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we just dance backwards into each other, trying to keep our feelings secretly covered

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People liked excitement and action, they enjoyed the feeling of being united in a crowd that cheered at all the right times or screamed in anguish as one, and they found that in pro bending. It was a very physical sport that brought people together, made them cry and grip the edges of their seat in suspense. And there was no denying that The Fire Ferrets was probably the most loved team out of them all.

 

It was also a truth universally acknowledged, that within the trio, Bolin was the darling, Korra had the moves and muscles, and Mako was the pretty boy.

 

Their amateur days were well and truly over, gone were the baby-faced teenagers who stepped into the arena for the first time after a miracle win threw them into the tournament. The difference now was that companies lined up to sponsor them, magazines booked them for front covers, and endless fans melted at their every action.

 

First, let’s rewind to around 7 years ago, right at the start when The Fire Ferrets were fondly referred to as the underdogs who shot to stardom. They had ‘heart' and ‘spunk', and the people had started to root for them over the long-time favourites. So it escaped no one’s attention when a young non bending girl was constantly spotted with them at all hours of the day.

 

The public subsequently found out about Asami Sato, their best friend, who eventually became the honorary fourth member of the team. A couple years later, some chump rounded up all of Korra’s social media posts that had Asami in them and tried to convince the internet that they were dating. It went viral within the first 12 hours and since then, everyone and their grandmother thought they were the cutest pair to walk the earth.

 

It caused the love hate relationship Korra had with the press. They were the ones to first shine a light on them, though they lacked basic human manners and toed the line at every other moment. Like when they always tailed Korra and Asami, or tried to photoshop that terrible shot of her and Mako together, and even that time they almost made Bolin veer off the road as she flailed in the passenger seat.

 

While they loved posting everything about The Fire Ferrets and their individual lives, she didn’t see the need in keeping tabs on what was happening. That horrible responsibility fell on their PR team, and she always found out about whatever it was afterwards. They had all the alerts, back up alerts and more alerts set up on their phones. Plus, they would squeal like a pack of banshees as soon as something came up anyway.

 

Surprisingly, Bolin was the first to text her.

 

http://bit.ly/7QVljZG My KORRASAMI heart! But if Asami’s there, delete this text.’

 

It was another article trying to sell them as the power couple that people couldn’t get enough of. She was only a little impressed when it was clear the person who penned it had done their homework, throwing in some real facts and stats.

 

Korra’s default response usually went like this:

 

  1. Admire the photos that came with the trash because she loved all of their pictures together.
  2. Scoff at everything the ‘sources' were spilling.
  3. Show Asami and laugh it off together.
  4. Get distracted by her entire being somehow.

 

They also happened in no particular order and probably had more to do with her mood of the day than anything else. She was currently on a similar variation of step 4, looking up at Asami's face as her head rested comfortably on said woman's lap, focussed on that minuscule furrow between perfectly plucked brows.

 

“I can feel you staring at me, Korra.”

 

“I just had an idea.”

 

Asami didn’t even blink as she continued reviewing her notes and sketches, but she did twirl a lock of Korra’s hair to placate her.

 

“Since everyone’s still convinced we’ve been dating for half of our lives, let’s give it to them.”

 

“That’s the saddest way anyone’s ever tried to ask me out.” Asami finally looked down at her.

 

“...Yeah, but I’m a pro bending champion.”

 

“Irrelevant.”

 

Korra rolled her eyes. “Spirits, the prissy ones really are always the hardest to impress.”

 

That earned her a half-hearted flick to the forehead that she simply grinned at. She took the offending hand and splayed it against her own before entwining their fingers lightly.

 

“I’m serious though, what if we just fake date to get everyone off our backs? They’ll stop hounding us with stupid pervy questions and we’ll shut everyone’s trap. We could probably even break the internet!”

 

“That sounds like a terrible idea.”

 

Still, Asami put down the papers that had an insane amount of scribbles on them and gave Korra her attention.

 

“Maybe, but we’ll have peace and quiet once all the hype fades. Then a few months later, we could say we work better as friends or something. I’m a genius.”

 

“That won’t magically solve all of our problems.”

 

Korra made a face at her best friend before it eventually melted into a pout.

 

Asami laughed. “Looking cute won’t work on me.”

 

Except that it did.

