Even the Strongest Walls Will Shatter
Fandom: Legend of Korra
Rating: Teen and Up
Summary: Asami reaches her limit and it's up to Korra to fix it.
Asami Sato stood at the floor to ceiling window of her office, staring out at the city she was rebuilding yet again and feeling far emptier than she ever had.
It had been a month since she and Korra had returned from their much needed vacation to the Spirit World. It had been just what they needed and more than Asami had ever dreamed of. It wasn't just the peaceful beauty of the Spirit World, it was getting to spend time with her friend and she'd enjoyed every second…until the last night.
Asami sighed and sipped her hot tea, wishing she had something stronger as her thoughts continued to drift. She'd been intrigued by Korra even before their first meeting. Everyone had been fascinated by the legendary Avatar, even her, but then came the night she'd actually met her. Korra was far beyond anything Asami expected. She was rude, rash, hot headed, impatient and impulsive but also fiercely loyal and free-spirited. All those things combined with big, expressive blue eyes made her extremely attractive and Asami had found herself thinking about her in a more than friendly manner more often than not.
Even when she was with Mako, Asami found herself gravitating toward Korra, despite the Avatar's less than welcoming demeanor. At the time she simply thought it was merely a desire to have the friendship of the infamous bender and Mako's teammate. She went out of her way to plan activities just so she could invite Korra and usually found herself ignoring her boyfriend so she could talk to the other woman and try to find some way to impress her. When Korra had scoffed that Asami's plans involved shopping and makeovers, Asami knew she had her chance.
Sure enough, Korra had loved riding in the satomobile. Just the invitation to ride in one had her grinning more warmly at Asami and it was at that moment Asami had known that it wasn't friendship she'd been wanting.
She been quite proud of herself for the way she'd managed to handle Korra's apology for her earlier treatment with a casualness she was far from feeling. Then Korra had started dating Mako and Asami had felt betrayed and angry. It had all become a horrible convoluted mess, but at the center of it all was the longing Asami felt for Korra, despite what had happened so she hid her anger. A skill she was growing all too accomplished at.
Eventually she pushed aside any lingering resentment she may have felt. Regardless of any fantasy relationship Asami wanted and the disappointment of knowing that someone she considered a friend would go after her boyfriend, she missed Korra. She missed her smile, her terrible jokes and the excitement she'd brought to Asami's life. She also missed fighting team Avatar to defend the city and though it was initially awkward, they'd finally resumed the closeness they once shared.
It was a treasured sort of torture for Asami, being with Korra and the others, laughing at their jokes, listening to their problems and trying to help anyway she could, all the while forcing herself to ignore her own loneliness and the ache in her heart she suffered watching Korra and Mako together, especially seeing the way he treated Korra almost like a child that needed protecting, as if she was nothing without him.
Fortunately, Asami had learned long ago to ignore her heart. In her position, exposing her emotions, her grief, sadness and loneliness to anyone made her appear weak and too many people were just waiting for that one little sign to take what little she had left. Besides, she knew Korra had so many worries and responsibilities, she didn't need Asami's too. So, she buried her own pain while giving Korra all the support the heavily burdened young woman needed.
It had shocked Asami when after the battle with Kuvira, Korra had asked her to sit with her and even more so when she suggested they go away on vacation together. Asami thought she saw something in Korra's eyes that said maybe Asami wasn't alone in her feelings and she felt a flicker of hope that she hadn't felt in a long time.
The first two days of their trip they spent learning more about each other and their lives while Korra was gone. Korra had apologized so much for her long absence that Asami finally had to threaten her with a makeover if she didn't stop. Korra immediately gave in.
Their only disagreement came when Korra explained why she was inclined to forgive Kuvira. Asami angrily reminded Korra that Kuvira killed her father. Korra had in turn replied that the metal bender had saved her own father, but more than that, she explained what had driven Kuvira to her madness. She'd explained that Kuvira had been abandoned as a child, leaving her always wondering why her own parents didn't want her. She had never felt truly accepted by Su or anyone else after that and she never felt she had any control over anything or that she was good enough. It was only once she'd experienced victory after stabilizing the Earth Kingdom that she finally found the acceptance she never had. People finally loved her and she vowed she would do whatever it took to protect her people and herself so that they would never be hurt again.
Asami had been angry to find herself almost sympathetic. She'd never really known or wanted to know about Kuvira's background. Now she imagined a young girl being abandoned and having to fight for any scrap of affection or security for most of her life. Though Asami herself had very few, well actually she had no friends growing up, her parents had always made sure she knew she was wanted. She couldn't even begin to understand what it would have been like or how it would have shaped her to grow up believing she was unlovable.
Asami knew that whenever she saw or thought of the former Uniter, she would remember it was because of her that she'd lost her father, but she couldn't deny that her father had made choices that had put him in that position. And she also had to accept that in a perverse sort of way, Kuvira had actually given him back his honor for which she knew her father would be sincerely grateful.
Ultimately and against her will Asami realized that Kuvira hadn't acted out of evil or a desire to rule the world. It was fear and a real if twisted desire to protect her people that drove her and she found herself admitting to Korra that knowing that did change things a little and that it did leave the door open for her to forgive. One day.
She had hoped to talk more about her father and what his betrayal and subsequent death had done to her, how much pressure she'd been under to rebuild all that had been destroyed, but Korra had offered that cheeky grin of hers and told her about a particular meadow she wanted to show her so Asami shoved her pain back into its little compartment and put on a smile letting herself enjoy Korra's free-spiritedness.
After that, things returned to the normal easy friendship they'd almost always had. The conversations were never awkward and more often than not, Asami found her hand being taken by Korra's. It was thrilling to Asami's smitten heart but also a bit worrying as she wondered how soon before Korra realized Asami had feelings for her that went far beyond friendship.
It turned out that she was worried for nothing because Korra once again managed to surprise her. The night before they were due to return to Republic City, they we spending a quiet evening just taking in the serenity of the Sprit World. Korra was working on her forms and Asami had planned on reading but found herself captivated by Korra's movements. It always fascinated Asami that Korra had no idea whatsoever just how sensual she could be.
"Well?" Korra had said, breaking into her thoughts.
"Well what?" Asami had replied, proud of the fact her voice was steady.
"Are you going to join me or just sit there ogling?"
Asami's face had flushed to an almost painful extent, knowing she'd been caught but Korra's smug expression had her glaring in return.
"Very well," Asami retorted, getting to her feet and ignoring Korra's soft laughter.
