It's been…a frustrating week at work. I guess you kicking our asses made it even more frustrating. I'm sorry."

Korra sighed, reaching back to untie the ponytail her hair was in. She flipped her head around a few times, letting it fall across her shoulders.

"I thought this was supposed to be fun?"

"Yeah!" Bolin chirped, they'd both forgotten he was there. "We get to come back to our old stomping grounds. Korra throws us around for a bit, then she buys us ice cream afterwards! It's all supposed to be fun!"

Mako nodded, a somberness in his eyes. "I am sorry, Korra. Like I said…work."

"Do you want to talk about it?"

The look he gave her was a bit unsettling. Like he was holding something in. Korra was prepared for anything, for him to tell her of the police discovering the next enemy they'd have to fight together. Anything.

"No," he sighed, deflating her immediately. "No I can't. It's official police business."

Korra frowned. "I am the avatar, you know? I can help!"

Mako shook his head. "No, you can't. I've been strictly told that you can't. Lin doesn't—" he stopped short, turning away to grab a towel.

"Lin doesn't what?" Korra persisted. "Mako!" She shouted a bit louder when he ignored her.

He stopped, turning to face her. Korra was angry, her eyes set, her fists at her sides. Something was going on and she knew it, but it would be career suicide to disobey Lin on this. Because if he told Korra, she would just attack. The girl he knew was kind and fun. But the avatar inside of her, was dangerous.

Maybe Lin was right. Maybe Korra was too much of a weapon.

"Lin doesn't want you in on police matters anymore, Korra. You know that. It's why we haven't come to you with anything in so long."

Korra scoffed. "That's such crap, Mako! I'm the avatar! It's my job to help people! To take care of this city!"

"You're doing that, Korra! Just by being here!" Bolin said. Trying again to dissuade the situation.

He was, again, ignored. "Mako, what is going on? Please, I can help!" Korra tried a different approach. Softer, almost pleading.

However, Mako simply grabbed Korra's necklace on the bench and handed it to her. "Go home, Korra. There's nothing you can do right now anyways."

Staring at the betrothal necklace, the one Asami gave her on their wedding day, Korra snatched it out of his hand and shook her head.

"I don't understand," she sighed, angry tears springing into her eyes. "Why is me being the avatar suddenly a bad thing?" She stomped the ground and sent every earth disk in the room flying. They all rose into the air and landed unceremoniously around the training room. When the dust had settled, Korra sighed and turned away from the brothers. "I just want to help."

Before either could say anything else, Korra left.

"You think we'll ever reach a point where you and her don't end seventy-five percent of your conversations fighting?" Bolin asked, patting his brother on the back.

Mako groaned. "No."

Lin wasn't sure why she was stomping angrily along the docks of Air Temple Island. She just was. It had been one of those days. Lately, every day had been one of those days. Still, she enjoyed the island more than most places. It was quieter than the city, except for Tenzin's kids all running along in fits of insanity. Situations that were only escalated when certain "adults" like Korra and Bolin showed up to play with them.

The best sight, really, was that the island was safe. Lin was never big on history, or the balance of the world. But she knew well enough to know that the world needed airbenders and this was their sanctuary, so seeing this place as safe as it was now was reassuring.

Finding Tenzin proved to be easier than she expected. He was walking along a narrow pathway through the outside of the temple with his oldest daughter who was chatting animatedly about something.

Tenzin noticed her first. "Ah! Chief Beifong, you came sooner than expected."

Lin huffed. "I've got shi—stuff to do tonight, so I figured I should fit our chat in on my lunch break."

"Very well, Jinora," Tenzin turned to his daughter. "Could you go check on the benders who are practicing their balancing poses?"

Jinora nodded. "Of course, good to see you, Chief!" Jinora waved and Lin gave her a small nod. Which was more than most people earned. Jinora raced off and Tenzin turned to Lin.

"Would you care for some tea?"

"No."

"Would you like to sit down somewhere?"

"No."

Tenzin sighed. "Would you like to stand awkwardly in the open and talk at our current distance?"

Lin looked around and nodded. "Works for me."

Tenzin crossed his arms and planted his feet firmly in the ground. "Very well then. What did you wish to discuss?"

"How's the avatar?" She asked simply, trying to feel out the situation.

"Korra?" Tenzin confirmed. "She's doing well I suppose. Happy since returning home from her honeymoon with Asami." He then raised a brow in her direction. "Why do you ask?"

Lin shrugged. "Haven't seen the kid in a few weeks. Wanted to make sure she was staying out of trouble."

Tenzin sighed. "According to Asami she is, and is quite frustrated about it."

"Meaning?"

"Meaning she is becoming a bit stir crazy with her new role in the city."

A frown formed on Lin's face, her eyes setting harder. "What role? I haven't bothered the Avatar in months."

Tenzin sighed. "That is precisely the problem, I'm afraid. Korra has been feeling less…needed and it's weighing on her."

To say she felt guilty would be wrong, Lin knew she was making the right decision in keeping the avatar out of every day police and Republic City business. It was bad enough that Raiko would use Korra's presence to try and sway wavering cities into joining the new Earth Union. As far as everyday work was concerned, Lin's officers needed to be the ones to handle it. If they came running to Korra every time things got rough then no one would ever be prepared for anything.

Still, maybe she was holding out too much on Korra. The kid only wanted to help.

"I see, well—"

"It's been so troubling in fact that it's caused Korra's priorities to shift." Tenzin interrupted her, a habit he'd had for years that drove Lin nuts.

"What do you mean?" She pressed, refraining from telling him to shut up and let her speak.

"It appears that Korra has begun approaching her wife with the idea of starting a family."

Suddenly, Lin could only see Korra as a vibrant young mother, and everything changed. Korra was still so young, married and wanting to start a family. How could she bring Korra into situations that could get her hurt? Situations that she and her people could handle on their own?

Korra's nature was to help. To fight and work and do things to make people safe. Lin related to that from the moment she met the avatar. Even so, Korra had more to lose than Lin ever had.

Then there was Asami, Lin's mind always went to the same place when thinking about Asami. It made her chest tighten. It made her angry. Images of that day and that look on a little girl's face. 

"She and Sato are looking to…what? Get pregnant?"

Tenzin shook his head quickly. "No, adoption I believe. Suits them both I suppose. They're constantly working in unison to help people."

"So they're serious?" She pressed, unsure why. Just wanting to be sure. Tenzin nodded. "Hmm." Lin stiffened her stance even more.

"What did you wish to discuss with me? I assume it wasn't Korra and Asami's potential family life?"

Lin shook her head with an eye roll. "Of course not. I wanted to inform you of a few killings that have taken place in the city the last few days."

"I see," Tenzin took a few steps towards her. "Are they a threat to the safety of the city?"

"Not sure yet, we're still very early in the investigation. I just thought you should know."

"Do you wish for me to inform Korra?"

Lin shook her head quickly. She had considered, for a moment, telling Korra, but once the idea of her having a child-a real future-came up. She buried it. "No, you're still on my side about Korra, right? There's no point in her risking her safety on matters my force can handle."

Tenzin nodded. "Of course. Korra is restless but the Avatar's duty is not to respond to small matters."

"Then maybe being a mother will keep her busy and off my back." Lin said, the frustration returning.

Suddenly, a very loud crash sounded in the distance. The ground beneath them shaking at the impact. It was quiet for a moment, they both stared at one another.

"Sorry dad!" Meelo cried.

Tenzin twitched, his face turning red. "Yes I believe it will."

Asami was absolutely bursting with news. The entire day had been filled with eagerness to go home and tell Korra she was ready. Ready to start looking into adoption Ready to be crazy mom's together. Ready to have a new family to spend every day with.

She bounded up the stairs to her apartment and opened the door with a flurry.

"Korra?" Asami called, shedding her coat and walking into the kitchen. On the counter, there was a open box of leftover noodles from Narook's with chop sticks poking out over the top. Next to it was a half empty glass of water.

Asami picked up the still-warm box. No doubt Korra must be nearby.

"Korra? Are you home?"

Suddenly, there was a rustling from the hallway where their bedroom was. Asami saw Naga peek her head out through the door.

"What is it girl?"

The polar-bear dog let out a soft series of whines before ducking back into the room.

Panic struck Asami immediately. Naga never complained or whined about anything, unless it was directly related to Korra.

A million thoughts ran through Asami's head as she raced to their bedroom.

It was the constant fear of being married to the avatar. That one day something would come along, seeking revenge against the Avatar for a battle that happened hundreds of years before Korra was even born.

Most of Asami's nightmares revolved around Korra being hurt and taken from her.

As she rounded the door and stepped inside, she was relieved to see Korra sitting on the floor against the foot of the bed with Naga's head resting in her lap.

"Korra?" She called, and when her wife looked up Asami noticed her puffy red eyes and the tear tracks on her face. "Oh Korra," Asami knelt down beside her. "What's wrong?"

Another sob escaped Korra as Asami ran a hand through her hair before pulling Korra into an embrace.

They sat there for a few moments in silence. Korra crying, trying to settle down as Asami worriedly fussed over her.

Naga would occasionally lift his head up and nuzzle into Korra's stomach to try and soothe her.

Finally, Korra took a few breaths and spoke.

"She's gone. Katara…she died." The last word broke in Korra's throat.

"Oh sweetie." Asami held Korra tighter.

Chapter Text

Asami was exhausted, but she stayed awake regardless. She didn't want to sleep. It took so long to calm Korra down that Asami found herself restless. Instead, she busied herself with work.

It was late, nearly one in the morning. Asami sat cross legged on the bed with a small lamp lingering over her shoulder as she read test reports on some new projects she was planning. Nothing as grand as the Satorail, but simpler and more efficient things like a machine that automatically cleans dishes. If only she could figure out how to keep the plates from breaking.

Asami could feel Korra shifting in her sleep, her body shivering though it was warm in the bedroom.

Katara's death would carry a lot of weight within their circle.

The response was simple; Asami would take her private ship, put everyone who wanted to go on it and they would use it to travel to the South so everyone could say their proper goodbye.

Asami spoke briefly with Tenzin after the fact. He sounded very different from what she expected; too calm, as though he had built up a wall. When Asami handed the phone to Korra, it was devastating to watch her cry as Tenzin spoke.

For all her power and strength as the Avatar, Korra was soft hearted. She cried, she hurt, she felt empathy for people and carried pain of others. She had an open heart. Even if it had been closed off a bit throughout the pains of her life, Korra would always feel emotion: it was in her nature.

Suddenly, Asami was jolted out of her daydreams at a sudden pressure around her wrist and looked down to see Korra's hand had clutching her. The grip was tight, and when Asami looked up at Korra's face, her eyes were squeezed shut, face dripping with sweat as she began to thrash.

"No," Korra mumbled, breaking out into a sharp sob. "Stop, no!"

"Korra!" Asami pleaded, dropping her papers to the floor and moving to wake her wife. "Korra, shhh, it's okay. Wake up!" The grip on Asami's wrist tightened. Korra's overwhelming strength started to press into the bone, Asami yelped. "Korra please! Wake up, you're hurting me!" Desperate, Asami cradled Korra's head with her free hand and placed her lips directly at Korra's ear. "Korra! It's Asami! Wake up!"

With a gasp, Korra's eyes shot open and she sat up in a rush. The grip on Asami's arm let loose and she clutched it tightly to her chest. Korra's body was tense, the muscles in her back rigid as she took short, strained breaths.

"Hey," Asami called, making Korra jump. "Whoa, whoa…it's me." Asami gave her a smile and Korra stared at her with wide, wild eyes.

"Sami…" Korra whispered, then a moment later she seemed to resettle into reality. "Dream I…I had a dream I—oh I'm gonna be sick."

Asami was off the bed in an instant. "Okay, come on." She guided Korra to the bathroom and kicked a towel in front of the toilet for Korra to rest her knees on.

Nobody else ever saw this. The stories of the avatar were written with towering strength and undeterred will. Certainly Korra was all those things, but no one ever saw the after effects. The damage and pain those fights caused.

Watching the Avatar empty the contents of her stomach, while her wife held her hair back, was a far cry from the hero children were told stories about.

"Get it out," Asami soothed, rubbing Korra's back. "Take a breath, sweetie."

After another violent gag, Korra spat a few times before pulling away from the bowl. Asami ran a cloth under the sink before sitting down on the floor and pulling Korra between her legs

Korra scooted in close, resting her back against Asami's chest as she dabbed a cool towel against Korra's forehead.

This was not the first time they'd been here. That would have been years ago at Air Temple Island, with a wheelchair and a very broken girl.

"You okay?" Asami asked after a few more steadying breaths.

Korra swallowed harshly and nodded. "Nightmare. Been awhile since I've had one like that."

"We'll chalk this one up to your defenses being down with everything that happened today." Asami soothed, kissing the back of Korra's head. "Zaheer?" She asked, needing to know. Korra nodded again.

Over the course of their relationship, Korra had tried a few times to explain to Asami what her encounter with the Red Lotus was like in that cave. They would never make it far past the poison because Korra hated bringing it up and Asami hated hearing it. Through the stories from those who saw her, and the reports they received from Zaheer years later, the details were out for anyone to see.

The scar it left on Korra's psyche was not, that was meant only for her and Asami, and this bathroom where they lay together. It was something they would most likely deal with for the rest of their lives.

"This week is going to suck," Korra said as Asami traced her fingers over Korra's forearm.

"I know,"

"You don't have to come, you know? I wouldn't be upset. I know it's—"

"Korra," Asami cut her off gently. "Of course I'm coming. You're my wife now, remember? This is what we do."

A sigh escaped the girl in Asami's arms. "I know but it's going to be really hard." The last word came out in a broken rasp as Korra took in a ragged breath to steady herself.

"Then that's why I'm coming. To pull you through. It'll be okay." Asami continued to sooth Korra, occasionally dabbing the cool rag against her neck and collarbone. When Korra's breathing finally steadied, Asami shifted a bit to stand.

"No," Korra held Asami's arm wrapped around her middle. "Can we just…stay here for a bit? If we go back to sleep tomorrow will come too fast."

With a smile, Asami slumped back down to the floor, cradling Korra even closer.

Korra didn't cry, she didn't throw up again, she just sat in her wife's arms and tried to focus on her breathing, the feeling of Asami's heartbeat against her back helping all the while.

Bolin was never one to kiss and tell, but he certainly was one to spend the night with his girlfriend and grin like an idiot the next day. Which was exactly what he was doing as he sauntered towards his shelter.

Life was good, really good, unbelievable good and Bolin appreciated every single morning that he was able to wake up next to Opal, kiss her and then come to this place. So that made it easy for him to reach out and help people, even people that didn't want to be helped but clearly needed it.

Like Jin, who Bolin hadn't been able to stop worrying about since he stormed out of the clinic that day.

The streets were hard, which Bolin knew from experience. Mako did his best to shield Bolin from the worse of it while growing up, but Mako couldn't hide it all. Bolin saw the effect it continued to have on his brother.

No kid should have to go through that, and Bolin had made it his mission to help as many as he could.

Of course, sometimes kids just went looking for trouble, which is where he found himself now.

Bolin rounded the final corner to his shelter and saw none other than Jin, slinking behind a dumpster and watching as a frail old woman went to her Satomobile. It was clear the target was her purse, clutched in frail hands as she reached her car and struggled to open the door.

Jin made his move and Bolin rolled his eyes with a sigh. Just as Jin was about to strike, Bolin stomped his foot on the ground and elevated a small wall of rock that Jin walked right into.

He groaned and Bolin lowered the wall before the old woman could even turn to see what had happened. All she saw was Jin falling slowly to the ground with Bolin walking up to him.

"I'm sorry about that, Ma'am." Bolin said, raising his hand. "My friend here was going to help you into your car and slipped." Bolin bent over and picked Jin up off the ground, grabbing his arm tightly. 'Weren't you buddy?"

"Ugh," Jin rubbed his aching head. "What?"

Bolin's grip on Jin's arm tightened. "You were going to help this beautiful woman into her car," he pinched even more. "Right?"

"Ah! Yes," Jin jerked his arm away from Bolin. "Yeah…whatever."

Bolin watched with a grin as Jin stepped around the woman, opened her car door and helped her inside.

"Why thank you, young man. How polite."

"Yeah," Jin grumbled, closing the door and feeling Bolin's massive hand grab onto his shoulder. He glared at Bolin over his shoulder.

"Have a lovely day, Ma'am!" Bolin offered as the woman backed out of her parking spot and moved down the road.

Jin shrugged Bolin's arm off. "What the hell was that? You could have killed me!"

"Oh please, you got a bump on your head. I've gotten like…a thousand bumps on my head! Besides," Bolin's arms flailed into the air. "You were going to steal from that woman!"

"Well yeah! I need money!"

Bolin sighed. "Not like that, besides, don't you feel a little better helping her rather than stealing from her?"

"No," Jin said, matter-of-factly. "Putting grandma in her car doesn't put food in my stomach!"

"You know where you can get food in your stomach?" Jin stared at Bolin blankly. "Exactly! At my shelter!"

Jin turned away. "I don't want your charity!"

"It's not charity!"

"That's exactly what it is!" Jin said, narrowing his eyes.

Bolin hesitated. "Well…okay true, but what's wrong with charity! It's so…charitable!"

"I don't like owing people anything, alright?" Jin's tone was quiet, Bolin wondered what Jin owed and who he owed it to. Clearly it was something.

"You won't owe me anything. It's all funded by Future Industries. The shelter, the food, all of it."

Jin quirked a brow. "Oh? Future Industries? Like…the company run by the sexy Sato girl?"

Bolin scratched the back of his neck. "Yeah…you're gonna want to not say things like that."

"Come on!" Jin cheered, patting Bolin on the shoulder as they started towards the shelter. "You telling me you wouldn't want to get with that? She's so hot. I'd put it—" Bolin cinched down on Jin's upper arm with his hand. "Ow! What the fuck?"

"Listen," Bolin was still smiling. "I want to help you, I want to keep you from stealing and whatever else might be troubling you. I'm a really nice guy, but if you talk about Asami like that again, I'm going to earthbend a rock into your face. Okay?"

Jin was wincing under the pressure of Bolin's grip. He nodded quickly. "Ah!" he cried, clutching his arm as Bolin let go and they continued walking. "Shit you're strong."

"I know," Bolin chuckled.

"How's she doing?" Mako asked from the passenger seat, watching Asami as she turned off the main road.

She let out a soft sigh. "Not well. I wasn't sure how she would react but…it's not well. She's kinda been slipping a little. She had a panic attack last night." Mako gave her a concerned look. Asami shook her head, steering the Satomobile onto the narrow road towards the outskirts of the city. "Korra's been through so much, but this is new to her. Losing someone. I mean…the only real loss Korra's ever suffered like this was when Raava was taken away from her." She shrugged. "Plus I'm not even sure how much of the grief is hers and how much is carried over from Aang, you know? I don't how that works."

"Korra doesn't have a connection to her past lives though, does she? Would Aang's feelings really weigh in?"

"Yeah," Asami said assuredly. "I mean even before Korra lost her past lives Katara was a part of her life. She's told me many times that she was drawn to Katara from a young age. Felt comfortable with her the moment she saw her." The Satomobile slowed as they reached the peak of the hill they were driving on. Asami parked and gripped the steering wheel a little tighter. Her eyes staring out the window at the large oak tree standing tall atop the hillside. "Spirits knows that I'm no good for getting her through it."

Mako touched her shoulder gently. "Asami, you're perfect for it."

She laughed mirthlessly. "Yeah, cause I've grieved for my own parents so well." Heat built up behind her eyes. "Spirits, Mako it took me almost a year to fully process my father's death. How am I supposed to get Korra through this?"

"I don't know." He said simply, his words completely lacking the comfort Asami was hoping for. The look she gave him reiterated that. "But you will, because you have to." He shrugged smoothly. "You're her wife. It's your job to get her through these things. And you will, because for as long as I've known you, Asami Sato has never met a job she couldn't handle." This earned him a smile before Mako reached into the back seat and picked up the bouquet of flowers. "Here, Korra told Opal to tell Bolin to tell me to get these for you. Fire lilies, for your mom."

Asami took the flowers, she'd told Korra years ago that they were her mother's favorites. It's why she gave them to Korra whenever she could. There was a note attached to them.

I'm sorry I'm not there with you. Give them my love. Be strong. I'll try to be strong too.

Love, Korra.

Closing her eyes, Asami found herself a bit overwhelmed by her love for Korra. The world would never stop throwing things at them, but they could handle it together.

Taking a breath to steady herself, Asami opened the door. "I'll be back soon."

"Take your time." Mako said, leaning back into his seat as Asami nodded and went to the resting place of her mother and father.

The wind began to pick up as Asami moved closer to the tree that shaded their gravestones. Asami clutched the flowers a bit tighter, wanting to keep them all together. She knelt down in front of her mother's grave first. Always first.

Her mother's death was such an odd thing for her to think about. It had been for a long time. At first, Asami was consumed with the loss. Missing all the little things about her that made Asami smile.

Now though, it felt like her death was the only lasting memory. Every person that mattered in Asami's life now had been told the same thing when her mother was first mentioned.

She died when I was six.

None of them knew her. Not one of them, even Korra, had met her. It was hard to think about. That she was the only person alive who really knew Yasuko Sato. She could (and had) told Korra countless stories, but her words could never paint a perfect enough picture of who her mother was.

Gently, Asami laid the flowers at the foot of the stone and traced her fingers across the name.

"Hi mom," she started, crossing her legs as she sat down in the grass. "I uh…I could really use your advice right now. Korra's in a lot of pain and I want to be there for her but I don't know how. I can hug her and…talk to her, but…I'm scared." She brushed at her eyes. "Korra has a tendency to…close herself off when she's upset. I don't want that. I don't want her to drift away from me." She swallowed the lump in her throat. "I miss you, I still miss you as much as I did when I was little. I wish you were here to talk me through some of this stuff."

Asami stayed quiet for a long time, sitting in the grass and letting her mind empty. She focused on the view between her parents graves. It was a lovely plot. One her father picked out years ago. It wasn't even a plot, really, just a beautiful hillside that he'd bought to bury his wife

He'd told Asami later on that he wished to be next to her. That was supposed to be decades later.

Her eyes shifted to her father's tombstone. It simply said 'HIROSHI SATO' in big letters. Nothing else.

"Thank you," she whispered, picturing him in her mind and smiling. At the time, Asami had been furious with him for sacrificing himself. Now, she was grateful, because if he hadn't ejected her, she'd have died with him, but he had ejected them both, the hole wouldn't have been cut, and who knows who might have died. Probably Korra, fighting to save everyone.

Asami truly believed that her father gave she and Korra their chance.

"I love you both," she said, standing up and dusting off her pants. "Now I have go to take care of my other love." She smiled, kissing her fingers and touching both slabs of rock before returning to her car.

Mako had moved to the driver's seat, knowing Asami would want to rest on the drive home. She sat down, wiping at the fresh tears spilling down her cheeks and smiled at him.

"Ready?" He asked, staring up the car.

Asami nodded. "Yep, it's gonna be a long day."

He certainly couldn't deny that.

Asami stood behind Korra who was making small waves in the water behind where the boat was moving. It was chilly this far out to sea, and clouds were building overhead. would probably rain soon.

"You want to take a nap? I know you didn't sleep well last night." Asami asked, slinking her arms around Korra's waist.

Unlike when she usually did it, Korra remained stiff and continued what she was doing. "I'm okay."

Asami frowned. "Are you sure? I could use the company."

"'Sami," Korra reached down and uncoiled Asami's arms from her. "I just—can I just stay out here for a while?"

"Fine," Asami sighed. "I'll be in the lower deck." She quickly retreated from Korra as fast as she could.

Korra kept her hard gaze outward at the disappearing sight of Republic City. The boat was heading to the South, to bury Katara, and Korra was struggling. She knew she was being rude to Asami, who only wanted to help her through it, but Korra didn't want to talk. She wasn't ready yet. There was too much in her head, she was sorting out too many emotions. It would sort itself out eventually, but right now, it was all too raw.

"You idiot," Korra mumbled to herself, throwing a ball of fire from her hand into the air. "Be mean to the only person who puts up with your bullshit." She continued to talk to herself, punching fire into the sky.

She went into full sparring mode in an instant. Throwing kicks and switching elements. Jumping into the air as the boat moved and drawing up the water from below and seeing how far she could throw it into the distance.

Korra lifted both arms, drawing up a tidal wave of water behind the boat. She pulled her hands apart, the water splitting in two and flying through the air at either side.

Eventually she settled on throwing air punches as fast as she could. Her body started to sweat about twenty minutes later when she finally heard footsteps coming up behind her.

"Korra, you're disturbing everyone out here."

She stopped immediately, taking slow and deep breaths. "Tenzin, I—" Korra sighed and sat down, crossing her legs. "I'll stop," Korra said, defeated as she reached up and ran her finger along the grooves of her betrothal necklace.

"There's nothing wrong with venting frustration, Korra."

Her eyes snapped up to him, a small grin on her face. "Really? This from Mr. Spiritual?"

"Well," Tenzin huffed, taking a seat in front of her and mimicking her position. "It's certainly not how I would handle it." Tenzin then let out a tired sigh. "Then again, I suppose I haven't really handled my feelings at all. It's been hard enough on the kids. They don't need their father falling to pieces as well."

Korra shrugged. "The kids are on the lower level with everyone else. Talk to me. I know it must be hard."

Sadness washed over Tenzin's features as he nodded, closing his eyes. "My mother was the kindest person I have ever known." As he spoke, Korra felt her chest tighten. It was an unfamiliar ache that settled deep in her chest. "Still, I find comfort in knowing that she is most likely with my father now, as well as her brother."

"Sokka," Korra smiled. "I loved him so much."

Tenzin chuckled. "He certainly was…entertaining."

"He was my friend," Korra pictured his face in her mind, it instantly settled her. "He never treated me like the avatar after I was brought into the compound. He just…made jokes and made me laugh. He was so good to me. I was pretty young when he died but…it hit me hard, you know?"

"I do, my mother felt his loss heavily as well. It was, in a way, harder even than when she lost my father." Korra found herself frowning, which did not go unnoticed by Tenzin. "Korra?"

She sighed, looking away. "I know…" Korra cleared her suddenly thickening throat. "I know that we never talked about it much but…I am sorry that I lost my connection to all the other Avatar spirits. To your father. I know how much—"

"Korra," Tenzin cut her off swiftly. "I promise you, I have not once dwelled on that in the time since it happened."

"I have," Korra said, clutching her necklace again. It was a nervous habit. "I think about it all the time. If I…severed that for the next avatar then I'll be all they have." Korra laughed mirthlessly. "I have barely stumbled through my own time with this. What advice am I going to be able to offer?" Korra sat up straighter and deepened her voice. "Oh, young Avatar. A word of advice. Do not take the side of your creepy uncle who can, somehow, bend spirits to his will."

Tenzin rolled his eyes. "Korra, you're going to be more than enough. You're so young still, only twenty-six."

"Twenty-seven in a month." Korra winced, the idea of thirty was terrifying.

"Even still, you have plenty of time to continue to learn, which is what you want after all, isn't it?"

Korra nodded, exhaling loudly through her nose. "It is, but the world is so different now. Not like the stories of Avatars wandering through the world and finding problems to solve. I'm pretty…local now, and not really in a position to wander."

Tenzin's gaze dropped to the stone resting on Korra's neck. "True enough, however you are merely living in the same world that countless avatar's before you fought for."

"I know, that's why I feel so bad! Like I'm complaining about the peace I have, you know? I'm so happy now, Tenzin. I'm in love, I can wake up in the morning and do whatever I want. I don't know why I feel so…bad about that."

"Perhaps because you fear, you know, that eventually it will not be this serene?"

She hesitated for only a moment before nodding. "It'll come, I don't know how or when, but it will come. That's why I want to have a baby with Asami, start a family. I want to do it now while I have all of this time and quiet. I want everything with her." A soft smile settled on Tenzin's face as he nodded and looked into her eyes. Suddenly, Korra felt very guilty. "Tenzin, I'm so sorry! Here you are grieving and I'm talking about myself. I—I'll stop, I'm sorry."

"Korra," Tenzin chuckled, shaking his head. "Don't apologize. This was a much needed distraction, for us both. However, I believe there is a woman currently sitting alone in the deck below who is worrying far too much about you."

The guilt returned. It never left. "Right," she pushed up onto her feet. "I'm so bad at this. I turn into a real jerk when I'm upset." Korra stepped over and pulled Tenzin into a hug when he stood. "I love you, Tenzin."

He returned her embrace. "You as well, Korra. Go, speak with your wife."

Korra nodded, turning on her heel and racing below deck.

When she made her way down, she glanced towards the dining area where Bumi was airbending a few plates around with the kids like a game of catch. Korra had to bite her tongue to stop herself from telling them it was a bad idea. She wanted to be a mother, but not their mother.

In the far end of the lower deck, Korra found Asami sitting on the bed, her legs propped up with a broken piece of equipment in her lap. She was holding a screwdriver in one hand, gnawing at her bottom lip as she fiddled with the device that Korra decided was a two-way radio.

She knocked on the doorframe. "Hey,"

"Hey," Asami returned, smiling for only a moment, not taking her eyes away from the project.

"What'cha got there?"

"Old radio, nothing important. Just…wanted to do something with my hands." Asami said, popping out a piece and setting it on her right with a pile of small parts.

Korra stood awkwardly alongside the bed, her hands behind her back, trying to figure out what to say. "I uh…I'm sorry for being kind of awful before. I'm not very good at this."

Asami stopped what she was doing and let a slow sigh. She looked up at Korra with a soft expression before setting her radio down and standing up.

"Korra," she reached out and hooked her hands on the fur of Korra's jacket. "There's is no good at this. How you react is totally up to you and I won't be mad at you for wanting to sit in the quiet and not talk about it, or slinging elements into the sky. Just…don't take it out on me, please. I'm trying."

"I know," Korra grabbed Asami's hands. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have been cold like that I just…I'm processing and apparently I can't do that and treat people I love well at the same time."

Drawing away from Korra, Asami sat back down on the bed, moving aside her assortment of parts. She picked up her radio and slid closer to the wall, patting the bed next to her.

"Sleep would probably help."

Korra smiled before turning around to close the door behind her. She then shed her jacket and peeled off her shirt as Asami pulled the blankets down beside her.

After slipping out of her pants, Korra climbed into the bed and laid her head close to Asami's hip.

"I love you, Asami." Korra murmured, already drifting off.

Asami smiled and continued her tinkering. "I love you too."

Chapter Text

Mako pinched the bridge of his nose and fought not to groan. This was not the vision he had of his career when he first signed on.

The club was too loud, the leather jacket he was forced to wear was too tight and he was fairly certain he was about to die from heat stroke.

Undercover work was not his specialty. Mako was a terrible liar, a terrible actor and terrible at putting up with people's crap to get what he wanted from them.

The Triple Threat Triad had more than one club in Republic City that they operated out of. After the fire destroyed one of them, killing a few of their higher-ups, he and Rin had been assigned to scout various clubs with known Triple Threat connections, and to keep an eye out for anything suspicious.

This, of course, meant that he had to come out to these places and pretend that he actually wanted to be here. Which he absolutely did not.

"Seriously, mom, could you look any more bored?" Rin said, sipping on her drink and leveling a soft smirk in his direction

Mako sighed. "You shouldn't be drinking, we're on duty." He reminded her. "Don't call me mom, either."

"Lighten up! We're in a club, there are beautiful women everywhere and (I'm not making this up) at least five of them have eyed you up."

He was at least good enough at his job to have noticed the stares as well. "I'm not interested in that. I don't think I'd do well with a girl who comes to places like this."

"What does that mean?"

"Nothing," he shrugged. "Like you said, I don't fit in here. Someone who comes here regularly would probably be pretty bored with me." Rin continued to stare at him. "What?"

She rolled her eyes. "You don't give yourself enough credit, Mako."

"It's not about me. We're here on a job. Looking out for suspicious activity. Not to break down my problems."

"You do admit there are problems though?" She pushed, driving him crazy. Rin had no understanding of boundaries. "Is it the Avatar? You said you dated her right? She break your heart?"

Mako sent her his most devastating glare; one that had even scared away violent criminals. However, for Rin, it only made her grin widen.

"We're not getting into this."

"Aw," Rin kicked him playfully under the table. "Why not? I've seen pictures of the Avatar. She's sexy. A bit bulky I suppose, but I bet she's got stamina like you wouldn't—"

"Enough!" Mako shouted, louder than he expected. Rin's eyes went wide and he thought, for a second that he might have finally shut her up. A second later though, she started laughing and clutching her chest.

"So that is the problem! You're still hung up on the Avatar!"

Mako groaned, knowing she wasn't going to stop. "Look, I'm not hung up on Korra, okay? It's just hard. I dated them both, I thought I might love them both, and now the only two girls I've ever felt that way about are married to one another. They found what I thought I had with each of them, in one another. There aren't a lot of places I can go to for advice on how to get over it!"

"Well maybe that's your problem." Mako sent her a look. "Stop trying to get over it and get under someone else." Rin winked before finishing her drink.

He stared at her for a while, eyes wide with shock and his mouth hanging open. Was that…an invitation? Mako wasn't sure, he honestly hadn't considered her in that way at all. Then again, he hadn't really considered anyone in that way since he broke up with Korra.

As Rin got up to get another drink Mako frowned. Had it really been that long since he'd dated anyone? It wasn't like he sat up at night pining over Korra or Asami. He really didn't. It was just hard, he messed up both of those relationships so much and nearly cost himself two friends. Why should he put himself back out there only to completely screw it up?

Besides, he had his work, which is what they should be doing right now. Not talking about nonsense like this.

He got up from the table and walked over to Rin who was standing in line to order another drink. He touched her shoulder and she turned, her face fairly close to his.

"Come to whisk me away?"

Mako leaned away from her a bit. "No," he sighed. "We need to find a better position and locate the Triad leaders. We know about Icky Ichiro, he's been in and out of our damn station so many times he has rent space in one of our cells. He's been seen her before, we just need to find him."

"Mako, you know the odds of there being an attack tonight are just as slim as they have been the previous four times we've done this. Why can't you just have fun?"

"Because," he kept his tone steady. "I am working. So are you, so get your head out of the clouds, stop ordering drinks and do your damn job."

Rin's gaze hardened at his words. "Listen, Mako. Icky Ichiro is about as low end of a Triad boss as you can find. I know everything about him. I did my research last night before we came here. I already know exactly where he is. Floor above us, hands all over the lady he keeps feeding drinks to. I've been watching him the entire time." She stuck a finger in his chest. "It's called undercover police work. You sit there and spend more time pouting than you do actually mingling and scouting the place." She poked him again, harder this time. "You so focused on trying to look like you're doing your job that you forget to actually do your fucking job!"

With his mouth now hanging wide open, Mako watched as Rin replaced her smile and turned back to the bar to order her drink.

Turning to where she pointed, he looked up to the second floor and saw Ichiro sitting there at one of the tables, a woman in a tight black dress on his lap.

"I'll be damned." He whispered to himself before returning to their table and sitting down. He rolled his shoulders a few times, trying to settle more into the role of someone that actually enjoyed being here. It wasn't easy when a few patrons started joyfully screaming across the room at each other.

A few minutes later, Rin returned with not one but two drinks in her hand. "Here tough guy, to help you loosen—" her words stopped as she looked up over his shoulder to the second floor. "Oh shit." She dropped her drinks onto the ground and Mako turned quickly to see what she was startled by.

When he did, the body of Icky Ichiro was tumbling over the railing on the second floor. He had a shard of metal sticking out of his face and he fell hard onto a glass table below where a slew of people were sitting.

It was loud, and the music stopped at the impact and screaming that followed. Ichiro was dead, no doubt about that. The metal shard was piercing through his skull. Mako looked up to where he was and locked eyes with the girl he'd been sitting with. She no longer looked like a woman who'd had too many drinks. She looked like she knew exactly what she was doing.

A second later, she started running.

Rin slid across their table and gave chase. Mako turned to the first person he could find and grabbed their shoulder. "You, find a phone and get the police down here!"

He followed Rin out the door. Icky Ichiro's woman was already halfway down the fire escape when Rin spotted her.

"Stop! Police!" Rin cried, drawing fire with her fists.

The woman twisted a few of the bars from the staircase railing off and fired them at Rin. They were easy enough to dodge, but Mako was out of range to help when the woman leapt off the side of the staircase and ran down the street.

They chased after, cars honking in protest as she blindly ran out into traffic. Rather than risk getting hit, Rin jumped, lighting fire beneath her feet enough to elevate herself over the satomobiles and continue her pursuit.

Mako's crossing was easier, nothing in his way as the chaos of the two before him had drawn traffic to a standstill.

When he finally caught up to them, he found Rin hiding behind a dumpster as rocks flew everywhere. She had her feet planted into the ground, trying to steady herself as blasts of earth slammed into her cover.

There was a ladder overhanging from the building on the right and Mako jumped up to grab it. He pulled up, lifting his legs up and sending a fire kick at her. From this distance, he could only reach her with kicks and the fire flew towards her in a flurry. She raised a wall to cover herself but it was the break Rin needed to make a move.

She stepped out from her cover and sprinted towards the rock wall. The woman sensed her coming and sent her cover at Rin who dodged and ran along the side of the building.

As she pushed off the wall, Rin swirled around behind the woman and punched at her legs with a blaze of fire. The flame burned through the back of her ankle, and she screamed in agony as Rin rolled on the ground and bounced up to her feet.

The girl fell hard, clutching her left leg and screaming.

Mako took off towards them, the woman in too much pain to attack them now.

"Holy shit, what did you do?" Mako asked, looking at Rin who was resting against the wall catching her breath.

She clutched at a welt on her shoulder. "I burned through her achilles tendon. I wish I could say that was my plan going in but it worked." Rin shrugged, pushing off the wall to stand over the girl. "Fuck, I hate running."

The girl was a teenager really, couldn't be a day over nineteen. Lying on the ground holding her leg, tears streaming down her face. She looked innocent, like a victim, but they'd just seen her murder someone.

"What's your play, kid?" Rin asked, leaning down closer to the girl. "Why commit murder like that?"

The girl was sobbing, holding her leg, but when Rin spoke, she turned up her tear filled eyes and answered. "It told me to." She started to breathe slower, Mako knew she was about to pass out. "The spirit in the spirit world. It told me it was my destiny. To be a hero…like the—"

She fainted as police sirens sounded overhead.

Dinner with Tonraq and Senna was always wonderful. Asami loved the ease that everyone spoke with. Even now, with all that was hanging over them at Katara's passing, they could sit and laugh, share memories. Be a family, the family Asami always wanted.

They sat around the kitchen table in Korra's parents home, Tonraq telling them a story about Katara catching some young kids sneaking into her healing waters one night because they thought it was magical.

Asami couldn't help herself from stealing glances at Korra, who was so enraptured with her father's story. Her eyes were bright, as if she were a child listening to stories about her childhood. Perhaps, Asami mused, she actually was.

"Katara always knew how to handle people," Senna said, smiling as into her cup.

Korra let out a soft laugh. "She did," her features softened. "I remember when I broke out of the compound—"

"You broke out?" Asami asked, surprised.

"Yeah," Korra blushed slightly. "It was…stupid, but also not in the long run." Asami's eyes flittered to Korra's parents, who were grinning a bit, clearly knowing this story. "I—I was getting really good at earthbending when I was eight. It was the element I was best with, besides water of course, and I wanted to see what was beyond the compound walls so I built a little tower and jumped over one."

"You jumped over a wall?"

Korra chuckled. "Yeah, luckily I was able to bend some snow and water to catch me on the way down."

"Yes, because Korra just figured jumping over an enormous wall at eight years old was a good idea." Tonraq couldn't contain his laughter, and it seeped into both his wife and Asami as Korra huffed and continued her story.

