Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar: The Legend of Korra or anything pertaining to it.
Threads of Fate
Chapter 5: The Offer
"Mr. Asher, you can resist who you are for only so long. Finally, you just decide to go with fate." - Christopher Moore
Korra hadn't seen Mako since they had been split up at the riot. Her hands were restrained behind her in a pair of rather uncomfortable handcuffs and the back of her neck was throbbing where she presumed someone had hit her with a blunt object. The cell she was was made of concrete walls with only a small barred window at the top for daylight; preventing her from interacting with the outside world was a heavy steel door.
"Let's go," an officer said as the door swung open, grabbing her by her upper arm roughly and dragging her into the hallway.
"Watch it," she threatened.
He ignored her and dragged her down the dimly lit hallway towards another heavy door. "Yo, Song, open up Interrogation Two for me," the officer said to a short young man. Song took a ring of keys from his pocket and opened the door, holding it open for the officer and his prisoner.
"Take a seat," the guy barked, forcing her into a chair.
She jerked away from his arm. "Bite me."
"Maybe I'll just throw you back in your cell and let you stay overnight - how does that sound, you disrespectful, ungrateful little-"
"Officer Liu, that'll do," a woman's voice cut in. It was smooth and even, and Korra looked up to meet a pair of stern green eyes.
"Chief," the man stood at attention, saluting her. "I was just-"
"Manhandling a suspect. She still has rights according to the law, so did you forget, or was it benign neglect?"
The man looked down. "Apologies, ma'am."
"You're dismissed," the chief said to the officer, going to stand on the opposite end of the table from the blue eyed woman. The officer bowed his head briefly, closing the door behind him as he left.
Korra surveyed the woman. She was tall, almost as tall as a man, and slender with greying hair and a petite nose. Even though Korra suspected her to be in her late forties to early fifties, the woman was still beautiful in her own right but her eyes and the faint scars on the right side of her face gave her a hardened look.
"So," she said, putting her hands on the corners of the table leaning in imposingly towards Korra. "Might I inquire as to why a delegate of the United Republic decided to attend an illegal rally for Amon?"
"Last time I checked, we were allowed freedom of speech." the teenager replied. Not that she supported these protestors who had thrown a flaming bottle of illegal booze at her, but she wasn't a fan of being in jail either.
The police chief pointed a slender finger near Korra's face. "Don't give me that freedom of speech bullshit. You teenagers think you're so cute and cocky, throwing around rights like that and you don't have a damned clue what they mean. Not to mention I would have simply let you off with a warning but since you decided to assault one of my officers-"
"Assault!" Korra shrieked. "He was grabbing me like a wild komodo rhino! What was I supposed to do? Let him grope where he pleased?"
"You could have not been at the rally for starters," the jade eyed woman said, leaning back a bit.
"And don't I have diplomatic immunity? I'm from the South Pole as a delegate to the United Republic's peace confere-"
"You do. No formal charges are being pressed, but we're now waiting for someone to pick you up. Your 'guardian' should be here any moment."
Korra gulped. "My guardian?" Motherfu-
"If you don't let me in to see her right now I will take each and everyone of you to court and have charges pressed to the full extent of the law!"
The chief walked to the door, pulling it open. "Nice to see you, too, Representative Tenzin. I see you still have your mother's temper."
"And you're looking lovely as ever, Lin," he said dryly, going over to Korra.
"Wait. Lin Beifong? As in daughter of Toph Beifong? Of course, I should have put it together. You know my, well, she's like my aunt Katara."
The woman pinched the bridge of her nose. "I know who she is."
Lin waved her hand. "Tenzin, just take her and go. I better not ever see you again in here, Representative Korra."
"Korra, come along," he grabbed her by the arm and gave a firm tug to the young woman.
"But-" the young woman turned to see the chief of police give her one last stern look before the blue eyed woman rounded the corner of the hallway.
"Not another word until we're in the satomobile."
When they had collected her belongings and exited the police headquarters, Tenzin wasted no time in getting Korra to the satomobile - no doubt to give her the verbal lashing of a lifetime. Korra took the few minutes to prepare herself internally.
"I'm so glad you're okay," he said, hugging her as soon as they reached the satomobile.
She blinked in surprise. "What? I thought - what?"
"You thought I was going to yell," Tenzin finished. "Well, I am later. But I heard that some of the Triple Threats were spotted near the quarantine zone so I was worried something had happened to you."
Mako! She had completely forgotten about him in the past few minutes. Was he okay? Was he going to go to jail? He did have a gunshot wound. Maybe he would lie. Oh spirits, please let him lie. Maybe she could use her position to get him released, and Tenzin was a member of the Security Council - it could work.
