A/N: So here are those deleted scenes I mentioned a few times. General note for all of these: they are deleted scenes, so they are going to be at a slightly less high quality than the actual fic, but they had something kind of interesting enough for me to share them. I hope you enjoy!
Threading Eyebrows, from Chapter 10(?) This scene was removed because it interrupted the story flow, but it's still kinda cute...
"I have to ask you—do you know how to thread eyebrows?" Korra asked.
Every time it'd seem like Korra was going off on her wisdom or they were bonding over something, she'd pull out something like this. Even if Kuvira was beginning to just be amused, she wished she could figure out the pattern. "Yes…why?"
"Just curious. I mean, I was just noticing, for someone in prison, I'd think personal grooming would go downhill, especially if they don't trust you with sharp or metal objects. I asked Asami, and she said they might give you thread if you asked."
Kuvira nodded. "Yeah, they let me have a limited amount of thread and Su taught me when I was a teenager. It's not that hard if you have a steady hand."
"Can you show me? I'm pretty sure Asami doesn't trust me with putting lip gloss on myself."
"Did you ever think that she likes the fact that you can't be your own beautician?"
"It's calling increasing my skills repertoire. I'll teach you something new next time, and I can be your personal self-growth prison program."
"If this is something you really want to learn…"
Kuvira grabbed the thread from her little box of "personal effects," already pre-cut so she didn't have the opportunity to try to use the flimsy material for a noose. She tied the string into a loop, took her right and left index fingers and thumbs in each side of the loop, and twisted one side of the loop several times. They moved to the mirror, where Korra hesitated before going up to it.
"Are guards still watching you?" Korra asked.
Kuvira shrugged, knocked hard on the mirror, and beckoned Korra forward. Kuvira showed her the motions on her own eyebrows, and with Korra's permission, pulled off a few stray hairs off Korra.
"Okay, I'm gonna be honest with you: I don't know what motion you're making to grab onto certain hairs," Korra said.
"Side-to-side," Kuvira answered, showing her the motion with the thread.
They tried the motion for a few more moments, but Korra ultimately decided that wasn't going to be her a new skill. "Yeah, I'll stick to learning new metal bending from you."
Kuvira shrugged. "Ask Asami about it. I'm sure she knows how."
Bitter Spirits - from chapter 17 - the chapter was getting long, and I needed every scene to have a serious impact on Kuvira's arc, and this one wasn't cutting it...but the dynamic of the spirits and the vines Kuvira destroyed still interested me.
Appa landed in a region very similar to the flower bed of the Republic City spirit portal, but with a series of small trees, gaping holes formed in the bottoms, seemingly forming tunnels into the earth. Various more whimsical spirits emerged from the holes in the trees, child-like voices calling out to Korra, embracing her. Kuvira watched from a distance, sliding off Appa's tail, petting him a bit, but not moving away from him.
"Kuvira, I want you to meet some spirits who helped me after I was poisoned," Korra said, beckoning her over.
Kuvira approached, and one little yellow spirit with leaves for ears said, "She looks scared," to Korra.
"She's just worried. She caused the spirit vines a lot of harm years ago, and she thinks that you guys won't ever forgive her, that she can never fix her mistakes."
The yellow spirit's eyes widened. "You're Kuvira, the woman who turned the spirit vines' energies into a weapon that opened a new spirit portal."
Kuvira bowed her head, out of apologies. What could she say to these creatures? She'd tried to become better than the spirits, and she knew she wasn't finished with being pushed down to reality.
"You shouldn't be so sad. We all love the portal you and Korra made," the yellow spirit said.
"At what expense? I know I must've hurt spirits when I ordered the vines in the Foggy Swamp to be harvested. I can't erase the bad part of what I did."
"But you also can't forget the good you did." The spirit looked to Korra. "What you will do."
Korra moved to a different tree hole, leaving Kuvira with this spirit who was giving her compassion she knew was unwarranted, dangerously naive even.
"What did the humans do with you after Korra talked you down?" a green spirit asked.
"I went to prison. I'll be in there for a long time."
"There's another human prisoner who comes into the Spirit World a lot. Most of us are too scared to approach him, but he looks a lot like you. He looks really sad."
Korra came back, this time with a spirit that looked like a tree stump after it gets cut. It was frowning, and parts of its bark were broken off, but it could walk, even on its stubby legs.
"Kuvira, this is Rinzen. He has a very strong spiritual connection to the vines, a sort of spokesperson for the swamp." She hesitated. "You might have seen him in the swamp. He manifests as a small bird."
Kuvira couldn't remember it, but she bowed to the spirit. She opened her mouth to apologize, but the spirit stopped her.
"Don't say sorry. It's written all over you. The only way you can gain the trust and forgiveness of the spirits you harmed is through action. When you're out of prison, protect the swamp instead of hurt it." The spirit paused. "But, who am I to even tell you? Humans all think themselves superior, and I doubt you even really realize what you did wrong. You think the problem was that you used the vines for a weapon, but we don't care about that. We care about something bigger."
With that, Rinzen walked away. No further comment, no hesitation, just walked away. The spirits who had begun to approach Kuvira took a step back, and all Kuvira could do was look to Korra.
