Disclaimer: I don't own Legend of Korra
lsdgnsdjklfgnsdjklfn crap did you guys see the new clip dskfjbsjkfls i did it was magnificent and i actually started writing this yesterday and i thought i made tahno ooc but sldnfsdjklf whatever i think he's sufficiently in character now sdlfnsjkf
this is going to be a verse
i know it is
oh pfft, i have this whole time line thing for this and yes, it will be a series. my other fic, "it's a roller coaster kind of rush", is actually part of this series, except i have no idea what part. but this one is part one.
also, tahno is eighteen in this and korra is still seventeen. idk, like in my headcanon, korra is born in october 1910 and tahno is born in december 1908. the years are just example years, but the months are legit in my head okay. like, tahno's almost two years older than her, but not quite. korra just says that tahno looks about nineteen.
It was right after her second pro-bending championship finals that Tahno approached her.
"No, really, you guys keep the cash," Korra was saying to Mako and Bolin, her hands gripping the championship cup. "I'll just keep the trophy; it's a fair trade. Besides, you need the money and I—" She paused when she realised that both boys' eyes weren't on her, but rather, behind her. "Guys?"
"What do you want?" Mako's voice was harsh, addressing over Korra's shoulder.
From behind her, Korra could hear the smooth velvet of the other Waterbender's voice, "My business is with the Avatar; not you." As Korra turned around to face the dark-haired man, said dark-haired man's lips quirked into a sardonic smile. "Congratulations, Korra."
"Uh, thanks." Korra said awkwardly, averting her gaze. Other than the usual exchange of insults and veiled threats/sexual innuendoes, they never really talked since she had found a way to restore his bending last year. "…is that it?"
"No," Tahno was pointedly ignoring Mako and Bolin's curious (and distrusting) gazes; his silver eyes were focused solely on Korra's own sapphire-blue eyes. "I was wondering if you'd do me the honor of having dinner with me, sometime next week?"
Korra's eyes widened and she stepped back in surprise. She could hear Mako and Bolin's surprised gasps, and she was just about to answer when Pabu squeaked loudly the room was thrown into chaos as Bolin chased the fire ferret around. She could feel Mako's eyes on her as she grabbed Tahno's hand, tugging him behind her as she went into the hallway.
"What do you think you're doing?" She asked quietly, forcing him to walk with her.
Tahno raised an eyebrow at her, "Asking a pretty girl out on a date."
"No, seriously." Korra stopped, crossing her arms across her chest as she stared up at him. "Are you doing this to bug Mako? To get our pro-bending strategies?"
"What would the little firebender have to—" Tahno paused mid-sentence as he comprehended the situation. He gave her a self-satisfied smile. "I'm not trying to bug him; if he wants a date with you, he should man up and ask you—like I am." He cocked his head at Korra, "You still haven't answered, by the way."
"And you still haven't answered my question." Korra retorted. The pout on her lip was quite endearing, though the suspicious glance did throw off the effect just a little bit.
Tahno shrugged off-handedly, his smile softening into something that seemed…fond. "I like you."
Korra blinked hard a couple of times, her cheeks flushing. She had never been in this situation before. Sure, a lot of guys thought she was pretty and stuff, but they, like Mako, didn't really…ask her out. She was just kind of the girl that was a buddy; she wasn't dating material like Asami.
"What do you say?" Tahno pressed, "You can even pick the place."
Korra's lips turned up into a mischievous smile, "Chang's."
Tahno called her bluff with a wink, "I'll pick you up at eight then, Friday evening. Wear something fancy."
As he walked away, Korra called after him, "At Air Temple Island, right?"
He didn't even turn around as he responded; he just waved a hand in farewell, "Like I said, I'll pick you up!"
To be honest, Korra didn't actually think of what would happen once Tahno actually got to Air Temple Island. In fact, she was still getting ready when Ikki ran down the hallway, screaming, "Korra's boyfriend is here!"
Meelo chased after his older sister, "Yayyyyyyy!"
Korra groaned, peeking her head from behind her screen door and beckoning Jinora over. "Hey, can you keep them from scaring him off?" She did a double take. Wait, this was Tahno. Did she want him to be scared off? He was the enemy, the rival captain, but…this was her first date. "I'll get you into next season's matches so you can drool after Bolin."
"I don't drool, Korra." Jinora said, biting her bottom lip as she flushed a pretty red color. "But fine."
