A/N: Hello everyone!
This is a high school AU in that while it makes use of the same characters and settings, it largely does not follow the Legend of Korra plot line. You may, however, spot some parallels between this fic and events that occur in the actual show.
Feedback would be much appreciated so I can learn how to make this entire experience better for you readers. Thank you for taking the time to check out my story! Enjoy!
"Good morning, Naga," Korra chirped happily. "Ready to go for a ride?"
The polar bear dog wagged its long, white tail in response. As she did every day, Korra grabbed a brush that hung upon the wall nearby and began to run it through Naga's fur. "The weather is great today," she said. "The air is nice and crisp. You're going to love it."
"Sorry, Korra, it looks like you won't be going for another joyride today," a voice called out behind her. Korra turned and found her mother standing at the barn entrance, smiling gently. "You have visitors."
"Visitors?" Korra repeated incredulously. "This early in the morning?"
Korra looked up beseechingly. "Can I take Naga out for a ride? Just for five minutes, I promise."
"Oh, Korra," Senna shook her head, an amused expression on her face. "Five minutes turns into fifty with you. And besides, I don't think you want to wait another minute to hear what these visitors have to say."
"What do you – " Korra gasped. "They're here?"
She did not wait for an answer. The girl ran past her mother, throwing the brush haphazardly behind her. "Sorry, Naga! I'll take you out another time!" she shouted. Korra quickly approached the igloo, where she lived with her parents. Senna followed closely behind her. Korra threw the door open, which slammed against the wall with a bang. A framed photograph came crashing to the ground beside her. "Oops."
Korra's father, Tonraq, pinched the bridge of his nose. "Korra, sit down," he said. Korra had returned the frame to its rightful position on the wall. She turned and saw her father, sitting with several elders around the dining table. Her face brightened. Members of the Order of the White Lotus had come to visit. This could only mean one thing. She joined them at the table and took a few deep breaths to calm herself down.
"Hello, Korra," an elderly woman greeted her with a large grin.
"Katara!" any effort Korra had made to regain some sense of calmness was thrown out of the window immediately. "How was your trip?"
Katara had been away for several months – on "White Lotus business," or so she had informed Korra. The Southern Water Tribe had greatly missed her presence. In her wisdom and age, not to mention her history, Katara was one of the most respected figures of the community. She had a unique way of connecting with people of all ages, perhaps because of all the knowledge and stories she had to offer. She was one of Korra's favorite people in the world.
"It was nice, although it's even better to be back in familiar weather," Katara clasped her wrinkled hands around her cup of tea. "It doesn't get very cold in Republic City."
"Speaking of Republic City," another man, also a member of the Order of the White Lotus, cleared his throat. "We have news for you, Korra. We believe you are ready to begin your airbending training."
"Really?" Korra cried out. She whooped happily and pumped her fist in the air. "That's awesome!"
"Er...yes," the man continued. He straightened his eyeglasses and continued. "You will, of course, be training with Tenzin, Katara's son. We had originally planned for Tenzin to move here temporarily, to the Southern Water Tribe, while he teaches you. However..." Korra gulped.
"As much as I would love to have my son and grandchildren around," Katara said, "Tenzin has duties to attend to in the city as part of the United Republic Council. He will not be moving here, but instead, you will have to relocate to Republic City."
Korra let out another large whoop. Visions of pro-bending, crowded streets, and Satomobiles danced in front of her eyes. For so long, she had been enchanted with the idea of living in Republic City. It was loud and busy, she imagined – so much unlike her own hometown, where the quiet and peacefulness often made her fidgety. On top of that, Republic City was where the heart of all the pro-bending action was. She had dreamed of seeing a pro-bending match since she was a young child, and now that dream was very quickly turning into a reality. She almost couldn't believe it.
"You won't be living in the city, however," Katara added.
Korra paused mid-cheer. "I won't?"
"Well, you'll be in Republic City, but you'll be living off the coast," the elder explained. "On Air Temple Island, where Tenzin's family and the Air Acolytes reside."
Korra wilted just a tiny bit. "Oh. I was looking forward to finally getting some excitement."
"Oh, I'm sure you will," Katara's eyes glinted knowingly.
"You see, Korra," the third White Lotus member spoke up. "You'll be attending school, on top of your airbending training."
"Republic City High School, to be precise," Tonraq said. "It's an incredible opportunity. You just can't get that level of education around here. Imagine all the things you'll get to learn! Science, history – even mathematics!"
Korra wilted even more. Senna put a comforting hand on her shoulder. "You know, Korra," she said. "Your father is right. It is an incredible opportunity. There's a lot to be said for learning in a classroom setting, with people your own age. Doesn't that sound nice?"
"Not really," Korra grumbled. "Although maybe it would be nice to have some friends my age for once."
"See, it won't be that bad," Senna said. "You'll have lots of fun."
"I'll miss you guys, though," Korra said to her parents.
"We'll visit as much as we can," Tonraq promised. "And you'll come home during the longer holidays."
"One more thing," Katara cut in. "And you must remember this. Maybe you won't understand now, but you will, soon. No one should know you are the Avatar. For your own personal safety, you must keep it a secret."
Confused, Korra simply nodded.
Republic City was not quite how Korra pictured it, and yet, in many ways, it was. The city was bright and busy, and the buildings were taller than anything Korra had ever seen. Apart from the prospect of actually being in Republic City, Korra was mostly excited about the Satomobiles. She had never seen one in person before. She admired their sleekness and speed – although she much preferred traveling on Naga, of course.
