I OWN NOTHING
It's been so long since I felt like a child, back in my younger days when I'd pester people, watch cartoons and anime, eat junk food, and get put into padded rooms while wearing a tight white jacket.
Carefree adorable dorks
"It's okay, Naruto…"
"No, it's not okay! Korra, you are bleeding!"
"Says the guy who wanted to be on top of me…"
"Don't change the subject… Okay, damn it… It's sure starting to hurt with me pinning you down."
"Go all the way, oh wise and caring master of mine."
"Sarcasm right now?"
"Hey, I expected this to be less painful! I mean… I trained for crying out loud! I have gone through so much stretching and training regimes before meeting you to be used to this by now!"
"Fine… Here goes!"
"Damn it, I told you-"
"I-It's fine, just keep going."
Bolin soon stepped in, "Hey, guys! What're you… oh…" he paused as his brain stopped and then pointed the obvious, "Shouldn't you loosen up?" He pointed at the blond and the dusky skinned girl who were on the floor with Naruto's legs wrapped around Korra's in a tight leg lock, with his right arm around her neck and his left one used to lock both his and Korra's free arm in the lock so she didn't elbow his kidneys. In the middle of testing this one out in the training room at the pro-bending stadium while Bolin went out for some snacks, the Avatar had tried to break herself free which ended with her bloody nose.
The duo moved up from the ground with Naruto in his fighting outfit and Korra in her every day clothes, "I thought I could knock him out, but before I could move my legs to move his weight, well, you can see where they are…" she said and kindly accepted the towel Naruto gave her to wipe her injured nose.
The master sighed, "You still need to learn this lock first if you want to properly knock someone out without hurting them, and then I'll teach you how to break locks." Then he approached his apprentice and looked at her in the eye, "But I'll admit, trying to kick me off my legs was a good start, but something that can get countered if you don't hold my arms. Remember what I've been telling you about how to toss someone?"
Korra snapped her fingers, "That's it." She approached the master and grinned as she got right into his face, making Naruto feel uncomfortable. She then grabbed his arms and, to his shock, wrapped them around her body while giving the whiskered martial artist a far too wide grin with half-lidded eyes… and with his arms still around her body, she spun, slammed her hips on his waist, and tossed him over her shoulders. Laying on his back, the master had to admit she was good.
Naruto grunted as could've kept his compliments to himself, but the smile Korra gave him made him have a few good memories of how he used to fool people as a kid. "That wasn't the lock I was using, but close enough." He chuckled as he got up and dusted himself before cracking his backbones, "You're still trying to use too much force in your strikes."
"Hey, I'm the Avatar, aren't I supposed to go all out?" Korra retorted with a smirk.
Naruto palmed his face, "Then what of your previous incarnation, Miss Deal-With-It?" he asked as he remained calm and looked at her with a stoic expression, "If I remember correctly, when he was still a kid younger than you instead of going all out and kill Ozai, Aang gave him a fitting punishment so the man faced his actions."
Korra sighed, "I know… Still, that was Aang, and this is me. I am different… Heck, I hear he was humble, the last time I was humble was when I tossed you just now." she said with a smirk at the end.
Naruto chuckled, "Still, learn from the kid. He decided to give the tyrant of a madman a fitting punishment for turning his kids into monsters consumed by anger. I even heard that Aang had to learn how to calm them down with some help so Zuko could be the benevolent ruler he ended as. In the end, I think that worked for the best. Aang was a kid that remained pure of heart and didn't end up as a murderer while taking away a man's power to harm others, and he gave people whose lives were misery a chance for redemption."
Korra nodded, "You're right, and that's why I want to surpass Aang and be a better fighter and a far better Avatar."
Naruto raised his hand, "Trust me, I've met powerful people, but very few of them were worth looking up to. If you want to learn how to control power, learn to control yourself…" he chuckled, "I kinda had to learn that by literally beating myself…" he remembered a waterfall and his reflection, and how far he was from truly being strong. "Not pleasant, but it did help me know how I messed up in my life."