 

Because that same evening, she posted a photo of Asami kissing the corner of her smiling mouth with a cheeky comment, and then got chewed out by their PR manager.

 

-

 

By the time their first match rolled around, Korra and Asami were pretty much royalty of the sporting world, with thousands and thousands of fans celebrating the news of them (finally admitting) getting together. It had become much bigger than either of them thought possible within a week, and it was doing wonders for The Fire Ferrets’ image.

 

Before the trio headed out for their match, she let Asami pull her into a sweet kiss (that they discussed beforehand) which had the audience roaring in approval. When they made it to the playing field, only then did the announcer slyly mention that Korra was doing a great job of hanging onto the good luck charm Asami left behind in the form of a lipstick smudge on her mouth. She unhurriedly pulled off her helmet to wipe away the red on her lips.

 

When the buzzer went off, she was the first to pull from her element and deliver a quick in to out crescent kick followed by a solid hook. After ducking under an earth disc, she sent a torrent of water to counter the flames headed for Bolin and launched straight into a sweep kick which knocked one of their first opponents back a zone. He was followed by a teammate after Bolin's double punch and a rush of fire to the gut which propelled him into the water. The adrenaline in their veins kept pumping, and there was a moment of silence where the 5 remaining players engaged in a stare off, recharging and re-evaluating.

 

What a tense start, folks! One Catgator has already taken a dive while The Fire Ferrets are holding strong. A lot of eye contact going on, but who’s going to continue this battle?

 

The closest man swung first and got swept up by two rapid fire bursts to the chest, pinning him and his teammate into the last zone.

 

And there we have it, The Fire Ferrets take round one!

 

A few exhausting moments into the next round, Bolin had sent one player right off the back ledge just as Mako tumbled over the line from an aggressive blast of water. There were dramatic gasps from all around as Korra was the next to cop a hit, landing next to Mako.

 

Korra and Mako have been knocked back a zone and you can see the Catgators trying to hammer it home. This could be their chance to even the score…

 

And with most of the attention on Bolin as the remaining player still safe in the first zone, it gave Korra the chance to nail a new hat trick Asami had come up with. It was a bit of a risk given the larger distance she had to cover with her moves, but she was relentless with her 5-move combo that took her from one side of the field to the other. Left jab, an aerial kick that bled into a whip kick, right hook and then an overhead punch. She only had time to evade a burst of fire and step back to the right as a disc clipped her shoulder when the magic words were said.

 

What a splendid knock out from Korra as the brothers played defence! Simply Incredible.

 

When Korra looked up next, they were the only ones left standing and Bolin had already rushed at her and Mako in a crushing celebration.

 

Impeccable teamwork as always from the fan favourite, and they nab this match easily. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s hear it for The Fire Ferrets!”

 

Even through the helmet, she could hear the standing ovation and feel the excitement vibrating in their bodies. The brothers' smiles were contagious just as Korra’s grin was blinding when they waved and thanked the audience on the way back to their lockers.

 

The Water Tribe woman certainly didn’t miss the chance to sweep the waiting Asami into a sweaty and too tight hug, feeling long arms wrap around her body just as fiercely.

 

“You were amazing as always.”

 

The words weren’t anything new since Asami caught every single one of their games and always had some form of encouragement or compliment for them afterwards. She squeezed gently once, then loosened her grip and watched Asami pull the other two into similar embraces.

 

She sometimes had trouble understanding how so much love and kindness existed in one person. How did Asami deal with Bolin’s boundless energy, her punch now ask later temperament or Mako’s inability to express himself properly? The small group of friends looked nice and shiny on the outside, but underneath, they were just as flawed as the next person. Asami carried them with her endless patience and warmth, and it was something Korra would never not be grateful for.

 

“Narook’s in 30, last one there pays the tab!” Bolin chirped as he ran out the room and headed for the showers.

 

Korra only turned to Mako who sighed in return. “Yes, I’ll pay like I always do. Let’s just clean up and go.”

 

A cheerful whoop from Korra resounded between them before she too, scampered off.

 

As soon as they stepped foot into Narook's, Korra and Bolin began listing off their favourite dishes to the expectant waiter. Their order was already being prepared before they reached the little corner booth they claimed as their own since they started eating at the place. It was always magically free and ready for them.

 

Asami was the first to slide in, followed by Korra who didn’t stop until she was practically on top of her friend.

