A/N: A part of the 30 Day Drabble Challenge on tumblr. I'll update as often as possible!
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
If there was one thing Asami Sato hated, it was the tabloids. She partially understood that in a difficult world, the people needed some sort of entertainment to keep their minds off the darker side of life. She just wished it didn't come at her expense. But, the paparazzi loved her, and her so-called "tragic" life: Asami Sato, the beautiful but naïve heiress who's father turned out to be an Equalist. Asami Sato, the abandoned heiress who's boyfriend left her for the Avatar. Asami Sato, the broken-hearted heiress who now had a multi-million dollar industry left upon her rather "incapable" shoulders and the world waited in bated breath to see how badly she would fail. It irritated her that they were all under the impression that she would crumble under the stress. But what the world didn't know was that Asami Sato was strong enough to take care of herself, and she would prove it too.
She put her racing gloves away and dug her fingers into Future Industries, but proving her worth was easier said than done. For a while, she struggled to pull the broken pieces of the industry back together. For most of her life, she didn't pay much attention to the business her father ran; her father didn't particularly encourage her to get involved in the family business much, so she spent a lot of time enjoying the more casual things in life. In retrospect, she should have pushed learning about the business more, but it was no use crying over spilled milk now. She took what she knew about her own Satomobile and utilized her dynamic speech skills to rally the factory workers back together. They were wary at first to have the young heiress in charge, but she was determined to redeem the honor of the company and soon the industry was back in swing.
She tried hard, harder than anyone gave her credit for, at least. She was present in the factory nearly every day, working alongside the workers, learning everything she needed to about the dirty side of the industry. In the evenings, she spent hours talking with her father's old financial and business advisors. Some weren't sold on the idea of having such a young girl in charge of a multi-million dollar business but a few did believe in her and gave her the instruction she needed to be a proper owner of Future Industries. At night, she would stay up late working through the paperwork her father had left in his office, figuring out what needed to be attended first and which of their buyers were essential enough to need specific attention. She fell deep into her work, and before she knew it, several months had already passed.
But the tabloids didn't note her slow-moving success. Instead, they continued to speculate about her reactions to Mako and Korra's very open relationship and the ongoing trial of her father. They continued to call her the "broken-hearted heiress" and when she saw the bold lettering across the newspaper with that particular moniker, she crumpled the paper and threw it into one of the boilers within her factory. She didn't have time for whatever lies the rumor mill kept churning out, but in the spare moments of her life, she still found herself thinking about them. It was humiliating and horrible and the longer the dark thoughts infiltrated her mind, the more she threw herself into her work.
Eventually, the factory workers began to worry for her.
"Now, don't get me wrong Miss Sato," one of the older men had said one day. "It's wonderful to have you here every day, but you're a young lass. Don't you want to go out with them every once in a while? I'm sure you're getting tired of hanging out with all these dirty, sweaty old men every day."
Asami chuckled at the man's humor, wiping her work glove across her sweaty forehead. "I'm not tired at all, Bom," she responded. They had been working on a particular Satomobile's engine all morning. She was finally feeling like she was getting the hang of assembling engines. She met the old man's worried gaze and gave him a smile. "Please don't worry about me. I like this. It's helping me keep other things off my mind for a while."
He didn't look convinced. "If you say so, Miss Sato."
"I do say so, Bom," she replied. "Now show me how to hook up the cooling system again. I've still got a few questions with that."
Of course, the man's comment didn't leave her mind after they had parted ways, and she lingered late in the night mulling over the possibility of taking a day off. She warred with her drive to continue her work and eventually decided to allow herself one evening. Perhaps a nice dinner out was all she really needed to wind down a bit. The following day she apologized to the factory workers, but they were nothing but kind as they encouraged her to take some time to herself. She decided to go to her favorite restaurant and took her time doing her hair and making herself feel beautiful again. After so many weeks with her hair up and grease staining her skin, she relished in the feeling of wearing a dress and wearing her hair down. As she headed out of her home, she realized that she wouldn't be meeting anybody for dinner. She hesitated, unsure if she wanted to leave anymore. She hadn't spoken to hardly anybody since she threw herself into her work, especially the old friends she used to have before the Equalist Revolution began. Sure, she was still friends with Korra, but she still didn't feel comfortable being around her with Mako in her life. Bolin had followed his brother after they had returned to Republic City, and she hadn't heard much from him since. She considered staying home and enjoying take out, but firmly decided against it. She was strong, and she wouldn't let anything like going to dinner by herself crush her spirit. So, she lifted her chin and drove her Satomobile to her favorite restaurant.
