IMPORTANT! Please read this first:
This story is no longer being worked on. Perhaps one day in the future I will be inspired to continue, but as of now, I am moving on to other projects. New readers, please be warned, this story is incomplete and unlikely to be continued at any point in the near future, if at all. Those of you who have been with me for a while, waiting for an update, I can't thank you enough for your kindness, patience and support. I'm sorry C&C has to end this way, but for me personally, this is for the best.
Thank you again everyone.
Author's Note/Warnings: This story will update as I am inspired to update it, no real schedule here. It's AU, but it will be sticking to events of the series as closely as possible. Besides the major change of Asami hitting Korra instead of Mako, there will probably be some minor changes in plot or events to accommodate how things might progress differently. I expect these changes are going to become more significant later on, but we'll see how things go. I guess I should also warn that it might contain spoilers for Episode 4. If I go into any other episodes, I'll give the appropriate warning. Right now, it's just going to deal with friendship between these two ladies, but my plan is eventually for it to become Korra/Asami.
So again, just so we're clear, this story is AU, contains spoilers, and will eventually become femslash. The rating is currently T, just to cover my bases for later, and is subject to change whenever I feel like it.
Korra slouched out of the Bending Arena and squinted against the dazzling afternoon sun. After the artificial lighting of the Arena, actual sunlight was almost painfully bright. And the fact that I'm exhausted doesn't help. She thought crossly as she stifled a yawn. She shouldn't have let Bolin talk her into a morning practice. Neither of their hearts were in it. Mako wasn't even there; he was off working at the factory. And really, the Fire Ferrets were only still in the tournament on the slimmest technicality. The fact that they still had a few days to come up with 30,000 Yuans meant nothing, because there wasn't a chance that any of them would find that kind of money. It wasn't like it was going to just fall into their laps.
With a heavy sigh that flowed right into another huge yawn, Korra stuck her hands in her pockets and started walking. As she drew closer to the main street outside of the Arena, the sounds of the city began to intrude in on her. The general din of people talking, shouting, laughing, and going about their lives overlaid the deeper thrum of automobiles whizzing by like currents in a river of metal. In the distance, a police siren whined, high-pitched and grating.
She turned south – away from the sound of the siren – and continued down the sidewalk. She didn't understand how Bolin and Mako could ignore all the commotion. After the novelty of it wore off around the second week, Korra thought that she'd get used to the constant noise of the city. But she still hadn't acclimated. Probably because I spend most of my time on Air Temple Island, she reflected. And with that thought, the recurring nightmare that had been plaguing her for the past few days rose to the forefront of her mind...
Once again, she was held captive in her own room, a place she had thought safe. She saw Amon's hand descending towards her like the jaws of a steel trap about to close. Her limbs refused to move, rendered useless by the chi blockers.
"Once I take your bending away, you will be nothing," Amon threatened, voice low and menacing.
His hand pressed closer...
The Avatar shook her head to try to get the image away. She realized she had stopped walking entirely, and the hollow, sour feeling of... unease had settled in her stomach. But it wasn't fear. She wasn't afraid. I'm not afraid! She repeated forcefully. Maybe other benders are scared, but not me! I'm the Avatar! I can't be afraid. To prove it, she drew herself up, shoulders back, and began marching down the sidewalk with her head high. Several people jumped to get out of her way, and one or two of those startled pedestrians seemed to recognize her, nodding or waving as she passed. Korra smiled and nodded back at them.
Then her stomach growled – ruining the strong and fearless attitude she was trying to project and reminding her why she was out in the streets instead of heading back to the Island. Korra's tough act fell away, and she rubbed her stomach ruefully. That was all there was to it. She was hungry. She certainly wasn't avoiding anything. It wasn't like she was staying away from the Island on purpose. Because that would just be ridiculous!
But if Korra was being honest with herself, she would have admitted that Air Temple Island no longer felt like a safe haven. It felt more like a beacon for Amon. Look over here! It said. Here's the Avatar! Come and get her! The nightmares were getting worse and it was getting harder and harder for Korra to deny her growing... anxiety. She hadn't had a full night of sleep in days. The nightmare always came during the early hours of the morning. The same scene played itself out, and she would wake up sweating and shaking. And after she was up, she found it impossible to fall back asleep. She would stay awake until the sun rose, grooming Naga or practicing her Air-Bending forms.
Naga had never looked so good, and Korra had never felt so miserable.
Truth be told, the dreams had a lot to do with why she had agreed to practice with Bolin this morning. Maybe it was futile, but practicing gave her an excuse to get away from the Island. At the very least, she could worry about Pro Bending for a few hours instead of Amon and the Equalists.
Korra was so absorbed in her thoughts, that when she finally spotted a food cart on the other side of the road, she didn't think twice about stepping into the street to cross it. She passed right in front of a parked vehicle that was just starting up, and she ran slightly to get out of its way as it began rolling forward.
There was a sudden screech of sliding wheels, and Korra had just enough time to look up and let out a yell before a person on a moped crashed right into her, sending her flying back to land on the ground.
The Avatar lay sprawled out for a moment, dazed from the impact, before she began picking herself up painfully. She pulled herself into a sitting position with a groan and heard the moped engine shut off.
"Oh no! I'm so sorry! I didn't see you!" A feminine voice called out. Korra rubbed the back of her neck as a shadow fell over her. Great. This is just what I need right now. Anger began to bubble up inside her as she moved her head around a bit, making sure she hadn't suffered any serious damage.