"Anyways, like I was saying. I landed outside the compound and it was just…amazing. I could see for miles, the world just kept going and going. I wanted to see it all. I wanted to run and see how far I could get and what I could find."

"How far did you get?" Senna cut in, a knowing smile on her face.

Korra frowned. "Not very. I ran for maybe ten minutes before the blizzard came in. I got all turned around and couldn't remember how to get back. It was so scary. I just kept walking and walking, trying to find the compound. All I found was a little cave that I went into to get away from the snow."

Asami couldn't stop herself from picturing tiny little Korra wandering through the snow by herself. Throughout their relationship Korra had told her many stories of her childhood. Growing up as the avatar was an experience unlike any other, but it was also very lonely.

That was something else they shared.

"How long were you lost out there?"

"Days." Korra said dramatically, earning a burst of laughter from her father.

"Days? Korra you were gone for two hours."

Asami grinned as her wife pouted prettily. "It felt like days, okay?" She then sighed and her own smile grew. "Was worth it though, I did stumble across the best thing that happened to me in that compound."

"What's that?" Asami asked. Korra then pointed a finger over her shoulder directed at the giant polar-bear dog sleeping in the middle of the living room. "You found Naga in the cave?"

"Yep!" Korra's beamed. "She was all alone, her mama had been killed."

"How do you know that?"

Tonraq answered. "Some of the tribe went hunting that day. We're pretty sure poachers took out the mother. Polar-bear dog meat is great for trade, unfortunately, it's illegal to hunt them. Of course, that doesn't stop some from doing it." Those caves were usually far enough away from the from the port city that most people wouldn't venture out that far, but we heard reports of hunters near the compound."

With the click of her tongue, Korra drew Naga's attention and the polar-bear dog walked over to her and rested her head on Korra's lap

"When they found me I was holding Naga and they wanted me to leave her but I refused. If she was all alone I knew she wouldn't be able to survive on her own. I couldn't just let her die in there."

"Korra's soft heart won out again," Senna mused, a loving look directed at her daughter. "Cost me more than a few pairs of boots mind you, Naga loved to chew things as a pup."

"I was totally against it," Tonraq said, cutting through a piece of his seal steak. "The cub was cute, of course, but nobody had tamed a polar-bear dog before. Ever. Korra insisted though, so we brought them both home. I had a plan in place for the first two years Naga was here to put her down if she did anything."

"But she never did! Katara—" Korra hesitated, her smile fading a bit. "Katara always supported me. Helped me convince everyone that I needed a friend in this place."

Tonraq looked a bit guiltily at his daughter. "If she hadn't been so insistent, I imagine we would have sent Naga away. Katara told us to give you a chance, to see if you'd put in the time to raise Naga right."

"Which I diiiiid." Korra sing-songed, bending down to bury her face in Naga's neck fur. "I worked with her every day after training and she became my best friend. She also made it easier to get further away from the compound when I was old enough for them to start letting me out."

"Cause you sweet talked the gate keepers and fluttered your big blue eyes at them." Senna noted.

Korra's face unexpectedly went a dark shade of red. "I—I did not!"

"Oh no, she's right Korra. You do that all the time." Asami was not about to let this go quietly. "Your daughter had dragged me into so many terrible things with that look."

"Asami—"

"I know the look!" Tonraq boomed, laughing as he slapped his hand on the table.

Asami could tell that Korra was becoming embarrassed, she reached out and ran a hand through Korra's hair. "Sorry love, no more teasing." Korra settled her cheek into Asami's palm when her hand moved down.

They broke away and Korra offered a bit of her seal stake to Naga before the polar-bear dog retreated to lay down again.

"At least if we adopt we won't have to worry about my pouty face getting passed down." Korra said and when Senna gasped at the words Korra immediately backpedaled. "I mean…in the future, Mom." She forced a smile, Asami could feel her tense up.

Senna's face fell a little. "You know I'm not pushing," she started, and Korra was about to say something when her mother continued. "But we're not getting any younger, dear!"

Korra sighed. "I know, Mom." Asami watched as Korra turned to her. "We—" Korra's hands on her lap were flexing in and out, she was tense. It was still an open subject between them. Asami needed to tell Korra her thoughts. For now though, she just needed to bail her wife out.

"We've discussed it." Asami said with a smile, reaching over to stroke Korra's hand with her own. "With the Satorail finished, I certainly have more time."

"How has the Satorail been going?" Tonraq asked eagerly, as if he'd been waiting to bring it up all night. One thing Asami loved about Korra's father was he was always so interested in her work.

The rest of the meal was spent with Asami and Tonraq vibrantly discussing all of her varying ideas.

Korra's bedroom looked almost exactly the same as it did when she was here recovering. The room she had growing up was much smaller than this. Still, Korra never had much, never wanted much really. Of course, when she lived at the compound that room was even smaller than the one in her parents old home.

This room was different though, not all tied up in childhood memories and happy moments. This was the place where she recovered after Zaheer. Where she laid up in her bed on countless nights wishing she could just fall asleep.

There was a stack of letters from everyone who sent them when she was up here all piled up in the corner of her closet. She had read every single one. When she was feeling lonely she would re-read them over and over again to try and pretend that her friends were here with her.

At the time, Korra never put much stock into the fact that she would read Asami's letters before bed. Let Asami's words be the ones she tried to use to fall asleep.

Standing in the doorway of this room now, watching as Asami spread out the new sheets her mother insisted they use, Korra couldn't stop the tears from springing into her eyes.

"Okay, I hope these are enough to keep us warm cause—" Asami stopped when she looked up from the bed and saw Korra brushing at her cheeks. "Hey, what's wrong?" In two strides she was at Korra's side.

"No, it's nothing bad I'm just…being nostalgic and stupid."

Asami smiled, dusting her thumb over Korra's cheek. "Tell me."

"I've got a better idea." Korra said, moving past Asami but grabbing her hand along the way. She guided Asami to the bed again and gestured for her to sit.

Korra then went to her closet and leaned in, digging through a few boxes that were stacked in the back. So much of this stuff was junk, things she would never use again in her life that her mother refused to throw out.

Finally, she found the box that contained the letters. Korra pulled it out of the closet and carried it over to the bed. Asami scooted over a bit and allowed her to sit. Opening the box, Korra reached in and came up with a stack of papers. They were all varying sizes and shapes. Some of them were words, some of them were drawings, all of them were in very good condition.

"These letters pretty much got me through the harder days up here." Korra started sorting through them, smiling at some of the ones with pictures. "Bolin," she said, holding one up for Asami to see. It looked like children's drawings, but they were so sweet and so…Bolin. "The fact that you all kept writing me when I wasn't answering you was—" Korra was crying again. "It probably saved my life."

A few years earlier, Korra had admitted to a few fleeting times she had considered doing what she thought was necessary to continue the avatar cycle. When she was hurt, the world was without an avatar when one was severely needed. Though they were far past that now, and Korra was stronger than ever, physically and emotionally, the weight of those thoughts would always be there.

"I think they were just therapeutic for me," Asami said, absentmindedly reading through a few of Bolin's letters. "Like…my days were so stressful and I would come home and just pour everything out to you. I always worried you'd get tired of hearing about Future Industries problems."

Korra smiled. "Nah, I loved hearing about your day. Like…okay when you started talking about some of the work you were doing I didn't understand it, but I could tell that you cared about it, about all of it. I was so happy you were back there…rebuilding the city when I couldn't."

"We're a team, when one of us is down the other picks up the slack." Asami said, bumping Korra with her elbow.

Reaching out, Korra grabbed a handful of the letters and held them in her lap. "I just—to be here now with you…even under these awful circumstances it just…makes this place feel like home again. After everything with the Red Lotus I hated this place. It was like a prison. Now it's comfortable again. Cause you're here, I finally got a girl up to my room!" Korra said playfully as she leaned over and kissed Asami quickly.

With a laugh, Asami started putting the letters away. "You do, what kinds of things would you have done with a girl in here?"

Korra grinned widely, moving the box to the floor. "Well…this room is a bit bigger than the one I had before my dad became chief. But the bed is still the same and, well, that's all I need."

"Oh is it Miss. Let's-Have-Sex-On-The-Kitchen-Table?" Asami laid back, Korra crawling over her with an incredulous look.

"I asked that one time and you looked at me like I was insane!"

Asami laughed, leaning up to kiss her wife. "That's because you are insane. We'd break that poor table and you know it." She unhooked the fur wrap from around Korra's waist and tossed it aside. "You're not a woodbender, love."

"No," Korra started to unbutton Asami's top. "I am a Satobender though." As Korra's strong hands slid beneath the material of Asami's top, she hummed into her wife's ear. Korra loved touching Asami. Even now, years later, it felt little bit like getting away with something she shouldn't. To be able to freely look at and roam around this beautiful woman's body was intoxicating.

Korra dropped soft kisses between the valley of Asami's breasts, kissing down her stomach before running her tongue back up to suck on a sensitive spot on Asami's neck.

She felt Asami pulling at the bottom of her blue vest, trying to tug it up and remove it. Korra broke the kiss and sat up, straddling her wife. She took her shirt off and made short work of her chest bindings.

Very early in their relationship, Korra learned that Asami had a thing for her breasts. Even before they had been sexual with one another, she caught Asami staring at them. Korra was very well endowed, a feature that was problematic more often than not for someone who spent so much of her time in constant motion.

Still, as soon as they were in the free air, Asami's hands were on them. Korra didn't mind though, she closed her eyes and enjoyed the soft touches. A moment later, Asami sat up, encasing her mouth around one of Korra's hardened peak.

"Oh spirits!" Korra cried, letting out a sharp moan. Just as Asami switched over to tend to Korra's other breast, there was a pounding on the wall behind Korra's bed.

"Hey you two, we're only a few rooms apart and I have very good hearing!" Tonraq shouted from his room.

Korra felt her entire face heat up like it was on fire. Asami pulled away from her and stared up in horror as Korra covered her mouth. She would never be able to look him in the eyes again.

Falling forward, Korra laid down on top of her wife and buried her face in Asami's shoulder. "We're never having sex again." She whispered, her voice so quiet now that Asami could barely hear her.

Asami started chuckling, patting Korra on the back. "Aw Korra it's okay."

"No it isn't, my bedroom is ruined again!"

This only made Asami laugh more.

"What's the agenda?" It was the third time Lin had asked this girl the exact same question. They were in the Republic City hospital, the girl who killed Ichiro at the bar was laid up in bed, tears streaming down her face.

Lin wanted to feel sympathy for the girl, she seemed damn near innocent. Still, her best detective told her that he saw the girl kill in the middle of a club and then evade officers and attack them.

"I—I just wanted to help!" The girl cried, finally giving Lin something.

She took a step towards the bed. "Help who? You killed someone tonight, kid. Who were you helping?"

"I promised I wouldn't say." She sobbed loudly, shaking as she gripped the sheets beneath her.

Lin took a deep breath, trying to find the most comforting voice she could. "Listen kid, if you tell me what's going on, I'll do what I can to help you."

The girl, with her big green eyes, turned to Lin with a now empty expression. "Tell the Avatar…I'm sorry I failed her." She then flicked her wrist and a metal plate from Lin's uniform snapped off. She drew her hand towards herself and the plate raced towards her, slicing through the girl's throat.

Chapter Text

"I don't care what Jiro wants, we're not raising the prices to ride the Satorail. People will learn to use it. Republic City takes well to change, but it's only been a few days."

Korra sat on the bed, smiling at Asami's 'business voice'. It was late; the wake had just ended for Katara and everyone had gone home. It had been one of the hardest she'd had in years, saying goodbye to someone who had meant so much to her. Katara had been one of the first people she'd ever loved after her parents, comforting her almost from the start. Korra couldn't remember a day when she hadn't found comfort in Katara's presence.

Now that she was gone, Korra hoped she and Aang had been reunited and were with Sokka. She wanted to believe that the Avatar was given the chance to spend eternity with their loved ones after death.

This drew her focus back to Asami, pacing back and forth with the radio cord dragging behind her. Korra wanted forever with her, even beyond their years in this world. She also wanted Asami to get off the radio so she could drag her into bed and kiss the crap out of her.

"Okay," Asami said into the receiver, turning to Korra and used her hand to mimic her assistant's nonstop chatter with an impatient roll of her eyes. Korra giggled, quirking a brow at her wife. Asami continued to speak, but Korra clearly had won her attention, reaching up her arm to toy with the top of her armband, slowly pulling it over her bicep. Asami's eyes widened. "Stop it," she hissed, covering the radio.

Korra shrugged, feigning innocence. "What? I'm just getting ready for bed." She winked, trying not to laugh when Asami's glare narrowed even more. After repeating the same, slow process with the band on her other arm, Korra stood and slowly shed her coat, letting it flutter to the floor in a heap. The room was dim, only slightly illuminated by the one light near Asami. Korra was covered in shadow, silhouetted by the glow of the night sky through the window. Locking eyes with Asami, Korra pulled her shirt over her head, left in nothing but her chest bindings. Green eyes darkened, narrowing as Korra bent to slide her trousers off, holding her gaze. Korra nibbled on her bottom lip, unfastening her wolf tails and using a patented Asami hair flip (which she still wasn't very good at and always ended up with hair in her face) before smiling and turning to retrieve her night clothes from their suitcase.

She did not hear Asami end her call, so, it was certainly a pleasant surprise when she felt Asami's teeth bite the sensitive skin at the juncture of her shoulder and neck. Korra gasped sharply as Asami's teeth moved up the column of her neck to nibble at her jaw.

"Sami," Korra breathed, turning to face her, cupping Asami's face in her hands and kissing her feverishly.

When the kiss broke, Korra felt Asami tug gently at her bottom lip before meeting her eyes. "You know better than to tease me," Asami whispered, eyeing the faint red mark on Korra's neck.

"That is exactly why I tease you." Korra pecked her lips again. "I'm so glad you're here. Today would have sucked without you." She chuckled to herself. "Every day would suck without you."

Asami's face softened a bit, the smolder fading as she noticed the melancholy undertones to Korra's statement. "You okay?"

Korra nodded, managing a smile. "I am. It's…hard but I think Katara is with her loved ones again. Sokka and Aang. I feel…something…I don't know. Peace maybe? Like I just know they're together. It's weird."

"Avatar stuff?" Asami tilted her head.

Korra shrugged. "Probably. I mostly feel bad for Tenzin and his family. It's been hard on them...especially him. I think he regrets not spending as much time with her as he should have."

"He's a pretty important man in the city," Asami pointed out, "with a family of his own. I'm sure Katara understood."

"She did," Korra agreed. "She'd talk about him a lot when I was at the compound. About how proud she was of him, of all her kids. Still, I think it's hard on Tenzin. I'm not sure he was ever really able to be a kid, you know?" Korra sighed wistfully. "I kinda know what that's like."

Asami frowned, brushing Korra's hair from her face. She placed her hands on Korra's shoulders. "Sit," she directed and Korra did, sitting on the edge of the bed. Asami then climbed in behind, with her knees on either side as she started to massage Korra's shoulders. "Did you know Sokka well?"

Korra couldn't suppress a grin. "I did, I mean I was very young when he was still alive and retired from his work in the United Republic but I remember his jokes. He always tried to make me smile. Even when I couldn't see my parents as much because of my training." Korra found herself getting lost in those memories. How hard being in that compound was sometimes. The loneliness had been the worst, making her uncertain of herself. She'd always been strong, capable of fighting and learning new things. Then she'd moved to Republic City and realized how much she didn't know...how much she had missed out on.

"Do you think it was wrong to put you in the compound?" Asami asked, moving closer against Korra's body, changing the angle so she could work the shoulders more.

Korra nodded. "I do, but I think they did what they thought was best. The Avatar will always be hunted by someone. Even if that someone doesn't have the means to do anything. Even now, I'm sure someone out there wants to kill me. Plus not every Avatar handles the news like I did." Korra starting laughing. "My poor parents, when I first started bending fire and earth I tore our little house apart."

"I don't envy your parents." Asami said thoughtfully, moving her thumbs to Korra's neck. "I mean you're amazing and they're so proud of you but…being the parents of the Avatar can't be easy."

"It wasn't. The White Lotus was not subtle about how dangerous my life would be." Korra groaned when Asami's hands dropped down her back. "Spirits, Sami. What did I do to deserve this?"

Asami hummed into her ear. "I'm just warming you up." Asami's hands moved away from her and Korra whined. "Hold on and hold still," Korra fought the urge to look behind her. She didn't have to wait long though, a second later she felt a cool steel against her back. Asami had a pair of scissors and was cutting Korra's bindings off at the back. When they were split, the wraps fell into Korra's lap as her breasts were free into the chilly night air.

"Oh," Korra gasped, suddenly feeling a pair of hands caressing her chest. "Well you're in a mood."

"You were so good today," Asami's hot breath was on her neck. "You were so strong and so supportive of everyone. I forget sometimes how beautiful your spirit is." Asami reached around and lifted Korra's chin, their lips met briefly. "I want you to sit still, your parents are asleep so…try and be quiet."

Korra swallowed sharply and nodded, her eyes hazed over with lust.

Asami's hands slowly trailed down her body as Korra leaned back into her. She was wearing a pair of sweatpants she'd put on while Asami was on the phone. They proved as little resistance to Asami's hand as it easily slipped inside them.

With her other hand, Asami reached up and grabbed onto Korra's betrothal necklace. "Sami," Korra breathed again, a finger tracing along her moistening lips.

"I love you, Korra. I love seeing this necklace on you every day, reminds me that we belong to each other."

Asami found that sweet spot, the one she'd learned over the course of the last five years. Korra's head lulled back onto Asami's shoulder, her breathing erratic as she bit down on her knuckle to muffle a moan.

Suddenly Asami slipped a pair of fingers inside Korra and she bucked her hips wildly. "Oh!" She cried.

"Shhh, baby. Keep it quiet." Those pet names, the ones meant for the bedroom, drove Korra crazy in the best way. Korra reached up and wrapped her arm around Asami's neck. "You're so beautiful."

When Korra laid her head back to sigh, Asami kissed her hard, her tongue slipping greedily into Korra's mouth.

Asami picked up the movement of her hand, the sound of her motions was the only audible thing in the room and Korra felt the heat building in her belly. She clung to Asami, desperately using a free hand to search for something on the bed.

"P—pillow," Korra gasped. "Pillow quick!"

As directed, Asami grabbed a pillow and held it to Korra's face. It absorbed the brunt of Korra's cry when she finally came. Her body shaking in Asami's arms as the pleasure consumed her.

"Wow," Asami laughed, moving the pillow away. Korra's face was glistening with sweat. "Big one huh?"

Korra pushed her back into Asami, drawing them both onto the bed with Korra lying atop her. "Asami," it was the only word she could find. The only word she wanted to say. "Asami…Asami." Korra repeated, feeling Asami's hand gently trace over the contours of her stomach.

Once she regained her composure, Korra sat up. When Asami tried to follow, Korra turned quickly and pinned her down.

"Mrs. Sato?" Asami raised her brows, smirking. "What are you going to do?"

Korra grabbed the pillow and laid it across Asami's face, hearing Asami's laughter as she slid down her lips down her wife's body.

Lin was tired. Then again, Lin was used to being tired. She'd spent the last forty years of her life in a consistent state of exhaustion. Sleep was useless. She slept because she had to, to keep functioning. Standing still was one of the worst things she could imagine. When Amon took her bending and she was on "bed rest" Lin was fairly certain she was going to lose her mind.

So as she sat in her office waiting for Mako to come in, Lin fought back a yawn and continued to flip through the mountain of paperwork in front of her.

"Hey chief," Mako said, peeking in through the door. "You uh…you wanted to see me?" Lin nodded and gestured to the chair on the opposite side of her desk. He closed the door behind himself and sat. "I heard about the girl. Seeing it up close like that must've—"

"I'm not here to cry on your shoulder, Mako. I'm here because you saw it happen and I need to know what you saw."

Mako sighed. Lin hoped one day he'd figure out that she didn't need to talk out her feelings. "Right, well it's all in the report. Rin and I were there and Rin spotted Ichiro first. I thought the girl was just an escort or something but she killed him fast and just dumped him. It wasn't subtle. She wanted people to see him."

"So what are the consistencies with these killings? They've all been focused on very bad people, no regard for innocent lives and they've all been loud. Statement killings."

She knew what he was going to say before he even said it. "They've all been about Korra."

Lin wanted to reprimand him. To push past the talk of the Avatar and focus on their job, but she couldn't. The girl in the hospital had said the Avatar by name. No hidden messages about balance.

"I don't want to involve the Avatar."

Mako bristled, it was almost impressive. Almost. "We can't keep Korra in the dark! What if they're targeting her?"

"They've killed nothing but bad people. Why would they suddenly target someone like the Avatar?"

"I don't know, but we can't just ignore that this is all centered around Korra."

She stared at him for a good minute, watching his expression shift from hard to concerned as he squirmed under her gaze. Still, he didn't get up and leave, he stood his ground. He really was a damn good detective.

"You know what I hate most about the Avatar?" She asked, making Mako furrow his brow. She took his silence as an answer. "How much I actually like Korra."

"What? Korra is—"

"I know what Korra is, Mako. I'm not an idiot." He sighed with frustration. "That's what I hate. Korra's a good kid. I've fought with her, I've lost fights with her. Lost my bending, she gave it back to me. First thing she did when she figured out she could." Lin felt herself getting angry. "She handed herself over to a bunch of crackpot benders to save the Air Nation and went through hell afterwards that you and I both know still affects her." Mako nodded sadly, clearly surprised by Lin's heartfelt words. "And here we are again, bad things are happening and you want to press the panic button and drag her back into it."

"I know," he put his hand up defensively. "I get it, I don't want Korra to get hurt anymore than you do. But it is her job to keep the world in balance. If people are casually taking innocent lives to try and fulfill some fantasy that they're helping Korra then we have to tell her. If you meant all of what you said then you have to believe that she's earned the right to know."

"What about Sato?" Lin said, her voice tapering off more than she'd like.

Mako noticed it as well. "What about her?"

"She's the Avatar's wife isn't she? We really think it's okay to risk her losing another member of her family?"

Lin could feel Mako's frustration building. "Chief, I don't want anything to happen to Korra and Asami either, but we can't pretend this isn't happening. Something is going on and people are killing in the name of the Avatar. What if they go after Korra and we didn't prepare her and Asami?"

Closing her eyes, Lin's face drew back to the image of a little girl. Red bow in her hair, tears streaming down her face, calling for her mother. It didn't seem fair then and it still didn't today.

"Their ship won't arrive from the South for another three days, Sato built faster boats but not fast enough. We'll inform the Avatar of what's been going on then but in the meantime detective. I want everything you know about the people who have died and the places they've been killed. We need more information."

Mako nodded, standing up. "We'll get it, Chief. We've got a name on the girl from the club. We'll learn more about her and see what she'd been up to."

"Good," Lin leaned back in her chair. "Get to work."

It wasn't hard to find Jinora these days. She spent most of her free time in the library on Air Temple Island. She was an airbending master, but even carrying that status for as long as she had, Jinora constantly wanted to learn more.

Tenzin admired his daughter's persistent desire to learn. He knew that his father would be so proud of her, he certainly was.

Today was no different, he found her sitting on the ground in the study of his mother's home, her robes fanned out underneath of her, head eyes focused on a scroll laid out in front of her. He was prepared to turn around and leave her be, until he noticed something sitting next to her. A familiar locket.

"Jinora?" He called, drawing her attention. "What are you doing? You brought all of this with you?"

"Yeah," Her eyes flickered to the locket and then back to him. "I'm researching Guru Laghima."

Tenzin frowned. "May I ask why? You know how dangerous his practices and beliefs are."

"I know, I'm not reading to practice his beliefs, I'm reading to understand them." Jinora picked up the locket and stared at it. "His powers were so far advanced, far more than almost any other airbender in existence."

Taking a step into the library, Tenzin moved to his daughter. "I'm aware. He spent his life trying to unlock every secret of airbending and the powers we could wield. Much like earthbenders have lava and metalbending, and firebenders can use lightning, he wanted to see what else airbenders could achieve."

"Like untethered flight?" She looked up at him knowingly.

Tenzin had flashes of Zaheer flying through the air, hurting Korra. "Yes, exactly. The skills that Laghima unlocked could be extremely dangerous."

"Lavabending could be dangerous too, but nobody tells Bolin that. Nobody doubts his self-control."

Moving in front of her, Tenzin sat down and crossed his legs, careful not to mess up her scrolls and various texts. He gave her a lingering look, she was so much older now. Wiser and so strong, he felt a great pride towards Jinora, even though she had far surpassed him.

"So are you wishing to achieve these skills? To learn flight?"

Jinora shook her head. "No, not—" she put the locket down. "I don't want to learn these skills, dad. I just…I feel like I need to."

"Why?"

"Because Zaheer learned them. Zaheer mastered flying, but dad, that's not the only thing Guru Laghima had unlocked." She moved a few scrolls out of the way and found the one she was looking for. "See this, it says that Guru Laghima was also a practiced projectionist."

Tenzin read through the scrolls, trying to decipher the text. Airbenders weren't known for their simplicity. "So he could project his spirit like you can?"

"Yes," Jinora nodded. "In fact, he honed many skills surrounding the idea of projection."

"Such as?"

She shrugged. "I'm not sure, the texts are kind of vague. But it mentions people coming to him for help with illnesses that regular healers couldn't help."

Tenzin stroked his beard. "Interesting, still those texts are hidden away here for a reason. Laghaim lost his own mind while trying to expand it."

"He was also a recluse who refused to have any connections to the outside world. I'm not, Dad…we need to learn these things."

"Why are you so persistent on this?" He asked, genuinely curious.

Jinora sighed. "Because…you're right, there are aspects of bending, all bending, that are dangerous. But just because they're dangerous doesn't mean dangerous people should be the only ones who know how to master them."

"Power is always dangerous, Jinora. It is corruptive and can often times cost you more than you can ever gain in return." He wasn't trying to dissuade her. He just wanted her to see every side. In truth, he understood where she was coming from, but this was still his daughter.

"What about Korra? Korra is the most powerful being in the world. Still, she's fallen before, she's needed our help before. Wouldn't it be nice if we were all better prepared to help her?"

Tenzin stared at his daughter for a while, studying her expression. When she was born, his first child, he wanted the world for her. He wanted her to grow up in the new world of the Air Nation. She had done that, he wanted her to marry and be happy, have children of her own. Of course he wanted her to find a passion in her history, to care for it as much as he did. He never expected her to devote her life, to risk her life trying to keep her people-her world-safe.

He was worried of course, but with that worry came a strong pride, one that made his heart swell. "You're an extremely wise master, Jinora. If you wish for any assistance in your research, I'd be happy to help."

Jinora's bright smile nearly split her cheeks. "I'd love that, Dad. Between you, me and Kai when he gets here, I'm sure we'll find something."

"Kai?" His eyes narrowed. Kai was a fine boy but he'd caught them kissing far too often for his liking.

However, Jinora merely rolled her eyes. "Dad, you have to get used to Kai. It's been eight years since we met him, I—I love him."

Tenzin bristled. "Let's…focus on these scrolls."

"Dad!" She cried, a smile pulling at her lips.

"Did you know you grandmother once stole an ancient waterbending scroll?"

"Yes, Dad. You've told us like fifty times."

"Come on, sleepyhead, it's time to get up." Asami patted Korra's cheek a few times before sitting up and swinging her legs off the bed. It was early, extremely early. Far too early for the almighty Avatar.

"Ugh, no." Korra pouted, burying her face into the pillow.

Asami rolled her eyes and reached down to scratch Korra's cheek softly. "Wake up." She sing-songed, making Korra groan and turn her face away. "Really? Do you really think that's going to stop me?"

"No, it's too early!" Korra whined. "Tenzin and his stupid schedule. I don't even know why we're in such a hurry to get back." Asami heard a sigh escape Korra and immediately knew what her wife was thinking. "Spirits knows I've got nothing going on."

Before the news of Katara broke, Asami had been prepared to tell Korra that she was ready to adopt. At the time, she'd convinced herself it was right. It certainly was something they were financially and emotionally stable for. A loving couple with a big apartment and friends all around them for support. It was perfect.

Then Katara passed away, and suddenly Asami found herself afraid again. The world had a way of tearing things away from you without warning. Loving Korra was hard enough sometimes with that fear of loss, having a child could be ten times worse.

Still, Korra wanted it so badly. She wanted a family, something to move her life forward. Asami knew how much Korra loved kids, how important this was to her.

"I—I'm ready to try." She said, impressed at how surely the words came out.

Korra turned and looked back at her, blue eyes shining in the morning light. "Yeah?" Asami nodded. "Okay," Korra pushed up from the bed and rested on her elbows. "What does that mean?"

"It means," Asami exhaled slowly. "I'm still really scared and unsure and…scared."

"You said that already," Korra teased, though her voice was soft and serious.

Asami smiled. "It's important enough for two uses. I don't doubt that we're ready, I just doubt that I'm ready." When a frown fell across Korra's face, Asami reached out and pulled her chin up. "I want to be though. I do. That's what's important. I'm nervous and I'm unsure, but I want to get past all that. I want us to do this. I just want to be sure I'm ready."

"Okay," Korra was smiling brightly, it made Asami's heart swell. "Look we don't have to commit to anything, but we could look into it together, see what our options are."

"Korra we can't just loan out a kid for a few days and see if we like it."

Korra chuckled. "I know that!" she stared adoringly at her wife. "I just meant we could talk to some adoption…uh…places—"

"Agencies."

"Right!" Asami's smile grew. "We can look into those and see what it's all about and how hard it is."

"It won't be hard, Korra. I support adoption agencies and shelters all across the United Republic. I have contacts."

Asami felt Korra take her hand, she looked down and felt a comfort at the sight of Korra's strong fingers laced around her own. "So then we do that?" Korra's eyes were so hopeful, Asami started to push her fears away. "We'll check out some of the places you donate to and see how you feel once we start looking."

It was still scary, even after talking to Tenzin and this talk with Korra, it was scary. "How are you so—does it not scare you?"

"Of course it does," Korra laughed breathily, sitting up with Asami and placing a hand on her back. "But it's a good scary, you know? Like when I asked you to go on vacation with me all those years ago. I was terrified of what you might say of…how I felt about you and how you might not feel the same way. At the same time though, I thought…it might be the best decision I ever make." Korra reached up and grabbed her betrothal necklace. "And it was." There were a million things Asami wanted to say and they were all racing through her mind. They must have swirled too long because she soon felt Korra's hands tightening around her waist. "Hey," Asami looked back at Korra, there was a look in Korra's eyes that made her feel awful. "You…you can say no. If you're not ready you can tell me that and we'll wait."

"No, Korra, no I want to try and maybe once we get into it I'll be more sure. I do want to have a child with you Korra, don't ever doubt that. I wish I wasn't so scared."

Korra's face softened, her eyes were brighter and her lips curled up. She kissed Asami on the cheek and started to lay back down. "No pressure, I promise. Despite what Tenzin says I can be patient."

"Ha!" She chuckled, leaning down to Korra. "I believe that when I see it." Asami kissed her again, feeling Korra's nimble fingers dance across her back. Pressure from them was enough to draw her down on top of Korra as the kiss deepened. "Hmm, Korra…we can't." Asami mumbled against her lips. She felt Korra's tongue trace her bottom lip and sighed. "Dammit, Korra."

The Avatar smiled as Asami laid down beside her.

After a few more kisses, Asami felt herself pulling away, staring into Korra's hooded eyes. "What?" Korra asked, her voice husky.

Asami smiled. "You've handled this really well. Katara, I mean. I know it's sad and…the funeral was rough but…you've been really strong."

"You make it easier," Korra said, a shyness in her voice. "I mean that, you being here has helped a lot. It's easier to face bad days when I know I have you waiting for me every night."

One thing Asami would never be used to was how quickly Korra could melt her with words. Without even trying, Asami knew Korra was just thinking out loud, saying what was on her mind, but spirits if she couldn't say things that made Asami swoon.

"You know," Asami started to trace her fingers along Korra's shoulder, pushing away strands of hair as she did. "You've got a birthday coming up."

Korra groaned. "Ugh, don't remind me."

"Why not!" Asami laughed. "We had fun last year." Korra's eyes narrowed. "Well you had fun that night, not so much the next day."

"No drinking, we are not letting Bolin plan a party. I spent my first days of twenty-six throwing up and wishing for death on our couch." Korra grimaced. "Honestly if someone had threatened the world that day I would have just let them have it."

Asami rolled her eyes with a warm smile before she suddenly felt Korra pulling her down again. Asami pressed a hand into Korra's chest. "What are you doing?" She put a bit of an edge on her voice, trying not to smile at Korra's reaction.

"Oh…I thought—were we not going to do the thing?"

"You just assumed we'd be having sex? Korra we were up until midnight doing that last night. I'm not a machine." It was growing increasingly hard to keep a straight face as Korra's frown grew and the disappointment set in.

"But…I thought—cause you woke me up and then…the kissing, I just—"

"You do realize that your parents are probably awake right now. Waiting for us to come for breakfast."

Another pout. "I have all I can eat right here."

Asami groaned, her laughter breaking through. "That was awful."

"You love it," Korra winked, giggling a bit when Asami tickled her ribs. "Stop! Get down here and finish what you started."

"I didn't start anything." Despite herself, Asami's hand started to slip up under Korra's shirt, tracing her ridiculously toned abs.

"You woke me up."

Asami smirked. "That's it? Waking you up counts as 'starting it'?"

As her hands moved higher up Korra's shirt, the Avatar swallowed thickly. "Y—yes. Plus this right now. This is starting it."

"Mmm," Asami hummed, feeling her resolve crumble.

"Korra! Tenzin's here!" Senna's voice rang out through the house and Asami swore she heard Korra growl.

They broke apart, Korra flopping onto her back as Asami splayed a hand on her stomach. "I'm never going anywhere with Tenzin again."

"Come on, Avatar. We've got a boat to catch."

Chapter Text

Lin could smell the murder before she even parked her satomobile. When the call had come in, she’d been about to head home. It was late—well past midnight—and she had considered letting it go. But after a string of strange murders, she couldn’t afford to brush off any homicide.

Her knee cracked as she stepped out of the car. She crinkled her nose at the smell; firebender for sure.

“What’d we got?” She called out, drawing the eyes of the five officers on the scene.

“Looks like a mugging gone wrong,” one of them said; the redhead that had been going around with Mako recently. Rin. She was pale, and Lin could see two bodies charred against the concrete behind her. “No sign of identification on either victim.”

“Any messages left behind on this one?” Lin asked.

“No,” Rin said, trying her best to not look back at the bodies. “We’ve been searching, but I don’t think it’s related to the others.”

Lin sighed, eyes wandering back to the pair on the ground. It was a man and a woman, their bodies badly damaged. The smell of decay still wafted through the air. She shook her head; two people dead for a few stolen wallets.

“Alright, well, I’m gonna—”

There was a thumping noise in the alley that froze the officers in motion. Each one cluelessly looked to Lin, who was eyeing a nearby dumpster a few steps away.

She moved towards it, and the other cops stepped away from her. Lin was sure that the sound was coming from inside.

She banged on the dumpster with her fist, holding up a hand to maintain silence around her. Another shuffle came from inside, and Lin let her metal cables release in preparation for a fight.

In one swift motion, she bent the front of the dumpster open, and trash spilled onto the ground at her feet. Along with it came a small person, falling with a shriek in front of her.

Lin’s blood ran cold at the sigh. The girl couldn’t have been a day over six years old.

“Please don’t hurt me!” the girl cried, through strangling sobs.

Lin recoiled her cables instantly; her heart sank as she knelt down next to her. The girl tried to pull away, losing her footing in the garbage.

“Easy, kid. It’s okay.” Lin kept her voice soft. “We’re the police. We’re not going to hurt you,” she assured, though it seemed ironic to say such a thing when she’d went through the dramatics of ripping the dumpster open. She could have just used the lid. “Can you come out? We need to get you somewhere safe.”

The girl didn’t move. Lin hadn’t expected her to, but she figured it was worth a shot.

“You think that’s their kid?” Rin asked, earning a dangerous glare from the Chief. “Sorry.”

“You stand beside me and block the view while I get her,” Lin said, turning back to the girl sitting amongst scattered trash. “I’m gonna pull you out of here, okay? I promise I won’t hurt you.” Lin leaned in slowly and tried her best to smile as she placed her hands under the girl’s shoulders. She pulled her out without much resistance; Lin was pretty sure the girl was in shock.

Lin was careful with her maneuvering as she stood up, protecting the child from seeing her parents in the charred and violent mess they were in. When the girl tucked her head into Lin’s shoulder, something flashed in her mind.

“Come on, kid. It’s gonna be okay.” She brushed tears out of the child’s bright green eyes. Lin hoped, prayed to whatever spirit she could think of, that the images this little girl saw tonight wouldn’t haunt her.

How could they not? Sitting next to your dead mother, crying for her to wake up.

It was her first day. Her first damn day as Chief of Police and this was the beginning call; a mother dead and her daughter watching the whole thing. At the house of one of the most prominent families in Republic City, of all places.

“We can’t leave her,” the girl whimpered, burying her face into Lin’s shoulder.

Lin sighed, patting her back. “She’s not there anymore, kid. She’s somewhere better now. Safe.”

Lin shook the memory, buckling the girl into the police car.

“Chief?” Rin raced up behind her. “Do you want me to take her to the station? I—I assumed—”

Don’t assume,” Lin said, stepping around to the driver’s door. “You stay on the scene until the forensic and clean-up crews arrive. I’m getting this girl out of here.”

Rin looked back for a moment at the scene, then nodded to Lin. “Yes, ma’am.”

When Lin climbed back into her car, she looked at the girl seated next to her. The kid’s entire world had just been take from her. The by-the-book choice would be to drive the girl to the station for processing, and let the people who knew what they were doing handle her.

But there was something about her raven colored hair and soft amber eyes that made the idea of handing her over to just anyone seem wrong.

“You ever been to Air Temple Island, kid?”

------

“It is so good to be home,” Korra groaned, holding the door open for Asami to step in behind her. They carried their respective bags a couple of steps inside the apartment, then sat them on the floor. “We’ll pick them up tomorrow.”

Asami smirked. “The Korra Sato motto.” Korra sent her a look. “Well, it wasn’t supposed to rhyme.” She rolled her eyes.

Korra cracked her neck before moving towards the kitchen. “Should I cook something?”

“Uh, no…” Asami chuckled as she followed her. “You’re banned from the kitchen, remember?”

“It wasn’t that bad.”

“Korra, you got batter on the ceiling.”

“I cleaned it up!”

Asami laughed. “Yes, I remember. You pouted because you couldn’t batterbend and then spent ten minutes trying to figure out how to use my ladder.”

“You’re the one who wanted the apartment with the high ceilings!” Korra countered, holding back a smile. When Asami put a hand on her hip, Korra knew it was on.

“Yeah, I thought with high ceilings they would be safe from your antics!”

Korra gasped. “My antics?” She shifted her weight back and crossed her arms. “You love my antics.”

“Oh I do?”

“Yes.” Korra tilted her head. “You lay awake at night thinking about how much you love my antics.”

Asami grinned. “I lay awake at night thinking about how I’m going to fix the damage your antics cause.”

“Okay,” Korra nodded, looking to the stove. She saw that as a challenge. “I’m gonna make some dumplings, I think.”

“Korrrraaaaa,” Asami groaned. “You don’t know how, and it’s late. Why can’t we go to bed?”

“I’m hungry!” Korra began digging through the cabinets. “Where do we keep the dumplings?”

With a sigh, Asami walked around the counter. “We don’t keep dumplings. You have to make them. Didn’t you ever cook with your mom?”