"But I cannot believe you were so stupid. You can't just go wandering off without telling people things, Korra. Republic City is different from the South Pole. There are a lot of nefarious characters out there and your aunt and I were worried sick. You have got to be more responsible. You can't just keep running into scenarios without thinking about what the possible consequences are."
Korra looked down. "I know but-"
"I respect your desire to understand the lifestyles of those living in the lower districts and trying to understand what's going on. It's what makes you a great leader, Korra, but a great leader is also patient and talks to his or her family and friends. Some of those protestors are very desperate and had someone found out you were a delegate, who knows what could have happened to you! When will you learn?"
"You can't just treat me like a child! I'm an adult in the South Pole."
"An adult with responsibility," he reminded her. "You are a delegate to the United Republic. You have a duty to your people back home. For the next few days, I don't want you leaving the house except to go to assembly meetings and to come back. No socializing, no visiting the quarantine until I decide to give you another chance."
She huffed. "But Tenzin! You can't just do that!"
"It's already done. Be happy I didn't ship you off back home," he warned. "Now, let's go home."
The next morning, the South Pole delegate closed the door to Tenzin's office and dialed the Sato household.
"Woah, Korra, slow down," Asami's cool voice came over the phone. "Is everything okay?"
"Everything is not okay, Asami. Those kids, they're dying and no one is giving them food, or clothes, or blankets, or water, or anything in the quarantine!"
"Are you there?"
"I'm here," Asami assured. "I'm just thinking what we can do."
"We have to do something soon. Is there any kind of medical division in Future Industries? Maybe they can research a cure or treatment or something," the young woman suggested.
Asami clicked her tongue. "I'll talk to Dad about it. I'm not making any promises because stocks are down, but we'll see what we can do. At the least, I'll try to bring some food and supplies to the children later today. They deserve at least a warm place to rest."
"Thank you, thank you, thank you!" Korra said.
"But, Korra, this is a temporary fix. You have got to change the momentum of the city, which means you need to support someone new for Chancellor because the one we have isn't working."
"I know but-"
"But nothing, Korra. I'm going to do what I can on my end, but you're a delegate to the United Republic. You have a lot more influence than you realize, and you need to use it."
She nodded to herself, then said, "Yeah, you're right. I told Jiao I would take care of the politicians."
"Good. I'll see you tonight for dinner?"
"Maybe, I'm kind of on house arrest after I got legitimately arrested yesterday so-"
"Wait, you got arrested?" Asami cried. "Korra, what the hell were you doing!"
Pema slid open the door and said, "Korra, there's a young man to see you. He's really cute," she teased. "But don't tell your uncle I let him in."
"Cute boy? Is it that one that drives you crazy?" Asami had a hint of amusement in her voice.
"I don't know what you're talking about. Gotta go," Korra said quickly and hung up the phone.
How did Mako find out where she lived? The young woman stood up and smoothed her shirt out. Her right arm had a slight discoloration from a bruise, but he did get shot, so she doubted he would pay much mind to it. At least, she hoped he wouldn't.
She stepped into the living room to see a man with dark hair facing away from her.
"Mako?" she asked.
The young man turned around and she could see it was definitely not Mako. "Try again," he teased.
"You're his brother... Bolin, was it?"
"Ding ding ding," he smirked. "Oh, shit, what happened to your arm?"
Korra moved her hand instinctively to cover it. "Nothing. I... is there something I can help you with?"
"My brother's scarf. He can't find it. They took it from him when he got arrested and he said you might have it. I got the day off so I told him I'd come by and grab it," he explained.
"How did Mako know where I lived?" she made a face.
His green eyes lit up. "Oh, no, I figured it out actually," he smiled. He had a nice smile; it was warm and friendly. Every time Mako had smiled - come to think of it, had she ever seen Mako smile?
"You figured it out?" she motioned with her hand for the young man to follow her to her bedroom.
"Well, I've met a lot of people doing construction on housing. I knew you were a delegate to the United Republic because Mako said so, so I asked my friend where I might be able to find you. I asked the nice lady at the United Republic offices and she told me."
Korra grabbed the box from her table and flipped open the lid. Truthfully she hadn't gone through it since she collected it because she hadn't found a need to look through her things. "She told you, just like that?"
"I have a way with women, what can I say?" Bolin teased.
"I'll bet if she just forked it over. Every time I talk to that woman she gives me a bad case of the lectures," Korra groaned, pushing aside her cloak and picking up the length of red. She grew hyperaware of the masculine scent of musk, sandalwood, and amber coming from the crimson scarf. It smelled wonderful; it smelled like Mako.
"Well, uh, here it is." she handed it over to him gingerly.
