Buy Two, Get One Free
Korra gets too excited and, uhh....yeah. Bolin hosts a benefit concert.
Part 2 - Noodles
Section 3: "Buy Two, Get One Free"
"Asami, maybe you should just put the books back," sighed Korra.
Asami had insisted that they visit Wan Shi Tong's Spirit Library almost instantly after Korra had explained its existence. Which was really just second hand information from Jinora. She had nearly exploded with excitement at the prospect of...whatever it was she was researching, Korra wasn't entirely sure. Something about spirit energy and the way that both worlds intersected. It made Asami happy, though, and that's all she really cared about.
The old bird had, begrudgingly, allowed them to enter and borrow what they wished so long as Korra explained how she'd managed to create a new spirit portal from what was, apparently, the wrong side. The original two at the poles had been created from the spirit world long before the existence of the Avatar, but the one she'd made, in the heart of Republic City, was something distinctly different. They had talked and argued for hours, getting nowhere, while Asami presumably ran around the massive library. Every few minutes she'd hear some sound of surprise, elation or giddiness off in the distance.
Korra supposed it was fitting that she was able to drag the conversation out as long as she did, even if it wasn't her choice. It certainly gave Asami time to gather what she needed.
Which was a little too much, apparently.
"You should listen to the Avatar, human. I have very little patience for those who abuse my generosity," bellowed Wan Shi Tong, his larger-than-life voice echoing throughout the tall and open halls of the library. He puffed out his chest and brought his beak mere inches from Asami's nose. "You have revealed your greed in your search for information, just as every human has before you. Leave now, and I will forgive this unfortunate mistake."
Asami shook her head defiantly and held the stack of books close to her chest. "No, absolutely not. I followed proper procedure for checking them out." She glared at the giant owl spirit. "I filled out your forms, I gave you new information, lots of new information, simply because I believe in sharing knowledge, rather than hoarding it."
"...those are the old rules, but I will humor you. When did you give me new information? I do not recall this."
"Just now. Korra, could you please give him the book at the bottom of my pack?"
Korra nodded and started fishing through Asami's things. Sweatpants, make up, discarded cups of noodles, a...lace nightgown, a spare change of clothes, a flashlight, a bedroll and a small book. She read the cover. "An Introduction to Electrical Engineering, by...Hiroshi Sato? Why were you carrying this?"
"...I needed to bring a piece of him with me, but you sort of took care of that part, now didn't you?"
Korra smiled bashfully. "Well. Yeah. A little."
Wan Shi Tong picked up the book with his beak and set it down on the information desk. "Amusing, but what makes you think this single book is equal to those you are holding?"
"The most recent engineering text you have here is from over a hundred years ago. This was published five years ago. Your knowledge is outdated without this book."
"I cannot deny this. Human technology has advanced far beyond what I had previously thought possible. However, you must understand my hesitation in this matter. You may have the Avatar's blessing, which carries far more weight these days, but you yourself are only human. In case you were not informed, my leniency toward humans once nearly destroyed your moon."
Asami frowned. "I know my history."
"Then you should also know that my knowledge of astronomy was also abused for the sake of war. A perfectly peaceful practice of studying the stars transformed into a weapon. Not unlike your recent problem regarding the spirit vines. Over the countless millennia of human existence, this library has been exploited time and time again for the sake of personal gain, no matter how noble the intention."
Asami scowled at the old bird. "Well, in case you hadn't noticed, the world has changed! Both of ours! Humans have changed, too! Spirits and humans are living together in peace, and the only reason that's possible is because I fought for the wilds! They would have been paved over or attacked constantly if I hadn't done something about it." She huffs. "I may not be a spiritual person, but I know a thing or two about tolerance and understanding."
"The fact that you are not spiritual makes me question my decision to allow you within this library at all! This is a sanctuary of knowledge for those who seek enlightenment!"
Korra pouted and squeezed herself between the two bickering intellectuals. "Okay, that's enough. Asami, how many books do you have?"
"How many do you need?"
Korra shot her a sidelong glance. "Asami…"
Wan Shi Tong huffed and shook his head. "Absolutely unacceptable. Ten is far too many. I will accept no more than a single book!"
Asami grumbled. "...fine. I can live with five books. Are those terms agreeable, Wan Shi Tong?"
The old bird ruffled his feathers. "I would not call them agreeable, but I will...tolerate them. Do not betray this kindness, human. That goes the same for you, Avatar." He flapped his wings powerfully and flew far into the deeper reaches of the library, his black feathers quickly vanishing from sight.
Korra crossed her arms and followed Asami as she packed her newly acquired books. "I think I just used up my one favor with him. Please tell me it was worth it."
"I wouldn't have put you in that position if it wasn't." Asami grinned and slung her bag over her shoulder. "...especially since I really only needed one book." She giggled and began walking through the massive stone archways of the library. Her boots clacked against the floor and the sound echoed throughout. "The other four are just in case I need to cross-reference a few things."
Korra stared blankly at Asami and caught up to her. They walked in tandem toward the bright light of the entrance. "So, you just outsmarted Wan Shi Tong."
"Yes. Yes I did."
"The All Knowing Spirit of Knowledge."
"Grossly exaggerated, if you ask me."
"He who knows ten thousand things."
"Ten thousand things that may, or may not be, accurate."
Korra pinched her brow. "Asami. That...really was not okay."
Asami turned to her with a wrinkled nose. "...why? I treated him with respect, then he berated me for who I was, so I manipulated him into getting what he thought hewanted."
Korra huffed as they walked through the enormous doors of the library and out to the yellow stone courtyard. Flying spirits twirled off the distance, dancing with the colors and light that permeated every angle of the Spirit World. "But that's what you wanted! You only made him think that he wanted to compromise. And you manipulated me, too!"
Asami frowned slightly. "Well, yes, but that's something you'd have done anyway. It's just a business tactic. He was acting like a jerk, I don't see what the issue is."
"You're supposed to respect the spirits, Asami."
"Oh, I did respect him. I respected his sanctuary, his rules, and his generosity." She put a hand on her hip. "You told me Wan Shi Tong was important, so I took that on faith, because I trust you. And I still think you're right. He is important, but that doesn't mean he has the right to treat me like I'm somehow inferior to him."
Korra opened her mouth but then closed it. She scratched her head. "Well, that's true, but...it just feels wrong in my gut. I just get the feeling you're not supposed to do that."
Asami sighed. "Okay, well, what shouldI have done?"
"Accept what ever terms he sets forth. If he says no, you excuse yourself and move on."
Asami stared blankly at her. "...you can't possibly be serious. You're telling me not to fight for what I want. You, of all people."
"Okay, yeah, I get what you're saying." Korra rubbed her forehead. "It's not the same with spirits!"
Asami tilted her head and crossed her arms. "Why?"
"Why is respect different for spirits than it is for humans?"
