Asami woke to warm lips on her neck and a gentle hand caressing her side. She sighed, lashes fluttering, but kept her eyes closed. She wanted to savor this: relaxing in bed, with her mate’s arm draped around her waist, lying amidst tangled sheets that smelled like them both.
“Good morning,” Korra murmured, brushing Asami’s hair aside to place a kiss under her ear. Asami opened her eyes then, because doing so meant she got to see Korra’s face—one of her three favorite views in the morning, as well as any other time of day.
“Good morning to you, too.”
Korra beamed. She leaned forward, and Asami tipped her chin for a kiss, moaning as their lips met. It was sweet, how gentle Korra was with her in the mornings, as though the alpha almost believed she would wake alone, and was pleased to find she hadn’t. Asami could relate. She’d spent her share of mornings alone, wishing things were different.
Reluctantly, she drew back before the kiss could become too heated. Things were quiet, suspiciously so. Getting deeply involved with one another was asking for trouble. Korra whimpered and tried to chase her lips, but Asami caressed her face to keep her at bay. “Have you checked on the pups?”
“Not yet, but I haven’t heard a peep.”
That only made Asami more suspicious, but she didn’t see any sign that Hiroshi was awake in his crib, and didn’t hear any sounds that implied Yasuko had snuck out of her room. Naga snoozed at the foot of the master bed, snoring softly. From the slant of the morning sun shining through the window, it was time for everyone to wake up, but maybe they’d been granted a rare reprieve?
Undeterred, Korra leaned in again. As they kissed, Asami let her morning grogginess transition into a different kind of haze. Warmth gathered in her lower belly. She slung a leg over Korra’s hip, shifting forward until their breasts brushed.
“Love you,” Korra mumbled, tugging softly at Asami’s bottom lip.
“Love you too.”
Korra’s tongue tried to push deeper, and Asami allowed it, not caring about the taste of morning in her mouth. Her mate’s hands, which had roamed lower to squeeze her rear and hitch her pelvis closer, were far too distracting. Korra's slow descent from her lips was even more distracting. Asami soon found herself flat on her back, although she didn’t release the hook of her knee from Korra’s waist. She dug her heel into the small of Korra’s back as a warm mouth suckled her neck, lingering on her mating mark before skimming along her collarbone.
“You’ll have to be quick,” Asami whispered, running her fingers through Korra’s messy hair. “They won’t stay asleep long.”
Korra switched to the other side of her neck, trailing kisses there before moving down her chest.
Asami spread her thighs, gasping as Korra’s muscular stomach pressed between her legs. It was the perfect surface to grind against, warm and firm, and she was already wet…
Korra released Asami’s nipple, burying her face in the pillow of her breasts and moaning with disappointment. “Tell me I didn’t just hear that.”
A soft whuff from the foot of the bed confirmed it. Naga lifted her head and gazed at Yasuko’s door with baleful black eyes, her tail thumping gently on the floor.
“You did." Asami rolled out from beneath Korra’s comforting weight, pulling the sheets under her arms. “Get ready. Here she comes.”
Korra’s face brightened. Her annoyance was instantly forgotten, and her smile shone brighter than the sun as she scrambled out of bed and threw on some underwear from a pile of discarded clothes. Naga wagged harder, climbing to her feet and trailing after Korra, pushing aside the rest of the clothes with her big, fuzzy paws.
Normally, Asami disapproved of that kind of mess. The only clutter she tolerated was office or garage-related—the kind of clutter she was more likely to be responsible for. But with Korra, she found that she didn’t mind. She fell a little more in love as Korra tiptoed to Yasuko’s door on quiet feet.
Korra waited, then yanked the door open, lunging forward to grab their eldest pup around the middle and tickle her tummy.
Despite Yasuko’s protests, Asami recognized the joyful giggling as encouragement. Korra scooped their daughter up, twirling her around while avoiding the kicks of her chubby legs.
“Yasu! How’s my little Otter Penguin?” She tossed Yasu into the air, then caught her safely, cradling the little girl against her chest. “Ready for breakfast?”
“Good. ‘Cuz I’m hungry.” Korra gave Yasuko a toothy grin that made Asami’s heart melt. “Know what I wanna eat?”
Korra pressed kisses all over Yasuko’s face, making om nom nom sounds and causing their pup to devolve into delighted squeals. Naga’s ears perked. She trotted in a circle around them, sneaking in a few affectionate licks on the side of Korra’s arm. Korra laughed and held Yasuko up for the polar bear dog to sniff, which Naga did, tickling Yasuko’s face with her whiskers and giving it a thorough tongue bath.
As adorable as the sight was, Asami was tempted to put a stop to it. They were being quite loud, and if they weren’t careful…
A cry from Hiroshi’s crib confirmed her worries. With the speed of a concerned mother, Asami abandoned the warmth of her bed and hurried to comfort her youngest. “That was a little much,” she said, arching an eyebrow in Korra’s direction as she cradled Hiroshi.
“Sorry,” Korra mumbled with a sheepish grin. She set Yasuko on the floor, holding the pup’s hand in one of her own and scratching Naga’s head with the other. “Hey, Yasu? How about we get dressed and start making your Mama breakfast? She has a big day today.”
Yasuko’s green eyes widened. “Big day?”
“Uh-huh. Mama is going back to work at Future Industries. But don’t worry. I’ll spend all day with you and your brother and Naga, and she’ll be home tonight for dinner.”
Asami couldn’t help but be grateful for Korra’s excited tone. Phrased a different way, the news might have been very upsetting to Yasuko, who had always been rather attached and disliked being parted from her. Getting her used to staying with Pema before Korra’s return had been a trial in itself, although the omega’s experience and warmth had eventually won the fussy pup over.
This time, Korra’s enthusiasm worked. “All day?” Yasuko said, bouncing on her tiny toes.
Korra nodded. “All day. Just the four of us. Then, after dinner, the five of us can have Mama’s favorite dessert. Except Naga.” She gave the polar bear dog a sidelong look. “She’s getting a little fat under all that fur.”
Naga snorted at the sound of her name, still wagging happily.
“Dumpins? Yes!” Yasuko scrambled back to her room to get dressed, while Korra trailed after her, blowing Asami a saucy kiss goodbye on the way. Naga trotted along as well, her blunt claws clicking on the floor.
Asami smiled and sat on the bed, nuzzling Hiroshi’s thin, sweet-smelling brown hair. Although he didn’t have Korra’s dark skin tone, he had her stunning blue eyes, and his dimpled smile melted Asami’s heart just the same.
Unfortunately, his smile didn’t last long. Hiroshi began hiccuping, and his round, squishy face turned bright red. He wailed, flailing his fists. Asami brought him to her breast. Although she no longer needed to feed him as frequently as she had a few months earlier, he was still a very hungry, demanding baby.
She leaned back against the pillows and closed her eyes, stroking Hiroshi’s head. Nursing her youngest was soothing, and she’d never actually gotten out of bed, so the temptation to drift off was strong. Her breaths deepened, and the remnants of Korra’s scent amidst the sheets put her even further at ease…
So much at ease that she almost wasn’t nervous about returning to work. Almost.
Although she’d visited Future Industries several times since Hiroshi’s birth, usually with both pups in tow to show them off to her more family-oriented business associates, she had yet to stay for an entire day. She’d kept up with the most urgent paperwork and phone calls, of course, but it had been a long time since she’d spent more than a few hours in her work office.
Part of her was looking forward to it. As much as she adored being a mother, she also loved her job and her company, and she was eager to dive back into work. On the other hand, the thought of leaving Hiroshi for more than an hour or two was quietly excruciating.
“You’ll be okay without me for a while, right?” she murmured, clutching her son a little tighter. At times like this, she really missed her father. Their relationship had been complicated, especially at the end, but he might have had some reassuring words for her…
“We’ll miss you like crazy, but we'll be fine.”
Asami opened her eyes to see that Korra had returned. The painful ball in her chest loosened, and she sighed quietly. Hiroshi unlatched at the sound, gazing up at her with alert, curious eyes. Asami passed him into Korra’s outstretched arms so she could stand up.
“It’s hard,” she murmured, letting her forehead fall on Korra’s shoulder.
“I know,” Korra said. She leaned in close, allowing Asami to hug both her and the baby. “But you’ll be amazing. You always are, Asami.”
Asami kissed the crook of Korra’s neck. “Thank you.”
“What for? I’m just telling you the truth.”
At that moment, Yasuko scampered back into the room, clutching three jumpers in her hands. “Mama! Which one?”
A laugh bubbled in Asami’s chest. She had to admit, seeing her daughter so excited to spend the day with Korra eased some of her worries. “Hmm. How about the blue one? The one with the otter penguin on it.”
Yasuko made a face. “Nooo!” She threw the blue jumper on the ground, along with a green one, and held up a red one with a Fire Ferrets logo on it instead. “This.”
“If you already knew which one you wanted, why are you asking my opinion?”
“Because I gotta match.”
Asami discovered what the pup meant when Naga came back into the room, looking rather put out. Yasuko had pulled two large, Fire Ferret themed socks — some of Korra’s, Spirits knew how Yasuko gotten them — over her ears. The polar bear dog whimpered, her tail drooping between her legs.
“Aw, Naga,” Korra chuckled. “You don’t wanna play dress up?”
Naga growled and shook her head, sending both socks flying off into the distance.
Asami laughed. Her worries dissolved, and she savored the moment, taking joy in her family. As long as she had them, everything else would work out.
“I’ll take care of the kiddos,” Korra said, holding Hiroshi upright against her chest. He peered over her shoulder at Naga, who had returned to the foot of the bed to sulk, and gave a gurgling smile. “You should grab a shower and get ready for work.”
The thought of a hot, steamy shower, and a few precious moments to herself, sounded like perfection. Asami planted a grateful kiss on Korra’s lips, then moved on to Yasuko, who bounced excitedly on her toes. “Come here, my love,” she said, crouching down to draw the pup into a tight hug.
Yasuko crashed into her arms, and Asami held her close, inhaling her daughter’s scent. Yasuko squirmed, obviously too excited for a long hug, but Asami struggled to let go. As wonderful as the shower would undoubtedly be, her instincts as a mother demanded she linger.
“Mama,” Yasuko whined, “too tight!”
“I’m sorry.” Asami let her go, kissing her mop of sleek black hair. “Go help Mom with breakfast. I’m going to shower.”
“Why? Did you get dirty?”
Korra snickered, and Asami shot her a look. “Unfortunately, no.” With a playful tousle of Yasuko’s hair, she headed into the bathroom, stretching along the way. She sighed in relief as her spine and shoulders popped. All in all, it was shaping up to be a perfect start to her first official day back at work.
Korra ran a hand through her mussed hair, surveying the mess that had overtaken the kitchen. When she’d enlisted Yasuko’s help in cooking breakfast, she’d thought it would be an adorable bonding experience. Now, she saw the flaws in her plan: flaws like the batter dripping from an overturned mixing bowl into a steadily growing puddle on the floor, and the smoke streaming from a pot she’d removed from the stove a few minutes too late.
She’d ignored all those problems in favor of serving Asami a delicious and filling breakfast, but now her mate was gone, headed off to work with her belly full of fresh, warm dumplings, leaving Korra with a nightmare to tame before evening. She could technically ask the servants, but since the mess was much bigger than usual, not to mention all her fault, she felt responsible.
Yasuko leapt at Korra’s legs, throwing both arms around them. Korra barely managed to steady herself in time.
Not to mention looking after two overactive pups. At least only one of them can walk…
A shrill cry came from the high chair where Korra had seated Hiroshi, and she winced.
… but the other one sure has an impressive set of lungs.
She took a deep breath.
Come on, Korra. You’re the Avatar! You’ve faced bigger challenges than this. You can take care of your own babies without anyone else’s help. Asami did it on her own with Yasuko for three years.
“Mom? It smells like burning.”
Forcing a grin, Korra decided to handle things one step at a time. Hiroshi was crying up a storm, and Yasuko was covered in flour and batter. Cleaning the kitchen could wait for a quieter time in the afternoon, preferably while they were both napping, but cleaning the pups themselves needed to happen soon.
“I know it does, Yasu. That’s left over from the first batch of dumplings we cooked for too long. There isn’t any actual burning…”
A plume of smoke wafted from the burner as a stray speck of batter simmered in the stove’s dying heat. With a sigh, Korra bent some water from the sink and splashed it over the smoldering remnants before anything could actually catch fire.
“How about we clean this up later and give you and your brother a bath?”
That seemed to pacify Yasuko. “Bath! Yeah!” she bellowed, bouncing excitedly on her toes. Korra was pleased to note that she’d single-handedly changed her daughter’s opinion on baths, mostly because it was a chance for the two of them to practice waterbending.
One down, one to go.
Hiroshi was easier. He stopped crying as soon as Korra unbuckled him from his high chair and rested him against her chest. He waved his pudgy fists, grabbing onto both sides of her hair and pulling mercilessly.
“Ouch! Hiroshi, please—”
The booming sound of the Sato Mansion’s doorbell rang through the halls, echoing all the way to the kitchen. Korra sighed. She really should go see who was calling, but with one pup pulling on her hair and the other tugging at her pants, she wasn’t exactly in a position to do so.
“I know, Yasu. One of the servants will answer it for us…”
Yasuko sprinted out of the kitchen, completely ignored Korra’s statement in her haste to get to the foyer. Korra hefted Hiroshi in her arms and hurried after, unwilling to be left behind. She wasn’t in any sort of state to receive company, but her pup’s enthusiasm left her little choice.
With a flour-stained face, and Hiroshi still pulling mightily at her hair, Korra stumbled down the hall and into the foyer. She’d mostly overcome her awkwardness at living in such a large home over the past year, but the feeling of insignificance closed in on her again as she approached the front door. Perhaps it had to do with the mess — surely visitors to the Sato estate weren’t accustomed to being greeted in such a manner.
Yasuko had no such reservations. She stood all the way on her tiptoes and reached as high as she could to turn the knob and open the door, peering up at their visitor with wide, curious eyes. “Hi!”
The person on the other side of the door was a courier, dressed in emerald green reminiscent of the Earth Kingdom. Korra didn’t recognize his uniform, but that was no surprise. Couriers weren’t as common since the invention of the telephone, and the ones she’d seen wore Future Industry colors. Asami employed several to escort important paperwork, when the risks of the regular mail system wouldn’t do.
The courier seemed a little startled by Yasuko’s boldness, but he gave her a friendly smile before setting his face back into a neutral expression — which promptly vanished when he laid eyes on Korra. She grinned sheepishly. The Avatar was very well-known around Republic City these days, but he probably hadn’t expected to see her chasing after pups, covered in the remnants of breakfast.
“Hi. Do I need to sign for Ms. Sato?”
The courier cleared his throat. “Actually, I have a letter here addressed to the Avatar.” He eyed her up and down. “I believe that’s you.”
Korra blinked. She received mail at the Sato Estate from time to time, but nothing as seemingly important as this. The influencers and world leaders she did know either called, or wrote her off as being more trouble than she was worth.
“Er, yes.” She stepped forward, ruffling Yasuko’s hair and gently urging her to step back.
The courier offered the letter, and Korra noted the return address with growing curiosity. She recognized it right away, thanks to the letters Asami occasionally dug out from a secret wooden box: Republic City’s prison.
Who could possibly be writing to me from prison?
She signed the offered clipboard, gave the courier another smile, and waved goodbye. Yasuko waved as well, calling out a cheerful farewell as he returned to his Satomobile, which was parked a short distance down the private road leading away from the mansion.
“Who sended it?” Yasuko asked once the door was closed, standing on tiptoe to try and see the letter.
“Sent,” Korra corrected absently. “Let’s find out.” She shifted Hiroshi to one side, letting him drool on her collar as she opened the envelope with the opposite hand. The message inside was brief and to the point, in neat and precise handwriting.
We have been enemies in the past, but I humbly request your presence in order to discuss an important matter.
If you are willing to see me, please contact the prison warden at your earliest convenience. I believe he will grant permission, due to your position.
In spite of everything that has happened between us, I hope this letter finds you well.
Korra read the signature, then read it again. She still couldn’t believe her eyes. Kuvira, of all people, was writing to her? Part of her was shocked. As Kuvira had so plainly written, they had been bitter enemies in the past.
Or maybe not so bitter, at least from Korra’s point of view. Kuvira was dangerous, certainly. Misguided, most definitely. Guilty, without a doubt. She had done truly awful things for which amends could probably never be made.
In spite of all that, however, Korra understood her. She understood the fear that had driven Kuvira to become so militaristic. She understood the terror that had pushed her to collect power, at the expense of other people’s rights — and other people’s lives. She understood that fear because she’d felt it in her own bones, even though she had reacted far differently.
Actually, I probably understand Kuvira better than almost everyone else in the world…
There would be a trial eventually. Raiko and the council were organizing something, although she hadn’t received much word on the subject. They probably wanted to involve her as little as possible, which Korra could understand. Were she to testify against Kuvira, she might be more of a distraction than a help.
Is that what Kuvira wants to talk about? The trial?
Doubt niggled in Korra’s mind. Kuvira was the type to stand alone, if only because she didn’t trust anyone else. She would undoubtedly stand alone at trial, too, just like always. It was probably something else, and from the urgency of the firm, blocky letters, Korra suspected it was important, as Kuvira had said.
Korra blinked, coming back to herself. “Sorry, Yasu. It’s from someone who did a bad thing to Mom and Mama… and everyone in Republic City and the Earth Kingdom, too.”
“What bad thing?” Yasuko asked.
Korra sighed. There was no easy way to explain authoritarianism to an almost-five year old, but Yasuko was Asami’s daughter, after all. She was already incredibly bright. And I suppose I have to explain the basics sometime. “It’s a long story. Let’s get you and Hiroshi in the bath first. Then I’ll explain, okay?”
Yasuko sprinted for the staircase without further prompting. Korra followed behind, far more reluctant. This wasn’t a story she was keen on telling, and she still had no idea what, if any, response she should give to the letter.
It can wait. I’ll talk it over with Asami tonight.
Getting Yasuko in the tub was even easier than usual. She hopped in before the water had properly warmed up, and she splashed around contentedly while Korra filled the small basin she and Asami used to bathe Hiroshi. He wasn’t big enough for the regular tub yet, but he seemed just as happy as his sister to kick in the shallow water while Korra supported his head.
Adorable, Korra thought as she looked between her pups. Yasu loves the bath. Maybe she’ll forget about…
“Who sended — uh, sent the letter?” Yasuko asked again.
No such luck, it seemed. Korra stalled by tending to Hiroshi, bending a small wave of water over his belly. He kicked some more and gave a gurgling smile. I never saw Yasuko like this, as an infant. She’s grown up so fast… Korra looked at Yasuko, who peered over the side of the tub with wide eyes.
“Her name is Kuvira.”
It was the first time Korra had spoken the name in front of her children, but Yasuko didn’t react other than to repeat, “Kuvira?”
“She was a soldier from the Earth Kingdom, and she was always afraid something terrible would happen to her home. So she built her army as big as she could to protect it… and she forgot how important balance is.”
“We must find balance in ourselves before we bring balance to the world,” Yasuko iguana-parroted from memory.
Korra gave a tight smile of pride. “That’s right. But Kuvira didn’t have balance within herself. She conquered all the cities and towns, and even tried to conquer Republic City. She was so afraid of being attacked, she attacked everyone else first. A lot of people got hurt.”
Yasuko nodded, although Korra wasn’t sure how much her daughter actually understood. Enough, apparently, because her next question made Korra’s stomach twist into a nervous knot. “You and Mama?”
“Yes, me and Mama, and your grandfather, too. Not grandpa, but Mama’s sire. You’ve seen his picture in Mama’s office.”
Yasuko’s chubby face fell. “Mama cries sometimes.”
“When she looks at the picture?”
The pup hung her head and nodded yes.
“Yes. That’s when we have to give her extra hugs and kisses, so she won’t be so sad.”
That seemed to brighten Yasuko’s mood. “Okay.” She lost interest in the conversation, swirling one of her hands over the bathwater and drawing a small tendril from its surface. It swayed back and forth, threatening to disintegrate a few times before it solidified.
Korra smiled. Her problems hadn’t gone anywhere — the letter, broaching the subject with Asami — but she loved her family. Asami and I earned this happiness. I won’t let anyone spoil it, not even Kuvira.
She bent a tendril of her own, twining the tip around Yasuko’s. Yasuko giggled, and the two of them engaged in their own watery version of a thumb wrestle. After a few moments, Korra allowed her tendril to be overcome and splash back into the water.
“Oh no! The Mighty Moose Lion was too strong for me.”
Yasuko’s squeals laughter filled the bathroom. “Again!”
“You want a rematch? You’re on… right after I wash your brother’s hair.”
Asami looked up from the paperwork she’d been poring over, noting the stiffness in her spine. “Yes, Hai Yun?” she asked, putting a hand on her lower back and arching in search of comfort. “Sorry, I’ve been sitting longer than I thought. What time is it?”
Her assistant, a short, round-faced omega of Earth Kingdom ancestry, smiled politely. “Twenty minutes to seven.”
“Really?” Asami winced. “You should’ve left almost an hour ago. You know you don’t have to stay late whenever I do.”
Hai Yun dipped her head in acknowledgment. “I know, Mrs. Sato, but I had calls to return and receipts to file—”
“Go home, eat dinner, and spend time with your family,” Asami insisted, rising from her chair. “I’ll be doing the same.”
“I’ll walk down with you,” Asami offered, before Hai Yun could protest. She grabbed her purse, sliding the strap over her shoulder. Her back was still a little tense, but the mild discomfort was more than worth it.
She’d enjoyed her first day back at work just as much as she’d hoped — both her trip to one of Future Industries’ many factories that morning, and even the paperwork she’d done in her office that afternoon. She had to admit, she was a lot more productive without a toddler and infant clamoring for her attention.
But Spirits, I miss them! As energizing as she’d found her day, she was already looking forward to seeing her family’s smiling faces when she arrived home. My family. I have a family to come home to…
“So, what will you be doing this evening?” she asked Hai Yun as they headed for the stairs. “Anything fun or relaxing?”
Hai Yun’s face fell. “Just the usual. Dinner and bedtime stories.” She hesitated, then added, “By the way, I won’t need that time I requested off next month. Thank you for approving it, though.”
“What? Why not? I thought you were taking the pups to see your mate’s parents?”
“We were, but…” Hai Yun’s voice trailed off. “They live in Yi, and the news coming from that part of the Earth Kingdom has been concerning.”
Asami’s brow furrowed. “Concerning, how?”
“Just, concerning. There have been incidents.”
“Not involving my in-laws, but there’s been fighting close by over resources. Things still aren’t settled in the Earth Kingdom, you know? And without my husband…”
Asami offered a sympathetic nod. Hai Yun’s mate had died during Kuvira’s attack on Republic City, which was also the reason she’d returned to the workforce. She was also the sharpest assistant Asami had ever hired, which made her very glad she’d overlooked the time gap in the omega’s resume.
“I hadn’t realized,” Asami said, more than a little embarrassed. Before Hiroshi II’s birth, she’d read the paper every morning with breakfast to stay on top of current events. That habit had fallen to the wayside somewhere between night feedings and changing diapers. And maybe I’m understandably exhausted with politics after everything with Kuvira…
She made a mental note to look into the matter later, but noted Hai Yun’s discomfort and decided to change the subject. “You should still take the time off. Goodness knows you’re invaluable, but I can make it on my own for a week. You could invite your in-laws to visit you instead of the other way around. Have they been to Republic City?”
Hai Yun brightened. “They’re fairly set in their ways at the farm, but I suppose it couldn’t hurt to ask.”
“Pretend you’re asking for help,” Asami said. “When Korra asks her parents to visit us in Republic City, they always claim to be busy in the South Pole, but as soon as we ask for a break from the pups, they show up at our door for two weeks and refuse to leave.”
“I’ll try that,” Hai Yun laughed. “It might actually get my mother on a train.”
Asami winked. “I happen to know the person who operates Republic City’s railroads. I can get her in first class.”
“Oh, that isn’t necessary—”
“Consider it part of your bonus.” They arrived at the first floor, where Hai Yun rushed forward to hold the door even though Asami went for it at the same time. “Thank you,” she said, adjusting her purse and giving Hai Yun a cheerful wave. “Tell your family hello from me.”
“Of course! My boys loved you at the last Future Industries picnic. They couldn’t stop talking about your motorcycle.”
Asami laughed. “Maybe at the next picnic, I’ll let them ride my go-karts.”
The drive home seemed to stretch longer than usual. Asami found herself leaning on her horn once or twice, even though the other drivers’ offenses weren’t all that reprehensible. Work had kept her mind busy, but now that she’d left it behind in the office, she longed to see her pups and her mate. Hopefully Korra had prepared or ordered something for dinner, because her stomach was growling. She’d fallen back into old habits and worked straight through lunch.
Finally, after waiting for much too long at the last red light, she sped up the long driveway to the Sato Estate, parking in her usual spot. She unfastened her seatbelt, killed the engine, and gave her Satomobile an affectionate pat on the dash before heading inside to see her other beloveds.
A pair of tiny arms flung around Asami’s legs as soon as she opened the door. She laughed, bending down to scoop wiggling her daughter into her arms. “Yasu!” She propped the pup against her hip, catching sight of Korra heading down the stairs, Hiroshi cradled in her arms. He was awake and alert, and he reached for Asami with his chubby fists.
