Riches to Rags

Chapter 12 (Korra)

I’m hungover. Great.

It’s not that bad, I’m not going to puke or anything quite so nasty. But my head’s pounding, and I couldn’t be more grateful that we’re not filming today. An actress with a headache is a poor actress indeed. I stretch out and pull my clothes off, shower myself, clean myself up. Then I sit on the sofa, and check my phone. There’s three messages…

Kuvira: Korra, this guy never runs out of energy… holy shit!

Kuvira: Finally, he went to sleep. I’m exhausted. What a night.

I laugh, but the laughter catches in my throat when I see another message.

Prisc: Have you seen the weather, what the hell?! See you at the shelter, hun. Looks like we’re needed today.

It was sent ten minutes ago. I frown, walk to the window and throw open the curtains.

“What the…”

All I can see is white, and I rub the window pane just to make sure I’m not seeing things. I check the time on my phone… it’s 10:15. I slept in. I should have been at the shelter by now. It’ll be rammed if the weather’s this bad.

I quickly change into a jumper and thick jeans and shove a thick slice of bread into the toaster. Whilst it’s cooking, I pull a wool beanie over my head, wrap myself in a thick, blue scarf, stick my winter boots on and throw a few blankets into my backpack. Then I quickly butter my toast and head out with a slice between my teeth.

Fuck, it’s cold. The snow’s pounding against my face… there’s now way I can drive in this. Legs it is, then. I start to feel anxious as I jog through the thick snow, wondering how many people might be trapped outside… in this. I hope they’ve all made it to the shelter, especially Raven. I’m lucky that the shelter’s only a ten minute walk away, though my movements are sluggish in the snow, so it’ll take a little longer.

When I get there I throw open the door, finding exactly what I’d expected. Too many homeless, not enough help. Still, at least they’re indoors, and warm. Priscilla’s here, looks like she’s just arrived, too.

“Hey, Prisc,” I say.

“Hey yourself, honey. Looks like we got a busy day.”

“Heh. Yeah,” I say, while looking around the room, searching for a certain someone.

“You’re looking for her, aren’t you?” Priscilla asks.

“Yeah… I see our regulars. The others will be by the barrels, but she’s a loner.”

“She might be in trouble.”

The words cause a ball of panic to swell in my chest, “She probably is.”

“Go look for her, I’ll hold the fort.”

I don’t need to be told twice. I nod, tighten my scarf, and head back outside. Now… I just need to think. I’ve been there… I’ve been where she is. What would I do? Would I finally relent, give up my pride? The cold blusters against my face, and it’s an obvious answer. Yes, yes I fucking would. Raven must have looked for shelter. There’s a chance she found it, too. But I can’t take that chance. Let’s say she didn’t find it… I close my eyes, thinking back to my time on the street. I’d try a few cars, though they’d probably be locked. I’d look for solace at the oil barrels, though it’s hard for a woman to survive there if she wants to be a person, and not a plaything.

So next… I’d swallow my pride, I’d go to the shelter. But she isn’t in there. And sadly, I think I know why. As much as I’d like to believe that all the people in there are kind souls, they aren’t. When it’s this busy I’ve had my fair share of bullying, of lust-fuelled pawing. I learnt how to deal with it… but judging by how Raven acts, always getting takeout food, she probably wouldn’t deal… she’d leave. Maybe she finally relented, and decided to call me. It seems like the most logical choice, and from what I’ve seen, she’s smart. Stubborn, but smart. The nearest phone’s right here, in the shelter. But if she’d left here… the next one’s a good fifteen minutes’ walk on a good day, four blocks away, northbound. It’s a long shot, but I head in that direction anyway, hoping she knows the streets as well as I do, or hoping that she’s tucked away in a car, or in a stranger’s makeshift bed by a barrel. Anything beats freezing to death, after all.

I stumble clumsily through the snow, step after step, trying to see something… anything out here in the raging blizzard. All I find is sheet after sheet of white nothingness. My feet start to turn numb, and I’m about to give up hope when the edge of the blizzard suddenly eases off, falling to regular snowfall.

I’m not a believer in fate, but as the snowfall thins out, and I see a mound of snow ahead, one hand exposed to the side, I wonder if it might actually exist. I rush forwards, frantically brushing the snow away, my breath catching in my throat when I realise it’s her. It’s really her.

I brush her hair aside and place fingers to her neck, panicking when I notice that her lips are almost blue. There’s a pulse, though it’s weak. “Raven… you idiot…” I croak, whilst sweeping the rest of the snow from her stiff, cold body. I need to warm her up, now. I strip myself, wrapping every warm layer I shed around her instead, and pulling every blanket I own out of my rucksack, cocooning her in layer after layer, and running my palms up and down her back. I’m filled with an indescribable surge of energy, feeling stronger than I’ve ever felt. It’s probably adrenaline… I don’t give it much thought. All I know is that I’m hoisting her into my arms, blankets and all, and she might as well be weightless.

I run as fast as I can towards the hospital, in nothing but my pants and bra - three blocks further east, but the speed I’m going, we’ll be there in no time. It’s only when we get there, and I almost collapse, that I realise how much I’ve exerted myself.

“Korra?!” A nurse rushes up, apparently recognising my movie-star face. Fame has its benefits.

“I’m fine,” I pant, “her… help her… now!”

The nurse nods, and there’s a flurry of activity as they haul the unconscious woman onto a stretcher, put her on a drip and replace my blankets with electrically-heated ones. I follow them, in a daze of sorts as they throw a blanket over me and treat Raven, applying heat packs and fluids, then checking her limbs. I hear some nurse mutter about how she’s narrowly avoided frostbite, and I smile to myself, praising the gods, if they even exist.

“She’s stable. She’ll be okay. Do you want to stay with her?” The nurse from earlier asks me, and it takes a few moments for the words to register.

“Uh... yes. Please.” I say. The nurse doesn’t ask what our relationship is, for which I’m grateful, mainly because I’d have no idea what to say. I nod to her before she leaves the room, and sit on the bedside chair, content to watch Raven breathe for a while.

I’m so happy she’s alive… and it’s weird, but as I’m looking at her sleeping face, I have this feeling again that I know her, somehow.

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