"I don't know, it just sort of is."
Asami furrowed her brow. "That's not really an answer."
Korra flipped her hands in the air. "Well, that's the best one I have! I'm sorry, all right, but I can't...I don't really have the words for it. I don't entirely understand it myself, but my gut tells me that it's just not done." She puffed out her cheeks. "Why wasn't this a problem with Iroh? You were instantly humble around him."
"Korra, he treated me with respect. He didn't look down on me. He didn't berate me. He wasn't condescending. Wan Shi Tong did not respect me, so I have no reason to respect him."
Korra had no idea how to argue with that. Maybe Asami was right. Maybe Wan Shi Tong wasn't in the right. If he had been human, Korra might've leapt down his throat for berating her. "...I guess you're kinda right, Asami. Maybe that's part of the change that needs to happen, you know? Humans have always respected spirits, mostly, so maybe now it's time for them to respect us." She shrugged. "If we're gonna live together, in both worlds, there's gonna need to be a level of mutual respect and understanding."
It was so obvious, now that she thought about it. Of course the spirits needed to be treated with the same standards as humans. They had to stop revering them just as much as they needed to stop discarding them altogether. "Nice job, noodles," she said, with a crooked grin.
Asami twitched. Everywhere. "...thanks...hot-" She closed her eyes and pursed her lips. "That's not fair and you know it. Yours actually makes sense."
Korra put both hands on her hips. "Really now?"
Asami blushed for the briefest of moments, but kept her eyes solely on Korra. "Yes. Yes it most certainly does."
Korra's smile softened.
They're both silent for a few moments, staring at one another. Of course, it's Korra's massive stomach growl that broke the silence. She looked down at her stomach with wide eyes.
"We're out of food, Korra."
She deflated. "I know."
"We have to go back."
"...I know." Korra grabbed Asami's hand and took a small breath. "Okay. Ready?"
"Not really, but I don't plan on walking."
Korra smiled. She focused on the energy radiating from the spirit portal, her spirit portal, and moved the both of them through the everlasting folds and streaking colors of the Spirit World. And just like that, they were in the flowerbed again. White and purple. Hundreds of gnarled trees that oddly resembled the Tree of Time.
The spirit portal was bright with pure yellows and whites emanating from it, coloring the sky in a beautifully fluid pattern. The light washed over them, and Korra found it comforting. Asami, however, looked like she might vomit.
"I will never get used to that."
"You drive fast satomobiles. I don't understand how this is any different."
"You just moved, by my guess, several thousand miles in two seconds. Those are not the same." She slowed her breath. "Give me a moment."
Asami blinked and slapped her forehead. "Oh, I cannot believe this happened."
"What? What's wrong?"
Asami groans and fidgets. "We came here to take a break from all our crazy and insanely demanding responsibilities, and now we're leaving with more of them!" She rubs her eyes. "...one conversation with Iroh and your entire outlook on the world changes. Just like that."
"He has a way of doing that." Korra sighed and rubbed the sides of her eyes with her palms. "Trust me, though. It'll be for the best. For both of us." She took Asami's hands in her own and smiled. "We're doing this together, remember? It's not just you against the world, or just me against...both worlds. It's you and me. Instant noodles."
Asami laughed. "That still sounds ridiculous, but you're right." She smiled kindly. "Thank you, for all of this. For helping me remember. For understanding. For knowing what I needed before I knew myself." She squeezed their hands together. "For this."
Korra raised a cocky brow. "Hey, come on. Don't talk like that. This isn't an end of an era, or anything. We're just going home. Nothing too big about that, right?"
"Right." Asami snorted and touched their foreheads together. "I'm not that much of a romantic. Give me a little credit, Korra. This just meant a lot to me, and I want you to know that."
"Believe me, I know."
Asami tilted her head. "Well, just to be sure, I think I need to make it extra clear. I'll need to show you, though. I don't quite have the words." She leaned closer, brushing her lips against Korra's. "The Spirit World reflects the Avatar's emotions, remember?" she whispered. "And, somehow, if I'm touching you, my emotions are treated the same?"
Korra's heart pounded in her chest and her mouth magically dried up. She should have expected that, in hindsight. "Both of those things are true."
"Then I know just how to show you."
Korra was not prepared for just how warm Asami's lips were. Also her everything. It's wasn't the first time they kissed, no most certainly not, but it was by far the most passionate. And the longest. And the most heated. Korra wrapped her arms around her neck as Asami's hands found their way to her waist and somehow she was pulled even closer. Upon until that very moment in her life, breathing through her nose had never been so important. She wasn't sure how much time had passed when they finally broke apart, but the fact that her lips were numb was a pretty good indication that it was a long time.
Korra was flushed. Everywhere. Everywhere. She laughed breathlessly and buried her head in Asami's shoulder, embracing her. She felt a little dizzy. "You're waaaaaaaay too good at that."
"One of my lesser known talents, to be sure." Asami chuckled and absently ran her fingers through Korra's hair. "...and I think this whole Spirit World feelings thing is one of yours."
Korra giggled and raised her head. "Oh, right, the...emotions thing." She looked around them and her mouth fell open. "Woah."
For as far as she could see, and most likely beyond, the field of purple and white flowers were completely in bloom. They glistened in the light coming from the portal, and calmly swayed from side to side. The once dead trees were now covered in leaves. Life. Everything was silent. No wind. No spirits around. Nothing to disturb them.
It was perfect.
Asami snickered, chortled, chuckled and then finally broke into a hearty laugh. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry, this is beautiful, but it's like something out of a trashy romance novel! The two lovers kiss, and all the flowers bloom because the nature spirit gave them her blessing. And then everything was perfect forever." She wiped away a few tears from her eyes, and Korra couldn't tell what caused them. "So, yes. This is more or less how much this meant to me."
Korra bit her lower lip. Things needed to change in the spirit world. Humans and spirits needed to treated as equals. The spirit world wasn't all hallowed ground, despite Raava's rather loud insistence that it indeed was and Korra, no, don't even think about doing that kind of thing here it's just not done.
...guess she'll just have to deal with it.
With no warning, Korra crushed her lips against Asami's, dragging her into a fierce, but brief kiss. She pulled her black hair out if it's tie and began unbuttoning Asami's jacket. She stopped almost instantly, realizing that there wasn't...exactly precedent for that between them. "I, uh…"
Asami was blushing from head to toe. "Wait, I thought…" She blinked a few times. "I...we had that whole conversation that we couldn't in the Spirit World. How it wasn't okay. You were pretty firm on that. I think you said Raava was pretty firm on it, too."
"You said things needed to change. I agree."
"This quickly? That was five minutes ago!"
"I'm not always good at being patient, remember?"
Asami snickered. "Flowerbeds aren't real beds, you know."
"How am I supposed to react?! You just kissed me so hard that it actually changed the world around us!"
