Korra shut her eyes and tried to slow her breathing. Her heart was pounding painfully in her ears, and when she reached up to brush her hair out of her face, her hands were shaking so badly she almost poked herself in her eye.
Asami was kissing Kuvira. Asami kissed Kuvira. Kuvira and Asami kissed.
The mantra was playing over and over in her mind, and the image of Asami wrapped in Kuvira’s arms, their mouths locked together, was branded into Korra’s brain. Eyes open or closed, that was all she could see.
Asami was standing as if frozen in place, her advance and pleading halted by Korra’s hand, begging her to stop so Korra had a moment to think. To process.
Taking another deep breath, Korra opened her mouth, but all that came out was a strangled squeak. She coughed to clear her throat and tried again, but still no sound would come out.
Asami was kissing Kuvira. Asami kissed Kuvira. Kuvira and Asami kissed.
“You…” Korra started. No other words came to her mind, so she squeezed her eyes shut one more time, trying to piece together a coherent sentence.
“Korra, I’m sorry you saw that. I didn’t wan-”
“STOP!” Korra yelled out.
Asami jumped and closed her mouth with a snap. Korra could see tears in the corners of her friend’s eyes.
“Just… stop,” Korra said a little softer. “Just… Give me a second.”
Asami nodded and shakily backed up until she reached one of the stone benches in the courtyard and sat.
Korra crossed her arms over her chest and pinched the bridge of her nose with her fingers. She tried wading through the multitudes of thoughts and emotions that were swirling through her chest, but the second she tried to grab onto anything, a curious ringing would start in her head, and all she could envision was a thick grey fog that seemed to weigh her down.
“She… kissed you,” Korra stated. She said the words slowly and they felt alien on her tongue. It wasn’t a question, but Asami still nodded.
“Yes, but it’s not what you think!” Asami hastily responded.
Korra took a few deep breaths before replying. “Then… what… was it?”
Asami shut her eyes and raised her hands to her face, pressing her palms into her eyes with a force that looked like it was probably painful.
“I didn’t want it.”
The vision of the two women ghosted through Korra’s minds eye. It certainly hadn’t looked like Asami hadn’t wanted it… Korra groaned and sucked in a deep breath.
“So… She just… kissed you... For no reason?”
Asami groaned, never removing her hands from her face. She doubled over on the bench, and rested her elbows heavily on her knees.
“Have you two… Did you… is that something you’ve done before?”
The more Korra spoke, the easier it became. The fog was starting to lift a little in her brain as well, though the feelings she was left with were a confusing swirl of pain and anger. She didn’t understand why seeing Asami in the arms of another woman was quite so devastatingly crushing, but Korra couldn’t remember a time when she felt more emotionally hurt.
“Korra… I need you to understand.”
“Please, just answer the question.”
Asami took a deep breath, and slowly sat up straight. “Can you be a little more specific please?”
“IS THAT THE FIRST TIME YOU KISSED HER!?” Korra roared.
Asami winced and lowered her head. Her lack of denial was answer enough, and for the second time that day, Korra felt as though the wind had been knocked out of her.
Asami’s face crumpled in despair, and the tears at the corners of her eyes finally spilled over and raced down her satin cheeks. Korra felt a resounding pang in her chest. Even as livid as she was in that moment, the sight of Asami hurting was nearly unbearable to watch.
“Korra. I wanted to tell you. I was goin-”
“Do you have feelings for her?” Korra interrupted again.
Asami’s eyes went wide, and she hastily shook her head. She stood and rushed over to where the Avatar sat, but Korra wasn’t able to stop herself from recoiling at the advance. Asami winced and stopped, dropping her hand limply to her side.
“No. No, I don’t have feelings for her,” Asami said, her voice weak and small.
The sight of Asami’s absolute anguish was suddenly too much, and Korra bent over in her chair, pressing her hands forcefully to her face. She pressed and pressed, rocking shakily back and forth, trying to will the image of Kuvira’s greasy hands all over Asami out of her mind, but the memory wouldn’t fade.
“Korra. Please… I’ve been wanting to tell you…” Asami’s voice trailed off into silence.
Korra continued to rock in her chair. “Tell me what, Asami?”
Asami let out a strangled sounding groan. “To tell you about… about me.”
When Korra didn’t say anything back, Asami continued.
“I… I don’t just like boys. Sometimes I like girls, too. I…”
“So is that what this is? You like Kuvira?”
“No! That’s not…” Asami drew in a stuttering breath that caught more than once on the hint of a sob. “Please Korra… I really need to you to understand...”
Korra growled and ripped her hands away from her face. “Why? Why do you need me to understand?”
