Disclaimer: I do not own LoK.
Author's Notes: This is a sequel to my previous Tahorra, Absence! And this is a mess. Like, actually.
After the odd, emotional moment that had occurred between the Avatar and the once-Waterbender, Tahno found that he wanted to see her again, wanting to be in her presence and her in his. She brought him a comfort he couldn't quite place – he didn't know if it was because both of them were just in the same situation and so understood their mutual pain, or if just Korra in general that brought him peace. All he knew was that he desperately wanted to see her again. It got to the point where his previous sleeplessness returned, leaving him lying there for hours on end in the morning, feeling as though a small part of him was missing within his very being.
A part that he had unknowingly left with Korra.
After several weeks of ignoring this nagging feeling in the back of his heart, Tahno decided something needed to be done with it – that he needed to gather some courage and confront her again, if only to satiate his restlessness. However, the ex-bender knew that he couldn't just arrive by her bedside without a reason – it would be a blow to what little pride he had left if he outright told her he had come to her just to gain a bit of solace.
By this point though, he was going crazy, it seemed. He was unmistakably drawn to Korra, required her in a way he didn't quite understand. Thinking of her made his heart both break and swell, and he missed the feel of her in his arms, despite the fact that it had been under such shaking circumstances. And so with all of this drilling away at his conscience, he threw away his dwindling ego and decided to be honest with Korra like he promised – he was not going to give her a lie as to why he was going to see her. He was going to deliver to her a frank answer.
So there he stood, in front of Republic City Hospital, and swallowing back the lump in his throat, threw back his hair and entered the building. He still remembered where her room was and was there within a few minutes. Stopping at the door, he noticed it was cracked slightly, and so peered within it. He saw Korra sitting by her large window, almost leaning out of it, just so she could get a little glimpse of the world. He realized, with a tug at his sensitive heart, that she probably hadn't really been outside since the incident of losing her bending. He knew that everyone at the hospital – Mako, Tenzin, the attendants – all babied her, not allowing her out of their sights. He also knew she had to hate it – she didn't like feeling helpless, because she was far from it.
It was when the ex-bender leaned in a little too closely to the door, causing it squeak obscenely, that Korra was alerted of his presence, and she shot around to peer at him. Tahno cursed himself, but figuring he couldn't hide his being there any longer, stepped forward and into clearer sight, fighting off a fierce blush from arising on his cheeks.
"Uh, hey, Korra," he shrugged noncommittally, smiling awkwardly. He wanted to keep the mood of their meeting lighthearted – if he could prevent her from feeling such fervent unhappiness as she had when they had last been together, then he would with all of his might.
Her blue eyes seemed to brighten at him, and she blinked, studying him. He could see the confusion pass through her features – why was he there, she probably wondered. If she did, however, she didn't make it known. Folding her hands in her lap, her lips quirked in something that resembled a smile and she spoke. "Hey, pretty boy."
Tahno smirked at his old nickname, before padding over to her, but stopping a few feet away. When she quirked an eyebrow at him, he sighed, and decided he needed to clarify his reasoning for being there. "You're probably wondering why I'm here, hm?" She nodded, and he looked away, no longer able to hide the red of embarrassment forming on his sharp features. "Look, Korra—" He made to step forward, closer to her, but thought better of it and so instead sat down on her bed. "You said you wanted me to keep being honest with you, so I'm going to. I..." He bit his tongue, annoyed by his inability to just admit why he was there.
Because he needed the comfort she brought him, the peace and contentment she made him feel. That he hoped he brought her, too.
He was quiet for a few moments before Korra crossed her arms. She, however, did not blurt out at him, irritated, but said softly, "What is it?"
"Iwantedtoseeyou," he said hastily. A few minutes passed where nothing was exchanged between the two, except for shallow breaths. Breathing in deeply, Tahno composed himself – he was being irrational. "I mean... well, yeah. I wanted to see you, Korra. That's it, really." When the ex-Waterbender looked up, he saw Korra's eyes still blinking at him, and he felt his previous confidence disappear immediately at her curious expression. Standing up quickly, he began to walk towards the door, and waving his hand passively, put on a mask of indifference to hide his disappointment. "Actually, whatever. I can leave now."
Just as he was at the door, about to exit the room, he heard her shift from behind him a bit and then call his name. "Tahno, you don't have to leave," she told him, her hand gripping her upper arm. He moved back in the room, walking over to her again. "I wouldn't mind some company, anyway. Everyone's kind of been involved in their own personal business or other things regarding the future of the city and all, lately." She looked at the ground forlornly, and then out the window – she wanted to be able to help with the Council discussions, but more so, she wanted to be able to go back and be the protector that the city had deserved in the first place.