“Hey, Mama. Good day?” Korra arrived, planting a chaste kiss on Asami’s lips before offering her Hiroshi’s head. She kissed him as well before answering, taking a moment to inhale his familiar scent. She really had missed him, had missed them all, but he was just so little…
“An excellent day, Mom," Asami said. "Thanks for asking.” Yasuko started to squirm, so Asami set her back on the floor and took Hiroshi from Korra, holding him to her chest. He rooted into her sternum, obviously hungry. “How about you three? What did you do?”
“Bath and reading,” Yasuko crowed, her voice echoing through the foyer.
“Oh? Is that so?” Asami looked at Hiroshi for confirmation. He stopped his nuzzling to reach for a lock of hair that had escaped her ponytail, trying to stuff it in his drooling mouth. Asami didn’t bother resisting. “What else?”
“A green letter man came,” Yasuko said.
Asami’s brows rose, and she glanced at Korra, who wasn’t smiling anymore. The happy expression had fallen from her face, although she hurried to slap it back on. Too late, Asami said with her eyes, giving her mate a knowing stare.
Korra sighed. “A courier. Can we talk about it after dinner?”
Asami sighed. From Korra’s tone, it wouldn’t be a pleasant conversation. “Of course. What are we having?”
“Fish!” Yasuko hollered.
“Oh? Just fish?”
“Fried seaweed,” Korra added. “Gotta have the greens.”
They went to the kitchen together, with Yasuko running ahead before darting back to tug on Asami’s jacket. “C’mon, mama. Hungry.”
“Me too, Yasu. Be patient for another minute.”
“You didn’t eat lunch, did you?” Korra asked, giving Asami a suspicious look.
Asami could only offer a sheepish grin. “I had tea.”
“That isn’t lunch. Come on, you’re eating for two for another month.”
Asami sighed. Korra had a point. She should manage her meals better, for Hiroshi’s sake at least. Once they entered the kitchen, which smelled heavenly enough to make her mouth water, she sat in one of the chairs, passed Hiroshi to Korra while she removed her jacket and unbuttoned the top half of her blouse, then took him back so he could have his dinner first.
As Hiroshi suckled and Korra prepared their plates, Asami began to relax. The mystery of the courier, and her odd conversation with Hai Yun, lingered in her mind, but she forced herself to push them away. This was family time, and she wouldn’t let her worries ruin it.
“Here,” Korra said, setting down her plate. “Eat, please? You look pale.”
“I had a great day,” Asami insisted, but she took her chopsticks and dug into the steaming bowl of fish and seaweed. As usual, it tasted wonderful. One of the only positives about Korra’s three year absence was that she’d learned how to cook, and made use of those skills often.
With Korra’s help, Yasuko climbed into her high chair and started on her own food, eating with messy fingers rather than her child-sized chopsticks. “Use the chopsticks, love,” Asami chided.
Yasuko aimed a pout in her direction. “It’s squishy.”
“It goes in your mouth, not on your hands,” she said, trying to conceal her laughter. If she let on that she thought the display was cute — especially cute because Korra would probably help Yasuko wash up — her daughter would only get worse ideas.
Korra was last to the table, but she didn’t touch her bowl. Instead, she took Hiroshi from Asami’s arms and tucked him over her shoulder with a cloth under his chin. Once he was taken care of, she settled him in the portable seat Asami had designed for him and finally joined them.
“So, Yasuko,” Asami said, curiosity getting the better of her as she re-buttoned her blouse, “tell me about the green man.”
“The kor-yer,” Yasuko said, seemingly thrilled to correct her own mother. “He bringed—” Her face screwed up. “He brought a letter.”
“Oh?” Asami asked, pretending not to notice Korra’s silent gestures to stop. "Who was it from?”
The air rushed out of the room. A chill raced down Asami's spine. Even though she knew Yasuko was watching for a reaction, she couldn’t stop the look of anger that twisted her face. Words bubbled up, but she didn’t know what to say, so she swallowed them, working against a painful lump that had lodged in her throat.
Still struggling, she looked at Korra, unsure whether her expression was furious or helpless. Both clawed at her insides, worsening her confusion.
“I was going to tell you later,” Korra said, sounding apologetic.
Asami took a deep breath. There was no need to direct her anger at Korra just because someone had mentioned Kuvira. What kind of example would that be for Yasuko? “I see,” she said, returning to her food without another word. She ate silently and quickly, trying not to get caught in a spiral of dark thoughts.
While she finished dinner, Korra did an admirable job of keeping Yasuko distracted. She laughed and joked with their daughter, putting in extra effort to keep her engaged. Dimly, Asami was grateful. She was in no frame of mind to entertain their pup.
What could Kuvira want? Is she trying to torment us? Is she going to offer an empty apology before her trial, to make herself look more sympathetic? What could she possibly have to say to us?
She poked the bottom of her bowl with her chopsticks, scarcely realizing she’d finished her meal. She’d barely tasted any of it, although her body had obviously been desperate for fuel.
“I think it’s time for a story, and then bed,” Korra said, speaking loud enough to draw Asami out of her daze.
“Oh. Of course. Would you like me to read to you, Yasu?”
That put a smile on Yasuko’s face. “Yeah!”
“I’ll clean up in here,” Korra said, standing up to bring the first round of dishes to the sink. “Hiroshi and I have it covered. Right, buddy?”
Upon hearing Korra’s voice, Hiroshi turned his head toward her and gave a big, toothless smile. The knot of tension in Asami’s chest didn’t unravel, but it did loosen. She stood and ruffled Yasuko’s hair. “Come on. Which story do you want tonight?”
Settling Yasuko down was easier than Asami expected. Normally, her daughter protested the moment bedtime was mentioned, but Korra must have worn her out, because she fell asleep before the end of her story. Asami closed the book about the otter penguins and the polar bear dog, returning it to Yasuko’s bookshelf and tucking the pup’s blanket under her chin. She lingered for a few moments, staring down at her daughter with an ache in her heart.
It seems like she was in a crib just yesterday. Now she’s got her own bed. She’s growing up so fast… fast enough to know who Kuvira is now . Asami frowned as she considered what Korra might have told their pup. Hopefully not much. She couldn’t overcome the impulse to shield Yasuko from the scars the war had left. She’s only four. That’s so young. Too young to understand.
Reluctantly, she left Yasuko’s bedroom, casting one last look at her slumbering pup before closing the door. Korra was waiting in their own room, bent over Hiroshi’s crib. He was sleeping peacefully, and Asami gave a small smile, approaching to stroke his hair. His eyelids twitched, but he didn’t stir.
“Hey,” Korra said, offering Asami a sad smile.
Asami looped her arms around Korra’s neck and kissed her. It was close-mouthed and chaste, but still full of affection. Despite everything, she’d missed her mate desperately during the day. “Hi. We should probably talk.”
“Probably.” Korra dipped her head, nuzzling the crook of Asami’s neck. “But I don’t want to.” She latched onto a sensitive patch of skin and began to suck, but Asami tugged her hair.
“Don’t try and distract me with sex. It won’t work.”
Korra shuffled back with a guilty look. “Worth a try.”
“Why did Kuvira write you?”
“Honestly? I don’t know. She says there’s a matter of ‘great urgency’ she needs to discuss with me.”
Asami’s stomach sank like a stone. “So she wants you to visit her in prison.” It was a statement, not a question.
“If it’s so important, she could have included it in the letter. This is manipulation, plain and simple. She wants something from you, maybe help with her trial…”
Korra touched her arm, and she went silent. She was venting, and for no good reason. Or maybe a lot of good reasons. She had every reason to hate Kuvira and everything she stood for, and she could feel that hate churning in her gut the longer she sat with it.
“I don’t think it’s a trick, Asami. Kuvira and I have an understanding.”
The word tasted like bile in Asami’s mouth, even though she wasn’t the one who’d spoken it. Korra had told her about the final confrontation with Kuvira in the Spirit World, how the Great Uniter had admitted to her misdeeds and surrendered — but surrendering was the logical thing to do with the Avatar staring you down. Even someone as strong as Kuvira wasn’t immune.
Korra’s power even intimidates me sometimes, and we’re mates. Surrendering doesn’t mean Kuvira’s actually sorry. Even if she is, who says she deserves forgiveness?
“What kind of understanding could you possibly have with someone like her?”
Korra sighed, pinching the bridge of her forehead. “I’m not excusing what she did, but her actions came from a place of mistrust and fear. I want — I need to believe she would have made different choices in different circumstances. It’s like I told Yasuko: Kuvira didn’t have balance. You must have balance within yourself before you can bring balance to the world.”
“Yasuko?” Asami worked her mouth in disbelief for a few moments, struggling to form words. Her hands shook, and her jaw clenched. Their daughter. Korra had exposed their daughter to Kuvira’s ways of thinking. To the awful things she’d done. “You told Yasuko about what Kuvira did?”
Korra’s eyes widened. “Well, yes. She asked, so I explained—”
“She’s four years old!”
“I know, but—”
“Four, Korra! Kuvira had war camps. She destroyed Republic City. She killed my father. Did you tell Yasuko about that, too?”
“I didn’t give any details—”
“I don’t care.” Asami didn’t notice the angry tears streaming from her eyes until they dripped from her chin. She wiped them away with the back of her hand, sniffing to try and regain some control. I won’t give Kuvira this much control over me. Not ever. Especially while she’s in prison and I’m here.
“Go see her if you want,” she said, her throat stinging as she forced the words out. “Do what you think is right. But I’m not going anywhere near her, and I don’t want you telling Yasuko anything else about her.”
A wrinkle furrowed Korra’s brow, and she narrowed her eyes. “I’m sorry I didn’t talk to you about this first. It just happened. But Yasu’s my daughter, too. My opinion matters here.”
Asami gritted her teeth. She almost blurted out something cruel. Something about how Korra had abandoned the right to make such big decisions regarding their child when she’d abandoned them. But she pushed that resentment aside, struggling toward calmer waters like a swimmer stranded at sea. She had long-since forgiven Korra, and resentment wouldn’t make her feel better.
“I’m going to take a shower. I need to cool off.”
Korra’s serious look faded, and she gave Asami a weak nod. “Okay.” She hesitated, then added, “If you want me to sleep in one of the guest rooms—”
“Of course not. Just because I’m mad doesn’t mean I’ll kick you out of bed. We’re past that kind of immaturity, aren’t we?”
“Yeah.” Hesitantly, Korra reached for Asami’s hand, and Asami let her take it. They both squeezed, and Korra brushed a kiss over her knuckles before letting her go. “I’ll be in bed, okay? Take as long as you want. I love you.”
“I love you, too.” Asami gave Korra a forced smile and headed for the shelter of the bathroom. Once she was alone, concealed by the drumming hiss of the water hitting the floor, she allowed herself to keep crying. She stood there, trembling, for Spirits knew how long, thinking about her father. About his absence. About Yasuko and Hiroshi II. About how her children would grow up never hearing his voice, or seeing his smile, again.
My son will never know his namesake. Yasu only met him a few times. Will she even remember?
Probably not. She’d been so young. Her father would never get to take Yasu and Hiro Go-Karting. He would never watch them learn martial arts. He would never teach them how to fix an engine. And one day, when Asami passed her company down to them — assuming one of her children showed an aptitude for business — they would never know the man who had founded it. For all his faults and mistakes, Hiroshi had done some incredible things with his life.
A voice that sounded suspiciously like Korra’s sounded in her head.
You forgave your father, and he did horrible things. Is Korra’s desire to understand Kuvira’s motivations so different?
She grabbed the soap in a trembling hand and starting scrubbing, hoping she could wash away her thoughts and feelings. Unfortunately, she didn’t have much luck.
Korra paused in front of the large metal door, reminding herself to breathe. She’d awoken that morning with a knot in her chest, which pulled tighter as she made her way to Republic City’s maximum security prison, then to Kuvira’s cell. Now, here she was, with only a door between her and the person who had almost destroyed the world.
A shudder ran down Korra's spine. Although she was one of the few who saw past the infamous Great Uniter to the damaged and misguided person beneath, that didn’t mean she'd forgotten the scope of Kuvira’s crimes, or that she’d forgiven them. If anything, Kuvira’s humanity made her all the more frightening—a stark reminder that anyone was capable of committing horrible acts when they forgot balance.
Instinctively, Korra reached out with her chi. The door was made entirely of refined platinum, and she sensed no impurities. That was good. Probably Future Industries’ doing—Asami would have insisted. Korra doubted Kuvira would attempt a jailbreak, or put up a fight, but she would take any reassurances she could get. Asami hadn’t exactly offered many that morning before leaving for work.
They had shared a mostly silent breakfast together, more resigned than cold. Pema had taken the pups, Asami had left her with a brief goodbye kiss, and now Korra’s only companions were the guards behind her at either shoulder.
“I’ll shout if I need you,” Korra said when she noticed them staring.
“If she threatens you, just use lightning,” one of the guards, a tall firebender, said.
The other guard, a shorter metalbender, snorted. She carried a baton. Electric, Korra assumed. “I don’t think the Avatar needs your tips, Po. Did you forget who put Kuvira here in the first place?”
Po’s expression became sheepish, but Korra gave him a reassuring smile. “I won’t be long. Thanks.”
The metalbender withdrew a set of keys and unlocked the door. She stepped aside, allowing Korra to enter.
Kuvira's cell was large and barren, not unlike Zaheer’s. Green braziers burned at regular intervals on the walls, and faint sunshine fell through a circular window in the roof. The light illuminated a welded circle in the middle of the floor. Kuvira sat there, legs folded in a meditative pose, manacles about her wrists. In her lap, she held a book. As Korra stepped forward, Kuvira folded the corner of her page, closed the book, and lifted her head.
“You came.” Her voice was lower and hoarser than Korra remembered. From disuse, perhaps. Her face was gaunter, too, her eyes hollower. Her dark hair hung limp around her face.
Korra worked moisture into her lips. She wasn’t sure what to say. None of the sentences she’d rehearsed on the way seemed appropriate anymore. Her eyes flicked to the book in Kuvira’s lap. “Guru Laghima’s poetry?”
Kuvira offered a tentative smile. “Books are one of the only things prisoners are permitted. I haven’t been granted the privilege of asking for my own yet, and I assume the few books available in the library were stocked at Zaheer’s request.”
Prisoners, Korra noted. She said ‘prisoners’, not ‘we’. Is she separating herself from the rest of them, mentally? Does part of her still think her actions were justified?
“I’ve never been much for poetry,” Korra said aloud. “Give me a good adventure novel any day.”
Kuvira arched a brow. “Don’t you get enough of that in real life?”
Korra didn’t have an answer for that, but she had plenty of questions.
“Why did you ask me to come?”
Kuvira’s tired expression solidified into something serious and businesslike. She looked more like the Kuvira that Korra remembered from before, the Captain of Zaofu’s guard who had helped bring down Zaheer and saved her father’s life.
“We’ve had our differences in the past, Avatar, but you must know that I want to see the Earth Kingdom’s people prosper. That was always my intention.”
Korra noticed the use of the phrase ‘Earth Kingdom’ instead of Empire, but she didn’t comment. She nodded for Kuvira to continue.
“I’m allowed to send and receive mail once a week, although all my correspondences are read by the guards for safety reasons, of course. One of the most recent missives from a former general of mine is…concerning.”
“What did it say?”
“There is unrest in the Yi province. A portion of my former army has gathered there, building strength, refusing to accept Wu’s plans for democracy. So far, this group is only collecting allies and resources, but I believe they represent a significant threat.”
Korra took a moment to process that information. She’d noted an article or two about unrest in Yi in the papers Asami had delivered. Bandits, some speculated. If Kuvira’s information was accurate, it might be something more. “What makes you think they’re a threat?”
“Most of the weapons and technology I used for my…assault…” Kuvira forced the word out with obvious difficulty. It was one of the only times Korra could remember hearing her sound uncertain. “...on Republic City were developed in that region. We must act quickly and make sure this fringe group doesn’t have access to…my former work.”
“We are not going to do anything,” Korra said firmly. “Thank you for the information, Kuvira. I believe you, and I believe you want to protect the Earth Kingdom’s people. But this is your place now. You need to be here, in prison.”
Kuvira nodded, but a bit of the light in her eyes dimmed. Korra frowned as she noticed. She couldn’t possibly think I’d let her out of here to help me deal with this, right?
“Of course. That’s what I meant.”
“I’ll go check things out in Yi,” Korra promised. “I don’t want anyone continuing your weapons development program, either.”
“You should take Asami with you,” Kuvira said. "Your mate’s knowledge will be an invaluable asset.”
Korra had already planned on doing so, if Asami could spare the time, but she made a noise of agreement anyway. “I’ll come back and tell you how it goes. If the guards say I can, I’ll bring you a book of your choice. Guess you can’t do much else in here.”
“I’m allowed to exercise outside once a day under strict supervision, but you’re right. There isn’t much to do. If you could bring me the paper, I’d be appreciative. I like to keep abreast of current events, even if I’m no longer shaping them. Perhaps it’s for the best that I’m not.”
Unsure what to make of that, Korra merely nodded again. “I’ll see what I can do. Goodbye, Kuvira.”
“Goodbye, Korra. Thank you for coming. I know you probably didn’t want to.”
Korra didn’t respond to the bait. With a short bow, she turned and left, feeling the burn of Kuvira’s eyes on the back of her neck all the way to the door.
“A splinter group in the Yi province?” Tenzin stroked his beard, a concerned wrinkle forming on his brow. “Concerning news indeed.”
“I know.” Despite the laughter of children playing nearby, and the shouts of enthusiastic teenagers going through their training, Korra couldn’t keep her frown at bay. “That’s why I thought I'd ask if you’d heard anything from the airbenders in that area.”
Tenzin regarded her even more seriously than usual. “Word has reached me concerning a few minor incidents. Supplies going missing. People…”
“Missing people?” Korra’s eyes widened. “I wouldn’t call that minor!”
Tenzin hurried to reassure her. “No one’s been kidnapped, as far as I know, but some of Kuvira’s former soldiers never returned to their families, especially those who were originally from Yi to begin with. Most were declared dead, but now I wonder.”
Korra winced. Cleaning up Kuvira’s mess had proven far more complicated than she’d expected, even with all her experience dealing with various disasters. This one had stuck around like stormclouds after a rainstorm. Cities destroyed. People dead and missing. Even those of us who made it out alive will never be the same… She shook herself. No. It’s over. Kuvira’s in prison, and she’s going to stay there. Things will get better from here, and I have to keep doing my job.
“Could you spare some airbenders to help me out? I’m already planning on taking Asami, and possibly Mako and Bolin, but you know how it is. Some people are intimidated by Team Avatar—or just me, to be honest. Wary villagers might be more willing to talk to a stranger than the Avatar.”
Tenzin’s expression shifted to one of approval. “Not a bad idea. I suppose I could send someone…”
“Actually, I was wondering if Jinora might join us? I’ve missed her. What’s she up to these days, anyway?”
“A little of everything. Her duties have her traveling all over the Four Nations. I suppose I could ask.”
“Would you?” Korra said, feeling a trace of positivity for the first time that day. “It’d be great to see her again.”
Tenzin nodded. “Her knowledge and wisdom have grown even more than her bending. She would most certainly be an asset to you.”
Korra turned at the sound of another voice. A smile spread across her face as she saw Pema approaching. Yasuko and Rohan clung to her skirts, and she carried Hiroshi in her arms. Upon seeing Korra, Yasuko let go of Pema and sprinted toward her, tiny arms outstretched.
Seeing her daughter made Korra feel a hundred times lighter. She scooped Yasuko up, twirling her around and covering her face in kisses. “There’s my little otter penguin! Did you have a good day with Pema and Rohan?”
Yasuko nodded furiously. “We played tag!”
“Did you?” Korra had witnessed the rough and tumble spectacle that Yasuko and Rohan called ‘tag’ before, and when she looked at her pup’s clothes, she saw the muddy evidence all over. “Uh-oh. We’ll have to clean you up before Mama gets home.”
“Sorry,” Pema said as she arrived with Rohan and Hiroshi, sounding a little sheepish. “We weren’t expecting you so soon.”
“Please, don’t worry about it. You did me a huge favor today. I don’t care if she’s a bit muddy. You should’ve seen me as a pup. I was a disaster.”
“Somehow, that doesn’t surprise me.” Pema offered Hiroshi, and Korra set Yasuko down with one more kiss, taking her son into her arms. He squirmed and babbled, protesting the hug, which was probably a little too tight—but Korra couldn’t help it. Seeing Kuvira had reminded her just how fragile life was, including the lives of her children.
I can’t even imagine what it would be like to lose them…to never see or smell or hold them again…
A small hand tugged Korra’s skirt, and she looked down to see Rohan beaming up at her. “Korra! Kooorraaah!”
“Hey, stinky,” she said, kneeling down to his level. “What’s up?”
Rohan giggled. “Play tag with us?”
“Yeah, Mommy!” Yasuko shouted, bouncing on her toes. “Play tag!”
Korra pretended to consider it. “Well…” She looked at Pema, who nodded yes. “Okay, we can play tag for a few minutes, but I won’t hold back! You’re both going down.”
Yasuko and Rohan both squealed in delight. “You’re it!” they shouted at the same time, slapping her on her knee and arm respectively before darting off across the grass.
Korra watched them for a moment before looking at Pema. “Do you mind? I’ll only be five minutes.”
“I’ll take him,” Tenzin offered, holding out his arm for Hiroshi. “My wife might need a break.”
While Pema gave Tenzin a grateful smile, Korra handed her son to him, ruffling the soft tuft of black hair atop his head. She lingered a moment, simply staring at him, partially unwilling to let him go, even into the safety of Tenzin’s arms. But Yasuko and Rohan called her name, so she turned and sprinted after them, roaring as she did.
“They’re going to be exhausted tonight,” Pema said as she and Korra watched Yasuko and Rohan wrestle on the ground, getting their clothes even muddier than before, with grass stains to boot. “Rohan loves having Yasu over. She’s the only one his age who can keep up with him.”
“Same,” Korra chuckled. “Keeping up with her on my own is a full time job these days. The only one she’ll be quiet for is Asami, and that’s just sometimes.”
Pema laughed as well. “Asami does have a way with children. Rohan adores her, too.” They watched the pups play for a few more seconds, before she added, in a softer voice: “Tenzin mentioned you were going to the Yi province before he went inside to get the pups’ things.”
“Yeah, I am. Hopefully, Jinora’s going with me.”
“I see. We’ll be happy to look after the pups while you’re gone, of course.” Pema’s expression turned contemplative, and a worrying undertone threaded through her comforting omega scent. “Will you do me a favor while you’re there? It seems silly to ask out loud, because I know you always do your best to protect everyone, but…”
“You can ask me anything, Pema. What is it?”
Pema fiddled with her apron. “Please, will you do what you can to keep the non-benders in the area safe? Make sure they have contingency plans if the worst happens? Even with all this new technology Future Industries comes out with, not to mention Kuvira’s ‘advancements’…”
Korra’s shoulders sagged as the weight of understanding settled over her. Whenever conflict broke out, no matter how big or small, non-benders were always far more likely to get caught in the crossfire. Some, like Asami, found specialties that allowed them to defend themselves, and even rose to positions of power—but many non-benders weren’t afforded the same opportunities. When bad things happened, they endured a disproportionate share of the suffering.
She placed her hand on Pema’s shoulder, giving it a reassuring squeeze. “I know. Asami’s opened my eyes to a lot of things. I’ll ask some of the non-benders in Yi how they’re doing, and make sure they have some kind of safety plan if things turn ugly. Hopefully they’ll talk to me.” It was a sad fact that some non-benders didn’t believe the Avatar had their best interests at heart, and rejected her well-meaning overtures.
Pema gave a grateful smile. “Thank you, Korra. I knew you would understand.”
The moment was interrupted by the sound of pained squalls, and Korra darted into the pups’ fray to stop Yasuko from pulling Rohan’s hair. “Hey, kiddo, too rough! No hair-pulling. You know that’s cheating.”
“Sorry,” Yasuko mumbled, avoiding Korra’s eyes.
“Don’t say sorry to me. Say sorry to Rohan. He’s the one you hurt.”
Fortunately, Rohan didn’t seem too perturbed by the experience. The scruffy boy merely grinned, then started picking his nose.
He’s becoming more like Meelo by the day.
“I think it’s time to go home, huh?”
Yasuko’s eyes immediately welled with tears. “I don’t wanna go home! Wanna stay here and play.”
“Yeah,” Rohan chimed in. “Stay and play!”
“You know what? In a few days, you’ll get to have your very own sleepover with Rohan, because Mommy and Mama are going on a trip to Yi.” She leaned down, whispering conspiratorially. “I bet Pema will even let you have sticky buns if you’re good.”
“Oh no,” Pema mumbled. “Don’t hold me to that. They’ll be up all night.”
But the mention of a sleepover with sticky buns was the perfect cure for Yasuko’s bad mood. She remained at Korra’s side, and when Tenzin returned from the house with Hiroshi and the pups’ day bag, there were no further complaints.
“Don’t worry,” Korra whispered as she took Hiroshi from him. “She’ll forget all about the sticky buns by the time I drop her off.”
“Don’t count on it,” Pema said. “Pups remember everything. Everything.”
Asami dragged through the front door, arms hanging like dead weight at her sides. Her day had been grueling, in no small part due to heavy thoughts. Despite reviewing a mountain of finance reports and paying a visit to one of Future Industries’ premier labs, she hadn’t managed to distract herself from thoughts of Kuvira—or of Korra, her mate, visiting the person who had killed her father, along with many others.
