A/N: I've had this idea pretty much since the show ended, but it actually took me a reviewer who was unsatisfied with the ending of Difficulties to give me the metaphorical kick in the pants to write it. This will be a dialogue-heavy story, and no big action scenes because I can't write those. There will be M/F, M/F/F, M/M, and F/F pairings (no incest), but I don't want to spoil exactly which. I will say that the pairings as of the beginning of the story are Bopal, past Boleska, and side Korrasami.
"We have a situation."
Korra and Asami had been packing Korra's things for the former's long-awaited permanent move to the latter's mansion. It was an arduous task, and one that really couldn't be made any easier by bending. (Korra knew because she had tried airbending her belongings into the boxes, which just made the mess worse.) Asami had left Air Temple Island to take the first load of boxes to her house, and Korra was just starting to think that she had been gone a long time when Ikki came to her to inform her that she was on the phone.
Korra paused to catch her breath from the mad dash to the phone, and then inquired, "What…kind of situation?"
"Your cousins decided to pay a visit."
"Desna and Eska?!" As if she had any other cousins that she knew of.
"Yep. I found them sitting outside the outer gate. They're on the porch now. They refused to go inside the house or even say why they're here until you get here."
Korra smacked her forehead. Moving day was stressful enough, but now she had her weird relatives to deal with. And she hadn't had a word from them since Harmonic Convergence.
"Okay…okay. I can do this. I'll have them get Oogi ready. Be there in a bit. Love you."
"Love you too. Oh, I almost forgot."
"They have a kid with them."
After a brief stop at the police station to ask Mako for backup (since one never knew with the twins, and she'd prefer not to have to use brute force if there was a problem), Korra punched in the code at Asami's gate and let the two of them in. Sure enough, her cousins hadn't budged; they were sitting on hastily-found and mismatched chairs like they owned the place, accompanied by two small suitcases and a travel bag.
And there was indeed a child…a girl of about three. The child looked supremely uncomfortable, and was holding on to Eska's hand for dear life. She had lighter skin than would be expected for a fully-blooded Water Tribe individual, but more importantly, she had very green eyes. It was almost as if someone had made an exact copy of Bolin's eyes and nose, then pasted them down onto Eska's fine-boned face. The eyes were slightly more almond-shaped, but that was about the only difference.
Hold on a minute. Did that mean that Bolin and Eska…Korra desperately tried to cancel that train of thought.
Mercifully, just then Mako distracted her by making a noise that was akin to a choking komodo rhino. The child started crying. Eska shot Mako a murderous look as she pulled the child onto her lap.
"All right, calm down…just calm down..." Mako muttered, presumably as much to himself as to the trio on the porch. He walked a short distance away and took several deep breaths.
When he got back, he said in a more even tone, "Asami, I will need to use your phone if you please, because Bolin is in big fu…" -he shot a glance at the kid-"freaking trouble."
"Do we really need to involve him in this right now?" Korra asked. Maybe it hadn't been the best idea to bring Mako after all.
"He's going to find out sooner or later," was all Mako said. Korra would still have preferred to hold off, but Mako had known Bolin for longer than she had. She decided to let him have the final say against her better judgment.
Once Mako had entered the house, Korra turned to the twins and said "Eska. Desna."
"Cousin," they answered in unison. Eska added, "This is Kinalik," gesturing to the child.
"Um…hi," Korra said, not having much experience with small children. Kinalik hid her face in Eska's coat.
Eska abruptly announced, "She requires the toilet." How Eska knew that was a mystery to Korra.
"O-of course," Asami replied. "Just go up the flight of stairs next to the foyer, and you should see it."
Eska lifted Kinalik into her arms and slouched off without thanking Asami. Korra shot her girlfriend a look of sympathy.
"So are you going to tell us why you're here now?" Korra said as she turned to Desna.
"We thought it would be safer to leave home for the time being, until things blew over," he replied. Korra waited for him to elaborate on these "things," but he didn't.
"Well…we have plenty of room!" Asami told him, trying to smile and be a gracious hostess even under these trying circumstances.
"We will only need one bedroom," Desna said. At the couple's strange looks, he went on, "I sleep in the tub, didn't you know?"
It was impossible for Korra to tell whether he was being serious or not.
Having run out of things to say, the trio hung around awkwardly until Mako returned, followed shortly by Eska and Kinalik.
"Bolin will be here soon. You and him can work things out then," he said, addressing Eska. "Meanwhile, it looks like the situation is stable, so my job here is done."
As Mako walked back to his car, Eska said something under her breath that sounded suspiciously like, "But you didn't do anything."
"Not the most impressive police officer I have ever seen," Desna added in a more audible tone. Korra bit back a retort. As if he had much to compare to!
