“Korra, hellloooo,” Snapping out of her reverie, she glimpsed green orbs and nearly fell into another daze thinking of how much she would rather be looking into the emeralds of a particular princess. The same princess who was straddling and gripping her from behind, atop a walking Naga.
“What, Bo?” She huffed with more minor irritation in her voice than she felt for having her thoughts interrupted.
“Do you want to stop in the next town for the day so that we can have a real meal and comfortable space to sleep?”
All eyes in the group were watching her as she realized this must have been a topic of their conversation for quite some time, and they had been waiting on her decision.
Thinking for a moment, she responded, “That sounds like a good idea. We are close enough to Zaofu that it should be safe enough. It’ll give us more time to gather sympathizers than what we’ve been able to accomplish in the other towns. The more we have against the equalist regime, the easier it will be to reclaim the kingdom.”
Finishing her statement, Korra turned to lock eyes with Asami, willing her determination and reassurance to comfort the woman. When those emerald eyes softened under her azure gaze, Korra nearly melted. Damn, was she a lesbian disaster.
Cantering in view of the village, the group slowed to a trot.
“Ahhhh, I can smell fresh barbeque and mead already!” Bolin exclaimed.
“Bo, can you think about our predicament first. We cannot drink ourselves stupid and enjoy civilian life. We have a mission,” Mako dryly stated.
“Bro, you know if you lived a little, then you’d understand this is the best way to recruit sympathetic parties! Right Cap?” He beamed at Korra.
Korra sighed, “Bo, Mako is right that we can’t go off tonight and get drunk. A drink or two won’t hurt while we’re trying to find any friends, though.”
“Okaayyy, fine. Do we at least have enough coins so that we can all sleep in a real bed tonight?” Bolin’s focus went back to Mako with his question.
Mako shuffled through the coin purse attached to his belt before responding, “We can comfortably get two rooms, so we could share the beds.”
Korra felt heat creep up her neck; Mako and Bolin would, of course, share one room which meant…
She glanced back at Asami, who held her gaze and arched an eyebrow. Korra faced forward again. A moment later, she felt the princess press more firmly into her back as Asami leaned forward. A hot breath ran against her ear with Asami’s whispered, “You don’t have a problem with sharing, do you, captain ?”
And just as soon as the breath was there, Asami was back in her original position, the heat of her whisper lingering throughout Korra’s body.
Well, this could be a long night.
Entering town, they immediately found the tavern to replenish their energy with food and drink. With ample daylight remaining and no rush to make their way to the Inn, they began their search for allies at the tavern.
After sharing a few drinks with fellow patrons and listening in on the gossip, Korra noticed a pair sitting away from the cheerful activities, seemingly in a serious conversation. She swayed and staggered towards the table, appearing drunk as her drink sloshed slightly.
“...so don’t worry about Zaof-” one of the men cut off abruptly as he noticed Korra.
“Chee-hic-cherrs!!” She slurred a convincingly as possible before stumbling back to the crowd of drunks near the bar. She hadn’t heard enough to get solid intelligence, but she heard enough in the words and tone to understand Zaofu already is or may come into trouble soon.
Growing uneasy with her newfound knowledge, Korra glanced towards the princess still sitting by an outer edge of the bar, cloak, and hood donned to obscure her as much as possible. With such a widespread influence, an enemy here can recognize her. Korra kept a closer eye on the princess for the remainder of their time in the tavern.
Just after dinner time, Team Avatar left the now boisterous tavern. Korra was satisfied with her findings and eager to hear what the brothers discovered. She noticed during her observations throughout the evening that Asami decided to keep to herself. The princess undoubtedly shared Korra’s concerns, which was a relief.
Asami’s keen intellect and abilities continued to surprise her. She was used to noblewomen being the typical “damsel in distress.” The princess refused to fit into said stereotype. The realization only further increased her attraction to the siren.
‘Siren? Hmm... I guess of any woman I’ve met, she is most likely to lead me to my death. And here I am, willingly going along for the ride, or however, the legend goes.’ Korra chuckled lightly at her musings.
At the Inn, they gathered in Korra and Asami’s room to debrief for the night.
Korra cut straight to the chase, “I don’t think it’s as safe here or in Zaofu as we were hoping.”
Mako nodded, “I agree, but the equalists haven’t attacked this town or Zaofu yet. They might have dispatched a small team along the route to Zaofu to intercept the princess or scout the area to plan an attack.”