The sparring had been fierce but full of laughter and Asami was quite full of herself when she realized in non-bending hand to hand sparring, she had no issues putting the Avatar on the ground which she did repeatedly to Korra's annoyance and her amusement.
Her amusement however, proved to be her downfall. After she helped Korra up for the fourth time, all the while smiling smugly, she felt a sudden burst of air lifting her off the ground and knocking her flat on her back. Korra had instantly straddled her waist and captured Asami's hands pressing them to the ground over her head.
"Give up?" she grinned.
"You cheated," Asami had pouted.
"Just working with my strengths," Korra had laughed. Then as she stared down at Asami her smile had faded.
"You are the most amazing person I've ever met," Korra had said quietly and Asami's heart had fluttered wildly.
"Oh come on," she'd replied with a self-conscious laugh. "You're the one who's changed the world about a million times."
Korra shook her head. "I can do what I do because I can bend and because I'm the Avatar. You've done just as much to save the world, all with just your natural strength and your mind. And your heart Asami…you do so much for me, for everyone all without expecting anything in return. I've never met anyone like you."
"I'm just me," Asami shrugged shyly.
"Well 'just you' is pretty incredible," Korra had said with not even a hint of amusement. She had cocked her head and looked curiously into Asami's green eyes for a long moment before her gaze dropped to her lips and Asami was suddenly glad to be on the ground because there was no way her legs would continue to hold her up.
"I…would you be mad if I kissed you?" Korra had asked quietly. Her cheeks were an adorable red but her eyes were intent as they watched for Asami's reaction.
Asami swallowed and then smiled. "I'd be disappointed if you didn't," she said, her voice huskier than it had ever been.
Korra's face lit up in a smile that was almost childlike before she lowered her head and kissed Asami in a way that was anything but. It was everything Asami had hoped and she wasn't surprised that the Avatar kissed the way she did everything, with a passion and fierceness that spoke of her emotions far louder than words.
Korra released Asami's arms so she could hold her face and instantly Asami slid her freed hands up Korra's back as if afraid she would run away. Whimpers and little moans filled the air while tongues danced and lips caressed. Asami had been overcome by the desire to taste more, to experience all she could in case it was taken away from her as most things were. She pulled her lips from Korra's and instantly trailed them across her jaw and then slid down the long neck, pausing to explore and savor the strong beautiful pulse beneath the skin.
Time worked differently in the Spirit World so neither knew how long they'd been kissing. It seemed never ending, with only small pauses for oxygen. It was the most wonderful experience Asami could remember and as they pulled apart and Korra had shifted so she was snuggled in her arms, Asami felt a peace settle over her and she began to hope that just maybe she was destined for a little bit of happiness for herself after all.
That hope didn't last long. Her first day back in her office after their return, she received a visit from Chief Lin Bei Fong. With more compassion than she would ever be known for, Lin handed a box to Asami. It was the few possessions her father had when he went to prison. Lin had kindly told her there was also a stack of letters that he had written her but never sent. The pain in Asami's chest nearly overwhelmed her and it was all she could do to politely thank the Chief for her kindness and wait for her to awkwardly leave the office before beginning to read.
It had taken her sometime to read all of them as she often found herself having to stop until her tears had abated enough for her to see once more. They were full of apologies and love, his grief over the loss of her mother and pride. In every letter he'd told her how proud he was of her. What a strong and intelligent woman she had become and how relieved he was that she had not let her own grief destroy her beautiful heart.
Asami's heart broke all over again as she thought about how devastated he had been when her mother had died and how blind and selfish she had been not to see beyond his constantly jovial demeanor. She blamed herself for not seeing his anger and pain and all she had wanted was to go Korra and have the Avatar reassure her that she wasn't a bad daughter and his actions weren't her fault.
She had gone to see Korra and said she was hoping they could talk. She had been surprised and confused by the almost panicked look on Korra's face and then hurt when Korra instantly told her that they needed to forget what happened in the Spirit World. It was just a weird side-effect or something and she hoped it didn't ruin their friendship.
That had cut Asami deeply but as always she told Korra she understood, even though she didn't but she still needed someone to talk to.
Korra had been clearly relieved that the subject of their kiss had been cleared up. She had smiled and said that she had to go meet Mako and Bolin to talk about starting up their pro-bending team again but they could have dinner sometime later in the week to talk.
At that point Asami had understood her father a little better because suddenly she felt an anger churning inside that she was forced to hide. It was only Naga, nudging her arm almost as if she understood what Asami was feeling, that kept her from giving into her anger. She simply agreed and then without another word, she had headed back to the ferry that would take her back to Republic City.
Since then, she'd seen Korra and the others a few times. She really had tried. She had folded her pain and self-doubts about her father into its little box in her chest. She had buried the hurt over Korra's rejection and had thrown herself into her work. When she and the others did meet, she made sure that she was pleasant and laughed at all the right places.
Only once did anyone notice anything. They were having dinner when Bolin blurted out that Asami looked terrible. He'd quickly covered himself by adding she always looked beautiful, but she looked tired. Asami smiled at him and said she was fine that she just had a major project she was working on and it was keeping her busy. Mako and Bolin sympathized but then went back to talking about starting practices for the team again. Korra had looked at her as if noticing the gaunt cheeks and dark circles under her eyes for the first time and she had started to say something but by this point Asami simply didn't have the desire to hear it so she dismissed the Avatar's concern.
It was strange though how only Naga seemed to sense that Asami was hiding a deep sadness and often when the group was together, the large Polar Bear Dog wound up by her side, nose poking at her cheek as if to comfort her. It never ceased to make Asami smile and she rubbed the beautiful animals face in gratitude. And according to the majority of Team Avatar, things were back to as they should be.
Asami snorted as she forced herself back into the present and went back to her desk. She blamed her exhaustion for her maudlin thoughts and knew something had to give. Suddenly the brief vacation to the Spirit world wasn't enough and she made a decision. She took out some paper and began to write.
Korra was feeling great. Aside from occasional bouts of mischief, Republic City was remarkably quiet, crime wise. She knew it wouldn't last, but she was enjoying it while she could. She had continued to work with Tenzin and was much at peace with herself as she had ever been. Best of all, the Fire Ferrets were starting in their first match in what seemed like forever. They'd worried about getting the money together and Mako and Bolin had wanted to ask Asami to sponsor them like before, but Korra had said no. Asami had been…distracted, lately and after what happened when they got back she felt bad asking her friend for anything.
Fortunately, and to Korra's amazement, many citizens of Republic City had surprised them with a donation big enough to cover their fees. Now all that was left was to tell Asami and invite her to the match.
