lizbee: Korra smiling, her face at three-quarter view (LoK: Korra's firebending test)
[personal profile] lizbee
Title: Diplomatic Channels
Author: LizBee
Fandom: Legend of Korra
Characters and Pairing: Lin and Korra
Rating: All-ages

Summary: Korra asks the United Republic to intervene in the Water Tribe civil war. The answer is complicated.
Notes: The President Beifong AU hits the actual presidential stuff, and also canon; this is the AU take on scenes in "Peacekeepers", with extrapolations from the "North & South" graphic novel.




Korra didn't need Varrick's help to get a meeting with the president, but he insisted on accompanying her to City Hall anyway.

All the way across the city, he kept up a long monologue about all the people in Republic City who owed him favours, and only shut up when the president's secretary greeted Korra by name.

She added, "President Beifong's in a meeting, but she told me to send you straight in when you arrived."

Korra doubted that invitation extended to Varrick, but he followed her anyway.

She had spent the journey north preparing for this meeting with Lin, planning exactly how she would formally request the United Republic's assistance for her people. She knew she had messed things up with Tenzin, but she trusted Lin to give her a fair hearing.

Only, it hadn't occurred to her that Lin would be expecting her arrival, that she might have her own plans already for dealing with Unalaq. This mess was Korra's fault -- she might need help to put it right, but she resented the idea that the grown ups were already preparing to sweep in and fix things without consulting her.

A dozen people were gathered around the long conference table that took up one end of the president's office. Korra had apparently walked in on a heated argument, but the noise died away as soon as she entered the room, and everyone watched her approach.

She recognised some faces: Pelak, the former Councilman for the South; Myeong, a prominent businesswoman from the Northern Water Tribe -- but most of those gathered were strangers to Korra. Except for Lin, seated at the head of the table, examining the documents in front of her with a sour expression, and her daughter, Jade, rising from her seat and greeting Korra with a squeeze of her hands.

"Are you okay?" Jade asked quietly.

"Fine. What's going on?"

Jade's jaw tightened. "Politics."

Which made her presence weird, because Jade was a doctor, not a politician or a diplomat. But she had carved beads in her hair, and the collar of her blue dress -- which looked new, and much more elaborate than the plain suits she wore in her clinic -- was opened to reveal that she wore the betrothal necklace that Avatar Aang had made for Katara.

She looked like home. Korra relaxed a little.

Lin stood up. "Give us the room," she ordered, adding, "You, too, Varrick" when it looked like he would stay. "Not you, Jade."

Jade smirked at Varrick as she closed the door in his face, but her expression became serious when they were alone.

"Lin," Korra stated, but before she could launch into her speech, Lin pulled her into a tight, brief hug.

Then she stepped back and said, "Thanks for starting a war."

"I didn't start a war! Well--" she crossed her arms, "I did, but it's more complicated than you're making it seem."

"Yeah, tell me about it." Lin returned to her seat, motioning for Korra to join her at the table. "How's your family?"

"Is Gran-Gran okay?" Jade added.

Korra remained standing. "Katara's fine," she said. "Except she refuses to get involved. She wouldn't listen to any of my arguments -- she said she'd just work in the Healing Huts with Mom."

She expected Lin to share her disapproval, but she said, "Good. Katara's seen enough war for one lifetime. And your dad?"

"He's leading the resistance. But they can't hold out for long." Korra squared her shoulders. "He sent me to request, on his behalf and as the Avatar, that you send the United Forces to help."

Lin and Jade exchanged an unhappy look.

"No," said Lin.

Korra stepped back. It was like being punched in the gut. She had to force herself to keep breathing through the shock.

Her parents had lied to her; Tenzin tried to control her. Unalaq betrayed her. Even Katara had let her down.

But Lin was as steady and reliable as bedrock. Or so she had thought.

"I'm sorry," Lin was saying. "According to our treaties, this is an internal Water Tribe affair. I'd be violating international law if I intervened."

"But -- my father--" Rage was replacing shock. "He's your friend! He's depending on you, we all are! What's the point of being president if you can't help us?"

Lin turned pale, her lips thinning, the scars over her cheek becoming dark.

"I didn't become president to do favours for my friends," she snapped. "Korra, I love you like a daughter, but I won't break the law for you."

Korra wanted to smash something. She wanted to cry.

Instead, she sank into a chair and mumbled, "I can't believe you're taking Unalaq's side?"

Lin snorted, and Jade said, "If you really believe that, Korra, then you're an idiot. Mom's been trying to find a way around the law since we first heard about the invasion."

"And if you want to help Tonraq," Lin said, "you can give me a bit of support instead of throwing a tantrum."

Korra sighed.

"Fine," she said. "Who made these stupid laws, anyway? Wait, let me guess -- it was Unalaq."

"Actually," Jade sounded slightly sheepish, "it was my Great-Grandfather Hakoda."

"Seriously?"

"It's complicated."

"The Southern Water Tribe was badly hit by the Hundred Year War," said Lin. "It was still rebuilding when the United Republic was established. Even with the Fire Nation's reparations, it was still dependent on the North."

"In fact, we almost didn't get a seat on the Council," said Jade. "Hakoda got the North to compromise -- the South would have a seat, but in exchange, all the United Republic's treaties would be with the North." She gave Korra a crooked smile. "No one expected the two tribes to go to war."

"And that's it?" Korra asked. "We can't do anything?" She stared at Lin. "You're the president -- can't you change the law?"

