Sunsets were good. Light reflected on the pale blankets of snow and left the memories of stars glittering behind it. The young girl with the brown skin and browner hair deftly smoothed the rag over her wrench as if she'd been doing it for hundreds of lifetimes. When the sun was secured behind the banks of snow, she went inside and closed the door behind her. She meant to move soundlessly, but only two things kept Korra quiet: sunsets and automail. Then sun had set and the automail shop was closed, so the door slammed behind her.
"Korra, don't shut the door so loudly," called a voice from the next room.
"Sorry Gran Gran," came her mumbled apology.
She slurped stew for dinner and loudly took the stairs to her room where she slammed the door once again. After crawling into bed, a small white dog with an automail leg found her way into the young girl's lap. As she fiddled with the leg, unnecessary tears began to pool in Korra's eyes.
"I don't mean to be so loud," she said miserably, her throat dry and scratchy. "I wish I had a friend." She smiled sadly at the dog in her lap. "You and Gran Gran. That's all I've got, Naga."
The girl became disgusted by her tears and wiped them away roughly. She wrapped herself in blankets so when the next day came, she could do the same thing over again.
Sometimes it was a miserable life. Each day was filled with the same fate. All she could do was wait. Wait for the sunsets, wait for the automail orders, wait for something to come around that probably was never going to. But then she'd go to her workbench and remember all she had to learn, and that there were customers, actual people in the world, relying on her. Korra pulled on her overalls and began work on an order while the sun rose and peaked and began to dip back down. When the snow reflected that familiar orange glow, she set her tools down and stood outside for the millionth time.
But tonight, she couldn't watch the sun set. She didn't get to see the sparkles of star dust cover the pearly hills because two figures were visible on the path that lead to her house and automail shop.
"Gran Gran, I think we've got customers," Korra called into the house, none too quietly.
"At this hour?" The wrinkled woman emerged from the doorway and threw an oily towel over her hunched shoulder. They waited at the threshold while the figures came closer into view. Within a few moments, it was clear that the silhouettes belonged to two children. One was in a wheelchair, the other had something wrong. He seemed out of proportion, as though his arms were too short for his body.
The boys approached Korra and her grandmother. The wheelchair boy asked,
"Is this is automail shop?"
"Aye," was Gran Gran's gruff reply. "But I'm afraid we close at sundown. You'll have to come back in the morning."
But neither of the four moved. Korra surveyed their visitors, who appeared about her age. Wheelchair boy had green eyes and brown hair while the other's was more blackish with golden eyes. She couldn't hold in a gasp as she saw that the boy in the wheelchair had no feet, and the boy next to him had no hands. Only stumps wrapped in bandages.
"Please let us stay here," said the boy with no hands in a steady voice. "We've traveled a long way and we're tired. We have no money."
Gran Gran narrowed an eye at the pair and raised her voice with careful ferocity. "You come here at sunset, two boys, traveling with no money and in obvious need of automail. You ask to sleep here. How do we know you're not thieves? How do we know you don't have gunmen hiding beyond the banks?" The old woman threw a bony, pointed finger toward the stacked snow yards away.
The boy with no hands assumed a stony expression when he said evenly, almost fiercely, "I guess you'll just have to trust us."