Suddenly Korra stopped, her head buried in a cabinet. Asami watched her step back and stand up, her face thoughtful. “No. My mom offered a few times, but I was always just…bending and learning the elements.” She shrugged. “I missed out on a lot of that stuff.”

“Me too,” Asami said, smiling.

Korra felt that familiar guilt wash over her. She always put her foot in her mouth when it came to talking about their childhoods. “Asami—”

“No, no.” Asami stepped over and took Korra’s hand. “It wasn’t a guilt thing. I promise. If anything…it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who missed a few motherly milestones.” Asami’s hand trailed up to her shoulder and jaw and Korra sunk into the feeling. “We don’t have the ingredients for dumplings. But I bought some Flameo Instant Noodles?”

“You did?” Korra’s eyes widened, making Asami laugh.

“I don’t know why you want to adopt a kid.” Asami kissed her softly. “You are a child,” she teased, reaching up to a higher cabinet to pull down two cups of noodles. “Now…can I count on you to warm these up without making any messes?”

“Of course.” Korra smirked, holding up her hand and drawing fire in her palm. Asami’s expression was far from impressed. Korra couldn’t help but laugh.

-------

Lin sat on the ferry to Air Temple Island in the early hours of the morning, in need of help. Despite being a pain in her ass, Tenzin had successfully raised four kids (though Meelo was a strange one), and if anyone might know how to make this girl feel comfortable, it was him. Or at least, his wife.

The girl hadn’t said a word, though Lin hadn’t expected her to. She was scared and quiet, and hadn’t cried more than a few silent tears. The last time she’d found a child at a murder, nineteen years ago, that girl had been much the same way. Lin was content to allow the silence between them; no need to ask pointless questions to try to calm a little girl whose parents had just been murdered.

Once they reached the island, Lin picked her up again and stepped onto the dock. It was late enough that she knew everyone was asleep, just having returned from their journey to the South. But she didn’t have time to wait for them.

She sought out a White Lotus guard scouring the perimeter. “You!” she called. “Go wake up Tenzin and tell him I need to see him imme—”

“Lin?”

The voice sunk into Lin’s bones and made her face heat up. “Kya?” She turned around and saw Tenzin’s sister walking towards her in nothing but a long, blue robe. Spirits. “What are you doing here?”

Kya shrugged. “No reason to stay in the South with mom gone. Figured I’d rather be with my family. What…is that in your arms?” Lin sent a glance to the girl, who had her head down and hair covering her face.

“I don’t know her name. We found her at a crime scene. It’s…not good.” Lin didn’t want to say anything about her parents being burned to death. She hoped her tone would convey enough.

When Kya nodded with a sigh, a wave of gratitude and appreciation washed over Lin. “She’s a mess.”

“Found her in a dumpster. She hasn’t really said anything. Can’t say I blame her.” Kya took a step towards them, trying to get a better look at the girl. Once she was close enough, Lin felt the girl retreat a bit into her arms. “It’s okay, kid. She’s a lot nicer than I am.” Lin smiled, trying to draw the girl out, even a little.

“Why’d you bring her here? I’m sure there’s protocol for this.”

Lin sighed. “There is, but it didn’t feel right to just leave her at the station, you know? I…I’m not good at this stuff.”

“What’d you mean?” she asked, and Lin felt herself tense.

“Finding kids in situations like that is…something you hope you go your whole career without seeing. This is my second. First time I let the girl sleep in my home until her father returned from a business trip in the United Republic. This time there’s no where else for her to go.”

She could see Kya’s eyes narrow slightly, trying to piece together what Lin had said. It was something she didn’t talk about, mostly out of respect to the once-little girl she’d found that day.

“Okay,” Kya said, nodding. “We need to get her cleaned up and get some new clothes on her. I bet Ikki has something older that she could wear.”

“Thank you,” Lin said, genuinely. Put her up against a dozen Equalists and Lin wouldn’t feel an ounce of fear. Give her a lost child who needed help finding comfort and Lin was sorely out of her element.

The entire ferry trip Lin had been thinking about what to do next. Tonight it felt wrong to let the girl be left in a police station, but she couldn’t stay with Lin forever. Neither of them would want that. The right thing to do would be to take her to the station tomorrow and put her into Republic City’s child care program.

Yet there was a nagging in the back of her mind; that maybe there was another choice. It was an option worth investigating, but she only had a short time to do it.

“Kya? Can you take her? I need to make a call.”

Kya stopped and turned curiously to Lin. “Of course but…it’s pretty late. Do you need to call the station or—“

“No, I—I may know a place that will take her.”

“Take me where?” The girl’s voice was weak, barely carrying through the air enough for them to hear. Lin shifted her down so they could look at each other. Amber eyes found her, wide and swimming with unshed tears. Lin knew what she had to do.

“Somewhere safe. Somewhere you can rest. I know it’s scary right now, and you don’t know what’s going on.”

“My parents died,” she said, her voice shaking.

“Okay.” Kya took the girl from Lin and cradled her close. “Shhh, it’s okay. Let’s go get you cleaned up.” Kya glanced at Lin over the mess of raven hair. “Go make your call and meet us in the baths of the girl dorms, okay?”

Lin nodded, fighting her own emotions and turning towards the island’s communications.

Once she stepped into the smaller room, away from the rest of the world, she closed her eyes and let out a heavy sigh. It was just another mugging gone wrong, and now she was on Air Temple Island with a small child getting help from a woman she might’ve had a stupid crush on for who knows how long and it was all overwhelming, to say the least.

Still, there was no reason to sit around and waste time that neither she or that kid had. Lin marched towards the radio and made the call.

It took a while for any sort of response, and Lin felt her impatience growing. She was going to keep calling until one of them answered, because she knew they were home.

“Hmmm,” came a groggy response after some time. “What?” Korra barked into the receiver, and Lin roll her eyes.

“You need to come to Air Temple Island immediately.”

“What?” Korra’s voice was alert now, though it was bordering on panic, which Lin had not intended. “Is everything okay?” Of course she’d be worried when you put it like that, Lin. This is her home as much as anywhere else.

“Everyone’s fine, Avatar. I didn’t mean to scare you, but we have a situation, and you and Sato need to get over here.”

Korra sighed and suddenly sounded half asleep again. “Hmmf, tonight? Can’t it wait until morning?”

“No,” Lin grumbled. “I’m not asking you, Avatar. I have something to show the both of you and you’re going to come or I’m going to come and get you.”

She could hear Korra let out a breath. It was late and this call was certainly out of the ordinary, but Lin knew she had to try.

“Okay,” Korra said, her voice soft. “We’ll be there in a little bit.”

When the line disconnected, Lin could only hope Asami would be okay with this.

———

Korra breathed through her nose loudly, putting the receiver down and running a hand through her wild hair. After their noodles, she and Asami had quickly gone to bed. Having been on a long boat ride for the last few days, she’d been excited to get a full night’s sleep in her own bed. But now, judging by the moon out the window hanging high in the sky, it couldn’t have been far past midnight, and she was awake.

She turned back to the bedroom and stepped inside, seeing Asami sleeping soundly. Korra smiled; she was cute when she slept. Head tucked under her hands, hair falling perfectly down her shoulders and back. Korra often found herself lost in little moments like this, wondering how the road of her life had lead her here, to this girl and the life they shared now. It seemed surreal at times. Like she might wake up again in a hotel room in the Earth Kingdom, still poisoned and running away from her own demons.

Walking over to the bed, Korra knelt down next to Asami’s face and brushed a strand of hair from her cheek. Asami sighed a bit and her nose scrunched up as she woke. She blinked a few times and Korra smiled.

“Hey.”

“Korra,” Asami groaned, trying to push herself up. “Are you okay? Did you have a nightmare? Do you—”

“No,” Korra shushed her gently. “No, it’s okay. I’m fine. Lin called. She said we need to go the island.”

Asami frowned, her eyes widening. “What happened?”

Korra smiled, but felt her heart sink at the question; the same one she’d asked Lin. Korra could complain all she wanted about how bored she was, but not having to worry about her wife’s life being in jeopardy was worth the lack of excitement.

“Lin said everyone’s fine. She just has to show us something.”

Now Asami looked irritated. “Did you tell her to wait until tomorrow?”

“Yes,” Korra chuckled. “You know Lin. Her mind was set on us coming. Must be important.” With a huff, Asami stared distantly at the wall, and Korra tilted her head and smirked. “People say I’m not a morning person.”

Asami turned slowly and glared at her. “It’s not morning.” Korra laughed, standing up and dropping a kiss on Asami’s forehead.

“Come on, Sato. Let’s go see what crabby Lin wants.” Asami groaned and kicked the blankets off.

It took them twenty minutes to dress and leave their apartment and another thirty to drive from the docks and ride by boat to the island. At one point, Korra cuddled up next to Asami and tried to fall back asleep; she was then tickled and told that such behaviour was unacceptable. She was the one who had told Lin they would be coming over in the middle of the night, after all. As they stepped down off the docks, Korra was pouting and Asami looked ready to face off with the Chief of Police if this wasn’t of the utmost importance.

It took them a while to actually find Lin, but when they did, she was dressed down in her white tank top and work pants. Her arms were wet and she looked as tired as Asami felt.

She must have sensed Asami’s frustration, because she pushed off the wall she was leaning against and stood a little straighter as Asami came towards her.

“What’s going on?” she asked, and Korra tried not to laugh at her grouchy wife.

Lin crossed her arms. “Took you long enough.”

Korra winced. Oh Lin, don’t poke the platypus bear.

“We were sleeping,” Asami practically growled. “We’ve been on a boat for three days and just got back into the city tonight.”

Lin’s face shifted and she nodded with a defeated sigh. “Right. Look, I know this is strange, but I needed to show you both something, and, well, you might be interested in helping me out.” Lin gestured for them to follow her as she walked.

“You’re being sneaky, Lin,” Korra said as they followed her. “What’s going on?”

“Will you two stop asking questions and just follow me. For spirits sake, I’m not leading you into some kind of trap. You’re jumpier than a screeching dodo.”

Korra glanced curiously at Asami, who wore the same expression she did as they stepped into the girl’s dorm bathroom and saw Kya running a towel over the head of a little girl.

“Oh!” Korra beamed. “Is it a new airbender?”

Asami shot daggers at Lin. “You dragged us out here in the middle of the night for a new airbender?”

Before Lin could counter and start a Beifong versus Sato cranky war, Kya chimed in. “She’s not an airbender. She’s…” Kya sighed, turning the story over to Lin.

“I found her in an alley tonight after a mugging went to crap. Her parents were—” Lin stopped herself, conveying the rest of her sentence with nothing more than a look directed at Asami. Korra glanced back and forth between the two of them, her mind racing with questions at the quiet exchange.

Asami visibly tensed at the words Lin spoke. She swallowed harshly and turned to look at the little girl standing shyly next to Kya.

“She needs somewhere to stay for a while,” Kya said, running a hand over the girl’s head. “She can stay here on the island if she has to but—”

“We thought you two might be willing to take her in,” Lin finished, and Korra felt her chest tighten as she watched the little girl hug herself, surrounded by strangers on what would one day be defined as the worst night of her life.

When Korra turned to Asami, she saw her wife looking sadly at the girl, her eyes soft and her bottom lip quivering just a bit. On reflex, Korra almost reached out to hug her, but then Asami stepped forward and knelt down in front of the girl.

“You want to come home with me and the Avatar?”

The girl’s eyes went wide at the use of the word, and her eyes shifted to Korra, who waved, despite being completely shocked at Asami’s quick response. Asami reached up and tucked a strand of the girl’s hair out of her face and drew her attention again. Closing her eyes, the girl shrugged and bit her lip.

“Do you mind if I pick you up?” Asami asked, and earned another nod. She stood and lifted her up.

Asami walked back to Korra, and Lin dropped a hand on Asami’s shoulder. The two of them exchanged another knowing look.

“Thank you,” Lin said, her voice gentler than Korra could ever remember.

Asami nodded, a weak smile on her lips.

“Hi.” Korra grinned brightly. “I’m sorry you had a bad night but…we’ll give you a good place to sleep and get you some food in the morning.”

“I won’t let her cook though,” Asami teased, trying to keep things light. “She’s a bad cook. Great Avatar, bad bad cook.”

Korra couldn’t help but laugh. The girl didn’t, but she did smile just a little. It may have been forced, but Asami seemed to accept it.

“Tell you what,” Kya started. “It’s late and we’ve got beds here. Why don’t you three take one of the rooms and we can have a big breakfast in the morning and figure all of this out, okay?”

"I'll be going," Lin said eventually, picking up her police vest.

"Nonsense." Kya stepped to Lin and laid a hand over her shoulder. "It's midnight, Lin and you're exhausted. After I show these three to their room I'll find you a place too." 

If Korra didn't know any better, she would have swore Lin Beifong blushed. 

At some point between agreeing to stay and finding a room, Asami had passed the girl off to Korra. The fatigue of her night had set in, because she was asleep in Korra’s arms before they even made it to the room Kya had given them.

“We didn’t get her name,” Korra whispered, watching Asami pull the blankets down.

“I know,” Asami turned back to her. “I—I know we should have had a conversation and we can tomorrow, but I just—“

“Asami, it’s fine. You know I’m okay with taking this kid in for as long as she needs. I just was…more surprised you were.”

Asami sighed and stepped aside to let Korra lay the girl down. She looked so sad and scared even in sleep. Korra couldn’t deny her unyielding urge to protect a girl whose name she didn’t even know.

“I know what it’s like,” Asami said, her voice quiet as she pulled up a chair and sat down in the darkness of the room. Korra did the same.“I just think we can help her.”

Korra reached across and took Asami’s hand, lacing their fingers together. “Of course we can. It’ll be good practice for when we decide to adopt.”

That was when Asami’s fingers loosened in Korra’s grip and her face fell into a frown. “Yeah…good practice.” Korra saw the expression change in her wife and immediately knew she’d said something wrong.

Chapter Text

Mako was barely awake. The sun just above the horizon, shining in his eyes. It was early, way too early, but Rin had called and said they'd found a new lead on one of their strange murders.

So, at 5:30 in the morning, he was arriving at the station.

Rin was sitting at his desk when he arrived. She looked annoyingly comfortable and smirked up at him. "Your morning look leaves something to be desired, Mako."

"Gee thanks, it's good to see you too, Rin." He sat down across from her when it became clear she wasn't moving. "So what is it you got me out of bed this early in the morning for."

She dramatically slammed a sheet of paper on the table. Mako eyed the offending page, then looked at her, his expression never changing.

"Well?" She pressed.

He sighed. "Rin, it's 5:30 in the morning. Read it to me."

Rolling her eyes, Rin picked up the report. "It says that two weeks ago our girl from the club, the one who killed Ichiro?" She waited for Mako to nod before continuing. "Went to the Spirit World. She told her brother she was only going for the day, she was gone for two weeks and he never saw her again. He didn't even know she was back in town. He came in last night to file a missing person's report and when the description he gave matched up, they showed him the pictures."

"Did he say what she was going to the Spirit World for?" Mako asked, suddenly very awake.

"Just a visit, she hadn't been and she wanted to go. Mako the girl was seventeen years old. She had a scholarship lined up to a university in the Earth Kingdom. She wasn't—who she was when we saw her in the club that night is not the same girl that her brother described."

He knew where she was going. "You think something happened in the Spirit World."

"Her brother said she was a very unskilled bender, that night at the fight she was metalbending and nearly took us both out. That doesn't just magically happen. The Spirit World was the last place she was, something had to have happened there." Rin shrugged. "I've never been to the Spirit World so I don't know what it's like. I do know that I've seen spirits around the city and not all of them are fluffy and cute."

Mako pursed his lips, his mind wandering back to the days in the South Pole when the portal was first opened by Korra and her uncle. They'd encountered a few angry, neglected spirits back then and there were legends of dark spirits, like Koh the face stealer.

Still, a spirit couldn't completely manipulate a person like that. Change who they are. Could they?

"We're in Avatar territory now .She's the bridge between worlds."

Rin gave him a look "I thought your girlfriend ended that when she kept the portal open in the south? Now this portal in the city, she's not the bridge anymore. She created an express lane."

"Either way," Mako rose to his feet. "We're not going into this any more without her. She can go to the Spirit World and look around, see if anyone in there saw the girl or knows anything about it. I'm sure Korra has a trip there planned soon anyways. She takes them every so often."

"Little honeymoons for her and her wife to fuck in the grass." Mako frowned and glared at her. She sighed. "Sorry."

"Why do you do that?"

She shrugged. "I don't know. I shouldn't remind you of that stuff, I just-"

He shook his head. "It's not about me, I'm not still hung up on them. They're my friends, they're like family. Don't talk about them like that."

She nodded and looked away. "You're right, I'm am sorry." Silence loomed for a moment, neither of them sure what to do next. Rin finally broke first. "You want to bring Beifong in on this?"

Mako knew he should, it was protocol and he was all about protocol. Still, he and Chief had already discussed bringing Korra in. Now they had more reason than ever.

"No need, we've talked about getting the Avatar on board with the investigation so we can just go talk to her."

"Great," Rin stood and grabbed her coat off Mako's chair. "You want to go get her now?"

"Wake up Korra at 5:30 in the morning? No."

Korra winced at the dull ache in her back, adjusting slightly as her memory returned and she realized she had fallen asleep in a chair. She opened her eyes and glared at the rising sun out the window. It was early, too early and she had no idea why she was sleeping in a chair.

Glancing to her right, she saw an empty chair beside her and immediately thought of Asami. When her gaze shifted back, her eyes fell on the bed in the room and the little girl sleeping soundly atop it.

"Oh," she mumbled to herself, running her hands through her hair. Lin had called them up last night. Kya told them to stay, even gave them a room, but Korra must have fallen asleep.

Did Asami go to the room without me?

Korra frowned, remembering that look in Asami's eyes last night. Korra had mentioned them taking this girl as being good practice for when they decided to adopt. Everything was uncomfortably quiet after that.

Pushing up out of the chair, Korra groaned and stretched her back out. Her body still achy and tired. This was not the ideal first night back after their trip.

She took a few steps towards the bed, kneeling down beside it. The girl was so cute when she slept. Korra was glad to see her sleeping at all. It hadn't been outwardly said, but it was pretty clear she'd gone through something traumatic. Lin mentioned her parents and gave a certain look that said more than enough.

Without thinking, Korra reached up and brushed a stray bit of hair from her face. She didn't even know her name, but there was still a pull in her chest to keep this girl safe. Of course, Korra felt that for everyone. She was born with a need to protect and often wondered if anyone else felt that like she did or if it was an Avatar thing. It was impossible for her to walk away when someone needed help.

That's why it was so frustrating for her now. People always needed help, she was certain that there were people all over the world who were struggling, but she was here and she couldn't just…leave.

There was Asami, of course, who had her business and there was no way Korra would travel the world without her. Then there was the Air Nation, the still fragile Air Nation that Korra had to protect and maintain. It was her mission, the purpose of her existence as the Avatar. Kyoshi shaped nations, Roku protected kingdoms, Aang fought a war and Korra restored balance. It was her legacy, and it was far from over.

Still, that didn't prevent her from feeling the guilt of being stationary. Of knowing that there were people all over the world who could use an Avatar in their lives to save them. It ate her up in the quiet moments, it was a part of why she struggled so much with sleeping. That, and the nightmares. The anxiety and haunting memories that were always there.

Some days it was overwhelming, making it hard to get out of bed, as it had been when she was at her lowest. Even with everything good in her life now, being married and surrounded by love, it was hard.

Korra was suddenly torn between leaving the girl alone and seeking out Asami. She glanced back to the door and then to the girl, it'd be awful for her to wake up alone and not knowing where she was. With a sigh, Korra sat down on the floor next to the bed and rested her head against the wall.

A moment later, the door to the bedroom opened and Asami was there. Korra smiled at the sight of her. Hair down, makeup removed and two cups in her hands.

"Morning," Asami said, her smile soft and not quite reaching her eyes. She's still upset with me. Korra thought, still unsure why. "I brought some coffee but I'm not sure how good it is since Bumi made it." Asami carefully sat down next to Korra, both of them shoulder to shoulder alongside the bed.

Korra took the mug and ran her finger over the rim. "Did you sleep in the bed last night?"

"No, I just woke up a half hour ago and showered. You were still asleep so I snuck out."

"Oh," Korra nodded, unsettled by Asami's even tone. She tried to sneak a glance at her wife, only to see Asami sipping her coffee and looking decidedly as tired as Korra felt. "Are you mad at me?" She asked, unable to hold back.

Asami sighed and sat her cup down between her legs. "I'm not mad I just—you know why Lin called us here, right?"

Korra frowned. "I…think so, I assume it was to take care of the little girl, which is great and I want to. I just don't know why you're upset about it. I mean I know you're not really sold on the baby thing yet but this girl needs a place to stay."

"Is that what you think?" Asami's voice was sharp. "That I'm upset because we're here for this little girl?" They were both trying to keep their voices down, but the tones were escalating and Asami stood up in a hurry. "Outside, now."

Pushing to her feet, Korra followed Asami out, leaving their cups on the floor as they stepped quietly through the halls and into the morning light.

"I don't understand why you're so mad, Asami? I'm not a mind reader If you have something to say you need to say it."

Asami sighed, shaking her head. "Korra, you can't…just say things like you did last night. Practice? You think we can just take this girl in, let her stay with us and just throw her out when a newer model is ready for us?"

"What?" Korra cried, throwing her hands in the air. "That's not what I meant! Asami you've been freaking out ever since I mentioned wanting to start a family and I've been trying so hard to tread lightly because it's our decision to make together but I can't keep dancing around it forever. I don't know what you want!"

"I think I made it pretty clear what I want last night, Korra. You are the one who said practice. Korra, you have to understand that we can't do that."

"So that's it?" Korra was becoming very annoyed, she was tired and cranky and if she wasn't acutely aware of Asami's 'no walking away from an argument' rule she would have done just that. "You want me to tell Lin that we can't give that girl a temporary home?"

Asami growled. "No, Korra! I want you to understand that if we take that girl home with us, she's not leaving. We're not a temporary home for her. She's six years old, she just lost her parents and she will remember if we take her in and then she has to leave us. It's not fair. I won't allow us to bring her in, care for her and then send her away again. So if you want to take her back to our apartment, then that's it. That's our girl."

Suddenly, Korra felt her heart racing and her stomach doing flips. "Wait…wait you want this?"

"She needs a home, Korra. We can give it to her."

Korra shook her head and stepped closer. "No, you didn't answer my question," she took Asami's hands into her own. Staring into her eyes. "Do you want this?"

"Yes," Asami said, her eyes softened and Korra felt the distress of their fight fade away. Asami suddenly looked very stricken, her eyes looking everywhere but at Korra. "It just didn't seem like you did and—"

"Hey," Korra called, drawing Asami's gaze. "I want this, I will gladly take that little girl into our home and raise her. I just…I didn't think we'd be able to. I have no idea how this works. It just seems too simple, doesn't it? Lin shows up with a child in the middle of the night and suddenly she's ours?"

Asami shrugged. "For most people it probably wouldn't but you and I aren't really normal," Asami chuckled and Korra couldn't help but do the same. "If we agree to do this, talk to Lin…I can reach out to my contacts and give us custody of her." Before Korra could respond, Asami sighed and looked back to the dorms. "You know…it's not just our decision to make."

"Oh good, you're up." Behind Korra came both Lin and Kya, Korra could feel the smirk threatening at the sight of them. Lin seemed particularly at ease with her white tank-top untucked from her uniform pants and her face a little more colored than usual. "I didn't want to have to wait till noon for you to drag your lazy ass out of bed." Korra's threatening smile quickly turned into a very real frown.

"I do wake up earlier now. I'm an adult." Asami cleared her throat a bit too loudly behind Korra and she felt her eye twitch. "I am, and as an adult, I believe it is my duty to inform you that me and my lovely wife would be happy to take in this girl. Assuming she wants to go. Actually—" Korra glanced back at Asami. "Did you get her name?" She looked back to Lin. "Do we know her name?"

Lin shook her head. "Not yet, she didn't say much at all last night." Lin frowned, her gaze trailing over Korra's shoulder to Asami. It wasn't hard for Korra to piece that puzzle together. She was just curious why it had never come up before. Still, it wasn't her place to push, even if she did feel a bit of sadness that Asami hadn't shared it with her during all these years. "You do realize that you can't just…take her right?"

Korra frowned. "Of course, we have to ask her first if she wants to come and—"

"No," Lin shook her head. "I brought you both here to give her a place to stay. To keep her out of the system. We do still have to go through the process."

"Family," Asami said, making Korra turn to face her. She seemed disappointed, like the veil had fallen off of the moment for her. "Anyone in her family has first chance at legal rights to her."

"Yep," Lin said and Korra looked at her just in time to see Kya approaching with a cup of coffee for her. "Family has the right to take her in. Aunts or uncles, grandparents. They can refuse if they want. If she doesn't have any or any willing to take her in, then she's yours."

Korra felt strangely disappointed for a girl she'd only met the night before and hadn't really spoken to. "So why are we taking her?"

"Because it can take a while and her staying with you beats putting her in a group home or a shelter."

"Don't you think that's a little unfair," Asami spoke up, stepping forward next to Korra. "We take her and then if one of her family members wants her we have to make her adjust, again, to something new."

Lin shrugged. "None of this is fair, Sato. The system is what it is, the girl's parents were burned to death last night and she was probably close enough to smell it." Korra felt physical pain at the thought of that child hearing that. It worsened when Asami tensed up sharply next to her. Even Lin seemed to balk after saying it. "If one of her family members comes forward to take her in, so be it. Until then, I'll talk to the people who handle it and she'll be yours. It's you two though so I don't think anyone is going to argue."

The sudden sound of crying ended the conversation. They'd left her to wake up alone, just what Korra didn't want. She felt Asami's hand slip through her own and squeeze softly.

"Come on," Asami said, moving first and pulling Korra towards the room. "Let's have a proper introduction."

"Bring her out when she's calmed down. I do need names so I can start looking for family."

Korra nodded half-heartedly as Asami pulled her towards the distressed noises coming from the room. When they entered, the little girl was curled into a ball and crying. The cries were short and rapid, coming out so fast she was having trouble breathing.

Asami suddenly slowed down but Korra didn't, she couldn't. Instead, she knelt down right next to the bed and drew herself close to the child.

"Hi," Korra said, trying to keep her voice soft and her smile bright. "It's okay, sweetie." Korra reached out with her hand but stopped in the air, she wasn't sure if she should touch the girl, even to try and comfort her. She hesitantly pulled her hand back for a moment before pushing onward. Gently, she touched the girl's hair and ran her fingers through it. It was dark, reminding her of Asami's, only thinner and tangled from the long night. "It's okay," Korra repeated as the girl's cries slowed.

She kept waiting for Asami to join her, but after a minute passed and the girl started to settle, Asami was still just standing behind her. Korra looked back and saw that Asami had her hands held under her chin, her face a mixture of sadness and doubt.

When Korra refocused on the girl, she decided to do something and pulled the girl up and into her arms.

For a good ten minutes she cried, and Korra never let her go. After a few minutes, Asami finally reached out to place a hand on her back and rub up and down gently as Korra held her, tiny arms pressed into her shoulder.

When the crying settled, Korra sat down on the bed and was relieved when Asami joined her. She pulled the kid back, settling her on a knee before smiling again and reaching up to wipe away her tears.

"You're really beautiful," Asami whispered and Korra was happy to hear her speak, but when she looked at Asami, she was frowning and seemed upset with herself. "I—uh—are you hungry?" Asami stammered, standing up again and continuing to confuse Korra with her behavior.

Korra decided to go with it. "Do you want some food? The food here is really—" She shrugged. "Well it's a lot of vegetables, but they're pretty good." The girl sniffled and wiped at her cheeks. "Actually, why don't we start with this; hi, I'm Korra." She held up her hand, her head tilted to the side a bit. A moment later, the girl shook her hand.

"Mika," she whispered, sniffling again.

"Hi Mika, I like your name." She stood again, pulling Mika up and into her arms. "This is Asami, she's my wife."

Asami smiled, hesitation still evident in her eyes. "Hello, Mika. It's a pleasure to meet you." They shook hands, as Mika had done with Korra before. "I uh—I know this is really scary right now but you're going to get through this."

Mika frowned, pulling her arm away from Asami and tucking it in close to herself. Asami sighed, again silently berating herself for what she'd said. Korra couldn't figure out what was wrong with her, why she seemed so uncomfortable.

"I don't like vegetables." Mika said, looking at Korra.

"Ha, me either. What about rice? We've got a lot of that here. Oh and seaweed noodles!" Korra's excitement poured over enough to make Mika nod and lay her head on Korra's shoulder. With another weak smile, Asami turned and led the way out. Korra could only stare at the back of her wife's head, continually confused by this entire morning.

By the time they made their way out to breakfast, Korra cradling Mika in her arms and Asami walking slowly in front of them, Tenzin was already up. He was also sending very curious glances at Kya and Lin seated across from him. They weren't actually doing anything, they weren't even interacting. But they were sitting rather closely and apparently that was enough to turn Tenzin's face a little red.

Then his gaze shifted to Korra, and the small child she was holding, and his expression turned to pure shock.

"K—Korra?" He fumbled his chopsticks and dropped them. "Where did you—how did you—Asami doesn't have—" he bristled and Korra bit back a snicker before taking a seat at the table with Mika still in her arms.

"Relax, Tenzin. This is Mika, she…had a rough night last night and is going to be staying with Asami and I for a while if…she's okay with that?" Korra looked into her amber eyes and smiled. She could feel Asami taking a seat next to her and looked back to see that Asami was watching them both. Turning back to Mika, she didn't answer, but instead laid her head on Korra's shoulder.

"Aw," it was Ikki, who was seated next to her dad and smiling widely. "She's so cute, Korra you're great with her."

Asami sighed. "I'm gonna go get us some food." She stood up too fast for anyone to say what they wanted to and went into the kitchen.

Korra frowned as she watched Asami go but turned her focus back to Mika and decided to figure out what was going on with her wife later.

"Korra?" It was Jinora, coming up behind her and taking a seat where Asami had been a moment before. "Who's this?" Jinora smiled and leaned in close. "Hi, I'm Jinora." Her voice was so delicate that Mika couldn't help but look up at her.

She bit her lip. "Mika."

"It's wonderful to meet you, Mika. I see you've discovered how warm our Avatar is." She said, nudging Korra a little. Korra smiled when Mika nodded and nestled in closer. A new feeling of warmth spread through Korra's chest that she happily welcomed. "If you don't mind though, Korra I was hoping to speak with you about something?"

"Okay," Korra nodded, Jinora had really grown into a great council for Korra in the past few years. She'd taken initiative to study and learn to help guide Korra almost as much as Tenzin. "Kya, can you take Mika for a bit?"

"Oh of course," Kya stood and lifted the girl out of Korra's arms. She was clutching onto Korra's shirt. "It's okay, dear. She'll be right back."

Korra felt her chest tighten at the resistance she felt Mika using to keep from being separated. She was in trouble.

"Just really quick, okay? Asami will be back soon with some food." She hoped, still unsure what was wrong with her wife.

The girl nodded and Kya sat her down next to where she and Lin were sitting (Tenzin was still eyeing them suspiciously).

Korra followed Jinora out of the room and down another hallway towards the study. "So what's that all about?" She asked, looking back at Korra.

"Lin brought her last night. Her parents were killed and she wants me and Asami to take her in for a while, at least."

"At least?"

Korra shrugged. "We've been talking about starting a family I—I don't know. Asami's been acting a little strange so I'm not sure. Either way, she's coming home with us for a bit."

"That's great," Jinora stepped into the study and sat down by a stack of books she'd had spread out. Korra followed suit. "You two will be great with her."

"Yeah," Korra frowned. "I hope so." She couldn't shake Asami's behavior out of her mind. Asami was the stable one, she was always so collected and able to adapt to anything. Today was nothing like that at all. In fact, it was the exact opposite. Korra couldn't help but think as much as it bothered her, it probably was even worse for Asami. "Anyway, what did you want to talk about?"

Jinora smiled up at her. "Well, I was thinking about you and how you lost your connection to your past lives." Korra frowned again, any time that was mentioned it hurt. It was one of the lowest moments of her entire life. Something she couldn't bring back, couldn't fix, no matter how hard she tried. "Have you tried looking for information on past Avatars? To make up for the things you don't get now that your connections are gone?"

"Oh, I've tried, your father has tried. Even Asami has tried with all her resources but there is so little out there. I guess because of the connection, most avatar's didn't think it was necessary to write anything down."

"Exactly," Jinora's eyes lit up and she reached down to pick up a notebook. "This is for you."

Korra eyed it for a moment, it had a blue cover and was fairly thick. She took it, opening to the first page, which was blank. She then fluttered through the next thirty or so pages, all blank.

"Uh," she glanced up at Jinora. "Is this some kind of weird metaphor that's going over my head?"

Jinora chuckled. "No! It's for you! So you can start writing down your experiences and your thoughts. We don't know if you'll be able to connect with the next Avatar or not, even if you can, them having this, having your words and thoughts might be great guidance for what they'll experience as they grow up."

Suddenly the book in Korra's hands felt heavier. It was true, she would have loved to have this growing up. Before she connected with Aang she had always hoped for guidance. Being the avatar was something nobody could help her with. They could try, and so many had, but nobody understood it. When she lost that connection, the loneliness she felt was unbearable. It felt wrong to say, but even now, married and surrounded by love, there were still times when that feeling returned.

Perhaps if she'd had something like this, words and experiences to read through and learn from, it would have made things better.

"This is a really great idea, Jinora." Korra said, her own voice breaking a little. She laughed. "Sorry, I just…thinking back to growing up and how lonely it was. It would have been nice to have this."

Jinora reached across and touched Korra's hand lying atop the book. "Put that in there, put in all your fears and doubts and how you overcame them. I know…" Jinora sighed, staring into Korra's eyes sadly. Korra knew what was coming. "I know you still struggle with emotional and mental distress issues every day." Korra lowered her head slightly, Jinora waited for her to look back up again before continuing. "It's nothing to be ashamed about, Korra. Write about it, let it out. It might help you feel better."

Suddenly, Korra closed the distance between them and pulled Jinora into a hug. They both laughed a little and Korra felt a tear spill over and sniffled a bit. It was so hard admitting that she still struggled with those things, even if she'd accepted long ago that she probably would for the rest of her life.

"Ah!" A scream sounded from the kitchen and they were both on their feet in a hurry. Korra raced through the room and towards the noise.

Mika was suddenly standing in the corner by herself. Korra could see everyone watching her, Kya trying to wave her over and Meelo sitting on the edge of the table frowning.

"I'm sorry!" Meelo said, sounding as sincere as Korra had ever heard him. "I didn't mean to scare her."

When Korra's gaze shifted to Asami, she was standing, she looked utterly distressed but unsure of what to do.

"What happened?" Korra asked her.

Asami sighed. "Meelo and Rohan were running around and scared Mika. Then…well then she firebent."

Korra's eyes went wide as she turned to Mika who was holding her still flaming hand out in front of her, mortified. Immediately Korra knew it was her first time.

Slowly, Korra walked over to Mika and knelt down in front of her. She immediately pulled her flaming hand away and Korra reached out to grab it. Wanting her to know it wasn't scary.

"It's okay, hey," she touched Mika's cheek softly. "It's okay. You're just a firebender is all. I think Meelo's craziness brought it out of you." Mika was shaking her head, looking away. "Look," Korra said, pulling up her hand and lighting a small flame. "See. Fire, just like me." Mika stared at the controlled flame in Korra's hand and then looked back at her own with a frown. "Don't worry, I'll teach you how to keep it like this, so it's not so scary."

When Mika nodded, Korra put the fire in her own hand out and held Mika's to extinguish the flame she held. With a smile, Korra glanced back to find Asami, but she wasn't there anymore.

Chapter Text

Asami felt like an idiot, just standing there in Pema's kitchen with an empty teapot, just in case Korra came looking for her so she could make an excuse as to why she left so abruptly.

There were only four times Asami ever felt like she had lost control of her life: when her mother died, when her father betrayed her, when Future Industries was going bankrupt and when Korra was poisoned. Asami prided herself on handling things, on knowing how to adapt and overcome anything thrown in front of her. Even those four times she had found a way, and in the back of her mind, Asami knew she would have to do the same thing again.

That still didn't make the here and now any easier. The fear in Mika's eyes and the way Asami's legs just refused to go to her, instead turning and running away.

"Everything okay in here?" Tenzin's voice startled her, Asami tried to move the pot to the stove but ended up dropping it with a loud clank onto the ground. What is wrong with me?

She sighed and picked it up off the floor. "I'm fine. Just…falling apart a little."

Tenzin wore a knowing smile when she looked at him. "I noticed, as did Korra. She sent me in here to find you."

"I don't know what's wrong with me." Asami sat the pot back down before leaning against the stove with a sigh.

"Perhaps it was the firebending display by our new guest. Given her situation and your own childhood—?" He let his words linger and Asami realized what he was thinking immediately.

"No, I'm not afraid of firebending. It's no different than an Equalist glove. They did terrible things because of the people who wielded them. I use the same glove to help people. Firebending is the same thing." Tenzin nodded, his lips pursed. "I just…locked up. We went in to see her when she woke up this morning and it's like the functioning part of my brain completely shut down." Asami lolled her head back, exhaling slowly. "Did Korra calm her down?"

"She did," Tenzin said, still studying her. "Korra has always been good with children."

Asami chuckled and looked back down. "Korra's always been good at everything. At least…everything that matters." Asami smoothed her hands over her pants and pushed up off the stove. "I can put an engine together blindfolded and race a car, repress my emotions better than anybody." She wore a smirk that only made Tenzin frown more. "But when it comes to…family? I'm pretty much useless."

"I don't know," Tenzin mused, stroking his beard. "Korra is your family and you seem to do well with her. Better than anyone else."

"Korra?" Asami cried. The thought of her wife making her smile. "Korra's easy!"

Tenzin shook his head. "She isn't, Asami. Korra is the Avatar. She's also been through emotional and physical torture and still suffers the effects of that every day. She is also one of the most stubborn people I've ever known. Not to mention her complete lack of respect for this temple, and any other sacred place we've gone to. She thinks it is okay to just pick up that centuries old relic and—"

Asami cleared her throat loudly. "Tenzin."

"Right," he nodded, straightening his robe. "What I mean is, Korra is a wonderful human being and incredibly strong, but she is also very flawed and consistently needing to be mended. There is no one in the world who knows how handle her better than you." Asami found herself smiling, thinking of Korra and how natural it was to be there for her. She never considered it a task at all, it was just…Korra. She felt lucky to be the one who 'handled' her. "I can't say you'll be a great mother, Asami. Just know that you shouldn't doubt your ability to support your family."

It would be easy to believe him. To nod her head and smile, then rush out there and help Korra. She managed the first two, but he was the first one to leave the kitchen. Asami knew she would have to face them both soon - she was their driver, after all.

Asami rubbed her eyes, tired of carrying so much self doubt. "You have got to get it—"

"—together, Bolin!" He screamed to himself. " GetItTogether." He whined, sitting across from Opal at their kitchen table.

"Stop talking to yourself," she groaned, flicking her finger at the rock.

It was a game they'd created months ago. They'd carved two "goals" into their table and Bolin would use earthbending to try and push a rock across the table into Opal's goal and she would airbend the same rock to try and do the same.

It was silly and fun but sometimes they would both find themselves far too into the game and starting to yell at one another or themselves. Especially when Bolin began to give personal pep talks.

The sound of the door opening made Bolin jump and he lost his focus on the game. Without the resistance from his earthbending, Opal's burst of air easily overpowered the rock. It went sailing by Bolin's head and slammed into the wall right next to where Mako had come inside.

"Whoa!" He ducked out of the way. "You guys are going to hurt someone playing that game."

