the great trial part one
summary: This was meant to be the easy part. The part filled with brightness and love. The war was over and you had the love of your life all to yourself. No more Baatar, no more secrecy and no more lies. But with the calm comes the realization as all the adrenaline finally leaves you. Now you know, this is the hard part.
a/n: So remember when I said I wouldn’t post anything until the sequel was done? Well it turns out I need validation to thrive and would love peoples feedback on the series so I’ve decided that I am going to slowly release what I currently have while trying to finally finish what’s left. Thank you to @medeliadracon for beta reading this and @ladyxffandoms for being such a big help! This wouldn’t nearly be as good without the two of you.
This is the sequel to the great divide series.
word count: 4k
That first month in your new apartment is probably the worst. You guys were able to find a small one on the bottom floor of a complex. It had a small side garden with a lemon tree and vines growing up the side of the building and your dad was already talking to about all the flowers you could plant together.
Suyin put you on house arrest as well which caused an uproar with not only Kuvira, who offered to take your year for herself, but also your parents. You would be stuck inside for a year whilst she would have to stick it out for three. Kuvira hated how you were paying for her actions, she didn’t see how wrong it was for you to turn a blind eye for three years. No one knew the pressure she put you under.
Your parents offered to pay the bills. They were comfortable enough with your mom's Lieutenant salary and with your father's popular flower shop. They even bought you guys furniture and upon your request paint to personalize your first home.
Somehow once that front door shuts, leaving you both inside with furniture randomly stacked around in the living for the both of you to organize along with paint cans and boxes of your belongings, the room feels like the air has been sucked out of it. You’ve dreamed of this day for years and it isn’t going at all how you planned.
She doesn’t get what the big deal is, she’s just happy she’s not stuck in a prison cell. That frustrated look on your face is new and with a sharp reply at some snappy comment you made, she realizes she doesn’t like it.
Kuvira gets pissed that the couch is too heavy, the paint isn’t the right shade, and even though she claims she doesn’t care it’s what you’ve dreamt, and dammit you deserve for it to come true. A plate cracks, silverware is dropped, the bookcase is too small for all your childhood books and one of you (Kuvira) already managed to scuff up the floors.
This, the after, is meant to be the easy part. There aren't any more battles or secrets, train rides, or negotiations. It’s the two of you in your first apartment and this day is supposed to be a happy one. This is meant to be a peaceful and happy day with stolen kisses as you lazily unpack. You’re meant to be starting over and it’s not supposed to be so difficult.
The sun has gone down and the lights dimly illuminate your disaster of a living space. Nothing has been accomplished. You grip the roots of your hair as the paint issue is once more brought up “why does it matter? It’s a decent color!”
“Because it’s not what I envisioned!”
“Well, we can’t always get what we want! What, are we going to have your parents return it?” Spirits! She doesn’t get it, your vision of the future was sacred, something you held tight for all those years. It has to be at least slightly like you imagined it, and this isn’t right.
To Kuvira, your behavior is starting to remind her of a spoiled child upset about not getting the last piece of candy.
“You don’t get it! It matters to me, we’re gonna be living here for the next three years. I think we should at least like what we put on the walls!” You storm away, slamming the bedroom shut behind you. There aren’t many places to hide here, all the main living space is combined along with a very small bathroom, one wall is completely windows that show the small garden and by the kitchen is the door to the bedroom.
Kuvira stands frozen in the living room, slightly flinching as the door slams shut. She understands that there will be a rocky adjustment period. She admitted that day in the tent that she needs to work on the way she treats you.
But she didn’t expect it to go south so fast. While you have your version of how today is meant to go, so does she. Kuvira hoped today would go along smoothly, she didn’t care about the furniture or walls, she simply wanted to peacefully start off your new life together on a good note.
You aggressively rub at your eyes as you feel tears of frustration well up before sitting down on the edge of your bed. That’s at least one thing that seems to be working out, all the beds you shared in the past were rather small (besides the one in the Beifong estate) so it was a relief to see them carry in a queen-sized bed for both of you. You lay down over the covers and sighed. Tomorrow will be better, you tell yourself.
You don’t mean to fall asleep, you just planned to lay there and stew in your emotions a bit before getting up and trying to talk it out. So when you awake with a start, your hand immediately goes to search for that familiar body. You choke out a sob as you find the other side empty. Momentarily forgetting where you are, you begin to cry as you wrap your arms around yourself. The words “what did I do?” leave your lips.
