Now With 40% More Filling!
Honestly, everything went better than Asami could have hoped.
Part 2 - Noodles
Section 4: "Now With 40% More Filling!"
"...gave her all of our dumplings?! Lee, what's wrong with you?!" said a rather perturbed White Lotus sentry.
"She and that Sato girl were just going to take them anyway, and I wanted some peace and quiet," retorted another.
"You know, this is why people say the White Lotus has fallen so far, Lee. It's things like this. Exactly likes this!"
"Oh, because I value a proper sleep cycle?!"
Asami closed her eyes tighter and covered her head with a pillow. Too much noise for the morning. She really hoped she hadn't gotten used to sleeping in. She really wasn't the sort to take vacations that often. Or really ever. But those boots, they just kept walking around outside on the stone and it was driving her crazy.
"That's...not...augh! Just stop talking! Stop talking, and don't do anything stupid for the rest of the day."
And then they started bickering. At least with Mako and Bolin's family living in her estate, she could enjoy the comfort of a fully lived in home. People came and went. Family dinners. Outdoor Mover night, since Asami had yet to find a way to build an entire mover theater in her home. It honestly seemed a bit...excessive to her. Half the fun was going to the theater, at least she thought it was.
"You're just cranky because you didn't get enough sleep. Unlike me," said the man apparently known as Lee.
"...I hate you so much."
The White Lotus, however, were far too much like that wonderful second, or rather third family, that she'd grown so fond of. They were loud and unprofessional. What kind of sentry alerts everyone to their presence? That was just bad form. When she was still in school, her history books had described the White Lotus as a society of scholars who wanted to a greater understanding of the world, and for whom national background was irrelevant. They even played a pivotal role in ending the Hundred Year War. She had grown up thinking they were legends. Heroes, even. Role models.
Meeting Iroh was more of a dream come true than she'd ever be willing to admit.
In the present, they were people, just like everyone else. Sworn to a greater duty, yes, but they weren't all sages or gurus or masters of anything in particular. But then, if every single one of them was a legendary hero, Korra wouldn't have much of a job.
Oh, right. Work. Noodles. Wow. Now she was doing it, too!
Asami grumbled and shuffled in the bed. She removed the pillow from her head and ran her hands through her hair. Morning. First day back. She'll have to go back to work. As to what that was, exactly, she couldn't quite say. But she had some ideas, that was for sure. The trip to the Spirit World had certainly gotten the gears in her head turning.
She placed a soft kiss on Korra's shoulder and rubbed her leg. "Korra, it's morning."
"Are you actually still asleep, or are you proclaiming that all mornings are evil?"
"Raava...says go back to bed." She groaned and cupped her hands over her ears. "Okay, okay! Geez, Raava, I get it! Why are you so mean? And how are you so loud?" Korra punched a pillow and pouted. "...spirit of order and balance and harmony my butt."
Asami snickered. "I don't think she likes it when you use her to lie."
"I don't think she likes me half the time."
"Then why would she have chosen you? That...that is how that works, right?"
"Sorta. Something to do with my inner spirit. The giant blue thing." Korra sat up and rubbed her eyes. She looked so adorable with messy hair, sweat pants and a plain old top. "She doesn't have to like me, she just has to trust that I'll be a good Avatar." Korra yawned and arched her back. Oh she knew what she was doing. Right? She had to. Then again... "...this conversation is too deep for the morning. We can have it later."
Nope. She had no idea what she was doing. Oh well.
"So, I have to check in at the office today…."
Korra raised a brow. "I thought it blew up."
"It's one of the few buildings that didn't. Future Industries Tower is in perfect alignment with the portal, so it only looks like it's gone. You can't see it from Air Temple Island. It is, however, covered in quite a few vines."
"Oh, good. I'm glad your office didn't blow up."
Asami chuckled and kissed her on the forehead. "Yes. I am also glad that my office didn't blow up." She threw off the covers and hopped up to her feet. "Come on, let's have breakfast before I have to go enter the corporate sector again and spend my day glaring holes into idiots."