She had no shame using her Avatar status to get access to the offices at Future Industries, unfortunately she was stopped cold by Asami's assistant Raylan.
"She's not here Miss Korra," the small man said regretfully but there was something about his expression that had Korra's chest tightening.
"Not here? Where is she, lunch?"
"No Miss. She's gone. She left about thirty minutes ago and said she planned to be gone indefinitely."
Korra just stared blankly at Raylan as she tried to process what she'd just heard. "She can't do that. What about…" me, was Korra's first thought…"what about Future Industries?"
"She's given everyone two weeks paid vacation starting tomorrow and then she's asked Mr. Varrick to step in."
"Varrick….what?" Korra said at a loss. All she knew was Asami was gone and she didn't know why.
"I know, it is a bit terrifying isn't it?" he said drily. "Still, she's been quite despondent since Chief Bei Fong brought her father's things from prison. The poor dear has been through so much lately it's no…"
Korra's eyes widened. "Wait," she interrupted. "What?"
"Yes. It was shortly after her return from vacation. The Chief brought her the box along with some letters her father had apparently written but never sent. She was devastated I'm afraid."
"Oh no, no, no, no, no," Korra said, suddenly feeling sick remembering Asami saying she needed to talk and Korra had just thought she'd wanted to talk about the kiss. The wildly inappropriate, frightening and most wonderful kiss she'd ever experienced and she simply couldn't, so she did what she did best and ran. For once, Asami had needed someone, needed her and she ran.
"She did ask that I give you this, if you came by."
Korra looked at the envelope as if expecting it to jump out and bite her. Finally, she reached a hand out and took it.
"Thank you Raylan," she said numbly.
"You're welcome Miss Korra." He paused as if considering the wisdom of his next words, but he knew how close his employer and the Avatar were and thought if anyone could help Miss Sato it would be her.
"She said she still needed to pack. Perhaps you can catch her at home."
Korra smiled gratefully and quickly left the office, ignoring the letter for now. First she needed to find Asami and convince her not to leave, then they could talk about whatever was in the letter together.
Naga instantly sensed his master's distress and poked her in the shoulder.
Korra wrapped her arms around the Polar Bear Dog's neck and buried her face in her neck. "Asami's leaving Naga. We need to stop her."
Oddly, Naga seemed to understand the words and she whined and nudged Korra as if to tell her to get on so they could find the engineer.
"Let's go girl," Korra said determinedly and Naga instantly took off, using all the speed her enormous legs could give her, while Korra relived that last encounter in every painful detail.
When Asami said she needed to talk to her, Korra instinctively remembered what happened in the Spirit World. It had never been far from her mind but they had never talked about what it meant. Korra had done nothing but think about it and all the repercussions. Korra knew from experience that anyone close to the Avatar was at risk, but if the Equalists that still remained free or any other threat knew how much Korra felt for her, Asami would become a target and Korra wasn't going to let that happen. She wouldn't be able to handle it if something happened to her. So she counted on Asami's always agreeable nature and just pretended what happened in the Spirit World was a reaction to the environment and Asami had thankfully let it go.
She should have known. She was the Avatar for crying out loud. She should have felt something was wrong, but as usual, she'd been too caught up in her own life.
She and Naga reached the Sato Mansion in record time. Korra slid off Naga and knocked on the door and when the butler answered, Naga immediately pushed inside.
"Naga!" Korra called, surprised by her pet's actions.
"Is Asami home?" she asked, watching anxiously as Naga began sniffing around the large home before heading upstairs.
"She's in her room," Yeung, the butler said, but he had barely finished speaking when Korra pushed past him.
"Sorry," she called behind her as she chased after Naga, wondering what had her companion acting so weird.
Only when she reached the top of the steps did she realize she didn't know which room was Asami's and she swore softly. Suddenly she heard soft laughter coming from the end of the hall and she turned to see the open double doors. She hurried down the hall and approached what was apparently Asami's room and she froze. The room was of course massive, but what had startled Korra was the sight of Naga, her big white furry face in Asami's lap as Asami stroked her head. The large fearsome animal was almost purring as Asami buried her face in her fur.
"What are you doing here Naga?" she said warmly. Naga whined in answer and licked her face.
Asami laughed and wiped the lingering slobber off her cheek. "Is that so?" she chuckled and then sighed.
"I'm going to miss you, you big giant puppy."
"Why?" Korra blurted, surprise at seeing how bonded Naga appeared with Asami, being pushed aside for anger.
"Korra," Asami exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"
"Why are you going to miss Naga?" she asked, storming into Asami's room. "Going somewhere?"
Asami sighed. "Apparently Raylan has been talking again. I really should speak to him about that," she muttered, turning her eyes back to the gentle beast who was now watching her sadly. She buried her face against Naga's neck, in no mood to deal with the glaring Avatar.
"No you shouldn't. He was worried and he knows we're friends so of course he told me. He wanted me to stop you from making a mistake."
At that Asami did look at Korra feeling the temper she'd spent her whole life controlling, starting to fray.
"What mistake? I'm leaving for business. That's it."
"No it isn't. You're leaving because I was an ass and blew you off. And to top it off, you were just going to leave and not even say anything."
"I left a letter," Asami explained neutrally. "Had you read it, then you would have your explanation and your goodbye."
Korra sighed. "Asami, this isn't like you. I know you're upset about the letters from your dad but…"
"No," Asami said angrily and getting to her feet. "You don't know anything about it because you didn't want to know."
Korra had never wanted to kick her own ass so badly. "I made a mistake Asami," she said apologetically. "I thought…"
"Yeah, I know what you thought I was going to push you for a commitment or some other ridiculous relationship thing. You made that clear."
"You don't understand," Korra pleaded, knowing she needed to explain why she'd run away, how fear for Asami kept her from pursuing everything she felt.
"You're right I don't. And this time I really don't have the desire to. Now, if that will be all, I need to get going."
"So that's it? You're just going to disappear because you're mad?" Korra regretted that as soon as it left her mouth.
Asami narrowed her eyes and for the first time, Korra thought she was in serious danger of a non-bending ass kicking. Even after what happened with Mako, Asami had never looked at her with such hostility.
"I don't believe you have the right to judge anyone for…'disappearing.' Asami said too quietly to be anything but dangerous.
"Please leave," Asami said stiffly.
Korra hesitated as she tried to decide whether to use her abilities to force the other woman to stay. Her shoulders slumped as she knew she could never use bending against Asami.
"I'm sorry if…that I hurt you or made you think I don't care," she said soberly, her heart hurting worse than when she'd been poisoned.
