I don't own any of this. All the credit goes to the lovely crew that made the atla/lok series.
Hey, guys! I am actually pretty proud of how this is all starting off. Kind of slow in the beginning, but that happens. I'm not entirely sure how many chapters I'll give it, but it probably won't be too lengthy.
Anyway, enjoy! And, as always, tell me what you think about it!
I yawn and stretch at the threshold of Asami's mansion, the cold, dark morning air almost blisteringly refreshing in my lungs as I pop my shoulders and knees, getting them woken up from being nestled next to Asami's warm frame. I make sure to tighten the straps that are on my backpack before I leave, assured that there's plenty in there to last me through however long I'll be in the Spirit world. Asami always insists on packing me way too much… but I'm really thankful for her. She's… she's great.
I sigh as I begin walking down the paved roads, a frown on my face as the scenery slowly changes from clean, concrete roads to dusty roads with soft, twirling vines breaking through the cement, finding light even in the most unfavorable conditions.
My eyes soften and I take a deep breath as I pull a veil of the green vines back, slowly walking through the winding, sleek plants that have called Republic City home for almost four years now. Almost four years ago, the new spirit portal was opened and the whole world was flipped on it's head… again. Not like it wasn't already in enough chaos. It was about five years ago that Asami and I started dating. Two years since we got married. You think that it'd seem like a long time, but it's seemed like mere seconds. Fleeting seconds. I feel like I'm barely able to grasp each day before it's stolen away from me. Yes, things are settling down and I've learned to become more comfortable with the world around me and more comfortable with who I am, but life certainly hasn't stopped.
I frown again.
And I can see the way Asami looks sometimes nowadays. She doesn't think I notice how she looks at toddlers longingly as she sees them, bubbling giggles echoing from their lips as their parents tickle them. Soft smiles on her lips when she sees cute baby clothes at the store. I almost can't stand it. But every time I try to bring up the topic, she just shakes her head and brushes it off, an expression on her face almost like she feels like she's bothering me. I mean, I know I'm busy, but this topic in particular has really started to weigh on me.
I sigh and look up to the shaft of light in front of me, its light reflecting off my brown skin. Even though I'm here, even though I tried to give myself some space to get away from these problems, or at least help myself cope with them… it hasn't helped very much. I feel foolish for running away from my problems now. I shouldn't have gotten up this morning and left a cold spot in the sheets beside my wife.
I can only hope that it'll do some good, maybe it'll do me just a little good to get away for just a moment.
I step through the light and feel it engulf me, and when I open my eyes I'm in a familiar setting- lush, rolling hills folding around me, a few willow trees here and there. The grass here is so tall and soft that I feel like I could lay down in it and take a nap. I do consider it, honestly, but instead I just start walking.
By mid morning I find myself at a cluster of large, ragged oak trees, the bark on their trunks gnarled and tangled. I look up at all the spirits that inhabit the tree: funny looking ones with stout little round bodies and long, wiry feet, puffy wings sprouting from their back. Others seems to almost blend in with the tree- one spirit that I thought was a leaf landed right on my nose as I began to climb up the trunk. There are others, too, in all shapes and sizes. But it would simply take too long to describe them all to you at the moment.
As I sit and rest against a crook in the branches, my eyes hardly shaded from the sun just barely resting over the horizon, I take off by pack and set it in my lap. I search through the contents of the bag and take out a breakfast bar and a canteen of tea. I smile softly at the cantine that Asami poured tea into last night. She knows that I love green tea. She also knows that it doesn't matter if it's hot or cold, because I can make it whatever I want with a little help from firebending.
As I snack on the granola bar and sip some tea, a strange little spirit crawls up into my lap. A funny little pink thing that looks quite a lot like a shrimp in size and shape.
