Actions

Work Header

Shattered

Chapter Text

It was still the middle of the night. Asami hadn’t opened her eyes yet, but she could tell. The bitter chill in the air stirred her from a tireless slumber. Though, she knew she would’ve awakened without it anyway. It became somewhat of a pattern in the past week.

Opening her eyes, she stared at the empty spot next to her, unsurprised. When she stretched her arm out, she slid her hand against the soft mattress, ruffling the sheets. She paused on the empty spot. Cold and emptiness met her palm.

Sighing, Asami sat up and allowed her eyes to adjust to the dark. She looked to her right, where the chilly air migrated in from. The balcony door was ajar, a pinch of moonlight slipping in between the crack. She got out of bed and went to find her robe and a pair of slippers before going outside. As if not to disturb the quiet, she opened the door slowly.

Stepping onto the balcony, she found Korra there. She stood with her back facing Asami, staring out at the city blanketed in night. There were police and ambulance sirens coming from the west of the building, and still quite a few cars out on the street.

It wasn’t too cold out. The first few weeks of October always had those lingering traces of summer. It was one of the best summers Asami had in a long time. When she closed her eyes, she could still hear the music from the concerts she went to. She could smell the food emanating from the food trucks nearby, see the smile on Korra’s face and the shine in her eyes. Right then and there, everything would go still, and Asami knew for certain that Korra felt that same deafening happiness she failed to ring from her ears.

Though it wasn’t that long ago, a gradual swelling in Asami’s chest materialized. She longed for a time that flew by too fast as she spiraled into a new season of change that did not promote excitement or hope, only dread.

Korra stared down below, her gaze unfocused. That familiar, bone-chilling expression prompted Asami to speak.

“Can’t sleep?” She asked the obvious. Obvious seemed better than direct.

Korra didn’t respond. She kept her head down, her shoulders square and tense. Asami walked over and placed a gentle hand on the small of her girlfriend’s back.

“Korra?” she said.

Blinking a few times, Korra turned her head. She stared at Asami, and her blank expression lasted far too long, like a stranger getting caught by the arm and waiting for the other person to announce their business. Once it passed, her expression softened, if only by a little, though she looked away.

“Hey,” she said back, exhaling as she did. “I didn’t wake you, did I?”

“The door must’ve not shut all the way. Some cold got in,” Asami said, choosing her words carefully. Unintentionally placing any kind of blame on Korra right now (no matter how small) could’ve easily set her off.

“I’m sorry,” Korra said anyway.

Asami quieted, surprised to hear those words at all given how she expected them for one thing but received them for something so trivial. But by the way Korra spoke, there was an underlying meaning—a heaviness—to them.

Apologizing for what happened in Quebec would require an acknowledgment that it happened at all. When they finally arrived home, Asami gave Korra her time to cool down despite the long drive filled with silence. It wasn’t until the next day when Asami found Korra sitting in the shower, her teeth chattering from the freezing water and lips practically blue, that she knew things were far off from being the same prior to their trip. After drying her off and wrapping her in a thick robe, Asami sat Korra down on the bed and came behind her to comb out the knots in her hair. Her strokes remained gentle and fluid, careful and tender. It might’ve been a combination of those things that forced Korra to snap out of it for the first time since Asami found her on the bathroom floor of the bar. Though her words were muffled, Asami listened closely. Korra told her what happened during the fishing trip with Tonraq, about his confession and true motivations. An ill-feeling settled inside Asami’s stomach by the time Korra finished. She went to embrace her from behind, but it only lasted a few seconds before Korra abruptly pulled away from her.

“I can’t right now,” she whispered. Getting up, she left the room.

Asami had a feeling that there might’ve been more to the story — something even worse that could’ve been said that resulted in Korra’s fractured state.

‘Can’t right now’ showed signs of morphing into forever. Korra didn’t want to talk about it again after that. For the entire week since they’d been back, she remained either hauled up in bed or out of the apartment for long periods of the day. She’d come home sweaty and exhausted after supposedly running for miles. Then she’d take a shower and go to sleep until the next morning or when she was ready to eat.

Asami didn’t know how to approach the situation. Clearly Korra was attempting to work it out (literally) on her own. But Asami didn’t want it that way. She wanted to work through what happened together, even if it was an awkward conversation to have. And she had a feeling that Korra knew when she wanted to try her hand at bringing up the subject. Hence why she would go out on those long runs and sleep for an eternity. But the one place she couldn’t run from the conversation was in her dreams. It was three times in the same week that Asami startled awake to Korra’s yells. She would breathe heavily as if she just escaped from being suffocated, her eyes enlarged as she frantically looked around the room in the dark. Her panic got worse before it got better. Asami sounded like a parrot from how many times she had to remind Korra of where she was and that she was okay. At those times, she held on to Korra as tight as she could, savoring the moment of being able to provide comfort until Korra finally calmed down and pulled herself out of Asami’s grip.

A gust of gale blew against them. Asami folded her arms and shivered.

“You should go inside. I know it’s cold out here,” Korra said, breaking the silence.

“Not without you.”