Korra watched as Jinora scurried down the hallway to where Ikki was babbling endlessly at who must have been Tahno, because she was talking about hair and beautiful skin. "…And your skin is so pretty! Are you really a girl or something because you're too pretty to be a guy! You're much prettier than Korra's probending friends! Are you really a probender? You're prettier than Mako and Bolin and Toza but you're not as pretty as Mako's girlfriend Asami, so you're either a really pretty guy or a pretty girl because you're prettier than some girls and will you braid my hair? Your hair is so pretty…"
Korra dressed as quickly as she could when she heard Pema's sweet voice greet the other Waterbender. Spirits, Tenzin would have her head if Tahno started flirting with his wife.
She tiptoed to just outside the living room, where she could safely eavesdrop without being seen by Tenzin's rambunctious children, his wife, or Tahno himself. As she angled Ikki's hand mirror carefully, she could see how well-dressed Tahno was, and she breathed a quiet sigh of relief that she actually took his words to heart and not as the joke she was sure Tahno intended to play on her. Pursing her lips, Korra noticed how Meelo and Ikki were…climbing on Tahno?
Spirits, they were.
Tahno, to his credit, simply ignored them, chatting with Pema and Jinora as if there wasn't a six-year-old boy on his back, tugging at his hair like reins on an animal and an eight-year-old girl on his left leg. He didn't seem to be saying anything inappropriate either; Jinora was actually talking to him and Pema was beaming like a proud mother turtle-duck. She was holding the baby of the family in her arms, and she even offered the kid up to Tahno, who…took the kid and—Agni, was he making a face at the kid? He was making cooing noises and tickling the toddler's stomach, all while Ikki and Meelo were all over him.
There was only one explanation for this: clearly, this was not Tahno and some sort of Tahno doppelganger, and Korra would have to exercise the Avatar rights to kick this doppelganger's ass and find the real Tahno.
'Or maybe,' A little voice said in the back of her head that sounded suspiciously like Aang, 'This is the real Tahno and you've just been judging him too harshly.'
As Korra watched Tahno completely ignored that Meelo was messing up his hair, she couldn't help but see the way that Tahno's eyes lit up at as he smiled at the toddler. It was kind of…cute.
"Korra, what are you doing?" Tenzin asked, and Korra almost threw the mirror at the ceiling in her shock.
"Nothing!" She yelped, casting a nervous glance at the open door. The jig was up; there was no way everybody in the other room didn't hear her.
"Were you…eavesdropping?" Tenzin asked incredulously, "On your boyfriend?"
"He's not my boyfriend!" Korra protested for what seemed to be the millionth time this week alone. She almost longed for the days when Ikki and Jinora teased her mercilessly about Mako. At least then, she could have denied everything despite her knowledge that she really was crushing on him.
With Tahno, she didn't know at all. She liked arguing with him and she enjoyed their quick-witted barbs and conversational exchanges. She acknowledged grudgingly that the other Waterbender was attractive and he drove her crazy—crazier than Mako had, but Ikki and Jinora seemed to take it as Tahno drove her crazy in the same way Mako had as well.
Tenzin raised an eyebrow at her, but then gestured for her to go to the other room. "You're dressed so nicely, it would be a shame for you not to go out with the boy tonight, Korra."
It almost felt like a march of shame when Tenzin escorted her into the room.
Instantly, she could feel the gazes of everyone in the room focused on her—even the baby in Tahno's arms. Korra avoids everyone's eyes, focusing her own somewhere in the generally direction of Tahno's face.
"You clean up real nice," Tahno said in a tone that seemed admiring. His accent came out even stronger now, highlighted by the strangeness of the position that he was in, even though Korra was the only one who seemed to find Tahno with three kids on him strange.
"Thanks, Tahno." Korra smiled tightly, still feeling like a child with her hand caught in the cookie jar.
"He's not my Tahno," Korra said desperately.
"—here was just telling me about how different Republic City is from the Foggy Swamp!" Pema beamed, clapping her hands together in excitement. "I majored in World Cultures at Republic City University, you know, and the culture of the Foggy Swamp has never been documented because the people of that region rarely actually leave the region, but your young man was telling me all about the Great Tree!"
"Really?" Tenzin seemed interested too, and Spirits, why didn't Korra just get ready earlier and intercept Tahno before he could meet her family? (Okay, so Tenzin and his family weren't her family, per say, but whatever okay, they might as well be.) "So, you hail from the Foggy Swamp?"
