A/N: Tumblr user silkchemise literally asked for this months ago and I'm only just now finishing it. Sorry Nadiyah. Also inspired by fanart done by tumblr user daffyloins. Takes place during episode eleven.
The warmth of the fire, reduced to a heap of glowing coals and smoldering logs, barely reached Korra where she sat pressed against Naga's fur, arms folded over her stomach. She frowned up at the ceiling in wordless thought, contemplating the deep shadows dipping down towards her, the warm, tiny pools of light from the other tents not enough to chase them away. The gentle light, deep and burnt, gilded her limbs and her slumbering companions, the touch of gold welcome.
Despite the boys sleeping soundly on the other side of the fire and the warm bulk of the polar bear dog against her back, she felt remarkably alone at that moment. Korra was no stranger to loneliness, growing up isolated from any peers with Naga as her only friend, but this was something new, different and unpleasant, pervasive and insidious and twisting her insides in knots she didn't know how to untangle.
"Can't sleep, either?"
She turned to the voice to see Asami emerging from a pitch-black tunnel, arms crossed defensively as she approached. Korra shifted upright, discomfort pricking at her chest like thorns. "No," she admitted, eyes downcast. "I have this...awful pit in my stomach."
Asami nodded her head in commiseration, scuffing the toe of her shoe against the rough stone floor. "Yeah," she said softly. "Me too."
Korra buried herself further in Naga's fur, scratching idly at her arm, trying to ignore how uncharacteristically awkward she felt at that moment. She could easily count on one hand the number of one-on-one interactions she's had with Asami, and things had been tense for all of them ever since Korra had escaped Tarrlok and returned to the city.
"You can sit," she offered uneasily, gesturing to the bare spot next to her. "If you'd like."
Asami shifted, frowning lightly, and for a wild, confusing second, Korra thought she would turn down the offer. Instead, she sighed and folded herself down next to her. "Thanks."
Silence stretched between the two of them as Korra frantically cast about for something for them to talk about. She hadn't finished trying to figure out if asking her about cars or make-up would be a better option before Asami broke the silence.
"It's kind of unreal," she said abruptly. "Everything that's happened."
"Y-yeah," Korra agreed. "I kind of have trouble wrapping my mind around it. I mean...a few months ago, I was practicing for my Firebending test, and now I'm in the middle of an all-out war." She shrugged, sighing.
"I know," Asami said softly, carefully brushing a shining lock of hair out of her face. "A few months ago, I was still living at home with my father, and we still..."
She trailed off abruptly, bowing her head, fists clenched. Korra winced, tentatively moving to rest a hand on Asami's shoulder, but allowing it to fall away at the last second.
"It's hard, isn't it?"
Asami shrugged, avoiding Korra's gaze. "I mean..." she sighed, rubbing her forehead. "Yeah, it's hard. I...try not to think about it, but I miss him a lot. But I'm also so angry with him at the same time. And no matter how much I try to keep him out of my mind, everything reminds me of him and just...makes me feel so..."
Korra nodded slowly, unsure of what to do. She wasn't very good at this, at opening up to people and helping them. She thought back to when she was younger and fresh in the compound at the South Pole, learning to deal with hard days training alone instead of playing with other kids and long nights without her parents. Katara always helped her with that, spending time with Korra when she felt alone, sitting up with her when she couldn't sleep. What would Katara do if she were here?
"...Do you need to talk?"
Asami cast her a sidelong glance. She looked more worn down than Korra had ever seen her look, strands of hair falling stubbornly to drape across her face, carefully applied makeup not enough to distract from the shadows under her eyes and the exhausted sadness that flickered through her gaze.
"I don't know what to say," she admitted after a moment. "All I can think about is my father. When my mom passed away, he was there for me every second, even though it must have been really hard for him, too." She leaned against Naga, face crumpling. "That was one of the hardest parts of my life, but at least I had him. Now I don't have anyone."
"What?" Korra burst. "That's ridiculous, you have us!"
The look Asami gave her was guarded and calculating.
"I know," she said after a moment. "And I don't want to sound ungrateful, because I really appreciate what you and Tenzin did for me. I don't know where else I would have gone." She looked away again, drawing herself further into Naga's fur. "But now we're all out on our own, fighting a war and trying to stop Amon. And Mako and I aren't even to-..."
She trailed off, her eyes hard. Korra shifted slightly to sit facing her, brows drawn. "You and Mako aren't what?"
She was silent for a beat before she heaved a sigh, turning away again. "Nothing. Forget I said anything."
She pushed herself to her feet and stretched. Korra felt a wild surge akin to panic. "Are you leaving?"
"Yeah, I'm going to turn in," she said. "I'm sorry for bugging you." She gave Korra a half-hearted smile and a small wave before she turned towards the fire. "Sleep-"
Korra launched herself forward and grabbed her hand, surprising them both. Asami blinked down at her, head cocked slightly. "Korra?"
Korra swallowed hard. Asami's driving gloves were warm from her body heat and soft under her hand. She tugged her back towards her. "I want to talk," she said.
