Riches to Rags

Chapter 26

It’s barely a few steps to the coffee house, and as I open the door to let Jinora enter first, a waft of freshly ground beans assaults my senses. We both end up ordering the same drink – a tall mocha – then take our seats just by the window. I can see that Jinora’s hands are trembling against her cup, and I know it’ll probably take a while for her to feel better.

“Gimme one sec…” I say, pulling my phone out and sending Priscilla a text explaining I might be late, and not to worry. “Sorry, just making sure my adopted mother doesn’t fret,” I chuckle, placing the phone to one side and giving Jinora my full attention.

“Adopted?” she raises an eyebrow, and blows against the top of her steaming coffee.

“It’s a long story. So, are you from this side of the city?” I ask, mainly in the hopes that casual conversation will help calm her down.

“Yeah, my Dad works near here. We’re not from this part of the city, but I ran out of cigs and was just passing by…”

“Bad luck, then. West central has its share of scumbags… you should try be more careful,” I say, sipping on my drink. It’s too hot, and I forgot to put my damn sugar in.

“My luck can’t be that bad… I mean, I ran into you. And that was an impressive show!” Jinora squints at me, “I can’t say I recognise you, though…”

“Hmm? Why would you?” I ask, tearing open a sugar sachet and pouring the contents into my cup.

“Well you must be an actress, surely?” Jinora says, with a completely serious expression.

I almost snort my coffee at the statement, “An actress!? Hah! More like ex-street-bum and car washer extraordinaire!”

“No way… are you telling me that was all natural?” Jinora asks, excitedly swirling a stick in her cup. Her hands seem to have stopped shaking… that’s good.

“All… natural?” I ask.

“I mean acting, without any training. You even had me convinced out there… I thought you wanted to bang that guy’s brains out!”

“Gross!” I say, twisting my face into a grimace, and shuddering at the thought.

Jinora looks at me for a few moments, glancing her eyes around my form, and it’s making me feel very uncomfortable. She smiles, fumbles in her handbag, and then pulls out a card, “Call me. My Dad’s a director… maybe we can use you.”

I pause, mid-sip, “You don’t have to do th-“

“I insist. You saved me, probably even saved my life. It’s the least I can do.”

I’m not really one to accept favours, but Jinora practically forces the card into my palm. I turn it around in my hand a few times, and look at the front of it. There’s a silver-inked outline of a cloud, with the words Studio Air. Huh. I’m sure that’s a big name, though I can’t remember why.

Jinora takes a long swig of her coffee and hums in appreciation. “You know, this is really good coffee. I’d come here again, if…”

“… if it didn’t involve risking your life?” I finish her sentence, smirking.

“Yeah, something like that. Anyway, I’m feeling better, and I need to get back. Thank you so much for your help, Korra,” she says, finishing her drink quickly. She stands and extends her hand, “I really hope you’ll call.”

“I will.” Maybe. We’ll see. I smile at Jinora as I shake her hand, and then head outside to walk her back to her car. As we cross the garage carpark, I wonder to myself what fate has in store for me if I do call. Maybe I’ll get lucky and become a studio cleaner, getting to play with the props and stuff after hours. That would be all kinds of awesome.

“Hey, nice car,” I say, as she pulls out her keys and disengages the alarm, which beeps twice. I can see my own reflection in the metallic-yellow surface.

“Need a ride?” Jinora says, adjusting her seat and starting the engine.

“Hell yeah!” I grin… I’ve always wanted to ride in a Porche. My lucky day.


“And then she called the number and fluked her way up the acting ladder in like, a few weeks,” Kuvira states dryly, rolling her eyes, “Anyway, Pizza’s done. You’re welcome, no, really. Don’t thank me all at once.”

“Well thanks for spoiling the rest, Kuv!” I pout, and fold my arms, “Anyway, you missed the part where Priscilla raged at me all night for forgetting the steaks.”

“So, you didn’t become a studio cleaner first?” Asami asks.

“No. Tenzin shoved me in at the deep end and had me audition a few minor roles. Said I was rough around the edges, but he could use me.”

“Doesn’t hurt that she’s like, hot as hell and has the perfect bod for any female action hero role,” Kuvira says, wiggling her eyebrows at me as she places a large plate on the coffee table. Looks like she’s already sliced the pizza up, how considerate.

“Who’s… Tenzin?”

“Oh yeah, Jinora’s Dad,” I answer Asami, holding a piping-hot slice of pizza dangling in front of my mouth. “Cool guy, gives anyone a try. Says that talent can be found anywhere.”

“Hell if I know why they took you in then,” Kuvira laughs whilst blowing on a slice of pizza, ignoring my fake cry of outrage. “Oi, Samikins, you not having any?”

Asami looks a little shocked at the sudden nickname, and I cast a threatening glance at Kuv, who holds her hands up in mock defence.

“I uh… yes, please.”

“Help yourself then, sweetheart. My crust is delicious and crisp, and my cheese is hot and mois-”

“Kuv…” I warn, although perhaps there’s no need - I see a sparkle of amusement in Asami’s eyes. She grabs a slice, blows on it a few times, and hums appreciatively.

“Mmmm, thish is… velishus!” Asami speaks with her mouth full. It’s downright adorable.

“See, Korra? Some people appreciate my finer talents,” Kuvira grumbles.

“Huh? What?” I hadn’t really been listening, and I realise it’s because I’d been lost in thought, watching Asami.

“Oh damn, you’ve got it bad,” Kuvira purrs, and I give her the worst death stare that I can muster.

“Got wad bafd?”Asami mumbles, half way through a second slice.

“Oh honey, she-“

I interrupt Kuvira by throwing my cheesy pizza crust at her, which she catches and sticks into her mouth, smirking.

“I have a bad thirst. The pizza is hot. Hot pizza. Need water. Badly.” I put my plate to one side and head to the mini-fridge, being sure to accidentally kick Kuvira right on her backside with the side of my foot as I pass.

I don’t have anything bad, Kuvira’s talking nonsense. I can appreciate beauty just as much as the next person can. And besides, Asami won’t be here long, I’ll help her find a job and she’ll find her feet and- Oh, who am I kidding. I’m getting butterflies just watching her stuff her face with Pizza, for goodness sakes.

I guess all I can do is push those feelings to one side, and focus on helping Asami with whatever she needs instead of my own foolish, selfish thoughts.

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