A/N: Hi everyone!
I'm sorry it took so long, but here is the final chapter of this story. No more side stories or bonuses, or whatever after that.
So, I'll let you enjoy this big last chapter and we'll talk at the end, okay?
Have a good read!
When Isolina woke up in her mothers bed, she felt like a teenager, even a child. Except that she worked now. That's why she had barely opened her eyes when she stormed into the kitchen.
"Why didn't you wake me up!" she called out to Asami, grabbing a piece of fruit in the process.
"You looked tired..."
"Thing is I have a patient in less than thirty minutes!"
"Couldn't you take a few days off and rest a little?"
"Got no time!"
She got out of the room hurriedly, a piece of fruit in her mouth and a cup in her hand. Asami sighed. Yet, she was slightly amused. Her daughter gave her a strange reflection of herself from the time Korra would keep her to bed for whatever reason and she would have a meeting in the morning.
Said Korra came over to kiss her before leaving for work. She told her she would be home soon enough tonight. Implied: "You better be there". The businesswoman smiled knowingly at her.
For her part, Isolina tried to have some sort of breakfast as she arrived in her room. She was still eating while she looked in her cupboards to find something to wear. She just thought to herself that she should update the wardrobe she had at the mansion… Still she managed to find something pretty decent and professional, then slipped into the shower after consuming her tea.
Just a few minutes later, she was back in the kitchen. She put her mug in the sink, put the pit of her fruit in the trash and grabbed her satchel to go to work.
"See you tonight, Mum!"
"Don't you want me to drop you off?" the businesswoman offered.
She paused, reconsidering the question.
"Actually, why not. You're leaving soon?"
"Right now, that's fine with me!"
Asami shook her head with a smile. She took her things and went to switch on her car. They quickly arrived at the clinic.
"Do you want me to pick you up tonight?" the green-eyed woman suggested before leaving.
"I... No, it's okay. I might come home… late. I have to go get some stuff from home."
"Okay. See you tonight then, or tomorrow. Unless you want to see me during the day..."
"Thanks, Mum. See you later."
Asami stepped on it, Isolina entered her clinic, taking on her professional and warm mask. She barely had time to consult the organization of the day when her patient arrived. She invested in her job enough not to think of anything else until she left before 10pm. It took a long time to get home, she hoped that Reena and Gaku were sleeping.
She had considered going home and not to her mothers for a moment. But the anguish she felt at the thought of it had got the better of every ounce of her will and she had preferred to take shelter in her childhood home for a while. She just needed to get a few things, that's why she had to go. And she didn't need to meet anyone for that.
Finally, giving up all fight with her fears, she made a huge detour: she watched a nighttime street performance, went to listen to the birds singing in a park and had a drink. It was past midnight when she finally arrived at her destination.
She sighed feverishly as she slowly turned her key in the lock, trying not to make any noise. She slipped into the house, wondering if she could get some clothes from her room and things from her office without waking up Reena…
"You're back!" a small voice exclaimed.
Not having noticed the small figure in the shadows of the kitchen, the waterbender jumped with a muffled noise. Something exploded.
"Oh damn, I'm sorry!"
Isolina rushed over to the little boy who had a glass of water in his hand, or rather the pieces of glass that remained. It had apparently exploded under the pressure of the water in it.
"Don't you make a move, okay?"
Isolina turned on the faucet and removed all the pieces of glass that had accidentally stuck in the child's hands. He didn't say anything, he just watched her do it, wide-eyed. The water glistened as it healed the slight wounds he had on his hands.
"This is so cool! Can you do it again?" he asked excitedly.
"Shhh, shhht, please. Talk less loudly," she whispered.
"Can you do it again?" he whispered, still excited.
Isolina sighed. If her aim was discretion, she completely missed it. She made the water shine, and it reflected in the little boy's astonished eyes. She was almost touched. Almost, because her heart was pounding at a terribly high rate because of her… crashing entrance.
"Why did you leave?" he asked.
"I had to see someone."
"Because it was important."
"Why aren't you sleeping?" she suddenly realized.
"I was thirsty."
"You know that if you drank during daytime, you wouldn't be thirsty at night, right?"
"I missed you!"
She raised an eyebrow, puzzled. How did this relate to conversation? Why such a blunt statement?
