Disclaimer: I don't own Legend of Korra or its characters.
Okay, so I just wrote Tahnorra which I ship really hard but I also ship Makorra so that's why it's also Makorra skdjfbsdlf feelings
i have all these tahno and his bending being taken away feelings and i ship them so hard sldkgbsdjklfbsdjklfbnsdklf
and i wrote this because i was listening to "The Way I Loved You" by Taylor Swift and I had this amazing Mako/Korra/Tahno video in my head and then Nathalie told me to write it out so I did yesssssssssssssssssssss
Warning: Some Spoilers for Episode Six.
He says everything I need to hear, and it's like I couldn't ask for anything better.
Korra watches him with a feeling that's almost indifference. It's not quite, because there's definitely some sort of emotion welling up in her chest. It's warm and bubbly, the kind that makes her want to laugh.
But it's not rage.
It's not anger; fury tinged with fuzzy feelings that make her want to stop arguing with him, and yet, continue on anyway because the rush of it is so exciting and perfect and so them. It's not the passion that she wants or the bite of sarcasm and irritation that she's used to.
In short, it's not the love that she wants.
Years ago, when she was younger and more naïve, she thought that what she felt for him was love. He was unattainable then, with a beautiful girl hanging off of his arm and she wanted it fiercely. She was jealous, and she thought it was love. She thought their petty arguments and tame insults were what she wanted; she thought he was what she wanted.
But right now, she looks at him as he opens the carriage door for her and the only thing she feels is fondness.
"You look beautiful tonight," He compliments.
As they walk, he takes her hand and smiles at her. She plasters one on and wonders if he knows that she's not feeling it like he is. She wonders if it's wrong to play this game with him. She just wants him to be happy. She wants someone to be happy, since she can't be.
Korra decides that it is wrong, when they sit down at the table in that Water Tribe noodle place that he used to frequent with her. She looks down at the menu, and her heart aches when she sees a picture of his usual order staring up at her. Closing the menu, she glances around the shop and recalls wistfully all the memories she ever had here.
When the waitress comes to take their order, she raises an eyebrow at Korra, who shrugs back. Somehow, as the waitress walks to the kitchen, Korra has the strangest feeling that the other girl remembers her, remembers all the arguments and storming off that Korra's done here.
Mako takes her hand from across the table, and Korra looks at his hand over hers. When she glances up, she blinks hard before the sneer and the arrogant toss of hair disappears and she sees Mako as he is and not the ghost that lies between them.
It's two a.m. and I'm cursing your name.
She bolts up in the middle of the night, her body shaking as tears roll down her cheeks. Her heart is pounding in a way that it never has when Mako's in her presence. Her head is screaming loudly. When she closes her eyes, the memories of her dream rush back and she luxuriates in the anger that she feels.
His smooth drawl reverberates within her ears and her own voice shouts back at him inside her head. Then the smooth drawl isn't so calm and suave anymore, but angered and enraged, just like her own. She can almost feel the watery feeling of his silk shirt as she pushes at his shoulder and the bruising grip of his hand as it stops hers from striking his handsome face. It tortures her with the knowledge of how much she misses him when she feels his phantom kiss, gentle on her mouth as it always was when they were like this and harsh and demanding when they were sweeter.
"I left him. He didn't come after me," She presses her fingers to her lips, screwing her eyes shut and whispering, "I don't love him anymore."
It's two in the morning, and Korra knows how much of a lie that is.
He's charming and endearing and I'm comfortable.
Ikki tells her that she's so lucky to have someone like him in her life. Korra knows that the young Airbender thinks of Mako as a prince from a fairytale story. In a way, he sort of is.
He's sensible like he never was; Korra never argues with him just for the heck of it. They only argue over legitimate issues like their pro-bending strategies. He never presses up into her personal bubble to look down at her with a condescending expression that makes a tingle crawl up her spine. He's always on time for their dates and when he says that he'll call her, she never has to wonder if he'll follow up on that promise.
Last month, her parents visited from the South Pole. Her mother adored him instantly, but what difference did that make? She adored everyone that Korra dated, sure that any guy her daughter picked was worthy of her. Her father warmed up to him as they bonded over pro-bending. It was cute to see him get along with her parents.
(She ignores that her father later pulled her aside and asked if she was really happy with him.)
Korra knows that she should feel happy because Ikki's right—Mako is like a prince, and he's incredible. No girl is ever so lucky, but somehow, she is, and she's an idiot for not loving Mako like she's supposed to.
Jinora looks at her with wisdom that goes beyond her sixteen years and tells Korra, "It's okay to miss him."
She alone, of all Tenzin's children, remembers how, six years ago, Korra had stormed home too angry to even put into words her feelings for the other pro-bender, even more than she had when she came home growling about how Mako drove her crazy. She alone remembers Korra's angry exclamation that he was even worse than Mako.
"I don't miss him," Korra says.
