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To My Chagrin

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Asami's pack was light and quiet against her back, emptied of the gears, the sparking gloves, the miscellany she had learned to carry in these past years. She'd allowed herself three slim tools for the trip, and she hoped, as she gazed up at the shimmer-twist of the portal, that they would suffice.

At the edge of the crater, she paused to take it in. Korra halted and a breeze circled around them, cool and sweet. "You okay?" Korra asked.

"Yeah," Asami said. "It's just so--"

"Big?" Korra asked. Behind her, an opaque eel hound cantered past, followed by a clutch of smaller ones, tumbling.

"Bright," Asami replied, smiling. "It's hard for me to wrap my mind around a whole other world, even after all of this." They resumed walking, and the breeze circled around her ankles, tracing up her arm. Her hair ruffled, and she looked at Korra again.

"You'll love it there," Korra said. "I promise."

Asami turned her palm over, and Korra reached out. Their hands brushed against each other, then clasped. Asami took a deep breath, and the light of the portal rippled around them as they stepped through.

She caught Korra's other hand, and Korra leaned forward, and when they kissed, the world faded into gold around them.

*

Korra was rummaging through her wardrobe for her old pro-bending helmet. (One of the twins had issued Bolin a challenge that apparently could. Not. Stand.) Asami sprawled across Korra's bedroll, flipping through yesterday's newspaper. "Did you ever see something called a 'bear' in the Avatar state?"

"Like a skunk bear?" Korra asked. "Aha!" She pulled her helmet out and polished the faceplate.

"No, just a bear. Apparently it's a kind of pet Earth Kingdom royalty used to have."

Korra shrugged. "I guess we could ask Wu about it."

"Maybe," Asami said. She turned the page of the newspaper, but it slipped out of her hands, drifting to the floor. Asami flipped over to catch it, but as she reached for it, her gaze fell upon a small wooden box, inlaid with metal. "What's this?" Asami held up the box, tracing the ornate carving across its lid.

"Er," Korra said. Asami looked up and found Korra fiddling with the strap of her helmet, blushing.

Asami sat up, drawing her hands back carefully. "You don't have to--"

"No," Korra said. "It's all right." In a few steps, she had settled on the bedroll next to Asami. "I just feel silly about it."

Asami picked the box up, tracing the grooves in the metal. "Did you etch this?" The pattern curved around and into and through itself.

"It's metal-bending," Korra said. She traced the irregular ridges of the pattern herself, letting her hand brush, then settle, over Asami's. "Su wanted me to work on precision."

"It's beautiful." Asami pulled her hand back, touching the box's clasp with her thumb. "You're sure?" Korra nodded.

The box opened without a hint of the creak. "Oh," Asami said. Green silk cushioned a sheaf of envelopes, which were tied with a coarse length of twine. "Korra, these are--"

"All your letters." Korra leaned against Asami's shoulder. "They should be in order, I think. I mean, they are."

Asami turned her cheek, closing her eyes for a moment. Korra smelled like soap, and tea, and rain.

"Where do you keep my letters?" Korra asked.

"Inside my toolbox," Asami replied. "This is nicer."

Korra laughed and kissed Asami's shoulder. "Maybe."

"KORRA." The door whipped open to reveal Bolin, wide-eyed. "Wing. Wrote. A song." He blinked. "I, uh. Sorry?"

Asami threw the newspaper at him, and Korra flipped her hand in echo, and the newspaper whacked him, mostly gently, right on the nose.

*

Asami and Zhu Li were standing behind a hummingbird mecha when Korra walked in. "Hey," Asami said.

"Hi, Korra." Zhu Li smiled, then tapped against the open panel. "What if we added a system redundancy?"

"Maybe," Asami murmured. She moved aside a wrist-thick cable and tried to picture its relocation. "Korra, can you grab that wrench?" Korra paused by the work bench to retrieve it, twirling it in her hands before handing it to Zhu Li. Asami pecked Korra on the cheek before sliding her arm over her hips. "Thanks."

"Sure," Korra said. "What are you working on?"

"Amphibious deployment," Zhu Li replied.

Korra wrinkled her nose. "Couldn't you just get water benders?"

"That's exactly what Varrick said," Asami said. "But there aren't always water benders around."

Using the wrench, Zhu Li unfastened another panel. "If we use platinum to encase the secondary wiring here, the mechanisms for flight wouldn't need to shift."

"We could customize," Asami said. "If they worked primarily underwater, we wouldn't need as much coolant."

"Only if they were staying in the same place for a while," Korra interjected. "They'd still run pretty hot if they had to swim quickly, even underwater."

"Hm," Asami replied.

"Well," Zhu Li responded.

Korra looked at Asami, then Zhu Li, then Asami again. "You want me to do some water bending, don't you?"

Zhu Li laughed. "Maybe this afternoon." She glanced out the workshop windows. "Varrick should be done with his pedicure by now." As she started resetting the tools, Korra turned to Asami and attempted (adorably) to flutter her eyelashes.

"Lunch?" Asami asked.

"And maybe," Korra began, tracing a finger up Asami's arm. "If there's time?"

Zhu Li cleared her throat. "Varrick and I need to review company accounts, anyway."

Asami raised her eyebrows, and Korra laughed as Zhu Li blushed. "Newlyweds," Asami teased.

"I'll see you tomorrow morning, Korra," Zhu Li said and, shockingly, stuck her tongue out at Asami before she left.

*

When Rohan skip-floated past her, closely followed by a sharply-chattering Pabu, Asami didn't even blink. Meelo collided with her a moment later. "Oof."

"Hi Asami! Sorry Asami!" Meelo hopped twice and glided out the window.

Asami straightened her tunic as she crossed the courtyard. She turned the corner and found Korra spinning, dancing through the gates, her eyes closed and her hair flowing loose. Korra's feet shifted, tapped, slid, and lifted off the ground as she cartwheeled, drifted to land in front of Asami.

Korra opened her eyes, and Asami remembered to breathe. She reached up and caught a lock of Korra's hair between her fingers. Tugged.

"I'm glad you're here," Korra murmured. She ducked her head, grazed Asami's ear with her lips.

Asami kissed Korra's shoulder, behind her ear, across her cheek. "Always," she whispered, and they kissed as the sun set warm across the sea.