Korra slowly got to her feet and rubbed her forehead with her palm. "Do you really do that all day?"
"Not always." Asami shrugged and moved to stand by the door. "Sometimes, yeah. Don't you kind of do that too, though?"
Korra followed her, her eyes half closed. "I don't know. Ask me tomorrow what my job is, and I'll let you know."
"Guess it is pretty dynamic, isn't it?" Asami smiled. "Hey, today's gonna go great."
Korra perked up a little. "Heh. Yeah. You're probably-" She winced and jumped backward. "Wait did last night actually happen or did I dream that?!"
Asami slowly narrowed her eyes. "...which part are you talking about? The concert, or the shower?"
"Uhm. Both? Wait..."
"You didn't dream those things. They actually happened."
"Right, because you...couldn't have known about both things…" Korra covered her face with her hands and scratched her nails all the way to the back of her head. "Okay. Okay. Let's just...let's just play it cool. World wide things like that happen to everybody-"
"No, they don't."
Korra deflated. "No they don't."
Asami pursed her lips and bowed her head. "Let's just start the day, okay? We won't know if everything is terrible until it actually becomes terrible."
Korra scratched behind her ear and yawned. How was she so cute. It shouldn't be possible to be that cute. "You're right, you're right. I'd say I don't know how you stay so positive, but…" She grinned. "I kinda do."
"Mhmm." Asami slid the door open and pressed her bare feet into the rustic halls of the air temple. They were always so smooth and well preserved, especially considering how the temple was getting on in its years. It was mostly likely the oldest building still standing in Republic City, now that she thought about it. "Isn't it normally louder at this hour? With Tenzin's kids and the rest of the airbenders?"
Korra walked past her, toward the kitchen. "Typically. They can be pretty sneaky—AUGH!"
From out of nowhere, Meelo, Ikki and Jinora came literally flying down the hall, tackling Korra to the ground. The three of them gave her a big, family-sized hug.
Korra hugged them back and smiled. "Hey! How are you guys?" How she was so naturally good with kids, Asami would never know. Children...Asami didn't know what to do with children. They were just so foreign, and...how was she supposed to talk to them? Down? With respect?
"I'm holding in my farts, just like you said!"
"I'm practicing ancient Air Nomad traditions by taking Jinora's stuff!"
"And I'm trying to stop Ikki from abusing those traditions."
Asami didn't know what to do, or think, or say, so she simply stood off to the side and tried to look supportive and not uncomfortable at all. She could spend the time to mentally prepare herself for the day ahead, but that would be rude to Korra and Tenzin's family. She was a guest in their home and they deserved her full attention.
Even if she was absurdly hungry and just wanted to spend a little more time with Korra before life took hold of them both once again.
Korra laughed and could only smile more. "Meelo, good job. Your commanding officer is proud of you. Ikki, even if it is an ancient tradition, that was still pretty mean. You should apologize and give Jinora her stuff back."
"No buts. That goes double for you, Meelo."
"Why is everything always about my butt?"
"Oh, fine." Ikki frowned and gave Jinora a book. "Sorry. I promise I didn't read any of it."
Jinora sighed and held the book close to her chest. "Apology accepted."
"How did you-I couldn't-that doesn't make any sense!"
Asami spun around to find Tenzin, who had somehow snuck up on her. Since when were airbenders so stealthy?
Tenzin stood over the four on the floor. He rubbed his hands over his face so many times Asami thought the friction might set his skin on fire. "I've been trying to get them to calm down since last night and you did it thirty seconds."
"Beats me." Korra shrugged. "At one point, I was technically their grandfather so...maybe some of that rubbed off on me."
Asami helped Korra up to her feet, disentangling her from the children. "Or you could just be really good with kids."
"Thanks, but it just sort of comes naturally to me."
"Like pulling entire city swaying speeches out of nowhere?"
"Okay, that was mostly Bolin, and you know that."