"Yes, well…" Asami paused and for a moment Korra had hope that she was going to do what she did best and forgive her but then she stiffened. "Thank you for coming by," she finally said.
Asami wished Korra and her big sad eyes would leave already, before she once again found herself giving up her anger and telling Korra she wasn't leaving and all was forgiven. Suddenly Naga poked her nose against her hand and whined and a sob nearly escaped her at that. She hadn't known the big animal had come to like her so much but she shared the same expressive eyes as her master and it was coming close to making her forget everything.
She kissed Naga on the head and then fled her room, trusting Korra to find her way out.
Korra could do nothing but watch as the always together Asami fell apart in front of her and ran out of her own bedroom.
She heard Naga whining sadly beside her and she reached out to stroke her sot fur. "What did I do girl?" she asked numbly.
Even though she knew Asami wanted her to leave so she could finish packing, Korra sat on the large bed and pulled out the letter, while Naga laid down facing the door as if waiting for her friend to come back.
If you're reading this than you know I've left Republic City and I'm not sure when I will return. I know this will be a surprise to you which is, I have to admit, part of the reason I'm leaving.
Admittedly I do have business to attend to but given everything that's happened, the timing couldn't have been better and I'm taking advantage of it.
I'm sure you're wondering why and since you made it clear you're too busy to talk, I felt a letter was my only option. I guess this is the only way we can communicate honestly as I'm sure you remember.
When I came to talk to you, you assumed I wanted to talk about you and our relationship. First of all I want to say that I do understand that as the Avatar you are under a lot of pressure all the time and you have so much on your shoulders, more than I could ever truly understand. And I guess compared to everything you've gone through, having my father betray and then try to kill me, trying to rebuild my company from the ground up, losing my boyfriend to someone I considered a friend and then reconnecting with my father only to lose him permanently seems pretty unimportant, but they weren't to me.
The reason I came to see you wasn't to try and force you into a relationship or to interrogate you about the kiss you obviously found to be a mistake. It was because Chief Bei Fong brought me my father's things and some letters he'd written in prison. Letters that were full of apology and so much pain and confusion and finally love for me. Letters that helped me understand how lost he had been and made me wonder how I had missed it, I was left feeling that if I had been less self-absorbed, I could have saved him and prevented the entire war with Amon. I just needed you to tell me I was wrong. That it wasn't all my fault.
I guess that it doesn't really matter now does it? It's already over and done with. Future Industries is successful again and I have all my money. I should be happy right? I should be content to being there to help you and everyone else with whatever they need and not expect anyone to be there for me. I'm rich so I don't need a shoulder to cry on right?
Well apparently I'm still a self-absorbed rich girl because I've decided I do need that. At least once in a while. I'm tired of always doing everything I can to help you and everyone else while having to pretend I don't have my own troubles. I'm tired of always having to put on a happy face and being the first one to forgive when someone hurts me. I'm tired of only being remembered when someone needs something. I've finally realized that maybe it's time to find people who will be there for me for a change. I am starting to think that even I deserve that.
All of this being said, I want to be clear that you are an amazing woman Korra. You have given so selflessly to everyone time and time again. You've saved and reshaped the world in ways nobody could have imagined and you have a big enormous heart. I just wish it had been big enough to add me.
So take care of yourself Korra. You're strong and gifted but more than a little reckless, which is one of the things I love about you. Just try to avoid that recklessness when you're fighting the bad guys okay?
I guess that's about it. I will return though I'm not sure when. If you need anything, I've instructed Varrick to provide you any assistance that you require.
Give Naga a kiss for me.
The wetness hitting the paper surprised Korra. She hadn't known she was crying but now that she did, the tears fell harder. How had she been so blind? How had she not seen how much pain Asami had been carrying with her for so long?
"She's right to leave," Korra muttered to Naga. "We don't…I don't deserve her."
Naga whined and pushed at Korra as if telling her to go after Asami.
"No Naga. I can't. I blew it. I was so focused on making sure I protected her from a relationship with me that I totally ignored how hurt she was. I mean she blames herself for what happened with her dad and Amon. I should have talked to her so I could tell her how wrong she was. How she is the amazing one. I mean how many times has she risked her life fighting the bad guys hand to hand, with no bending or anything but her own skills? How many times has she overlooked my screw ups and continued to be there for me? No, the only thing I can do for her now is to let her go. Let her find the happiness I couldn't give her."
Korra wiped her face and she and Naga left the bedroom and dejectedly made their way down the stairs and out the door.
Naga looked back at the house to see Asami standing at the window, her hand lifted in a sad little wave.
"I can't believe she just left," Bolin complained as he slumped in the booth at their favorite restaurant. "And she didn't even say goodbye."
"She's been gone for two days and you're just now telling us?" Mako glared accusingly.
"I thought she'd come home by now," Korra replied miserably.
"I don't get it. Why did she leave anyway?" Bolin asked sounding as if he were close to having a tantrum.
"She said she had business to take care of and was really tired so…"
"She ran off because she's tired?" Mako interrupted dubiously.
"Why is that hard to believe?" Korra snapped. "In the last few months, in the last few years, she's been betrayed by everyone she thought she could trust. Varrick, you, me, her father…she's had to pull a major company back from the edge of ruin all on top of spending her nights fighting just as hard if not harder than us. All without bending.
"She has that glove that her traitor father made," Mako retorted.
"That's unfair Mako," Korra seethed. "Do you have any idea how difficult it's been for her dealing with what her father did which includes trying to kill her? Do you know how much strength and courage it took for her to forgive him only to lose him days later?"
Mako was shocked by Korra's anger. "Yes I know all of that," he said with the patronizing tone of voice that was beginning to get on her nerves.
"Then why did you say it?"
"It's obviously more than business or needing a vacation and you know what it is," Bolin interrupted, hoping to prevent an all-out shouting match. "So, spill it."
Korra sighed and told them what Asami's letter had said. Well part of it.
"So she's mad because we weren't paying attention to her? Figures," Mako snorted.
"Mako," Bolin bit out, his voice full of a very rare anger at his brother.
"What's your problem?" Korra added angrily.
"What? I'm just saying that after everything all of us have gone through to save the world, she suddenly has a tantrum because she felt ignored. It seems kind of petty."
"You don't know what you're talking about," Korra snapped. "First of all, Asami has been there enduring as much as any of us. She's willingly given us her equipment, her time, her loyalty and she gave her home to your family Mako, and you sit there calling her petty?"
Mako stiffened. "I know her Korra and for Spirits sake, she put Varrick in charge while she's gone and you think that's okay?"