"I don't know, duh! I missed you!"
He threw himself into her arms.
"You're not going to go back, are you?"
She was very confused. Why did this child become attached to her? Did he really care about her anyway?
"I am…" she said hesitantly, pushing him away a bit.
"Why?" he asked, immediately displaying a sad and defeated look.
"I have to go see my moms, they need me."
Good, she had just lied to a child. However, the latter did not notice and simply exclaimed:
"You have two mothers too!"
"Yes me too…"
So he considered her to be his mother… No wonder they had adopted him. Well, in theory. Because in practice... how the hell did he come to terms with this whole situation so quickly? Was she the only one who was pathologically incapable of being a little bit comfortable? Eventually, her little talk with Gaku was starting to irritate and frustrate her.
"You should go back to sleep," she said gently even though she tried to get rid of him to finish her mission.
"Say... do you have to go?"
"But can't you stay with us? I like it when you're around."
"I'll be back. Soon."
Probably soon. She hoped soon. Maybe later. But he didn't need to know that this was an indefinite situation.
"Okay," he said, pouting.
"Alright, go to bed."
"Will you kiss me?"
She kissed him swiftly on the cheek, hoping he was going to go quickly, but it wasn't over. He turned around, going in the direction of his room; Isolina got up to go to her own room; then, Gaku walked back and threw himself at the legs of the waterbender. She was unsettled and almost fell, but kept her balance.
"Gaku…" she whispered, her voice plaintive and confused.
What to say to this little being who was clinging to her? Was it because she was leaving and he wanted her to stay?
"Can I call you 'Mom'?"
Isolina frowned. Where did this indiscreet question come from?
"Why?" she asked.
"Because that means you'll come back! And after you'll stay!"
The young waterbender was sincerely trying to figure out the logic, but she failed. She crouched down hard and ruffled the young boy's hair, who raised his globular green eyes to her. She smiled at him and he suddenly looked less dejected.
"Can you explain this to me?" she asked.
"They said that the day when I can stay, I will be able to say "mom" and "dad"."
"Who are "they"?"
"The other adults."
"You've lived with other adults before, right? Foster homes?"
"And you didn't like it?"
"I did... Sometimes people were nice, it was better than being on the street. But it wasn't my family… They said they couldn't."
"This is normal, these are temporary solutions," Isolina said, like a school teacher.
So he looked at her with his puppy dog eyes and she knew that wasn't necessarily the right thing to say.
"But not us," she hastened to add.
She had held her breath as she said that. She was still holding it when Gaku smirked, his eyes twinkling, and he jumped on her neck. So, hugged by the young child, she allowed herself to breathe gently and relax.
"It means yes?" he asked, pulling back a little.
"I… uh… N… Yes?"
Ugh, just that answer pained her like hell. She felt like a searing headache could tear her skull any minute now and even that her heart would pack its bags and leave the arteries it was attached to.
The child did not notice her confusion, he jumped to her neck once again and hopped back towards his room. She stood there, motionless like a stone statue. The child looked in her direction one last time with a smile before closing the door.
Well, at least she was alone. Was it a good thing that she was alone? She wasn't sure that was the case. Air, she needed air. No, she wasn't going to have a panic attack, out of the question.
She slumped back against the kitchen furniture and curled up. She wanted to cry. How was it that she had perfect self-control in front of the kid and collapsed afterwards? Couldn't she just hold on?
She was frustrated, and she was in pain, and she just wished she could have walked through the house like a thief and left. Not meeting anyone.
However, strange as it might sound, she was strangely content and serene. It was just a vague part of herself, a tiny part that didn't give in to the pain and anguish, but she felt it. Maybe it was because Gaku was a bit like her after all, that she could understand this little boy and the importance her family had for him. Maybe it was because he strangely reminded her of Reena.
Oh, he wasn't quite like her. She felt that all this energy and good humor wasn't just in his nature. It hid his abandonment, it was his way of facing the world, but at least he did so with optimism.
She would have liked to have had that optimism, but the wounds she had hadn't allowed her to. Or maybe she hadn't been strong enough. No, no one should go through what she had been through. Abandonment wasn't her biggest injury. No, that had been a stab. But after that, this scar had been pierced every day, then the wound was opened even wider by twisting the knife, pushing it deeper and deeper in it. Then it was let infected. And in order to survive, she had had to get rid of that rottenness sticking to her soul and part of herself in the process.