Tenzin clapped Korra on the shoulder. "Whatever the source, it was a beautiful speech, Korra. There's no doubt in my mind that it won over a great deal of the city." He furrowed his brows and looked between her and Asami. Several times. "...oh, I didn't expect...Asami, how did you get here so early? The next ferry isn't for another hour."
Asami tossed her hair slightly. She'd need to get it cut and touched up soon, or it'd get too long to manage. "I spent the night, actually. I hope that's not too much trouble." Surely he must have put things together, right? Right? Tenzin was a perceptive man, and very intelligent so she...shouldn't...have to spell all of that out.
"Korra." Tenzin's eyes bugged out of his head. "Does this mean what I think it does?"
Korra pulled her head back and smiled nervously. "...maybe?"
Tenzin's face turned so red that she swore she saw air burst from his ears. "Korra, my daughters live on this side of the temple!"
"W-wait, Tenzin I think you've got the wrong idea."
"Oh no, no I don't think so at all."
Asami raised her brows and backed away a few steps, only to bump into Kai. She wrinkled her nose and looked around the hallway. How were they so quiet?! Was she going deaf? It was seriously getting crowded. She gave him a friendly, yet anxious, smile and a small wave.
Kai returned the same gesture. "...so why are we all clogging the-"
Tenzin huffed and was nearly yelling. "No wonder Jinora matured so quickly! She saw you exploiting the same-gendered dormitories and started getting ideas of her own! Why else would she would she want to spend so much time with...with Kai!? There's no other explanation!"
Kai clenched his eyes shut and looked like he was trying to slide away. Except he didn't have enough room to do that, so he simply stayed put, very obviously uncomfortable. "Oh. That's why," he mumbled.
"Hey!" Jinora glared at her father. "Since when is this about me?! Or Kai!? I don't even know what we're talking about!"
Kai looked between everyone. "I feel like I shouldn't be here for this."
Asami rubbed her eyes. "...yeah, I'm thinking I shouldn't be here, either."
"No, you have every right to be here. Both of you. Let me just clear this up." Korra pinched her brow. "Okay. Tenzin. First, no that never happened. Second, even if I did do that, which I didn't, that wouldn't have made a difference. You let Jinora read…" She snatched the book Jinora was carrying out of her hands and displayed it to Tenzin. "...trashy romance novels! Have you ever read these?! What did you think would happen?! She's a teenager!" She returned the book. "And she's more mature at fourteen than I was at seventeen. Take some pride in that. She has a boyfriend, and he's a really good kid! Why are you trying to make that a bad thing?"
Kai smiled. "Thanks, Korra."
"Don't mention it."
Jinora stood up beside Korra. "What is your problem with him? Why can't you just be happy for me?"
Pema groaned and came stomping down the hallway toward Tenzin. Perhaps Asami didn't remember the mornings at Air Temple Island as well as she thought, because it all seemed completely insane. Then again, Mako and Bolin's family fought a lot, and there were quite a few of them. But none of that explained why everyone had chosen that very moment to congregate in the hallway, blocking any and all forms of escape.
Pema slapped Tenzin on the back of the head, the loud snap echoing through the hall. She frowned at him, hands on her hips. "Tenzin! Get a hold of yourself. You do remember how young I was when we got married, right?" She sighed and kissed him on the cheek. "Your daughter isn't in danger. Kai is a very sweet young man. They make a cute couple. I've been trying to explain this to you for three years and I am tired of it not sinking in."
Tenzin blinked and re-centered himself. "Well. I suppose that settles that, then." He cleared his throat and looked at Korra. "I apologize for attempting to blame the two of you for...you know, it's not really a conversation that should be had at the moment."
Asami held out her palm in a placating gesture. She smiled nervously. An angry father acting as a mother sabertooth mooselion was something she was all too familiar with. And it could be terrifying at times. "It's all right, Tenzin."
Korra pouted. "Yeah. It's okay. Just don't...make a habit of it, I guess."
He nodded. "I won't."
