Slumping in his seat at the campus cafe, Bolin pouted at his best friend. His green eyes filled up with moisture and as he jutted out his bottom lip, it began to tremble.
"Korra, if you leave who will I study with? How will I focus? What if I can't focus, fail all of my exams, and get kicked out of school? Could you handle that guilt? What would Opal say if you were the single reason her boyfriend flunked college?"
Packing up her policy textbook and shuffling her notes together in a haphazard pile, Korra snorted at her friend and shared a look with Bolin's brother Mako, who sat beside her shaking his head. She had seen enough of her friend's dramatic fits to not take him at his word when he was like this.
"Bolin, you can barely focus even when I am here," she joked.
"So imagine the chaos you'll be leaving me in," he yelped, dipping his head as the other cafe patrons, also students with books and caffeine piled around him, gave him baleful looks.
"Also," interrupted Mako, "what am I, a ghost? You and I study all the time and you're usually pretty productive."
Korra hid a smile as Mako adjusted his scarf and crossed his arms with a glare. Although Bolin's outgoing personality was a stark contrast to his brother's usually stoic nature, Mako petulance made him a mirror of his brother.
"But that's the problem," whined Bolin. "You're no fun to study with. Korra will answer my questions, always has the right highlighters I need, and can explain concepts to me."
Mako rolled his eyes. "Studying isn't fun, Bolin. And she only does that because she does most of her studying in class anyways and can afford to debate the merits of a hazelnut versus mocha lattes with you."
Bolin turned to face Korra accusingly as she hoisted her pack over her shoulder.
"It's true," she said, shrugging. "I just learn better if I pay attention the first time."
"But- but," he spluttered, "but I thought we were partners in crime!"
Korra let out the laugh that she'd been holding on to and raised her hands in surrender.
"We are, always. But I need to head to the library now. My anthropology class has the films we need to screen on hold there for only a week before class and I still need to write up a response paper to it for class tomorrow night."
"You can't just, you know," started Bolin, before making an angry pirate noise. Even Mako had to snort at that.
"I know what you're suggest, dork," said the criminology major fondly.
"Besides," said Korra, "I actually really can't. I've already tried finding a few but some of them are just really abstract and unavailable unless you buy them outright. Anyways, gotta go!"
With a wave, Korra left the brothers and made her way out into the frigid winter air of Republic City. As this was one of the coldest winters on record for the city, Korra earned some strange looks as she strolled through the campus in just a jacket, sans scarf, gloves, or hat. This was one of the few perks of having grown up in the arctic tundra with the Southern Water Tribe. At home, the only temperatures she got to experience were cold and really cold. Here at Republic City University, the urban chill was nothing more than a minor annoyance at best.
She reached the library within ten minutes and walked straight past the circulation desk towards the media center where the screening rooms were. The library was closing in about two hours, leaving her just enough time to watch the movie listed on her syllabus.
Arriving at the proper desk, she smiled at the clerk before doing a double-take.
"Hey, aren't you the campus Cabbage Corps rep?" she asked.
He shushed her noisily. "This is a library, miss. And yes, although working at the media center is a necessary distraction from my important duties."
She nodded respectfully, although she wondered what kinds of important duties Cabbage Corps was imposing on their young and fervent representative.
"Well, I'm here to see a film screening for my anthropology class with Professor Beifong."
"Oh, you're in luck then. The films can only be screened one at a time and one of your classmates just went into room three with it. You could probably still make the opening credits if you head in now."
Thanking him, she scanned the doors across the hall until she saw one with a big number three on it. The window was dark so she knocked twice before turning the handle.
A girl sitting on uncomfortable, standard-issue couch lifted the remote to pause the screen.
"Yes?" asked the girl.
Korra's stomach dropped and she willed herself not to gawk at her classmate. The girl was gorgeous. Although the room was dark, her long, black hair, piercing green eyes, and excellent bone structure were immediately apparent. Korra was from a rough part of the world, where most people were used to struggling and needed hard labor to get what they wanted. She could instantly tell that this girl was from a different world entirely.
"Did you need something?" asked the girl, uncertainly.
"Uh, yes," stammered Korra, hoping the lighting would hide her blush. "You're screening the movie for Professor Beifong's class, right? Would it be okay if I joined you?"
"Oh, is that all? Of course," she said with a friendly smile. Standing, she shuffled her things from the couch to a rickety chair to make room for the other viewer.
"Thanks," said Korra. Steadying herself, she reached out a hand which the other girl shook with a surprisingly firm grip.
"I'm Korra," she said, praying that her palms weren't sweaty.
"Hi Korra, I'm Asami. Where do you sit during lectures? I don't think I've ever seen you before."
"In the back," said Korra vaguely. She settled nervously into the opposite corner of the couch. "I usually have practice right after class so I need to be able to leave without all the traffic."
"You're on a team?" asked Asami in surprise, giving the girl a once over. Her eyes lingered on the other girl's strong shoulders. Korra shivered and Asami smirked.
"Actually, I retract that question. You've got the athlete look about you."
"Thanks, I guess. I'm on the MMA team, yeah. Anyways, I'm sorry again to have interrupted you but shall we?" The screening would take at least an hour and a half and the library was closing in just that.