Attempts to reason with herself were even less effective than distractions. Korra has to do this. It’s part of her job as the Avatar. She wouldn’t have gone if she didn’t think it was important… But a steady stream of logic had little impact on Asami’s emotions. Those were painfully raw, and she couldn’t even put proper names to all of them.
She hardly had time to gather herself before she heard the sound of footsteps: the light, rapid patter of Yasuko’s tiny feet, followed by Korra’s slower thump. She met them at the bottom of the stairs, and a genuine smile spread across her face for the first time that day. Despite her worries and misgivings, she was relieved to see her family.
“Come here, Yasu.” She crouched, and daughter flew into her embrace, flinging both arms around her neck and squealing with happiness. “Were you good for Pema and Tenzin?”
“I don’t know about ‘good’,” Korra chuckled, “but she was acceptable. Also dirty. Very dirty.” She shifted a very sleepy Hiroshi against her shoulder and waggled her brows at Yasuko to let the pup know she was only teasing.
Yasuko giggled. “Mommy’s joking. I was good!”
“I believe you, sweetheart,” Asami said, covering her daughter’s face in noisy kisses.
Yasuko squirmed and let go of Asami’s neck, scrambling back onto the floor and darting behind Korra’s legs. “Mommy says I can sleep over with Rohan if I’m good.”
Asami straightened, raising her eyebrows and offering Korra a look. Korra averted her eyes, appearing almost sheepish. “I was going to discuss it with you after dinner.”
“Really?” Asami said. “It sounds important.”
“Important, but not urgent.”
Realizing that was probably all she would get until after the pups were fed and put to bed, Asami stepped closer. She kissed Hiroshi’s head, then placed a gentle kiss on Korra’s mouth as well. Korra gave a soft growl, swiping her tongue against Asami’s lower lip, and slid a free hand down to grab her rear.
Oh? Is that really what you’re in the mood for?
To Asami’s surprise, she felt herself responding. She’d assumed she would be too tired and grouchy after her bad day, and the inevitable conversation she and Korra still needed to have, but familiar heat blossomed low in her belly. She ducked to plant another kiss against Korra’s neck before withdrawing.
Maybe I could use a little relaxation?
But it would have to wait, because Yasuko tugged excitedly at her skirt, peering up at her with shining green eyes. “Mama, what’s for dinner?”
Asami looked at Korra, who shrugged and rested her chin atop Hiroshi’s head. He yawned, showing his toothless gums, and grabbed a lock of Korra’s hair with his pudgy fist.
“Narook’s?” Korra suggested, ignoring his grip. “I don’t feel like cooking.”
“I didn’t think they delivered.”
“I can—ow! Easy there, little guy—anyway, I can pick it up with my glider.”
“The noodles will be cold by the time you get back,” Asami pointed out.
“I’ll be fast.”
“You’ll be flying through the air with them.”
“We can reheat them.”
Asami relented with a sigh. “Go,” she said, gently unclasping Hiroshi’s fist from Korra’s hair and taking him into her arms. She got the impression that Korra might need some traditional Water Tribe comfort food. Maybe I’m not the only one who had a rough day. She’s the one who had to look Kuvira in the eye, after all. I’m sure it was even more unpleasant for her than thinking about it was for me.
“I’ll be right back,” Korra said, planting a kiss on Asami’s cheek and ruffling Yasuko’s hair. She darted for the front door, where her glider rested in a modified umbrella stand, and braced it on her shoulder while she headed outside. Predictably, Yasuko scampered after her, eager to watch her take off.
Asami joined them, standing in the doorway as Korra unfurled the wings of her glider and summoned a swift breeze. The chill made Asami shiver, and she opened her suit-jacket part way, using it to shield Hiroshi’s small body. He perked up, mouthing at one of the brass buttons, and giggled when Korra waved at them.
After an exaggerated blown kiss, Korra leapt into the air, soaring into a steep climb and sailing easily over the gate.
“Bye-bye Mommy!” Yasuko called, running several paces even though she had no hope of keeping up. Korra’s shape grew smaller and smaller, until she disappeared from view. Only then did Asami place a hand on Yasuko’s shoulder, ushering her inside.
“I swear, I was going to discuss the sleepover idea with you before confirming,” Korra said later that evening, after both their children had been fed, bathed, and put to bed. (Very reluctantly, in Yasuko’s case, since Korra had already bathed her earlier—but a second bath was unfortunately necessary after she’d spilled a good portion of noodles and sauce down her shirt.)
Asami sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. She’d made herself a cup of herbal tea before changing into her nightgown, but still found herself fighting a splitting headache. “No, it’s all right,” she said, taking a seat on the edge of the bed. Neither of them had bothered to make it that morning, so the sheets were still rumpled. “We’re a team. You’re allowed to set up sleepovers for our pups, especially with Pema, who’s hosted them plenty of times before. That isn’t why I’m upset.”
“Then what?” Korra wandered over, pulling her nightshirt over her head. “What can I do to help?”
“Nothing,” she huffed, before realizing her tone had come out sharper than intended. “No, I’m sorry. It isn’t about you at all. It’s about Kuvira, and my father, and…my anger. I’m still so angry, Korra. I don’t know what to do with it.”
While Asami stewed, wringing her hands in her lap and chewing hard at her bottom lip, Korra took the empty space beside her. “I know,” she murmured, rubbing circles on Asami’s back. “You have every right to be angry. Your father was taken from you, just when you two started rebuilding your relationship. If Kuvira had killed my father, I’m not sure I’d be able to look at her now, either.”
Asami stopped worrying her lip, peering into Korra’s soft blue eyes with growing desperation. “But she isn’t going to be involved in this, right? You’re just following up on the information she gave you about Yi, like any other lead.”
Korra cupped Asami’s cheek. The warmth of her hand and its familiar shape, enhanced by well-remembered calluses, caused Asami to relax. “No, she won’t be involved. Yes, this is going to be like any other Team Avatar mission. Although it doesn’t have to be a Team Avatar mission if you don’t want it to be. If this hits too close to home…”
“I want to go,” Asami said, placing her hand over Korra’s. She drew it away from her face, turning it over and gazing down at the underside of Korra’s wrist. After a moment’s hesitation, she placed a soft kiss there, then closed her eyes and rested her cheek in Korra’s palm once more, nuzzling in search of comfort. “It’s just…a lot.”
Korra gave a low, sympathetic rasp of a laugh. “It is. I’m sorry—”
Asami squeezed Korra’s hand tighter, nipping lightly at her fingers. “Stop that. You aren’t the one who needs to apologize. You’re perfect.”
“That’s not what you usually say,” Korra chuckled, freeing her hand to save it from further affectionate attacks. She paused to tuck a lock of Asami’s hair behind her ear. “Maybe this is Kuvira’s way of apologizing. Not that it changes what she did, but if she wants to help clean up her mess, I won’t stop her. Someone’s gotta do it anyway, and it’ll go faster with her cooperation.”
Asami heaved a sigh. The thought of Kuvira ‘apologizing’ for killing people and almost destroying Republic City was grating, but she had to concede Korra’s point. Things would go a lot smoother if Kuvira continued cooperating. “As long as I don’t have to deal with her.”
“You won’t,” Korra said. “I’ll handle that part. I’m glad you’re coming with me to Yi.”
“Oh, really?” Asami gave Korra a searching look, pleased to note a playful spark in the alpha’s sea-blue eyes. She shivered, remembering the way Korra’s hand had wandered down her back to squeeze her rear earlier that evening. “Any particular reason?”
Korra grinned wide enough to show off her dimples. “I can think of a few, especially since the pups won’t be there.”
Asami ran her tongue across her lips and leaned in closer, near enough to catch more of Korra’s scent. It smelled sharp and insistent, like an ocean breeze, but it was also comforting and familiar, especially when she picked up the desire mixed in as well. For the first time that day, she allowed herself to relax.
“Would you care to elaborate?” she murmured, staring at Korra with half-lidded eyes. It was the most seductive look she could muster, and she was extremely gratified when Korra gave a visible gulp.
“Well, I was hoping there’d be some of this.” She leaned forward, and Asami draped an arm behind her neck, tilting so their mouths met at an angle.
The kiss was passionate from the start, far deeper and more urgent than the welcome-home pecks they’d shared earlier. As delightful as it was, Asami craved more with a hunger that surprised her. She gave into the feeling, running her fingers through Korra’s hair and opening her mouth as an invitation.
This. This is exactly what I need right now. Korra will make it better. She always does.
Korra only broke the kiss to allow them both a moment to breathe. She latched onto Asami’s neck, leaving what would undoubtedly be a noticeable bruise the next day. “What do you want?” she panted, soothing the spot she’d sucked with a swipe of her tongue. “Tell me. Anything you need.”
It was an enticing offer. When Asami searched inside herself, she found her answer—an answer she often landed upon when she was upset, or felt like her world was spiraling out of control. “I want you to use me, Korra. I want you to make me do whatever you want.”
Korra’s eyes lit up. “I can work with that.” She swung a knee over Asami’s lap, pushing her back onto the bed.
A whimper rose in Asami’s throat as Korra’s body stretched over hers. Its shape was familiar and comforting, and the obvious bulge in her mate’s underwear felt incredibly right pressed against her lower belly. She gazed up at Korra with hooded eyes, hoping for a kiss.
Korra dipped down to take her lips, seeming to read her mind. “Love you,” she murmured against Asami’s mouth, her breath warm and sweet.
Asami’s heart skipped a beat. It always did when Korra said those words. “I love you, too.”
After that, Korra wasn’t gentle. She shifted her grip on Asami’s wrists, holding them down with one hand instead of two. With her other hand, she grabbed Asami’s hair and pulled, plunging her tongue past Asami’s lips as though it had every right to be there. To claim.
Asami fought Korra’s grip, not to escape, but to find more contact. Her instincts urged her to grab Korra’s nightshirt, to rake eager nails down her back, but Korra didn’t allow it. She tightened her hold on Asami’s wrists, keeping them where they were, and the show of force sent heat shooting straight between Asami’s legs.
Korra kissed her fiercely, as though to steal her very breath, so Asami did the only thing she could—she wrapped both legs around Korra’s waist, tilting her pelvis to rub against Korra’s hardness. Her mate had already shifted, and Asami spilled another needy whimper into Korra’s mouth. To her delight, Korra responded with a low, possessive growl. She nipped Asami’s lower lip, tugged firmly, and said: “No.”
The low, commanding word made Asami’s blood run hot. Her face flushed, and her breathing sped up. Spirits, how does she do this to me so easily? Every single time? No matter how often they made love, or fucked, or any combination of the two, the responses Korra earned from her always came as a surprise. They were primal, pure, and they never failed to help her—or force her—to let go of whatever burdens she carried. She felt light and dizzy as Korra released her wrists and hair, warning her to stay still with a look. Asami obeyed instinctively. Joyfully.
Much to her relief, Korra didn’t tease. She slid both palms along Asami’s bare thighs, lifting the hem of her nightgown. With one less layer of clothing between them, Asami felt the length of Korra’s cock even more intimately. It was warm through the thin fabric of her underwear, and she couldn’t stop herself from grinding against it.
“Soon.” Korra nipped lightly at her chin, trailing hot kisses down her neck. “Feel how hard I am? That’s your fault, and you’re going to do something about it.”
Asami’s mind raced with possibilities. Will she take me right now, or make me use my mouth? Both prospects made her burn, but they weren’t as overwhelming as the knowledge that she didn’t have to choose. It was all up to Korra. Her mate’s decision. I just need to follow orders. Her eyes welled with tears of gratitude.
Korra didn’t ask about them. She already knew what they were, why they were there—Asami could tell. She merely wiped one of the tear tracks with her thumb, maintaining eye contact until Asami gave another nod of permission. Once it was granted, Korra yanked her underwear down and flipped her onto her stomach, grasping Asami’s hips to position them just the way she wanted.
The new pose left Asami feeling incredibly vulnerable and exposed. Cool air caressed the heat between her legs, but only for a moment. Then, Korra’s fingers were there, gathering up her wetness to paint circles over her clit.
“So pretty,” Korra growled, and Asami felt the heat of her stare. The praise only worsened her shudders, and she gasped as Korra found her entrance, sliding in with one finger, then two. There was hardly any resistance, but the stretch was delicious. For the first time that day, Asami truly relaxed. Korra was inside her, and everything was going to be okay.
“Fuck, you’re so tight.” Korra curled her fingers, and Asami tensed, burying her face in a pillow to muffle her cries. Her mate knew exactly how to find the perfect spot without error, and she didn’t want to wake the pups.
Staying silent only became more challenging when Korra’s fingers withdrew, leaving her empty, swollen, and even slicker than before. Her inner walls clenched, searching for something to grip, and with each pulse, more wetness trailed down her thighs. She bit back a “Please,” reminding herself she’d asked for this helplessness.
“Sweet girl,” Korra muttered, her voice full of warmth and awe. Asami bit her lip as wet fingers touched her backside, drawing the shape of a heart on the left cheek. “I think you’re ready for my cock. Are you?”
Asami turned away from the pillow, but couldn’t find her words. All that came out was a high-pitched wail, much louder than she’d intended. Korra chuckled, giving her rear a loving swat before kneeling behind her. Asami felt the mattress move, and heard the shift of fabric. Undoubtedly, Korra was pulling down her underwear.
The moment the blunt head of Korra’s cock came to rest against her entrance, Asami whimpered in relief. Though it wasn’t yet inside her, the promise of pleasure, of being filled, was enough to make her melt from the inside out. When Korra grasped her hips and pushed forward, she rocked back without being ordered, eager to be stretched. Filled. Taken.
Asami buried her face in the pillow again to stifle her cries. It was a good thing, because the noise that escaped her throat was one of pure need. This moment, feeling Korra take that first thrust, always threatened to undo her.
“Fuck,” Korra huffed through gritted teeth. “‘Sami. So soft and… hff… tight…” Her hips picked up a quick, shallow rhythm almost immediately, and Asami braced herself on her forearms, biting into the pillow’s fabric. This was Korra’s favorite tempo and depth, not hers—and somehow, that made it better. It was exactly what she needed.
Once Korra started fucking her, Asami allowed herself to float. She let herself become an object for Korra’s use, a vessel for Korra’s pleasure, a being whose only purpose was to serve. She didn’t have to worry about her company, her children, or…
No. I won’t even think her name right now.
Behind her, Korra stopped, obviously sensing that something had shifted. “Asami?” Her voice was gentle, but also strained, and her length gave a needy twitch within Asami’s walls. “I’m gonna keep going.”
It was a question as much as a statement—an opportunity for Asami to change her mind, or request something else, but in the same commanding tone that Asami had begged for in the first place. She didn’t change her mind. She raised her ass higher and squeezed down around Korra’s cock, shifting into an even wider and more inviting stance.
Korra moaned and resumed her rhythm, leaning over Asami’s back. She brought their sweat-slick bodies together, skin on skin, and her teeth found the scar on Asami’s throat, the one that had never even begun to fade in the three long years they’d been apart. “Mine,” she growled around the bite, only occasionally releasing it to smother it with softer kisses.
Yours. All yours, Korra.
It was all too much. The words. Korra’s teeth. The weight of her body and the movement of her hips. Although Asami had tried to be as obedient as possible, holding the precise position Korra had put her in, allowing Korra to fuck her exactly the way her mate wanted, she still came first—loudly, and with a great deal of helpless shuddering.
Korra didn’t seem to mind. Her hips jerked out of rhythm, and Asami spilled what had to be a sea of wetness as she felt the bulk of Korra’s knot roll against her entrance, catching against her clit. In her current state, she didn’t have any doubts about taking it. She would do anything Korra asked. Anything to please her alpha.
“That’s it,” Korra grunted into her neck, dragging her tongue over the scar there. “I know you can take me. Be my good omega and let me in.”
The pulses of her orgasm came harder and faster. Not just a good omega. Her good omega. Hers. Relaxing came naturally. Encouraged by Korra’s praise, her body knew what to do. It blossomed open, and Korra pushed inside with a wet, satisfying noise that made Asami’s clit twitch.
Korra went rigid on top of her, pinning her face-first to the bed. Despite the tie, her hips went wild, searching for every centimeter of motion they could get. Trying for more depth.
Asami yelped, panting sideways into the pillow. The fullness of Korra’s knot sent shockwaves through her every time it moved. She clawed at the covers, bracing herself for the flood, because she knew it would make her come again.
The first rush of warmth made her sob and toss her head. Her mouth fell open, but this time, her scream was silent. She forgot how to speak, how to move, how to breathe as Korra emptied inside her, flooding her deepest places. She went limp, allowing the short, choppy thrusts of Korra’s hips to move her over the tangled sheets. Her mind went blank, and her body relaxed into a state of quiet, pleasurable numbness.
“Asami? Are you okay?”
Dimly, she became aware of Korra’s concerned voice. It sounded faint, distant, although Korra’s body felt very close, still clinging tight to hers. Still tied. Asami tried to answer, but her tongue felt thick and clumsy in her mouth, and her eyelids were almost unbearably heavy.
Since she couldn’t remember how to speak, she communicated the only way she knew how. She started purring, groping for Korra’s hand with one of hers and lacing their fingers together. That one gesture was all she could manage, but it was enough. Korra sighed with relief into the back of her neck, brushing some of her sweaty hair aside to kiss it.
“It’s okay, sweetheart. I’ve got you. You were so good. So good, Asami…”
Asami closed her eyes, her lips twitching into a smile. She was exhausted, but she didn’t want to sleep just yet. She wanted to savor Korra’s praise, to soak in her mate’s loving reassurances for a few moments more. She yawned and nuzzled the pillow, purring louder as Korra kissed her neck.
“You can fall asleep if you want. I’ll clean you up and tuck you in when I pull out.”
“Nhh.” Asami clutched Korra’s hand tighter, refusing to let go. She didn’t want Korra to leave, not even for a quick trip to the bathroom. She felt perfect just like this, with Korra sealed securely inside her, feeling the steady thump of her mate’s heartbeat against her back.
“Okay.” Korra kissed her temple, then the top of her head. “I’ll stay. I’m not going anywhere.”
Korra jolted upright, the covers falling from her chest. Her heart hammered and cold sweat broke on the back of her neck. She scanned the dark bedroom, but saw nothing out of place. The pale moonlight streaming through the window cast only familiar shadows.
Beside her, Asami stirred. “Korra? What is it?”
“Don’t know yet.” Korra strained to hear, but nothing drew her attention. Only the whisper of the breeze outside.
“Are you sure?” Asami twisted the covers in her hands. “I could’ve sworn I heard something.”
Korra listened again. This time, she heard more: the click of a doorknob turning. A smile spread across her face. “Someone’s tiptoeing around the hallway. Probably looking for a midnight snack. Did you know Yasu was tall enough to reach the doorknob?”
Asami yawned, sliding back beneath the covers and nuzzling into her pillow. “Mm. She’s getting so big. Not too big for Mom to put back in bed, though.”
“Yeah, yeah. I get the hint.” Korra climbed over Asami, dropped a kiss on her forehead, then searched the floor for her discarded nightshirt. During the heat of the moment, she and Asami hadn’t bothered to put their clothes in the hamper before bed.
Once she was covered, Korra checked on Hiroshi. He slept peacefully in his crib, undisturbed by his sister’s midnight adventure. She stroked the silky tuft of black hair atop his head, then left the bedroom in search of her daughter.
It was even darker in the hallway. As Korra expected, Yasuko’s door was part-way open. She tip-toed over to the room, poking her head inside. Her chest constricted. The bed was empty, covers and blankets flung aside. Two large figures loomed over it, dressed entirely in black.
Both figures whirled, and Korra saw that they wore masks. One of the intruders thrust his arm toward her, and a metal band uncoiled from his wrist, forming a wicked point and flying straight toward her face.
Korra sent the sharpened metal thudding into the wall with a sweep of her hand. She rushed the intruders, only one thought pounding in her head: Yasuko! Where’s Yasuko?
The metalbender who’d attacked first took a defensive stance, but barely had time to brace himself before Korra sent him hurtling into Yasuko’s dresser with a blast of air. He grunted, struggling beneath the overturned dresser, but Korra ignored him. The other intruder attacked, forcing her back with a brilliant spout of fire.
Korra ducked. Heat washed overhead, but she protected herself with another gust of air. The firebender’s eyes widened behind his mask. He shot more spurts of flame at her, but Korra dodged them all, closing in to seize him by the throat. She thrust her face in his, lips pulled into a furious snarl.
“You have three seconds to tell me where my daughter is. One, two…”
While the terrified firebender flailed in her grip, the metalbender managed to squeeze out from beneath the dresser. More metal blades whipped toward her, and Korra threw the firebender aside, deflecting them with a series of rapid arm movements. Some clattered to the floor. Others flew back toward the metalbender, pinning him to the wall by his shirt.
The firebender tried to crawl away, but Korra stomped her foot down on his spine, trapping him against the floor. Her clenched fists shook with rage, and her heart pounded frantically in her ears. “I’ll ask one more time. Where is my daughter?” She looked from one intruder to the other, but neither answered. Too terrified, or too stubborn.
Before Korra could beat the truth out of them, another loud crash sounded from the adjoining room. Ignoring the hall completely, Korra barreled for the door that led from Yasuko’s room to theirs. She burst into the master bedroom to see three more figures in black, surrounding Hiroshi’s crib…
Asami had leapt out of bed, standing naked between the intruders and their child. A loud wail came from the crib, and Korra felt a surge of relief. At least Hiroshi hadn’t been taken or hurt. Yet.
All three masked figures whipped their heads, whether because of Asami’s cry, or because of the thud of the door swinging back against the wall—but it was all the opening Asami needed. She hit the nearest enemy’s back with a well-practiced pattern of blows. He slumped to his knees, then face-planted onto the floor, unable to move his limbs.
With a furious roar, Korra charged the other two. Fear and anger pounded through her veins, fueling the thick columns of fire that spiraled from her mouth and palms. She saw her mate, naked and afraid, and heard her helpless pup scream, and didn’t feel an ounce of hesitation as she sent one of the men blasting through the wall. Back into Yasuko’s abandoned bedroom. With his clothes on fire.
She didn’t hear Asami’s cry until too late. The third masked intruder struck two sharp, pointed blows behind her shoulder blades, and she felt the fire within her dim. It was still there, just out of reach, but muted somehow— blocked. No!
Korra whirled, her arms swinging sloppily a few seconds behind her torso, but the fist flying toward her face didn’t connect. A pale forearm blocked it, and she jerked back as Asami darted between them, exchanging punches and kicks with the final assailant.
It didn’t take her more than a few seconds to drop him. His head cracked against the crib on the way down, and blood spilled onto the floorboards from a shallow head wound. “Yasuko?” Asami asked.
An empty chasm ripped open, right in the middle of Korra’s chest. “Gone.”
A look of utter fury twisted Asami’s face. “Stay with him,” she barked, running from the master bedroom.
Korra started to follow, but Hiroshi’s hiccuping sobs stopped her before she could take a step. She rushed for her son’s crib, scooping him up and cradling him to her chest. Luckily, she’d mostly regained the use of her arms. All that training with Asami in the gym had paid off.
“You’re all right, you’re all right,” she whispered, torn between looking at Hiroshi, drinking in the sight of him, and keeping an eye on the fallen intruders. Fortunately, they all seemed dazed, unconscious, or worse. None moved to escape.
Korra stood there, shaking with simultaneous terror and relief, for what felt like an eternity. Each moment without Yasuko, without Asami, was agony—but she couldn’t leave her son. More intruders might come for him, and if she went looking for the rest of her family, she might carry him straight into danger.
I have to trust Asami. Trust that she’ll find our daughter. That they’ll both be okay. But with each passing heartbeat, that trust wavered, and fear threatened to take over.
At last, she heard a sound. She tensed, but when the door opened, the sight brought tears to her eyes: Asami, still naked and pale in the moonlight, with her knuckles scraped and covered in blood. Clinging to her leg was Yasuko in her nightgown, looking incredibly small and vulnerable, her cheeks stained with tears.
Korra rushed forward, passing Hiroshi to Asami and scooping Yasuko into her arms. She hugged her daughter tight, inhaling the scent of her hair like a dying woman, crying into it almost hysterically.
“Mommy, too tight,” Yasuko whimpered, struggling to escape her arms.
Reluctantly, Korra let her go. She held Yasuko’s damp cheeks in her hands, reassuring herself that, yes, her daughter was alive and unharmed.
“Sorry. I’m sorry, baby. I was just so scared for you…” She took a deep breath, trying to center herself. If she stayed like this, Yasuko would only become more frightened. “It’s okay. You and your brother and Mama and Mommy are safe.” She looked at Asami, hoping her mate would confirm that was the case.
“I caught them heading for the back entrance near the kitchen,” Asami said. Her voice was flat, distant, as though she hadn’t completely processed what had happened. “They won’t be a problem anymore.”
Korra decided not to ask what Asami meant by that. She honestly didn’t care, just as she hadn’t cared about the man she’d thrown through the wall. “Let’s call the police,” she said, pulling Yasuko back into her arms before standing up. “Lin and her people can question them. Find out who they’re working for.”
Asami looked at the other fallen intruders. “You didn’t tie them up.”
