A/N: I originally meant for this to be the new chapter of Chemistry but it got pretty long, and in the end I just felt that it didn't really fit in with the rest of the chapters. Basically, this is my attempt to explore a redemption scenario of sorts between Asami and Hiroshi.


Baby Steps

"Family quarrels are bitter things. They don't go by any rules. They're not like aches or wounds; they're more like splits in the skin that won't heal because there's not enough material."

– F. Scott Fitzgerald

Hospitals make Asami uncomfortable. She isn't used to being in them... as a child, her father always insisted on having a healer readily available at the mansion. She shuffles in the chair to no avail, finding only the squeak of leather and a stabbing sensation in her lower back that makes her wince. She looks around the room and all she sees are metal frames and glass jars filled with bandages or antiseptic. The walls are painted a dull, worn out shade of beige, and there's a pervading sense of melancholy that hangs thickly in the air, raising tiny goosebumps on the skin of her forearms. Looking back on the previous day's events, the atmosphere in here couldn't be any more different. Gone are the suffocating fumes, the crunch of gravel, and the sound of wailing sirens in the distance. In contrast, the space is eerily quiet, punctuated only by the occasional beep from a monitor next to the bed. The bed currently occupied by her father.

Hiroshi Sato lays there with only a thin hospital gown in place of his regular business attire. Bandages cover a large portion of his face and arms, and though the medication has put him in a deep slumber, he gives an occasional grimace that makes Asami tense and consider bolting out the door. This is not the man she was proud to call her father.

The sound of a latch clicking echoes in the quiet room and Asami lets out a breath when she sees Korra's familiar parka slip through the door. The Avatar motions for her to stay seated and presses a gentle kiss to the top of her head before linking their hands and taking the seat next to hers. Asami feels the corner of her lips twitch with a ghost of a smile and as much as she would like to sit there in silence, there's a question in the back of her mind that finds its way onto her lips. "The medics told me you were the one who found him in the wreckage."

Korra's face crumples in a helpless expression before Asami realizes that the statement came out like an accusation. "It's true," Korra admits, fidgeting with the cuff of fur on her sleeve, "That's why I ran off for a bit yesterday, when Tenzin came to check on everyone and bring them back to the island. I wasn't sure if anyone had bothered to check the rubble."

Asami remains quiet and Korra steals a glance at the heiress out of the corner of her eye before continuing. "It was him, you know? The one controlling the mech-tank that knocked you out. It sounds a little crazy when I put it this way, but he saved you from that swarm of chi-blockers. I think he just wanted to move you out of the way, but he didn't count on how strongly your momentum would knock you into the other wall. Either way, they ended up overpowering him... When I found him again after the battle, I tried to heal some of the major burns right away, to give the other healers more time."

Asami stares at the figure on the bed and remembers the way her father's mustache would tickle her face every time he wrapped her up in a hug. Her mind shifts to Korra, and all the different ways the shorter girl continues to take her by surprise. She thinks of the pouty sort of grimace on the Avatar's face the first time they're introduced, the way Korra's eyes light up after a pro-bending match, the flush that creeps up on her cheeks whenever something flusters her. She thinks of the strength of those shoulders, and the contrast in those impossibly soft lips whenever she leans in to kiss her. She thinks of all that, and the image of Korra climbing into the wreckage of a tank and pulling out the battered body of the man that threatened to help Amon destroy everything makes her throat close up with an intensity that she can't put into words. "Why?" she asks, choking out the word despite the weight on her chest. "He betrayed us. He lied about everything, and if I hadn't gone after you guys in the tunnel that night-"

"Asami, please..."

"Damn it, Korra, why? Tell me!"

"Because he's your father!"

The words shock Asami into silence and she lets go of Korra's hand, only to clench her hands into fists on her lap. Her shoulders are trembling and she can hardly breathe as Korra slips onto her knees on the floor and wraps her in an awkward embrace. "He's your father..." the girl repeats softly. "He's family, and the only thing you have left, and I would never be able to live with myself if I just left him there and didn't do anything to try and save him."

Asami hates the way her tears burn trails down her cheeks and she makes a strangled sort of sound before latching onto Korra desperately. All those heartbreaking years after her mother's death flash before her eyes. She sees the slump of her father's shoulders in those dark clothes (black, not blue... she doesn't see him wear anything but black after the night of the attack). She thinks of the warmth in his eyes despite the way light always glints off his glasses, and the way his broad chest always makes her feel small, and safe, no matter how tall she gets. Korra's right. He's the only thing she has left from the life she was supposed to have, and it hurts.

Korra's whispering in her ear now, running a comforting hand through her wavy hair while her other arm remains locked around Asami's waist in a fierce embrace.

"I don't know, Korra," she hears herself say brokenly, "I don't know how to make this better."

"Then don't," The Avatar says, cupping her face, calloused fingers brushing away every tear that makes its way out of her eyes, "Not by yourself anyway. It's going to take a while, but it will get better, I promise. And when sometimes it's too much, you know you have me, don't you? You'll always have me."

Asami opens her mouth to reply but quickly snaps it shut at the sound of a groan coming from the bed. She waits for a moment, heartbeat pounding in her ears, before another groan is heard, followed by a cough. She stumbles over to the bedside and trembles at the way her father's eyes flutter open before settling on her in confusion and disbelief. "A-Asami?"

She takes another step closer, but freezes on the spot and only manages a shaky nod. "Yeah, dad, it's me."

"Asami... sweetie, I-"

"Don't." she barks, and they both flinch at the way the word erupts from her mouth. "Don't," she repeats gently, "You... just... not now. You need to rest, dad."

He looks at her with such sorrow that she finds herself reaching behind her to grab Korra's hand tightly for support. Asami closes her eyes and concentrates on the feeling of that warm hand in hers, the way Korra radiates strength without having ever said a word. When she opens her eyes again, the quirk of her lips is the closest she gets to managing a smile, but it's enough for now. "Go back to sleep, dad. I'll be here when you wake up again... I promise."