The rain pitter-pattered against the window-pane. It was around noon-time, she guessed, but the sky was so dark, the clouds were so thick and the sun was so… not there- it might as well have been eleven in the evening.
Contrary to popular belief, even though the rain fell under the jurisdiction of her most natural element, she felt gloomy. There weren’t many days where Korra could willingly sit and do nothing, and today was definitely not one of those days.
A sigh escaped her lips as she thumped her head against the window.
Unbeknownst to her, a very familiar figure had crept into her room and tip-toed behind her. Without missing a beat, a pair of arms gently wrapped around her waist and Korra yelped in surprise.
She was about to demand to be released when he buried himself into the crook of her neck. The will to oppose left her.
A faint smell of burnt wood emitted from his body, and she knew he had been helping Bolin with his pro-bending team. Even though it was no longer his career, he still made time in his hectic schedule for his brother.
“Missed you today,” he mumbled from behind.
The corners of her lips quirked upwards into an amused smile.
“Missed you too,” she said, leaning her head back against his head.
A moment passed and - “Let’s go spar!”
If Mako had been anybody else, his jaw would have hit the ground. Instead, he let go of her waist, took a step back, crossed his arms and gave her one of his deadpan looks.
“I don’t know if you’ve noticed, Korra, but it’s sort of… I don’t know, raining outside.”
Mako made a gesture towards the window with his head.
“You know… precipitation and fire-benders don’t really mix…”
Korra turned around and shot him a look.
“No way! And here I thought we were getting snowed in!”
Mako blanched at her sarcastic retort while she continued to eye him expectantly.
Oh, the things he did for love.
It was the year 2020 when she learned that she might be the last person alive.
It was the year 2021, Christmas day, and the winter was not as cold as she last remembered it.
It was the year 2021, the day of New Years Eve, and the silence failed to bother her as much as it used to.
The trees and grass grew as if nothing was wrong in the world. On the contrary, the world was greener than ever before. There were no more running cars, no more active power plants, no more… well, just no more civilization. Or, at least, there were none to her knowledge. For all she knew, she was the last one alive. The only proof that human-kind once existed were the shells of once great cities. The lesser towns just disappeared, buried under the sand that the wind carried along – sometimes the snow. Where she was at the moment, she did not know, but what she did know was that she was just in Manhattan about a month ago and she has never seen anything more tragic –
Let’s skip the ‘how’ve you been’…
She was doing it for the good of the city. The good of Republic City was important. Very important. Of course, for she had only risked her life, trying to save it, several times and counting.
This counted as one of those times.
Tahno felt as though everything should have and would have been his if he saw fit. The first time he had met Korra, in a small candy shop, he liked her and wanted her for himself.
“How much do you cost?” he remembered asking her, “My dad will pay any amount.” Korra had looked at him with blatant disbelief, and her lips had twisted into a scowl.
“You can’t buy me you snobby bastard,” she said as she jabbed her then small and chubby finger into his chest.
“What?” he remembered saying, “Then what do you want?”
Korra shook her head and rolled her eyes, “Friendship takes time, you swell.. no, you pill.” With that, she began to turn, but he grabbed her arm.
“I have that. Time I mean. How much of it do you want?”
Korra laughed loudly, so un-lady like, but he loved it anyway, “All of it,” she said. He went to the candy shop every day after that.
When had they begun to fight a losing war?
She couldn’t quite remember. The numbers were never clear to her, but she never thought… never thought that it would be so bad. Were people really so tormented on the inside? Had the benders really done so much harm to the non-bender population that they formed such a huge uprising? So huge that their side out-numbered the benders…
Was there really a non-bender civilian? It sure as hell didn’t seem like it.
Korra never saw it coming.
She thought it was over, finally over. They didn’t kill Amon, no. That was the last thing they wanted to do. They had him bound and restrained, hidden behind barred and padded walls. The council hoped to appease the equalist cause, prove that they wouldn’t take things too far and that they were people too.
Some hoped that he would never get to see the light of day, ever again. She hoped, in all honesty, that he would eventually overcome his issues and have a life.
Wishful thinking was wishful thinking.