In that instance, Tahno took the initiative to divert her attention from Republic City's uncertain future and into pleasanter territory. Without thinking, he spoke, "Would you like to go out?"
Korra looked up at him. "I don't think I'm allowed to leave," she commented, staring out the window again.
"Aw, come on, Korra," he smiled wolfishly at her. "Since when have you ever listened to rules? And besides – it's a beautiful day outside; you should go out and enjoy it."
Korra contemplated his words for a few seconds, before nodding and standing up, grinning back at him. Her blue eyes glinting, he saw a bit of her old self in her at that moment. "You're right," she walked over to him and placed a hand on his arm. "Let's go!" With a newfound energy, she dragged the ex-bender out of the room, who freely allowed her to do so.
Tahno was not blind or deaf to the words that were spoken and the looks pointed towards Korra – he could see the pity, the animosity of the citizens of Republic City. And while he knew the Avatar was enjoying her time out – she was smiling brightly at him – he also knew that she noticed all of it, too, for every once in a while her joy would falter and she would cast her gaze to the ground momentarily.
The ex-Waterbender hated those who sneered at her, those who felt bad for her – she did not need it, nor was any of it justified. If only they knew her as Korra, not as the Avatar, they would see that she was still an incredibly powerful human being sans her bending. She was still broken from it all, but he knew that deep down she was still the fearless, determined Korra he had first met. She was more than anyone of them would ever know, because they never took the time to just look at her as a person. They didn't take the time to think over their criticisms, their hollow words before they left her mouth – how they would affect her in her fragile state. It sickened him that they couldn't appreciate who she really was.
They spent most of their time talking or walking in silence. Their conversations were lighthearted and when Korra laughed, it chimed in Tahno's ears and sent a shudder down his spine. They pointedly avoided any place pertaining to water – the Park, the docks. The fresh ocean spray and playful environment of the Park was inviting, but both weren't quite ready yet.
It wasn't an eventful day out, but it was just what Korra needed – someone to just talk with, about something other than her being a non-bender, and some fresh air. By the end of her outing, she was doing exceptionally better than when she had been trapped in her room.
By the time that they returned back to the room in question – much to her dismay – it was late in the evening, but both did not want to separate, too deep in their idle conversation to want to. Planting himself on her bed, while she sat at her windowsill, he continued to listen to her talk, content in just hearing her voice. He felt calm in her presence, and he sighed contentedly.
After Korra stopped talking, they sat in comfortable silence. Eventually she broke it and with a small smile to herself, she spoke. "Thank you, Tahno," she said quietly, almost inaudibly, avoiding eye contact with his silver irises.
Tahno shrugged. "You're welcome, Korra." Korra shivered a bit at his usage of her name – she still wasn't used to hearing the word roll of his tongue. A few more seconds of silence passed before he whispered, "I meant what I said this morning – I wanted to see you." Korra chuckled a bit at this.
"I believe you," she responded. Tahno figured he should spit out the other half as to why he had come to see her – because she provided him such contentment – but just as he opened his mouth to answer, he closed it, feeling something beyond his pride blocking his ability to speak suddenly. Instead, he clamped his mouth shut and she continued to talk. "If we're being honest here... which I guess is our new policy... then I'll admit I'm glad you came here." She evaded his eyes as she spoke, and she felt her ears heat up at her confession. Korra never believed that she would be admitting such a thing to the man in front of her, but every word of it was true.
Swallowing, Korra stood up and walked closer to Tahno and biting her lip, said, "I'd like if we could... I don't know, be friends or something?" The ex-bender blinked up at her, and she extended her hand to him. "What do you say?"
Tahno stared at her hand, before lifting his larger one and encapsulating it, shaking it firmly. She cracked a crooked grin at this. "Friends or something," he nodded at her before standing up. Winking teasingly at her, he then continued with, "What's this 'something' about, hm? Are you telling me you want a little bit of Tahno lovin'?"
Korra laughed again then, before swatting him away lightly. "No way," she countered back at him, but much to her chagrin, she felt her cheeks burn slightly at his comment. Feeling the need to further her point, she blurted out, "Besides, I'm with Mako now. And like I said – I love him." She wrapped her arms around her then, reminded of her boyfriend – they'd gone to hell and back to be together, and now they were. They were happy, despite the current non-bender-bender war raging through Republic City. And for some reason, Korra decided that this needed to be known, that Tahno needed to understand.
