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Hold the Phone

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Korra stood firmly in her heels, leaning toward the mirror and painstakingly applying the primer Opal had bought her. Date nights didn’t come often enough, and she wanted to look smashing tonight. It always got Asami so hot and bothered…

She grinned, shouting to her daughter in the other room as she worked. “So, Mian! Looking forward to playing with Kayo? Or are you two going to torment Rohan some more?”

“Rohan is no fun!” Mian called back from the living room. “He’s too serious.”

“That’s what makes tormenting him fun, isn’t it?”

“No! He always tells us what to do. He thinks he’s a grown up already!”

“He’s trying to keep you safe,” Korra tried to explain, then muttered to herself, “Just like his father did with me…”

“It’s boring!”

Korra laughed. Mian had definitely adopted her mothers’ love for adventure and excitement. The problem was, she’d somehow added both Korra and Asami’s daredevil attitude together. It was enough to give the two of them a heart attack, most days.

But tonight, it would be Tenzin and Pema’s heart attacks. Korra was already in a new evening gown, the first she’d picked out on her own, and she knew Asami was going to love it. The back wasn’t as low as some of her others--the ones that actually made Asami drool--but the slit for her leg? Asami wouldn’t be able to keep her eyes off her. Or, hopefully, her hands.

“Well, you’re a clever girl. I’m sure you will find something to do!”  

Korra began dabbing some eyeshadow on, hissing as the brush hit the bridge of her nose and left it teal. Darnit! She licked her fingers, scrubbing it off, then returned to her left eye. She made the most ridiculous faces trying to get this stuff on…

Had Mian ever responded to the last thing she’d said? What was the last thing she’d said? “Mian, did you want to eat a snack before heading to no-meat island?”


The worst possible sound to hear from a six year old.

“Mian?” Korra asked, a little louder, setting the brush down. “Mian,” she repeated as she exited the bathroom. Again she was only greeted with silence. She could feel her heart speeding up with each step she took. Each worst case scenario rushed through her mind. Was Mian hurt? Had she started coughing when Korra couldn’t hear?

Korra stumbled slightly, still not the most graceful in heels, especially when hurrying. She contemplated kicking them off to be able to move faster, but didn’t need to. As soon as she made it to the living room, she spotted Mian. She let out a long, relieved sigh. Mian was on the floor, surrounded by hand tools, and screws, and bits of wire. What was that in her hand? Something that oddly looked like their telephone? Something that definitely was their telephone?

“Mian?” Korra questioned softly.

Mian’s head popped up and her eyes widened. “Oh! I was busy, Mommy. I’m trying to find where the voices live.”  

Korra’s mouth worked. Her own voice was missing too.

“I found the bell,” Mian said, picking up a little box and shaking it until it made a few soft dings . “It doesn’t sound right though. Hmm…” Mian shook it harder-- dingdingdingdingding-- but couldn’t get the quick buzz she was looking for.

“Mian,” Korra finally managed. She tried to kneel down, but her dress was too constricting on one leg. She shifted her balance to compensate, but her heel twisted sideways and-- “AAH!”

On instinct, Korra airbent a bubble beneath her to stop her fall.

The inner-workings of the phone flew everywhere .    

Mian stood up, blinking. Quite shocked, really. “Mommy! Look what you did!”

Korra’s eyes flitted around the room at all of the pieces. This wasn’t a condensed mess that would be easy to clean up before Asami returned home. Nope. It was now a daunting task, especially since they’d still have to reassemble the phone. But even though the pieces were scattered now, figuring out how they go together properly shouldn’t be that hard, right? She’d stopped an evil spirit from destroying Republic City, so a phone should be nothing.

“Mian,” Korra said seriously. “We’ve got a mission. Before Mama gets home, we need to get the phone back together. Are you up to it?”

“Of course!” Mian said enthusiastically.

“Alright. Whoever picks up the most pieces wins!” As soon as Korra said that, Mian was off. She hastily snatched up the pieces, filling her tiny arms. On the other hand, Korra had only collected a few screws via metalbending. She had spent the majority of the time trying to sit back up, the confining dress not doing her any favors.

Mian grunted, laying on the floor, reaching her arm as deep as she could under the couch.

Korra narrowed her eyes, testing with her metalbending to see if the couch had enough in it for her to lift. There was a whole bed of springs, should be plenty. “Hold on, Mian,” she said, squaring her feet, then pulling the couch up.

As soon as it was high enough, Mian scampered in, grabbing a screwdriver and a pair of pliers first, then pinching little bits and bobs between her fingers and collecting them in the crook of her arm. That wasn’t a large place to hold things, and soon they were falling out as soon as she put things in there.

The couch made a noise. A wood-splintering, spring-rattling, heart-stopping kind of noise. “Mian, get out from under there.”

“Almost done, Mom--”

Another creak. “Mian!”

The springs broke free of the couch frame, and time slowed down as panic thundered through Korra’s body. Her metalbending sent the middle of the couch rocketing up against the ceiling, while the frame slammed down onto the floor.

“MIAN!” Korra shouted, covering her daughter’s own cry.

“Mommy!” she said after a moment. Then she laughed. “Hahaha, you got me! Good one, Mommy!”

Korra’s laugh was as weak as her knees. “Just… get out of there, nugget, okay?”


Mian tightened her hold on the various pieces in her arms. She carefully stepped over the wooden frame of the couch and distanced herself. As soon as Korra knew she was safe, she lowered the spring frame and cushions down from the ceiling. She cocked her head slightly at the newly deformed couch.