The resistance continued.
One who sees.
Let’s go shopping for groceries, they said, it’ll be fun.
She’d never really gone grocery shopping in Republic City, so she took their words with a grain of salt. Okay, half a grain of salt because she had really expected it to be enjoyable. She never saw a reason for Bolin or Mako to lie to her about it.
But they did.
So there she was, stuck in an aisle. To her right was a wall of ‘Flameo Instant Noodles’ - literally, a wall of foam cups wrapped in plastic. To her left was a wall of a colorful assortment of cereals and wheats. Were there really that many different kinds of wheat?
“You look tall enough,” a voice said. Korra snapped out of her thoughts and looked around and saw nobody. Huh? “Down here!” Her eyes moved downwards, and there stood a little old and wizened woman, about a foot and-a-half shorter than herself. Her hair was all white, curly, and had a healthy luster to it. Weird.
She woke up late that day.
Not like that was anything new, but she woke up especially late.
And no matter what time of the morning or afternoon she rose, she was always grouchy. She dragged herself out of bed and crawled through her morning routine, almost literally. Her hair was last on her to-do list, as always but-
Where were her bands? The ones she wore just about everyday?
Damn, damn, damn, she thought. Naga probably took them, and she was well aware that anything small that her polar-dog took was as good as gone.Damn, again.
Korra made her way out, zipping up her parka, and headed to the gates. She felt her hair blow back and she huffed with annoyance before she pulled the hood over her head. She hated it when all of her hair was loose.
Things got messy very quickly.
When she saw the watch tower, she sprinted to the ladder and quickly climbed up. There, she saw Howl facing the outside snow and waters with his head in a book. Perfect.
Korra tip-toed closer and then quickly grabbed his helmet. “Ha!” she cried before she quickly pulled her hood down and placed the hemet on her head.
Howl groaned and set his book down. “Korra,” he whined, “You’re going to get me into trouble!” He turned and approached.
“Nuh-uh! And besides, you look so much better without it!” she said, holding her arms out and moving to the other side of the room.
“Yeah, well, you look better with your hair down,” he said.
Well damn, how would he know? Was her hair sticking out? Did she put the helmet on wrong? How did he even notice-
She had zoned out and Howl took the helmet off of her head. A triumphant smile was plastered onto his face.
Korra snapped out of her momentary daze and she pulled her hood over her head. “Howl!” she whined.
He dropped his hemmet onto the ground and took a step forward.
“I’ll keep that thing off, if you stop hiding like that,” he said, reaching his hand up and pulling her hood down.
A light blush spread across her cheeks, “Fine, whatever.”
It’s…. it’s been a while, I never stop thinking about you. Hi, how’ve you been? Please visit me in Republic City. I miss you terribly. I can’t sleep without you sometimes. Do you miss me, even a little? Do you think about me, ever? Do you remember me at all?
Howl, hey! How are things? Have you talked to mom and dad? Tell them I said hi!
Republic City has been
okay really great and I made new friends here.
Tenzin and his family have been amazing, they let me stay on the island, they feed me, and they train me! I fit right in, it almost feels like home.
It’s really not home without you.
Sorry for getting you into trouble and lying. I really needed to leave though, duty called!
I knew you wouldn’t have let me through if I told you the truth.
Have you forgiven me yet?
I hope you get to visit the city soon! Everything is so pretty here, and the people are great!
I heard Sentries could request to change posts, but when I asked if you did they said no… why?
That reminds me, I’m in a pro-bending team! You might already know that because of the radio. Remember the friends I told you about? They’re on it too, Mako and Bolin.
Bolin and I went out on a date the other day and we had fun!
Well, enough about me. How’ve you been, Howl?
From your friend,
He didn’t know how to tell her.
How could he? Asami had never been anything but great. They never fought and she was just perfect for him.
So why’d you kiss Korra back?
He blamed it on the heat of the moment. He liked Korra, but not in that way. Or maybe he did like her in that way, but he wanted to keep it completely platonic. Everything had to be platonic, whether he liked her or not.
You called her amazing.
