Riches to Rags

Chapter 21 (Korra)

Asami’s clutching the blanket again, and she looks extremely nervous. I hope she’s okay, but in either case I figure it’s best to keep talking, for now.

“Once we got back to Priscilla’s, I got the telling-off of my life…”


“Are you insane? Are you actually, literally, fucking insane?” Priscilla storms around her apartment, pacing furiously. I’m not sure I’ve ever been this afraid before.

“Look, I just, I couldn’t…” I stammer, wrapping my arms around myself and looking to the floor.

“Yes you could Korra. We’re friends, aren’t we?” Prisc glares at me sternly, as though daring me to say no. Instead, I mutely nod my head, then leave it hanging low, trying to hide my tears, “You’re welcome here any time, for as long as you need –– how many times have I told you that?”

I don’t have the words. I know she cares, but I can’t help but feel I’m a burden to her. I lift a soggy jacket sleeve to my cheek, trying to wipe away my sorrow. Instead, I end up wetting my face even more. My jacket is soaked, my clothes are stuck to my skin, and I’m stood here, shivering, ashamed and silently crying. I’ve never felt so pathetic, so small.

Suddenly, Prisc’s hands are on my shoulders, and she’s bent low, trying to catch my gaze. I look away, but she cups my chin in her hand and forces me to face her.

“You could have died out there, Kor,” she whispers, her brows furrowed with worry.

“Maybe I should have,” I say. I mean it, too.

A loud slap echoes through the room, and there’s a sudden sharp sting across the side of my face, followed by heat and a throbbing pain. I hold a hand to my cheek, grimacing, and I stare back into Priscilla’s piercing, brown gaze.

“Don’t you ever, ever say anything like that again. You matter! You deserve to be alive, you deserve life, you deserve love… you deserve everything!

The sincerity of her words hit me harder than the slap ever could, and my tears suddenly flood out in a wet, choking mess. I can’t stop them, and the next thing I know I’m held in Priscilla’s arms, sobbing uncontrollably.

“Come on, let’s get you out of those and into something nice and warm,” Priscilla says, holding me closely, not seeming to care at all that my soggy, dripping clothes are soaking through hers.


“Wait, she slapped you?” Asami interrupts me, gawping.

“Yes, she did. She isn’t usually violent… and she felt really bad about it later,” I say, chuckling. I can almost still feel the sting across my cheek, “It did kind of snap me out of it, though.”

“I hope you’re not planning to beat any sense into me…” Asami says, raising an eyebrow.

I hold my hands up, “Wouldn’t dream of it. You’d probably kick my ass anyway.”

“Well, I am somewhat of an expert in MMA,” Asami says, folding her arms. She looks a little smug, and it’s quite endearing to see this side of her. The confident side, the side that’s maybe a little alluring.

No, Korra. Bad Korra. Don’t you dare even start to think of her that way.

As I continue to internally chide myself for even humouring those thoughts, I notice with a sudden clarity that one of her feet is pressed firmly against mine, and I’ve been absent-mindedly wiggling my toes against hers for almost as long as I’ve been speaking.

I feel a flash of heat rise to my cheek as I look up to meet Asami’s gaze, plainly seeing that she notices that I’ve noticed, and there’s a moment of awkwardness as I cough, reach for my juice, and casually move my foot away. I don’t want to cross any of her barriers, or make her feel uncomfortable in any way.

I take a long swig of my juice and gulp it down, wincing a little at the sourness. “So, um, MMA? I study that too, have done since I was a kid. What are the chances?” I can hear that my voice is slightly higher-pitched than normal. You’d think I’d be able to hide my sudden nervousness, being an actress and all – but it rarely works that way.

“Slim, I’d say. Women aren’t supposed to be tough, after all,” Asami sighs, and I hear bitterness at the words, “thankfully, Daddy had other ideas, wanted me to be able to look after myself…”

“Where’s your Dad now?” I ask, before stopping to think. If she’s homeless, it can’t be good news. He probably died in a blazing fire, and I probably just asked the most personal, awful question in the world.

The way that Asami’s face transforms, hardens, tells me that I definitely should not have crossed that line. “I... uh, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t ask things like that. It just came out. Sorry,” I jumble over the words, finding something quite terrifying about the black, almost emotionless gaze I’m being given.

“He’s dead to me,” Asami says, bluntly, then sighs and stares towards the blank screen of the television.

“Yeah, dumb question, anyhow…” I figure, I’d best just tell the rest of my tale, but Asami speaks over me.

“You really have no idea who I am, do you?” she asks, and it’s almost a whisper. She turns to face me with a deep sigh, and suddenly looks tired beyond her years.

“I uh… should I?” I ask, weakly. I feel like I’m on one of those game shows where the contestant gets an easy question that everyone knows the answer to, yet I have no idea what it is, and I’m just sat there in the spotlight wishing that I could be anywhere else.

Asami’s mouth opens, as though she’s about to reveal she’s actually superwoman or something equally exciting, but we’re both interrupted by a loud slamming at the door.


Oh fuck, it’s Kuv. Why the hell is she here?

I glance at Asami, who – unsurprisingly – seems a little panicked at the situation.


“Don’t worry, she’s harmless. Loud, but harmless,” I say to Asami, desperately hoping that this invasion doesn’t scare her, or destroy the bond of trust I’m so carefully trying to build.

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