Bolin sighed. "Opal has already shattered my spirit with it. You would think, as an earthbender, that I would have the advantage while moving a rock."

"That's the problem! You're too focused on moving the rock. I worry about air around it and the angles. You're pushing it right to me and I'm just setting up shots."

Mako remained in the doorway, staring at the both of them blankly. When they each turned to see if he was paying attention, he raised his eyebrows. "What? I don't have an opinion on this. I still don't understand most of the things that you two do for fun."

"That's Mako speak for 'I haven't had sex in a decade," Opal teased. Over the years, she'd more than earned the right to do it and Mako always smiled when she did. "Love you, Mako." Opal winked at the half-hearted glare he was sending her.

"Yeah yeah. Listen, do either of you know if Korra and Asami's boat came in from the South last night?"

Opal rose up from the table and went into the kitchen. "It was supposed to, right? You know Asami and her schedules. If it was supposed to get in last night, it got in last night."

"Yeah," Mako sighed, sitting down in Opal's empty seat and blatantly ignoring her huff of disapproval. "I went by their apartment this morning to talk to Korra, but they weren't home."

"Did you abide by Korra's 'no visitors before nine' rule?"

Mako rolled his eyes. "Yes, and I still don't see how the Avatar can have rules like that. Bad things happen before nine."

Opal chuckled. "Because she'll freeze your ass to the floor if you break it."

"Do you think maybe they heard you knock, saw your police car out the window and hid in their bedroom?" Bolin continued, barely paying attention to Mako as he spoke.

That didn't stop Mako from glaring at him. "What? No! They…they wouldn't do that!"

"Honestly, they were probably having sex and pretending they didn't hear you," Opal said as if bringing up their sex life were the most natural thing in the world. "Bolin and I have done it."

Mako turned his sour gaze to Bolin, who was suddenly red in the face and looking extremely guilty. "It was one time and...well...I had my Nuktuk costume on."

"Okay, you know what? You guys are no help. I'm going to Air Temple Island to see if they're there. You guys want to come? Or do you want me to leave so you can have sex? Everyone is so obsessed with sex these days and apparently I'm the only person in Republic City who isn't having it."

Mika wanted to walk when they arrived back at their apartment, so Asami lead the way with Mika behind her and Korra following along. The ferry ride off the island was quiet. The ride in the car from there was as well. Things were tense and Asami hated it because it was her fault. She could easily be the one who ended it, who spoke first and made some kind of effort. But she was so tense - for some reason Mika intimidated the hell out of her and Asami couldn't understand why. In theory, they should have so many things in common, but what was the point of bonding over dead parents? That wouldn't help anyone feel better.

Once they were inside, Asami held the door opened and when Mika stopped in the entrance, Korra scooped her up carefully.

"It's okay - this is our place. It's nice here. We have the best view too. I'll show you." Korra carried her over to the balcony and Asami closed the door.

"Korra? You guys hungry?" Asami asked, wanting to be doing something, anything with her hands. "I can make some sandwiches or something?"

"Sure!" Korra beamed and Asami fell in love a little more. Korra was always hungry. "What about you, Mika? You want some food?"

Unfortunately, Mika didn't say anything. She just stared out the window at their apartment view. Asami wondered if she was thinking about the view from her own home, though it wasn't really that anymore. Just like her parent's old room, where she'd found her own mother that day. The room she'd never been able to walk into again.

As Asami made food, Korra continued to hold Mika who had her face buried in Korra's shoulder. Korra kept moving, and Asami wondered how she knew that the constant movement would help lull Mika to sleep. She didn't know where Korra could have learned that. Maybe it was just Avatar intuition, lost remnants of the past lives that were torn from her. Whatever it was, there was no surprise when Asami dished out the food and Korra smiled sheepishly.

"I think she's tired." Korra continued to stroke up and down Mika's back. "You want to go lie down, sweetie?" Korra cooed, her voice soft and warmer than Asami could ever remember it being. Mika nodded and Korra looked back to Asami. "Don't worry, I'll eat both sandwiches."

Asami couldn't have stopped herself from grinning if she tried. She went to pour a few glasses of juice when she heard the first cry. Putting them down hastily, she ran to where Korra was kneeling next to the bed, their bed, in front of Mika.

"Hey hey, it's okay." Korra tried, but Mika kicked at her and Korra fell backwards onto her butt.

"No it isn't!" she bawled, screaming as loudly as she could. "This isn't my bed! This isn't my room! I want my mommy!"

Korra glanced over her shoulder at Asami and more of that doubt settled into Asami's stomach. Her wife was clearly looking for help but she had no idea what to do or what to say. Yes, she lost her mother, but her father had still been around then, and he was there to pick her up and take her back to her own bed.

Maybe that would be enough, for now at least - if Mika could have her own bed. They had an empty spare room. They could give her that, with some of her own stuff.

Yes!

"What if I call Lin? She should have found the girl's parents by now, figured out where they live. Maybe we can go and get some of her things?" Asami raised her voice to speak over the sobbing Mika on the bed.

"Yes," Korra sighed. "You're a genius!"

"I'll go call her!" Asami shouted, backing out of the room as Korra returned her attention to soothing Mika.

Asami walked into her study where the radio was and closed the door. She leaned back against it, letting out a breath she wasn't aware she was holding. Asami wanted Mika to be happy. She was so young and had been through so much, so it didn't surprise her that Mika was upset. Everything in her world was changing and she couldn't possibly understand why. All they could do was make her comfortable. If that meant getting her a bed and a few things from her house, then that's what they would do.

It took Lin only a few seconds to answer the call.

"Yeah?" She said, gruffly, and Asami couldn't help but smile.

"Lin, it's Asami. I was just calling to see if you'd been to Mika's house yet?"

"Was about to head there now, I'm still on Air Temple Island. Why?"

Asami sighed. "Mika is…a mess, I was thinking maybe we could get some of her things from her room and just…help make this place feel a little more like home."

There was a slight hesitation in the response. Just enough for Asami to wonder if they'd been disconnected. "That's a good idea, Sato."

She fought the urge to roll her eyes. Clearly her parenting skills, or lack of, had been noticeable this morning.

"I do have good ideas, Lin. I've built a company on them."

"True enough," Lin chuckled. "How do you want to meet up?"

As Mika's cries continued to filter in through the walls, Asami felt the guilt bubbling up as she answered. "I'll leave now and come pick you up at the docks. We'll get some stuff, bring it back, and I'll take you to your car when we're done. That way you can help me carry some of it in. I'd like to get her bed if we can." That's it, Asami. Rationalize. That'll make it okay that you're running away and letting Korra deal with Mika alone.

"Fine with me. Don't make me wait."

Asami rolled her eyes. "I won't."

They hung up and Asami made her way back to the bedroom. Mika had all but worn herself out by the time Asami peeked her head in. Korra was lying on the bed, Mika shaking on the mattress and Korra was gently bending air against Mika's face.

It was amazing to watch. Mika was lying on her back, her head in Korra's lap and while the woman used a lone finger to trace the little girl's features with a small flow of barely visible air. Korra was extremely gently and slow as she traced Mika's closed eyes and around her cheeks, dipping down her chin before slowly drawing her bending back up.

"Where did you even learn that?" Asami whispered, only making Mika jump a little.

Korra continued with a smile, not looking up. "I didn't. It's just…when I couldn't sleep my mom used to lay with me and do this, though she did it with her finger. I thought airbending might be even better. I think she likes it."

Mika sniffled a bit and Korra stopped, instead choosing to gently stroke through her hair. The look in Korra's eyes gave her away. She was, at least, smitten with this new little girl in her life. Asami was fairly certain Korra would be attached soon. If she wasn't already. Asami wanted to be - it felt like she needed to be after her big speech about this not being 'practice'. It was easier to say it, though. Big speeches about parenthood were one thing, but sitting across from a child who was confused and missing her parents was something else entirely.

Asami was terrified.

"So uh…Lin is okay with us getting some of Mika's things and bringing them here. Since the mur—" Asami felt her heart drop at the word she almost said. Korra sent her a knowing look and Asami dared to glance at Mika, who still had her eyes closed. What is wrong with me? "There's uh—no reason we can't."

"I know, Asami," Korra said, saving her from even attempting to finish the thought. "Mika? Is there anything you want from your house? Something to help you sleep or make you feel better?"

Mika's eyes opened just a bit and she sighed. "Mr. Flappy-Shell." She frowned and Asami saw a fresh tear streak down her face. "He's my stuffed turtle duck."

"Okay," Asami found herself smiling, tears threatening in the backs of her eyes. "Anything else? I can get whatever you want and bring it back."

"My mommy bought me new dresses for summertime. I want to wear them for her."

Since Korra's emotions were always at the ready, she was still holding Mika but with tears running down her cheeks that she kept brushing away with a free hand. "We can do that, Asami likes her closets so we have space for all your clothes."

"We'll get your bed too, okay? All your blankets and pillows too."

Mika's only response was a nod and Asami smiled at the mess Korra was from the entire exchange. Her compassionate and sympathetic wife trying not to fall completely apart at someone else's pain. She could never convey how much she adored Korra for that.

Asami Sato was far from subtle. Lin could hear her coming before she parked her Satomobile at the docks. She had always admired Asami, the most resilient person Lin had ever known. Asami could overcome anything, and she had done so numerous times in the past.

Still, there were many times when Lin saw Asami and could only see a little girl, with a red bow in her hair and tears in her eyes.

"You think this thing is loud enough?" Lin asked, sitting in the passenger seat.

Asami sent her a look. "It's not supposed to sound like that. Engine needs work. I just haven't had time." She pulled out of the parking lot and Lin gave her directions to Mika's home. It wasn't too far out of the city, but enough to keep some distance from the noise.

If Lin were being honest, it was actually quite nice. There were more trees here than in the actual city. Asami seemed quite enamored with it all. Certainly her mansion had all the luxuries in the world. If she wanted trees, she could plant a thousand of them. Still, Lin understood why she liked it - this seemed so much more natural, like they belonged here, and the houses fit in perfectly.

There were a lot of houses, and Mika's was one of them. Lin wondered if anyone else around here knew that two of their neighbors were killed last night.

"It's this one," Lin said, pointing to a small, white house with a dark green roof. It was quaint, smaller than the two on either side of it. Asami parked alongside the driveway and sighed. Asami wasn't like Korra; she didn't need to fill silence like her wife did. Still, there was something clearly bothering her. "You're brooding, Sato."

"I'm not," Asami dismissed and seemed to be waiting for a response. When Lin just stared at her, Asami groaned. "I'm not. I'm just—Korra's so—" She growled and smacked her hand against the steering wheel. "I'm so bad at this! I have no idea what to say or what to do. I just…stand there like an idiot and stare at Mika while Korra does all the work!"

Lin frowned. "It's been a day. Less than a day."

"Yeah, and yet a dozen things have come up and Korra's handled them all. Even now, I offered to pick you up so I could get the hell out of there."

This was new, Lin couldn't remember the last time she'd seen Asami so flustered. Even after her father had been discovered to be an Equalist - hell, even after he'd been killed, she managed to keep it together. Now though, she seemed ready to tear the steering wheel out.

"What the hell do you have to be scared about? You're the most approachable rich girl I've ever met." Asami pursed her lips, clearly not amused. "It's true, both things. So don't glare at me. You're rich, you're approachable. You're married to the most powerful being in the world and you're letting a six year old turn you into—" She gestured at the white of Asami's knuckles. "This." With another sigh, Asami's grip softened and she let her head fell onto the wheel. Lin was never a fan of bringing it up, and she certainly hadn't with Asami, even when Korra entangled their lives together. Still, she felt like now was appropriate. "I remember that night you stayed with me."

Asami tensed immediately, sending a glance towards Lin with nervous energy in her eyes. "What?"

Lin frowned a bit. "You were young, you may not remember but—"

"No," Asami sat up, shaking her head. "No…I remember. I just—you never brought it up so I didn't—" She let her sentence hang and eventually stopped completely.

"It was terrifying, and you were only with me for a day but I was certain that I was going to mess up and hurt you or upset you. I had no idea what I was doing but I couldn't—" Lin ran a hand through her hair, images of that night flashing through her mind. The sight of Asami's mother, the smell of the fire, the feeling of Asami's little hands squeezing on her shoulder. "I wasn't about to leave you at the station that night. Once we reached your dad and he gave us permission, I took you home and at the time it seemed like the best idea in the world. Then we got there and…I had no idea what to do for you."

Watching Asami's hands recoil and hug herself, she suddenly looked much younger. She was looking at the floorboard of the Satomobile. Well, she was really looking everywhere but at Lin.

"That was the worst night of my life." She bit her lip and closed her eyes. "Until…Korra, after the poison." Asami smiled a little. "You were nice though. A little scary, maybe."

Lin couldn't stop herself from smirking. "I can be a bit bristly."

"You were great." Asami finally looked at her, her smile growing. "I never thanked you for that night."

"For sitting you at my kitchen table and trying to stop you from crying with undercooked food?"

"No, for…trying. For caring enough to help. Even if I was scared at the time. I appreciate the effort now."

Lin made sure she was looking into Asami's eyes, pushing to get her point across. "Mika will appreciate you trying too, Sato." When Asami nodded and looked away with suddenly red eyes, Lin knew she'd done enough. "Come on, let's go get her things. Still not sure how we're going to bring her bed back though."

"We can strap it to the roof."

"Oh, that'll be fun," Lin groaned.

Just as Korra finished tying her hair back into a ponytail, there was a knock at the door. She all but sprinted towards it, thankful that Naga decided not to bark but instead lull to her side and continue sleeping in the middle of the cool kitchen floor.

"Don't get up, girl." Korra teased, opening the door to see Mako standing there with an annoyed expression. "Uh…hey?"

"Where have you been?" He cried and Korra waved her hand in his face.

"Will you be quiet! People are sleeping!"

Mako frowned even more. "Well!" He whispered loudly. "I've been all over the city looking for you! I thought your boat got in last night but when I came by this morning you were gone!"

Korra sighed, letting Mako in and closing the door behind him. "We were at Air Temple Island most of the night."

"Did something happen?"

"Well..." Korra scratched the back of her neck. "Sort of. We, uh, kinda have a new houseguest."

His eyes narrowed. "Who?"

"Her name is Mika. She's a little firebender girl whose parents were murdered last night." Mako's entire expression softened. "Oh shoot, Mako, I didn't—"

"No." He waved her off and Korra watched him sit down at the counter. Mako didn't handle talking about his parents very well. Something she had learned early on in their relationship. "It's okay. It just…sucks, I guess, for her. Nobody should lose a parent."

"They shouldn't," Korra agreed, resting her elbows on the counter. "I was just moving stuff out of the guest room and Asami is getting her things."

He nodded. "So is she, like, yours now? Staying here for good? I'd heard you two were looking into starting a family."

"We are, yeah, but for now Mika is just a guest. If she has family willing to take her in then that's where she'll go. If not…then—" she suddenly thought of Asami and how unsettled she'd been today. "Then we'll discuss it. For now though, she's here, asleep in our bed and…struggling."

"I can imagine." Mako's voice was distant and Korra knew he was in his head about his own circumstances. What little she knew about it, Korra was certain that Mako never had time to grieve, let alone get support for it. He had to take care of Bolin and he'd done just that. No matter what it took to keep his brother safe. "Korra, I need to tell you something." His tone grabbed her attention immediately and Korra stayed silent to let him continue. "We've been having—"

"We're back!" Asami called as she stepped through the door with two bags filled with clothes and a stuffed turtle-duck under her arm. "Oh, hey Mako." She smiled and dropped both bags at the door.

"Hey, do you uh…do you need help?"

Asami shook her head. "No, Lin's got the rest of it."

"Oh," Mako said, suddenly sounding unsettled and Korra looked back to see him standing up. "Well I uh…I should go then, get out of your way."

Korra frowned. "I thought you had to tell me something."

"It's not important."

"It sounded important."

Another pair of footsteps entered the house and Korra looked back to see Lin sliding a mattress through their doorway. She stopped and glowered at Korra. "Hey, Avatar? You want to use your other-worldly strength to get off your ass and help me?"

"You didn't even ask!" Korra cried, getting up and moving to help. "You can't yell at me for not being able to read your mind!" Korra pulled the mattress in easily and Lin helped push it from behind. Once it was inside, Korra picked it up and leaned it against the wall. "Mako, did you—"

"Sorry Korra!" He was already halfway out the door. "I'll come by later and we can talk. I've gotta go."

"Wait!" Asami grabbed him by the shoulder. "Can you give Lin a ride to the docks so I can stay and help Korra set up everything."

Korra would be lying if she'd said she hadn't known why Asami went to pick up Lin. Something about this whole situation had Asami terrified. Korra wasn't sure what it was yet, but she had a few ideas. Most likely it was a combination of all of them. So now that Asami wasn't taking another chance to leave the apartment, Korra hoped that meant she was trying a little harder to open up to Mika. The girl she'd been so adamant on bringing home the day before.

Mako seemed less than excited about giving Lin a ride. "Yeah, sure. If you want, Chief."

"It's fine, but I'm driving," she said, walking out the door past him. Mako sighed, lowered his head, and followed.

Once he closed the door behind himself, Korra and Asami were left in the apartment. Korra walked over and picked up the two bags of clothes and looked back at Asami, who was now staring at the turtle-duck.

"Hey," she called, drawing Asami's eyes up to her. "You want to help me get this bed set up?"

Asami smiled. Korra felt like she hadn't seen that particularly at ease smile all day. "I'd love to."

Korra opened one eye at the sound of the incessant ringing. She groaned, feeling a pressure against her side and lifting up the blanket to see Mika's knee driving into her side. Despite getting Mika her own bed, she'd only cried when they tried to leave her alone to sleep and the end result had been her sleeping with them. Of course Mika was naturally drawn to Korra, so she had all but taken over her side of the bed.

Sitting up, Korra looked over to see Asami sleeping quite peacefully on her childless side.

The ringing sounded again and it was Asami's turn to grumble. "Korrrrraaaaaa," she whined. "Answer the radio."

"I'm getting there." Korra said crankily as she pushed the blankets off and stood up.

"If that's Lin offering us another kid just hang up on her."

Korra grinned a little, stumbling sleepily towards the phone.

It rang once more when she was next to it, the sound piercing. "Shut up," she said before answering. "Hello?"

"Korra!" The voice woke her up completely. It was Mako, and he was frantic.

"Mako? What's wrong?"

"Korra, oh…spirits. It's Opal - she's hurt."

"Oh no," Korra covered her mouth. "What happened?"

"I'm not sure. They were at the shelter. I couldn't get much information - Bolin is freaking out!" Korra resisted the urge to scream for Asami, she couldn't help with a phone call. "I'm heading to Air Temple Island right now because that's where he's taking her to get help from Kya."

"Okay, I'll wake up Asami and we'll head over there right away."

Mako sighed. "Good, I—thanks. I'll see you guys soon."

She hung up the phone and ran back to the bedroom.

Chapter Text

"You alright, Chief?"

As soon as Lin looked at Mako, she could tell he regretted asking. Still, it was a stupid question and he should have known better. "What do you think? My niece is in the hospital, I have to call my sister and tell her and she'll probably bring half of Zaofu to the city with her, and on top of all that you have the Avatar coming here."

"Korra cares about Opal," Mako said, frowning. "She has to know now. It's too close to home."

Lin huffed and shook her head. She knew he was right, that didn't mean she had to be thrilled about the events that were unfolding. The world had been quiet long enough, but apparently, it was time for all of them to suddenly be in danger again.

"She's going to be pissed off, you realize that right?"

Mako looked away. He knew she was right. "It'll be fine. Korra's…reasonable." Lin rolled her eyes. "She is, and Asami keeps her calm."

Right now, Asami Sato was the only thing standing between a fight between herself and the Avatar.

"Chief?" Another voice called and she turned to see Rin stepping. "Sorry to interrupt but I just got off the radio with the station. The boy, Jin? He didn't make it."

Lin sighed. "He's the one they were after?"

"Yes," Rin nodded. "The healers said that damage to his throat was too severe. The earthbender that killed him crushed his larynx and fractured his neck. He collared him to the ground with rock. It was—" Rin paled slightly. "It nearly decapitated him."

"And they mentioned Korra?" Mako stepped over to them, arms crossed.

Rin nodded again. "Not by that name, but they were doing it 'for the Avatar'."

"Doing what for the Avatar?" All three turned to see Korra coming down the foyer of Air Temple Island towards them. She was wearing a black tank top, a sleeveless shirt and blue pants. Her necklace shimmered in the light and her hair fluttered freely behind her. She looked like she'd climbed straight out of bed and waterbent from the city.

More so than that, Lin noticed that she was alone. Dammit.

"Korra." Mako stepped around Rin and hugged her.

"Is she okay?" Korra asked, pulling away with so much genuine concern in her eyes it made Lin feel even more guilty. Maybe she could have stopped this if I hadn't been so damn stubborn. Then again…it could have been her.

Mako sighed. "I—I'm not sure. According to what I could get out of Bolin, he tried to stop what was happening, and got knocked down. The guy who busted into the shelter was going to attack him, threw a really big rock and Opal stepped in front. It…it really messed her up."

Korra's expression was hard to read. It changed multiple times in a matter of seconds. From anger to heartbreak, she glared with a quivering lower lip and nodded. "Why were they breaking into the shelter?"

"They were after one of the kids staying there, something about—"

"You," Lin cut in because she was tired of dancing around the subject. Korra looked at her with wide eyes.

"What?"

"You. They were in there because of you."

Korra was suddenly confused and frowning. "Me? What does that even mean?"

"It means," Mako spoke up, trying to draw Korra's attention, "that lately we've had a string of murders throughout the city, killing less than respectable people…in your name."

She took a step back from everyone. Lin could see Rin studying Korra's reaction-she seemed on edge, clearly not trusting the Avatar much.

Suddenly, Korra's gaze turned to Lin. "Lately? As in…this has been going on for a while?"

"It's not your job, Avatar."

"Stop calling me that! I have earned enough of your respect for you to call me by my name!" She took a step towards Lin, a very dangerous step. Lin found herself getting defensive.

"I call you that because I see the difference. Right now, you're more Avatar than Korra."

Korra narrowed her eyes. "It is my job to keep people safe. If people are dying—"

"You heard Mako-it's just people who've had it coming."

"Not just," Mako said, ignoring the glare from Lin. "There was a fire at a club, a few Triad bosses worked their syndicate there and…well…there were casualties."

Korra's face fell. "What?" She ran her hands through her hair and looked to Lin again. "In my name! You don't think that's strange? You don't think that concerns me?"

Lin sighed. "I had nothing to give you. We didn't have any relevant information."

"I could have helped you!"

"How?" Lin barked. "By tearing up half the city? You are not a police officer, Korra. It is not your job to handle these situations."

Mako stepped between them. "We should keep it down, we don't want to wake—"

"You got it right the first time, Lin. I am the Avatar! Which means that at the end of the day, I have more authority than you do. So when there is something going on like this, you will come and find me and you will tell me about it."

Lin could feel her blood starting to boil. Korra had certainly earned enough respect over the years to warrant a heads up, but to assume that she had more control in Republic City, her city, than she did was crossing a line. "Listen to me, kid. A lot of people might think you're hot shit. They might think that because you're the Avatar that they have to take a backseat to you." Lin stepped forward, suddenly face to face with the most powerful bender in the world. "But I'm the chief of police, Korra. The only person with more authority than me is Raiko. You're a neutral figurehead, at best. What goes on in my city isn't your problem. This? I'll give you this. They brought you into it. Anything else? Stay out of my way."

Mako was sputtering next to them, and over Korra's shoulder, Lin could see Rin moving slowly towards them. Just as Korra was about to bite back, another voice entered the room.

"Guys?"

Immediately Korra backed down, taking a step away from Lin, who turned to see Bolin hugging himself in the doorway.

"Bro!" Mako closed the distance as he spoke and hugged his brother. "Are you okay? Is Opal—what happened?"

Suddenly Korra was racing towards Bolin and wrapping her arms round his neck. Lin had never seen the usually boisterous earthbender look so upset before.

"Bolin, I'm so sorry." She pulled away from him, still holding onto his shoulders. "How is she?"

He sighed and Lin felt her stomach twist with worry. "She's going to be okay. I mean—she's not okay. She broke a few ribs and took a pretty hard hit to the head." He sniffled, his eyes red from crying. Mako clapped him on the back. "That guy wanted to kill us all, Mako. He…he was like not all there, he looked right through me, like a soulless, heartless…something."

Suddenly Korra turned back to Lin. "I want to know everything. Every last detail."

"Fine," Lin sighed. "But I have to make a phone call first."

The line only rang a few times before that familiar click. "Only a handful of people have my personal line, so this had better be important or else this list is going to get a little shorter."

Lin couldn't help but smile. She was still a Beifong after all. "Su, it's Lin. Your sister."

Su let out a soft chuckle. "I know who you are, Lin. How are you doing? I haven't heard from you in a while. Opal said you were planning a visit."

"Well…" Lin sighed, dreading this conversation. "Actually you may want to pack up some things and head this way. There's been an—well something happened."

"Lin? What're you talking about? You sound-what happened." Su's tone was starting to rise.

It was better to rip the bandage clean off. Don't waste time. "Opal was hurt, Su. She's okay but...she broke a few ribs and Kya thinks she has a pretty bad concussion."

"Why didn't you call sooner?! Spirits, Lin, what was she doing? What else is wrong with her?" Su's questions came rapid fire.

"Su, I am literally calling you on the same night it happened! The only way I could have called sooner is if I called you on the boat ride over to Air Temple Island and Sato hasn't invented a boat phone!" She took a breath. "Someone came into the shelter that Bolin is running and started attacking a kid. Bolin tried to stop it and got caught up in it. When they went after Bolin, Opal took a boulder to the back for him."

Su hesitated for a moment and sighed. "Spirits, of course she did...I'll be there as soon as I can...she's ok? How's...how's Bolin?"

"She's going to be fine. Bolin's fine too, unless you count the guilt he's feeling." Lin couldn't help but like that dumb kid. He put everyone else before himself. It was no wonder Opal did the same. "He's...not the one I'm worried about. We have a very pissed off Avatar on our hands and I'm at the top of her list."

"Korra? Is she there? Can I talk to her?"

Lin winced. "Yeah…I suppose, I'll see if I can find her. If I'm not back in five minutes it's because she's earthbent me into the ground."

"Ok." Su laughed softly. "I love you, Lin."

"Yeah I love you too. Hurry up and get down here. I may need help fighting Korra."

Korra felt like her head was spinning. She wanted to find a phone and call Asami, have her bring Mika and come down here because she was afraid she might lose it. It was too much-all of it was too much and suddenly there were murders and innocent deaths in her name and…

"Argh!" Korra cried, standing isolated in the hallway just outside where Opal was resting. She closed her eyes and took a few long, calming breaths before laying her head back against the wall.

"You going to come see her or just sit out here and growl?" Mako strode over towards her, hands in his pockets and taking tentative steps.

"I'm mad at you too." Her sudden outburst made him stop moving. "Lin I get, Lin's never liked me getting involved in her work. But you? You knew that people were dying and that it had something to do with me and you don't tell me?"

Mako sighed. "Korra, Lin is my boss. You're not, despite how things were when we dated."

You have got to be kidding me.

"What did you just say to me?"

The soft smile he wore died immediately. "Sorry, bad joke."

"Don't you think it's the wrong time to be making jokes, Mako?" She pushed off the wall and moved into his face.

He backed up. "You need to relax, Korra. You almost got into a fight with Beifong and now you're trying to fight me."

"Because you both lied to me!"

"We didn't lie," he sighed. "We just…wanted to have more to give you. Lin is right-sending you off blind wouldn't have helped."

Shaking her head, Korra took a step back. "Mako, I have no past lives to call on. Even when I did I couldn't connect with them. I've been doing the Avatar thing blind since I started. People suffering, people dying. That is my work. That is what I do, help them. You have to promise me that you won't keep me out of the loop anymore. If you care about me at all, you will tell me because this-this whole situation hurts me, Mako. It goes against my nature to have anyone suffer and me not do anything about it."

As he nodded, Korra could see the change in his expression. No longer concerned or defensive, but understanding, and it made her relax. "Okay, you're right. I just…I get where Lin is coming from, you know? We rely on you too much. The whole world does."

With a shrug, Korra cast her eyes to the floor. It was scary sometimes, to think about how many people depended on her and what that meant. How much the world could and would fall apart without her. As it had countless times before.

"Kid." They both turned to see Lin standing in the hallway. She looked exhausted. Korra could relate. "My sister is on the phone. She wants to talk to you."

Korra glanced back at the door where Opal was, then to Mako. "Tell her I'll come see her soon."

With a pat on her arm, Mako slipped into the room and Korra started towards Lin.

"For what it's worth," Lin started just as Korra brushed past her, "I was trying to keep you safe." Korra felt a lump build in her throat. "You're not just the Avatar. You're a wife and a daughter, a friend. You want to be a mother."

Closing her eyes, Korra felt that familiar rot settle in her stomach. That eternal truth that would never go away, no matter how many wonderful people stepped into her life. "I am…all of those things, Lin. But I'm the Avatar first. I will always be the Avatar first. I…I have to be."

Lin nodded with a sigh. "I don't envy you…Korra."

With that, Lin moved towards Opal's room and Korra retreated to the comm room where the radio was still on. She sat down, her body tired and her mind overwhelmed. She just wanted to close her eyes and be back with Asami and Mika.

"Hello? Su?"

The radio scratched a bit. "Korra…hi dear. What's going on?"

Korra shook her head, everything suddenly bubbling to the surface at Su's soft and welcoming voice. "Your sister kept things from me and now people are hurt, including Opal, and now I have weeks worth of murders piling up on me that I didn't even know about. A six year old at home with my wife who can barely be left alone with her and I just...I'm having a really bad night."

Su let out soft noise of understanding. "I was afraid it was something like that. No wonder you're angry. I wouldn't have gotten that much out of Lin." She chuckled. "I'll ask about the kid later...Korra, but you need to tell me, how can I help? I'll be there to see Opal as soon as I can, but—"

"I just need someone to keep Lin from freezing me out." Korra's tone began to settle down. "I get why she does it...she's trying to keep the city safe on her own, but I am the Avatar. It's my job to protect people and knowing that I'm not is unacceptable." Heat rose behind her eyes, tiredness overwhelming her senses. "So I just need help...talking to her. She and I have always struggled with that."

"Yeah." Su chuckled. "Me too, Korra. Between the two of us, maybe we can work something out. Try to—I won't tell you to calm down, but try to take some deep breaths, ok? Now that you know, you can do something. It'll be alright."

"Okay..." Korra whispered despite not feeling alright. "I just don't want anyone else getting hurt. I'm so sorry about Opal. She's an airbender and your daughter. It's my responsibility to take care of her!"

"Korra, it's ok. I know you love Opal. I do. Just...don't let it weigh down on you. From what Lin said, well, Opal will be alright. I'm thankful it wasn't worse. Don't beat yourself up, ok? I'll see what I can do with Lin when I get there."

"Okay, thank you." Korra found herself smiling. Su certainly had a way about her that eased a lot of tension. It would be good having her here. "I'll tell Tenzin you're coming and he can prepare a room for you. If you want to bring your family too I'm sure he has room."

"Thank you Korra. Bataar may join me, but I think the boys will stay here. I'll let Tenzin know."

"Okay, Asami will be happy too see Bataar for certain. See you soon."

Still fighting the mess of her own emotions, Korra stood up from the radio and shuffled slowly to Opal's room. Tears were already coming when she opened the door.

Opal was sitting on one of the beds, her head tipped slightly by Bolin who was helping her take a drink. She had a lot of bandages around her uncovered upper body. There was a bruise that seemed to wrap around her side.

As she finished drinking, she glanced over at Korra and smiled. "Hey."

"Opal!" Korra covered her mouth and raced to the side of the bed, nearly knocking Bolin over.

"Easy now! I was attacked too!" Bolin cried, though he moved back to accommodate Korra who hovered hesitantly over Opal's injured body.

"I'm so sorry."

Opal reached out and took Korra's hand. "It's not your fault. I'm an airbender. We help people. Especially those we love. You taught me that."

As the tears started to consume her, Korra could hear the others leaving the room.

When Bolin decided it was a good time for him to finally wash up, Mako found a spot in the dining room and sat down heavily. It felt like he hadn't slept in days. They all felt that way. He was glad everyone was okay. It had eased a lot of the would-be tension in the room.

Mako couldn't help but wonder if he could climb onto this dining room table and sleep for a while.

"Well that was intense." He looked to the doorway to see Rin stepping through, arms around her waist and face unsettled. "It usually like that with you guys?"

"We do tend to get hurt a lot I suppose but…comes with the territory."

Rin huffed. "That's not what I meant."

"Then what did you mean?"

She sat down across from him, uncomfortably shifting in her spot. Decidedly not looking at him. "The Avatar she's—is she always like that?"

"Like what?" Mako was suddenly growing impatient. "What are you getting at?"

"She's unstable, Mako. She was ready to fight the chief. She was ready to fight you!"

Mako rolled his eyes. "That's just Korra and Lin, they bluster, they argue. They never fight. And she wouldn't have fought me either."

Rin shook her head vehemently. "No, I know bluster and that wasn't it. I saw the look in her eyes. She…she was on the verge of losing it."

"You don't know what you're talking about." He stood up to leave but she was right with him.

"Look, I'm sorry, okay? I know you care about her. It just…scared me. I think you all forget who she is sometimes. How powerful she is." Mako was ready to speak but she continued. "How dangerous she could be."

He frowned. "Korra is not dangerous. She can't stand the thought of people being hurt."

"No? Are you going to tell me that if Bolin hadn't shown up that she and Chief Beifong wouldn't have fought?" Mako balked. "Chief is tough, Mako, but against the Avatar she doesn't stand a chance. None of us do. That doesn't scare you? Even a little?"

Opening his mouth to argue, Mako stammered. It wasn't totally wrong. They were close enough to Korra that they didn't see the potential danger. But he remembered growing up and hearing stories of Aang, who felt like a larger than life being. Korra was different. He knew her when she hadn't even been a fully realized Avatar yet. It made her different. He knew her. He trusted her.

"It doesn't. I trust Korra with my life and you should too. She is the Avatar, and she's a great Avatar. You just need to get to know her."

Rin shrugged. "Maybe you're right. But…tonight doesn't seem like a very good night to do that."

"No," Mako chuckled. "No, tonight is not the best. Why don't you go home and sleep. The police boat we came in on is still at the dock. Take it-I'm gonna stay here with my brother."

With a smile, Rin stepped forward and hugged Mako with one arm. "I'll see you tomorrow? We're supposed to have lunch, remember?"

"I do. Goodnight Rin."

When she kissed him on the cheek before leaving, Mako rubbed the spot carefully.

Asami managed to find the perfect seat in the living room, positioned well enough to see both the front door and the bedroom where Mika was still sleeping. She was lucky that Mika was so tired from her busy few days. Even when Korra was explaining Opal's injury Mika didn't move.

Now Asami was up, had been for nearly three hours, just waiting for Korra to come home. They'd grown so comfortable sleeping together over the last five, quiet years, that Asami had trouble falling asleep at all without Korra next to her.

When Korra asked her to stay with Mika it made sense. There was no good reason to drag the poor kid out in the middle of the night and put her around something that could potentially scary or sad. They knew nothing of Opal's injury or the events surrounding it. Asami was consistently amazed at Korra's parenting instincts. She just knew, like some kind of sixth sense, what to do when it came to Mika.

Jealous was a word that struck a bit of a cord in her mind, but she was also grateful for it. Korra was able to handle it better than she was and the connection Korra had with Mika grew every minute they spent together. Asami just hoped that she could have that same connection soon and stop feeling so miserable around a little girl who was only trying to recover from losing so much.

As she leaned forward in her chair to check on Mika in the room, the front door opened and Asami saw Korra step inside. Immediately Asami noted her red eyes and slumped shoulders. Fear struck in the worst way.

"Korra," she was up in a rush and pulling her wife into her arms. "Is everything okay? Is Opal—what's wrong?"

"Opal's fine," Korra reassured quickly. "I mean she's not but she's going to be. It's just…" Korra seemed to be on the verge of crying again and Asami guided her to the couch.

"Shh, sit down, you're a mess." Asami kissed her temple and forehead before unbuttoning Korra's coat and sliding it off her shoulders. "Talk to me. Mika's still asleep. Tell me what happened."

So she did. Korra told Asami everything. About Lin and Mako keeping things from her, about Opal's injury and why it happened, about Su coming to town. The words wouldn't stop flowing out and by the time she was done her head was resting on Asami's shoulder and she was barely awake.

"So?" Korra asked, her voice barely carrying now. "What should I do?"

Asami sighed and reached up to stroke her fingers over Korra's cheek. "Sleep, sweetheart. You're exhausted and you've cried a few times. You need rest. You can't save the world overnight."

"I just…I don't want anyone else to get hurt. I don't—"

"Shh," Asami kissed her cheek. "You get some sleep and we'll figure it out in the morning, okay? You can write some of it in that journal Jinora gave you. I think that will really help you."

"Yeah," Korra nodded. "I—I think that will help. Too tired now though."

Asami chuckled. "Much too tired now."

Korra closed her eyes. "What about Mika? She'll wake up soon."

It felt so silly, how scary the prospect of a day with a six year old could be. You can do this, Sato. Pull yourself together.

"I'll be fine. You lay down." Asami stood up and Korra slowly laid down on the couch and curled her legs up.

A few minutes later, she was snoring and Asami couldn't help but smile.

It was true-Mika would be up soon and Asami would be ready.

You've battled benders before. One little firebender shouldn't be a problem.

Chapter Text

"Okay so…which pair of boots do you want to take? The fluffy ones or the slim ones?"

Asami glanced over her shoulder and saw Korra holding out a handful of fire and trying to show Mika how to do the same thing. Yet when Mika let hers go, it burst into the air and Korra had to close her hand and stop it.

"You'll get there," Korra said, igniting a candle-like flame on the tip of her finger. "Once you do, there's all kinds of tricks. Fire is life, not anything to be afraid of."

Asami winced. She'd been afraid of firebending for years before finally realizing that it wasn't the element that was dangerous, but the person wielding it. She wondered how long it might take Mika to realize the same thing. She certainly didn't seem afraid of Korra's bending. Then again, she'd been attached to Korra's hip for the last week.

"Korra?" she called as she realized she hadn't gotten an answer. Her wife looked up at her none-the-wiser. "Boots?"

"Oh uh…the slim ones. The Spirit World is usually pretty warm and those boots walk better."

With a nod, Asami placed the boots by the bed and pulled out one of Korra's light blue vests. "You think you'll need a change of clothes?"

"No, I should be fine." Korra suddenly had a pair of small arms wrapped around her neck. Asami couldn't help but smile. "I'll shower when I get home tomorrow night."

Asami sat down on the edge of the bed and stared at Mika's back. She had a death grip on Korra, the same one she'd had most of the day. "She's gonna miss you."

Korra grinned. "She'll be okay, won't you?" Korra pulled Mika back and sat her on her knee. "You and Asami will have fun."

Even if it was somber, Mika nodded, and Asami knew the sentiment was not shared by the little girl.

"Alright," Asami stood up and walked over to take Mika. "Sorry kiddo, Korra's got to go to work and we've got to make some lunch."

Reluctantly, Mika let go of Korra and squirmed in Asami's arms enough to be put down. She slowly walked over and stood by Korra's boots.

To say Asami was nervous about the entire night would be a colossal understatement. She just wanted to connect with Mika. Korra had done it so naturally. If it wasn't for Korra, Mika's adjustment into their home would have been so much harder. Yes, she still slept with them every night and was still scared of being alone and Asami knew she was a bit too young to really grasp the weight of death just yet, but Mika had been really easy to handle so far.

