Disclaimer: I do not own LoK.

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Absence

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Korra sat at the window of her hospital room, staring out into the night sky glumly.

It had been seven days since the incident had occurred. It had been seven days since she had lost her bending. Korra felt empty inside, completely devoid of any emotion beyond dread, despair, and loss. Who was she without her bending? She certainly wasn't the Avatar anymore. Because to be the Avatar, one had to be able to properly protect the inhabitants of the world and wield the power of all four elements. Both of which she failed at.

She blinked back tears as the memory played back in her mind – how Amon held her down and stared at her before placing his fingers to her forehead, stealing away the one thing that made her, her. His eyes were golden, but lacked the warmth that Mako's did. They were soulless and filled with abounding hatred for the woman in front of him. His irises were branded in her mind, haunting her each night as she tried to sleep.

She remembered how she kicked and punched at him, but to no avail – her chakras were blocked, rendering her bending useless, and so was already weak and bruised and beaten from previous combat. She had been at his complete mercy.

He had said three words before he had taken her bending – "Say goodbye, Avatar."

And she had really thought that that was the end – that he wasn't taking that which was most precious to her, but that he was going to kill her. And though she hadn't admitted to anyone – not Bolin, not Tenzin, especially not Mako – she secretly wished he had. Because being dead was better than being a bending-less Avatar, a failure, an utter disgrace.

Because if Amon had ended her life there, then she wouldn't have to deal with the looks of pity she would receive from absolute strangers, mourning the loss of someone, something they didn't even know – of the once-Avatar. They didn't cry for her – no, they cried for the imminent and inevitable fall of their city now that Amon had defeated her.

It was only a matter of time, and there was nothing Korra could do to stop it. To stop him.

She was nothing anymore.

Korra bit her lip as she felt tears build up in the corners of her sad blue eyes, threatening to fall. She was about to let them slip down her cheeks freely when she heard a familiar smooth drawl from behind her.

"Hey, there, little girl."

At the sound of Tahno's voice, Korra's hand whipped to her face and furiously wiped at the insistent tears. She would rather be subjected to the entire city in her emotional state than let him see her cry, all alone in a room.

She didn't respond to his greeting, hoping he would go away and leave her alone. He blinked at her lack of response, before walking forward and crossing his arms. "Not as talkative as you used to be, I see." He came up behind her, and she felt his looming presence.

Stiffening, but not turning, she spat out, "What do you want, Tahno?"

He was quiet for a few seconds, contemplating his answer – what did he want with her? Why was he even there? He remembered what compelled him to go there – hearing about her losing her bending. It had taken a while for the news to arrive at the ears of the once-Waterbender, for he had begun closing himself off to the public since he himself had gotten his bending taken away. But now that he was there, he realized he had no legitimate reason to – at least, not a reason that would appease her.

He was supposed to hate her, and she most definitely hated him. But upon hearing the news, he felt odd, immediate concern. How did someone like Korra manage to lose something so significant? More importantly, was she okay? Or was she faring as badly as he had when he lost his? He was surprised by his sudden care for her, but didn't ignore it. Obviously not, or he wouldn't be there, checking on her.

He knew what losing his bending was like, and he was still suffering from the consequences of it three months later. It was psychologically scarring and tormenting. He had been absolutely devastated upon losing his – he lost everything: his influence and power, his so-called friends, his statuses. Upon losing his bending, he realized that he had nothing, that he was nothing, without it.

Much like Korra felt.

He shrugged, sitting beside her on the ledge of her window. Lying, he answered with, "Just visiting the esteemed Avatar."

He watched as Korra turned to him, her eyes no longer dull and vacant, but full of irritation at his presence. Avatar – she hated the word when once, she had adored it. Where it had once brought her power and admiration, it now only reminded her of her shame and failure. He noticed how she shuddered at his uttering of the word. "Visiting? Please, we all know you just came here to insult me. But before you start flinging idiotic remarks at me, I'll let you know I just don't fucking care anymore. So go for it."

Tahno blinked incredulously at her curt words. Normally, Korra would put up some kind of fight against him – start throwing around quips or threats, something like that, anything like that. But she didn't care, like she had said. He realized, with a drop in his heart, that she didn't have it in her anymore – she didn't have the same vivacious passion that made her the Korra had loved to toy with. That made her herself. Like he had been – still was – she was instead filled to the brim without explosive anger and deep depression. Her entire world had been taken from her at a moment's notice, like his own.