 

“Can I help you?” Asami teased with an arched brow.

 

The younger woman smirked back. “Well yeah, you’re being a terrible girlfriend according to the two outside the window, so you better pick up your game.”

 

The taller of the two discreetly eyed the direction Korra mentioned and made out the paparazzi snapping away on their cameras.

 

As Korra dived into a discussion of their play by play with the brothers, she savoured the way Asami pressed into her, chest against her arm, face almost touching the side of hers. It was all for show like they agreed on even though it ignited a fire in her that she had learned to quash into a flickering flame over the years.

 

And if it sounded like she was hopelessly in love with Asami Sato, well, she wouldn’t deny it.

 

Bolin knew it, Mako knew it, her parents knew it, the entire freaken world had been calling her out on it since day one, yet Asami was still as oblivious as she was beautiful – so, you know, very.

 

Her inner monologue was interrupted when Asami ended up right in her space again, wavy hair getting in her mouth and the scent of jasmine in her nose.

 

It felt like home.

 

-

 

Korra fidgeted in the uncomfortable stool they put her in. It was hard, she couldn’t quite reach the footrest, and the interview was boring her. Every time she so much as tried to adjust herself, she’d knock elbows and knees with Mako or Bolin from either side of her. Whose bright idea was it to have her right smack bang in the middle?

 

“The Fire Ferrets have pretty much cruised through all the matches so far, are you feeling confident you’ll nab the cup this year?”

 

Bolin being Bolin, dived into an excited response that she zoned out at but managed to nod her head at what she thought were the right moments. There were other important thoughts she was focussing on, like those aviator safety glasses she was going to get Asami because she could totally rock them, and whether she still had sparkling water in the fridge for her best friend. She was eventually shaken out of her little bubble when she realised everyone in the room, including her teammates, were staring at her.

 

“Did I say something or did my face do that thing again?”

 

The crew let out some light chuckles that echoed around the small studio set up they were in.

 

“It may have looked like you were daydreaming, possibly about Asami Sato, if you’re willing to share?” There was a teasing glint to the interviewer's eyes, probably meant to be witty, but it only made her twitch in annoyance.

 

“Everyone seems to know all there is to know about me and ‘Sami already. Not that we have to answer to anyone, but here’s the cliff notes: we met as kids when I pulled her shiny hair because I was an idiot, then we went to school together where she tutored me because she’s a genius. Pro bending happened, and she’s been the most patient and supportive person anyone could ask for. We’re finally together and happy, and I don’t care what people have been saying, I’m the lucky one.” Korra shrugged with a lopsided smile and then paused for a second.

 

“And I don’t remember what your question was.”

 

The man seated opposite them blinked rapidly, clearly not expecting all the words Korra threw at him. Someone conveniently called time, letting them know their scheduled 15 minutes was up and people started packing and scrambling. Korra didn’t wait any longer and jumped from the stool, eager to up and leave after that train wreck of an interview. Now all she wanted was to get the muck off her face, strip down to her favourite sweatpants and maybe watch Lion King again.

 

When she made it back to her place, she collapsed onto the couch with a groan. Her little ramble would probably rack up quite a bit of views once it was out, and Asami would just grin knowingly because she was always a good sport about it. Her thoughts were interrupted when said woman came in through the front door, backpack still slung over her shoulder.

 

“No ‘honey, I’m home'?” the younger of the two ribbed.

 

She watched as Asami calmly toed off her heeled boots and made her way over to the living room. Instead of quipping back like she expected, her best friend dropped right onto her lap and curled up, tucking her face underneath Korra's chin.

 

All the playfulness she previously exhibited drained from her body, and her arms automatically wrapped around Asami.

 

“Who am I hurting? Cause when I’m done with them, they’ll-"

 

“It was a rough day at work, just hold me?”

 

“Of course.” She wriggled their bodies slowly but carefully so that they were lying down together, her best friend resting on top of her.

 

As much as it pained her to, she mostly kept still, the only exception being the hand that rubbed up and down Asami's back in soothing motions. She let steady breaths hit the side of her neck and tickle her skin as she stared up at the ceiling, heart beating steadily.

 

When Korra woke up, it was completely dark outside and the only source of light was coming from the screen of her phone that had lit up. Asami was still fast asleep on her chest with their legs tangled as she reached over for the device and dialled whoever had sent the most texts. It was Bolin. It was always Bolin.