So naturally Asami assumed that tonight, her first night alone, would be the worst.

"You'll be careful?" she asked, stepping up and adjusting the open sleeves of Korra's vest.

Korra grinned. "Of course. I'm the bridge, remember? Who knows this Spirit World better than I do?"

"Yeah, well…it's not the Spirit World I'm worried about; it's whatever is making people crazy in the Spirit World that has me concerned."

"I know." Korra walked around and tousled Mika's hair before sitting down to put her boots on. "I'm going through the portal, so I'll have my bending. And Jinora is coming too so she can keep you guys updated on what's going on with her projection."

"I'm shocked that Tenzin is letting Jinora go. I mean, I know she can handle it. I'm just not sure if he can."

"You're not wrong," Korra chuckled. "He's a mess. Pema's doing what she can to keep him relaxed about it but I think she's worried too." Korra slipped into her boot and sighed. "Honestly? So am I."

Asami sat down next to her as Mika pulled out Korra's old boots and ran her hands along the fur lining. "She's an adult now. She knows how to take care of herself."

"I know, but she's like…family and I just need her to be okay. I still think of her as the little eleven year old I met all those years ago, but now she's nineteen and wiser than anyone I know. It's just…it's weird how much I need her now."

"What do you mean?"

Korra shrugged. "Just…I spent most of my morning writing in my journal and that was her idea, and she was right. It's been really good for me. I don't know what I'm writing half the time but it just pours out and I do feel better. That was her. She's been studying and studying trying to figure out how these people coming back from the Spirit World are being put up to doing this stuff. Mako said they seem almost…mindless and that has to be something. Jinora is a valuable asset to the work I do but she's just Jinora, you know? She's like my little sister."

"That's good," Asami nudged her with a shoulder. "That means you'll take care of her. No unnecessary risks, and you'll think before you act. You'll take care of yourself to keep her safe."

With a smile, Korra glanced beyond Asami to where Mika was sticking her hand in Korra's boot and lifting them up like gloves. "And you?" she countered. "You gonna be okay?"

"Well..." Asami exhaled tentatively. "I need to be, right? If we're going to do this…at all, I need to be able to be alone with her."

"She'll come around."

Asami frowned. "She certainly did with you." Korra sent her a suspicious look. "I'm just saying that it's effortless with you. You just…do things and make her comfortable, and I'm so scared I'm going to mess up that I don't do anything and that is messing up."

"You're not messing up," Korra tried but Asami was already invested in her own guilt.

"I want it to be easier. I want her to not have that look at the thought of you leaving. It's hard enough for her to be here after…everything. I just need to do better."

Korra smiled as she leaned in and kissed Asami's cheek. "You will. You're Asami Sato. You get sh—stuff done."

"Okay, Lin, since when do you curse?"

"Hey, you should have seen me at the Island the other night. I was toe to toe with scary Beifong and ready to fight."

Asami snorted. "My money is on Lin."

"What?" Korra gasped, her mouth agape with feigned shock. "And to think I gave five years of my life to you!"

"Oh, come here, drama queen." Asami stood and pulled Korra along with her. She wrapped her arms around her wife and kissed her. "See you tomorrow night?"

Korra nodded. "I'll be here."

"Um," Mika mumbled from the floor and drew their attention. "I have to go to the bathroom."

"Sorry love," Korra kissed her. "I gotta go! Bye Mika! Take care of Asami for me!" She quickly stepped over and picked up Mika, giving her a quick hug before standing her on the bed and pecking Asami on the lips. "I love you."

Asami hated goodbyes, even simple ones. "I love you too."

Once Korra was out the door, Asami turned to Mika who was still standing on the bed and hugging herself slightly, her little body bouncing.

"One or two?" Asami asked and Mika held up two fingers. She looked wonderfully adorable. "Okay, let's do it."

Korra ran her thumb over the engraved symbol on the stone of her betrothal necklace as she stood outside the foyer on Air Temple Island and waited for Jinora. She couldn't help but worry about tonight. Even for just one night, it was the first time she would be sleeping anywhere other than beside Asami in years.

One thing Korra hadn't expected when the world stopped calling on her was to actually become used to it. Still, it felt good to have a purpose again. To be doing something good. Even if that good was brought on by violence and senseless murder. She had laid away the last few nights, struggling with sleep, wondering about the people who died innocently in the club fire.

What did they leave behind? Families? Friends? Children? It ate away at her and gave her bouts of insomnia that were the worse she'd felt in years.

Reaching into her bag, Korra pulled out her journal and slid down onto the ground. She knew full well that Jinora was receiving her fatherly speech about safety.

She flipped past her written pages. The book was filling up quicker than she'd expected. Once she found a blank page, Korra licked the tip of her pen and started writing.

I wonder a lot if the other Avatars dealt with the kinds of stuff I did. Did Kyoshi ever feel afraid of her own power? Probably not. Maybe she was afraid of something else. Her love dying? Her body betraying her? I think about these things sometimes. Maybe Roku went through some kind of trauma. Something I could relate to. The history of the Avatar, of…me goes so far back I wish I could see if any of them ever ended up unable to walk, even for a little while, like I did. How did they deal with it? Did they still have nightmares? It's scary to think that I'll never have answers to these questions. I'm doing the best I can. I want to be great. I haven't had the chance to do much the last few years and here I am, about to go on a mission to the Spirit World, and all I can think of is…how scared I am of being hurt again. Does that make me weak?

"You're writing!" Jinora beamed as she stepped out with a bag over her shoulder and a very annoyed Tenzin walking behind her.

Korra grinned and stood up. "Yep, it's been really great. This was an excellent idea." She looked over the young airbender to her father. "She's really an excellent spiritual guide, Tenzin."

He sighed and let his expression soften. "Of that I have no doubt. I am certain that her presence will be invaluable on this trip."

"I agree. So…why the long face?"

Jinora chuckled. "Dad's mad because he caught me uh…saying goodbye to Kai."

"I have never seen such kissing!" He bellowed, his arms flailing in the air. Jinora rolled her eyes to confirm to Korra that it was, in fact, a normal goodbye kiss.

"Tenzin, they've been together for what? Eight years? I think they're allowed to kiss as much as they want."

He huffed and straightened his robes. "I do not prevent them from doing anything, Korra."

Jinora sighed. "No, he just leers constantly." Despite her accusation, Jinora turned and buried her face in her father's chest and Korra felt that familiar ache in her heart as he hugged her. Once again, she was putting someone she loved in danger.

She wished she could ask Aang what it was like to put the people he loved through things like this to help his cause. She wished—

Don't be weak, Korra.

"I'll watch out for her," Korra promised as she pushed away her self doubts and hugged the both of them. "I promise."

Tenzin's hand rubbed her back. "I know, Korra. I trust you."

When the embrace broke, Korra put an arm over Jinora's shoulder. It still bothered her that Jinora was now taller than her. "You ready, spirit guide?"

"This is going to be so much fun!"

As Tenzin huffed behind them and mumbled something about fun being dangerous, they raced to the docks.

"You're late."

Su huffed tiredly as she stepped off the train with a lone bag in her hand. "Don't remind me. Also, it's just me. Bataar had a crisis come up but he should be here in the next couple of days."

"You'd think someone who lives as well off as you do could find better travel," Lin said as she started walking towards her Satomobile.

"What do you want me to do, Lin? Bring an airship for just myself? The train is the next best thing."

Lin could only shrug as she opened the back door for Su to put her bag in. "Why not? The Satos certainly have no problem flying airships for just the two of them," she said, chuckling.

Su rolled her eyes and climbed into the passenger seat. "Well, Asami could spend money as quickly as a river runs, and not have a problem. The people of Zaofu might have a problem with me if I did that."

"Fair enough." Lin started the Satomobile. "Either way, I'm glad you're here. Opal will be happy to see you." She pulled onto the main road. "Though she's starting to get cranky. Kya won't let her leave her room."

"She's my daughter, what did Kya expect?" Su laughed, relief washing over her. "I'm glad she's acting up though-that means she's feeling better."

"She is," Lin nodded. "Driving me nuts about wanting to go with Korra to the Spirit World. Of course Tenzin is being a pain in the ass about it too because Jinora is going, like Korra's gonna let anything happen to her." She exhaled tiredly. "Korra's been...tense the last week or so."

Su could hear the compassion in Lin's voice. It was vague, because that's who Lin was. Still, there was no doubt that her sister cared for Korra. It was hard not to.

"I know. I've talked to her a few times." Lin glanced over and Su tried a smile. "Go easy on her. She's worried. I don't blame her, leaving her in the dark the way you did..."

"I was trying to protect her!" Lin countered sharply. "What good is a police force if we go crying to the Avatar when things get rough?"

It was easy for Su to understand why Korra and her sister fought so much. They were both so damn stubborn. They were protectors, to the point that either of them would hand over their life to help those they cared about. So once Lin started to care about Korra, she became one of the people Lin sacrificed for. Which went against Korra's own need to be heroic.

"Lin." Su fought the urge to reach out and touch her sister's shoulder. They weren't those kinds of siblings. Lin wasn't that kind of person. "You know Korra doesn't want you protecting her. She had enough of that growing up. You don't have to go to her for help, but keeping her in the loop won't hurt."

Lin tensed. "Really? Because I've known Korra for eight years and she was away for three of them because she was hurt. Badly hurt. Or do you not remember that?" Her knuckles started turning white as she gripped the steering wheel. "All people want to do is hurt that kid." She shook her head. "But...you're not...entirely wrong. She's twenty-six now. She's an adult."

"She's capable of taking care of herself," Su agreed. "Like you said, she's an adult. You treating her like she's a child made of porcelain. She's come a long way and doesn't want to be treated like she's weak, like she's on a pedestal. She just wants to help, Lin."

Su remembered just how weak Korra had been. The girl had worked so hard to get back to where she was. Su was thrilled to see her again, to see her with Asami. It made her smile to think those two ended up together.

"I know," Lin's voice interrupted her thoughts. "I said you weren't entirely wrong, didn't I? She's helping now. I'm pretty sure if I don't let her help anymore she's going to try and fight me."

"Let's avoid a fight if we can, okay?" Su gave Lin an amused look. "That's half the reason I'm here. I'm the only one...well I guess brave is too strong a word...but I'm the only one willing to come between the two of you."

Lin smirked. "Yeah, Mako tried last night. I think Korra and I could mutually agree to back down long enough to scare him off." Her playful tone died as she pulled the Satomobile into the docks and parked, leaning back into her seat. "It's tough with her and I...we're too alike. It drives me crazy."

"You're both protectors, Lin. Stubborn, too. It's good when you're working together. Now? Not so much."

She only nodded in return. "Before all of this I think the quiet of the city was getting to me just as much as it was her." Frustration passed over her features. "We fight for this, for...peace. Then when you have it you don't know what to do with yourself. I'm no good at living comfortably."

"It's not all it's cracked up to be, sis." Su shrugged. Her life was comfortable. Before the chaos of the Red Lotus and everything wtih…her, she'd lived a very calm life with her family. It made Su feel for Korra even more-how it seemed that misery always followed the Avatar. Just like the stories she'd heard from her mother growing up. The few times Toph actually brought up her time with Avatar Aang, anyway. "That's why I started my dancing troupe. It gives me something to do. Zaofu had a lot of peace, before...well...now that that's all behind us, it's been hard to settle back into the calm."

"I have to admit, Su, I thought you'd at least ask about her once. In five years you've never wondered how she's doing? I mean she lived with you for years." Lin's nonchalance on the subject was a bit grating. Clearly she brought it up for a reason and Su found herself tensing.

"She's in the United Republic's custody, isn't she?" she answered matter-of-factly. "It's not my business. I wonder, but asking is...difficult."

"I wasn't talking about the leader of the metal clan asking about her; I was talking about Su." There was a touch of compassion in Lin's voice that did not go unnoticed. "I've go no sympathy for the kid, trust me. But...nobody else does either." Su felt her stomach twist into knots. "Not one visitor in five years. Korra checks up on her. Never personally though. She's not about to get to close and set off her wife. Can't say I blame her."

"No one has visited her? Any letters?"

Lin looked derisive. "Who's gonna write them? If you're believed to be associated with her you're arrested, so there goes any of her former followers. None of your family has sent anything. Opal glares whenever her name comes up. She tried to have everything and ended up with nothing. She went all in and lost." Su had built her empire on second chances. Not that she was certain Kuvira deserved one but…nobody deserved to spend their life alone. There was an aching in her chest she couldn't explain, and perhaps she didn't want to.

"I should...I can't. Or...I don't think I can. I've thought about it, but Kuvira is...I don't know, Lin." She sighed with defeat.

"Kuvira is a kid, but she's also the enemy." There was very little doubt in Lin's tone. "She hurt...everyone. She killed Asami's father, she took a shot at your son, she tried to kill Korra and everyone else. But what's the point of keeping her alive if we're just going to let her rot in a cell all alone?" Lin seemed quite adamant about this. As if she'd thought about it before. "You saw something in her once, right? I don't know. Like I said, I'm not about to go see her and I don't think anyone else is either but...it just seems like a waste."

"Yes. I did see something in her. She could have been great. She was great, before. She just...it doesn't matter...can I go see her?"

Lin shrugged indifferently. "You can. I'm certainly not going to stop you. It's not about if you can; it's about if you will."

"Oh, I thought there would be some sort of protocol- I guess with her not having visitors you've not had to worry." Su felt that same pull she'd felt years ago with Kuvira. The girl who'd lost her family and had no home, and now the woman who had lost even more and had no future. "I'll go."

"Okay, we'll set it up. Word of advice though?" Lin turned off her Satomobile as the boat on the dock started to ready. "When you're greeting everyone here in the city…I wouldn't lead with 'I'm going to visit the woman who tried to kill you all.'"

Asami winced as she felt something push against her cheek, the pull of sleep fading as she woke up, eyes still closed, and again she felt that pressure on her face.

"Smami."

Smami? Asami hummed as her body started to regain its functionality. That was what Mika called her. Rolling over onto her back, she felt a weight press into her shoulder and blearily opened her eyes.

The first thing she saw was the frightened face of Mika sitting up beside her. Her hair was disheveled and wild atop her head. She had tears in her eyes and her bottom lip was quivering.

"Hey, what's wrong?" Asami asked as she sat up in bed and hesitantly reached out to comfort the little girl.

Just do it. She woke you up for a reason.

Asami gently touched her cheek, padding her thumb over a stray tear. Mika responded immediately, wrapping her small hands around Asami's forearm and gently crying more.

"Oh baby." Asami pulled Mika into her arms and settled her onto her lap. She ran a hand up and down her back and soothed the little girl as best she could.

"Did I do something wrong?" Mika whispered. Her fists pulled on Asami's nightshirt.

The words surprised her and Asami pulled Mika back slowly and looked into her amber eyes. "What? No. Why would you think that?"

She sniffled. "Cause my mommy and daddy are gone and I don't know why."

Asami could remember blaming herself for her mother's death when she was little. It was easy to. She was the last one to see her alive, the one with her when Lin showed up and took her away. For years Asami wondered if she should have done something. If she could have saved her. It took a long time to figure out that a six year old has no power in those situations.

"I know it's hard, Mika. But sometimes people leave us and...we can't stop it. All we can do is go forward and remember how much we love them."

"Where did they go?" she asked quietly.

Asami exhaled softly, pulling Mika's back up against her and settling back against the pillows. "I'm not sure. But...I like to think that wherever they are...they're watching over us and...when we feel sad or even when we feel happy, they're with us. At least...I hope so. I would like to think that my parents were with me when I married Korra. Even though they both left me like yours did."

Mika suddenly adjusted herself so she could look up into Asami's eyes. Something about the look on the little girl's face made Asami's chest tighten. "Your mommy and daddy are gone too?"

"Yep," Asami swallowed the thick lump in her throat before reaching over to the nightstand next to the bed and opening the drawer. She dug around for a second before pulling out a small photograph. The most important picture she had. "This is them. That's me," she pointed to herself, giant red bow in her hair and bright green eyes. "I was probably your age then, maybe a little younger. My mom…left when I was young, like you. But my dad...that wasn't very long ago. Five years now." Asami felt that settle over her. Had it already been five years? It felt like just yesterday she heard his voice as the ejector seat pulled her out of the hummingbird suit. Tore her away from him. "I miss them."

Mika reached out and tentatively traced her hand over the picture. Asami held it closer to her and eventually Mika took it to examine further.

"Smami?" Mika called and drew Asami's attention. "You look like your mommy"

Asami smiled, tears pricking the backs of her eyes. "Thank you." She felt Mika shift and settle even more into her. Asami could feel her heart swelling as Mika grew more and more comfortable. "Your eyes reminded me of my dad, actually. When I first saw you I thought of him."

"Were they nice?"

Closing her eyes, Asami considered for a moment. The answer for her mother was easy. Of course she was nice. Asami's only memories of her mother were smiles and days spent together laughing and playing. Her father was another story, but when she thought of him, images of the day he tried to kill her weren't what she saw. Just a warm smile, a fluffy white beard, and the pride in his eyes.

"They were...wonderful people. I loved them so much. I still do."

She could hear Mika let out a yawn so Asami sunk even deeper into the pillows. Mika's body tucked in closer, her breathing evening out. "My mommy and daddy were nice too. Daddy always told me stories before bed."

Asami smiled. "Oh, I've got stories. In fact, one time—" That was when Asami realized Mika was fast asleep.

A warmth spread through her like wildfire. It was a feeling she couldn't describe, but it was not at all unpleasant. She held Mika in her arms, noted the way Mika's fists were still balled into her shirt, holding onto her. A tear slipped out that she quickly wiped away. Her face felt like it might split in two from smiling so much.

She reached over and carefully put the photo of her parents back in the drawer before cradling Mika closer and closing her eyes.

Su took a deep breath when Lin shut the door behind her, and she stepped forward to sit in the wooden chair provided. There was a table in front of the chair, split down the middle by platinum bars that went across the width of the narrow room. There was a chair on the other side, and Su knew they were going to bring Kuvira in through the other door. She folded her hands on top of the table and sighed. What do I even say to her? I haven't seen her in five years. She probably hates me.

The hatred would be fair, Su thought. They hadn't left each other on any agreeable terms the last time they'd seen each other. In fact, Su had escorted her to the police station with Lin after taking down the Colossus. They'd put her in a cell and Su had left. It had been easy. She hadn't looked back until she got to Zaofu.

She hadn't been lying when she'd told Lin she'd wanted to ask about Kuvira. They'd been close before Kuvira left to stabilize Ba Sing Se. Kuvira had been her protégé, and Su had been invested in her future. And now…this.

Maybe I shouldn't even be here.

She pushed the thought from her mind and sighed. Kuvira hadn't had any visitors. Su didn't think Kuvira deserved to be forced into a life of complete loneliness. She was afraid the guards mistreated her, but Lin wasn't the person to ask. I'll ask her myself, if she'll talk to me.

Su had seen Kuvira, or rather the Great Uniter in her mind before the door opened. But when the door did open, she saw neither. She supposed it was Kuvira, especially when she saw her eyes. But the woman in front of her was a far cry from what Kuvira once was. She was thinner, her cheekbones more prominent than they'd ever been. She had bags under her eyes, her face gaunt and her skin pale.

Kuvira tensed when she saw Su, and she watched Su with eyes there were as alert as they had ever been. She stared at Su for a moment with her eyebrows raised, and Su laced her fingers together and feigned a smile to see if that would show Kuvira she wasn't there in anger. Kuvira eased herself down into the empty seat, and Su swallowed the lump in her throat trying to think of something to say.

"Kuvira…"

Kuvira took a deep breath and closed her eyes at hearing her name. Su watched her quietly, recognizing that she was so thin because she'd lost the muscle that had once been present.

Does Lin know she looks this bad?

"Hi, Suyin." Her voice had a gravelly sound to it, no doubt from years of disuse.

"Kuvira, please." She didn't like the way Kuvira stiffened at hearing her name said again, so Su softened her voice when she added, "It's Su."

Kuvira kept her eyes on Su's face, her gaze as piercing as it had always been. They couldn't take that away from her, Su knew. She was watching Su with a high level of interest, no doubt trying to discern why Su was there. She finally seemed to give up, and she let out a sigh.

"Why are you here?"

Telling her about Opal's injury was probably not the best idea. It could wait. She came to see Kuvira. Why she was in the city was currently irrelevant.

"I…I came to see you."

Kuvira paused to clear her throat and Su could see the muscles in her throat move as she swallowed.

"I can see that," she sighed, "But why?"

Tell the truth. "I wanted to…I wanted to see if you were alright."

"After five years?" Kuvira had a hint of sarcasm in her voice, but Su was glad she didn't sound bitter.

"This is the first time I've been to the city since…" Su let her voice trail off. Kuvira would understand. "Calling is…well. I won't lie. I haven't called. But what would they tell me? They'd ridicule you while talking to me and say you were fine even if you were dying." She motioned at Kuvira's current state before continuing. "Clearly there are things they can't tell me over the phone."

Kuvira nodded silently. Su suddenly felt worried for her. She looked so tired. Beat down. Kuvira's never looked like this. Then again, she's never been in prison before this either.

"I'm…I'm sorry, Su."

She tensed at hearing the apology, and her eyes met Kuvira's once more. Kuvira had apologized once before and she'd thrown it back in her face. She tried to ignore the way Kuvira's voice had cracked when saying her name, but she could attribute it to the hoarseness. Su took a deep steadying breath before she allowed herself to speak again.

"I…I know you are. I don't know if anyone will ever be able to forgive you…but I'm past anger, Kuvira. It's…toxic. Forgiveness is a simple word, but it's a different thing to put it into practice."

Kuvira let out a slow breath, and Su watched as her entire posture changed. She had been sitting with her shoulders hunched and her hands in her lap, but when Su finished speaking she straightened her back and moved her hands to the table. She did think I was here to yell at her. She must be so relieved. Or confused, if that's what she expected.

Kuvira looked away from her after a moment when she noticed Su watching her. She stared at the wall for a moment, chewing on her lip before she glanced back at Su.

"I thought about writing you…Su." Kuvira hesitated before saying her name, sighing after she did so. "I didn't know if you'd read my letters…I actually didn't even know if Chief Beifong would have them sent to you…I figure she'd just burn them."

If it had been anyone other than Kuvira to tell her that, Su would have laughed. She's not wrong, though. That does sound like Lin.

"I've missed you, Su."

Su didn't doubt that Kuvira had. Not with the way Kuvira was looking at her. Five years of being confined in a cell without interacting with anyone else had to be incredibly lonely. She felt another wave of pity wash over her and she shook her head before offering Kuvira a smile that she hoped wouldn't betray her own sadness. She'd missed Kuvira too. At least, the old Kuvira. But she wouldn't admit that. Su was, however, extremely worried about her. There was nothing to hide there.

"How have you been here? I know the conditions are likely the bare minimum they'll allow…but have they been treating you well? I don't want you stuck in here with nothing to do."

"She may hate me," Kuvira shrugged, "But I don't think Chief Beifong will let them blatantly mistreat me, Su. They bring me books…or they're told to bring me books. Depending on the guards, some don't. I'm not exactly…liked."

"I'll tell Lin," Su insisted, frowning before she continued, "There's no harm in letting you read, Kuvira."

Kuvira sighed again and looked almost defeated as she looked at Su and smiled. She shrugged a moment later before her throat once more.

"It's okay, Su. Considering what I've done, I can miss a few weeks of literature. It's small price to pay, and a luxury I shouldn't have. I've actually taken up meditation to keep my mind occupied. Funny how that works."

"Does the meditation work?"

Kuvira swallowed, her expression becoming dark. She was hiding something. Su recognized the look in Kuvira's eyes instantly. It had been a look she'd held in her eyes the day she told Su she was leaving for Ba Sing Se.

"Kuvira."

"It's…complicated. I can meditate into the Spirit World. But I'm confined there as long as my body is here, in the cell. I can't bend or anything. So I always come back. I have to come back. But it's nice, or was, at first. An escape from…this. I don't know how I got there, but I've become fairly good at it. The problem is—"

She stopped, leaning over the table so that her face was near the bars before pausing to look at the door to see if there was a guard listening. Su frowned and leaned closer, knowing that the weakness in Kuvira's voice would make her nearly impossible to hear if she didn't.

"I was attacked about a week ago," Kuvira finally finished before glaring at the thoughts plaguing her, "In the Spirit World."

"What?" Su felt her eyebrows shoot up, "By who?"

"Zaheer. He was spouting off all kinds of garbage. But he wanted Korra. He was trying to use me…to get to her."

Su wasn't sure why, but she immediately believed her. There was no reason for her to lie. Kuvira was serious.

"Zaheer?" Su repeated with a tone of disbelief despite herself. Of course he can meditate himself there. I know why he might want Korra...But why go after Kuvira?

When Kuvira nodded once, glancing back to the door, Su regained her composure.

"Why didn't you tell anyone?"

"I tried. For three days." Kuvira's voice came out as a rough growl, and she clenched her fists on top of the table. "I begged every time the guards changed shifts. Begged them to get Chief Beifong, or to tell Korra I needed to talk to her. I needed to warn her. You know what they did?"

Kuvira sat back in her seat, crossing her arms before staring at the wall again and setting her jaw.

"They laughed. 'The Great Uniter's finally lost it.' Three days, Su. Every—single—guard."

Su felt her blood start to boil and she closed her eyes. Kuvira was telling the truth. She didn't know how any of it was possible, but she was willing to stake her own life on the truth in Kuvira's words.

"Kuvira…" She sighed and opened her eyes, unsure of what to say as she tried to swallow down the fury raging in her stomach, "I believe you. I'll tell Lin, and I'll make sure Korra finds out. I promise."

Kuvira seemed relieved once again, and she closed her eyes and leaned back in her chair before nodding.

"Lin will probably want to talk to you…" Su continued, "Want to know what he said, what you saw—" Korra's going to be a mess over this. Spirits. "The guards won't be running their mouths like that much longer, I can promise you that."

"You'll tell them?" She heard the uncertainty in Kuvira's voice. She hated it.

Su nodded firmly and pushed herself to her feet and tried to ignore the way her hands were shaking. I have to get out of here, now. If Zaheer is running free in the Spirit World, everyone needs to be ready. Spirits only know what he's doing.

"I'll come back soon, Kuvira. I-."

"Don't waste time," Kuvira replied, cutting her off before her voice took a pleading and desperate tone and she croaked out, "Please."

Su nodded once more and shoved the door open and nearly collided with a guard as she rounded the corner to make her way to Lin's office.

Chapter Text

"Zaheer?"

Lin expected Asami's shaken reaction. That was the weight that name carried in their circle. Everyone remembered what Zaheer did. Korra suffered more than anyone through it, and Asami was right there with her. But Korra was not the only one who was hurt by what Zaheer and the Red Lotus did years ago.

She could remember how beaten up Kya was, how hurt Tenzin and Bumi were. Mako had taken a life, his first, and all of them carried the events of that day.

If the threat was real, and according to Su's account of her visit with Kuvira it was, then they needed to start working. "Yes, Zaheer. And your wife has exactly one hour to come back from the Spirit World before I'm going in after her."

Asami took a deep breath, nodding as her mind clearly wandered. She took a step back and turned to peek into the bedroom. Beyond her, Lin could see little Mika drawing on a sheet of white paper with a pen that looked far fancier than anyone without engineering skill should be able to use. Asami was watching her, running her hands together for a moment before she stepped away into another room.

When she returned a moment later, Lin saw her carrying a very familiar glove in her hands that she sat on her kitchen counter.

That was the truest representation of the reaction Zaheer's name could cause.

"Korra's going to freak out." Asami whispered as she sat down at the counter and ran her finger over the intricate metal plating on the back of the glove. "She still has nightmares."

Lin nodded. "I don't doubt it. I was there, I saw what he did to her. Kya—" She hesitated at the mention of that name. Watching for Asami's reaction to it. Whatever she may feel for Kya was nothing she'd really shared with anyone. Asami wasn't the type to make a big fuss about it, and when she noticed that the younger girl didn't even bat an eye, she felt comfortable enough to continue. "Kya's dealt with that on occasion. It's bad."

"I'm still not sure why we let him live," Asami muttered and Lin felt eyes widen in surprise. "He's a monster," Asami affirmed. Her right hand was squeezing the side of the counter, turning her knuckles white.

"I agree, kid. Keeping him alive wasn't our choice."

"Korra." Asami sighed. "She's a better person than me."

Lin found herself chuckling. "She's a better person than all of us. After what he did to her, I'd have buried him alive. The White Lotus and their prisons are such a joke anyways. They stow these criminals away and then just ignore them. Who knows what Zaheer's learned. Korra should have taken his bending."

"She won't do that either. I've had that discussion with her before. She says because she's lost it that she can't stand to inflict it on anyone."

"It is a terrible feeling." Lin knew better than anyone. "Doesn't mean some people don't deserve it."

With a shrug, Asami picked up her glove and glanced back into the bedroom where Mika was. "Better person than us," she muttered before standing up. "I don't want to wait anymore."

"You read my mind."

Lin watched as Asami ducked into the bedroom and knelt down in front of Mika. "Hey you, you want to go to Air Temple Island for a bit?"

"Is Korra there?" She immediately perked up

Asami smiled. "No, but I'm gonna go get her and we'll both come back and pick you up! Then we're gonna get some food."

"Are you going to cook?" There was a dash of concern in Mika's voice that made Lin smirk.

"No," Asami groaned playfully, scooping Mika into her arms. "We'll pick something up! After her trip Korra's going to be hungry."

"That's always a sight to see too," Lin murmured as Asami reentered the living room with Mika who glanced in Lin's direction. "Good to see you again, kid."

Mika buried her face into Asami's neck. "We're still adjusting," Asami offered, to which Lin waved her off.

"I'm used to kids being scared of me. I like it that way." She then eyed Asami more seriously. "You seem to be doing well."

As she picked up her keys, Asami shrugged. "Doing what I can."

"Kuvira?!"

It was the exact response that Su expected. It made her smile just a bit; there was so much of Lin in Opal. That Beifong fire burned brightly in her. "Yeah. It went a little...differently...than I expected."

"It's Kuvira," Opal deadpanned. "What did you expect? She's—Mom, why would you go and see her? After everything she did?"

"Like I told her, Opal, the anger is toxic." Su scooted her chair a bit closer to the bed Opal was resting in. Well, resting was a bit of a stretch. At this point Kya had all but strapped her into it. "I can't spend the rest of my life being angry about this. It's too exhausting." At Opal's hesitant look, Su shook her head. "I haven't forgiven her, but I'm not going to let it consume me. Lin suggested it, actually. It wasn't a bad idea. I feel…sorry for her, I guess."

Opal sighed tiredly. "I don't like anger anymore than you do. But all I think about when I hear her name is watching you trapped and feeling Jinora hold me back. Keeping me from saving you. She didn't even care, Mom. She celebrated tearing our family apart." Tears were brimming in Opal's eyes. Instinctively, Su reached up to brush them away but Opal did it first. "I suppose—in hindsight it was a good thing you did, if this stuff about Zaheer is true. Which I really hope it isn't. I'm not ready to deal with all that again. I have broken ribs," she said with a soft smile.

"You do." Su exhaled slowly. "And if the guards had listened to Kuvira a few days sooner, you might have avoided getting hurt." Not an hour had passed where that wouldn't piss Su off to no end. "I don't know what's going to happen now, Lin went straight to find Korra when I told her."

A heavy frown crossed Opal's face. "Korra's going to freak out. About Zaheer and about not being told sooner." She picked at her blanket. Su could see the concern in her eyes. "She's been a little on edge lately. Bolin told me she and Aunt Lin almost got into a fight."

Su found herself laughing. "Yeah, I'm afraid those two would tear down this temple. That's why I'm staying in the city. I'm going to be the middle ground between Korra and Lin. Korra and Kuvira too, it seems like. At least if this is as serious as I think it is."

"Well, whatever got you here," Opal reached out and grabbed Su's hand, "I'm glad you're here. I love being in Republic City but I miss you guys. Aunt Lin and I agreed to have dinner together at least once a week. So far we've missed the last...seventy-four weeks." She tried to make it sound amusing but Su could tell that Opal had really wanted those dinners.

"Lin never was one for family time. We miss you too, Opal. Your father should be here in a few days, but I don't know how long he's staying. I left on the first train out when Lin told me you were hurt. Looks like I'll be here for a while, though. So maybe we'll have time to convince Lin to go to dinner. She can even bring Kya."

"That'd be nice. We should probably do it soon though." She felt Opal squeeze her hand. "If Zaheer is really causing trouble, well...who knows what might happen."

"Asami?"

Just as Asami and Lin were preparing to walk through the spirit portal to find them, Korra and Jinora stepped out.

"Korra!" Asami cried, feeling an overwhelming sense of relief. She raced over and wrapped her arms around Korra, who stumbled back a bit with a chuckle as she returned the embrace.

"Hey," Korra rubbed her back. "It was only one night. I didn't think you'd miss me this much." She laughed and Asami felt Korra bury her nose in her hair. The thought of Zaheer being anywhere near Korra was terrifying. It brought back so many painful memories. Korra hurt, Korra crying and screaming in pain, dealing with nightmares and slipping away from her. Korra leaving and not coming back.

Asami would be alone again. So she held Korra tighter.

Suddenly a loud throat clearing drew them apart. Asami turned as Korra pulled away from her and they both saw Lin staring at them with annoyance. "I hate to cut your lovers reunion short, but we do have a pressing issue."

"It is weird that they're here, Korra." Jinora spoke up. Asami could see Jinora studying them. Studying the way Asami was clinging to Korra. "Something's wrong."

"Mika?" Korra asked with a worried tone.

Asami shook her head quickly. "No, no she's fine. She's with Kya."

"Then what is it?"

Lin stepped forward. "My sister is in town and…well…you know Su and her second chances." She rolled her eyes and huffed. "She decided to go and visit Kuvira."

Korra tensed slightly against Asami. "Kuvira?" Korra muttered. "I—" Asami felt Korra's gaze turn to her worriedly. "How…was she?"

It was not lost on Asami that Kuvira and Korra had some kind of a moment that day when Kuvira walked her giant mech suit through Republic City. Mentions of Kuvira in any way would send Korra into a sputtering mess if she was anywhere near Asami. It was in Korra's nature to worry, even about someone like Kuvira. Yet, because of the atrocities Kuvira had done, specifically killing Asami's father, Korra had never once made an effort to go and see her.

That didn't mean Korra wasn't curious. Asami knew that in some way Korra wanted to check in on the woman she carried out of the portal that day, but she never had.

Asami wasn't sure what she'd say if Korra brought it up. All she knew was that if she ever saw Kuvira, it might end up with her in prison.

"She looked like shit," Lin said flatly before glancing at Jinora with a wince. "I mean…uh…"

"Oh please," Jinora rolled her eyes. "I'm nineteen now, you know? And Kya lives on the island and she curses all the time."

There was a glint of a grin that crossed Lin's lips. "Fair point."

Korra didn't notice any of the exchange. Instead, she let go of Asami and stepped towards Lin. "What do you mean? About Kuvira?"

"She lives in a four walled, metal cell, kid. What'd you expect? She reads, when the guards see fit to give her books. They're not abusing her, but they're not doing much for her either."

Standing behind her, Asami could see the muscles in Korra's back flex in frustration. Her mouth went dry at the sight for a moment before she realized how inappropriate it was considering the circumstances.

"You told me she'd be taken care of. You told me—"

"Look Korra," Lin raised a hand to silence her. "I run the police force, I handle problems all day—"

"And cut me out of them when I could be helping you."

Lin took a threatening step. "Are we really going to do this again?"

"No," Asami barked, stepping between them. "We're not." She turned to face Korra, placing her hands on Korra's shoulders. "You need to listen to her on this, okay?" It took a second for Korra's eyes to finally focus on her. "Okay?"

Korra's eyes fluttered as her bluster deflated. "Okay." She smiled and grabbed Asami's hand on her shoulder. "Just tell me then. Why are you two here?"

"Because Kuvira can go into the Spirit World."

"What?" Korra gaped. "How?" Asami watched Korra's blue eyes start to dance. Her mind clearly tracing unspoken thoughts. "The portal…when we…made the portal it must have connected her to the Spirit World. To be able to reach it from inside a platinum cell like that. Her connection must be strong."

"Really strong," Jinora added. "She's not a spiritual person from what I remember, and to be able to go into the Spirit World from inside a prison? The least spiritual place I can think of…It is…amazing."

"What'd she do?" Korra asked. The sadness in her voice burned at Asami's heart a little. As if Korra were heartbroken at the thought of Kuvira turning out to be as evil as she hoped she wasn't.

Korra, sweetheart…this is gonna be so much worse.

Lin sucked in a breath, clearly as hesitant as Asami was to deliver the news. "She was attacked in the Spirit World. By Zaheer."

Asami saw Korra's whole body start to shake. "We're going to see Kuvira. Now."

"Korra," Asami tried but was met with a icy blue stare.

"Asami," she warned, her arms still trembling. "Right now."

There was no stopping her, so Asami nodded and took her shaking hands. "I'm coming with you."

Her wife immediately softened. "No," she whispered. "I can't—you…you can't want to be around her. I know you don't."

"You're right." Asami shrugged. "I don't, but this isn't about me. It's about…that man and if…she knows something then we have to find out what it is." Korra still seemed worried. "I won't go in and see her, just…wait outside. Be there if you need me, like always."

Finally Korra smiled, if only for a moment. They kissed chastely before Korra turned back to Lin. "Let's go."

"Korra?" Kuvira's voice sounded as weak as she looked.

It was strange being here. Korra felt an odd sense of nervousness settling in at the thought of seeing Kuvira again.

Asami had given her blessing, though she wasn't happy about it, to let Korra go in alone. There was no way to sugarcoat Asami's feelings towards Kuvira. It was hate-she went out of her way not to say the name. Korra understood, of course she did. Even if it hadn't been true, there was a short time before all the awfulness in that cave with Zaheer where she thought her own father had died.

There was no feeling in the world like it. An emptiness Korra couldn't explain or begin to imagine getting over. Yet Asami had, because Asami was the strongest person Korra had ever met.

"Kuvira, you look...tired," Korra whispered before shaking her head with embarrassment. "Sorry, I just mean you're..." She sighed when she realized there was no good way to finish that sentence.

"Yes, well, I haven't seen a mirror in a while." Kuvira shrugged slightly. "I'm sure I look about as good as I feel." Korra noticed her rolling her shoulder. "I wasn't expecting to be dragged out of my cell in the middle of the night. especially when I had been sleeping. But knowing that it's you, I guess it was important."

Korra frowned. "It wasn't supposed to be this bad. I mean...I guess I just never thought about it." She shifted uncomfortably in the hard, metal chair. "Lin said they weren't abusing you in here. They're not, right?"

"I mean, I'm not exactly being mistreated, no." She noted the way Kuvira cast her gaze to the door Korra had come through where a few guards were waiting outside. "They feed me when they're supposed to. Nothing they can do about the hot or cold without moving me. Though it would be helpful if they would, you know, listen to me when I ask for Chief Beifong and you."

"Lin promised to sort that out."

Kuvira scoffed sharply, a bit of fire returning to her eyes. "The one time in five years I ask for something, to talk to someone, and I'm ignored and ridiculed for three days."

Anger bubbled in Korra as she shook her head. "I know, Lin told me. They will listen from now on and you'll have more books to read too. It's not fair to leave you alone with nothing but your thoughts and this...place." She ran a hand through her hair. "So you can go into the Spirit World, huh? Guess our creating the portal affected us both?"

"I guess so." She sighed, leaning back in her chair. "I figured it had something to do with you. Freaked me out the first time I meditated there. But I think my...visits...are going to cease, at least for now. The Spirit World is a dangerous place."

Korra felt that familiar tension build in her muscles. Her stomach knotted. "Zaheer? You…you saw him?"