Korra blinked. She’d been so focused on Hiroshi that she hadn’t even thought to do so. Her throat bobbed, and her face burned with embarrassment and anger—anger at herself. I’m the Avatar. I’ve taken down way more dangerous threats than these thugs. I’m supposed to be an expert, so why did I forget everything I know?
She knew the answer. Because none of her other enemies had threatened her children before. At least, not this directly. Kuvira had, but she’d never been within inches of snatching the pups from her grasp. Hurting them. Killing— No. They’re fine. Yasu and Hiro are fine. Asami’s fine, too. She set Yasuko down, pushing her gently back toward Asami, and did her job.
Quickly and quietly, she went to the bedside drawer and retrieved the thin silk cords she kept there. She’d never be able to use them to tie Asami to the bed again after this, and that odd, completely irrelevant thought stuck with her as she tied the dazed and unconscious intruders’ hands behind their backs, hauling them none too gently into the bathroom.
The third figure didn’t need to be tied, as it turned out. He wasn’t breathing, and his neck was bent at an odd angle—most definitely from when Korra had blasted him through the wall. She braced herself, waiting for a surge of sadness and guilt to come, but it didn’t. She felt strangely numb as she carried his body to the bathroom with the others.
Pretend he’s unconscious. Don’t let Yasuko know you killed someone in her room.
Once she’d retrieved the remaining four, including the two in Yasuko’s room, she shut the door and braced Hiroshi’s crib against it, just in case one of them gathered themselves enough to slip their bonds and attempt escape. She turned to see Asami pulling on new clothes, although she hadn’t done anything to wipe the blood from her hands.
Did she kill someone, too? How many?
Korra didn’t dare ask. “I’ll go to your office and call,” she said instead.
Asami gave a silent nod.
“Mommy, don’t go!” Yasuko ran to her, throwing both arms around her waist and clinging like her life depended on it.
Korra placed a hand on Yasuko’s head, trying to offer comfort. This is my fault. They came for my children because of me.
“We’ll all go to the office together,” Asami said, in the same flat monotone. She headed for the door, still carrying Hiroshi in her arms. Korra took Yasuko’s hand and followed. It was so small in hers, and it trembled as they entered the hall.
The next few minutes passed in a blur.
Asami was the one who dialed, speaking words Korra couldn’t remember into the telephone. They returned to the bedroom, silently putting on their bathrobes for an extra layer of warmth and protection. Korra noticed that Asami’s hands still had blood on them as they tied the knot at her midsection.
Police cars pulled down the mansion’s gravel drive, lights flashing, but without any sirens. Korra was grateful for that. Hiroshi was already fussy from being woken in the middle of the night, and Yasuko was still obviously frightened.
Lin Beifong strode into the bedroom a minute later, asking a series of rapid-fire questions, but Korra could hardly focus as Asami answered them. Her awareness only sharpened for a brief moment, when a pair of medics carried a stretcher out of the bathroom with a body on it.
It took her a moment to realize who had spoken—Lin, who continued looking at her expectantly. She shook herself. What is wrong with me? I’ve been through more traumatic things than this.
But your pups haven’t, another voice said. When Asami and your friends were in danger, they were adults. They could at least defend themselves. But Yasu and Hiro are so little. Helpless. If you’d been a second slower…
“Sorry, Lin. What?”
“Did the intruders say anything? Any clue as to who sent them, or why they targeted you?”
She shook her head. “No. Nothing.”
“I know who sent them,” Asami said. Emotion had finally returned to her voice, but there was far too much of it. Each word crackled, and her blazing green eyes gave off sparks. “It’s no coincidence that Korra spoke to Kuvira this morning, and tonight, someone tried to take our pups.”
“I don’t believe in coincidences either.” Lin closed the small notebook she’d been holding, tucking it into her uniform. “I’ll question Kuvira myself, as soon as I escort these thugs to a cell. Do the four of you want to come to the station? We can update you as soon as we have more information, and my officers will guarantee no one else tries to hurt your children tonight.”
Korra looked at Asami, who nodded gravely. “Yes. Thank you, Lin.”
“Hear that, Yasu?” Korra said, kneeling down to the pup’s level and forcing extra cheerfulness into her voice. “We’re gonna stay with Aunt Lin at work. Won’t that be fun?”
Yasuko sniffed, but offered a weak smile. “‘Kay. Can I do the sirens?”
Korra couldn’t resist hugging her again. “Sure, Yasu. Anything you want.”
No polar bear dogs were harmed in the writing of this chapter.
They found Naga on the bottom floor, sprawled across the living room rug. Her eyes were closed, and her tongue lolled from her partially open mouth. Korra rushed to the limp polar bear dog with a burst of air beneath her feet, crouching beside her and shoving both hands into the ruff of fur along her neck.
Asami’s heart lodged in her throat. She’d been so concerned for her pups that she hadn’t stopped to wonder why Naga hadn’t sounded the alarm. She hadn’t even noticed the polar bear dog’s absence from her usual spot at the foot of the master bed. She’d thought the noise she and Korra had made had disturbed the poor creature, and she’d settled down to doze by the fireplace until the house quieted.
She watched with a stabbing pain in her chest as Korra stroked Naga’s large head, whispering soft, strained words. “It’s okay, girl. It’s okay. I’m here.”
Asami’s spirits sank. Naga didn’t lift her head, nor did she respond to Korra’s pleading murmurs.
Then, thump. The polar bear dog’s tail thudded on top of the rug. Thump. Thump. Thump. She cracked open an eye, letting out a long yawn before licking Korra’s face.
Korra threw her arms around Naga’s neck, and Asami was tempted to rush in and do the same. She would have, if she hadn’t been holding her son against her hip with one arm, and clasping Yasuko’s shoulder tightly with the opposite hand.
“Mama?” Yasuko asked, peering up with wide, fearful blue eyes. They swam with tears, much like Korra’s. “Is Naga okay?”
Asami swallowed. She didn’t know how to answer. The polar bear dog’s eyes had opened, but she remained sluggish, unwilling to get up in spite of Korra’s coaxing. “I’m not sure,” she answered honestly, letting go of Yasuko’s shoulder to stroke her hair. “I hope so.”
Tears welled in her eyes, the first she’d shed that night—tears of guilt, because she should have realized something was wrong sooner, and tears of anger. They hurt Naga. They attacked my mate. They tried to take our pups. I won’t rest until I find out who’s behind this and make them pay.
“Mama?” Yasuko tugged the sleeve of her bathrobe. “Don’t cry.”
Asami sniffed, letting go of Yasuko to wipe away her tears. She hid her face in Hiroshi’s hair, kissing his head. Fortunately, he’d fallen back asleep despite the commotion. He didn’t even seem aware that Republic City police officers were traipsing through their home, securing the scene.
“It’s okay, Yasu,” she said, with a calmness and confidence she didn’t feel. It took everything she had to keep her voice steady, and it still cracked despite her efforts. “Aunt Lin and her friends are here now to keep us safe, and Mommy and I will take care of Naga. You can help.” She covered the short distance to the fireplace, coming to stand behind Korra with both pups in tow. “How is she?”
Korra, who had been moving her hands in circles inches away from Naga, answered without stopping or opening her eyes. “Hold on.” She continued her patterns, and a faint, glowing blue light crawled over Naga’s fur. It flared brightly for a moment, then faded, as if disappearing into her body. Naga lifted her head, blinking her big black eyes and letting out a soft snort.
“Good girl,” Korra said, scratching the polar bear dog’s chin. Naga whuffed in approval and licked Korra’s wrist, wrapping her long pink tongue almost all the way around it. After a moment, Korra finally turned and answered. “She was poisoned. I didn’t study all those years with Katara for nothing. I’m not sure how, but it was bad. We’re… we’re lucky she’s still…” She sniffed to stifle more tears, even though her cheeks were already covered in wet tracks.
Asami’s own eyes started to sting again, but she restrained herself. “Will she make it to the station? I’d never even consider leaving her, but moving her if she doesn’t want to be moved won’t be easy.”
Fortunately, Naga seemed to be feeling better. When Korra stood and patted her thighs, the polar bear dog lifted herself on shaky legs. Her tail wagged behind her, and she plodded slowly across the room, with Korra by her side the whole time. Yasuko let go of Asami, putting her tiny hand on Naga’s flank as if to help.
“Come on, girl,” Korra said, and Yasuko imitated her in a small, high voice.
They gathered what they needed and made the trip to the police station mostly in silence. Lin offered to drive, but Asami refused, insisting she could handle it herself. For once, Korra didn’t crack any jokes about her being a control freak behind the wheel—and Asami was glad. She needed to be in control of something tonight, if only a satomobile.
She didn’t feel much better upon their arrival. Yasuko, who usually loved visiting her Aunt Lin’s place of work, remained unnaturally quiet, rubbing both eyes with her shirt sleeves. She wore a slightly oversized Fire Ferrets jersey, likely what had been nearest at hand when Korra had dressed her. Asami kept a close eye on her while Korra unbuckled Hiroshi from his car seat.
“Just a few questions,” Korra said, approaching with Hiro and Naga in tow. “After that, we’ll go to Air Temple Island and get some sleep.”
Asami knew the plan was a good one. The station and Air Temple Island were both relatively secure locations, with plenty of people around to protect them. But the prospect didn’t make her feel any better. Every time she looked at Yasuko and Hiroshi, she saw what had almost been taken from her. It gutted her so deep that sometimes she forgot how to breathe.
Numbly, she took Yasuko’s hand in her right and Korra’s in her left, leading them into the station. Naga, ever faithful, brought up the rear—and that did make Asami feel the tiniest bit better. If their enemies made another attempt, however, a polar bear dog’s teeth would be the least of their worries.
“And you don’t have any proof Kuvira sent these attackers?” Lin asked. They’d moved into one of the interrogation rooms, more for privacy than anything. Korra, who’d already shared a few words with Lin, was waiting just outside with the pups and Naga.
“Solid proof? No.” Asami sat forward in her chair, staring Lin directly in the eye. “But I don’t believe in coincidences. Kuvira has something to do with this—I’m sure of it.”
To her credit, Lin didn’t react to Asami’s harsh tone. Her expression remained calm but serious as she continued. “Korra was of a different opinion when I spoke to her.”
“Of course she is. She believes her true power comes from her ability to relate to people. Even monsters. She sees the best in them, because that’s her way into their heads.”
“But you know better.”
“I know Kuvira killed my father, and tried to kill my mate. It makes perfect sense that she’d try to take our children, too.”
“None of the intruders mentioned her, though?”
“I didn’t give them the chance. I was concerned for my daughter.”
“Understandable. And I assume you didn’t get to question them afterward, considering the state we found them in.” It was a statement, not a question.
Asami blinked dully. Was it her imagination, or did Lin look sad? Her mind was still too foggy to tell. “You mean the state I left them in.”
“You won’t be charged with manslaughter, if that’s what you’re worried about. I’ve never seen a clearer case of self-defense.”
“It’s not that.” Asami rose from her chair, placing both hands flat on the table. Her long, tousled hair slid off her shoulders, falling on either side of her face, but she neither noticed nor cared. “You’re wasting time questioning me. Kuvira did this. Go ask her why, or I will.”
Lin rose, folding her hands behind her back and adopting a stiff posture. “Believe me, I’ll speak to Kuvira personally—but we have to explore every avenue. Think of your family. If we don’t do this as thoroughly as possible, it could expose them to more danger.”
Asami’s hands clenched into fists, trembling with anger—but not at Lin. Much as she hated to admit it, the chief of police was right. Asami wanted the department’s absolute best work, if not to uncover the obvious identity of the villain who had attacked them, to pin down the how and why.
“Fine.” Then, stiffly, she added: “Thank you.”
Lin gave her a rare smile. “I’ll assign a detail to escort you to Air Temple Island—unless you want me to take your family personally?”
Asami shook her head. “Don’t bother. I’ll accept the escort, but Korra and I are more than capable of defending ourselves. You’re needed here.”
Lin went to the door, holding it open so Asami could exit into the hall. “I’ll get to the bottom of this,” she said as Asami paused beside her. “I promise.”
“Asami, Lin,” Korra said, approaching at a brisk pace. She held Hiroshi in her arms, and Yasuko rode on the narrow dip of Naga’s neck, fists bunched tightly in the polar bear dog’s white fur. Naga butted Asami’s shoulder and licked her cheek, causing Yasuko to giggle.
“Naga kissed you!”
Asami didn’t smile, but she scratched Naga’s ears out of habit. “What is it, Korra?”
Korra’s gaze bounced from her to Lin. “Your detectives found something at the scene. One of the bod—” She cut herself off, glancing at Yasuko. “One of the intruders had a blowgun and several darts. We think that’s what they used to poison Naga.”
“Zaheer and his gang tried the same trick once,” Lin said with a scowl. “Not very original.”
“But effective,” Asami admitted. “Do they tell us anything? Something to do with Kuvira?”
“The opposite,” Korra said. “One of the detectives on the scene grew up in Yi. He recognized the design of the blowgun, and the darts as well. We’ll have to do some tests to make sure, but he thinks it comes from a rare, poisonous flower that grows in the province.”
Asami tried to think. She sensed a mental connection just out of reach, but she was too tired, angry, and frustrated to make it herself. The fog in her mind hadn’t cleared at all, growing worse by the minute. “And?”
Lin caught on more quickly. “You think it’s the hold-outs from Kuvira’s army.”
Korra nodded. “I was about to pay them a visit before this happened. If they’d managed to kidnap my pups, they would’ve had powerful leverage over me. Enough to prevent me from interfering with whatever they’re up to, or at least throw me off and delay me.”
“Then they don’t know us very well,” Asami snarled through gritted teeth. “If the hold-outs are involved, I’ll make sure they pay for it. Kuvira, too.”
Korra, who had brightened at the prospect of a lead, lost the faint smile she’d had. “That’s the thing, Asami. I don’t think Kuvira’s involved.”
“What?” Asami stared at Korra in disbelief. She couldn’t form any other words.
“Kuvira warned me about the hold-outs in Yi,” Korra said. “Why would she do that if she was the mastermind behind all this?”
“Because she’s trying to throw you off,” Asami snapped. “Why are you so willing to believe she’s innocent? After what she’s done?”
Korra’s face fell, but she looked no less determined for it. “I don’t think she’s innocent. I just don’t think she’s behind this. I met with her, Asami. She seems repentant.”
Anger bubbled up from within Asami’s gut. Anger at Kuvira, at the intruders who had tried to harm her pups, and at Korra. The answer is right in front of her face. Why can’t she see it? “And just because Kuvira acted ‘repentant’ around you for five minutes, you think she isn’t capable of horrible things anymore? Don’t be naive. At least I remember what she’s capable of. I don’t have the luxury of forgetting.”
“You think I’ve forgotten?” Korra’s eyes flashed, and the line of her shoulders stiffened, as though preparing to defend herself from attack. “You aren’t the only one who lost something.”
“Oh? Well, if I remember correctly, both your parents are still alive and happy in the South Pole—”
The sound of Yasuko wailing their names put an abrupt end to the argument. Asami swallowed her anger—as she’d grown accustomed to doing every time Kuvira was mentioned—and turned to her daughter. “What’s wrong, Yasu?”
Yasuko didn’t look convinced. “Fighting,” she sniffled, staring at Asami with watery eyes.
Korra placed a reassuring hand on Yasuko’s back. “We’re sorry. Everything’s okay. How about we go to Air Temple Island for that sleepover with Rohan?”
Yasuko wiped her nose with her overhanging sleeve. “Sleepover?”
“Mommy and Mama will come, too. A family sleepover.”
That seemed to cheer the pup considerably. “Okay,” she said, giving them both a weak smile.
Asami suddenly remembered their argument had an audience. She shot Lin an apologetic look, and the stalwart chief of police gave the smallest of nods. “I’ll arrange your escort,” she said. “Believe me, Asami—if Kuvira had anything to do with this, she’ll pay for it. If not, we’ll find out who planned this and bring them to justice.”
“Thank you, Lin.” Korra stepped forward, clasping Lin’s forearm with her free hand. Lin returned the gesture, and she gave the still-sleeping Hiroshi a rare smile.
The knot in Asami’s chest loosened the tiniest bit. Frustrated as she was with Korra, and filled with hate as she was for Kuvira, she had to admit—things could have turned out much worse. Her family was alive and unharmed, and they had plenty of allies.
We’ll find out who did this and make them wish they’d never been born.
Two days later, they prepared to leave Air Temple island at dawn, before the pups woke up for breakfast. Korra’s heart ached as she stared down at Hiroshi, fast asleep in his crib, with Yasuko curled up on the bed a few yards away. She didn’t want to leave. Her instincts as a parent screamed for her to stay.
But if I do, I can’t stop the people who want to hurt us.
Asami came to stand beside her, taking one of her hands. “I know,” she whispered in a soft, strained voice. There was no need to explain further. The weight of their decision, their duties, made it difficult for Korra to breathe.
After a long, painful moment, Korra dropped Asami’s hand and bent to kiss Hiroshi’s head. Tears welled in her eyes, but she kept the sniffling to a minimum so as not to disturb him. The pup slept on, oblivious to everything. “I love you,” she whispered, before stroking his head and pulling away.
Next, she approached the bed. Yasuko was a sprawled lump under the sheets, shaggy black hair tangled around her head. Korra crouched and adjusted the covers even though they didn’t need it, tucking her daughter in. “I love you,” she repeated, kissing Yasuko’s temple.
One of Yasuko’s eyes cracked open, still bleary from sleep. Nevertheless, it reminded Korra of Asami. “Mommy? Mama?”
“Go back to sleep,” Korra whispered. “Mommy and Mama are going on their trip. You get to stay here and play with Pema and Rohan. Okay?”
Luckily, Yasuko was too tired to put up a fuss. “‘Kay.” She closed her eyes, and within a few moments, had started a soft snore.
Korra straightened, stepping aside so Asami could have her turn. The omega didn’t say anything, but the stricken expression on her face made it clear how she felt. After a long moment, during which she petted Yasuko’s hair with a trembling hand, she too turned away.
The look in Asami’s eyes struck Korra straight in the chest. It wasn’t tender, nor was it sad. Instead, she was furious. Asami was still angry two days after the break-in, and while Korra couldn’t blame her for those feelings—feelings she still struggled with herself—it sent a shiver down her spine.
She nodded toward the door, and they left the room together. Outside, they met Pema, still in a sleeping robe. She offered them a smile that didn’t fully reach her eyes. “Do you two have everything you need?”
“We do,” Korra said. “Thank you.” She opened her arms, and Pema stepped in for a hug.
Asami took her turn next. “I know you’ll take excellent care of them. And please know, if you ever need us to do the same for Rohan, or any of your children—”
Pema cut her off, hugging her as well. “I know, but you and Korra have already done so much for my family. You are family. It’s the least I can do.”
“There’s no one I trust more.”
They shared an intense look, as though having an entirely separate conversation with their eyes. For a moment, Korra felt as though she were eavesdropping. Asami and Pema had developed a unique relationship over the years—perhaps because they were two of the only non-bender omegas amidst a large and powerful group of alpha and beta benders who had, in many ways, shaped Republic City’s future. But Korra didn’t question it. She agreed with Asami. There was no one she trusted more to care for her children.
“They’ll be safe with us,” Pema said. “I promise.”
Korra tried to make light of the situation. “With you and all the airbenders on the island to look out for them? I should hope so.”
Pema chuckled. “Enemies do tend to underestimate non-benders and airbenders, don’t they?”
“I definitely did at first,” Korra admitted. “Anyway, we should get going. Sorry we couldn’t stay longer.”
Before Pema could reply, another figure entered the hallway. It was Jinora, dressed in her red and yellow flight suit, carrying a small pack on her back. She smiled warmly at them, and Korra hurried over to hug her as well. “Hey! I heard you come in late last night, but we were already in bed.”
“Don’t worry. It’s been so long since I’ve seen you!” They embraced happily before Korra stood aside and allowed Asami her turn.
“I’m so glad you’ll be going with us,” Asami said, smiling at the young, tattooed alpha.
“Me too. When I heard what happened…” Jinora’s voice trailed off and her face fell. “I agree with you both. This is a serious problem that needs fixing yesterday.”
Asami nodded in approval. “Then let’s go. Mako and Bolin are meeting us at the train station.”
“No blimp this time?” Jinora teased.
“The train is actually faster, in this case,” Asami said. “It goes through the mountains rather than around.”
“Of course it’s fast,” Korra said, with no small amount of pride. “Future Industries built it.”
Asami rewarded her with a smile. “Our family does have an appreciation for speed, huh?”
With one last wave to Pema, the three of them departed together, stepping out into the pale dawn light. Early morning mist still surrounded the island, and dew clung to the grass and their shoes as they shuffled along to the ferry.
“Is it true that Kuvira’s behind this?” Jinora asked once they were well away from the house.
Korra felt Asami’s eyes shift toward her, burning with intensity. “We don’t have solid proof.” Asami’s stare became even hotter at that pronouncement. “But it’s a possibility we can’t discount. Kuvira has hurt people before.”
“You don’t think she’s behind it, though,” Jinora said, reading between the lines.
“Korra and I have a difference of opinion about that,” Asami said, in the neutral tone she used when she was very displeased about something. “We’ll find out the truth, whatever it is.”
“Exactly. If it was Kuvira, she won’t get away with it.”
That seemed to satisfy Jinora’s curiosity. They continued on to the ferry in silence, each with their own thoughts. Korra’s, as usual, were restless. What if I’m right, though? What if it’s someone else, but Asami doesn’t want to hear it?
She pushed those thoughts aside. Asami was the smartest person she knew. No matter where the evidence led, she had to believe her mate would follow without being blinded by anger.
Korra barely had time to brace herself before a large, strong body crashed into hers, picking her up in a bone-crushing hug. She laughed, throwing her arms around Bolin in return. He was the largest, strongest omega she’d ever met, and that strength showed as he squeezed her.
“Hey, let go of me! You’re gonna crack my ribs.”
“Sorry.” Bolin laughed and put her down. “I’ve just missed you so much!”
He beamed at her for a second, eyes sparkling, before rounding on Asami and giving her the same treatment. Korra heard the loud whoosh of breath Bolin forced out of her, but looked away when Mako, who stood a few paces behind, came forward to give her a much calmer hug.
“Korra,” he said, patting her back. “Bolin’s right. We’ve missed you.”
“It’s only been a week since we last saw you.”
Mako’s smile faded. “It feels like longer with everything going on.”
Korra knew what he meant. She and Asami hadn’t seen Mako and Bolin since the break-in two days prior. As soon as they’d heard, both brothers—a current detective, and a former one—had offered Lin their services. She’d sent them out to run down leads without a second thought.
“I’ve been in touch with Yi’s temporary governor, a man named Hua,” Mako told Korra, keeping his voice low. The train station hadn’t grown crowded yet, since most people still had a few hours before their morning commutes, but he spoke cautiously, as though someone might overhear. “He’s already expecting us.”
“Good.” Asami escaped Bolin’s embrace to join the conversation. “We should arrive within a few hours, assuming no delays.” She headed for the waiting area without another word, striding swiftly and with purpose. Korra watched her for a moment, before noticing Mako’s worried glance.
“Is she okay?”
Korra sighed. “Not really.”
“I wouldn’t expect her to be,” Bolin said. “You, either. I mean, your family was attacked in their home. Of course you’re shaken.”
“Asami isn’t just shaken,” Korra said, following Asami at a slower pace so they wouldn’t be overheard. “She’s angry. I’ve never seen her this way, not even when I came back after three years. To be honest? I’m worried.”
Mako put a hand on her shoulder and squeezed. “You don’t have to look after her alone. Bolin and I are here to help. Right?”
Bolin nodded. “Yeah. The crew’s back together! We’ll get to the bottom of this, like we always do.”
“Right,” Korra said. “Like we always do.”
As Asami predicted, the journey passed quickly. By early afternoon, they’d arrived safely in Yi. Though considerably smaller than Republic City’s station, the province’s station had been recently upgraded. Korra noted the construction still had a new sheen as she and the others stepped onto the platform, joining the mid-day crowd.
“Over there,” Mako said, gesturing at a small entourage. There were five people in all, wearing green and yellow robes. One of them, a plump old beta with a long white beard, had an austere look about him.
Korra glanced at Mako. “Is that Governor Hua?” she whispered. He nodded, so she strode over, putting on her friendliest smile. “Hello, Governor,” she said, offering a respectful bow. “Thank you for meeting us.”
The governor bowed even deeper in return. “Thank you for coming, Avatar. I’m afraid we have great need of your assistance.”
The others arrived a step behind, offering bows of their own. Korra hurried to introduce them. “This is Asami Sato, my mate and the CEO of Future Industries. These two are Mako and Bolin, Republic City detectives and my best friends. And this is Jinora, another dear friend, and an airbender from Air Temple Island.”
More polite bows were exchanged, although a sense of urgency kept the pleasantries short. “This is my assistant, Song Ziwen,” Governor Hua said, indicating one of his companions. She was a middle-aged woman, with salt and pepper hair and dark, nervous eyes. “She will show you to your hotel. It’s been reconstructed recently, so I hope you’ll find it suitable. We are a rather rural community, without too many developed areas.”
Korra grinned. “I’m sure it’ll be just fine.”
The porters arrived with their luggage, and while Asami tipped them generously, Korra took a moment to study the governor’s assistant. The woman, an omega, smelled notably nervous, and seemed oddly reluctant to meet her eyes despite Korra’s attempts at a casual posture and friendly expression.
