Korra pulls the satomobile into the makeshift driveway, and if her mind weren’t riddled with worry she might feel proud that she’s gotten them all the way here without a single scratch on the car. She turns the key, killing the engine, then looks across at the sleeping figure in the passenger seat.
It all seems surreal, somehow. Back then, seeing Asami like that, holding Kuvira up with just one hand and strangling the life out of her. If Vaatu’s already having this effect, who knew what could come next?
A shiver runs up her spine as she opens her door, climbs out of the car, then heads towards Asami’s side.
“Hey, ‘Sami…” she says, gently shaking the other woman’s shoulder.
“Hmmm?” Asami opens one eye, looks momentarily confused, “Korra? Where are we? What happened?”
“We can talk in a minute, follow me…” she says, opening the car door and taking Asami’s hand.
They walk down a gravel path, then stumble through a few bushes for a while until she finds her familiar spot. She turns to Asami, smiles and points forwards, between a clearing in the bushes, towards her top-secret project.
Asami gasps, “What’s this? A log cabin?”
“Yup. I was going to surprise you once I’d finished… it’s nearly there now, just missing a couple of creature comforts.” She beams, proudly.
“But Korra, why are we here… oh.” Asami holds a hand to her head, grimaces, “so, all of that actually happened?”
Korra’s struggling to hold Asami’s gaze, jade eyes wide in an almost desperate plea, and she wishes she could lie, or somehow change the recent past.
“Sorry… But, it did, and I brought us here so we can at least think before Lin turns up. Come on.”
She opens the cabin door, leads Asami inside and breathes a small jet of fire onto the logs within the fireplace. Asami’s already sat on the sofa, legs curled into her arms, eyes staring down into nothingness.
“So… I guess he’s taking over.” Asami says, in a half-whisper.
She sits close to Asami, and rests her palm on a trembling thigh. Glistening, green eyes bore into hers.
“Can you tell me what happened?” she asks, gently.
Asami’s voice wavers. “I… I thought I was dreaming. Right up until when you arrived.”
There’s a few moments silence, and Asami stares into the now crackling log fire, orange light flickering across the room, across the porcelain face.
“Don’t you think it’s a bit of strange dream to have?” Korra asks.
Asami grimaces at the question, looks away, eyes starting to brim with fresh tears. Korra moves closer still, wraps an arm around stiff shoulders, and tries to offer comfort.
“Hey, it’s okay… we can talk later if you want…”
“No, we’re here now…” Asami turns, looks at her, “Korra… I was angry, no, furious. More than I’ve ever been, and it was all aimed at Kuvira. The whole time I still felt like I was myself… and that’s the part that’s scaring me the most.”
“I’ve never seen you like that… he’s obviously manipulating you, maybe it’s subliminal. Though that doesn’t explain how strong you were.” She frowns.
Asami’s looking away again, like there’s more to the story. A loud pop from the fire causes Korra to jump for a second, then she rests her eyes back upon Asami’s features, and rubs a palm up and down her shoulders.
“It… happened earlier that day too, though not as badly.”
“In my workshop… I was under the car, and out of nowhere I started thinking about Kuvira, I felt angrier than I ever have, and I couldn’t even hold onto my screwdriver. But then you turned up, and it kind of just… melted away.”
“Why do you think you’re suddenly this angry at her? I mean, I can’t blame you…”
“I have no idea. I think it’s like you said, Vaatu’s doing something, changing how I feel, how I think… and it terrifies me. I never thought I’d still be myself whilst doing terrible things…”
“What makes you think you were yourself though?”
“A tiny part of me wondered if it wasn’t a dream, and a bigger part of me didn’t care, and I even found myself enjoying what I did… enjoying it!” Asami sobs the last few words, so Korra pulls her closer still, nestles her head against Asami’s neck.
“That definitely doesn’t sound like the Asami I know.” She mumbles.
“You have to lock me up. Restrain me.”
“Korra! It isn’t safe… what if I hurt someone else? What if you don’t get there in time? What if I hurt someone close…” Asami looks at her, pain and distress evident in the expression, “what if I hurt you? I couldn’t stand it… it would destroy me. Please… ”
She grits her teeth, looks away and back to the flames in the fireplace. They’re flickering around, hungrily consuming oxygen whilst destroying the very wood that fuels them. Fire is like a virus… consuming everything until there’s nothing left, and then it dies. Beautiful. Pointless. Futile.
“Korra… I’m so scared…” Asami’s wavering voice pulls her away from the depressive thoughts, and she chides herself for selfishly wallowing in self-pity whilst the woman she loves is clearly suffering.
“It’s okay… I’m here.” She says, placing her hands at the sides of Asami’s face. The skin’s cold, a little clammy. She leans forwards, until their lips are but an inch apart.
“Don’t…” Asami whispers, “I might not be myself, remember…?”