Korra smiled, but took it all in, "Okay… I guess I am cocky, but that's part of the charm, isn't it?" she asked with a smug grin which made the master smile and laugh a bit.
Bolin knitted his eyebrows in confusion, "Okay, not like I wanna be disrespectful, but for a dude a few years older than me, you talk like you're far older than me…" he then looked at the ceiling and scratched his head, "That made more sense in my head."
Naruto chuckled again, "Well, sometimes I feel like I'm older than I look… I did fight a lot as a kid, so there's that to teach me some humbleness when guys bigger than me kicked my ass around."
Korra raised a brow, "No way, someone beat you?"
Naruto chuckled again as he walked to Korra with a mock wise look on his face, "I was a kid at the time, didn't know how to fight properly, and had to train a lot… I could've been learning how to master three elements at a very young age had I been a loud, stubborn, tomboyish martial arts student with femininity problems."
Korra blushed as she angrily raised a finger to the blond, "Hey, I can be a pretty girl if I try, you know? You just haven't seen me in a dress; otherwise you'd be drooling all over the floor at how damn good my hips look!" She emphasized her point by putting her hands on her hips and giving a waist bump to the air at her side.
"I actually like when a girl's not very feminine." Bolin said with a surprisingly serious face, "I mean, don't get me wrong: I wouldn't mind a lady being girly from time to time, but I gotta say I would rather go for one that defies beauty in her own way…" he then cringed at some memories, "Sadly, the only one who seems to get girls is my brother. I guess shooting fire is more attractive than getting covered in dirt."
Naruto inwardly laughed, 'Ok, that's a kindred spirit if I ever met one.' He then tried to cheer the mood, "Well, you're a great guy, you could get yourself any good lady if all you did was to be friendly and ask her out."
Bolin grinned, "You think? Oh, wait, is that how you and Korra are-"
The duo instantly started to wave their hands dismissively, "No! No, we're not… I mean, he/she is not my… We… Can we stop this speaking in unison now?" they said in perfect sync before slamming their foreheads as one. Korra then spoke with a hand on her face, "Seriously, we're just friends… I have yet to ask him out."
Naruto blinked, "Wait, I thought it was the dude the one supposed to ask the girl out."
Korra gave him a sassy grin, "Not on my rules, pal. This Avatar is always on top of things, even if it means having to put on a dress to impress."
Naruto inwardly sighed, 'What's the history with my family and tomboys?'
Bolin blinked in confusion, "Wait, does that make Naruto the bottom of this relationship?" His genuinely unknowing question certainly made the previous assumption of the duo's relationship being more than friends a breeze in the park when compared to now, with their faces getting so red and hot with embarrassment they could be hit with eggs and called a frying pan.
"So, do I even care to ask?" a newcomer asked the trio, thankfully shattering the embarrassing moment as they turned to face him. It was Mako, and he had his ever permanent scowl on his face as he turned to the Avatar and her master, "Are you still playing here with Bolin?"
The younger brother stood up for himself with a wide smirk and a finger up like he was teaching a class, "For your information, my dear brother, I may as well be helping a future hero into becoming another step towards a brighter future." He said and made Korra smile and forget her sass filled commentary she had planned against the fire bender while Naruto calmed himself down better. Though they still inched away from each other.
The blond spoke up, "We were also having fun, you could try it sooner rather than later."
The older brother turned a tired stare at the blond, "I am still not happy you fought Bolin, Uzumaki."
The blond cringed a bit, "Jeez, kinda harsh there, calling me by my last name with so much venom." he approached the fire bender and extended his hand to him, "Come on, I promise I'm not a bad guy or trying to start fights with everyone I meet. Your brother challenged me and I accepted for a friendly fight. We even had a crowd cheering for both of us."
"And yet you didn't say no because Bolin convinced you about the publicity, and still ended up hurting my brother…" he turned and walked off, leaving Naruto's hand to shake only the air, "I'm leaving, Bolin, you better go to sleep soon so we can practice seriously. Also, you better return those snacks, we have a tight budget."