"That...is a fair point."
Asami smirked and lowered her eyes. "Kiss me again, and we'll see how things go."
Korra threw herself at Asami and grossly miscalculated just how fast she was moving. Asami caught her, lips and all, but she stumbled backward. She lost her balance and before she had a chance to right herself or even drop Korra, they both fell backward into the spirit portal with a panicked yelp.
As the world's first mover star, Bolin enjoyed certain perks. Many of them involved being invited to things. Weddings, parties, galas, pro-bending (which he found hysterical), and every other kind of event were always within his reach. Of course, he couldn't attend all of them. He was only one man! One devilishly handsome man, but one man all the same.
Sometimes, though, there came an event that was so important and noteworthy that he wouldn't miss it for the world. When President Raiko had approached him and asked if he wanted to host a benefit concert to raise funds to expand Republic City, his exact words were:
"...let me just check with Opal first, though."
Bolin inspected himself in the mirror. Finely pressed suit. He grinned. Great teeth. Yes. Very good. He fixed his hair and made extra sure he'd tied his bowtie right. He had not. He frowned and his posture fell apart. "Opal, could you please help me with the bowtie? I swear, it's like they change how they make these things every time…"
Opal chuckled as she walked up beside him. She was wearing an interesting, but still very stunning, combination of her formal clothing from Zaofu and her airbender wingsuit. Her deft hands began correctly tying his bowtie. "I promise you that they don't. Besides, it's cute that I get to help you with little things like this." Oh, Opal. Always so gorgeous, and smart, and better with her hands at basically everything…not like that. Well, yes also like that. One of a kind. "And if it means I get to make you look even more handsome than you already are, then it's sort of a no brainer." She finished her work and patted him on the chest.
Bolin smiled. "How many times have I told you that I love you today?"
"Today, specifically? Only around twenty three times."
He raised both his large eyebrows. "Wow, really? That...okay, seems like a lot."
Opal giggled and gave him a quick kiss. "Not really. It's part of your charm. Essentially."
"Well, then let's make it twenty four!" he said, with gusto. "Opal Beifong, you are the best and I love you."
"Love you too, Bo."
Bolin cracked his neck. "Okay. Let's do this." He marched out of the bathroom and straight into the inner hallways of the air temple. Oh. Right. They still had to...with the bison. Yup. "Opal, honey, I'm gonna grab Mako. Meet you at the stables, okay?"
Opal smiled and waved him off. "Yeah, sounds good. I need a few more minutes anyway. You would not believe where these wingsuits get stuck." She struggled with the form-fitting suit. "I swear it's like Asami designed them like this…"
Bolin shrugged and closed the door behind him. Knowing Asami...well, she...nah, that would be ridiculous. She probably just overlooked it, or it was something necessary Opal didn't know about. He walked across the hall toward his brother's room, but before he could get there he came across the face of a monster.
A ruthless general bent on conquering the world.
The most powerful airbender of all time.
"Got all your farts out, little buddy? This is gonna be an open air concert, so if you start going...everybody is going to notice," he says, chuckling.
Meelo pouted up at him. "Who says I don't want them to notice, huh? You can't tell me not to fart! Nobody can!"
Bolin loved Tenzin's kids, but sometimes he needed to use little white lies so they'd stay out of trouble. Mostly. Thankfully, Meelo was weak to one thing, and one thing only. "Korra told me to tell you that you need to hold your farts until after the concert." Trump card!
"Oh, okay. Shouldn't be a problem. I'm-" He farted. "-totally in control." He jabbed a finger up at Bolin. "You didn't see, hear or smell anything."
Bolin smiled and saluted. "Of course not, sir!"
"Good! Carry on, soldier," he said, marching off toward the kitchen. Adorable.
Bolin knocked on his brother's door. "Bro, you ready yet? I kinda don't wanna be late for this. Because I'm hosting it. And because literally everyone we know is gonna be there. Also because it's really nice out tonight."
"Got any more reasons I should know about, or is that all of them?" asked Mako.
"I'm sure I'll think of some later. Can I come in?"
Bolin slid inside and closed the door behind him. "So, Opal and I have been talking, and we were thinking that, you know, Mako really needs to get back in the dating scene. How would you like to have the two best wingmen, uh, wingman and wingwoman, okay actually she's literally a wingwoman so-Hey, your hair is back to normal! That's awesome."
Mako raised a very tightly trimmed brow. "I just want to point out that it took you around four sentences to notice that, but thanks. It feels good to have it back, actually." And not only that! Mako was dressed in...exactly the same suit he was at Varrick's wedding. Maybe he doesn't own another suit?
Well, maybe it was the only one he owned that accommodated the cast on his arm.
Bolin grinned and sidled up beside him. "Glad to hear it, bro. Because you seriously looked like General Iroh. It was weird for everyone."
Mako sighed. "That was...sort of the point. Grandma insisted that I do my hair like that."
"...well, she does like royalty."
"Yes. She does."
He clapped Mako on the back. "Anyway, about you and dating. Whaddya say? C'mon, we'll find you somebody great! There are millions of women in this city, and you know how they like a man in uniform," he said, wiggling his brows and poking Mako with his elbow.
Mako seemed to consider it for a moment. "...oh, sure. Why not? As soon as I get out of this cast, we'll give it a try. What could possibly go wrong?"
Bolin gave him a bemused expression. "Well. Everything now, since you just asked that question. Do you even watch the movers, Mako?"
"What? What do movers have to do with...whatever it is that I said?"
Bolin sighed and hugged his big brother. "It's okay, bro. I'll make sure no crazy lady tries to…"
"...do the things that Eska did?"
"Yes. Yes, exactly those things. Good idea, good point. I actually have a bunch of plans, in case that happens."
Mako wrinkled his nose. "To you or to me?"
"They're transferable. Except for the ones that involve tunnels, 'cause, you know. You can't earthbend."
Mako clenched his jaw. "I feel safer already."
Bolin flailed his arms. "Hey, it's not like I won't be there! I can earthbend the tunnels if it comes to that. Besides, this is all future stuff. We should be focusing on the now. Specifically, how amazing this concert is gonna be!"
Mako nodded. "You know what? You're right. This is going to be a great night for the whole city, and you…" He put his good hand on Bolin's shoulder. "You're going to do great out there. There's a good reason you're a mover star, little bro."
"Thanks, big bro. All right, c'mon, let's go wrangle up everyone else."
Bolin and Mako left the older brother's room and quickly dodged a gaggle of airbenders flying past them. It was only a moment, but Bolin was able to get a look at Ikki flying by with her wingsuit, carrying a book, with Jinora close behind her. "Woah!"
"IKKI! GIVE IT BACK! THAT IS A PIECE OF PRIVATE PROPERTY!" yelled Jinora.
"It can't be private, 'cause we're Air Nomads! We don't own anything!" replied Ikki.