 

“Hey Bo,”

 

“Korra! Are you with Asami? We haven’t been able to reach either of you for a few hours now.”

 

“It’s ok, I’ve got ‘Sami. We were just,” She ghosted her fingers over a high nose and smooth cheek. “Sleeping…”

 

There was a pause on the other line. “Like, together?”

 

“We were napping.”

 

“Oh, well that’s disappointing-”

 

“Nope, no, we’re not doing this right now.” Korra shook her head from side to side even though her friend wasn’t there to see it. The action was so aggressive that Asami started to stir from her position.

 

“Just count me out for practice tonight, I’ll be in early tomorrow for some solo training or something.”

 

“That’s a horrible lie, even I don’t believe it.”

 

“Ok, bye.”

 

She didn’t give him a chance to respond as she hung up and then helped brush some wayward locks from Asami’s face.

 

“Good sleep?” she grinned.

 

“I had the best pillow.”

 

“Nice to know. So before I order take away for us, do I need to hurt anyone? You know I’ll do it.”

 

The older woman tilted her head up a little to look at Korra as she smiled.

 

“I do know that. There were some major setbacks with our project and the team got a lashing from the boss, that’s all.”

 

“Well because your boss is a full-blown jerk, I’m gonna go to that little Japanese place you like and get your favourite.” She started, pulling them both up and then jumping over the back of the couch to reach for her wallet.

 

“Then when I get back, you can talk nerd to me for the rest of the night. I promise I won’t even complain.”

 

-

 

Korra was in trouble.

 

Big trouble.

 

The Fire Ferrets had just scooped another win in the tournament, and they had all agreed to some drinking and dancing to let loose. It would be their first night out with alcohol in about 6 months since they started their pro bending training for the season. It seriously sounded like a great idea when someone threw it out there.

 

Except Asami Sato was now in a slinky dress and fuck me heels with her signature ruby red lips, attached to Korra's side. That in itself wasn’t unfamiliar, it was the fact that she was expected to reciprocate every single touch and glance that was making her sweat bullets. Because Asami had no trouble convincing people of anything, which meant Korra needed to remind herself that this was not real, that nothing Asami did or said tonight (or any night) meant what she wanted it to.

 

And not for the first time, Korra thought she was in way over her head. So she downed her first shot of tequila without the salt and lemon, realised what a monster she was for doing that and went back for seconds. The rest had already piled onto the dance floor, where Korra only had to follow the hooting and hollering to find them amongst sweating bodies and wild hormones.

 

As Korra contemplated a third shot to buy herself some more time, Opal, Bolin’s long-time girlfriend, slid in next to her at the bar with a bright smile.

 

“You’ve been summoned by the dance master.”

 

Korra could only roll her eyes as she flagged the bartender down and held up two fingers, ignoring the appreciative look he shot her way. She pushed one of two drinks towards Opal and then clinked their glasses together.

 

“Your boyfriend is going down." She taunted with a smirk.

 

The other woman winked in return. “Oh, he will.”

 

“Totally didn’t need to hear that, at all.”

 

The 24 year old pushed away from the sticky counter and let Opal drag her into the fray as the bass started to thrum violently in her ears. Mako was the first to spot her and begged her to save him with his eyes, which she thoroughly ignored because seeing him out of his comfort zone always amused her. Then Asami spun around to greet her with a peck and linked their fingers together.

 

With her group of friends and the random people they had pulled in all looking at her expectantly, she curled her lips into a practiced grin.

 

“Let’s get the show on the road!”

 

When Korra was no longer twirling someone or breathing in every one of Asami’s exhales, she took her chance and yanked Bolin away from the crowd, yelling ‘shots!’ as she did. Once they were out of everyone’s eyeline, she led them out to the smoking area, knowing none of them would follow there.

 

“Bo, I’m so stupid!” She exclaimed with wide eyes.

 

“...Ok? I mean, I don’t know what’s happening right now but ok-"

 

“Asami’s happening right now! What the flameo was I thinking when I asked her to fake date me to get the press off my back? She’s been all over me this past month, which is driving me crazy and now she’s attacking me with that red dress!”

 

“I think Asami’s attacking the entire club if we’re being honest, even Opal’s getting distracted. But Korra, let’s enjoy some time off with our friends and we'll figure out the rest tomorrow, ok? Piece of cake.”

