Yay, an update!
A love interest was eliminated in this chapter. Read on to find out who!
It was like Korra's feet were frozen to the ground. She could feel her eyes about to bulge out of her head. "Howl?" she gasped, shocked. "What are you doing here?"
The older boy visibly swallowed and rubbed the back of his neck nervously. "Hey, Korra. Your mom said that you'd be here."
Iroh stepped up to Korra's side and looked down at his employee. "Who the hell is this?"
Korra sighed and rolled her fingertips against her temples. She was not in the mood for this kind of drama. "It's okay, Iroh. This is Howl. He's…my ex-boyfriend."
Iroh quirked a perfectly sculpted eyebrow and gave Howl a scrutinizing look. "Is that so?"
Howl drew himself up to his full height and squared his shoulders. "Yeah. It's so."
Iroh looked like he was about to say something, something aggressive, when Korra walked forward and unlocked her car door.
Howl placed a hand on her shoulder. "Wait, Korra, I was hoping that we could talk—"
Korra opened her car door and took a step to the side, jerking her shoulder out of Howl's grip. "Can we do it tomorrow? I just got off work, it's late, and I have school in the morning."
"But, your parents—"
"Are too nosy for their own good. Goodnight, Howl." She hopped into her car and caught sight of Iroh's concerned face behind Howl. She gave him a faint smile. "Goodnight, Iroh. See you in a couple of days."
And then she slammed her car door shut, turned on the engine, and quickly drove out of the tea shop's parking lot.
"This is such bullshit." Korra glared down at her phone, which had not stopped ringing as soon as she'd gotten out of school.
She was at Asami's house and both girls were sitting at Asami's vast kitchen table with their chemistry textbooks strewn out in front of them. They were supposed to be studying; in reality they were doodling on blank sheets of paper and gossiping about Korra's complicated love life.
"Why don't you just pick up the phone and tell him that you don't want to talk?" Asami pointed out logically. In her hand she had a pink pen with fluffy stuff sprouting out of the top. There were intricately drawn zombies covering her doodle sheets. Korra hadn't had the opportunity to tell Asami how impressive she found them.
Korra winced and then sighed, letting her pencil clatter onto the top of the table. "I don't want to hurt his feelings," she admitted. "Howl is a good guy, but we broke up awhile ago. Besides, I'm not really looking for a long distance relationship." For some reason, that particular admission made her feel bad. Love could go across distances, and all that. But Korra wasn't in love with Howl. At least, not anymore.
"I think you should be honest with him," Asami advised. The raven haired girl pulled out a pack of colored pencils and began to color in the rotting flesh of her zombies. "That's what I would do."
Korra picked back up her pencil and twirled in around in her fingers. "Yeah, but I really don't want to hurt him. He's come all the way out here and everything. I just… Well, you know how having ex-boyfriends can be. You'll always care about them, even when they're dicks."
Asami shrugged one shoulder casually. "Actually, I wouldn't know. I've only had one boyfriend, and that was back in freshman year."
Korra outright laughed. "You're joking."
Asami put down her Military Green colored pencil and looked Korra right in the eye. "It's true. I've only ever had one boyfriend."
"But-but you're so gorgeous! And flirty and awesome! How could you not have had more boyfriends in your lifetime?!"
Asami bit her bottom lip nervously. Korra watched as the other girl sucked in a deep, nervous breath. It was like she was about to come out with something.
"Well," Asami began, "if I had wanted more boyfriends then maybe I would have had more boyfriends."
Korra furrowed her eyebrows, confused. "You don't want a boyfriend?"
Asami shook her head. "No."
"I want a girlfriend."
Asami ducked her head, long hair spilling past her slender shoulder and partially blocking her face. "It took a long time to for me to come to terms with…myself, and they way I feel toward things. People, I mean. But, yeah. I like girls."
Korra blinked at Asami a couple of times. Finding out that Asami was a lesbian was actually not at all surprising. In fact, Korra couldn't believe she hadn't picked up on it sooner.
"I have to admit," Asami said, a pretty blushing blooming across her cheeks, "I totally had a crush on you when I first met you."
"You did?" A warm feeling pooled in Korra's chest—flattery.
Asami nodded. "Uh huh. But it was pretty obvious that you weren't into me like that, which is totally cool." She goes back to coloring in her zombies.
