Chapter 16 (Korra)
I almost lose focus as the bathroom door creaks open, and warm air floods into the room. I smile to myself instead, just three more reps to go. Overhead raises always start easy, but get really hard on my shoulders towards the end. Plus, my forearms are practically shaking.
Twenty-three, twenty-four… ugh… twenty-five.
“Phew!” I say, panting from my exertions whilst I lower the bar carefully to the floor. I stand up straight, and start to stretch my arms whilst turning to face my freshly-washed friend. “Did you enj-“ the words catch in my throat, where a huge lump of arid desert sand seems to have manifested itself.
I barely even recognise her. She’s so pale, and her black hair seems to flow forever. The way she’s brushing loose strands of hair behind her ear is causing all kinds of untoward thoughts to flood through my mind, not helped at all by the cutest little blush I can see forming on her cheeks.
She’s so beautiful… Come on Korra, find your words. You can do it.
I blink slowly, and cough. “Was it nice getting wet?” shit! You moron! “I mean, that is, was it nice getting water? I mean, getting in, no was the water… wet?”
Oh what the shit, Korra. I slap my palm into my face, grimacing. The mouth-words will not come. Then, I hear a soft chuckle, and slightly part my fingers only to see the most beautiful smile that I’ve possibly ever seen. My heart does a strange little zig-zag. She’s laughing at me.
“I had a very nice wash, thank you. You said something about clothes?” Raven says, thankfully allowing me to regain my composure.
“Yes. Yes. Clothes. Just over there,” I say, waving a hand towards the stool at the edge of the room, “It’s mainly just comfy stuff, sportswear. I haven’t worn any of it, so take your pick.”
Thankfully, my mouth-words have returned, though my heart hasn’t resumed its usual rhythm.
“You can get changed in my room just over there,” I point, though I suddenly panic that I might have left a few… things out. Personal things. No, calm down, Korra. You always put those away. There’ll just be piles of clothes scattered around…. Aaaand nothing else. I hope.
I tidy up the living room, putting away my weights. I’m a little sweaty after the quick workout, and think about having a quick shower myself. Then my bedroom door swings open, and Raven’s stood there in all her glory, making baggy crimson joggers look far more attractive than should even be possible.
The shower can wait.
I try to act casually, and sit on the side of the three-seater, inviting her to sit at the opposite end. I switch the TV to something a little less erratic, lowering the volume too. The animal channel… yeah… fluffy penguins and shit. That’ll do. I just hope they don’t do the do, I couldn’t deal with that right now.
“So… Your story?” Raven seems confident in herself as she speaks, and it’s actually quite intimidating, not that I’m complaining.
“First. I need a beer. Want one?” I stand, heading to the mini-fridge by the TV.
“Heh. I can barely remember what they taste like. Okay, then.”
I grab two cold ones, and sit back on the sofa, twisting off the cap of the first and handing Raven the bottle. She takes a large swig immediately, and I raise an eyebrow, surprised to see quarter of the bottle gone already.
“That’s…. really good,” Raven says, wiping her lips, “and to think that I used to be a wine person.”
“Oh? I have some in the kitchen if you want?” I offer.
“No, thanks… I’d rather stay sober.”
I nod. It’s understandable, we’re almost strangers, and I’d probably have trust issues in her shoes, too.
“Well, here’s to super-squeaky clean you, and your new to-be-discussed future,” I say with a grin, lifting my bottle and clinking it against hers.
“But first… your story!” Raven says, and I can see she isn’t going to back down.
“Tell me your name, and then I’ll tell you anything,” I smile, but I see her face fall, “um, you don’t have to…”
The woman looks down and quietly answers, “It’s Asami…”
Yes! Finally I know her name! Finally! I struggle to hide my inner joy at the revelation. “That’s a really beautiful name. And you already know I’m Korra, but you can call me Kor, or whatever.”
Asami looks up, and there’s a sudden glint to her eye, and a slight twitch at the corner of her lips.
“I can call you whatever? Okay, then, whatever. Are you going to share your story now?” Asami smirks at me. I haven’t seen this side of her before. Confident… smart, witty. Even cheeky. I love it.
“Fiiine,” I say, taking a swig of beer and relaxing back into the sofa a little more, “It all started when Prisc first dragged me off my sorry ass, and convinced me to try the shelter…”