Rangi knew that Lek’s inquiry about her and Kyoshi looking sour last night was meant to mock them, sidelong. She was well-rested, however; the early morning semi-dark and quiet, having her no longer hold that grudge and not wanting to even start thinking about the rest of yesterday either.
The silence was unfamiliarly comfortable as the firebender stared out beyond the river, only coupled by the daofei’s distant snores along the bay’s waterless creek- echoes Rangi deemed nearly inaudible from where she stood. Light wind attempted to muss up her topknot back to its original state she had woken up under minutes ago, wind that was now blown to her face instead of drifting from behind her, tiny droplets splattering one pale, nonplussed expression until a raucous splash erupted from the river’s surface, disturbing its serenity.
“Spirits!” Rangi hissed, almost exclaimed when she hunched over to the side from impulse, wiping the drizzle off her face and jilted it onto the ground in a whip-like, angry motion. “You-” Scared me, was how she was about to finish that, but caught herself, and settled for something more altruistic and less contradictory of how she was trained to act in moments like these. “Don’t wake up the others.”
The waterbender -Kirima, she recalled from anarchic memory of last evening- had seemingly pushed herself away from the focal point of the river, leaning onto the pavement-sized rocks along the shore with extended arms before bending one leg forward, all hunkered and frog-like until she stood about two feet closer to Rangi.
“They do it on their own,” she replied heedlessly, wringing out her hair with clenched fists. “Everyone started sleeping like armadillo lions ever since the Autumn Bloom Society began looking over us.”
Rangi opened her mouth before realizing she held absolutely no response to that at all. Now that the gangster was out of the water she discerned that Kirima wasn’t wearing her olive green tunic Rangi usually associated with lowly Gaoling merchants─instead, a strip of merigold cloth covered her breasts and there was no fur skirt or boots to compensate for it. The waistband of her trousers were low enough to expose the thong barely covering her pelvis and backside, and she didn’t even bother to waterbend out the hydration that enhanced the lewdness of it all, if anything. The soldier didn’t know how her train of thought led to this, and she made herself a mental note to stop.
“Anyway, I’m gonna go for a walk.” Kirima turned to the opposite direction of their campsite, looking at her expectantly. “Come join me.”
Rangi glanced back at the Avatar, face tucked into her torso in a near fetal position underneath the good blanket they hid from the others. There was no way Kirima couldn’t have apprehended this, seeing how the pair had just introduced themselves to the gang members yesterday, and what a good first impression that turned out to be.
Still, she appreciated Kyoshi’s gesture in covering her with a quilt last night and she opted in reciprocating while the sun remained timid, so she took a breath and walked toward Kirima by way of compliance. As the latter edged her way around pointed shards of rock in the floodplains, Rangi followed wordlessly.
Kirima wasn’t exactly unpleasant or chary to be with, as opposed to the rest of the daofei. She never patronized the soldier or undermined her skills like the others did with her and Kyoshi, though they had more of an incentive to treat the taller girl in such a deigning way. The nicknames didn’t really bother her much either- Kirima’s comportment always had an innocuous spirit to it, as though Rangi were a part of the inside joke she had come up with the moment they stared each other down back at the teahouse. Said inside joke, with the inclusion of Lek, the piece of frog squirrel dung that called her and Kyoshi lawmen after they greeted the group with as courteous an introduction as they come. He tried to follow in Kirima’s footsteps when given the opportunity, Rangi could tell. The youngest of any crew will naturally pick out another member to abide in, and as bitter as Lek’s demeanor was with his teasing there was no doubt why any boy like him would acknowledge Kirima in more ways than that... The source of that thought escaped the firebender though, refusing to be pinned down. Probably all the more for how she didn’t seem to want to try.
She and Kirima arrived at a brook adjacent to a particularly archaic-looking, gnarled tree. Much of its roots appeared to have been broken off by some force of nature and the trunk looked as though it would fall backwards if someone were to lean on- well, guess she was wrong.
Kirima tucked her hands into the crook of her elbows and hefted up one corner of her mouth; grinning, almost. Waiting for Rangi to catch up. There was something oddly fluid about the way she carried herself, like a dancer, especially through the sway of her hips shifting under those baggy Water Tribe trousers when she moved. It was sort of graceful─she rendered that line of heritage well.
“Kyoshi’s kind of zany.”