"Oh, so now you want to follow the old traditions?! When it's convenient for you?"
Tenzin came rushing toward them, his cape bellowing behind him. "Mako. Bolin." He slowed just long enough to give them both a friendly nod.
"IKKI! JINORA! STOP FLYING THROUGH THE TEMPLE THIS INSTANT OR I'M GOING TO...OR I'LL...I'LL GROUND YOU FROM GOING ON MISSIONS!"
"You can't do that! I'm a master airbender!"
"You're also my daughter!"
"Hello, boys." Pema jogged after Tenzin, carrying Rohan with her. "Don't mind me! Just trying to get everyone back on track!"
"Good luck!" Bolin looked at Mako, and shrugged. "Kids."
Mako laughed. "Yeah, exactly."
The fabulous bending brothers, man Bolin really missed that name, walked out into the courtyard. The night was young and it really was just wonderful out. A cool breeze, a lovely sunset glowing across Yue Bay. The perfect night for an open air concert.
"I don't think I'm ever going to get used to that thing being so bright all the time," said Mako, pointing toward the spirit portal. Bright yellow and fluctuating between...things? It was calming to look at it.
"That's what you said about living at the Air Temple."
"And us not being together like, all the time when I went to work with Kuvira."
"And being so casual with Lin."
"Bolin, I get it. You're right. It's just a big light in the sky. We've all gotta to deal with it."
Bolin smirked. "Interesting choice of words."
Mako chuckled. "Wow, yeah. Didn't even mean to do that."
"Suuuure you didn't."
Mako rolled his eyes. "Anyway...wait, weren't we supposed to tell more people it's time to leave?"
"Hm? Oh, uh, yeah, but we ran into everybody we needed to on the way, so we're good."
"...we didn't tell them it was time to go."
"Tenzin was all over that."
"Uh, okay. What about Opal?"
"She's waiting for us at the stables."
"He told me he was going to go get the bison ready about an hour ago."
Mako slapped his forehead. "Then why are we just standing here?"
Bolin put his palm on his chest. "Well, I was enjoying the evening and your company."
"I...but...fine, okay, I see your point." Mako sighed started walking toward the stables. "Come on, Bo. Let's get going."
They started walking over to the stables. Then jogging. Running. Okay, then it turned it a sprint, and all of a sudden they were racing. Mako had longer legs, so he had the advantage. Or so he thought.
"Give it up, Bolin! You can't win!"
"Really? Then what's this I'm doing?" He swung his arms upward and a pillar of earth propelled him into the sky, straight toward the Juicy's saddle "Opal! Break my fall!" Opal waved her arms in a spiral motion and caught Bolin in a cushion of air, slowing him down so that he landed comfortably by her side. "Thank you."
Mako ran up to the bison with a very petulant frown. "What was that?! I thought we agreed we couldn't use bending! You realize I can fly, right?"
"I am well aware of your firebending prowess, Mako, but sadly this time we didn't actually specify that we couldn't use bending or not."
"It's an unwritten rule. Every time we race, no bending. For fifteen years."
Mako did sort of have a point. "...okay, fine. I cheated, I'll admit it. Want a boost up?"
Bolin smacked his palms against the saddle and popped Mako up into it with earthbending. "We good to go?" He looked over at Oogi and Tenzin's family. Also Kai. They were all accounted for. "Tenzin! We're good!"
"Okay! Oogi, yip yip!"
"Juicy, yip yip!"
The two bison took off in tandem and quickly rose to a comfortable altitude. Or, at least as comfortable as an earthbender could be while flying. Bolin looked down at the city below. His city. Mako's city. Korra's city. Asami's city. Actually, it was quite literally Asami's city. About 80% of it had the Future Industries logo stamped on it. The outer districts were mostly undamaged by Kuvira's invasion, but downtown...well, it was essentially obliterated. And covered in vines. And had a giant spirit portal, which made it the perfect venue for the concert!
Natural lighting, big open space, and lots of beauty all around. It was an event for everyone who called Republic City home. Humans and Spirits.
"I'm super glad that Narook's didn't get destroyed."
"Me too, bro."
"Also the pro-bending stadium."
"Heh. Yeah, I'm with you there."
Oogi landed first, since Tenzin and his family were going to be in the audience. Juicy went a little further toward the portal, and Bolin could already see the stage was almost ready. It was going to be awesome. The bison landed and Bolin hopped off without a second thought. "See you guys after the concert!"
Opal blew a kiss at him, and he caught it. Then he stored it in his pocket. That made...four hundred and twenty seven.
Bolin trotted over to the control center for the concert, which was really just a broadcast station converted so that it could work outdoors. Laborers hauled big speakers and boxes of instruments onto the stage at a staggering rate. He knew this thing was popular, but that was a lot of boxes. Wait, he knew the guy working at the station.
"Well, if it isn't my favorite underdog!" He got up from his seat to shake Bolin's hand. "How yah been, kid?"
"Great! Great. How are you?"
"Oh, I'm doing just fine. Still living the dream! Commentating on anything and everything. What about you? Haven't seen you in a while, whatcha been up to?"
"Uhhh, well, I went on a worldwide journey to find new airbenders, fought some terrorists, learned how to lavabend. Then I joined Kuvira's army and helped her conquer the Earth Kingdom before I realized she was crazy and evil. And then I defected back to the United Republic, warned them about a super weapon, not the robot, the big spirit cannon, aaaand then I helped blow it up. And now I'm here talking to you!"
Shinobi stared at him with wide, unblinking eyes. "Wow! You live quite a life!"
Bolin grinned. "Thanks, I try to make it worth living, you know? Give it a little spice everyday."
"Sort of seems like you're adding a bit too much, if you ask me."
Bolin raised a brow. "Hey, it's taken me a long time perfect this recipe that we call life, okay? I'd appreciate it if you didn't critique my methods.
"...wait, back up a bit. You said you could lavabend?"
"Huh? Oh, yeah. Only living lavabender. That would be...super illegal in pro-bending, right?"
Shinobi shrugged. "I've no idea. There's nothing in the rule book about it."
Bolin stroked his chin. "Hm. I'll keep that in mind. Anyway, it was great seeing you, Shiro! I'll let you get back to work."
Bolin spun toward the voice and made a big open mouth smile. "VARRICK!" He ran up and gave him a quick hug. "What are you doing here?" He noticed Zhu Li standing next to him. "Oh hey, Zhu Li! What are you two doing here?"
"The concert! Raiko was kind enough to offer me the chance to film this big shindig!" He put his arm around Bolin and pointed toward the portal. "I'm telling you, kid, the mover I make out of this is gonna be seen around the world! I'll make millions!"
"...which he will then donate to Republic City in order to help fund its expansion and reconstruction," added Zhu Li with a smile.