They weren't the same scars, but she could understand Gaku. She didn't wish him that. She didn't wish him to be abandoned long enough to be mistreated and reduced to ashes.
They could be phoenixes, they could really be, but at what cost really? Every time they were reborn, they lost a little of themselves. They also gained a lot, of course. The key was to always gain more than you could lose and never to remain as ashes. As for her, she dreaded this moment with all her heart, she shuddered with all her being and her whole soul was shaken.
But Gaku was not like that, he wasn't much afraid of the fall yet. Yes, he was scared, but he should never be as scared as she was. Never. He had to stay with her for that. And that was her reason for being his… mother… Even though it hurt right now and she had to go. Eventually she would realize that this reason was more important, that she would have to stop being afraid, right?
She remained on the ground for a moment. Then she decided to get up. She hadn't hyperventilated, she hadn't cried. She was a little uneasy and sullen, it was true, but she hadn't fallen yet. So she would get over with what she had to do, she would go to sleep, and she would feel better.
She went to her room, glanced at Reena who was in the bed. She opened the cupboards and stuffed a few things into a bag. She took very few of them, after all it was quite easy to do laundry when you were a waterbender and she was in a rush. She just needed to be able to dress appropriately for work and have enough clothes for a week or two.
She almost left straight away, but she looked at Reena again. She approached her gently and leaned to her ear.
"I know you're awake and heard it all," she told her.
It wasn't too hard to guess. She was breathing way too fast for someone asleep. Besides, Isolina was an expert bloodbender, she could feel the presence of any water being around her if she wasn't distracted. Most of the time, she didn't care. She hadn't noticed Gaku because he was small and she didn't expect to have him underfoot, but she had noticed Reena getting up as soon as she had burst the glass because she had heard her walk. After that, she noticed she was behind the door, because she wondered why she wasn't coming in.
She didn't let her reply and left faster than she had arrived.
Sitting up on her bed, Reena sighed. She got caught. But hey, she wasn't unhappy that she had eavesdropped. It allowed her to hear from her partner even if the latter did not inform her voluntarily. She looked a little better than last time. She was slightly more stable, she had understood that she was coming to terms with certain perspectives a little better, but she needed time and space... Okay.
She was going to give her time and space, but not too much either. Let's not exaggerate. She was planning on meeting with her during the week, during her working hours, so that there would be no Gaku. She would make a scandal in the clinic if necessary, but she would meet her and spend time with her. And knowing Isolina—who was rather discreet about her private life—she wouldn't allow her to make a fuss. It was a great plan. She was going to get used to it gently… It would be fine. It had to. She was all the more convinced that she felt that Gaku and Isolina would get along extremely well deep down, and not just because they had both been orphans.
The following week, Reena was waiting in the clinic lobby around noon. She figured that Isolina was going to take a lunch break eventually and at that point she would suggest they go eat in the next-door park. She had taken some takeout and a blanket and she wasn't planning on taking her away from work, so hopefully she could convince her.
She had to wait nearly forty-five minutes for her companion to deign to show her presence. In fact, she barely noticed her and walked over to the receptionists to give some instructions and fill out some paperwork.
Reena slipped behind her. Body leaning forward and her linked hands carrying the bag of food behind her back, she blurted like a child:
Isolina looked up and smiled shyly at her.
"Hi. What are you doing here?"
"I was planning to take you out to eat."
"The park just beside the clinic. A sort of improvised picnic."
"Who told you I haven't eaten already?"
"Oh please, we both know very well that you tend to overwork yourself and skip meals."
"In any case, I cannot refuse and any protest from me would be completely in vain, isn't it right?"
"You are completely right. Did you really mean to refuse?"
Reena was puzzled, a little confused and apprehensive at this response. Isolina smiled at her then.
"No. I missed you."
She kissed her gently on the lips. Reena would have told her she missed her too, but sometimes she clearly preferred actions over words. So she prevented her from escaping and running a hand behind her neck, she pulled her back to her lips for a deeper kiss.
"Okay for the picnic," Isolina whispered against her lips.
Reena smiled widely.