"How could you not see me?" She demanded hotly, finally looking up to assess her 'assailant.' "I mean, I was just... uhh..." The rest of what she was about to say died on her lips as she got a good look at the driver for the first time.
It was a young woman, dressed in the fashionable style for racers. She had just pulled off her helmet, freeing a wealth of dark, wavy hair from its confines. Her features were sharp, almost strong, but were probably best described as 'striking'. She was pale, and her lips were painted a dark red to match her outfit. She had an aristocratic bearing and moved with the kind of casual grace you have to be born with.
But none of that was what stopped Korra. The thing that completely arrested the young Avatar was the woman's eyes. They were large, set under delicate, expressive brows, and the brightest green she had ever seen. And the look on the woman's face – so concerned and apologetic – completely disarmed her. The anger that had begun to rise inside her, fueled by all of her doubts and worries from the past few days, cooled instantly. Robbed of her ire, she was left stammering, "I was just... uhh... I was..."
"Are you ok? Did I hurt you?" The woman asked anxiously, kneeling down in one fluid motion. She wrapped her arm securely around Korra's shoulder and placed a hand under the Avatar's elbow. "Ugh, I am such an idiot!" She exclaimed, as she helped Korra to her feet. The woman drew back slightly, worry still etched across her features.
"No no, it's ok," Korra reassured her, finally finding her voice again. She was suddenly very self-conscious of the dust that now clung to her clothes. She began brushing at it, feeling awkward and ungainly in the face of this elegant stranger. "It was my fault, really. I shouldn't have run out into the street like that. I'm still so new to the city, I forget things like that a lot." Am I babbling? "We don't have streets like this where I come from." I'm babbling. "Actually, my tribe doesn't even have streets, just pathways through the snow." Oh great, my tribe? Pathways through the snow? That doesn't sound very sophisticated.
But why did that even matter?
"Wait," the woman leaned in and scrutinized the bender closely, "I recognize you... You play for the Fire Ferrets! That means you must be the Avatar, right?"
"Yeah, that's me." Korra confirmed, relieved to be on this new topic. At least now she was on more certain ground.
The woman's shoulders slumped and she covered her face with her hand. "I'm so embarrassed!"
Korra tried to say that it was ok, and that there was nothing to be embarrassed about, but the woman was already sticking her hand out to shake, and Korra gripped it automatically.
"My name's Asami," the woman introduced herself. "Let me make this up to you somehow, Avatar Korra."
"Please, just call me Korra!"
Asami smiled, a small smile that quirked upwards on one side. The Avatar was suddenly certain that she'd said something stupid. That Asami was just humoring her, or maybe even laughing at her. Maybe she wasn't supposed to invite a stranger to address her so informally...
"Ok, Korra then." Asami's warm voice broke into her thoughts. The driver's expression turned thoughtful, and she seemed to be appraising her companion. Once again, Korra felt extremely self-conscious under that steady gaze. "How about I treat you to dinner?" Asami proposed finally.
"Wha... dinner? Wait... hold on..."
"Tomorrow night, 8 o'clock? Kuang's Cuisine?" Asami added, as though her companion hadn't spoken.
"I don't know..." Korra hedged. This was moving way too fast. And... the idea of going somewhere she'd never been, alone in the city at night, with Amon still at large...
Asami dropped her gaze and chewed lightly on her lower lip. She seemed to be making up her mind about something. "Ok, look, there's another reason I'm asking," she admitted finally, green eyes meeting blue again. "See, my father and I already had reservations there for tomorrow night, but I just found out that he can't go. It's too late to cancel, and I don't really like the idea of going alone." She laughed then, and Korra thought it sounded a little self-deprecating. "Actually, you'd be doing me a favor if you came!"
She looked so earnest, and she seemed to genuinely want the company. Korra didn't have a reason not to go.
And would it be so bad? She didn't really have any friends in the city yet, besides Mako and Bolin. Tenzin was a great teacher and a good man, but she was acutely aware of the fact that she hardly ever saw anyone her own age.
Maybe it would be nice to go out for the evening and spend some time with someone new. Especially another girl. Korra had been hidden away in the Southern Water Tribe compound since she was little. She had been surrounded by stern bending masters and grumpy old White Lotus men. She had never been close to any of the other kids from her tribe. Training to be the Avatar took up so much of her life.
Not that she regretted it, of course. It was her destiny. But now that she was in the city... well. Korra was coming to care for Mako and Bolin, but... she'd never really had a female friend in her life. The idea of, maybe, becoming friends with this sophisticated and charming city-girl was enormously appealing, now that she thought about it.
"You know what, you've convinced me. Dinner tomorrow it is," she decided then, smiling widely. Asami's answering smile was more than enough to tell her she'd made the right choice.
"Great! I'll see you then!" Asami promised, returning to her moped and pulling her helmet back on. "You know how to get there, right?" She asked as she slid her green-tinted goggles down, one hand on her vehicle.
"Psh, of course!" Korra scoffed. Actually, she had no idea where Kuang's Cuisine was – she'd never even heard of it – but she knew exactly who to ask to find out.
"Well, then, I'm looking forward to it," Asami said sincerely. She started up her moped.
"Me too," Korra agreed.
With one final smile, Asami sped away, glancing back over her shoulder to give a small wave goodbye.
Korra waved back, and then Asami turned forward again and disappeared into the bustle of the city.