Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar: The Legend of Korra or anything pertaining to it.
A/N: What to say about this fic...hm. I don't particularly like abandoning projects (I really hate quitting), but I was really struggling with a lot of things in relation to The Painted Lady. I think there was a lot of potential for that story, but the way the story was being fleshed out was not the right direction and that can only be attributed to myself. However, waste not, want not, I gleaned out parts from that story and hybridized them with another story idea. I believed that the two of them could sort of fuse together to create an even better story and now we have Threads of Fate. That being said, I hope you enjoy this fic. No age changes (for once); rated T for language, violence, and minor sexuality (nothing new). P.S. There is no bending in this fic, either.
Full Summary: It is said that the spirits tied a thread around the ankles of every person, connecting the lives of people who are destined to touch. Though the string tangles and stretches, it never breaks. Within the walls of Republic City, five people - an accountant for a street gang, a construction worker, an heiress to a corporate empire, a South Pole diplomat, and the son of a queen - find themselves brought together by their red threads of fate. AU. Makorra.
Threads of Fate
Chapter 1: Outside the Fortress
"Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart." - Marcus Aurelius
There's an ancient legend that the spirits tied red threads around the ankles of every person in the world. The string connects people, those destined to touch in some way - be it an accidental bump on the street, a cursory statement while waiting in line, or the first encounter of two lovers. The thread will stretch, it will tangle, but no matter what, the threads shall not break; for these people are bound by the threads of fate and they are destined to meet.
The South Pole native slumped down in her chair, propping her head up on her elbow. It was another day of meetings with the General Assembly. She wondered what Tenzin was doing in the Security Council meetings. She would have thought family would have kept her in the loop, but it would seem he really did respect the sanctity of his oath.
"Delegate of the South Pole," someone said into the microphone.
"Delegate of the South Pole," the voice said a bit firmer. "Representative Korra."
Korra snapped to attention and looked around the room. The majority of the delegates had turned to look at her and she coughed into her hand, leaning forward and speaking clearly, "Yes, Mr. Chair?"
"You have the floor," he nodded to the microphone at a podium.
Her eyes flickered over to the podium, then back to the man sitting at the long table. To his left was a middle aged woman with a typewriter and to his right was a young man, not much older than Korra herself.
"Thank you, Mr. Chair," she said quickly, moving over to the podium. "Delegates of the Earth Kingdom, Water Tribes, Fire Nation, and United Republic, I have been sent here in the stead of Representative Katara; as she grows older, the journey from the South Pole to Republic City has grown harder and harder on her."
"We'll keep our thoughts with Representative Katara, Madam Delegate," the Chair said into the microphone. Korra bowed her head then coughed into her hand again and took a deep breath...
"Representative Korra!" a voice called. The blue eyed young woman looked around, trying to trace the origin of the voice.
"Representative Korra! Wait up!" the voice said again.
She stopped in her tracks and turned to see a brunette with thick, curly hair framed around her face. She held her hand out and Korra took it. The young woman had a firm grasp and sparkling emerald eyes.
"My name is Asami Sato. I represent Future Industries," she explained. "I was hoping I could buy you lunch and pick your brain?"
"Oh," Korra said in surprise. "I thought you were a delegate going to scold me for my horrible speech. I'm, uh, not a great public speaker."
Asami started walking towards the exit of the building. "No, no, of course not. It's understandable, I mean. First time you speak in front of the General Assembly is always nerve-wracking."
"So it is," the delegate said. "I'm sorry, your name was... Asami, right?"
"Asami Sato, yes. I'd like to talk business but I'm hoping we can get to know each other first. You don't find many young, ambitious women like ourselves in Republic City," she elaborated, pulling out the keys to her car. "Mind if I drive?"
"By all means," Korra said. "I can't."
The woman gave a smile and got in the car, waiting for Korra to get in before starting the engine. "How are you liking Republic City?"
"Oh, it's interesting. I haven't really seen anything outside the port, my uncle's place, and the United Republic headquarters," she admitted.
"I'm originally from here," Asami told her new acquaintance. "So I of course love it, but I'm eager to know other people's opinions. Maybe one night I can take you around. The Rose District has a lot of fun things to do after hours, depending on where you go. Who's your uncle though?"
Korra smiled. "Sure, I'll take you up on that offer one day. Oh, and um, Tenzin. From the Security Council."
"Oh!" her new friend's eyes lit up. "Interesting. I like Representative Tenzin, he's very nice. Definitely one of the cooler heads when it comes to the Security Council, too."
