"Hey Korra…" Tahno said when he noticed the Avatar standing to the side of his bench in the station.
"Tahno?" she said. She sounded surprised, and sat down on the other end of the bench, that comfortable distance from an enemy turned pariah. "Listen, I know we're not exactly best friends, but I'm sorry Amon took your bending." For the first time, the condolences of another felt good.
"I've been to the best healers in the city," Tahno said, more to the air in front of him than to Korra. He needed to say it out loud, to tell someone. "Whatever Amon did to me… it's permanent." There. He'd admitted it. Done with denial, done with hope. But he did feel a stab of anger, and turned to Korra. "You gotta get him for me."
Before she could reply, Chief of Police Beifong came out with the previous witness.
"Mr. Sato, if you remember anything else about what you saw during Amon's attack, be sure to let us know."
"I'm happy to help any way I can," the man replied. "I want these Equalists to pay for what they've done!" He nodded to Tahno, and again he was not repulsed by the condolences of another.
Chief Beifong looked at him, and Tenzin said "We're ready for you now."
Tahno rose to follow them out of the lobby into the interview room. "See ya around, Uh-vatar," he said, managing a two-finger salute and a shadow of his smile for her. He couldn't keep his shoulders or his head up as he walked away from that face, those eyes, that voice. For whatever reason, it was her face he pictured as he described Amon's attack, what it felt like to lose half of who he was.
Tahno had lost count of all the healers he'd visited in the last twenty four hours. Clean, white clinics that smelled of alcohol and steam. More rustic rooms with urns of imported water and wizened old women murmuring words under their breath.
Tahno couldn't remember anything but the sad way they shook their heads, telling him that there wasn't anything they could do. As he left the station, he shoved his hands I his pockets and found an unfamiliar scrap of paper.
Talk to Dr. Hya Tien. She may be able to help you in a useful way, it read, and then gave an address and phone number.
Tahno didn't have room left for hope, but the way it ended… able to help him in a useful way… it was at least worth taking a look at, since it was on the way home. And despite just how much he hated the thought of being seen, being recognized in public, that big empty house of shadows and echoes terrified him.
He gave the address to the cab driver and sat numbly in the back of the cab. Once he was in the office, he didn't remember paying the cabbie or climbing up the stairs, or even talking to the girl behind the desk about seeing the doctor. He was just in the seat, taking up space, until she offered him a cup of tea and told him the doctor would see him shortly. Soon, she opened the door and he walked alone down a narrow hall to a mahogany door with a name plate reading Dr. Hya Tien. He opened it.
"Mr. Tahno," said the woman behind the desk. "Please have a seat."
Tahno did as she asked, slumping into a lush leather chair in front of her desk.
"My associate from the New Shores Healers has been so good as to familiarize me with your case," the doctor said. She had a face of indeterminate age and wore a pale green jacket with a high collar. "I'm afraid I wasn't listening on the radio when it happened, so at the moment my firsthand knowledge of your situation is minimal." She paused for a moment. "I won't ask you to describe your situation just yet. Did Dr. Kansen from the healing clinic tell you what my specialty is?"
"No," Tahno answered, and it came out more of a sigh than anything else.
"I specialize in grief counseling. Most often, I handle cases where loved ones have died and the surviving family member or friend is having trouble moving on from the trauma," the doctor said. "A case such as yours… it is certainly the first I have handled, but I fear it will not be the last."
Tahno didn't notice himself snap to attention, fists clenched on the arms of the couch, or the harsh edge in his voice as he said "No."
"All right then," the doctor answered calmly without changing posture or expression. "The way I intend to approach this, Mr. Tahno, is like any other case of the death of someone a patient of mine was close to. In my doctorate thesis from Republic University, I proposed that grief comes in five stages, which I will describe for you so we can diagnose where you might be in the grieving process."
Tahno said nothing, and she continued.
"The first stage is denial, where it is hard for the surviving member to grasp the concept that the death or trauma has occurred." Tahno remembered Kuzon spending the day trying to firebend in the kitchen until he held Ming's lighter in his hand.
"The second stage is anger, where the natural response is 'How could this happen to me? Someone should pay for this. This is not fair." Tahno remembered very clearly going through a period of rage like that, taking it out on anyone and anything he could.
"The third stage is bargaining, trying to do whatever one can to counteract the tragedy. This is typically where people begin making sacrifices to spirits, praying for their loved ones to be returned, praying for things to be redone and have them taken instead." Tahno didn't remember many details about his nonstop visits to the healers, but he could remember saying again and again Anything for my bending, anything for my bending…
"The fourth stage is depression. At this stage, the person realizes that nothing can be done for the tragedy…" She seemed like she wanted to say more, but didn't.
"And then the final stage is acceptance, where the person moves on with his or her life without whatever has been lost."
"…What?" Tahno said, feeling something in his chest which was not pathetic.
"Acceptance. To accept that you have lost something and cannot get it back—"
"What? You expect me to just accept that Amon took my bending away, and just go on with my life la di da? Do you have any idea what he took away from me, woman? Not just my bending, my career, my life!"
"Yes, I know it can often feel like your life is over when tragedy strikes—"
"'It can feel like' my life is over? Do you have any idea who I am? I am Tahno Hanshen, Captain of the White Falls Wolfbats, four time pro-bending champion. And I don't need some lady in an office like you telling me to just get on with it."
The anger was revitalizing, and Tahno turned his back on her to study his reflection in a shiny black plaque on the wall. He couldn't do anything with the sleepless bags under his eyes, his lack of eyeliner, or his lank hair. But he could feel his spine was back to its limber strength and his shoulders were rolled back. He turned back to the lady and lifted his chin so he was looking down his nose at her with his typical grin.
"Thanks for the help, Dollface, you're really worth the money I don't intend to pay for your bull services," he said, and walked out of the office. He stole a kiss from the secretary girl on his way out and left her with a "Thanks for the tea," before heading back out on the city.
A/N: I saw something on Tumblr about the Wolfbats earthbender being named Ming. If the official names are out, could someone please tell me what they are or link me to the information so I can revise previous chapters accordingly?