Valentine's Day in Republic city was unbearable. Everywhere you looked shops were advertising 'The Perfect Gift for Your Soulmate' and 'The Only Way to Celebrate Finding Your Forever'. It drove Korra crazy every year it came around seeing everyone's happiness broadcasted for the world to see while she was alone and sad and bitter. She normally avoided these shops like the plague but sometimes even Korra had to break her own vows. Especially when her family asked her for help and Korra was nothing if not loyal.
"Are you sure you need me here?" Korra asked as they entered the small shop the reeked of something much too sweet to be chocolate. "I mean this place smells like diabetes." Korra then noticed a stuffed animal that was a mix of a bunch of different animals with the head of an elephant, the tail and the front paws and stripes of a tiger, and the back paws and tail of a monkey. She pointed to the stuffed thing and added, "And I'm pretty sure Kai doesn't need whatever that is."
"Korra!?" Jinora cried turning a shocked look on her face that only made Korra laugh.
"Don't worry too much little lady. That's the eighth time I've heard that today." Korra looked at the older gentleman who had emerged from the back. He looked like a was in his late fifties with greying hair and a pair of glasses low on his nose. Korra almost envied him.
Jinora bowed her head, "I'm sorry. Old age has made my friend kind of an asshole." The man laughed and Jinora smiled as she stood up straight.
"What can I get for you?" Jinora stepped forward while Korra picked up the strange stuffed thing off the shelf turning it over in her hands.
"I want to get a gift for this boy I like. I don't know if he's my soulmate but..." The unsureness in Jinora's voice caused anger to swell in Korra's chest. What kind of society made people ashamed to love someone just because they you weren't "Meant to be"? Why was it seen as wrong to love someone different from who was supposed to be your forever? Korra tightened her grip on the strange animal fixing the older man with a glare. Korra wasn't exactly subtle about how she felt about the whole soulmate thing but then again she wasn't exactly subtle about how she felt a lot of things.
She watched as the man smiled down at Jinora, "A sale is a sale." Korra watched as they talked and the fourteen-year-old began to relax. It wasn't long before Korra was being asked to bring her wallet up to the counter. She set the stuffed creature of indeterminate species on the counter next to a box of chocolate and then pulled out her wallet.
"How much for the chocolate and this..." Korra gestured to the stuffed animal, "Thing?"
"You're getting it?" Jinora asked looking up at Korra, confused. Korra just shrugged.
"It'll be $20.89." The man said and Korra let out a sigh as she removed the money from her wallet. She watched the shop worker bag the box of chocolate and the stuffed creature into a red paper bag. He handed them their bags and Korra didn't even bother to thank the man before exiting the sickly sweet shop.
Once outside Korra took a deep breath of the Republic City air that smell more like smog then sweets but Korra preferred it that way. The sound of the bell from the door caused Korra to look and see Jinora standing in the doorway bowing, "Thank you." She turned to Korra smiling, "We can go now."
Korra threw her head back letting out an exaggerated sigh, "Finally." Jinora laughed as they made their way down the street falling into a comfortable silence.
"Why'd you get the thing?" Jinora asked as they came to a stop at a crosswalk, "You made your thoughts on it pretty obvious."
"It's a gift for your brother," Korra said as she pressed the crosswalk button.
"Which one?" Jinora asked just as the crosswalk signal turned and traffic stopped. The pair began crossing the street.
"The one that can talk," Korra responded and Jinora nodded as they stepped up onto the sidewalk on the opposite side of the road.
"Meelo will love it." They went back to walking in silence and Korra was happy that she didn't have to have to make small talk. If Korra was asked who her favorite of Tenzin's children were, she wouldn't hesitate to say she favored Jinora. She, of course, liked all of them but she liked Jinora just a little bit more than his younger children. She found her mature nature more tolerable than the childishness of Meelo or the Bubblyness of Ikki. Jinora was understanding for her age. Perhaps that came from her having mastered Airbending at such a young age and her connection to the spirit world something that she and Korra had in common. You don't live as long as Korra without gaining some kind of enlightenment. "Do you know where Kai is today?"
