Title: (Currently untitled, but I’m going for “The AU That Shouldn’t Exist BUT IT DOES”)
By: Yssa B.
Fandom: Legend of Korra
Warnings: Modern Band/Music!AU. I mean, I don’t know, if it shouldn’t exist….
Parts: music!au tag
Notes: I’m almost sorry. But. Not quite. Many thanks to Hannah, since this AU is basically our child. No set updates. Just a bunch of drabbles that hopefully will turn into something that resembles a plot?
I’ve been updating because I thought of these guys’ beginnings. I assure you…it’s going to slow down eventually.
Alternate chapter title: Was it that big of a deal?
Music reference: Carol Kaye
Korra never felt as lost as she did when she stood in the middle of the Republic University campus. She felt a little less helpless with Naga by her side, but all she was good for was pointing her nose at the closest food spot.
“Can’t just shove my map at your face and expect you to point at where the Student Accounts office is,” Korra muttered to her. Naga whined and tilted her head. “You’re lucky you’re cute.”
She spotted a few people staring at her, probably because of Naga, and it made her a bit upset. It’s completely obvious that she was the new girl on campus. Her confused looks at buildings and her map only added to her “just transferred here” look. Not to mention her dog was the size of a child’s play vehicle.
So no one had the gall to walk up to her and ask if she needed help?
She frowned, folding the map. “Well, whatever, it’s not like I’m the kind that waits for help when I need it.” Her hometown was more like a community. Everyone welcomed you, fed you, and helped you when you needed it. (It was also impossible to keep secrets, but that never really phased Korra.) On the other hand, the city experience was as different as white and black. No one wanted to know you or say hi or anything. They minded their own business, but they were cold about it. Korra wondered if these strangers had the heart to call 9-1-1 if they saw someone getting mugged.
She passed buildings and signs, hoping to find “student” and “accounts” somewhere on them, but her search was futile. The campus was way too big, and her stomach was quick to remind her about lunch time.
Naga was panting after half an hour of walking. “I know, girl,” Korra groaned, rubbing her stomach, “we should have accepted Tenzin’s offer for a tour.” Could you blame a girl for wanting to figure out something on her own for once? She’s felt sheltered her whole life, with the private lessons and tutors and always being provided for, that she wanted to know what it was like to be truly independent.
She was in the middle of regretting her decision when a familiar voice called out.
To her left, Bolin, the street performer from before, waved his arm in an exaggerated arc while running towards her. With his guitar case strapped to his back and the red panda (Pabu, was it?) on his right shoulder, he was one of the happiest faces she’s seen the whole day. She sighed in relief as she waved back.
“Hey! Fancy seeing you here!” he said, remembering to wave to the big white dog next to her. “Hello, Naga!”
She barked in response.
“I didn’t think you’d come to find me so soon.” He scratched the back of his neck, flushed and…a little bit happy, if Korra was correct.
She chuckled. “Actually, I’m here as a student,” she admitted. “I needed to get to Student Accounts before classes start tomorrow.”
Korra didn’t think it was possible to have your mouth make a perfect zero until she saw Bolin do it. “No way! You’re going to study here?!”
“Yeah! I’m majoring in music,” she said. Bolin had this abundance of energy she found amusing.
“M-Music?! No way! Me too!!” His eyes were practically sparkling. “Oh man, of COURSE you would! That’s why you had spare strings! You play guitar?”
“I know a bit.”
Meanwhile, Bolin was freaking out. “Oh man, that’s so cool! I’d love to hear you play!” He looked like he was about to say something else when he froze. “Oh. Hey, how about a tour of the campus?”
Korra brightened. “That sounds great, actually.”
“Awesome! I can show you to Student Accounts on the way, and then maybe we can jam later. How about it?”
Jam? Is that what they called it? “I’m game!”
He took a route to her destination, pointing out specific spots and buildings that might end up being significant to her. Once, Korra asked what that weird sweet-smoky smell was, and Bolin snickered nervously. Pabu hid in his scarf until the smell went away.
“There were a bunch of guys smoking weed behind Bei Fong Hall,” he admitted.
Korra’s eyes bugged out of their sockets. “What?! Isn’t that bad for you?”
Bolin blinked. “Yeah, but a ton of people do it around here.”
“R-Really?” She looked ahead, definitely confused. Drugs were bad for you, right?
“Uh, say, Korra, where do you come from?”
“Hm? Oh, I came from the South Pole.”
Bolin tripped. “W-What?! Really!”
She nodded. Was it that big of a deal?
He dropped the subject, although Korra suspected he was a bit more impressed with her, and continued the tour. She learned the Sato Library boasted the most extensive university library in the whole world, the Republic Raiders’s biggest rivals were the Kyoshi Warriors (which was interesting because the Kyoshi Warriors is the only college football team to accept female members), and every third Thursday of the month was called “Neptune Night” in the dining hall because of the all-you-can-eat seafood buffet.
All in all, Republic University was a challenge Korra couldn’t wait to tackle.
“So you’re a transferring freshman?” Bolin asked.