Before leaving, Isolina called a nurse and asked her to take care of some Mrs. Chang for her, just the final care and diagnostics to make sure she could leave the hospital. Then she was free.
So she and Reena walked silently to the park. They settled down under a tree and began to eat while initiating the most mundane conversation they could come up with—that is: the various news of the day.
"So? Won't you ask me the question that's on your lips?" Isolina asked, grabbing a bottle of water.
"Are we really going to play this little game?"
"I just came to hear from you and spend some time with you. I miss you too, you know."
"So, you don't care about when I come home?"
"Of course I do care. But I didn't come to put pressure on you, I know it's useless. And even if I asked you the question commonly during a conversation, what are the chances that you answer me without being uncomfortable?"
"Maybe at the end of the week. Or next week."
She seemed sure of herself. It was quite a rare thing, especially when it came to decisions with emotional implications like this. Reena could have been suspicious, but she was just surprised and delighted.
"However, I need to see him first."
"Uh... yes, that is to say?"
"Well, we could eat together one of these evenings or spend an afternoon doing stuff… like a family."
Reena smiled at the last words spoken. She was putting goodwill into it, probably all the goodwill she could find.
"And we also need to eat at the manor one of these nights. My mothers will kill me if I don't introduce Gaku to them."
The airbender laughed.
"Yeah, I think it's better."
"And maybe after… we'll get back home together and… everything will be fine, right?"
Reena just smiled and moved closer to her. She reassured her with a kiss and, moving even closer, ended up tipping her under her. So she put a lock of hair behind her ear, giving her a flaming smile.
"Everything will be fine. I promise."
Even though Isolina was still a little scared, she managed to give her a feverish smile, which soon disappeared under the hungry lips of her companion.
"And then, that way I can finally make love to you and stop being frustrated," she added.
Isolina rolled her eyes.
"You gotta be kidding me... That's all you're interested in, uh? Actually, you didn't miss me, you just missed my body."
"No, that's not true, I missed you a bit too..."
In retaliation, Isolina pinched her arm.
"Ouch!" the Airbender falsely took offense.
"'A 'bit? That's all you deserve, you savage."
She had missed their little bickering too. And it was with a smile on her face that she kissed Reena again, clinging to her body and her clothes. She could say whatever she wanted, she had missed that too. But hey, they were still in a public park there. Besides, now was not the right time, at all.
"I'll have to get back to work," Isolina whispered against her lips.
"Not already," her companion whimpered.
"Hmm, I think it's better, because I have some concerns about what will happen next..."
"I have no concerns at all."
"I would have guessed."
"Don't you have bed stuff in your clinic?"
"It's medical equipment!"
Isolina sighed. She kissed her quickly one last time before pulling away from the embrace.
"So you can wait a little longer and I have some work to do."
"You're not funny. You used to be more adventurous..."
"Ha!" Isolina exclaimed wryly. "Yes of course. Remind me who is the cause of all the thoughtless decisions I've made in my life? And because of who did we find ourselves making love in unusual places?"
"I don't know what you're talking about at all."
"Right, you're as innocent as you look."
They smiled at each other at the recollection of these shared memories.
"I'll be more responsible now. You can count on me, I promise."
They knew they weren't talking about making love anymore, but about something much more serious.
"Thank you," the young waterbender replied. "And I had a really good lunch break."
She kissed her one last time, making sure not to stay too long.
"I'll phone you tonight. Love you."
She added nothing more and left. Reena sank back onto the picnic blanket. She could stay there a little longer, her lunch break wasn't about to end yet. She sighed a little, but kept a smile on her face. It had gone well, even very well. If luck was on their side, they could quickly decide of a moment for all of them to meet when they were on the phone, then Isolina would come home and life would resume… With Gaku as a part of it, this time.
Finally, they had opted for dinner at the end of the following week. That way, they could kill two birds with one stone and invite Reena's family as well. But while waiting for this long-awaited evening (albeit with a bit of excitement), nothing prevented Isolina, Reena and Gaku from spending time together.
So during those two weeks, the three of them went out. Sometimes they would go to parks and talk, sometimes they would stroll through Republic City, sometimes they would go to visit important places or eat ice cream. They always had a great time.