Hm. Weird. Maybe Asami or Bolin will have better luck talking to her?
“If you don’t mind, I’ll accompany you and explain some of what’s been going on in the province,” the governor said, drawing Korra from her thoughts.
“That’d be great,” she said. “Lead on, Ziwen.”
The fidgety omega gave another deep bow. “Of course, Avatar. Please, come with me.” She led them away from the train station, while Mako and Bolin managed most of the luggage. Korra shot Asami a look, and her mate fell into step beside her.
“She’s upset,” Korra whispered under her breath.
“I can tell,” Asami whispered back. “Want me to talk to her while you’re hearing the governor out?”
“You read my mind.”
They fell into silence, making their way to the hotel with the governor and his entourage.
The accommodations Hua had arranged were simple, but more than satisfactory. Since Yi was a rural province, it didn’t have much in the way of luxury hotels like the Four Seasons. It did, however, possess a small bed and breakfast near the train station, whose employees were more than happy to serve the Avatar’s every need.
“Please,” the wispy thin omega who greeted them murmured, tucking her glossy black hair shyly behind one ear, “if you need anything at all, you only have to ask.” The way she stressed ‘anything’, as well as the invitation of her scent, made what she meant abundantly clear.
Her father, also an omega and owner of the establishment along with his alpha wife, was not too pleased with his daughter’s behavior. He sent her away to prepare their rooms in short order, but he couldn’t hide the fact that he was a little starstruck by Korra himself. Not sexually, perhaps, but by her role as the Avatar, most certainly.
“I’d love to get a picture before you leave, if that’s all right,” he said, with only a little sheepishness. “We’ve never had anyone famous stay with us before.”
Korra had laughed and agreed. She was used to various businesses, and even individuals, asking for photographs as cameras became more and more popular. Unless she was in a hurry, she didn’t mind indulging them, with date nights being the exception.
Soon, they were settled into their rooms, the crew having disbanded to shower and change after their day-trip. Asami stripped first, tossing her jacket carelessly onto a chair before unbuttoning her blouse.
“I noticed you made a new friend downstairs,” she said, without turning in Korra’s direction. Her voice sounded amused, much to Korra’s relief. It was the first time she’d seen Asami amused by something since the break-in.
“Yeah, well,” Korra mumbled, only a little embarrassed, “she offered an invitation I don’t intend to accept.”
As she removed her blouse, Asami shot a searing glance over her shoulder, fixing her hot green eyes on Korra’s face before trailing them slowly downward. They landed at the join of her legs, and Korra felt a familiar, pleasant tug that started in her lower belly and spread in a surge of warm pressure.
“I should hope not,” Asami said, shimmying out of her skirt as well. “Although I have to admit, it was daring of her to flirt with a marked alpha. Not many omegas would, especially when that alpha is the world-famous Avatar.”
Korra laughed. “If she knew anything about the Avatar’s mate, she wouldn’t dare.”
Asami unclipped her garter belt and rolled her stockings down in a slow, deliberate motion. “No, she wouldn’t.”
Korra swallowed. Her mouth had suddenly gone dry, and she felt light-headed. She couldn’t tear her eyes away from Asami’s legs, which seemed endless as they strutted toward her. The omega’s scent curled into her nose, drawing her forward like a helpless fish snared on a fishing line.
“Shower with me?” Asami asked. She was completely naked, and seemed to welcome Korra’s hands as they settled on her hips, sliding around to cup her rear.
“I’m not sure how much actual showering we’ll get done,” Korra confessed.
Asami smirked. “I need stress relief more than a shower.”
Korra leapt on the opportunity. Finally, here was something simple she could do to help her mate feel better. With a low grunt, she lifted Asami from the floor, guiding the omega’s impossibly long legs around her waist and walking her toward the bed.
“Stress relief first. Shower after. Okay?”
Asami made no complaints as Korra climbed on top of her, discarding clothes along the way.
Asami woke covered in cold sweat, with her hair tangled around her head. It was the middle of the night, judging by the darkness of the room and the faint moonlight shining through the window. Korra slept soundly beside her, snoring and oblivious. Her body was merely a lumpy shadow beneath the sheets, which moved steadily with each breath she took.
Normally, the peaceful sight and sound of her mate at rest would have been enough to soothe Asami back to sleep herself. Insomnia and night terrors were no strangers to her. But this was different, far fresher than her mother’s murder, Korra’s disappearance, her father’s death, and the other traumas she’d endured.
Four nights ago, my pups were almost taken. Yasuko. Hiroshi. My babies…
She felt the immediate urge to check on them, to make sure they were safe. At home, she could have easily done so. She often woke at least once per night to look in on both her children, a deeply rooted maternal instinct she couldn’t deny. But she was in Yi, and the pups were in Republic City.
I could call Pema and ask her to look in on them. She’s a mother, too. She wouldn’t think I’m crazy for calling so late, right?
The bed and breakfast had a telephone somewhere downstairs, Asami was sure. She remembered seeing it upon their arrival, when she wasn’t laughing inwardly at the proprietor’s daughter’s clumsy attempts to entice Korra. Carefully and quietly, she climbed out of bed and crossed the room, putting on one of the generously provided sleep robes.
Before she opened the door, she stole one last look at Korra. Her mate was still snoring away, her face half-buried in a pillow. Asami gave her a fond smile before slipping out into the hall and creeping downstairs.
To her surprise, she wasn’t the only one up and about in the middle of the night. When she arrived on the first floor, she overheard a soft voice coming from the direction of the front desk. A light had been turned on, and someone stood by the very telephone she had come to use. Asami relaxed as she recognized Bolin’s silhouette and familiar voice.
“No, don’t wake her up. I just wanted to check. Yes, of course. I already miss you…” Bolin paused, taking notice of her, and smiled. “Good night. Try and get some sleep, okay? Love you.” He hung up, giving Asami his full attention. “You too, huh?”
“Me too.” Asami returned his smile. “Checking on your mate and daughter?”
Bolin nodded. “All’s quiet on the home front, according to Opal. Yang’s fast asleep, like she should be. And like we should be.” He stood aside, offering Asami access to the telephone. “Did you want to call someone? Your pups are with Pema, right?”
Asami sighed. “I’d like to call, but I don’t want to disturb her. I’m sure she has her hands full with Yasu, Hiro, and Rohan.”
“I’m sure Ikki and Meelo are helping her out,” Bolin said. “Not that Pema needs it. She could probably keep an army in line if she wanted to.”
“She could—but she shouldn’t have to. I don’t know anyone who deserves a vacation more.”
“Besides us,” Bolin said, with a wry smirk.
“Besides us,” Asami agreed.
They fell into a comfortable silence for a moment, before Bolin nodded toward the telephone. “Call. I’m sure Pema won’t mind.”
With a sigh, Asami gave in. She dialed with a few short twirls of her finger, and Pema answered, sounding sleepy but warm. A minute later, she ended the call, significantly reassured. All was quiet on Air Temple Island. Yasu and Hiro had gone down without a fuss, apparently exhausted from a full day of play.
“Thank you,” Asami said to Bolin once she’d hung up. “I needed that.”
He took her hand in his large, warm ones and led her toward the kitchen, which was open to guests outside of mealtimes. “Come on. I’ll make us some tea. I was gonna have a cup myself before going back to bed.”
Once they arrived in the kitchen, Asami sat on a cushion beside the low table while Bolin brewed their tea in silence. She was grateful for that. Her thoughts were still anxious and disjointed, though not as panicked after checking in on her pups. She believed Pema’s report concerning their safety, and yet…
They were almost taken. I could have lost them. They’re both so little, so helpless, especially Hiro.
“I’m not dealing with it well,” she said aloud to Bolin.
He paused in the midst of pouring their cups. “The break-in?”
Bolin brought the cups and saucers, setting one in front of Asami before taking the opposite cushion. She wrapped her hands around the warm cup, inhaling the pleasant-smelling steam. It did little to relax her.
“How do you think you should be dealing with it?”
Asami’s brow furrowed. “I don’t know. But the fear, the anger… it’s all I can think about. Even around Korra. She’s usually my source of comfort, but this time, we’re at odds.”
“She doesn’t think you’re handling it well, either?”
Asami sipped her tea. She hardly tasted it, although she had to admit the warmth was at least a little bit soothing as it slid down her throat. “She thinks I’m rushing to judgment about Kuvira.”
“And what do you think?”
“I think she killed my father and tried to destroy Republic City. Now, stealing pups is suddenly beneath her?”
Bolin took a long sip of his tea, as though stalling. Eventually, he sighed, lowering his cup. “I’ll offer my opinion, but you won’t like it.”
“You don’t think Kuvira’s involved,” Asami said flatly.
“You’re looking at this from your point of view, not Kuvira’s. You consider Kuvira your enemy. That’s fair. She killed your dad, tried to kill your mate, and wrecked your city, among other things. But Korra isn’t Kuvira’s enemy. I don’t think she ever was.”
Asami blinked at Bolin in bewilderment. “They fought each other at every turn after Kuvira declared herself the Great Uniter. How could they not be enemies?”
“Korra was her opponent, an obstacle to overcome, but I don’t think Kuvira considered her an enemy the way you’re defining it. She fought Korra because Korra was interfering with her vision for the Earth Kingdom’s future. A crazy, flawed vision, sure, but Kuvira believed in it. She didn’t fight Korra out of hatred. She did it for the cause.”
“A crazy, flawed cause,” Asami said, using Bolin’s own words. But the more she thought about it, the more sensible his explanation seemed. Just because I hate Kuvira for what she did doesn’t necessarily mean she harbors the same hatred for me and Korra. Is that what Korra’s been trying to tell me? Maybe I’ve been too angry to listen.
She blinked, realizing she’d lost herself in her tea, staring into its dark brown depths. The slight movement of her hand as Bolin spoke her name created ripples on its surface. “Sorry. Lost in thought.”
Bolin reached across the table, placing his large hand over hers—the one resting flat on the table. “What happened to your family would unbalance anyone. I can’t even imagine how I’d react if it happened to me, Opal, and Yang. Spirits, just knowing I could’ve lost you, Korra, and your pups… that terrifies me. I love you all so much. You’re part of my family.”
Asami’s eyes stung with tears at his declaration. She’d fought so hard to keep from crying the past several days, especially in front of the pups, but alone with Bolin in the middle of the night, she finally broke down. She sobbed into her hands, and he abandoned his cushion, circling the table to comfort her. “It’s okay,” he whispered, stroking her hair.
She buried her face in his shirt. The fabric was soft and his scent was soothing, all protectiveness and reassurance. It was the kind of support only a fellow omega could offer, not blustery or overstated, but a sturdy, unyielding wall, much like the earth and stone he so often bent. She braced herself against it, and him, for a long time, until she’d cried herself out.
“Feel any better?” Bolin asked when she lifted her head, removing her face from his tear-stained shirt.
Asami swiped her damp eyes with the sleeve of her robe. “A little. You’re our family too, you know.”
A big smile spread across Bolin’s face. “That’s right. Remember, you don’t have to track down these bad guys alone. You’ve got me, Mako, Jinora, and a whole bunch of other friends and allies you can call on for help.”
For the first time since the break-in, Asami felt the tiniest bit of her fear ebb away. It wasn’t gone, not completely, but it faded to a more manageable level. “Thanks. With our friends on our side, we can’t fail. We’ve always done remarkable things together.”
Bolin chuckled, giving Asami's shoulder a friendly nudge. “Saved the world a few times, haven’t we?”
“More than a few.” Asami lifted her tea and drank, enjoying it far more than before. She actually picked up its flavor, a sweet herbal blend that reminded her of the late hour and put her back in touch with her own tiredness. A yawn emerged before she could stop it.
“Time for bed?” Bolin asked.
Asami yawned again, although she caught it in her elbow. “Mmhmm. Can’t solve a mystery or track down pupnappers without sleep.”
“Exactly. See? You’ve still got a brain. It’s not all ‘angry angry revenge’ up there.” He rubbed his knuckles on her head, messing up her hair, but Asami didn’t much care, since she was going back to bed anyway.
“Excuse you. A first class brain.”
“A top-notch, first class brain,” Bolin agreed. He took her cup and saucer, emptying the dregs and placing them in the sink. “C’mon, we’ll go upstairs together.”
Asami followed without protest, blinking a few stray tears from her eyes. When they reached the top of the stairs, Bolin embraced her. “Everything will work out. I promise.”
“I believe you,” Asami replied. And she did, at least a little more than she had before. “Goodnight.”
Giving Bolin one last squeeze, she returned to her room. Korra was still asleep, but her slumber was far from peaceful. She shifted beneath the tangled covers, groaning and kicking them away. Sweat had sprouted on her skin, and when Asami sniffed the air, she picked up the scent of her mate’s fear.
Korra’s eyes remained tightly shut. “Yasu! Hiro!” She thrashed and reached out, as if trying to grab something.
Asami hurried to the bed, placing her hand on Korra’s bare, trembling arm. “Korra, it’s all right. They’re safe. We’re safe.”
“Hmm?” Korra stopped struggling. Her eyes cracked open, still blurry with sleep. “‘Sami?”
Seeing her mate so vulnerable made Asami forget her own anger and grief. “The pups are fine. They’re with Pema, remember? I just called her to check on them.”
“With Pema. Right.”
Korra relaxed, melting back into the mattress. She heaved a deep sigh of relief as she drifted back to sleep. Asami removed her robe and slid beneath the covers, straightening them as she scooted up behind Korra. She draped an arm around Korra’s waist, pulling her mate’s backside into the cradle of her pelvis.
“You’re safe,” she repeated, kissing Korra’s shoulder. I’ll do anything to keep you and our children safe.
Korra rested both hands behind her head, watching Asami get ready. From her relaxed position on the bed, she had an excellent view of her mate’s backside as Asami leaned over the vanity, applying eyeliner in the mirror. It was a process, Korra knew, that required serious concentration, and doing it properly was still beyond her meager abilities, even though Asami had demonstrated more than once.
Good thing I have her to do my makeup and hair when I need to look good. I lucked out. She’d lucked out for plenty of other reasons, too. Asami was brilliant, loyal, and kind—which made her recent moods and behavior all the more concerning.
Korra sighed, pushing herself up and folding her legs.
It’s like the best parts of her have brewed this perfect storm to destroy whoever tried to hurt our family. I just hope she can control it…
A knock sounded on the door, interrupting Korra’s musings.
“Would you get that, please?” Asami asked, without tearing her eyes away from the mirror. “I’m almost done.”
Korra rolled off the bed and stood up. “I would’ve had liner all across my cheek if I heard that while doing my own eyes,” she said, heading for the door. She opened it, only a little surprised to see Mako and Bolin waiting there, already dressed. “Hey, guys. I thought we were leaving in twenty?”
“We were,” Mako began.
“But Ziwen’s already here,” Bolin continued. “She seems pretty nervous, too.”
Mako gave Bolin a mildly chastising look. “She’s here to escort us to another meeting with the governor. He’s arranged for us to question some of the locals who are missing relatives, or have had supplies stolen.”
“I thought Jinora was going to help with that?”
“She is,” Bolin said. “In fact, she’s already left to check out the local marketplace. See what she can overhear.”
Korra nodded her approval. “Good. She might have better luck getting information, since people won’t necessarily know she’s working with the Avatar.”
“That’s the plan, but we might as well talk to these people the governor has lined up for us. They might know something useful.”
“Right. Just a second.” Korra ducked back into the room, retrieving her glider staff. “And as long as we’re just questioning and not interrogating. Let’s save that for when we find the bad guys.”
Asami joined her as she spoke, and Korra’s eyes darted sideways, taking in her mate’s polished appearance. With her hair pulled back and her face made up, Asami looked sharp in every possible way, like a battle-ready weapon.
“Why did you look at me when you said that?”
“No reason,” Korra said, holding up her hands to show her innocence. “You just showed up beside me. Was I not supposed to look at you?”
Asami’s expression softened slightly. “Sorry. Guess I’m still on edge.”
Korra forced a smile. “It’s okay.”
Mako put a hand on Asami’s shoulder as she stepped into the hallway. “No one can blame you for being on edge, but we need to keep our heads on straight. There’s no shame in saying you can’t handle this.”
Asami’s glittering green eyes hardened again. “I can handle it.” She brushed Mako’s hand off her shoulder, striding purposefully down the stairs.
Korra gave Mako an apologetic look before following her mate, allowing him and Bolin bring up the rear.
Ziwen was waiting when they arrived downstairs. The shy omega looked even more nervous than Korra remembered, aiming her gaze everywhere except their faces, chewing her lower lip. Her scent was acrid and bitter, full of anxiety.
Korra’s immediate instinct was to offer reassurance. “Hey,” she said, speaking in a quiet voice. “Are you okay? You seem upset.”
The omega trembled, her mouth working soundlessly for several seconds before she summoned an answer. “F-fine. It’s just… you’re the Avatar. I never thought I’d m-meet you in person.”
Korra blinked in surprise. She was used to over the top reactions—fans, hangers-on, even people who loathed her and what she represented—but she rarely met civilians who were terrified by the mere sight of her.
Thankfully, Asami intervened. After a pause to make sure her touch wouldn’t startle the poor, terrified assistant, she placed a gentle hand on Ziwen’s arm. “The Avatar isn’t scary. Promise. In fact, she’s a total dork once you get to know her.”
“That’s true,” Bolin laughed.
Even Mako snorted in amusement.
“Way to support me, pals,” Korra grumbled, winking to show Ziwen that she wasn’t really upset. The calming pheromones Asami and Bolin were pumping out seemed to be working, but they hadn’t eased the other omega’s discomfort completely. In fact, she looked almost sad as her fear ebbed.
“So, you’re taking us to the governor’s house for these interviews, right?” Mako asked, business as always. “Or are we going to the police station?”
“The local police station is small,” Ziwen explained, “but the governor has arranged f-for the use of another building. I’ll, uh, take you there right away.”
“Lead on,” Korra said, gesturing toward the door. Ziwen practically scurried out, as if running away, and she had to adopt a brisk stride to catch up. “What’s up with her, you think?” she murmured to Asami, once she was certain the omega was out of earshot.
“Terrified of something,” Asami replied.
“Or someone,” Mako added, matching his pace to theirs. “Do you think she could be involved?”
Korra nodded. “Maybe. Keep your guard up. Someone acting this suspicious might lead us into a trap.”
“Nah, I don’t think so,” Bolin said as he joined them. “A lot of bad things have happened in Yi lately. Maybe Ziwen's just nervous?”
Asami shook her head. “There’s nervous, and then there’s frog squirrely. Ziwen’s definitely acting frog squirrely.”
“Maybe she’s just nervous,” Asami snarled as she dispensed one of their attackers with a violent roundhouse kick, sending him flying with a blow to the chin. She landed perfectly, driving her elbow into the back of another assailant before he could send a flat metal blade flying toward Bolin. “Seriously, Bolin?! We all saw this coming a mile away.”
Bolin planted his feet wide, tearing open the ground beneath two more attackers. The dust in the narrow alleyway hissed and cracked, melting under their feet before hardening again around their boots. “Well, ex-cuse me for wanting to think the best of people.”
“Stop arguing,” Korra ordered, swinging her glider staff in a graceful arc. It collided with the side of one trapped thug’s head, sending it knocking into his companion’s with a crack reminiscent of pool balls breaking on a table. Their eyes rolled back in their heads, and they both slumped to the ground simultaneously.
“We’re not argui—duck!” Asami shouted from somewhere behind her.
Korra ducked. Another metal blade streaked over her head, scoring one of the buildings’ walls. She retaliated with a blast of wind, sending the enemy metalbender back into the opposite wall. He slumped, and Asami placed her boot on his back before he could regain his footing, causing him to moan in pain.
“Who sent you?” she asked, reaching down to grab his hair and jerking his head up at a violent looking angle. “Tell me now.”
“Asami, don’t!” Korra rushed forward to intervene, aided by a gust of air. “Let him go and we’ll question him.”
But Asami didn’t let him go. “I can question him fine like this.” Fire burned in her eyes as she pulled the metalbender’s hair, causing him to wince. “Feel this glove? It’s electric, by the way. Unless you want your brains scrambled, you’re going to tell me who sent you, and why.”
The metalbender’s wide eyes roved wildly, as if seeking rescue, but none was forthcoming. His companions, five in total, were unconscious or worse, sprawled throughout the alley. “I’ll—I’ll talk,” he rasped, shaking with fear. “We were…”
“Never mind.” Asami sent a surge of electricity through her glove, causing him to twitch violently before he went limp. She dropped his head, which smelled like smoldering hair, and wiped her boot disdainfully on the ground after removing it from his back, like she’d stepped in something awful.
Korra stared in shock for several seconds before reacting. Part of her couldn’t believe what she’d just seen—the casual, dismissive way Asami had ended their attacker—and a larger part of her was furious. “What are you doing?” she barked, trembling with rage. “You can’t just—”
Asami held up a hand to silence her, nodding toward the other side of the alley. Mako had returned with Ziwen in tow, holding her firmly by one arm. The omega looked to be on the verge of panic, and from the twist of Asami’s lip, Korra could tell more trouble was brewing.
“Let me handle this,” she said in a low, warning voice. “I’m serious, Asami. I know you’re angry, but we can’t just off all our enemies. Not until we know what’s going on.”
Asami shrugged. “We only needed one. Might as well be her.”
Korra struggled for a response, but realized she was too angry to deal with Asami and her lust for revenge. With a frustrated sigh, she stomped toward Mako and his terrified prisoner.
“Looks like you cleaned up here,” Mako said to Korra, eyeing the limp forms scattered throughout the narrow side-street Ziwen had led them down.
“They were nothing.” Korra focused on Ziwen, staring the omega directly in the eye. As expected, Ziwen’s eyes darted away. She stank of fear and shame. It took some doing, but Korra suppressed the rage brewing in her belly enough to even out her tone. “Someone made you lead us into a trap, didn’t they? Tell me who, and I’ll take care of them.”
Ziwen started babbling all at once, like a flood breaking its dam. “Y-you don’t understand. He’s been t-taking people. My pups…”
Immediately, Korra’s anger dimmed. “Someone took your pups?” After almost losing her own children, she couldn’t blame this poor woman anymore. If she hadn’t been the Avatar, and someone had threatened Yasu and Hiro’s lives, she probably would have made the exact same choice.
Tears streamed down Ziwen’s face. Aside from her sobs, that seemed to be the only answer she was capable of giving.
“Tell me who has them, and where. We’ll get them back and stop whoever’s doing this. I promise.”
Ziwen blinked, her tears slowing. “W-what?”
“We’re here to end Yi’s problems once and for all. These same people tried to take my pups, too.”
After several more sniffs and shaking breaths, Ziwen seemed to regain some control. “I don’t know where they are. Somewhere in the countryside, well beyond the city. But I know who they answer to.”
“A name.” Korra whipped her head around as Asami stalked toward them, still visibly brimming with anger. “Give us a name.”
Ziwen tried to curl in on herself. “He calls himself General Ho. I—I think he used to be one of the Great Uniter’s generals, before she was imprisoned.”
“I knew it,” Asami said. “This General Ho must be working on Kuvira’s orders. She is behind this.”
Korra couldn’t contain her temper any longer. “Stop and think for a second, Asami. Why would Kuvira have warned me before all of this started if she was behind it?”
“To throw you off, or lead you into a trap. Like this one did.” Asami glared at Ziwen, clenching her gloved fist in a gesture that made the other omega cringe.
“Stop scaring her,” Korra said. “They took her pups hostage.”
Asami blinked in surprise. For a moment, her face softened, but then anger descended back over her like a dark cloud. “She’d still better tell us everything she knows.”
“I will,” Ziwen whimpered. “I promise.”
Korra gritted her teeth, deliberately turning away from Asami. Lecturing her mate on her lack of empathy, when she was usually so full of the same, would only make their argument worse. An alleyway full of dead and injured enemies wasn’t the right place for that conversation. “Mako, Bolin, stay here and clean up this mess, please. If any of these thugs are still alive, bring them back to the hotel. I’ll take Ziwen there and question her. Asami, go find Jinora at the marketplace. She needs to hear about this.”
Asami held Korra’s eyes in a burning gaze and opened her mouth, as if she wanted to object. Eventually, she decided against it. She stormed off without another word, leaving the alley at a rapid pace.
Once she was gone, Korra exchanged nervous looks with Mako and Bolin. “Will she be okay?” Bolin asked, looking as upset as Korra felt.
Korra shook her head slowly. “I hope so. I’ve never seen her like this before. In the past when she’s been angry, it’s been at the right people, and for good reason.”
“I’d say this is for good reason,” Mako pointed out.
“I know. Believe me, I know. But it’s making her lash out.” She sighed, exhaling deeply. “I’ll talk to her when she meets us at the hotel. Hopefully by then, we’ll both have calmed down.”
It took Asami longer than expected to find Jinora in the marketplace. Long enough for the inferno of her anger to burn out, leaving only a low simmer. Searching amidst the dusty wooden stalls gave her ample time to calm down, but her thoughts were far from pleasant.
I didn’t know I was capable of being this angry. My whole body is burning up, like it can’t contain all the pain I’m feeling, but…
A chill ran down her spine despite the muggy, mid-afternoon heat. Her anger frightened her because it was familiar. She’d always had something of a temper—slow to forgive, with little tolerance for fools—and she knew exactly from whom she’d inherited this less-than-admirable trait.
Father. He let his anger poison him. Consume him.