"Hey little guy," I croon as it crawls up onto my shoulder and onto my granola bar, seeming to sniff the grains. I chuckle at it softly and let it get bored with doing that. It's usually a good rule to just let the spirits do what they want to do as long as they aren't hurting anything. They do get aggravated pretty easily. And it does get bored, and in a matter of seconds it jumps off the granola bar and buries itself in my hip. I blink down at it for a few seconds before just shrugging and continuing my breakfast, my head still swimming with questions to answer.
I wake up with a soft hum in the crook of the tree, realizing that I accidentally fell asleep. I run a hand over my face, stretching. The little spirit is still right where it nuzzled into the side of my hip, and refuses to move when I try to climb down the tree. It squeaks at me in protest, and I pick it up in my hand while it squirms stubbornly.
"What? I gotta go, little guy. Don't you have something else to do?"
The spirit squeaks adamantly in my face, refusing to get down. Instead, it hops onto my shoulder.
"Well, I guess that works too," I chuckle as I tighten the straps back on my bag and make my way down the tree, the gnarled bumps in the bark making easy footholds for me.
I don't walk for long before the sun begins to glare down on my skin, but I don't let it bother me and continue walking, past lush bamboo forests and up rocky inclines, marveling in the diversity of the landscape here. Different spirits seem to favor the different spots as well, and a few of them even stare at me as I walk by. The little pink one simply holds onto my shoulder though, and I don't make any attempts to move it.
I feel kind of bad for not noticing the old man hunched down in the dirt about fifty yards away from where I'm walking. I don't notice him until he calls out, scruffy voice familiar.
"Avatar Korra!" He calls and waves a hand. I blink a few times and give him a warm smile, waving back and immediately walking over to him. To my surprise, he has a spade in his hand and a few smudges of dirt on his face.
"General Iroh," I say with a warm smile, chuckling softly. "I'm sorry, I didn't see you. I must've been caught up in my own thoughts."
"Oh no, it's quite fine," he answers dismissively. "I'm caught up in my own thoughts today as well."
"I can see that. What're you up to?" I ask him, setting my bag down and resting a hand on my hip.
"Well, I'm trying to plant a garden," he says with a bit of a scoff, wiping a rag across his forehead. "Nothing much. A few potatoes, some tomatoes." I raise an eyebrow at him. "What? You think I just sit around and drink tea all day? I have to keep myself occupied somehow, Avatar Korra."
I laugh with him a little. "I guess I should've guessed that," I say. "You mind if I help?"
"Not at all," he says cheerfully and hands me a matching spade. "You might want to put on some gloves though, these things can put nasty blisters on your hands."
I nod and do as he says, slipping on a pair of black gloves while he hands me a paper bag of tomato seeds.
"Now, it's not that hard to do. The soil's already plowed. All you have to do is grab a few seeds, and dig a small hole." He shows me what to do, parting the soil with his ungloved hands and making a small hole, then grabbing a few seeds and dropping them into the hole, afterwards carefully raking the dirt back over them. "Got it?"
I nod and he goes back to what he was doing before I came along.
"You know, I never would've thought that doing something as mundane as digging holes and dropping seeds into them would be this calming," I say absentmindedly after a while, crouched down low to the ground.
"Oh, but it's so much more than that," Iroh says at his spot about fifteen feet away from me. "It's not just about planting things. If it was, it wouldn't nearly be as spiritually enriching as it is." He pauses, cutting potato spuds in half to drop into the ground as seed. His task looks a little more advanced than mine. "It's about making something grow, you see? You plant something, and you nourish it. You know that if you don't nourish it, it'll surely die. So you spend your time and energy into raising the plant correctly, and hoping that it knows to do the rest. And the best part is watching it grow strong and healthy. You know that you've done your job when it gives to you in return what you gave to it." I look over to the little spirit on my shoulder and continue planting seeds, slowly making my way down the row. I'm close to Iroh when he speaks again, seeming to weigh his words. "It's a lot like raising a child, in my opinion."
"A.. a child?" I ask, my eyes widening ever so slightly.
"Exactly. You do the same thing with a child." He chuckles. "It's quite a bit harder to raise a child than it is to raise a potato though, that's for sure."