Asami hesitated, and for a split second, Korra thought she would refuse. Instead, she let out a resigned groan and sat back down next to Korra, sweeping her hair from her eyes.
"What did you want to talk about?"
Korra bit her lip and glanced away. "Um, listen, about you and Mako..."
"I know about the kiss, Korra."
She felt the pit in her stomach transform into a boulder. "Oh."
Asami stared down fixedly at her folded hands, pointedly avoiding the Avatar's gaze, while Korra suddenly became transfixed with the fire's dying embers again.
"Are you...mad?" she asked tentatively, daring to glance over at her.
"...I don't know," Asami admitted. "I mean, I'm definitely angry, but I don't know if I'm angry at you or Mako or...my father, or..."
Korra inclined her head in a brief nod. She swallowed, wincing at the knot in her throat. "Right."
"I just don't understand why," Asami said, looking over at her again. Her expression was stricken, and Korra had to stop herself from flinching at the raw pain Asami was letting bleed through. "I know that you like him, and I'm not mad at you for that, but why did you guys kiss when you both knew I was with him? What happened?"
Korra stared down at her folded hands in miserable, terrible silence. Somehow, in the heat of the moment, she never bothered imagining what would happen if she had to answer to Mako's prissy, beautiful, elegant, rich girlfriend - much less while sitting in the cold darkness and after she had given up her home and only family to stay on Korra's side.
She was painfully aware of Asami's gaze fixed on her, reading her fidgeting and fumbling, patient but judgmental nevertheless. She absently reached up to twirl the hair of her bangs through her fingers, casting about for something to say that wouldn't be quite as awful as the truth sounded in her head.
"I just wasn't...thinking," Korra sighed. "All I cared about at the moment was how much I liked Mako and wanted to be with him. I wasn't...thinking about you. It wasn't to spite you, you just...didn't..."
"Matter," Asami finished in a cold deadpan.
Korra's eyes widened when she processed her mistake.
"You do matter!" she said quickly. "You're a good friend, Asami-"
"But not good enough for you to stop yourself from kissing my boyfriend."
"It wasn't personal," Korra groaned, rubbing clenched fists into her eyes. "I barely even knew you."
"That didn't make it okay," Asami said, scowling.
Asami continued glaring at her for a moment before slumping to the side with a sigh. "I guess it doesn't matter," she said softly. "We're in the middle of a war. There are more important things."
Korra nodded slowly. She knew intuitively she was off the hook, and a huge part of her wanted to just excuse herself and go to sleep, but some tiny hunch in the back of her mind was keeping her rooted in place. The universe was delivering on a silver platter the opportunity to clear the air between them, and although Asami seemed willing to accept what Korra said and move on, Korra suspected that it wasn't enough.
She tilted her head towards Korra, eyes lidded with exhaustion.
A beat of silence passed before Asami sat up slightly. "Really?"
Korra nodded, swallowing the lump in her throat. "Really," she insisted, forcing herself to lift her eyes and meet Asami's gaze. "I know that what I did hurt you, and..." she paused, taking a shuddery breath, "that's not something that I'm proud of."
After a moment's pause, Asami reached up to give Korra's shoulder a quick squeeze, making her heart jump slightly and unexpectedly in her chest.
"How long have you liked Mako?" Asami asked companionably.
Startled, Korra laughed nervously. "Ah...since I first saw him, to be honest. I watched him win a pro-bending tournament, and...that was all I needed, apparently."
Something odd flickered across Asami's face. "So...since you first came to the city?"
"More or less."
"Wow." She paused. "...You must have really disliked me when I started dating him."
Her chest tightened. "What?! No, of course not, don't be-"
"Korra," Asami cut in, giving her an exasperated look. "It's okay. You don't have to lie to spare my feelings."
Korra blinked, glancing away in embarrassment. "Well...I wouldn't say dislike. I was just..." she trailed off, reaching up to scratch the back of her neck.
"...Jealous?" Asami prompted softly.
She sighed. "Have you seen yourself, Asami?" She gestured to the other girl with a flourish. "You're gorgeous. I didn't think I stood a chance."
"Are you serious?" Asami balked. "You're the Avatar. You could probably get anyone you wanted."
"Except Mako," Korra challenged.
Asami rolled her eyes. "He likes you, Korra. Trust me. Why wouldn't he?"
"Well, he has you as a girlfriend, doesn't he?" Korra shot back. "You're nice, you're smart, you're a good fighter, and you're pretty to boot."
"Maybe," Asami shrugged, "but it's not like you have nothing going for you, either, Korra." She ticked off points on her fingers. "You're driven, you're fun, you're gorgeous without trying, you're an amazing bender, and Mako...he cares for you. A lot. He was beside himself with worry when you were missing. I mean, we all were, but him especially. I think he kind of got on the Chief's nerves with it all."
A part of Korra leapt with joy at this, but she kept it from her face. "Are you guys staying together?"
"...I don't know," Asami said tiredly. "I still care about him a lot, but I don't know if I really want to be with him anymore." She sighed, combing her fingers through her hair. "It's complicated."
"I'm sorry," Korra said again, softer this time. "I wanted to let you talk about your dad, and I just wound up talking about myself."