 

Famous last words.

 

The next time Korra was conscious, she found herself in a bathtub wearing only her skinny jeans and a push up bra. After managing to stand without throwing up, the next thing she noticed was the pile of dark brown hair on the tiles and a pair of scissors. One peek at the mirror told her that yes, she had hacked off most of her hair and it didn’t even reach her shoulders – at least it looked good.

 

The woman finally stumbled out of the bathroom of her place to find the rest of her friends. Bolin was slumped over the back of a couch with a pair of strappy heels cradled in his arms and Jinora was passed out by the coffee table. Mako was snoring away on the kitchen counter, head tilted off the edge while Opal was spooning her one and only pot plant. Kai probably looked the most normal of them all, propped up against the front door, drooling onto his own chest.

 

And finally, she peeked into her own room to see that Asami was the only one who made it into bed, though Korra’s brain short circuited when she realised her best friend was sleeping in fancy lingerie. All lace and completely inappropriate for her scrambling brain.

 

She turned away quickly like the image wasn’t already burned into the back of her eyelids and smacked into the doorway she was standing under. The athlete groaned loudly, yet it wasn’t enough to drown out the constant dinging of someone’s phone in the living area. She climbed over her friends' bodies, kicking a shirt and a clutch out of the way before flinging a pair of pants over her shoulder to unveil the still vibrating phone. Notification after notification kept rolling in and it took a moment for her to realise she was holding her own phone, and that at least two others were buzzing too.

 

She quietly made her way back to her room and slid the blankets out from under Asami to cover her up, then climbed into bed next to her.

 

“’Sami,” She called quietly, noting the smudged makeup and mussy hair that made her smile.

 

“’Sami, wake up.” She tried again, shaking at a bare shoulder.

 

Her best friend swatted at her hand lightly and tried to snuggle deeper into the sheets, not at all ready to wake up.

 

She made sure the volume was on low before biting the bullet, pressing on the first notification.

 

Half an hour later, Korra put down her phone and tried to absorb everything she’d just seen. There were videos circling the internet of Asami doing a body shot off of her, some incredibly dirty grinding as well as snippets of a drunken conversation between her and Bolin.

 

There were also some pretty unflattering photos of her and her friends at one point or another during the outing. On a lighter note, there was a 12 second clip of Mako dancing very badly on top of a bar.

 

The somewhat grainy video of her and Asami grinding against each other wasn’t a scandal of any sorts, since their ‘relationship’ went public. If anything, the worst thing to come out of last night might be that The Fire Ferrets would be labelled party animals that went off the rails for a night of fun.

 

It was her spouting about Asami’s stupid pretty eyes and how hard it was to exercise self control around her favourite person that had her worried. Obviously, none of those things were planned, and she was notorious for being an honest drunk with no filter. She was sure more things would surface as the day went on, and not knowing exactly what would make it out was killing her. As much as she remembered most of what happened that lead them back to her house, there were still a few blanks she needed the others to fill in. Jinora would certainly be the first person she’d pull to the side and interrogate.

 

Movement from the corner of her eye made her turn, and she came face to face with a still sleepy Asami who reached out for her.

 

“I’m loving the hair.” Asami murmured.

 

“Did you try to stop me from chopping it all off?”

 

Her best friend laughed. “Like 3 times.”

 

Korra tugged at the shorter locks of hair distractedly.

 

“Guess we all had a hell of a time last night.”

 

“Sounds about right.” Asami climbed out of bed gracefully like she wasn’t hungover and rummaged through her wardrobe with so much familiarity that it ached.

 

She slipped one of Korra’s favourite singlets over her head and stepped into a pair of ratty sweatpants that stopped a little ways above her ankles before looking over her shoulder.

 

“I’m going to freshen up, then we can wake the others for lunch?”

 

“Yep.”

 

-

 

Korra shook out her arms in the stuffy uniform and snapped the collar away from her neck with a huff. They had 10 minutes until their match and they knew it was going to be a tough one. The Komodo Rhinos were a rough bunch that were infamous for their dirty play and having referees in their pockets. The trio had already agreed that if they didn’t win this time around while giving it their best, at least they had a good run.