Asami interjected, “Why would they assume I went to Zaofu? My kingdom had many alliances, and surely the equalists wouldn’t spend the manpower scouring each road knowing there’s resistance to the coup within the walls of the United Republic.”
“I also doubt that they have the resources to waste on such a widespread search, so until we learn if they have other reasons for targeting Zaofu, we have to assume it is in pursuit of the princess,” Korra declared.
“Which means there is a potential spy or traitor close to my family or the Beifongs,” Asami concluded with a frown. Nodding, Korra cast the princess a sympathetic look.
“So, does that mean we shouldn’t stay here tonight then?” Bolin asked.
“It would be risky to rush anywhere right now. It could draw unwanted attention. This town has been quiet and at a low threat level. I think we should get a good night’s rest as planned, so we are better prepared to deal with heading into Zaofu, and any surprises that come with it, tomorrow,” Mako suggested.
Korra held her gaze on him for a few moments before looking at Bolin and Asami, taking in their tired faces.
“We do need the rest, and we would be safer in a locked tavern than drawing potential followers to an open campsite. I feel confident that we haven’t attracted any unwanted attention here as well,” Korra affirmed.
Sharing their final thoughts, the boys headed to their room for the night. Korra locked the door and turned to face Asami, her arms lightly hugging herself and green eyes cast downward in thought.
Softly, as not to startle her, Korra asked, “Are you okay?”
Following a pause and a deep breath, the princess responded, “I’m fine. Just need some sleep, is all. A hot bath would be nice too.”
Grimacing, Korra responded, “A bath would be nice, but I’m sorry that we can’t risk going into the bathhouse tonight.”
Asami rolled her green eyes with a huff before looking into Korra’s blue orbs, “I’m well aware of that captain.”
The black-haired beauty then began removing her boots and jacket before pulling down the hem of her pants. Korra whirled around quickly, feeling flush. She heard a shuffling of more clothing and linen before Asami spoke again.
“Well, are you going to sleep or stare at the door all night as my faithful guard?”
Clearing her throat, Korra turned back around to see the princess under the covers in bed.
“I can sleep on the floor,” she responded sheepishly while rubbing a hand on the back of her neck.
“Nonsense, you need a good night’s rest in a comfortable bed. We all do. So come on then,” Asami patted the bed beside her.
Korra shed her outer layers, put out the light, and joined Asami in bed.
Asami let out a contented sigh, “Thank you and goodnight, Korra.”
Relaxing, Korra returned, “Goodnight, Asami.” With the combined comfort in their shared presence, body heat, and exhaustion from previous weeks' compounding, the pair fell asleep within moments.
Korra woke with a start to thrashing and pained grunts beside her. As her senses came to, she realized that Asami was having a terrible nightmare affecting more than her dream world. Gently, she stroked a hand on the ravenette’s shoulder, attempting to calm her frenzied sleep state.
“Asami, Asami, shhh, shhhh, it’s okay.” Korra lightly hummed as she continued rubbing the woman’s shoulder. As the princess’ movements slowed, Korra called her name a bit louder, thoroughly disturbing her slumber.
Before Korra could glimpse emerald through fluttering eyelids, they filled with tears, and Asami slammed her eyes shut, turning away from Korra.
‘I can’t let her see me like this. Weak. Vulnerable.’ Was all the princess could think before Korra broke the silence again.
“Asami, it’s okay. I’m not going to hurt you. Let me help you.”
“And what can you, of all people, do to help me?” Asami bitterly spat out, immediately feeling remorse for her venom-filled tone. She knows it was unnecessary, but she has just been so angry for so long now, and the night terrors only served to further foul her attitude. Still, her resentment was reserved for one person, and Korra is not that person.
“I used to have terrible nightmares as well. I do better now, but there was a time I was experiencing them every single night.” Korra spoke softly as if Asami didn’t just angrily snap at her. The princess chanced a glance back at Korra, whose gaze was lightly fixed towards the sky.
“Why did you have them?” Asami questioned as she fully turned on her side to face Korra.