You bring a hand to try and stifle the sound as your lungs squeeze out all the air it can. The room feels so small and the darkness of the night so terrifying.
There’s the sound of shuffling from the other side of the door before someone opens it up, Kuvira looks at you, her hair a curly mess from sleep. She squints, still half asleep before hearing you let out a whimper. She walks over, crawling onto the bed until she’s in front of you, her hands come up to move your wrists as you continue to try and muffle the sound. “Hey, hey what’s wrong?”
Your eyes shoot up to hers and you throw yourself at her, wrapping your arms around her neck. “You weren’t here,” you cry. Kuvira’s eyebrows shoot up at your words before wrapping her arms around your waist, pulling you closer to try and offer you some kind of comfort. “I thought…” you sniffle, “I thought we were back on the train.”
Suddenly Kuvira feels anger flame within herself but it’s not directed at you but her because she’s the reason you're crying. “I was just sleeping on the couch, no one else is here.” Baatar isn’t here. You grip her shirt for reassurance, the fear within you stays and it makes your joints ache with anxiety as you remember all those nights alone. “I thought you wanted to be alone.”
This side of you is brand new to her and so heartbreaking. She can feel the pounding of your heart and a part of her is worried it’ll break out of your chest. She’s done this to you, she’s made it so you're sobbing so hard you can barely breathe. As you shake in her arms, she realizes this can’t be avoided tomorrow.
You shake your head, not being able to say anything as you continue to cry. She moves her arms, an act that has you holding her tighter, and moves them to your hips so she can scoot you over so that the both of you can sleep. You seem to understand as your grip loosens just a smidgen as she slowly lays down and, due to your clinging, you follow.
Once on your sides, you wrap yourself around her, needing her to be as close as possible, and tuck your face into her neck. It’s not all that comfortable but it helps slow your heart rate down a bit.
In the morning you seem to not want to talk about your episode, you act as if nothing happened. She always tried to ignore the way you looked after those nights on the train, honestly, she was too busy trying to scrub away the events of the night before to have noticed how truly upset you looked.
But now in the light of day as your unpacking more dishes she notices the bags under your eyes and the unusual quiet in your demeanor. Your movements are stiff as you place the baking dishes into a bottom cabinet.
It’s like you're a shell of yourself, like last night that bright, loving person was poured out of you along with your tears. It terrifies her to see how quickly it can all shift.
“Y/n?” You look up, quirking a brow. “Can we talk about last night?”
You tense up a bit, brushing your hands over your sweatpants. “What about it?”
“About…” Kuvira furrows her brows in confusion, “Y/n I thought you were hurt when I woke up.” You bite your lip, fiddling with the ties of your pants. You don't talk about this, never in the past three years have you talked about things like this with her. It always upset her when you tried to talk about how her actions hurt you.
“Well I wasn't, just startled is all. Can you pass me that box?”
“You were shaking,” Kuvira places her hand on the box to keep it in place when she sees you walk over to grab it yourself. “Is that… Is that what happened every time I…?” She can’t seem to bring herself to say it, so you do.
“Every time you cheated on me?” You place your hands on your hips and sigh. “Just drop it Kuvira.” You rip the box out from under her grasp and walk away. Bile rises in your throat as those pesky images you’d dream up every time she was gone appear in your mind.
You set the box down harder than you mean to and the sound of something breaking has you cursing under your breath. Bolin isn’t here to spar with, to help calm you down with uppercuts and swift kicks to the shins.
Kuvira is stunned, left standing at the other side of the kitchen counter as she tries to make sense of her raging thoughts. Cheated. You're not wrong, but hearing you say it hurts. She never called it that, knowing if she did she’d have to admit what she was doing was wrong. And she could never be wrong, at least not then.
So she called it punishments because then she could justify what she was doing. It’s not like she liked doing it because she didn’t but it seemed to be the best way to control you at the time. It won’t matter if she says that though, she knows it’s wrong and if anything it’ll make this situation worse.
“I-I’m sorry,” she says softly, saying it makes her internally cringe, but she does mean it. You let out a huff, ignoring her as you open up the box. All the adrenaline of trying to save the day has left you, honestly, it left you around the time they slapped that stupid tracker onto your ankle but the lack of sleep and her trying to confront something you’d rather stay buried is getting to you.