"You dated her Mako, but you don't know her," Korra practically shouted and then quickly reigned in her temper. "And it's her business to run as she sees fit. She took Future Industries from near bankruptcy to being one of the most successful businesses in the world which not only means she was working a LOT while helping us fight Kuvira and everyone else, but it also says she knows what she's doing. Varrick has proven himself. If she trusts him than so do I."
Mako didn't look convinced and Korra rolled her eyes.
"Whether you think so or not, Asami has every right to be hurt. Did you, who claims to know her so well, know that she blames herself for her father going crazy and she blames herself for what Amon did to me? Did you have the slightest idea how alone she feels now that she has no family? She needed people, she needed her friends, to remind her that she isn't to blame, that she is one of the most giving people in the world and that she's not alone. She didn't get that from any of us. She reached out to me and I blew her off."
"She never said anything," Bolin protested guiltily. His fire ferret Pabu chirped a sad little agreement from his shoulder.
"She wouldn't. In the time we've known her, Asami has never done anything but put everyone else first. I mean after what we did to her when we got together Mako, how long did it take her to forgive us?"
Mako looked away. "Yeah I know. I guess…I'm hurt she didn't come to me if she was that upset."
Korra just barely kept from rolling her eyes and saying "why would she?" Instead she shrugged. "She came to me and I ignored her, thinking she wanted to talk about our kiss but…"
Bolin shot upright, scaring Pabu of his shoulder. The little ferret chattered angrily at Bolin before running over to Korra and scrambling up to her shoulders.
"Kiss?" Bolin all but shouted.
Korra's face heated painfully. "Forget I said that."
"You and Asami…you kissed?" Mako said accusingly.
"Oh get over yourself," Korra retorted. "It's none of your business." She straightened "And I'm going to get her back."
"I'm going to find her and I'm going to convince her how wrong she is and that I…that we need her," Korra said, feeling a strange sense of relief now that she had a plan.
"Well I'm coming too," Bolin added.
Korra smiled at her soft-hearted friend. "I don't think…"
"You're not going alone," Mako interrupted and Korra nearly air-bent him out of the restaurant.
"First of all," she said through clenched teeth, "I didn't appreciate your telling me what to do when we were dating. I definitely don't like it now. Secondly, in case you've forgotten, I'm the Avatar. I don't need a protector. I'm going after her and I'm going alone. She needs me and I'm not letting her down again."
Without giving the brothers any further time to protest or interrogate her about her relationship with the missing CEO, Korra gently removed Pabu and handed him to Bolin and left the restaurant. She woke up Naga who grunted in protest.
"Come on girl. We're going after Asami and bringing her home."
That spurred life back into the giant polar bear dog and Korra had barely settled herself on Naga's back before they started racing through the streets of Republic City.
"Where did she go?" Korra blurted as soon as Asami's butler opened the door.
"I'm sorry Avatar Korra, but Miss Sato is involved in some very important meetings and she specifically told me I wasn't to tell anyone unless it was an emergency."
"It is an emergency," Korra insisted. "Please," she pleaded, having no problem humiliating herself if it would lead her to Asami.
Yeung looked down at the Avatar. He had no doubt this young woman was at least partly to blame for his employers distress and he was quite tempted to slam the door in her face, however the expression on her face convinced him to risk his job in order to help this poor young woman.
"Very well Avatar Korra. She's staying in the Fire Kingdom. The Yao Wan Province in the Imperial Hotel. She truly is there on important business so please try and be…"
"Thank you," Korra interrupted before climbing back on Naga and racing off.
"Patient," the older man sighed before closing the door.
Korra and Naga finally reached Air Temple Island and she ran to the temple, so intent on gathering her things that she wasn't watching where she was going.
"Spirits Korra what's happened?" Pema asked as Korra nearly ran her over.
"Oh. Sorry Pema, she said breathlessly.
"What's happened? Is there trouble in the city?" she asked alarmed and a little frustrated.
"No Pema. It's nothing like that," Korra assured her comfortingly. "I just… I screwed up bad and I need to fix it."
"Asami left and it's my fault," she said just before she burst out crying.
Pema's eyes widened in shock at the outburst before she pulled the Avatar into a hug. "Come, I'll make some tea and you can tell me what happened."
Korra told her everything. She told her about their kiss in the Spirit World, relieved when there was no reaction to that, and she told the older woman about her thoughts after their return and how she grew frightened that some new bad guy like Amon or Zaheer would come along and find out how much Asami meant to her and use her to get the Avatar so she pushed her away.
"Korra, Asami is a very gifted fighter. She can take care of herself," Pema reminded her as she poured them their tea.
"I know that. I know how skilled she is. I mean, when I fight I have the advantage of my bending and can kick someone's ass from a block away. She has to actually be close to the bad guys and she is still tougher than most benders I've encountered. I just don't want her to be in danger because of me."
Pema thought for a moment. "You know she stayed here for some time while you were gone and while she never really opened up about herself, I got the impression that Asami Sato never does anything she doesn't want to. And she is always the first one to volunteer to fight by your side or to offer her factories to help in whatever you need."
"I know but…"
"Is fear for her safety the only reason you pushed her away," Pema interrupted, not wanting to give Korra time to think her way out of the truth.
"Yes...No," Korra bowed her head in shame. "I don't know how to have a relationship," she admitted. "I would probably wind up hurting her. I mean I thought I wanted Mako but when we got together, at Asami's expense I might add, it blew up in my face. Twice. And there's the fact that she's so elegant and classy and I'm…just me."
Pema just shook her head. "Oh Korra. I don't even know where to begin. Let me ask you this. When you were pining after Mako, did you have these same fears and concerns that you're having over being with Asami?"
"No," Korra said immediately.
"Well that's telling isn't it?" Pema prodded. "And you do Asami a great disservice by assuming that sophistication, money or any of that matters to her. She seems to be a woman who values loyalty, strength and courage far more than any superficial concerns."
Korra sighed as pain and guilt ate at her. "You're right Pema. But I failed her when she needed me most. That sort of ruins the loyalty part doesn't it?" She told Pema about what happened with Asami and how she'd needed someone to talk to and Korra had dismissed her. "I made it about me and told her we'd talk later," she finished bitterly.
Pema frowned. "Okay, that was bad," she said and Korra looked hurt.
"I'm sorry Korra, but I have to be honest," the older woman explained kindly. "You see I know the reason you said what you did because you told me, but she doesn't. All she knows is you wanted to forget what happened and didn't have time to talk to her because you wanted to go talk pro-bending with the boys."