That way Gaku could discover this new city and his new living environment while having fun. Isolina could gradually get used to his presence and she learned to relax and behave in more naturally caring ways. And Reena could watch it all and jot each other's behaviors in the back of her mind in order to solve problems later, if there were any problems. Eventually, even Reena learned to relax, since apparently there were no more problems on the horizon.
Basically, these little outings had allowed them to start functioning as three united beings rather than three disparate and disconnected beings. Connections were made, as if they allowed everyone's flow of the life energy to run, while they disturbed the course until now.
It was a slow process, especially for Isolina. This was why she enjoyed these outings so much, as long as she had time to come to terms with them after, to feel their heartwarming nature rather than their scary nature.
She had to test the strength of all the threads that weaved between her and Reena and between her and Gaku; she even had to observe the breaks which had developed on the old threads that united her to her companion. Some were fixing themselves, others had changed, and many other things were new. So she relished being able to place them slowly, one at a time, in a pretty box of safe habits. Tamed, she would no longer be afraid of them, she could live by admitting that they were natural and did not disturb the flow of her life, but on the contrary was part of it. She no longer struggled against the current, she let herself be carried by it and found her rhythm.
Despite this, the thought of going home still made her a little nervous. She knew it was a natural behavior for her: her mind was just reacting to the fact that the anguish she had fled had remained there while she was well with her mothers even though… she preferred to be at home.
It was a little strange for her to go back to living with Korra and Asami. They lived far from downtown, it was hard for her to go to her job, she almost found herself being dependent on her mother again—but luckily, she had a second car in the garage that she could use—and in addition she was being mothered. It was both very cute and horribly irritating, so much so that she couldn't wait to resume her normal life as a free and independent adult.
And the long-awaited day of meetings arrived. Korra, Asami, and Isolina were still in the kitchen, getting done with their dishes, when the doorbell rang.
"I'm on it!" the young woman with blue eyes shouted.
She didn't wait for an agreement before heading for the front door. There she paused for a moment, breathing and running a hand through her raven hair. She put her hand on the doorknob, closed her eyes for a second, before turning it and welcoming Reena, Gaku, Opal and Bolin who were at the door.
A smile took possession of her lips when she saw her family, like this, on the doorstep. Without further ado, she invited them inside and greeted them all. She reserved a kiss for Reena, and hugged Gaku, kissing him on the forehead. Overjoyed, the young boy struggled not to jump during the hug, so he just hugged her even tighter. They had seen each other the day before, but he couldn't wait to see her again anyway!
Opal and Bolin went to say hello to their old friends while Reena, Isolina and Gaku checked on each other (as if they hadn't seen each other the day before, that is…). Then the young waterbender guided them to the living room where the rest of the guests were. She was going to introduce her mothers to Gaku, but he exclaimed, pointing to Korra:
"I know you! You're the Avatar! There was a statue of you in my village before!"
"Ah, finally a child who can recognize important people, unlike our daughter who didn't give a damn..."
Asami rolled her eyes and nudged Korra. She smiled triumphantly, before returning her attention to the little boy.
"And you are Gaku, right?"
He nodded enthusiastically several times, a huge smile splitting his face in two.
"Nice to meet you."
As she had started the conversation, she kept going by introducing Asami, whom he didn't know this time. He had vaguely heard of her, but he had never seen her. And then, well, she was still less impressive than the Avatar! Could she enter in the Avatar state for him? They said her eyes turned white and it was scary, but it must be so cool. And... And... she was Isolina's mom? Did that mean she was his grandmother? That was even cooler!
"I think I broke him," Korra said mischievously, noticing the admiring gaze of the young boy that remained glued to her face.
"Oh, but it must be a shock for him to see his heroine in the flesh..."
The businesswoman let out a small, amused sigh. And as Gaku didn't seem willing to quit her admiring musings, she resumed her discussion with Bolin and Opal.
A few minutes later, he tugged at Isolina's sleeve to lower herself to his level. He whispered in her ear:
"Why didn't you tell me your mom was the Avatar!"
"To be completely honest, I didn't cross my mind."
"But it's super important! She saved the world! And my village."
"Yes… it's right… But Opal, Bolin and Mum… I mean, Asami too. You know, they're part of our family, so we tend to forget to spell that out."
"Still, it's so cool. My grandparents are awesome!"
"Yeah, that's right, they're awesome."