Pema clapped her hands together. "Yay! Now that we're all in a good mood, who wants breakfast?"
The door next to Asami burst open with frightening enthusiasm. She leaped backwards with a yelp and fell onto Korra, knocking the both of them onto the ground.
Bolin and Opal, dressed in nearly identical white tops and boxer shorts, were grinning from ear to ear as they hopped out of the airbender's room. "We do! We do! We do!" they said in unison, bouncing on their heels. Sometimes, it was insane how well those two fit together.
And, again, what was so enthralling about the hallway? Why was everyone there? It was ridiculous! Not to mention embarrassing, she thought. Well, not compared to the events the evening before, at least. So that was something. Not much, but something.
Bolin grinned as he looked between Korra, Asami and Opal. "Haha, well. Small Air Temple, am I right?" He gave the both of them two thumbs up, and Opal was nearly vibrating with giddiness. That was...sort of creepy. "Yeah, this is gonna be a fun conversation, I can tell."
Tenzin huffed and herded his family off toward the kitchen. "Come on, kids, let's go help your mother with breakfast." They left in a very chaotic form of a line, and she was pretty sure she heard Meelo farting halfway down the hall. Kai tried to leave with them, but Bolin grabbed his shoulder. Kai shoved a wad of yuans in Bolin's face before stomping off.
Once they'd rounded the corner, Korra picked up Bolin in an impossibly strong hug. "Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you THANK YOU!" She laughed and set him down. "Bolin, you saved our butts out there! I was this close to picking Asami up and running back through the portal."
Asami smiled. "Seriously, thank you. I...would not have heard what the city thought of me if not for you. I think you have a pretty good idea of how much it meant for me to hear."
Bolin shrugged, like it wasn't that big a deal because of course it wasn't. Not for Bolin. "Hey, don't mention it. I just thought that the both of you had butts worth saving. You know I've always got your back." He clapped his hands together. "C'mon, tell us the good news! No, but really, tell us because Opal might...pop if you don't. I really don't know how to react to her reacting to you."
Opal giggled extensively. "They're just so perfect together. Look at them! They're gorgeous!"
Bolin raised a brow and looked at Opal. "Uhhh, yeah, honey, I've known them for a while now. I'm pretty sure I know how pretty my friends are." He looked back toward Asami. "Please, just tell her. This can't be healthy."
Asami sighed and shook her head with a smile. "Oh, all right. Korra and I are together. In a romantic context."
Korra gave her a bemused look. "...really? That's what you're going to call it? A 'romantic context'?"
"We haven't even had that discussion yet."
"What's there to discuss? I thought we were a couple."
"Well, we are. But, there's a lot of different ways to phrase that-"
Korra groaned. "Asami, I seriously don't care what you want to call us as long as it's not something lame like 'together in a romantic context', okay? Just pick something."
Asami snickered. It would be that simple for Korra, and in all honesty it was refreshing to have something be so...simple, for once. "Okay, okay. We're girlfriends."
Before Korra could even respond, Opal flapped her arms around with a massive grin. "YES!" Opal made a noise that was a cross between a squeal and a shriek and was essentially bouncing off the walls with excitement. "Tell us everything! Every detail! Everything!"
Bolin quickly snatched Opal back and held her in place by the shoulders. "Please. She's been talking about this nearly the entire night."
"I have a ferry to catch in a little less than an hour, so, I don't think we have enough time for that. Then again..." Asami shrugged and pulled Korra into an extremely exaggerated passionate kiss, even going so far as to dip her entire body. Korra yelped into her mouth before getting way too into it, so Asami had to cut it short, lest she get airbent right back into the bedroom. She propped Korra back up onto her feet and smoothed out her hair. "That would be a mostly accurate summation of what you wanted to know, Opal."
Korra giggled and her entire head turned read. "...still too good at that..." She swayed a little, clearly dazed. "Yeah, so, there we go. We good?"