She was all smiles as the familiar attendants greeted her, and escorted her to her table. She ordered her favorite drink and meal and tried to enjoy the atmosphere of the candle-lit restaurant. It was a beautiful place that served a decadent array of pasta and sauteed meats. She always loved coming here with her father. He would tell stories of when he first met her mother and how he wooed her to marry him after he had brought her to this exact place three times. She swallowed the thick knot in her throat with a sip of her drink. She started to regret coming alone when some unwanted faces approached her table. She didn't hide the look of contempt as Truu Dee, the head reporter for the tabloids, stopped before her table. The woman ignored Asami's glare and offered her a thin smile.
"Asami Sato, the Future Industries heiress herself!" she cooed. "Or should I say, the owner." Asami pressed her lips together at the implications of the woman's words. "I'm sure you're missing your father. It's so sad to see you eating out by yourself. Don't you have friends, Asami Sato?"
Asami decided she didn't like the way Truu Dee was saying her name. "I think I hold the right to eat out by myself if I wish to."
Truu Dee's slithering smile widened. "So I see. It's too bad really," she continued. "To see you so broken-hearted, I mean."
Asami bristled. "I am not -"
A gentle, warm hand settled over her mouth. She jerked in surprise, prepared to whip around and demand that this new person not touch her again, but a second hand fell upon her shoulder keeping her in place. She sat in humiliated frustration as this mystery person took control of the situation.
"I see you found my date before I did," a low, masculine voice said to the reporter. Truu Dee stared with a dropped mouth and Asami gave an unladylike snort in amusement. The calloused fingers twitched at her laugh against her lips. "I hope you'll give us some time to get to know each other in peace," he continued. "If I may be so bold to ask."
The reporter's cheeks flushed red and she sputtered a bit before walking off. Asami sighed lightly into the warm palm over her mouth before reaching up to yank it away from her. She glared up at the man standing behind her.
"I didn't need your help," she said in disapproval. General Iroh merely smiled.
"I do not doubt that," he responded, lifting his hand from her shoulder. He moved around to stand behind the chair seated across from her. "But I thought you might like some company."
"Did you ever think that I might want to spend the evening alone?" she shot back.
"Yes," he said honestly, giving her a small, pleasant smile. "But I still hoped you wouldn't turn me down."
Asami gave a small sigh before letting her lips turn up. Who was she to refuse such a gentleman? She gestured for him to take the seat before her, and he sat with practiced ease.
"So tell me, General," she said, leaning forward to prop her chin on her folded hands. "What is a handsome man like you doing out here by yourself?"
She was surprised to see a soft blush rise on his cheeks at her compliment, but his words continued to be smooth. "I could ask you the same thing, Miss Sato."
She gave a thin smile. "I just wanted a night out."
Iroh rose the glass of wine a waiter expertly just poured for him. "As did I."
For the first time in what felt like years, Asami genuinely laughed. They talked over drinks, they talked over dinner, and to her surprise, they had continued to talk well into dessert. She had found out that he had stayed behind with Commander Bumi to visit the Air Temple and Councilman Tenzin. In the meantime, he was enjoying some time off from leading the United Forces and seeing what Republic City had to offer. Somebody had suggested he come to this particular restaurant to try the sauteed duck-fish over pasta. He found out quickly that he wasn't too fond of duck-fish. She had laughed at the face he made. They were still sitting in their seats when a nervous waiter came up to tell them that they were closing the restaurant and they had apologized with a laugh. They exited in a whirlwind, smiling at each other as they stood before the closing entrance of the restaurant.
"Um," Asami said softly, glancing over at her car. "I can drive you home if you'd like."
He gave her a soft smile. "Perhaps another time. I drove my own vehicle here."
"Oh, okay," she said with a touch of disappointment, tucking a loose hair behind her ear. He caught her hand as it fell back to her side. Her heart jumped a bit in her chest at the feeling of his hand again. He kept her gaze as he lifted her knuckles up in a soft, polite kiss.
"Thank you for a wonderful night, Miss Sato," he said kindly.
She smiled at him. "No, thank you, General."
He lingered for a moment before politely stepping away. "Good night."
"Good night," she responded quietly. She watched him turn away and head towards his car before she got into hers. She drove home in silence, but every time she saw her reflection in the rearview mirror, she noticed the delicate upward turn of her lips. Perhaps it was finally time for a new beginning. A life without the mistakes of her father, or the constant reminder of a love lost. Or, perhaps she was finally finding something that mattered to her again in this world. Whatever it was, she really liked it, and didn't want it to stop.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
Thank you for reading! Please leave a review and look for the next one very soon!