The little brother spoke up with a cocky grin, "You mean this…?" he asked with a sing-song voice as he pulled out a wad of yuangs, "Care to hear how I got these babies and who decided to give me most of it? I'll give you a clue, he's the only one of us in this room with outstanding hair and who you could really shake hands with for this help." He proceeded to use the bills spread as a paper fan to cover his grin while he aimed with his green eyes at the blond.
Korra laughed, Bolin was always a riot to have around whenever he acted purposely silly to liven the mood. Mako sighed tiredly, "Fine… I guess something good came out of it." He just kept walking to his room.
The water tribe girl's mood soured instantly as she groaned, "What's with him? Does it hurt him to smile or is something never good enough for him?"
Bolin jumped in, "Hey, it's fine… He's not good with people… That scarf he has is the last good memory he has of our parents." He paused to sigh, "What you see is him trying to be tough… Though I can't say he's made good choices with how he's always so broody, at least he means well when he must."
Naruto sighed, "He should get it checked, though. The issues and attitude, I mean." He mentally groaned at some bad memories, "I already had enough people brooding in my life… Those guys never could take things without making it needlessly serious to the point it seemed meaningless, if that makes sense to you." he said, not too fond of the memories regarding another black haired fire controlling brooder.
"Heh, you know… I think I have the perfect place to cheer us up." The earth bender said with a grin.
"Water Tribe noodles?! Bolin, you are the best!" Naruto cheered as he started to wolf down his salty noodles with tasty fish soup in them. The trio sat in a table with the earth bender in front of his friends, saying it was so they gazed in awe and respect at their benefactor which got a few mocking bowing motions in reply, though the pro-bender meant it to see if his suspicions on the duo's relationship was true. As a man he didn't want to think of himself as the kind of guy who would try to take another man's date, and if Korra was available then good for him, if not then he at least had some good friends. Seriously, what kind of guy would willingly take advantage of a girl and take her away from another dude when said girl was having a good time already with a good man? Unaware to Bolin, his brother sneezed.
The pro bender smiled at the good thoughts, happy about making his friends glad, "Found this place myself when I was hungry and a bit low on yuangs. I hope they're as good as your home's cooking, Korra." He asked as he prepared his chopsticks while the girl slurped her own noodles.
"It's surprisingly as good as back home, perhaps even better." She said as she moved her noodles from side to side to wrap them in her chopsticks for larger mouthfuls.
Naruto, for his part, had already drank the remains of soup in his third bowl while Korra was still half way done with her first one and Bolin tried to cool his by blowing on the soup, "Man, that tastes good! Could've used some boiled eggs, though. To add flavor, I mean." He said as he remembered the greatest of all dishes with salty noodles, not noticing the chef running to the kitchen to try it out. "Thanks again, Bolin."
The young pro bender chuckled, "Hey, you're actually the one behind this, Naruto." Bolin said as he pulled out his wad of yuangs and used it as a fan, "Without you I wouldn't have made this much money with the… fight!" He shouted the last word when his friends jumped over the table and tackled the green eyed bender, sending him, their bowls, and most of the furniture they had been used down to the ground.
"Are you nuts?!" Korra exclaimed in a whisper.
Naruto groaned, "Bolin, I know you're happy, but don't you dare show that much money in public. The streets are filled with thugs itching for a fight."
That was a problem with Bolin and that made Naruto feel more related to the guy, he was nicer company than the guy who could shoot fire who was in his team of three, but he wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed. The blue eyed duo sighed as their friend apologized and hid the money, "I'm sorry, but come on, you can tell me you never wanted to have this much money at least once. And I was going to use it right away to pay the fee for the Fire Ferrets to go toe to toe against the best of the best."
Korra sighed, "Still walking with so much money means we're not letting you out of our sights, and less with other teams who could want to use the money for themselves in the worst case scenario."
Bolin chuckled, "Come on, Korra, don't assume the worst like that. No-one in the pro-bending business can be that bad." In another part of the city a water bender with a ridiculously long bang sneezed.
Naruto raised a brow, "Still, you need to pay for that tournament? How much does it need to be in order to get you all so thirsty for blood?"