She pauses, looks straight into Asami’s eyes, and strokes a hand into loose, black locks of hair.
“You are you. And I love you, and that’s all that matters.”
Asami’s face softens at the words… Korra closes the remaining inch, pressing her lips against the soft flesh beneath. She feels Asami’s arms slide around her waist, and before she knows it, they’re lying on the couch, kissing passionately, and she soon realises that she needs this every bit as much as Asami does.
She wants to be as close as possible, forget about the world, feel her, and only her… they’re soon frantically striping each other bare, lips and teeth capturing flesh, more hungrily than ever…
“Where are they?” Lin barks, feeling agitated, and tired.
“I told you Lin, I don’t know!” Tenzin raises his voice, starts to show tell-tale signs of anger with his reddening face.
“Korra can’t protect her forever… we have laws for a reason!”
“Lin, there’s more to this than…”
“There’s no excuse in this world that can excuse her abusing her power and nearly killing a prisoner. None!” She grunts, folding her arms, and then feels a firm hand squeeze her shoulder from behind.
“Hey, can I talk to you? In private?” It’s Kya.
She turns to face the water bender, and nods in silent agreement, wondering what Kya’s up to. Usually it would be no good, mischief or some nonsense, but Kya’s actually wearing a serious expression for once. She’s led into a spare room, one of many that are now empty at the air temple.
“For once, my brother’s right.” Kya says, looking at her with furrowed eyebrows.
“What do you mean?”
“I think you need to sit down, it’s a long story. I’ll get us some tea.”
Lin watches Kya leave the room, and sits herself down on a wooden stool. She finds her eyes drifting down towards Kya’s posterior, and quickly averts her gaze. She’s reminded of the time she actually had a crush on Kya… on Tenzin’s sister, of all people. She chuckles to herself at the thought, although if she’s completely honest, maybe it was more than a crush, and maybe it never went away.
She’d certainly been out of her mind with worry back when the air nomads were captured… when Kya was badly hurt. But she’s too old for this kind of silliness now… her job is all that matters, as is the safety of the city.
She’s snapped from her thoughts by Kya clicking fingers together in front of her eyes.
“Hellooo? You were in a different world, there.” Kya chuckles, pouring tea into two cups that are now laid out on a small, round table.
“I was just thinking back to the Zaheer incident.”
Kya sighs, “Well, after all that, it’s hard to believe those two have yet another battle to fight. Life’s just not fair, Lin-Bear.”
Her lips curl at the sound of her old nickname, from when they were kids. Kya still uses it sometimes, probably without realising. She takes one of the cups, blows the surface of the water and looks over the rim at Kya, who, surprisingly, still looks sincere, serious.
“So what’s the new battle? What’s all this about?” she asks, not sure she even wants to know the answer.
She listens, patiently, as Kya details things that sounds from absurd, to incredulous, to horrific. Were it anyone else, she’d laugh in their face. But Kya keeps a calm expression, a still tone the whole time, and she notices that the other woman’s hands are trembling around the held cup. She fights off an urge to cover the hands with her own, to comfort Kya.
“So, Asami’s not… Asami anymore?” She did wonder why someone so… caring would suddenly attempt a murder, it hadn’t made a whole lot of sense.
“We don’t know for sure, but she’s definitely being influenced.”
She closes her eyes. Those poor damn kids, after Zaheer, now this. It makes her sick to her stomach, but she still has a role to fulfil, and she can’t change that.
“I… still have to bring her in. She’s clearly dangerous.”
“I know. I’m sure they know it too. But Lin, imagine if you were in Asami’s shoes… the poor girl is probably terrified.”
A demon in your belly, doing who knows what from the inside. Lin shudders at the thought.
“I suppose Korra’s not having much fun, either.” She gulps the last mouthful of tea, and sets aside her cup.
“Watching a loved one suffer, having all the power of the avatar, not being able to do anything…” Kya sighs the words, looks close to tears.
“I’ll make… special arrangements. We’ll restrain her, but create a special cell, like Varrick had.”
“You can do that?” Kya looks visibly brighter at the idea, rests a hand on Lin’s thigh, and leans in close.
She coughs at the sudden contact, feeling sure there’s a heat rising to her cheeks as she awkwardly looks away, “I’m the chief of police. I can pull strings when I need to. But, I need to know where they are… and quickly, before anyone else gets hurt.”
Kya pauses before answering, clearly conflicted. She waits, though it’s hard to be patient. Eventually, Kya’s eyes meet hers, and the answer comes at last.
“There’s a place Korra’s been putting together. I’ve helped her out there a couple of times.”
“Then let’s go.” Lin nods towards the door, stands up, and is nearly bowled over by a suddenly excited Kya.
“Yay! Lin-bear and Kya-koala back in action!” Kya giggles, takes her hand, and she’s feeling like she’s thirty years younger as she’s led outside to her own car.
