Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar: The Last Airbender or Legend of Korra
A/N: Hello readers! Well, since the last fic I posted was a bit serious and a lot heavy, I thought I'd post something immediately after with a slightly happier, shippier feel to it. Also, since I fear for the fate of our dear Wolfbat, Tahno (please go and see the Legend of Korra trailer I've linked to in my profile if you don't know what I mean), I figured I'd better get this fic out a bit ahead of schedule.
The ballroom was ridiculously opulent, almost gaudy with its gilded filigree decorated pillars, green marble floors, gold plated mountings, and a giant ten foot crystal chandelier that cast drops of light down on the room like snow. There was a band, but the music they played was stuffy and restrained, a lot like the many guests who were attending this fundraiser.
Korra sighed, not doing well at hiding her boredom. What she would have given for a jazz band to start strumming a lively tune, or to be playing air ball with Tenzin's kids, or to even have a scuffle with a few Equalists, anything but be at this party. But she put on a happy face, knowing that he was somewhere in the crowd as well, watching her. She could feel it.
"Ah, Lady Avatar."
Korra restrained from rolling her eyes. She hated the title the newspapers had given her and that most people insisted on addressing her with it. It was far too stuffy and formal for Korra's casual and carefree personality. Under normal circumstances she might have told the well-dressed man who had acknowledged her not call her by her Avatar title, but she could hear Toza's cranky instructions echoing in her mind before she allowed herself to be too brusque.
"This fundraiser is the second most important event in our sport, just behind the finals. These muckety-mucks like to put on a good show, treat the athletes to a dinner and dance, but mostly they're just showing off to each other. You gotta get them to like you. These are the folks with the money, the ones that sponsor teams, provide equipment, even add extra to the jackpot. Getting their endorsement is just as important as keeping up with your training. Don't do anything that will make them think you're an incompetent jackalope. I mean it, Korra. Be on your best behavior."
It hadn't been much of a pep talk, but Korra hated letting her cantankerous old coach down, so she swallowed her irritation and nodded at the gentleman.
"Mr. Sato, hello again," Korra greeted, presenting the host of the fundraiser with her most dashing smile.
"Are you not having a good time?" the man wondered in good humor.
"Of course I am! Why do you ask?"
"You've just been standing here by the punch bowl for fifteen minutes. Don't tell me a pretty girl like you doesn't have a date to be with tonight."
"Oh, I have a date," Korra assured, blushing more with mortification rather than ladylike modesty.
When it came down to it, her date was the very core of why she was absolutely not having a good time at this party. Of the many mistakes Korra had made since arriving in Republic City, agreeing to come to this fundraiser with Tahno, leader of the Wolfbats and primary rival of the Fire Ferrets, had been the worst.
She didn't even like the guy. He was too self-important, swaggering around the pro-bending arena, blowing kisses to his fans, posing for the reporters, lording himself like he was some sort of mortal god. It was benders like him that had fostered so much hate with non-benders that there was an Equalist revolution. So why had Korra agreed to come with him to this fundraiser?
'Because you wanted to piss Mako off,' an irritating little voice in her head chirped.
When Tahno had asked her to the fundraiser, slicking back his ridiculous cowlick and concluding his grandiose invitation by presenting her with a rose as he fell into a regal bow, she was at a loss for words. The Fire Ferrets had just finished their practice. Korra was sore and sweaty and completely taken by surprise by the offer. That was when she'd noticed Mako was watching them. She caught his eye, noting the hard glare he was shooting at her and Tahno. She knew he hated the leader of the Wolfbats, their rivalry dating back to long before she'd ever set foot in Republic City. While Tahno had waited for her answer, Korra locked eyes with Mako, trying to tell him without words that she wanted him to butt in, help her get rid of the guy, but the firebender just stared her down, looking at her as if she'd just betrayed him.
Insulted, and angry, and hurt by the silent accusation, Korra had taken Tahno's rose and accepted his invite. She remembered how Tahno had preened, shooting Mako a victorious sneer before sauntering away. Korra looked back at Mako, daring him to say something, scream at her, but he'd just narrowed his brows, his eyes going cold and hard before he'd spun on his heel and walked away from her.