Makeout Sesson #2 - from chapter 19 - this was in the original outline in which K&K's relationship took a more physical turn before the emotional one. I ultimately decided to develop the emotion before the physical aspects. But, this is still a pretty well-written scene so...
Kuvira had never wanted time to pass as quickly as she did during the seven days she couldn't see Korra. There wasn't an inch of room to deny what hung so obviously in front of her: she was in love with Korra, the kind of obsessive, schoolgirl crush, overflowing lust kind of love that could keep her awake, thoughts where they shouldn't be and hands in even worse places. The kind of love where she couldn't see spots on the wall without thinking of Korra. It was like every emotion she'd reigned in over the past, hell, eighteen years, was finally bursting out, and she was both unable and unwilling to try to reign them in again.
Because Korra had kissed her, Korra had kissed her back, Korra had touched her. This wasn't the kind of one-sided love that killed the lover; this was the kind of love that tumbled the world into a chaos that only being with that person could correct. It was worthy of stories, stood as the kind of first story that parents would tell their kids when they asked how the love story began.
The funny thing was, though, Kuvira wouldn't say she was happy as she stewed in this flood of emotion. Part of her was overwhelmed, frightened by the lack of control, and felt more disease-ridden than in love. Part of her yearned for some stability to balance out this outpouring of emotion.
It was, perhaps, for that reason, that Kuvira was so eager to see Korra again.
When the day came, Korra straddled one of Kuvira's chairs and went right ahead and said it, "So, last time we met, we…for lack of better terms, fucked with our mouths." Beat. "Let's talk about that…"
Kuvira rubbed her hands together. "I really like you."
Korra sighed. "Trust me, the feeling's mutual." Korra glanced up at Kuvira. "Really mutual. My problem is just…I refuse to lose what we had when things were still platonic. I'm trying to be responsible about this and well, let's face it, Asami needed me after she lost her father, but you—you need me. I'm your guide, I'm going to try to get you out of jail early, and we cannot risk any of that for anything, whether we just hook up or become girlfriends." Korra bit her lip. "Can we risk that it'll all turn out okay?"
Kuvira exhaled. "What's the worst that could happen?"
"I mean, I might visit less often and you'd think it was personal or maybe I'd start to feel trapped with the twenty-eight years or…I don't know. All I know is I thought getting with Asami was the best idea in the world, and I thought we'd never break up, but then we did, and I really don't want any breakups in prison."
It could only be a fantasy. "You don't really want this, do you?"
"No, I do! I really do, I'm just trying to be pragmatic. You're in prison."
Kuvira paused for a moment. "Wait, so you—you're going to try to get me out of prison early?"
"Yeah. Parole, pardoning, whatever."
Kuvira mulled it over. Something told her that a solution was staring them in the face, but what was it?
So the fear was that they'd get too emotionally invested for a couple in prison. "So, you're saying if I wasn't in prison, we'd get together?"
"How about this? We can play around without any deep emotional connections, just let things happen, until you know about the parole or pardons. If it turns out that I can get out of jail early, we'll pick things up from there. Meanwhile, I don't see anything wrong with doing what we were doing—the meditating, the talks, the training. None of it has to change."
Korra furrowed her brow. "Where does the kissing come in?"
Kuvira shrugged. "We can kiss, fuck, whatever you want. I'm not keeping you from being with other girls, but you seem like a one-girl player."
Korra choked out a surprised laugh. "Excuse you, but aren't I the one who's actually had lesbian sex?"
Kuvira smirked. "We're both fast learners, aren't we?"
"Ugh, you've put me right back at square one."
"What's at square one?"
"Where all I want to do is kiss you again." Korra rested her chin on the back of the chair. "But we should probably talk about something."
Kuvira readjusted her seat. "What do you want to talk about?"
"So, honestly, was that your first time kissing a girl?"
Korra hesitated. "I don't know about you, but the first thing I noticed was that…really, it wasn't all that different than kissing a guy. I mean, girls' lips are softer, and everyone has different techniques, but it really becomes more about the person than the gender, you know?"
Kuvira nodded. "I was kind of surprised to not be as aware of it." She paused. "For the record, I think that was the best kiss I've ever had."
Korra smiled. "Yeah I'm better than Baatar Jr."
Kuvira rubbed the back of her neck. "Better than Baatar, Hong Li, Ryung…"
"It was Hong Li?" Korra interjected. "You took Hong Li's virginity?"
Shit, what had she just—? "That's not what I said!"
"He was a baby! Spirits, were you at least nice to him? Agh, I love you and your awkward Zaofu drama."
She was blushing, but refused to let her carry this one away. "I didn't sleep with Hong Li!"
"You said you deflowered one of your guards. No point in denying it." Korra slapped the chair. "How many of the guard and wealthy members of the Metal Clan did you sleep with?"
"What were we even talking about?"
Korra stopped laughing, sighed, and grew a new smile. "How good a kisser I am."
Kuvira smiled a bit. "Yeah, congratulations, you've discovered and mastered tonguebending. What's next on the agenda?"
"Besides telling all my friends that one? I don't know. Wu really wants to visit you, so I have to chaperone that encounter."