 

They had really buckled down after their night out was plastered all over social media. They were indeed painted as a group of young friends living it up, and videos were still circulating even after more than a week and a half had passed. It also gave Korra the opportunity to step back a little and indulge the fans less as her heart got heavier and heavier.

 

She had honestly proposed the whole fake dating idea in the hopes that the media would settle down after getting what they wanted, and if she was boosting the team’s image while she was at it, well, that was a win win.

 

But now, now that she had tasted Asami’s lips on her own and lived out her fantasy of years, it was actually like hell on Earth. Because all of it was just pretend, like she had asked for, and it felt terrible.

 

The distance she had introduced between herself and Asami was perfectly supported by the nonstop training The Fire Ferrets threw themselves into. It was also the excuse she threw left, right and centre whenever her best friend tried to spend time with her. And Asami was no idiot, she had most certainly picked up on the change. Korra also knew that the woman was most likely going to approach her after the match.

 

With one more sharp exhale, she pushed the door open to see Mako, Bolin and Asami by the wooden bench.

 

“Korra, about time you showed up! The crowd has been chanting our names, the atmosphere is crazy!” Bolin was as enthusiastic as the first day they made it big, a sense of wonder still clinging to his voice.

 

“Are you ready?” Even Mako’s tone was gentler than usual, and Korra knew she hadn’t been as subtle as she was hoping.

 

“Born ready.” She smirked, bringing forth some of the cockiness they expected from her.

 

Asami was quick to break away from the boys to head for her, and she reacted by jamming the helmet over her head to create one more extra layer between them. The engineer noticed straight away, her green eyes dimming slightly even as she stepped up to the pro bender.

 

“Good luck out there.”

 

“We’ll be alright since we got our biggest fan rooting for us.” She replied.

 

Korra reached down to squeeze her hand, less of an apology and more of a show for the fans who could see right through the window into the room.

 

Without another glance, she made her way out to the ring, feeling the slightest comfort from the weight of Bolin’s arm around her shoulder.

 

A minute into the round, a couple of illegal headshots were fired at Mako. They would’ve connected if he hadn’t responded with a backwards bend. Loud booing and jeering erupted from the audience, but there were no fans raised.

 

“Those certainly looked like headshots to me, but what’s this, no call from the referee?  I don’t see a yellow fan anywhere, so it seems The Fire Ferrets will need to soldier on and stay sharp.”

 

Bolin was targeted next, with water being pulled from both the grate in front and behind him, and earth discs aimed at his feet. Korra rushed in to help the younger brother, pushing him to the side and countering with an attack of her own that barely made it in time.

 

After a fumbling recovery, the first round ended in a tense draw, calling for a tiebreaker.

 

“And we have a tiebreaker to decide the victor of round one. This might actually be the best way for a fair fight if what we saw is anything to go by! Now who will get up on that stand?”

 

“Fire.” Mako stepped forward after a firm nod at the other two.

 

Korra kept her eyes on the other Komodo Rhinos while the face-off was in motion, trying to gauge any weaknesses. There wasn’t enough time for her to figure out a game plan before Mako pulled through with a win, giving them the lead in the match.

 

Once the second round started, she suddenly found all the heat directed to her, and she had nowhere to go but back. She was forced to retreat with a backhand spring, landing back a metre to the grating sound of a buzzer.

 

“Uh oh, the first from The Fire Ferrets has hit zone 2 already, and now the Komodo Rhinos are turning to Mako. Look at those combos and the power behind them!”

 

She was so focussed on dodging a surge of water from the left, that she missed the rock disc that had rebounded off the side rope going straight for her head. The blow completely knocked her off her feet, and she felt her face crack against the front panel of the helmet like a whip.

 

“Timeout has been called, everyone. An official is checking in to make sure Korra’s still fit to continue or if she’ll be taken off the field…”

 

“Do you need a healer?” the man asked with next to no sympathy.

 

“You’re talking to someone from the Southern Water Tribe, I am a healer.” She sassed back.

 

“Is that a no?”

 

“No! Now let’s finish the match.” Korra could barely contain her annoyance as she swiped the spots of blood from her forehead and then rearranged the helmet.

 

She righted her stance with clenched teeth and an angry mind, ignoring the worried glances her friends threw her way. As soon as play was continued, Mako was flung right into the last zone, with no chance to even defend himself. The second round was as good as lost, but she continued standing her ground until the gong sounded twice, signalling the end of the three minutes allotted time.