Republic City was beautiful. That much was true. However, it didn't take long for Korra to notice that it was rampant with poverty and crime. In some areas, beggars stood on street corners, hungry and ill. Korra did not have her own money to spare; otherwise, she would not have hesitated to give a few yuan to a child who had been abandoned by his parents and was close to starvation. It was heartbreaking.
It was morning when Korra arrived. Her ship had finished the journey sooner than expected. She had arranged to meet Tenzin at Air Temple Island at noon, but as she had a few hours to kill, Korra decided to explore the city. She wandered the streets on Naga, which garnered a few curious looks – most people had never seen a polar bear dog before, after all – and took in the sights.
As she turned a corner, she saw two boys who were roughly her age. They looked similar enough to each other that Korra could tell they were brothers. Both had dark hair – and impressive eyebrows. The older one (Korra guessed) was tall and lean. He wore a bright red scarf around his neck, which Korra found peculiar considering the weather. The younger brother was stockier and had a friendly demeanor. He turned, spotted Korra sitting atop Naga, and nearly dropped the grocery bag he was holding.
"Look, Mako," he cried. "A polar bear dog! I've never seen one before!" Mako looked unimpressed. He sighed as Bolin ran up to Korra. "Hi! Can I pet your polar bear dog?"
Korra laughed and jumped off her saddle. "Her name's Naga."
"And what's yours?" Bolin asked. "I'm Bolin."
"I'm Korra. It's nice to meet you."
"That's my brother, Mako," Bolin pointed behind him. Mako, clearly exasperated, slowly strode over to join them. "Don't mind him. He's grumpy because he's hungry."
"Well, I know how you feel," Korra said. "I'm starving! I'm Korra, by the way," she added, reaching out to shake his hand.
Mako shifted his grocery bag to one arm. He shook Korra's hand briefly. "Come, Bolin. Let's go back home and get something to eat."
"Maybe you can join us, Korra," Bolin said. "We woke up this morning and when we went to get breakfast, we realized we had no food at all in our apartment. Isn't that funny? We had to go all the way to the marketplace to buy groceries, which is why Mako's so cranky right now."
"Well...Okay!" Korra said happily. "If Mako's okay with it."
"What do you say, Mako?"
The elder brother cleared his throat and looked away. "Fine."
"Can we go on your polar bear dog?" Bolin's eyes shimmered. "I want to tell people that I've actually ridden on one!"
"Sure!" Korra climbed back on top of Naga with ease. "Hop on."
"Whoa," Korra breathed. "You guys live here?"
Bolin nodded proudly. "Cool, isn't it?"
Mako elbowed his younger brother. "He's kidding. Sort of. This is the pro-bending arena. We live in a tiny apartment in one of the towers," he pointed.
"You guys live above the pro-bending arena?" Korra cried. "That is so cool!"
Bolin smirked. "We know."
Mako rolled his eyes and climbed off of Naga. "Come on."
They made their way into the building and climbed the stairs to the brothers' apartment. It was indeed tiny, as Mako had said. There were three rooms at the most – a bathroom, a shared bedroom, and a kitchen that doubled as a dining room. "We don't get a lot of visitors," Bolin said. "Sorry if it's a little dirty. It gets messy when it's just us two boys, you know?"
Korra didn't know whether she should ask about their parents. Instead, she moved around the apartment slowly, taking it all in. "I love it," she finally said. "It's so comfortable and cozy. Reminds me a little of the igloos back home."
Mako seemed a little surprised at this. "I - " he started, then fell silent again. "It's not much," he said quietly.
"Oh, it's perfect, I think," Korra said, looking around.
The brothers set their grocery bags down on the kitchen counter. "We won a match last night, so we could buy a little more food today with the winnings. We don't usually buy this much," Bolin said.
"Match?" she said. "Wait, you guys are pro-benders?"
"Yep!" he replied, grinning. "That's why we live here. We're two-thirds of the Fire Ferrets. The third member is our friend, Hasook, from school."
"What school?" Korra asked curiously, sitting herself down at the dining table in the center of the room. Mako set down two plates on the table: one with several rolls of bread, and another with a variety of fruits purchased fresh from the marketplace. He sat down next to her and placed his hands on a teapot in front of him. A few seconds later, steam drifted from the spout, and Mako poured tea into three cups. A firebender, Korra observed. Bolin joined them shortly after.
"There's really only one high school here," Mako said. "Republic City High."
"I'm in my tenth year, and Mako's in his eleventh," Bolin added. "Speaking of which, what about you? You look like you're our age, how come I've never seen you at school before?"
"I just arrived here," Korra said. "I'll be starting at Republic City High on Monday."
"Are you here alone?"
"No, I'll be living on Air Temple Island, with Tenzin. You might know him – he's a member of the United Republic Council, or something like that."
"Oh, I know him," Bolin said. "He's got a cool beard. Kind of like Wang Fire. How do you know him?"
"He's my airbending teacher," Korra said. As soon as the words slipped out of her mouth, she wanted to kick herself. How could she explain that she was a Southern Water Tribe native – who could airbend? They couldn't know she was the Avatar.
"Airbending?" Mako raised an eyebrow. "You're not a Water Tribe girl?"
Korra laughed nervously. "Yes, I am. My parents aren't benders, but my – my...grandmother was an airbender." she finished lamely.
"Huh, that doesn't happen very often, as far as I know," Bolin said. "I mean, bending abilities skipping a whole generation." Korra gulped. Could he tell she was lying? "But hey, that's cool."
Korra breathed a small sigh of relief. "Let's eat!" she proclaimed.