Holy shit! I'm not dead! If you're still into this story as much as I am, I hope you enjoy the read. More to come!

ASAMI POV...

"So.." I begin, after Korra and Naga have packed themselves into my convertible. For a few moments Korra seems content to stroke the leather interior, and I can't help but think it's appropriate. For all the money that I was born into, I never really showed it to Korra all that much. "Is Naga officially your service dog?" I begin with a neutral question, barely testing the waters.

Korra clicks her tongue against the roof of her mouth, bringing her eyes up to mine as I shift the car into drive. "Yeah, she is. And she's finally official," she murmurs happily while reaching behind the seat and scratching her pup between the ears. "But she can't stand the vest, so I leave it off of her."

I hum. "Yeah, that makes sense."

As time goes by I feel more and more uncomfortable, with Korra in my car, sitting next to me. Gone for years. I feel like I'm chauffeuring a ghost. She looks generally the same (minus muscle), but her eyes don't look as bright as they used to. It's subtle enough to be missed by someone else, or attributed to age, but I can tell she's tired.. And I have so much to say, yet no way to begin my sentences. My head is swimming with turmoil already, and I can only imagine how Korra feels. Her hands are clenched in her lap and she's looking listlessly out the passenger window.

"Korra," I say, surprised at the gentleness of my tone. I suppose the anger in my heart could never win anyway. "Where are we going?"

As if snapped out of a trance, Korra blinks a few times and rolls her head around to look in my direction. "I, uh.. I hadn't really put much thought into it. I guess I was going to get a hotel room somewhere."

"Come stay at my apartment." I look over, not realizing the aggressive nature of my words. I reel back when I see that her eyes are wide and her eyebrows are raised. "I-I I mean I'm saying that the apartment is big enough for, like, more than two people and I figured I could save you a little money while also being familiar-"

Korra begins snort laughing beside me halfway through my anxious rant, and I cover my eyes with my hands when we come to a railroad crossing. She doesn't say anything, prompting me to springboard and continue.

"God, Korra. I'm sorry, I'm just so fucking nervous," I string out. "I don't know what to say. I don't want to make you uncomfortable, I by no means want to overstep any boundaries, but I missed you so much." A few tears are managing to leak out of my eyes, and thankfully the stop light continues, prompted by a train that I can hardly hear blasting past us.

Korra's looking at me with a tight frown, finally seeming to understand how desperate I am to talk to her. Soon I feel a warm, calloused hand brush a few strands of errant hair out of my face.

"Asami." She opens and closes her mouth a few times, chewing over the words in her head. "Asami, love, I am so sorry." Her eyes look so tired, and she knits her eyebrows together. "I didn't mean for any of this to happen, and I certainly didn't mean to stay gone so long."

I look at her, sobs threatening to overtake my body. I can't tell if I'm relieved or devastated. Suddenly I hear a beep and three loud barks in retaliation, and realize the train has passed and I have to function again well enough to operate a vehicle.

"Can we.. continue this when we get somewhere safe to cry at?" I respond, wiping my eyes deftly with the back of my hands.

"Yeah.." A pause. "I'm fine with, uh, going to your apartment. As long as your landlord is willing to put up with Naga." Her gaze is back on her folded hands, but she doesn't seem as zoned out as before.

"Deal."

….

"Aw man, cozy," Korra purrs, stepping gingerly into my apartment and pulls her shoes off. She immediately sheds her outer clothing onto the coat rack, pulling her socks off as well as she bundles them and tucks them neatly into one of her shoes. As I watch her, silently and questioningly, she stiffens. She suddenly stands up fully, rigidly, with a feverish blush on her nose and cheeks.

"I completely forgot that I wasn't at home anymore and that I wasn't forced to do that, uh, whole ritual." She makes some vague hand gestures to her clothing and I raise an eyebrow, a laugh threatening to slip out of my throat. I let some of it slip, and particularly enjoy her show off an honest grin.