Korra smiled. "Yep. Penis is more my forte."
Asami giggled and then made a face. "Let me know how that works out for you."
At that precise moment, Howl called again for the umpteenth time.
"I'm shutting it off," Korra growled, and after she did the resulting silence was almost deafening.
Korra shifted her blue eyes back over to her friend. Asami's tongue was barely sticking out between her lips and her head was dipping closer and closer to her zombie doodles.
Korra drummed her fingers against the table top and worked up her nerve. "Asami?"
The other girl tilted her head up curiously. "Yeah?"
"I just wanted you to know that…you're the best friend I have here. So, thanks."
Asami's cheeks turned a deep shade of red, but she still gave Korra an appreciate smile. "You're welcome."
"This was a bad idea."
"Is that not what I told you twenty minutes ago?"
Korra pulled her car into the parking lot in front of the coffee shop that Tahno worked at. "Curiosity got the best of me, okay?"
"Well then it's a good thing you aren't a cat."
It was Thursday, practice had been cancelled because one of Tenzin's kids was sick, and Korra had nothing else to do.
"You could've just come over, you know."
"Yeah, I know. But, uh, this will give me the chance to spy on Tahno a little bit."
"That's the dumbest excuse I've ever heard. Admit it, you're attracted to him."
Korra puts her car in park. "Asami, you're deranged. I'm just curious, like I said."
"You're an idiot. I have to go. My dad is giving me a funny look."
Korra tucked her phone into her pocket and climbed out of her car. The shop was dead, although it was mid-afternoon. She couldn't think of anyone who'd want to get coffee now.
The door let out a little chime as she walked into the shop. Tahno was standing behind the counter, looking bored. But as soon as he saw her his face lit up.
Korra made her way to the front of the store and crossed her arms underneath her breasts. "That's what she said."
Tahno's smile turned into a full blown grin. "That's my girl."
Korra leaned her hip against the counter. "You said that if I came by then I wouldn't regret it. So, impress me." She quirked an eyebrow at him.
An hour later Korra could not stop giggling. First, Tahno had made her drink espresso, which Korra didn't think would have any kind of effect on her. Korra was wrong.
Then Tahno had managed to get her to eat a couple of the pastries sitting out on display.
"Come on, sweetheart," he had said. "I know you want some. You're not the kind of girl who gives much of a shit about what she puts in her mouth."
Korra had shoved his shoulder playfully. "Why does everything that comes out of your mouth sound so dirty?"
He had laughed at her then, and Korra had felt her heartbeat flutter a little at the handsome expression on his face. "I can't help it if you're mind is in the gutter, sweetheart."
Now Korra was munching on a bear-claw and listening to Tahno tell her about the last football game that he and his team had played.
"We won, of course." Tahno said, bright eyes never leaving Korra's face. "But one of my idiot receivers dropped one of my passes with only one minute left in the game and we were close to scoring."
Korra shook her head, wiping crumbs off of her chin. "I never drop the ball."
"I know you don't. I watch all of your games."
Korra snorted. "Yeah, to spy."
Tahno's face softened. "Not really."
Korra chuckled, belly full of stupid, annoying butterflies. "I mean, it's not like you show up to watch just me, or anything."
She was answered with silence. Long, drawn out silence.
When she couldn't take the (sexual) tension anymore, she reached out and grabbed a can of whipped cream that Tahno had left sitting out. She then proceeded to point the bottle at his face and squirt whipped cream onto his cheek.
He brutally retaliated.
She squealed as he made to grab at the whipped cream can in her hand and let out a shriek of laughter when he wrapped a strong arm around her waist and pulled her flush against his body.
"No!" she shouted, laughing as Tahno pried the can from her fingers and sprayed whipped cream all over her lips. And then both teenagers froze and Korra found her hands pressed up against Tahno's chest.
There was a moment of hesitation, and then Tahno kissed her. And Korra, to her immense surprise, wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed back.
She felt her heartbeat turn erratic. Tahno's hands slipped down her lower back and she could feel heat spreading through her body at his touch. It was making her knees wobbly. She felt his tongue flick across her bottom lip, collecting the whipped cream that was smeared there.
Korra and Tahno were both so distracted with each other that neither noticed the chime coming front the door.
"Gee, Tahno, your manager must let you get away with murder."