Asami grabbed her hand and squeezed gently. "It's fine, really," she said reassuringly. "To be honest, I'm just glad we're talking. We never do anything."
"Kind of hard to go shopping and get our nails done when the city's been taken over," Korra quipped with a grin.
"Well, yeah," Asami laughed, "but even before that we didn't really spend much time together. We only hung out with Bolin and Mako were there, too."
"To be honest, I didn't think there would be anything for us to do together that we'd both be interested in," Korra admitted. "I'm not really much for girly stuff, and I didn't know you liked fighting and stuff."
"How do you know you don't like shopping and makeovers if you've never tried them, though?" Asami teased, not even trying to fight down her smile.
"It just seems so dull," Korra said, rolling her eyes. "I have plenty of clothes, and I don't need makeup."
"No, you don't," Asami agreed. She reached out to gently brush a few errant strands of hair away from Korra's forehead, studying her closely. "You're really pretty, you know."
Korra blushed, heart skipping a beat when Asami's fingertips accidentally skimmed her cheek. "Not as pretty as you are, though."
In the honeyed light, she could have easily imagined the dark blush on Asami's face as she carefully traced her fingers along Korra's jawline before dropping her hand away. "I disagree," she said frankly.
Korra shrugged, looking down in hopes of hiding how flustered their proximity was making her. "Is that why you wear makeup?" Korra asked. "Do you not think you're pretty?"
Asami drew away slightly, taken aback. "What? No, I...that's not what I meant. I mean, I know I'm attractive."
"So why do you wear makeup?" Korra asked, genuinely puzzled.
Asami looked thoughtful. She reached up to trace her own cheekbone with a pensive frown. "You know, I'm not sure," she admitted. "I guess I just like it."
"You don't need it."
"I know," she said with a small smile. "But I still like wearing it. I like the way it looks. I've always found it was a good way to express myself."
Korra shrugged. "Never thought of it that way." She paused, biting her lip nervously. "I have to admit, I'm kind of curious about what makeup would look like on me.
"I'll do your makeup for you one day when this is all over," Asami promised. She paused, tilting her head at Korra. "I could even do your eyes now, if you like."
Her pulse fluttered in a way that made her pleasantly dizzy. "Um...sure!"
Asami reached into one of the pockets on her pants leg and retrieved a tiny red bag, no larger than her hand. She unzipped it and tipped the pastel-colored contents to the hard ground with a gentle clatter. She plucked up a small tin and unscrewed it.
"All right," she said, "face me, shut your eyes, and hold still."
Korra obeyed. A moment later, she felt something soft brush against her eyelid, startling her. It was a surprisingly quick process - cool, wet sweeps and gentle tugs, carefully pressing the pigment down and smoothing it out. She was vaguely aware of the tips of Asami's fingers - she had taken her gloves off, touching Korra with her bare hands, and Korra was surprised to feel the callouses on her palms in spite of herself - brushing against her skin with something akin to tenderness. She had the unexpected thought that she'd do this more often if it meant Asami would keep touching her like this.
Korra flicked her eyes up. "How does it look?"
She removed a small, circular mirror from her bag and handed it to Korra. "See for yourself."
She took it and stared down at the reflective surface, blinking. She wasn't sure what she was expecting. It was just eye makeup and a bit of lipstick, but it was still a bit unreal, seeing on her own face. She pressed her fingertips to the corner of one eye, frowning contemplatively at the girl in the mirror who scowled in return.
"It's...different," she said finally.
Asami looked like she was fighting a smile. "You don't like it."
"No, I mean, it's - well, it doesn't look bad, I'm just -"
"Korra, it's okay," she laughed. "I'm serious. I think it looks fine, but that doesn't matter. You wear makeup for yourself, not other people."
"I'm sorry," Korra said sheepishly, handing the mirror back. "I really don't think it looks bad, it's just...not me."
Asami repacked the small bag. "It's fine, honestly. I'm not offended or anything."
Korra swallowed hard and nodded. "Um...does it wash off?"
"No," she said, pocketing the bag. "It's going to be on your skin for the rest of your life."
"I don't have any makeup remover, but it should more or less come off with water."
The night wore on slowly, the two of them chatting away all the while. Talking to Asami was so easy. Fires all around them burned low until the light left in the massive chamber was little more than a ghost. Exhaustion wrapped Korra in a tight blanket, and she found herself nodding off periodically. She couldn't pinpoint in retrospect when it happened, but at some point, she glanced over at Asami through half-lidded eyes to see her slumped on the floor against Naga, out like a light. She indulged in a small smile before grabbing one of the blankets they had been left and spreading it out over her friend. She curled against Naga's flank, and before she knew it, sleep took her, too.
Asami found Korra in the same spot the next night. This time, she sat without invitation, folding herself down daintily at Korra's side. A new kind of tension lit up the air between them, an electrical web of fears they didn't want to articulate and silent longing they couldn't mold into words.
It felt like the encampment around them was a painting or a model, something artificial, something false. Too-bright blankets, tattered and worn, fluttered on the walls high above them like flags. Light struggled through the gashes in faded canvas that had been stitched and re-stitched, the gaps between cracked and tired planks of wood cobbled together in ramshackle buildings and unstable watch towers.