"That was cute," I reply, turning my back to her and searching through my cabinets. "Are you hungry, Korra? I can make some food real quick."

"Nah, I'm okay," She responds, shoving her hands in her pockets and looking at me shyly. "Either way, I know your cooking is bad at best. But I really do appreciate it." She tries to give me a smile, but I stare past her.

"Korra.. Uh, in that case would you join me on the porch outside?" I whisper, opening the small sliding doors onto the elevated porch. Not too far up, just enough to see people going about their lives a couple streets away. Just enough to watch others, and hope to God that their life is better than yours.

"Yeah, of course. Naga, stay." In a moment Korra is out here with me, speaking before she even sits down, watching me with intent. She gives me ample room to speak first, but I don't take the advantage. "Asami, I know you can't just be fine with me. You have to be upset in some way. You're right. I was gone. Please, just talk to me about it. I can't stand you ignoring this."

I twirl the cigarette between my fingers, lighting it in one simple motion and blowing out a long exhale before replying. "Korra, if you knew all the things that I've done in the past two years, you'd hate me more. I have no right to be mad at you. I went searching for closure in all the wrong places, and I regret it deeply. I feel guilty." I chuckle. A bitter, disgusted sound. "I can barely look at you."

Korra finally sits down, and looks as if a heavy weight has been placed on her shoulders.

"Why?"

"I missed you. I went looking for you in others. Often enough, if aided with enough alcohol, it would work for the evening. I could pretend, if only halfheartedly, that you were the warm body I was pressed up against." I pause, looking at her expression and finding no closure, only questions. I begin stuttering. "I, Korra- I would take it back if I could. But I can't." Her eyes bore into mine, pinning me to the spot. I cough. "So, then. Do you hate me?"

"I…" A sigh, then Korra pinches the bridge of her nose. "I don't hate you. I'm shocked, but we all cope in different ways. While I didn't sleep with anyone back home, I did a few things that wouldn't make you happy either." She looks at me. "If we were to ever get back together, you'd have to swear to me you wouldn't do that, ever again, though." Her eyes are set on mine, and I feel an almost primal surge. Territorial. I've never seen Korra that way, but I could get used to it. I cough and snap out of my inappropriate thoughts. Now is certainly not the time.

"I would never." I pause. "You… still want to date me."

"I meant what I said in my letter back to you, Asami. I've never stopped loving you. I can see that you haven't stopped loving me, either, by how jittery and defensive you are." I open my mouth to protest and she raises her hands. "Just stating the obvious." We both pause for a few minutes, and I have to say that I feel better with the air being cleared, although I'll probably feel guilty for some time. I slowly pull from my cigarette.

I almost jump out of my seat when one of Korra's hands rests on top of mine. She smiles, a small one, before leaning down and pressing her lips to my knuckles once, and I swear that they burn when they touch my skin.

"For the record, I missed you too. It may take me a while, for me to be able to.. Yknow, romantically or sexually involve myself. But when I'm ready I'll let you know. "

She doesn't sound like it, but when I look up I see that she's crying desperately, and I hold her tightly. Nobody's going anywhere this time.

Korra is not the same. I knew this immediately when I saw her again, but I didn't know the extent of the damage. Korra is a house fire. All of the furniture in the house is still where it was left, but it will never be the same again. Even if a professional came in there and repainted the walls, reupholstered the couches, and ate dinner in the kitchen; that would change nothing. The wood in the house is still burned underneath. But I have to say, Korra really has done a good job making the paint job look legitimate.

