She didn't belong.
Every day when she woke up in her strange, new bed on the strange, new island, she was reminded of what had happened, of who she was and who her father was and who her friends were. Her dreams hadn't yet caught up to reality. Reality was lonely. She'd felt lonely the whole time she'd been there, and the loneliness was not abating. She knew she'd be lonely here until it was all over, really over. The knowledge of that ached.
Asami stood away from the action, her hands lightly gripping the smooth column that she leaned against. She watched them from afar, watched them all as they listened intently to Tenzin. He was teaching them more about their bending, about things she was sure the boys didn't know, but the small class was still out of control.
Ikki shot of gust of wind at Mako, who had to catch himself from falling. Asami smiled at Mako trying to sweep his hair back up in its proper place, at Bolin pushing him over again, at Jinora making a big show of rolling her eyes, and at Korra as she spun the earth underneath Meelo, making him burst into giggles as he fell over again and again. Tenzin clearly was struggling, but he insisted on continuing their lesson, making them all listen, and soon the seven were surrounded by the elements. They were putting it all into practice, whatever they'd learned. Air, fire, earth, water.
Asami watched them from afar. She watched the world that wasn't hers.
She turned away, pressing her thumb into her opposite palm and massaging the spot where the electricity had bolted out of the heavy glove. It had been a strange feeling, and really, she didn't like to think about it. But still, it was a good reminder. She didn't need bending to protect herself. She knew how to fight.
So why did she feel so alone in the midst of all these benders?
"Hey there." The voice came from behind her. She turned quick, her reflexes still jittery, but calmed when she saw Pema, kind and warm. She hadn't really been able to interact with her all that much, besides that first night they'd arrived, that night that had turned into a secret.
Pema's shoulder had been soaked with Asami's tears. She'd let her cry for hours, muffling her sobs late, late into the night. Asami hadn't told anybody. Not even Mako.
"Hi," Asami said, expecting and wanting Pema to bring it up. She needed to thank her.
"It's fun to watch them, isn't it?" she asked instead.
Asami agreed. Bending was amazing to watch, and it didn't make Asami feel inferior, and it didn't make her feel small. She knew she'd done right. But here on this island, away from her father and away her home, it made her feel lonely.
"Yeah. It is."
"I'd like to see some of your moves someday," Pema said with a smirk. "I hear you're pretty talented. Those three—" She gestured towards Korra, Bolin, and Mako. "—won't stop telling me about what you did."
Asami couldn't help but smile. "Yeah. Maybe someday." Pema patted her arm and turned to walk away, but Asami stopped her. "Wait! I… I wanted to thank you for the other night. You know."
"It was no problem, Asami."
"And I'm sorry if I kept you up late."
"Trust me, there is no need to apologize."
Asami leaned forward to hug her, and Pema wrapped her arms delicately around her, giving her a light squeeze. She pulled away and laid her hands on Asami's shoulders. She looked directly up into her eyes as she spoke softly, a hint of teasing in her tone.
"I've been hoping for a nice, non-bender like me, you know."
Maybe she wouldn't be so lonely after all.