Everything had happened too fast - the last day bleeding like watercolor into night and then, tomorrow, into a bloody dawn, surreal, sweeping and swirling around her in opaque, inky clouds of bewildering bursts of light and sound, refusing to settle long enough for her to process the information.
Asami felt real, though.
The trailing strokes settled into the familiar lines of Asami's face, and as the seemingly endless day spun on and on, Korra found herself glancing at her friend more and more, taking comfort in the small smiles Asami would grant her and the mutual exhaustion smeared on their faces that created a silent rapport between them.
She certainly looked real enough when she walked over, hands in her pockets, eyes downcast. Korra was relieved for her presence at her side, a brief ray of blinding sunlight cutting through the swirling dust clouds in her head. Despite the haze of fatigue she'd spent the day in, Korra was immensely grateful they'd stayed up and talked last night. The diversion had kept her from dwelling too much on the fight in front of her, stopping herself from getting wound too tight.
Korra looked over at her, silently drinking in the sight of her friend sitting by her side. Her spine was rigid, hands clasped so hard it probably hurt, head bowed so that her hair shielded her face from Korra's view.
"Big day tomorrow," Asami said in a hushed voice after Korra didn't speak.
Korra blinked a few times as though roused from a trance. "Y-yeah," she said, rubbing one eye and looking away.
"Are you scared?"
"Of Amon?" she scoffed softly. "Of course not. I can deal with him."
"I'm sure," Asami said. "You and Mako are both amazing benders."
Korra felt like there was something else that Asami wanted to say but decided at the last second to swallow. Korra's brows tipped gently in concern. "What about you?"
Asami shook her head slowly. She tilted her face towards Korra. "No," she said, voice all sparks and steel. "I'm ready to stop my father."
She jerked her head in a quick nod. Her heart was fluttering almost unpleasantly; her chest felt hollow.
She swallowed hard, trying to carefully shape her foggy thoughts into something solid, something real. All her mind had to offer was the warm knot of happiness in her throat at Asami's presence, the puzzled buzzing at the base of her skull at the feeling, the way that something akin to guilt pricked at the back of her eyes.
"I'm sorry that we got off on the wrong foot," Korra tried. "I mean, I...I really enjoyed talking to you last night, and I feel a bit...stupid for wasting all that time not doing it." She absently scratched out a pattern in the dirt to distract herself from her own thoughts. "We're friends, aren't we?" she asked anxiously.
Asami almost looked hurt at the question. "Why wouldn't we be?"
"Oh, I...no reason."
She almost choked on the blatant lie, and she didn't even have time to catch her breath before the truth tumbled out on its own.
"Okay, Asami, look, I can understand if you don't want to be friends with me because of the way I acted, but...I also wanted to let you know that talking to you last night made me feel better than I've felt in ages. You're really easy to talk to, and you...make me happy. I'm just sorry it took me this long to figure it out."
She expected Asami to be angry. It was fine. Korra was being upfront for a reason, after all. Instead, Asami scooped up Korra's hand and gently laced their fingers together. She felt Asami's head rest against her shoulder, soft black hair tickling Korra's exposed skin.
"You make me happy, too," Asami admitted candidly, her voice skimming over Korra's skin like silk. "It's kind of hurtful to know that's how you felt about me-"
Korra winced, bracing herself -
"- but I don't want that to get in the way of things. You apologized. It's in the past." She gave her hand a gentle squeeze. "I like you a lot and I want you in my life. You really are amazing, Korra."
Korra laughed nervously, stroking Asami's gloved knuckles with her thumb. "We'll have a night out when all this is over," she promised. "Just us. We'll grab dinner and go for a walk. I'll go shopping or something if you let me teach you how to ride Naga."
She felt Asami nuzzle her with her forehead and wondered why her heart jumped like that. "Will she throw me off into a fountain or something ridiculous like that?"
Laughter, brittle and brief. "Okay," she said. "It's a deal." She sighed, pushing herself upright, and Korra felt unwittingly disappointed at the aborted contact. "I just hope we get the chance."
Korra jerked, whipping around to give her a stunned look, jaw dropped. "Are you really thinking that way?" she asked.
Asami squeezed her hand so hard it hurt.
"I'm just worried," she whispered. She looked up, eyes brimming. "What if...what if one of us doesn't come back?"
Korra gasped sharply. "Asami, don't say that. Of course we'll-"
She had no warning, no hint that Asami was about to do what she did. Something in her eyes just snapped and before Korra knew what was happening, Asami had grabbed her shoulder, pulled her in, and kissed her.
Korra froze, dazed, heart racing. Asami's lips were warm and soft, and she kissed Korra almost chastely, pressure barely present as if expecting her advance to be spurned. She pulled away before Korra even had time to react, resting her fingertips against her temple, burning face hidden.