"Right. Yes. Charity. Keep forgetting I'm a philanthropist now. Know what those kind of people are, Bolin?'
"No, I do not."
"They just give their money away. That's what they do. That's their entire life. They're crazy!"
Bolin raised his brows. "That doesn't...make any sense."
"I said the same thing, Bolin. Believe me, I tried to fight it, but then I remembered that I helped save this city." He grinned and struck a heroic pose. "And that if Varrick Industries International is going to be on top again, I've gotta start from the bottom and do it right this time!"
Zhu Li chuckled. "Bolin, trust me. He truly is committed to this new direction. And...I like to think I had a little hand in it."
Varrick smiled and picked up Zhu Li. "Are you kidding?! This was your idea, all along. And you know I'd do anything for you." His face twitched. "Except get a divorce! I will never get one of those! Oh, hey, wait, isn't the concert about to start?"
Bolin turned back around toward the control booth. "Hey, Shiro! How much time until the concert starts?!"
"Two minutes! Better get on up there, kid!"
"Okay, I've gotta go. We'll catch up soon, okay?"
"Of course, Bolin."
"You got it, Nuktuk."
"No can do."
Bolin sighed and hopped up to the stage. He walked off toward the side of it and took a look at the turnout. It was amazing. There were more people there than at a fully packed pro-bending match! Families, couples, random other people and spirits all sitting together on picnic blankets. It was truly a beautiful sight.
"We're on in five…"
Bolin smoothed out his jacket.
He checked his cuffs.
He cracked his neck.
He cracked his knuckles.
"One! We're live!
He snapped his fingers and grinned.
Bolin stepped out on to the center of the stage with a big smile and picked up the microphone. "Hello, Republic City! How are you all doing tonight?!"
The crowd roared with cheer and applause. It washed over Bolin just as it did all those years ago when he was just a little Fire Ferret. My, how things have changed.
"That's great! That's fantastic! I'm glad you're all doing so well. My name is Bolin, of the Future Industries Fire Ferrets, but some of you may know me a little better as Nuktuk! Hero of the South!"
More cheers and applause. If Bolin was anything, he was a crowd pleaser. A man of the people.
"But I'm not here today to talk about movers, pro-bending, or civil wars, or terrorists, or really anything negative. I am here today, to talk about our city." He bowed his head. "Two weeks ago, we suffered a great loss, but we were also granted a beautiful gift!" He gestured up toward the spirit portal behind him. "This spirit portal is a testament to just how strong and united our city has become over the years! When I look out in the audience, I see not only the people of every nation, but spirits as well! Howdy, spirits! Nice to see you all out tonight!"
The crowd laughed.
"Seriously, folks. We did it. We survived. We triumphed when no one else could! And we owe it all to-"
"Now, hold on a moment! Something is coming out of the spirit portal!" commented Shiro Shinobi, his distinct voice blasting out of the speakers next to the stage.
Bolin raised a brow and turned around to see that there was indeed something, or rather someone coming out of the...Oh. Oh, there's just no way. Two figures fell backward out of the portal and rolled down the small hillside, screaming as they went. They crashed into several instruments and settled directly next to Bolin.
"No, it's someone! Two someones! They're tumbling down the hillside, folks, screaming the whole way, and oh they've just crashed into some of the instruments! Tahno and the Formers are not going to be happy, but that has gotta hurt!"
Somewhere, Bolin heard a record skip.
There was Korra, firmly mounted on top of Asami, who was partially undressed. Oh, he so called that. Knew it. Knew it. Kai owed him fifty yuans. Wait, who else was in that pool-RIGHT! Korra. Back to Korra. They were both badly bruised and shaken, and didn't seem to realize what exactly was going on. In fact, they looked pretty out of it. Korra appeared slightly unconscious. Lucky for them, their best friend Bolin was there to bail them out.
They were mumbling something, so he had to act fast.
"Are my eyes playing tricks on me, or is that-"
"AVATAR KORRA, ladies and gentlemen! And spirits! Come on, she's the reason why we're all still kicking tonight!" he yelled, striking as powerful a pose as he could. Wake up, Korra.
Korra's entire head was ringing. Things were blurry, and too loud. Everything hurt. She rubbed her forehead and clenched her eyes shut. "...ow. You all right, Asami?" she asked, resting her head on her chest.
"Yeah, I'm okay. Little banged up, but I'll be fine. Give me a little war...ning…next time…" she trailed off.
"Korra?" she whispered.
Korra looked up and allowed her eyes to focus. Over a hundred thousand people, and spirits, were staring right at her. Film crews were trained at them. Everything was so loud and-wait. People. Hundred thousand...people. Korra's entire head lost all color as she stared out into the audience, frozen.
"-KORRA, ladies and gentlemen! And spirits! Come on, she's the reason why we're all still kicking tonight!" yelled a voice right next to and above her. One she recognized.
"Yes! It is folks! For those of you way in the back, or at home, Avatar Korra, and what looks like Future Industries CEO Asami Sato have just fallen out of the spirit portal! They look pretty banged up and in a rather compromising position, in this commentator's opinion."
Korra looked up to find Bolin, and started breathing again. Okay. Don't panic. She could do...whatever this was. She had backup. She carefully got to her feet and helped Asami to hers.
Bolin gave her the microphone. "Say something," he whispered. "Got some lipstick smeared on you."
Korra blinked and stared at the microphone for a moment. She wiped off Asami's lipstick. Bolin had her back. Right. Public Statements. Yes! But, more...inspiring? Okay. Okay. She's got this. "GOOD EVENING, REPUBLIC CITY!" she screamed.
Cheering. Applause. So many people. Pass it off as planned. Special guest appearance. Surprise! What was even happening?
"I just took a nice, long trip to the Spirit World, because I wanted to make sure that this portal is safe and fully functional! Well, good news everybody! It's got my seal of approval! No more braving the freezing blizzards of the poles to get in there!"
"...got my seal of approval! No more braving the freezing blizzards of the poles to get in there!" boomed Korra, her voice blasting out of the speakers all over the open field.
Varrick stared at the stage with the widest eyes he'd ever been able to muster. Korra and Asami. Now that was something he hadn't seen coming! Well, good for them! And for him, for catching it all on film! He still impressed himself sometimes. He chuckled mischievously and leaned down toward Zhu Li. "I think we just hit a cinematic goldmine with this one, Zhu Li," he whispered. "Forget millions. We'll make billions! Tell cameras three and four to do the thing!" He stared off into space. "Oh, wait, right, they'll have no idea what I'm talking about." He picked up his radio. "Camera three, track Avatar Korra. Camera four, keep your eyes on Sato. Leave number one open in case something else crazy happens, and camera two I want you to get the whole thing in a big wide angle shot."
"Excellent practice, Varrick." Zhu Li turned his radio on with a tiny smile. "Now, time for the real thing."
He smiled down at her. "I love you."