I don't tell Mako or Bolin that Korra is here with me, not today. I can tell them tomorrow. For now, I simply want to soak as much of her up as I can in relative peace. As night begins to settle around the apartment, Korra opens a compartment of her luggage and pulls out a set of clean metal bowls. She clicks her tongue and Naga appears like a white rush from behind my couch, wagging her tail furiously. Korra doesn't speak, but she looks at Naga and places her palm flat in front of Naga's face. Naga's movements slow, and she begrudgingly sits and waits, save for a frantic patting of the tip of her tail. Korra continues to unzip the bag, pulling out a giant- sized bag of dog food. I can't read the writing on it, so I assume she brought it from home. After she has fixed both Naga's food and water bowls, she extends her hand to Naga. Naga excitedly shakes Korra's hands, first the left and then the right. Finally Korra rewards her with a big smile, a pat on the head, and a simple "Goog girl, eat up," which she immediately does.

I watch all of this from the couch, ignoring the cooking show that I had on prior.

"You said she's still in training, but it looks like she knows what she's doing," I muse, and Korra stands up, a small smile on her face and her hand on a hip.

"She's just really smart, I promise. I'm not that good of a trainer." Someone's modest tonight.

"Mmhm," I murmur. A pause as Korra focuses her attention on the television once more. "You hungry, Korra?"

"I guess I could eat," she says, flopping down next to me.

"Well, since you so deliberately insulted my cooking earlier, how about we get some takeout? There's a really good noodle shop about two blocks away; we could walk if you want."

Korra looks away from me, rubbing the back of her head. "Oh, I didn't mean to, I'm sorry if I offended you I just remember you trying to cook for me that one-" Korra covers her hand with her mouth when I raise an eyebrow at her, daring her to continue.

"Ow my ego," I say and stand, hand grabbing at my heart, only pretending to give her a hard time. I turn my head to see her wilting, and I place a hand on her shoulder. "Hey, I can't get mad at true statements but I can pretend to, right?"

Korra looks up at me with puppy dog eyes, a sleepy smile returning to her face. And it's all I can do to not kiss her. "Right."

Once we begin the walk to the noodle shop, Korra seems cheerful, hands in her pockets and a skip in her step. As we arrive at the shop, though, I can sense a nervous energy coming from her. She orders a dish of beef pho and sits down near the entrance beside me, waiting impatiently for the takeout to be brought to us. Once she begins frantically biting on her nails, I tap her on the shoulder.

"Korra, you're shedding nervous energy in waves," I whisper, nudging her slightly. She looks over at me and immediately pinkens, holding her hands in her lap.

"There's a lot of people here," she whispers, and my heart thumps twice as hard, finally realizing how much Korra is putting herself out there for me. Flying to a new place, sleeping over at an old lover's house, and going out into the world amongst a packed restaurant to get takeout. There's not a lot I can do for her until we get back to my apartment and Naga, but, even with my turbulent heart, I know that this is right.

"I know," I whisper back. "I'm here, though," I say gently and place my hand over hers. It is a gesture that could easily be brushed off, but Korra's eyes grow wide and she locks eyes with me. There are so many unanswered questions in her gaze, an ocean of uncertainty, but she squeezes my hand back ever so gently, and begins to relax. The food is brought to us soon enough, and we make the walk back to my apartment in silence. It's not until we make it to my apartment door that I realize we never let go of each other's hands. There is a beat where we both look at each other awkwardly before breaking away, my hands fumbling over themselves as I turn the key in the lock.

What are we, Korra? What do you want from this, from me?

KORRA POV….

I should have brought Naga with me, I think as we're closing in on the noodle shop. I feel myself begin to curl inwards, and try to look for a place to hide as soon as possible. Asami orders her food after I do and we take a quiet seat outside, waiting. Slowly, as usual, I feel a panic attack begin to well up in my chest. All the blood in my body flows to my fingertips, and I hold them in my lap to try and steady my breathing. The restaurant isn't as full as it could be, but this is more people than I've been around in three years, and I don't know how to handle it.

What am I doing here?