He reached a hand out towards her shoulder, but thought differently against it at the last second, retracting it back. Uncomfortable silence settled around them, and she stared at him, challenging him.

"So, are you going to tell me I'm a complete failure, or what?" she growled at him, furrowing her brows.

The ex-Waterbender inhaled and before his mind could process his next words, he spoke. "Korra, are you okay?" Tahno wanted to face palm at this question – of course, she wasn't okay. He still wasn't okay – and he was sure he never would be – so what made him think she would be all good and dandy? Cursing inwardly at his idiocy, he cringed a bit to the side, waiting for her to hit him or something, but nothing came.

Instead, she stood up quickly, a violent, hasty movement. Instead of attacking him, she began to scream at him, and he knew that he would have preferred a swift kick to the head than hearing her harsh words resound in his eardrums. "What are you, stupid? How could I be okay, Tahno? How the hell could I be okay? I lost my bending to a madman – now what am I? I'm not the Avatar anymore – I'm a failure, Tahno. I've failed everyone! The entire city! The entire world! How can you expect me to be okay? I'm nothing without my bending! I—"

"Korra," he held his hands up in front of her, urging her to stop, his tone of voice surprisingly soft to both of them. "Calm down."

"Calm down? Calm down? Only someone as ignorant as you would tell me that – you don't even understand! You don't have the entire world to protect! You-" Korra continued to carry on, but her words faded out to Tahno.

Only four words that she had said registered in his mind and sent him in a seething rage. You don't even understand. Standing up suddenly, he grabbed her by the wrist and cut her off. "I don't understand? You are an idiot, Korra, if you don't think I understand your situation. Amon took away my bending, too! I know what you're going through! I know the hatred you feel, the feeling of uselessness and the purposelessness! I feel as empty as you do! There isn't a day that goes by that I don't wonder if it all could have gone differently!" His animosity built as he continued to yell at her. Her eyes widened at their contact and his spiteful words. Not holding back on his anger, he pushed her onto her bed, his annoyance at her escalating into their old enmity. "In fact, I'd say if anyone here was ignorant, it's you!"

Korra narrowed her eyes at him, and he stepped closer to her, towering over her furious form. How dare he push her, call her ignorant, of all things! She was about to open her mouth to throw a retort at him, but he didn't allow it. "Why don't you stop being a little girl, Korra, and face the facts? Stop rolling around in your pity and face the world! You're no longer needed – you're not special anymore! You're not the saviour we need! You're weak, sitting in here and wallowing in guilt – denying everything, everyone. You're just an ignorant little kid – you never deserved to be a bender, to be the Avatar! Hell, the world is probably better off now that we don't have an idiot like you running around destroying things for the fun of it – now that you're a non-bender!"

Korra's stomach coiled at the barrage of cruel words he was throwing at her, and regretfully, felt tears form in her eyes. Had it been before she had lost her bending, she would have thrown him out of the window, would have faced him with prideful protectiveness. But she was nothing but a broken shell now – and there was nothing she could do to prevent the tears of complete abhorrence from falling down her cheeks, glaring at him viciously.

When Tahno noticed the liquid falling down the length of her skin, he stopped shouting at her, and straightened out, disgusted with his outburst at her. All of the anger that had pent up inside him in those previous weeks, he had released at her. Yet he felt no better – in fact, he much, much worse. His heart was heavy as he watched her curl away from him, pulling her face to her knees to block his sight of her face.

In that moment, not knowing what overcame him, he decided he would do anything to keep her from crying. And so awkwardly sitting on her bed beside her, he touched her arm with his hand gingerly, but she shoved it away in a violent swing. "Korra," he began whisperingly. Every time he said her name, it was just another stab at her ego, her ruined pride. He wasn't regarding her as the Avatar – he was regarding her as a person, as herself. And that hurt more than anything he had said to her so far. "I-I'm sorry, I shouldn't have—"

"N-no," she forced out from behind her hands. "You're right. You're right about all of that."