Rangi froze. Does she know? If she did, why hadn’t the gangster said anything, or made a move? Why approach as though the pair were distant cousins, or a part of her weird little club from the very beginning? Why keep quiet?
Her breath, having been coming in and out of her mouth slowly and unevenly due to the unfamiliar Chameleon Bay air, stopped coming at all. Even her mind seemed to have given up on her, hanging in a cold sudden placidity inside her, like a metal pendant on a long chain. “...What?”
“I mean, she tries putting up this front where she’s tough and unswerving, but it fails every time. And the thing is, she doesn’t even need it.” Kirima exuded an almost hearty laugh, waving her hand off to accentuate it. “It’s like she doesn’t even know she’s about as tall as a sabertooth moose lion.”
“Oh.” The unforeseen topic was only a little alleviating for how flippant it was, but the tittle-tattle surrounding said topic only seemed to irk the soldier for it to be much more. “True. ...We should get back.” I have a series of Crowding Bridge exercises for that sabertooth moose lion to do, so mind getting up off of that tree?
“Sure. Just tell me this- is it a whole work-out just to get your thighs aligned, or do you settle things out with your mouths?”
“What?” Rangi snapped her head around in startlement, mouth slightly open with disbelief. She had just begun walking off on her own when Kirima pulled that out of thin air, meeting her shock with slight confusion, as if to say ‘I just asked for the salt.’ ...The firebender was a little grudgingly impressed by her at this point. “What are you talking about?”
Kirima paused, and then exhaled a soft half-laugh. “Well, with Kyoshi having chosen you of all people to join her on the most important journey of her life, and companionships like that being tolerated around these parts, you’d think I’m not too far off with what I was assuming.”
Rangi felt her face flush, and resented the bluntness in Kirima’s previous question asked if, let’s say, that assumption were true. “Er, no. Kyoshi, she’s-” She’s what, exactly? Taken? If the soldier were to state the opposite, a bad aftertaste would’ve been left in her mouth when licking out the last syllable like a lie. The way Kyoshi looked at Yun was no different to how a doe-eyed child would look through the display window blocking a toy they knew their parents could not afford; and the amount of adulation and respect the boy received from many more pairs of eyes than just hers was undoubtedly justified, but not only for his looks─through his wit and charm and self-reliance and talent and the best earthbending only a lucky few had seen, anyone with half a mind, including Yun himself, would know that he was perfect. But Rangi would never admit that to him. Not that she could anymore.
The thought made her swallow a crazy swell of afflicted grief over her deceased ex-sachem, the poised young man with an upheld fake title who’d never shed his tears this openly.
“Don’t start crying on me, topknot,” Kirima remarked- almost consoling, but there was still an edge to it; not that Rangi would expect anything within reach of pity from the waterbender, as evident from the grin widening slightly on her face. She was standing only a few feet away from her counterpart now, hands on her hips and making the soldier much more aware of the surplus in height Kirima held over them both, by some inches. “Fell for a cocksucker, didn’t you? Happens to the best of us.”
Rangi was going to snap back with a No, that’s not the case here followed by I would never in the name of the spirits let that happen, but a choked gasp had escaped her mouth when it opened, so she just let it drop; smearing her tears below both eyes with one hand while averting her line of sight to the viridescent water beside her feet, away from Kirima.
The nudge on her cheek startled the firebender, provoking her to jerk back instead of allowing her head to turn like it was meant to. That made the angle awkward and cumbersome when Kirima kissed her, so it ended up starting with their chins getting bumped. The gangster’s hand firmed itself onto the corner of Rangi’s jaw before she could move away again, letting the impact turn into a real kiss. For a second or so there was just that: a gentle yet steely grip on the side of her head and a warm, wet pair of lips touching hers.
When Rangi finally yanked away the maneuver ended up more severe than she had planned─so hard she lost her balance and stumbled, hitting her shoulders back against the snag’s trunk. She didn’t even realize Kirima had switched her place to that direction.
“What-” She tried to censure, but her voice betrayed that, sounding meek and confused. She struggled to enforce it with power, for the situation’s sake. “What are you doing?”
“Quit being paranoid,” Kirima riposted. Her smile crept back up again, almost leering- amused. “I would have thought that alone might’ve given you an idea or two. Should I need to keep doing it?”
The firebender receded again when she realized how close they were to each other, but her back was right against the tree, with nowhere to go. Kirima had stepped into her personal space before the latter was still able to walk off, and even then… “I know what this is, I’m not stupid. Just… Why me?”