"Couldn't have been anybody else." Korra noticed the way Kuvira's jaw set at the memory, the disdain in her voice. It was then that she remembered how Kuvira came to rise to power. Tearing down the trauma Zaheer caused. Whether they'd been rivals before or not, Korra and Kuvira shared one common enemy from the start. "You don't forget a face like that. Not after all he did. And he wants you-wanted to use me to get you."

Realization struck Korra in that moment. "Did he...did he try to get into your head? To control your thoughts and tell you what to do?"

"Yeah." Kuvira was clearly surprised at how quickly Korra put the pieces together. "He was talking about how I was going to be his puppet, to help you 'reach your destiny.' And then he reached out—mind control? That's what it felt like." As Kuvira's mind wandered a bit, the phrase of helping Korra 'reach her destiny' stuck out. She could only imagine what that meant, though she assumed it was the same thing he wanted before. To kill her, as painfully as possible. "He did something," Kuvira's voice snapped Korra back. "I don't know how to describe it. but I could feel the pressure spreading in my mind. Like a cage, I guess. And the next thing I know, I'm staring at him again and he's...scared? Mad? I don't know. Whatever happened, he wasn't expecting it."

"You stopped it." Korra knew she was staring at Kuvira like she had three heads, but according to Lin, the others who'd been affected had no memory of being controlled, let alone stopping it. "How did you-did anything else happen? Did he say anything else? Any plans, any mention of Asami or my family? Anything. Is he coming after them?" Korra's voice started to rise into a panic. Worry settled between Kuvira's eyebrows at the sudden unease.

"Just you," she said, almost trying to calm Korra down. "When he couldn't get in my head, like I said, he was surprised. So I'm sure he's controlled others. I don't know why he couldn't get me. The last thing he said was 'I'll have to do it myself'." Kuvira leaned forward, closer to the glass separating them. "But if he's locked up, he can't get you. If he's meditating in like I am, he can't bend. He can't leave. This mind control...whatever this is, that's all he's got."

Korra lowered her head, trying to fight off the old feelings of fear she'd battled for years. "It is enough, though. He's already killed people with it, innocent people. He almost killed Bolin and Opal too."

Kuvira's eyes locked on Korra, flashing with anger. "What?" There was a crack in her voice that surprised Korra. Kuvira's voice was fairly weak already, but that was almost painful. "He's been able to take it out of the Spirit World?"

"Yeah, whatever he does...when he controls their minds he make them do things in the physical world. He's been sending me messages." Korra felt her leg start to quiver. "Messages that I didn't get because Lin was keeping them from me. Then when Opal got hurt protecting Bolin from one of them, they had to tell me." She pushed a hand onto her knee to stop it from shaking. "I knew that Zaheer studied beyond the limits of a normal airbender but...mind control is on another level. I—I need to talk to Jinora and Tenzin about it." Korra noticed her hand was shaking against the table and she stopped it with her other hand. Calm down, Korra. You're fine. Breathe. "I'll stop him," she whispered, not sounding nearly as confident as she wanted.

"I hope so. If it wasn't for Su coming to see me, well, I wouldn't have been able to warn you. But now you know. So you can stop him, I know you can." The true tone of confidence in Kuvira's voice was strange. Then Korra remembered that at one point she'd stopped Kuvira at her peak. If anyone knew the power of the Avatar, of her, it was Kuvira.

"Thank you...for warning me and I'm sorry about the guards. Next time you need something they'll let me know. I-I meant to visit but—" She ended the sentence with a soft sigh.

"I get it. Really. Don't worry about it. I'm sure Chief Beifong will deal with the guards." Kuvira rose to her feet, a guard behind her was already moving towards her. "You should probably go. I'll...try meditating again. Maybe I can find something."

"No." Korra shook her head vehemently, moving closer to the glass. The guard stopped. "No, Kuvira don't go back there. If he's there just...stay away. Don't give him the chance to get to you."

The stare Kuvira leveled on Korra was long and heartbreaking, because Korra knew what was coming. She knew exactly that Kuvira was going to say. "What—" She cleared her scratchy throat. "What's he going to do to me? Whatever he does, well. If he gets me, my body is here, locked in a cell. Anything else—I've got nothing left to lose."

"Just...just be careful, okay?" Korra pleaded as she stood up on rickety legs. "Zaheer isn't above anything when it comes to trying to…get to me. As I'm sure you remember."

"Yeah," she said through gritted teeth. "I know exactly what Zaheer is capable of. He can't hurt me. If I find something, I'll let you know."

"Okay. Take care of yourself. I—I can't promise I'll visit because…well—" Because my wife is the most important thing in the world to me and I can't even say your name around her. "But I'll make sure things are better."

"I don't expect you to do anything for me, Korra." The true lack of want in Kuvira's voice was sad. She'd fallen so far. "I just want to help deal with...this. And this is the only way I can. Don't worry about me."

Korra shrugged with a chuckle. "Can't help it. I'm pretty sure I was born to care too much."

"Considering you should hate me...I'd say you do a pretty good job at caring too much as it is." Kuvira cracked the faintest of smiles.

"Thanks. I'll have Lin or Su keep you posted on what's going on. Speak to them if you need anything."

When Korra left, Asami rose up from her chair and raced over to her. They hugged again. For the second time, it felt like the last hug they would ever have and Korra couldn't figure out why.

Perhaps it was because she had a job to do. A job she should have done years ago.

"What'd she say?" Asami asked, sounding both curious and suspicious.

Korra chewed on her bottom lip, readying herself for the storm coming. "I'm going to see Zaheer."

------

As soon as she saw the look on her father's face, Jinora knew what was coming.

"No," he said as authoritatively as he could. Mostly she could just tell that he was afraid.

"Dad—"

"Jinora, no. It's too dangerous."

She stepped up and put her hands on his shoulders. "I'm sorry, but I have to do this."

"Why you? Why you specifically?"

"Because," she shrugged. "Korra trusts me and…her aura is really cloudy right now. She needs me to make sure she keeps her head on straight. You know how Zaheer makes her feel."

Tenzin shook his head. "That's precisely why I do not want you going with her. He is dangerous, Jinora. He won't hesitate to hurt you."

"Dad, I'm going with Korra—"

"Who still has panic attacks from her last encounter with that man."

Jinora couldn't argue with that. "She'll be fine," she pressed on. "She's a fully realized Avatar. She's as strong and as powerful as she's ever been. We're just going to see what he's doing."

"And if he is doing something wrong, then what? Is Korra prepared to deal with that?"

"I don't know." She hadn't thought that far ahead. The truth was, Korra was doing this with or without help and Jinora was merely going along to make sure she came back in one piece. "I assume that if we find out he's doing what we think he is then the White Lotus will handle it."

Tenzin still seemed unsatisfied. "We're taking the word of a woman who was put into prison after she walked a giant mecha suit into the city and who now claims to be confronted by a murderous terrorist who came to her in the Spirit World." He let out an exasperated exhale. "Forgive me if I don't see this as a solid course of action."

"I know." Jinora continued packing her bag with books. "It's rash and it's unsafe and will most certainly go wrong but—"

"It's Korra," Tenzin muttered with defeat.

Jinora could only nod and move to hug her dad. "We'll be okay." She felt his hand press into the back of her head as he held her. "Korra's a little unsteady but she's determined and not really looking for approval."

"Oh," a sudden voice came from the doorway and Jinora turned to see Kai standing there looking like he got caught stealing lychee juice. "I—uh…sorry. I thought you were alone."

"It's okay," Jinora pulled away from her dad. "You want to go for a walk? Korra's gonna be a few minutes saying goodbye to Mika and Asami." She turned back to her dad. "I love you."

"Love you too, Jinora. I'll see you soon."

With one quick hug, Jinora set out with Kai to walk around the island.

Things with Kai were always so simple. Jinora had found the boy of her dreams when she was eleven years old and not a day had passed that she thought any different. It was one of the reasons she sought so much to help others, because she was so loved that it made sense to go out of her way so others felt the same.

"I'm waiting," Jinora said with a grin as Kai walked beside her quietly.

He glanced over at her with slight confusion. "For what?"

"The speech. The 'this isn't a good idea' speech." She chuckled. "I got one from Dad, I got one from my mom, I even got one from Chief Beifong." She poked him in the shoulder. "So?"

Kai shrugged. "You won't get one from me. You can handle yourself." He was so sincere that Jinora felt her affection towards him grow even more, surprised that it still could after all these years. "Korra needs you. I came to terms a long time ago that when she needed you, needed any of us, we'd be there."

"Yeah," Jinora sighed, leaning into his shoulder and hooking his arm with her own. "So are you ever going to ask me?" She could only smirk when she felt him tense against her.

"Ask you what? Why do you want me to ask your questions so bad today?"

This made her laugh. "Come on, Kai. I know you have a ring and I know you're planning to propose to me."

He sighed defeatedly. "Yeah, well, this isn't exactly how I planned it."

"I'm sorry." She stopped when they reached the edge of the temple overlooking the water. Jinora turned and faced him, and she placed both her hands in his own. "You were just taking so long and now that I'm doing this I—I'd like to give you an answer before I go."

Kai eyed her suspiciously. "Break my heart and then leave huh?"

"Something like that," she said as sweetly as possible. "You do realize that I can't have an engagement ring right? No worldly possessions and all that."

He frowned. "Yeah I just…I didn't know the airbender way to do this. Do I have to give you a bison or something?"

"No, just ask me."

Their eyes locked for a few moments and Jinora could feel the growing swell in her chest. He took her right hand and pulled it up to his lips. Dropping a kiss on the top of it, right at the tip of her tattoo.

"Master Jinora." He said, making her eyes roll despite the tears building in them. "Will you do me the honor of allowing me to spend the rest of my life with you?"

She answered him with a kiss.

By the time Korra found Asami after talking with Jinora, her wife was happily laughing with Mika at the kitchen table. It was a beautiful sight, but very unexpected. They were dipping their hands in a cup water and playfully splashing each other with it.

Korra stopped by the doorway and leaned against the frame. Admiring the way Asami's eyes lit up when Mika flicked beads of water on her.

"You know," Korra started and drew their attention, "when she's got her bending down a little more she could heat the water up. Hit you with little burning drops of water."

Asami glared at her. "Oh really? Would you teach her to do such awful things?"

"Never." Korra shook her head dramatically before moving to sit down behind Mika. "I can teach her to dissolve water with heat though." Holding her hand over the water, Korra bent it out of the cup and used her other hand to slowly make it evaporate. She pressed her hands together completely before opening them up and the water was gone. "See?"

Mika frowned a bit. "I wish I was a waterbender." She pouted. "It's more fun."

"Now that," Asami touched Mika's nose, "isn't true. I've seen a ton of really cool things with firebending. It's super useful and you can create it whenever you want!"

Korra nodded before lighting a flame in her hand, remembering what her firebending masters had taught her. "It's true. Fire is life. We create it when we need it. It can light the road ahead, it can protect us from the darkness, save us from the cold, and heal us from our injuries."

"Firebending can help people?" Mika asked innocently. Her big brown eyes stared up at Korra who smiled back.

"Yep, one time I got attacked by a big giant spirit monster and I was pretty hurt and some very nice firebenders found me and used it to figure out what was wrong with me. To make me feel better. I'd been in the water for a long time. My body temperature was low and they healed me."

"Wow, really?" Mika cried.

Asami wore a similarly surprised expression. "Really?" she asked with a quirked eyebrow, almost silently wondering if this was a true story or not.

Korra chuckled. "It's true. That was when I lost my memory."

"Oh, when I-" Asami's face went suddenly pale and sheepish.

"Yes." Korra couldn't stop herself from giddily laughing at Asami's expression. "When you kissed my boyfriend."

"Hey, you kissed him when I was dating him first!"

"Wait," Mika's eyes glanced between them. "You had a boyfriend?"

They shared a look over Mika's head. Asami exhaled slowly. "Yep, we both dated the same boy for a while. Not-not at the same time." Korra was biting her lip to stop from laughing again. "We were young and not really thinking clearly."

"In my defense. I was saving the world a lot so my lack of thinking was because I was so busy."

Asami rolled her eyes. "Yes, because me trying to bring my company back from the brink of going under was super easy."

"Oh yes, business meetings are the exact same thing as trying to learn spirit bending." Arguments like this happened a lot; they were never very serious, but neither of them liked to lose.

Mika huffed. "Stop fighting," she demanded and Korra felt her eyes go wide and saw Asami do the same.

"Oh sweetheart, we're not fighting," Asami said gently as she stroked Mika's hair. Korra couldn't help but notice how Mika relaxed under her touch. How had they become so comfortable with each other overnight? Not that Korra was complaining. In fact, it was beautiful to see.

"Yeah, we just play around. I'm sorry if we upset you. Asami and I won't ever fight for real in front of you."

The little girl was still pouting. "My parents fought all the time. I hated it."

"Okay," Korra leaned forward and gave Mika a kiss on the nose. "No more fighting then. We promise." As she sat back up, Korra locked eyes with Asami who was now looking past her. She turned to see what Asami was staring at and saw Tenzin in the doorway. It was time to go.

"Sorry, Jinora has Pepper ready to go."

With a nod, Korra let out a heavy sigh before standing up as Asami did the same, bringing Mika up with her. Stepping towards them, Korra kissed Asami's forehead softly. "I'll be back before you know it."

"You better," Asami whispered shakily. They adjusted and Asami captured Korra's lips chastely. "I love you."

"I love you too." She rested their foreheads together for a moment before focusing on Mika. "Take care of my girl for me, okay?"

Mika furrowed her brows. "You're leaving again?"

Korra smiled. "Just for a bit. I'll be home tonight. I promise."

"You okay?" Jinora's voice broke Korra's wandering thoughts. She couldn't stop thinking about her goodbye with Asami. It felt different, though she wouldn't express that out loud. It felt scarier, because of where she was going. Who she was heading towards

She swallowed away her fear. There was no time for it. "Yeah, just anxious to be done with this. I don't like being away from Asami this much. Now with Mika, it's just..."

"How's that going?"

Korra sighed softly. "Well enough I suppose. Mika is so sweet and honestly her and Asami seemed to be much better today. Mika was holding her and hugging her. They apparently had some bonding time last night." She found herself chuckling. "Asami said they connected over really sad stuff." The words were meant to be playful. That was how Asami had told her it went. But all Korra could think about was how she was taking more risks and leaving Asami again.

Breaking the main rule Asami had when they were married, that Korra wasn't allowed to leave her. The memory of that made her smile. They'd fought and Korra had walked away. Needless to say, that had only made things worse. It was different now of course. This was her job and she had to go. It made sense for Asami to stay, to take care of herself and Mika. Still, that didn't make leaving any easier on either of them.

Jinora smiled as she settled Pepper's reigns on her lap. Korra was leaning over the front of the saddle, watching the sky move past them as they headed towards the White Lotus prison.

"You need to calm down, Korra." Jinora maintained her focus in front of them as they approached the prison site. "Your aura is a mess, and you're tense and unsettled. You need to be on guard."

Korra suddenly remembered that she couldn't really hide her feelings around Jinora. "I know, I—it's so stupid. I've done this before with Zaheer and he…helped me. I don't trust him, I didn't even then, but I overcame him more than once. I can do it again."

"You can." Finally Jinora looked back at her. "Also, please don't talk about your feelings like that. They're not stupid." Korra found herself studying the warm features of Jinora's face, the softness of her voice. It relaxed her. "You're the Avatar, but you're also human. You're allowed to feel things, even things that may seem irrational."

"Yeah," Korra said though she was still struggling to accept that this doubt bubbling in her stomach was acceptable. "I just want this man out of my life. I'm so tired of coming back to this."

I never asked for any of the pain he caused me.

Korra shook her head fiercely. There was no time to be like that, to give into those old voices. Not today. She had to be strong today.

As they neared the prison, Korra sat down on the saddle and crossed her legs. She took a long, deep breath and pressed her fists together, not meditating, just…balancing herself. She was ready for this. Ready for anything he was going to say or do.

When Pepper landed, a guard walked over to them as both Korra and Jinora airbent onto the ground.

"Did Tenzin phone ahead?" Korra asked with as much authority as she could find. She was impressed with how intense her voice was.

The guard nodded mutely, stepping aside and let her walk towards the earthbent door. She stopped just as the guards were opening it and turned to Jinora. "Wait out here."

"What?"

Korra sighed, ready for an argument. "I'm going in by myself."

"You're not going in alone, Korra. That wasn't the deal." Jinora looked as desperate as she sounded.

"It's not up for debate, Jinora. I'm the Avatar, and this is my fight not yours. You're here to help me through it but this," she turned and pointed towards the entrance, "I don't want you anywhere near him."

"Korra—" Jinora tried again.

"No," she knew her tone was desperate, but she was desperate. "Please, just…stay out here. I'll be back before you know it."

When Jinora reluctantly stayed behind, Korra moved to the open entrance and steeled her nerves. She was ready for this. He was locked up, just like the last time she'd been here five years ago.

The trip into the mountain prison was slow, tedious, and Korra fought to keep her mind steady.

There was no point in dwelling on the past. She'd climbed every single one of the mountains that fight with Zaheer had thrown in front of her. She was better for it, stronger, happier too. They'd shaped her into the person she was now.

Yes, she struggled still. With depression and anxiety disorders that came and went. But she wasn't afflicted with these things; she lived with them. They were a part of her, daily battles that made her stronger and more resilient.

Once she reached the door to Zaheer, she noted the two guards posted by it. She wasn't alone, not really. They were here and if anything went wrong they'd come in and help. Not that she couldn't handle Zaheer. It wasn't like before; no poison or trapped airbenders. He held no advantages over her.

When she first saw him, he had his back to her. He was standing, wrists and legs chained, along with a metal belt around his waist. His grey hair hung long down his back. He seemed much different than Kuvira did. As if prison had benefited him. He was still sturdy and strong. It was as if he hadn't lost a bit of muscle. If anything, he was bigger than she remembered.

Perhaps that was a few tiny flickers of fear peeking through and making him seem that way.

"Avatar Korra." His voice was as grating as ever. Korra clenched her fists tightly. "I've been expecting you."

She stepped closer. "Expecting? You called me here!"

He shifted a bit, but still didn't turn to face her. "How could I have done that? I'm stuck in this prison. Right where you put me."

"What are you up to? How are you getting into people's minds? Horrible airbending practices to control them? What is wrong with you?"

"Nothing is wrong with me," he said with a chuckle. "I've told you from the start what my purpose was. What our purpose was." Finally he turned around to face her and Korra swallowed the lump in her throat before hardening her stare. "You speak of balance, but you're the only imbalance in the world, Korra.

"What are you talking about?" she barked, already confused by his ramblings.

"You're the unnatural monster that controls the direction of the future," he mused slowly, rolling his shoulders and cracking his neck. "Where your power sways, so do the rest of us. What right do you have to dictate who's good and who's evil?"

Korra shook her head in disbelief. "I'm not killing people in the streets of Republic City!"

"The people who have been killed are all bad people, Korra."

"The ones in that club you had set on fire weren't. The innocent people caught up in the—"

"Innocent lives are lost every day!" Zaheer cut her off, his tone growing louder. "How many families were ripped apart. "That is the natural order of the world." He took a threatening step towards her. Korra felt her upper body pulling away. "You are a weapon. Manipulated since birth by politicians and leaders of nations to do their bidding and sway the world they way they see fit. How can you not see how unnatural that is!"

Fire burned in Korra's chest. She was her own person, and she had been for years now. "Is that what you tried to do? Trying to steal me from my own family when I was a little girl? So you could use me as your weapon to get what you want?"

Zaheer smirked. She wanted to burn it off. "It was our means to level the playing field. You are the imbalance that keeps the natural order of the world from progressing."

"Tell me what you're doing," she growled as she felt the fire push into her right hand, ready to strike.

"Why would I do that?" he asked with an even voice. "You've reached your limit, you're not strong enough to kill me. What do I have to fear from you?"

Anger started to boil over inside of her. She wanted to make him feel everything she had felt for the last eight years.

A pair of rapid footsteps sounded behind her. "Avatar Korra?"

"What?" She shouted, turning around to where one of the White Lotus guards had come in behind her.

Suddenly there was a slab of rock coming right at her from the guard. She barely had time to react and put her arms up to block it from her face. When she did, she lowered her cover and was prepared to scream at him when something wrapped around her neck from behind and cut off her air.

She was pulled back and Zaheer was now inches away from her ear. "The Red Lotus will win this fight." There was a sudden pressure building in her temple.

He's trying to get in my head.

Korra bent her knees, chain still around her throat, and pushed up to flip over behind him. When she did, the pressure on her neck loosened and she landed shakily on the ground. Before she could react, he threw her backwards with a kick of air that sent her crashing into the wall

Pain burst through her back and neck. She hit the ground with a thud as the world around her went foggy.

When she rose to her knees, one of the White Lotus guards sent another rock at her. It caught her right in the shoulder and sent her back down. She heard a pop in her arm as pain ran down to her forearm and back up.

Blindly, Korra reached out and grabbed a slab or earth from the wall she'd crashed into. She stood up as quickly as she could and extended her good arm forward. A boulder hurtled towards the first guard and slammed into him with enough force to send him to the ground. The second guard had rose up on a platform of rock and was pulling down the earth from above her.

Exhausted, Korra jumped out of the way of a falling rock and rolled on the ground in pain. As she pushed up again, she could see that the chains meant to hold Zaheer weren't even latched into the wall. He'd been freed by these guards. They knew she was coming.

Zaheer flew by her as fast as he could, the momentum carrying Korra's body into the wall. She cried out in pain, her arm starting to go numb. It was hurt, badly hurt.

"Give in!" he shouted and Korra could feel that pressure building again. She grit her teeth, trying to push up to her feet again. Another rush of air took her off of her feet and she flipped over onto her back. "Now!" He cried and Korra felt the earth wrap around her legs and arms. She was prepared to bend it away but the pressure in her head turned into a grinding pain that made it hard to focus on even flexing her fingers.

He threw the chain he'd choked her with down and it landed hard against the rock floor. Korra tried to move, to bend fire or draw earth from the ground beneath her, but her body wouldn't react.

Zaheer knelt down, pressing his weight into her stomach. He reached out with his hand and draped it over her head. His eyes closed, and Korra could feel him pushing into her mind.

Fight, Korra! She screamed at herself. Fight him! She felt that familiar hum of the Avatar State flowing through her. The pressure in her mind started to recede and she opened her eyes to see him glaring angrily at her.

"No!" he shouted angrily before wrapping his hand around her neck. "I will end this!" This time the pressure she felt was much stronger. Korra's legs were quivering and her vision was starting to go dark around the edges.

Her body felt like it was floating. She was starting to lose track of where she was. It was a familiar feeling. Almost peaceful, like the moments before falling asleep. She was so tired.

Korra. A voice echoed inside of her. It was Raava calling to her. Korra, I can't stop him. If he gets into your mind, he'll force you into the Avatar state and he will kill you.

She needed to fight, to save herself and stop him. Try as she might, though, her arms and legs wouldn't move. What was the point? Why should she keep suffering? Why not just…go to sleep?

I'm sorry, Korra.

She felt all the warmth leave her body. An overwhelming sense of loss settled into Korra's heart. It reminded her of the feeling when she saw her father fall over the cliff years ago.

"What?" Zaheer whispered as the pressure consuming Korra started to fade, her body still heavy with exhaustion. "It's not there!" His voice was as frantic as Korra had heard it. "What did you do?" he growled at her before pulling back and slapping her across the face.

"Hey!" Another voice shouted. Jinora.

Zaheer let her go, and Korra could hear the sounds of a fight going on but her body wouldn't move. She tried to reach out for Raava, but heard nothing in return. She was tired now. Everything around her was fading.

"He's getting away!" someone screamed but it was muffled to her.

Just as Jinora leaned down over her, Korra's world went dark.

Chapter Text

“I need help!” 

Jinora’s cry nearly caused Asami to fall out of her chair. Her initial instinct was to drop everything and run. But she hastily remembered that Mika was with her in the study of Air Temple Island and stopped halfway out the door. 

Looking back, Mika seemed as afraid as Asami felt. “Hey, come here.” Asami waved her over and Mika obeyed. She scooped her up in her arms and Mika hugged around her neck. “Let’s go see if everyone’s okay.” 

Even as she said it, Asami knew everyone was not okay.

As her boots clapped against the walkway, she could see air nomads and her friends racing towards the bison as it landed. Jinora was in riding position, looking as shaken as Asami had ever seen her. She climbed up the bison’s back and into the saddle. There was no sign of Korra. 

“Dad! I can’t get her out alone!” Jinora’s voice carried from the back of the animal

“Right.” Tenzin airbent his way up to the bison and Asami felt her hands going numb and her legs shaking. 

There was suddenly something touching her back. Reacting to the contact, she saw Pema smiling warmly at her. “I’ll take Mika.” 

Only when Pema's blurry face was looking back at her did Asami realize she was crying. “I don’t—“ She looked at Mika who was clearly frightened. She shouldn’t be here. If Korra’s hurt or—

“It’s fine, Asami,” Pema pressed as she hooked her hands under Mika’s arms and pulled the girl over. “We’ll go play with the bison.” She smiled at Mika and Asami watched them start walking away. She knew it was the right decision and nobody could handle kids better than Pema. 

Still, that left her here, with no distractions from the hollow feeling sinking into her stomach. When she looked back, she could see Tenzin, Jinora and five other airbenders gently helping Korra off the bison. 

Asami found herself sprinting through the crowd watching. She bumped into a few air nomads watching and tried to push them away but her hands were shaking. 

“Hey, guys, let;s give the wife a little room here.” It was Bumi’s voice echoing over the chaos. She saw him tower over a few airbenders and create a gap for Asami to reach Korra

When she did, she saw her wife looking worse for wear. Her face had a giant red welt on it, her hair was a mess atop her head and she had tears in her eyes. 

“Korra,” Asami whispered and drew her attention. Something about seeing Asami only made it worse because Korra slumped over into her arms and they both nearly fell to the ground. “Oh baby, what did he do to you?” 

“Sami,” Korra groaned out. “My arm.”

“I think her shoulder is dislocated,” Jinora spoke up, visibly shaking in Kai’s arms. She still seemed composed enough though and stepped over to where Korra was slumped against Asami. “He knew we were coming.” 

“What happened?” Tenzin asked and Jinora looked up at him pleadingly, asking him to save it for later. A gesture he understood and answered with a nod. “Come then, let’s get her inside.”

“Asami,” Korra pulled away with her head down nearly fell over. Jinora caught her from behind. “My necklace,” she pulled up her good arm and in the hand was her betrothal necklace. The stone had been broken off the necklace and even that had been torn. There were trickles of blood on it and Asami noted they were on Korra’s neck as well. 

Stepping forward, Asami cupped Korra’s hand in between her own and smiled as best she could. “We’ll fix it, okay?” 

“Something’s not right,” Asami could hear Jinora say to Tenzin as they led Korra inside. She wasn’t at all surprised when the air nomads steadily followed them. Korra was their hero, in more ways than one. The Air Nation owed everything to her and whenever she was hurt, they rallied to protect her. All of them followed, and even before Asami led Korra inside, they started to sit together around the door. 

Once inside, Korra sat down and laid her head back to stare up at the ceiling. Her broken necklace at her side along the bed, she clutched her damaged arm and Asami started to pour water into the bucket for Korra to heal herself with. Though the water healing wouldn’t help with the dislocation, it could numb the pain.

“Get Kya.” Korra muttered. 

“What?” Asami turned with the bucket of water.

Korra swallowed thickly and shook her head. “I—I can’t bend.” 

“Did he do something to your chi?” She sat the bucket down near the bed and pushed Korra’s hair from her face. 

“No,” she shook her head. “I can’t bend, I can’t—Raava’s gone.” 

Asami slid down to her knees in front of Korra, trying to search her eyes. “How?” 

She shrugged. “When Zaheer tried to get into my head she just…cut off. To protect herself I think. I couldn’t hold him off and he was getting into my head and Raava just…left.”

A sigh escaped her. “Why would she do that? Why would she leave you?” Asami couldn’t wrap her mind around Raava abandoning Korra like that, making her vulnerable to that man. 

“He was winning. I couldn’t stop him and he would have forced me into the Avatar State and killed me. Without it, he won’t. What’s the point? He wants to end the cycle.” Korra’s hands were gripping the side of the bed so tightly her knuckles were changing color. 

“So you can’t bend at all?” It was a stupid question. Why would Korra lie?

Still, she watched Korra lift her hand up over the bucket of water. She held it out, her fingers shaking slightly. Korra closed her eyes and tried to focus, but nothing happened. The water was as still as ever and Korra’s good arm fell back down onto the bed. 

She shifted a bit, and when she did she winced at her injured arm.

Stop staring at her. Help her.

“I’ll go get Kya,” Asami said, standing up in a rush and dropping a soft kiss to Korra’s forehead. “I love you, so much,” she reaffirmed, feeling as if Korra needed to hear it. 

Asami was hesitant to leave Korra but there wasn’t anything she could do. Once outside, she slowed down at the sight of all the airbenders staring up at her. She caught sight of Ikki racing towards her. 

“I just heard about Korra! Is she okay? Did Zaheer really do what Jinora said? Can I see—“

“Ikki,” Asami cut her off as gently as she could. “Korra’s…she’s okay, she’s just a little hurt. I need to find Kya to heal her.” 

Ikki furrowed her brow. “Why can’t Korra just heal herself?” 

“Kya,” Asami’s gentle tone disappeared a little. “I need her right now, sweetheart.” 

With a determined nod, Ikki took Asami’s hand and led her through the courtyard. Once in the kitchen, Asami found Kya standing around with Tenzin, Jinora, Bumi and a few others. 

“Asami.” Tenzin stepped between his siblings. “Is she alright?”

“No, she’s got a dislocated shoulder and Kya needs to come help her.” 

Kya was already exiting the kitchen towards Korra. “I don’t understand,” Tenzin shook his head. “Jinora, you said Korra wasn’t feeling right, is this what you meant?”

His eldest daughter closed her eyes and nodded. “Yes, dad. I—I thought it might be temporary, and maybe it is, I don’t know. But I heard Zaheer in the cave before he slapped—“ She felt herself tense instantly and knew that everyone around her noticed. All she could see was that man striking Korra. Striking her wife. Even if the image in her mind was a thousand times worse than what actually happened, it didn’t matter. Nobody struck Korra. No one in the world would lay a hand on her and live to tell about it. Not anymore, and Asami was tired of allowing it to happen. “H—he was screaming about it being gone,” Jinora continued, still cautiously eyeing Asami. “I think he was trying to draw into her mind and put her into the Avatar state.”

“Spirits,” Bumi muttered. He looked as confused as he did surprised. “How would—how is that even a thing? Tenzin, we’re airbenders and we can’t mess with people’s heads. Other than blowing air through their ears from across the room.” 

Tenzin sighed and rolled his eyes. “It’s nothing I’ve heard of before either, Bumi.” 

“Think about it, Dad.” Jinora started pacing the room. Her mind clearly working a thousand miles a minute. Asami knew the feeling all too well. “If I can project my spirit and deliver messages to people from anywhere, why couldn’t I—eventually—tap into their minds and…dictate to them?” 

“That’s extremely far fetched, Jinora. A person would know if their mind was being assaulted.” 

“Sure, at first.” She stopped walking and leveled a gaze at her father. “Once it’s inside of you though, why would you question it? Your own thought process? Korra fought it. Zaheer was searching for something and she fought it long enough for Raava to escape.” Her eyes shifted to Asami. “She said Raava spoke to her before she lost…her bending.”

Asami groaned. “I know, Korra told me. Raava abandoned her in the middle of a fight.” 

“Asami, that’s not—“

“It’s not what? True? It’s absolutely true. Raava did…whatever, cut ties with her while she was being—apparently—physically assaulted by a man that you all refuse to put out of our misery and Raava leaves her when she needs help the most. Removes her bending and leaves her to die.”

They shared soft glances around the room. Asami was angry-- damn right she was angry, and she felt justified in being so. It always came back to Korra. Everyone and everything in this world wanting to tear Korra away from her. 

Clearing his throat, Tenzin stepped to her cautiously. “Asami, I understand your frustrations. But the cycle must be protected. We all know this…even Korra.” 

Tears brimmed in Asami’s eyes. She wanted to scream and fight. She wanted to yell at the world for tormenting the woman she loved. But what was the point? Tenzin was right. 

“Asami.” It was Jinora, suddenly holding her hands and staring up at her. “I’m going to figure out what he did. He’s…mastered some kind of airbending technique, like with the flying, and he’s…used it again to hurt Korra and I know how upset you are. I am too. I saw her.” She offered a sweet smile and Asami couldn’t help but wonder when Jinora became so wise and comforting. “i’ll figure out how to help her in the long run, you go help her now.” There was a sudden cry of pain from across the island and Asami felt her legs carrying her out the door. 

It didn’t take her long to reach the room she’d left Korra in. When she arrived, Korra was lying on her back, biting on her hand and Kya had water glowing over her shoulder. She looked awful. Her hair was a mess, her body covered in dirt and scrapes, her pants torn at the knees, and she’d opened up her vest at some point. She looked far from the powerful Avatar everyone assumed she was. 

“What happened?” Asami sat down next to her on the bed and made sure not to get in Kya’s way. She moved Korra’s armband that had been taken off and set it aside. The other one was crumpled in Korra’s lap, her fur wrap untied and settled beneath her. 

“We had to reset her shoulder.” Kya answered without breaking focus as she rolled the water over Korra’s skin. “It--”

“Hurt like hell,” Korra finished quietly. 

After a few moments, Korra settled down and stared up at the ceiling. Asami wasn’t sure what else to do so she scooted back against the wall and lifted up Korra’s feet into her lap. The material of her boots was soft under Asami’s touch. She unlaced them slowly, then carefully and gently pulled them off. Korra had the roughest soles from years of training and running. So much physical activity had built strong feet that held up the most powerful person in the world. 

She rubbed them with her thumb, coursing the pads roughly to try and ease the pain of her arm and give her something else to focus on. When she looked over to check on Korra, blue eyes were staring back at her. Asami gave her best smile and Korra weakly attempted to return it. 

“I’m gonna be twenty-seven tomorrow,” Korra said tiredly before letting out a slow breath and watching Kya move the water over her arm. 

Asami could only squeeze Korra’s feet in her hands. There was very little comfort to offer. 

-----------

Su wasn’t expecting Kuvira to already be in the visitation room when she was let in by the guard outside. But there Kuvira was, seated at the table on the other side of the bars. One of her arms was cuffed to the table, and at the sight of it Su frowned. She wasn’t cuffed down last time. What changed? There was no way for Kuvira reach her through the bars, and Su was required to remove anything metal from her person before entering the room. She saw restraining Kuvira as unnecessary. When she sat down, Kuvira’s mouth twitched ever so slightly into a smile.

“I wasn’t expecting another visit.”

“I told you I would be back.” Su shrugged. She knew she had a reason for being there this time, thanks to the results of Korra’s visit with Zaheer. “Though I don’t think you’re going to like what I have to say.”

Kuvira’s eyebrow arched slowly and she eyed Su carefully. Korra had gotten no sleep the night before, too worried about Zaheer being on the loose while she was unable to defend her loved ones. Lin and the White Lotus stationed on Air Temple Island had done what they could to assure Korra that nothing would happen, but Su knew Korra didn’t buy it. Su didn’t blame her for being afraid. If she was honest with herself, Su was afraid too. Zaheer was a madman. She was well aware of what he was capable of.

“Korra went to see Zaheer,” Su finally explained when Kuvira wouldn’t ask. “He tried to get into her head. And it seems like he succeeded. She came back in one piece…but she can’t bend. He did something to her…I don’t understand what happened, but Jinora thinks it has something to do with the avatar state.” Su sighed, watching the frown that drew Kuvira’s features into hard lines and darkened her eyes. “Zaheer is loose. Doing spirits only know what.”

“Someone needs to track him down,” Kuvira croaked. She was gripping the edge of the table with one hand, her knuckles white as she cleared her throat. “He needs to be killed—he can’t get away, he’ll be after her again--.”

Kuvira stopped abruptly when the door behind Su opened, and Su turned around in her seat to see who had come in. We’re supposed to have thirty minutes. When she saw Saikhan she frowned, wondering if Lin had called or if something had happened.

“Visitation is over,” Saikhan grunted, jerking a thumb toward his shoulder. “I'm supposed to escort you out.”

A dozen alarms went off in Su’s mind as she looked up at him, watching as he glanced at Kuvira behind her. She knew she hadn’t had an escort to take her out last time. Kuvira wasn’t cuffed down either. On top of all of that, she’d barely been in there five minutes. There was no way visitation was over. She was suddenly very concerned, knowing if something had happened that Lin would have sent a message with Saikhan.

Today, Suyin,” Saikhan huffed. “I have things to do.”

Su narrowed her eyes. Something isn’t right. There’s only one other thing this could be. “Is Kuvira being punished?” That was the only answer it could be, if nothing was wrong. That would explain the cuffs.

“Yes.” Saikhan nodded immediately.

“Really?” Su’s eyebrow shot up as she watched his expression. “Alone in her cell all day? What could she have possibly done?”

“She took a swing at a guard last night. Nearly broke his jaw.”

Not likely. She hardly has any strength as it is.

Still, Su looked over her shoulder at Kuvira. Her gaze dropped to both of Kuvira’s hands, looking at her knuckles. They were white from the grip she had on the corners of the table in front of her, no bruising or other discoloration in sight. Su locked her eyes onto Kuvira’s, confident that Kuvira would tell her the truth. She hasn’t lied to me yet. She set her jaw when she saw Kuvira staring back at her, slowly and deliberately shaking her head. He’s lying. I’m not going anywhere.

“Unfortunately, Saikhan, I’m not going to leave until my sister comes to get me. Or my thirty minutes are up. Whichever happens faster. Though I will take your interruption into account.”

Saikhan snarled and snapped his hand back, striking Su across the face half a moment later. Pain radiated through her cheek and her jaw, and she blinked rapidly as she tried to push herself off the floor. She could hear Kuvira screaming her name as she spit blood into the floor, and she tried to focus on the sound. All she could hear was Kuvira’s voice, and what sounded like her hand pounding on the wooden table.

Su, move!” Kuvira’s voice was cracking as she shouted.

Su rolled to one side when she heard Saikhan cursing, narrowly getting out of the way as he slammed the chair she’d been sitting in into the floor where she’d been. The floor was platinum. She couldn’t could do anything with it. She knew she’d have to fight him as best she could since she had no metal with her to defend herself. 

When she twisted into a crouch and nearly caught Saikhan’s knee in her chest, Su realized his armor was metal, and when he swung at her again she decided to use it to her advantage. She bent the metal around his knees, dropping him to the ground and slowing him down.

“Stay out of my way, Suyin!” Saikhan bellowed. “Kuvira deserves to die and you know it.”

Kuvira has been paying for her crimes for five years without complaint. She doesn't  deserve to die. And I’m not going to let you be the one who decides that.

“You’ll have to get through me first, Saikhan,” Su spat back.

Kuvira was making enough noise to wake the dead, her voice straining as she continued screaming. Half of her cries were for Su before they became obscenities fired in Saikhan’s direction, while the rest of them were cries for help as she tried to get a guard’s attention. Where are the guards? They should have been here by now.

Saikhan tried to grab Su with a cable he’d bent from the spool on his back, and when he did Su bent the armor on his arms in order to twist his arms behind him, contorting them as much as possible. He struggled to free himself,  and while he was preoccupied with that Su uncoiled the cables at his back and wound them around him tightly. She was out of breath when she finally got him restrained, bending over at the waist as she tried to slow her breathing. Kuvira had grown deathly silent, but Su’s focus was on Saikhan.

“What was that?” Su growled at him.