And now she was at the party, having spent the better part of the evening being annoyed with her date and feeling Mako stare at her. She knew he had come to the fundraiser as well. The serious teenager wouldn't let a the opportunity to gain positive publicity for the Fire Ferrets slip through his fingers.
He was such a responsible asshole.
"I won't keep you, then," Hiroshi Sato said congenially, filling a tumbler with peach colored punch and handing it to Korra. "Enjoy your evening."
"Thanks," Korra replied, moving through the crowd, dejectedly deciding she had better go and find Tahno and finish the date. He was easy to pick out. Besides that stupid cowlick he was so proud of, he had worn a blinding ivory suit to the party, his figure contrasting with the earth-tone suits that were more fashionable. Tahno was surrounded by a group of guys, other pro-benders from what she could tell, and he was soaking up their attention, bragging loudly and clearly.
"…easy-street now that I'm dating the Avatar. We didn't have to pay for the cab, we were bumped to the head of the line, I got to sit at the head table, we were served first, I even got to canoodle with Asami Sato."
"Damn, Tahno, leave some girls for the rest of us," one of the boys joked.
"So what's the Avatar really like, Tahno?" another asked.
"Eh, like all women, really, nothing special. Completely taken with me, hanging on to my every word, begging for kisses while we were in the taxi on our way here."
"Did ya kiss her?"
"A gentleman doesn't kiss and tell," Tahno commented, though his snaky tone didn't leave his friends wondering. They started whistling and hooting, congratulating the guy on conquering one of the most untouchable women in the city.
"She sure is pretty. Tahno, you're so lucky."
"She's alright," Tahno sighed, smoothing out his jacket. "I mean, she cleans up nice, much better looking in a skirt than in those rags the Fire Ferrets wear. I never knew she had such great legs under that frumpy thing. I think later tonight I'll wrap those gams around my—"
Tahno snorted and turn to bark at the moron who had interrupted him only to be confronted with the very girl whose legs he was imaging. Suddenly, the eighteen year old's pallor went as white as his suit.
"Ah, Korra. H-how long have you been standing there?" he asked, trying his best to not look flustered or terrified.
"Long enough to know that you like the perks of being the Avatar's date more than you like me. You also seem to have a pretty wild imagination because I don't remember begging you for anything. Oh, and you think I've got great legs," she deadpanned, impressing herself with how in control she was managing to stay. She didn't want to cause a scene, she really didn't, not with the entirety of Republic City's upper class watching.
Not when Mako was watching.
She would settle her beef with Tahno in the arena, already planning to waterbend the guy into the cheap seats. Right now, she needed to hold on to her dignity. Taking a deep breath, Korra turned, intent on walking away, taking the high road.
"So what? Now you're gonna go? You should be complimented!"
Tahno's yells halted Korra in her tracks. In fact, the entire ballroom seemed to pause. Everyone's attention was on the Avatar and Tahno, breaths held as they watched the teenage drama unfold.
"I mean, you're not exactly the most feminine girl in the city. Han is more girly than you."
"Hey!" the insulted young man snapped, only to be thwacked in the back of the head by Tahno as he continued.
"That's why guys don't fawn all over you. It's hard to find a woman behind all that muscle. But hey, you put on a dress and show off those legs, I can finally see the beauty you are. I like you, Korra. So why don't you come back here and let's enjoy the rest of the night?"
The crowd waited as Korra silently made her decision, collectively gasping when she started walking back to the Wolfbats' leader. His arms were open as if to embrace her, a smarmy smile spreading across his face while his buddies slapped him on the back. When Korra reached him, biting her lower lip in seeming nervousness, Tahno began to close his arms around her in a gallant, forgiving hug.
"Could you hold this please?" she asked, pressing her cup of punch into his hands. Surprised, but not wanting to let it show, Tahno took the tumbler, smirking. Korra smiled charmingly at him, her eyes half-lidded and shyly looking down, her slipper softly scuffing the floor. "You've just helped me make up my mind about something I've wanted to do all night," she confessed airily.
