Korra had been fighting for as long as she could remember.
Fighting her mother when she had wanted to brush her hair. Fighting her father when he wouldn't take her hunting. Fighting her friends in every little competition.
So it made a lot of sense to her that she would join the military after high school. At least then she would be fighting for a cause greater than herself.
When she applied for the position in the Marines, she felt no fear only a combination of self-gratification and self-worth. She was doing the right thing. This was what she was meant to do: Protect her country, her countrymen, and her freedom.
Basic Training was a breeze. Korra had always been athletic so the physical duties required by her nation's military was something that she found familiarity and solace in; however, the discipline that was expected of her was another thing entirely. The young woman was a restless spirit and found it difficult to follow commands given to her.
But, somehow, she managed to fight through the disrespect of her superiors and made it through basic training. She was ready to fight.
It was only the night before she left to be stationed in Afghanistan that she didn't want to fight anymore. Korra was scared for the first time in a long time.
So, she sat at the bar, nursing a tall glass of water because she was too young to drink alcohol while her stomach churned in her rational fear of the unknown. She could be killed.
The wooden barstool next to her creaked and she saw a blur of a figure sit beside her.
"I'll have an apple martini please. Shaken. Dry. Thank you."
Unable to help herself, Korra glanced over at the woman and gave an unconvincing smile. "Hello."
The woman smiled down at her and offered her hand, which Korra managed to shake despite the nervous tremors that wracked her body. With an elegantly dainty hand, she brushed a piece of hair away from her face, "Hello. My name is Asami."
"Korra," she chuckled nervously, "Well, Private Korra."
Asami nodded, "No wonder your hands are shaking so bad. I heard that they were going to ship a few more of our finest overseas tomorrow. Thank you for your service, Private Korra."
Stroking her hair ornaments, Korra replies, "Well, this will be my first tour."
If possible, the taller woman's face softens more so, "Oh. I wish you luck. Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?"
Korra's blue eyes cast down to her water and she lets out a huge sigh, her posture immediately deflating, "Can you get me something stronger?"
Something stronger comes in the form of firewine. It's Asami's own personal bottle, one she says she has saved for a special occasion and the year on the label makes Korra's eyes bug. She can't drink this. It's way too expensive.
"I can't drink this. It's way too expensive, ma'am." A formality breeds a kind of detachment that Korra needs to place between them. Otherwise, these two years will be even more of a hell than she could have ever imagined.
With a wave of her hand, the heiress -as Korra has learned within the hour they've been together- dismisses her argument, "Please. I want you to drink it. It's the least I can do to help you feel more confident going into this."
Wiping her hands on her dress blues, Korra's heart thumps in her chest, "Thank you, ma'am."
The firewine is red as blood as it pours into the crystal glasses. Asami brings them over to the loveseat, handing Korra hers and sitting gracefully in the seat next to the anxious woman. When Korra tips the glass to her lips, she immediately feels its burning warmth spread through her and ease her tension.
A hand falls to her knee and squeezes softly, "Korra, I want to help you. Tell me what I can do." Their proximity leaves little space between them and Korra can smell the spiced wine on Asami's breath: The respirations are intoxicating enough.
Slowly, Korra leans in, wanting to fight her desires because she knows getting attached to someone before war is a bad idea but she can't seem to stop herself when she brings her hand to caress her smooth jawline.
"What can I do, Korra?" Her voice is a whisper, burning through her like the firewine.
Capturing her lips in a kiss, the formalities disappear and the attachment forms stronger.
Without an alarm, Korra wakes up at three in the morning tangled in a naked heap on Asami's bed. Quickly, she dresses in her clothes so she can stop by her apartment and pick up her bags.
The floor creaks and Asami groans her name. It sounds beautifully groggy. Time is short, but Korra returns to her bed sitting on the edge and smoothing her calloused fingers through her locks that are tangled from their love making and sleep.
"1-542-984-4231," Asami mumbles against her suit pants, clutching at her desperately. "If you can, call me. Please."
Korra wants to cry. Wants to stay. Wants to stop fighting.
But she hasn't even started, so she resists the urge to strip and crawl right back into bed with her.
As Asami drifts back into sleep, Korra presses a kiss to her cheek and leaves wiping at the tears that spill across her tanned skin.
She commits the number to memory.
Timing is never right. The calls they have are short and choppy. The phones that Korra uses barely get a signal in this God-forsaken desert and the quality is poor and filled with static.
"Asami, can you hear me?" The static makes her voice fade and Asami has to push the phone as close to her ear as possible; but, it's enough.
"Six more months and I'm yours."
Six months is a long time. Waiting makes it longer, but it finally arrives.
One night and a few shitty phone calls was all it took to make Korra want to stop fighting. One tour was all it took for her to realize that fighting anything and everything isn't all she's made it out to be. But getting shot at does put a damper on anyone's spirit.
She's out of combat now, though. Every sudden sound makes her flinch and she feels ridiculous. Like a puppy that has known so much abuse that it doesn't recognize a normal life style when it finally has it. Always living in fear. Always fighting to survive.
The airport terminal is a fucking nightmare for her. So many people, hostiles. So many noises, gunshots, bombs. Too many. Too much.
Carrying her heavy bag in her hand, Korra searches the crowd for Asami. So many people.
Immediately dropping the bag and falling to one knee, Korra moves to pull her handgun from her holster at her thigh only… it's not there. But Asami is and, oh God, she almost figuratively shot her.
Heels click on the tile of the airport, miniature machine gunfire and when Asami embraces her on the ground she finally feels relaxed. She'd only seen Asami's face once, but she remembers every plane of it as she kisses it desperately.
Tears patter the heiress' t-shirt as Korra drops her head to her shoulder and a warm hand slides up and down Korra's back, "It's okay, Korra. You're safe. You can stop fighting. I'm here."
But Asami is wrong, Korra won't ever stop fighting. At least, she won't stop fighting for her.