When you go to pick up the broken dish the sharp edge cuts across your hand, you hiss out in pain and jerk your hand towards your chest, it’s not a deep cut but it still hurts like a bitch. Blood begins to seep out and the sight of that sickening deep red liquid coating your palm has Kuvira panicking.
Suddenly she’s back in the trunk with her heart in your hands as she watched you bleed out. Her hands feel warm and coated in the thickness of your blood once more. Her heart begins to race, deep in the back of her mind she knows it’s just a small cut but it’s only been a few weeks since you were so close to death.
Ignoring the fight at hand she rushes over to gently cradle your hand and pull it close, you yank your hand out of her grasp, her eyes shoot up to look at you with pinched brows. “I need to clean it, just let me clean it.” Her voice shakes as she desperately tries to take your hand back.
“I can’t…” This furious look settles on your features as you glare into her eyes before storming away towards the bathroom. She turns to follow you, her heart is pounding at the memories pouring out from the box she’s tried to shove them in. “I can’t look at you right now!”
The slam of the door effectively ends any chance of her chasing after you.
A couple of weeks goes by, the walls have now been painted the green you wanted and your dad brought over a second bookcase, then helped move the couch with Kuvira. He stops by often with baked goods and a fresh bouquet to replace the last. After that first day of moving in your mother doesn’t stop by though, he says she’ll come around, that she just needs time.
But Kuvira sees the crestfallen look that takes over your features every time you open the door, and she’s not there. It’s a Friday night, and he’s come over to help cook.
Things have been tense between you and Kuvira, you can’t seem to look her in the eyes. She’s tried multiple times to get you to look at her, but each time you keep your gaze trained on something behind her or her forehead.
What she doesn’t know is every time you do accidentally look at her, betrayal seeps through you as you remember all those nights alone. You don’t want to be filled with anger and hurt every time you look at her, but you don’t know what to do. Saying that word out loud, cheated, has opened a door you kept locked tight, spirits you had built a wall in front of it after that first time.
But now it’s blown off the hinges and fills you up, threatening to spill at any moment. You're sure your dad notices, but he thankfully doesn’t comment. He’s commandeered Kuvira to fill the dumplings, saying “these are her favorite, anytime she got sick or upset I’d make these for her and everything would be okay again.”
You ignore him as he tries to converse with Kuvira, her replies are short and awkward as she doesn’t know how to conduct herself around him yet. Opening up a bottle of wine for yourself you try to work on the broth for the soup, desperately trying to tune her out. You love your father so much and you're happy to be near him again, but you wish he’d just go home.
Meanwhile, Kuvira is loving his company, not only does it force you to be civil, but she gets a chance to get on his good side. She knows how much your parents mean to you and whilst it will probably take a village to get your mother to like her again, she thinks she has a shot with your dad.
“And then! Oh, I think she was five when she realized what her mark meant, it was so adorable she-” Your dad laughs, suddenly you're filled with embarrassment as he continues. “She asked if they would be pretty.”
You know he has good intentions but spirits now is not the time to bring up stupid soulmates. Does he not feel the tension between the two of you? You know that if he does, it’s probably slipped his mind that it’s not over something small. Your parents never had to worry about what to do if the other cheats on you multiple times whilst watching you suffer.
You fill up a glass for yourself, pouring it past the socially acceptable amount, and take a big sip before filling up two glasses for them. Part of you wants to be petty and not fill one up for her but your dad will point it out if you do. That bitter voice in your head reminds you of how Kuvira once shamed you for drinking. Fuck that.
“Between you and me I think she thinks you're pretty so five-year-old her would be very happy.” Kuvira coughs, letting out a chuckle as she shakes her head, not that you see since your back is turned. “I don’t know about that,” is her modest reply.
To hear stories about your childhood feels like a perfectly wrapped present to Kuvira. It makes her feel close to you despite your current circumstances and to hear about how obsessed you were with soulmates makes her want to wrap you up and shower you with love.
But the problem with this story is it makes Kuvira think about all the shitty things she did to you. To hear about all the excitement and joy you showed over one day meeting her has made her feel ashamed of the person you got stuck with. Do you wish someone else was her? Have you ever thought about the what-ifs?
You hear your dad let out a chuckle and say “No, don’t be so negative.” If she replies you don’t hear it, soon after the topic is dropped as they focus back on the task at hand. Your grip on the wooden spoon is so tight you wonder if you can snap it in half. It hurts your fingers and that slight pain offers some kind of relief.