"Yes sir; born and raised," Tahno said, and he looked apologetic for a moment, but strangely excited at the same time, "It's an honor to be in your presence, Master Tenzin, sir. Councilman. Uh, sir. I'd bow, but your children are kind of preventing that."
Korra stared at him. She had never heard Tahno sound so…polite. Was this really the snarky pro-bending captain of the Wolfbats? The theory of a Tahno doppelganger didn't seem so far-fetched now. In fact, it was looking pretty damn likely.
"Ikki, Meelo, get off of…Tahno, was it?" Tenzin asked. Even as he said so, his middle children pouted and slid off of the probender.
"Yes sir," came the reply. "Ikki and Meelo weren't any trouble really, but Korra and I really should be leaving. The reservations are for eight-thirty." He handed the child in his arms back to Pema's outstretched arms. "Your baby is really well-behaved for someone so young, Miss Pema."
"As are you!" Pema returned the compliment, looking from Tahno to Korra with a sneaky smile on her face. "You better hold on to him, Korra; Tahno's such a sweet boy."
Korra made some sort of indiscernible noise before stammering out an underdeveloped excuse and dragging Tahno out the door.
"Thank you!" Tahno called as he stumbled along after Korra.
As soon as the door closed behind them, Korra stomped off to the dock. "What the heck was that? You were a completely different person!"
"Was I?" Tahno sounded amused. "I hadn't noticed."
"Oh, so you just happened to not notice how much nicer you are around adults and kids and how messed up your hair is because of Meelo?" Korra snorted, pointing out the obvious.
Tahno fixed his hair before waterbending the water around their little boat towards the city. He flashed a smile at Korra, "They remind me of home, is all." His tone grew wistful, further emphasizing Korra's doppelganger theory. She had never heard or seen Tahno like this before, "I haven't seen many of my brothers and sisters in over a year."
"Many?" Korra honed in on that one detail immediately, curiously.
"My grandmother and my younger brother live in the city," was all he offered.
"But you were so…weird, in there!" Korra pressed on, "So…nice!"
"I have manners," Tahno said, looking Korra with a challenging smile on his face, "And I know how to treat a girl right, unlike your firebender."
"He's not my firebender," Korra sighed heavily with an air of exasperation, raising her eyebrows at Tahno as she did so.
He flashed her a smile, "Just like how I'm not your Tahno?"
From the smirk that the smile turned into, Korra could tell that he was incredibly satisfied with such a response.
When she began spluttering and stammering out excuses, the older Waterbender's smirk grew wider and he drawled, "Well, well, it certainly looks like your surrogate family approves."
"So, why did you ask me out?" Korra asked again when the menu had been retrieved and the food had not yet arrived.
"I already answered that," Tahno's answer was elusive as usual; it answered nothing and implied that Korra should have remembered what he told her a week ago. "But if you must know, certain…circumstances forced me to act."
Korra blinked at him, before her eyes widened and she suppressed a snort of laughter, "You mean your grandmother?"
It was Tahno's turn to blink in surprise. If Korra was honest, he almost looked kind of adorable with the way he paled and the way he was blinking rapidly. "What?"
"I met an old lady at the market a couple of days before the championship finals, and she was telling me all about her pro-bending grandson while his younger brother was playing with his action figures," Korra explained and her grin grew wider when she saw recognition dawn in Tahno's silvery eyes. "But right when she was about to mention a name, she stopped and pointed at a guy about nineteen in a cap and a weird collared shirt with his hair in a ponytail barreling down the aisle, and said, 'That's him right now!' and when he saw me, he walked even faster and practically dragged both his grandmother and his brother away from me."
"You can't prove that was me," Tahno said, his voice too calm to possibly be real, as he leaned back in his chair with a confident smile on his face.
"And then she was beating him on the head with her purse shouting about how she was talking to the nice girl that he likes and if he would just ask me out, I'd make him a good girlfriend." Korra's grin was so self-satisfied that Tahno briefly wondered if entire villages could be so satisfied with a good harvest. "And then two days later, you asked me out."
"That's not proof," Tahno countered, "Is it now, darling?"
"No, it's not proof, but why don't I come over to your house for dinner tomorrow?" Korra asked sweetly, "After all, I'd love to meet your grandmother and your younger brother."
Tahno was about to respond when the first of their dishes arrived. The conversation over their dinner changed when they began eating; he wanted to steer the conversation away from his meddlesome grandmother as quickly as possible, "Now why did you think I acted weird back at the island?"
The look Korra shot him said, "Have you met you?"