“Mian, tell me when it looks even,” she instructed her daughter as she tilted the spring frame. She did it inch by inch, hoping to make the couch look as normal as possible.

“There!” Mian shouted and Korra stopped instantly. Both Mian and Korra tilted their heads, taking in the couch once more.

“Good enough,” Korra shrugged although she was pretty sure her wife would notice. Asami always had an eye for detail, so she’d be surprised if Asami didn’t before Korra had a chance to have it fixed properly. “Do you think we’ve got all the phone pieces?”

Mian looked down at her arms, as if she knew each and every piece they had needed to find. “Yup,” she said confidently. Mian walked to the coffee table and dumped the pieces onto it. She then took a seat on the floor, Korra joining her soon after, adding the three pieces she’d picked up to the pile.

Korra sat on her knees, about eye-level with her daughter. “Okay, Mian. Let’s… wow you were really thorough. Let’s set the tools aside first, at least.”

“Okay,” Mian said cheerfully. “Screwdriver… wrench… piles.”

“That’s it?”

“Um… yeah, that’s it.”

“Okay,” Korra said, staring at the pile of phone parts. That hadn’t helped at all. “Do you remember where all this went?”

“Um…” She picked up the receiver--this was one of Asami’s fancy new models, where the speaker and the horn were part of a single handset. “This side had the roundy thing in it.”

“The roundy…” Korra poked through the pile, and found a little black drum shape, about the size of the eyeshadow pot she’d left abandoned in the bathroom. “Like that?”

“Yeah!” Mian said, snatching it up. There were two wires sticking out of the gutted handset, and two little screws on the drum. “This is how the ‘lectricity gets here,” Mian explained.

“Ah,” Korra said, with no idea if wires should go there or not, much less which ones went where. “

They spent the next few minutes with Korra handing Mian bits, and Mian confidently deciding where they were supposed to go. Mian was a smart little girl, but… there was no way this was going to work, right?

“Hmm…” Mian said. “I think… I think the inside is done! We just need to put the cover back on now.”

“Mian… like, half the parts are still out.”

“Those are extra.”

Korra looked at at them. “I… really don’t think they are.”

“Well they don’t look like they do anything!”

“Mian,” Korra started, then heard keys rattling in the door.

Oh no.

Korra looked back down at the stray parts, there was no hiding what had happened.

Asami careened through the door. “Korra?!” she called, worry clear in her voice. “Is everything ok… is that the phone?”

“I fixed it!” Mian said proudly. “Mommy helped.”

Asami turned to Korra, tilting her head. “Well, that might be why nobody was answering.”

Korra rubbed the back of her neck, laughing sheepishly. “You called?”

Asami raised a brow. “Multiple times.”

Korra didn’t have to ask. She could already tell that Asami had been frantic. “We were kind of busy.”

Asami’s eyes trailed over Korra, taking in her appearance. “I can see that.” She turned her attention to Mian and kneeled down beside her. “So let me see that phone.”

Mian’s toothy smile filled her face as she pushed the phone over to her mother. “Mommy and I fixed it,” she said proudly.

“That’s amazing, Sweetie. But what about all these parts?” Asami asked, pointing to the pile of parts on the coffee table.

“They’re extras,” Mian explained to Asami just like she had to Korra.

“Hmm,” Asami hummed. “They’re not just extras. They belong with the phone too, Sweetie,” Asami tried to teach. “Without each and every piece, the phone won’t work.” She booped Mian on the nose, earning a giggle. “So let’s try again.”

Korra smiled softly as she watched Asami explain each and every piece to Mian, the anger she’d come in with forgotten. She explained how this spring fit into this slot. How the wires had to be aligned so that the electrical current flowed through it correctly. Even as the words and explanations started to become more technical, Mian still nodded her head and smiled each time a piece was put into place. The child absorbed information like a sponge, but Korra was fairly sure she didn’t actually understand what a capacitor or a transducer were. Korra certainly didn’t.

Asami glanced up at her for a moment, then held the handset to Mian’s ear. “Let’s test it out,” she said.

“But Mama, there’s no ‘lectricty,” Mian said. “It needs to be on the wall.”

Asami laughed. “Well, this is just a test,” she said. She spun the dial a few times, then leaned forward and whispered in Mian’s free ear.

Mian’s eyes widened a little, then she giggled, then nodded. “Bbbbring, bbbring!” she said. “Bbbring, bbbring! Is Korra there?”

Korra blinked, startled out of her quiet adoration. She held her pinkie and thumb out, and held her hand by her head. “Hello? This is the Avatar.”

“Avatar Korra,” Mian said, “I’m supposed to tell you that… if you don’t finish your makeup, you’re gonna be late! Then Mama… I mean, then Mrs. Sato won’t go out on dates with you anymore!”

Korra pressed her lips together, trying very hard not to laugh. “Oh. That sounds serious,” she said gravely. “Thank you for telling me. I’ll go do that.”

“Okay!” Mian said, and carefully hung the phone up. She turned to Asami. “She said she’ll do it.”

“Oh, good,” Asami said, reaching over to give Mian a hug, then giving Korra a wink...and a firm nod to return to the bathroom.

Korra didn’t have to be told twice to go and finish getting ready. She reached out and ruffled Mian’s hair before she eased herself from the ground, carefully due to her dress. She made sure to lean down and give Asami a quick peck on the cheek before finally leaving the living room. She was only two steps into the bathroom when she heard a loud crashing noise.


Korra winced.

Asami had found the couch.