"But my moms are awesome too!"
She smiled tenderly at him.
"I hope so."
"That means my whole family is awesome!"
"You're lucky, little rascal," Reena said, ruffling her hair.
He gave her one of his best smiles, then hopped over to the gang of heroes that were his grandparents to observe them closely and listen to their discussion—it had to be interesting! Maybe they were telling each other old war stories? It would be so great if they could tell him themselves! Directly at the source!
His mothers looked at him tenderly. There would be no problem with integrating into the family, that was for sure. Reena put an arm around her companion's shoulders and placed a kiss on her temple.
"It goes well."
She paused as she looked at Gaku.
"Thank you. For giving me time. I know I can be difficult to live with."
"I got used to it."
"Don't say I'm wrong, duh!"
"Oh, I had to?"
Isolina just laughed and they also briefly joined in the conversation, as a few minutes later everyone was sitting down to eat.
As Korra proceeded to entertain Gaku (who had seated directly next to her) with old fighting stories which were scary, but which were adapted to his age, and the other guests joined in giving more details (for Opal) or by imitating (or exaggerating) the reactions of the people who were there at the time (for Bolin), Asami and Isolina took care of bringing their food.
The young businesswoman allowed herself to slightly hip-nudge her daughter as she passed; the latter nearly knocked over the dish she was holding in her hands but she managed to catch her mother's gentle and proud gaze. And she was back to being a little girl for a quick moment, she wanted to rush to her arms and hug her very tight. But since that probably wasn't going to be possible with a dish in her hands, she just answered her with a smile.
The evening passed deliciously. Gaku got to know Korra and Asami. He had already been able to spend some time with Opal and Bolin, so he knew them a bit. Of course, he was always happy to learn new things and to hear them tell their battles, but he loved Korra. So, he spent most of the time with her. Then, over the course of a conversation, he ended up saying:
"Why did Isolina have to stay here?"
"She… uh… Can you be a bit more specific?"
"She told me she couldn't stay with me because her moms needed her."
"Aaah, that… Yes… It was… for a very important Avatar mission. I can't tell you much about it, you know: top secret."
"Even to me? But I want to know!"
"Yes, I get it, I really do, but sometimes certain missions are… sensitive."
She saw the defeated on the little boy's face and it pained her. She had lied to him once and now she was refusing to deepen her lie… Maybe she should tell him a nice little story with villains fighting the Avatar and the balance of the world… Oh, she didn't like this position at all. If only his daughter hadn't started tricking this young boy!
"Well, if I tell you about it, will you promise not to tell anyone? Ever. It's a very, very big secret, okay?"
"Sure!" he instantly got enthusiastic.
Great, now making up a story. She didn't exactly have the talent of a storyteller. She had told Isolina a few stories when she was little, but they were often well-known stories that were told from generation to generation, or true stories. She was ultimately pretty bad when it came to making up stories—she probably was a little too down to earth—even if it was about telling a story worthy of an Avatar adventure. And she had lived a bunch of Avatar adventures! Maybe it would be enough to take inspiration from it? Except that she had to include her daughter in it, and she still had little collaboration with Isolina in her life...
"So… It was a very sensitive mission, and we were afraid that there would be many, many injured people, that's why we needed Isolina. She's the best healer, you know?"
"Really? And so, she saved a lot of people?"
She tried to cut the discussion short, thinking that the child was satisfied, but the expression on his face told her that he clearly wasn't. He was a smart boy and he was dying to have as much detail as in the previous stories. So he expectantly stared at her with his big green eyes.
Korra could only think: "Raava! And now, what do I do?"
"What?" she asked instead.
"Well, I want to know how it was!"
"Ah. Yes… well, we were… There was me, Isolina and… Bolin!"
She called out to him at the same time she talked about him and he turned to her, looking curious.
"No, I was talking to Gaku, you know, about our very, very important mission with Isolina."
Bolin had fabulous storytelling skills, but she needed to get him to understand her ploy and he was a little slow on the uptake sometimes!
"What mission am I talking about in your opinion?" she pretended to be impatient. "The mission, with Isolina, the one that is why she couldn't stay with her family. When we saved a lot of people, especially with her healing gift, and all of that."
"Aaaaaah, you mean, that mission!"