The pair continued chatting aimlessly about Republic City and the South Pole, Asami dominating most of the conversation by answering Korra's questions about the expanding metropolis. While driving, Korra looked out the side of the car to see a few posters decorating the sides of brick buildings. Her eyes narrowed as she read the calligraphy, then she jerked her thumb at it after drawing Asami's attention.
"What is that?"
"Oh, campaign posters," the green eyed woman explained. "Elections are coming up for the new Chancellor of Republic City. This new guy Amon is coming up out of nowhere. He gives me the creeps but he's gaining a lot of popularity, especially in the lower class districts. He's really big on this equality thing, so you really never know. People have been wanting some fresh blood for the Chancellor."
"Hm," Korra mused to herself as the car rolled to a stop outside a traditional Fire Nation restaurant.
"Best lunch in all of Republic City," Asami joked, going to sit down after they were shown to a table. "So, like I said when we first met, I represent Future Industries. I think the Southern Water Tribe and Future Industries share a lot of common interests and goals."
The younger woman leaned back in her seat, tipping it back and balancing on the back legs. She nodded to let the heiress know to continue and sipped the water from the glass the server brought.
"I think the United Forces draft can be really beneficial, especially in areas that are struggling economically. With the Industrial Revolution, places around the world are struggling to keep up. Take Omashu for example. It used to be the pinnacle of a great city; now, it's impoverished and different factions are fighting to keep power. The United Forces can step in and try to maintain order in the city, plus use innovative technologies to help with hunger and food shortages," she explained.
Korra rubbed the back of her neck. "And how does that benefit the South Pole?"
"I'm glad you asked," Asami smiled. "By doing that, you'll send men into the draft who will be able to provide money to support their families and with any other additional monetary support into Future Industries, your Tribe would become a partial owner of Future Industries and based on projected stock sales, we expect to have a great return on dividends. Not to mention we can apply those to the Water Tribes as well; think about it - cheap, sustainable produce in the South Pole."
Stocks, dividends, sales, what was all this jargon? Korra knew war, she knew the South Pole, but she didn't know a thing Asami was saying. The heiress must have noticed her confusion as she laughed a bit and looked down at her hands.
"Look, I'll give you my proposal and let you talk it over with others. I don't expect you to make a decision today, but I'm hoping we can work something out. Worst case scenario, I'd love to be friends," she smiled.
"Okay," Korra replied. "So what's good to eat here?"
"Thanks for helping clean up the kitchen," Pema said after dinner.
The young woman smiled at her aunt. "No problem, Pema. Dinner was delicious, it was the least I could do. Is Tenzin in his office?"
"Yeah, he's going over paperwork and meditating."
"Mom! Mom! Mom!" Meelo shrieked, running in the kitchen. "Ikki's trying to kill me!"
The pregnant woman sighed, going to walk after her son. "What happened?"
Korra laughed a bit and slipped out of the kitchen to Tenzin's office. She knocked on the door and after a moment he said, "Come in."
"Tenzin, is now a good time?"
"If it's brief, yes," he answered, going to light a small stick of incense.
She chewed her lower lip, inhaling. Tenzin was stricter than her own parents, but she supposed it was because he was more concerned since she wasn't his child. He was overly concerned about anything happening to her. While endearing in its own way, it was quite annoying more often than not.
"Korra," Tenzin said again.
"I wanted to go out tonight. With my friend Asami. She said there's some fun stuff happening downtown at the Rose District and-"
He held up a hand. "Absolutely not. Your mother, father, and my own mother would hang me by my toenails from the ceiling. Why don't you go practice sparring or something? Or read those books I gave you on the stock market so you'll be able to understand what Miss Sato is proposing to you? We have joint committee meetings tomorrow."
"But Tenzin," she protested. "I've been here for days doing representative stuff. I'm seventeen, nearly eighteen, years old, I wasn't forced to stay home like this before. I'll be fine. I'm an expert at hand-to-hand combat and self-defense and-"
"You've been doing representative stuff because you are a representative. The South Pole doesn't need a scandal involving you getting drunk with some lobbyist or whatever other thing. I like Miss Sato, I do. She's a great friend to have. But going out is dangerous, especially in the Rose District. A lot of unsavory people hang out right around the district. And these Amon protestors are getting out of hand; some of them torched a cotton mill the other day. I'm sorry, I just can't allow it in good conscience," he said.
"Korra, the discussion is over. I'm sorry," he said.