“The poison of the Red Lotus has already been set, Suyin.” Saikhan snorted, glaring up at her. “Isn’t that why you’re here? To tell her that we’ve broken the world’s Avatar. Again. But it doesn’t matter. You may have stopped me, but we’ll get Kuvira one way or another. We’ll get both of them.”

Su looked over to Kuvira’s side of the room, surprised to see Kuvira standing on her feet. Kuvira’s chest was heaving as she tried to catch her breath, and she looked to be on the verge of tears. 

Her jaw was clenched, the gauntness of her face amplified by the tensing of the muscles. Her skin was flushed, but the fire in her eyes gave way to apparent relief as she stared at Su. Kuvira opened her mouth after a few seconds, and Su thought she was going to say something, but all that came out was a shaky exhale of breath. I’m not leaving her here. Su only looked away from Kuvira to bend over and retrieve the keys attached to Saikhan’s belt.

“Don’t you dare,” Saikhan snapped, trying to squirm away from her.

Su ignored him, and once she had the keys she looked at the door on Kuvira’s side of the room and sighed. She’d seen the guards bring Kuvira in and out through it, but she had no idea how it connected to the rest of the prison.

“How do I get to that door?” Su asked as calmly as she could manage.

“I’m not going to tell--”

“I wasn’t asking you,” Su snapped at Saikhan. “Kuvira?”

“Down the hall.” Kuvira’s voice was hoarser than ever, and barely above a whisper. “Turn right from this door, then first door on the right. Down the hall and around the corner. It’s the only door. Su…don’t.”

The last sentence came out as a plea, one that Su planned on ignoring. What Zaheer had done to Korra, twice now, was enough. She wouldn’t let him kill anyone else, and that included Kuvira. She went through the doorway and down the hall like Kuvira had instructed. She gasped when she saw a pair of guards lying unconscious in the floor before she turned through the first door. That’s how Saikhan got to us. He took them out. We have to go. Now.

She started running, shouldering through the door back into visitation room. It was odd being on the same side of the bars as Kuvira. Those bars had been there for a reason, and as soon as Su was close enough, Kuvira lifted her free arm and started to reach out. She stopped before her arm could extend fully, leaving her arm suspended in midair as she focused her gaze on Su’s cheek.

“Are you ok?” Su heard her swallow before she dropped her arm, and Su nodded with a sigh.

Su could still taste blood, and knew it was very likely that she’d have a bruise, but Saikhan hadn’t managed to hurt her.

Su took another step forward, intent on setting Kuvira free, and that was when she saw something red on Kuvira’s arm. Her eyes widened when she realized it was blood, dripping off of Kuvira’s fingers and into the floor. Where Kuvira had been chained to the table, her wrist was raw and bloody, her arm shaking at her side as she continued to watch Su.

“Kuvira, what did you do?”

“I couldn’t help you.” Kuvira’s raspy voice was shaking as badly as her hand was, and Su closed her eyes for a moment and sighed. “I was trying…”

When she opened her eyes again she went to Kuvira’s side, using the key to unfasten the cuff attached to her wrist. She grabbed Kuvira’s other wrist and started to pull her out of the room, but Kuvira set her weight as best she could and kept herself in place.

“I’m not going.”

“Kuvira, I’m not leaving you here. You heard him. If Saikhan is with the Red Lotus, there’s no telling who else in the police force is under them. You’re not safe here.”

“I deserve this, Su. I’m not--.” She stopped as Su narrowed her eyes, only to look down and sigh. “If I go, you have to have me cuffed up, Su. I can’t go free, I can’t--”

Su sighed and nodded, reaching down and tearing a strip of her sleeve off.

“Give me your wrist.” Kuvira obeyed, and Su tied two strips of the fabric around the wound on Kuvira’s arm. She didn’t need the damage to be made worse by wearing the cuffs, so Su hoped the cloth would serve as a buffer until they could get Kuvira to Kya. Once the strips were tied, Su cuffed Kuvira’s hands together and looked over her shoulder at the door.

“We need to go. The guards are…indisposed.”

Kuvira didn’t ask where Su was taking her, and Su wasn’t sure if the realization that Kuvira trusted her was a comforting thought or not.

“We’re going to find Lin,” Su explained, deciding that Kuvira at least deserved to know. “I don’t know where we’ll go from there, but I have a car outside. I can get us that far, as long as you can keep your head down.”

Kuvira nodded mutely, and Su took her by the arm and pulled her out of the room as quickly as she could, ignoring Saikhan’s cursing as she slammed the door behind them. Lin is going to kill him.

----------

Lin shook her head for what felt like the hundredth time in the short distance between Republic City and Air Temple Island. She glanced back at Su and Kuvira sitting on a bench side by side. Kuvira had her head down, as she had had the entire time. And Su was sitting about a foot from her. Constantly glancing over. “This is a terrible idea,” Lin muttered, just loud enough for Su to hear.

“It was your idea!” Su countered with an equal tone.

Lin huffed. “I know, it’s terrible.”

Su shook her head and looked at Kuvira again with a sigh, her gaze going down to the bloody mess that Kuvira had made of her arm.

"Well it's not like we have much of a choice, Lin," Su finally replied. "Because if Saikhan stabbed you in the back there's no telling who else in that prison is working with the Red Lotus."

As the boat docked, Lin turned back and watched Su stand up with Kuvira following in tow and let them off first before trailing behind. “The Red Lotus are going to be the least of our problems in a minute.” From the dock, Lin could see the gathering of airbenders sitting idly by one of the main healing areas on the island. “That’s probably where Korra is.”

"Well let's hope she's doing better than she was when I left." Su stopped to let Lin catch up. She glanced at Kuvira once more before continuing to move forward with Lin at her side. "As long as she's alive and in one piece, right?"

“Try telling her that.” Lin sighed as the door opened to their left with Tenzin coming out with a flutter of his robes. “Oh, this is going to be fun.” 

Tenzin seemed to be in a rush as he glanced over at them quickly. “Oh good, you’re both here,” he looked away for a moment before his head came snapping back. “What...what is the meaning of this?” His voice rose higher than either of them had heard it when he spotted Kuvira. Lin couldn’t say she blamed him--he was the one with four children on this island.

"Kuvira was attacked in the prison," Su explained quickly. Lin saw Kuvira's head bow, nearly touching her chest, as Su continued. “I was attacked. By Saikhan. He's working with the Red Lotus—”

“—We needed to move her," Lin finished. Su's bruise, dark as it was, would have to be enough to convince Tenzin that the altercation had occurred.

Tenzin eyed Su’s injury for a moment and his expression softened. Lin could see the way his gaze would flicker back to Kuvira standing behind her. Trust would be hard earned for the once Great Uniter, there was no doubt about that. 

“Certainly you’re not planning on her staying here?”

Su opened her mouth to speak, but Lin cut her off. "Where else am I going to put her, Tenzin? With Korra hurt and Red Lotus crawling all over the city-- look. I don't like it either. But I can't be in two places at once."

“Lin, my family is here. Korra’s family is here. Have you both forgotten what she did to you, to all of us?” Lin was prepared to say something else, even as Tenzin seemed poised to continue his rant. However, he stopped in an instant when he looked to Kuvira once again. 

Turning back, Su saw Kuvira with her head down, hair covering her face and shaking from side to side. “He’s right. I shouldn’t be here.”

"Lin and I will be here, Tenzin," Su insisted, hating the self-loathing she heard in Kuvira's damaged voice. "We can handle Kuvira. She’s—” There were a litany of words Su wanted to say, but she swallowed them all. None of them were particularly flattering. "She's not going to be any trouble, I know that much."

"I...I hate to say this," Lin sighed, "but Su might be right."

Tenzin glanced back at the small building surrounded by airbenders. He reached up and started to stroke his beard, an irritating habit that had always driven Lin crazy. 

“We are incredibly vulnerable right now, Lin. Korra, as I’m sure Su has told you, is without her bending. In fact, she’s completely disconnected from her Avatar spirit. If the Red Lotus are a threat--“

“Then this is the safest place for all of us to be,” Lin said, cutting him off. “Would you rather we be separated and not able to help each other? The island is big enough for one more guest, Tenzin, and look at the kid. She’s half the size she was five years ago. Who’s she going to--“ 

A sudden gush of wind fluttered around them. Lin felt it nearly knock her over and saw Su stumble as well. However, the bulk of the blast met its mark and Kuvira was sent flying into a pillar. Her side smacked the surface hard and her groan echoed across the walls. When she hit the ground, Lin turned sought out the attacker, ready to fight, only to see Opal clutching her own injured body with a puffing chest and fire in her eyes. 

“What is she doing here?!”

"Opal." Lin looked up to see Su scrambling to straighten herself as she stepped between Kuvira's prone body and her furious daughter. "Opal, we brought her here."

"Why?!" Opal roared, her eyes boring into her mother before taking another threatening step forward.

"Because the Red Lotus is after her too," Su explained, her stance rapidly becoming defensive. "We're taking care of it, Opal. I mean, would you just look at her?"

Opal's teeth were grinding together as Lin brushed the dust off her armor. Lin looked over to see that Kuvira was resting on her knees, but was making no move to stand. She was staring at the ground, looking as if she was trying to make herself as small as possible.

“What was that?” The doors where Korra was suddenly burst open and Asami stepped out in search of the commotion. “Is everything okay?” She rushed over next to Tenzin and her eyes found Opal holding herself up and clutching her injured ribs. “Oh spirits, Opal.” Asami started to head towards her but stopped as something caught in her peripheral vision. 

She froze in place, Lin could see her hands balling into fists as she turned towards where Kuvira was lying. 

Oh shit. Lin groaned internally as Asami stalked towards Su and Kuvira.

Su's eyes darted from Opal to Asami, and knowing how on edge Su was after Saikhan's attack, Lin knew there would be a fight if she let it continue. She covered the distance in three strides, putting herself between Asami and Su. We don't need another fight. 

Asami stopped short with Lin in the way, and her eyes were shooting daggers at Kuvira, who had managed to stand. Lin knew Asami wouldn't  try to get through both Su and herself, but Asami's nails were pressed into her palms, displaying her barely contained fury.

"We have it under control, Asami," Lin told her as calmly as she could. "We brought her here."

“I am not staying on this island with her. I refuse to be anywhere near her.” Asami’s voice was dark, as emotional and angry as Lin had ever heard her before. She suddenly glanced around, back to the hut where Korra was, then off into the distance across the island. “Mika...” she whispered before returning her hard eyes to Lin. “Mika is here! You cannot be seriously considering leaving her here with Mika on this island. And Korra! Korra’s--“ Asami took another step to Kuvira and Su put a hand in her chest.

Lin took in the situation for a moment, ignoring the states of the airbenders who had cleared a wide space in the courtyard for them. Su had shifted her body fully between Asami and Kuvira, and Kuvira was pointedly staring at the ground to keep her gaze averted. She was breathing heavily, no doubt injured from Opal's attack, but she was standing with her cuffed hands held in front of her and made no effort to defend herself. 

"Settle down." Su's voice barely masked a growl with the warning coming through clearly enough from the stare she was giving Asami. Su pushed forward gently, and Asami took half a step back but still held her ground. 

Lin rolled her eyes and shoved her arm between them. I don't need them tearing each other apart. She barely noticed that Bolin had come racing out from where he and Opal had been and was tending to her. Suddenly all eyes were on the scene in the middle of the courtyard and Tenzin was trying to settle Asami down. 

“This is no time for infighting, Asami. I don’t agree with this decision either but they were trying to get to Kuvira.”

Asami chanced a look at Tenzin. “What? Why would they want her? How do we know she’s not working with them? She tells Korra to go see Zaheer and then Korra comes back hurt, again. When will you all stop putting her in danger! How many times does Korra have to be broken before she can’t be fixed anymore?” Lin knew what Asami was feeling, more so, Lin knew what it felt like to be cornered. She was angry and defending her family. Still, she was letting that anger control her.  

"We're trying to protect Korra too, Asami," Lin replied. "I am doing my best, here. I would appreciate it if you had a little faith in me." Lin didn't have that much faith in herself, but she needed Asami to at least cooperate. "Kuvira is...harmless. Look at her."

Asami didn't. Instead, she continued glaring at Su, her glance occasionally shifting to Lin. "That still doesn't change the fact that she told Korra to go see that monster!"

"She didn't." Korra's voice carried across the courtyard. "It was my idea."

Korra was movingly slowly, and Lin noted the way she held her arm close to her body. It was odd at first, wondering what was about Korra’s appearance that was different now. Then Lin picked up on it as she came closer. Her necklace was gone. 

“Korra, she told you about Zaheer. For all we know she set you up.” Even if she was still against it, Asami had at least taken a step back and that relaxed Su enough to help Kuvira to a seated position on the ground. 

“She warned me, Asami,” Korra said with a shrug. “I know how you feel about her and I’m not asking you to be okay with her or...any of this. I’m not either, but I don’t think she’s at fault here.” A small grin danced across Korra’s face. “Besides, you know me. Nobody puts me in danger. I jump in head first.” 

As her shoulders slumped, Asami pinched the bridge of her nose. “Are you really going to support her staying here?” 

“I won’t--“ Korra looked to Su who was still hovering over Kuvira and Lin who was standing in front of them. “I won’t leave her to die, Asami. I won’t let Zaheer or the Red Lotus just...take her. Not when we can help.”

“Why not?” Asami whispered. She didn’t sound angry. Just exhausted. “She killed my father. How is her life more important than his?”

Lin saw Korra's face darken, and a sigh escaped Korra's lips before she cast a glance at Kuvira.  "Because right now...she's the only one who can stop him."

“What?” Lin barked. It almost sounded like a laugh. “You can’t be serious?”

Suddenly Korra was glaring at Lin as much as Asami was. “Of course I’m serious!”

“Kid, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Kuvira has the muscle mass of a lemur monkey. She probably hasn’t bent metal in five years.” 

Asami maneuvered so she was looking Korra in the eyes. “What are you talking about?” 

“She blocked it, Asami. Whatever Zaheer was trying to do, Kuvira’s mind was too strong and she blocked it. I don’t know how but right now...she’s all we’ve got.” 

A heaving, throaty sound kept Asami from replying, and Lin looked over to see Kuvira trying to push her hair out of her face, Su’s hand resting on her back. A second later, Kuvira threw up on the ground next to where she sat.

Everyone grew silent for a moment as Kuvira spat the last of the bile out of her mouth. It took a minute, but when she was done, Su helped Kuvira to her feet. Lin arched one eyebrow when Su put her arm almost protectively around Kuvira, before Su looked determinedly at Korra and the others.

"She's hurt. Is she allowed to see Kya?" Lin noted how exhausted Su sounded, but there was a challenge still in her voice. "Or are the three of you going to argue about that too?"

"I'm fine," Kuvira spoke for the first time, and allowed everyone to hear the weakness in her voice. 

It was Tenzin who stepped forward. “If Kya is willing to see her, we will not deny anyone care.” He made it a point to stand in front of Korra and Asami as Su guided Kuvira away. Lin watched her go, everyone did except Asami who made an extreme effort not to look at Kuvira. 

Once she was past the overlooking airbenders and into the healing hut, Lin stepped up to Asami and put a hand on her shoulder. “Nobody’s expecting you to forgive her, kid. But what good would it do any of us to let her die?” 

Tears brimmed in Asami’s eyes as Lin pushed past her, muttering a ‘hang in there’ to Korra before she followed her sister inside. 

“Bad day huh?” She heard Korra say and glanced back to see her smiling.

“Yeah,” Asami chuckled softly before brushing at her eyes. “I want to get Mika and go to sleep now. For like fourteen hours.”

“You read my mind.”

Chapter Text

Korra hadn't been up this early in years. Even at twenty-seven, as of today, she still considered mornings to be extremely evil.

Still, it wasn't hard to wake up this early when she hadn't slept at all the night before. It was too hard to shake the thoughts of losing her bending, again. Of being less than what she was supposed to be, again. How many times would she continue to lose fights and lose pieces of herself before there was absolutely nothing left?

Physically at least, this time, she was fine. Her shoulder was hurt, but after resetting it and Kya's healing, the pain was minimal and the arm was functional. Mentally, she was a bit shaken up and extremely frustrated. Not to mention tired now from the lack of sleep.

So now she found herself outside with Jinora before the rest of the island had even stirred. It was barely light out, and she sat cross legged in the meditation pavilion with Jinora next to her.

The wind picked up and when it danced across her neck, Korra remembered the fact that her necklace was missing and Zaheer's face flashed in her mind.

"Dammit," she growled as a sudden rush of pain shot through her back.

"Easy," Jinora cooed softly before reaching across to touch Korra's shoulder. "You're okay."

Korra shook away the images and took a few long, slow breaths, remembering the breathing training that she'd practiced for years to help her calm down when things like this happened. She refocused on the moment and the feel of the breeze, the sensation of Jinora's hand on her back. Eventually, it subsided and she relaxed.

"I hate what he does to me," she admitted and saw Jinora nodding next to her.

"So do I, but he's not here now. It's just us and we're going to figure out what happened." Jinora put her hands together and inhaled slowly. "Now, I want you to close your eyes and see if you can reach Raava. See if you can get her to speak to you."

Following suit, Korra pushed her fists together and took a deep breath. She tried to do what she had always done when seeking out Raava: focus on the pull of Raava's spirit that constantly lived inside of her. It normally felt like that blissful moment between sleeping and just waking up. When you're between dreaming and reality. That was Raava, something greater than her, yet something she could control and touch within herself.

For the short time she had been able to connect with her past lives, the process had been the same as reaching Raava. Even if Korra almost never sought them out before having that connection torn away from her and destroyed.

This time however, when she tried to find Raava, there was nothing. It reminded her of the last time she fought Zaheer and how the poison had blocked her from her Avatar Spirit. Only then it was a block, like a layer of sludge in her own body that clogged her mind and held her down.

Now, when she sought out Raava, it was nothing. Like staring into a dark hole inside of herself, where some part of her used to be.

Opening her eyes, she suddenly felt very heavy and sad. Raava wasn't there. She felt no lingering connection or glimmer of the spirit inside of her. The earth didn't move to her commands as it used to, fire didn't threaten in her palms when she summoned it and the calm of the waters in Yue Bay didn't make her feel anything. Even the air around her was merely chilly, nothing to be controlled and…bent.

"She's gone," Korra whispered with defeat as her hands dropped into her lap. "I don't know what happened but she's just…not there."

When Jinora relaxed her stance as well, Korra laid back against the ground and stared up at the pavilion ceiling.

"We'll figure this out, Korra." Jinora patted her knee softly. "I'm studying old airbending techniques, even the banned ones Dad doesn't want me to. Whatever Zaheer did, I can figure out and I can try to understand."

Korra pushed up on her elbows. "Is it safe for you to be studying that stuff?" Jinora sent her a derisive look. "I know; I'm not doubting you because you're…you. It's because stuff like that is dangerous and mind control is…scary."

"I started projecting my spirit, without any training, when I was eleven years old, Korra. I can handle this. Trust me."

She sighed. "I trust you, Jinora. I don't trust Zaheer and I don't want you getting into a fight with him. He'll—"

"I'm not afraid of him," she said and sounded as strong as her words were meant to. "We all have our parts to play in helping you maintain balance. I've accepted mine, and risks are part of it." The distant horn blaring through the air signified the arrival of the day's first ferry. Jinora stood up and brushed off her robes before reaching down and offering Korra help up. She accepted it and was pulled to her feet. "You focus on your family right now, talk to Lin about what's going on, make sure Zaheer isn't doing anymore damage, and I'll keep researching."

Instead of answering, Korra pulled Jinora into a hug. "Thank you." The ferry horn sounded again and Korra stepped back. "That'll be Lin. She said she was getting a latch for the door to the room we're keeping Kuvira in. Are you sure your family is okay with this?"

"Oh no," Jinora chuckled. "Dad's freaking out, Mom is ready to fight and my brother thinks he's going to have to fight her." Korra found herself frowning and Jinora obviously picked up on it. "But it is the right decision. Kuvira's still a person, even if she is a risk. We can't just let the Red Lotus have her."

Korra nodded and looked back to the temple. To this place she'd called home when she first came to Republic City. So much of her life was here, so many people she loved. Now there was so much more, with Asami and Mika both curled up in a spare bedroom sleeping since Korra thought they'd be safer here with her bending gone.

This place had to be protected, at all costs, even if she couldn't protect it on her own anymore.

"I just hope we don't regret it."

As they parted ways, Korra trotted down the pathway to the docks and waited for the boat to pull in. When it did, Lin came stomping out looking as excited to be there as ever. She carried with her a very well put together metal lock, no doubt made out of platinum to keep Kuvira in. Not that Korra was very worried about Kuvira breaking free, considering she had been barely walk herself to bed last night and had requested being handcuffed to the bed through the night until the lock was installed.

That would be the tricky part, given that the one person who could install said lock was Kuvira's biggest detractor.

"Well, you don't look as shitty today," Lin said as some form of a compliment.

Korra curled her lip slightly and followed Lin as she walked past her. "Well, that's…that's really sweet of you."

"It's the truth, all things considered. You came out better this time than the last time you were near that man." Lin wasn't trying to upset her and Korra knew it. The truth was, despite losing her bending and having no idea what happened to Raava, she was able to walk and function and wasn't bed ridden or in constant pain. So this encounter had ended far better than the previous one.

That didn't make her feel any better about the prospects of Zaheer being out there somewhere, doing who knows what, though. "Any news from the city?" Korra asked as she jogged up next to Lin.

The chief gave her a sideways glance. "You're not subtle."

"I'm not trying to be."

Lin rolled her eyes. "Nothing last night. I kept extra patrols out last night and am going to continue to do so until we find him. As far as my prison goes, well, I've only got trusted staff in there now and we're not accepting new prisoners. Anyone worth keeping locked up is being sent to the Earth Kingdom."

Korra knew better than to say it, but she couldn't stop herself. "Trusted staff? Wasn't Saikhan trusted staff?"

"Kid-" Lin seemingly bit her own tongue as Korra took a bit of a wider step to create some distance. After all, she was used to upsetting Lin, but at least back then she could bend four elements. "I know my officers okay? Saikhan was here just about as long as I was. Who knows how long he's been working for the Red Lotus."

"I suppose." Korra frowned. "I wonder why he never spoke out when Zaheer was running through the Earth Kingdom?"

Lin shrugged as they came up to the foyer of the temple and stopped just outside. "Who knows. The Red Lotus run deep. Your uncle was one and none of us knew that until Zaheer told you." All Korra could think was how she would most likely spend the rest of her life fearing those people. The Red Lotus could strike her at any time. They had twice now, and who knew how many more were out there.

She had to find a way to get her bending back, so she could fight and protect the people she cared about again.

"I meant to tell you. We got word on Mika's family." Korra felt her eyes widen at the words. With everything going on, she'd all but forgotten that they were still actively searching for Mika's relatives to see if anyone wanted to adopt her.

What if they did? What if they took her away? It had only been a short time but Korra was already in so deep with that little girl. Korra hadn't been able to sleep much at all the night before. Something Mika must have sensed because she spent most of the night curled up next to her.

Asami had even come around and cared for her just as much.

But what if Mika could stay with them? Would that be okay? Especially given how things were now, with Zaheer on the loose and her connection to all her powers gone. How safe could they really make it for her?

"And?" Korra whispered.

Lin seemed to be searching her eyes. "No willing family located. All we found was an uncle in the fire nation with three separate prison sentences for public disturbance. Needless to say, he didn't stand a chance of getting her."

Korra's throat suddenly felt like it had cotton balls in it. The weight of responsibility, of being a real parent was suddenly pressing down on her. "Wow."

"Wow? I thought this was what you wanted?" She didn't respond, instead staring down at her feet and reconsidering the same questions over and over again. "Hey," Lin barked and made Korra jump. "I'm not gonna stand out here all day holding this thing. Go wake up your wife and let's install the lock so I can do some real work."

Korra glared. "You know—"

"No, I don't know. And I didn't ask. Go wake up Sato and let's do this."

With a groan, Korra stomped away back into the main housing area of the island. She walked as softly as she could as she returned to her bedroom again and peeked inside.

Asami was lying face down on the bed, her head turned to the side, and staring at Korra with one open eye. Halfway across her back was Mika, an arm draped over her and a small bit of drool spilling from her lips.

"You're her favorite bed," Korra teased as she walked over and knelt down next to Asami, reaching out to brush the hair from her face. "You don't look comfortable."

"I'm not," Asami responded softly. "Can you remove her, please? But don't wake her up."

With a nod, Korra stood up and gently pulled Mika up and off of her wife before carefully settling her onto the free space of the bed.

Once Mika was settled, Asami stood up and stretched her back. Korra was more than aware of the way Asami's pink nightshirt rode up and exposed her stomach. Her mouth was suddenly very dry.

"You know," Korra stepped forward and slipped her hand around the exposed midriff. "We need a night out."

Asami smirked. "Korra, we've had this kid for a month and you already want a night away to have sex?"

"We haven't had sex in a month?" Korra pouted. "I hadn't really been keeping tabs but when you say it out loud it's just wrong."

"Well," Asami chuckled. "You better get used to it, Mom."

With a sigh, Korra glanced at Mika on the bed over Asami's shoulder. "Speaking of, Lin's outside with the lock for you to put on Ku—the door." She hesitantly glanced into Asami's eyes and saw no flash of anger in them. Perhaps she was too groggy to care. "She also said that they didn't find any relatives to take Mika in." That got Asami's attention. Korra smiled slightly. "If we want her…she's ours."

"want her," Asami said almost instantly and Korra couldn't keep herself from smiling. However, her hesitation afterwards caused Asami to raise her brow. "Do you not?"

Korra shook her head. "No, it's not that. Of course I want her but…with everything like it is now…is it safe?"

"Is it ever safe?" Asami kept her voice down but casually pushed Korra back to create some distance between them and the bed. "Look, I know things are crazy right now and I know you're struggling to figure out where you're at, but can you really look me in the eyes and tell me that you're willing to give her up?"

Thinking about it, all Korra could see was telling that little girl she had to go and find another new home. She was still not fully comfortable in her new surroundings yet, but after a month she was finally settling in.

"No," Korra admitted, to both Asami and herself. "No, I can't give her up. I—I couldn't."

Asami nodded once. "Good, then we won't." She glanced back at the bed and then turned quickly to give Korra a searing kiss. They stumbled backwards until Korra felt her back hit the wall. She nearly tripped on her own feet but Asami held her upright and when the kiss broke, their foreheads rested together. "Now, I'm gonna go put this lock on, and you stay with our girl."

"You're really gonna kiss me like that and then just leave?" Korra asked breathlessly.

"Hey, you're the one who told me this...thing was a good idea, so you must suffer the consequences." Pouting even more, Korra slumped her shoulders and walked slowly back to bed. "Hey," Asami called and when Korra turned back she was slipping into her jacket. "It is your birthday after all."

With a wink, Asami slipped out of the room and Korra bit back a groan as she laid down next to Mika. She reached for her necklace out of habit and when it wasn't there, she sighed and closed her eyes, suddenly being consumed with all she'd lost. However, when Mika rolled into her a moment later, Korra remembered what she'd gained as well.

--------

Su let out a long sigh as she watched Asami finish installing the lock. She and Lin had checked in periodically, neither wanting to hover, but both wanting to make sure Asami was handling being in such close proximity to Kuvira. She was, after all, in the room during the installation.

When Asami began putting her tools away, Su took a step forward.

Asami didn't notice at first, or at least, it didn't seem that way until she spoke.

"Hey, Su."

"Hi, Asami." Su sighed again as Asami pushed herself to her feet. "I wanted to talk to you. About yesterday...I'm-well, I'm sorry. I was a little on edge."

Asami closed her eyes and nodded. For as young as she was, Su always felt that Asami acted like a much older woman than her age. She knew very little about her, personally, but given the things Lin had told her of her childhood, it was evident that Asami had been forced to grow up very quickly.

"I'm sorry too, I just..." Asami glanced back at Kuvira still sitting on the bed. Her head was down and her hands were in her lap. She hadn't said a word since Asami had arrived as far as Su knew. Carefully, Asami pushed passed Su and the pair stepped away from Kuvira's door. "I wasn't prepared for her to suddenly be right there in front of me. After everything with Korra yesterday I just...lost my composure. Which I shouldn't do. I-I don't want to be that person." Asami sighed softly. "I won't pretend she didn't kill my father though, so don't expect me to forget that or forgive her for it."

"I don't," Su promised. Kuvira had done a lot of things and had earned a lot of enemies. Forgiveness wasn't something Su expected. Judging from how Kuvira had been acting, Kuvira didn't either. Tolerance was all they could ask for, and she trusted Asami and the others to cooperate. "I know it was sudden. It could have been better planned, but the key now is to just handle it as best we can. And you've been more than a help in doing so, Asami."

"Korra made a good point this morning. It would be wrong of us to just let the Red Lotus have her and, well, she's not exactly a volatile threat these days." Asami reached up and brushed a trickling bit of sweat from her brow. She was the picture of an engineer with her goggles on her forehead and belt around her waist. Not at all the rich daughter of a billionaire you'd expect. Then again, the wife of the Avatar had to be special. "I suppose it's good to know that she isn't with the Red Lotus considering they were trying to kill her."

Su had to agree. Though the intentions of Zaheer's mind control were still unknown, it was clear that the Red Lotus had planned to release Kuvira from prison and use her considering Saikhan's ties to them. The thought of Kuvira as Zaheer's puppet made Su's blood boil. No, the Red Lotus wasn't going to be able to use her. But they weren't going to kill her, either; Su would make sure of that.

"Korra is a lot wiser than we give her credit for." Su noted. "I know that Kuvira's presence makes everyone uneasy, but Lin and I will handle it. She's clearly not threat. Not now. But I understand, Asami. Truly."

"Then I'll keep my distance. I won't be a bully to her. I won't be mean to her, and you won't have to worry about me coming after her or anything." Asami chewed on her bottom lip momentarily. "I'm just gonna ignore her. Pretend she isn't here and give you and Lin the benefit of the doubt." She hesitated for a moment but Su knew she wasn't finished. "I'm not saying this as a threat and not to start a fight," Asami put her hands up defensively, "but if she starts something, I won't hesitate to fight back. My family is very vulnerable right now and I will do whatever needs to be done to protect them." She pulled off her goggles slid them out of her hair. "Outside of that, she's your problem, not mine."

Su knew the last thing they needed was another fight, particularly after her defensive display the day before, so she nodded.

"Kuvira won't start anything, I'll promise that. On the off chance she does, any defensive reaction on your part will be understood. Thank you, Asami. I know this is hard for you. And thank you for trusting us."

Asami smiled. "You've earned my trust, Su. Now, unless you need me for anything else I have a newly non-bending wife who is suddenly twenty-seven years old and has no idea what to do with herself that I need to go and take care of."

"Don't mind me then," Su chuckled, "I have some things I need to take care of."

Once Asami had left her alone in the hallway, Su sighed and turned her attention back to the door of Kuvira's room. Kuvira was still seated on the bed when Su walked in, picking at the seam on her pants.

"Well, now that that's over with..." Su smiled, her voice drawing Kuvira's attention. "How would you like a bath?"

"That would be nice," Kuvira murmured, her voice still weak.

"Good." Su agreed as she went over and unlocked the cuff that was restraining Kuvira. The other arm was still wrapped in bandages, but Su was glad it didn't seem to bother her. "Come on, I'll walk you there. Pema actually gave me a pair of robes..." She let her voice trail off as Kuvira stood. Kuvira was moving gingerly, her body still stiff. Su had no doubt that she was still sore from being thrown against the pillar in the courtyard, but Kuvira had yet to complain. Instead, once she was standing, she looked at Su expectantly, waiting for Su to lead her out. "...the robes are in my room." Su finally finished, stepping out into the hall.

Kuvira waited, standing just outside the door as Su ducked into her own room next door and retrieved the acolyte robes Pema had lent her. They would be more comfortable than the prison uniform, that much was certain. When she offered them to Kuvira, Kuvira moved slowly to take them, holding them with both hands and looking down at them in silence.

"She didn't have green," Su teased, trying to earn a smile from Kuvira though it didn't work. "They'll probably be a little on the baggy side, but if it's too unbearable I'll see if I can't get Pema to adjust them."

"Thank you." Kuvira said quietly when they began walking again.

Su worried about Kuvira beyond the thin and relatively weakened state of her body to the frailty of her mind. She was timid, almost like a frightened animal, and Su realized that Kuvira moved slowly and deliberately, careful not to startle anyone. Kuvira didn't want to be seen as a threat. If anything, she didn't want to be seen at all.

When they reached the bathroom, Su opened the door and ushered Kuvira inside.

"Take all the time you need," Su told her. "I'll be right outside."

Kuvira nodded, and when her gaze left Su to take in the bathroom, Su shut the door. Just because Kuvira was a prisoner didn't mean she shouldn't be afforded some level of privacy. Though if it were up to Lin, Su was sure the privacy would have been minimal.

"I saw you and Sato being civil." Speaking of Lin, her voice came from behind and Su turned to see her sister leaning against the frame of the door. "Was afraid I might have to break up another fight."

"I don't go around starting fights Lin." Su rolled her eyes and shook her head. "At least...not anymore."

Lin wore a slight smirk. "Your daughter does apparently. That was a hell of an air blast she hit Kuvira with yesterday."

"I know," Su sighed. "Nearly took us with it, remember? She might be small, but she's got a lot of fight in her."

"Speaking of, have you spoken with her since?" Lin stepped into the room and put her hands on her hips. "I know you feel like you've got to be on guard duty all the time but I can handle Kuvira for a few minutes while you go and explain to Opal what the hell is going on." A sudden look of what could only be described as guilt washed over Lin's face. "Spirits know she could use a little more family advice. I certainly haven't offered up much."

Su let herself reach out and put her hand on Lin's shoulder. "Hey, Opal loves you. Even if you are a stubborn old badgermole. She knows you care, whether you'll admit it or not. But I'll talk to her. I need to. Either way, you're right."

Su grinned, looking at her sister in a playful manner. "I mean...only if you can handle Kuvira on your own."

"I could have handled her five years ago if you'd have just let me into the room with her one on one. I think I can handle her now that she won't even look me in the eye." Lin rolled her eyes and moved to stand by the bathroom door. "Besides, after five years in prison I'm pretty sure we just have to promise her more baths and she'll do whatever we want anyways."

"Baths and food." Su's smile faded. "I'll be back soon, okay? Don't get too grumpy while I'm gone."

"Yeah yeah."

---------

Su smiled when she poked her head into the dining hall, seeing Opal standing on a chair as she tried to tack a banner to the wall.

"You know," Opal grumbled to Bolin who was nearby, "this would be easier if you did it."

Bolin shot up out of the chair he was sitting in where he'd been stringing together a few banners that had the words "Happy Birthday Korra" sloppily drawn on them. Despite the hardship of yesterday, it was still Korra's birthday and tonight seemed like a night to at least try and have fun. Korra might not have been in the most celebratory of moods, but they were having a party regardless.

"Sorry," Bolin said as he carefully helped her off the chair and took her place.

"Shouldn't you be resting?" Su chimed in, getting her daughter's attention. "You are hurt, you know?"

Opal shrugged. "I'm fine," she said, still keeping one arm close to her side.

"You don't look fine," Su sighed, stepping further into the room. "At least, not fine enough to be climbing around like a monkey."

Opal was obviously doing her best not to look at her mother. "I'm fine. I have to be, right? Since we're housing known terrorist dictators on our island now."

"Opal," Su kept her voice soft, and she glanced at Bolin who quickly made an excuse to leave and 'get some chairs'. "This is the safest place for her right now. I know it's not ideal-."

As soon as the door shut behind Bolin, Opal glanced at Su if only for a moment.

"Could you ever truly forgive her?" It was an accusation, and Su ran her tonuge along her teeth, daring to take a step closer.

"I haven't, yet. This isn't about forgiveness, Opal."

"Then what's it about?" Opal turned away from her. "Because I don't know if you remember, but I was the one who had to be dragged away while she held you captive. While she openly tore our family apart." Now Opal was pacing around the dining room. "You went and visited her in prison/ It was to help Korra, that's fine. I was okay with that. But this, bringing her here?" Finally, Opal stepped closer to Su and looked at her with fire in her eyes. "Mom, we don't owe that woman anything. We don't owe her forgiveness or protection. I know I'm an airbender and I'm supposed to be kind and gentle and, spirits, do I try to be, but with her?" With a slightly defeated huff, Opal cast her head down again. "I just don't get why you're doing this."

Su took a deep breath, slowly reaching out and cupping Opal's chin in her hand. She was thankful that Opal didn't jerk away, and she gently lifted Opal's face to look at her.

"I..." Su stopped, looking for the right words. "I haven't forgotten what she's done, Opal. Please know that. But I also remember who she used to be, before the Great Uniter. Remember? You were so excited to tell her you were an airbender- and now...when I saw Kuvira the first time I visited her...I didn't see the captain of the guard. I didn't see the Great Uniter. I saw someone else." Opal's gaze dropped again, and when it did Su pulled her hand away. She wanted Opal to understand. That was all.

"Yesterday...Saikhan accused Kuvira of attacking a guard. He was trying to get me out of the visitation room, so he could do who knows what to Kuvira. When I refused to leave, Saikhan attacked me. Kuvira was...panicked. She was beating on the table and yelling for help. Help for me. She couldn't do anything cuffed to that table. When I got the keys from Saikhan and went to let her out, her arm was torn to shreds and raw from where she'd tried to pull herself free. She wanted to get free so she could help me. The first thing she asked was if I was okay. The only reason I'm telling you this...Opal," she said her name again, hoping Opal would look at her. When she did, Su offered her a tired smile. "She wanted to help me, or at the very least protect me from Saikhan. Whatever she was five years ago...the Great Uniter wouldn't have done that."

A few moments later, Su caught sight of tears brimming in Opal's eyes. She quickly reached up and wiped them away.. "I remember her, Mom. I remember her helping me when I first started airbending. She'd stay up late and stand watch while I practiced after the domes closed and I was supposed to be asleep. She-" Opal swallowed thickly and looked away again. "She cared. That's why it hurt so much when she came back as the person she was. When she...was so hateful towards us." She reached up and ran a hand through her hair, wincing slightly as her arm elevated too much. "You might be right-maybe she's not 'the Great Uniter' anymore, but I don't think the person she used to be before that is still around either. How could she be after everything Kuvira did?"

"I don't know," Su admitted, "but I do know she wants to help. That she's sorry for what she's done. Whatever Kuvira was before her rise to power. The person you called a friend is far more likely who she is now than the Great Uniter."

"Do you trust her?" Opal whispered, watching Su's face carefully. Su had no doubt Opal was watching her for any faltering of expression.

"Yes," Su said firmly. "I do. Lin and I wouldn't have brought her here if we didn't. I'm not asking for you to forgive her, or even to trust her. But I do want you to trust us."

Opal nodded silently, wiping another stray tear from her eyes and Su took a deep breath before stepping forward and embracing her daughter. "Please."

"I trust you, Mom. Of course I do." She buried her face in Su's shoulder and a few tears spilled from Su's eyes as she held her daughter close. "I promise I won't throw her into anymore walls."

Su let out a chuckle and nodded as she stroked Opal's hair. "Good, I love you."

"I love you too," Opal muttered into her Su's shoulder.

Their situation was still a mess, but at least for now, Su had extinguished two fires before lunch. Not a bad morning at all.

After Bolin returned, Su decided to check on Kuvira again just to be safe. It was only right that she kept tabs on her since she was the one, with Lin, who brought her here.

Su was surprised to see Lin still standing outside the bathroom when she returned.

"About time," Lin grunted, turning her gaze on Su as she got closer. "Been in there long enough hasn't she?"

"Well have you thought to check on her?" Su asked, trying to keep herself from grinning at Lin's foul mood.

