Asami was sitting by one of the ponds by the airship docking station. She felt bad about making Korra so upset, but it had become an increasingly difficult struggle not letting the Avatar’s apathy get to her. She believed beyond the shadow of a doubt that Korra would eventually heal and resume her former glory as a strong and powerful bender, but seeing Korra so completely and utterly defeated had become very difficult to bear.
The airships hummed a soothing song in the background, and Asami found she took comfort in the slight mechanical white noise. Airbender Island was supremely peaceful and serene, and Asami couldn’t think of many places that had a more healing atmosphere.
However, there were times when Asami ached for the hectic noisiness of the city. She missed the constant buzz of satmobiles in the street, and the steady murmur that bespoke of the countless multitudes that called the busy and hectic streets their Home. Most of all, she missed the loud banging and clanging of her workshops, and the piercing sound of drills as her mechanics helped piece together prototypes of her company’s latest inventions.
A sudden gust of wind accompanied with the increasingly loud whirring of a propeller caused Asami to look up, and she saw an airship gliding over the bay towards the island. Looked like they were going to have visitors. Maybe Mako and Bolin had decided to come. She doubted it, though. Bolin had taken up residence in the Eastern Air Temple to be closer to Opal, and Mako was busier than ever on the police force. He had been promoted, and was busily training new recruits day in and day out to be better equipped to deal with the havoc that was occurring in the earth kingdom.
For weeks, Republic City had been sending reinforcements out to Ba Sing Se to help deal with the riots ever since the kingdom’s matriarch had been dispatched. In the beginning, Asami had listened to every report eagerly awaiting a sign of improvement, but things only seemed to be getting worse. The news also had a decidedly negative effect on Korra as well, so Asami not only stopped Korra from going to the meetings, she stopped going to them herself so when Korra asked, she could say with complete honesty that she had no idea what was going on.
They could deal with all of that crap later when maybe there was something they could do about it. For now, the Avatar’s health and recovery was the only thing that mattered.
The airship touched down almost silently and with a grace that Asami couldn’t help but smile at. While she had always known her company produced very high quality machinery, it wasn’t until after her brief experience with Cabbage Corp.’s products that she truly appreciated the fruits of her companies labors.
Now that the airship was closer, she could just make out the metal clan insignia etched in the side. Asami smiled as she stood to walk over and greet the visitors. She had always enjoyed the members of the metal clan, and was looking forward to seeing Su. The ramp opened, and lowered with a satisfying hiss of well oiled pistons, and Asami noted with more than a little pride how the heavy piece of metal sunk into the ground without even the hint of a rattle or catch. Su led the group of individuals exiting the ship. Though she was the only member Asami was able to readily recognize, she was fairly certain she had met the tall and broad woman walking to Su’s left.
When Asami reached the group, Su immediately pulled her into a warm hug. Especially in moments such as this, it was extremely difficult for Asami to truly believe that there was any relation between Su and Lin. Lin was all business and didn’t encourage or allow any physical contact beyond what was absolutely necessary. Su however, was all hugs and smiles, and seemed to communicate just as much with touch and gesture as she did with her words.
“Asami. So good to see you. How are things?”
While she didn’t outright ask, Asami knew Su was asking about Korra. She shrugged, and tilted her head while she thought about what words she could use to describe Korra without comparing her to a grumpy toddler.
“Um… Health wise, she’s about the same. She’s having a bit of a hard time with that though, so I wouldn’t get upset or offended if she says or does anything that is insulting.” There. That was diplomatic enough.
Su nodded in understanding, then turned to the rest of the group behind her with a sweeping gesture.
“I figured Lin could use all the extra help she could get, so I brought some reinforcements. Asami, this is everyone. Everyone, this is Asami. I think some of you have met.”
The collection of men and women surrounding Su nodded in greeting, though the tall woman Asami had noticed earlier stepped closer and put out her hand for a more formal greeting. Asami met the hand and was momentarily shocked by the vice like strength in the other woman’s grip.
“Kuvira,” the woman said in greeting. Asami nodded in recollection. Kuvira had been with them the day Korra had been injured, though she hadn’t seen her since.
“I remember. Its good to see you.”