“So you pinch it like thi-”
“I’ll be right back,” you say, leaving the broth to boil as you hastily walk over to the bathroom and lock the door behind you. Kuvira watches you go with a frown, everyday it seems you have to lock yourself away from her. Like her presence is just so unbearable that you’d rather hide in a bathroom and miss out on time with your dad.
You catch the sight of yourself in the mirror and glare back at the unrecognizable person staring back at you. Your face is flushed from embarrassment and there’s this hint of rage lingering in your gaze that wasn’t always there.
You’ve never been this kind of angry person before, you were raised around flowers and cupcakes, books filled with great adventures and laughter echoing through your home. People who’d go to the moon and back for you.
Your mom could get a bit angry at times and when she did she’d go take it out on one of those training dummies at her work. There was hardly ever any yelling in your home and never once did you sense animosity between your parents growing up. This new environment was stress-inducing and it made you want to throw all the glass plates against the wall.
You bring your hands up to your cheeks and sigh. When you were younger you were badly bullied at school for being so quiet, if anything the teasing words and tugs on your hair just made you cave inward on yourself instead of lashing out.
You’d cry into your parent's arms as you asked them why no one wanted to be friends with you and your father helped you find solace in the solitary kind of activities to help bring you happiness.
When you signed up for the dance troupe that was a big step for you, which sounds ridiculous since you were nineteen, but that was something that required being around others and communicating with them. Both of your parents were thrilled at you finally branching out and had taken you to a celebratory dinner after your first practice.
They were your best friends, you looked up to them and admired the love they still evidently held for one another, soulmates or not love seemed to dwindle over the years for most couples. And now you're here, in your bathroom of the apartment you share with your soulmate which should fill you with joy but instead you're on the verge of tears as you try to push down that burning flame within.
If your dad ever cheated on your mom she’d slap him across the face and leave. If your mom cheated on your dad he’d cry so hard, but he’d leave as well. They always told you things like that were unacceptable when you’d tell them about all the school drama (not that you were ever involved in it) and now here you are. Feeling ashamed of all those years when she walked all over you, you wonder what would your parents think? You pull at the roots of your hair, no longer able to stomach the sight of yourself.
You hate all of this and you can’t look her in the eyes but if given the chance you know you won’t leave, and it’s not because of that soulmate bullshit. It’s because of those quiet moments spent in each other's arms when it seemed like the world ceased to exist, where you’d giggle as she’d rub her nose against yours. Where you felt safe and seen and loved.
You want those moments back, you want to not hate the sight of her but it seems anytime you so much as hear her voice you're on edge. You’re shaking due to the wave of anger and sadness that washes over you as you seem to get trapped in your thoughts.
It’s happening more and more, you zone out most days and seem to think of every little bad thing she’s done. It feels like molten hot lava is poured over you every time it happens. The knock on the door makes you jump up in shock, so lost in your thoughts you tuned the rest of the world out.
“The dumplings are ready,” you hear your dad say. You look up in the mirror and internally groan, you’ve made a mess of your hair and your eyes are bloodshot from crying.
“Uhm,” you clear your throat “I’ll be out in a minute.”
“Okay, we’ll be setting up the table.” You nod, not realizing he can’t see you as you try to fix your appearance which is a task in itself.
The dinner is awkward, it consists of spoons gently tapping against glass bowls and your father desperately trying to fill in the silence, he eyes you the whole time, probably expecting a smile to appear because dumplings fix everything, except this time they don’t. She feels bad for your dad, he really is trying to make you happy. Should she tell him it’s no use? That the only thing that will make you happy is probably her disappearance?
Anytime she looks your way you take a sip of your wine, you have to refill it thrice and it seems to drag on for hours despite the alcohol in your system. Kuvira does try to chime in as she tries to get on your father's good side but you are only able to let out nods of acknowledgment or forced chuckles at little anecdotes.
He leaves after helping you clean the dishes, much to Kuvira’s chagrin. With him around, he was a nice buffer for the two of you, a pleasant way to fill the uncomfortable silence that filled your home.
You’ve just finished wiping down the counters when she tries. “Y/n…”
“No.” You immediately reply, heading to your shared room to get in bed before her, like you always do.