“Second-year,” she said, “I took some of my academic classes in another college before I moved here. I wanted to concentrate on music.” She turned to him. “What about you? Freshman?”
“Yep! This is my second semester,” he answered. “I get to take more music classes this time, and I’m really excited.”
His grin was infectious. “How’d you get into music?”
He didn’t meet her gaze this time. “My mom was a singer.” His voice sounded far and wistful, almost like he wished his mother was there with him. “And my dad played guitar. I picked it up from them, and that’s that!” He inhaled. “It’s been my brother, my music, and me for as long as I could remember.”
Korra hummed, smiling. “Your parents sound awesome.”
She was surprised to see Bolin sag his shoulders, a small smile on his face. “Yeah…”
They had made it to Student Accounts, which was an exhausting walk from where Korra originally was, and she finished her business in a short time. Bolin was getting antsy, skipping every so often and whistling, probably eager to “jam”, when he suddenly stopped in his tracks.
“O-Oh noooo,” he whined, “I forgot something! Just stay here, I’ll be right back!”
And he ran off without another word. Strange, Bolin was, but Korra didn’t mind.
She looked around. They entered Gyatso Hall, the main building where they’d have music classes and lessons, and Korra could already hear some people getting some practice done. Down the hall, to the right was a cellist, and just to her left, someone in a flute quartet stumbled over a difficult phrase.
But there was something she never heard before. She found her head bobbing to the beat, wondering what this strange sound was. “Naga, you hear that?” The dog’s ears perked.
They followed their ears, turning a few corners, until she saw him.
His back faced the small glass window of the door, so she couldn’t see his face. All she saw was his black hair, a black t-shirt complimenting his tall wiry physique, and a strap around his shoulders. His—what was that?—was connected to an amplifier, and someone in the back played on the drums a beat he could play to.
But the sound coming out of that room…
Korra was amazed. She’s never heard this kind of music before, having been raised strictly classical (and some parts experimental). This guy had such a great flow and musicality…it was hard not to be impressed. She could only imagine how his hands looked, plucking at that strange flat electric instrument. Chills ran up and down her arms and spine, her excitement bubbling in her throat.
But the groove cut short when the drummer’s stick flew out of his hands.
The tall guy immediately stopped playing. “Damn it, Hasook, you can’t even play a simple three-minute jam without screwing up! What makes you think we’d be ready for a show?”
The drummer stood up, almost knocking over the hi-hat. “What makes you think we’re ever going to perform?” he shouted.
“We gotta be prepared just in cas—”
“Well, that’s BULLSHIT! You know why, Mako? Because we fuckin’ suck!” Hasook snatched his jacket from a chair, glaring at this Mako the whole time. “I’m outta here.”
Korra had to jump to the side to avoid the door slamming in her face. Hasook stormed off, back slouched and looking kind of pitiful. She peeked her head in the room and saw Mako sitting on a seat, plucking the electric instrument without the vigor he had just a few moments ago. (Why did his name sound so familiar?) Throwing caution in the wind, and only remembering the amazing sound she heard, she walked in the room and cleared her throat.
He turned so fast it could have given him whiplash.
But instead of a kind smile or a greeting, he narrowed his eyes. “What do you want?”
Wow, rude. Remind her never to get on his bad side. “I just wanted to say you sounded amazing! I’ve never heard music like that…or even an instrument like that!”
Mako raised a brow. “You’ve never heard or seen a bass guitar before?” He stood and faced her, and Korra stared at the long peculiar instrument.
“Bass guitar? Is that….an electric double bass?” Korra said, stepping closer. “Wow, I never thought you could translate something so huge to something so flat and…electric!”
At this point, Mako probably thought Korra was some kind of nutjob. The giant dog didn’t help. “Are you kidding me?”
She continued to stare at the bass, thinking how cool it would be if she could add frets to her double bass like this bass guitar. “No. Why would I be kidding?”
Mako glared. “Have you been living under a rock? Everyone’s heard of jazz music.”
“Well excuse me for not knowing what jazz is,” she said frowning. “I was just asking a question. You don’t have to be a huge jerk about it.”
“Ok, you must be fucking with me right now because—”
“Oh! Korra, there you are!”
The two turned to the door to find Bolin carrying a plastic bag of goodies. Naga yelped happily and bounced over to him, dancing around the bag and almost tripping Bolin in the process.
“Look! I promised I’d pay you back,” he said, offering her the bag. Inside was a huge assortment of candies Korra was sure she wouldn’t finish for a long time—she could only take in so many sweets at once.
“Korra?” Mako looked at her suspiciously. “You know her, Bo?”
Korra raised her head. Bolin knew this jerk?
“Yeah! Korra, this is my older brother, Mako!” Bolin wrapped his arm around Mako’s shoulders. “Mako’s studying Criminal Justice. Mako, this is Korra, a new transfer student!”
She actually had to be nice to this guy? “Pleasure,” she said through her teeth.
Mako crossed his arms. “Likewise.”
Bolin didn’t even notice the tension.