A Heel to the Throat, A Flip of the Hair

The first time Asami meets Tahno, she's got her heel pressing Shaozu's neck to the floor and his right arm in a firm joint lock. The Wolfbats' firebender desperately squirms on the ground, trying to keep her from breaking his arm and crushing his windpipe.

"You know," she informs her captive, "it's impolite to grab a girl without her permission."

Shaozu can only gurgle in response. The rest of the people at the bar watch in stunned silence as a teenage girl has the firebender of the best pro-bending team in Republic City completely at her mercy. For a few seconds, no one says anything.

Until Tahno butts in.

"Well, what do we have here."

She looks at the source of the new voice, instantly recognizing the drawl she's heard many times over the radio. It's her assailant's waterbender teammate. She eyes Tahno warily as he circles towards her. After watching many of the Wolfbats' matches, she knows Tahno is easily the most skilled and dangerous bender on the team.

Tahno eyes her back with a half-cocked grin. He's completely intrigued. He watched Shaozu's ham-fisted attempt to hit on the raven-haired girl at the bar. Then he saw her politely dismiss his teammate before Shaozu persisted and tried to cop a feel. He nearly laughed out loud when the girl ripped the firebender's hand off her butt and promptly flipped him over her shoulder. She's made him completely forget about the three utterly uninteresting floozies crowding his booth. Before he knows it, he's sauntering towards her. His gaze locks onto her pretty emerald eyes.

"Your friend needs to learn some manners," she says to Tahno in a cool, detached tone.

Her voice makes him prickle excitedly. He loves these "cool under fire" types. It makes it so much more fun when they finally lose their composure, preferably in his bedroom.

"Oh, I'm sure he does. I just hate when a guy can't keep his hands to himself. Totally not my style."

He smirks and runs a hand through his distinctively slicked hair. He knows that for many of the women he runs into, the sound of his voice alone is enough to get them squealing.

But Asami's unimpressed. She knows Tahno's reputation. This isn't the first time she's had to deal with a pretty boy who's full of himself.

"Is that so?" she responds with a bored expression.

He's impressed by her poker face. Turns out this one's going to be a tougher nut to crack than usual. How interesting. He slithers a few more steps towards her.

"Of course. I much prefer it when the girls come to me."

Asami decides that making a gagging sound would be too unladylike, so instead, she gives him as demure of a snort as she can manage.

"I'm sure you do."

Her apparent disinterest riles him up and he can't keep himself from invading her personal space.

Before she knows it, he's right beside her, leaning in. His mouth is inches from her ear. His voice dripping with something she can't quite define.

"You wanna verify that first hand?"

He's a bit too close for her comfort, and she immediately responds by re-applying pressure to Shaozu's throat and further twisting his arm. A small pop emanates from Shaozu's shoulder, accompanied by a strangled whimper.

Tahno winces reflexively and backs off. He may have overstepped his bounds with this one. He can't have her putting his firebender out of commission, now. Having to break in a new teammate halfway through the tournament would be disastrous for the Wolfbats' chances at a third straight championship.

"Okay, okay," he holds his hands out in surrender. "No need to get all uncivilized. As much as Shaozu's fumbling with the ladies make me cringe, I do need him back in one piece. How about you let him go, and I buy you a drink to make it up to you. What do you say?"

She keeps her eyes locked on his and stands her ground.

"C'mon," he adds putting his hands up in a show of innocence, "I promise I won't bite. I'm the hands off type, remember?"

Deciding that this standoff has to end at some point, she abruptly releases her grip on Shaozu while simultaneously shifting her stance. Her hostage coughs and splutters on the floor, gripping his right shoulder.

Tahno can see that her new stance leaves him with no openings to attack. If he tried, she'd be able take him down before his bending could make any difference. Clever girl. Someone taught her well. His grin quirks up even more.

He calls out to his teammate without breaking eye contact with her.

"Shaozu, you better scram."

Shaozu gets up awkwardly and stumbles out of the bar, shooting Asami a dirty look before he exits.

"See," he smirks, "that wasn't so bad now, was it?"

At last, Asami's face starts to break into an answering smirk. If she's honest with herself, she actually finds him kind of charming. Sleazy, but charming. She thinks those two qualities should cancel each other out.

She motions her head towards the bar.

"Ladies first," she tells him.

Tahno snorts in response. This one has some sass.

"Oh," he says, wobbling dramatically with his hands over his heart, "you wound me."

He walks past her towards the bar and pulls out a stool for her.

"Unlike my friend," he drawls, "my mother raised me to be a gentleman."

She thanks him for the stool and slips gracefully on top of it. He wonders how she manages to be simultaneously gracious and indifferent as she does it. Tahno takes the stool beside hers and nods to the bartender, who comes over to take their order.

"I'll have a Serpent's Pass on the rocks," Tahno starts, then cocks his head to the girl next to him, "and the young lady here will have a. . ."

"I'll have a Lion-Turtle Diver, neat, with a double-shot of 25-year-old fire whisky."

The bar tender gives a low whistle, signaling his approval of Asami's order. Tahno gives her a sideways grin. No amateur orders that drink.

"That's a big girl drink, ya know."

"I know," she answers nonchalantly, her gaze fixed on the whisky bottles displayed in the back of the bar.

He can't help but needle her some more.

"You gonna need me to take you home after?"

"Please," she scoffs, "this coming from the guy who ordered the Serpent's Pass? I didn't know it was in vogue for guys like you to order fruity drinks."

"C'mon," he retorts, "I bet that fire whisky's older than you are."

"Wouldn't you like to know?"

The sideways look she throws him is almost playful. Something in his mind clicks. He knows he's seen this girl before, but where?

"Who are you?"

She turns to face him, flips her long black hair over shoulders, and smiles. He gets a sense of déjà vu as the vision before him looks awfully familiar.

"My name's Asami."

She offers out her hand and he takes it.

"I'm Tahno."

She gives him a conspirational look, as if she's letting him in on a secret.

"I know who you are."

Then suddenly everything falls into place. He's seen her green eyes and raven hair dozens of times.

"Wait, I've seen you at the pro-bending matches before."

Her smile confirms his statement, and he thinks that she's definitely prettier than any of the fangirls who've been accosting him lately. Plus he thinks her hair flip might be even better than his. He doesn't know whether he should be swooning or jealous.

The bartender arrives with their drinks, and they each offer up a toast.

"Here's to men learning to keep their hands to themselves," Asami offers.

"And here's to your hair flip," toasts Tahno.

Before she can stop herself, Asami lets out a full-bodied chuckle. An involuntary smile creeps across Tahno's face in response to her open laughter.

"No, no," she gasps in between laughs, "there's no way my hair can compete with yours."

Tahno's both honored and affronted by her comment.

"How do you even get it to look like that?" she chortles as she points at his slicked coif.

He looks at her with a raised eyebrow that slowly morphs into a playful smirk.

"You know what?" he challenges, "I'll tell you if you can down that drink of yours in one gulp."

Asami's face lights up into a devious grin. Her emerald eyes meet his grey ones.

"You really have no idea who you're messing with, Tahno."

Tahno crosses his arms and leans against the bar smugly.

"Then show me."

Asami takes her drink and tips it in Tahno's direction, their eyes never breaking contact.

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