Korra replied only when her master took a sip of water, "Thirty thousand yuangs." She smirked at the sight of the martial artist's eyes popping out as he sprayed the empty seat beside Bolin.
"Are you kidding me?! I could buy a house with that much money!" he then slapped his forehead, "Wait, you don't mean… the whole fighting with me was to get such funds?"
Bolin grinned, "Am I a genius or what? Next I'll be making money with my friend Pabu's acrobatic stunts!"
"Who's Pabu?" Naruto inquired.
"My fire ferret pet, I found him on the streets and taught him how to walk on his front paws and I can even talk to him." The younger pro bender brother said, making his friends stare at him calmly despite their doubts, but considering one had a polar bear dog that was more loyal than a samurai and the other had been bitten and clawed by a dog and its master respectively, they knew what he meant.
"Wonder if you could teach him how to fight…" Naruto mused, before shaking his head, "No, wait, if I was part of this fight, then where's my part of the pay?" he asked a bit angry. He did fight and give a show… but his question only made the duo before him grin.
"Well, it was a surprise for when we entered once I paid… But I guess it wouldn't hurt to show you now." Bolin said with a massive grin. "And if you're worried about the money, well, I'll pay you one way or another with my cut from whatever yuangs I can make in the ring. I did spend the money for the things I needed to enter this tournament, but any place we land in should be enough to pay you back. Is that good enough for you?"
Naruto sighed, "Fine… I guess I will trust you. I do owe you for not getting us busted for Chief Beifong to lock me in a cell… again." He sighed at the memory of a child in a ragged orange shirt with white pants cut at the knee running from a much younger Lin who raced after him for leaving a certain red spiral symbol painted on a wall, and being unaware of the chief until he wiped the brush to splash the paint on the wall. He ended making her face red with both anger and paint. "So, what's this surprise I've heard about?"
Bolin grinned, "You'll see tomorrow morning at the place we met, I promise. The surprise will be at my place by dawn, and I promise you're gonna love it."
The trio finished their noodles, said their goodbyes, and parted on their way home. However, the happy pro bender was too busy thinking what kind of face his friend would make when the surprise was revealed to him. The young brother pulled out a badge, a red circle with a spiral symbol on it, "Heh, if it weren't for the chief complaining about his graffiti as a kid, maybe I would've had to use Pabu's face for our uniforms."
He pocketed the badge he was going to use to both act as his team's symbol thanks to the guy who helped him gather the money for the tournaments that could change his life for the best, and to also have a sponsor for the lack of a better word. A win-win in the earth bender's eyes… which soon were closed into a deep unconscious slumber after something shook his head.
"Bolin? We're here for the surprise." The blond said in his 'borrowed' street clothes, using his now gloved hands cupped around his mouth to call his and Korra's friend, with the Avatar still in her every day clothes.
So far the training room was empty, except for someone who walked out, "Oh, it's you again." Mako said with his ever present scowl as he looked at the duo, making Korra groan. Pretty boy or not, the guy had an attitude problem that irked her, at least Bolin who had a rather adorable look was nice if a bit too loving of his fans' attention, and Naruto was rather humble for a guy who could crumbled boulders with a punch and had rather handsome features when serious.
"Have you seen your brother?" Naruto asked, still keeping his cool which Korra admitted was one of his good traits. The blond himself had admitted he was a troublemaker as a kid, but it seems he learned… though he did keep his bratty attitude, as Korra remembered with a sweetly demonic smile how Tenzin enjoyed the Uzumaki Spice in his Dragon Noodles.
Mako scowled, "Wasn't he with you last night?"
Naruto eased his tone to sound friendlier, "Sadly, we haven't seen him since we left the noodle shop he took us to last night. We all ate, and took our separate ways. Do you know where he could have gone to? He may have spent the night with a friend or something. Perhaps he had a fan girl invite him home for… I better shut up." He said, noticing that voicing his thoughts was losing respect points on Korra's book.
The girl forced herself to forget what her master said and spoke up, "He did promise to meet us here, so he may be running late."