"Aww, I wouldn't hurt him that badly."
"Oh come on, he has the kind of face people want to punch. Then, when he talks…you've come a long way, but leaving you alone in a room with a flirtatious Wu is last on the list of things to test."
"In all seriousness, what does he want to talk about?"
"I think he wants to hear you explain the constitutional monarchy thing. I proposed what you wrote up for me at the last world leader meeting, and it honestly sounds like they want to do it." Korra smiled. "Wu is actually the biggest proponent. He loves the idea of doing nothing political."
"Good to know I still have some political savvy."
"Yeah. You know, if I do get you out early, it's probably going to be in conjugation with this."
Kuvira raised a brow. "So I'd be an advisor or something?"
In other words, what she would've become if she hadn't stepped up at Wu's coronation. "The irony is nauseating."
Korra shrugged. "Not as nauseating as staying in here for twenty-eight more years."
Point taken. "You'd really rally that hard for me?"
"I believe in you, Kuvira, regardless of how hot you are."
Kuvira chuckled. "The overt flirting is just making us sound like idiots."
Kuvira put a hand on Korra's shoulder. "Let me rephrase: us only works when we're speaking platonically or when we're burrowing into each other."
Korra got up. "Good thing we're not dating then, huh?"
Kuvira followed suit. "Good thing."
They took two steps to the bed before Korra suddenly stopped and grabbed at Kuvira's shirt. "Gotta say, what we did was hot, but skin-to-skin is euphoric, even if we just kiss."
Kuvira let Korra pull her shirt up over her head, and returned the favor for Korra. Korra unhooked the fur skirt thing, and for a moment, Kuvira took in the Avatar shirtless. Kuvira had maintained a pretty muscular physique for years, but Korra really was inspirational in that department. Her muscles were more toned than any man she'd known, but more than that, the lines fit in perfectly to her body, less like the way men overpacked muscle and more like an artist's touch.
"You look amazing, only partially in a fitness way."
Korra smiled. "I only need the other part."
Their kiss began more tenderly than the first one, arms wrapping around each other in more of a snuggling than a lustful way. The room was silent, amplifying the smacking of their lips and the little sighs that escaped as they surfaced for air. Korra let Kuvira on top this time, but Kuvira didn't feel a need to dominate; she just liked having the heat of Korra's skin touch hers, and nothing more felt necessary.
There must be some primal instinct, some deep-seated remembrance back to skin-to-skin contact of a mother and nursing child, because Kuvira had never felt so secure, so loved, and so happy as she was kissing Korra like this and had no idea why. Part of her wanted to pull away, to drink in Korra's body more, but a stronger part of her was content to run her fingers over Korra's bare skin. She guided Korra's hands up and down her own body. At some point, she got so caught up in the touching that she forgot that they were still kissing.
So, it must've been Kuvira who broke the kiss. Korra's lips pulled away into a smile. "What're you doing?" Kuvira began to roll down Korra's pants. "Getting spunky there, are you?" She kissed Kuvira. "Good."
They pulled and kicked out of their pants. As much as Kuvira wanted to match their bare skin together like stacked utensils, she took a moment to look over Korra. The muscles that began in her top half translated beautifully to her bottom half. She wore boy shorts, her underwear and bra not matching in the least. It was cute, something that seemed to fit what she knew of Korra.
Meanwhile, she was in the ugliest undergarments known to man.
"I can only wear this trash so well," Kuvira commented.
Korra chuckled. "I understand. But, at the same time, I'm not picky."
Korra's hands went to Kuvira's hair, removing the hair tie and undoing the braid. "If you have a clear preferred style, tell me."
"No, you do your thing. I just like being able to play with it."
Korra combed through Kuvira's hair and their lips met again. The kiss wasn't quite tender, but not quite as aggressive as their first kiss, but there was definitely some tension in there. Tension in the air, tension as they grinded together. Fabric suddenly seemed very thin, almost unnecessary, but Kuvira knew their place. If they just kept going after the first thought that popped into their heads, they'd be scissoring before the hour was up, and something didn't feel right about that. She had to start savoring this. If she didn't savor this, then what were those months wanting Korra for?
Trying not to focus on sex, Kuvira took inventory of every bit of Korra's body she could reach without trailing down beyond the fabric. Treading with tongue and fingertips, they explored each other, stopping rhythmically to make comments or mark territory with kisses and hickeys. After Korra made a fuss about leaving a mark on her shoulder, Kuvira decided on the top of Korra's breast, making the Avatar squeal when she teased some teeth.
"Gentler on the goods or I'll give you a matching scar on your other shoulder," Korra joked.
"Do it. I love it rough."
Kuvira signed her bit of body art with a kiss and let Korra flip her onto her back. Sure enough, Korra took Kuvira's clean shoulder and started to kiss and suck.
"Go harder," Kuvira said. "I've been through worse."
Only then did Korra really start sinking her teeth into it, and Kuvira let that pain-laced pleasure peak and ebb away. She found Korra smirking, and a second later, Korra removed Kuvira's hand from her crotch.
"Hey, that's my job," Korra said as she kissed Kuvira's hand.
