Author's Note: This was written in 2015, but never posted. I have posted it now after finding it again in my archives.
I don't know how long I've been held inside of this prison. Time passes agonizingly slow, the only way to keep track of its progress being the tiny slivers of light that weakly shine through the bars of my platinum jail cell. When I first got here, I tried in vain to remember each day as it happened, but soon enough, I gave up. It just wasn't feasible in my condition. The only indicator I had that time had passed now was the continual, messy growth of my hair. Once prim and proper, it now hung in messy strands in a wolf-bat's nest around my head. I had long since abandoned trying to maintain it. Nobody cared, anyway.
It wasn't long after my arrival that the nightmares came. As a child, I'd always had horrific ones, waking me from peaceful slumber with piercing screams in the middle of the night. If I had thought those were bad, they were nothing compared to the ones that plagued me now.
After the seventh time, the guards had stopped coming in to check on me. I guess they figured that since I was still alive and breathing, all was well. Except it wasn't. I knew I looked like shit. Left alone to stew in my own guilt and misery, I had almost altogether stopped eating, the thought making me violently ill. I didn't even deserve the simple pleasure of enjoying it, even the crappy prison food that was my only sustenance.
I only ate when the guards forced a meal, once a week, down my protesting throat. And that was not without a valiant struggle. I wish they would just let me die. Nobody would care, anyway. I hadn't even had a single visitor inquire about my state of being, but at this point I didn't mind. I wouldn't ask about me, either. All anybody cared about was that my heart was still beating.
I wasn't even sure what I was expecting. Maybe a little more compassion from my surrogate family, but in truth I hadn't expected much from the woman that had always favored her own children over me, even after she had taken me in and adopted me. The only person that I felt truly loved me was my ex-fiancee.
I wondered how Baatar was doing. He probably hated me more than anybody else did. Yet, I still loved him, and I hated myself for it. The absence of my engagement ring hanging on a chain below my shirt, always touching my skin terrorized me daily. I was being haunted by my own decisions, decisions that I was only doing for what I thought was right.
I was just a complete and utter failure. Nobody in their right mind would want to see me, ever again. I was worth no more than platypus bear dung, unworthy to even be loved. No, I was almost certain that I would live out my days in prison at deaths door, my only human companions being the guards that periodically came to see me.
Perhaps that's why the sound of my cell door opening was such a shock.
I knew it wasn't the guards coming to feed me again. Although I wasn't sure how long it had been since they had, it certainly couldn't have been more than a day or two. Sitting on my threadbare bed in a crumpled heap of skin and bones, I didn't even bother looking up or opening my eyes. If anything, it probably was just an inventory making sure I was still alive. Those happened occasionally, and I couldn't even remember when the last one had happened.
I heard the door close behind whoever had come inside, yet they did not step closer to my prone body. Waiting and breathing shallowly, I carefully opened one eye, recoiling back when their face registered in my half-crazed mind.
There she stood, tall and proud and mighty across from my weak and battered body. Her big blue eyes bore right into my own green ones in a piercing gaze. I quickly glanced away, wrapping my arms around my body, clad in thin brown prison robes. Shivering, I waited for her to taunt me, to do something.
A choked laugh quietly clawed its way out of my torn throat, scratchy from all of the screaming I had done last night. "Don't treat me like I'm your friend. I don't need your pity or your help."
"I said, don't!" I screamed at her, curling myself into my sheets, panting wildly. The days in prison had taken an obvious toll on my mind, giving me anxiety and panic attacks that struck with little to no notice at all. I started to hyperventilate, clawing at my arms with my ragged nails, raising cuts that oozed tiny increments of blood. My eyes screwed up against a sudden rush of embarrassing wetness, and, chest heaving wildly, I struggled to regain what little semblances of control I possessed.
It was some time before I composed myself to speak again, my voice echoing in the platinum and wood cell. "Why are you here?"
Silence filled the room for an agonizing stretch of time. I was beginning to wonder if she had slipped out of my room during my little tantrum, but then she spoke, her voice soft and comforting. I hated it and its perfection, the very image of sophistication.