"I'm sorry," she muttered. "I-I don't know what-"
Korra grabbed her wrists and pulled her hands away from her face, ducked her head down, and fleetingly brushed their lips together. Asami paused for a moment and locked eyes with Korra, expression uncomprehending. Korra gave her a tiny, encouraging smile, and a euphoric grin spread across Asami's face before Korra moved in to kiss her again. She let go of her wrists after a moment and cradled her face briefly before threading her fingers back through her thick hair, holding her in place. Asami sighed happily and pressed closer, settling one hand against Korra's face, stroking her cheek tentatively. Her smooth tongue traced the seam of Korra's lips, startling her, hand on her waist and guiding her closer-
One of the boys snored loudly, startling them apart abruptly. Korra's hands fell from Asami's hair to grip her shoulders as they both glanced over surreptitiously. Asleep, both of them. Korra heaved a soft sigh of relief, resting her forehead against Asami's shoulder without thinking. "Maybe this is a bad time."
Asami was silent for a moment, hands settled tentatively at Korra's hips, breath still coming in deep, heavy pants. Korra sighed and curled closer, nuzzling Asami's neck without thinking, half-prepared to fall asleep settled there against her.
Asami reached up and grabbed her hands, standing and pulling a startled Korra to her feet along with her. Without a word, she circled around Naga and started off towards one of he far walls of the vast chambers, Korra stumbling along after her in wordless bewilderment. She led her to one of the tiny shacks, this one abandoned and not terribly close to any others that were currently occupied.
Korra gave Asami a nonplussed look. "You're serious?"
She didn't look at her. Her entire body was rigid and tense, Korra's hand still in her iron grip.
"If you really don't want to, go back," she said stiffly. "I mean it. It's fine, I won't be upset by it." She glanced over her shoulder at Korra, green eyes bright and burning. "Otherwise, yes, I'm serious. I can't remember the last time I was so serious."
She wasn't sure if it was the desperation in Asami's body language, the way her fingers were wrapped so tight around her hand that it hurt, her hardened expression, her suddenly wild eyes, or something else entirely, but Korra found that she did not at all want to leave.
She pulled Asami in and kissed her, and Asami leaned into Korra for a split second before gently but firmly pushing her away. With only a hint of hesitation in her movements, she shoved aside the thick curtain and dragged Korra through the doorway.
The shack was bare, nothing but the floor and the thin light filtering in from the fires and electric bulbs lit in the rest of the chamber. Asami released Korra's hands quickly, pulled her gloves off and tossed them thoughtlessly to the side. Impressively steady hands reached up to unbuckle with the fasteners on her racing coat with brisk efficiency, her head bowed so that her hair covered her face.
The coat fell open, and Asami shrugged her way out of it with a deliberate carelessness, revealing a black undershirt, sleeveless and form-fitting. She knelt in silence and, to Korra's mild surprise, spread the coat out carefully on the ground. She glanced up at Korra through her thick lashes and smiled, holding out one hand in invitation. Korra carefully took Asami's hand and folded herself down in front of her, pulling her in for a tentative kiss. Asami softly freed her hand from Korra's gentle grip and skimmed her searching palm up Korra's arm, humming her approval. She fell back against the ground, tugging gently at Korra to pull her along with her. She landed on top of her and settled comfortably against her body.
Asami's enthusiasm was almost overwhelming and certainly unexpected. It was as though she was starving for affection and Korra was the only person she wanted it from. She caught Korra's lower lip between her own and sucked gently, the lightest brush of her teeth sending a tremor through Korra. Her hands slipped carefully under the hem of Korra's shirt and pushed it up, hands roaming eagerly across newly bared skin. Korra gasped softly at the unexpected contact and they separated. She pressed her forehead against Asami's. "I'm sorry," she choked out softly. "I...don't really know what I'm doing."
Asami offered her a comforting smile, stroking her cheek lightly with her knuckles. "Don't worry," she said reassuringly. "You're doing fine."
Confidence fortified again, Korra gave her an irresistible smile and dove right back in. Kissing Asami was like nothing Korra had ever known. Every contact between the two of them, no matter how fleeting, seemed to strike a spark that fizzed pleasantly on Korra's skin. It was infectious and delicious, it was full of an unnamed hunger, and Korra never wanted to stop feeling that way.
Still trying to get a hold on what the rush of heat in her stomach was driving her to do, she tentatively allowed Asami to take the lead at first, curious as to what the other girl had up her sleeves. Clearly, Asami knew what she was doing. She held Korra in place with her hand tangled hopelessly in her hair, threatening to pull it loose from her ponytail, insistently tasting Korra further and sending another exciting jolt through her body. Asami pulled back, but before Korra had time to whine her protest, she had returned, lips against her neck, thrillingly light against the sensitive skin.
"Asami," Korra breathed, tilting her head to press a clumsy kiss against her hair.
With the grace she always seemed to possess, Asami took hold of Korra's shoulders and reversed their positions, movements deft and fluid. She sat upright and straddled Korra, kneeling over her, flushed and disheveled and gorgeous.
"Is this okay?" she asked, her hands hovering over Korra without touching her. "You're still okay with this?"