 

“The second round goes to the Komodo Rhinos, fiercer and deadlier than usual, I’d say! Both teams have one round in their pockets and the tensions are unbelievable. These players are going to fight tooth and nail to land in the quarter finals and it will be a hell of ride!”

 

With the third and final round underway, Bolin and Korra were on the offense, throwing everything they had at their components.

 

Punch, swerve, sidestep, kick, push, bend, attack.

 

The words repeated themselves like a mantra in her head until the rest of the crowd melted away and all she knew was that she had to win.

 

The extra burst of energy from her managed to clip the opposing waterbender’s shoulder, tossing him back a few metres. Mako took the opening and delivered a one-two combo that saw the same man tumble all the way back to zone 3. And Bolin seemed to feed off of that, bending disc after disc after disc until he finally fell off the edge.

 

“That was the first time someone went for a swim tonight, and things may be looking up for the fan favourites if they keep that up. And oh boy, that earth disc to Mako’s leg looked like it would hurt until next year!”

 

Bolin retaliated a little harder than usual and copped a surge of fire to the chest, carrying him over the line. Desperate to end the match, Korra watched Mako aim two quick bursts of flames and followed up with a fancy 540 kick from over her friend. All hits landed true, and while she and Mako both collapsed to the floor, they watched the remaining two Komodo Rhino players teeter into the back two zones.

 

There was a last-ditch effort from the opposing team as discs whizzed past their heads which were easily deflected by Bolin from behind.

 

The blue lantern on the scoreboard finally lit up, making Korra fall onto her back with a relieved sigh. She punched a fist into the air in victory, savouring the screams and clapping thundering in the stadium. Bolin, being the overexcited puppy that he was, dived onto her and Mako, curling them into a hug.

 

“I can say this was certainly one of the most gripping matches I’ve ever seen - such formidable teams battling it out. Congratulations to The Fire Ferrets on a well-deserved win! We'll be seeing the trio at the quarter finals.”

 

Asami was waiting for her when they stepped foot into the locker room, giving her a celebratory peck on the mouth and a hug that felt a little different. When the taller woman retracted her arms, her smile was tighter than usual even if the worry on her face overshadowed it.

 

“That was a tense match, are you guys alright?”

 

“What’s not to love? Dirty referees and cheap shots.” Mako muttered, rubbing at his leg and hip that had taken some violent hits.

 

“Seriously, they’re the worst!” The younger brother chimed in, plopping down onto the bench to stretch out his back.

 

“My head is kinda throbbing.” Korra poked at the purpling bruise by her hairline before rubbing away the dried blood.

 

“We can go and see Katara just to make sure.” Asami offered after taking a closer look at the small bump that had formed.

 

The other two took that as their cue, and quickly pulled their spare clothes and belongings from the lockers, shuffling towards the door.

 

“We’ll uh, we’ll meet at Narook’s!” Bolin exclaimed on his way out.

 

Korra and Asami eventually made it to the car, doing it in a silence that was awkward as much as it cut. It was the first time in all their years of friendship that it was like this, and Korra hated it because it was her fault.

 

When she slumped into the passenger seat, instead of hearing the engine start up, it was completely quiet. Korra turned to her best friend who was staring out the window pensively.

 

“Asami...”

 

“Please just tell me if I need to back off, Korra."

 

“I didn’t mean to be a jerk.” Korra murmured, fingers curled into fists on her lap.

 

“Even when you’re being a jerk, I know you still care. Bolin was randomly dropping by with my favourite food between practices, and Opal and Jinora suddenly had all the free time in the world to spend with me.”

 

“Did Bolin rat me out? I swear that boy-" She began but stopped short when she realised what she’d just admitted. She sunk even lower in her seat.

 

“Is this about the other night?”

 

“No, well, yes, but probably not in the way you’re thinking. Oh ow, my head is hurting again!”

 

Asami arched a brow in response, “I’m not letting you pout your way out of this one. I know it’s just a bruise and you don’t have a concussion.”

 

“...You tricked me.”

 

“A little. And stop deflecting.”

 

Korra's knee bounced a few times in nervousness before smacking against the glove compartment, making her jump. A familiar hand landed on her thigh, just a light pressure meant to bring her comfort. There was a gentle squeeze that made her finally look up into hopeful green eyes framed by perfect mascara and purple eyeshadow.