For many years, Asami had looked down on her father, disowning him for allowing his prejudices to override his common sense. He had lost a mate, true, but she had lost a mother. If she could see that not all benders were to blame for Yasuko’s death, why couldn’t he?
How ridiculous, she’d thought then. How prejudiced and unenlightened. And those were her kinder thoughts on the subject. It had taken her years to put her shame and resentment aside, and consider things from Hiroshi’s point of view: that of a grieving widower, whose wealth and power weren’t enough revive the person he loved most.
Now, Asami understood her father all too well. She understood anger in ways she never had before. Her feelings weren’t passion for a righteous cause, but true hatred. She wanted to break bones. Smell blood. Grind her pups’ would-be kidnappers under her heel until they screamed their last. She had hated Kuvira and Zaheer for trying to kill Korra, of course, but Korra was the Avatar, fully grown and more than capable of defending herself and others.
Yasu’s still so young, and Hiro can’t even walk or talk. Why them? Why my babies? How could anyone hurt someone so innocent?
Then again, hadn’t she been tempted to do the same? She would have beaten answers out of Ziwen all too happily mere minutes ago, and according to Korra, she was merely a civilian whose own pups were being held hostage. Causing any harm to the poor omega would have been wrong. That was the problem. Defense was one thing, violence another. It pained Asami to admit it, but Korra was right. She was losing herself, and she didn’t know how to change course.
Asami sidestepped a loud family of locals and passed another stall, this one smelling of ripe fruit. A cluster of gnats lingered near, and she swatted them away as she proceeded down the main thoroughfare. That pause caused her to catch sight of a slender, dark-haired alpha in red and yellow, and she immediately recognized Jinora. She raised her hand, preparing to wave, but paused when she noticed Jinora holding a whispered discussion with a nervous-looking beta vendor across the way.
Jinora caught Asami’s eye, adding a subtle nod that spoke volumes. Steer clear. Obviously, she was following up on some sort of lead, and didn’t want her source spooked. Asami turned away, pretending to browse a display of ornamental fans. All the while, she kept close watch on Jinora, until the alpha finally departed the stand with a swish of her red cloak.
Asami took that as her cue to head back in the direction of their bed and breakfast. A minute later, as expected, Jinora appeared by her side, casually matching her pace.
“Sheesh. What happened to you?”
“What makes you think something happened?” Asami asked, with enough frost in her tone to make Jinora’s eyebrows lift.
“Your face looks like a storm cloud, and your chi is pushing against mine like it has something to say.”
Asami blinked. “Sorry.” She breathed deeply and centered herself, attempting to find some small refuge of inner calm amidst the tempest of her emotions.
“It’s okay. I’m just concerned. Did something happen?”
“I killed someone,” Asami said, without preamble. Telling Jinora was probably unwise, she realized after she’d already spoken. Airbenders practiced nonviolence whenever possible, although Asami had long since learned that it hardly made them less formidable opponents.
The look Jinora gave her, however, wasn’t one of judgment, but tender concern. “What happened? Are you all right?”
“I’m fine,” Asami said. “The guy I killed, not so much.”
“Obviously, but you’ve killed people before. Was this time different in some way?”
Asami’s shoulders slumped. She wasn’t sure she wanted to discuss this with Jinora after all, but she’d opened the door, so she had little choice but to proceed. “It wasn’t a case of him or me. I already had him at my mercy.”
That pronouncement earned a noise of surprise and dismay from Jinora. “Why?”
They walked in silence for a little while longer, until they were free of the crowd. Guilt ate atI the pit Asami’s stomach, until she couldn’t stand it anymore. “I was so angry, Jinora. All I could think was, here’s part of the group who tried to take my pups. I wanted him to suffer like I’m suffering. What does that make me? A monster?”
Jinora stopped, turning to Asami and touching her shoulder. “No, it makes you a person in a lot of pain. But I think you already know that.”
Asami’s heart lifted the slightest bit. At least Jinora wasn’t offering outright condemnation, even though she probably deserved it. “So, what do I do?”
Jinora gave her shoulder a comforting squeeze. “You’re asking me, an airbender, what you should do. I think you already know the answer you need to hear.”
“The answer I need to hear and the answer I want to hear are probably different,” Asami admitted.
“What we want isn’t always what we need,” Jinora agreed.
Asami hung her head, closing her eyes for a moment. “When my father and I were reconciling, I pinned a lot of hope on the belief that our initial reactions to trauma don’t define us. But our choices do. It gave me a frame of reference to understand him.”
When she opened her eyes, Jinora was smiling again. “Maybe it’s time to follow your own advice?”
“Probably.” Asami shook herself, eager to move on to other topics. “What did that vendor say to you, by the way? It looked important.”
“It was,” Jinora said. “He told me about a military compound outside the city, a ways off to the west. It’s kind of an open secret here, since lots of supplies have gone missing in transit lately. Word on the street is, that’s where they end up.”
Asami felt her anger flare to life again. “Oh, really?”
“Let’s head back to our rooms. We’ll tell the others about the compound, and once it’s dark, we’ll check it out for ourselves.”
“What’s the point of waiting until dark?” Asami asked. “The bad guys already know we’re here, or they wouldn’t have made Ziwen lead us into a trap.”
“It’s still an advantage. Extra concealment for us, and their soldiers will be tired.”
“Let’s hope so,” Asami said as she and Jinora left the marketplace behind. Maybe tonight, they could put an end to all of this.
Asami trudged up the stairs of the bed and breakfast, studying the closed door of her room with worried eyes. According to the owner’s daughter, who’d been taking care of chores downstairs when she and Jinora returned, the others had already retired to their rooms, bringing Ziwen with them.
Standing one step behind, Jinora brushed the lower part of Asami’s back, a reassuring gesture. Her scent spoke of calm, unwavering support. Asami forced a weak but grateful smile. Jinora had always leaned into the better side of her alpha traits, and her chi radiated a gentle strength that Asami couldn’t help but find reassuring.
“Go talk to Korra,” Jinora said. “We aren’t making our move until dark anyway. There’ll be plenty of time to bring her up to speed before then, and finish questioning Ziwen too.”
“Maybe Ziwen can tell us more about the compound, even if she doesn’t know its location,” Asami said.
“Don’t worry about that right now. Mako, Bolin, and I can handle it. You need to talk to Korra. She’ll be able to help you better than I could.”
Asami’s smile spread a little. “Our conversation was pretty enlightening.”
Jinora chuckled. “I’m sure my dad would be proud.”
Placing a friendly kiss on Jinora’s cheek, Asami left her on the stairs, heading toward the closed door that had so daunted her before. She inhaled deeply, then knocked before pulling it open.
Korra was inside, alone. From her tense, upright posture and her position in the center of the room, Asami suspected she’d been pacing. Her brow furrowed as Asami closed the door, as though she didn’t know what to expect, but was bracing herself for another argument.
“I found Jinora,” Asami said, her tone neutral. “She learned the location of a secret military compound from one of the vendors. We want to investigate tonight.”
“Sounds promising.” Korra unfolded her hands from behind her back. The set of her shoulders relaxed. “Asami, I’m so—”
“No.” Asami held up a hand. “Don’t apologize. You were right. I shouldn’t have killed that man, and I shouldn’t have threatened Ziwen either. I’m letting my anger get the best of me. Just like…” She lapsed into silence, hoping Korra would understand.
Korra closed the distance between them, taking Asami’s upper arms gently in both hands. Their gazes locked, and Asami felt the pinprick of tears well in her eyes. “I know exactly why you’re angry. Why you want to make someone pay. But I know you, and I love you. You’re one of the kindest, gentlest people I know, and you have an enormous capacity to forgive.”
Briefly, Asami felt the anger she’d worked so hard to smother spark again. “I won’t forgive them for what they’re doing. What they tried to do. I won’t kill anyone else if I can help it, but I won’t forgive them. I can’t.”
“Me neither. I wouldn't expect you to forgive them, but you should forgive yourself. I see how much you're hurting.”
Asami’s eyes pricked with tears. Korra had grown into an incredibly balanced Avatar and person since they’d first met, and it was all the more apparent now, as she stared at Asami with nothing but empathy. No disgust, only acceptance and a desire to help.
For the first time in days, Asami broke down. She fell into Korra’s arms, heaving ugly sobs into the alpha’s shoulder. As her anger ebbed, other, more frightening emotions rushed in. Her rage had held them at bay, but no more. Fear, grief, and the cold emptiness she felt at the thought of her children being ripped away poured forth, unimpeded.
Not again… I can’t lose my family again…
“You haven’t lost us. You won’t.”
Asami hadn’t realized she’d cried aloud until Korra responded, holding her close and stroking her hair. “I can’t…”
There was no way Korra could make that kind of promise. More than anyone else, Asami knew how vulnerable the Avatar truly was. Hadn’t she seen Korra nearly die countless times? But in her vulnerable state, Asami had to trust someone. To put her faith in something. She had to.
She held Korra in a fierce embrace, continuing to weep long after her sobs became faint hiccups. Several times, she tried to let go, only to find that she couldn’t. Holding Korra in her arms proved that ‘nearly dead’ wasn’t the same as dead, and that knowledge—reinforced by Korra’s warmth, breathing, and heartbeat—was the only thing keeping Asami sane.
Korra cupped Asami’s cheek, urging her to lift her chin. Asami did so, though her eyes stung and her lips trembled.
“Tell me what you need.”
That was a question Asami could easily answer, an anchor of certainty amidst a storm of emotion. Mating with Korra had gotten her through worse. At least this time, they weren’t facing the end of the world as they knew it, although Asami felt like her world might crumble at any moment. She resorted to what she knew. To what had helped in the past.
She kissed Korra with everything she had, and Korra accepted her—anger, mistakes, and all.
The long-awaited sex scene! Warning for anal, but it's pretty classy and tender, if I do say so myself. Unless anal is a major squick for you, the average reader should be fine with it.
Korra tensed as Asami’s lips captured hers, tasting like salt. Like grief and desperation. It was a call for compassion she couldn’t ignore. Tenderly, she cupped Asami’s cheeks, wiping the tear-streaks away. “I’m here,” she whispered, allowing their breaths to mingle. “I’m here, Asami.”
Asami clung to Korra’s shirt, looking at her with wet, shining eyes. “Korra. Please.”
Korra’s heart ached. There was audible pain in Asami’s voice, pain she wanted nothing more than to soothe. If her mate had finished talking, there was only one way to help. She considered the bed, but decided against it. Part of her feared Asami might withdraw if she was too tender. Might decide she didn’t deserve comfort after all.
Instead, Korra backed Asami into the wall. The omega looped both arms around her neck, combing frantic fingers through her hair. The contact sent shivers down her spine, and she groaned as she took Asami’s mouth again. They both needed this. She felt it in the way Asami trembled, in the way her own body melted at the mere thought of release—not just a physical release, but an emotional one.
Undoing her own pants was difficult, since their bodies were pressed so close. Asami seemed disinclined to help, too busy kissing and clinging to be of assistance, but eventually, Korra managed to unfasten her fly and ease her cock out. Already half-hard, it swelled as soon as she touched it, giving an almost painful twitch as Asami’s hand batted hers away.
The nonverbal command was clear: No, let me.
Korra had meant to establish and keep control, but found herself shaking as Asami squeezed her cock, thumb rolling across its tip. She buried her face in Asami’s shoulder, groaning as heat unspooled in her belly. With one touch, she was already helpless.
Asami pumped her length, pausing to gather her wetness at the top of each stroke. And there was plenty of wetness. In a matter of seconds, Korra had become a fountain. She throbbed, fighting the urge to come. Only a few seconds had passed. How was she already so close? Need, maybe. The need to connect with her mate. To comfort Asami and be comforted in turn.
But a handjob wouldn’t provide everything they both wanted. After placing a wet, open kiss onto Asami’s mating mark, and enjoying the shudder that resulted, Korra collected what little remained of her focus in order to remove Asami’s pants. Her fingers fumbled with the buttons, but eventually, she shoved the waistband past Asami’s hips.
Another moment of awkwardness followed as Asami attempted to toe out of her boots without bending down. With a huff, she gave up and let go of Korra’s cock, causing it to bob and pulse against the air. Korra kicked off her own shoes and shucked her pants and waistwrap, peeling her shirt over her head.
They came back together as soon as they’d stripped—or sooner, since Asami’s shirt was merely unbuttoned and her bra hadn’t been unfastened. Korra cupped Asami’s breasts through the fabric, running both thumbs over the points of her nipples where the peaks poked through.
“I love you,” she said, with all the affection and sincerity she could muster. “I’ll always love you, no matter what.”
“I know.” Asami hooked a knee around Korra’s hip, tilting her pelvis forward. “Now show me.”
Reluctant though she was to abandon Asami’s breasts, Korra couldn’t deny her mate’s need. She heard it in her voice. Smelled it in her scent. Felt it prickling beneath her burning skin. Bracing her forearm on the wall, Korra slid her other hand down Asami’s side, over her hip, beneath the swell of her ass. With her hold established, she rubbed her shaft through Asami’s wetness, gasping at the soft heat.
Need pulled deep within Korra’s belly. Her cock pounded, but it wasn’t merely the sensation of warm, silky pressure she craved. She wanted to watch the expression of relief, perhaps even bliss, that would cross Asami’s face as she slid inside. She wanted to feel her mate clench around her and know each pleasurable ripple was her doing. She wanted to give Asami everything, without reservation.
“I will,” she mumbled into Asami’s mouth, kissing her and pushing inside her at the same time.
It took Korra a moment to work her cockhead in, even with Asami dripping and rocking against her, trying to help. No matter how frequently they mated, Korra was always taken aback by how tight Asami was. She tensed as her tip sank forward, breaking the kiss to pant against Asami’s lips. “Are you okay? I’m not going too fast, am I?”
Asami nipped her bottom lip, digging a heel into the back of her thigh. That wordless reassurance was all Korra needed. She slid another inch inside, relishing the helpless whines each shallow thrust earned.
For a moment, her own need got the better of her. She had to move faster. Deeper. More. She pumped the rest of the way in without meeting any more resistance, groaning as Asami clenched around her.
After the first thrust, they became lost in each other. Korra brought her other hand to Asami’s rear as well, urging the omega to lift her legs. Asami’s ankles locked behind her waist, and then they were rocking, kissing, breathing as one.
Though her hands and mouth didn’t have much room to explore in the position they’d chosen, Korra tried to make the most of each stroke. She dragged her cock against Asami’s front wall whenever she withdrew, grinding her pubic bone into Asami’s clit at the apex of every thrust.
The sounds Asami spilled into her mouth became higher, sweeter. “Korra,” she gasped, kissing along Korra’s jawline to tug the lobe of her ear. “Harder. Take me harder.”
But Korra didn’t thrust harder. She claimed Asami with the same steady, deliberate strokes, unwilling to make it hurt. Not this time. That might be what she thinks she deserves, but it isn’t. And it isn’t what she needs, either. Korra was certain, even though Asami hadn’t said so in actual words.
“No,” she crooned, shivering as Asami continued tugging her ear, trying to tempt her. “Trust me. I’ll take care of you.”
Asami made a sound that was more sob than moan, and not entirely pleasurable. She tightened her legs around Korra’s hips, giving up on her ear and biting the side of her neck with blunt teeth.
Korra hissed, then grunted softly as Asami’s nails dug into her back, but didn’t take the bait. She continued thrusting slowly, carefully, reverently, until Asami stopped biting and scratching and began clinging to her instead.
After that, everything became a chain reaction. Driven by Asami’s moan, Korra grasped Asami’s rear with greedy hands, thrusting the slightest bit harder. Asami tensed, then shuddered, eyes rolling back and head lolling to one side. Wet heat gushed around Korra’s cock, spilling trails of come down both their thighs as her mate’s inner walls rippled.
Korra carried her through, relying on every bit of control she had to keep her movements gentle but deliberate. Asami’s hips jerked against hers, as if seeking roughness and relentlessness and punishment, but Korra refused to give in. Even as her own orgasm hit, causing her entire length to throb and its base to inflate with a heavy knot, she kissed Asami with all the sweetness she possessed, determined to offer comfort above all else.
By the time Asami’s peak faded, the omega was a trembling, uncertain mess. She slumped forward, burying her nose in Korra’s neck as her pussy twitched with aftershocks. Korra stole a few more uneven strokes, panting as come continued pulsing from her cock. One orgasm hadn’t been enough, at least not for her, and her knot still ached with fullness, but Asami already seemed much more relaxed.
“It’s okay,” she whispered, nuzzling Asami’s hair. “I’ve got you.”
Asami’s fingers flexed against her back, stroking instead of scratching. “Thank you.”
“Thank you. But we aren’t done yet.”
Once she was sure she wouldn’t lose her footing, Korra carried Asami to the bed at long last. She withdrew and laid her mate down as gently as she could, glad she’d had the self-restraint to avoid knotting. Asami had been more than wet enough, but it made relocating easier.
“It hurts a little less now,” Asami said, staring up at her with glistening eyes.
Korra climbed on top, bracing her weight on one elbow. She stroked Asami’s cheek with her other hand, tucking a stray lock of hair behind her ear. “But it still hurts?”
“Yes.” Asami gave her a sorrowful smile. “Everything hurts these past few days.”
“I know. But I’m here, and you’re so strong, Asami. You are.”
Asami laughed, as though she wanted to dismiss the compliment, but Korra didn’t allow it. Her heart was so full of love, overwhelmed by the instinct to protect and comfort. Asami’s feelings were her own, and if there was any way she could continue providing even the smallest bit of relief…
Korra dipped down, placing the softest possible kiss on Asami’s lips before descending to her collarbone. She took her time there, nipping and sucking her omega’s sensitive, pale skin, though never hard enough to leave bruises. When she reached Asami’s mating mark, she inhaled deeply, savoring their mingled scents. As always, the scar felt comforting and familiar against her lips.
This isn’t just for Asami. It’s for me, too. For us.
Asami ran her fingers through Korra’s hair, urging her lower. “Keep going,” she said, and Korra obliged, kissing down to Asami’s breasts. Her nipples were already stiff, straining through the lace of her bra. Honestly, Korra had forgotten she was still wearing it. She took one of the peaks into her mouth, fabric and all, and rolled her tongue over and around until the lace was damp, relishing the tiny whimpers Asami made.
Soon, Korra had pulled the cups beneath Asami’s breasts for full access. The omega’s reddened nipples, already swollen from sucking, gleamed with wetness. Asami tightened her grip on Korra’s hair and rocked forward, smearing slickness along her abdomen. “Your mouth feels so good… please, more… please please please… ”
Korra took her time traveling down Asami’s stomach, scattering kisses randomly, often backtracking to tease and soothe her nipples some more. She finally helped Asami out of her bra and wrinkled blouse, tossing them aside before filling her hands with the omega’s bare breasts. She kneaded and squeezed, rolling the hardened tips between her fingers with the utmost gentleness.
The hand on her head pushed down, and Asami stared at her with burning green eyes. “Korra, I need…”
Overcome, Korra gave Asami’s nipples one last tug and ducked beneath her knees, spreading her thighs wide. Asami’s pussy was the most beautiful thing she’d ever laid eyes on, seashell pink and still leaking strands of white come. The sight of it running between her puffy, parted lips got the better of Korra for a moment. Her cock pulsed, achingly hard again, but she stuck to plan, sweeping her tongue through the delicious mess without a moment’s hesitation.
Asami’s hips lifted off the bed, obviously seeking more, but Korra kept her tongue flat, refusing to offer more. She took her time, using slow, broad strokes until Asami’s moans became too desperate to ignore. Only then did she wrap her lips around Asami’s clit and suck.
Buried between Asami’s thighs, it was easier than ever to read the omega’s body. Korra pushed her own need aside, focusing entirely on her mate: on the way Asami’s thighs tensed, the way her breath hitched, the way she pulsed whenever Korra increased the pressure of her mouth.
“Please!” Within a matter of minutes, that became Asami’s new mantra. Please, please, please, over and over again, more of a desperate whine than a word.
Korra’s chest tingled with warmth and pride, the first truly positive feelings she’d experienced in several days. Maybe the world wasn’t completely crumbling around them after all. Her relationship with Asami, at least, was far from ruined. She could still bring her mate comfort, pleasure, and release. She wasn’t useless for failing to bring those who’d tried to harm her family to justice yet.
Perhaps if she’d been in a more teasing mood, she might have drawn things out longer, but Korra was suddenly desperate to make Asami come again. To taste her love’s need. She released Asami’s clit and slid her tongue lower, pushing as deep as possible. Although it couldn’t apply the same pressure as her fingers or cock, Korra was determined. She curled until her jaw ached, and it worked. Asami went rigid, tightening her fingers in Korra’s hair.
This time, when Asami came, she was utterly silent, as if all the air had been sucked out of the room. Korra’s own head spun, and her lungs burned, but she remained still, allowing Asami to grind against her face and spill into her mouth. Wetness ran down her chin, but she didn’t bother licking it up, no matter how much she adored her mate’s taste. She kept her tongue extended, using her nose and upper lip to stimulate Asami’s clit.
It was Asami who made her stop. Suddenly, Korra felt her head being pulled away. She rumbled, displeased, but the sound became an uncertain groan as Asami rose onto her knees, reversing their positions. Suddenly, Korra found herself flat on her back, gasping as Asami sank down onto her cock again.
The tight heat was almost too good. Her length twitched, and the need she’d buried in favor of pleasing her mate came rushing back, twice as powerful as before. “Don’t,” Korra panted even as her hands settled on Asami’s hips, encouraging her to ride. “I’ll come again.”
“Want you to come,” Asami said, staring down at her with eyes that weren’t quite as tortured as Korra remembered. There was a spark in them now, one she recognized as determination. “But not in my pussy. Be patient.”
After a few more strokes, during which Korra tried her best to follow Asami’s completely unfair demands, she learned what her mate had in mind. Asami lifted up, leaving her to strain against the cool air, before lowering again, reaching a hand between their bodies to position Korra’s tip at her other entrance.
Korra gritted her teeth, digging her nails into Asami’s hips. She hadn’t been expecting that at all. Asami’s pussy was impossibly tight, but her ass was like a vise, sometimes too tight for comfort. Not this time. With Asami on top, and her cock already slick with their mingled wetness, there was less resistance than usual. Korra huffed as she sank inside, fighting not to thrust.
“It’s okay,” Asami said, taking both of Korra’s hands in hers. She squeezed them, lacing their fingers until Korra couldn’t tell whose hands were trembling more. “It doesn’t hurt. You can move.”
Korra groaned with relief, rutting her hips upward. It took a few thrusts, but she managed to push all the way inside. Her eyes fluttered at the overwhelming tightness, the smooth heat that gripped every inch of her cock, but she forced them open anyway. She needed to see Asami’s face, to make sure she was all right with the new penetration.
Asami was more than all right. Her eyes were closed, chin tucked to her chest, but her lips were spread in a beautiful, open-mouthed smile that made Korra’s heart clench with love and adoration. Her mate made the most adorable, encouraging noises each time Korra pushed up, and soon joined in the rhythm herself, rocking downward.
“You’re beautiful,” Korra told her, in a slightly strangled voice. “So beautiful.” She was already on the verge of coming, and her knot, which she hadn’t buried yet, ached with envy at the way Asami’s muscles milked her shaft.
“I…” Asami slowed their rhythm for a moment, as if to collect herself. “I don’t know how you see that in me, but I believe you.”
Korra squeezed Asami’s hands tighter, offering support, helping her mate retain balance as they resumed their rise and fall. “It’s there. It’s always there. Promise.”
Asami took Korra’s right hand, guiding it between her legs, and Korra indulged the wordless request, sliding two fingers inside her pussy and rolling a thumb over her clit. She felt the shaft of her own cock stretching Asami’s other channel, moving within, and the sensation drove her wild. A growl vibrated within her chest, and it was all she could do not to surge up and take Asami’s shoulder between her teeth. Not to mark, but to connect.
Soon, however, she was left gasping on her back as Asami sank down further than usual, teasing the top of her knot. Korra’s head spun, and she forgot how to breathe. The grip was like nothing she’d ever felt—she didn’t often fuck Asami’s ass, and even when she did, she rarely knotted, simply because it was so tight. But this time, Asami seemed determined, even eager, to take her. All of her.
“Be careful,” Korra groaned when she remembered how to move her lips.
Asami ignored her, grinding on her knot and rocking forward into her fingers. The muscles of her pussy fluttered, and slowly, her rear entrance stretched, taking Korra’s knot inside centimeter by centimeter. At last, there was a quiet click and a short lurch forward, and Korra threw her head back and arched her spine as her knot slotted into place.
After that, she couldn’t hold back her peak. Her hips jerked, and she came in a torrent, spilling everything she had. Asami squeezed and fluttered around her cock and fingers, coming as well, pouring slick, clear fluid into the palm of her hand. Korra gave her fingers a few thoughtless curls, but was mostly too distracted to help. She remained lost in her own orgasm, unable to do anything more than gasp and rut upward with each spurt.
“That’s it,” Asami sighed, her face still the picture of bliss. Her eyes had closed, but her smile remained, radiating pure happiness. “Come in me, Korra.”
Regaining a little of her shattered self-control, Korra removed her free hand from Asami’s hips, using it to push her upper body off the bed. Braced on her fist, she angled herself so her mouth could reach Asami’s breasts, taking a nipple between her lips and sucking hungrily. She lavished it with tongue and teeth, pulling harder whenever Asami clenched around her cock.