"Now, I'm sure you all are wondering…" Korra took the mic off the stand and began pacing across the stage. "Why I came back. Right? Come on, be honest." There was some grumbling in the crowd. Okay, she was getting to them. Good. "The Avatar is the bridge between both worlds, so shouldn't I be spending as much time there as I do here? Well, to put it bluntly, no."
Bolin gave her two thumbs up and a nervous smile. "You're doin' great," he whispered as she walked past him.
"And there's a very simple reason for that. It's because there's no place I'd rather be…" She walked directly in front of the spirit portal and pointed her index finger toward the sky."...than REPUBLIC CITY!"
"...there's no place I'd rather be than REPUBLIC CITY!"
Lin couldn't stop herself from grinning up at the stage. She had just won so many yuans. In all the chaos of their lives, those two kids actually, finally, found one another. It was actually kind of touching, not that she cared that much about it. Still, it was nice to see that poor Sato girl actually catch a break for once. Fate really dealt her a cruel hand, but she supposed it wasn't as cruel as it could have been.
"Hey, Su," she said, nudging her younger sister. "Who's crazy now?"
Su huffed and crossed her arms. "I never said you were crazy! I just said I didn't like the idea of making a game out of other people's romantic lives!" She smoothed out her formal Zaofu dress. "I really don't see how that's so difficult to understand."
"It's not, and it's adorable that you think you can lie to me."
"I'm not lying."
"Really, then why did your pulse shoot up the second they fell onto the stage?"
Su glared at Lin. "Because I was happy for them! Okay?! Is that what you want to hear?! That I'm glad that something good came out of all of this?!"
Lin smiled. "Yeah, basically."
"No, just your older, wiser, sister."
"Older, yes. Not sure about that wisdom you're talking about."
"Last time I checked, I wasn't the one who raised a surrogate daughter who ended up being a tyrannical dictator," said Lin, smirking.
Su fell silent and bowed her head. "...that was low, Lin."
Lin patted her on the back. "She's still alive, and in lock-up. So is Junior. You're going to have to deal with them eventually. Can't just sweep it under the rug. This is your chance to prove, once and for all, that you're a better mother than mom ever was."
"I suppose you're right..."
"Oh, shut up."
Korra continued to walk back and forth across the stage, because really that's all she could think of doing. "This city is my home. It's Bolin's home. It's Asami's home. It's everyone's home, because that is exactly the kind of place the United Republic is supposed to be! We have people of every culture, every nation, and now even spirits all gathered here tonight to-"
"Benefit concert. Charity. Expanding the city," Bolin whispered while passing off a stack of note cards into her hands. "Use these."
"-hear some of our great city's best musicians, so we can rebuild and expand! Stronger and better than ever! How amazing is that? In four years, we've survived three massive attacks on our city! The first were the Equalists, and the bloodbender Amon. And you know what? We beat him, and the non-benders of this city have equal representation in our government!"
That got them going. Most of them were non-benders, of course. Korra quickly scanned through the cards Bolin handed her. Oh! It was a speech! Okay, fantastic, she could work with that.
If she just acted like Bolin, and talked like Bolin, and inspired like Bolin, everything would turn out all right.
"And who could forget that time I fought the giant dark spirit monster in the bay! How awesome was that?! Yes, we got the spirit vines as a result, but we also got the spirit wilds. And for the first time in ten thousand years, humans and spirits, just as they are right at this very moment, live together in peace and harmony. Can any other city claim that? No, they can't, because we're just that good. But, despite how wonderful the wilds were, and have become, they were a great burden on many citizens. Thousands lost their homes and businesses..."
Korra could not believe how well her accidental surprise appearance was going. She was nailing it!
Well, Bolin's speech was nailing it. She was just delivering it. Mostly.
"...Water mains were destroyed, power lines were severed, roads were utterly torn to pieces...but you know what? It didn't stay that way for long. And does anyone remember, who the person responsible for this city's reconstruction is? I'll give you a hint. She's on the stage, right now beside me."
And then something truly amazing happened. The crowd started cheering, but not just yelling or whooping or random other things. They were chanting "Sato" at the top of their lungs. Over and over again. Korra was speechless. She looked over at Asami, who was bathed in the light of the portal. Tears were pouring out of her eyes, but she wasn't sobbing. She was smiling as wide as she'd ever seen.
Asami is Noodles. And she was the hot water. Instant Noodles.
They...they could actually do it. If she played this just right...
"That's right! Our city's savior! When no one else picked up the slack, Future Industries was there. When the city tried to destroy the wilds, Future Industries was there! When half of us suffered from rolling blackouts and a total lack of running water, Future Industries was there! When so many of you were forced out of your homes and no place to go, Future Industries was there! There for me! There for you! There for us!"
"...Future Industries was there! When so many of you were forced out of your homes and no place to go, Future Industries was there! There for me! There for you! There for us!"
Mako stared blankly at the stage. Okay. Calm down. He sort of saw this coming. He never thought either of them would actually go through with it, but there it was. He was watching both of his ex-girlfriends on stage, after having fallen out of the spirit portal. Shiro Shinobi was mostly right about them being in a 'compromising position'. More like 'almost caught in the act', in his opinion. It didn't take super human eyes to notice that Asami's jacket was slightly undone. He'd known her too long to think she'd overlooked something as important as that.
He looked over at Opal, who was grinning and doing that thing that Bolin did when he met famous people. Really over enthusiastic to the point where it was sort of uncomfortable. Seriously? Mako sighed. "Opal, hey, so Bolin was telling me about this plan you had..."
"About getting you back into the dating game? Oh, we're going to work twice as hard on that one now," she chuckled. "I'm sorry! This must be really awkward!"
"No, not really. It was a...long time ago," he lied, totally convincingly.
"Uh huh. Bolin knows you still have feelings for her."
"Unfortunately, you're going to have to be more specific."
"Right. Well. They're just hard to get rid of."
"...The people! Asami Sato sacrificed nearly everything to save this city, because she was there for us. Not because she needed to be, but because she wanted to. And I bet you all are wondering how she plans to save us one more time."
Opal gave him a tight hug. "Which is exactly why we're helping you through this."
Mako raised a brow and smiled. "By throwing as many women at me as possible until one sticks?"
"That's Bolin's idea. Mine's a little more...nuanced."
"Most things are-" Opal smacked him on the back of his head. "Hey! Ow!"
"That's your brother and my boyfriend you're talking about. Don't insult him like that! He's not dumb!"
"He was my brother first, and I never said he was! I was just making a joke!"
Opal pouted and turned back toward the stage. "Whatever. Be thankful I'm in love with your brother, or I'd have airbent you a few stories into the air."
"Asami Sato sacrificed nearly everything to save this city, because she was there for us. Not because she needed to be, but because she wanted to. And I bet you all are wondering how she plans to save us one more time."