“You know why, hairpin.”
If Rangi had another demurral waiting to hurl itself away then it never made it out of her mouth; the gangster kissed it again too soon. The best she managed was a small troubled noise into Kirima’s lips, her brows furrowing into a tight, bewildered lour. The waterbender’s hands returned to her face, palms tilting it upward by each side of her cheeks. She tensed, but her head remained steady and she was startled to find that she was relaxing -just a little- before allowing herself to finally close her eyes.
Her palms, she was only dimly aware, had landed on the exposed parts of Kirima’s hips, just above the waistband of those ugly trews and hooked her thumbs under the straps of that thong, out of instinct. The other girl’s lips fitted to Rangi’s, then spread her own with them before the firebender could notice and resist. The furor that tongue made when pressing into Rangi’s mouth was the weirdest sensation yet─she was no stranger to sucking face, however, that much was true to her ‘restroom break’ buddy who would share spit with the soldier back at the all-girls’ Royal Fire Academy in the middle of periods, but that fling had not lasted long when Koulin began to suspect it, and her leman called things off before the rumors could get to her. Kirima’s tongue was wet and slippery, feeling too big as it forced itself through her mouth- suffocating, even. A second later it flicked against the tip of Rangi’s own tongue, gradually sending a flush of an unsettling yet salubrious heat through the firebender, some low pool of it spreading below her abdomen. She hasn’t felt this way since… Well, ever.
Kirima’s hands had given up on her face and are currently dragging themselves down the sides of her waistline, pushing up against the wifebeater she had not bothered leaving behind with her uniform earlier. Earlier... What time was it, exactly? The previously ill-lit sky was now tinted with crimson to a light yellow near the south of where she stood, the purple hues of its atmosphere slowing fading with too much too fresh in her mind: treacly rain pounding the earth as if it were a sledgehammer, packed sacks of grain and personal belongings flung onto Pengpeng’s back along with a lower class maid whose tears were hidden by freshwater from above, as if anyone cared enough to try and differentiate them otherwise.
Her lips were momentarily freed from Kirima’s with a wet smack she deemed embarrassingly loud in the empty terrain, the soldier’s exhale sharp against her captor’s lips, the latter no longer grinning. Her head moved to the side of Rangi’s throat and the pair of hands that fondled her backside now landed on her nearly bare dorsal, roaming it but never leaving. The waterbender’s mouth led an endless slide of wet heat cooling up the neck and jaw exposed to her heat only comparable to what a pair of pinching fingers seemed to have aroused between the other girl’s thighs.
Rangi’s face and shoulders twitched. She could no more have stopped those tiny spasms in her muscles than she could have stopped the clench in her teeth when she shoved Kirima, hard and sudden, with both hands; causing the gangster to fall backward a few steps.
“OK,” she declared, more breath than voice. Her back, no longer against the tree, was hunched over slightly; and she took the opportunity to wipe off any excreted saliva from her mouth. “That’s enough. I’m going.”
Kirima’s features twisted, appearing almost deranged and definitely affronted before her expression let it drop to a pleased simper- as quick as the descent of something heavy. “Why? They’re not up yet. And if you think you could-” The gangster leaned back on the leg she put behind her, shifting her weight on that heel as her hands gyrated into some form of command only the waves understood. “...You’re forgetting what we’re surrounded by.”
She then lunged her body forward in a fast, pivotal push that ran the length to her open palms before Rangi realized her objective and formed a stance of her own, but it was too late─the soldier got belabored with a wave of the brook’s freshwater, an impact abrupt and powerful before getting hit with another in a second, the tree’s rigidness aching her head and spine. She cursed under her breath as she struggled to hoist herself up and was met with a firm clutch on one wrist, then the other. Before Rangi knew what was happening she was being lifted by the arms in one rude, haste pull until the wetness below her hands became frozen against the snag, face-to-face with a satisfied Kirima as one of her palms remained on caged wrists, her body weight further pinning down the soldier’s- too close for Rangi to kick her away somehow. She didn’t even notice the waterbender walking up to her beforehand.
“What in the name of the spirits do you think you’re doing?” she spat, unwavering with all the admonition of a sergeant she could muster up on her face. “Let me go!”