Kuvira nodded with a warm smile and lightly squeezed Asami’s hand once more before letting go and turning to Su.
“I’m sure my men are eager to settle in and learn what is it they can do to help-”
Su cut the metal bender off with a dismissive shake of her head.
“Don’t you worry about that just yet. Why don’t you let Asami show you around? We can get to business later.” She gestured to Asami with a questioning expression “If she doesn’t mind of course.”
“Oh… No. Of course,” Asami replied with slight hesitation.
She figured Korra would be getting out of her healing session right about now and she had always been there to greet the petulant Avatar to attempt to help her feel better, but just then she didn’t feel quite up to it. Having a distraction, even if it was being a tour guide, was suddenly very appealing.
“Right this way,” Asami said to Kuvira as she turned to walk away.
Kuvira nodded and immediately began to follow.
Asami led Kuvira around the compound explaining the various buildings and the purpose of the multitudes of training areas. Kuvira hmm’ed and ah’ed at appropriate moments, though didn’t say much else. It wasn’t in a cold or awkward way, it was just clear that she had nothing much to say, so didn’t even try.
Asami found that she rather enjoyed the company of someone who didn’t feel the need to fill the silence, though not in a way that was spiteful or uncomfortable. While she had become very used to silence while with Korra, it had always been heavy and tense. The more they walked, Asami felt the tension slowly easing out of her cramped shoulders and back, and found herself talking less and less about the compound and more about the city as a whole.
Without realizing it, she had launched into a story about her experiences going to school in Ba-Sing-Se, and the two of them were laughing easily. There was something very easy-going and comfortable about this metal bending stranger, and Asami felt more relaxed than she had in weeks. They settled into a comfortable silence, and Asami sighed in contentment, lying back against the soft grass.
They were sitting, or laying in Asami’s case, by the pond Asami had been at before the airship’s arrival, and Kuvira was leaning her forearms across her knees with her hands clasped loosely in front of her. She was looking down at Asami with a soft smile, though her brows were knit with slight concern. Her demeanor and energy was so similar to Korra’s before the ‘incident’ that Asami was momentarily dazed.
“So how are you doing?”
Asami closed her eyes, and draped her forearm across her forehead, shrugging in a non-committal way.
“Everything is ok. Korra is having a really hard time, and it’s definitely affecting her mood. But I know she’ll get better eventually.”
Kuvira nodded. “It’s obvious you care about her very much.”
Asami smiled through her arm, thinking back on how things had been when it had been just the two of them. While they had always been running around, racing from one crisis to the next, Asami’s happiest moments had been when she had been traveling around the Earth Kingdom with the enigmatic Avatar.
Prior to their travels together, Asami had been crushingly intimidated by Korra. Her strength of character and ‘take no shit’ attitude, while extremely attractive, made it difficult for Asami to ever really feel close to her. However, as she had seen the Avatar in her more vulnerable moments, she began to see how wonderful the water-triber really was. She was kind and sweet and extremely funny, and Asami had few greater joys than seeing Korra outright laugh. It had been a very long time since she had heard Korra laugh.
“She’s my best friend,” Asami said with a shrug.
Secretly, Asami knew that her feelings were slightly more than platonic, though she knew there wasn’t a chance at those particular feelings to be reciprocated in any way. She thought Korra was beautiful, and was honestly one of the most caring and compassionate people she had ever met. Not many people would put their life in danger for their friends, and Asami knew that Korra would gladly sacrifice hers if it meant sparing the life of those she loved. That’s how she had gotten injured after all.
With that many amazing characteristics in one person, it was no wonder Asami was attracted to her. She had a strong feeling even if she had never looked at a woman that way before, Korra probably would have changed that. She had feelings for her, and there was no doubt about it. She had had enough crushes back at boarding school to know that’s what was happening now. Asami had known since she was thirteen that she was attracted to both men and women and had dated both while in Ba-Sing-Se, though nothing had been too serious or ever really gone anywhere.
“You didn’t answer my question though,” Kuvira said, interrupting Asami’s thoughts.
“I asked you how you are doing. Not the Avatar. Thank you for the update though.”