"I came to see you. I was worried about you, Kuvira." I snorted violently, turning my head to glare at her. She had sat herself down on one of the two chairs in the far corner of my cell, her elbows resting on my old wooden table. "I was. The guards have told me everything, how you're not eating or sleeping, and how you scream for people in the dead of the night."
My face flushed with mortification. "That's none of your business."
"Yes, it is. Kuvira, I'm sorry you're in here, more than anybody else, perhaps. But I think that if you let people help you-"
"I don't need your help," I spat at her, shakily pulling myself to my feet. I instantly regretted moving so quickly, feeling my head pound and seeing black spots dance across my vision as I swayed weakly on the spot. "Oh, god..."
"Hey, careful there," Korra jumped to steady me, helping me sit down carefully at the chair across from where she was sitting. I put my head between my legs, breathing deeply to try to keep from passing out. It's some time before my vision clears and my head stops pounding enough for me to have a coherent thought. I must be worse off than I'd decided I was. "Better?"
I just nodded, too out of breath to speak at the moment. When I managed to lift my head back up, I'm greeted by a platter of food, real food, not the prison garbage I was forced to consume. My stomach growled painfully, my arms wrapping around it instinctively to calm it down. I must have had a look of longing on my face, because the Avatar scooted the plate so it was sitting in front of me.
"Help yourself. I brought it for you." My eyes flashed up to peer at her, wondering what her game is. I'm too hungry to ponder it closely, though, and I'm digging in before I'm even conscious of moving my arms. The delectable tastes exploded on my tongue, and I almost moaned with pleasure before remembering who I am and where I was.
What was I doing?
I shoved the plate back towards her, gagging on the food in my mouth before becoming violently ill on the floor beside me, my whole body shaking with sobs and hurls. I coughed, retching again after I'd sucked in a sharp breath of air. I heard Korra stand up and begin to walk towards me, concerned.
"Stop it," I gasped, clutching at my throbbing throat when the worst has passed. "I don't deserve to eat that. Don't make me!"
Disregarding my shaky pleas, she knelt beside me, tilting my face up to look directly at her. I squirmed, uncomfortable, but something in her face told me to keep my eyes on her.
"Kuvira, this isn't healthy. You don't deserve to die," she placed her other hand over my mouth when I opened it to protest that, I did, indeed, deserve to die. Two tears slipped down my cheeks, falling on her darker skin. "No matter what you think of yourself, you deserve to live. If not for you, then do it for me."
My vision was blurry with tears, and I choked out a sob, muffled by her hand on my mouth. Before I can protest, she's gathered me up in her arms, hugging me tightly. I quickly realized that struggling will get me nowhere, and so I let her, going limp in her strong embrace.
For the first time since my arrival here, I started to cry, really cry, the kind of crying that cleanses your whole being with body wracking sobs and terrible noises. It's the kind of crying I used to frown down upon, calling people weak for it. It's bitterly ironic that person crying is now myself. The noises that are pouring from my lips are anything but strong and superior. I sound like a dying koala monkey-bear.
Korra knelt there with me so long that I'm sure she must be uncomfortable, but she never complained. When a guard came in to check on me, presumably, she quietly asked him to come back later, which he did without hesitation. I cried out every tear in my body until there was nothing left. I'm a shaking, shivering and trembling mess, probably looking like a half-crazed madwoman with my twitching limbs and my wide, staring eyes.
When I finally stilled against her, she helped me to my feet, supporting me just as she had on the day of my downfall, helping me sit down on my prison bed. I'm looking at anything but her, my face burning with embarrassment at her seeing me during my weakest hour. I only looked up at her when she shoved an orange into my shaking hand.
Blue eyes stared kindly back at me. "Please eat."
And so I did. I choked down every bite, feeling its comforting heaviness in the pit of my stomach. At first, I felt certain I was going to throw up again, but encouragement from the Avatar helped me get past it. The smile that lit up her face at my success brought a tiny smile to my own.
I'm suddenly ravenous, and Korra jumped to get me more when I quietly ask her for it. Before long, the platter is empty, and my stomach is full for the first time in a long while, and I'm utterly exhausted. Probably sensing this, she stands up to leave, promising me that she will be back, and reminding me to continue to eat. For her.
That night, I slept peacefully, free of any nightmares.