Korra then cupped Kuvira's crotch, thumb gently running over the seat of her panties. "Please stop doing all these favors. You're the reason I still feel guilty."
Korra laughed. "Yeah, I'm sure. Just focus on kissing me, and then you'll owe me a story."
Kuvira cracked a smile. "You're obsessed with me."
"And you're not obsessed with me?"
They started kissing again, returning to the casual methods they'd been using the whole time, but Kuvira really did want Korra to feel something too.
So, that's how they spent the next span of time, Kuvira curled up so Korra had access, switching between sensual, teasing-tongued kissing and Kuvira nipping and kissing all the sensitive spots on Korra's neck and ears. She got Korra to smile, moan, and wriggle around, but Korra owned her that day, yanked out of any and all actions she'd been performing as she was paralyzed in ecstasy, floored by both how abruptly she sunk into it and how much better it felt to be orgasming under Korra's touch, Korra's lips around her tongue.
Even after they untangled, Kuvira needed a moment to just lie there.
Korra tossed Kuvira's shirt onto her the way someone throws a jacket on a coat rack.
"I've broken the former Great Uniter. If past me knew what future me had done, I would've kicked your ass in that fight."
Kuvira broke the trance and put her shirt back on. "Usually when I have wet dreams, wanting to fight the subject isn't my first priority."
Korra smiled. "I'd still kick your ass."
They redressed, settling on sitting side by side on the bed.
"So, you want a story?" Kuvira confirmed.
"Any subject, time period, mood?"
"I just had to figure out how your body works. You do the thinking."
Deep Talks - from Chapter 19 - this was the companion talk to the physical intimacy in the rejected storyline for Korvira. Naturally, dropped for the same reason as the previous scene.
Korra readjusted her position, but didn't stray from looking right into Kuvira's eyes. "You tell a lot of sad stories."
"I don't have much else to tell."
Korra shook her head. "When you tell those stories, especially when you couple them with the mess you become after everything falls apart…it's just so crazy thinking all that was going on while you attacked us. I wish more people would be as candid as you are with me. I don't think I've ever understood a person as well as I understand you." She paused. "I guess you kind of are a sad person." She paused again. "A lost person."
Remembering Iroh's words, Kuvira perked up. "How long do you think I've been lost?"
"If I had to guess, I'd say the only time you weren't lost was during the very brief time during the campaign after you'd cut Su out of your life and before you started killing and coercing to bring order. Before the tough decisions."
"Well, besides it being when you knew what you wanted and had a moral compass to guide you, I feel like, hearing all these stories about Baatar Jr. and Varrick and Bolin and all the Zaofu guards you recruited…you guys kind of sounded like a family. That's why I like it when you tell me stories about the campaign—even stories during your psycho period still reflect that family. The way you still talked to Masaru says a lot to me. Honestly, Su went on saying how your soldiers were all forced into the army, and I'm sure some were, but that's really not the impression I get. I like thinking that you took your abandonment issues and turned into this vaguely mother figure to your army and the Earth Kingdom citizens."
Kuvira smiled a bit. "Reducing everything down to my abandonment issues?"
"Nah, you're a little more complicated than that." Korra started laughing. "I'm so telling Zaheer that you thought of him while you were using five seconds to get over the death of your fiancé."
Kuvira gave her a look. "Could you not?"
"You're right. My favorite part of that story was the image of you trudging through conquering a city by promising yourself a bottle of hard liquor when you're done. Also, I really want to meet Masaru. Anyone who spills an entire bag of walnuts onto the floor of a twenty-five story death machine in the presence of his kill-happy boss without peeing his pants is my kind of guy."
Kuvira shrugged. "I should write to him, see how he's doing. He really did love being a guard, but I doubt after what I gave him he went back to that kind of work. I hope he became a cop or something. Kid needed to keep busy." She groaned. "Now you got me craving a warm shot of baijiu."
Korra laughed. "You're such a repressed alcoholic."
Something about this didn't feel like love, not the kind of love that she and Baatar had shared, but there was still something electrifying about it, something that kept her wanting to spend every conscious minute with this woman. Maybe their love really would develop slowly. Maybe this was how it should be. Maybe it could just be physical and spiritual, emotional intimacy. They didn't need to be girlfriends. They didn't need to spend every moment professing their love.
Assuming Korra loved her back…
"You drink a lot?" Kuvira asked.
"I've never really had more than a few sips of whatever Asami got when we went out."
Kuvira grinned. "Then you wait until I'm out of here, and I'll show you how to be an alcoholic too."
Korra mirrored her smile. "You're such a bad influence on me."
Kuvira gave Korra a conspicuous once over. "It's mutual."
Shower Sex - from chapter 20 - again, rejected because the rejected physical storyline was dropped/moved. Also, what I may call OOC. But hey, the scene's nice, and the Wu/Kuvira/Korra conversation was a bit more playful originally, if you like that.
"King Wu's set to arrive in forty-five minutes," Arnav said as he dropped Korra off in Kuvira's cell. "Be smart, ladies."
Once Arnav was gone, Korra and Kuvira exchanged a look. "Wanna go screw?" Korra asked.