Opal wrapped them both in a crushing hug and twirled with a little airbending. "This is amazing! The both of you are amazing! We have to go on a double date! It'd be so much fun, wouldn't it Bolin, of course it would, because you two are just so perfect."
Asami exchanged a slightly anxious look with Korra. "Uhm. Sure, if I can free up time in my schedule, I don't see why not."
Korra bit her lip and tossed Opal back at Bolin, who caught her. "But only if she promises to stop...drooling all over us. Seriously, Opal, you got drool on my shirt."
"That's nothing. You should have seen her last night," said Mako, poking his head out from his room. "She was acting like a big group of Bolin's old fan girls when she saw the both of you, uh, appear." He ran his fingers through his scruffy, now correctly styled hair, and walked over to Bolin. "You two...certainly know how to make an entrance."
Asami smiled at him. She'd been a little worried how he'd feel, and was very much pleased that he was...well, happy. Or at least, not awkward about it. "I've had lots of practice. We both have. Your hair looks great, by the way. I didn't want to say anything but-"
Korra grinned. "You looked like General Iroh! It was so weird."
Mako chortled. "Yeah. Bolin said the same thing. Speaking of my little brother..." He turned to Bolin, who was now holding up a very...bubbly Opal. Maybe she was drunk. "...you're going to tell them about the pot sooner or later, because they're going to ask why I can't afford anything all of a sudden."
Asami raised a brow. "Wait, what?"
"...did Wu not pay you or something?" asked Korra.
"Gambling." Bolin laughed. "It was Lin's idea. She saw you two hanging out while we were in Zaofu, and decided that you were in love with one another basically on the spot. Next thing you know, we've got fifty-thousand yuans in a betting pool. Y'know, if you guys would actually end up together or not." He shrugged. "I, for the record, bet in favor of you two. Mako...did not."
Mako rolled his eyes. "I was betting that it wouldn't happen, not that it shouldn't or that I didn't want it to. Come on, you're making me sound like a jerk."
Korra poked her index fingers together. "Who...else was in on this?"
Opal perked up. "Well, there was me, Bolin, Mako, Lin, Kai, Bumi, Kya, your cousins, Pema, Wing, Wei..."
Asami's waved her off. "Okay, I think we get the idea. Look, I've got about forty-five minutes before this vacation ends, so why don't we go get some breakfast? Get everything back on track," she said smiling. She truly, truly did want everything to go back to how they mostly were. Her group of stable friends, her surrogate family, her other surrogate family, her company and now...Korra. "After everything that's happened, I'd love if it we were all able to spend some time together. Just the fo-" She glanced at Opal. Well. Water, Earth, Fire, herself, and now Air. "Five of us. Team Avatar."
Mako raised a brow. "Opal's part of Team Avatar?"
Opal blew his hair back with a bit of playful airbending. "You guys didn't have a dedicated airbender. It's sort of necessary. Four elements? And the genius?"
Korra shrugged. "Yeah, that's how it worked with Aang." She furrowed her brow. "...wait, no, they had two non-benders. A Kyoshi Warrior."
Asami cracked her neck. "I think I more than fulfill both requirements."
Mako smiled. "Can't argue with that. Okay. Fire, lightning..." He gestured to Bolin and Korra. "Earth, lava, metal..." He turned to Opal, and then back to Korra. "Air, water, spirit, healing, and, uhhhh..." Mako glanced at Asami, clearly fumbling at his words.
That was okay. Asami already had it in the bag.
Asami smirked and flexed her fingers in front of her face. "Fist." She tapped her forehead. "Innovation."
"That's the idea."
Asami looked up from her notebook as Korra sat down next to her on the ferry, just as it left the docks. “Oh. Hey.”
“Hey,” she said, slouching slightly. “So, we should probably talk before your day actually starts. And we...start, I guess.”
“Korra, this is a twenty minute ferry. Then it’s another ten for the taxi, and five to get up to my office. I don’t mean to be dismissive, but is half an hour enough time?”
“I don’t know. I have to try, though, because I’m going to be a nervous wreck if I don’t,” she chuckled awkwardly.