I chuckle genuinely, wiping the back of my hand over my forehead. "You always know just what to say, don't you, General Iroh?"
He looks over to me and smiles, his eyes crinkling. "Well, I've certainly had long enough to think about how to say pretty much anything, Korra." He pauses. "I'm not sure how to put just everything into words, though," he says with slow thought.
I chuckle softly and stand up from my crouch, careful not to disturb the tedious rows of planted seeds. "No, what I mean is you always seem to know how to help."
Iroh raises an eyebrow while I dust off my pants. "Did I help somehow?" For the first time, I see a confused look settle on his brow, and I smile.
"Well, I mean. You did. Talking about children and everything."
"Hmm… I think it's time for a break. Why don't we talk about this over some tea?" He asks and dusts off his robe.
Iroh chuckles and makes his way out of the garden slowly as I do, and brings us over to a softly shaded tree. A few cups of tea sit there, waiting for us. "So, what is this about children?" He asks me as we sit down.
The small spirit climbs back down into my lap as soon as I sit. "Well, you've heard of Asami before, right? My wife," I say with careful precision. Iroh nods his head patiently, taking a sip of his tea. "I, well. I know that she's been wanting a family for a while now, and it's becoming painfully obvious to me that it's starting to wear on her. I know that she wouldn't be opposed to adopting children, and I'd love that idea. But I can tell that she wants to carry a child as well, and I don't really know how to go about making that happen. I might be that avatar, but I'm not a magician nor am I a miracle worker. I know that a relationship like ours can't really.. you know." I sigh deeply, shrugging. "And she doesn't want to talk about it. But I want to talk about it." I frown and pause for a while. "I actually came out here so I could get my thoughts together, or attempt to at least."
Iroh hums thoughtfully. "So I guess I really did hit a sensitive topic when I started talking about children, didn't I?"
"I guess so," I reply, staring at my cup of tea.
"Well, first of all, if you guys are serious about wanting this, you have to talk about it, no matter how hard it may be. And you both need to realize that there are quite a few options out there for both of you. Being the avatar does have a few perks, you know," he adds with a throaty chuckle, and I tilt my head at him slightly. "I can finally see what that little shapeshifter has been following you around. Smart little guy, I see."
I stare down at the spirit in my lap. "Whoa, whoa, slow down. I'm not following you entirely," I say slowly. "Other… options?"
"Yes, although they're quite a bit more intense and difficult than adoption," Iroh says in his usual smooth tone, sipping his tea.
"Like how, exactly?" I raise an eyebrow.
"Well, with you being the avatar, you're exceptional at bending energies. It is possible to bend part of your soul with Asami's and make it work that way, but it often doesn't work. It helps more if there's a pending soul to work with." Iroh smirks over at the little spirit in my lap. "What's is in your lap might become very important to you. And it's seemed to take quite a liking to you. If you'd asked me, I would've said that it knows what it's doing."
"So.. so what you're saying is I can bend my soul and Asami's soul together.. and mix that with another soul, like this one in my lap to… make a child?"
"More or less," Iroh says. "That's the simplest way to put it. If you get much more in detail, it gets way too technical. So, basically, you can transfer that mix of souls into her, and it becomes the same as a child, the exact same as a living being. From then on, the gestation would be the same to a normal pregnancy. It's a strange thought, I know, but it's been done before. Not more than a handful of times, but it has happened."
I let my mouth drop open. "You're serious, aren't you?" I say, blinking incredulously.
"Now, why would I lie to one of my friends?" Iroh says to me with a sunny grin. "Strange things happen in the spirit world, and stranger still can happen when the avatar comes here." Iroh pauses and puts a hand on my shoulder. "Talk to Asami. Try to come to a conclusion about all of this, because I know it can be frightening and difficult. Just remember that I'm always here to talk if you wish to, Avatar Korra," he says softly to me as if he's talking to a child. He looks down at the spirit in my lap. "You might want to keep that soul in your lap close, too."