Tahno noticeably retreated back from her at this reminder of her relationship with the Firebender, and if Korra noticed, then she didn't react to his sudden odd behaviour. They stood there in awkward silence, before Tahno shoved his hands in his pockets and headed towards the door. "I should probably head out," he said quickly, peering at the ground. When she said nothing, her looking at the ground, as well, he turned to leave, but her voice stopped him.
"Let's do this again sometime," she told him with her characteristic crooked smile. He returned it half-heartedly and nodded – something about her mentioning Mako had rubbed him the wrong way, though he couldn't quite place as to why. "Tomorrow?" she then asked suddenly.
Tahno bit back a comment about the Firebender, before answering with, "Sure, Korra. I'll mee—"
"I'll try to sneak out of here," she interrupted. At this, she lifted her hand and waved at him slightly. "See ya, Tahno."
"Right back at ya," he smiled a little brighter at her, before turning and exiting her room completely. As the ex-bender made his way home, he decided that honesty definitely was the best policy between the two, and that if they continued as they were – finding happiness in one another – then he could foresee a true, lasting friendship forming between the two.
But despite his promise of honesty towards Korra, he was not so truthful with himself – because if he was being frank, then he would be able to inwardly admit that he wanted something more with the Avatar. But he wasn't quite ready to divulge such a thing, even if it was to himself.
Tahno was not ready for her at the time she came to visit him at – six thirty in the morning – but he was still relieved to see her, feeling a bit of happiness bubble within him beneath his early-morning grumpiness. They spent their day together, and a few days later they went out again.
A pattern started to form. Once or twice a week, they would gather together to just be in each other's presence. They talked and laughed and forgot about the loss of their bending and the possible doom of the city. Within a short while, a solid friendship was formed, one that was meant to last.
Korra herself was surprised by Tahno's tenderness and general friendliness – upon being humbled so by losing such a carnal, crucial part of himself, he proved to be quite the pleasant companion. He listened to her complaints and worries without a hesitation, but also knew how to make her laugh and just keep her in a good mood. She returned his actions, making sure to listen intently when he spoke and taking to heart his concerns.
Mako was still a part of her rather uneventful life – he gave her hopeful words of encouragement that made her smile warmly and kisses that made her heart flutter in her chest. He would cuddle with her in her bed when she slept, adding to her comfort but also her feeling of being smothered by those whom she loved. Every moment she didn't spend with Tahno, was with the Firebender – she needed some space, but didn't have the heart to tell him to leave her be. But he just didn't hold the same comfort, understanding that Tahno did.
She pretended not to notice the Firebender's apparent jealousy of the ex-Waterbender – he was painfully obvious, even if he tried pathetically to hide it. It was the way he would glare when he saw Tahno in her room, the edge in his voice when he spoke when he was with them, the way his forearm muscle would twitch ever-so-slightly in his annoyance with the other man. She knew that it hurt him to see her with Tahno, but she would always reassure him that he needn't be envious – she loved him, not the ex-bender. If she had been able to handle her jealousy when he had been dating Asami, then he could when she was just simply hanging around Tahno.
Besides, she didn't feel anything for him beyond friendship... or so she told herself.
It was a magnificent lie, at first – it was something Korra had become especially skilled at, lying. All of her time spent in the hospital, denying her feelings of utter depression, had made it easy for her to be able to block out powerful emotions. And while this worked for a few weeks, eventually, her feelings began to grow beyond the point of suppression, but she still didn't say anything – because despite these sudden, curious emotions for Tahno, she truly did love Mako.
But when Tahno teasingly kissed her hand one night, it left her blushing, stomach flopping, all while wondering if maybe she was genuinely falling for him, too. If maybe what she felt was true attraction instead of fleeting, numbing desire.
Terror ran through Korra's veins – just as she had been about to drift off into a fitful sleep, her radio humming gently in the background, did Amon's deep drawl take over the soothing melody that had been playing. He spoke indirectly to the Councilmen of the City, telling them that he had another plan, far worse than his last, in which Republic City would finally succumb to him and become his to toy with even further.
The sound of his voice her sick – she could feel her insides twisting as he spoke, and the second his voice faded and the music returned, she felt her eyes begin to grow wet. Blinking them shut rapidly, she willed her tears away. She lay down on her pillow, hugging it to her chest, trying to find some futile source of comfort in it but found that she was unable. Curling into herself, she wished that Mako was there with her, that he wasn't spending that night on the island. She found herself longing for Tahno's company, as well. Even more so that the Firebender's – she would be able to vent to the ex-bender and he would understand. He would be able to help her cope through the harsh reality of it all.