Licking his lips, Tahno leaned in closer.
"Yes," Korra answered. She finally raised her eyes to meet with his, the large aqua irises nearly dancing with mirth. "Screw best behavior."
Tahno didn't see it coming. On moment he was nearly closing his eyes, expecting the Avatar to lean forward and give him a kiss, the next he felt as if his face had exploded, hot, blinding pain shooting up his sinuses and behind his eyes as he dropped the cup of punch to cradle his bleeding, broken, nose.
"You stupid broad!" he gurgled. Ignoring him, Korra bent all of the liquid in the room, from the punch bowl, from the fountain, even people's champagne glasses, and aimed powerful whips at Tahno and his friends, knocking all of them over. Completing her offense, Korra slammed her foot on the floor and bent the marble so that it forced Tahno against a pillar and trapped him in a full-body shackle.
She didn't care that the room had gone catatonic. She didn't care that she had probably ruined any chance of the Fire Ferrets earning sponsors for the next season. She didn't care that there was a reporter taking her picture. She didn't care that she'd likely added more fuel to the Equalists' campaign against her. What she did care about was that Mako was somewhere in the ballroom, that he had heard everything, seen everything, and that she couldn't stand to be at this party any longer.
The crowd parted as she left, no one bothering to try and stop her retreat. She stomped down the street, her body so tense and her mind so chaotic she never noticed the cool wind and how it made her skin pebble. When the biting sting of a rock cutting into her heel ceased her mad march, Korra looked down, annoyed to discover that one of her slippers had fallen off. Turning back, she limped only a few steps before stopping.
Mako was standing on the sidewalk, her missing slipper in his hands. Frustrated, humiliated, and stubborn to the end, she walked up to her teammate and made a grab for her shoe. Mako evaded her hand, leaning down instead to put the blue slipper on her foot.
"Looks like you broke your strap," he said, pushing the shoe snuggly onto her foot, his fingers tickling her ankle. Korra swallowed her gasp, refusing to let the firebender know that his skittish caress had sent a powerful jolt of electricity up her leg and throughout her body.
"Thanks," she muttered, pulling her foot away and starting back down the street. He followed her of course, and she knew she wouldn't be able to shake him until she reached the harbor, so she suffered his company.
"Some party, huh?" he asked, acting far too casual. Korra scoffed.
"Did you see it?" she asked.
"Hard to miss," he answered honestly.
"You could have jumped in, you know. Defended my honor or something."
"Why? You were doing a pretty good job of that yourself," Mako complemented, deciding not to tell her that after she had left he'd singed Tahno's eyebrows off before following her.
They walked side-by-side in silence. When a strong bay breeze hit them, the young Avatar realized that she had left her coat behind and was only wearing a sleeveless silk dress. Her arms shuddered, goose pimples tensing her skin. Before she could rub some warmth into her arms or even bend a fire to heat herself, Mako placed his long coat around her. It still held his own natural heat, and the collar smelled of his aftershave. She burrowed into the coat, never thanking him, walking just a bit faster towards the harbor.
There was a rowboat tethered to one of the docks. It wasn't the first time Korra had rowed to and from Air Temple Island. She was perfectly strong enough to handle the oars, and her waterbending helped her make good time. When Mako climbed into the boat with her and moved to take the oars, she tried to protest, but the stern glare he cast at her told the seventeen year old there would be no arguing with the boy. Putting as much distance between them as she could, Korra focused on bending the waters of Yue Bay to help carry the boat to Air Temple Island faster while Mako rowed.
They were halfway across the bay when the firebender broke the silence.
"Tahno was wrong, you know," Mako said, his smooth voice cutting through the still night like the oars cut through the water.
"Oh yeah?" Korra responded.
"Yeah. Your legs aren't great." The words were out before he could think about them, and if he wasn't so attuned to Korra's attitude he wouldn't have known intuitively to dodge the fireball she shot at his head. "Wait! I didn't mean that!" he cried, evading another fireball while trying not to capsize the boat.
"I don't believe you!" Korra shouted.
