When Avatars fall in love, they fall hard.
For Kuruk, it is sudden.
Cocky and brash and young as he is, he thinks he can conquer the world and his duties in one shot. He thinks he is invincible. He thinks life is fantastic, and nothing in the world could spoil it for him now.
There is this one girl he's a little...infatuated with, though.
She's shy, but it's pretty clear that she doesn't see much in him and that's what frustrates him most. When he returns to the Northern Water Tribe after he becomes a fully realised Avatar, she rolls her eyes at him and doesn't bother entertaining his whims and attempts at showing off. She thinks he's ridiculous. Avatar or not, she looks at him as if he were nothing special, and this bothers him.
It bothers him a lot.
For a while, he thinks that showing off more might work in his favour. For a while, he thinks that all he needs to do is catch her attention and if his displays aren't enough now, then he'll just have to come up with something big. Really big. Something she can't possibly miss.
He settles for an old firebending trick his master used to show him: it involves rings of fire and flaming dragons, and it's really a spectacle to behold – only he forgets that he's in the North Pole and ice has a tendency to melt. The ice cracks beneath his feet and, unfortunately for him, it's not even water underneath – it's an ice cave. He falls into it unceremoniously and hits the ground before he can even manage to soften his landing with airbending.
One sprained ankle and bruised ego later, and Ummi is shaking her head at him again.
"Smart move, that one," she says, gentle but amused.
"I was trying to impress you," he grumbles.
She rolls her eyes. "Haven't you figured it out yet?"
"Figured out what?"
Ummi chuckles. "Kuruk," she says. "You're a great Avatar. You're already impressive – there's no need to prove it. If you'd just had the maturity to ask, I would have gone out with you years ago."
Kuruk blinks. "Oh." He's sheepish and kind of embarrassed, but he supposes it can't get any worse than this. "Will you go out with me then?"
"Sure." She smiles, and Kuruk realizes that he's not just infatuated with her – he's been in love with her for a while.
For Roku, it's much less of a shock.
He and Sozin spar in the royal gardens regularly, and every afternoon, Ta Min passes by, shoots them a smile, and carries on. She's beautiful and graceful and for some reason, he loses their current match every time she walks past.
It's really not all that hard to figure out, and after a while, Roku realizes that maybe he kind of likes her, although it's not that big of a deal – he's still young and there's no rush. 'Like' turns into a proper crush in a matter of months, and the year of his sixteenth birthday, he considers the possibility of it not really being a crush because this has gone on for far too long – maybe he's actually in love with this girl – it'd explain a lot, and the thought doesn't strike him as shocking as it might some people - it just feels right.
He is in love with Ta Min.
But he has never spoken a word to her.
Roku is a great bender – everyone knows that. He's swift, precise and powerful, and on top of that, he's generally a nice guy but he's a little... awkward in certain situations. Ta Min is one of them.
So he and Sozin continue to spar regularly, and Ta Min still passes them every afternoon, and finally, Sozin is frustrated enough with his friend that he sits him down before they spar and studies him seriously.
"So you really like Ta Min, huh?"
Roku blushes a little but he nods. "A fair bit, yeah."
"Are you going to talk to her at all or are you just going to keep letting her wander past like she does?"
At that, Roku's blush deepens. "I don't think she knows I exist."
Sozin gives him a look. "Are you serious?" he deadpans, and Roku scratches the back of his head and stares down at his feet.
"Look at her – she's gorgeous, and her smile – I just – and I hear her talking with her friend when she comes through with her, and she's got the most beautiful voice, and she's smart and – "
"Roku." Sozin looks at him like he's an idiot. "Talk to her. I bet she'd like you just as much if you showed her a little confidence. Do it for the rest of us, please, your lovesickness is driving me crazy."
"But – "
"Talk. To. Her." Sozin jerks his head at colonnade where Ta Min is on her way through the gardens again.
Roku glances between her and his friend uneasily, but the look Sozin is giving him is both pleading and terrifying and it says that if he doesn't get over himself and talk to her now, he will take the matter into his own hands, and spirits, Roku really doesn't want that to happen. He huffs as he gets up. Maybe a little confidence won't hurt.
For Aang, it is at first sight.
The lead up is a little bit of a long story. At twelve years old, he is informed of who he is: the Avatar – the bridge between worlds; master of all four elements –
But he's only twelve years old.
He's not ready for this. He's barely an airbending master. He's just a kid, and he can't – he just can't be the Avatar – not yet. He can't be expected to take care of those duties when he barely understands how all of this works.
The monks tell him that it's an honour and that the world needs him, but doesn't get a say in anything? He doesn't want to be the Avatar – he wants to be a kid. He wants to spend his afternoons playing games with his friends, or travelling the world and meeting other people – not mediating problems between countries.