The heat in Asami's eyes emboldened Korra. Smirking, she pushed herself upright and yanked her soft blue shirt up and over her head, throwing it carelessly to the side, followed closely with the cloth bindings she wore underneath. An uncharacteristic surge of shyness overtook her briefly when it struck her that she was bare, and she crossed her arms hard over her chest, blushing and staring fixedly at the floor. Asami seemed to understand. She kissed Korra's cheek, nuzzling her and stroking her arm. Her fingers threaded through Korra's hair, carefully tugging it out of it's restraints until it was loose and framing her face. They sat there in the silence, Asami still straddling Korra, arms draped around her, hands stroking her hair and face and back and whatever else she could reach. Slowly, Korra relaxed, her arms falling away from her body as she leaned into Asami.
Asami's hands found hers, fingers lacing as Asami gently brushed her lips against Korra's. She eased her back against the ground again. She briefly pinned her hands to the ground on either side of her head before running her fingertips lightly down her arms. Korra shivered and leaned up into the kiss only for Asami to break away. She dragged her lips on a teasing trail across Korra's jaw and back down to her neck, nipping her pulse carefully and pulling a soft moan from her. Asami murmured soft, affectionate nonsense against her hair, tracing Korra's lips with her thumb.
After a few fleeting moments spent pondering the dilapidated ceiling with half-lidded eyes, she reached up and seized one of Asami's wrists, guiding her hand pointedly down to one of her breasts and holding it there. She heard a soft, breathy laugh, and Asami ran her thumb over the peak of her breast, squeezing her and biting her shoulder lightly and making her gasp. She wrapped her legs around Asami's waist in a subconscious response to the warmth gathering in her stomach and held her down, burying her face briefly in her sweet-smelling hair as she slowly nipped her way lower.
She hooked her fingers on Korra's waistband and carefully stripped away the rest of her clothing, glancing up at her as though expecting her to protest. Korra pushed herself on her elbows and curiously regarded her with tired eyes, fascinated by the way the meager light danced in Asami's deep black hair and made shadows play across their sliding skin. She wanted to see Asami, too, she realized, and she sat the rest of the way up, carefully pushing Asami upright and resting her forehead against Asami's shoulder. Korra's hands slid along her legs and over her hips, stroking her stomach lightly through her shirt.
"Can I...?" she sat back and her eyes flicked upwards to look at Asami, who reached up to carefully comb Korra's bangs away from her face.
"Yes," she said softly, smiling. "Of course."
Korra smiled, too, fluttering and excited, and pulled Asami's shirt off before she could lose her nerve. She tentatively stroked her through the sturdy-looking black bra she was wearing, pressing her lips to the base of her throat and slowly trailing them down.
"Hm-mm," Asami hummed softly, catching Korra's chin and pulling her up to kiss her. Her tongue slipped into Korra's mouth again, and Korra leaned into the kiss, combing her hands through Asami's dark hair and holding her against her. Slowly, Asami reclined Korra back down, breaking the kiss to flick her tongue at Korra's jaw before sliding back down her body. "You first."
She blinked hard a couple of times and pushed herself up far enough to look at her. Asami settling between her legs made something click in Korra's mind, and she flushed anew when she realized what her intentions were. Perhaps Asami noticed some shift in Korra's mood, because she glanced up with a reassuring smile, stroking Korra's hip lightly.
"Have you done this before?" she asked patiently, although she probably already knew the answer.
"No." She glanced down, suddenly and stupidly embarrassed.
Asami's hand stilled and she gave Korra a quick, reassuring squeeze.
"If you don't like something or you want to stop, tell me, and I'll stop," Asami said. She leaned down to brush her lips against Korra's stomach, silky hair slipping across her skin and tickling her pleasantly. "And let me know if you want me to do something different."
Asami devoted her full attention to Korra, licking and nipping her way down, lips tantalizingly soft against her skin, tongue warm, teeth plucking at something that sent a thrilling jolt to the spot between her legs where her desire was mounting the strongest. When Asami found the soft skin of her inner thigh, she gasped and fell back against the ground again, fists clenching hopelessly at the empty air. She pressed kisses to her leg, warm and wet and achingly soft, closer and closer to her center, pulling one of Korra's legs over her shoulder to allow for a better angle. The first caress of her tongue against the folds startled Korra, making her gasp again and buck her hips up slightly, and when Asami pulled the nub above her entrance between her lips and sucked it lightly, Korra couldn't stop herself from moaning the other girl's name.
Her tongue stroked Korra lightly as one finger slipped inside, teasing her with slow, shallow thrusts. Without thinking, she buried her hands in Asami's long tresses and pulled hard, fists clenched. The hand Asami had rested against Korra's leg tightened reflexively, and Korra loosened her grip, shaking slightly.
"C-can you..." she swallowed hard, eyes drifting shut. "Can you use another finger, and...and go harder?"
Asami complied, adding a second finger, curling them up against Korra's inner wall and putting more force behind her thrusts. Between her fingers crooked deep inside of her and her lips and tongue hot and wet against her, Asami had Korra all but incoherent. She detangled one hand from Asami's hair to press against her mouth when she could no longer bite back her sharp cries of pleasure, holding Asami closer, pressing insistently into her mouth. She felt a third finger slip inside, and she clenched hard, biting her lip. Finally, a particularly intense thrust coupled with an almost aggressive nip from Asami and a muffled murmur praising Korra's taste sent her over the edge, moaning Asami's name loudly and without care as she rode out the orgasm.