"Yeah, and I'll let you tell, I need a drink."
She quickly slipped away and heaved a sigh of relief as Bolin began a story based on prisoners in a secret dungeon in the Republic of Earth protected by badger moles, which were controlled by a secret society from the Dai Li.
Gaku was a little disappointed that Korra didn't stay and tell him the story but, fascinated by the various fight scenes portrayed to him and held by the suspense, he eventually forgot that his heroine had fled.
"Next time you lie, could you let me know before I hire Bolin to make up a nice lie?" the Avatar joked, teasing her daughter.
"Oh, an obligation to stay with your mothers for example."
"Ah… yes… I had… um… forgotten."
"You are lucky to have a father-in-law who is also a smooth-talker."
Isolina frowned at her mother's almost joke, her lips pursed.
"Yeah…" Korra said, rubbing the back of her neck. "Anyway. You're leaving tonight then?"
"You're sure you're ready?"
"I have to one day. And I miss my life. Plus, it'll make Gaku happy..."
"Oh, I have no doubt about it. He loves you very much. And he'll love you even more once Bolin finishes telling about your exploits," she sneered.
"Ugh, he's going to imagine things and tell everyone about it..."
"No, I told him it was top secret."
"I'll tell him again…"
"And he will not imagine lies. He does have a great mother."
Isolina looked at her mother, probably to thank her, but deep in her eyes there was still a glimmer of doubt and disbelief.
"Thank you," she stammered.
"You don't have to worry anymore, little puppy. That's how life is, it's how it works, you are perfectly equipped to deal with it. And this child loves you and wants to give you his heart, that's all it takes sometimes. This is what you did with me, it was enough for me to become your mother and want to take care of you. Let it be."
Isolina nodded seriously. She liked having Korra's point of view in this situation. She felt like she understood her better, that she was helping him more than Asami. Surely they were more similar on this point, that was why.
"Isolina! Isolina!" Gaku suddenly cried, rushing at her. "Is it true that you treated fifty people in less than a day?"
"Shhhht, Gaku, we said it was a secret, remember?" Korra said, with a scolding look.
"Uh, fifty, maybe that's a bit of a stretch," the waterbender tried to temper.
"Say, one day will you show me how you do it? Like you did with my hands! It was so pretty!"
"I can't show you this, Gaku. You are a little young to see people injured with lots of blood..."
"Come on! You'll show me when I'm older then!"
"We'll talk about it, I promise. But for now, can't we just stick to cuts?"
"Okay, okay..." he pouted.
He went to sit on the couch with a pout, but he wasn't really angry. He just wanted to sit down somewhere. It was getting late, he was quite tired, although he had shown remarkable energy and tenacity so far. And as the adults continued to chat, Gaku fell asleep.
It took Isolina less than five minutes to notice it. She approached him and saw that he was sound asleep. It made her smile for a moment. She thought he looked different when he slept, but that was probably because for once he was calm. She looked at the time. It was well past 10 p.m., it was surely time to go.
"It's time, I think."
Isolina turned and saw her mother looking at the child tenderly.
Without warning, Asami then wrapped her arms around her daughter.
"I love you so much. And I'm so proud of you."
"I love you too, Mum."
The businesswoman pulled back and took her daughter's hands in hers.
"I was glad you came over to the manor. If you ever need to, you know the door is wide open."
"And now you have to come by, because I want to see my grandson regularly!"
Isolina smiled and chuckled a little.
"Just saying, but I think he's going to harass you to see Korra again anyway."
"You could come by the house too…"
"Whenever you want."
"I imagine we could use you in case we need someone to take care of him?"
Her mischievous yet haphazard remark was graced with a crystal-clear laugh.
"Let's do that then!"
They smiled at each other, both realizing that a new page was turning and that their families kept growing, evolving, flourishing.
Isolina then announced that she would notify Reena of their imminent departure. They said goodbye to the other adults who had decided to continue talking a bit. And maybe Bolin and Opal would stay for the night in the guest rooms because much to the dismay of their respective wives, the Avatar and the earthbender had started a contest involving small glasses and alcoholic drinks.
They barely took the time to say goodbye to the two women leaving, then they resumed their game. Opal watched them as Asami accompanied her daughter, her daughter-in-law and a sleepy little boy who was rubbing his eyes at the door. She lent the car to Isolina so they could get home quicker, and after some last hugs, the new little family was gone.
