Asami ran a trembling hand over the dusty banister and looked around the room with sightless eyes. The old Sato mansion was in ruins as no one had bothered to keep up the maintenance since she had ceased living there in the wake of her father’s deception. As the heiress passed through the main dining hall, she absently kicked a few empty cans lying on the floor. Asami winced when she saw the graffiti that covered the walls in streaks of blues, greens, and pinks melting down the sides of the once grand room. As bothered as she was, most of her thoughts were turned inwards doing everything she could to bank the horrible ache that was in her chest.
She had lost Korra. Lost everything. She had seen it in Korra’s eyes; the hurt and confusion. The disgust. Asami futilely wiped the back of her hand across her face to clear it of the tears that had been a continual stream down her face for the past few hours, but she knew it was hopeless. The dam was broken, and Asami was sure the crying was nowhere near finished.
After her hasty and ill executed confession, Asami had jumped on the first boat she’d seen to race her way back to Republic City. Not knowing where else to go, she had made her way to her old home. My only home, Asami thought bitterly to herself. There was no way she’d be able to continue staying on Airbender Island. Not after what had just happened. Exhaling in a rush that ended on a choked sob, Asami made her way outside.
The once beautiful back garden was also in shambles, and the dying remains of a bonfire were still smoldering in the shallow end of the pool. Asami picked her way through the overgrown shrubs and garbage that littered the vast expanse of her backyard over to her old workshop. Seeing that the lock and chain were still intact, Asami let out a sigh of relief. Vandals had desecrated her childhood home, but thankfully her sanctuary looked as though it had remained untouched.
Using the key she kept secured on a chain around her neck, Asami let herself into the workshop and surveyed the room inside. A think layer of dust had settled over every surface, but most of the machinery and vehicles had been covered by thick tarps, and Asami knew that they probably only needed minimal work to restore them to working condition. As the heiress picked her way through the cluttered and dirty room, she idly ran her fingers along every surface she passed, letting the onslaught of memories momentarily distract her from the painful ache in her chest. Ghostly images of herself as a child tinkering with various projects and toys flitted at the edge of her vision, always supervised by the loving and protecting shadow of her father. The thought of her father brought Asami up short, and suddenly the pain in her chest became too much to bear. With a heaving sob, Asami let herself crumple to the floor, her legs suddenly too weak to support her against the overwhelming loss she felt.
So much had happened in so little time. She had lost so much. Ever since Korra had come to Republic City, Asami’s life had completely uprooted. She lost her father. Almost lost her company. Lost her boyfriend. And now, she had lost the one thing that she had come to hold onto as an anchor against the steady wave of hardship she had endured. She had almost lost Korra to Zaheer, but miraculously the Avatar had held out. Now Korra was really gone. Unbidden, the look of shock and outrage on the Avatar’s face rose to the forefront of Asami’s mind, and the heiress clutched her chest and curled in on herself at the fresh wave of pain that suddenly engulfed her. Why did I have to be so stupid? Asami violently chastised herself. Why did you let yourself feel hope at Mako’s words? Obviously he was wrong.
Asami had no idea how long she lay in the dust and dirt on the floor of her workshop letting out all the pain and anxiety that had built up, but when she stopped, it wasn’t because she was finished. The soft click of a footstep abruptly brought Asami to the present and she quickly sat up, wiping the tears from her eyes.
“Who’s there?” Asami called out in a shaky voice.
An elongated shadow began to stretch its way towards her from the front entrance, and Asami squinted against the light to see whose form it was that was making its way towards her. When Asami was able to distinguish the figure walking towards her, she frowned bitterly.
“I thought I’d find you here,” Kuvira cooed, her tone kind and gentle.
Asami fought the urge to snarl bitterly and carefully composed her face into a calm and impassive mask. There was no way she’d be able to completely hide the trace of tears that had been a continual stream down her face, but she would not show any more weakness than absolutely unavoidable to the metal bender in front of her.
Asami nimbly jumped up to her feet and carefully maneuvered her way so that there was a large Sato mobile positioned between them. She was well aware of all the metal that surrounded them and her alarm spiked at the realization that she was in very very big trouble should Kuvira have any intentions of hurting her in any way. And the fact of the matter is Asami had no idea what Kuvira’s intentions were. That scene at the air temple had been… messy.
“What do you want?” Asami asked in a flat and dead voice, careful to maintain her mask.
Kuvira arched her brows in concern and took a hesitant step forward. Asami mirrored the advance with a slight step of her own in the opposite direction. Kuvira frowned again but halted her advance, instead raising her hands in what was probably meant to be a calming gesture. The action only caused the irritation and alarm Asami felt to rise even further. What was Kuvira trying to do?
“You seemed upset when you ran off. I just wanted to make sure you were okay,” Kuvira calmly explained.
Asami met Kuvira’s eyes with uncertainty. She was dimly aware of the metal bender’s presence when she had made her hasty retreat from her encounter with Korra. Who knows how long Kuvira had been standing there. Who knew what she had overheard. Kuvira’s frown deepened at the resounding silence that filled the warehouse.
“Asami. What’s wrong?” Kuvira asked, concern lacing her tone heavily… Too heavily.