Both she and Jinora know it's not true, but she trusts the younger girl enough to know that it'll stay between them.
My heart's not breaking because I'm not feeling anything at all.
When Mako sits her down and gently explains that he doesn't think that they're working out and they'd be better off as friends, it bothers her that she feels nothing at all.
Her heart's not breaking at the apologetic smile on his face or the words that she just said. She just shrugs, "Okay."
The expression on Mako's face—disappointed, but expecting this—only bothers her because she knows that the two of them both know that he's the only one feeling anything right now. Still, she can't help but try to repair some of the pain she's caused him. She didn't mean for him to get hurt—she only wanted him to be happy, but it seems like she took the wrong course of action after all.
"You deserve the chance to find someone that will love you, Mako," Korra's voice cracks. It's the first feelings she's shown all night, and she has to bite her lips before continuing on. Something about this scenario feels too familiar. The words she's about to say hit too close to home. "Someday, you'll find someone that will love you like I couldn't."
"And you?" Mako questions gently, his golden eyes burning into her own blue ones. His ghost has returned, hovering between the two of them like a wall cutting the two of them off from one another. Both of them know all too well what Mako's talking about when he asks, "Don't you deserve happiness too?"
Korra doesn't answer.
All she can see is his hair hanging in disarray from their last fight and his eyes boring into hers. All she can hear is a voice like liquid velvet repeating the words Mako said almost too soft for her to hear, but she knows that the words were his first.
Don't you deserve happiness too?
It's a roller-coaster kind of rush, and I never knew I could feel that much.
"I never knew I could feel that much until I met him," Korra's voice is gentle and softer than Asami and Jinora's ever heard it.
The other two exchange a glance. They both know that what happened two years ago and the pain that went along with it. They both remember the tears and the anger and the utter lack of emotion that followed after Korra stomped off one night and never came back to him. They don't know for sure how the other party had handled the break-up, but Jinora remembers reading in the papers that he had left a trail of broken hearts in his wake in the weeks to follow and Asami remembers hearing about how he had lost his cool more and more often, almost getting disqualified from the championship more than once.
Jinora and Asami remember the way that they had battled during the pro-bending championships that year and the year that followed. Before, they never took shots at one another, but out of love, and when they did, it was never serious, and his team actually played fair when it came to them. But that year and the year that came after, it was like the first pro-bending championship they had fought, when the winner lost their bending, and they had cheap tricks and goading to win.
They remember seeing the way he flinched when Korra shot a barbed insult at him and the hurt that colored the Avatar's face when he returned in kind.
Jinora and Asami both understand heartbreak; Jinora is in love with Bolin, who refuses to look at her in a romantic manner because he's six years older, and Mako broke up with Asami out of confusion over his own feelings years ago. But Jinora and Asami don't understand heartbreak like this. They don't understand heartbreak like Korra's.
"He was good for you." Asami tries to comfort Korra, placing a smooth hand on her shoulder. "I'll never understand it, because I'm not like you, but the way you loved him was what worked for you."
"I miss everything," Korra has no more tears left for this; they dried up years ago. What's left in their place is hurt and more hurt. "All the screaming and fighting; even his stupid way of kissing me while bending the rain around us." Neither Asami nor Jinora know what to say when Korra continues, "When I walked away from him, I thought he would come after me."
And that's the way I loved you.
She's sitting at what she started thinking of as their table and she's alone today. A shadow falls over her and her meal, and she doesn't even have to look up to know who it is.
"Tahno," She says with a resigned sigh. Looking up, she knows that all the fire's gone from her eyes but she's surprised to see that all the flame has gone out of his too.
"Korra," He slides into the seat across from her. The waterbender's silent for a long while before he speaks. When he does, his voice isn't at all like she thought it would be. It's tentative and soft. "I heard you and the Firebender broke up."
"We did," Korra responds, raising an eyebrow at him. It's pathetic the way her heart beats faster and the little ember of hope that she's kept alive despite her mind being against it begins to light her heart on fire. "Why do you care?"
"I don't," Tahno retorts, but the two of them know that it's not true or he wouldn't be here. From the twitch of his lips and the lightning-fast quirk of his left eyebrow, Korra can tell that he's gearing up to fight just like she is.
But she forces down the instinct to fight, nodding calmly and sipping at her water. It's hard, especially with his familiar stare on her and the weight of their past bearing down on their shoulders. Instead, she surprises herself by asking, "Why are you here, Tahno?"
"I wanted to talk. About us." It comes from two years of dating and two years of trying to ignore him, but Korra knows that what he says in response was not what he intended to say, honest words as they are. He doesn't backtrack over his words though, so Korra assumes that it's a safe topic to venture on.
"Okay." She leans back and crosses her arms across her chest. "Talk."
The look that Tahno flashes her is fond, and her breath catches in her throat as the air of familiarity settles. "A little bird told me—and by that, I mean a little Airbender—that when you broke up with me that day, you thought I would come after you," He drawls and Korra knows that tone. That's his defensive tone.