After a few hours of tossing about endlessly, plagued with reliving the memory of losing her precious bending, she fell into a restless slumber, finally allowing a pained sob to escape her lips before she went silent again. Upon waking up the next morning, she found her face to be sticky with the tears she had shed in her sleep. This, along with the pounding headache splitting through her cranium, reminded the Avatar of the night before all over again, and she easily spiralled back into her destructive silence.
Turning on her side and staring out her window blankly, she waited for the same numbness that she had originally felt to set in all over again, powerless to resist it.
Tahno had woken up earlier that morning and took it as an opportunity to once again visit Korra. He arrived at her room, but instead of seeing her shining, smiling face greet him, he saw her form wrapped in a set of stark white sheets, turned away from him.
"Korra?" he began quietly, immediately sensing as though something was wrong. She said nothing in response, instead only shifting minutely at his voice. He repeated himself, "Korra." Stepping forward, he placed a hand on her shoulder and turned her to look at him. The sight below him made his heart break – she was shaking, cowering even, below him, tears evident in her swimming eyes. She shuddered away from him, curling in closer to herself.
Instantly, Tahno felt his heart tug violently, and sitting beside her, he pulled her to look at him again. "Korra," he called softly. "What's wrong?" She refused to answer him – she could barely find her voice, her throat was constricted so tightly, so dry. "Please," he begged, eyes drooping. He cared about her too much to see her in such a state. "Tell me."
For some reason, a flash of anger surged through Korra, and sitting up violently, she turned to him and barked out, "Just go away, Tahno! I don't want to talk about it with anyone – not with you, not with Mako! Just leave me alone!" Her fists were clenched together, and she was seething, furious tears escaping her eyes and rolling down her dark cheeks. Her words were a lie, though – she wanted nothing more than to vent to him like she promised she would, tell him of the fear that had paralyzed her the night before upon just hearing the Equalist Leader's voice.
He blinked at her, surprised by her curt response, before gently placing one of his hands upon hers and rubbing his thumb over the top of it soothingly. "Korra, we promised we would be honest with each other – no matter how upsetting the matter may be," he told her quietly. He waited a few seconds before speaking again. "So, please, tell me what happened."
Korra avoided eye contact with him, inhaling and exhaling loudly and deeply. Eventually, she whispered, "I-it was Amon."
"Did... you have another nightmare about him?" he persisted, squeezing her hand.
"No... he... he was on the radio last night... he was talking about how he was planning on taking over Republic City again," she admitted, bringing a hand to her face to try to prevent her tears again, but failing. Suddenly, her shoulders began to shake, and before she knew it, the tears were streaming freely down her features, unrelenting in their wet wake. Tahno instantly wrapped his arms around her, pulling her into his lanky frame. "I thought I was beginning to get over it, Tahno... but I haven't. I'm still so, so scared."
Wiping away one of her tears, he responded whisperingly, "I'm still not over it, Korra. I don't know if I ever will be – but then again, I like to think that with you in my life I'll be able to do so, be able to live happily again. And so far, I am."
Korra shivered at his words, because while they were hopeful, they were laced with truth. He meant what he had said. He sounded so sure and strong of her – he trusted her, she realized with a start. The impact of it all tumbled full force on her now, and she cried loudly into his sweater, clutching at the fabric as realization after realization bombarded her. Tahno felt his insides twist uncomfortably at the sound of her sobs, but he wouldn't shy away from providing her with her much needed comfort.
After a short bit, she pulled away and smiled at him. It was shaky and broken, but lopsided and cute. He felt a jarring sense of déjà vu as he held her in his arms before leaning over and mimicking his actions from months beforehand, kissing her forehead gently. Smiling back at her slightly, he watched her yawn and her eyes droop. He wondered if she had gotten any sleep the night previous, but then figured she hadn't.
Slowly, she moved to lie down, and Tahno released his grip on her arms reluctantly. He was just about to turn and leave her be to fall asleep again, when she touched his hand. Korra bit her lip, contemplating her actions. If Mako walked in on her and Tahno, he might just lose it – but she decided that it didn't matter. She needed comfort and he was there, more than willing to provide it. Her eyes silently beckoning him, Tahno swallowed before kneeling back on her bed. He positioned himself beside her slowly, lying perfectly straight. When she touched his hand, he relaxed into her side, before turning to look at her. Her blue irises were bright, thanking him for his willingness to be with her.