“I’m not sure. There are snapshots and clues in the dreams, but I don’t remember anything before I was 16. My entire life, or as far as I know, I have been in the army. I stumbled into a camp, luckily of soldiers from a kingdom like yours, or who knows what would have happened. All I knew was my name, but they fed me, gave me clean clothes, and offered to bring me back to the United Republic with them. A few days later, I went to the sparring ring to satisfy my curiosity and boredom, and it turned out that I had some combat skills.” Korra smiled at what seemed to be an entertaining memory.
“Well, what next?” Asami’s curiosity had gotten the better of her as she found herself enthralled in Korra’s story. Korra chuckled before continuing.
“Well, the commander took a liking to me and asked if I didn’t mind training with them for the duration of the trip. Then, he could decide if he would persuade the council to allow me to join your army if I chose to, of course. Iroh was a compassionate leader.”
“Iroh?” Asami interrupted.
“Ah, yes, you should probably know him quite well. I hear that he was a potential suitor for your hand in marriage.” Korra responded, looking at Asami for the first time since starting her story.
“He was, but my father would never have allowed it. He became too concerned with marrying a powerful man outside the kingdom for benefits. I should have seen it sooner… how corrupt he was becoming.” Emerald eyes cast downward as she furrowed her brow, feeling the anger resurface as acid rose in her chest.
Korra breathed out, “Asami, it isn’t your fault. You couldn’t have known. Your father alone is responsible for his actions, and you have nothing to do with his choices.”
“That’s a real turn of perspectives there, Captain. I thought you didn’t trust me?” Asami pointed out with a quizzical look on her face.
“I didn’t. We have been roaming these lands for weeks now, gathering people who will volunteer to fight for our cause, learning about each other in the process. I’m sorry that I quickly judged you to go along with what Hiroshi would, just because you are his daughter. You truly care about your people, the kingdom, justice, and doing the right thing,” Finished the brunette.
“Wow, that must have been pretty difficult, huh?” Asami smugly responded with a grin. Korra laid there with an incredulous look on her face, but before she could retort, the princess continued.
“You are a proud, strong, and caring warrior, Captain Korra, and I am lucky to have you not just in my army but to have personally made your acquaintance. It’s not been a complete pleasure getting to know you, but I’m glad that it was you that stepped into the stall to help me that day.” Asami felt her cheeks heat up at the admission. It was odd to Asami. Sure, she enjoyed their nightly sparring sessions and constantly teasing the soldier, but this was a genuine warmth that spread through her chest. The corners of her lips turned up ever so slightly.
Korra beamed at the porcelain figure in front of her, flexing the bicep on which arm she wasn’t leaning, boasting, “Strong. You got that right!” and finished the statement with a kiss to the bulging muscle. Asami lightly chuckled as she felt a flip in her stomach.
“Seriously, though, I am happy to have gotten to know you too, Asami. Now that we’ve established that we don’t hate each other anymore, do you want to tell me about your dreams?”
Asami hesitated, opting to stare at the ground as she spoke, “The night I ran from the kingdom, I watched my mother get struck down in front of me. She instructed me to hide and not reveal myself for any reason, even if her life was in danger. She said that it was likely for one of us to live, the other would risk her life, and it’s unnatural for a mother to lose a child. Therefore, if it came to that, I must be the one to survive,” she choked on her words, attempting to push the sobs down.
Strong arms wrapped around her, “Shhh, Asami, it’s okay, come here,” she heard Korra whisper. She had been so lost in her emotion while telling the story, that she hadn’t even noticed Korra move closer before being embraced. She pressed her forehead against Korra’s chest as heavy sobs racked through her body.
“I’ve got you. It’s okay, Asami.” Korra rubbed her hands rhythmically up and down Asami’s back to soothe the crying woman. For the first time, Korra truly felt sadness for the princess, having never understood the woman's hardships.
As the pain in her heart lessened, Asami regained the ability to think of more than her anguish at the loss of her mother. Thoughts like how embarrassing it is to cry in front of another person, to be broken in front of another, and for said person to be someone you supposedly disliked from the start.
Then the thoughts evolved to how much warmth this perso-, no Korra, how warm it felt to be held by Korra. How those strong arms that she’s seen cut down so many enemies can provide her with a secure feeling that she never knew existed. How comforting it was to be enveloped by the smoky yet oceanic scent that was so peculiarly Korra.
Her heart suddenly felt like it stopped as she let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding, a genuine smile forcing her lips to curve as she clutched the front of the shirt of the woman holding her. She let her eyelids close before falling into the most peaceful sleep since her life was turned upside down.