Her efforts were rewarded with more hot streams from Asami’s pussy, and even harsher pulses inside. Korra sucked in a daze, still grinding her hips, trying to bury her knot deeper even though it was utterly impossible. She and Asami were locked together, alpha and omega, just as they were supposed to be.
Only when she had nothing more to give did Korra release Asami’s breast, collapsing back onto the mattress and breathing heavily. Her hairline dripped with sweat, and her limbs trembled with exhaustion even though Asami had been doing most of the work. Her mate had utterly drained her. She groaned as Asami shifted, bending down to rest a cheek against her chest. Korra wrapped an arm around her, welcoming her weight and warmth.
“Feel better, sweetheart?” she asked, kissing the top of Asami’s head. Their heights were different than usual, with Asami still astride her.
“Much. Thank you.”
Korra gave a laugh that was mostly air. “You’re thanking me again, when you’re the one who let me eat you and knot your ass? I’m the luckiest alpha in the world.”
“There was no ‘let’ about any of that,” Asami said. “I needed it. I needed…you.” She rested her chin on Korra’s collarbone and lifted her dreamy-eyed gaze, looking more at peace than Korra had seen her in what felt like ages.
Korra stroked circles on Asami’s back, even though she didn’t seem to need soothing anymore. “You have me. Always. And I won’t run away when things get tough. Not this time.”
“I know. No matter how awful I’ve felt the past few days, I was never afraid you’d leave.”
Korra’s heart fluttered. “Really?”
“Of course. That fear is long gone. I trust you.”
“And I trust you to make the right calls. You’re a good person, Asami. We all get angry sometimes, but I know you’ll get through this. We’ll do it together.”
“Right.” Asami raised her head, kissing the tip of Korra’s nose, then rested on her shoulder, sighing deeply. “Together.”
Sorry! I know I haven't updated this since March, but I had two novels that needed my attention: a space opera and Lucky 8. Enjoy!
General Ho’s compound was exactly where the fruit vendor had said it would be, slightly west of the city. They approached by night, with Korra and Jinora flying ahead to pinpoint the exact location. That left Asami to wait with Mako and Bolin, whose shadowy, serious expressions made them look more alike than usual in the darkness.
“How many soldiers do you think General Ho has?” Bolin whispered, hidden in the shadow of a tall rock formation. It was the only cover around. The landscape outside the city had very little vegetation, which explained why things were so difficult for the villagers. With Ho’s forces blocking their trade routes, food was likely scarcer than usual.
Mako sighed. He held a wisp of pale orange fire in his hand, their only source of light other than the crescent moon. “No way to tell. We’ll just have to wait for Korra and Jinora.”
Asami pursed her lips, fighting a tight ball of anger in her chest. Making love with Korra that afternoon had eased the worst of her inner turmoil, but controlling her anger wouldn’t be easy. Her rage was still here, boiling just beneath the surface. A bloodthirsty, vengeful part of her hoped Ho had lots of soldiers, and that the majority wouldn’t surrender. Her fingers twitched inside her glove.
“Maybe we should come back during the day,” Bolin said, “so we can get a better idea of their numbers.”
“It would be easier for them to spot us in daylight,” Mako said. “Korra and Jinora know what they’re doing.”
Asami unclenched her gloved fist. She doubted their course of action would be left up to her, anyway. Korra listened to her teammates’ ideas, but as the Avatar, she would likely make the final decision on how to handle Ho’s forces. That was probably for the best.
“What if there’s too many for the five of us?” Bolin asked, his voice rising nervously. Asami sympathized. He had never handled waiting or silence all that well. The tense atmosphere was getting to her, too. Her heart drummed far too fast, and she tasted copper in her mouth.
Mako lifted his narrow shoulders in a shrug, adjusting his scarf. “Call for backup from Republic City, I suppose.”
Before either of them could speculate further, Asami caught sight of twin shadows drifting overhead, passing in front of the moon. She recognized the silhouettes. “Shhh. Korra and Jinora are back.” She was proven right as they touched down a few yards away. Korra closed her glider, returning it to her back, while Jinora lowered her arms.
“The compound’s small from what we saw,” Korra said, striding toward them at a fast clip.
“Only a few sentries,” Jinora confirmed. “I think they’re trying to run a stealth operation out here, even though rumors have gotten around.”
Asami licked her lips. A smaller operation meant Korra might decide they should go in and neutralize the threat themselves. Part of her wanted that with a violent hunger that frightened her. Maybe she’d get the chance for vengeance after all…
No. Don’t think that way. You’re better than this.
“What kind of stealth operation?” Mako asked. “If Ho isn’t raising an army, what’s he doing?”
Korra’s brow furrowed. “That’s what we need to find out. I think we should sneak in, see what he’s up to, and put a stop to it.”
“Agreed,” Jinora said. “It’s not a huge place. We stand a decent chance.”
“Are you sure about this?” Bolin asked. “I’m all for stopping bad guys, but things could go bad really fast.”
“I agree with Bolin,” Mako said. “We don’t have enough information. What’s the harm in waiting for backup, now that we’ve confirmed there’s a compound here threatening the city?”
All four of them looked at Asami, wordlessly asking for her input. She swallowed, hesitating. She’d almost talked herself out of sharing her opinion, but having been asked, she couldn’t resist. “I want this to end. These are the people who tried to take my pups. I can’t let them get away with it.”
She waited, expecting one or all of her companions to object. No one did.
Bolin gave her a concerned but understanding look. As the only other parent in the group besides Korra, the knit of his bushy eyebrows was especially sympathetic. “Okay, Asami.”
“You two were the ones who saw the compound up close,” Mako conceded, turning to Korra and Jinora. “If you think we can sneak in, I trust your judgment.”
“This is the best way,” Jinora said. “If we bring an army, people are bound to get hurt on both sides. If we’re quick and clever, we might be able to figure out General Ho’s plan and neutralize the threat ourselves.”
Asami looked to Korra. To her surprise, her mate offered a reassuring smile. “Let’s do this. Team Avatar’s handled scarier stuff than infiltrating a dinky compound, right?”
“Right,” a chorus of voices agreed.
With the support of her friends, Asami’s confidence rose. Yes! This would end tonight. The scales of justice would finally be balanced. She could return to her family and her life, knowing they would be safe.
Asami crept ahead of Mako and Bolin, shock glove at the ready. Their scheme was simple. Ho’s compound was surrounded by fifteen feet of tented razor wire, with only one entrance. Two guards stood watch there, while others patrolled the border in pairs. Korra and Jinora would slip over the rear wall with airbending, while the rest snuck in through the front gate. Once inside, they’d scout different sides of the compound.
Not the most detailed plan, but they had the element of surprise on their side.
Asami spotted the guards before they noticed her: two men in shabby Earth Empire uniforms which looked like they’d seen better days, even in darkness. Scrubby, and more than a little threadbare around the knees. One swallowed a yawn while the other gazed in the opposite direction, absently scratching the seat of his pants.
The poor fools never saw her coming.
Asami felled the first sentry with a sweeping kick, knocking his legs out from under him. While he lay prone, struggling to understand what had happened, she stepped on his chest, knocking him out with a well-placed blow between the eyes. She removed her foot as his head hit the ground, but not before wiping her boot free of dust on his uniform. Trying to keep her targets alive left her feeling a bit spiteful.
Beside her, Bolin had turned the earth beneath the second sentry into quicksand, sealing him up to his midsection. His cries stopped abruptly, not because Bolin had smothered him, but because Mako held a jet of flame beside his face, a jutting red dagger in the night. The guard trembled. His lips moved soundlessly, eyes shining with fear.
“Don’t be too gentle,” Mako warned Bolin. “Otherwise, they scream.” He dispatched the second guard with a hard knock on the head, sans flame.
Asami understood. He was probably remembering his time in Kuvira’s army, before her unnatural experiments came to light. Some of these people were true authoritarian loyalists, but others were simply misguided. She tried to keep that in mind as they leaned the unconscious guards against the wall. Perhaps from a distance, other patrols circling the compound would think they were dozing. It might buy an extra minute or two before someone sounded the alarm.
The heavy wooden doors of the gate were another problem. Since blasting them open would draw unwanted attention, Mako melted the metal bolt, singing the wood and making the air smell faintly of smoke. He and Bolin pushed the doors open, though Asami winced at the loud groan of the hinges.
The compound’s interior appeared deserted, probably because its inhabitants were sleeping. It was small, from what Asami could tell. A training field took up most of the space, with stacks of earthen discs for bending and several practice dummies. Nearby was a one-story building, the largest of three consecutive structures.
Asami headed in that direction, but Mako scowled and shook his head. He nodded back at the unconscious guards by the gate, then the building. So, he thinks that’s the barracks? A decent guess, Asami supposed. General Ho’s followers had to sleep somewhere, and it was the largest building available.
Turning away from the supposed barracks, she crept for the smaller building behind, taking cover in the shadow of the wall. Mako and Bolin followed, their faint steps the only sounds Asami heard. Once she was close enough, she crouched and ran for the nearest window, peeking over its sill.
An eerie purple glow pulsed within the dark room, illuminating several cluttered workstations. Folders, charts, scattered wires, and metal littered the crowded space. Behind the desks were phosphorescent green tubes, nearly as tall as she was, and within…
Cold sweat rolled down Asami’s spine. The sight tugged her memory, dragging her back in time to a place of breathless fear. A place where she screamed, hand outstretched, as buildings crumbled and her father’s hummingbird suit was crushed before her eyes. A place that smelled of smoke and tasted like blood.
Asami ducked back beneath the sill, blinking away tears. There was no reason to examine the strange, phosphorescent green tubes that housed the purple glow. No need to sneak inside and study them further. She knew what General Ho’s soldiers—or rather, his scientists—were working on. Even if her eyes were playing tricks, she felt it in her chi, the swirl of unstable spirit energy.
How dare he? After all the destruction Kuvira’s spirit vine cannon caused to Republic City? She wanted to slay General Ho and his soldiers more than ever now, regardless of the damage it might do to her own soul.
Shaking, she left the window, scurrying back to Mako and Bolin. “We have to leave,” she whispered. “Ho’s experimenting with spirit vines. I hate to admit it, but we need backup.”
“Seriously?” Bolin hissed.
Mako adopted a surly frown. “Right. Let’s find Korra and—” Shouts and the rapid thud of bootsteps cut off whatever he had been about to say. Then, a high-pitched scream. Asami rose from her crouch and sprinted around the corner of the building, kicking up a shower of dust behind her boots.
Asami ignored Bolin and kept running. She’d felt that scream within her very bones. It was just like Yasuko’s had been on that horrible night. A pup in distress, frightened for their life. Not hers this time, but that didn’t matter. She was a mother, and a pup needed her. She barrelled around the corner…
… and directly into a complement of soldiers, wearing Earth Empire uniforms.
Asami fell into a defensive stance: body tilted sideways, knees bent, glove raised to protect her face. With a sickening surge of realization, she scanned the soldiers before her. Ten total, in full armor. How had so many people convened on the building without her noticing? Why hadn’t she heard them?
“Asami, don’t move,” a familiar voice called.
Only then did Asami see Jinora, standing on the opposite side of the training field. With her was Korra, holding the hand of a small pup. A dirty, torn nightshirt hung off the tiny creature’s frame, and Asami caught the scent of fear on the breeze. Another pup hid behind Korra’s leg, clinging to her skirt. Judging from their size, the bigger one couldn’t be much older than Yasuko.
Behind Korra, Jinora, and the pups were ten more soldiers. They didn’t carry weapons, nor had they adopted bending stances. Instead, they brandished their outstretched arms like spears. Unsettling purple light surrounded their fists, much like the light Asami had seen inside the building.
Mako and Bolin came to a running stop slightly behind her. They took in the same scene she did, and the flames around Mako’s fists died in an instant. Loose rocks fell back to the ground as Bolin lowered his arms.
“Oh no,” he gasped.
“Are those Ziwen’s pups?” Mako asked.
Asami couldn’t tell from a distance, but they were someone’s pups. That was reason enough to lower her glove.
“I see we have more guests,” said a middle aged man with a long, drooping grey mustache and matching beard. He stepped out from the group of soldiers behind Korra and the others, brandishing his own fist of purple light. “I was hoping the Avatar would drop in, but I didn’t think the incomparable Mrs. Sato would do me the same honor. Tell me, what do you think of my latest invention?”
Korra dug the soles of her boots into the dusty training field, bending her knees and raising both fists. Instead of launching an attack, she remained still as stone—watching, waiting as General Ho approached. The man wasn’t at all what she had expected. A middle-aged, subdued-looking beta stood before her, his only notable feature a long grey mustache.
In the past, she would have snuffed him out where he stood. Blasted the smug look from his face with fire, or whipped him off-balance with a gust of air. But she wasn’t that Korra anymore. She wasn’t alone, either. Two young pups clung to her skirts, their tear-streaked cheeks shining in the eerie purple glow. When she’d found them locked in a shed on the other side of the compound, she’d promised to return them to their mother. She couldn’t fight General Ho head-on without endangering them.
A few yards away, her companions had the same thoughts. Mako’s flames died, leaving the training field darker, while Bolin dropped clods of earth and loose rock. Asami lowered her glove, if only slightly. Korra exhaled in relief. Of the three, she’d feared Asami’s potential lack of restraint most.
That might change, however, if General Ho insisted on monologuing. “Judging from your lack of response, Mrs. Sato, I suppose a demonstration is in order. Captain Kwong? If you would be so kind.”
A beta soldier emerged from the group of ten near Asami, Mako, and Bolin. She was tall and willowy, with pale skin and darting eyes. She aimed her glowing glove and fired at one of the training dummies. One moment, it stood still in the darkness, little more than a silhouette. Then, a flash of purple. A low-pitched whirr. Before Korra could so much as blink, the dummy was in pieces. Trails of smoke drifted from the wreckage, dissolving into the air and spreading a faint, singed odor.
Korra’s heart raced. She’d dealt with hand-to-hand weapons before. Shock gloves, stun batons, metal cables, and improvised weapons of all kinds. Even giant mechas with flamethrowers and lightning zappers attached. This was different. She questioned whether her reactions, quick as they were, would be fast enough to block one of the purple beams. She’d been right to hesitate.
“You have our attention,” Asami snarled, lips peeled back from her teeth. “What do you want, Ho?”
General Ho spread his arms and addressed Asami with his hands outstretched, as if he posed no threat at all. “The unconditional release of our Great Uniter, of course.”
“So we’re hostages?” Korra asked. “You want to exchange us for Kuvira?”
“To start.” General Ho lifted his fist, admiring the glove he wore. “The Great Uniter should be most pleased to hear of our recent developments.”
Korra studied his glove, too. Unfortunately, most of the outer material was leather. She doubted she could yank it off his hand with metalbending. Clever bastard. I bet all the tiny metal bits are encased in platinum, too.
General Ho noticed her stare. “Do you like it, Avatar? The cannon Varrick and Baatar Junior designed was a marvel of engineering, but so large and clunky! Slow to fire, and easy to dismantle from within.” He clenched his fist, showing off the nozzle attached to the back of the glove. It ran down his forearm, ending at a small electrical box near his elbow. “My version is much simpler. Often the best equipment is compact, straightforward, and mass-produced. Surely your mate agrees.”
Asami’s eyes flashed with fury. “I wouldn’t trust myself with that kind of weapon, let alone a jackbooted thug who kidnaps children.”
General Ho pressed his open palm to his chest, as if he were hurt. “The entire point of taking hostages is to avoid bloodshed.” He looked to Jinora. “You should agree with me, airbender. Your people advocate for nonviolence whenever possible.”
Jinora glared at him almost as angrily as Asami. “You call this nonviolent? Any use of force that threatens children isn’t worth the end result, no matter how noble. And the results you want are far from noble.”
General Ho sighed. “I suppose sensible cooperation was too much to hope for. Never mind. Once Kuvira is released, I will let you all go free anyway. Those of us who believe in the Earth Empire will reclaim what Republic City wrongfully seized and dismantled. Those who disagree needn’t be harmed, as long as they stay out of our way. With my new weapons to protect us, the rest of the world—and its Avatar—will stay out of our affairs.”
“What are you even talking about?” Bolin shouted. “The Earth Kingdom is part of the world. You can’t just isolate yourselves like some kind of fortress. Look, I know how charismatic Kuvira is. I worked for her—”
“Save it, Bolin,” Korra said. “Kuvira doesn’t even know this is going on. If they release her, she won’t want any part of this.”
General Ho’s smile vanished. His brows lowered, and he looked genuinely taken aback. “Of course she will. This is the fulfillment of her dream.”
“Kuvira surrendered, Ho,” Korra said. “She knows that she and the Earth Empire lost balance. In fact, she’s the one who tipped me off about you.”
General Ho pointed his fist directly at her, the line of his jaw bunching. “You’re lying.”
“I visited her myself. She’s renounced all her previous actions.”
General Ho’s angry expression relaxed, although he didn’t lower his hand. Korra found his new, peaceful smile even more unsettling than his glare. “You threw her in prison, so she told you what you wanted to hear. Do you really think she regrets everything she worked so hard to build? She brought the Earth Empire into the modern era. People will have better lives because of her, because of us, for years to come.”
Korra’s mind raced as the general brandished his gloved fist. Arguing was getting them nowhere. Clearly, General Ho had no intention of surrendering, or believing that Kuvira had come to regret her stint as the Great Uniter. He hadn’t gone to the spirit world with them. He hadn’t seen the horror and heartbreak on Kuvira’s face as she realized the gravity of what she’d done. No one else understood Kuvira as she was now, not the way Korra did.
“That may be true, but your miniature cannon isn’t the same as Satomobiles and train tracks.” As Korra spoke, she saw Jinora’s boot shift on the ground, causing a tiny spray of dust. She caught the other alpha’s eye, giving the barest of nods before fixing her attention back on the general. If this was going to work, she had to keep him talking. “Its only purpose is to kill. I can’t let you use it.”
General Ho frowned, seeming genuinely regretful. “Then I’m afraid we are at an impasse, Avat—ahh!”
A plume of dust exploded around them, puffing up from the ground in a choking cloud. Jinora sliced her arms through the air, summoning a whirling sphere of wind large enough to shield all four of them. Korra realized that was her cue. She stamped, creating a pit directly underfoot. They dropped into the earth below the training field, well out of firing range.
Somewhere above, General Ho’s soldiers coughed and sputtered. Purple beams flashed overhead, followed by more whirring noises, but thanks to the cloud of dust and the cover of darkness, they couldn’t see well enough to aim. Jinora’s plan had worked!
“Stay down,” Korra told Ziwen’s pups, urging them to lie on their stomachs. “I promise you’ll be safe.” They obeyed, throwing their arms over their heads and curling into tiny balls. When she straightened again, her eyes flashed white. This nonsense had gone on far too long. She was the Avatar, and no mere machine could stop her. She leapt out of the pit, propelled by a spray of fire from soles of her feet.
Instead of dispersing the dust cloud, she concentrated on her chi, as Toph had taught her. She focused on her energy, and the energy of all the enemies around her. She dispatched one soldier with a rock to the face, and a second with the metal helmet of the first, tossing them both several feet away.
A purple beam scorched past her shoulder, but she whirled away, walking with her weight on her toes, hands like two blades below her chin. When a third soldier made the mistake of grabbing for her, she sent him flying with a column of fire.
Asami’s voice, high and frantic.
Korra threw herself to the ground just in time to avoid a blast from General Ho’s glove. The beta had retreated to the edge of the dust cloud, where he could see and breathe. His mustache flared as he coughed, steadying his fist with the opposite hand. He prepared to fire again, but Asami was faster. She emerged from the fog like an avenging shadow, a spirit of nightmare and fury. She swept General Ho’s legs out from under him with a low kick, and Korra thought she heard the snapping of bone as he fell to his knees.
“Everyone stop,” Asami shouted, ripping the general’s glove off and seizing him by the hair, “or I’ll fry your commander’s brain.”
The fighting stopped. As Jinora’s dust storm died away, Korra took in the results of the skirmish. The pups were still cowering in the hole she’d made. Bolin stood on top of one guard, holding a spinning shuriken of lava beside another’s head. Meanwhile, Mako was looking sadly at the singed edge of his scarf.
“I can’t believe this,” he muttered, kicking the shoulder of a groaning soldier at his feet. “You couldn’t have fired at literally any other part of my body?”
“Not important right now, bro,” Bolin said, nodding to where General Ho knelt in the dirt.
“It’s my scarf,” Mako protested.
Korra looked back at Asami. Her mate wasn’t listening to Mako’s complaints, or watching the soldiers who remained standing. She was focused completely on General Ho, her green eyes burning brighter than the spirit vines her prisoner had weaponized.
“You have to understand,” General Ho said, his eyes rolled upward to look at Asami, “I didn’t want to use these weapons—”
“Then why develop them?” Asami’s face twisted with disgust as her fist tightened in his mussed grey hair. “Why abduct my pups? They had nothing to do with this.” She didn’t wait for General Ho’s answer. She punched him square in the face, knocking him down into the dirt. He wheezed, blood leaking from his nose and mouth.
“Asami, stop!” Korra stepped over her fallen enemies and hurried to where her mate stood. She reached out, placing a hand on Asami’s shoulder. “It’s over. He’s finished.”
Asami ground her teeth, her shoulders a quivering line of tension. She didn’t look at Korra. Didn’t say a word. Her gaze never moved an inch from the fallen general, who was still breathing, albeit shallowly. “I’m sorry, Korra. I know what you’re saying is right, but I can’t let him get away with this.”
Korra’s stomach clenched. Her nose wrinkled, but not from the lingering dust and smoke. Asami’s scent was almost unrecognizable, soured by fear and hatred. There was no trace of the warm, soothing floral scent Korra normally associated with her mate. Never before had she smelled Asami so upset, so enraged.
“He won’t get away with it.” Jinora approached, placing a hand on Asami’s other shoulder. She pumped out alpha pheromones, but not the aggressive kind—a calming, steadying influence. “We’ll take him back to Yi’s governor. He’ll be tried and convicted. There will probably be a trial in Republic city too, for what he did to your family.”
“He doesn’t deserve the mercy of a trial!” Asami seized the front of General Ho’s uniform, yanking him up from the bloodstained dirt. The fingers of her glove creaked, while the general’s eyes roved wildly in search of escape. “He deserves to die for what he did.”
Korra moved her hand to Asami’s back, not restraining her, but pressing in. “This isn’t about what Ho deserves. It’s about you.”
For the first time, Asami turned away from her captive. She looked at Korra, tears shimmering in her eyes. Beyond the surface level anger, Korra saw pain—deep pain she understood all too well. Somehow, she knew what to say.
“Yasu and Hiro are mine, too. You think I haven’t imagined killing the person who attacked my family? Well, I have. I’m no perfect example of balance, either. But I know from experience that holding onto pain will destroy you. Pain is a poison, and killing people just kills a part of you, too. Sometimes there’s no other choice, but this isn’t one of those times. Look at him. You already won.”
“I don’t just want to win,” Asami said, her voice shaking. “I want to destroy him. I want…” The tears she’d fought so hard to stifle rolled down her cheeks, leaving cold trails in their wake. What did she want? She wanted to kill Ho. Annihilate him. Make him suffer as she’d suffered, though death would be a mercy compared to the constant fear of losing one’s children forever.
As she looked down at Ho’s frightened face, Asami saw beyond it. She saw her father, whose own desire for revenge had clouded his judgment until he became the very thing he wanted to eradicate. She remembered the sad, white-haired shell of a man he had been in prison. A ghost with nothing left to his name but his mistakes, hollowed out by the keen edge of his own regrets.
Ho doesn’t deserve mercy, but I won’t be his executioner. My children don’t need a serial murderer for a mother, and Korra doesn’t need one for a mate. I won’t repeat Hiroshi’s mistakes, or my own. I won’t let hatred make a monster of me.
Asami shoved Ho to the ground, ignoring his grunt of pain. “Get this piece of garbage away from me,” she told Jinora, her voice breaking as her tears streamed fast and hard, “before I change my mind.” She didn’t bother watching to see if Jinora obeyed. She didn’t watch Mako and Bolin restrain the few uninjured guards, either. Instead, she threw herself into Korra’s arms, sobbing into her mate’s shoulder.
“It’s okay,” Korra murmured, rubbing circles on her back. “I know. I know how hard that was. I’m proud of you.” She offered more reassurances, but Asami hardly heard them. She wept, trembling not from the weight of her decision, but because a weight had been lifted.
It’s over. It’s over, and I want to go home to my family.
I couldn't wait 'til Tuesday to post. @_@
I know I said there would be 18 chapters, but there will probably only be one or two more after this. I was going to have Ho imprison Korra for a while, but I re-watched all of LoK this week and remembered what a bamf she is. I sincerely doubt this guy could take her prisoner, even with what basically amounts to laser guns.
The last chapter *might* be a sex scene, so I'm taking suggestions/requests!
Asami held onto the ferry’s railing despite its flaking coat of paint, staring across the bay at Air Temple Island. Dawn broke on the horizon, its pink and orange rays smudged by early morning mist, and a cool breeze blew through her hair. They welcomed her home in a way the familiar sights and smells of the Republic City train station hadn’t. She breathed a sigh of relief.
Yasu. Hiro. Soon, I’ll be able to hold you again.