It took a few moments, but she stilled, unclenching her hand and allowing it to fall from Asami's hair, flopping uselessly against the ground. She took deep, slow breaths as she tried to get her bearings. Her head still spun from the force of her climax. She was dimly aware of Asami still settled between her thighs, absently tracing the curve of her torso with her fingertips and nuzzling her hip.
"Was that okay?" Asami asked softly, drawing circles on Korra's ribcage.
Korra thoughtlessly let out a breathless laugh. "More than okay," she assured her, lifting one hand to tiredly stroke Asami's hair.
Asami smiled, pushing herself upright. Her buzzing mind finally calming down into a smoother sea, Korra took a moment to admire her. Asami might not be as muscular as Korra, but she was fit – hardly unexpected for a girl who spent so long training with martial arts. Korra wanted to pull Asami beneath her and map out her body with her hands and mouth, feel her and watch her come apart the way she did for Korra.
She sat up and seized her shoulders, catching her lips with a lazy kiss. She tasted different from before, and it took a moment before it clicked in Korra's head that it was herself she was tasting on Asami's lips. She shivered and held her closer, steering Asami around and firmly pushing her back to lay down on the ground without breaking her coaxing kiss. Asami's smiled against her lips, her hands settled on Korra's hips, nails biting her skin. Taking her cues from Asami, she licked her way down to her neck, sucking at her skin. Asami moaned her approval softly, urging Korra on, and she kissed a fluttering trail down her neck, down over her collarbones, down to the valley between her breasts. She sucked at the skin, biting her and then soothing the mark with a sweep of her tongue before repeating the action in a new spot. Judging the way Asami was threading her fingers through Korra's hair to hold her down against her, she guessed that whatever she was doing was the right thing.
She slipped her hands beneath Asami's arched back and unhooked the bra, slipping it off and casting it aside. She peppered a few kisses against Asami's newly exposed skin before moving to take off her pants as well before her nerve left her. She was caught between the desire to stay here forever with no cares to trouble her, Asami's sliding hands and warm skin and soft lips forming her entire world, and gloomily remembering that they had things to do tomorrow. Big, important, fate-of-the-world things that couldn't afford to have the Avatar face them half asleep. The battle tomorrow seemed so far away, so abstract and unreal, but Korra couldn't let that fool her. Reluctantly, she ignored her desire to linger in the moment and pushed forward, silently promising to take her time with Asami at some later date if Asami would have her still.
When she finally had Asami naked beneath her, she leaned back to study her silently, hungry memorizing her dips and curves. She glanced up to catch Asami's eye and saw that she was smiling at her. She returned the smile, jittery and excited, trailing her fingertips along Asami's legs. Leaning down, she kissed Asami's stomach and licked a trail down to her center. Here, Asami fell still, perhaps feeling anxious that Korra would find her unattractive, but Korra dove right in, eager to taste Asami and see what this was like firsthand.
She ran her tongue up Asami's folds experimentally, remembering the spot Asami had focused on for her and pressing her lips there insistently. Asami whimpered, body tensing. Korra repeated the action, and this time Asami gasped out a choked version of her name, tilting her hips towards Korra and pointedly wrapping one leg around her, pulling her closer. Grinning to herself, Korra hoisted both legs over her shoulders and pulled Asami closer. Her tongue dipped briefly inside Asami before stroking up her folds to flick at the nub at the top, making Asami writhe and moan lightly.
Wanting to feel her, Korra slipped two fingers inside her opening, making Asami gasp again. She was already slick, and Korra easily added a third finger, thrusting hard against her and making her cry out.
"Korra–!" she tensed around her, trembling. "M-more, Korra, please–"
Her words twisted off into another cry as Korra dug her fingers deeper into Asami, pressing them against the spot on her inner wall that had all but driven Korra over the edge. She tilted her head to brush a kiss against Asami's leg before returning her attention to her clit, licking it and sucking on it as hard as she dared. Asami was so worked up that it didn't take much more coaxing from Korra to finish her off. Asami tensed and spasmed around her, moaning her name and holding her close until she had settled again.
Korra detangled herself from Asami's legs. She settled down against her, folding her arms over Asami's stomach and resting her head there. She licked her lips and grinned
Asami laughed, tenderly tracing Korra's hair away from her forehead. "Hi."
Her smile lingered for a moment longer before it hit her how tired she was. It was a pleasant sort of fatigue, she thought, until she realized how late it was and how early they had to get up.
With a reluctant sigh, she pushed herself upright. "We, um...we should probably get some rest," she said, stretching.
"...Oh." Asami sat up, tucking her hair behind her ear. "Oh, right."
They both gathered their clothes in awkward silence. Korra swallowed a few times to try to get rid of the knot in her throat, but was unsuccessful. She was completely dressed before she pushed past her anxiety enough to speak.