"Thank you, General Iroh. You don't know how much this has meant to me," I say as I stand, bowing to him. "I'll definitely be back though, don't worry about that." He nods slowly and waves to me as I go to pick up my pack and continue my walk, the small soul still riding calmly on my shoulder.
I watch the sun arch overhead as the day continues. I still need to digest all of this before I go back to Asami. I need to digest how all of this could happen, where it could happen. Most of all, I need to figure out how I'm going to talk to her about it. It's not going to be easy, that's for sure.
"So," I say as I sit down beside a slow- moving brook, holding the spirit in my hand. "What did General Iroh say about you being a shapeshifter? Because somehow I doubt that you're anything near a normal spirit."
The little guy looks up at me and stares at me for a while.
"Does that mean that you could take the form of a child or something? Or that you can just turn into a bigger shrimp. Or, or does that mean I'm going to have to bend you into the shape of a child and then mix this concoction of souls together to make a child. I.. I'm unable to wrap my head around this.
The spirit and I engage in something of a staring contest before it seems to sigh. I watch it change from a soft pink color to blue, light emanating from it's form. As it changes it's shape, it changes it's size too, and I watch it turn into the size of a small child in my arms, although it's features are neither masculine nor feminine. It looks like a blank slate, and my mouth drops open as it returns back to it's preferred form.
"How did you do that?" I ask the spirit incredulously with my mouth dropped open. It seems to smile and goes back to my shoulder, refusing to answer any more of my questions.
"So, basically, if I'm understanding this right, your soul will be the one of my child, or something like that," I say somewhat to myself, taking out a sandwich from my pack. "Your soul, mixed with my and Asami's souls." I pause. "This is so weird. This is so, so weird. But I'm assuming that you won't remember any of this once you're born, correct?" I pause and mumble to myself, "That is, if this even works." The spirit squeaks at me fiercely and I jump. "Okay, okay, I'm sorry. I'm still sceptical. But you're obviously not."
The air turns cold again just before darkness engulfs the night sky, and I drink the rest of my tea as I make my trek back to the spirit portal. I know it has to be well past midnight, but I don't bother to take out a watch to check. I'm enjoying staring up at the stars too much for that.
When I get to the shaft of light where I came into the spirit world, the small soul that's been riding on my shoulder suddenly jumps down from me, slowly making its way back to the tree that I found it at. I smile softly at it, knowing that it just wants to go home too. I'm praying that It'll still be here when I come back.
"I'll see you later, you funny little soul," I say with a smirk, stepping into the light and taking a deep breath, floating through the divide, before I feel my feet touch down. The sky here seems just as beautiful at night as the sky in the spirit world is. Maybe they're the same sky.
I'm beginning to see the sky just starting to lighten as I walk into Asami's mansion, taking my boots off inside the door. I silently take my jacket off before padding through the rooms. I can hear the television in one room and I turn, knowing that Asami always turns off all devices before turning in for the night.
My heart softens when I see Asami curled up on the floor in front of the television screen, a blanket haphazardly draped over her tall frame as the bright light of the screen reflects harshly off her pale skin. I sigh and frown somberly, feeling a twinge of guilt for being gone for so long.
In my attempt to cover her up but not wake her up, I grab a quilt and pillow and readjust the quilt over the both of us when I lay down as close to her as I dare to, laying the pillow under my head. I've just closed my eyes when I feel a warm arm around my waist, pulling me closer instinctively. She doesn't open her eyes, but pulls her body as close to mine as possible, her nose burying it's way under my chin. I feel her lungs expand next to me as she looks up at me finally, her eyes red, puffy, and tired looking.
"Hey, you're home," she whispers drowsily, and I stroke her cheek lightly.
"I'm sorry, Asami. I got caught up." I pause, frowning. But before I can ask her if she's been crying or not, she speaks again.
"No, don't be sorry, love," she whispers as she buries her nose back under my chin. "I understand. Just.. don't leave me for a while, okay?" she whispers like a child, and I feel my heart seize in my chest.