"I meant that it's not just your legs that are great," he managed to confess before he found himself doused in freezing cold water from Yue Bay, the chilling liquid shocking him into stillness. His words had the same frozen effect on Korra. She sat opposite him in the boat, staring warily at him, eyes searching his face for traces of truth and lies, unsure of what to believe.
"What?" she finally asked.
Mako swallowed, his dark, wet bangs falling into his golden eyes as he tried to collect his thoughts, working out the best way to tell Korra exactly what he meant.
"It's not…it's not just your legs," he managed to say, his breaths coming deep and hard. "It's…it's your arms, and your shoulders, your hands…the way you move when you bend…and your face, your hair…when you smile, like that."
Korra couldn't help it. She was still mad at him, and confused as to what exactly he was trying to tell her, but his cheeks were stained a rather becoming shade of rose, and his honey-kissed eyes were looking everywhere but at her. How could she not smile? He was nervous, jittery, a state Korra had never seen him in before. It endeared him to her more than he already was. Carefully, she moved closer to Mako, sitting right in front of him, leaning in.
That only seemed to make him more nervous.
"And?" she wondered. "What about my smile?"
"More than your smile," Mako said, steeling his courage. "It's the way you give our matches your all, and how hard you're trying to stop the Equalists, and how you argue with Toza but then buy him a basket of moon peaches…and the way you play with Tenzin's kids, and how you joke with Bolin, and spar with me, and brush Naga…"
They were leaning towards each other, closer and closer. All Mako could see was how the moon reflected in her eyes.
"It's the way you're looking at me right now."
It didn't matter who moved first, whose lips first made contact, or whose hands tangled in whose hair. It wasn't about who moaned first or gasped in answer, who licked whose bottom lip or who made the kiss deeper. What did matter was their mingled breath, their matching heartbeats, the feelings that passed between them, unsaid but displayed with raw intensity as their fingers played against their clothes and their lips found new flesh to tease and suckle.
They let the current carry them to Air Temple Island, jolted out of their heated embrace when the boat knocked hard against the dock. Catching her breath, Korra stared down at Mako. He was pinned beneath her, one hand massaging her bare thigh, another rubbing circles between her shoulder blades. One of his knees was in-between hers. The front of her dress was damp, having absorbed much of the water she'd doused him in earlier, her nipples pebbling like little buttons against the fabric, a combination of her arousal and the cool night air.
He was looking at her like she'd always wanted him to, the fire in his eyes branding her in the dark. She didn't want to leave him. She wanted to keep kissing him, and touching him, and seeing if his blush went further down his neck, and discover how his fingers might play on other parts of her body…
…but she couldn't.
That's not to say it wouldn't happen, it just wouldn't be this night. They needed time to breathe, to think about what had transpired, what they had said and didn't say and what it all meant.
And after that, maybe they could go out on a real date.
He helped her out of the boat, holding her hand as she hoisted herself onto the dock. She almost gave him back his coat, but he was already shaking his head.
"Keep it. I'll get it back from you tomorrow."
"Tomorrow?" she echoed, smiling.
"At the gym. We've got to train for our match at the end of the week."
"We'll be against the Wolfbats, won't we?" she asked.
"Yeah," Mako answered. "We'll give them hell!"
"OK," she agreed, raising her hand in farewell as she walked up the dock and towards the temple.
"And after we win," Mako called out to her, "we can go out and celebrate, if you want."
She definitely wanted.
She watched Mako begin rowing back to the mainland, taking a moment for herself to digest all that had happened. Looking up at the moon, she took a deep calming breath, thanking Yue and any other spirits that might have encouraged the events of the evening. While it might not have gone as Korra had expected, it had ended exactly as she'd hoped.
'What we anticipate seldom occurs, what we least expected generally happens.'
Ok, so I have no idea what Tahno's personality is going to be like, but based on his character design, I think it's a fair assumption that he's going to be a douchebag. Still, doesn't mean the poor guy deserves to get spirit-bended, but we'll see what happens as the episodes air.
If you are so inclined, please leave a reveiw!