Just as I feel the panic attack ready to fully begin, Asami rests a hand on top of mine. It is gentle, and understanding, and begging for more. It effectively snaps me out of my own head, and in just a few words, Asami has grounded me. She's… she's here for me. I know what I'm doing here, or at least I do in the moment. I link my fingers with hers, and it's like my body never forgot how her hands felt against mine. I hear an almost silent gasp slip from her lips, and the crowd suddenly feels just a little smaller. I feel a strange surge of excitement pulse through my body, one that I haven't felt in years, and I offer a small smile at her.

"Thank you."

My trance is broken once Asami stands in front of her apartment door, only having one free hand and trying to figure out how to unlock the door with it. It's like a spark flashes through us with understanding that we're still linked, and I jump back as Asami fumbles messily with her keys for a couple seconds.

I close the door as she brings our food to the small kitchen table, setting down plastic utensils, chopsticks, and plastic bowls full of rich broth and noodles. The containers are almost steaming, and that's what Asami is attending to, but I know that there is now a big elephant in the room called 'wow holy shit I've missed you but I don't know what you want anymore and I'm terrified.'

Naga greets me sluggishly, seems she was in the middle of a nap but she makes haste greeting me and then Asami with wail wags and slobbery kisses to our hands.

"Hey, sweet girl," Asami says, scratching Naga softly behind the ears. "Had a good nap?" to which Naga replies a loud yawn, making us both chuckle.

I sit down at the table across from Asami. "Thank you for dinner," I say, before taking my chopsticks apart and digging in. Asami lets out nothing more than a scoff, smiling at me and eating in a much more delicate manner. I know that we need to eat a little bit before we talk, because, let's be honest, neither of us have enough energy to begin an emotionally heated conversation yet.

With our bowls mostly finished, I look at Asami and clear my throat, knowing that it needs to be me to start this conversation. "Asami," I say as confidently as possible, resting my head on my hands. "I believe we have a lot to talk about, still, don't we?"

"Only if you want to talk," she says, not meeting my gaze and still idly eating her food.

I pause. She's just as nervous as I am, huh?

"Asami, I care about you just as much as I did the day I got on that flight," I state, and her eyes immediately snap up to mine. "Despite all the shit that has happened, or whatever I had to get through, I never stopped caring about you. I really do love you." I pause. "I'm just scared.. Of everything now. I'm not the same person, so how can I know that you still care about me?"

Asami seems taken aback, and gives me a look of disgust for a moment. "If you ever knew me, you would know that I haven't met anyone like you." She looks away and scrunches up her nose, obviously torn between saying something loving and something hurtful. "No, I don't think you understand, Korra," Asami stands up, points her finger at me. "I tried to forget you. I tried to hate you. I tried to fuck the memory of you away, but I just… couldn't." I open my mouth, seared by the honesty of it. "I knew that if you ever so much as attempted to come back into my life, I would let you in a heartbeat. And here we are," she gestures, her expression softening. "It feels so right that my heart could burst, but I am so afraid to hurt you. You're not the same, and I understand that, but I don't care!" At this point her eyes are watering, and even though she sounds angry I know that this is out of love, but she's so hurt. Even though I'm scared, I so badly want to comfort her, so I try. Standing up makes my feet feel like lead but I power through, and Asami looks surprised as I step over to her and wrap my arms around her middle, burying my face into her dark locks.

"I want to be okay," I say, muffled by her shoulder. "That's why I'm here. I needed to know if we could ever get back what we lost such a long time ago."

A pause lingers between us for a while, I'm not sure how long. Asami seems to be making up her mind.

"Do you really want to try?" she whispers shakily, looking down at me. Her arms have wrapped around my shoulders, and both of our eyes have misted over by now. I simply nod, and all at once, Asami breaks. I have never met a woman that could so expertly seal her emotions behind a steel dam, but when it breaks it truly crumbles. She holds onto me like I'm the only thing holding her together, like without me she would dissolve and cease to exist. And Asami has never been very heavy, but my muscles aren't toned like they used to be. They are withered and tired and sore almost constantly from day to day life, but I manage to keep us afloat long enough to set her down on the couch, holding her in my arms as I sit beside her. The cooking channel is still running absently in the background, and I'd say it's pretty good background noise to the emotional waterfall that's happening between us. We hold onto each other desperately, my arms wrapped securely around her middle as she leans against me, her turn to bury her head in my hair.