Korra offered Asami the microphone. "You deserve this," she whispered, covering the mic with her hand. "More than anyone."
Asami nodded and took it. "Thank you." She straightened her posture and put on that face she typically reserved for public functions. "I have rebuilt this city once before. It was a labor of love, blood, sweat and tears. It took three years of long nights, more than four hundred million yuans, and the passion to see it through. I have done it once, and you have my solemn vow that I will rebuild our city again, bigger and stronger than it was before! And I will stop at nothing to ensure that we will never suffer like this ever again. Thank you all for your faith and support. It means the world to me to know that the city I love knows how much I care. How much Future Industries cares. Because it's not my future I'm looking out for. It's yours."
Asami silently handed the microphone back to Korra and walked off the stage. There was more applause than Korra knew what to do with. She had this in the bag.
"Well, I'm convinced. But, you know, she's not the only hero here tonight. No, I'm not talking about myself, or even Bolin here. I'm talking about you. When Kuvira came knocking at our door, each and everyone of you trusted me and those who stood beside me to take her down. It was your bravery, your strength to acknowledge that the only way we could win was by knowing that our friends, family and loved ones were safe that truly won the day. So, tonight, when you listen to all of these fantastic bands and artists, I want you all to think about everything this city has been through. All that we've endured together. I want you to donate as much you're able, because it is only by working together that can we make the dream this city was founded upon a reality."
She had them captivated. It was crazy. Bolin. Bolin had them captivated---oh, to heck with that. She'd gone off book a while a go. Cards? Just a base. It was all her...except it wasn't because shed just run out of things to say oh wait Iroh said that thing!
"A dream of a better world. A world where benders, and non-benders are not thought of as separate people. Where it doesn't matter where you're from, because as long as you have a good heart, you will be welcomed with open arms. This is not just Lord Zuko's dream. It is not just Avatar Aang's dream. It is not just my dream. It's all of us. It's our dream. Can any of you, any single person, honestly say that they don't want to live in a world like that? Go on, speak up."
The crowd was silent.
"Exactly. When we get right down to it, all of us truly believes in that dream. But it doesn't have to be a dream anymore. The world is ready. I can feel it. As I've said, we have spirits and humans living side by side. We have those of Fire Nation descent marrying those from the Earth Kingdom and creating a family together. Not even a hundred years ago, that would have been considered completely impossible. Now, though? It happens all the time. It's pretty common. If we truly work together, and support each other as much as ourselves, we can make Republic City the shining beacon of peace and balance for both worlds! We can be the city that sets an example for every nation! We can become more than we are, and we all know it. We have proven, time and time again, that there is absolutely nothing in this world or the next that can keep us down. Because we are Republic City, and we can do anything that we set our minds to. Thank you, and enjoy the show!"
Korra felt like her eardrums might explode from the sheer volume of their response. It actually felt like it was giving her a migraine. Somehow. She handed Bolin the microphone. "I owe you so many noodles," she whispered, exhausted. She handed him his cards. "Thank you so much."
Bolin only smiled and got back to doing his job. 'WOW! What a speech! I mean that is really moving, emotional stuff. Makes you feel. Makes you think. All right, now put your hands together for our opening act, the one, the only Tahno and the Formerrrrrrrrrrrrrrs! Featuring their new lead singer, the artist formerly known as Prince Wu!"
Korra's eyes widened as...Hasook, Tahno, Ming, Shaozu, Lu, Gang, an old man, and Wu ascended the stairs and onto the stage. The wedding band?! She stepped aside to allow them to pass.
That was most likely the single oddest exchange of names she would ever experience. Hasook? Hasook?! At least Wu didn't try to hit on her again. She walked off the stage and was immediately pulled into the shadows behind Shiro Shinobi's booth. "Ah!" She was pinned against the wall and kissed veeeeeeeerrry deeply okay it was Asami. No mistaking that. At all.
"Korra," she whispered. "That was the single greatest and most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me." She chuckled and buried her face in Korra's shoulder. "And you! You were amazing up there. How did you come up with that? You just talked an entire city into...everything we're fighting for." she asked, her eyes bright again.
"Oh, I don't...know if they'll feel the same way in the morning." Korra shrugged awkwardly. Behind her, she could hear the...rather good vocals of Wu and the tune of some song she'd never heard. Huh. Imagine that. "I just sort of imagined what Bolin would say and kept talking until it made sense. He also gave me a bunch of cards with speech notes written on them, so...I went off of those. More or less."
Asami smiled wide. "You quoted Iroh, too. I'm sure that helped."
"I also quoted you. Sort of. Mind if I take my pack off?"
Korra wiggled out of her pack and set it beside Asami's on the ground.
Asami took her hands. "...you saw the film crews, right?"
"They're going to show that in every mover theater in the world."
"They almost definitely will."
"I'm...strangely okay with this."
Korra raised a brow. "Seriously?"
"I am. Think about it. Our lives have never been stable, and we were going to tell everyone eventually, and then the media would have picked up on it. And, honestly, Korra. How long have either of us been able to stay out of the news? A day? A few hours? But this…" She laughed. "...this is probably the best way it could have happened. Not only is it immortalized on film, it's humanizing, but we were able to pick ourselves back up and actually make something out of it." She shrugged. "Well, you did anyway."
"Asami, they were screaming your name louder than they were cheering for me. Don't even consider selling yourself short." She tucked a few strands of black hair behind her ear. How was her hair always so perfect?! "That part is also on film. Forever. I'm getting a copy of that, and I'm going to hang it up in your office."
"I'd like that."
"Had a feeling."
"Have any others?"
"Yes. I am starving."
"Okay. I'm not really in the mood to go out to eat. Not after that rather interesting public display of, well, everything. Most places are probably closed for the concert, anyway." Asami chortled. "We might just want to head back to your place. "
"...it'd be pretty empty with everyone at the concert…"
Asami winked. "Exactly."
Korra blushed and giggled. "You are very clever."
"I'm well aware. Let's get going."
Korra kept one pace ahead of Asami, keeping their water bubble intact with small, controlled motions. Taking the ferry to Air Temple Island would have taken too long, so she decided they should just walk to it. From the bottom of Yue Bay, obviously. That was, of course, after Asami made it very clear that she did not want to be carried while she flew via firebending.
Asami insisted on using a flashlight instead of letting her use firebending as a light, so she could focus on just the one element. Which made sense, she supposed. It certainly seemed to make her feel more comfortable when she had some form of control over the situation.
Korra would have to remember that.
"...but, the only way to beat Vaatu was if Raava and Wan fused together. So, they used the enhanced spirit energy of Harmonic Convergence to do just that. That was the moment that Wan became the first Avatar. Then, he sealed Vaatu away in the Tree of Time for ten thousand years. The rest is history," she smiled sadly. History. Ten thousand years of history. Gone. "I can't believe I never bothered to tell you that story before. It's sort of like an epic."