What she actually said was, "You don't act like how you usually do. I thought you were just a bitch that liked to pick on us and pick up girls."
Tahno pursed his lips, "Judging people? That's not a very good quality for the Avatar." His tone was soft, teasing, but then he grew serious. There was a decidedly sad gleam in his eyes when he continued, "Before you make judgments, you should always wonder first what made them that way."
"Someone broke your heart, didn't they?" Korra's eyes were like glass, cutting through all of the replies that Tahno had prepared to anything else she might say. When he didn't answer, she pressed on, "I've heard the rumors; you never ask any girl out, and you aren't close to anyone." Her voice was firm, "Someone played you for a fool, and now you're trying to play everyone else."
He did not deny it.
"If that's what you're trying to do to me, I'm leaving." Korra made to stand up, but was stopped by the grip of the water from the small fingerbowls that Tahno quickly bent in order to hold onto her wrist. "Tahno, I'm not going to ask; if you don't let go of me, I'm still going to leave."
"I'm not trying to play you." He was quiet; the murmur of other conversations in the restaurant almost drowned out his words.
She was silent for a while, looking at Tahno and appraising him without words. "Okay," Her voice was almost just as quiet, "I believe you." Korra sat back down, and the water flew back into the fingerbowl.
"…what was your life like before you came to Republic City?" Tahno asked after they had been eating for a few minutes in silence. He had always been curious about what her life had been like for the first seventeen years, ever since he met her for the first time and she was entirely different from anyone he had ever known before.
Korra's smile returned to her face as she began detailing Monday night dinners with all of her masters and her family at the Compound where she had been raised.
When theyhad finished eating and arrived back at Air Temple Island, Korra had to admit that she had actually had a good time.
"Thanks for taking me out tonight," Korra said as they walked back towards the house where Tenzin and his family lived.
"It was nothing," Tahno replied with a wave of his hand.
Korra rolled her eyes and her voice took on a teasing tone, "Don't think I didn't notice your eye twitching when you handed over the cash to pay for dinner."
"Well, that's not going to be a problem tomorrow night, now is it?" Tahno asked smoothly, and at Korra's confused expression, he clarified. "You wanted to meet my grandmother."
"Oh, right." Korra shoved her hands in her pockets, looking up at the night sky. "Well, I think that can wait." She cast a sideways glance at Tahno. "I don't think Tenzin would mind if you came over for dinner instead tomorrow."
"Avatar Korra," Tahno smiled almost mockingly, "Are you asking me out?"
"If you want to go toe-to-toe with me, pretty boy, I think we can arrange that right now," Korra poked at his chest with her index finger, tilting her head up to look him in the eye.
"Oh, go for it." Tahno winked at her, and then the two of them burst out laughing. As Tahno smiled at her, he couldn't help but add, "I'll even let you take the first shot."
"The gentleman that you are, right?" Korra cackled. Their laughter dwindled to a slow stop and her hand was on the doorknob when Tahno placed his hand on her wrist. "Tahno?"
"I accept the invitation, provided it doesn't inconvenience Master Tenzin and his family." Tahno said with a smile that was different from the sarcastic and sardonic ones she had seen before.
"Oh, okay." Korra blinked up at him. "That's…good. Be here at seven."
"Korra?" Tahno asked, leaning closer to her.
Korra could feel his lips brush across her forehead as he said quietly, "I'm going to kiss you now."
And he did.
His lips were surprisingly soft against hers, though Korra wasn't sure why it was a surprise. The hand that he wasn't holding came up to tangle in his hair, tousled from the night wind, and without thinking about it too much, she kissed him back. His other hand rose to rest on her waist while their lips pressed against one another's repeatedly in a kiss that was composed of many softer, gentle kisses.
When Tahno finally pulled away, Korra refused to let go of his hair, forcing him to rest his forehead against hers. She smiled at him as she let her hand drop from his silky hair, "Good night, Tahno."
"See you tomorrow." He kissed her lightly on the nose before he started down the path that led towards the dock. Before he could get too far, Tahno turned around briefly to wink and blow her a kiss. "Good night, Uh-vatar."
Korra watched him from the doorstep until he got into the little boat. She pulled open the door and as she walked in, she could see Jinora resting in the living room, book cradled in her lap.
"Did you have a good time?" Jinora asked, smiling knowingly in ways that the eleven-year-old really shouldn't have been.
"Yeah," she said, "I did."
Korra pressed the tips of her fingers against her lips for a moment, remembering the feel of smooth lips against hers.