"I won't. I promise," I answer softly in her ear. I rest a hand in her hair as she clutches me by the waist tightly, and soon it's almost as if her body is halfway draped over mine. "I love you," I whisper ever so softly in her ear, and I feel her arms wrap more tightly around me.
"I love you too… Korra.." she whispers, and I can tell she's slipping back into sleep.
I part my lips to try to tell her about the amazing day I had, and how things might be about to change for us drastically. I want to tell her that she doesn't need to worry about bothering me anymore about the topic of children, because having a child with her would be one of the greatest things in the world. I want to tell her how adorable she'd look pregnant, and how happy I want her to look. I don't want to see the sad look in her eyes that I saw tonight. I want to tell her all of that, and more, in one breath.
...but she's asleep.
I feel her chest slowly rising and falling against me, and I feel as if she's finally in a comfortable sleep. My heart breaks for the one that I love.
I slowly sit up and cradle Asami in my embrace, despite her being much taller than me. Her raven hair droops lazily over her shoulder and her chest rises and falls slowly in sleep. She stays completely limp and asleep as I stand up and carry her to our bedroom, making sure to step as lightly as possible.
I lay Asami down on the cotton sheets first, settling in after her and wrapping my arms snugy around her waist. I press a soft kiss to her neck and sigh softly, cherishing the warmth of her flesh against mine. But I still can't keep the lump out of my throat that forms whenever I remember the look that was in her eyes- red, puffy, eyelashes that still have lingering traces of tears in them and down her cheeks.
...I don't fall asleep for the remainder of the night.
The air in our bedroom is warm and dark as I stroke Asami's raven hair, running my fingers through the tousled, unravelling curls as her bare body drapes over mine. Her leg lies haphazardly over me as her lips peck softly at my collarbone, her own hands tangled in my hair, which is matted as well. Both of our eyes droop softly from the intense amount of contact our bodies have just undergone.
"Asami?" I whisper as she brings her lips up to my neck.
"Hm?" She whispers, pulling back to look into my eyes.
"I love you," I whisper, running a thumb over her shoulder blade.
"I love you too," she whispers, smiling softly. Even after all these years, that look in her eyes still makes me blush like I did on our first date. "You know what's kind of weird?" She whispers back, resting her cheek on my chest.
"Well I guess it's kind of convenient too, but I think it's weird how neither of us have to worry about getting pregnant, no matter how many times we do this," she says softly, closing her eyes and humming softly against me. I feel one of her hands run up my hip.
I chuckle a little. "I know what you mean."
Her words grow a little in intensity as she continues talking. "I mean, it would be nice to be able to choose if you could get pregnant during these times, with a relationship like ours," she says a little more softly, a bit more urgently.
"I've never really thought about that," I say thoughtfully. "But there are other things that couples can do, like adopt and stuff."
"Yeah, but not us," Asami, whimpers softly, and I raise an eyebrow.
"I.. what?" I whisper, caught off guard. "Are you saying you want..?" But before I can finish my sentence, she raises her body up over mine and presses a strong kiss to my lips.
"Let's not talk about it," she answers, but I push her lips away for a minute.
"Asami," I say urgently. "Do you want kids? Because, we can talk about this, you kno-"
"Korra," she says, emerald eyes carving into mine. "You're the Avatar. I'm the head of Future Industries. Neither of us have time for children."
"That doesn't matter, though," I say pleadingly. "Why don't you want to talk about it-"
Rose lips meet mine again, this time less forcefully. "Korra," Asami whispers, and I hear her voice falter as she frames her hands under my jaw. "Let's just not talk about it right now."
"I… Alright," I mumble as her frame falls on top of mine. Even though you brought it up, I won't push too hard, I think as her arms hug my waist, nose buried into my shoulder. I lay on my side so I can more easily comfort her as I feel her breaths begin to become ragged. It's not hard to recognize an anxiety attack when one happens to Asami. The initial attack usually last more than fifteen minutes, but the side effects last much longer. And sometimes I know that they happen for no apparent reason, but this time.. this time the reason seems more deep- rooted in her mind than I understand.