Asami balked at the outburst, and worked her mouth. “Korra. You’re… You’re my best friend… I need-”
“Why does that matter?!” Korra yelled back. “Why do you care so much what I think?!”
Asami let out another strangled sound and reached out. Korra flinched and Asami began to cry in earnest. “Korra. What you think matters so much.”
Korra’s breath was becoming increasingly ragged, and she noticed with distant shame that there were tears in her eyes as well. Why was she reacting this way? Why was she so upset? Was it really that big of a deal? Korra strained to come up with answers to these questions, but every time she delved into it, the image of Kuvira’s mouth pressed intimately against Asami’s would flood her thoughts, making her feel extremely sick to her stomach.
“Dammit, Asami!” Korra yelled out.
Korra took a deep breath, and when she released it, all the fight left her with it. She slumped in her chair, suddenly more exhausted than she could recall ever feeling before.
The heiress looked up hopefully at Korra’s softer tone. Korra slumped even further into her chair.
“Do whatever you want. My opinion doesn’t matter. If you wanna kiss… or date… or whatever it is you are doing with Kuvira, go right ahead.”
“Korra, that’s not what I want!” Asami shook her head fervently and took a hesitant step forward. When Korra didn’t recoil, she completed the distance and hesitantly placed a hand on Korra’s arm. “I don’t want Kuvira. That was-” Asami said, her voice barely a whisper. Korra cut her off.
“I don’t care, Asami.” Korra turned her head to the side and stared with sightless eyes into the courtyard. “You shouldn’t either.”
Never before had she felt so hollow and empty.
“Korra! But I do! I care so, so much.”
“I told you… You’re my best friend.”
Korra groaned and doubled over, pressing her palms once more to her eyes. “Well, as your best friend, I’m telling you I don’t care.”
“Korra don’t do this. Please. Just… LOOK AT ME!”
Korra wearily lifted her head, and locked eyes with Asami. The pain staring back at her was like a punch to the stomach. Even with tears spilling down her cheeks and makeup smudged around her eyes, she was easily the most beautiful woman Korra had ever seen. Like a bolt of ugly lightning, the image of that face pressed against Kuvira’s flashed through Korra’s mind, and her stomach rolled at the memory.
“Just… drop it Asami.”
“BECAUSE I’M IN LOVE WITH YOU!”
Korra’s head snapped up so fast she felt a pinch in her neck. Asami’s eyes had gone as wide as saucers, and she raised a hand to her mouth in mortification. Korra felt her mouth drop open, and her heart skipped several beats causing a painful ache in her chest. Asami took a stumbling step backwards, almost tripping over the bench as it pressed into the back of her knees. Korra had no idea how long they just stared at each other, but neither was remotely capable of speech.
Korra drew in a ragged breath and worked her mouth, trying to weed through the ringing in her ears for something… anything to say back.
Asami didn’t give her the chance.
With a strangled sob, Asami turned on her heel and bolted out of the courtyard, nearly colliding with Opal and Kuvira as she hastily ran from the scene. Kuvira caught Asami as she stumbled, and for a moment, the two women just stared at each other before Asami wrenched her arms out of Kuvira’s hold and fled.
Kuvira looked over at Korra. Korra stared back.
Korra couldn’t begin to guess what the look on the other woman’s face meant, but in that moment, Korra honestly couldn’t find it in herself to care. Kuvira’s lips pressed together in an angry scowl, and then she too turned on her heels and walked away, her pace clipped and quick.
Opal looked with confusion as the two women made their hasty retreat, though when she turned back and saw the look on Korra’s face, she immediately rushed over in concern.
“Are you okay?” Opal asked.
Korra couldn’t respond. She stared at the doorway through which Asami and Kuvira had disappeared. Her vision started to go a little black around the edges, and Korra hastily pulled in a deep breath.
“Korra?” Opal gently prodded again.
Korra mechanically turned her head and looked at Opal in confusion. Everything was fuzzy and indistinct, and she suddenly felt like she was going to be sick.
“Korra, Grandma Toph is waiting. But if you want to wait untill… If you want to talk about what just happ-”
“No!” Korra said, finally finding her voice. The word sounded strange to her own ears; almost as though someone else was speaking it.
“No. Let’s get this over with.”
Opal gently placed her hand on the Avatar’s forehead, and Korra hastily shook it off. “You don’t look so good... I don’t know if - ”
“I’m fine. Let’s go.”
Opal gave Korra one last concerned glance, then reluctantly nodded.
As Opal was wheeling her away, Korra had only one distinct thought. She sincerely hoped the healing would be as painful as Toph’s touch had been the night before. The thought was masochistic, but maybe then the pain in her heart would finally be drowned out.