He studied her features for a long while before boldly bringing his fingers to up to trace them. He felt at her cheekbones and the outlines of her lips, before his hand fell and rested on her hip. Korra leaned into him, seeking warmth. He did not provide the same immediate heat Mako did, but she still felt the same deep comfort within her when she sidled closer to him.
Eventually, her eyelids closed over her azure gaze, and shortly afterwards, shallow snores followed. Tahno smiled to himself as he watched her sleep, feeling a sudden emotional exhaustion set over him, as well. Feeling sleep tug at his eyes, he closed them and waited for sleep to come.
"Tahno, what have you gotten yourself into?"
Mako walked down the corridor of the hospital that Korra's room was located in – he had been informed upon his arrival that she would be allowed to return to Air Temple Island. At this, he had quickly gotten her some flowers and then headed straight for her room so he could tell her – he knew she would be ecstatic. He himself was elated – instead of being forced to spend their nights apart, they could be together once again. Also, he noted to himself with a dark glare to the ground, that she wouldn't be spending as much time with Tahno.
In his gloved hands he held the small bouquet of fire lilies, bright and red. He smiled down at them – they were one of her favourite flowers. Seeing her door slightly ajar, he sped up, eager to see her. But when he arrived at the doorway and saw the sight within the room, he wished he hadn't.
His amber eyes watched as Korra and Tahno slept together on her bed, limbs entangled, troubled smiles lining their faces. Korra's face was flushed and shiny, signalling that she was upset over something. The ex-Waterbender held his girlfriend closely by the waist, and Mako felt his stomach twist violently at what he was seeing.
His fists clenched and he almost set the lilies on literal fire, but contained himself with a few short, forced breaths. Jealousy burned in his chest, and he turned away and shut the door, unable to take it any longer. His teeth were gnashing together and his throat constricting as he tried to think through his blind envy – he had been able to take her and Tahno's interactions beforehand, but this? This was too far in his books.
Turning back to the door, he placed his hand on it and was about to twist it when he decided against it. Closing his eyes in frustration, he tried to reason with himself – there was no true reason why he should be jealous, because he and Korra loved each other, something that they had proven to each other through acts of mutual attraction. Mako had even, as of late, been thinking of presenting Korra with a gift that would bring them even closer together in an unbreakable union.
He trusted Korra, he really did, and he knew she wouldn't cheat, but he didn't trust Tahno one bit. While the Avatar saw understanding in her fellow ex-bender, Mako still saw the same deceitful, untrustworthy Wolfbat leader that Tahno had once been. He didn't trust that Tahno wouldn't end up hurting Korra – there was too much sour history between the two men for the Firebender to see past his original interpretation of him. All Mako was concerned about was Korra's safety and happiness, and quite honestly, he saw Tahno as a threat to it. But he also felt, ever so slightly, that he was a threat to their relationship.
Forcing himself to step away, Mako walked away from the door, trying his best to compose his warring emotions. If Korra trusted Tahno, if he made her happy, then Mako should let him do so. He couldn't bring himself to wake the Avatar from her slumber at that moment out of his own selfish need for himself to be the only one to provide her with comfort, and so left them be, feeling scorching jealousy and chilling sadness grip at his heart as he did so.
During the days following the incident, Tahno easily came to the clear conclusion that he was falling, hard and fast, for Korra. He could no longer deny himself his feelings, and honestly, he didn't want to. But with this inward admittance to himself, he didn't feel relieved – in fact, he felt almost despaired, because it was not as if he could just go to the Avatar and express his growing attachment to her. No – she was in a relationship with Mako.
He felt scathing jealousy when he observed the Firebender with Korra. Mako had the right to touch Korra intimately, to kiss her passionately and whisper to her endearments. The ex-Waterbender felt sick when he walked in on them kissing or even so much as talking, his stomach flopping violently, his palms growing sweaty and his heart pricking painfully. It was all he could do to not to run into such awkward situations involving the couple.
He kept quiet about his feelings even as they became unbearable – it took all his will and more not to hold her hand and tell her how he felt when he spent time with her. But he didn't want to screw up the one true friendship he had – he couldn't. He couldn't be alone all over again. And so he managed to bite his tongue and hold back his words with much difficulty when he visited her – that was, until one day, when Korra pointed out his restrained, odd behaviour.
"Is something wrong, pretty boy?" she asked him teasingly, giving him her characteristic lopsided grin. They were in one of the many meditation pavilions of Air Temple Island, spending their time peering out at the bay around them, just thinking in comfortable silence. He blinked at her as his hair blew over his face from a breeze, her voice having broken him out of his reverie.