"You did all the other times." Korra shoots back, mentally filing away that comment about Jinora telling Tahno about what was supposed to be a private conversation.
"Because I was wrong all those other times!" His voice is slightly raised, but not enough to be overheard by the other customers in the restaurant. Even his expression is defensive now, but his tone is truthful. "I wanted you to come back, and when you didn't, I told myself I wasn't going to go after you this time because I wasn't wrong that time."
"Oh, and sleeping with a thousand other girls after that didn't put you in the wrong?" Korra shoots back.
"At least I didn't enter into a serious relationship with someone I didn't love! I didn't feel anything for those girls," Tahno tosses with a growl, "And I didn't sleep with any of them! How could I when all I wanted was you, you infuriating, immature little girl?"
"Mako and I weren't serious!" Korra hisses, her voice low and her eyes dark with anger. All the hurt that she's buried for two years comes rushing back and tears she thought she had lost long ago burn her eyes as she forces herself not to cry. "Not like you and I were, pretty boy!"
"Serious enough to introduce to your parents." This time, Tahno's gone too far in what he actually intended to reveal. He pales and both of them are shocked into silence at the raw hurt that he let creep into that sentence.
Korra never realised that all this time, when she was suffering and hurting, that Tahno was feeling the same things she did too. But now, with that one sentence, she knows what he really means.
The very first time Tahno had met her mother, Senna hugged him and cooed over how he had lost his bending and then how Korra had returned it to him. Then, she pressed a blue stone into his hand and started telling him about the traditions of the Northern Water Tribe, where she was from, and how it had taken Tonraq weeks to carve her a proper betrothal necklace since he was from the Southern Water Tribe and they didn't have that tradition in the Southern Water Tribe. Then she asked him about his own region's traditions, seeing as how he hailed from the Swamp that Katara had shuddered often about.
Tahno had laughed and obliged her mother at the time, but neither of them had forgotten what the stone meant.
Korra realises with a start that the real meaning of that barb was more hurt, an unasked question.
Was he serious enough that your mother gave him a blue stone?
"Mom and Dad loved him," Korra begins, and she treads carefully because she realises what she wants now. Delicacy and feelings have never been her strong point; she prefers to solve things with insults and fists and bending, but she doesn't want to screw it up again. "But," she adds when Tahno grip on the edge of the table tightens, "both of them love you more."
Tahno's hand drops into his lap as he stares at Korra. His eyes, silver like she's never seen on a Waterbender, are fixated on her and she can feel her face get hotter as they search her own eyes. "They…do?"
Defiantly, she holds his gaze. "And so do I."
He doesn't smile genuinely very easily. She only remembers it ever being directed at her, Senna, or one of Tenzin's kids. Right now, she sees it on his face, filled with hope he doesn't dare to have but has found anyway. "It's been two years too late, but I'm sorry."
"I'm sorry too," Korra swallows around the lump in her throat.
"It wasn't all your fault that day," Tahno admits, running a hand through his hair. It's almost like they're alone again and he doesn't have to worry about his appearance because he knows that she doesn't care anyway. "You were wrong, but I fought back. I said some things I didn't mean either, and I should have just swallowed up my pride and gone after you."
"I should have been the bigger person and apologized." Korra shakes her head, a small, sad smile on her lips. "Look, there were so many things we could have done differently, but honestly, I think it was for the best. We could have stayed together and it would have happened again the next day. You were wild and crazy and frustrating and I loved you so much. I still love you so much." She bites her bottom lip as she contemplates what to say next. "Two years was a bit long, but I think that we needed a break. I want to try again, and this time, I don't want us to fight as much. The small ones were all well and good—and frankly, kind of hot—but when we really got going…" She trails off; they both know what she's talking about. "I'm willing to make the effort; are you?"
Tahno is quiet for so long that Korra's afraid that he'll break the heart she offered on a silver platter up to him. She tries to comfort herself with the knowledge that she tried this time; she tried. When he does speak, it's so quiet she has to strain to hear him.
"You know what good about breaks?" He asks her. Tahno continues when Korra just blinks at him. The smile on his face is more confident now, but also joyful instead of the arrogance it usually displays with the confidence. "The good thing about breaks is that they end, and when they end, I find myself appreciating whatever it is that I took a break from much more than I did before."
Korra smiles and pushes her yet-uneaten-food at him.
Tahno laughs—and her heart swells at the sound—because he notices for the first time she had order his usual when all she used to do was make fun of him for eating it all the time.
"You're intoxicating, and I'm so in love that I must be insane," Tahno says quietly. "I'm definitely acting insane."
"We're insane together." Korra replies just as quietly, and they smile at one another. "But that's the way you love me, right?"
Tahno chuckles and it's a low, throaty chuckle that makes Korra's spine tingle and her face heat up. "That's the way I love you."