The pace of the physical side of their relationship still rubbed Kuvira wrong, but another part of her gave into the chance to have human contact and intimacy the way animals can't turn away food. She knew it was because she was in prison, that rules just applied differently in prison, but she never dwelled. There was just no reason to dwell. She'd gained something new with Korra, and that had be to worth enough. Love didn't exist in prison. Love didn't exist in solitary confinement. She couldn't push Korra, especially with everything she was doing outside of this cell. Part of her even sensed that Korra wasn't as into this physical thing as she seemed.
Yet, into the shower with the door that technically didn't lock they went.
Korra turned the water to its hottest setting, which translated to a sensual heat peppering them. Once they'd both been thoroughly drenched, Kuvira gave Korra a kiss and said, "You first, Avatar."
Korra had only walked her through oral sex within the last couple weeks, and she still wasn't fully confident with the process, but she was willing to give it a shot. Warmth constant on her own skin, concentrated in the hand that held Korra's, she went through all the tricks the woman surrounding her taught her, coaxing moans and mumblings out better than ever. In flashes she tried to push away, she thought about the earlier days of her and Baatar, back when she was willing to pleasure him without an ounce of anything in return, how she used to feel so sexy and confident hearing him moan her name.
She managed to push it out of her head just as she got Korra to climax.
It was a long buried memory by the time Korra had her back arched against the shower, tongue on lips.
Through the pleasure, Kuvira barely registered someone else's voice in the distance, and Korra hadn't looked up once, and wasn't then.
Kuvira resisted trying to physically push Korra deeper, nerve endings on fire. She was practically spasming under Korra's touch, only aware, really, of how close she was to falling off the edge and the echo of her own moans in the shower.
A door squeaked opened and Kuvira sucked in a ragged breath, prepared for the next second.
Her own climax began and ended in the words, "King Wu is going to be here in ten minutes, you idiots!"
Korra fully removed herself from Kuvira's sphere of presence, leaving her to nearly slip and fall onto the shower floor. She caught herself and watched through fogged glass and Korra as scrambled through the tiny bathroom, heaving clothing and towels into her arms. The last thing she grabbed was Kuvira's arm, and they were in the main area of the cell.
They dried off, threw on clothes that stuck to the bits of water still stuck to their skin, and decided in a flash decision that Korra would be towel drying her hair to give the impression only one of them had been in the shower minutes before the meeting.
Arnav came in before Wu.
"For the record, can't you waterbend the water out of your hair?" Arnav asked with a particular bitterness in his tone.
Korra glanced at Kuvira, made the motion as if to do what Arnav said, but Kuvira put a hand up, declining. A little too late, especially as Wu waltzed in the moment Arnav left.
It was the first time that Kuvira really started to consider that what she and Korra were doing wasn't right.
Kuvira gave up a chair for Wu, leaving her sitting in the floor between Wu and Korra. It seemed like the right thing to do, considering her soon-to-be position in life.
"For the record, Kuvira, you still look nice, even in prison," was the first real comment Wu made.
"…Thanks," Kuvira said, careful with her words.
Wu angled his chair more towards Kuvira. "So, let's get real for a minute. Are you going to be writing this constitution for the government system Korra talked about?"
Kuvira glanced up at Korra. "I don't know if I'm qualified."
Korra shrugged. "Did you write all the contracts for the Earth Empire?"
Korra exchanged a look with Wu. "I think she could do it. At least outline what should be in there and then we could revise it in the meetings."
"Good. Now, tell me about what I'm doing in this new Earth Kingdom," Wu said.
Kuvira noted that Wu didn't mess around as much as he used to. She wondered if it was because of maturation or just a more elegant manifestation of the guy's narcissism.
"You'd be a figurehead," Kuvira answered. "You'd represent the Earth Kingdom not so much as actually rule it. Your duties would include people work—touring around the kingdom and interacting with citizens, attending charity events, hopefully doing community service yourself. You'd be a huge proponent of national holidays and anything that involves the kingdom feeling like a single unit. You'd be developing patriotism."
Wu wrinkled his brow. "Isn't that uniting everyone for takeover, patriotism? I think we should be discouraging war for a while."
"No, that's nationalism. Patriotism is focusing on the love of a country and being willing to stand up for one's country if called. Call it internal strength that leads to projected strength as opposed to directly focusing on projected strength and the enforcement of it."
"Okay, I can't take this seriously while the Earth Kingdom's tyrant turned savior is sitting on the ground."
"I'm not sharing a chair with you. If you're so unhappy, come on the floor with me," Kuvira answered.
Korra rolled her eyes, pulled her chair out, and pulled Wu and his chair out equal distance. "Come onto the table," Korra said.
Kuvira took a seat on the table, but kept hunched over. It felt too weird to be looking down at the Avatar and a king.
Kuvira looked to Wu. "Does that answer your question?"
"How do I interact with the prime minister?"
"You would be a part of the ceremony to usher him into power. Put your approval on him."
"Can I disapprove of him?"
"No. Like I said, you're a figurehead."
"So why bother approving?"
"You're the symbol for your country. You're spreading interest and cooperation on behalf of the people of the Earth Kingdom to the prime minister."
"How much power does the prime minister have?"