"Not likely." Mako said with his scowl deepening making Korra wonder if the guy only heard of smiling in fairy tales. "Knowing Bolin, he must have eaten until dropping and waking up to a hug stomachache. So now I must look after my brother and lecture him yet again, if you'll excuse me."
They watched Mako leave, and Korra was the first to voice her thoughts by making a pouty scowling face and using a fake macho tone, "Yeah, thanks a lot for helping my brother earn the money to get us in this big tournament, now I shall start sulking so hard the floor will give in until I find a cave people I can live with away from human warmth." She then returned to normal, "Why is it so hard for people to show any emotion? That guy drives me nuts… Ugh, he is good looking, but I pity the girl who dates such a cold fish."
Naruto raised a brow, "You can't seriously tell me you're considering dating him, right?"
Korra huffed, crossing her arms, "To be honest, I haven't had much interaction with guys outside sparring and training, and even then I wasn't the most girly girl around… So, yeah, I'm not sure how to deal with guys. At least Bolin and you are there to be perhaps the best example of what a girl could ask for." She smiled, "But, if you're jealous, you know who shall call the shots in our date."
Naruto sighed with a smile he couldn't hide, "I guess you'll never change." He turned around, hands in his pockets, "However, Mako has his priorities, and we have ours." He tilted his head for his disciple to follow him outside of the stadium, "Let's go find Bolin, I am also concerned… and I've got some practice with the ladies, I kissed a few when I was fourteen." He said with a grin.
Korra pouted and crossed her arms, "That still doesn't mean a thing." She said with a grumble, her competitive nature wasn't happy that someone like Naruto had gotten a kiss before her. Spirits damn it, she still had to kiss someone! Naruto seemed aware of her thoughts with that smile of his, great, just great. The Avatar wanted to take that smug smile off his face, but for now she needed to get serious, "Let's just find Bolin."
"Isaribi." Naruto said with a smile.
Korra blinked, "What?"
"That's the name of my first ki- ow!" he rubbed the elbow his student punched hard.
"Not a word." She grumbled, making him chuckle.
"It was a long time ago, though, there's also Ryuuzetsu-chan, and- Ok, ok, I'll shut up now." He said hastily the last part as he got a full glare from the Avatar. The whiskered man let out an inner sigh, 'Not even in the past dating Azula made me feel this much danger… But then again, back then I loved being a brat while still looking young… Heh, I'm actually having fun with a girl after who knows how long. Better make it last while I can before things require once again the help of the Avatar.'
Just as Korra was about to get out, she found Naruto instantly by her side. She was rather surprised, for she thought the blond was at least three yards behind her, not two steps. Then again, he was far beyond a human's limits, so him being fast shouldn't come as a surprise to her. But, just at that moment in which he opened the door so quickly for her, she felt something strange in his cocky smile.
"I may act like a brat, but I'm serious when someone who's kind to me can be in trouble." He said with a warmth to his cocky smile, "Let's find our friend, shall we?"
Korra chuckled, "Fine, but you're a jerk. No guy should just brag about the girls he's kissed."
Naruto cringed, "Oh… damn it, now I feel like an idiot."
Korra gently elbowed him, "You're my idiot sensei. So, where do we find Bolin?"
"Let's go to where we last saw him, if he still has the smell of noodles on him, I can find him."
Korra raised a brow, "You… what?"
Naruto chuckled and poked his nose, "This old friend of mine was good for finding ramen when I was a kid, then I learned to find better food when there weren't noodles around. Trust me, this nose knows."
Korra was at a loss to say the least, "Umm… yeah, ok… I've already seen weirder in this city." She admitted remembering her time fishing at the park.
Moments later, both were at the street where they had last seen Bolin, with Naruto sniffing the air deeply, his nose skywards and Korra wondering if the people walking past her friend either ignored him or secretly wondered if he was looking at the clouds like he tried to read the future. She heard of people who read clouds to find out the future, so she wasn't surprised when a few people seemed to be waiting to ask Naruto something, only to leave when seeing he man sniffing like Naga did when she was trying to find Korra whenever the Avatar played hide and seek with her pet.