He shook his head quickly. "I—"

Lifting her head slowly, he saw her bloodshot eyes, and guilt flooded his system all over again, silencing him. "I know all of that," she sighed heavily, refusing eye contact with him. "I just needed to hear it from someone – clear and straight to the point. No bullshit. And you did just that. I—" She paused, breathed in shakily, and looked at the ceiling. "—I love Mako, but all he does is tell me nonsense. He's never honest with me – all he does is fill me with a false sense of hope. And quite frankly, that's not what I need right now. I need the truth. And you gave it to me. I, uh... thanks, Tahno. I-I guess."

Tahno was silent in that moment, deciding not to argue with her. He needn't spout lies to her, because she had just told him that that wasn't what she needed. He felt his heart prick peculiarly at her confession of love for the Firebender, though he couldn't place why. All he knew is that it made him feel sick, like the second he felt his bending being sucked from his very being all that time ago. An ever-growing pit in his stomach, sinking within him, making him ill.

Silence cast over them once again, Korra still not looking at him. After a few moments, she croaked out, "Y-you can go now, if you want. I know you don't care." He heard her sniffle from beside him.

He looked at the ground, contemplating his next words. Upon deciding what to say, he looked up at her and placed a hand on her shoulder comfortingly, firmly. "Who's to say I don't care about you, Korra?"

He felt the skin beneath his hand begin to shake, and he realized she had begun crying again, more loudly and uncontrollably than before, no longer trying to protect her last shreds of dignity. In that moment, Tahno knew what he had to do, and so standing up, he moved closer to her and hesitantly wrapped his arms around her sobbing frame. He felt her stiffen beneath his awkward embrace, but then relax, and she leaned into him, look for some kind of consolation from the man she was supposed to hate. The only man she knew that really understood her situation. Sure, Mako and Bolin were great sources of comfort to the girl, but they didn't know what it felt like to have their very being ripped from them. Tahno, however, did. He was not pitiful – he was empathetic, mindful of her loss. Of their shared loss.

Tahno's arms tightened around her, bringing her closer to him, letting her bawl into his chest. Korra's arms lifted and wrapped around his torso, hugging him to her and squeezing him. He felt his own sadness well up within him at this, and he pressed his face into her hair, trying to ward it off and focus solely on her, but to no avail, tears building up in his eyes but not falling. Her misery reminded him of his own, and so there they sat, embracing, searching for any and all sources of comfort within each other they could find, but failing desperately in their futile attempts.

He wanted so badly to make her stop crying, to see her smirk or something at him, but he knew she could not, and that she needed to vent, and so he let her. After a while, Tahno could take her wailing no longer – it was making his heart shatter painfully. Feeling some kind of confidence gather inside him, he leaned down and pressed an almost non-existent kiss to her forehead uncharacteristically, willing her sadness away. He wanted to tell her that he still thought she was the amazing tenacious girl he loved to rival himself against, but he knew she didn't want to hear it, and so said nothing, taking solace in their silence.

Korra blinked up at him, but looked away quickly when he peered down at her. After a while, her sobbing ceased, and she was reduced to sniffling. Slowly, reluctantly, they tore away from each other, sitting on opposite side of the beds, tension evident between them.

Eventually, Tahno sighed heavily, and he stood up, making his way to the door. Stopping, he turned around and offered her a genuine, but sad, smile. "If you ever need someone to tell you the truth again, you know where to find me," he managed.

Korra turned and smirked wryly at him, and he saw a flicker of her old self in her wary blue eyes. "I'll make sure to."

And just like that, Tahno left the room, left Korra sitting there, like nothing had ever happened. He wandered down the hallway, trying to sort of his confusing feelings for the girl – not for the Avatar, but for Korra.

The once-bender sat in her room, staring at the wall, utterly befuddled, but appreciative, of what had just occurred. With a soft sigh, she laid down on her pillow, and flitted off into her first peaceful slumber in days, for once her mind not being filled with horrifying nightmares.

Neither ex-bender was aware of the golden eyes that watched them, lurking in the shadows of the hallway outside of the room, jealousy swirling through their irises.

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Author's Notes: No regrets. Just realllllly wanted to write a Tahorra. So I quickly churned this is out.

Also, before you say she's OOC, it's because she is. She lost her bending – do you really think she'd be prideful, normal Korra? I don't.