Asami straightened her sleeveless black shirt fastidiously, her eyes fixed on her hands. "Yeah?"
"Was..." she cleared her throat in hopes that she would sound less strangled. "Was, uh, was that a...one-time...kind of thing?"
Eyes still on the floor, Asami slowly shrugged her way into her jacket. She looked up and locked gazes with Korra. "Is that what you want it to be?"
Hope sparked in Korra's chest at the open-ended answer, but she did her best to keep it off her face. It was a failing attempt.
"No," she blurted before she could order her thoughts. "No, I...I like you. And I liked...that. Doing that with you."
Asami lost the battle to fight down her smile. She finished buttoning up her coat and pushed herself to her feet, offering a hand to pull Korra up as well.
"We can talk more about this...after everything tomorrow is taken care of," she said, green eyes serious.
"Of course," Korra said, flustered.
"But..." she framed Korra's face in her hands and gave her a kiss as chaste as their first. Korra melted into her, arms looped around her waist and holding Asami close.
"Can we stay in here tonight?" Korra burst softly.
Asami hesitated only a second before nodding. She broke herself from Korra's arms and softly told her to wait, slipping out through the doorway. Korra stared blankly at the swaying curtain as it fell back in place, reflecting on how loudly she had been calling Asami's name and how there had been nothing between her and the rest of the cavern besides a piece of cloth and a few sticks of wood, and felt her face burn red again.
Asami returned a couple of minutes later with her sleeping roll. She dropped it to the ground and kicked it out, crawling inside and holding out a hand in invitation to Korra. She accepted, folding herself down into the warm blankets. Asami looped an arm around her middle, pressed a kiss against the top of her head, and fell still.
Korra wasn't sure how long she lay there awake, secure in Asami's embrace and hyper-aware of every sound and shifting shadow of the dreamscape around her. She curled closer to Asami, nuzzling her neck and focusing on how warm she was and how nice it felt to hold and be held. The surreal knowledge of what lay before her and the myopic, dreamlike atmosphere of the cavern around her seemed a little further away from her miniature fortress in Asami's arms, and with time, she found herself able to drift into a blessedly dreamless sleep.
It was the smell of breakfast that woke her up. Korra stirred reluctantly, cracking an eye to take in the filtered morning light scattered through the hut. Asami was still next to her, and Korra remembered immediately why she was in Asami's sleeping bag. She allowed herself a smile before giving Asami a quick squeeze, kissing her jaw. "Hey."
She squirmed, stretched, glancing down at Korra through one bleary eye. "G'morning."
"What time is it?"
"Dunno." Reluctantly, she detangled herself from Asami's arms and sat up. "They're making breakfast, though."
Asami forced herself not to grimace. "Great."
They pulled on their boots, Asami rolled up her sleeping roll, and they stepped outside into the cool, hazy morning light of the cavern. The boys greeted the same as normal, and no one commented on the fact that the two had slept alone in an abandoned hut, far from any of the fires. Korra couldn't decide if she was grateful for that or not.
"We're going to head out soon," Iroh said as they gathered around for some gruel. "Everyone knows what they're doing?"
Korra nodded, scowling fiercely. "I'm ready."
She felt Asami go tense next to her, and without thinking, she reached out and grabbed her hand, giving it a hard squeeze. Asami smiled at her and said, "I'm ready, too."
Here, a couple of people around the circle gave them an odd look, but the girls ignored them.
True to Iroh's word, as soon as breakfast was finished, everyone scattered to prepare themselves. Too soon, they had gathered again, this time to divide into two teams and then part ways, Korra and Mako decked head to toe in full Equalist gear.
Bolin came over to give Korra a hug goodbye, and she returned his embrace strongly, assuring him that Naga would stay with him and protect him. Over his shoulder, she saw Mako approach Asami. Her heart tightened for a moment as she watched them exchange a few words and Asami lean up to brush a kiss against his cheek, but then Asami locked eyes with her and Korra relaxed again. Ducking around Bolin, she ran over and threw her arms around Asami's neck, smiling in spite of herself when Asami hugged her tight.
"Be careful, Korra."
She gave her a squeeze. "I will."
Before she could think about it, she pulled back and gave Asami a brief but hard kiss on the lips, not caring what the others thought. Asami looked dazed for a second, but she shook it off, smiling and waving over her shoulder as she pulled herself up on Naga. Without another word, the groups parted ways.
Mako was silent for a couple of minutes as he and Korra walked, and Korra suddenly remembered Asami saying that he probably liked her. She heaved a sigh and glanced over at him. He didn't look hurt, but he didn't look thrilled either. He noticed that she was looking and paused there in the hallway, drawing her to a stop as well.
Amber eyes flicked up to meet Korra's, studying her face for a moment. To her surprise, he smiled.
"I want you to be happy," he said candidly.
She swallowed hard. "I am happy."
"Then that's what matters." He gave her shoulder a squeeze. "Come on, let's go put Amon in his place."
And they set off again, Korra's heart feeling lighter. The fate of the city – possibly the world – was on her, but she felt no weight on her shoulders. In fact, Korra felt sure as ever that she could take on anything.