"Uh, no?" he responded back uncertainly, standing up from his leaning position and turning to her slightly.
Crossing her arm, she quirked an eyebrow at him. "I don't believe you." Scooting closer to him, she placed a hand on his arm and continued, "C'mon, tell me. Remember, we're supposed to be completely honest with each other."
Tahno cursed inwardly at her bringing up their policy – of course. He couldn't lie to her, because she would see right through it and poke and pry him until she heard his secret. If he told her the truth, how he felt about her, it would just end with her rejecting him and that would complicate their friendship – either way, it was a lose-lose situation for him. Instead of responding to her, he sighed heavily, turning away from her and looking out at the bay again. Korra frowned at him, but didn't drop it. "Tell me already, Tahno! You've been off for a while now, and it's been bothering me – we trust each other, right? So spill it!" She punched his arm good-naturedly, blissfully ignorant of what he was keeping from her.
Tahno sighed again and closed his eyes. Breathing in sharply, he decided that he needed to get it over with – maybe if he did, then he could get over her that much quicker. He imagined that they could talk it out like the young adults they were instead of acting immaturely, and that later on, they would look back on that moment and laugh. "Korra," he breathed, refusing eye contact. "Look... if you have to know, which I know you do because it's you... I like you... a lot."
Korra's heart stopped in that moment and it took a few seconds for her mind to recollect itself so she could speak. Laughing weakly, she said quickly, "Oh, I like you, too. You're a good friend."
The ex-Waterbender could hear the hesitance in her voice and wanted to face palm. He shouldn't have said anything at all. Looking up, he felt a surge of courage he didn't know he had, and took her arms in his hands. "Don't do that to me, Korra – I know you don't feel the same way, but please don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about," he said hastily, his gray eyes pleading with her. "Just accept it and move on."
The pair stared at each other, unblinking. Korra's eyes were flickering with a different kind of fear than she was used to feeling and she had no idea what to do. The ex-benders were in close proximity, their noses nearly touching. So when Korra squeezed his hand and muttered, "You don't know how I feel..." Tahno was unable to stop himself when he leaned forward and his lips brushed hers momentarily.
The kiss ended as quickly as it had started, and when he pulled back, it took all Tahno had to stare at her, to not run away in fear of her reaction. He would not degrade himself any further – he would stand there and take the consequences of his actions like a man. Clenching his fists, he watched as she stood there, eyes wide, stunned.
Korra didn't know how to feel in that moment – she had been unmoving as his lips had grazed hers. Her heart was pounding wildly and she wasn't quite sure how to take the situation – she had, admittedly, enjoyed the kiss, but at the same time, she couldn't do that to Mako... but what exactly was that? Even she didn't know what was going on between her and Tahno anymore.
"T-Tahno," she managed after a few minutes of awkward silence. Her voice was shaky, uncertain. How was she supposed to react?
The ex-Waterbender turned away from her, realizing that he had just confused her further. "Whatever, Korra," he smiled oddly, sticking his hands in his pockets and turning away. "Just ignore what I said. Let's pretend like this never happened, okay?" She didn't say anything. Stepping away, he continued, "Okay." He took two more steps before he felt her take his hand in hers, and his heartbeat jumped. He turned slowly and blinked at her, but before he knew it, she placed her hands on his shoulders firmly and was kissing him gently, the contact sending a surge through her system.
He was taken aback by the action, but after a few moments of regaining his composure, his hands found their face to her waist and he placed them there and returned the gesture. It was simple and sweet, and when they pulled back, he noticed that her cheeks were tinged pink and he smiled, completely forgetting about her rather serious relationship with a certain Firebender.
Korra noticed his smile and turned away sheepishly, her blush deepening. A few seconds later, he kissed her again and she responded happily. There was an uncertainty to their relationship and to their actions that made her veins flood with newfound adrenaline, something she had missed dearly in those past months. They continued to kiss innocently, not taking to mind if someone would find them – someone like her boyfriend who was somewhere on that very island with them.
The direction of it changed when one of his hands slipped lower to rest on her bottom, the fingers of the other grazing the skin just beneath the hem of her shirt. Korra froze, her mind spinning, before she relaxed into his touch and tangling his black locks in her fingers, she smashed her face against his in a bruising lip lock. Tahno smiled against her lips, feeling his old confidence rise up in him and he boldly allowed his fingers to rise higher under her top, tracing the flat, defined plains of her abdomen. In turn, Korra's own hands travelled down his arms and felt at them through the fabric of his shirt before travelling back up to drape around his neck.