There was nothing left to do but bide their time until Bolin got here. Korra took that time to observe. Something seemed…off about Kinalik. She hadn't said anything this entire time, and was now rocking back and forth rather vigorously. Eska had no reaction.
"Is she upset? Is there anything we could bring her?" Asami asked.
"She is fine," Eska replied.
"Are you sure? I still have my old toys stored up somewhere; I could try to find them."
"We all have our difficulties," was the only thing Eska said in response.
But Eska wasn't neglectful, either. Although she didn't show the traditional displays of affection one would expect from a mother, she kept a close eye on Kinalik. At one point, Kinalik made a fist with her thumb sticking out, and Eska made an identical gesture and touched their thumbs together.
"Thumb kiss," she explained when she saw Korra and Asami staring at her.
After a while, Asami rang for some lemonade and refreshments to be brought out. Kinalik grabbed at a dumpling and took a bite, but she immediately spat the bite back out.
"It's yucky!" she proclaimed at the top of her lungs. So she could talk.
Rather than reprimand her daughter for rudeness, Eska said, "Here, transfer it to me," and ate it herself, spat-out bite and all. From the look on her face, it was clear that she shared Kinalik's opinion, but at least she didn't verbalize it.
They also ignored Asami's hint that they might be more comfortable inside the house. Although Eska had removed Kinalik's coat, she and Desna refused to take off their own despite visibly sweating. It was as if they were trying to insulate themselves from the "peasants."
"Aren't you uncomfortable?" Asami asked.
"We like being uncomfortable," Eska shot back. Korra and Asami glanced at each other and decided to drop the matter. If they wanted to die of heatstroke, that was their problem.
Finally, they could just see someone approaching in the distance, so Korra went to meet Bolin at the archway. Like all of their circle of friends, he knew the gate code. Please don't let him have brought Opal, she thought.
She shouted out a greeting, and felt a great relief that he had come alone.
"Korra, what's going on?" he said. He was somewhat pale, and appeared to be on the edge of hyperventilating.
"Um…what exactly did Mako tell you?"
"Just that Eska was at Asami's house, and I should get my ass over there right now…and that oh yeah, I'm a dad now."
"I'd say that about covers it. Did you tell anything to Opal?"
"Didn't have a chance to. She was out shopping somewhere…I think the bookstore?"
Then something appeared to occur to him.
"How do I even know it's…"
"Trust me. You'll know."
Bolin continued to look uneasy.
"She's not going to hurt you," Korra assured him with slightly more conviction than she felt. To tell the truth, she didn't have a good memory of what had happened between those two in the South, having been preoccupied with her own concerns at the time. There was something about a wedding, she knew that.
"I guess the last time we met she didn't try to kill me, but still…" Bolin trailed off.
"Look, if she tries anything now, I'll be here to protect you, okay?"
"Okay…I guess." At least his breathing had evened out.
And off they went.
Kinalik's resemblance to Bolin was of course immediately obvious to anybody who could see, which did away with any traces of doubt lingering in Bolin's mind. His legs went out from under him, and he sat down heavily on the porch floor. There was complete silence for several seconds. Desna was pointedly looking away.
"Why didn't…why didn't you tell me?" Bolin squeaked once he found his voice and struggled to his feet.
"There wasn't exactly an opportune moment," Eska deadpanned.
"But we met in the hotel lobby just a year ago! Why didn't you tell me then?"
"By the time that foolish employee stopped bothering us, you were far enough away that I would have had to shout it across the room. And anyway…" Eska looked down and appeared uncharacteristically shy, "I assumed that you would have interpreted the news as another attempt to control you and become irate."
"What's irate mean?"
"I wouldn't have been angry! I mean, yeah, I was really scared of you, and to be honest I still am, but I like kids. In fact, me and Opal were just talking about…" His torrent of words abruptly ceased as he realized what he'd just said.
"Oops," he mumbled. Eska raised her eyebrows.
"I was already cognizant of you having another girlfriend, feeble turtleduck. Remember? Although she is not apparently who I thought she was." She tapped her finger on her chin and added, "Opal…I have heard that name before. Oh yes, she was the one on whom I hung up the phone."
Korra wasn't sure whether Bolin was more perplexed at Eska's train of thought or her syntax. She cleared her throat.
"I think some introductions might be in hand," she prompted. Eska took the hint.
"Indeed. Kinalik, this is Bolin. Bolin…Kinalik."
"Hey there!" Bolin said as he beamed and reached for the child as if to pick her up. Kinalik screeched and hid her face in Eska's coat again.
"Don't lunge at her like that! She's very sensitive!" Eska scolded.