Asami squinted, and surveyed the metal bender in front of her carefully. On the surface, Kuvira was the perfect image of concern. Everything from her stance, to the way she held her hands screamed that she was worried and only wanted to help. Her eyes, though… her eyes were as cold as steel. Every smile, frown and gesture never quite reached her eyes. They were lifeless and dead, and the realization made Asami involuntarily shiver. Looks like Kuvira had heard everything. She suddenly wanted nothing more than to be as far away as possible from the metal bender in front of her. Her instincts were screaming at her that she was in danger, and Asami’s hands twitched as she inwardly cursed herself from leaving her modified equalizer glove in her room back on the island. Kuvira must have sensed Asami’s change in demeanor, for she attempted one more hesitant step forward. Asami again mirrored it with another backwards.
“I’m fine,” Asami said, her tone a little more curt than she would have liked. “I was just on my way out.”
Kuvira squinted her eyes and cocked her head to the side.
“You’re afraid of me, aren’t you?” All traces of warmth and concern were gone from Kuvira’s voice, replaced instead by a clinical and vaguely curious tone. “Interesting.”
Asami took a careful step towards the entrance of the workshop, and Kuvira’s eyes snapped into focus. Though the Zaofu native did nothing to indicate she was going to stop Asami from continuing, the heiress stilled at the renewed gaze.
“Kuvira… I don’t… Just” Asami took a deep breath. “Not right now. Please.”
Kuvira’s face twisted sharply into a menacing scowl before she took a couple deep and calming breaths, smoothing her features into a calm and impassive mask. Asami felt a shiver run down her spine at the cold and emotionless look. When the metal bender remained silent, Asami resumed her path towards the front of the garage. Just as she drew level with the metal bender, Kuvira’s hand reached out with surprising speed and clamped tightly around Asami’s upper arm. Asami flinched at the contact and did everything she could to still her reflex to jab her palm into Kuvira’s nose and break free. Instead, she looked up into the metal bender’s face and raised an eyebrow, her mouth set into an angry frown.
“Where are you going?” Kuvira asked, her tone curt and precise.
“None of your business, Kuvira. Please, let me go.”
Asami was just able to make out the flash of anger that crossed the taller woman’s eyes before she felt the grip on her arm loosen. Kuvira quickly pulled herself together and her face morphed once more into a parody of affectionate concern. Seeing the differing and contrasting emotions playing so easily across the metal bender’s features caused the unease pooling in the pit of Asami’s stomach to twist sickeningly. Korra had been right all along. There really was something very off about this woman.
“Asami. It’s not safe to be wandering the city right now. Why don’t you come with me,” Kuvira said. It came out as more of a demand than a request, but when Kuvira extended her hand, Asami took a step back.
“I appreciate your concern, but I’ll be fine,” Asami replied, doing her best to keep the fear and anger out of her tone.
Another flash of anger crossed Kuvira’s features, but when she spoke, her tone was as even as ever.
“And where are you going to go?”
The question made Asami flinch.
Sensing she had hit a nerve, Kuvira pressed on.
“I’m guessing you don’t want to go back to the island, and your home here is in ruins. Why don’t you just come with me? I can take care of you. I can keep you safe.”
Asami took a deep and steadying breath against the wave of pain she had felt at the mention of the island, and steeled her resolve, once again erasing all emotion from her face before turning back.
“Kuvira. I’m leaving.”
“Please, Asami. I mean it. The city isn’t a safe place right now.”
Asami managed to hold in a huff of frustration. Instead, she casually shrugged her shoulders and began walking away.
“I’ll be fine. Thank you.”
Asami was almost at the gates when she heard Kuvira call out again.
“There’s no point in going back, you know.”
Asami stilled, her heart plummeting in dread. She heard Kuvira’s footsteps getting steadily closer, but a deep sense of foreboding had settled over her at the metal bender’s words, and she needed to know what she had meant.
“What is that supposed to mean?” Asami asked.
Kuvira shrugged. “I’m assuming you were thinking about going back to the island to be with your precious Avatar. I meant what I said. There’s really no point.”
Asami’s heart painfully skipped a couple beats, and she futilely tried to calm her breathing in her sudden panic.
“What did you do?” The question came out as a growl that surprised Asami with the ferocity behind it.
Kuvira coolly raised an eyebrow at the menacing tone, and her smirk definitely held a hint of cruelty.
“I didn’t do anything. I’m just going off of what I heard. From what I understand, it would be best for you to just forget the Avatar altogether.”
Asami’s breath caught in her throat. “Kuvira…”
“Toph’s healing didn’t go so well. My guess is that she’s not going to make it. With the Avatar gone, things are about to get really shaky. That’s why I came to find you.”
“Korra’s… She’s what?”
“Look, Asami. I meant what I said earlier. I really do care about you. I want to make sure you’re safe. So why don’t you just come–”
Asami didn’t hear the rest of what Kuvira was going to say, for she had already taken off down the street. She ran as fast as she could towards the dock, her entire being focused on getting back to the island as quickly as she could. In that moment, what had happened didn’t matter. What Korra had seen and said and done didn’t matter. What she thought didn’t matter. Asami needed to be by her side, and nothing was going to stop her.
So intent was she on her race to the docks that she barely noticed the commotion around her as people started screaming and scrambling out of the way. When an air bison dropped out of the sky right in front of her, she was barely able to stop in time to keep from colliding with the huge animal. Atop the bison were Bolin and Opal, and both wore matching grim expressions that filled Asami’s heart with crushing dread. It looked like Kuvira hadn’t been lying after all.
“Asami…” Bolin started.
Asami squeezed her eyes shut against the panic rising in her chest and frantically motioned for him to stop. Without saying a word, she hastily climbed onto the back of the massive creature in front of her. Before she was fully in the saddle, Opal hastily shook the reins signaling for the beast to shoot into the sky, speeding furiously back towards the island.