Korra heaved a sigh and her grip around the railing tightened. Noticing just how hard she squeezed, Asami recalled the last instance she told Korra she wouldn’t leave without her. Maybe their minds were linked.

“Hey,” she said, her voice shaking and lacking confidence. Reaching out, she touched Korra’s hand. “Ease up.”

It took two repeated commands for Korra to finally let go of the railing. Asami settled her hand on top of hers and picked it up with delicacy. Turning Korra’s palm over, she examined the healing wound. The stitches were removed yesterday, but the doctor said Korra’s flesh was still tender and needed no added pressure.

“I’m fine,” Korra said. She pulled her hand away and let it fall to her side.

Asami looked away, not wanting to make it a big deal. But still, she had to ask.

“Do you need me to work from home again this week? It’s no problem if you do.”

“No.” Korra shook her head. “You should go in. Besides, I’m starting my double shift this week. I won’t be home until late.”

“Right,” Asami said. She oddly felt disappointed. Because while she was glad Korra would be up and out of the apartment, she wished Korra sounded warmer to the idea of her staying home. Instead, she was pushing Asami out the door, desperate for her to focus on other things that didn’t center around her. It was a silly thing to be worked up by, but lately, everything made her sensitive.

Probably because she still couldn’t get that image out of her head. Korra on the ground surrounded by glass. Tears. Anger. Blood. So much blood.

“Just promise me you’ll take it easy,” she said.

“I will,” Korra said, looking down.

“Korr—”

“It’s really high up here, you know?”

Asami looked down as well, catching a few people walking down the street, the orange of the streetlights guiding them down the quiet sidewalk. She wondered how long Korra had been watching them, what led her to make such an observation. It could’ve very well been another one of her distractions.

“It is,” Asami agreed.

“Remember that time we played hooky and pretended we were tourists and could only speak broken English?”

Asami smiled, that memory playing out in her head like it was yesterday. “I remember. And we both acted as if we’d just met and became friends out of our confusion of how to get around. We got into so many places for free.”

Korra’s lips curved upward as she listened to Asami recall that time. She continued to stare out into the dark.

“We went to the Empire State Building, and we were so high, but the view was amazing. The thought never even crossed my mind to look down.”

Her tone switched, turning more somber… lost. She added nothing further and her eyes remained searching into the night.

Asami swallowed and turned to her.

“Korra,” she started again. But then, all too quickly, she lost her nerve. The words she wanted to say got misplaced in the stack of other withheld inquiries. She noticed the way Korra stiffened again. This time, she refrained from clenching her fists.

It’s not worth it, Asami decided. Not right now. Not in the middle of the night.

“Will you please come inside?” she asked.

Korra nodded after a few seconds passed.

Asami took her by the hand, and it pleased her when Korra grasped hers back. They headed back inside and got into bed. Looking at the alarm clock, Asami wanted to cringe. She would need to be up in the next three hours, but she had already come to terms with the fact that she wouldn’t be getting any more sleep for the rest of the night. Instead, she listened to Korra’s breathing, waiting for it to slow — for it to become even.

She found herself waiting for a long time.

 


 

Admittedly, Asami already spent too much time out of the office and knew that another week working from home would’ve been pushing it. While her home office was nice, she missed the morning drive before rush hour and the local tea shop nearby. She missed walking into her building and feeling like she had the power to change anything — to know she could fix something rather than sitting still and twiddling her thumbs.

She thought the time away from the apartment would also give her time away from the situation. That way when she returned home, she could be refreshed and recharged. But after the first day of being in the office, she realized how simpleminded those thoughts were.

She spaced out several times during morning meetings. And she constantly checked her phone to see if Korra called or texted, which was sadly never the case. But since Korra was working a double shift that had to mean she was busy, right? Asami was sure that if she initiated the conversation, Korra would respond.

She was trying her best not to hover because that was the last thing Korra wanted her to do. But it couldn’t be helped. They weren’t talking about Quebec, and if Korra had it her way, she would’ve wiped it from both of their memories. What other choice did Asami have than to check in on her?

After finishing another long and busy morning, she texted Korra and asked if she wanted to meet up for lunch. She waited a while before Korra texted back and said she’d already packed a lunch and wouldn’t eat until much later.

“Hey, boss?”

Asami looked up and saw Niko standing there in the doorway timidly, clutching a folder to her chest.

“What is it?” Asami asked. She put her phone down on the desk and folded her fingers together underneath her chin.

Niko took a deep breath as she walked in and closed the door behind her. She came up to the desk and sat across from Asami, her hands in her lap.

“I just wanted to see if everything is all right with you?” Niko said.

Asami blinked and stared at her assistant for a long time.

“Why do you ask?”

“Well,” Niko paused. She folded her arms uncomfortably. “Ever since you got back from your vacation it feels like there’s been some tension.”

“Tension?”

“To be direct, some of your staff are feeling a bit intimidated. You seem… not like yourself. Distracted.”

“How so?”

As if waiting for that question, Niko opened the folder in her hands and took out a folded piece of tabloid paper.

“The design team sent these back up. They’re the drawings you did for the new Sato E-Bike 3500x.”

“What’s wrong with them?” she asked before taking the page and looking down at it.