"Sorry…sorry," Bolin mumbled as he backed off a few paces.
"She might not have much understanding of what a man actually is," Desna opined; Korra had almost forgotten that he was there. "She decided that Eska and I were both her mothers, and we saw no need to correct her just yet."
"Agreed. And her nurse is female, her nurse's assistants are all female, and her grandfather is deceased. We had intended to introduce her to the concept at a later date, but…we were forced into circumstances that were less than ideal."
Like Desna, Eska did not say exactly what these circumstances were.
"I have an idea!" Asami stated. "How about we wrap things up for today and try again tomorrow, once Bolin has a chance to process this and…um…how do you pronounce her name again?"
"Right, once Kinalik has a chance to get rested and used to the change of scenery."
"That appears to be an adequate plan."
"Right," Bolin chimed in. "And I have to…tell Opal, I guess, somehow. How am I going to do that? What if she thinks I was cheating on her?"
"What date did you meet her?"
Bolin was able to tell her approximately, if not the exact date.
"I brought a copy of Kinalik's birth certificate. I presume that your Opal knows enough about mathematics to calculate that Kinalik was conceived about two months prior to that date. Should I go locate its whereabouts?"
"No, no, we can save that for later. Because you all look really tired and, uh, Opal will be wondering where I ran off to. And I have to talk to Mako as well. Fun fun fun. So bye."
He turned and ran down the steps like someone was firebending his rear end.
"His fear is always amusing," Eska remarked.
After that, the twins were at last convinced to move into the house. Asami took them on a tour, and arranged for the best guest room to be made up for them…with an en suite full bathroom on the off chance that Desna actually did sleep there.
"It will do," Eska said.
By then, it was too late for Korra to haul the rest of her stuff over, so she would spend the night.
Dinner was just as uncomfortable as the day's other events had been. Kinalik revealed herself to be an extremely picky eater, and turned her nose up at anything except for a bowl of plain noodles. The twins did eat the regular meal of chicken and vegetable stir fry with rice, but Eska in particular picked at her food and actually consumed hardly anything.
Asami tried her hardest to include them in various conversation topics, including the plans for Korra's upcoming move-in party, the weather (unusually warm for so early in the spring), and even pro-bending (which was widely thought to never have been the same after Amon's invasion). But Eska and Desna mostly kept to monosyllabic answers, and excused themselves at the first possible opportunity.
It broke Korra's heart to see her girlfriend looking progressively more crestfallen as the evening went on. She wanted to assure Asami that they were always like this, but that wasn't the case. As dour as the twins were, they usually at least said "please" and "thank you" when needed.
After dinner, Asami put on her ugly pajamas, which was code for "No sex tonight," and went almost directly to bed.
Enough was enough. It was time for Korra to give Eska and Desna a piece of her mind, cousins or not, chieftains or not.
When she knocked on the guest bedroom door, she heard Kinalik start to fuss inside.
Eska opened the door and frowned at Korra.
"We just got her to sleep," she informed her cousin.
"Sorry about that," Korra answered. "But we need to talk."
Eska sighed, and said, "Fine. But let us at least do so some distance away."
Once they had reached the end the corridor, Korra faced her cousin straight on.
"Listen. This rudeness towards Asami needs to stop right now. She is doing everything she can to make you comfortable-despite you showing up with no notice whatsoever after so long with no contact-and you have not so much as thanked her even once. Don't take whatever grudges you might have against me out on her. Are we clear about this?"
Eska rocked back on her heels and looked genuinely caught off-guard for the first time that Korra had seen.
"If you had to endure what we have had to endure over the past thirty hours, then you would be more empathetic," she all but growled.
"I dunno; I've had to endure a lot! And if you dislike me so strongly, then why didn't you stay at a hotel?"
"We have our reasons," Eska intoned.
"Well, how do you expect me to help you if you won't even tell me why you're here?"
"You wouldn't understand. You have never expelled a human being from your nether regions. Unless that was why you went back South."
Now it was Korra's turn to be caught off-guard.
"You absolute…" No, Korra thought. She would not let Eska reduce her to name-calling. "That was not the reason and you know it."
"Well, at any rate, until you've feared for your child's life, then maybe you should keep your oral orifice tightly SECURED!"
She turned and stomped back to her room.
"Eska, wait…what? What are you talking about?"
Eska paused at the door and said, "I was going to inform you tomorrow. But perhaps now I don't feel like it." She opened the door wide as if to slam it, but remembered about Kinalik and caught herself just in time.
A/N: As before, there is a drawing of Kinalik and another drawing of Eska with an infant Kinalik on my DeviantArt account...same username as on here. Be warned that the comments in the latter drawing have some story spoilers.