“If you plan on melting the ice off I should remind you what the definition of ice is,” Kirima remarked, ignoring her captive’s previous statement. Said captive, who now realized how drenched her hair and clothes were, right down to her boots. The hairpin was also nowhere to be seen, absent from her topknot that had been disarrayed from the aquatic strike. “And look where we are. So relax.”
Rangi contemplated briefly in threatening to do the opposite, saying no, she won’t in fact relax, but the gangster seemed so pleased with how much more tense and aggrieved the sentence made her anyway so she just let it drop. The hand on the waistband of her capris didn’t seem as heedful though, and the firebender squirmed before its fingers could inch its way any closer underneath. “No, I-” Her voice cracked on its own force, then wavered before readjustment. “Stop it, NOW!”
“Who’s gonna stop it? ‘Cause it definitely won’t be me. Or you.” With one quick, hard tug Kirima yanked both her capri pants and underwear down to her thighs using both hands, exposing Rangi’s sex to the cool morning air; making her quiver, just a bit. “And that’s the thrill of it, really. I would think you’d know by now…” The slick muscles between her folds were suddenly invaded by two fingers, eliciting a sharp inhale from the soldier─the pad of Kirima’s thumb rubbing her clit as the latter spoke into her ear, a hot puff of air at the side of her face. “...Why I love fucking firebenders.”
Rangi closed her eyes and swallowed, hearing the dry click in the back of her throat. Her brows remained knitted into a deep frown as the waterbender sank deeper until stopping at the second knuckle, spreading those fingers apart. The maneuver evoked a short moan from the soldier, closing her mouth abruptly once she remembered what led up to it. “You like that,” Kirima halfway whispered across her lips, not a question; the hand assailing her paused momentarily every time silence ceased. “You want it bad, don’t you?” Rangi felt those words brush over her mouth in between each of them before feeling a sudden sharp nip at her lower lip, making the girl hiss steam through clench teeth. “I can feel it.”
Kirima curled her fingers without warning and dragged them against her captive’s searing walls before pushing them back in, eliciting the latter to thrust up against her hand with a small grunt- disappointment briefly perfusing Rangi when she missed its entirety. The gangster made a low, rumbling sound in her chest when she pressed her lips against the other’s, the corner of her mouth hefting up her smirk into a full-blown grin that made Rangi grab at it with her teeth, clumsily indignant as well as something that was almost panic: why act as though she had some trick up her sleeve, to win the next round of some game the firebender could not afford to play? She got what she wanted, right? It made Kirima stop, at least, and released her mouth with an audible wet smack. She didn’t leave much space between them, though, leaving another open-mouthed kiss on Rangi’s jaw before dragging her lips along the side of the latter’s throat.
The feel of Kirima’s crafty fingers proceeding their lugging pattern in addition to carnal wetness lingering on the soldier’s neck had that unsettling heat pervade her again, inflated and uncoiling just below her abdomen. She felt a drop of water trickling down her arm and distantly wondered just how long they’ve been at this brook, but the thought left Rangi’s mind as quickly as it came, replaced by a new wave of ecstasy that attacked her upper body and left her mouth in a moan from one particular plunge. Her whole back stiffened, but soon found herself arching instead of pulling back, turning her head away that somehow just ended up baring more of her skin to that devious tongue. Her breathing seemed very loud and rather rapid in her own ears. Like a festival puppet, turned by someone else’s hands through its kinesics, a stranger to herself.
After one final moment of probing and rubbing Kirima muttered something and slowly released her digits with an audible ‘plop,’ taking one step backwards and jilting the moisture off her hand with one swift waterbending move. Drugged with drowsy contentment Rangi had not noticed the gangster’s departure until the latter reminded her of it, hitting the ground once Kirima melted the ice off her wrists.
Groaning, the firebender slowly hoisted herself up on her knees -hunched over- and immediately started to scratch the cold out of the skin surrounding her wrists, the temperature having been aching them from paresthesia.
Rangi looked up and saw Kirima bestowing a hand out to her, that usual smile absent from her face in an ill-suited haughty expression, almost impatient. Before the soldier could meet her grasp Kirima suddenly shifted her figure to the side in an outreached waterbending move, and Rangi found herself getting struck with a whip of freshwater from the right side of the brook.
“KIRIMA!” the firebender gurgled out in a yell that was muffled by the splashes she made, having landed in the left-sided rivulet. She said something else, but Kirima ran too far up ahead, giggling.