Asami smiled a little. “Last night was...eventful.”
“Yup. Are you still okay with that?”
“Yeah. Also the other thing.”
“How could I possibly have a problem with that? I mean, you were very insistent on the bed instead of the shower, which was fine, really, but...maybe in the future tell me in advance before things get too...heated.”
Korra bit her lip. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
“The movers, though...well, it’s not ideal, and now that I’m not all giddy from the excitement and applause, it’s starting to feel more than a little scary. And uncomfortable. But I'll find a way to deal with it. It'll be fine.” She cleared her throat. “Your parents are going to see that.”
Korra blushed. “...I did not consider that.”
‘That’s not going to be a problem, right? I assumed it wouldn’t be, but---”
Korra shook her head. “No, no, that’s...it would have maybe been a problem fifty years ago when there were still population concerns, or if I was from the Northern Tribe, but no, we’re good. Honestly, my dad is probably going to want a copy, too.” She laughed. “He’ll show it to everybody and brag that, not only is his daughter the Avatar, but she managed to uh…”
Asami snickered. “Let me guess. Landed the most brilliant industrialist on the planet?”
“Basically? I mean, you are, obviously, but he’ll probably use quite a few more complimentary words than just those. Give them a week and a half, and my parents will be showing up at the Air Temple with spine crushing hugs. The best kind of hugs, by the way.”
Asami swallowed. “That quickly, huh?”
Korra winced. “Oh! Oh, no, that’s not specifically why they’d be visiting! Also they already know you! Remember when you saved my dad’s life? And helped with the Civil War? Yeah, trust me he remembers that. A lot.”
Asami flattened her lips. “So do I. I had no idea how to fly a sky bison.”
Korra’s eyes widened. “Do not ever tell Tenzin that. You can, however, tell my dad that. He’d laugh himself silly.”
“Are insane risks a water tribe thing? I feel like that it would be.”
“Nah. If you’re confident, it’s not that big a risk. Learning by doing, though? Definitely a water tribe thing.”
Asami chewed on the inside of her cheek. “I get the feeling you’re not feeling very much of the first, but are very intent on doing the second. With us.”
Korra smiled sadly. “Yeah. Pretty much. Sort of.” She scratched the back of her head. “I’m not sure. That’s sort of the problem. Over breakfast, I couldn’t stop thinking about what you said, about us not having this conversation. What we are, to each other.” She sighed. “We really haven’t. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have pressured you into just...saying that. That wasn't right.”
Asami shrugged. “It’s okay. I really thought that just saying we were together would make it feel that way, but...I think we both know that just saying something doesn't make it true.”
“...are we together?”
“I still want to be, even after all of that insanity. Do you?”
“Yes. Absolutely. I want to see where this takes us, and not just because Iroh said it’d be a good idea.”
Asami raised a brow. “That was...sort of an interesting thing to imply, wasn’t it?”
“He’s a romantic. I don’t know why I know that, but more importantly, now that we’re away from the memory trees and the colors and the reality bending flowers...” She took a deep breath. “I really do want this. I really, really do. I was seriously worried I was caught up in the romanticism of it all, you know like a---
“Trashy romance novel.”
“Yeah. Exactly. But it’s not. We’re not. And that’s...well, that’s great, right?”
Asami smiled. “It is. It’s really great.”
“Great! I feel better now,” she said, relieved.
“So, what are you doing for lunch?”
“I, uhm, actually have no idea. It’s normally around 1:30, but I don’t have my schedule yet, so it might be another time.”
Korra hummed. “Okay, here’s an idea. Since your schedule is so packed, and mine will probably more hectic than a hurricane---”
“If you’re going to try and promise that we’ll have lunch every single day at that specific time for as long as possible, you are either completely crazy or adorably accommodating.”
Korra gave her a crooked grin. “Can’t I be both? And yeah, that was the idea. How did you even know that?”
Asami smirked. “I guess I just know you that well.”