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curious coincidences

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It's a funny thing, sometimes, and by "it" Asami means, well, the city in general, or maybe she means people in general, or life in general, or even the entire world in general, she’ll go there while she's at it, but that of course leads back to another "it", so.

Really she's just tired of waiting in this traffic.

This stupid traffic.

Because she's supposed to be home soon, she was allowed to go to the game at the Pro-Bending arena by herself for the first time but still has a curfew, and if the traffic doesn't lighten up and start moving soon she will miss that curfew, and normally she's okay with asking forgiveness when it comes to a missed curfew, but, well, this time it is just not her fault, not her intention, she had nothing to do with this, absolutely no control over this, and it is really annoying, seriously annoying, okay.

She's basically parked at the side of the road right outside a market.

The light changes again and Asami feels a brief flare of hope in her chest, but when none of the satomobiles around her move for a whole fifteen seconds she throws her arms up, gives a shout of anger, and steers her moped right onto the sidewalk because you know what, she is going to walk through this stupid market (and it is stupid because the whole world is stupid right now) to find a better street.

It's a very nice market, she soon sees (but still stupid), walking her moped through kiosks and stores, winding around people carrying children and food and vibrantly coloured fabrics.  She passes a guy who looks a few years older than her coming out of a grocer's, ducks beneath a draping awning, weaves throw an older woman and her flock of children, smiling at them and waving and she passes.

It's all a very repetitive process, as Asami finds herself, well, getting lost in the market space.

(It didn't look this big from the street.)

When Asami finds herself passing what she swears is the same dumpling booth for the fifth time she chokes back a sob of frustration, stands her moped against the closest building, and flops down on the bottom frame, kicking a rock and covering her face in her hands.  She'll ask someone for some help, get proper directions, and if she gets turned back around to where she entered, at least, at least, the traffic might be gone, she hopes.

She stands and tugs her goggles down around her neck, and is just about to turn her moped around when she feels a hand on her shoulder and jumps.

(The noise that makes its way past her throat is not a squeak.)

"Hey, whoa, sorry," a voice says, and it's a guy, older than her, definitely older than her, she’s sure, and she feels her face flush in embarrasment.  He removes his hands and holds them up and out by his shoulders, a bag gripped in one.  "You looked lost, thought I'd offer some help."

Asami lets out a long-held breath that she didn't realise she'd been holding.  "I was just about to ask someone for directions.  I came in here to avoid the traffic on 5th, but I probably could have been past it by now."

"It happens," the guy says, and smiles.  "I think I saw you earlier, outside of Cheung's?"

"Oh, really?" Asami asks, thinking, but no, she's seen too many people and the names of all stores and booths she's passed run together.

"The grocer's,” he offers.  “Not too many people would drag a moped in here, I mean."

"Oh," she says meekly.  "Yeah, that'd probably be me, then."

He smiles and laughs.  "Nothing wrong with that.  So, you want to get back to 5th, or somewhere else?"

"Somewhere else," she says, toeing her moped's kickstand up and wheeling it around.  "Definitely, definitely somewhere else.  I don't think I could stand being stuck in traffic again after this, and I'm totally late getting home."

"Well, if you wanna stick with me I'm heading out.  Won't be more than a minute, I promise." He gestures over his shoulder in a direction that Asami is sure she's been down before, but at this point she's got nothing to lose.

They head off, and Asami wonders if the guy'll try chatting her up or attempt small talk, but he remains politely quiet the whole time, the arm carrying his groceries slung back over his shoulder.

When they leave the market, and Asami is seriously so happy, gloriously, wonderfully happy to finally be outside she lets out a relieved sigh and straps her helmet back up, pulling her goggles up, and she says with more gratitude than she’s probably ever expressed to a stranger, "Thank you so much.”

The guy chuckles, saying, "Glad to help a pretty lady."

Asami smiles back, sincerely, because she's too grateful to be on her way to let shallow flattery get to her.  "I was literally only on my way home from the arena, it was the first time I was allowed to see a game by myself and I don't want to ruin it for the future."

"You like Pro-Bending?" the guy asks, interested, quirking an eyebrow.

"Oh, totally.  I'm not a bender, but I love the sport so much," she says.

"Well."  The guy sets his bags down and crosses his arms.  "I play a bit.  Small known team, you might have heard of us.  The Wolf-Bats?" he ventures, tilting his head to the right.

Asami's jaw drops.  "The Wolf-Bats?!”  This is not possible, this is totally not possible, this is absolutely not possible, but it is, apparently, happening.  “You're, you're... wait, you're Ming?" she all but shrieks, pointing at him.  All but, okay.

Ming chuckles again.  "You've definitely heard of us."

"Well of course!" she says, so excited, and so, so embarrassed.  "I'm a huge fan, your match in the finals last year was the first game I ever saw live!  It was amazing!"

"I'll relay the message." He picks his bags back up.  "Tahno, I'm sure, would appreciate the sentiment."

"How is he?  He's better now, right?  That's what I heard last.  You'll be able to play in the main tournament again this year, won't you?"

Ming laughs, deep and throaty.  "We got the best healers in the city.  And yes, we'll definitely be in the tournament.  Wouldn't miss it."

"Good.  Good, that's really good, I'm so glad, that's really, really good," Asami smiles and flushes, looking away.  "I should, I really need to get going, but thank you, thank you so much," she said, hopping on her moped and revving the engine.

Ming nods and waves, still smiling, and calls, "I'll keep an eye out for you at the arena!"

"Yeah!  I'll see you!" she says, even though she knows she probably won't, definitely won’t, not again, not personally, but it doesn't matter.

When she gets home late she isn't even disappointed when her father tells her that she'll have to be with someone the next time she sees a game live.

It’s a funny thing, and by “it” she means, well, everything; but especially the way life can create these kinds of curious, impossible coincidences.