"The position would be similar to what the president does now for the United Republic except his power is held in reign by the parliament. So, war decisions, final approval of laws, appointment of honors, basic leader jobs."
"And…where does the prime minister come from?"
"He would either be a member of parliament or someone else who has the merits to rule."
"If he's chosen by parliament, how do you assure that the people in parliament will make the right decision?"
"You assume that your own people can all choose someone who's worthy of it. Obviously, the people who will be nominated will be people of enough merit that a state wants them as a representative."
"I don't suppose you'd want to be the first prime minister?"
Kuvira looked Wu right in the eye. "I can't think of anything more disastrous."
"What if parliament elects you, though?"
"Then I'd decline. My redemption isn't through big government politics. Offering this system is the most I should do. Besides, you'll have the government in place before I'm out of prison. If you don't establish something with a strong grip soon, it'll all just plunge back into chaos. I know the world leaders aren't any less concerned with keeping order than when I took charge."
Wu glanced at Korra. "What if I want you to be prime minister? As in, I won't approve of anyone else."
"Then you're sacrificing your entire nation to be petty and childish."
"Don't you see? You're the only person right now who has the connection to the Earth Kingdom that can bring anyone opposed to a new rule over to our side. You still have a bunch of supporters. It'd be the easiest way to transition."
"All it would do is dig up bad memories. I destroyed a city."
"You destroyed a city in another nation."
Kuvira huffed. "It doesn't make a difference. Zaofu, for starters, would never join. I'm sure there are other states who feel the same way. Either way, I'm not meant to be a leader. I never was. I forced myself to do in order to help my people. Given a choice, I'd rather help the Earth Kingdom by snuffing out criminals and extremists like what I'm sure you have Korra and the airbenders doing. I'm done with politics."
"There's nothing I can do to change your mind?"
Another pause. "What if I pardoned you of all your crimes, got you out right now?"
"You aren't ready for a prime minister now. You haven't even formed a parliament."
Wu made a face that Kuvira could only assume was meant to portray exasperation. "I'll pardon you and let you out when we need you. So, a year or two."
She couldn't help but marvel at this guy. Wu had just become the difference between getting out of prison in her twenties and fifties. Could she…really turn that down?
If it means saving you from the devil's agreement, yes.
Because it was more than putting herself up for being assassinated by the people still angry about all the Great Uniter business. It truly, truly was about how she didn't want to become a world leader. She'd lost whatever had given her the confidence to do it the first time.
You're not worthy.
Kuvira looked to Korra, long, silent, the way they looked at each other back when everything was platonic. Korra broke the look and nodded.
"I'll give you an answer by the end of the day," Kuvira said to Wu.
Wu nodded, and went back to looking at Kuvira. "I forgot to thank you for showering for me."
Kuvira gave a drawn out sigh. "I shower daily, not for you."
Wu grinned. "What would you have done with me if you had captured me?"
Kuvira put on a straight face. "Killed you."
"Yes. I would have thrown you onto your knees and slit your throat, probably would've had to do it myself. Don't let your fantasies get ahead of you."
She couldn't even say why she was getting so morbid again.
"You executed people?" Korra asked.
Wu was still smiling. "You're hilarious, gumdrop."
"I had to make some tough decisions." She sighed. "Do you want to outline a constitution or not?"
The Rejected Su & Kuvira scene - chapter 21 - deleted because I couldn't fit it in the chapter, but shown here because it was a nice stepping stone between the beginning of Su forgiving Kuvira and the scene in Zaofu.
179 AG, Winter
"Thanks for coming," Kuvira said as Su took a seat across from her.
"I was kind of surprised you haven't asked me back before this." Su gave her a once over. "You don't look good."
Kuvira exhaled. "Everything's just…not as good as everyone else is making it out to be."
Su furrowed her brow. "What do you mean?"
Korra, Wu, and her had agreed to not talk about the pardoning or the prime minister business until the time came, but Kuvira didn't know how to proceed without relaying this information. "Why did you make me captain of the guard so young?"
"You were a natural leader—skilled, charismatic, smart, loyal, and compassionate. Your age didn't matter to me as much as what you could offer."
Kuvira clasped her hands together. "What do you see in me now? Honestly."
"In terms of what?"
"What you just described."
Su exhaled. "You're certainly still as smart and skilled as always, but…I can't say how consistent your character has been."
Kuvira's heart dropped. "Even now? Even now you don't…?"
"I mean as a leader. No, now…of course I think you're a good person. You're talking about your qualities as a leader, right?" Kuvira nodded. "Why are you asking me this?"
Kuvira exhaled. "I'm just curious. I feel really different than how I was on the outside."
"I'd be happy about that if I were you. It means you're maturing."
"Feels more like deflating." She looked up at Su. "What do you want me to do in here for thirty years? I can't keep up any significant character change for that long."
Su broke eye contact for a moment. "Four years, and you've already reached a stagnation?"
"Deflation. I reached a point in my sentence where I felt enlightened about what I did wrong, felt the right guilt for the right things and wanted to do good, to redeem myself, but now," she sighed, "now I just feel like I'm losing my humanity. By the time I'm out of here…"
"You need to stay hopeful, Kuvira."