Korra took a moment to think before responding, "I'm pretty sure I asked him to come lead the afternoon meditation session while I teach a Waterbending class."
"So he'll be at the Dojo?" The excitement in Jinora's voice made the little white lie worth it. She could get Kai down to the Dojo in time easy.
"Yeah. You wanna come wait for him?" She nodded and Korra smiled, "Then come on. I have a class to teach."
Korra moved her foot to step forward only to be stopped by Jinora as she wrapped her arms around her waist burying her face in Korra's stomach, "Thank you." Korra stiffened at the contact before hesitantly patting Jinora on they head.
"No need to thank me. You know I'd do anything for my favorite Great-Grandniece." Korra joked and Jinora laughed into Korra's shirt.
"Don't make this weird," Jinora mumbled and Korra chuckled as she awkwardly pat Jinora on the back. She pulled away wiping her eyes, "You shouldn't play favorites. You know you mean the world to Ikki and Meelo."
Korra just shrugged and started walking again Jinora keeping pace with her as they continued the rest of the walk to the dojo in silence.
Once they had arrived Korra excused herself and went into the back room to make a much-needed phone call. It wasn't hard to convince Kai to come down to Dojo to help with the meditation. All she had to do what mention that Jinora wanted to see him and he promised that he would be there before lunch. It was pretty obvious to anyone with eyes that Kai had feelings for Jinora as well but love could make you blind and neither person seemed to want to get their hopes up. Korra could understand that stance.
Korra hung up and made her way back toward the front of the Dojo where Jinora had taken a seat on of the benches. "I have a class in," Korra quickly glanced at the clock on the wall, "Ten minutes. You can hang out here or you can go sit in the back room while you wait. Whatever you want."
Jinora stood up still clutching the bag to her chest, "Can I sit in on your lesson?"
"Of course." Korra lead Jinora to one of the practice rooms the light coming in from the large windows replaced the use of light. Korra began setting up while Jinora sat down looking down nervously at the bag in her lap. Soon her students were filing into the room chatting happily amongst themselves. They varied in ages from children to young teenagers but all of them were amateur Waterbenders. Clapping her hands together to get the chattering students attention, "Alright how many of you practiced the forms we learned last time?" No one raised their hands. Korra shook her head and let out a sigh, "Really? We're never gonna get past the basic forms if you don't practice."
One of the students, A 12-year-old named Hana, raised her hand and said, "My mom said that I only need to learn the basics."
Korra fixed Hana with a seething look that she had mastered over the years, "And is your mother a Waterbending Master?"
"But nothing. I am the master and your mother is paying me to teach you how to use your gift and I plan to do so." Korra said as turned and bent the water out of one of the ceramic pots around the room.
"It's not a gift," Hana mumbled and Korra decided to ignore that comment instead bending the water.
"We'll be starting off easy enough. I'll bend this to Hana who will bend it to Hiro and so on. We'll do this for the first 15 minutes as punishment for not practicing the techniques I taught you last week." The groans that filled the room caused Korra to smirk, "You should have practiced." The game of pass the water was going well until some students began whining that their arms hurt. "If you practiced at home your arms wouldn't hurt right now." Korra chided as she passed the water back to Hana and the cycle began again.
The sound of the door the training room caused Korra to look up and see Kai standing there looking frazzled. Korra looked at Jinora nodding for her to go. Korra watched as she stood up and walked over to Kai leading him out of the door and into the front of the dojo.
Korra envied them. So young so full of hope. Korra let out a sigh and returned to teaching the class.
Valentines Day in Republic City always filled Asami with hope. Seeing all these people who had found their soulmates made her hopeful that someday she would meet the person who would be her forever. The large metropolitan city was a hub of technological and industrial innovation most of which was being led by one company. Future Industries and Asami was its CEO leading the company into the modern era of technology.