Startled, Korra accidentally bit Tahno's upper lip and the boy pulled away from her, wincing.
"Sorry," she gasped, breathless, but he had already turned his head away from her and was glaring at the customer.
Korra gulped and turned her head to the side, too.
The customer was Mako.
She should've known by now that the universe hated her.
The golden eyed boy was seething, and from the way that he refused to catch her eye Korra could bet that he was not happy with her.
"What are you doing here?" she asked, voice sounding more venomous then she meant it to.
"Practice was cancelled, and I had to run some errands in this part of town. So I figured I'd get a coffee, since Tahno owed me one." His mouth curled down into a scowl. "My eye still hurts."
Tahno, who looked extremely irritated, shrugged one shoulder. "You can get whatever you want. And then you can get the fuck out."
Korra quickly wiped the remaining whipped cream on her face off with the back of her hand. "Come on, guys—"
Mako looked at her for the first time. "Shut up, Korra."
Tahno's face darkened. "Hey, don't talk to her—"
"What are you even doing here?" Mako asked, cutting off Tahno.
Korra sniffed and propped her hand on her hip, going into the defensive. "We were just hanging out."
Mako scoffed. "More like making out."
"What's it matter to you, anyway? Do you like me or something?" Korra accused. She regretted her words as soon as she saw the way Mako's gaze flick away from her in hurt. "Mako…"
"Whatever, Korra. Do whatever the fuck you want. To hell with everyone else, right?"
The other boy turned around and stormed out of the coffee ship
Korra sprinted around the counter and into the store. She cast Tahno an apologetic look over her shoulder. He smirked. "Go on, sweetheart." But she could see the tension in his jaw. "I'll see you some other time."
Korra opened her mouth to apologize, but she could already hear Mako starting his car. She bolted out of the shop.
His car was just starting to move backward when Korra wrapped her hands around his rear-view mirror, effectively stopping him.
Mako rolled down his window and gave her a menacing look. "What?"
"I'm…I'm sorry." Although she had no idea what she was sorry for, really. Korra just knew that her heart was aching right now, and she wasn't sure why.
Mako was gripping the steering wheel so hard his knuckles were turning white. "Tahno isn't a nice guy."
Korra bristled at that. "You don't even know him."
"I've lived in this town a lot longer then you have. I know him better then you think. He's the definition of an asshole."
Korra frowned, remembering the pleasant afternoon she'd just spent with Tahno. He didn't seem like the kind of guy Mako was describing.
Maybe it was a rival quarterback thing.
Mako sighed and looked up at her, golden eyes searing. "Korra…I just. I don't want to see you get hurt. Ever." He swallowed, and Korra wasn't sure she'd seen him be so vulnerable before.
"I have to go. Can you please take your hands off my car?"
Korra released the rear-view mirror and Mako drove off. She frowned, and got in her own car, mind muddled with confused thoughts.
That evening, Korra was eating noodles in her bedroom and telling Naga about her day when Howl suddenly burst into her room.
"We're not getting back together," she said around a mouthful of noodles.
Howl's shoulders slumped a little bit. "But, Korra—"
Korra moaned and swallowed her food. "Don't get me wrong, our time together was fun. A lot of fun. But…" She sighed and placed her noodles on top of her desk. "It's over. You're at college a few hours away, and I'm…I'm here. And I like it here. And I like the people here." She frowned down at her carpeted floor. "I don't know if I'm ready for a serious, long distance relationship."
Howl gingerly set down at the edge of her bed. "I just wish that I hadn't broken up with you the first time around."
Korra shot him a small, but sincere, smile. "Yeah, well, shit happens. Life goes on." She reached out and placed a hand on top of his knee. "I hope that we can still be friends…?"
Howl nodded slowly, absorbed in his own thoughts.
At that moment Korra's bedroom door swung open. Korra's mother looked a little put out. "Korra, sweetie, there's a boy here to see you."
Both Korra and Howl stood up and sprinted out of Korra's bedroom and down the stairs.
And there stood Mako at the front door, looking very uncomfortable.
He scowled when he saw Howl, but before he could say anything Korra quickly ushered him out of the house and onto the front porch. She closed the front door behind her in order to keep uninvited ears from overhearing their conversation.
"Mako," she began, crossing her arms over her chest, "what are you doing here?"
