Legend of Korra, “Be the Peaf Prompt 4”
Fic by: ironinkpen
Prompt: “I’ve spent this year as a ghost and I’m not sure where home is anymore.”
Enjoying tea with an interesting stranger was one of life’s true delights.
At least, that was what Uncle had once told him.
So, as he sat in the little Earth-Kingdom tea shop, he wondered if the winds of change would bring him a companion for this fine, sunny day. It had been too long since he had conversed with someone face-to-face. While letters from his daughter were always nice, Messenger Hawks could only convey so much.
He looked up from his tea as the bell signifying entrance to the diner rung. A young woman sauntered in, a filthy straw hat hiding her face from view.
Raising an eyebrow, curiosity spurring him to observe as the shopkeeper scurried over to the newcomer, immediately offering her basically everything on the menu. It was then that the older man noticed that there was hardly anyone else in the restaurant- not that he minded. He needed the peace and quiet, after all.
The stranger kindly declined his promises of lunch and asked for a simple cup. The owner, though disheartened, complied, leaving her to her own instruments.
To the old man’s surprise, the girl made her way to him.
“Mind if I sit?” She asked, her tone light and friendly as she gestured to the empty spot across the small table.
“Go ahead.” He replied easily, sipping at his drink lazily. The woman simpered gratefully, lowering herself onto the small mat.
There was silence for a few seconds as the two regarded each other.
“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t ask about my age.” She stated, settling into her seat. Quick girl, he noted. He was going to make a comment about her youth- she was only about eighteen, at the most- but it seemed she beat him to the punch.
“Well, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t ask about my scar.” He shot back, blinking simply. The girl chuckled, elbows resting on the table as she leaned in.
“Deal, old man.” She drawled, gracefully accepting her cup as the host returned. “Thank you!”
“A-Ah, yes.” The owner was a nervous fellow, and he seemed to jump at her words. She gave him a sweet smile and he relaxed, bowing and making his way back to the kitchen.
“A shaking palm can, at times, make the sweetest tea.” The elder mused, nursing his drink. The strange girl sighed in satisfaction as she took a slight sample.
“I have to agree with you on that, old timer. I haven’t had tea this good in a long time.” Her eyes closed in bliss as she took another gulp.
“I’ve found that tea from home is always the most savory. As good as this tea is,” He paused, resting his container on the table. “My Uncle’s will always be the best.”
“Ah, I guess I can see what you mean…” She hummed appreciatively, but lips tugged into a frown.
“What’s the matter?” She glanced up as he spoke. “Something is troubling you, Miss. If it helps, you can talk to me.”
She stared at him for a moment before sagging forward.
“I suppose…” She exhaled, setting down her tea. “I suppose I’m just wondering where ‘home’ really is.”
“You don’t have a family?” The old man’s brows drew together in worry. The girl put her hand up, shaking her head.
“That’s not it- Not at all.” She nudged her hat, allowing it to fall down to her back. Brown hair cascaded to her shoulders, now free of all restraint. Her blue eyes were stark against her dark skin, holding knowledge and pain beyond her years. “I just… I’ve spent this year as a ghost and I’m not sure where home is anymore…”
He couldn’t help but stare at the young beauty in front of him. It wasn’t that he was admiring her looks- she certainly was attractive, but he was far too old to be leering at every pretty girl who crossed his path. It was that there was something familiar in those orbs of hers; something he had once known. It hung at the edge of his consciousness, nagging him as he squinted at her.
“A ‘ghost’?” He finally cleared his throat, sensing her discomfort. “What do you mean?”
“A ghost.” She waved her hand at the air, gesturing to absolutely nothing. “Invisible, off-the-radar… I’ve seen so much of the world through a new view, and I’ve been wondering… Do I even belong somewhere anymore? Or do I belong,” She flicked her wrist again, “Everywhere?”
He mulled over this for a second. The girl obviously had a burden on her shoulders- one he couldn’t even begin to fathom. That feeling tugged at the pit of his stomach again; something told him he knew this girl, even though he had never met her before.
“I was once told by someone wise…” He began, picking up his drink again. “That fate works in odd ways. The wind can blow you in any direction, but it will often take you to right where you should be.”
“That’s really cryptic, old man.” She pouted, and he couldn’t help but laugh.
“That’s true. I always used to complain to my Uncle that he was too broad with his words, as well. I never understood him- until now, that is.”
“Your Uncle sounds very worldly.” She mused, finger absently twirling over the steam.
“He was.” He agreed, attending to her with interest. “He would have told me something about the importance of love, at this point. I am not as wise, nor as worldly as him, but I believe ‘Home’ is whatever place your heart identifies as ‘Home’.”
His eyes traced her movements, still trying to piece together what was so familiar about her. He was about to ask her if she did, in fact, know him, but then he noticed something odd.
Her digit was moving several inches above the steam, yet the hot air seemed to twist to her touch.
“You know…” Her face lit up, and she grasped her cup. “I think you’re right!”
“I’m often told that I am.” He winked, finishing his tea. He watched as she did the same, already beginning to shuffle around her pouch for spare yuans. “Being the Avatar does not mean you can’t be you. You do not have to travel the world on your own and learn on your own. You can always find people to walk beside you. I think it’s about time to return to where you belong. Don’t you think so, too, Korra?”
“You knew?” She tilted her head at him in mild surprise, setting her money down on the table. It was enough to pay for the two of them. “I thought I was doing such a good job of disguising myself, too…”
“You can’t fool the eyes of one who has seen much.” The wrinkles on his face crinkled as he smiled.
“I suppose I should have known I couldn’t trick the Firelord.” She beamed, not at all phased by the man’s intuitiveness. “Aang has told me much about you, Zuko.”
“I’m sure he has.” He tittered, relaxing in his seat. “You knew it was me the whole time?”
“Well, the scar kinda gives it away.” Korra rubbed the back of her head sheepishly. “But, honestly, I really just wanted someone to talk to. Even if you weren’t- well, you- I just wanted to have some tea with someone.”
“Not something you hear every day, from someone so young.” He pointed out, shifting to stand. She followed his example, getting on her feet and offering him her hand.
“I know.” She whined dramatically, pulling him up. “I sound so old.”
“Sometimes sounding old can be good- if you haven’t noticed, old people often help others out.” He poked her in the temple, smirking.
“I guess you’re right.” She allowed, releasing his hand. Before he could even react, her arms were around him and he was pulled into a tight embrace.
There was another tug there, but it was different. It was sad, but it was also wonderful.
“It has been too long, Zuko.” She muttered against his ear, hugging him close. He lifted his shaking hands to her shoulder blades.
“It has, old friend.” He replied, pulling back. He didn’t say anything else because nothing else needed to be said. She was appeasing his heart- something he suspected she had been doing for the whole year she had been travelling. She had been pushing back her own desires to allow others happiness. He would not allow his selfishness to burden her.
Understanding his silence, she turned, making her way for the exit.
“Thank you, old man!” She repositioned her hat, shielding her identity once more. To the world, she was a travelling, helpful vagabond. A vigilante of sorts- always jumping into trouble and always solving problems.
But, he knew she was much more than that.
She was Korra.
“Where are you going now?” He called out, the words tumbling from his lips before he realized it. She paused right outside the doorway, looking back at him. The grin on his face told her he already knew.
He watched as she smiled to herself, looking out at the blue sky and suddenly feeling very warm. A gentle breeze past over her, edging her towards her next destination. The word was on the tip of her tongue, sweet and comfortable. Zuko felt it- her heart was cleared.
Having tea with a stranger, Zuko decided, really was one of life’s true delights.
But, having tea with a friend was much, much better.
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