"I missed you so much, Korra. I failed you," she says with a choked sob.

"You didn't, though," I reply, barely finding my voice. "You wrote to me all the time. You were never gone, not really." Asami nods, holds to me tighter, and runs a hand through my hair. My body shudders, and I hope that I can keep my emotions under control. I haven't felt aroused in so long that I almost forgot what it feels like. For now it's fine, and I'm sure Asami doesn't notice, but I'm a ticking clock now. Even so, I am absolutely unprepared to act intimately with Asami right now, so I need to make that clear to her in a subtle way. She beats me to the punch line with a question before I can even bring it up, though.

"Korra.. This may be weird, but I know you don't want to rush anything. For the time being, until you're ready, what… what are we? What should I call you?"

"Would you be upset if we left it to friends for now?" I whisper, running my fingers through her hair.

She chuckles. "In that case, it's a little strange for friends to be cuddling on the couch," she mutters with a smile in her voice. She makes no attempt to move from my grasp.

"I don't care," I whisper, grinning, and Asami looks up at me. At this point she's nearly laying on top of me, her body resting against my side. She props her head up on her hand and looks me dead in the eyes. She's smiling this devilish little smile, somehow loving and mysterious at the same time.

"Okay," she simply says, "I'll wait as long as I must, then." She places her hand on my cheek, observing me, and I want nothing more than to kiss her, but I feel a white heat in my groin. My erection is straining and painful, and I know that this one won't go away. It's more likely that I erupt in my own trousers if I don't make a quick exit.

"Oh hey I havetogotothebathroom be right back!" I yell, jumping up and trying to hide my erection as I fumble around in the small apartment, assuming the bathroom is down the hallway, which it is. I close the door and lock it immediately, hoping and praying that Asami leaves me along for just five.. No, just two minutes. That's all I need.

Maybe it's because I haven't had an actual erection in almost three years, but I feel so much bigger than what I'm used to. And it only takes about thirty seconds before I have to bite my hand and cum, shamelessly, into the bathroom trash can. Afterwards I'm left in bliss before a wave of disgust washes over me. I hoped this wouldn't happen, but it washes over me and leaves me hating myself more than I thought possible. I can't talk to Asami about this. I quickly clean myself up and exit the bathroom, but opening the door reveals Asami, fist poised to knock. Fuck. I look at her, and realize my erection is softening but still visible through my pants, and with one glance Asami's eyes flash with curiosity.

"Korra..?"

I avert my gaze, grinding my teeth together to keep from lashing out. "Asami.. If you care about me you won't ask whatever question you're thinking of. I want to attempt the night without a major freak out." Asami looks away. "Okay? Not now."

Asami nods, seeming to scold herself for being nosy as she backs away from the door, allowing me to make my way to the couch and cover up with a blanket. I hadn't realized how late it was, despite me only being in the bathroom for a few minutes, and I'm suddenly so exhausted I can barely move.

"Do you mind if I sleep on the couch tonight, Asami?" I whisper, any trace of aggression since left my body. She sighs softly but lovingly, and pets the top of my head one more time.

"You know you can sleep wherever you're comfortable, Korra," she states, hesitation in her eyes before continuing. "I'll leave the television on. If you need me at all during the night, please don't hesitate to knock on the door, Korra," she says and I nod. With that she turns and enters her room, clicking the door softly behind her.

I groan and put my head in my hands, squeezing my temples between my fingers. This is going to be just as difficult as I thought it would be.

See you guys next year ahahahahah (fr lets hope it doesn't take that long)

I love you all