Well, duh, because Korra was amazing. The was headstrong , sometimes to a fault, she helped them get to the finals and she was the Avatar. What wasn’t amazing about that? Mako sighed and rubbed his temples. Asami would make more sense, he reasoned. They had so much in common and she got him. It took a lot to actually get Mako, understanding and personal experience helped a lot.
Just tell her then, the longer you wait, the harder it will be.
So it was decided. Mako would own up to his infidelity and tell Asami. He had to, he knew, but how? ‘Hey Asami, I kissed Korra the other day but no big deal, I didn’t like it that much. Dinner today at 8, right?’
Right, like that would work out.
Hours bled into days which melded into weeks that accumulated into months.
He had lost all perception of time. What was time when one did not have life? Nothing to live for? When everything was just taken away and what was left was only an empty shell? Everything that made him Tahno was suddenly, gone. It was the domino chain. Knock one down and the rest would go with it. And it would keep on going until everything had hit the ground.
He’d locked himself upstairs in his room, but even his own sanctuary wasn’t safe. No place was safe. Not with the Equalists. He sat on a couch in fetal position with his arms around his knees. He was so so lost, but the feeling was wasted on him because there was no such thing as lost to a person who had no where to go anyway.
They had it planned down to the second. Came crashing in when they all least expected it and took him as a captive. He was put in a chair-line on a stage. They told him they would make an example out of him. That he would see the way soon enough and that if he resisted, they would torture him by electrocution. He had decided kept his mouth shut, but if had known what the example was… he would have screamed and begged to receive the torture. Anything but what they had done to him. But the thing was he didn’t know, and nothing could change what had happened. Tahno gripped his head in his hands, a dry sob escaping his person. He wasn’t first in line for the examples. But he had seen, he had seen what the masked man could do. He had seen what happened to the people that tried to escape. He stayed put, awaiting his fate because Tahno was not a fighter, not in these situations.
He was next. They forced him to stand and the masked man proclaimed, ‘The Age of Bending is Over,’ once more before he placed his fingers on Tahno’s head, thumb on Tahno’s forehead, and took everything away. There was no pain, not that he knew of. There was only that feeling of dread because the masked man was taking him apart from the inside, putting him back together, but leaving one crucial part out. And Tahno could only watch, watch as life as he knew it slipped from his hands.
When it was all gone, like it never existed before, he was dropped to the ground. He didn’t move, he couldn’t. There was a commotion though, and nobody else was brought up because they were all gone. He could hear furthering voices that shouted, ‘It’s the Avatar!’ and then nothing.
Tahno was deserted and he had never felt so alone in his life, so devastated. He had fallen from his own self-made thrown, so high above the clouds, so high that he had lost himself long before he hit the ground.
There was a knock on his window and his breath caught. He heard it unlock and a figure came in. He only held himself tighter. This was it, wasn’t it?
The figure moved towards him and his eyes grew wider and wider with every step they took. Tahno opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. He hadn’t used his voice in so long…
The footsteps stopped in front of him and his breathing became labored. Please, no, he thought to himself as the figure leaned in. “You really let yourself go, huh?” a female voice said. It sounded familiar. “What? Pretty boy can’t talk now?”
And he remembered. He remembered laying on the ground and seeing the Avatar, no Korra, long after the commotion died down. Their eyes had met for a second, and then Tahno had blacked out.
“K..orra?” an unfamiliar voice whispered. Was that him?
Korra held her hand out to him -let me save you- “C’mon, let’s get you fixed up.”
He could only stare at her outstretched hand.
She sighed and threw his body over her back.
What happened to the insults and arguments? The bad first meeting and the intention of actually doing harm? And as if she could read his mind-
“You can’t trade your mistakes, Tahno, but people deserve second chances.”
Maybe he would sleep tonight.
I WANTED THIS TO BE CANON SO FUCKING BADLY.
ALL THESE CREYS.
She could never recall a time in her life when she really wished that her glances could burn.
Until now. She stared Tahno down, willing his body to just spontaneously combust- he deserved it, after all.