It's not right.
It's not fair.
So he runs.
He remembers leaving the air temple; remembers the storm that forced him and Appa beneath the waves; remembers how he couldn't breathe and how he fought to get to the surface but to no avail...
And then there is her.
He knows he must have blacked out, but when he opens his eyes, the first thing he sees is deep azure, dark skin and a gentle smile. He knows from the second that he sees Katara's face that he will love this girl for the rest of his life, which is saying something because he's only twelve years old at the time, but he just knows that if it's not Katara, then it's no one.
He thinks, as he stares up into her face, that she will be another friend in another great adventure – perhaps the greatest he's had yet – and he's right.
It's been one hundred years. His people are gone. The world is a wreck. It's an even worse revelation than being the Avatar, but Katara stays with him, every step of the way. She believes in him. She knows that if there's anyone that can fix it, it's him.
"You're really going to stay with me through it all?" he asks her one day.
She smiles. "Always."
And he smiles too. He's done running. And she'll be with him every step of the way.
For Korra, it's a little different.
She's heard the legends of how her predecessors fell in love – of how, when an Avatar falls in love, they fall hard. She knows how Kuruk changed his vagabond ways for Ummi; how Roku learned of confidence for Ta Min; and how Aang stopped running from the world with Katara by his side. She knows that their first loves are their true loves, and that those loves, no matter how ordinary, become legends in their own ways.
She wonders if that's true for her too.
So far her love life is pretty non-existent. She's spent the majority of her life so far cooped up in a training compound where she spent years mastering the elements of earth, water and fire. Only now does she get to see the world on her own terms. Only now does she have friends her own age.
It's only now that she knows boys.
Mako and Bolin are an interesting pair of brothers. She's new to Republic City, yes, but it doesn't take a genius to understand why Mako is so guarded and why the two of them live in the attic of the Pro Bending Arena. She doesn't pity them – they don't need that, nor do they want it – but she does think that they are both amazing people.
She's known them two weeks now. She fits into their team well.
Bolin is cheerful, charming and suave. He's a top notch earthbender, and she doesn't know if he thinks of her the same way, but she likes to think that she and him are best friends. They hang out together; go for drinks together; bother Mako together – and she knows and he knows that they're quite happy being just that. She can't ever imagine herself in a romantic relationship with Bolin, and she'll bet her week's allowance from Tenzin that Bolin thinks the same.
Mako is broody. Tall, dark and handsome, yes, but very broody, and she wonders sometimes if he ever loosens up. It bothers her that he never seems to have fun, and that he's bossy and argumentative; he can be infuriating when he wants to be and make her nervous at the same time. Sometimes he has this look that sends heat to her ears and puts extra beats in her heart, and she just knows that he does it on purpose, and basically, he drives her crazy – in more ways than one. He's always so serious, and it bothers her because she knows that it's been tough, but that's no reason to make other people feel uncomfortable.
"He's a little better since you came, actually," Bolin tells her over a drink one evening. "Mako used to be really bad about it, and I used to do this thing where I counted the number of times he smiled in one week." He snorts. "He's happier with you around."
Korra finds her ears heating a little. "What makes you say that?"
"Please," says Bolin. "I'm his brother. He doesn't show it, but I know these things."
Korra ponders this for a moment, but she figures it's no big deal and tries to push it to the back of her mind. Only it doesn't want to go to the back of her mind. It bothers her for the rest of the night, and in the end, it's a very thoughtful ferry ride back to Air Temple Island.
Mako certainly doesn't seem happier – although perhaps it's just because she doesn't know him as well as Bolin that she can't tell. She doesn't dislike him. He's an okay guy. But sometimes she wishes he could be openly happy more often. Just once she'd like to see him smile – maybe even laugh, if she can manage it. In fact, she really wants to be the one to do it. She imagines what it might look like and she can't help but feel the heat rising in her ears again – he's already handsome – she doesn't know if she could physically take it if he smiled at her too.
Mako? She considers that. Considers the uneasiness in her stomach when he gives her that look. Considers the heat in her ears and the number of times she's felt her mouth go dry in his presence. Considers the fact that she really wants to be the one that makes him happy, and considers how she can't help watching him when she takes her breaks while they train.
"Oh," she mumbles to herself. She knows what this is. She doesn't know how to feel about it.
Because when Avatars fall in love, they fall hard, and she wonders just how hard she's already fallen and how much further she's got left to fall.
I said I wouldn't do this, but the amount of Korra appearing on my Tumblr dashboard is killing me slowly and I just had to. It's 2am. Far out.