Asami moved her arm and squinted up at the metal clad woman above her. Kuvira was looking down at her, her mouth quirked in a slight smirk. Her eyes, however, were soft and kind and bespoke a genuine concern that for Asami was mildly shocking. What was even more so, were the words the other woman had spoken. Everyone was constantly worrying about Korra. It had been a while since anyone had thought to check up on Korra’s devoted and perennially smiling friend. It was weird.
“I’m okay, I guess.” Asami said haltingly. “I’m just worried about Korra. You know?”
Kuvira nodded. “I saw how you were after the battle. It looked like you were the one taking care of her for the most part. I’m guessing that hasn’t changed?”
Asami shook her head. “Nope. I don’t mind, though.”
Asami sat up and pulled her knees into her chest, resting her chin on her folded limbs.
“She hasn’t really herself lately, though. So that is a little hard.”
“I’m sure it’s very frustrating,” Kuvira said with a slight frown.
Asami sighed and laid her cheek on her knees, looking at Kuvira with a sad smile.
Kuvira smiled back.
“She’ll be okay. She’s strong, and I know this will all pass eventually,” Asami said with conviction.
“I meant for you,” Kuvira said, laying a gentle hand on Asami’s arm.
There it was again. Asami had just assumed the other woman was only concerned about Korra. Hearing the genuine concern in the other woman’s voice. The feel of it in her touch made Asami’s throat tickle, and she felt an unexpected prickling behind her eyes. Kuvira seemed to sense that she had hit a nerve, and gently squeezed Asami’s arm before letting her hand drop and releasing Asami from her poignant stare.
They settled into silence, but like the one before, it wasn’t uncomfortable. Kuvira was obviously deep in thought, staring with sightless eyes over the pond. Asami took the opportunity to study the other woman in more detail.
She was tall and broad, but not in a bad way. Her hands looked calloused and strong, but it was obvious that they were capable of great gentleness as well. All of Kuvira’s features screamed strength, and the metal armor she wore gave her the appearance of a warrior suited up and ready for a great battle. There was a softer side as well, though.
Asami then had the sudden memory of the first time she had lain eyes on the woman Kuvira when she had been engaged in an intricate and delicate dance with Su back at Zaofu.
She’s a lot like Korra, Asami realized with a start. Both were savage and strong, but both were a lot more than what immediately reached the eye. However, where Korra was all fire and ice, Kuvira was iron and steel.
“I’d better get back and check in with Su,” Kuvira said, breaking the gentle silence between them.
Both women stood and stretched out. Kuvira turned and faced Asami, her mouth turned into her characteristic smirk.
“It was wonderful talking to you. I’m going to be here for a while, and I’d love a tour of the city if you ever have some time.”
Asami found herself agreeing before processing the implications of the request.
A tour of the city. Time off the island. Time away from Korra.
Kuvira saw the obvious and immediate distress that must have been painted across Asami’s face, for she reached out and gently took one of the smaller girl’s hands. Asami looked up into the other woman’s face and realized just how tall she was. Asami wasn’t used to looking up at anyone as she usually towered over most, especially when she wore her boots. But Kuvira was tall.
“You deserve some time to yourself you know. No one will think less of you if you take a day off. I’m sure Korra will understand.”
Asami took a deep breath and looked down at the strong hand that held hers. She had been correct in her earlier assessment. Her palm was slightly calloused, but unlike the handshake, her fingers felt cradled in a gentle hold that could have easily handled a baby bird without causing damage.
Would Korra understand? The old Korra would have without a doubt. The depressed mean Korra… Probably not.
But Kuvira was right. She did deserve a day off. And maybe more time away from Korra would help drive home the point she had been trying to make earlier. Before she could allow the doubts to change her mind, she huffed out a breath, and forced herself to smile.
“You know. I think I’d like that. Yes. Tomorrow?”
Kuvira smiled with obvious delight, and gently squeezed her hand before letting it drop.
“That’s great! It’s a date then.”
With that, Kuvira walked off, leaving Asami alone with her thoughts as she turned back to the glistening waters of the pond. A day away from Korra. She felt guilty, but she knew she needed a day off. A date with Kuvira. Tomorrow was going to be an interesting day.