The quarterback gulped, obviously nervous. "Who was that guy in there?" he asked, ignoring Korra's question.
"Oh, that's Howl. He's my ex."
Mako's golden eyes narrowed a little. "He's too old for you, don't you think?"
Korra let out a tittering laugh. "If you think that then maybe I shouldn't introduce you to Iroh."
Korra coughed, clearing her throat. "Don't worry about it."
Mako drummed his fingers along the porch railing, suddenly too apprehensive to look Korra in the eye. This wasn't like him. Usually he was much more annoyingly straightforward then this. However, Korra decided that maybe it was in her best interest to let him speak first.
So she waited. And waited.
And there was still silence.
Finally Mako took a step forward. Then two steps back. "Um—"
Unfortunately, Korra wasn't a very patient person, and she'd already used up her patience quota that evening. "Spit it out, already."
Instead of spitting it out, Mako smashed his mouth against hers.
It was definitely one of the more spontaneous kisses that Korra had ever received. And she found herself kissing him back.
But just like that Mako was yanking himself away. He stared at her for a long moment before mumbling an apology and high-tailing it to his car, leaving Korra to gape after him in bewilderment.
Why were boys so stupid?!
It was Friday night. Korra's next football game wasn't until tomorrow, so tonight she was working at the teashop.
And the teashop was dead.
She was half heartedly wiping down a table with a wet cloth when someone tapped her on the shoulder. She glanced up to see Iroh staring down at her with a worried expression.
Korra sighed. "I'm fine. I'm just having some…troubles."
Iroh nodded, not pushing anything. "Well, considering that we have a grand total of two customers right now, why don't you take a seat? I'll bring you some tea. And, uh, that's an order. As your manager."
Korra laughed and slumped down into the booth. She twiddled her thumbs for a few minutes until Iroh slid into the seat across from her with two teacups and a teapot.
"I made the tea for myself ten minutes ago, but I think you could use some as well."
Korra watched as Iroh poured them both tea, and then she wrapped her fingers around her teacup, letting her skin soak in its warmth.
"So…" Iroh started awkwardly. "What's up?"
"Just boy bullshit."
Iroh smiled. "Ah."
Korra took a moment to look at him, really look at him. He was so handsome that it was stupid. And he wasn't too old for her, no matter what anyone else thought or said.
Iroh took a sip of his tea. "I hated dating in high school. There was always too much drama. It gets better when you're in college."
"Why? 'Cause there's no strings attached?"
Iroh's cheeks pinked a little. "Er, sometimes. Well, most of the time, but it's a lot easier to meet people who are more into what you're into. Plus, college students tend to be more mature then high school students."
Korra bit her bottom lip and watched the way Iroh's amber eyes locked onto her mouth. "Really? I wouldn't know."
Iroh tore his gaze away from her and sucked in a deep breath. "Korra—" And then his face split into a wide grin. "Grandpa?"
"Hmm, I smell tea."
Iroh leaped out of the booth. Korra turned her head to see her manager embracing an old man with a wrinkled scar stretched across the side of his face.
The love interest eliminated in this chapter was Asami. Girlfriend had a great run! I have to admit, was pleasantly surprised that she made it this far. A note about Asami: Asami is gay in this story. 100% into ladies. So please don't ask me to stick her with one of the other eliminated love interests, because it isn't going to happen. This is the way that I've interpreted her character and I'm going to stick to my guns. :)
A Few Simple Voting Rules
— Anonymous votes will not be accepted. I cannot stress this enough! No anonymous votes! I still got a bunch of anonymous votes for the last chapter. Once again, if you vote anonymously then your vote will not be accepted! Guys, it literally takes seconds to log in, and only minutes to create an account! I don't want to see anyone's vote get overlooked because of this!
—You can only vote for one person. If you're indecisive like me, then I do apologize.
—If for whatever reason you would like to keep your vote private, you may message me your vote and I'll count it. Please only message me with your vote either on this site or tumblr.
A reminder of Korra's love interests:
IMPORTANT: I am participating in National Novel Writing Month this year, so there will be no updates throughout the month of November for any of my stories. But I will be back in December and it shall be awesome! So you have a solid month and a half to vote; choose wisely! We're getting down to the wire.
I will update this story with a fun missing scene sometime in the next week or so. :)