A day later your mom finally shows up. She knows this is a private moment and to be honest she fears your mother's wrath. The way she glared at her when she opened the door had her wanting to hide away. She had said something about needing to talk to you, how the dumplings didn’t work which had Kuvira severely confused. But she didn’t question it.
So she lets your mom make tea while she tried to coax you out of the room. By the time you finally leave Kuvira sees that your mother is in the garden, patiently waiting. When you walk out of your bedroom you find her in the garden, sitting at the little iron table they got for you.
You watch Kuvira lock herself in your bedroom as you sit down across from your mom. There're two teacups filled with piping hot jasmine tea and a plate of cookies your father probably baked.
Neither of you speaks the first few moments, you both spend the time sipping from your cups and watching the bustling of the streets, it must be lunchtime.
“Why haven’t you stopped by?”
Your mom sighs as she sets the teacup down, “honestly I just… I have a hard time with all of this. With her and with your arrest.”
“Well, I did stand by while a bunch of horrible things happened mom. I understand why she arrested me,” you pick up one of the sugar cookies and bite into it. That all too familiar anger is bubbling within you once more.
“Yes, but as a Lieutenant of the guard it’s made people deem me unworthy of my job.” You tense at her words, you didn’t know people were giving her grief about your actions. It’s not like she encouraged you to leave. “And… I am just having a hard time getting used to her and everything she’s done.”
“She knows what she did was wrong, she was being cornered in Ba Sing S-”
“I don’t mean what she did to the earth kingdom, I mean what she did to you.” Looking down at the dark amber color of your tea, you slump your shoulders as you think of her words.
“I mean I’ll support whatever you decide but it’s hard for me to look at her knowing she kept you a secret, so she could keep up some charade with that Junior-” you tuck your hands under your lap at his name, trying to keep from clenching them, “and I’ve seen photos of him holding her and even kissing her, none of it is right.”
Biting your lip to keep from crying you look away from her, at the streets that have since calmed down a bit. You focus on a child holding his mother's hand as he kicks up water at the fountain. He’s laughing, his grin so wide it takes up the majority of his features. He looks so happy and carefree. You want that kind of life, wishing you could trade his with yours.
“It was only kissing, right?” When you don’t immediately reply, she continues “y/n what happened in those three years?”
“I…” you snap your mouth shut as you suddenly feel like you're about to cry. You can’t look at her, you’ll know she’ll be disappointed in you. “It was a couple of times to placate him, he’d been getting suspicious due to her lack of affection.”
And I’d angered her in some way, it was usually that.
You don’t say that though, deciding to keep it to yourself. You hear the sound of glass breaking and whip your head around to see the handle of your mother's teacup broken into tiny pieces, the cup slips from her hand and falls onto the table, causing it to shatter. Hot tea splatters onto the table and seeps through the holes within it, some liquid gets on your shirt and you jump back in surprise.
“Fuck, I’m sorry honey,” she says, going to grab one of the napkins to wipe up the excess tea. Her voice shakes with rage and you can see her jaw clenching so tight it looks like it’s about to snap. While she cleans no one talks, what do you even say? So instead you busy yourself by picking up a cookie and snapping it in half, when she leaves you’ll pick up the glass shards off the ground.
“You know…” Your mother clenches the wet cloth in her hand, trying to control her tone. “You know that’s wrong, right?”
“Yes, I do but what am I meant to do?” She opens her mouth to reply but stops herself when she sees the telltale sign of you being on the verge of tears. “I can’t look at her without imagining it but fuck mom I still love her.”
It’s silent for a few beats, you can see the cogs turning in her mind. You don’t know if you want to know what’s going through her head, probably disappointment at your unwillingness to leave Kuvira. She sighs and gently sets the dirty napkin onto the table, her eyes lowered to stare at a shard that has half a panda lily painted on it, the other half had broken off during the fall. The incompleteness of it is sort of beautiful.
“If you want to stay with her, you both need to seek professional help because this relationship is unhealthy and can’t continue this way.” She runs her hands through her hair, smoothing it back as she stares at you, “I can have a friend of mine come over to talk with the both of you, she specializes in things like this.”
“Yes but it’s not something that’ll be fixed right away. From the sounds of it, it’ll take years before the two of you can get to a healthy place.” Your shoulders slump at that, why is nothing easy anymore? Why can’t it go back to cinnamon-scented afternoons while helping your dad at his shop where the most difficult task at hand was tying a perfect bow.
“I’ll do it.”
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