Korra groaned in disgust. "I know. I should have just told her the truth but I thought…I had no idea she'd gotten letters from her dad. And she never talks about herself. Ever. She always seems so strong and together and happy. She almost always seems happy."
Pema nodded. "Of course she does, because that's what people expect of her. Despite growing up rich, she's suffered quite a lot in her life the poor dear, and she's had to shoulder responsibilities that men twice her age would have struggled with but because of who she is, she's had to be tough and that has made it hard to share her troubles with anyone. Kind of like a certain Avatar I know," she smiled.
"And the one time she tries to open up I act like an idiot."
"So what are you going to do to fix it?" Pema asked bluntly.
"I'm going after her. Her butler told me where she is and I'm going to find her and I'm going to listen to her the way I should have," Korra said firmly.
"And?" Pema prodded, a gentle smile crossing her face.
"Korra," Pema chided, chuckling at the sudden blush on the Avatars face.
"Okay, okay," she surrendered. "And I'm going to tell Asami what I was afraid of as far as our being together and let her decide. There. Happy?"
"Not yet, but I will be when you return with Asami," Pema said smugly.
"You're as pushy as Tenzin. You know that right?" Korra retorted petulantly, but a smile lifted her lips.
"I'll take that as a compliment."
"Can I use one of your bison?" Korra asked getting to her feet. "Preferably one big enough for me and Naga?"
"Naga?" Pema asked surprised.
"Yeah, she's kind of mad at me too. She misses Asami and will never forgive me if she doesn't get to come along."
"And if there's anything worse than a pouty Avatar it's a pouty polar bear dog," Pema laughed when Korra stuck her tongue out at her.
"I'll speak with Tenzin while you go pack," Pema said and then jumped when Korra's arms went around her.
"Thank you Pema."
"There it is girl, the Yao Wan Province and Asami Sato," Korra said, earning an excited 'woof' and a cold nose in her neck.
Korra looked back and had to laugh at poor Naga who'd been nervously splayed flat against Ooogi's back the entire trip. "I know girl. We'll find her soon and everything will be okay."
From their airborne vantage point, Korra was able to find a farm that didn't appear too far from the city so she signaled for the bison to land.
The farmers recognized Korra at once and were more than happy to take care of Oogi until she returned. Korra turned to the big bison and stroked his face lovingly. "Thanks Oogi. You'll be safe here and we'll come back as soon as we can."
The bison snorted and then nuzzled against the Avatar before lowering his big head to Naga who looked like a puppy next to the giant animal.
Naga tentatively stuck her head out to sniff at the bison. Oogi snorted and Naga yipped and jumped back.
"Oh Naga you big baby," Korra laughed. She kissed Oogi on the forehead and then turned to the elderly farmer.
"Thank you so much Mr. Kato," she said sincerely.
"It's the very least we can do for all you've done for us," the old man said kindly.
Korra offered a shy smile and promised not to be more than a few days before leading Naga away.
"You ready to go get Asami?" Korra asked as she climbed onto Naga's back.
In response Naga barked once and then took off as if her tail was on fire.
"Your plans are impressive Asami," Lord Zuko said pulling his eyes away from the blue prints.
"Thank you," Asami replied graciously. "They are still in the rough draft stage, but I realized recently, your people…"
"Your people too," Zuko reminded her kindly.
"Well yes," Asami shifted awkwardly. "I realized that with all the electricity that is being used now, especially at my factory, your fire benders are really being overworked and I wanted to come up with some way to help take some of the pressure off of them. They're being asked to use lightening more often to generate more and more electricity and it seems that we may be able to create a greater storage facility to alleviate the strain they're putting on their bodies."
"It's a great idea," Zuko replied, as always impressed by the way this young woman's mind worked. She was as brilliant as her father but unlike Hiroshi Sato, it was her heart that guided her designs, not her hatred.
"My only concern," he continued thoughtfully, "is that these electrical workers may think you are trying to replace them and take away their livelihood. And…please I mean no disrespect when I say this…and many may see it as an act of retaliation on your part for what happened to your mother and more recently your father."
Asami stiffened, wondering if she would forever be judged for the actions of others. Still she knew he was right.
"That's true. Perhaps if we set up a meeting with the plant workers and talk to them as well as get their input they'd be less afraid?"
Zuko smiled. "You are a truly remarkable woman Asami Sato," he said getting to his feet. "And I will meet with those at the factory and arrange something."
"Thank you Lord Zuko," Asami replied, standing as well and offering a respectful bow. "Will you be staying here at the hotel?"
"No, I must return home. I must admit I was surprised and pleased by your choice for a meeting location. I don't believe I've been to this province in quite a while and it's a visit long overdue I think. I've forgotten how beautiful and quiet it is here."
Asami nodded. "That's why I picked it. I did want to meet you but I also needed to get away for a while after….everything."
Zuko nodded. "I was sorry to hear about your father. It will take time to let go of his actions, but I, perhaps more than anyone, can understand the dark place he was in when he turned to hatred. He did redeem himself in the end."
Asami fought the tears that threatened. She was getting quite good at that. "Thank you. I think he would like knowing that."
After a few more pleasantries, Zuko left her suite leaving Asami alone. She rolled up her blueprints and sighed. The meeting with the Fire Lord had kept her mind busy for a few hours, but now she was alone again and her thoughts once more turned against her.
As soon as familiar blue eyes entered her mind she swore softly. She was going down to the bar for a drink. Maybe drinking herself into unconsciousness would give her one night of peace.
Just as she reached the door the phone in her room rang.
I'm sorry to disturb you Miss Sato, but there is a visitor to see you. She said that...I'm sorry but I'm not going to give you her room number. We have rules here to protect our customers' privacy and…I'm sorry but I don't care if you are the Avatar we…
Korra? Asami's heart lodged in her throat. Why in all the United Republic was she there? "It's okay, please send her up," Asami said reluctantly, breaking into the clerk's rant. She couldn't help but smile as she pictured the fit the stubborn Avatar was probably having about now.
Yes Miss Sato. Without further comment, the clerk disconnected.
"Spirits!" Asami swore. She wasn't ready for anything Korra could possibly say to her.
She straightened her clothes and paced the room so nervous that when she heard a loud bark at her door she nearly fainted.
Her knees shaking uncharacteristically she opened the door and couldn't hold back a laugh at the sight of poor Naga crammed into the corridor that had obviously not been designed to accommodate a polar bear dog.
"Hey Naga," she greeted and kissed the furry face that took up most of her doorway, giggling and wiping at her cheek when Naga returned the gesture with a wet slobbery kiss of her own.
"Hey, get off my foot can't ya?"