The pair alternated between gentle and demanding touches and kisses and staring heatedly at each other, but as evening began to descend upon them, did they break away from each other. Their cheeks were flushed from their close contact, their lips red and sensitive from their nipping and kissing. Korra's heart was thumping erratically, and she was grinning crookedly at the man before her.
After a few seconds of catching their breath, he turned to her. "I should probably go, shouldn't I?"
"Yeah," she admitted, disappointment evident in her voice. He nodded at her before she took his hand and they walked back to the dock in peaceful silence – they knew that they had royally screwed up their relationship, but that could be dealt with later; they were too content with the serenity of the current situation. They just wanted to bask in their happiness in that moment. When they got to the end of it, the small ferry waiting for its only passenger, Korra leaned up and kissed him quickly, before squeezing his hand and releasing it. Tahno smiled at her and waved at her before turning and boarding the tiny vessel, and within a few minutes, it was off and heading to the mainland.
He watched as Korra raised her hand and peered at him from her place on the dock before turning around to more than likely go see Mako. The thought made a little bit of jealousy twist in his stomach, but it dissipated completely as he remembered the events that had just taken place and he smiled. Mako may have had Korra's heart, but Tahno also held a small portion of it himself now.
Whatever had occurred between the pair after that day did not fizzle out. While they were wary of their uncertain relationship and feelings at first, they easily slinked into gentle touches and kisses. Tahno was surrounded in his own blissful mist during the times they spent together, feeling as though he was finally gaining some ground in his emotional healing. He would fall into peaceful slumbers and was indefinably happier. In the short amount of time that they were romantically involved, he came to the easy conclusion he wanted something more with her, that he wanted to be the one to hold her at night and kiss her like Mako did. He knew it would be completely unreasonable of him to ask her to just leave the Firebender for him... but he would be lying if he didn't admit it had crossed his mind more than once. While Tahno knew that her breaking up with Mako was an unlikely scenario at that point in time, he also knew that Korra could possibly be in the same mindset as him – she wanted to be with him (or at least wanted something, for she wasn't rejecting his advances) but didn't know how to go about it quite yet. The ex-bender took solace in this thought, that she could want a relationship with him, too. That was, until she suddenly stopped visiting him – it was abrupt and unpleasant. One day they were holding hands, the next she was missing from his life all over again.
At first, the ex-Waterbender thought she was probably just trying to sort her feelings out and just needed some space and time alone to do so. But when nearly a week passed without seeing her, he became justifiably worried – surely she would have notified him if something was wrong? He reluctantly waited a few more days, but when his concern for her grew too unbearable, he took it upon himself to go the Air Temple Island and check on the Avatar.
When he arrived on the island, he didn't have any trouble finding her – she was sitting in her room, staring out her window, thinking pensively. He stood at her doorway and observed her for a second before knocking lightly on it, alerting her of his presence. "Korra."
She jumped a bit, completely caught off guard by him. "O-oh, Tahno!" she blinked at him as she tried to regain her wits. She didn't turn to face him but said his name again as if to reassure herself that he was there before her. He walked closer to her, studying her features. For some reason, she looked a little shaken, and her irises were glinting analytically. She was visibly troubled about something, and he was determined to figure out what it was and if it was also the cause of her recent absence in his life.
He sat down beside her, and she scooted a bit away from him, which caused him to give her an odd look that she pointedly ignored. They spent a few moments in uncomfortable silence before Tahno spoke up again. "So... what's going on?" he asked casually, turning to her. Korra still didn't look at him. She knew what he was referencing in his question, and wanting to avoid the real source of her avoidance of him, she shrugged as though it was nothing.
"N-nothing. Absolutely nothing," she lied. Tahno saw right through her fib, and wasn't having it.
"Korra, just tell me. We work through things together," he urged softly. When she still didn't say anything, he moved closer to her and placed his hand on top of hers. He felt her stiffen. When he looked over at her, he saw how she was forcedly staring out the window, and wishing to break her out of her odd state of silence, he leaned over to kiss her. However, Korra pulled back violently, grabbing her hand away and narrowing her eyes at him. He was taken aback by her defensive actions, and blinked, silver eyes wide, at her.
"Don't!" she whispered harshly, her voice straining with emotion. "Don't, Tahno." He did as he was told – he moved away from Korra reluctantly, and they sat there, quiet, awkwardness suspended between them.
After a moment passed, he spoke up again, but did not look at her. "Korra, what's wrong?"