Asami shrugged. "Honestly, I wasn't that curious about it until you started telling me what Raava was saying. By the way, is it a she? You keep referring to her as a woman, but Raava is a spirit. Do they have genders?"
Korra furrows her brows. "Raava says...that it depends on the spirit. Some have a gender. Some do not. Raava, apparently after ten thousand years of being bonded to humans, is pretty sure she's a woman. Apparently we're typically better Avatars? Or something? Vaatu sounded like a man, so I guess that makes sense."
"Oh. What does she sound like?"
"...a confident and nurturing woman. Who is sometimes very cranky." She chuckled. "It's hard to describe a voice you only hear in your own head."
Asami scratched her chin and looked around the blackness of the bay with her flashlight. "I wonder if she could talk through you. If she could then...hm..."
"Why do you want to hear her voice so badly?"
"I just feel like it's important."
Korra hummed in thought. "Raava says she's flattered, and that, yes, she can talk through me. It's just that it'll feel...weird for me? Wait, weird how?"
"Are you asking me or….?"
"No, her." She shook her head. "I don't see why I can't just meditate into the spirit world and have you take over for two minutes. You never thought of that? Really? Wow, no wonder most Avatars didn't know you so well. They couldn't hear you at all."
Asami laughed. "You sound like you're talking to yourself. And arguing."
Korra gave her a crooked grin. "I basically am. Sort of. So, we'll try that thing out when we get back on land. Also after we eat." She snapped her fingers with her free hand. "Oh! I once met a two headed frog spirit that married itself! One head was a man, the other a woman!"
"Certainly one way to put it. I didn't know spirits could get married. Or wanted to."
"They probably picked up the idea from humans and liked it so much they started doing it themselves."
"This is just...a lot for me to wrap my head around. I didn't grow up with this."
"Asami, neither did I. I've been taking a crash course in 'being spiritual' for just about as long as I've known you. Being the Avatar helps, but this is the kind of thing you have to seek out in order to fully understand it. Like, engineering, I guess."
Asami smirked. "There are a lot of different kinds of engineering, Korra."
"See? That's exactly what I'm saying. It's not like all of that stuff came naturally to you."
"Well, no, not at first. I had to learn the basics, but after that…" She smiled. "I picked it all up pretty quick. Once you have the fundamentals, the rest doesn't seem so complicated."
"Same for spirit stuff. Sort of. I'm a really fast learner, so that probably sped things along. You should have seen the face on my firebending teacher when I showed him I could shoot fire out of my mouth. That's not really a technique a fifteen year old girl should know."
Asami snickered. "My dad had a similar reaction when I built a satomobile out of scraps in the garage. I turned it on, and it sounded terrible, but it worked. I drove that around the course at…" She laughed, clutching her stomach. "Twenty miles an hour. It couldn't go any faster, but it didn't bother me back then. I was just so proud of it, because I made it."
"I remember that one. You showed it to me in the Tree of Time." Korra slowed the water bubble as they emerged from the bay and onto the island, allowing it to collapse around them. "The only things I've ever made were Naga's saddle and my clothes."
Asami flicked off her flashlight. "You know, traveling underwater isn't nearly as bad as I remember it being." She wrinkled her nose. "Wait, you make your own clothes?"
"Yeah. Did...you not know that? It's a water tribe thing. Only the very young and the very old have clothes made for them. Traditionally, at least. There's no way Varrick makes his own clothes. Well, he might own his own clothing line, but that's hardly the same thing."
"Korra, you have almost impeccable fashion sense. It's the perfect unity of aesthetic and practicality. That's genuinely amazing."
"Uh, thanks. Pretty sure you're in the minority with that opinion, though." She chuckled. "Let's just say that in the south pole, sleeveless tops aren't so common." Her stomach roared. "Wow, okay. I could eat an entire ostrich horse."
"Somehow, I don't think you're exaggerating."
"Well, yeah. I've actually done that before. Not raw, though, that's gross." She started sprinting up toward the temple grounds. "Come on! The White Lotus normally keeps meat in their quarters!"
"Oh, good. I need to take a break from instant noodles for a while. Literal ones, not metaphorical ones." Asami took off behind her. "How often do you take their food?"
"...all the time."
Asami, with her longer legs, caught up to her and stayed in stride. "And that doesn't bother them?"
"Oh, it does. I just either blame it on Naga or point to my stomach."
Asami raised a brow. "That's really antagonistic, Korra."
Korra scoffed. "Yeah, well, they locked me up in a prison for twelve years and never told me why. The least they can do is give me some of their meat so I don't have to suffer as much on an all vegetarian island."
"...right. Sorry, I should know better than that."
"It's okay. I'm out now, aren't I?" she said with a big grin.
Korra slowed to a stop and motioned for Asami to as well. "Okay, be super quiet. The sentry quarters are right over there." She pointed toward an unassuming pagoda with the symbol of the white lotus on the door. "I'll unlock the door with metalbending and then-"
The door swung open and one of the sentries tossed a box at her. "Will you just let us sleep for once?! Here! Take it and go!" The door slammed shut.
Korra caught the box and raised a brow. "Huh." She opened it and grinned at what she found. A box filled with fresh, steaming dumplings. She had to stop herself from drooling. "Ooh! I think these are tiger-seal dumplings!"
Asami frowned. "Aren't you going to thank them?"
"Again. Prison, so, no." She popped a dumpling in her mouth and grinned as she chewed it. "These are great! Here, dig in."
Asami shrugged and, instead of taking typically smaller bites, actually shoved an entire dumpling in her mouth. "Thish ish fantashtic!"
Korra laughed and fell on to the grass. "You just-Do that again! Do it again! I want to see Asami Sato lose all of her poise in less than a second."
Asami swallowed and snorted. She sat down beside her and, with a sigh, did it again.
"That's awesome! I was actually worried you didn't have it in you."
"I was a child once, too, you know."
Korra took another three minutes to finish off the entire box of dumplings. She placed the wooden box back on the doorstep of the white lotus quarters and, begrudgingly, gave it a small bow. "...thank you for your generosity," she said, through clenched teeth. "...jerks."
"Good enough." Asami grabbed her hand very forcefully. "Now, come on, I haven't had a proper shower in two weeks. I don't even think the spirit water was cleaning us half the time." Korra was pulled to the women's dormitories and practically shoved into her room. "Undress. Find a robe. Meet me in the shower." Asami slid her door shut.
Korra blinked at the closed door for a few moments. Meeting Raava was going to have to wait. She did smell pretty gross, now that she was paying attention….oh. Oh. Oh. Korra giggled with excitement as she went to change. She didn't feel the slightest bit of anxiety. She had a full stomach, she just gave the speech of a lifetime, helped Asami get her long overdue recognition, and everything...
Everything felt just the way it should be.