In a split second, Naruto lowered his head and aimed a finger at the right, "Water Tribe noodles over there… Scent, faint… but traces… clinging to other types of food… cabbages… and potatoes, no… not potatoes only but food that's been eaten underground, in the subterranean." He stated with a serious face as his arm remained extended, easily making people walk around him and Korra in a yard radius.
Korra gaped, "You're not making this up?" she asked, and not because she didn't believe the blond, in fact the stern and serious expression he had while proclaiming what he had smelled said he was serious, the disbelief she had was that such method actually seemed to work.
However, the stern expression was because of something else, "There's also an aroma I…" he sighed, "…and aroma I sadly know."
Korra knew there was more than met the eye, "So you can get us there, but what's the problem?"
Naruto groaned and motioned for her to follow him away from the crowd, "It's going to be dangerous… and you won't be very welcomed."
Korra chuckled, "Isn't that sort of your relationship with Beifong?"
Naruto sighed, "Let's put it this way. The Chief is never one to harm me ever since I was a kid and decided that it'd be fun to paint a graffiti of her in a bikini; even then she forced me to clean it and most graffiti in town. This kind of crowd… well, let's say I'd rather paint a bikini on the statue of the Chief's mother rather than meeting them, and I have respected Toph Beifong since I was a bratty delinquent."
Korra had several questions, first of all, what kind of crowd was Naruto talking about and why didn't he trust them at all? By the sound of it they had to be worse than the triads and the blond could easily pummel high rank benders with his bare hands into dust. Secondly… a younger Beifong in a bikini was something that she was both curious and terrified of seeing. Third… why the Hell would Naruto make a painting of Beifong in a bikini? Was he just looking for attention, wanted to piss her off for the sake of a few laughs or wanted to leave his mark in history for surviving getting chased by her? And fourth but most important:
"How are we gonna get in?" the Avatar finally asked.
Naruto looked at her, and then put a hand to his chin, "Well, even with make-up your face is too cute to mistake, so…" he trailed off as Korra followed him, now questioning if he had openly admitted she was cute or if it was a slip of his own that he tried to cover by walking off.
A few knocks later, and a small piece of metal slid on a door, revealing a pair of eyes behind it, "Who are-" the figure behind the door stopped talking as it noticed the figure in the orange hakama, the white gi, and the red bandages on his arms standing proudly with that unmistakable golden hair slicked back, the cerulean orbs darker than a water bender's, and the whisker-like marks. "M-Master Naruto! Why did you come here?!"
The blond stood cross-armed with a well acted scowl on his face before sighing, "I... had enough of the benders." He moved his arm back and pulled a woman for the man behind the door to see, and his heart sank. The woman was from the Water Tribe, that was certain with her dark skin, but the pretty face of the ladies of that village was covered in bandages with a single blue eyes looking out. She was dressed in a cerulean dress with a matching hat, an evening outfit for formal parties, but the way she hugged herself with her arms covered in bandages made the man behind the door open it for the two.
"W-What happened, master?" the man, with his face covered by a mask, asked in fear.
Naruto patted the woman's back, sighing sadly, "She… didn't pay a fire bender…" the woman wrapped her arms around her torso and shivered a bit, to which Naruto gave the guard a stern look, "So I decided I had enough and meet you…"
The man bowed, "Of course, welcome to the Equalists, master."
Inside her bandaged head, Korra chuckled, 'Damn it, he was right, he's a good actor… Ugh, I owe him twenty yuangs.' She thought as she and her master entered the door into a stair that would lead them into the underground and, hopefully, towards Bolin.
And that's my rap!
So, a perfect cover to enter the enemy's place. Let's say there'll be a lot of things that'll make Naruto both sympathize and hate the Equalists because, as much as some of us may hate Amon for using ridiculous broken powers and skills to get his way, I can see where he was going to and what he planned to achieve. Kinda tragic, he is the kind of man who believes so much in the righteousness of his goals that he becomes blinded of the pain and suffering he ends up causing or the madness that he creates on those around him… *Cough* Hiroshi *Unconvincing cough*
Also, yes, this chapter has references to my other Avatar fic.
Well, next chapter we shall see what our heroes think of this.