Who was he? What made him think that it was OKAY to get into strangers’ faces, asking for sex with immature sexual innuendos? And where did he get the idea that having, not one girl but, two girls hanging off of his arms was okay? It just pushed a whole lot of disrespect to her gender’s name, and that was the only reason she was so mad about it- she reasoned.
Which all led to a fateful confrontation in the hallway of the Pro-Bending Arena.
“What are you doing here?” she demanded from him when she saw him a few feet away, just down the hall. A person could almost literally smell him from a mile away - she had told herself, multiple times, that she didn’t like the smell of his cologne.
“My my, wake up on the wrong side of the bed today, did we?” he quipped as the corner of his mouth pulled up into a brooked smile. “No worries, Avatar,” he said with that infuriating accent and horrible pronunciation, “My offer for those private lessons still stand. I’m sure they will relieve some of that tension in your back.” His eyes trailed over her body for a few moments, “And other places.”
Korra let out an irritated huff. “Screw you Tahno!” she exclaimed.
“That’s what I’ve been offering, Avatar,” He said with a jilted smile, amusement laced through his voice, “But tell me, when, where, and how?”
Her eye twitched involuntarily before she lurched forward and grabbed the collar of his coat. She pushed him up against the wall and glared at him.
Before any threats and curses could come out of her mouth, Tahno spoke. “Why, I didn’t know you liked it so rough.” His arm came around and pushed her body flush against his own, “But that’s okay, because I do too.”
His free hand moved to tilt her chin up, and before she knew it, his lips were against hers. What in the spirits was happ- why in the Avatar’s name were his lips so soft? She, by no means, was kissing back. People just tended to notice those things like that while kissing. Like how he closed his eyes while doing said action. Should she close her eyes too? Wait, no…
Korra was literally kissed into a stupor- though she’d never admit it.
Somebody cleared their throat from behind.
It’s not what it looks like, she wanted to say, but Tahno pulled away, leaving her temporarily confused.
Tahno looked up and gave the person a lopsided smile- his form of polite - “And what a great day it is, ref,” he said, keeping his arm tight around Korra’s waist.
The referee gave the two a pointed look. He had seen the girl from the Fire Ferrets push the Wolfbat boy against the wall. He came over with the belief that he would be disqualifying a team from the championship finals. Apparently not.
“Next time, find a room you two,” he said before he turned to leave. What was with kids these days? Shoving each other against walls was a turn-on now? He’d have to keep that in mind.
When the referee’s footsteps stopped echoing through the halls and our of hearing range, Tahno released his hold on her and patted off his clothing.
Korra may have been in a stupor, but she could still piece two-and-two together. She was about to get disqualified from the finals… so why did he… he would have won then and-
“There’s no point in winning by default,” he said, glancing at her still disheveled form. “And there would be nothing fun about that, right Korra?” Her name tolled off of his tongue so naturally… she didn’t even realize he had left until she snapped out of her daze and found herself alone in the hall.
She had spent so much of her time thinking about him. Truth be told, her mind was on the topic of him more often than not. Even her conversations with Jinora and Ikki were almost always about him.
Korra hated that.
Well she didn’t really mind it before, but now… Now it just felt as though she wasted her time. How did they know that she might have liked him anyway? She wasn’t that obvious, right?
Take a chance, they told her, He’ll realize it soon enough.
And Korra did take a chance. She took the biggest one of all. Yes, she did admit her feelings. And then she got rejected. But, as they say, no pain no gain. So she tried again.
Korra kissed him.
She kissed Mako. It was absurd, sudden, brash, and she just kissed him.
Mako didn’t kiss back.
There wasn’t much to say, and there wasn’t much to see.
Korra sat alone in the furthermost pews of the church -who got married in churches anyway? Bolin sat in the front, about ten rows ahead, along with Tenzin, Pema, Jinora, Ikki, and Meelo. Surprisingly, Meelo and Ikki weren’t making any noise. She figured that Meelo was asleep and Ikki was just too excited because this was a wedding.
And it was, by no means, small. They called it small though, because it was the Satos, and if half of the population of Republic City could not fit in it, it was small. To Korra, it was her worst nightmare- being surrounded by so many strangers on a special day. She doubted that Mako knew most of these people. But who was she to say? She avoided him like the plague after they had won the Pro-Bending tournament. Maybe he had turned into a social butterfly in that time. Anyway.