Asami holds Korra as closely as she can, enjoys the sensation of the naked body against her own, and nuzzles herself against Korra’s neck, feeling a strong pulse beat beneath her lips. She sighs against the skin, and smiles as Korra pulls their blanket up further, cocooning them both inside its warmth.
“I guess Lin will be here soon.” She whispers, feeling a sense of loss, before it’s even happened.
“I’m surprised she isn’t here already.” Korra answers, stroking her hair, “We can still get away. I know a few places.”
“No… I want to stay here. Hopefully we’ll figure something out…”
The uncertainty of what’ll happen next is still tearing away at her, though spending time alone with Korra has taken the edge off the fear, stemmed her anxiety, at least for a short time.
Morning light is starting to creep in through cracks in the window slats, and she’s tired, maybe from their frenzied lovemaking, or maybe from being awake most of the night, albeit not realising it. Her eyelids become heavy, and she’s nodding off just as a quiet knock sounds at the door.
“Korra? Asami?” Kya’s voice, though muffled behind the large, oak door, “It’s me… and Lin. Can we talk to you?”
“Come in. It’s open.” Korra shouts, though there’s a clear resentment to the tone.
There’s a click as the handle turns, and the two older benders enter the house. Surprisingly, Lin has a soft expression… almost even sympathetic. She struggles not to laugh. If Lin’s pitying them, then there truly is no hope.
“Uh, did you two want to get dressed?” Lin looks at them and then looks away, clearly embarrassed.
“Not really.” Korra says, matter-of-factly. She squeezes herself against Korra’s body all the more, mildly amused by the rebellious streak.
“Aww Lin, they’re so cute. Do you think we could be that cute?” Kya openly flirts with Lin, and Asami bursts out laughing at the exchange, especially at the colour rising up Lin’s face. She feels Korra’s chest jerking too, with barely restrained laughter.
Korra coughs, “Anyway, take a seat. We know why you’re here.”
Wooden chairs are pulled forward, and Lin sits, looks deep in thought.
“So, what’s the plan?” Asami breaks the silence, feels Korra stiffen at the words.
“Kya’s explained everything… yours is a… peculiar circumstance. I’ve arranged to have an old cell retrofitted into something a little more accommodating.”
“Accommodating?” Korra asks.
“There’s a proper bed. Radio. Phone. Workbench. Bathroom. But it’s still a cell, still behind bars, and she’ll still be fed by us, watched by us.”
Asami’s mood lifts slightly at the news. With a phone and workbench, she can still work, still engage with Rei over business matters.
“The bad news is, your sentence is indefinite. Until you both figure out a way to get that thing out.”
“Like hell it is!” Korra snaps, and Asami places her palm against Korra’s chest, trying to calm her.
“What else would you have us do, Korra?” Kya speaks, softly, “Sweetheart, I know this isn’t fair, to either of you… but look at what happened with Kuvira.”
Asami clears her throat, drawing everyone’s attention to her.
“It’s fine, Korra. Lin – it’s more than I could have ever hoped for, thank you. I’ll get ready now.”
“Asami, no!” Korra looks at her with despairing eyes.
“It’s okay, baby… it’s for the best…” she looks towards Lin, “Korra can enter the cell any time, right?” she asks, suddenly worried what she’ll do if the answer’s no.
“Yes, she can even live there for all I care. But you’ll be supervised... no funny business.”
She breathes a sigh of relief, “Then it’s settled. I’ll have Rei whip up a story about a long business trip I’m on…”
“They are all fools if they think bars can stop me…”
She tenses up at the words. Shit! Not now!
“You okay, Sato?” Lin asks. Must have seen her expression change.
“I’m fine, just nervous… Can you pardon us for a few minutes, whilst we change?” She manages to quickly speak the words, even though anxiety burns hotly at the back of her skull.
“We’ll wait outside.” Kya nods, takes Lin’s hand, and they leave, closing the door behind.
“Korra… he’s… here…” she chokes the words, squeezes her eyes shut as Korra’s palms are placed either side of her face.
“Nothing can stop me. I will soon kill Korra.”
“You would have done so already, if you could. You’re bluffing.”
“Am I? Did you enjoy your sleepwalk last night? Hah!”
She can almost feel Vaatu leering, and senses the seething, swirling red and black mist at the back of her mind. She opens her eyes, and her heart crumples when she sees tears streaming out of delicate, blue eyes.
“Korra… I’m so sorry… but we have to go. Now.” She places a hand to the side of Korra’s cheek, tries to drown out the sneers, the mockery from Vaatu, and quickly kisses her.
By the time they’re dressed, Vaatu’s thankfully gone quiet again. She leaves the house in Korra’s arms, they get into the back seat of Lin’s car, and they’re driven to her new ‘home’ in relative silence.