Walking through downtown during the season of love could sometimes be painful but Asami couldn't help but be happy for those who had managed to find the person that they were meant for.
Although there was one thing she didn't like about Valentines Day and that was the gifts. As she entered her office for the day she found every available surface covered in everything from bouquets of flowers and boxes of chocolate to stuffed animals and jewelry. Letting out a sigh she navigated around the gigantic Platypus Bear holding a heart the read, "I bear my heart out to you" and took a seat.
She dialed her secretary, a woman in her thirties by the name of Li Yu, who picked up after the second ring, "Yes Miss Sato?" Li's voice came on over phone speaker.
"Can you let the cleaning staff know that I need them to stay late after they finish their regular rounds?" Asami asked already feeling guilty for asking.
There was a brief silence on the other end before Li spoke again, "Already?"
Asami let out a sigh nodding before remembering that she couldn't see and verbalized her response, "Yes and I'm sure it's just going to get worse."
The sound of Li shuffling something and the sound of keys being hit on her computer, "I've sent out an email to Denkai letting him know but by now I'm pretty sure he's come to expect it."
Asami let out a sigh rubbing her brows, "Yeah. I know." Asami hung up and turned her attention to the mountain of paperwork that she had left the day before. Asami had been right about the first batch not being the end as items kept getting brought into her office along with nervous messengers forced to stutter out romantic catchphrases under the glare of the annoyed CEO who was being kept from working. The rest of the day passed agonizingly slow and Asami took an extra hour on her lunch break just so she could avoid a few of the messengers and maybe get some work done on her laptop.
After her lunch break, the rest of the day passed much the same. Asami would almost start to get a groove going with the paperwork when there would be a knock at her door and one kind of messenger or another would stutter through the letter or company bi-line while Asami glared at them. The only good thing that had come out of it was when two messengers had arrived at the same time. Somehow she had convinced them that the only way to decide who would give their message first had been a game of Water-Earth-Fire-Air which ended up turning into a best of three. It had been amusing watching them so serious about such a childish game and had just about been the highlight of Asami's day.
After that, the day passed normally until it was time for the cleaning crew to make their rounds. There was a knock at the door and Asami looked up, "It's open." The door opened and in walked Denkai, a man in his late fifties who had worked on the cleaning staff of Future Industries for his entire life having been hired by her father after being fired by their competitor Varrick Global Industries.
He whistled tipping back his cap with his thumb, "Quite a haul this year, Miss Sato. Plannin' ta do the same as ya usually do?"
Asami stood up stretching her back out and her arms over her head, "Yep. The Charity Gala is next week and like always I'll be donating all this crap to those who actually need it." Asami didn't need a giant stuffed platypus bear but she was sure some little kid out there would love it. "Do you need help with this stuff?"
Denkai laughed and shook his head, "No, Miss Sato. Me an' the boys can handle it you head home and get some rest." Asami smiled at the older gentleman who, in all technicalities, she was older than him by about 12 years but she never really liked to think of the technicalities of being unaging, and began to collect her stuff.
"I really am sorry to keep you here so late on valentines day. I can't imagine how Yu feels about this." Asami said as she placed her laptop in her bag and was shocked when Denkai laughed.
"Yu understands my loyalty to the company and she works in one 'a those big department stores so valentine's day has never really worked for us." Asami nodded and noticing the smile on his face couldn't help but smile herself. She wanted something like this someday. A person who would understand her job and be willing to make concessions for it. That's who her soulmate would be.
"Don't stay too late. Okay, Denkai?" Denkai nodded tipping his hat at Asami as she exited her office making her way toward the elevator. Once she was in the elevator she collapsed against the back wall letting out a sigh.
Asami envied Denkai. He had found his soulmate and had starting aging alongside her. It had been 50 years and while she still held out hope it was beginning to get harder to be happy for others. The elevator dinged as it reached the first floor and she let out a sigh pushing herself up off the wall. Asami really hoped she'll meet her soulmate soon.