Gaku fell back asleep in the car and when they got to her house he felt like he had slept a full night and he was feeling refreshed. Mysteriously, he didn't really want to sleep anymore, which he made clear to his two mothers by not letting them out of his sight. The latter tried to convince him to go back to bed, but they only managed to get him to put on pajamas and brush his teeth. Then he waited on their bed as they got ready for bed.
"Come on, Gaku! You have to go to sleep, otherwise you'll be tired tomorrow," the airbender scolded him gently.
"But I'm not tired!"
"You don't feel like you're tired, that doesn't mean you aren't."
"But I don't want to go to sleep now!"
Reena was about to scold him again, a little harsher this time, but Isolina put a hand on her forearm. She looked at her questioningly. In response, the blue-eyed young woman slipped under the covers next to Gaku.
"Do you want me to tell you a story?"
The little boys' eyes twinkled. He straightened up and waited for the story to begin. Reena, too, slipped under the covers, wondering what story Isolina was going to tell. Apparently Gaku was wondering too since he asked:
"Are you going to tell me a story with Korra?"
"Do you want a story with Korra?"
"Um… well… When I was little, Korra had a very huge polar bear-dog, she was completely white. Her name was Naga. Everyone was afraid of her because she was huge, but in truth she was very nice. Korra rode her like an ostrich-horse and she looked like a mighty tundra warrior when she put on her Water Tribe clothes. One day, we were at the South Pole, when Naga disappeared. We spent three days looking for her in the whole Southern Water Tribe, we even thought we should go to the Spirit World..."
Thus, she continued her adventure story where Korra, herself and some men and women from the small villages of the south had searched every inch of the tundra, all that fuss for Naga to come back on her own after the fourth day. At first, no one knew why she left. They had realized this later when they noticed the swelling belly of the polar bear-dog, then the little cubs she gave birth to months later.
But before the end of the story, Gaku fell asleep.
"Nice job, now we have to carry him to his room..." Reena moaned.
"No, leave him here."
The airbender looked incredulous.
"I like it. I sometimes slept in my mothers' bed with them when I was little because I couldn't sleep. I want him to be able to do the same. I want him to be as happy as I was growing up with my Mom and Mum."
"I'm sure he'll be very happy," Reena said fondly.
Isolina nodded seriously, then wished her partner good night. As she tried to fall asleep, she thought that having a family, her family, wasn't that bad. Maybe they could foster more children, maybe they could adopt, and maybe she was even starting to want to carry one. She knew that even if she did someday, she wouldn't love Gaku any less, because he was the one with his brilliant personality that had allowed her to change her perspective.
It was thanks to him that she remembered that the people outside her little world were not necessarily the work of evil, on the contrary, they could do so much for her. So maybe thanks to him, she was able to expand her family as well as her heart, by adding friends or other children. It was the joyful innocence of a child that made someone like her believe again in the inside beauty of everyone because they had all been a child at one time and they had all wanted to love and be loved, and that was all that mattered.
A/N: Thank you all for reading! You can leave a comment just below, it'd make me really happy :)
It's time to put an end to this beautiful (and tiring) adventure. I loved the challenge it was. Not a lot of writers have the chance to write in two different languages and have amazing readers on both sides. I'll always be grateful to the people who helped me correcting my story. I'll be as grateful to the readers who took their time to comment, it helped me keep going even when I felt like giving up.
I love my characters, I'm glad I created them. I hope you liked them too. And I loved this story, which was the first long non-AU I've ever written. Actually, it was a running joke with a friend of mine that I should do that someday, and I didn't expect to do it because I didn't want to betray either the Avatarverse or the characters. Hopefully, I wasn't as bad as I had imagined x) I love even more this story knowing it might be my last one before a while… Or my very last one.
I don't know what the future holds, even less in that complicated period of ours. I hope everything will be okay. And I hope that whatever happens, my path will bring me back here, even if it just for little stories :)
Answer review guest:
No name guest: Hey!
I'm both glad and sorry you missed me x) I hope you didn't wait too long for this final chapter. With this, I'll tell you goodbye. I'm very happy you reviewed so much, thank you for that. Maybe I'll see you again in another story :)