She breathed out heavily at his inquiry, before raising her hand to her neck to finger at something he could not see. "I... I think we should... stop whatever we're doing here, Tahno," she finally said, and it was a blow that made Tahno sputter.
"What are you talking about?" he managed after a few seconds of regaining his composure.
Korra looked up at him then, her blue eyes swimming. "You know what I mean, Tahno," she told him while she motioned in between the two. "I'm talking about... this. All of it. We have to stop."
Tahno blinked at her, trying to comprehend her sudden, swinging change of mind about their current relationship. While the week before she had been perfectly content with kissing him, now she was telling him, her voice urgent as she spoke, that it all needed to end right now. "Why, Korra? At least give me an explanation here!" he asked her, desperation leaking into his voice.
Korra blinked at him, and her blue eyes flashed as she fingered at her neck again. Sighing, she whispered out, "Because... M-Mako... he proposed to me. And I said yes. Because I love him, Tahno. That's why." At this, she turned enough for him to spy her neckline, and true to her word, there sat a Water Tribe proposal pendant, blue and glowing with promise of a hopeful future between the Firebender and the Avatar. As Tahno peered at the brilliant blue of the necklace, trying to take in the situation but failing utterly, he found himself gasping for breath – her words had knocked it out of him.
The ex-bender felt a crippling pain in his chest, and turned away from the woman in front of him. He buried his face in his hands, still baffled by it all, but the sting of the situation was beginning to set in.
Korra spoke to him as he thought, his mind racing and his heart breaking. "That's why I didn't come to see you this past week..." she admitted quietly. "He proposed and, of course, I agreed. But then hit me and I just couldn't bring myself to face you – I would have been such a mess." She laughed curtly then. "Hell, I still am."
Tahno shook his head then and stopped up sharply, making his way towards the door. He needed to get out of there, and he needed to get out of there fast. Korra didn't try to stop him as he stood up and began to leave – she knew he needed time to think it over, like she had. He needed time to cope.
For the ex-bender, the news made his heart and stomach wrench and he felt sick. But the longer he thought about it, the hollower he felt inside. If he had to match his current state of being to a past event, it would be akin to the moment he lost his bending. All he felt was resounding sadness and emptiness, filling his entire body and leaving him numb and unfeeling to the world.
He was just about to exit the room when the last person he wanted to see entered it – the Avatar's new fiancé. The Firebender glared at Tahno, but at least made an attempt to be civil. "What are you doing here, Tahno?" he asked through gritted teeth, looking in between Korra and him with a questioning glare.
Tahno didn't bother to look at Korra as he spoke, bitterness spilling over his words, "Just congratulating the Avatar on her engagement." The way he said 'Avatar', with so much spite, made Korra want to curl into herself; even the fact that he used her title – he hadn't called her it since the first time he comforted her in the hospital. Mako smirked at the obvious abhorrence of the situation in Tahno's voice before nodding at him and making his way past him and over to Korra. The ex-bender sneered at them before exiting the room, leaving the couple by themselves.
Korra felt like crying in that moment, but refrained from it for Mako's sake. Instead, she looked up at him and forced a smile, and he returned it before kissing her tenderly. His previously grumpy features softened considerably when she looked back at him, and he sat down beside her on her bed. As he looked over at her, he could tell something was wrong, her blue eyes conflicted. And while he wanted it not to be true, if he was being honest with himself, Mako knew it somehow had to deal with Tahno.
Opting for not speaking, he instead wrapped one of his arms around her and pulled her against his chest, where she could hear the steady thrumming of his heartbeat. She relaxed into his arms after a few seconds, sighing into him. He leaned back after a while and before either of them knew it, the Firebender had dozed off, snoring lightly above his fiancée's head.
Korra took this moment of peace and quiet and comfort to herself to comprehend everything around her. She had just lost Tahno. The realization set in then, and her chest clenched.
She was impossibly in love with Mako, but at the same time, Tahno had taken a significant portion of her heart with him upon leaving her room, leaving her. She was left with the same feeling she had when she lost her bending – like a vital part of her was missing, like there was a hole within her very being. The only difference was that this time, she had a choice. Even though it would be horrible, she could tell Mako 'no' instead and run away from him. She could choose either man – but she had already picked him, the proof being the engagement pendant around her neck.
And she knew, that even though it hurt, that she had made the right choice.
Author's Notes: Oi, this was a doozy. There are parts of it I really like and then parts of it I really don't like. Overall, I... don't really like this. Like, at all. But it's been forever since I've posted anything, so I... yeah. Just try to accept this pile of nonsense. I have! XD