“It’s not done. The lead on the project said—and these are her words, not mine—that it looks like you threw a bunch of ideas together in an old meat grinder.”

Asami looked down at her artwork with pinched brows. Despite the harsh criticism, she had to agree. They were more like half-baked doodles with no real finality. She didn’t have to guess where her mind had been during the creative process.

“I see,” she said. “But why are you bringing this to me and not the lead of the project?”

This question, unlike the first, made Niko hesitate. She pushed her short brown hair behind her ears.

“Other staff members are under the impression that you are irritable, and they wouldn’t want to make that any worse. So if there’s anything I can do to help, please let me know.”

Asami could tell Niko was just being polite. No one wanted to confront her scattered behavior, and so they sent Niko in to soften the blow. Shifting her gaze downward, she ruminated. Since coming back into the office, she’d been a little short-tempered. But on days she felt that way she normally kept to herself — closed her office door as a signal to not disturb her when she got into a mood. This week that was impossible since she was still in catch-up mode.

“I appreciate your honesty,” she told Niko a minute later. “Why don’t you take an extra half hour for lunch? You earned it.”

Niko’s eyes widened, and it sort of saddened Asami to think her assistant ever worried about being reprimanded for her honesty.

“Are you sure?”

“Of course. Tell everyone on the floor they’re welcome to have lunch with you, too.” Asami pulled out the company card from her wallet purse and handed it over. “My treat.”

“Miss Sato, you don’t have to do that,” Niko said, a light blush on her cheeks.

“No, I don’t. But I want to.” Asami forced Niko to take the card and shooed her out of the chair.

“What about you? You should come.”

“I’ve got a lot of work to do. Plus, I’d like to leave a little early, so I’ll probably work through lunch.”

Niko frowned. “Okay… If you’re sure.”

Asami nodded and offered a closed-mouth smile. She ushered Niko out the door before she offered any more concern. Once she was alone, she picked up her phone again. She stared at Korra’s message again and moved her thumbs to draft a reply. But after awkwardly hovering over the keyboard for longer than intended, she sighed and canceled the draft.

Just as she did, she ended up getting a text message from Senna.

[12:02] Any updates? Call soon, please.

Asami closed her hand around the phone, her grip tightening around it, and brought it up to her face. She never for a second believed she could leave all the complications back in Quebec, but she at least hoped she could be spared this one thing.

Though Asami knew the truth, Senna was still left in the dark. She felt so cruel for tiptoeing around the subject and being so evasive with her replies, but she didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t something she should’ve been in the middle of, and Korra still needed time to process what she recently learned. Once that happened, Asami believed Korra would reach out to Senna and tell her on her own. It wasn’t the easiest thing to reveal, after all. Once Senna knew the truth, everything she thought she knew before would be turned upside down. The man she loved and stood beside for decades would become a stranger in the blink of an eye. Any illusion she had of her family once being whole again would shatter.

A wave of nausea started in Asami’s chest from the number of emotions she held in. At any moment, she would go topsy-turvy like an overloaded boat.

Her cellphone rang and she started panicking at the thought of Senna being fed up and calling her. She breathed a sigh of relief when she saw Opal’s name at the top of her screen.

“Ugh! The reception’s been so bad here lately after that crazy storm we had a few days ago. I hate Nebraska,” Opal said in frustration. “I’m so sorry I haven’t been in touch.”

“You sound tired,” Asami said.

“This is just my, ‘I have a baby now’ voice. She continues to get night and day mixed up, which makes for a very grumpy mommy and daddy.”

Asami pinched the bridge of her nose and swallowed hard. “I miss you so much.”

“Is everything all right?” Opal asked.

Asami breathed out. “I don’t know.”

“What is it?”

“I… nothing. Work has been overwhelming since I got back. I’m just glad to hear your voice.”

“You and Korra should come and visit again soon. Xia’s getting so much bigger now. She’s very close to reaching the normal weight of a baby her size. Or maybe I could visit? My maternity leave isn’t up for another few weeks. Plus Bolin’s been acting jealous about not having the type of bond Xia and I have since I’m the one with the tits. It would be a great exercise for him.”

Asami chuckled, wanting to hold on to that moment of easiness that swept over her for however long it lasted. “I’d love that.”

“Are you sure you’re okay? You sound weird. How’s everything going with Korra? I texted her the other day but she never got back to me.”

“She’s just working a lot this week,” Asami said.

“Oh, that’s right, because of the trip. How was that, by the way?”

Asami squeezed her eyes shut. “Actually, Opal? I have to go now. I just realized I have a meeting.”

“Oh, okay.” Opal sounded disappointed. “We’ll talk soon then?”

“For sure.”

Asami hung up and leaned over her desk, folding her hands over the back of her neck and hanging it. She thought she’d be able to talk to Opal about it, but hearing the strain and tiredness in her voice gave her second thoughts. She felt guilty for even considering putting a burden on her friend with her issues.

Things were still settling. Once they did, she would feel ridiculous for worrying to begin with. Senna would be fine, she and Korra would be fine. Everything would be just fine.

For as many times as she wished for it, it had to come true.

TBC…