Against her will, Asami felt a grin cross her face at Korra's frustrated voice, coming from somewhere behind the massive animal.
Naga panted happily and tried to push into Asami's room and Asami laughed. "I'm sorry girl, but I don't think you'll fit."
The big polar bear dog whined sadly and Asami stroked the sweet face. "It's alright Naga. Why don't we go outside? If your master hasn't been smashed into the carpet that is." Her laughter grew as a happily oblivious Naga squeezed her big body around.
"Oomph. Dammit Naga," Korra protested, hopping on the foot that hadn't been stepped on by giant paws. She swore again when she received a tail in the face as a response.
Asami's hand covered her mouth as she fought to contain her smile. She didn't want to find any of this funny. She didn't want to have to deal with Korra wanting to talk about her letter but she couldn't help it.
"Hey Asami," Korra muttered, her voice muffled by the hand she had covering her sore nose.
"Korra," Asami replied, relieved that her smile had faded and her voice was casual. Even if her legs were threatening to give out.
"I guess we're going outside?" Korra asked with a hopeful smile. She'd seen Asami's amused expression when Naga was tramping all over her and though her foot and her nose were still stinging, Korra knew she'd let Naga do it all over again just to bring that smile back. She wasn't used to the indifferent expression and it bothered her. A lot.
"I suppose so," Asami agreed reluctantly, as they followed Naga who was trotting as best she could in the narrow confines of the hall..
"How did you get up to the tenth floor?" Asami asked curiously, "I know there's no way Naga fit in the elevator."
Korra laughed. "Well not for lack of trying," she admitted. "We took the stairs."
"You took the stairs? Up ten flights?" Asami said, impressed despite herself and instinctively her eyes ran over the Avatar as if to remind herself that Avatar Korra was an extremely fit woman.
Korra saw the look on Asami's face and the way her eyes had run over her body and she couldn't contain a shiver of…something. Nobody had ever looked at her like that before, not even Mako. She shook her head to clear it. Mako was probably the worst thing she could be thinking of right now.
"Well, as much as it would be awesome having you think I was all athletic and everything, I air-bended my up," she admitted shyly.
"And Naga still beat you up ten flights of stairs?"
"Well it's not like I could get past that giant body of hers," Korra protested and Asami couldn't hold her laugh back any more.
"Poor Naga would have her feelings hurt if she heard you, describe her that way" she said once her laughter had stopped.
Korra was almost ecstatic at the beautiful sound of Asami's laughter. "Nah, she knows I love her." If she'd been expecting an immediate return to how they used to be she would have been disappointed. She knew that laughing over the antics of the playful animal wasn't the same as repairing the damage she'd caused but she hoped it was a start.
They didn't speak again until they reached the lobby where they watched a frightened bellman hold the door as Naga came racing toward him.
"Naga!" Korra yelled as the hotel owner approached the two women.
"Avatar Korra, I must insist you contain that…beast," he said arrogantly.
"Please Mr. Peng, Naga is just excited," Asami interrupted, seeing Korra stiffen and knowing a beating was imminent if she didn't step in. "I'll cover any damages."
Mr. Peng looked at the woman who was spending a fortune on the penthouse suite. He knew very well who Asami Sato was and was almost more afraid of her than he was the Avatar.
"Very well Miss Sato," he said, offering a superior sniff to Korra.
"What's his problem?" Korra scowled, wondering which type of bending would be the most entertaining to use on his arrogant ass.
"Well Naga does tend to be a bit…over exuberant," Asami pointed out.
"She's not a beast," Korra said angrily.
"No," Asami agreed as they followed the 'beast' in question outside. "However Mr. Peng doesn't know her like we do."
Any reply Korra would have made was cut off by a big wet tongue swiping across her face. "It's a good thing you're cute," she muttered before kissing Naga's snout.
Naga then turned to Asami and then nudged her arm, looking at her with the saddest eyes she'd ever seen and it was more than she could bear. She choked on a sob and buried her face in Naga's neck fighting not to cry.
Korra heard the muffled sound and her heart shattered, knowing that she did this. She'd broken Asami and she'd never hated herself more in her entire life.
"Asami, please don't…"
"Why are you here Korra?" Asami pulled away from Naga and looked at the distraught Avatar.
If it had been any other time, Korra would have been impressed by how quickly Asami had pulled her mask back on. However, now she wasn't buying it.
"Because I missed you and I wanted to…"
"You missed me? Really," she said, anger starting to slip through and Korra wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a really, really bad thing.
"Asami please, I made a huge mistake but you don't understand, I was…"
Suddenly every loss, every hurt, every betrayal that she'd pushed aside for so many years boiled over.
"You were what?" she snapped. "Focused on yourself and your needs?"
Korra cringed. She was shocked by the pure anger coming from a woman who'd never been anything but gentle and sweet and she hurt because that anger was directed at her and she was guilty because she couldn't really blame Asami.
"Yes," she said bluntly, slightly hopeful when the surprised look at her honesty briefly replaced the anger.
"Well, thank you for your honesty," Asami said, a little deflated that Korra had so easily admitted it. She was spoiling for a fight and of course Korra wasn't going to give her one.
"Asami, I've spent so much time worrying about not failing everyone, mostly people I don't know, that I ended up failing the person I care most about and I hate myself for that."
Asami's throat tightened at Korra's sincerity and the words 'the person I care most about' but she wasn't going to give in. Not this time. "No Korra, it was my fault. I learned a very long time ago, never to let my guard down and I forgot that. I should have known better. Besides you have your own life to lead and your own concerns…"
"You're my concern Asami," Korra interrupted almost angrily.
Asami ignored her and continued to walk and Korra wanted to pull her hair out in frustration and as usual, when floundering in awkward situations, her mouth took over.
"You know Asami, self-pity doesn't really work for you," she accused and then clapped her hand over her mouth wanting nothing more than to pull the words back. Asami stopped mid stride and turned to face Korra, a look so calm on her face, Korra actually felt a trickle of fear and she prayed to any spirit that would listen that she just hadn't destroyed the best thing that had ever happened to her.
"I didn't mean that," she exclaimed, reaching out to take Asami's hand, not surprised but still hurt when Asami pulled away.
"I think we're done here," Asami said coolly. "Goodbye Korra," she finished and started walking back to the hotel.
"I'm not leaving," Korra called after her. "I'm not giving up and even if you run away again, I will find you and I'll keep finding you until you finally see me."