She sighed and walked out, slamming the door behind her. Jinora was sitting in the hall watching as Korra stalked upstairs to her room. Tenzin acted like this place was an impenetrable fortress; like as long as she was within the four walls, nothing bad could ever happen. She was seventeen years old! In the Southern Water Tribe, she was a legal adult, and could get married if she wanted to, and even be selected to be chief. In the Water Tribe, she did do whatever she wanted, and no one could say a thing to stop her. Just because she was in Republic City didn't mean she was going to stop now.
"Screw this," she mumbled from her room, going to pull on a dark cloak then opening the window to her bedroom. "I'm going out."
The Rose District was smack dab in the middle of downtown based on what Asami had told Korra. There were maps placed around the city at trolly stops and Korra would occasionally glance at one to make sure she was heading in the right direction. Apparently, the Rose District was the center of nightlife in Republic City and had everything anyone could want to do and more, from the best bars to the finest restaurants and everything in between.
However, the heiress had failed to mention the surrounding districts were not as upstanding. The further she walked into the city from Tenzin's "fortress," the more run down the city became. Some buildings were dilapidated, many windows were broken or shattered, and she could see several people loitering around in tattered clothing. It was incredibly sad, for lack of a better term.
Korra put her hood up and kept walking, hoping to pass through this part of town quickly. In the future, she would know not to decline Asami's offer for a ride if and when she wanted to go out.
She heard a small noise outside a food stall and saw a young girl, reaching to grab a loaf of bread. The young woman smiled at the girl, then plucked it from the cart and handed it to the small child.
"Here you go," she said gently, frowning a bit as she realized the girl was unaccompanied. "It's awfully late, you know? Maybe I should walk you home to your mother."
"N-n-no, I'm fine," the young girl said.
"Come back here!" a man's deep voice cut through the muggy night.
Korra frowned as the little girl took off running in fear and narrowed her eyes at the man. "What are you doing? She's just a little girl."
"I saw you give her that bread from my shop! You stole it!" he shouted, pointing at Korra. "I'm calling the police to arrest you for stealing!"
"I didn't steal anything, I was just helping-"
"You're a thief and I'm pressing charges to the full extent of the law-" he barked.
The young woman held her hands up, looking around innocently as he drew the attention of surrounding pedestrians. Great. Just what Tenzin needed: a scandal. She contemplated how to diffuse the situation when she felt someone grab her wrist and drag her into the alley.
"Hey!" she cried.
"Come back here!" the man yelled, chasing after her and the person who took her.
"Where are we going?" Korra hissed, trying to break free.
The captor of her wrist turned a corner in the alley, pulling her along. He made another sharp turn, pushing through laundry strung up on lines between buildings.
"Hey!" someone called after them.
He kept running with Korra in tow, and the young woman sped up to keep up with him. He turned at an intersection and removed his scarf, placing it around a lightbulb illuminating the alleyway and unscrewing it before placing it on the ground and crunching it under his foot. His breath was heavy and labored from the sprinting, and the blue eyed woman began blinking to adjust her eyes to the dark corridor.
"Are you stupid?" he asked finally.
"I beg your pardon-" she replied, breathing heavily as well.
"You could have gone to jail, or worse, knowing Chang," he snapped irritably.
She narrowed her eyes. "Well excuse me. I don't remember asking for your help."
"Because you didn't know better. Look, it's pretty obvious you're new here, so I'll give you a tip: stay out of here. It's not safe. Someone like you, you'll be dead within a week. Worse if you're not lucky," he shrugged. "Now, I have to go."
"They can't be far!" she heard the familiar voice of Chang, and the tall man began to walk away.
"Just keep going down this alleyway and you'll get to a taxi stand. Take it back to wherever you came from," he explained.
"I don't have any money," she frowned. "I can't afford a cab. And I don't even know where I am, or how to get home."
He sighed, rolling his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose in frustration and began pacing. "Well, I... hm. Alright, look, here's how it is. I'm going to offer you a one time only deal here; you help me, I help you get home. Okay?"
The shouts were getting closer. Korra could feel her blood rushing through her veins and her heart thumping in her ears. The guy grabbed her wrist, pressing himself closer to her. He smelled faintly of sweat and citrus and his amber eyes searched hers for an answer.
He could be crazy. He could be lying. He could be worse than this guy named Chang. All she knew about him was he was tall, dark, and handsome. But he had saved her - though on a second thought, that was almost self-incriminating since he turned her from a girl in a bad situation to a fugitive from a baker. Korra racked her brain, hoping she could think of something that would help her give the right answer.
"Tick tock, time's ticking. I'm not sticking around to let Chang catch up to us-" he let her go and started to walk backwards.