What it was apparently lacking in size, it made up in with its grandeur. But that wasn’t something that Korra wanted to pay attention to. No. Spirits, she didn’t even want to be there.
Bolin had come a month earlier, bearing a card from the Satos, announcing the marriage of a Mako and an Asami. No surprise there, but she definitely recalled burning the card and attempting to jettison Bolin into the water with her earth-bending. It was safe to say that she should have kept in mind that Bolin was a lot heavier than Ikki and Jinora.
And still, Bolin came back a few days later with a carbon copy of the first card she had received. She burned that too. And she kept burning them, until one day Bolin begged her to stop and just go because Mako really wanted her there.
So here she was, in a dull, long dress with different shades of blue, her hair was down, but she kept her boots and arm-bands. Bolin and everybody else she knew insisted that she sit in the front. There was no luck with that. Korra planted herself in the back just a minute after she stepped into the church, and she never left.
Before her thoughts could go any more astray, music filled the room. Hushed whispers that once permeated the air just disappeared. Korra knew how it all worked.
She stepped stepped into the walkway, holding her father’s arm. Her dress was slightly off white, and it was dramatic, to say the least. But she didn’t pay attention to Asami for too long. Her eyes went to… well, the reason why she was here.
Mako looked happy. The feeling radiated off of him in large waves and it made Korra’s heart hurt. It’s not fair, she thought to herself as she turned her attention to the wall beside her. She crossed her arms over her chest and let out a choked sigh.
And why isn’t it fair, Korra?
Usually she would ignore her thoughts but not today. I knew him first. I helped him with the Pro-Bending issue. I saved him and I saved Bolin. Spirits I put my life on the line for them- and everybody else- more than once. Most importantly I-
She may have been in a mental argument but she still let out a shaky breath.
I loved him first.
And there she stopped with her mental rant because she knew there was no point. Here, today, everybody was there to watch them promise themselves to one-another.
Korra’s eyes wandered, albeit reluctantly, back to the groom. Still, he looked at the her - the girl pretty in white- with eyes full of hope, gratitude, and love.
She gripped her dress tightly.
When Asami finally reached the alter, Korra’s mind was already lost. This was really happening. This was reality. This was the truth that she knew she had to face, no matter how hard she tried to ignore it.
She couldn’t make Mako happy. No, but Asami could.
The words that amplified through the speakers never reached her ears.
A tear slip down her cheek, and then another. Was she crying? Korra blinked a few times and rubbed at her eyes. Damn.
“Oh, I know, don’t they look so perfect together?” a woman that sat to her right whispered, “You must know them well. I’m sure if I did, I would cry too.”
Korra held her tongue and bit back a laugh. If only. But she just nodded her head in response.
She thought she could hold out through it all, she thought that she was strong and capable, and it would be easy. She thought wrong.
She swallowed the lump that formed in her throat and rubbed the fresh tears away. Just before they said their “I Do’s”, she quietly slipped out of the back door.
When she made it outside to the gardens, she cried. Cried because she wanted to be happy, cried because she couldn’t. Cried because she knew he was smiling, just not for her. Cried because she knew that she could no go back to what it was before.
“I just want to be happy,” she said to herself. She’d never heard her voice so quiet and meek.
“Then, go for it,” she heard somebody respond just moments later.
Her foot-steps echoed as she walked through the empty hall-way. Odd, there was usually always somebody around. She could hear herself breathe and see her own breaths come out in little puffs of white.
A rock was kicked across the floor and she heard footsteps. “Who’s there?” she asked, “Show yourself!” Korra looked around but saw nobody. Maybe she was hearing things? She was prone to having an over active imagination and she knew that she couldn’t stand silence and being-
A cold chill ran down her spine, and before she knew it, she was surrounded by a group of three Equalists. Really? she thought before she raised her fists and kicked fire all around her. The three stepped back and she moved to stomp her foot onto the ground to project them into the water, but another Equalist came from behind and hit her leg. Of course there are more of them, she thought before she fell to the ground.