"The day the new constitution came into effect, our ambassador to the Northern Water Tribe opened negotiations for a new treaty. Unalaq's been stalling her."

"What a surprise."

"He's obviously had this planned for a while." Lin reached for one of the maps covering the table and pushed it toward Korra. "But there's another option."

"Great-Uncle Sokka wasn't happy with his father's compromise," said Jade. "When he became Councillor for the South, he managed to separate trade from the other parts of the treaty."

Korra crossed her arms. "So Republic City can still sell stuff to the South. Great."

Jade gave her a patronising look. "Korra, have you ever read a newspaper?"

Mostly just the sports pages, but Korra wasn't about to admit that, so she said, "Sorry, Jade, I've been a bit busy trying to save the city from Amon and learn airbending."

"I meant recently. In the last few days."

"No. I came straight from Varrick's yacht to your office."

"Unalaq has set up a blockade," said Lin. "He's promised to destroy any ship entering Southern territory."

Korra frowned. "Why do you sound so happy about that?"

Lin smiled. "Because," she said, "with your help, I can do something about it."

For the first time since she had entered Lin's office, Korra felt a flicker of hope. "You'll let me fight with the Navy?" she asked.

Jade snorted.

"Don't get ahead of yourself," said Lin. "I need your diplomatic skills first. Assuming you have any."

Korra decided to let that pass. "What do you need?"

Voice sharp, Jade said, "Mom doesn't think she can do this alone."

"Bait a treaty partner's forces into attacking my Navy? Of course I want allies."

"It's a waste of time." To Korra, Jade said, "Getting the Southern Water Tribe's other allies on board could take weeks."

Lin said, "I think you'll find they'll listen to Korra."

Jade threw up her hands. "Fine," she said. "Give Unalaq more time to destroy the South."

"The South's strong," said Lin. "Go with Korra. Remind the world what it owes to the Southern Water Tribe."

Jade nodded.

"But if it doesn't work," she said, "I'll go to the South Pole myself."

"It won't come to that."

"Where do you want us to go?" Korra asked. "Kyoshi Island? The Fire Nation? I could leave tonight--"

Lin stared at her. "You're not leaving the city," she said. "I'll set up meetings between you and the ambassadors, starting tomorrow."

"But--"

"There's a protest march tonight," Jade told her. "We'll go to that." She looked at her mother. "That's your next move, right?"

"It can't hurt," Lin agreed. "Jade, will you give me a minute with Korra?"

"And spend time with Varrick?"

"Try to keep him onside. The man's an eel-toad, but we'll probably need him."

When Jade was gone, Lin leaned forward and said, "I'm sorry I can't do more."

Korra shook her head. "I'm so tired of feeling helpless. But every time I do something, it blows up in my face." She gave Lin a sidelong glance. "You know about my fight with Tenzin, right?"

"I heard something," said Lin mildly. "He'll get over it."

"This is all my fault. I just keep getting angry. Mako said I was picking fights." Korra wiped her eyes. "Then we had another argument."

"I know what that's like."

"Does it get better?"

"Sure. It's been years since I wanted to trash Air Temple Island just to prove a point."

Korra tried to picture that. It was … actually pretty easy.

"I keep thinking that this is the kind of situation that Aang would have been great at," Korra admitted. "You know, spirits and diplomacy. Aang stuff."

Lin snorted. "And you'd have a better time if you had Tenzin and Jinora on your team here instead of me and Jade. You have to work with what you've got, Korra."

"Any tips?"

"Try not to call people stupid to their face. And don't start any new wars. And…" Lin looked uncomfortable, "maybe we let you down, teaching you bending but not politics. I don't know. This is new to me, too." She shrugged. "Sorry."

Lin stood up, which Korra took to mean that the meeting was over.

But as Lin walked her to the door, she put her hand on Korra's arm and said, "One more thing. Varrick--"

"I don't trust him," Korra assured her.

Lin smiled. "Then you're already learning," she said.

end


Notes

I hardly ever do endnotes on short fics! This is so unusual for me! But there were two things I needed to say:

1. Don't laugh, I've had this fic kicking around my head since early 2016; any implicit commentary on a real world presidency is, like, ninety percent coincidental.

2. Bringing this AU to intersect with canon is interesting, because on the one hand, Lin's not going to be as dismissive of Korra/the Southern Water Tribe as Raiko, but on the other hand, she's still not going to be rushing to assist her/them. And at some point, Korra still needs to Take To The Sea to seek international allies alone, get attacked by a spirit and encounter Wan and Raava.

I just decided not to sweat the details, and figured that the timeline is already changing -- in canon, Korra doesn't see Raiko until the day after the protest march and bombing of the SWT Cultural Centre -- so we have time for her (and Jade) to meet with ambassadors before Korra decides to cut out the middlemen.

Date: 2017-07-04 01:08 am (UTC)
archangelbeth: An anthropomorphic feline face, with feathered wing ears, and glasses, in shades of gray. (Default)
From: [personal profile] archangelbeth
Mmmmm, AU fic!

Date: 2017-07-04 01:30 am (UTC)
archangelbeth: An anthropomorphic feline face, with feathered wing ears, and glasses, in shades of gray. (Default)
From: [personal profile] archangelbeth
LIN SMITE. >_>

Date: 2017-07-06 08:32 am (UTC)
mystefaction: A small girl reading a very large book (Default)
From: [personal profile] mystefaction
(I understand why Varrick is here, but:) Ugh, why is Varrick even here.

For some reason I didn't expect Lin to be the first President! And yeah... real life is making fiction weird, on multiple fronts.

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