 

It made her mouth run.

 

“I’ve been in love with you since we were kids, and dad was the first to figure it out because I wouldn’t shut up about your pretty face and brain. I got drunk after you told me you were dating that stupid gym rat, then lost my virginity to a girl at the bar who kinda looked like you.”

 

She took a breath.

 

“That 3 day camping trip with Bo last year wasn’t actually a camping trip, he stayed with me because I was mess. I thought you figured everything out with all the videos from our night out, so I hightailed it. And now I’m freaking out because you’re looking at me weirdly?”

 

“I’m guessing you don’t remember our conversation from that night, which makes a lot of sense now.”

 

Korra paled. “What conversation? Jinora didn’t tell me about this.”

 

“Jinora wasn’t there when you admitted to having feelings for me or when we almost had sex in the bathroom.” Asami explained, starting to feel the amusement of the situation.

 

“When I admitted-what do you mean we almost-what?”

 

“To be fair, there wasn’t a lot of talking before you decided to be a gentlewoman and banished yourself to the bathtub for the rest of the night. Then you pretended nothing happened afterwards and I thought maybe you regretted it. Now we’re here.”

 

The dark skinned woman took a moment to blink, and then blinked some more while trying to process what she’d just been told.

 

“So you haven’t actually said the words, but I feel like you do like me back, maybe?”

 

Korra had hoped for it, but when Asami leaned over the gear stick to kiss her, it still caught her off guard. It was soft, firm and honestly, a little sticky with the lipstick involved, but it was so warm. As soon as the older woman started to pull back, she chased after her, hand sliding up to a lean shoulder to keep her in place. All the other times she kissed her best friend for the sake of the crowd or a social media post were brief and transactional to a point, but this, this was theirs.

 

“Yes, I’m in love with you.” The words were whispered into Korra’s mouth, and they made her melt.

 

She couldn’t resist moving in to press their lips together again, and did it with so much enthusiasm that Asami made a noise of surprise, pale fingers digging into her arms.

 

“Can I take you home, please?” Korra was not beneath begging, especially after that bomb Asami had dropped on her.

 

“I’ll call in sick tomorrow.” She smirked with just the right amount of…everything, articulating her expectations and hopes in just five short words.

 

“Would it be wrong to just pull you into the back right now? I just really want to, need to touch you, ‘Sami.”

 

“If you didn’t let us have our first time in your bathroom, I’m not ruining it by saying yes to the backseat. We’ll get to your place in 20 minutes.”

 

-

 

Korra let her eyes take in the scene before her lazily, and a tired grin split across her bruised lips. She trailed her fingers along a naked back that looked just as inviting in the sunlight as it did in the dark last night. The blankets were carelessly pulled away from a shapely hip to reveal a firm backside she remembered gripping desperately and endlessly long legs that she had so much fun teasing. Still feeling drunk on the events of last night, the pro bender carefully rolled Asami onto her back to display proud pink nipples and a sleeping face that looked peaceful and gorgeous.

 

It was all the encouragement she needed to lean over and rest her head on the offered chest as her hand slid against the taut stomach that housed some impressive marks that Asami had encouraged.

 

“Breakfast in bed?” she offered lightly, admiring the way her best friend’s pale skin looked against her darker tone.

 

There was a low hum in response that vibrated right under her ear.

 

“Do you even have any food in the kitchen?”

 

“Wasn’t really talking about food.” Korra smirked as she climbed on top of Asami, bearing down on the wetness she could already feel between them.

 

When Korra rocked her hips once, the words Asami wanted to speak turned into a sinful moan that echoed in the room and right into her heart.

 

It made her slow down the urgency that had built in her actions, and reached down to curl black locks of hair behind an ear. Waking up next to each other wasn’t something that surprised the Water Tribe woman anymore, but being able to freely touch and love her was still something like an indescribable feeling.

 

A few hours later, Korra couldn’t help herself and posted a photo of Asami. She was still wrapped up in bedsheets, showing a bare shoulder while holding a mug of coffee that covered her smiling lips as her green eyes lit up with happiness. There was no caption or comment since there were no words to explain it all, it just was.

 

Then they sat back together and waited for Bolin’s inevitable phone call to come in, bodies still sweating and fingers intertwined tightly.