Not a second later, more of then came and disabled both of her arms and her other leg. Korra was panicking, her heart beat erratically and a sense of dread washed over her.
Was this it? Was this the end?
“So nice of you to have come by, Avatar,” a voice said from the shadows. Her heart dropped because she knew that voice. It haunted her and kept her at wits-end. “What do you want, Amon?” she said through clenched teeth. Korra may have been in a bad situation, but she wasn’t going to show her fear.
A masked figure stepped out from the shadows and approached her. “Ending this quickly would be best,” was all he said before his hand reached out.
She tried to move, but she was held in place by two pairs of arms. Still, she did not relent her struggle. Everything was riding on her shoulders, the lineage of the Avatar, the fate of Republic City, the lives of innocent benders… Korra panicked, “No!”
She abruptly sat up, her body was in a cold sweat. Just a nightmare, just a nightmare, it’s only in your head, she thought to herself.
But it felt so real.
Korra sighed and held her head in her hands. It was still dark out-side and she was not going back to sleep any time soon. She stayed still for a few moments, thinking. Midnight stroll time.
Her feet touched the floor and she stood from the bed. She carefully tiptoed her way around Naga, trying not to wake her- she knew that Naga was lacking in rest too because Korra screamed sometimes at night, which woke up the poor polar bear-dog.
When she finally made it out of the doorway, she sighed in relief. Korra walked slowly and strolled around, enjoying the feel of the night’s cool air on her skin.
She knew the way there like the back of her hands. Her feel carried her to one of the cliffs of the island. There was a great view of the city lights and the waters, but most importantly- if you ignored all of the flashy things- there was Avatar Aang’s statue.
She sat down in her secluded area and stared off into the distance. Korra went there sometimes, usually after one of her nightmares, to think and to calm herself.
Tonight, her jaw was rigidly set. She was tired, so so tired of the nightmares, tired of the criticism, tired of doing things she didn’t want to do, and tired of feeling so alone in the world. A frustrated sigh escaped her lips as she looked to Aang’s statue. Korra always went there in hopes of something, anything. A sign, some guidance, but it never came.
“I don’t know what to do,” she said helplessly.
Things will get better, Korra.
She was much too tired to realize that the thought was not her own.
There were moments in her life when she wished she wasn’t the Avatar.
They were few and far-between. But that didn’t mean they weren’t important. She has constant fears. Korra hated falling asleep because who knew when she would be having dreams about Amon again? Least to say, she didn’t particularly enjoy waking up at odd hours of the night in a cold-sweat. Come to think of it, the best sleep she ever got was probably when she staked out at the park that one night with Mako.
Not that Mako had anything to do with that rare good nights rest at all.
But she would be lying if she said she didn’t notice the lack of him recently. It wasn’t really anybody’s fault. She didn’t go to practice and he didn’t go to the island. There was no reason to. Well okay, she should be going to practice but she convinced herself not to because her duty as the Avatar and learning to master air-bending was much more important. If she told herself that enough times, maybe she would really believe it.
Her excuse for missing the first few practices was just that - Avatar business. After the Gala that Tarrlok had thrown for her, and after the rendezvous with Amon, she didn’t really know what was what anymore.
Korra could stare up at her ceiling for an hour or so before she had to get up and walk around, but even that was a huge sign of ‘something is wrong’. She’d never been targeted like that before. She’d never known that so many people hated the existence of her. And she never knew how unsettling it was to be in the presence of Amon.
That added onto the small nagging guilt in the back of her mind -she knew the pro-bending tournament was still on thanks to an Asami Sato, yet she still never went to practice. Korra was definitely worse-for-wear.
Today, though, she decided to go to practice on her own- under the assumption that nobody would be there, of course. Bolin had told her what days the gym and arena were usually clear. She refused to be known as the dead weight of the team.
Korra didn’t bother going to the locker room to chance. Instead, she made her way into to the gym and made a bee-line towards the punching bag. Quick, fluid movements, light footing and strong hits, was what she learned. She made quick jabs at the punching bag with loose fists. Just vent it all out, she thought to herself - better there than anywhere else.