He took it and placed it in his bad. "Thanks, Mako'll appreciate it."
"Good. Uh, anything else?"
"Nope. You know, my offer still stands," Bolin smiled again.
She turned her head to the side some. "Offer?"
"To go get seaweed noodles?"
"Oh! Well, I'm a little bit indisposed here, if you get what I mean," she put her wrists together as if they were handcuffed. "Getting arrested is kind of a hot button issue."
He laughed; it was warm and hearty. How could it be such different men could be brothers?
"Understandably so, Miss Korra," he winked, going to the desk and grabbing her pen. "Well, if you ever change your mind, here's my number and address. It's Mako's too, if you want to talk to him. I think he likes you."
"Likes me?" her cheeks turned pink.
The young man smiled. "Yeah, he says you're an okay friend. Except for the getting him arrested part, but yeah. Decent friend."
"Decent friend?" she repeated.
"That's Mako code for, 'good friend.' He's not so good with words. I'll see myself out. Thanks for the scarf. I hope to hear from you soon," he smiled, going to hug her. The young woman hugged him back, a bit surprised at the display of affection.
Had she not known any better - she would have assumed they were more unrelated than anyone she had ever met.
"Korra, we're going to the market. Would you like to come?" Pema asked a few days later.
"Oh, uh, sure." she said, a bit surprised Pema was going to let her out after the other day.
The South Pole delegate almost questioned her aunt's judgment but decided against it. She could use some fresh air after being trapped between the house and assembly meetings for two or three days. She rose from the table and pulled her boots on, watching as Jinora helped Meelo put his shoes on.
"I could use the help with carrying things honestly," Pema admitted, rubbing her stomach some.
Korra nodded. "Sure."
Meelo and Ikki put on their shoes and followed the teenager as she walked to the market. Meelo chatted aimlessly about his endless infatuation with Asami and Ikki talked about how she was learning to write new characters in school. The market was crowded and Pema quickly implemented the hand-holding system.
"Korra, can you go down to the shop at the other corner and get me some ginger root? It needs to be firm, but not dry, and about this long," she held her two index fingers a few inches apart.
"I'll go with her!" Ikki volunteered, following the teenager to the other end of the market.
Korra walked up to the counter and asked the woman, "Excuse me, ma'am, where is the ginger root?"
The woman pointed towards the other end of the shop. Of course.
"C'mon, stick with me," Korra instructed, walking towards the other end of the shop.
"Representative Korra," a calm voice cut through the air.
She grew tense, and turned to see a figure in the shadows with a hood up.
"Amon," she said.
"So you do remember me." She imagined if he wasn't wearing a mask, she could have seen him. "I'm glad to hear it. I could use your help."
"Korra, who is that man?" Ikki asked, making a face.
"Go find your mother," Korra instructed.
"Now," the older instructed.
Amon held his hands up innocently. "I mean you no harm, madam delegate."
"I know, but I think this conversation is between you and I, not the children."
"Wise," he commented, stepping forward a bit. "Did you enjoy my rally?"
"I don't know what you're talking about," she lied.
"You're not a very good liar," he criticized. "No matter; we both know you were there, and you got arrested for it. Regardless of your reasons for originally attending, I think you and I both see there are things that need to change with this city. It's like a dead animal, rotting from the inside out. We both want the same things, I believe."
"And what are those?" she asked. He was remaining polite and had yet to threaten her, but she found herself more distrustful of him than she did with Zolt. Perhaps that stemmed from being unable to see his real face.
"The politicians are toxic. They poison the city, and allow people like your boyfriend's acquaintance to plague this city. Zolt is only a symptom of the true problem. I believe an alliance between the two of us could work. Support my campaign and I will ensure your boyfriend, his brother, your dear friend Asami, and your uncle and his family are well taken care of when I come to be Chancellor of Republic City."
Well taken care of? "What's... is... there's a catch, isn't there?"
"I need your support. Worry not, it's nothing illegal or deeply sinister. I just need your assistance in supporting my attempts to run for office. Think of the children dying in the quarantine. Together, we can help them."
The woman bit her lip thoughtfully. This seemed... random. And how did Amon know she was at the rally? How did he know she was friends with Asami, or about Mako and Bolin?
"I'll be in touch, madam delegate. Think carefully about what I'm proposing, but remember this: if you're not with me, by definition, you are against me," Amon warned before disappearing into the shadows.
For a man who had only promised good things, he terrified her more than anyone ever had.
A/N: This chapter was really hard to write. I had a severe case of writer's block. So far it's been mostly Korra with a little bit of Mako and Asami and just a pinch of Bolin, but I promise the other characters are going to come into play here a lot more. And we still have a fifth character to come to play. ;)