"No way in hell I'm going in there."

Su rolled her eyes at how little her sister had changed. "Fine, I'll go. You can go do...whatever." When she waved her hand dismissively, it was Lin's turn to roll her eyes. "I'll take Kuvira back to her room."

"Fine be me."

Su stepped closer to the bathroom door and knocked, pressing her ear against the wood to listen for a response as Lin walked away.

"Kuvira?"

"Just a second," was the muffled reply, so Su took a step back to wait.

The door eventually slid open and Kuvira stepped out, water dripping from her hair onto the floor. She had changed into the new robes Pema had given her, though they were baggier than Su had hoped. Kuvira didn't seem to mind and had neatly folded her prison uniform, which she'd tucked under her arm. She looked happier-Su was sure of that much.

"Feel better?" Su smiled.

Kuvira nodded, and Su started back down the hallway after motioning for Kuvira to follow her.

"It's Korra's birthday," Su told her, not that she would care, "so Lin and I will be in the dining hall with them. But I'll make sure to bring your dinner before that starts. I'll work on getting you some spare blankets and things for your room, to make it a little more comfortable. As for shoes, I'll see if Lin can't find some."

"It's fine," Kuvira replied, glancing at Su for only a moment, "You've all done enough for me. I don't deserve special treatment. I can do without some things, you know."

"Just because you can, doesn't mean you should." Su planned on elaborating, but she was stopped when Kuvira collided into her, her arms wrapping around Su's middle.

Su stiffened a moment later, surprised by the contact, blinking when Kuvira immediately released her and took a few steps back.

"I'm sorry," Kuvira sputtered as she looked at Su with wide eyes. "I didn't mean-I didn't mean to scare you. I just-."

Su shook her head and smiled. "You didn't scare me," Su assured her. "I was just surprised." Su reassured her with a hand on her shoulder.

"Thank you." Kuvira murmured. "For everything."

With a smile, Su nodded in appreciation. Though the only thing she could focus on was how skinny Kuvira was, and how she could almost feel her delicate bones during their slight embrace.

------

Jinora was fairly certain that Rin Kato was going to die tonight. Granted, Jinora didn't know Rin very well-she was pretty and had introduced herself politely, but if she continued to follow Korra around asking questions, she was going to have one or two chopsticks slammed into her face and various other parts of her body.

Even though the night was not really ideal for a party given all that had happened, Bolin was set on throwing Korra a birthday party and Tenzin along with a few others had agreed that it was necessary. Things had been fun at first. Korra seemed to be enjoying the evening and Asami was hard at work to make sure that her wife had fun.

Things had been going splendidly until Mako showed up. At least, until Mako didn't show up alone.

"So are there no traces of her spirit inside of you at all?" Rin asked and Korra glanced at Asami, who also seemed to be losing her patience.

"No." Korra growled, stabbing a piece of cake with her fork. "No traces at all, and to be honest I'd rather not talk about it."

Rin nodded and continued to pick at the frosting on her piece. "Okay, okay, of course. I'm sorry I just…you never imagine being this close to the Avatar."

"You know," Mako whispered and drew Jinora's attention, "I didn't think she'd act like this. When I first met her she acted like she could care less about the Avatar."

Something suddenly slammed onto the table and Jinora saw Rin had put a cup of water in front of Korra. "So right now you can't bend anything out of this cup. Not a drop?" Korra threw her head back. "Cause I heard you were the most powerful waterbender in the world, even without Avatar stuff, so it's just—"

"Okay," it was Asami who had stood up and pulled Korra out of her seat. "I'm terribly sorry to cut the night short you guys, but Mika is almost asleep." Asami pointed to the seat next to her own where Mika was curled up into it with her eyes barely open, frosting on her lips and her head on the arm of the chair. "And we've got a busy today tomorrow."

"Seriously though," Korra started as she pulled Asami in close. "Thank you all so much for this. I know—I know things suck right now and I wish they were better but I really appreciate this party and…having…all—" she glanced at Rin bitterly even though the firebender didn't seem to be paying attention. "Of you here has been wonderful. Thank you, I love you."

As Korra and Asami took Mika with them to bed, the party started to clear out. The airbenders all retreated and Jinora's mom began cleaning up absentmindedly.

"You ready to call it a night?" Kai's arms slid around her neck and Jinora looked up from her seat to see him staring down at her. "You've got frosting right…" He dipped his thumb onto her bottom lip and swiped at it softly. "Here."

A rush of heat swarmed into Jinora's cheeks at the sensitive contact. She giggled a bit and wiped at her face. "Stop that. My dad is right over there." When she looked, Tenzin was staring at them with dead eyes and a fork sticking out of his mouth.

"Goodnight," Tenzin said flatly before taking his plate to bed with him.

As Jinora stood up, she kissed Kai quickly. "Give me about ten minutes. I have to do something first but then I'll be there."

"Okay, I'll be waiting." He kissed her again quickly before slipping away from the dining room.

Jinora just managed to catch sight of Su preparing to leave and raced up behind her. "Wait," she called and strode up behind Su. "Mrs. Beifong, can I speak with you?"

"Of course, dear." Su smiled brightly at her. "What can I do for you?"

"I was wondering if I could, perhaps, use your key to get into the newly locked room for a moment."

Su's brows narrowed in confusion. "Whatever for?" There was a slight defensiveness in her voice. Jinora understood it. She'd seen it from the moment Su stepped onto this island with Kuvira. Despite what had happened between them through Kuvira's rise to power, nothing could erase the way Su felt about that before it all fell apart.

Jinora firmly decided that if Su saw something worth fighting for in Kuvira, she would do what she could to support that.

"I was hoping to take her a slice of cake. It was very good and everyone should have a piece."

The older woman's eyes went wide and a very gentle smile played on her lips. "I don't think your father would much approve."

"My father always taught me that airbenders welcome and offer comfort to anyone who is in need of it." Jinora shrugged slightly and glanced in the direction of where Kuvira was certainly sitting up alone. "Cake is very good for comfort."

"Is that why you wouldn't let Mako have the last piece?"

Jinora chuckled. "Well that and to get that crazy woman he brought with him to leave."

"Yeah, she was a little intense, wasn't she?" Su chuckled softly before glancing over Jinora's shoulder to where Pema was still cleaning up. A moment later, Jinora felt a hand slip into her own and a small key was laid into her palm. "I'll help your mom clean up," she added with a wink and then stepped around and started up a very lively and distracting conversation with Pema.

Slipping towards the nearly eaten cake, Jinora scooped up the last piece onto a plate and held it behind her back before exiting the dining room and trotting across the island towards the guest housing where Kuvira's room was.

She set the cake down on the ground to work the key into the lock. Across the other side of the door she heard a rustling and the sound of the bed squeaking.

"It's okay," Jinora called out as the lock opened. "It's just Jinora," she added before carefully opening the door.

As soon as she did she could tell that Kuvira had been lying down before she heard the door open and then sat up as soon as she knew someone was entering. Her head was down and her hands were in her lap. It was a far cry from the same woman she'd seen years ago prancing around as the fought the Avatar.

There were many reasons for Jinora to hate this woman. For all of them to, but what would be the point? Unless Kuvira went after them again, hate was just a wasted emotion that could be put to better use.

Like bringing cake to someone spending the night alone, so afraid of being hated that she wouldn't even look her in the eyes.

"I brought cake," Jinora said while holding the plate out.

Kuvira's eyes actually lit up, if only for a moment, and Jinora couldn't help but smile at how young she looked.

A moment later that gentleness was gone. "I—you shouldn't have." She tried to lower her head even more.

"Come on, everyone likes cake." Jinora stepped into the room more and extended out the plate to her. "It's the last piece."

Fleetingly, Kuvira glanced up at Jinora and then down to the piece of cake. Jinora could tell that she wanted it. She had barely eaten anything since she'd been here and the gaunt in her cheeks was evident in the shaded light of the room.

Hesitantly, Kuvira took the plate and sat it in her lap. "Th—thank you. You really didn't have to do this."

"It's okay." Jinora held out the fork to her. "I wanted to."

"No," Kuvira waved her off quickly, almost backing away from the fork.

Metal. Jinora thought, having not even considered it until now. "Oh…I didn't even think about it."

"It's fine," Kuvira shook her head, still looking down at her cake. "I don't need it."

"How are you going to eat it?" Kuvira faltered for a moment before scooping up the entire piece in her hand and taking a bite. Crumbs fell all over and she suddenly had a mouth full, but she looked up through her fallen hair at Jinora again and a tiny smile tugged at the corner of her mouth. "Ah, I see you're a practiced caveperson."

Kuvira nodded before setting the cake down. She sat the plate on her lap and crossed her legs. "Thank you, again," she said after swallowing.

"I won't push or anything, but if you ever want to talk or just…sit and meditate, come find me. I'm always willing to listen or…not listen."

Before Kuvira could say anything else or the moment could be ruined, Jinora left and she could feel Kuvira watching her as she went. There was the soft sound of a sniffle from the bed behind her and Jinora knew then that she was committed to helping.

As she left the room, Jinora made it a point to close the door and leave it unlocked. She caught Su standing outside by her own room waiting.

"How'd it go?" she asked as Jinora passed the key over.

"She was hungry."

Su nodded somberly. "She's very malnourished."

Jinora could only smile. "Give me and my mom a few weeks. We'll fix that." Jinora gave Su a quick hug before waving goodnight and heading back to her room.

Chapter Text

"Korra." Asami's whisper broke her from her slumber and Korra let out an audible groan before burying her face into her pillow.

"No." She pulled the blankets up over her head. "S'too early, Sami."

She could hear her wife laughing beside her. "It is not, you baby. It's nearly seven and Mika and I want to go eat breakfast."

Smacking her lips, Korra rolled over onto her back with bleary eyes to see Asami and Mika staring down at her. They were both still in the bed, but Mika was standing over Asami's back, while Asami had propped up on an elbow to look at her.

"Don't you guys realize how evil morning is?"

"Food!" Mika said while bouncing on the bed. "I fell sleep before cake, so I want food!"

Korra found herself smiling at the adorable girl clinging to Asami's shoulder. The last month had been spent with the three of them learning one another and sharing a bed. To say they'd grown close would be an understatement. Korra had caught herself on more than once occasion thinking about their future with Mika and how much she wanted the little girl to be a part of that.

Despite the fact that Korra had no idea what being a real parent entailed, she was caught up in the idea of learning. Of course, that was before Zaheer had attacked her and stripped her bending away, but even that hadn't deterred her from smiling every morning she woke up with her new family.

As Mika leaned over Asami's shoulder, Korra made eye contact with her wife and silently hoped she could get her point across with a look. She wanted to tell Mika that they were free to adopt her and ask if she would be okay with that.

The soft smile Asami offered seemed to confirm that she knew what Korra was thinking.

"Okay." Asami turned and grabbed the little girl around the waist. Mika squealed with delight as she was sat down between Korra and Asami. "We want to talk to you about something, Mika."

"Oh." She looked between the both of them worriedly. "I didn't…I didn't steal the…the glider stick yesterday…Ikki…Ikki said I could play with it."

Korra frowned. "Well Ikki probably shouldn't have done that," she muttered and noted the understanding look on Asami's face. "But that's not what we want to talk about. You're not in any trouble or anything." She poked Mika in the stomach just a make her giggle again. "Yesterday Lin told me that Asami and I could, if you wanted, adopt you and you could be a permanent part of our family."

Mika's face was unreadable. She stared at Korra for a moment as the anxiety built up. The truth was, Korra had never thought that Mika might say no. She had just assumed it'd be the right thing to ask her. Let her make a choice and have some control over her life.

If she said no Korra was fairly certain her heart would break.

"Really?" Mika asked quietly as she glanced up at Asami, who only smiled brighter.

"Yeah, we can make it official and then you can live with us."

Mika frowned. "Here on the island? Why don't we stay at the other place anymore? It had a swimming pool."

"Well, no, that was just a bathtub," Asami corrected with a chuckle.

"It's a big bathtub!"

Korra laughed. "That's because Asami would only get the apartment with the giant bathtub because she's rich and snobby."

"Hey!" Asami reached over and swatted Korra's arm which only made her laugh more. "This from Mrs. I-Can't-Meditate-On-This-Tiny-Balcony. I have never once seen you meditating on there, just standing in your underwear and watching our neighbors."

"Look," Korra glared with a threatening smirk, "We are getting off topic here." She picked up Mika and rolled onto her back, placing the girl on her stomach. "It's your call Mika, you want to keep hanging out with her majesty and me?"

Asami groaned through a chuckle before shifting so that she was on her knees on the bed. She reached out and gently ran a hand through Mika's hair which made the girl smile immediately.

"I don't wanna go anywhere else," Mika said and Korra felt her heart swell. She sat up and wrapped her up in her arms and adored the sound of Mika squealing with delight in her ears.

Asami hugged them both and Korra could hear her sniffling as Mika's tiny arms looped around her neck.

They held each other for a few moments before Asami shifted a bit and whispered into Mika's ear.

The only word Korra picked up was 'ticklish' and Mika nodded quickly as she slipped out of Korra's arms.

"What are you doing?" Korra raised a cautious brow at Asami who smiled deviously at her.

She then scooted in closer to Korra who pulled back a bit. "Her majesty was it?"

Mika pushed up clumsily to her feet on the bed and could barely contain her giggles as they both pressed in on Korra.

"Now!" Mika cried and Korra was attacked by her two girls.

-----------

Kuvira opened her eyes slowly when she heard the knocking on the door. Her head was throbbing, and breathing was still proving difficult with whatever had settled into her lungs. She felt worse today than the days before, and she knew the knocking belonged to Su.

"Come in." She coughed, knowing Su likely already had the key in the door.

When the door opened, Kuvira swallowed thickly and her throat burned. She pushed herself up to a seated position and looked over to see Su smiling down at her.

"Still sick huh?" Kuvira nodded slightly. "Okay, well, it took a little convincing but Kya has agreed to give you some time in the healing pool today. Lin's going to be there and so am I so everything should go fine."

"I don't need it," Kuvira insisted when Su sat next to her.

She started to say more, but began coughing again. When she finished, she felt Su press the back of her wrist to Kuvira's forehead for a few moments and sigh.

"You're burning up. The fever is new."

"It'll wear off," Kuvira muttered hoarsely. She didn't need to be fretted over, and she felt like Kya had better things to do with her time. "I just need to sleep it off."

Su gave soft smile. "Kuvira, I understand that you don't want any special treatment, but, well..." She shook her head slightly. "I sometimes think you WANT the people here to hate you more but you're sick and these people are not going to let you suffer through that. Neither am I." Kuvira felt her body tense up with when Su's hand move from her forehead and gently tucked a strand of wild hair away. "Besides, you're weak and at risk of an infection. We have to do this healing session today, okay? It's non-negotiable."

"She said she was okay with it?" Kuvira looked at Su anxiously. "I know she wasn't too pleased with me being in the pool the other day."

Su shrugged. "She doesn't have to be okay with it. It's the right thing to do and Lin agrees with me. Kya doesn't have to care for someone to heal them and she understands that." Turning away, Su started for the door. "Come on, Lin's waiting and she's the most impatient person in the world, so we should go." Kuvira still seemed hesitant as she pushed her blankets away. "It's going to be fine. You'll get into the tub, she'll run the water over you a few times and you'll feel better for it, okay?"

"Okay." Kuvira nodded, feeling the phlegm rattle in her chest as she breathed. She still didn't want to go, but didn't have the energy or the desire to argue with Su about it. "Anything you say, Su."

Kuvira noticed that Su frowned at the words she spoke. It shouldn't have come as a surprise, Kuvira thought. She hadn't argued with anyone since arriving on the island. Kuvira knew she wasn't wanted here, knew she shouldn't be here at all. So her mission had been to exist as little as possible. Unless she was spoken to directly, she would remain silent and keep her head down. It was for the best, really.

-----------

Just as she finished up writing in her journal-which had become a very long and jumbled mess of 'I'm so happy about Mika but so scared about the future'-Korra practically sprinted across the island when she saw Lin sipping tea and leaning against a pillar just outside the foyer.

Sitting on the island all day every day was starting to drive Korra a little crazy. She knew she wasn't fully adjusted to having her bending taken yet. In a lot of ways, Korra struggled to really comprehend that it WAS gone. Still, she needed to be doing something and Lin Beifong was just the person to make that happen.

"Lin," Korra called out, causing the older woman to grumble. "Good morning."

"Good morning yourself, kid," Lin huffed, taking another sip of her tea. "What's got you so excited this morning?"

"We asked Mika if she wanted us to adopt her and she did, so we're gonna file the paperwork next week." Korra couldn't contain the smile on her face, despite the fact that Lin seemed less than thrilled to even be having this conversation. Or any conversation this early in the morning.

"Good for you." Lin's voice sounded about as excited as she looked. "Sato too. I'm sure she's pleased."

"Yep." Korra grinned even wider, not about to let Lin's crankiness ruin her mood. "The girls are eating breakfast right now but I...kinda hoped I could talk to you about something. If...if you have the time?"

Lin crossed her arms and raised one eyebrow as she watched Korra. "Out with it, kid. I know you're gonna talk to me whether I have time or not."

"True," Korra put her hands behind her back. "I think that I should start going with you on your shifts. Making sure that Zaheer isn't causing anymore problems and that the city is safe."

"Nope," Lin responded immediately, popping her lips with the last syllable. "I know you want to help, but an Avatar that can't bend is a liability, not an asset."

Korra's hands fell to her sides and balled into fists. "What do you mean 'nope'?" she growled. "You can't just shut me down. I'm still the Avatar! It's my duty to keep Republic City safe!"

"Good luck." Lin made a noise in her throat almost like a scoff. "You do what you want, but you're not coming with me. Mako either. I'm not going to take that risk. If you could bend, it'd be different. Right now? You're defenseless. You'll get hurt, so, I'll say again, 'nope.'"

As the rage frothed up into Korra's chest, it took everything she had not to scream. "Lin, you can't just shut me out. I can't just...sit back and not do anything. You can't do that to me." The more she spoke and the more Lin seemed to be ignoring her, the angrier Korra became. "I am not defenseless. I'm still strong, I'm still fast. I can still fight!"

Lin waited until Korra stopped to look at her again.

"You done?" When Korra didn't say anything, Lin continued. "I told you I would keep you in the loop. I will. As strong as you think you are? I refuse to risk it. I refuse to do that to you. What if you did get hurt? Do you know how many people in this city would be on my ass for taking you knowing you can't bend? I'll pass. Don't yell at me for looking out for you."

"Lin, I am twenty-seven years old. I can make my own decisions. I have to do something!" Korra felt the tears brimming in her eyes and hated them. She hated showing weakness at all, but in front of Lin seemed stupid and made her feel worse. "I can't just wait for Zaheer to strike again and hurt the people I love. I have to do something!"

"We're not waiting, Korra. I have officers combing every inch of this city night and day looking for Red Lotus members." Lin was doing her best to control her anger; Korra could see it in the way her eyes flashed. "And I know you hate sitting around. That's what took you to Zaheer's prison in the first place, and that's how you ended up like this. I know you don't like it, but you're going to have to deal with it. You're not coming with me. That's final."

Korra harshly brushed at the tears in her eyes and replaced them with a scowl. "So you're blaming me for what Zaheer did? Blaming me for being hurt by him again!" She stomped her foot into the ground as the anger and frustration consumed her. "I didn't ask for any of this, Lin! I didn't ask to be the Avatar but all I've ever done is my best! I didn't ask for these Red Lotus guys to show up and try and kill me. To take three years of my life, and now this? What if I never get my bending back? What if I can't be the Avatar again? Do you know what that means, Lin? Can you wrap your bitter and lonely mind around what that will mean for me if I can't do what I was born to do?!" Korra wasn't even sure if it was Lin she was mad at anymore, but she was yelling so loudly her voice was breaking.

"Korra." Lin's voice was softer than it had been, but Korra refused to look at her. Instead of waiting, Lin pressed on. "Look. I know being the Avatar isn't something you asked for. I get it. The job comes with the risks. Zaheer is one of those risks. I know you're scared and I know they've hurt you in the past-and now you have Asami and the kid and I can only imagine what that's done for your nerves. But listen to me. I refuse to let you get hurt any more. Right now? You need to let me do my job. You're in my city. My turf. I'm the one who's supposed to keep this city safe. You're not the only one losing sleep knowing that the Red Lotus are crawling through the cracks." Lin paused to breathe, and Korra finally looked at her. "You didn't ask for this. You're right. But I did. I signed up for this job. Let me do it, properly. If I find some way for you to help, I'll let you know. But right now, you need to respect my authority and be patient."

Korra let out a long and slow breath, her hands were shaking as the ran through her hair. She swallowed the thick lump in her throat and stared up at the sky, trying to calm herself down.

"I'm sorry. I'm not mad at you. You've never done anything but support me. It's just hard...feeling helpless again. I'm not bedridden but it's like I'm back at the South Pole again. Broken and hidden away from the world. I was starting to get bored before all this." Korra chuckled at the irony. "Whatever you need me to do, I'll do." She offered Lin an agreeing nod to push her point across. "Even if that means I have to stay here and do nothing."

"I know." Lin took a deep breath before scowling into her teacup. "But you're not as helpless as you think. Right now, you're one of two people alive who remember Zaheer getting into their head. Work with Jinora, figure it out. If we learn how to stop him, that'll be huge. Until then, stay here, please. If I can use you, you'll be the first to know."

"I uh," Korra tapped her food, suddenly feeling extremely silly. "I will, it's just...Asami's going into work today and I need to go back to the apartment and get some clothes and stuff to bring back. We weren't really planning on staying here for very long before all of this and I just-" She took in a deep breath, knowing she had to push away her pride and cooperate. The last time she made a rash decision cost her her bending. "Is that okay? If I take Mika to the apartment and then come back? It'll be an hour tops. I'll have to take the stupid ferry since I can't waterbend or use the glider to get back."

"I think you can handle a trip to your apartment, Korra. If you want Mako or someone to escort you, I'll arrange it. Otherwise, fine. It's not like you're going to be gone all day."

Korra could only nod as she ran her sweaty palms over the back of her pelt wrap. "I'm sorry I got...things are tense right now and I...don't handle Zaheer well." She paused for a moment before smirking up at Lin. "I still think I could take you in a fight though. No bending, one on one." She playfully pressed her fist into her palm.

"If you're looking to get your ass kicked, then I'll give you the first punch." Lin smirked, turning her face to one side and patting her scarred cheek. "Make it a good one."

"Korra, are you staring fights again?" She turned towards the voice behind her and saw Asami coming up with Mika in her arms, both of them were smiling. "I don't think you want to get your butt kicked in front of Mika, Korra."

"What?" Mika giggled at her over-dramatic gasp. "Asami, I am wounded. Lin is an old-" a sudden burst of earth smacked Korra in the butt. "Ow! What the hell?!" She turned to see Lin sipping her tea with a grin.

"See?!" Korra huffed, motioning at Lin, "she's the one starting it."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

-------------

Kuvira closed her eyes and took as deep a breath as she could manage as the water pulsated around her. Kya was kneeling in the floor next to the pool, with Lin and Su standing a few feet away as they watched. The water was calming, as was Kya's voice as she spoke.

"She needs to eat more."

Su exhaled softly. "We're trying to get her more food but there's a lot of mouths to feed on the island." Kuvira noticed Su glanced over at her and turned her head down to stare at the water. "Pema's been giving her extra and I know Jinora's helping but it's not that easy when she won't actually take the food we give her without feeling guilty about it."

"Listen." Kya's voice was firm and it drew Kuvira's gaze. "You don't eat, you're gonna die. You get sick like this again? You're done. I don't care if Pema brings you three trays of food in an hour, you eat it. You got that?"

Kuvira hesitated, glancing over at Su and Lin. Lin looked amused, with her arms crossed and her eyebrows raised. Su looked upset, and Kuvira knew Su was worried about her.

"Okay." Kuvira nodded.

"What about exercise?" Kya asked, looking up at Lin.

Lin huffed as if she'd just been asked to do an airbending dance. "What about it? You think anyone on this island is going to let her freely train on the grounds? Tenzin would have a stroke." Kuvira noticed Lin's eyes brighten just a bit, and she even seemed to smile a little. "Which is why I will stand guard and help her train myself. So that everyone feels safe."

Su snorted. "And so Tenzin can have a stroke?"

"I'm doing this for the kid, Su," Lin said with a gesture towards Kuvira.

"Riiiiight."

"What kind of training could she even do?" Su wondered out loud. "I don't think you'll get her to do bending training."

"No," Kuvira answered almost instinctually. She did not want to be on this island with any sort of element at her mercy. No metal, and she fought daily to keep herself from earthbending.

"You don't want to bend?" Kya's eyebrows shot up, and she was watching Kuvira's face with interest.

"No," Kuvira repeated.

Kuvira watched her exchange a glance with Su and Lin, but no words passed between them.

"Well..." Kya furrowed her brows in thought. "Strength training? Could you do that, Lin? Help her build her muscles back up?"

"Sure, I could." Lin uncrossed her arms and leaned back against the wall behind her. "If anything she can train with the Avatar. Now that Korra's bending is gone all she does is strength train. Like if she works herself hard enough it's all gonna come back to her."

Su was chewing on her bottom lip worriedly. "That's not a good idea. Korra would do it, I'm sure, but...we don't want to set off her wife again. We've barely made amends with Asami as it is."

"You're going to have to do it on your own, Lin." Kya shrugged. "Su's right. the island is too stressed right now to have her train with Korra. I'm sure between you and Su, the two of you can come up with something. Right?"

Kuvira could feel them looking at her. Building up her courage, she glanced up to see Lin staring down at her.

"You up for it, kid?"

Kuvira briefly looked at Su. It was for permission, more than anything. Su offered a slight shrug, so Kuvira nodded.

"I guess we can try."

"Good," Kya said as she continued to move the water along Kuvira's body. She could feel her lungs starting to open up and her head starting to clear. "Tenzin is going to have a fit."

"I know," Lin boasted and Kuvira noticed Su roll her eyes with a smile.

"Anything to spite him," Kya laughed. "I knew that would get you on board."

"She's right." Su was giggling with one hand over her mouth. "You are predictable."

"Predictable is good," Lin countered as she pushed off the wall and cracked her neck. "It means no surprises, and you know how much I hate surprises."

There was a look that passed between Su and Lin that Kuvira couldn't really place. Something they both knew but didn't share out loud. Kuvira wasn't about to ask, so she closed her eyes again and let the water continue to work.

"You know, that Jinora is going to do great things with these airbenders," Su noted with a touch of warmth in her voice.

Kya smirked. "Going to? She already is. Jinora runs this island, Tenzin just hasn't figured it out yet."

"He'll have to figure it out fast," Lin snorted. "Guess who has already convinced someone that Kuvira would enjoy the library?"

"She did not convince me!" Su objected. "She asked if it would be alright. And it is."

Kuvira felt a smile playing at the corner of her mouth as she heard Lin huff.

"She just knows which one of you will get her what she wants." Kya laughed. "Su is the soft one."

Kuvira suddenly remembered fighting with Su many times when she was...not herself. The idea that Su was soft seemed a bit silly considering how hard she could smack a person with metal or earth.

"Jinora has a heart of gold, and I would think you'd be excited that she's taken a bit more leadership amongst the airbenders, Lin. It means you can actually, you know, visit the island and not act like it's killing you."

Lin groaned. "It is killing me. The food alone is enough to kill you here."

"Hey, Pema is a great cook," Su mentioned and Kuvira looked over just in time to see the death glare Lin sent her sister. All it earned her was a laugh. "Well, she is."

"Are you two going to fight in the middle of my healing session?" Kya asked playfully.

"No!" Su and Lin nearly shouted in unison.

"Riiiiiiight...okay."

For a split second, Kuvira forgot who she was amidst all the playfulness in the room. She forgot that she'd once tried to kill all of these people. She'd torn their families apart and threatened their lives. Threatened to ruin all of this and take it away from them. It hit her hard and suddenly the water felt suffocating. She needed to calm down; if she freaked out in the pool it might scare them.

Kuvira turned to seek out Su's eyes, desperately pleading with her to notice that she wanted out. She needed to be away from all of these people she'd hurt and be alone again. She didn't deserve to be here.

When Su finally caught her gaze, Kuvira felt a tear trickle down her cheek. "Okay, are we almost finished, Kya?" Su asked softly. "I think she's a little tired."

"Yeah. She should be alright." Kya's eyes were on Su when Kuvira looked over at her, and she saw an expression cross Kya's face that she couldn't read.

After a few moments the water stilled, and Kya held her arm out to help Kuvira stand. Kuvira gripped the side of the pool with her hands and pushed herself up, taking the hand when it was offered again. Once she stepped out of the pool, Kya bent the water out of her robes, depositing all of it back into the pool.

"You should be good to go. The fever has broken, at least, and you should be able to breathe a little better."

"I can. Thank you." Kuvira bowed respectfully, turning to see Su already waiting at the door for her as Lin watched with her arms crossed. Kuvira just wanted out.

Su was quick to give her that and after a few goodbyes they were out of the healing room and Kuvira had to keep her legs steady so she didn't run back to her room where she could lock herself away.

Once they were inside, Kuvira hugged herself to stop her arms from shaking. She wasn't cold, just scared and very tired. It had felt so good to be around people who seemed to care about her, even if it was more of a duty to be compassionate than anything she deserved. They laughed and joked; it felt like things had been before she ruined everything, when she and Opal would have fun together or she would eat the occasional family meal with Su and Bataar after a long day.

A sob caught in her throat and Kuvira sat down on the bed as Su stood back a bit watching her. She lowered her head even more, feeling nothing but shame for everything she'd done.

"I'm sorry," Kuvira managed to say after a few minutes, wiping her eyes on the back of her hand. It was another apology, and Kuvira didn't know if it was for her tears or for everything else. "I'm...it's fine."

She closed her eyes when Su sat down on the bed with her, and she felt Su's arm slip around her shoulders. She took a deep and shaky breath as she leaned against Su's shoulder, vaguely aware that Su was wearing her metal neckpiece. Kuvira hated it. But she didn't say anything as Su began to slowly rub her back.

"Why are you so nice to me?" Kuvira asked with a broken voice and all she heard was a soft laugh escape the woman next to her.

"For the same reason I tell jokes to my chef on Zaofu. I believe people deserve a second chance." Kuvira let out a slow and tired breath, wondering if the healing sessions were also meant to make your body feel as exhausted as she did right now. "You need to sleep," Su managed before standing up and holding Kuvira up for a moment.

As she laid down, Kuvira suddenly wished she was back in her cell, if only because she felt so happy to be on a warm bed with so many wonderful people around her and the guilt tied to that was horrible.

"I don't deserve this," Kuvira mumbled as sleep started to consume her.

Before she fell asleep, she was certain a pair of lips touched her forehead and a voice whispered something about, 'going to the library when you're awake,' before sleep took her.

When Kuvira woke up from her nap, it was late in the afternoon. She pushed herself up into a sitting position, yawning as she looked around the room. There was a tray of food left on the table, meaning she'd slept straight through lunch and likely dinner. She wasn't hungry, not quite anyway, but she felt immensely better than she had that morning. Her headache was gone, and she was able to breathe clearly and freely when she tried.

With the good feelings came the desire to venture out of the room. She wasn't sure if she would be allowed to or if she should be allowed to, but there was a slight desperation in her for company.

When she heard the key in the lock gently start to move, she put her hands in her lap and her head down. It opened a moment later and there was Su standing in front of her.

"Ah, third time's the charm, I see," Su said with a laugh. "Didn't think you were gonna wake up at all."

Kuvira couldn't help but smile as she shrugged a bit. "I feel better."

"Good!" Su beamed with genuine excitement. "Then you're free to join me." Kuvira gave her a questioning look. "I was going to head to the library for a bit and relax."

"You..." Kuvira thought for a moment about teasing her and decided to push through the doubt. "You hate the library. You never went to the gigantic one in your own home."

Su laughed and waved for Kuvira to stand, which she did. "Well maybe I'm taking a new interest in it."

"So you really came in here three times?" Kuvira asked, raising one eyebrow.

"Well you do need to eat, don't you?" Su smiled, before noticing the untouched food. "Are you sure you don't want to do that before we go?"

"I'll be fine." Kuvira shrugged. "Honestly, I'm not that hungry right now."

Kuvira kept her head down through the entire walk to the library. The air outside was cool, but welcoming. It felt nice to have the wind tickling her skin again, to feel the fading sun along her face and hear the sounds of people around her.

Once they reached the library, Su opened the door and let Kuvira in first. The feeling of the room was so inviting. Soft, yellow light glowed from the ceiling and a large window sat just where the sun was falling and its light poured inside. It was one of the most serene places Kuvira had ever seen.

The next thing she noticed was the other person in the room. Seated on the floor with her legs crossed and one eye open, looking up at her, was Jinora. For a second, Kuvira thought she was intruding and considered turning around and leaving, but the young airbender had a grin on her face.

"Glad to see you've finally woken up."

"Yeah, I...uh-" Kuvira wasn't sure how to respond, and was still considering turning around to leave, had it not been for Su's hand on her shoulder. "I just woke up."

"We were worried about you." Jinora smiled, motioning for Kuvira to sit down. "Are you feeling better?"

Kuvira nodded, gingerly sitting herself down on one of the cushions in the floor.

When Kuvira looked up to see Su coming in behind her, she was met with a knowing smile before Su turned around and left.

Panic set in for a moment and Kuvira twitched, but was stopped when a hand fell across her knee.

"It's okay, I asked her to bring you in here. I mean, you don't have to stay if you don't want to but I thought we could just sit for a while. This is a great place to clear your head."

Kuvira was still unsure. She would have felt safer with Su there, someone who could ground her, but there was something comforting in the young airbender's brown eyes. Kuvira could trust her. So Kuvira nodded, folding her legs underneath herself with a quiet sigh.

"Th-thank you...Jinora." By the way Jinora's eyes lit up, Kuvira was glad that she'd managed to remember her name.

Jinora offered her a warm smile. "I heard you learned how to meditate and even reach the Spirit World. That's pretty impressive for someone to pick up on their own." She snickered. "My father's lived on an air temple his entire life studying the spirit world and he still can't meditate there."

"I can," Kuvira responded with a slight hesitation. "I learned how to meditate in Zaofu...a long time ago. And I started in prison to clear my head but-one day I just opened my eyes and I was in the Spirit World. It was an accident, honestly."

Jinora laughed softly. "Me too, really. I had no intentions of entering the Spirit World the first time I did it, but the spirits and that...energy-it all just came naturally to me." She breathed sharply through her nose and placed her hands in her lap. "Of course, I was eleven at the time so my dad was terrified I was going to be attacked by an angry spirit or something. Which, technically, I WAS but other than that it's been the best thing I could have hoped for. It's gone a long way towards helping me help Korra too." Kuvira felt herself tense at the mention of the Avatar, remembering the last time she entered the spirit world.

A wave of guilt washed over her, though this time it wasn't associated with that day or her actions regarding the Spirit Cannon.

"I thought I could help her too," Kuvira admitted, looking down at her lap. "When Zaheer attacked me in the spirit world...I spent so much energy trying to warn her, and all it caused was...this."

Jinora nodded slightly, but wasn't looking at her. "Korra reacted badly when she found out it was Zaheer doing these things. He...doesn't bring out the most rational part of her. She's more afraid of him than she would ever admit, despite how far she's come since he hurt her." Kuvira could see so many untold memories in Jinora's eyes. When she took over the charge of rebuilding the Earth Kingdom, it was only stories of the injured Avatar that she heard. She was never close enough to see the damage herself. Though now, the look in Jinora's eyes, told her how devastating it had all been. "She shouldn't have gone after him the way she did. We should have had a better plan." Suddenly, Jinora turned her gaze to Kuvira with a gentle look in her eyes. "I know it's too soon and...I'm not going to ask you to do anything right now. But...you blocked Zaheer's mind control, right?"

"I...think?" Kuvira shrugged. "I guess that's what I did. Whatever I did pissed him off. I just remember trying to meditate back to my body. Trying to block out the pressure." Kuvira was willing to tell Jinora whatever was necessary, if it would help, though she herself wasn't sure of what she'd done.

"I've been studying the techniques Zaheer is using to enter into people's minds and...I think I can manage it with a willing mind but not against someone actively fighting me. Which Korra was and yet she still couldn't hold him off." Jinora seemed hesitant and Kuvira could tell she was dealing with things no one around her would openly approve of. In a way, Kuvira felt honored that Jinora was even bringing it up. "When you're feeling better, if you're up for it, I'd like to test it out on you and see if you can block me. Maybe...maybe I could figure out a way to reverse what he's done or even counter it, like you did." Jinora then immediately put her hands up disarmingly. "Of course, if you're not comfortable with it or anything like that I absolutely won't. I would never force you to do anything."

Kuvira watched her for several long moments. She was looking at Kuvira worriedly, and it was clear that this was something she herself wasn't comfortable with.

What is Zaheer doing?

Still, Kuvira knew someone had to try. If that meant trusting Jinora to do it, so be it. Kuvira knew her mind was much stronger than her body, so she nodded.

"Whenever you're ready,"

"Are you sure?" Jinora still seemed very unsure. "That's not why I asked Su to bring you here, I promise. I only intended to bring it up, not to actually do anything."

"I understand," Kuvira assured her, clearing her throat. "Considering how urgent this seems, I'm...I'm glad you did. If you think I can help you, then I'm ready when you are."

"Okay." Jinora held a gaze on her for a moment before looking away and resting her hands on her knees. "Okay, close your eyes and try and clear your mind. Assuming I can even do this. If it's at all uncomfortable please stop me." Kuvira nodded even though Jinora's eyes were shut and they sat quietly for a moment.

Clearing her mind proved harder than Kuvira had expected. She was flooded with so many bad memories any time she shut her eyes that wiping those away was a challenge. Eventually, though, she managed to shut off the loudest of them and actually found a bit of peace in the silence around them.

It was then that the pressure came. It wasn't heavy, and it didn't hurt like it had in the Spirit World, but it still came and spread from her forehead to somewhere behind her eyes. Kuvira kept her mind as clear as she could manage. Trying to focus on her deep and rhythmic breathing. Within a few moments, the pressure was gone, and she heard Jinora groan in frustration.

"I'm still so new at this. I don't know how Zaheer learns all of this stuff so quickly." Kuvira opened her eyes to see Jinora looking at her. "Did you feel anything at all?"

"Pressure," Kuvira replied. "Same as before. But it didn't hurt. Not like it did in the Spirit World." Kuvira paused, watching as Jinora frowned. There was only one question that had plagued Kuvira recently, and she thought maybe Jinora would be able to answer it. "Why—how did I stop him?"

The breathy laugh and soft shrug Jinora made stirred a bit of disappointment in Kuvira. She had hoped Jinora would have the exact answer why. But clearly it was a mystery to her. "The only thing I can think of is that your mind is so...self aware that you understood what was going on and actively worked against it." Jinora set her gaze on Kuvira again. "You've always had very strong convictions, even now you're set on not scaring anyone and are doing whatever you can to ensure you don't. Maybe...maybe your mind is too strong for Zaheer. I'm not sure. I just know that whatever power he had was able to break through and scare Raava enough to completely shut herself off from Korra, as far as we know. And yet...he couldn't get through to you. Which means that you might be very important if we have to stop Zaheer from hurting any more people. Because he's going to come for Korra again." The sadness that shifted into Jinora's eyes sunk into Kuvira's heart. "He will do awful things to her in an attempt to bring out the Avatar State again and we can't let that happen. I can't."

Kuvira understood that that was why Jinora was working so hard to find out why and how he was doing this. She took a deep breath and set her jaw, and when Jinora raised her eyebrow, Kuvira nodded once. She'd made up her mind. Whatever she had to do.

"Let's try again."