"I'm here, Asami," I whisper as I run my hand up and down her back, trying to calm her frantic breathing as she clutches at my back, nails digging into my skin a little.
"I'm sorry," Asami tries to whisper in a level tone against me, her body pressed up as close to mine as it can.
"No, it's okay. I'm still working through anxiety problems myself, love. I can empathize." She just nods against my collarbone.
I only tried bringing it up a couple more times, but Asami refused to talk about it again. And I physically can't stand that pained look in her eyes when we try to talk about kids. So, we don't talk about it.
That was about two weeks ago.
I'm sure there are rings around my eyes when I decide to open them, the morning light beginning to shine through the darkness of our bedroom.
When I open my eyes, I see Asami's pale form across from me, and I stare at her for a while before she shifts closer to me and hums softly, her eyes inching open.
"Hmm.. morning," she mumbles, emerald green eyes foggy in sleep.
"Good morning," I whisper. "You fell asleep on the floor last night."
She chuckles. "Yeah, I did. And then I fell asleep on you," she hums, wrapping her arms around my waist and pulling closer to me." She makes a chuckling noise. "You were so warm."
"I'm always warm," I chuckle knowingly, pressing a kiss to the top of her raven hair.
Asami takes a while just to lay against me, her nose tucked neatly under my chin. I can feel her warm breath against me, her chest rising and falling in rest. I'm almost sure that she's asleep again when I hear her talk again.
"Korra.. something's been bothering you lately, hasn't it?" She whispers, her tone soft but knowing.
"...What do you mean?" I whisper, trying to tiptoe around the subject.
"I mean.. you've been acting different for a couple weeks." She pauses. "Not incredibly different, but in the subtle things I can tell that something's bothering you. Like the way you've started to chew on your nails again, and how you've been getting more headaches than normal. C'mon," she whispers, "How did you ever think you could hide something from your wife?"
"It's nothing, really," I say, smiling softly and trying to avoid her gaze. She's more awake now, green eyes piercing into mine.
"Korra, babe," Asami says with a frown, cupping my jaw in her hand and looking at me seriously yet delicately.
I sigh and close my eyes, parting my lips to speak lightly. "It's about what happened a few weeks ago.. you know, with that talk we had about children. It's been wearing down on me, and I feel like I might have found some answers. But.. I'm afraid I'll hurt you again if I talk about it anymore." I pause. "But it has to be wearing down on you, too."
Asami looks away from me for a minute, her hand falling off my face. "I've really been overreacting, haven't I…?" She mutters to herself. "I didn't mean to hurt you. And I guess that explains why you were gone for so long, yesterday." She sighs. "Korra, when I was little, my father was an awful parent. I hate that I had only just begun to forgive him for so many of the things he did right before he died. And my mother died when I was so young. Dad was hurting, I was hurting, while he tried to raise me. He built up his company to avoid building up his relationship with the daughter that he had, the daughter that looked like the spitting image of her mother from the moment she was born." Asami seems to deflate a little on her pillow. "I guess I'm just afraid that.. something like that would happen if I were ever to have a child."
I open my mouth to speak, but Asami silences me with one finger. "Don't… don't apologize. You didn't know those fears, I've never shared them with you. It's not your fault."
"You do still want children, though, don't you?" I croon to her, my hand taking hers.
"I don't know. I… I feel like it would be harder for me to adopt, even harder to do something like artificial insemination." She pauses and blushes a little. "I would be open to adoption, generally, but.. I just want it to be yours," she says, looking away from me. "We both know that.. that couldn't happen, though," she says so softly I almost don't hear her. "But, what I wouldn't give for it to be possible."
A small smile brightens my cheeks as I remember what General Iroh told me. "Asami.. why don't I take you to the spirit world?"
I hope to have the next chapter up in a week or so!