Asami wasn't sure when she started crying but the looks of concern from the staff had her swiping at her cheeks and finding them damp. What made it worse is she knew she couldn't be angry with Korra's accusation. She was right and Asami hated self-pity but there was a constant ache in her chest that had been growing sharper and sharper with every new drama or crisis and holding it all back had become too hard but she wouldn't give in. She couldn't.
The sudden loud knock on her door startled Asami awake. She sat up and then groaned as her back protested. She looked around and discovered she'd fallen asleep at the hotel desk again. She got to her feet and stretched the knot out of her back, wondering who was disturbing her so late at night.
She opened the door and tried not to feel disappointment that it wasn't Korra. "Yes?" She asked the young maid.
"I'm sorry to disturb you so late Miss Sato, but I have a note for you." The girl curtseyed and handed the envelope to Asami, turning and running back down the hall before Asami had time to so much as thank her.
She swallowed hard, knowing who it was from. She pushed aside the suitcase she'd started packing the night before and sat on the bed. For a moment she stared at her name on the envelope, her hands shaking too badly to open it. Finally she managed and began to read.
Well here I am again. I've hurt you and am left having to send you a letter and hoping your heart is big enough to read it, even though you're mad.
I don't even know where to begin apologizing for everything. I guess I can't. There's no apology or explanation that can excuse the way I overlooked your feelings. I could say that it's your amazing ability to always smile no matter what's going on around you, your ability to be strong when everyone around you is falling apart that kept me from seeing the truth, but I can't because I should have seen it. You've always seen everything I've tried to hide and I should have been able to see behind your smile too. Knowing everything you've been through, it should have been obvious to me that you carry so many burdens you couldn't possibly be happy all the time. I didn't and even if by some blessing of the spirits you eventually forgive me, I won't forgive myself. All I can do is tell you that I see you now and that I am here whenever you need to talk and I promise I will never blow you off again. I just hope one day you will believe me.
And I need to tell you why I ignored you the day you came to talk to me about your father. Yes, I did think you were coming to talk about what happened…our kiss and I panicked, but not for the reason you think. I wanted…want nothing more than to talk about what happened and well, I really want to do it again too one day, the thing is I was afraid.
Yes I know I always say that and it's true. I'm always afraid. Did you know that? I am. And I've always been so jealous of you. Not because you're rich, insanely smart and gorgeous well not completely anyway, but because you are the strongest person I've ever met in my life. You rush headfirst into any battle that comes your way in business or in fighting the bad guys, all without having any bending at all. And you have a heart bigger than the entire Spirit Word. You just give and give even to people who hurt you and you never ask for one single thing in return. How could I have not fallen for you? How could I not know that you are the other part of me?
But Asami, when I had time to think, all I could think of is that there always seems to be someone out there who wants me dead and I started thinking that the only sure way to guarantee that is for them to do something to you. I thought….if they knew how much you mean to me, they'd target you and if someone took you to get to me, if they hurt you or worse, it would ruin me, don' you see? So I tried to make it so we could just stay friends and then you would be safer. I swear on Naga's life I never meant to hurt you or to make you think I didn't care. I do, more than I've ever cared about anyone and I am so sorry that I made you feel like I didn't.
Please give me another chance Asami. Please? If you will, I'll be waiting out by the reflecting pond behind the hotel at midnight.
A moan came from Asami's throat as she fought the tears that the earnest and beautiful words had generated. How was it this one small person break through every layer of rock she'd built around herself when nobody, her entire life had even come close?
"It's okay to cry Asami."
Asami swallowed a scream as she spun toward the voice coming from the balcony windows she hadn't known were opened.
"Korra, how…oh," she stopped, remembering the Avatar was now adept at air bending.
"I'm sorry I scared you," Korra said softly, lowering herself to the floor and carefully approaching the bed where Asami still sat...
"It's not midnight," Asami said lamely, her voice still trembling and her eyes stinging.
Korra offered a gentle smile but didn't move in case she frightened the fragile woman into running away. "I couldn't wait," she said apologetically.
"Patience never has been your strong suit," Asami commented weakly.
Korra didn't even smile. How could she when the best friend she'd ever known and the woman who'd captured her heart, was standing so stiffly, holding her emotions so tightly she was physically shaking with the effort. Feeling a bit ridiculous but having no idea what else to do, Korra dropped to her knees.
"What are you doing?" Asami said shocked.
"I don't know," Korra replied weakly. "I just don't…please don't make me leave," she pleaded.
"I can't do this Korra," Asami choked out, her already tenuous grasp on her emotions slipping.
"Yes you can." Korra held out her arms. "Please let it go. Lean on me."
"I tried," Asami sniffed, the first tear escaping down her cheek.
Korra's eyes slid shut in guilt before opening again to meet sad green ones. Willing to risk a slap in the face, she reached out and placed her hand on Asami's cheek, her thumb wiping at the tear track. "Try again," she prodded. "I'll never fail you again Asami. I swear."
The next two seconds were excruciating for Korra, wondering if the woman's silence meant she was about to be dismissed forever when she heard a sniff and then a painful low guttural moan and suddenly her arms were full of a violently sobbing Asami.
Almost immediately, Korra gently pulled Asami off the bed. She quickly adjusted her position so she was holding distraught woman in her lap, rocking her as she poured out every single tear she'd bottled up for so very long. Tears fell down her own face as she realized how very badly this woman had been hurting with nobody to care.
She had no idea how long they sat there and only when she began to worry that Asami was close to making herself ill, did the shaking sobs finally stop. After a few lingering sniffles, Korra lifted a hand and pushed midnight hair back from the tear stained face.
"I love you Asami," she admitted quietly, deciding if she wanted Asami to open up, she needed to start, even at the risk of being rejected. "Nothing I am or do will ever be more important to me than that."
"You can't say that," Asami rasped, Korra's earnest declaration causing tears to threaten again. "You're the Avatar. The world is far more…"
"I'm Korra," she interrupted. "And Korra loves you and wants you to tell her everything that you've kept closed up for so long."
Asami released a shaky sigh. "I love you too Korra," she admitted, heart melting as the innocent and hopeful blue eyes widened. Those eyes would be the end of her, Asami thought in resignation.
Korra had so many things to say to that, but instead she slowly leaned forward and after a brief cautious pause, tentatively placed her lips against Asami's, her heart singing when her kiss was returned.
It wasn't a kiss of passion. It wasn't the time for that. Instead it was a kiss of love and affirmation that neither women ever had to shoulder any burden alone again.
"When I was a child, my mom was murdered by a fire-bender…"
Korra knew the story but she stayed silent, stroking her hand slowly up and down Asami's back as the woman finally began to unburden herself, vowing not even the ending of the world would pull her away.