"Right," said Asami confidently, as if that had been her plan all along. "Get comfortable."
Korra doubted that was a possibility. Asami hit play and rested back into her original reclining position, only slightly angled towards Korra now. The room settled into darkness as the narrator began to speak and Korra risked another glance at her classmate.
Her name struck a familiar chord but Korra couldn't remember where she might have heard it before. A thought occurred.
"Asami, should we be taking notes?" she whispered.
Asami laughed at her, reaching for her backpack. "Korra, you're so funny. Why are you whispering? It's just us. And yes, probably."
Smiling ruefully at her own nervousness, Korra mumbled a thank you and pulled out her own notebook, trying intently to focus on the tribal elders on the screen in front of her instead of the long legs Asami was now stretching out. Korra somehow doubted she was going to get any meaningful notes down.
They were sitting in silence for about an hour when Korra began to feel her eyes droop. The day had been long, full of studying and an optional three hour practice session for MMA.
As the final credits rolled, Asami stretched out languidly, wondering if she was giving her cute, brown classmate enough of an eyeful. The lights switched on automatically and she bit back her first impulse to laugh. At some point, Korra had propped herself against the arm of the sofa and was using her notebook as a pillow. The darker girl was adorable really and now that she was looking at her in proper lighting, Asami could tell she might need the sleep. With the library closing shortly, it would have been rude to leave the other girl like that.
She took a moment to study her classmate. The girl was wearing a blue RCU hoodie and a pair of thick, scuffed boots that looked like they had weathered their fair share of snow. Her university-issued athletic sweatpants looked so comfortable that Asami wasn't surprised Korra had fallen asleep in them. Tearing her eyes away from the teasingly low-slung pants, she shook the girl awake.
Korra's cerulean eyes flew open and she jumped straight up, almost knocking into the taller girl.
"Yes, sorry," she said in a daze, before realizing where she was and blushing brilliantly. Asami thought she looked adorable.
"Hey, you fell asleep," said Asami, wanting to smack herself for saying it. It's not like Korra had been unaware of the fact. "You okay?"
"Yeah, thanks," said Korra, wiping her eyes tiredly. "Sorry about that. The film's over?"
Asami pointed to the rolling end credits in answer.
"Shit," said the shorter girl. "I only got half the notes I needed for my paper."
"I'll send you mine," offered Asami immediately.
She nodded decisively, her mind made up. "Yeah, I type up all of my notes anyways so I can just send them to you once I do that."
"Are you sure?" asked Korra. Pretty and kind? Who was this girl, she wondered to herself. "I normally don't fall asleep in random places, I swear."
Asami waved off her concerns with a smile. "It absolutely won't be a problem. Just let me get your email address."
Nodding, Korra ripped off a piece of notebook paper and jotted down the requested details, hesitating for a moment before handing it over.
"Thanks, Asami. I owe you one."
"I'll hold you to it," said Asami with a teasing smirk. "I've gotta head out and get some of my engineering work done but hopefully I'll see you in class tomorrow."
She shouldered her bag and left the room. Korra stared after her, dropping back onto the couch heavily.
"No one has any business being so attractive," she said to the empty room.
Korra went back to her apartment at least try to start her response paper. It was only when she walked in and smelled the food her roommate was cooking that she remembered that she had skipped dinner entirely to make the screening.
"Hey, Korra," greeted Opal from the kitchenette, stirring a handful of scallions into a pot.
"Hi, Opal," replied the Water Tribe girl, looking down at the bubbling soup bubbling with longing. Opal stifled a laugh.
"Do you want some? It'll be done in five minutes."
"You wouldn't mind?" asked Korra. "This looks like a lot - oh, spirits," she cursed, "this is your and Bo's date night, isn't it? That's okay, Opal, I can just whip something up. I'm sure I have leftovers in the fridge."
"It's okay, you're welcome to at least a bowl, and yes, it is."
"Say no more," said Korra with a cheesy grin, grabbing half a sandwich from the fridge and heading to her room. "I'm out of your hair for the rest of the night. Who am I to stand in the way of romance and true love," she teased.
The quiet girl smiled with a blush. "Thanks, Korra."
Korra prided herself on introducing her boisterous goofball of a friend to her studious roommate even though - okay, it would probably be better described as a happy accident since he was just helping her get the mattress up the stairs. Still, both of her friends were kind people who deserved each other. She was happy to give them any space they needed.
Her phone pinged as she carried her armful of possessions into her room. It was an email.
This is Asami, from anthro class. My notes are attached here - let me know if you have any questions! I'm gonna be disabling my internet for the rest of tonight so I can get some actual studying done but here's my number, just in case ;)
Korra's heart jumped to her throat at the thought that the pretty girl had actually offered her number without prompting. Was she flirting or just being friendly? As pretty as she was, Korra was sure that Asami had suitors lining up to date her. Korra typed the number into her phone quickly, as if it would disappear if she weren't fast enough. For all her bravado on the mat, she knew she might possibly never use the number and groaned at her cowardice.
Settling down at her computer, she open the document of clearly written notes, trying to focus on anything but the sweet and beautiful girl who had sent them.