Forgiving Su and bringing her back into her life had seemed like such a good idea that first meeting. She thought Su had finally gotten it, seen how much she had hurt Kuvira for all that Kuvira saw that she hurt Su and her family. And, yes, Su had talked to her about the family issues over the years, but somehow she still hadn't acknowledged the blatant cruelty Su had given her at her lowest point.
"How can I stay hopeful when you guys threw me in a box with little to no human interaction as I hit my lowest point in my life? Where was that hope supposed to come from? I've done as much as I can to stay hopeful, but what reality do I have ahead of me? I haven't seen more than two people at a time since a four-hour fire drill two years ago in which I was nearly murdered. I have no assets on the outside world, no home, no one I would be any more than a burden to. In what world did this punishment seem fair? You want to know why the Red Lotus were able to function after they escaped from their prisons? Because they had goals, they believed in themselves. You destroyed me!"
Su winced, but collected herself quickly. "Why do you think we've allowed Korra to come in as much as she has?"
It…had never really occurred to Kuvira. She always knew that Korra came in on her own accord, without some hidden agenda from the world leaders, but it had never really occurred to her that they let Korra visit her.
But, if Korra was supposed to be her source of hope and encouragement, what did Korra telling her that she had to look within herself to find hope mean?
For a moment, the two of them sat looking at each other, saying nothing. She thought about everything they had gone through together, all the horrible things they did to one another. She thought about…about how painful it had been to see Wing and Wei standing by their mother to kill her, to hear Su and Opal dog Korra into killing her, for Su to attempt to kill her not once, but twice. Not once had Kuvira actually tried to put forth an aggressive move against any of them. She'd defended herself at worst. She knew that she'd have to regain the people's trust and support, but why was she the only one begging for forgiveness from the Beifongs? Why weren't they begging for her forgiveness?
She supposed deep in the back of her mind, she had considered the idea that she'd be let back into Zaofu one day and become friends with the children she'd grown up with and the man and woman who had taken her in, but…why did she want that from people who refused to respect Kuvira enough to even apologize for their part in the rift? It didn't seem healthy. Maybe it was her turn to distance herself, and wait for them to come to her.
Kuvira exhaled. "I also wanted to let you know that I've given up on coming back to Zaofu. And, well, as much as I hate you for it, I think banishing me was the best thing you've ever done for me. I had such an easy time seeing what my parents did to me as toxic, yet when it comes to what you did to me, I keep trying to justify it. But, why should I do that? Waiting for you and your family to forgive me isn't empowering myself, and I need to change that."
"So…what, you're just going to stop talking to us?"
"No. But I'm going to stop expecting anything. Ball's in your park. Show me that famous Suyin Beifong compassion and self-awareness you displayed to Lin."
"How do you—?"
"Lin visits me from time to time. We never really had any personal beef, and Lin acknowledged the distribution of fault in everything that happened. I haven't known you two for the same amount of time, but you could learn a lot from her. She sees a lot more than you do."
Kuvira half expected Su to storm out, but all she did was nod.
After Dinner Cocktails - chapter 22 - this scene was changed into the dinner scene. I decided alcohol wasn't necessary, and the story Bolin tells Kuvira tells later in the story. But, I lost Bumi in it...
As it turned out, dinner wasn't the event to be scared for. No, dinner was calm, an event filled with excellent food and people spreading out the questions evenly among the many guests. The questions she did get asked where simple, questions that warranted shallow sentence-long answers, asked mostly by Meelo, whose interests lied in how ripped she must be and if she learned how to make shanks or got into a love affair with the guards. No, it the moment dinner ended that things got weird.
And it started with Bumi pulling out a bottle of hard liquor and nudging Kuvira. "You were in the military, so you must know how this goes."
"I have a meeting to attend tomorrow," Kuvira answered as Bumi slid a glass over to her.
Kuvira looked over to Korra, who shrugged. "It's technically in the afternoon."
Maybe she should just accept one drink. It'd take the edge off, and she hadn't gotten the chance to talk to Bolin yet, and something told her that it was the residual guilt that she should've already shed that was holding her back. Besides, she deserved a few hours of celebration, right?
"One drink," she said.
One particularly strong drink later, and everyone was telling battle stories, Kuvira had managed to tag team telling stories with Bolin, the two of them were finishing each other's sentences describing the gritty details of the hog monkey incident.
"Technically speaking, this kid saved my life," Kuvira said, flashing a brief smile at Bolin.
"The only reason she remembers that incident fondly is because she lost so much blood she was delirious," Bolin said. "It was actually really disgusting..."
Alternate Su & Kuvira Meeting in Zaofu - chapter 26 - just a bit of scene rearranging from ch.26
Su actually opened the front door for once, and didn't seem the least bit surprised to see Kuvira on the other side.
"I'm surprised you didn't come last night," Su said.
"Can't seem too eager." Su invited her in, and once the door shut, Kuvira handed Su the notebook. "You know how you always said how you could write a book about how messed up royal family history is?"
"Harder to say nowadays."
Su smiled ever so briefly at Kuvira. "Well, in prison, I had access to a lot of history books, and that's fuel for your fire."