They were all Asami had thought about since leaving Yi. She’d remained silent and morose the previous day, sticking to the background while Korra and the others secured the compound, hauled Ho and his soldiers to the governor, and returned Ziwen’s pups home, with their mother’s gracious thanks. Asami had smiled, even wept a little, as she witnessed the tender reunion, but only now did her heart truly feel light again.
“Ready to wake up our sleepyheads?”
Asami turned to see Korra striding across the deck. Even if she hadn’t recognized her mate’s voice, she would have picked up on the alpha’s reassuring scent beneath the smell of salt on the wind. Korra had a spring in her step and a happy sparkle in her eyes, and Asami knew the reason why. Her mate was just as excited to see their pups as she was.
“You could have been there half an hour ago if you’d taken your glider, you know.”
Korra stuck out her lower lip, pouting at the very idea. “And miss Yasu seeing her Mama for the first time in four days? I don’t think so. Hiro will be happy too, even if he can’t say so in words yet.”
Asami closed the remaining distance between them. Korra took the hint, wrapping an arm around her waist to protect her from the early morning chill.
“We should find a gift for Pema,” Asami said, “to thank her for looking after them.”
“Already done. I dipped into our shared account to buy her a membership to the Fragrant Lotus Spa before we even left Republic City. She’ll get a weekly massage for the rest of the year.”
“Oh?” Asami arched an eyebrow. “What inspired that idea?”
“Nothing.” A grin crept across Korra’s face. “Why, are you jealous?”
“Maybe a little,” Asami admitted.
“You already have a lifetime membership to Korra Massage Therapies, Incorporated.” Korra leaned in, her breath tickling Asami’s ear as she whispered. “I hear they occasionally provide extra services for beautiful omegas.”
Despite the brisk temperature, Asami’s face flushed. Nevertheless, she couldn’t let Korra’s teasing go unanswered. “Oh, really?” She snuggled closer against Korra’s side. “How are their facials, though? Because that’s what I’d go to the Fragrant Lotus Spa for.”
Korra sputtered with laughter. “You,” she chuckled, struggling to catch and keep her breath, “are terrible.”
“This is why Mako dumped us,” Asami deadpanned.
That had Korra howling. “Our dumb senses of humor?” she asked between gasps.
“Exactly. No one else would have us, so we picked each other.”
Korra removed her arm from Asami’s waist, eyes widening with mock indignation. “Are you saying you settled for me, Mrs. Sato?”
“Indeed, Mrs. Sato,” Asami drawled. “The Avatar, master of all four elements and the sire of my pups, was my last pick. Lucky you.”
They continued bantering until the ferry pulled into the dock. As soon as the anchor dropped, Asami hurried off the ship and up the path toward the temple. “Hey, take it easy,” Korra said, jogging to keep up. “The pups aren’t going anywhere. They’re probably still snoozing.”
Asami didn’t care. She ran until she reached the girls’ dormitories and the room where Yasuko slept. Hiro would be in Pema’s room, and Asami wasn’t sure if they were awake yet, so it would be her daughter first. Only when she arrived did she slow down, quietly sliding the door open to peek inside.
Yasuko was fast asleep, just as Korra had predicted. She’d cocooned herself in the blankets, and a soft slurping sound filled the room as she sucked her thumb.
Unable to wait any longer, Asami knelt beside the bed, stroking Yasuko’s hair. The pup yawned, blinking sleepy eyes, but a smile broke across her face when she realized who had woken her up, a smile so like Korra’s that Asami thought her heart might burst out of her chest with happiness.
“Mama, you’re home! I missed you.” Yasuko wriggled free from the nest of covers, throwing her arms around Asami’s neck. “Where’s Mommy?”
“Right here,” Korra said.
Asami heard her mate’s footsteps approach, but didn’t turn to look. Her eyes welled with tears as she held Yasuko close, inhaling her daughter’s scent as though she might die without it. She rained kisses on Yasuko’s hair and all over her cheeks, trying not to sob. “Oh, Yasu. I missed you, too. So much.”
Yasuko began squirming. “Mama, too tight.”
“Sorry.” Asami let go, allowing Yasuko to scramble out of bed and hurl herself at Korra’s thighs.
“Mommy, I missed you too!”
“Well, we’re home now,” Korra said, ruffling Yasuko’s hair. “Where’s your brother?”
“Awake, but unhappy about it.”
The sound of Pema’s voice coming from the doorway had Asami on her feet in an instant. Her heart broke and mended itself all over again when she saw her son swaddled in Pema’s arms. Hiro was red-faced, hiccuping with early morning crankiness. She rushed over and took him as though he were the most precious thing in the world, because he absolutely was.
Asami burst into tears as she sat on the bed, cradling Hiro to her chest. Her son. Her baby. His eyes opened wider, and he made a gurgling noise, blinking curiously at her. Both of his pudgy hands waved in the air before finding a grip on Asami’s loose hair. The tugging hurt, but she hardly noticed.
“Hello, sweetheart. Were you good for Pema?”
“No,” Yasuko said, pouting as she shuffled back to Asami’s side. Her puffed out lower lip made her look even more like Korra than usual. “Hiro pooped on my shirt and cried a lot.”
Asami’s tears of joy became tears of laughter. “I’m sorry, Yasu, but he’s only a baby. When he’s a big pup like you, he’ll learn not to do that. And I’ll get you all the new shirts you want.”
“It was my Fire Ferrets jersey,” Yasuko said. “Pema washed it, but can I get another one? And a Wolfbats jersey? And a—”
“Yasu,” Korra said, “don’t you want to say thank you to Pema for taking such good care of you?”
“Thank you!” Yasuko ran over to Pema—honestly, Asami had no idea where she found the energy mere minutes after waking up—and hugged her skirts. “It was a fun sleepover. Your dumplings are better than Mama’s.”
Pema gave a sheepish shrug, but Asami only sniffed back her tears and chuckled. “Pema might have to give me the recipe, then.” She rocked Hiro back and forth, stroking his chubby cheek with her fingertips. He tried to suck on her thumb, so she hastily unbuttoned her shirt unhooked her front-fastening bra so he could nurse.
It was a euphoric feeling. Her whole body glowed with warmth as she fed her son for the first time in days. She was barely able to take her eyes off him. The only time she looked up from her peaceful trance was to smile at Yasuko, who chattered to Korra about her adventures.
“And Meelo showed Rohan how to make an air scooter! I tried making a water scooter, but it didn’t work good.”
“Scooter? Bah, that’s nothin’. I’ll show you how to make a water tornado you can stand on .”
“Really?” Yasuko stared up at Korra with wide, adoring eyes. “After Mama takes me flying? She promised she’d take me up in the plane.”
Asami couldn’t help smirking. She appreciated the way Korra and Yasuko connected through waterbending, but it pleased her to know that Yasuko still valued their own ways of connecting, too. Flying, go-kart racing, fixing and building things. Just like she and Hiroshi had done when she was Yasuko’s age.
“Yes, of course I’ll take you up in the plane.”
“Hiro’s a little young, but we’ll see,” Asami said. “The engine might be too loud for him.” Still, the thought of flying with her entire family gave her heart wings as well. They were safe, and they were together. All four of them. Just as they were supposed to be.
Asami hesitated before the heavy metal door, gathering her courage. Honestly, she didn’t know if her decision to visit Kuvira had been a sound one. Her heart had urged her to do it, but now, her gut violently disagreed. It felt like a bunch of unagi were wrestling for control in there, seeing who could twist the tightest knots.
She inhaled, centering her chi. Neutral jing, Asami. You don’t have to hate her. You don’t have to be on her side. Just say what you need to say, then leave.
“I’m ready,” she told the guards, a tall firebender and a stout earthbender. Both were male betas, dressed in grey uniforms that resembled those worn by Republic City’s police officers. Their expressions were blank, although Asami couldn’t shake the feeling that they had been growing impatient, waiting for her to make up her mind.
“Of course, Mrs. Sato,” said the firebender. He turned the large wheel affixed to the door, and heavy metal bolts groaned from within. A low click sounded. The last tumbler opened. Asami stepped forward into the dimly lit cell.
Kuvira looked… perfectly ordinary, if Asami were being honest. Thinner, maybe. Paler. She didn’t know what she’d expected. A monster larger than life? As large as the one that loomed in her memory? But, no. Kuvira was merely a woman. A weary-looking woman who nonetheless seemed surprised to see her.
“Asami Sato,” she said, her green eyes widening with interest. “This is unexpected.”
Asami worked her lips, unsure how to respond. Part of her still wanted to throttle Kuvira despite the chains she wore, but that part grew smaller and smaller the longer she stared. She wouldn’t say she felt sorry for Kuvira. Prison was undoubtedly where she belonged. But she did see a glimpse of what Korra had described: an alpha haunted by her own mistakes.
“Ho and his followers are in custody,” she said at last, her voice sounding distant and hollow to her own ears. “He scaled down your spirit cannon for use in hand-to-hand combat. If you call shooting at people hand-to-hand combat.”
Kuvira hung her head, clearly ashamed. “I was afraid of something like that.”
“Then why not say something?” Asami snapped.
“I wasn’t sure. I hoped I was wrong.”
Asami stepped forward, fixing Kuvira with her fiercest glare. “So, you’re still insisting you had nothing to do with this?”
Kuvira sighed. Her shoulders slumped, but she held eye contact. “No, I had something to do with it. Unintentionally, but I would be a fool to deny my previous actions fed into Ho’s recent ones.”
It was a perfectly reasonable answer, but Asami’s stomach boiled with anger anyway. “So, that’s it? You say all the right things, and expect my forgiveness?”
“No.” Kuvira kept smiling that same, sad smile. “I killed your father and destroyed your city. Even an Air Nomad would struggle to forgive someone for that.”
“Then what do you want?”
As soon as Asami heard the knife of her own voice echoing around the room, she felt a wave of shame. Was this who she was, screaming at a woman who had been nothing but reasonable so far? But that’s how Kuvira operates, isn’t it? She takes reason to the extreme and uses it to justify atrocities…
“Nothing.” Kuvira hesitated, then added, “Except, perhaps, the paper. I haven’t convinced the guards to allow me access yet.”
Asami’s anger dissolved like a fine morning mist. “The paper? Really?” She stared at Kuvira, searching for any kind of deception in the alpha’s eyes, but found none.
Kuvira merely nodded.
For the very first time, Asami agreed with Korra’s assessment: Kuvira had nothing to do with General Ho’s plan. She was no truth-seer like Toph or Aiwei, but she felt Kuvira’s sincerity somewhere in her gut. This was a woman who wanted to move forward in whatever small way she could, while fully realizing what an impossible task that was.
“Let me see what I can do,” she said, offering Kuvira the barest hint of a smile. “I think the CEO of Future Industries can afford a subscription to the Republic News or The Elemental Times.”
Kuvira dipped her head. “Thank you.”
Asami turned, preparing to leave. However, she paused at the door. “Perhaps Korra will visit sometime,” she said, her back still turned. “She’s very invested in your redemption, if you want to call it that. Maybe I’ll send a pai sho board with her.”
“You would allow something like that?” Kuvira asked, raising an eyebrow.
“She’s my mate, not my employee.” Asami left then, rapping on the door to let the guards outside know she was ready to go. The door groaned open, and she stepped through without looking back.
As she did, she smiled. She would never forgive Kuvira for murdering her father and destroying half of Republic City, but knowing Kuvira held neither her, nor Korra and their family, any ill will came as a massive relief. This was one battle she didn’t need to fight anymore. One less enemy to fear in the middle of the night.
One more chapter to go! And, yes, it'll probably be smutty...
Chapter 16: Epilogue
Thanks for the ride, folks! It's finally done. Follow me on tumblr and twitter @raedmagdon for more.
(Warning for v mild lactation kink. It's pretty damn classy, if I do say so myself...)
“Coming to bed, sweetheart?”
Asami started at the sound of Korra’s voice, jerking her chin up from her chest. She inhaled sharply, scanning the dimly lit room in a panic before realizing where she was: in the rocking chair beside Yasuko’s bed.
Thank goodness. I must have fallen asleep tucking her in.
Despite the mild commotion, Yasuko slept soundly, her favorite fire ferret plushie tucked in the crook of her elbow. Naga lay curled in a giant, fluffy donut beside the bed, her tail thumping on the carpet as Asami met her soulful black eyes.
Overwhelmed with relief, Asami rose from the chair to give Yasuko a kiss. “I love you so much, Yasu,” she said, stroking the pup’s head. After two weeks, they’d finally transitioned her back to her own bed, and it hadn’t been an easy adjustment for anyone. Thankfully, Yasuko seemed at peace tonight. She’d even begun snoring.
Asami took a step back. “Keep her safe, Naga,” she murmured, scratching the polar bear dog’s ears.
Naga’s tail thumped harder. She wheezed, rubbing her muzzle against Asami’s hand.
“I know, I know. You’re such a good, brave girl. Here, you want your chew?” She picked up the worn piece of rawhide Naga had been gnawing on earlier that evening, ignoring any lingering drool as she placed it on the polar bear dog’s fluffy front paws. Naga resumed where she’d left off, snuffling happily.
Asami’s heart swelled. She was so grateful for Naga, who had been spoiled with several boxes of seal jerky upon her return from the veterinarian. Fortunately, the poison hadn’t done any permanent damage. The polar bear dog was back to her normal self, with a clean bill of health.
Asami made sure to adjust Yasuko’s covers one last time before joining Korra in the doorway. However, she felt the urge to turn back with each step. Yasu will be fine. Naga will stay with her all night. But her heart still ached as she tore herself away from her eldest.
“Maybe we should leave the door open for one more night,” Korra said, aiming a nervous glance at Yasuko’s slumbering form.
Asami shook her head. “If we do, she’ll just climb in bed with us later. She needs to feel safe in her own room again.” Even so, her hand shook on the doorknob.
“Okay.” Korra placed a reassuring hand atop hers. Together, they closed the door.
When the latch clicked, Asami turned into Korra’s embrace, burying her teary face in her alpha’s shoulder. “I know she’ll be safe,” she rasped, fighting sobs. “We can’t stay scared forever, but…”
“I know. It’s hard.” Korra held her, rubbing circles between her shoulders. “How about a bath? Would that make you feel better?”
Asami sniffed and lifted her head. “Together?” she asked, wiping her eyes on the sleeve of her pink sleep robe.
Korra grinned. “Have I ever turned down a chance to see you naked?”
They went to the master bathroom together, but not without pausing at Hiro’s crib. He was exactly where they’d left him, swaddled in his favorite blanket. Though he was too young to sleep with toys or pillows, he looked perfectly peaceful and content. He was the only one who hadn’t been traumatized by the break-in, for which Asami was grateful. At his age, he wouldn’t even remember it.
“I love you, Hiro,” Asami whispered, stroking one of his cheeks.
“We love you,” Korra said, ruffling his hair.
Satisfied that both pups were sleeping safe and sound, Asami finally allowed herself to breathe. She took her time removing her makeup in front of the bathroom mirror, letting the hot washcloth relax her face while Korra filled the tub. Soon, the bathroom was nice and cozy, full of steam and the sweet scent of jasmine.
“You lit candles?” Asami asked, balling up the washcloth and tossing it in the hamper. “Trying to be romantic?”
“Trying to relax us both,” Korra said. “It’s been… a lot, lately.”
“That’s one way to describe it.” However, Asami grew distracted as Korra began stripping, peeling her shirt over her head and throwing it into the hamper as well.
Asami’s breath caught as she admired Korra’s firm abdominals, bisected by a well-defined line down the middle. The candlelight made her brown skin glow, and Asami found herself at a loss for words. Sometimes, Korra was so unbearably beautiful that she had trouble believing this alpha was really her mate.
“You’re staring.” Korra grinned as she shucked her pants, kicking them aside and turning around. She flexed, purposely causing the muscles in her broad back to stand out.
“And you’re cruel,” Asami said.
“Only if I don’t follow through.” Korra climbed into the tub, bending more than necessary to give Asami a glimpse of her backside. “C’mon, the temperature’s perfect.”
Despite Korra’s assurances, Asami tested the bath with her toe first. Korra was known for enjoying baths on the unpleasant side of scalding. Comes from growing up in the South Pole, she always said. It feels so good to be really warm for a change. This time, the temperature was acceptable. Asami relaxed into Korra’s embrace, smirking as she felt her alpha’s shaft stir against her lower back.
“So, this is what you meant by taking a bath?”
“I was hopeful,” Korra admitted.
Asami couldn’t blame her. Though the protective, maternal part of her was glad Yasuko had slept in their bed these past two weeks, it had prevented certain other activities from taking place, aside from an afternoon quickie or two during her lunch breaks. With Korra, quick was never enough.
Instead of melting further in Korra’s arms, Asami flipped onto her hands and knees, grateful for the size of the tub and the range of movement it offered. Her breasts slid against Korra’s as she leaned in for a kiss, and the movement of her mate’s mouth warmed her more than the bathwater…
“Eugh.” Korra broke away, wrinkling her nose and sticking out her tongue. “Makeup remover.”
Asami laughed. “Sorry. Beauty comes at a price.”
“S’okay. I have a plan.” Korra’s hands slid down Asami’s back, urging her to rise onto her knees. The new position put her shoulders and breasts above water, but it offered several advantages to compensate for the chill. Her nipples, rapidly hardening against the cool air, were directly in line with Korra’s mouth, while Korra’s cock was close enough to brush her inner thigh.
“I’m cold like this,” Asami complained, arching her spine to make her meaning clearer.
Korra licked her lips. Her eyes remained glued to Asami’s breasts. “Well, let me warm you up.” She dipped down, taking Asami’s right nipple into her mouth.
Asami gasped. It was wonderful. Korra was wonderful. Her mate’s tongue tended to her gently, as if she feared her attentions might be too rough. Desperate to dispel that notion, Asami slid her fingers through Korra’s hair and pulled her closer. “Please,” she begged, rocking forward into the firm surface of Korra’s stomach. “Suck me.”
Korra groaned, pulling the soft skin around Asami’s nipple into her mouth as well. Asami shuddered, surrendering to the blissful release of heat and pressure. An answering pressure built between her legs, full and burning. It only grew worse when she noticed the subtle hollowing of Korra’s cheeks, the soft drag of every swallow.
It filled her with a pleasant glow, allowing her mate to taste her this way. Nothing at all like nursing, though both were incredibly intimate. She felt Korra’s desire for her in the movements of her mouth, the swirl of her tongue. It was love, hunger, and—for reasons Asami couldn’t fully articulate—also acceptance. Because of their trust, she no longer questioned it.
A whimper escaped her throat as Korra’s hands settled on her hips, preventing her from grinding, but guiding her into a much better position.
“Here,” Korra murmured, abandoning her nipple.
Those few seconds were agony. The pressure lingered, the peaks of her breasts left lonely, stiff, and swollen. “Korra…”
“I’m not stopping. Just let me line us up.”
There was no resistance as Korra’s cock brushed her entrance. She was slick even beneath the water, more than ready for her mate. Still, Korra was careful, sliding in centimeters at a time. Asami chewed her lip, fighting impatience. She understood and appreciated Korra’s restraint, but she wasn’t fragile. She sank down, digging her nails into Korra’s shoulders as she took her alpha to the hilt.
It was Korra’s turn to gasp. “Fuck!”
A smirk played about Asami’s lips. Korra wasn’t the only one who could tease. “Keep going.” She drew Korra’s mouth to her other breast, the one that hadn’t received any attention yet. “I need your mouth and your cock.”
Korra latched on with a growl, seemingly content to obey. Her hip movements barely stirred the water, but her mouth became rougher, sucking hard and introducing the edges of her teeth. Asami’s inner walls clenched with each sharp pull. She hoped Korra felt it, just as she felt every pulse of Korra’s length within her.
“Hnn. ‘Sami.” Korra’s palms moved down Asami’s back, cupping her backside in both hands. They kneaded and squeezed, matching the roughness of Korra’s mouth rather than her subdued, stirring thrusts.
Asami’s smirk became a wide grin. Little by little, she was coaxing Korra into doing things her way. She bore down deliberately, grinding their pelvises together and catching her clit on Korra’s pubic bone. “So thick,” she said in her lowest, breathiest sigh. “You fill me so well, Korra.”
She knew she’d won when Korra abandoned her breasts, surging up to kiss her. Asami parted her lips for her mate’s tongue, no longer tasting of makeup remover, but warmth and sweetness.
“Greedy,” Korra moaned against her mouth, kissing her hungry and deep.
Asami made no arguments. It was the truth. Everything about Korra made her greedy in ways she couldn’t control, but never regretted. Perhaps it was because Korra always made her feel so safe, too. Safe and cherished.
When Korra began thrusting faster, causing water to slosh around the tub, Asami braced her knees and arched her spine. Somehow, she managed to coax Korra’s mouth back to her breasts, letting out a full-throated cry as warm lips wrapped around her left nipple again. Each draw sent a jolt of electricity straight to her clit. It throbbed against Korra’s lower belly, and Korra’s cock gave an answering throb inside her.
“It’s okay to come,” Asami whispered, running her fingers through Korra’s damp hair. “I want you to.”
Korra laughed softly, pausing to tug Asami’s nipple between her teeth. “Mm. But we know what that leads to.”
Asami did know, and the thought sent a powerful wave of desire crashing over her. It was too soon for another child. She’d only just returned to work, and she wasn’t willing to put her career on hold any longer. Plus, their current pups had been in serious danger. But they could still talk about it. Because it stoked Korra’s alpha pride and Asami’s own need. Because it admittedly drove her a little crazy. Apparently, her recent trauma had done nothing to change that.
“Maybe that’s why I want you to come.”
Korra’s blue eyes flashed. “Is that what you want?” She ground her hips up, and Asami trembled as the beginnings of a knot teased her entrance.
“Your knot?” Asami asked.
“Brat.” Korra pinched Asami’s rear beneath the water, causing her to release a laugh that turned into a long, needy moan. “A third pup. My pup. My knot too, but you can always have that, if you’re good.” As if to prove her point, Korra returned her hands to Asami’s hips, slowly pulling her down. Forcing her to stretch.
Its thickness, the sheer girth, was almost enough to push Asami over the edge all by itself. That was one of the best parts about tying with Korra—she always hit the right spots, because she hit every spot. “In,” Asami pleaded, rolling her hips to try and take the broadest part. “Please.”
Luckily, Korra didn’t seem to be in a teasing mood anymore. She thrust up and tugged down, joining their bodies beneath the swirl of the water.
Asami’s eyes went wide. Her mouth fell open. Her head lolled back, and her every limb went rigid as Korra’s mouth returned to her breasts. She tried to say something, to form her mate’s name with shaking lips, but all she managed was a hitched sob, which tugged directly at the ball of tension beneath her navel.
She came suddenly but powerfully, molding to the shape of Korra’s knot. Rippling around it. Squeezing so tight that stars floated before her eyes. Only when Korra’s gentle suckling resumed did she relax, melting in her mate’s arms, giving herself over completely to each contraction.
“I’ll give you another pup,” Korra growled around her breast, the vibrations tickling the strained, oversensitive peak. “As many as you want.” Then she came as well, releasing in rhythmic spurts of heat.
Asami clung to Korra’s hair, to her shoulders, to any part of her mate that she could reach. The luxurious rush carried her higher, to a place so dizzying that she scarcely noticed Korra’s fingers sliding between her legs, toying with the swollen shaft of her clit. The touch was light, like the loving swipes of Korra’s tongue, but it spun her pleasure out much longer.
It took her a while to drift back down from that rapturous place. To return to the safe, comforting circle of Korra’s arms. Asami sagged forward, and Korra finally lifted her head, resting her chin over Asami’s shoulder. “Good girl,” she purred, massaging the muscles in Asami’s lower back. “I’m here. I’ve got you. You came so hard—I felt it all around me.”
Asami didn’t say anything. She couldn’t. Robbed of her words, she latched onto Korra’s shoulder, touching up the thin scar in the shape of her own teeth. Something in her knew that she wouldn’t be satisfied until the spot carried a noticeable bruise, ideally one that would last a few days. She didn’t know why she felt so possessive, but she didn’t fight it, since she doubted Korra would mind.
She was right. Korra hummed with approval, kissing her damp temple. “Shouldn’t have any trouble falling asleep now, huh?”
Asami’s lashes fluttered as she released her hold on Korra’s shoulder, taking a moment to admire the fresh imprint of her teeth. “Now that you mention it…” Her voice trailed off as she stifled a yawn. “Ugh. You’re the one who’s supposed to get sleepy after sex. I haven’t even moisturized or put up my hair…”
“It’s okay. Just nap until my knot goes down. I’ll keep us warm.” Korra made trailing motions beneath the water, skimming Asami’s thighs with her fingertips. The water heated up instantly, and fresh steam rose around their slick, tangled bodies.
“Using your Avatar powers for good, I see,” Asami mumbled.
“The greatest good.”
They lapsed into comfortable silence, where the only sounds were their shared, steady breathing and slow heartbeats. Asami found herself dozing, enjoying the hazy place between wakefulness and sleep. Korra’s body was soft but solid beneath hers. The stretch of her knot was comforting. Her breasts made a wonderful cushion to lay on, and the crook of her shoulder was a safe haven. Asami inhaled, savoring Korra’s scent. Even in the bath, it held just a hint of salt, like the sea.
“Sleep,” Korra whispered, combing slow fingers through Asami’s hair. “I love you.”
Asami smiled as she drifted off, unconcerned that she was too tired to say ‘I love you’ back. Korra already knew.