Su flipped the book open and scanned a few lines. "Is this book a thorough analysis of what points in history the royals inbred?"
"What justification did you use?"
"It was either directly confirmed or through inherited traits. Eye color, hair color, stuff like that."
Su leafed through a few more pages. "You always were too smart for your own good. Don't show this to Wu."
Kuvira smirked. "If I showed this to Wu, he'd cry, not put my head on the chopping block."
"Is this supposed to be a peace token?"
"Something like that, but I was also hoping we were on decent enough terms that I could focus on my…siblings."
Post-Assassination Attempt - from chapter 27 - this one got a bit too deep into politics of the Earth Kingdom and didn't fit the chapter, but it explains a bit more about what Wu was thinking
A couple hours later, Kuvira was released with a painkiller prescription, a wrapped up hand, and a mind softened by medication but still racing like mad.
"What's the point of killing Wu if the constitutional monarchy's already set up?" she mused as she and Korra made their way back home.
"Honestly, the people are just getting desperate. I know you think you understand how bad things got after Wu tried to dissolve the monarchy, but it was horrible. It wasn't just the poverty or exhorting—people were killing each other, warlords were popping up, small wars broke out. In some lands, anyone who were seen with the Earth Empire emblem still up had their houses burned down, family members executed in public space to send a message. If people didn't already hate Wu for the chaos, he never actually focused on helping the people. Once he put the singing career to rest, he focused on trying to get you formally transferred into the custody of the Earth Kingdom. He and his small council never really met with me until your last few years of the sentence, but I think he wanted you out from the beginning."
"How did he end up getting me transferred into the Earth Kingdom's custody?"
"He forfeited the land you took in the campaign back to the United Republic."
It felt so strange to not be angry about that. Ironically, those lands were probably doing better than anywhere in the Earth Kingdom. "And look what I've brought to him. He sacrificed land, economically rich land for me. All that, and it's my insane followers who're trying to kill him."
"You don't have to paint him as flawless because he gave you a medal. People have reason to hate him, and he's done enough that would warrant assassination attempts. It has nothing to do with you."
"The guy had the Earth Empire tattooed on his wrist and he smiled at me before he pushed Wu off. He was doing it for me."
"And you proved him wrong by saving Wu. Trust me, this event is going to gain a lot of publicity, and all that publicity will say that you risked your life and nearly maimed yourself to save someone you have no reason to actually like. You have no reason to feel guilty."
"Then why do I still feel like I'm really not supposed to be in power?"
"Because technically unless you believe you were wrongfully imprisoned, you aren't supposed to be in power. You're hopefully stepping up because the last several decades, especially the last eight years, have ground this nation into nothing. That everyone's desperate."
Kuvira looked around the streets of the Upper Ring. For the first time since arriving, she could see the stains on the facades of buildings, the slight eroding on the roof tiles.
"That's what the history books will say, won't they? That the Earth Kingdom was so desperate that they brought in a war prisoner to run the nation."
"I'm guess they'll say something like that." Kuvira looked to Korra, much more confused and a little hurt. "Inevitably, there's a lot about this that you can't control. The thing is, though, you control what they write after that. Whether they call it a huge risk for nothing, or the greatest move the Earth Kingdom ever made."
Reporters and the flash of camera bulbs had already amassed outside Korra and Kuvira's home, prompting a bit of tunneling, none of which Kuvira could properly participate in without disobeying the doctor's orders.
The reporters tired of waiting outside after three hours. An hour after that, Mako and Wu snuck in through the cover of a darkening sky.
"So…any collateral damage?" Wu asked once they sat down, his eyes falling on Kuvira's hand.
"Just a cut," Kuvira replied.
"That's it? You leaked blood on everything!"
Kuvira resisted rolling her eyes. "I apologize, Your Majesty. Next time I'll be sure to aim my mutilated hand somewhere else." She turned to Mako. "Anything from the kid?"
Mako shook his head. "We checked the information he gave us when he started working for the palace, and it all seems legit. The Earth Empire tattoo is a decent indication for his motive, but the police around here are taking up figuring out if he belongs to a certain organization or something."
"Has anyone talked to him yet?"
"If you do get a name of an organization, tell me. Earth Empire extremists are as high on the most wanted list as any remaining cells of the Red Lotus." She turned to Wu. "By the way, are you still going to try to get the world leaders' approval tomorrow?"
"Why would I change it?"
Korra, Kuvira, and Mako gave him dubious looks.
"You made me cancel all your appointments for two days after you broke a nail learning to spar with me," Mako said.
Wu puffed out his chest. "Well, the nation can't have this wait so I'm not going to wait either." He brushed his shoulder. "The blood was only mildly traumatizing."
"Do you really think public opinion has changed enough that they'd change their minds?" Kuvira asked.
"And can I ask why you're even waiting for the world leaders' approval?" Korra added.
Wu looked to Mako. "I was told by numerous members of my council that if I just put you in power that I could potentially start a war. Something about 'putting a dictator in power' could be considered international crime if interpreted wrong. They say I need to make sure everyone's interpreting it right."
Was one considered a puppet king if he knew full well how much he was being controlled?